By Alec Russell in Johannesburg
Published: May 21 2007 22:02 | Last updated: May 21 2007 22:02
South Africa has brought together delegates from President Robert Mugabe's
Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in a first
round of secret talks to try to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe, the
Financial Times has learnt.
Launching a process that South African sources liken to the clandestine
negotiations that led to the end of apartheid, officials from Zimbabwe's
rival parties were flown to a lake resort near Pretoria 10 days ago.
The Zanu-PF delegation of Patrick Chinamasa, the minister of justice, and
Nicholas Goche, the labour minister, met first South African officials, and
then had a groundbreaking tripartite meeting with representatives from the
"After a rocky start" the two delegations agreed to convene again in early
June to confirm the ground rules for negotiations, said a source close to
the process. Formal talks between two teams of four delegates would then be
held in the middle of June, he added.
The revelation of the meeting is the first clear sign of the urgency in
Pretoria over the crisis across its northern border, since regional leaders
mandated South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki seven weeks ago to mediate
between the two sides.
With Zimbabwe's security forces continuing a crackdown on the opposition,
the MDC's leaders remain deeply suspicious of Mr Mugabe's intentions and
doubtful that South Africa will be able to force him to hold free and fair
elections next March, as scheduled. But news of the start of negotiations
will at least temper the scepticism that Zimbabwe's opposition and some in
the west have felt about South Africa's commitment to its mission.
In the past few years as Pretoria has pursued a policy of "quiet diplomacy",
Zimbabwe's economic implosion and political repression have intensified. The
official rate of inflation is nearly 4,000 per cent but the actual figure is
widely believed to be far higher.
Mr Mbeki last week told parliament that the mediation was going "very well"
but he would not elaborate.
A key moment in the process came two weeks ago when he dispatched three top
aides on a secret trip to Harare where they met Mr Mugabe and his two
vice-presidents. Zimbabwean sources said Mr Mugabe had reacted furiously
when he received a letter from Mr Mbeki setting out his plans for mediation.
But after meeting the South African delegation he appears to have been more
accommodating and appointed his two negotiators.
The MDC is split into two camps. Each sent two delegates and both camps have
adopted a common position on the talks. Their main pre-conditions to take
part in parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for March are: an
immediate cessation of violence on the ground; the appointment of
independent electoral institutions and a vote for the several million
Zimbabweans who have fled the economic chaos into neighbouring countries.
Mr Mugabe has not yet publicised his terms. Only recently Nathan
Shamuyarira, Zanu-PF's spokesperson, said that talking to the MDC was a
waste of time because it was a "puppet opposition".
Diplomats monitoring the process cautioned that for the time being the
negotiations were still just "talks about talks", a phrase used of the
initial negotiations over the end of white rule in South Africa. All the
while, one diplomat added, Mr Mugabe's supporters were continuing their
harassment of the opposition.
SW Radio Africa
At the ongoing 41st Session of the African Commission on Human and People's
Rights (ACHPR) in Accra, Ghana, Zimbabwe's human rights record was in focus,
with Zimbabwe, as the only individual country added onto the agenda as a
particular worry of the ACHPR. 1.1 However, in his presentation on the Human
Rights Situation in Africa (agenda item 4a; statements by State Delegates)
on Thursday 17 May, the Zimbabwean head of delegation, Honourable Patrick
Chinamasa, defended the Governments record, including the use of violence on
and after 11 March 2007. He stated that this must be seen in the context of
the liberation war and the regime change agenda of the UK and other Western
1.2 On Saturday 19.05.07 the Nigerian NGO Civil Liberties Organisation
delivered a statement on behalf of the Zimbabwean NGOs with observer status
which the ACHPR issued in response to threatening statements made by
Chinamasa. In this statement Zimbabwe's delegation is called on to make a
public statement that they will not subject any of the participants to
harassment or intimidation on account of having participated in the
proceedings of the session. Please find attached the complete statement
presented during the discussion on the Human Rights Situation in Africa
(agenda item 4d; Statements by NGOs). The Zimbabwean NGOs chose not to speak
at this agenda point following the Ministers statement. 1.3 Also in
attendance at the ACHPR were the South African based Zimbabwe Exiles Forum
(ZEF) and the Anti Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT Southern
Africa). On 18.05.07 they issued a Joint Press Release in response to
Patrick Chinamasa's statements at the ACHPR. We attach their press release
entitled "Zimbabwean Minister Patrick Chinamasa must apologise to Zimbabwean
Human Rights Activists and the African Commission on Human and Peoples'
Rights for issuing out threats". 1.4 For a fuller account of the happenings
during Thursday to Saturday find a summary statement by the ZEF circulated
to Commissioners and delegates.
2.1 At the 41st Session of the ACHPR, Zimbabwe's Government's state party
report on compliance to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights
will be discussed, as we reported in our last mailing of Tuesday 15 May. In
that mailing we presented the shadow report the Zimbabwean NGOs as presented
at a press conference in Accra. In addition, Friday 18 May, five
independent human rights organisations jointly produced a shadow report to
the Commission. All five organizations contend that the government of
Zimbabwe has failed to respect and protect the rights contained in the
African Charter. To read the report in full, please follow this link:
ZIMBABWEAN MINISTER PATRICK CHINAMASA MUST APOLOGISE TO ZIMBABWEAN HUMAN
RIGHTS ACTIVISTS AND THE AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES' RIGHTS FOR
ISSUING OUT THREATS.
Zimbabwe Exiles Forum responds -
Tuesday 22 May 2007
By Patricia Mpofu
HARARE - Zimbabwean civic rights activists on Saturday declined
addressing the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR),
saying they feared retribution on their return to Harare after a top
government official accused them of working with the West to oust President
In an earlier briefing to the ACHPR on the human rights situation in
Zimbabwe, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa accused non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) operating in the country of working for regime change.
Chinamasa told the commission that Zimbabwe's political crisis was
because of Western governments he said poured resources and cash to
political malcontents and NGOs to destabilise the country.
In a joint statement, Zimbabwean NGOs, who are attending the 41st
ordinary session of the ACHPR as observers, said they no longer felt safe to
address the continental rights watchdog in the wake of Chinamasa's
threatening comments made before the ACPHR itself.
"The remarks by the Minister (Chinamasa) place accredited
non-governmental organisations from Zimbabwe in a position where they cannot
publicly, and without fear of retribution, address this Commission, as is
their obligation in updating the Commission on the current situation
prevailing in Zimbabwe," the joint statement read in part.
Among the NGOs that declined to address the ACHPR are the Media
Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Zimbabwe), Human Rights Trust of Southern
Africa (SAHRIT) and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
The groups said they could address the ACHPR only if the commission's
Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders took "all precautionary
measures to ensure that all those who enjoy observer status and have
participated in this session will not be subjected to harassment, or attack
on account of their participation, whether here in Ghana, or upon their
return to Zimbabwe."
It was not clear on Monday whether the ACHPR would make arrangements
to address the fears of the Zimbabwean NGOs and ensure they are able to
address the commission session that is currently taking place in Accra,
Mugabe's government is accused of gross human rights violations as it
increasingly relies on brutal force to keep in check public discontent in
the face of an economic meltdown described by the World Bank as the worst in
the world outside a war zone.
Hyperinflation, at over 3 700 percent and still galloping, is the most
visible sign of the economic crisis which has also resulted in unemployment
soaring to over 80 percent and sparked crunch shortages of food, fuel and
The Harare administration denies violating human rights and denies
ruining the economy, saying Western sanctions to punish it for seizing land
from whites to give to blacks are behind Zimbabwe's economic meltdown. -
Tuesday 22 May 2007
By Nqobizitha Khumalo
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe police have defied a High Court order to vacate a
white-owned farm they seized two months ago and instead have over the past
week deployed more men at the lucrative game farm in Matabeleland North
High Court Judge Francis Bere last week ordered the police to stop
interfering with operations at Portwe farm and that they should return guns
and farmhouse keys they had unlawfully confiscated from the owners.
But a week after Bere's order, the police are still camped at the farm and
in one of the most vivid illustrations of lawlessness on farms and in the
country in general, the police have over the past week actually moved more
men onto Portwe farm.
"The situation is still the same, they have brought in more men into the
farm and they even ordered me to create more room in my cottage as they said
they were expecting more personnel to come in next week," said Margaret
Jourbet, the wife of Dave Jourbet one of the farm directors.
Joubert said their lawyers were preparing to file a contempt of court suit
against the police, who over the past few years and with tacit approval from
President Robert Mugabe himself have defied several court orders they deemed
not to their liking.
The police first invaded Portwe farm last March arriving in a convoy of 20
marked police cars and declared the farm now belonged to the law enforcement
agency. They chased away foreign tourists who were at the safari lodge on
the farm and seized keys to all the buildings at the farm.
The farm invasion is the first time that the police organisation has seized
a white-owned farm.
The Zimbabwe government has expelled more than 90 percent of the country's
about 4 500 white commercial farmers, plunging the country into acute food
shortages because the Harare administration failed to give inputs and skills
training to black peasants resettled on former white farms to maintain
production. - ZimOnline
Public Agenda (Accra)
21 May 2007
Posted to the web 21 May 2007
The Committee of Experts' Draft Proposals for Ghana's 1992 Constitution made
cogent remarks about the near universal acceptance of free expression and
freedom of the press as fundamental human rights which cannot be traded for
Paragraph 180 reads "In the modern world, freedom of thought and expression,
including freedom of the press, the rule of law and the independence of the
judiciary; and fair and free elections are considered to be the three
pillars on which democracy stands. All these pillars are interdependent and
interconnected. Destruction of one of them can undermine the whole structure
of democracy and lead to its collapse."
Also paragraph 181 states that 'the experience of modern states has
demonstrated convincingly that in the absence of freedom of the press and
thought, and an enlightened and vigilant public opinion, a safe future for
democracy and its success cannot be ensured anywhere. The mass media, the
press and the platform are means to educate the people and make them
watchdogs of their inherent rights in a democracy. So vital is the role of
the mass media that freedom of expression along with that of the press has
been called 'the first freedom.' Indeed any successful attack on human
rights by governments often starts with a suppression of the freedom of the
press. Once this freedom is dented, governments are free to abuse basic
human rights without any publicity and frequently with impunity. It is the
case that no dictator can tolerate freedom of thought, expression and the
Paragraphs 180 and 181 which were eventually enshrined in the 1992
Constitution of Ghana formed the basis for the current press freedom and
free expression Ghanaians are enjoying; though it must be pointed out that
many journalists and Ghanaians are making irresponsible use of the 'first
The irresponsible use of free expression should not be the stepping stone
for any government to muzzle the press and dissent. This unfortunately is
what is happening in Zimbabwe, a country that held so much promise at
independence in 1980. The thrust of my argument is that injustice anywhere
During the recent NGO Forum, a delegation from the Media Monitoring Project
of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) outlined how the ZANU FP government under Robert Mugabe
has systematically stifled press freedom and free expression.
According to Abel Chikomo, Advocacy Coordinator of MMPZ, Zimbabwe's media
landscape is skewed heavily in favour of state-owned media. The government
solely runs the broadcast media and has defied all logical reasoning to open
up the airwaves for private participation.
He said Mugabe's heavy-handedness against private media started with the
promulgation of the 'Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA), which criminalizes journalism and open dissent. The first casualty
of this dreadful act was the Daily News, which at the time was the only
independent newspaper in Zimbabwe. The sister paper of Daily News, the Daily
News on Sunday, the Tribune and the Weekly Times were the next casualties.
AIPPA makes it criminal for anyone to publish cabinet deliberations until
after 25 years. This means Zimbabweans can never know how decisions are
arrived at and how government business is conducted. Given the provisions of
the AIPPA until Mugabe is dead, virtually nothing can be written about his
rule. He and his government are not accountable to the people of Zimbawe.
That is sad and had made nonsense the African Peer Review Mechanism to which
Ghana, South Africa. Rwanda, Kenya etc have subscribed .
In addition to stifling the media, the government's central intelligence
agency used AIPPA to take over the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror, both
privately own newspapers which were published by intelligence unit until
they were closed down recently for lack of funds.
A Broadcasting Service Act, which gives monopoly to ZBC was recently
declared illegal by the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe. In reaction, the
government set up a board to licence broadcast media, but since 2001,not
even a single private radio or TV has been licensed.
The Public Order Security Act was the next punitive legislation to take its
toll on the media. According to Chikomo under this law, no one can publish
anything derogatory of the president or his office which is likely to cause
disaffection for the president or any member of the security forces. This
law is so vague that if anyone coughs, either in a public transport or in an
office in a manner that does not please the president or any of the security
forces, it could be interpreted as derogatory. Such a law is no doubt open
Independent journalists are referred to as 'terrorist of the pen.' Little
wonder some of the finest journalists in Zimbabwe have fled the country for
fear of their lives. Recently Edward Chikomba was allegedly abducted and
later found dead.
Chikomo says a new law ,'Interception of Communication' will soon be passed
to empower the government to intercept communication either by post or via
the internet. If this bill becomes law, there will be no alternative media
in Zimbabwe, since the internet has become the only means of communication
and social mobilization.
Mugabe and his advisors must have realized the threat the internet poses to
their zeal to control information. And their fear is quite understandable.
The net is generally used as an extension of everyday relationship,
providing a way of staying in touch with friends and relatives, much like
the phone and in the past, the mailed letter.1
Larry Gross reveals the growing importance of the net in providing a source
of identity and moral support for isolated people. In the case of
oppression, the net simply provides an escape route.2
Given the terrible state of the Zimbabwean press, Africans and the world at
large cannot turn their backs on Mugabe who has stolen the 'first freedom'
from Zimbabweans. The AU must act in the interest of Zimbabwean people and
In a resolution adopted on May 14, the committee on Zimbabwe;
(1) Condemned the increasing violence, human rights violations and selective
application of the law perpetrated against human rights defenders in
2. Called upon the government of Zimbabwe to desist from harassing,
intimidating, assaulting, arresting and detaining human rights defenders,
including members of the legal profession who protect and promote the rights
of human rights defenders,
3. Insisted an environment where the independence of the legal profession
will not be compromised in anyway;
4. Demanded that the government of Zimbabwe respects judicial processes; in
particular ensuring the enforcement of all court orders by the authorities;
5. Urged the government of Zimbabwe to comply with its obligations as
articulated in the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, the
Principles and Guidelines on the Right to A Fair Trial and Legal Assistance
in Africa, the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and other
international human rights instruments;
6. Pressed the government of Zimbabwe to implement without further delay the
recommendations contained in the African Commission Report of the
Fact-Finding Mission to Zimbabwe;
7. Called upon the African Union (including SADC ) to insist that the
government of Zimbabwe implement the recommendations of the African
Commission and stipulate specific time frames for compliance with
8. Encouraged Civil Society, including democracy movements, women's
movements, students and youth movements, workers' movements, grassroots
leaders and professional bodies to cohere their inter-dependent programming
to ensure a systematic and sustained oversight over the state of compliance
or non-compliance by the government of Zimbabwe with the aforesaid
resolutions of the AU.
1 John Gray, After Social Democracy (Demos, 1996), cited in Power Without
Responsibility. Curran, J et al
2 Gross, L. (2003). 'The Gay global village in cyberspace', in Couldrry, N.
and Curran J. (eds). Contesting Media Power. Boulder, Co, Rowman
By Alec Russell
Published: May 21 2007 03:00 | Last updated: May 21 2007 03:00
The people of Nswazwi are once again on the move. Three decades ago their
tiny settlement of thatched mud huts, a few miles from the border with
Botswana, was caught up in Zimbabwe's liberation war. Many residents fled
across the frontier before returning home to enjoy the fruits of freedom.
Now, again, abandoned huts and empty kraals (enclosures) testify to an
Since the days of Lobengula, the 19th-century Matabele king, lustrous cattle
have grazed in this remote corner of Zimbabwe. But now food stocks are
running low; the average household income is a few US dollars a month; and
the intimidation from the regime is intensifying. Those who remain are
clearly struggling. Local tracks are dotted with people who cannot afford
the bus fare to the local town. And so they walk for hours in the sun,
bearing scraps of food that they hope to sell or barter - and this in a
country that was until recently dubbed the bread-basket of southern Africa.
These are tense times. Few people talk openly to strangers, lest agents of
the feared Central Intelligence Organisation are watching. Hidden behind the
corner of a cattle kraal, a young girl said she wanted to speak out. "There
are so many who are going," she said. "They say they will come back one day
but I don't think so. It is so difficult to get food now. We are finishing
off last year's maize and then we will have no stocks."
The situation in Nswazwi is mirrored across Zimbabwe, where security forces
tightly monitor the main roads and most journalists, including this
correspondent, have to operate undercover. "Every year we say this must be
the end," said a veteran of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), who acted as a guide for the FT. He recalls how his first car cost
$Z5,000, a thousandth of what half a tank of petrol costs now - or rather
what it cost when he spoke, for the next day the prices went up. "Mugabe
can't last much longer," he added. "Or maybe he can . . . "
In the latest grim signal of Zimbabwe's vertiginous decline, the official
rate of inflation was last week put at 3713.9 per cent. Economists believe
it may be much higher. With unemployment at over 50 per cent, three or four
million out of a population variously estimated between 12 and 15 million
have fled the country in search of work. Perversely, their remittances are a
crucial prop to the regime. Yet the government blandly delivers statistics
as if inflation were four per cent and not four thousand.
Gideon Gono, the Zimbabwean central bank governor, said on Thursday that
inflation had been fuelled by chronic food shortages. The government
attributes these to the sanctions imposed by the European Union and the US,
as well as to the drought affecting southern Africa, and denies a link to
the land expropriations that have led to the near-total collapse of
Zimbabwe's commercial agriculture. The sanctions include a ban on arms
sales, a freezing of assets in European banks and a travel ban on senior
officials in the government and Zanu-PF.
Mr Gono said he would continue large-scale printing of money despite the
warnings of the International Monetary Fund that this would merely increase
inflation. "We offer no apology, we offer no remorse for our intervention in
all spheres of the economy when we do the unorthodox," he told MPs.
Some commentators have argued that, such is the economic chaos, the regime
must be near its "tipping point". But comparisons suggest Zimbabwe may well
fall a lot lower before this happens. The country is not policed with the
ruthlessness of Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Nor has it been reduced to the state
of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) under its late dictator
Mobutu Sese Seko. By the end of his ruinous regime in 1997, many roads and
railways built by the Belgians had been reclaimed by the jungle and visitors
were routinely fleeced by officials on arrival at Kinshasa's Ndjili airport.
Despite all Mr Mugabe's catastrophic decisions in the past decade or so,
unlike Zaire in its last days Zimbabwe still somehow staggers along with the
odd vestige of normality.
One evening at the Bulawayo Country Club earlier this month, a young white
couple were discussing their wedding plans with a caterer. "So do you want
fish as well as pâté?" she asked. "And when are you going to do the
speeches? Do you want me to wait before bringing in the meat?" Similar
exchanges have been overheard in the club's panelled interior for years and
will no doubt be heard for years to come. But the most myopic visitor or
resident could not now miss the evidence of a society under terrible strain.
On the fringes of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, queues form outside
shops on the rumour of deliveries of sugar or other foods. Banknotes are
exchanged in brick-sized wads. Many shops change prices twice a day. Most
business is done by barter. One world-weary businessman says that after
years of marriage he has changed his mantra to his wife. "I no longer say:
'You are spending too much.' I now say: 'You are not spending quickly
enough.' Whenever we have cash we spend it."
For seven years since Mr Mugabe first faced a serious challenge to his rule
with the formation of the MDC, Zimbabwe's opposition has been in a state of
increasing despair. Since 2000 there have been three elections, two
parliamentary and one presidential. With the economy in freefall, each
should have been a stiff challenge for Mr Mugabe. But he won all three
easily, relying on a formula of populism, thuggery and skulduggery at the
Now more than ever, Mr Mugabe's back is against the wall. His Zanu-PF party
is in disarray. Ten days ago, party meetings in Bulawayo, an opposition
stronghold, and the central town of Masvingo broke up in chaos amid clashes
between supporters of the two factions vying to replace the president. Also,
his sovereignty has for the first time in his 27 years in power been
compromised: regional leaders have mandated South Africa to mediate between
Zanu-PF and the MDC ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections due
Yet barring a move from within Zanu-PF - and insiders suggest that this,
despite the party's unhappiness, is unlikely for the moment - the earliest
the 83-year-old can be expected to leave office is after the elections. In
the meantime, the opposition is struggling to speak with one voice and
overcome regional scepticism as to its viability as a political force. All
the while, Mr Mugabe's supporters are doing their best to ensure that it is
in no state to contest the election.
"The regime has thrown all caution to the wind," says David Coltart, a
veteran human rights lawyer and a leading MDC MP. "It has been pushed into a
corner and is now lashing out. As with so many dictatorships, the closer
they get to the end the more vicious they become. They are deadly serious
now. This isn't an aberration. This is an attempt to crush the opposition
He was speaking shortly after police beat two of Zimbabwe's best-known human
rights lawyers in Harare. This was merely the latest act of state-sponsored
brutality since March 11, when Morgan Tsvangirai, the head of one of the
MDC's two wings, and other leaders were beaten in the streets of the
capital. These are dangerous times for the opposition as Human Rights Watch,
the US rights group, made clear in a report this month that recorded the
summary arrest and torture of hundreds of activists since the attack on Mr
Day by day, the fabric of the old law-abiding and functioning order becomes
more threadbare and people more desperate. Earlier this month, on Suzanne
Street on the northern fringe of the city hundreds of people had gathered
outside a high metal gate. Briefly it opened and some bags were thrown out.
The crowd surged forward. Behind the gate was a chicken farm. The crowd was
waiting for chicken heads and feet for the pot, or to sell on. "There is a
new rule," said a pastor watching in dismay. "If you buy it, don't eat it,
but sell it, make your mark up."
The pastor was on his way back from delivering food to impoverished victims
of Murambatsvina (Operation Clear Out the Trash), the government's brutal
2005 campaign to raze informal settlements in the main cities. Hundreds of
thousands of people had their homes destroyed and were then dumped in the
countryside. Now many are eking out an existence on land confiscated from
white farmers a few years ago.
Ten miles outside Bulawayo, Edward Sibanda, 52, is living on a dusty
five-hectare plot with his wife and four children. It used to be part of a
successful commercial farm. His experience highlights the folly and crime of
both Murambatsvina and the expropriations. A decade ago the commercial
farmers accounted for half Zimbabwe's foreign currency earnings. Now most of
their land is in small plots and all but uncultivated. Mr Sibanda ticked off
on his fingers what he needed to make a go of it: "We have no rain, no
tractors, no petrol, no tools, no food."
He is one of many who can no longer afford monthly school fees ($Z15,000 -
just over 50 US cents at the unofficial rate) for his children. Zimbabweans
were long regarded as some of the best educated people in Africa and in his
early years, Mr Mugabe rightly took pride in his government's investment in
schooling. Now, a malnourished and uneducated generation is growing up. A
nurse burst into tears as she described the implosion of the health service.
"We've got kwashiorkor [a type of childhood malnutrition] again. I didn't
see it 25 years ago when I was trained. Now you are seeing the telltale
signs, golden hair and pot bellies."
South African officials are increasingly concerned about the crisis on their
northern border. Western criticism of the country's policy of "quiet
diplomacy" over the past few years has infuriated Pretoria, which argues
that trumpeting its concern would be counter-productive. But privately,
officials concede the crisis sends all the wrong signals to the foreign
investors they want to attract. They also fear it risks overshadowing the
2010 football World Cup in South Africa, which they hope will be a showcase
for the post-apartheid state.
Now they are pushing forward with their mediation plans. They have held
several meetings with the opposition factions and written formally to Mr
Mugabe seeking his response to their mandate. Meanwhile, western agencies
have done their sums and calculated that the world will need to stump up one
billion US dollars a year for a decade after the regime falls.
The best-case scenario is for the region somehow to force Mr Mugabe to step
down in favour of a coalition between reformist elements of the Zanu-PF and
the MDC. But no one is holding their breath. A senior former cabinet
minister believes Mr Mugabe has only one goal: to stay until he dies and so
avoid the risk of prosecution. As a senior opposition figure concedes, Mr
Mugabe knows all too well that the MDC's promises of amnesty are
"I think we are in for growing violence and eventually some sort of
conflagration this year, next or even the year after," says one diplomat
with long experience of Zimbabwe. Given Zimbabweans' relative quiescence in
the face of the growing tyranny, until recently that might have been
dismissed as alarmism. Moses Nzila-Ndlovu, an MDC MP, fears that is no
longer the case.
"There are so many people who have been traumatised and brutalised by
Zanu-PF. If the MDC were cheated at the elections again there could be
carnage. There is so much anger. And even if Mugabe goes, it may not end
there. Look at it from the perspective of the ordinary people. You have a
pot, boiling. Lift up the lid and the steam boils over."
21st May 2007 00:33 GMT
By a Correspondent
HARARE - Zimbabwe will cooperate with the Southern African Development
Community's (SADC) efforts to mediate between the government and the
opposition MDC but would not welcome any "parallel initiatives", state media
reports revealed over the weekend.
Writing in his weekly Nathaniel Manheru column in the Herald on Saturday,
presidential spokesperson, George Charamba, said there was no way the
Zimbabwe government was going to allow opposition parliamentarians from the
Pan African Parliament (PAP) to come into the country on a fact-finding
Earlier, Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Joey Bimha said the Zimbabwe
government would cooperate with the SADC-backed mediation that chose Mbeki
help bring Zanu PF and the MDC together.
"The government will therefore do its utmost to cooperate with President
Mbeki in his efforts to carry out the mandate given to him by SADC and will
thus not entertain any parallel initiatives, wherever they come from," Bimha
said. But Charamba had nasty words to say about the PAP fact-finding
Writing in his column about the PAP's decision to go to Zimbabwe to
investigate human rights abuses, under the sub-heading PAP, My foot!,
Charamba, whose column reveals the Zimbabwe government's true feelings on a
number of issues, said:
"Using two of its number -- both drawn from minority opposition parties from
two southern African countries -- the PAP passes a resolution which empowers
it to send a deputation to Zimbabwe to investigate anything, everything."
"To say the resolution drafted by a white MP from the notorious Inkatha
Freedom Party of apartheid days, gave PAP the widest remit on Zimbabwe, is
to suggest the resolution had boundaries. It did not."
He continued: "PAP is being asked to simply come into the country and do all
it wants for the joy of the West whose spooks guided its MPs. It is
unimaginable to even think that some Afrikaner belonging to IFP can turn
into a liberator of any black Zimbabwean here."
The PAP motion was moved by IFP MP Suzanne Vos and was seconded by Boyce
Sebetela (Botswana). Efforts by the Zimbabwe government to block last week's
discussions on the crisis-ridden country and the subsequent vote failed.
Said Charamba in the column: "Come on guys, let's be serious! Does it have
to be so blatant? But all that is to dignify both the motion and the
outcome. Does anyone expect the Government of Zimbabwe to allow a mission of
PAP to do what governments of Africa have not done, namely, firstly to make
Zimbabwe an issue, and secondly, one resolved by fact-finding missions of
the nature proposed by the PAP? So the Zimbabwe government has to allow the
country to be put under the scrutiny of backbenchers in the name of PAP?
Using which executive powers?"
"SADC has taken a clear position on Zimbabwe. It has tasked Mbeki as its
point-man. And Mbeki alone it shall be, as Secretary Bimha has made it
"Mbeki will report to the SADC's Organ, which in turn will report to Summit.
SADC will in turn brief the AU. SADC has done what ECOWAS, itself the
habitat of President Kufour, is still to do in respect of the Nigeria
debacle. Now, these fame buccaneers who seek to make names for themselves in
British and American annals want to jump this huge maxim gun to venture into
Zimbabwe, carrying white ghosts? They can go and hang on a banana tree."
"But before they do, let them answer this simple question: is Zimbabwe the
urgent-est, the most-est, the worst-est there is for PAP? More urgent than
Somalia? More urgent than Nigeria? More urgent than Sudan? More urgent than
Ethiopia? Or is urgency a matter of countries where western interests are
read as most threatened? Which makes PAP whose institution? And no debate on
Britain's reneging on an outstanding colonial question? Or its support of
opposition politics here?
"No debate on America's self-confessed meddling in the internal affairs of a
member country? Instead of debating such crucial matters, PAP decides to be
another plank of that interference? My foot! I see the PAP president says
Zimbabwe has not rejected a fact-finding delegation. Well, it has, and let
that register emphatically.
"No monkey business, we are proud Zimbabweans. It is an atrocious beginning
for this parliament, one likely to give it a blot of revilement. Made worse
by the fact that it chose to be the West's Trojan Horse, when Africa and the
greater part of the Third World were enthroning Zimbabwe at the UN, against
the stiff will of the West. How back of benches can one ever hope to be?"
On Friday the MDC said it remained committed to negotiations with the Zanu
PF regardless of an intensified crackdown in which many of its members have
been arrested or detained.
The opposition says more than 600 of its supporters have been abducted and
tortured by government agents since February. It says 150 activists and
leaders, including party president Tsvangirai, have sustained serious
injuries. Mugabe's government accuses opposition activists of unleashing
violence in the townships and engaging in "terrorist" activities, a charge
the opposition denies.
21 May 2007
A ZIMBABWEAN who recently visited Harare for the first time in more than
nine years remarked that the biggest change in the capital over a decade had
been the increased evidence of wealth.
He mentioned the large four wheel drive vehicles that ply the roads, huge
mansions in the upmarket suburbs and supermarkets stocked to the brim with
imported goods. In the 1990s, when the economy was in better shape, none of
this was a feature of the landscape, so why now, he asked, when the economy
is at an all-time low? It does not square with regular newspaper reports
about soaring inflation, declining incomes, massive unemployment, food
shortages and other negative indicators.
To find the answer, I spoke to a number of Zimbabweans about what they
believe is driving this new wealth. Inflation and black market trading, I
was told. Remittances are also a key factor in keeping the economy afloat. A
large chunk of Zimbabwe's wealth is outside the country, taken by departing
Zimbabweans and stashed abroad in hard currency by newly rich businessmen
living inside the country.
Zimbabweans in the diaspora are a key source of foreign exchange, the
trading of which has become the most lucrative game in town. The parallel
rate for hard currency last week rose to Z$40000 to one US dollar, fuelled
mostly by shocking new inflation figures putting annual inflation at 3700%.
The official rate remains at Z$250 to the US currency.
Black market currency trading has become particularly lucrative for
government officials, who can access the official rate to change money and
sell it into the black market at a massive profit. They, along with farmers
and other special categories, can also buy fuel at subsidised prices and
sell it back into the economy at market prices.
Quick fortunes have been made by fuel traders since the government
deregulated the market and sellers can virtually set their own prices.
People are also making good money - in Zimbabwe dollar terms - on the stock
market, the preferred place to store money and get a decent return at rates
ahead of inflation.
A handful of companies, particu-larly exporters, are making good profits but
company results are often treated with scepticism as hyperinflation has
allowed creative accounting. The figures can be tweaked to produce almost
any result. Treasury bills are a popular way for companies to make money.
With much of Zimbabwe's manufacturing running at 20% of capacity, there is
just no good reason to plough profits back into the business.
But wealth creation is "slowing down", some people say. Supermarkets report
a decline in sales of expensive luxury goods as even wealthy customers are
forced to use their money to keep the wheels of daily life turning.
Money increasingly has to be diverted from buying 10-year-old whisky,
imported shoes and expensive cars to paying rapidly rising school fees and
keeping up with massive increases in prices for municipal services and
foodstuffs. Much of the wealth on show (which is effectively limited to a
handful of the population - it just seems to be more because it is openly
flaunted) is also a product of the heady days of a few years ago, when
spiralling inflation drove massive spending. At today's dizzying inflation
rates, almost everyone is poorer.
And inflation is not going to slow down anytime soon. The government's
printing presses are working overtime to prop up its "quasi-fiscal" spending
on supporting exports, reviving agriculture, keeping parastatals going,
giving public servants wage increases and so on. With an election next year,
spending on populist and unproductive priorities can only get worse.
Economists are predicting six-figure real inflation by then.
Already the government is setting up an Incomes and Pricing Commission which
will have sole right to set charges for hundreds of price-controlled items,
and establish profit margins. Violations will carry a jail sentence of up to
five years. While the authorities claim that this is in the interests of the
poor, in effect it will simply create more shortages of a variety of basic
Zimbabweans have seen this movie before. Some bakers have already ended up
in jail for selling bread above the government price.
With no end in sight to the distortions in the economy resulting from the
political climate, many people will still make a lot more money but the
issue is not about their unethical ways of creating wealth, it is something
much more serious.
The more the economy benefits these people, the less incentive they have for
supporting change. That is far more dangerous than flaunting your wealth in
the faces of an increasingly miserable population.
Games is a director of Africa @ Work, an African consulting company.
By Lucy Fleming
BBC News website
Text messages from abroad have never been received so eagerly by
The "beep beep" signals an end to hours spent queuing at petrol stations.
"Hey... you have been sent a Mukuru Voucher for 40 litres of Petrol from..."
reads the message.
A voucher number follows which allows the recipient to swap the pin number
for coupons redeemable at certain garages.
This is all the handiwork of Mukuru.com - a website set up by Zimbabweans in
the UK to help their fellow countrymen in the diaspora pay for petrol,
satellite TV or transfer money to their friends and relatives at home.
It properly got off the ground last year, and its customers are steadily
growing as news of it spreads.
Within seconds of opening an account and sending an order to a grateful
guinea pig in Zimbabwe, I received an email from Mukuru.
"Shamwari Lucy, Uri bho here? (friend, how are you?)" it began in
"Thanks a bunch for using Mukuru.com - we have sent an email to (your
friend) notifying them of the order below."
The next morning, another email arrived to tell me the funds had cleared and
a voucher had been issued.
At the same time, my friend in the capital, Harare, got a text message and
went off to collect the petrol coupons - valid for three months. Forty
litres costs $40 - the going black market rate.
Several days later they went to fill their car, with little fuss from one of
Zimbabwe's garages allowed to import fuel using foreign currency.
"I arrived there at 3pm and looked in the book and they must've sold more
than 500 litres that day," my friend said.
I was left in no doubt about my generosity, receiving texts to let me know
about every moment of the transaction right up until the petrol was gushing
into the tank.
For one of the founding members of Zimbuyer.com - another new website
allowing Zimbabweans to buy groceries for people at home - this control is
what makes these services popular.
"They're a lot of people who left Zimbabwe and, for example, have left their
children over there," he told the BBC News website.
"But sometimes the money they have sent home for the care of their children
is diverted into other things.
"With our service, people buy the stuff - we deliver them to the recipients
so they know that they're buying."
Shopping on Zimbuyer - run by a team of four in the US and UK - is like
doing a supermarket shop online in the UK, with a little less software
The prices are marked in British pounds, but the products are Zimbabwean
staples such as sadza maize, Cashel Valley Baked Beans and Ingrams Camphor
Cream - delivered to addresses in Harare, Chitungwiza and Bulawayo.
Zimland.com offers a similar service for customers from 52 OK supermarket
branches nationwide. Its website says it gives Zimbabweans abroad "a quick
and efficient way of ensuring their families did not starve in Zimbabwe".
With Zimbabwe's economy spiralling out of control, high unemployment and one
of the highest HIV rates in the world, people in the diaspora can literally
provide a lifeline.
UK-based Dr Brighton Chireka and his wife Prisca, a nurse, have set up
Beepee Medical Services, allowing Zimbabweans abroad to pay for doctor's
appointments, prescription drugs and surgery for relatives at home.
"Mostly we're running it as a service to help people," Dr Chireka told the
BBC News website, adding that since its launch last September BPMS now gets
about two consultation bookings ($30 an appointment) a day.
"It should be able to pay itself... We've employed people who are working
full-time in Zimbabwe. This side it's on a part-time basis to answer the
Dr Chireka says they have to review their prices every two or three weeks
because of the rampant inflation which stands at 3,731.9% - a climate ripe
for a flourishing black market.
This is something Zimbabwe's no-nonsense central bank governor is keen to
Last year Gideon Gono banned several money transfer agencies, accusing them
of abusing their licences by doing deals on the black market.
Zimbuyer says their service - which at the moment attracts about 10
customers a day - is a way around this for Zimbabweans abroad who are loath
to send money back at the official rates.
Last week, the black market rate was Z$29,000 to US$1 - compared to the
long-standing official rate of Z$250 to US$1. This week, the black market
rate for the US dollar has risen by Z$4,000.
"The government it is cracking down on the black market or foreign currency
dealers - they buy money in Zimbabwe or take the wealth outside Zimbabwe
which is something we're not doing," the Zimbuyer spokesman - which imports
most of the products - told the BBC.
"I think Zimbabwe would be dead right now if wasn't for imports - it would
be on its knees."
Mukuru.com also allows customers to transfer money - at the black-market
rate - to accounts in Zimbabwe; it has also started this service to South
Their customer service line says a "dispersment agent" deposits the money in
All the services are clearly being careful not to antagonise Mr Gono, and
offer tight security and the online payment system PayPal for their clients.
And as Mukuru's petrol fame spreads, what are Zimbuyer's most popular
"Cooking oil and sugar - right now we've run out of the sugar we have it
bought in from Botswana.
"And power generators are proving popular because the electricity always
goes off nearly every day."
21 May 2007
Posted to the web 21 May 2007
The South African member of the Pan African Parliament who successfully
proposed that the body should investigate reports of human rights abuses in
Zimbabwe has denied that the parliament is backtracking on the decision.
Suzanne Vos, a member of the Inkatha Freedom Party of Chief Mangosuthu
Buthelezi, was responding to a report in the Zimbabwe government newspaper,
The Herald, saying the parliament had deferred until November the adoption
of a resolution on a motion she had proposed.
In emailed comments to allAfrica.com, Vos said the motion to send a
fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe had already been passed by 140 votes to 20,
and that the parliament's rules did not require any further vote.
"I cannot conceive of this parliament 'back-tracking' on any motion which
was formally tabled, fully debated and overwhelmingly supported," she said.
"It will now be up to the bureau of the [Parliament] to decide when this
mission will take place and who will be nominated by them to be members...
It is entirely up to them to decide on all matters of procedure and I have
the utmost confidence they will do so as soon as possible."
The Herald's report suggested that the parliament still had to decide
whether or not to send a mission.
Vos said she was confident the government of Zimbabwe would comply with the
parliament's decision. "Members of parliament from Zimbabwe... have given me
no indication whatsoever that any moves have been made to 'back-track' on a
motion which was democratically passed."
HARARE, 21 May 2007 (IRIN) - Surviving the world's highest inflation rate is
resulting in people ditching their professions and embarking on work, which
they had never previously considered.
Mavis, a qualified nursery teacher, has swapped her life as an educator for
that of a sexworker and now cruises for clients in the upmarket hotels of
the capital Harare.
"I am a professionally trained infant teacher, but last year I decided to
quit the profession as the money that I was earning was not adequate to
sustain myself," she told IRIN. "The odd tourist is always good for business
because they pay in foreign currency and they are always very generous with
Although foreign tourism has dropped off considerably in the last few years
because of the country's political and economic woes, Mavis said there was
still a class of people in Zimbabwe who were able to afford her services and
the best place to proposition them remained the hotels.
"If I was still working as a school teacher, I would be earning just over
Z$300,000 (US$7.5 at the parallel exchange rate of Z$40,000 to US$1) a
month, but now, I can charge as much as Z$500,000 (US$12.5) per night
regardless of whether the client wants my services for a short while or for
the whole night."
Mavis said that the majority of her clients were married men, who had to get
home to their wives. "When clients cannot be with me for a long time, I can
double my earnings in a single night," she said.
Her new work carries with it the risk of AIDS, as one in five Zimbabweans
aged between 15 and 49 are infected with HIV. "I would not do anything as
reckless as unprotected sex. I am an educated person and I know the hazards.
There are some clients who demand to have unsafe sex and even offer to pay
more but I insist on the use of condoms or cancel the transaction," Mavis
More than 5,000 teachers failed to report for duty when schools opened for
the new term two weeks ago.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions estimates in its latest economic
review that hyperinflation had reduced wages and salaries to renumeration
received in 1965. An average public servant earns about Z$300,000 (US$7.5) a
month, while the cost of living for a family of six for the most basic
requirements, such as rent, food and school fees, is estimated at about Z$2
million (US$50) a month.
Independent economists contend that the official annual inflation rate of
3,713 percent is less than half of the real rate of inflation. In a recent
weekly newspaper column, economist, Eric Bloch said "With inflation having
soared, based on the Consumer Price Index (it's) in practice exceeding 8,000
percent." The Consumer Price Index is a measure of price rises affecting a
specific basket of goods.
"The hyperinflation is so pronounced that an estimated 85 percent or more of
the population is striving to survive with insignificant incomes, far below
the Poverty Datum Line and more than half of Zimbabwe's people are suffering
at levels below the Food Datum Line, being the minimum resources needed to
avoid malnutrition," Bloch said.
Sarudzai works as a domestic helper for three young female journalists,
doing their laundry at the weekends and general house-cleaning one day a
week. The journalist were initially perplexed by their maid, as she seemed
"too intelligent" for such menial work, and became a good source for news
story, particularly regarding the police.
The conundrum of their maid's life was exposed when the three journalists
were stopped at a police roadblock and among their number was a police
officer who looked vaguely familiar: then it dawned on them the policewomen
was their domestic helper.
After some initial embarrassment and a mumbled apology from the policewoman,
the coincidence was to change Sarudzai's life. She resigned from the police
force five months ago, after her unmasking had led to options for
"When I came out in the open with the journalists, they introduced me to a
lot of their friends who I now do part time work for. I am very grateful for
the break which they gave me because while I would have been earning
Z$400,000 (US$10) as a sergeant in the police, I now make Z$3 million
(US$75) a month from doing laundry and cleaning for young professionals in
Harare," she told IRIN.
The government has said 15,000 public servants have resigned in the past 12
months and half of all government posts were vacant.
Robert Chimedza was at one time a manager at a Harare hotel, but because of
the dwindling number of foreign tourists visiting Zimbabwe, his employers
told him and his colleagues that their salaries would be reduced in line
with the slump in tourism.
Instead of accepting the lower wages, Chimedza resigned, took his six-month
redundancy cheque and cashed in his pension. "I pooled my pension and
requested the salaries in advance and raided the foreign currency black
market and bought as much foreign exchange as I could," he told IRIN and
then he left for neighbouring South Africa.
"I had done my research and established that a lot of companies and
government departments did not have foreign currency to buy supplies in
South Africa. I made arrangements with pharmacies to import basic medical
supplies," he said.
"After selling my products at the prevailing black market rate, I raid the
illegal foreign currency market, go and buy some goods in South Africa and
supply local companies because the manufacturing sector has all but
collapsed and is now dependent on people like ourselves to import basic
products," Chimedza said.
He has no regrets about his decision to resign from his hotel job and said
his entrepreneurial talents had rewarded him handsomely, as he now owns a
house in one of the township suburbs and drives a car imported from Japan.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Solidarity with Victims of Operation Murambatsvina
THE 18th of May brings back sad memories of how the government of Zimbabwe
systematically rendered at least 700 000 of its citizens homeless. The
informal sector which had become a source of livelihood for many in a
country which had over 80% of its potential labor force unemployed was not
spared by the operation. Many small to medium enterprises were destroyed as
army trucks, earth moving machines and bulldozers were driven into the high
density areas, ostensibly, to rid the country of filth in an operation
codenamed Murambatsvina (Restore Order).
As the effects of Murambatsvina continue to bite, women and children are
amongst the hardest hit. The access to anti-retroviral drugs and the
home-based care programmes were disrupted due to displacement caused by
Murambatsvina. For them this was a death sentence leading to many deaths
which could have been avoided, had it not been for an insensitive regime,
which cared not for the welfare of people but for the consolidation and
retention of political power, through brutality unexpected from a government
that is already failing to provide anti-retroviral therapy to its people,
and faced with a plunging economy but claims to have its people at heart.
Murambatsvina 2 Years On!
As we take stock of Operation Murambatsvina 2 years down the line, we are
confronted with the reality of whole families (father, mother and children,
some of whom are in their teens) living in a single makeshift plastic shack
along Mukuvisi River, stripping them of their human dignity, and exposing
them not only to cholera and other health hazards but also to a life worse
than they led in the concrete and brick structures they were living in
before the operation.
Promises by the government to build alternative shelter for affected people
in another operation code-named Garikayi Hlalani Kuhle have come to naught,
as only under 5000 homesteads have been built to replace over 90 000
homesteads that were destroyed. The few that were built remain unserviced
with no ablution facilities but also largely available only to card carrying
members of the ruling ZANU PF party. Operation Garikayi has since proved to
be nothing more than a public relations stunt and a poor attempt at covering
what is now increasingly being called, together with rampant human rights
Furthermore, none of the recommendations by Dr Anna Tibaijuka's, the UN
Special Envoy have been implemented, after the government dismissed her as a
conduit of the West.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition this year, as it did last year,
commemorate, with its members and partners, Operation Murambatsvina over 8
weeks, to among other objectives,
v Remind the Government that we remember the operation for the loss of
livelihood it precipitated for the majority poor.
v Let the world know that more people's lives have continued to be destroyed
as a direct result of Operation Murambatsvina. The commemoration will also
save to remind each other of the fact that those who orchestrated the
operation, have not been brought to account for their heinous acts, and that
the full course of justice has not yet been taken.
The Coalition calls upon the international community, particularly the
United Nations, Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the
African Union to reign in on the government of Zimbabwe known for
instigating gross human rights abuses. We urge the Zimbabwe government to
implement the recommendations of the report of the UN Special Envoy Dr
Tibaijuka and to compensate the victims of Operation Murambatsvina.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
19 May 2007
A busy Vigil this week, as we gathered to commemorate the second anniversary
of Operation Murambatsvina, the brutal campaign in which Mugabe's troops and
police bulldozed people's houses indiscriminately throughout Zimbabwe's
urban areas, displacing 700 000 people to an uncertain future and disrupting
the livelihoods of around 2.7 million people. Two years on, most of those
affected remain unaccounted for.
There was a hard core of Vigil regulars right from the outset, and some hard
core bricks and rubble, donated by our old watering hole, the pub formerly
known as Bad Bob's. Appropriately, we used the rubble in a physical display
of the effects of Bad Bob's Operation Murambatsvina, along with some very
graphic photographs of the devastation. Many of those at the Vigil have been
affected in one way or another by this operation, and one of our documentary
makers will be posting some interviews on YouTube in the near future - more
details when this becomes available.
The Vigil attracted some supporters from the very early days as well as new
people who have recently decided to get active. We were graced by a couple
of exotic visitors: Maggie Lloyd-Williams, a rising TV star with strong
Zimbabwean connections came to lend her support. Our other visitor,
Bouqiriwa the Boa Constrictor from South America, was helping his handler
collect money for the RSPCA. Boas are very like pythons, so they are quite
safe as long as they have eaten. Having established that Bouqiriwa had eaten
two days previously, many of the Vigil supporters including our TV celebrity
were soon being photographed with the snake draped over their shoulders.
There were many new songs this week, including a Liberation-era favourite,
Mbuya Nehanda. It was a good reminder that Zanu-PF do not own the liberation
struggle. When the singing was at its strongest and most melodic, people
were lining up three deep to sign the petition. Sometimes it is hard for
passers-by to realise that what looks like happy singing is our way of
dealing with the sad times we face. Many songs are adapted from those sung
at funerals, where the upbeat melody keeps people's morale and gives them
the strength to fight back. Singing keeps us strong.
Ephraim Tapa addressed the vigil, telling us that Operation Murambatsvina
was a chilling reminder that in Zimbabwe we have a government that does not
look after its own. In the UK if you are poor, or if you do not have
housing, the State has ways of looking after you. The papers here have been
full of the story of the disappearance of one little British girl in
Portugal, which has got everyone involved from the Prime Minister downwards,
yet in Zimbabwe countless little children are missing, many of them as a
direct result of the Government's actions, and the State does nothing.
Ephraim reminded us that the only ones who will look after the people of
Zimbabwe is ourselves. We must campaign, write letters to our local papers,
and write to and demonstrate at African embassies here in London (following
their appointment of Zimbabwe to head up the UN's Sustainability Development
Commission). It is up to us to save ourselves.
Next week we will commemorate Africa Day. We hope to invite people from
other parts of Africa who are suffering from oppression and human rights
abuses, so that we can strengthen and support one another in solidarity and
Tuesday 22 May 2007
JOHANNESBURG - A Malawian opposition leader has accused the government of
President Bingu wa Mutharika of flouting international trade rules saying
the president had forced the central bank to pay for maize exports to
Malawi Democratic Party leader, Kamlepo Kalua told a rally on Sunday that
Mutharika had arm-twisted the central bank to pay for the maize exports to
"(The) government has taken US$300 million from the Reserve Bank of Malawi
to pay the National Food Reserve Authority for the maize it is exporting to
Zimbabwe," Kalua told the rally.
Under the terms of an signed between Malawi and Zimbabwe, Harare was
supposed to pay cash upfront before Malawi could deliver 400 000 metric
tonnes of maize to the southern African country that is facing severe food
shortages this year.
Kalua accused Mutharika of bending the country's fiscal regulations to
please President Robert Mugabe whom he said was his friend. Mutharika, whose
wife is Zimbabwean, is said to own a farm in Zimbabwe.
Malawi's deputy agriculture and food security minister Bintony Kutsaira
dismissed the charge as "baseless" and a "fabrication" saying no money had
been taken from Malawi's central bank to finance the transaction.
"The deal was a normal international trade deal signed between Malawi and
Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwean central bank will pay Malawi some US$120 million
for the maize," he said.
Zimbabwe, which has battled food shortages over the past seven years, is
again facing a massive grain deficit this year after only harvesting about
600 000 metric tonnes against the national requirement of 2.4 million
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party and major Western
governments blame the food shortages on President Robert Mugabe's chaotic
land reform programme that began seven years ago.
The land reforms saw the government seize productive farms from the minority
whites for redistribution to landless blacks slashing drastically food
production on the farms. - ZimOnline
By Jonga Kandemiiri
21 May 2007
After previous stalled attempts, Zimbabwe's three social partners in the
Tripartite Negotiating Forum, met in Harare Monday, to finalize the three
key protocols which form the core of the social contract, namely the Incomes
and Prices Stabilization, the Restoration of Production Viability, and the
Foreign Currency Mobilization. However, the latter could not be discussed as
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe did not send a representative.
Last week, the partners that make up the TNF- labor, represented by the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, business, represented by the Employers
Confederation of Zimbabwe, and the government - failed to agree on an
article on the Incomes and Prices Stabilization Protocol, which labor
insisted on before all the other protocols could be discussed.
But Director John Mufukare of the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe, told
reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe, that business
accepts that it must pay living wages, and is now looking at how to sustain
Labor representative Godfrey Kanyenze told VOA that for industries to be
viable, there is need to address the issue of good governance and the
political risk factor.
By Lance Guma
21 May 2007
The whereabouts of University of Zimbabwe student leader
Tineyi Mukwewa who was arrested last week has generated immense concern in
the student movement. On Friday the Zimbabwe National Students Union issued
an appeal for information from anyone who might know where Mukwewa is.
Lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights have also been unable to
locate him following searches done at Avondale and Harare Central Police
stations. Zwelithini Viki, an Information Officer with the university
student's representative council, told Newsreel on Monday that the search
for their President was still on. ZINASU has sent out thousands of alerts on
their e-mail list, requesting information from members of the public.
Mukwewa was arrested and detained last week Wednesday by UZ security guards.
He was also served with a suspension letter that was also handed out to 8
other students including Terence Chimhavi, who was expelled. The authorities
accused them of masterminding a demonstration that rocked the campus,
following the disruption of a campaign rally for aspiring student leaders by
UZ security guards. Riot police descended on the campus to help crush the
demonstration. The majority of students suspended were candidates in the
polls. Meanwhile two student leaders abducted at the Bindura University of
Science Education on Thursday were later found the following day at Bindura
police station. Moreblessing Mabhunu and Tinashe Madamombe were released 3
days later on Sunday outside normal police charge office working hours. No
charges were made and Viki said this probably explained the decision to
release them on a Sunday.
The impasse between government and students over deteriorating conditions of
learning and tuition fees, which were hiked last year, is set to worsen. In
an article carried by the state owned Sunday Mail, government confirmed
plans to introduce a bonding system for university and college graduates.
Students educated through government loans and grants will be compelled to
join the civil service before being allowed to work in the private sector or
to emigrate. Authorities want to introduce the system in all the ministries
and departments that are facing critical manpower shortages. The students
however argue that because they ultimately pay back government loans that
fund their education, the same government cannot bond them over money they
will payback anyhow. The country is suffering a massive brain drain as
people flee a worsening economic and political crisis.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Avi Krawitz
Posted: 05/21/07 06:01
RAPAPORT... The current and former operators of River Ranch diamond mine in
Beitbridge, Zimbabwe, expect to be in court again on June 4, 2007, when
former operator Bubye Minerals will answer to a charge of stripping the
mine's assets. Bubye Minerals' husband and wife founders Michael and Adele
Farquhar were arrested May 21, 2007 and placed in police custody, Rapaport
News has learned.
Documents obtained by Rapaport News show that the High Court of Zimbabwe
summoned the Farquhars to appear at the hearing. While the text failed to
explain the charges they face, the couple's defense attorney, Terrence
Hussein, claimed they have never been notified by the court of the charges
River Ranch Limited's chief executive officer George Kantsouris, told
Rapaport that the company filed a complaint against the Farquhars at the end
of 2006 for stripping and externalization of funds under their management.
In response, Hussein said, "Such charges, we believe, stem from a period
when the Farquhars were in fact the owners of River Ranch, thus they are
going to be prosecuted for stealing their own property."
The latest hearing takes place some three years after Bubye Minerals was
evicted from the property, or as they claim, militarily and forcibly
Ongoing Legal Battle
Bubye Minerals was appointed to run River Ranch in 1998 when government
liquidators set to restore the operations due to financial problems by its
previous owner. Bubye Minerals found investment partners, including Saudi
Arabia's Adel Abdulrahman al Aujan, and mining commenced.
A series of cost overruns (and a hurricane flood) however, impacted
production shortly thereafter and in year 2000 Buybe Minerals secured more
financing from Aujan, bringing his stake in the mine to 30 percent at the
The relationship with Aujan turned sour in 2004 after he called in past
loans of about $1.16 million from Bubye Minerals, and brought in Kupukile
Investments - owned by former parliamentarian Tirivanhu Mudariki and Solomon
Mujuru, the husband of Zimbabwe's vice president Joyce (Joice) Mujuru. The
loan was not paid in full, and the present occupants took control of River
Bubye Minerals management subsequently filed legal action against River
Ranch to regain control, claiming the mine was taken without just cause, and
it was so awarded. Since that ruling however, Minister of Mines Amos Midzi
permitted Mujuru's group to hold ownership and in 2006 the Supreme Court
ruled in favor of the River Ranch occupants.
Currently, the parties await a final verdict from the Supreme Court over an
appeal submitted by Bubye Minerals to that decision. A verbal ruling
regarding the appeal was passed in the past two weeks in River Ranch's
favor, for which Kantsouris said the company awaits written confirmation.
While Bubye Minerals attorney Hussein confirmed the decision, he explained
that the ruling denied their appeal to have various documents, including the
stenographer's report, included in the court record and that he was
preparing an appeal of that decision. Should such an appeal go in Bubye's
favor, Hussein would then proceed with the appeal for ownership.
Marketing Mandate for Grabs
In the interim, River Ranch Limited has continued its efforts to gain
marketing rights for the rough diamonds it has produced since it started
mining again in June 2006.
The company has been prohibited from selling its rough while legal
proceedings continue. Nevertheless, River Ranch legal advisor George Smith
told Rapaport that the company is currently in negotiations with the
Minerals Mining Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) and is hoping to sign an
agreement in the coming weeks, which would allow it to start exporting
Given Minister Midzi's previous recognition of River Ranch's ownership -
following the 2006 Supreme Court ruling - Smith said, "The Mines Ministry
accepts that we are the legal owners of the mine and it is not for the
Minerals Marketing board to dispute that."
A high ranking MMCZ official, confirmed by Rapaport to have visited River
Ranch this past week, would not comment for this report.
Hussein meanwhile, pointed to the pending court decision to refute any
legality to River Ranch's near-term marketing ambitions.
Smuggling Charges Abound
Pressure on River Ranch to legally sell its diamonds came under the
spotlight recently when the company was accused of smuggling its diamonds to
South Africa, using United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) vehicles.
Hussein issued a formal complaint in a letter to UN assistant secretary for
legal affairs Larry Johnson on March 26, 2007, saying that the UNDP is
giving advice and assistance to River Ranch Limited and that UN registered
vehicles are being used at the mine.
In documents obtained by Rapaport, Bubye Minerals claims it has proof that
River Ranch Limited used UNDP vehicles, "which contravenes Zimbabwean law
and international diplomatic protocol." The company said it has affidavits
alleging that at least one of the vehicles was used to take diamonds off the
mine and into South Africa, which it can more easily do since these vehicles
are exempt from search and seizure at border posts.
The UNDP dismissed allegations that it is involved in any activity at River
"This erroneous impression of the UNDP may have been triggered by the fact
that UNDP has a relationship with AMSCO (The African Management Services
Company,)" the UNDP stated in response to the allegations.
The UNDP facilitates AMSCO's engagement in the country through the
government such as the registration of staff and vehicles, however it has no
involvement with the operations of AMSCO in the country, the organization
The UNDP further acknowledged that as many as five AMSCO professionals have
worked at River Ranch in posts ranging from managing director to chief
financial officer since 2004, in response to a request from "the owners of
the River Ranch Limited for AMSCO's help in resuscitating operations at
River Ranch," UNDP stated.
Among these are current CEO Kantsouris, who Bubye Minerals claims, was
previously the personal assistant to Aujan, and subsequently involved in
ousting them from the mine.
Responding to Hussein's letter, UN assistant secretary Johnson said, "We
have brought your letters to the attention of the UNDP and we understand
that UNDP and the International Financial Group of the World Bank Group and
AMSCO are currently examining the questions you have raised."
UNDP spokesperson Jabulani Sitholi dismissed reports in the press that UN
assistant secretary Johnson had initiated an investigation about the charges
against the organization.
Sitholi noted that the wording was up for interpretation but that as far as
he knows, no investigation has been launched.
Meanwhile, responding to the smuggling charges, River Ranch's Smith was
adamant the mine has the tightest possible security and that such activity
was near impossible.
"As far as we're concerned we have the best security arrangements in the
country and it would be virtually impossible for an individual to get
diamonds out of the sorting room," Smith said.
KP To The Rescue?
A review team from the Kimberley Process (KP) is scheduled to arrive in
Zimbabwe shortly and assesses Zimbabwe's compliance with the KP
Both Bubye Minerals and River Ranch Limited are looking to the industry body
to strengthen their claims on the mine.
"River Ranch needs an aspect of international legality, which they don't get
from the Zimbabwe courts and they can get that from the KP," attorney
River Ranch's lawyer Smith said the company was confident the KP would find
its procedures and security measures at the mine "squeaky clean."
He added that the mine has submitted a monthly report to the mining
commissioner detailing every stone produced at the mine.
KP secretariat Stephane Chardon meanwhile hinted that the legal goings on at
River Ranch may well be beyond the scope of the KP. While the review team
is most likely to visit River Ranch, he explained, its mandate is to assess
whether the system in Zimbabwe as a whole meets the minimum requirements of
The World Diamond Council (WDC) too has been cautious over the River Ranch
case and chairman Eli Izhakoff earlier this year stressed that the WDC would
not get involved in any internal disputes between private parties.
"The World Diamond Council has a duty to bring to the attention of the chair
of the KP any credible reports that indicate a potential breach of the KP
provisions and/or threatens the effectiveness and credibility of the
Kimberley Process, which is our industry's primary safeguard," Izhakoff
said. "This is what the WDC has done. It is for the KP chair and participant
governments to investigate and, if necessary, to act upon such reports."
While the KP visit, initially scheduled for the end of May, is now expected
in June, its timing may prove vital for the Farquhar's, should it coincide
with their June 4 court hearing.
Hussein, however, said that Bubye Minerals was concerned it had not been
approached by the KP about the visit and that the KP's attitude to Bubye
Minerals' claims has been "extremely luke warm."
"Our feeling is that River Ranch presents too much of a headache for the
KP," Hussein said. "We are not holding our breath. We can only give them the
information and pray for the consequences." RAPAPORT
New Zimbabwe (London)
21 May 2007
Posted to the web 21 May 2007
IN THE Sudan until 2003, it had always been assumed that the resolution of
the feud between the Arab-led government of that country and the
Southern-based separatist SPLM would effectively lead to peace and
Little did the world suspect that the people of the Darfur region harboured
deep-seated grievances whose enormity would sink the country into one of the
most catastrophic crises right on the stroke of a political deal that
exclusively involved the Arab government and John Garang's movement.
In Zimbabwe today, the assumption is that any mediation exercise intended to
resolve the national crisis should be treated as a bilateral quarrel between
the ruling Zanu PF and factions of the opposition MDC. This is an extremely
tragical approach to the country's future stability as it is wrongly
premised on the fallacy that Zimbabwe's problems started in 1999.
When the MDC euphoria swept across the country in 2000, there was already a
resolve in Matabeleland to review the region's status as a province of
Zimbabwe and it was becoming increasingly clear that its marginalisation
emanated from a unitary constitution that concentrated all power to the
The formation of the Forum Party in 1994 and the revival of ZAPU in 1999
strongly reflected this aspect as they both advocated a federal
constitution. More importantly, the MDC storm found in Matabeleland a hard
layer of discontentment that stretched beyond the 1990s issues of economic
mismanagement and bad governance. These were issues of a misdelivered
independence and the genocides perpetrated against the people by the Zanu PF
It should be clear that the white settler regimes took many decisions on
behalf of the indigenous people which in most instances were unpalatable.
They are the ones who decided that Matabeleland and Mashonaland be merged
into Rhodesia in 1895. They are the ones who decided that Rhodesia should
not join the Union of South Africa in 1923. They are the ones who decided to
form the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in 1953. They are the ones who
decided that Salisbury be the capital. They are the ones who decided that
the country's constitution be centralist (a bambazonke constitution). All
these decisions were being made for the convenience of colonial
administration and capitalist exploitation without regard to African
Regrettably, the desire to acquire independence tended to overlook these
historical factors resulting with gruesome experiences being witnessed after
independence. Signals during the course of the struggle indicating that
there was a divergence of visions amongst the nationalists on tribal grounds
were ignored. When ZAPU split in 1963, it was an illustration that not even
such a grand cause could unite the two peoples. Other such abortive attempts
to unite included the 1972 ZLP fiasco, the 1976 ZIPA collapse, the 1979 PF
disaster, the 1980 GNU break-up, the 1995 Forum Party split, and the 2005
All these are symptoms of an incompatible nation pretending that it is one
when in fact pursuing fundamentally different agendas. There is clearly an
unresolved colonial question which politicians appear to be too embarrassed
to countenance. There is no proof that before colonisation, Matabeleland and
Mashonaland were one country. Inheriting a colonial legacy of a one Rhodesia
was double standards for Zanu PF and its British handlers in 1980. Without
proper appreciation for historicity, the British handed over the colonial
status of Matabeleland to black colonisers and called it independence.
When Robert Mugabe created the Five Brigade in August 1980, three months
after being granted independence in April, he was very clear that this was a
campaign to subjugate a historically independent nation and prepare it for a
new colonial status under his government. Zanu PF rule in Matabeleland or
any other future Harare-head quartered party remains illegitimate. Reality
has demonstrated that such parties are unanimously agreed that access to
power, resources and opportunities should be barricaded from a Matabeleland
man or woman.
Now that President Mbeki has decided to engage only these 'opposam' parties,
will Zimbabwe's crisis be explored beyond the manufacture date of the MDC?
Zanu PF and MDC curiously exude the same order. They are both centralist.
They are both tribalistic (no Ndebele qualifies to lead the respective
parties). They are both suffering from an ideological crisis. They are both
linguistically chauvinistic (their presidents address meetings in
Matabeleland in Shona).
There seems to be a dangerous political hallucination amongst some Ndebele
people in thinking that issues of justice should wait until Zanu PF is
removed from power. They forget that Chief Khayisa Ndiweni was told the same
story by Joshua Nkomo before Ian Smith was removed only to discover that
they had aided a much more brutal, hungrier and numerically superior
adversary into power.
The Zimbabwe crisis should not be considered resolved until it is forced to
accommodate the Matabeleland question. Part of the package should include
adopting a federal constitution that recognises that Matabeleland is an
equal partner with Mashonaland
The constitutional framework should ensure that resources, opportunities and
power are distributed equally between the two regions regardless of
population and size. There should be a 50-50 representation in parliament as
in the case of the Hutu and Tutsi in Burundi. The presidency should be a
rotational one between the two territories. These are notes that President
Mbeki ought to familiarise himself with before he could possibly turn
Zimbabwe into another Sudan.
George Mkhawanazi is the National Vice Chairman of the National
Constitutional Assembly and writes in his personal capacity.
20th May 2007 23:59 GMT
By Chenjerai Chitsaru
THERE can be no guarantee that there are many Zimbabweans today who remember
The Rumanian communist dictator was a great friend of this country. Perhaps
that is an exaggeration; he was a great friend of Zanu PF.
Economic co-operation between the two countries included a glass factory in
a town in Mashonaland West. Little has been heard of it since Caeusescu's
execution by his
own people in 1989
Yes, unfortunately, this great friend of Zanu PF, along with his wife,
Elena, was executed by Romanian soldiers. There is no need to speculate on
the reasons for their drastic action against a man who had once been
glorified as a saviour of his people.
In short, the same people who had so idolised him turned into his worst
enemies. They transformed their hatred into the ultimate act of retribution:
they snuffed out his life, and that of his wife.
Some trivia: in 2002, the new Romanian government held an auction of his and
his wife's clothing. They must have suspected there were citizens who
thought these articles of clothing had sentimental value, as some people
have bought symbols of Nazism.
Unfortunately for Ceausesceu, not one item was bought.
If, like me, you have followed events in Romania so many years after the
death of this dictator, you will have read the amazing story of the
suspension last month of the president, Trainan Basescu, by the country's
He was accused of abusing his powers. But last week, there was a referendum
in which the people apparently overturned the suspension and reinstated
their beloved president.
An incidental detail here: the turnout of voters in the referendum was so
low, Basescu's opponents, supporters of the prime minister, Calin Popescu
Tarlceana, maintained he did not enjoy the overwhelming support of the
Needless to say, all these events would have been incredible during
Ceausesceu's brutal reign. All those opposing him would have been executed.
Another incidental detail: at its height of popularity, the then united
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) contemplated the impeachment of
President Robert Mugabe.
Then, without a satisfactory explanation they dropped the plan. Speculation
is that if they had gone ahead with the action, the party would not have
split in 2005, over a non-issue such as to participate or not to participate
in the Senate elections.
Why do I have the sneaking suspicion that there are similarities between the
old Romanian regime and the present Zanu PF government, particularly in the
propaganda which portrays all who disagree with the regime as "enemies"?
All this must remind people of the events leading up to the Rwanda genocide
of 1994. There was an intensive hate campaign against the minority Tutsi,
the dominant ethnic group in the structures of power in that small country.
Some historians have blamed the Belgian colonial masters for creating this
tragic imbalance. Yet the ultimate blame must lie with the leaders of the
country: how could they, on the basis of this stupid creation by the
Belgians, decide to kill nearly one million of their compatriots?
Had the ethnic Hutus always felt this deadly hostility towards the Tutsi, or
were their passions inflamed by the "hate" campaign launched by such Hutu
groups as those which later coalesced into the murderous Intarahamwe?
In Zimbabwe, there have been similar campaigns against, not just the
Movement for Democrastic Change (MDC), but also against the independent
media, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the lawyers, independent bank
executives and other citizens who have, through their own sweat - and
without the help of Zanu PF - established successful commercial and
The government media, in a hardly disguised campaign, has launched such a
vicious "hate" crusade against all those perceived as "enemies of the
state", the gullible among the people may actually decide that a call to
"crush" them could have merit on the basis of saving the country from being
Let's not forget that in 1994, before the genocide itself occurred, not many
people outside Rwanda or even in the country itself realised how potent the
propaganda against the Tutsi in newspapers and on the radio would be in
unleashing the violence that culminated in the equivalent of an African
There are leaders in Zanu PF, unaffected so far, by the obsession to cling
to power regardless of the terrible damage to the economic and political
well-being of the country, who know what must be done.
It is to convince the top echelon of the party that Zanu PF has committed
tragic mistakes in the running of this country. It cannot cover them up by
killing or harassing journalists, lawyers, trade unionists or independent
bankers and other captains of commerce and industry.
If the party now recognises its utter helplessness, it is futile to pretend
that either the "Look East" policy or Gideon Gono's ridiculous gymnastics
with the value of the Zimdollar alone can be a sureifre panacea.
In the absence of an amelioration of the relations with the rest of the
world, politically and economically, the descent into a political and
economic abyss is all but guaranteed.
An aspect of the equation to a lasting solution to the imbroglio has been
the idea of an amnesty for all those who committed atrocities during Zanu
PF's reign. This must be premised on the hope - some would call it a forlorn
hope - that all citizens are ready to forgive and forget the killing of 20
000 people, most of them unarmed during the campaign known as Gukurahundi.
A truth and reconciliation exercise similar to South Africa's might salve
the consciences of many. Yet what message does it send to ordinary people:
that leaders can make these tragic miscalculations, but cannot be held
responsible for them, in the interests of sparing the nation the trauma of
On the basis that South Africa today is relatively peaceful and enjoying
fairly stable race relations, this would be an attractive alternative to
holding "Nuremberg trials".
I think what has to be recognised is that there is more than politics
involved here. It is not improbable that the leadership, which most people
have targeted as having vandalized this country politically may have
performed similar damage to its resources.
The evidence is everywhere and most of it provided by the leadership itself.
How many times has President Mugabe himself publicly castigated his
colleagues for virtually "stealing from the people"?
Years ago, he alleged there were leaders who were taking ten percent of each
tender granted to a contractor by the government? There is still scant
evidence that any of these corrupt leaders were eventually flushed out and
consigned to the dust-heap of political oblivion which they so richly
There is even more serious doubt that the filthy lucre they gathered was
restored to its rightful owners - the people living their lives with little
water, power, food, jobs or good health.
So, what you have are people at the top who have amassed incredible wealth,
most of it illegally, who still have the political clout to terrorise honest
public prosecutors with threats of physical liquidation of they don't drop a
case which might link the top people to crimes.
None of them would be inclined to give up power, unless they were assured
they would retain their ill-gotten loot.
Meanwhile, where does that leave the rule of law?
What most people would find less painful would be a condition of amnesty
providing for the recipient of such national generosity restoring to the
people EVERYTHING they plundered, including mansions, cars, businesses and
Few people would accept a complete amnesty, allowing the criminals and
looters to walk the streets as free as the birds, flaunting their wealth as
if they sweated blood for it.
Zimbabweans are no different from the Romanians who turned against a man
they had glorified as their saviour and got rid of him and his wife as if
they were no better than worthless curs.
Today, the number of people enduring the real pain of acute deprivation is
so high Zimbabwe can be characterised, figuratively, as one big sore thumb
in five healthy fingers.
What most people are aware of is that not everyone is suffering. Every day
they see the brand-new, expensive cars on the roads of Harare; they see men
and women entering five-star hotels, dressed in Pierre Cardin suits and mink
and fur coats - these are Zimbabweans, not foreigners or diplomats.
They must wonder which part of Zimbabwe these people come from, not the same
country as they inhabit, a country with little that makes their independence
materially or even spiritually meaningful.
When outlaws run UN committees, global community is a dubious concept
May 22, 2007
LISTEN carefully and you will hear regular appeals to "the international
community" or to "the UN" or to "what the rest of the world thinks". These
sort of appeals pop up when the speaker happens not to like some outcome
produced by the democratic process here in Australia.
So the speaker might dislike some outcome having to do with rights, or with
labour standards, or just about anything really. And rather than go through
the hassles and hard work of actually changing the minds of some of his or
her fellow citizens, this speaker appeals in some grandiose way to what "the
international community thinks" as though that were self-evidently good and
the end of the matter. Personally, I think a fairly large dose of scepticism
Start with the UN itself. The old UN Commission on Human Rights was
dismantled in June last year for being ineffective, biased, ridiculous: take
your pick. In its place we have the UN Human Rights Council, with 47 member
countries. And in its short lifespan it has already made nine resolutions
criticising human rights abuses.
Sounds good, right? Well, not one of those resolutions was critical of Sudan
(over Darfur), or Zimbabwe, or China, or anywhere, save Israel. Yes, Israel
is the only country this new body has criticised (on nine separate
occasions, no less) for rights abuses. Gee, nothing to be sceptical about in
How about the UN Commission on the Status of Women? At its 2007 annual
conference, when surveying the plight of women around the entire world, what
countries did it single out? Saudi Arabia, maybe, where women aren't allowed
to drive and are liable to be stoned to death? Or big chunks of Africa? Or
Afghanistan? Nope. Apparently the only country that warranted a resolution
for violating women's rights was, wait for it, Israel.
Does scepticism really need to be made of sterner stuff?
Or how about this? The UN Commission on Sustainable Development, which is
charged with economic development and the environment, just elected as its
chairman Zimbabwe. Yes, Zimbabwe, which has annual inflation of more than
2200 per cent and whose economy is contracting by more than 5 per cent a
Or what about the UN's Disarmament Commission? Iran was just elected to
serve as vice-chairman, with Syria as rapporteur. Even George Orwell
couldn't satirise that!
Oh, the countries on that above-mentioned UN Human Rights Council include
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, China, Cuba, Angola, Azerbaijan and others whose advice
on human rights might not strike you as terribly persuasive, which is no
doubt why those people who don't like the outcomes of democratic politics
here in Australia tend to phrase their appeals in vague, amorphous terms
("the international community") rather than in specifics ("here's what
Robert Mugabe and the Baath party of Syria think about the proper level of
treatment for women and minorities").
Need more examples of "interesting" countries on various agencies and
bodies? Here are just a few. Committee on Information: China and Kazakhstan.
World Food Program executive board: Sudan and Zimbabwe (for some reason
North Korea missed out, despite its famine). International Labour
Organisation Governing Body (the one lots of union officials like to appeal
to): Saudi Arabia (that bastion of generous treatment to non-citizen
Now, I know that some readers - those who have more than a passing
acquaintance with the whole international law superstructure and who, one
supposes, get the odd invitation to conferences across the world or are
asked to serve in some paid role here or there - like to say that these
examples are all on the political side of the UN. Forget all that, they'll
say (well, at least if you get a few drinks into them). The real work, they
assure you, takes place in the various treaty bodies, the groups of
"experts" who report on the many human rights treaties in existence.
So, any room for scepticism there? I think that depends on whether you're a
democrat at heart or you're more inclined towards aristocratic,
philosopher-king, judicial-activism type of government.
You see, these treaty bodies are staffed with people making all sorts of
highly debatable calls. To give but one example, does spanking infringe
eternal, timeless human rights? The issue divides people who are smart,
reasonable and nice. It should be left to the voters, full stop.
The body overseeing the Convention on the Rights of the Child disagrees. The
experts think they have a pipeline to God on this one. They point to Article
19 and say it prohibits spanking. But this is pure poppycock. Remember, this
convention had to be phrased in incredibly general, amorphous terms in order
to get the world's Chinas and Egypts to sign up. So it said no such thing in
explicit terms. If it had done so, no country save Sweden (and maybe New
Zealand) would have signed up. But these "experts" use a souped-up
interpretation-on-steroids power to foster a sort of rule by the
democratically illegitimate. It's a bit like really bad judicial activism,
save that it takes place outside the glare of publicity. And when solid
democratic countries ignore the views of these self-styled experts, that is
characterised as being "against international human rights standards".
So it's either the politicised UN agencies and bodies or the preening, smug,
"expert"-driven and highly democratically illegitimate treaty bodies that
tell us what these indeterminate treaties mean: treaties that I should note
were entered into in Australia under the prerogative power, meaning they
never had to be passed through parliament and voted on by elected
I think we can be sceptical of both these things. If you randomly drew 100
names from the phone book, those people would be a better guide to how to
draw the many debatable and contentious rights-respecting lines that need
drawing than anything likely to emerge from the UN or "the international
Call me sceptical.
James Allan is a professor of law at the University of Queensland.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
21 May, 2007
A mediation team from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) led
by Sydney Mufamadi, South Africa's Minister of Provincial and Local
government, is reported to have met Robert Mugabe secretly in Harare two
weeks ago. The report said Zimbabwe's negotiation team was comprised of
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and the labour Minister Nicholas Goche,
and that the team had also met with representatives of the two factions of
the opposition MDC. Mufamadi was accompanied by Frank Chikane,
director-general in the Presidency, and Mojanku Gumbi, Mbeki's legal
adviser. They also met with Mugabe vice-presidents Joyce Mujuru and Joseph
Information on these meetings has surfaced weeks later, in line with
president Thabo Mbeki's secretive policy of "quiet diplomacy", but nothing
has happened to change the daily lives of suffering Zimbabweans. And
continuing state sponsored violence on the ground raises the issue of
whether Mugabe can be trusted.
The negotiating teams are supposed to facilitate free and fair elections,
which are currently scheduled for March 2008. Chris Maroleng, a research
fellow at South Africa's Institute for Security Studies, said the key
stumbling block to the negotiations will be the requirement for compromise
that is implicit for the negotiations to succeed. And Mugabe is that
stumbling block. Maroleng explained: "In order for negotiations to be
successful the various parties will definitely have to be in a mood to
engage in some compromise. To date, president Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has
not been known to be the most open to engaging in negotiations that require
compromise on his part." Although Maroleng believes the negotiating team has
a difficult task, he said they have made headway and brought the two sides
closer to being face to face.
According to reports Mufamadi told Mugabe to stop the violent campaign
against the opposition in order to establish confidence in the negotiation
process. But the stubborn dictator said it would be 'difficult' to meet the
demands of the opposition before next year's elections. ZANU-PF's
spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira, is also reported to have said recently that
talking to the MDC was a waste of time. Other reports said the rural housing
Minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, this week revealed that Mbeki imposed
conditions on opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara
ahead of the talks. The conditions include the acceptance of Robert Mugabe
as president and the renunciation of violence. Mnangagwa told parliament
that no such conditions had been imposed on Mugabe.
While the various leaders of SADC go back and forth, meeting and talking and
getting nowhere, Zimbabweans continue to suffer and to die.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
May 21, 2007 10:20 AM
As the mediation formalities proceed the word of caution from the
National Constitution Assembly continues to get louder eventually this will
make the opposition MDC and the ruling ZANU PF find it impossible to ignore
that constitutional issue is fundamental in restoring democracy in Zimbabwe.
"A people-driven democratic constitution must remain an un-negotiable
precondition", reads part of the recommendations submitted to those in
mediation efforts as a way of finding a lasting solution to the economic and
political impasse crippling Zimbabwe. The recommendations were submitted by
the National Constitution Assembly.
For sure any legitimate leader who believes in his electorate can
never deny something democratic which himself will eventually benefit from.
President Mugabe knows he has a huge following so nothing can or should stop
him from according the rest of Zimbabweans their democratic right they are
fighting for. This is the right to a democratic people driven constitution.
Itai Zimunya of Crisis Zimbabwe Coalition addressing a rally
demonstrating in Johannesburg in solidarity with Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions asked President Thabo Mbeki at Buenos Naude square to bring the
constitutional issue to the attention of President Mugabe. Zimunya warned
that if ZANU PF went ahead with elections without a new constitution it
would be an election of Robert Mugabe against Robert Mugabe and the winner
eventually being Robert Mugabe
In the first Save Zimbabwe campaign meeting held in Johannesburg, a
couple of months ago, addressing the meeting, NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku
made it clear that under the present situation the MDC would not win any
election with a considerable margin as instruments at play now promotes ZANU
Zimbabwean Constitution at the present moment avails executive powers
to a single individual which makes it impossible for other competitors to
wage a meaningful battle as he becomes both the player and the referee. The
draft constitution proposed by the NCA called for an impartial and
Independent Electoral Commission which no person can or would interfere
The draft proposal also suggested that the Parliamentary Public
Appointments Committee to be set up would make nominees for those to be
involved in the electoral commission which the president would pick from but
at the current situation the president chooses to his liking without any
recommendations and those who comprise it are strong ZANU PF members.
As much as the opposition is desperate to be in power it must not
forget that it has contested all elections since its formation in 1999 and
has lost all (ZANU PF won with two thirds majority in all elections) and as
long it goes for another election without a democratic constitution it will
encounter defeat which will eventually derail its constituency.
In the past the opposition has been warned by the NCA for a need to
have a democratic constitution to ensure free and fair elections but it has
not hearkened to the call partly because of its desperation to be in power.
Currently the MDC factions vowed never to go for the Zaka by-elections as
the parliament will be dissolved in December and its new approach of no
elections without a new constitution.
The question still ringing in the minds of many is will the MDC also
boycott next year elections? Zaka is a stronghold of ZANU PF would the MDC
have done the same had it been Kuwadzana, Budiriro or Highfields? The MDC
should grow in politics and start being realistic, as long as the
constitution operating today is not changed or amended Mugabe can win a
Abednico Bhebhe from MDC led by Professor Arthur Mutambara and Roy
Bennet from Morgan Tsvangirai affirmed they would not go for any elections
as past mistakes had taught them that Mugabe would not lose in any elections
as he enjoyed leverage accorded by the present constitution. Responding to
the promise Dr Madhuku acknowledged the pledge and said this time he trusted
the MDC would boycott elections as going for elections would be a way of
legitimizing elections that are already rigged.
Now the BIG question is will Mugabe offer Zimbabweans another chance
to participate in a referendum for a constitution, does he have the finances
to run that referendum, is the MDC prepared to linger to the end of 2008 in
an event Mugabe uses time as an excuse? Then if he denies the issue of
constitution altogether will the MDC boycott elections? Are MDC's urban
legislatures prepared to boycott even their lavish life, including their
twin cabs for the sake of restoration of democracy? Tsvangirai is not going
for an election so is Mutambara only time will tell who the traitor is the
one who is going to call for MDC's involvement in an election before sanity
returns in the operating ground.
One thing that must be clear to both the MDC and ZANU PF is that a
people driven constitution is there to benefit all Zimbabweans irregardless
of political affiliation.
NCA chairman has in the past cleared the air after being linked with
the MDC that the NCA was not there to remove Mugabe and that it would be to
the best interest of the NCA even for Mr Mugabe to win in a democratic
institution which is not there now.
May 21 2007 at 11:10AM
By Moshoeshoe Monare
While the ANC will not ditch Zimbabwe's Zanu-PF, the ruling party
wants to sever its relationship with some of the continent's liberation
movements and form new friendships with emerging political organisations.
This was discussed at the ANC's national executive committee meeting
at the weekend.
ANC spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama told the Daily News the discussions
were a result of a changing political landscape on the continent and the
review of the ANC's own international relations policy.
It is believed the move was also prompted by the dramatic political
atmosphere in Zimbabwe, where the ANC is also considering aligning itself
with new parties "which show progressive tendencies".
For a long time the ANC has shunned the Zimbabwean opposition Movement
for Democratic Change, but the ruling party's second highest decision-making
body is considering courting friendship with the one of the MDC factions.
However, Ngonyama emphasised that the ANC would not necessarily dump
At the Zanu-PF congress in 2004, the ANC's representative and veteran
Henry Makgothi promised the Zimbabwean ruling party of the repressive Robert
Mugabe an everlasting support.
The ANC has been under criticism for failure to use its ties with
Zanu-PF to influence its repressive political direction and has been accused
of allowing liberation struggle ties to blind its judgment.
The ANC might also reconsider its relationship with Angola's ruling
MPLA because some NEC members felt it has drifted from being a liberation
movement to the right.
The same could apply to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, which is
considered by certain ANC leaders as "reactionary", while the party is still
close to former liberation movements that are now ruling parties, such as
Chama Cha Mapinduzi of Tanzania and Frelimo of Mozambique.
This article was originally published on page 2 of Daily News on May
By Blessing Zulu
21 May 2007
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa of Zimbabwe, presented his long awaited
human rights report Sunday, to the 41st Session of the African Commission on
Human and People's Rights, taking place in Accra, Ghana.
This was the first time in 8 years that Harare presented its report, which
is supposed to be presented after every two years.
In his presentation, Chinamasa reiterated Zimbabwe's position that western
countries have incorrectly accused Zimbabwe of human rights abuses, because
they opposed its 2000 land reform program, and as a result have imposed
"illegal sanctions" on Harare.
The European union (EU), Australia and other western governments, including
the United States, have consistently accused Zimbabwe of human rights
abuses, and imposed targeted sanctions on top government and ZANU-PF party
officials, including President Robert Mugabe, in hopes of pressuring the
government to end the abuses.
The targeted sanctions include travel bans against the named officials to
Europe, the United States and Australia, and also the freezing of foreign
assets of senior members of the Zimbabwean government and the ruling party.
Chinamasa, who led the government delegation, also reportedly threatened to
use "proportionate force" against non-governmental organizations, which
Zimbabwe has accused of working with the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, London and Washington, to topple the government.
Some of Zimbabwe's civic groups attending the summit, refused to participate
in some of the scheduled sessions saying, following Chinamasa's threats. The
justice minister is said to have refused to guarantee the NGO's safety, when
asked to do so by some civic groups and AU commissioners.
Legal Advisor Wilbert Mandinde of the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media
Institute of Southern Africa, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7
for Zimbabwe, that the ten NGO's who attended the two-week summit, now fear
for their lives.
By Carole Gombakomba
21 May 2007
Zimbabwe's health minister, David Parirenyatwa, has called on the World
Health Assembly, currently meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, to support Harare's
call for the lifting of "sanctions," which, he said, is crippling the
country's health delivery system.
Critics, however, argue the sanctions have no impact on the country's health
care system, because they are only targeted at specific government and
ZANU-PF officials, including President Robert Mugabe.
Despite criticism against Zimbabwe's human rights record, many western
countries have continued assisting the country, by providing it with
financial and material assistance, to boost the health care system.
For instance, In 2006, the United States Agency for International
Development or USAID, set aside US$10,600 for HIV/AIDS projects, while the
European Commission adopted a global humanitarian aid plan for Zimbabwe for
2007, worth 8 million-pounds, to assist people living with HIV/AIDS, and
The director of the Mutare-based Family AIDS Caring Trust, Jephias Mundondo,
told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe, that most of
Zimbabwe's health programs are donor funded, but despite the claims of
sanctions, Harare should be able to handle its own health care system.
- ZWE 003 / 0507 / OBS 046
The Observatory has been informed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
(ZLHR) and the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) of new serious acts of
repression against Zimbabwean human rights defenders.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint
programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention
in the following situation in Zimbabwe.
Brief description of the situation:
According to the information received, on May 4, 2007, Messrs. Alec
Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni, two senior lawyers of ZLHR and partners in
the law firm Mbidzo Muchadehama and Makoni, were arrested outside the High
Court in Harare by members of the Law and Order Section of Harare Central
police. They were taken to the Central police station "for interrogation"
but were not provided with reasons for their arrest.
Following their arrest, lawyers attending at the Law and Order section were
able to confirm the presence of the two lawyers but were chased out of the
offices by Detective Inspector Rangwani, who also threatened to physically
assault Mr. Dzimbabwe Chimbga, a project lawyer with ZLHR and threatened all
lawyers present with arrest if they persisted with seeking a reason for
their clients' detention. Moreover, Messrs. Alec Muchadehama and Andrew
Makoni were denied access to their relatives and were also denied food and
An urgent application was filed by ZLHR at the High Court of Zimbabwe. In
the evening, the Court granted a "temporary order" directing the police to
allow lawyers access to Messrs. Makoni and Muchadehama and to allow them
access to food, medical attention if necessary, and visitation by their
relatives, pending the hearing of the matter the following day.
In spite of this, the police defied the court order and transferred Mr.
Makoni to Stoddart police station and Mr. Muchadehama to Matapi police
station. They also denied them any access to their lawyers, relative, food
On the following day, the court reconvened and declared that the arrests
were unlawful and that Messrs. Makoni and Muchadehama should be immediately
When travelling to Matapi police station, lawyers from ZLHR were informed
that Mr. Muchadehama had been taken back to the Law and Order section at
Harare Central for further interrogation. Lawyers proceeded to Stoddart
police station, where they confirmed the presence of Mr. Makoni, but were
advised that the officer in charge was not available and therefore he could
not be released.
On the morning of May 6, 2007, as a second application was being filed,
Chief Inspector Manjengwa and several police officers from the Law and Order
section at Harare Central police station visited the offices of the law firm
of Messrs. Mbidzo, the other partner in the firm, Muchadehama and Makoni
taking the two detainees with them. Mr. Lawrence Chibwe, LSZ Deputy
Secretary, Mr. Otto Saki, acting programmes coordinator at ZLHR, were
threatened with arrest when they sought to scrutinise the search warrant.
Police proceeded to remove certain files and documents from the offices and
did not allow the lawyers to take an inventory or remain present during the
search. Messrs. Muchadehama and Makoni were then taken back to Criminal
Investigation Department (CID) Law and Order.
Following the application, the High Court ordered that they be produced
before it on May 6, 2007 and once again, the police refused to produce them
and they remained in custody as of May 7, 2007. Lawyers acting for the two
were harassed, threatened and severely intimidated by officers of the Law
and Order Section as and when they served the court applications and court
orders and the general refusal to accept service of court process by members
of the Law and Order Section continued.
The police would intend to charge the two lawyers under section 184 (a) and
or (e) in the alternative of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act
with obstructing the course of justice. They have been remanded to June 15,
2007 for routine remand.
The Observatory has also been informed that on May 8, 2007, Mrs. Beatrice
Mtetwa, president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Ms. Irene Petras, acting
executive director of ZLHR, Mr. Mordecai Mahlangu, a senior lawyer and
former president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Mr. Chris Mhike, Councillor
of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Mr. Colin Kuhuni, Councillor of the Law
Society, and another senior lawyer Mr. Fitzpatrick, were severely beaten by
the police in Harare Zimbabwe, for leading the legal profession in Zimbabwe
to defend the rule of law and protest the frequent harassment of lawyers in
Zimbabwe by the police and the now endemic defiance of court orders by the
The Observatory notes with great concern that these facts occur in the
context of organised violence and torture against human rights defenders and
political opponents in the run up to the 2008 elections.
Please write to the authorities of Zimbabwe urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity
of Messrs. Alec Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni, as well as all persons
ii. Conduct a fair, impartial and independent inquiry into the events
above-mentioned, in order to bring the authors to justice and pronounce
sentences proportional to the gravity of their crimes;
iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment against Messrs. Alec Muchadehama
and Andrew Makoni as well as all other human rights defenders in Zimbabwe;
iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights
Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December
9, 1998, especially its article 1, which states that "everyone has the
right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive
for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms
at the national and international levels" and article 12.2, which provides
that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection
by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association
with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure
adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a
consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in
the present Declaration";
v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental
freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and
international instruments ratified by Zimbabwe.
President of Zimbabwe, Mr. Robert G. Mugabe, Office of the President,
Private Bag 7700, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 708 211 Mr.
Khembo Mohadi, Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, 11th
Floor Mukwati Building, Private Bag 7703, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax :
+263 4 726 716 Mr. Patrick Chinamasa, Minister of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs,
Fax: + 263 4 77 29 99 / +263 4 252 155 Mr. Augustine Chihuri, Police
Commissioner, Police Headquarters, P.O. Box 8807, Causeway, Harare,
Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 253 212 / 728 768 / 726 084 Mr. Sobuza Gula Ndebele,
Attorney-General, Office of the Attorney, PO Box 7714, Causeway, Harare,
Zimbabwe, Fax: + 263 4 77 32 47 Mrs. Chanetsa, Office of the Ombudsman Fax:
+ 263 4 70 41 19 Ambassador Mr. Chitsaka Chipaziwa, Permanent Mission of
Zimbabwe to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin William Barbey 27, 1292
Chambésy, Switzerland, Fax: + 41 22 758 30 44, Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org Ambassador Mr. Pununjwe, Embassy of Zimbabwe
in Brussels, 11 SQ Josephine Charlotte, 1200 Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Belgium,
Fax: + 32 2 762 96 05 / + 32 2 775 65 10, Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the embassies of Zimbabwe in your respective country.
Geneva - Paris, May 16, 2007
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in
The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of
Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time
The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line: Email :
Appeals@fidh-omct.org Tel et fax FIDH : + 33 1 43 55 55 05 / 33 1 43 55 18
80 Tel et fax OMCT : +41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29
By Mutumwa D. Mawere
Last updated: 05/21/2007 14:17:27
IF THE Labour Party was an African party and Tony Blair was its leader,
would the party's interests, and indeed, national interest have overridden
the leader's personal interest to remain in power?
The succession debate is not unique to Africa but what makes Africa unique
is that personal interests of incumbents appear to be more important that
even national interests. This is not restricted to the Heads of States but
even to functionaries like Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono in the case of
Last Thursday, it was reported in that Gono was under pressure to quit
against a background of an acknowledgement that Project Sunrise has left
most of Zimbabwe in darkness and condemned the country to unprecedented
Notwithstanding the fact that the wheels are off in Zimbabwe, Gono hit is
reported to have hit out at his critics in parliament and the ruling Zanu F
At the centre of the apparent dispute between Gono and the Portfolio
Committee on Budget and Finance chaired by Guruve North MP, David Butau,
appears to be the management of the national foreign currency resources by
one man and the opaque quasi-fiscal activities of the RBZ. This is not the
first time Gono has been criticised for monopolising the management of the
national loot. Zanu PF at its national conference held in December 2006
passed a similar resolution to no effect.
It is now clear that President Mugabe will not exit as anticipated by his
critics. The position taken by President Mugabe is not unusual and, in fact,
he has many friends including the outgoing President of the World Bank, Paul
Wolfowitz, whose initial reaction to the scandal that has rocked the World
Bank was to say that he will not quit only to then succumb to sustained
pressure from within and outside the institution. Even when there is
overwhelming evidence that the continued stay in office of a leader is not
in the best interests of the institution they serve there appears to be a
universal attitude of leaders to continue to cling to power at all costs.
To the extent that the behaviour is not unique to Africa, it is important
that we interrogate the issue of leadership response to internal and
external shocks and crises so that citizens can find better ways of
convincing stubborn leaders to vacate office to allow the mission of their
institutions or nations to be advanced. Any observer who watched how the
Labour Party and presumably Gordon Brown outmanoeuvred Tony Blair would
agree that there are important lessons to be learnt on how an institution
can democratically remove obsolete and irrelevant leaders.
Even in the Wolfowitz case it was clear from the beginning that his days
were numbered but what was instructive is how the Staff Association of the
World Bank and other external stakeholders as well as the media worked
constructively to remove him. At the end, he conceded on Thursday last week
the same day that Gono vowed that he will not quit by saying that he was
resigning in the "best interests" of the bank, thus ending a protracted
controversy over a generous pay and promotions package for his girlfriend,
My focus is not to dwell on the Wolfowitz case but to demonstrate how it is
possible to make the necessary leadership changes in the face of
recalcitrant leaders who become married for life to the offices they hold.
Mr. Wolfowitz said something profound in his resignation statement. It read
as follows: "I have concluded that it is in the best interests of those whom
this institution serves for that mission to be carried forward under new
Why is it not conceivable that persons like President Mugabe and Gono will
not see it in themselves to allow the destiny of Zimbabwe to continue to be
written by other leaders when there is evidence that the patient i.e.
Zimbabwe remains brain dead in the intensive care unit? Some may argue
rightly or wrongly that it would not be in the national interest for a
President to throw the towel in the face of problems instead of solving the
problems in as much as President Wolfowitz, Blair and even the late Nyerere
could have advanced the same self serving argument.
Some have said that "attitude determines altitude" and Zimbabwe's
possibilities can be as elastic as Zimbabweans are realistic enough to
appreciate what works and what does not work. In the case of the RBZ, it
does not take any genius to understand that any economy that is as
micro-managed by a single unaccountable individual is doomed to fail. What
is scarier are the justifications advanced to rationalise the destructive
policies and actions. Having read what Gono had said to Zimbabwe's elected
representatives; I thought it was important to revisit Gono's statements to
highlight the dangers inherent in the continuation of the current economic
strategy if it exists at all.
This is what Gono is reported to have said: "They say the governor is
big-headed, he has got ambition. Some hide behind the camouflage of the
legislature and bring out their spears so that the governor can be moved.
Not before my term is finished!"
"We offer no apologies for interfering in all spheres of the economy. We
offer no apology for doing the unorthodox. Those who wrote economic
textbooks never experienced Zimbabwe's land reform."
"I hardly have a good sleep at night. I sleep facing the stars.why should we
be importing food when the RBZ has printed trillions and trillions? We are
being told that we cannot produce because we are susceptible to drought.
"It is therefore, illogical and misguided for some sections of society to
recommend to government the formation of foreign exchange allocation
committees thinking that this would in itself solve the prevailing foreign
If it is common cause that the Gono medicine is not helping the patient, why
would he want to remain in office giving the same dosage to a dying patient?
If the Parliament of Zimbabwe is an address through which citizens express
their views about the state of the nation, why would Gono adopt the attitude
that the Parliament of Zimbabwe does not have a right to know about the
allocation of the resources of the nation? Who should have oversight on the
operations of the government? Is the budget still the vehicle for allocating
resources in Zimbabwe?
Why would Gono have the courage of not offering an explanation for doing
what he terms as the unorthodox? Is it Gono's position that because of the
land reform program, democracy should be suspended? Gono's argument seems to
suggest that institutions that should ordinarily inform any democratic
society should be suspended in Zimbabwe. If this is accepted, then does a
Zimbabwe that is implementing land reform really need a transparent and
The RBZ is an organ of the state of Zimbabwe and, therefore, it is
unprecedented for a Governor to publicly ridicule the Parliament when he is
not the Head of State. Even the Head of State would not dare make such
statements to a Parliament if the doctrine of the separation of powers is
applicable and operational.
Any reasonable Governor should ordinarily have no problems with the
recommendation of the portfolio committee for the government to put in place
institutional arrangements that would allow a multi-stakeholder framework to
be responsible for allocating national resources. Why would Gono be afraid
of a foreign exchange allocation committee? Does he have anything to hide?
Could it be that one of the unorthodox measures being implemented by the RBZ
The probability exists that in an environment where there is no
transparency; corruption becomes the order of the day and the perpetrators
benefit by pointing the fingers to other people like NMB officials when in
truth and fact the worst transgressions may be the order of the day at the
RBZ. Is it not possible that the citadel of corruption may now be the RBZ?
We have seen the drama associated with the so-called NMB's second forex
scandal. Could it be the case that the NMB officials were fully aware of the
modus operandi in Zimbabwe i.e. the unorthodox where anything goes and with
this in mind they proceeded to construct their own external bridge by
remitting funds in the same manner that officials of the RBZ may be doing
for personal gain?
It is evident that the attitude of President Mugabe to textbook economics is
no different from Gono or the other way round. If theoretical economics is
no longer relevant in Zimbabwe, then surely trained economists have reason
to worry. If the attitude is as expressed by Gono then surely the 2008
elections would be nothing but a sham. Why would President Mugabe bother to
get the mandate of the people when his Governor has the courage to tell the
representatives of the same people to take a walk? This begs the question of
whether a Zimbabwe that is implementing land reform and is under sanctions
still needs a democratic dispensation. It is clear from Gono that if he were
the President of Zimbabwe, it would be in the national interest to suspend
Mutumwa Mawere's weekly column appears on New Zimbabwe.com every Monday. You
can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
May 21st, 2007 by John.
We have received reports that wildcat strikes are spreading across Zimbabwe
as workers demand pay which will match massive inflation.
Eddie Cross reported on Zimbabwe's Nehanda Radio on Friday 18 May:
At this moment there are a number of wildcat strikes taking place throughout
the country. Workers are demanding wages that will help them cope with
massive price rises that have left them virtually in penury. Tregers and
Advance/Spar are on strike for higher wages in Bulawayo and in many other
industries workers are either adopting go slows or threatening strike
Industrial wages are totally inadequate for the average worker who now faces
a transport bill of at least Z$400 000 a month, maize meal at least 10 kg a
week at a cost of about $100 000 a bag and cooking oil at Z$50 000 a litre
(if availabe). School fees and other incidental costs mean that a low income
workers needs at least Z$1,5 million a month to survive. Wages last month
were a third of this on average.
In addition to this problem, business is struggling with the hyper inflation
and are finding it almost impossible to finance the replacement of stocks
and operating costs. Almost all industrial and commercial firms are
struggling to manage their cash flows. The dollar is depreciating at about 3
per cent per day and this is exacerbating the situation.
Just this week we have reports of food riots in the rural areas when GMB
trucks loaded with maize grain arrived to undertake food distribution
organised by local Zanu PF structures. They had expected the maize to cost
the same as the month before (Z$17 000 for 50 kilograms) and instead were
faced with new prices of nearly Z$200 000 per 50 kilograms.
The villagers who had in most cases paid Z$17 000 to their headmen for the
maize, refused to pay the increased prices and demanded their money back.
There were many angry scenes and I understand the GMB vehicles returned to
their depots with very little maize sold. At Z$200 000 for 50 kgs the maize
is very cheap, even so the villagers are used to virtually free food and
simply do not have the money to pay higher prices.
I am told that agencies distribution food in the rural areas are being told
that no distribution will be allowed without the presence of a government or
Zanu PF official present. The food situation in most districts is now