Today, Saturday 29th May, the Voice for Democracy commemorated the International Day for United Nations Peacekeepers. In 1988 the Peacekeepers won the Nobel Prize for Peace for their dedication and bravery.
Speaking Truth to Power
An address by Jacob C. Ngarivhume (Trustee and Chairman) to commemorate the
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF UNITED NATIONS PEACE-KEEPERS: 29 MAY 2010
The Responsibility to Protect
The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is a set of principles based on the idea that sovereignty is not a privilege, but a responsibility. The responsibility to protect can be thought of as having three parts.
1. A State has a responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.
2. If the State is unable to protect its population, the international community has a responsibility to assist the state to build its capacity to do so. This can mean building early-warning capabilities, mediating conflicts between political parties and mobilising standby forces.
3. If a State still fails to protect its citizens and peaceful measures are not working, the international community has the responsibility to intervene diplomatically. Only in extreme cases and only as a last resort, such as in the case of Sierra Leone, should military force be considered.
At the UN summit in 2005, in the biggest-ever gathering of world leaders, 150 states committed themselves – including Zimbabwe – to the principle that they have a “responsibility to protect” human beings from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
It was agreed that the Responsibility to Protect referred first and foremost to the responsibility of states to protect their own people. Only when states could not or would not protect their own citizens, would the international community have a duty or responsibility to protect civilians of another country. It is a role for international peacekeepers, not a call for military intervention.
The fundamental question is whether the Zimbabwe Government can protect its own citizens from violence, especially the violence that continually erupts in the run-up to elections. When addressing a ceremony to mark 30 years of Independence, Zimbabwe’s President said that the government wants people to "desist from any acts of violence that will cause harm to others and become a blight on our society."
However, the ability or the willingness of the Zimbabwe Government to assume its responsibility to protect its own citizens is not supported by the evidence. In the series of elections between 2000 and 2008, hundreds of Zimbabweans have been murdered, raped, tortured, beaten and intimidated. The June 2008 presidential elections were so marred by violence that neither SADC nor the African Union recognized the election results.
Yet, despite detailed evidence having been reported to the authorities of this violence, none of the alleged perpetrators of these crimes have been brought to justice. While those responsible for the violence remain at large, new reports are being received of militia bases being re-established. Serious incidents of violence are once again being reported from the same areas that were responsible for the highest levels of violence in June 2008. The security sector has proved its incapacity to impartially execute its duty to protect citizens.
After all the effort that the South African President has expended in meeting his commitments as the mediator of the GPA, neither he nor SADC, the guarantor of the GPA, can allow an election in 2011 to be contested by the use of violence. They cannot countenance an outcome that is not supported fully by the international community. As there is nothing to suggest that the Zimbabwe Government can or will protect its own people, the Responsibility to Protect voters in the run-up to election falls squarely on SADC, the AU and the international community.
The Voice for Democracy therefore calls on South Africa and SADC, together with their partners in the international community, to immediately establish an early warning system on inter-party election violence. By the careful monitoring of the potential and likelihood of violence, they should take early precautionary measures to prevent any build-up or threat of violence. In particular, they should engage with the United Nations to draw on its expertise for providing security and reconciliation as well as the professionalism and dedication of its Peacekeepers.
We also call upon SADC leaders to establish a Rapid Response Unit that can mobilise at a moment’s notice. Its task should be to quell potential violence at any flashpoint and to restore peace and security as soon as possible. This unit will be the central ordnance for peacekeeping prior and post the election period. It must be in place at least a few months before elections are held and until authority and power are firmly in the hands of a legitimately elected government.
Thank you and God bless Zimbabwe.
 UN Security Council Resolution 1674 of April 2006.
Source: Voice of America (VOA)
Date: 28 May 2010
The collective Western policy since the launch of the unity government in Harare has been to provide only humanitarian aid pending convincing reform as a condition for funding development or reconstruction
Blessing Zulu & Gibbs Dube | Washington
International donors led by the United States and Britain will meet in Oslo next week to review their stance on development aid to Zimbabwe.
The collective Western policy since the launch of the unity government in Harare has been to provide only humanitarian aid pending convincing reform as a condition for funding development or reconstruction.
Diplomatic sources said donors are not ready to modify that policy at present because the parties to the September 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing have not implemented it in full.
The United States, Britain, Japan, Germany, France, Sweden, Holland, Norway, Canada and Australia are members of the so-called Fishmongers Group which will assemble in the Norwegian capital to discuss Zimbabwe's unity government, debt relief and public finance, and the country's evolving indigenization program.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti told VOA that he has sent a message to the group making the case that increased funding is essential to the success of the transitional government.
Diplomatic sources report a U.S. proposal to fund only progressive ministries. But word of this has escalated tensions in the Harare government between the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on the one hand and President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the MDC formation of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara on the other, rivals as well as partners of the Tsvangirai MDC wing.
Harare political analyst Charles Mangongera told reporter Blessing Zulu that the political progress in Harare has not been sufficient to convince the Western donors to modify their Zimbabwe funding stance.
Elsewhere, Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has fired a broadside at foreign banks operating in Zimbabwe, saying that if they are not willing to provide working capital to businesses they should leave the country.
Kasukuwere has been touring the country with other ZANU-PF ministers talking up indigenization. He blames the banks for failing to rescue business which have collapsed or have been laying off workers to survive. He is said to have warned banks to start funding business to avoid a repeat of the chaotic land reform program.
But former Affirmative Action Group president Matson Hlalo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that Kasukuwere should not blame foreign-owned banks for the economic crunch hitting Zimbabwean businesses.
Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, Associated Press
Reporting from Harare, Zimbabwe
Tourist destinations in Zimbabwe and other nearby nations are reportedly receiving bookings from South Africans trying to escape the upcoming World Cup soccer-mania at home.
Campsites and budget-price game lodges in Zimbabwe are receiving bookings from South Africans trying to escape the frenzy of the world's biggest sporting event, according to tour operators and officials.
Call it anti-World Cup fever: Campsites and budget-price game lodges in Zimbabwe are receiving bookings from South Africans trying to escape the frenzy of the world's biggest sporting event at home, according to tour operators and officials.
But other South African neighbors — Botswana with its game parks, Mozambique with its beaches, Swaziland with a slice of royal life — also hope to benefit from World Cup tourists who want to see a bit more of the continent.
Zimbabwe's National Parks department, in charge of the nation's 11 nature preserves, reported a last-minute rush of bookings during and surrounding the June 11-July 11 World Cup.
Emmanuel Fundira, head of the Zimbabwe Council of Tourism, said photogenic safari locations like the Mana Pools wilderness park, on the northern Zambezi river border with neighboring Zambia, were already filling up.
"We must bear in mind South Africans will be running away from the event … we see this pattern translating into local bookings," he said.
Zimbabwe's biggest tourist attraction is Victoria Falls on the Zambezi in the northwest. Seeing the falls is a once-in-a-lifetime experience: They constitute the widest curtain of falling water in the world — more than a mile wide — and are expected to attract World Cup visitors on quick direct flights from South Africa. The resort town has campsites, bed-and-breakfast cottages and 930 star-rated hotel rooms.
But expectations of how many tourists will come are lower than they once were. Despite its abundant animal and natural attractions, Zimbabwe has been hard hit by years of economic and political turmoil, with world-record inflation and a transitional coalition government still headed by longtime ruler President Robert Mugabe.
Originally the Harare government had hoped that up to 30% of soccer fans visiting South Africa would make a side trip to Zimbabwe, but expectations are lower now.
"We had false euphoria four years ago," said Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi.
Tourism in Zimbabwe peaked at 1.4 million in 1999, before the often violent seizures of white-owned farms began in 2000, disrupting the agriculture-based economy and leading to economic meltdown.
The country has now reverted almost entirely to a hard currency cash economy, mostly on the U.S. dollar. Major hotels accept foreign credit cards, but many stores do not have swipe card apparatus, and those that do suffer constant outages on their machines.
South Africa's other neighbors have been sprucing up their image in advance of the World Cup and trying to make life easier for visitors.
Mozambique announced it will honor a new visa recognized by six regional countries to allow free movement between them. The country is also cutting bureaucracy often encountered by tourists from Europe and the United States at frontiers and airports.
Mozambique, a former Portuguese colonial territory, offers unspoiled beaches, deep sea fishing, island trips and cosmopolitan facilities. The main airport in its capital city, Maputo, is getting a $70-million face-lift.
"Many countries in Europe and the Americas do not know what Mozambique has," said Mohamed Juma, a tourism operator in the southern province of Maputo. "I think from June, Mozambique will be on the touristic map."
The tiny, mountainous southern African kingdom of Swaziland recorded 1.3 million international arrivals last year, up 13.3% from the previous year, according to state Tourism Authority chief Eric Maseko. Major attractions include wildlife parks.
Asked about the World Cup, Maseko said, "We are ready." But he added that stray cattle on roads in the countryside were still "a problem the government is working hard to sort out."
Sibonangaye Dlamini, who owns a handicraft stall in Swaziland's capital, Mbabane, said he looked forward to brisk business from World Cup visitors.
"We won't change prices just because it is the World Cup," he promised.
South Africa's western neighbors, economically stable diamond producers Botswana and Namibia, are known for cultural diversity and magnificent scenery and wildlife. Namibia offers the haunting dunes of the seaside Namib desert and Skeleton Coast; Botswana has huge inland wetlands and swamps in the Okavango Delta, and the Chobe game preserve farther north.
Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe converge near the Victoria Falls — known as Mosi Oa Tunya, or the Smoke that Thunders, in the local language, for the roaring spray rising from the cascading waters visible from long distances.
Zimbabwe's economic meltdown and shortages of food and gasoline led to Zambia dominating tourism at the Victoria Falls on its side. Zambian operators offer bungee-jumping, whitewater rafting and helicopter rides over the falls for the so-called Flight of the Angels — taken from British explorer David Livingstone's description of the falls as "sights so lovely they must have been gazed upon by Angels in flight."
The helicopter trips from the Zambian side are $125 per person for a 15-minute trip. By In contrast, in Zimbabwe's ailing economy, a waiter in the nearby luxury Kingdom casino hotel on the Zimbabwe side of the Smoke that Thunders earns $120 for a month's work. But the gaming tables at the Kingdom have been closed for lack of business, leaving only the slot machines in place.
Associated Press writers Sello Motseta in Botswana, Emanuel Camillo in Mozambique, Phathizwe-Chief Zulu in Swaziland and Lewis Mwanangombe in Zambia contributed to this report.
Copyright 2010 Associated Press.
By ANGUS SHAW (AP)
HARARE, Zimbabwe — Tudor Parfitt has spent years chasing a theory that a lost tribe of Jews wound up in Southern Africa. But his latest leap has landed him in a minefield.
The subject at hand is this British scholar's contention that the remains of a 700-year-old bowl-shaped relic which he tracked down in a Zimbabwe museum storeroom in 2007 could be a replica of the Ark of the Covenant that carried the Ten Commandments.
According to African legend, white lions of God and a two-headed snake guarded the "drum that thunders" in a cave in southwestern Zimbabwe's sacred Dumbwe mountains. Parfitt's theory has sparked fierce reactions from some Zimbabwean scholars, who suspect a plot to superimpose foreign origins on what is purely a product of African culture.
Having long disappeared from public view since its discovery in the 1940s, the artifact is now on display at the Harare Museum of Human Sciences. It is about 45 inches by 24 inches in diameter and 27 inches tall with a pattern of shallow engraving on the outside that could have held gold threads. Scorch marks on the base inside were possibly left by primitive gun powder.
Parfitt, a professor of Modern Jewish Studies at the University of London's prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies, says he first heard of the vessel during his two-decade search for Jewish tribes lost in Africa.
At the center of that research is a southern African ethnic group variously called Lemba, Remba or waLemba. Parfitt says 52 percent of them carry a Y chromosome known as the Cohen Modal Haplotype (CMH) — unique to ancient priestly Jewish communities and raising the possibility they are descended from Aaron, Moses' brother. Other groups in Zimbabwe have no CMH.
The waLemba are also set apart from other tribes by such Jewish customs as observing a weekly Sabbath, practicing circumcision, shunning pork and slaughtering animals by methods similar to Jewish kosher rules.
Parfitt acknowledges that theories counter to his are "wholly plausible," and the museum is careful not to take sides. The materials accompanying the exhibit that opened this year outline both the theories behind the relic.
One says the original Ark of the Covenant may have been destroyed when the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem in 586 B.C., that several copies likely were made and that one was taken to Ethiopia by Prince Menelik, the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Another could have found its way to ancient Zimbabwe, says the exhibit.
The other posits that it is a purely African relic, and that according to legend, was made by waLemba craftsmen for royal elders to give them magical powers.
In the Zimbabwean Shona language, the artifact is called "Ngoma Lungundu," the "drum that thunders," while the waLemba call it "the voice of God."
Parfitt says that according to oral tradition, the waLemba could have been among peoples who left Judea in biblical times and migrated through Yemen to east Africa, Ethiopia and beyond, bringing the ark with them.
Eminent Zimbabwean historian Rob Burrett disputes Parfitt's theories.
"He is on the wrong track. Wooden drums — ceremonial drums and war drums with great powers similar to those attributed to the ark — are an integral part of African culture," Burrett said.
The genetic test "doesn't prove anything," he said, noting that early European explorers of the east African coast found a strong presence of Arab and Jewish traders moving into the African interior.
"These people were certainly not celibate and would have created mixed-blood communities along the way," Burrett said.
African traditionalists believe the Ngoma is a royal drum so powerful that it imploded and was rebuilt on the original wooden base 700 years ago. Indeed, a splinter from the top of the artifact has been carbon-dated to about 1300, making it probably the oldest surviving wooden object in southern Africa.
Only carbon-dating of the entire object, including its scorched base, would resolve the debate, but Zimbabwe authorities are reluctant to let that happen. In a nation striving to eradicate tribalism, a result favoring Parfitt's claims might stir tribal divisions by implying the waLembas' origins are not truly African.
"Everyone has placed this object in a context of their own," conceded Giles Mutsekwa, co-minister of home affairs, the body in charge of archives and antiquities.
One context that arouses anger in Zimbabwe is race. During the colonial era, Europeans defended white-supremacist ideas by arguing — wrongly — that Africans could not have built advanced civilizations such as the massive citadel of stone houses called Great Zimbabwe.
Harald von Sicard, the Swedish-German missionary who discovered the Ngoma, theorized in the same vein — that the artifact couldn't have been crafted by Africans. Burrett describes von Sicard as "an old-fashioned, Old Testament" preacher whose views bordered on racism.
Parfitt says he spent weeks living in a waLemba community looking for clues about the ark and getting nowhere. He says he was about to give up when he met a retired train driver in a bar in the southern city of Bulawayo. The man said he recalled hauling a boxcar of artifacts 440 kilometers (275 miles) from Bulawayo to the capital, Harare, for safekeeping during the country's war of independence.
Parfitt searched the Harare museum in 2007, and there it was — in a dusty storeroom littered with mouse droppings. But after he published his findings a year later, controversy flared.
"Some people thought it was all a sinister plot and I was interfering. There was open hostility," he said.
Tempers erupted at a February meeting on the topic at the main Zimbabwe university, with one Zimbabwean academic, historian and former education minister Aenias Chigwedere, storming out of the discussion, denouncing the presence of the British scholar.
Ken Mufuka, a professor of history from Zimbabwe who teaches at Lander University in South Carolina, called Parfitt a "publicity-monger" and "a charlatan" in a newsletter published in Harare.
Burrett, who is also an associate researcher at the Bulawayo museum, said the furor is rooted in the nation's more recent political history.
"There is a fear of undermining the post-independence myth that we are one people, not divided by tribe or origin," he said. "It's as though we are in denial of having a multicultural society."
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
May 30, 2010 12:00 AM
The illegal diamond trade in Zimbabwe is believed to be the single biggest source of "blood diamonds" or "conflict diamonds" in the world today - and one of the last cash lifelines of the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, and his cohorts.
In this file
photo taken Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006, women take a break from digging for
diamonds in Marange, eastern Zimbabwe.
Photograph by: TSVANGIRAYI MUKWAZHI
An investigation by The Times of London established how the Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe - a fabulously wealthy but virtually unexploited diamond find - had fallen under the control of the top men in Zimbabwe's secret services.
And despite the news this week that the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) ordered the Zimbabwean government to halt all illegal diamond dealings, that country's government seems hellbent on circumventing the directive.
The KPCS is a joint governments, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds - rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against other governments.
The KPCS imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as "conflict-free". As of December 2009, the KPCS had 49 members, representing 75 countries, with the European Union and its member states counting as an individual participant.
KPCS monitor Abbey Chikane, who is also chairman of the Southern African Diamond Board, ordered that Zimbabwe stop unlawfully selling diamonds to Dubai.
Mines Minister Obert Mpofu last week confirmed he had suspended the sale of diamonds pending the finalisation of the KPCS process.
"The real issue is (that) Chikane told Zimbabwean authorities that while they can try to go it alone and sell their diamonds outside the KPCS, they were going to face serious problems. He demanded that they must stop their diamond sales," a senior diamond mining executive said.
In 2006, the Mugabe regime cancelled the mining lease for Marange that had been secured by a British-registered company called African Consolidated Resources (ACR). Last year a court confirmed that ACR was the rightful owner - but Mpofu and General Constantine Chiwenga, the defence force chief, have shown no intention of lessening their grip on such a lucrative trade.
Mugabe's wife, Grace, is also alleged to be involved.
Attempts by the country's new unity government, which has the former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister, to gain access to the fields to find out what is really going on have so far failed.
Analysts say they fear that the elite in the regime are using the diamond wealth to entrench themselves in power before an expected succession battle when Mugabe, 86, finally bows out.
- © The Times, London and Sunday Times Foreign Desk
May 30, 2010 12:16 AM
Mugabe reassures mine owners at Victoria Falls conference. President Robert Mugabe said on Friday the government would not expropriate mines and was refining a controversial local ownership law to enable miners to expand their operations.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe Picture: REUTERS
" 'No mine has been nationalised since independence' " Jacob Zuma
"Government has no intention of expropriating the mining industry. No mine has been nationalised since independence," Mugabe told an annual mining conference at Victoria Falls.
Early this year the government published regulations forcing foreign-owned firms, including mines and banks, to cede 51% shares to locals, a move which divided the coalition administration and spooked investors.
"The implementation of the empowerment initiative will take cognisance of the need to promote growth of the mining industry," Mugabe said.
"Accordingly, mechanisms are being refined to ensure that investors find it attractive to expand current operations and to bring new investment into the country."
The regulations took effect on March 1 and require foreign-owned companies to submit plans to show how they will sell 51% of their shares to black Zimbabweans within five years.
But the power-sharing government formed by Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last year is deeply divided over the regulations, which Tsvangirai has said will frighten investors.
Some of the foreign-owned miners that will be affected by the law include the world's number one and two platinum producers Anglo Platinum and Impala Platinum Holdings and Rio Tinto.
Meanwhile, while Mugabe was at Victoria Falls, the make-or break meeting of Zimbabwe's principals in the country's shaky Global Political Agreement (GPA) failed to materialise on Friday as scheduled, after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai arrived late from regional and international engagements, further stalling the mediation process to find a solution to the country's crisis.
President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, the three principals in the rickety power sharing truce, had scheduled Friday's meeting to specifically deal with outstanding issues.
Tsvangirai, whose popular faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has long complained that Mugabe was treating it as a junior partner in the government of national unity, was expected to take Mugabe to task over his unilateral appointment of five judges last week without consulting the other two principals.
"The Prime Minister is very tired after visiting South Korea. We arrived late from South Africa on Thursday night. He needed rest and as such the principals meeting could not take place," said James Maridadi, Tsvangirai's spokesman.
"The principals would now possibly meet on Monday next week," said Maridadi.
Tsvangirai passed through Pretoria, where he was guest speaker at the Southern Africa Liaison Office.
In his address, which was made available to the Sunday Times on Friday, Tsvangirai said the GPA was in trouble because Zimbabwe still had a section of the bureaucracy that continued to resist any changes to the status quo and a security establishment leadership that no longer felt safe in the unfolding new political dispensation.
"Whether it is resistance to implement agreed democratic reforms; or the looting and misuse of state funds and resources; or the lack of respect for the rule of law and the constitution; or simply the ruthless determination to retain or usurp power at all costs and by whatever means. all of this shows how fragile this marriage is, and how fragile the transition process is in Zimbabwe. Just last week, President Mugabe unilaterally appointed five new judges, including a Judge-President, without even a nod to the undertakings he had signed: to consult with me, and to protect the fundamental principles of independence and non-partisanship of the judiciary," said Tsvangirai.
"Being in Government with a partner who does not respect the very agreement which it signed up to as a basis for that partnership is a challenge, to put it mildly. It is now abundantly clear that Zanu-PF never intended to implement much of what it signed up to.
''Fortunately for us though, and for the people of Zimbabwe, the world - and most importantly, the region - is watching. That agreement, the GPA, was brokered and guaranteed by SADC. And SADC has proved that it is determined to see it respected and implemented.'' - Reuters and Harare correspondent