Power cuts along with
fuel and water shortages have become common occurrences in Zimbabwe. Critics
of President Mugabe's Zanu-PF party say his policies have crippled a once
vibrant economy and that things have got worse since the party's re-election
in March 2005. Former Zimbabwe correspondent Grant Ferrett returned to the
country to find out.
I'd been in Zimbabwe just a few
minutes when President Robert Mugabe's face appeared.
I was in
an airport lounge, and state-run television was broadcasting archive footage
of Mr Mugabe.
But each time his picture came on, a young shop
assistant held up her hand in the flat-palm sign of the MDC opposition over
the television screen, obscuring the view of the 81-year-old
It was a very public expression of defiance in a country
where criticising the president is a criminal offence and where many people
live in fear.
She didn't have to keep up her show of
disapproval for long.
The electricity in the airport failed and the
television screen went blank.
Power cuts have become a common occurrence in Zimbabwe, an indication of the
country's economic demise.
Another sign was provided by the cost of
just a short taxi journey into the centre of the capital, Harare, which came
to 250,000 Zimbabwe dollars.
When I first arrived in Harare
seven years ago, the exchange rate was 38 Zimbabwe dollars to the pound. The
unofficial rate is now about 25,000 to one.
The plunging value
of the local currency and the correspondingly breathtaking rise in inflation
- currently down, officially, to a relatively modest 130% a year - has made
life very complicated, as well as very expensive for most
For a start, it is difficult to keep track of prices
which are constantly changing and you have to carry wads of notes. One
celebrated cartoon shows robbers holding up a man who is pushing a
wheelbarrow full of cash. The attackers demand that their victim throw out
the worthless banknotes and hand over the wheelbarrow.
introduction of a 20,000 dollar note reduced the inconvenience. But close
examination reveals that the notes, known as bearer cheques, have an expiry
date of 31 December 2004.
They were clearly intended to be a
temporary measure, but because Zimbabwe's economic collapse has continued,
they are still needed. They also have the number 50 written in the corner.
They were introduced in such a hurry that the authorities simply used the
template of the old 50 dollar note.
In what used to be my local shopping centre in Harare, there were empty
shelves. Shortages have afflicted the country for the past five
The staple food, mealie meal, was available, but only the
more expensive variety, which is beyond the means of many
There was no sugar, even though there are vast sugar
plantations in the south of the country.
government-controlled prices ensure that much of it ends up being sold at a
higher price outside the country.
And yet, if the official results
are to be believed, Zimbabweans voted in favour of more of the same in the
Despite presiding over the world's
fastest-shrinking economy, the ruling Zanu-PF party apparently received a
bigger share of the vote than in the last such polls five years
President Mugabe can claim little support in the
A widely circulated phone text message asked why it was
the Pope who had died rather than the Zimbabwean leader.
said please take Bob," says the message, "not the Pope."
impossible for me to tell if the ruling party had much support in rural
areas. I was working as a journalist in Zimbabwe without accreditation, an
offence punishable by two years in prison.
I had hoped to visit
some of the previously white-owned farms which had been redistributed over
the past few years, but was advised that the risks were too
I did speak to some unemployed farm workers, who had been
without jobs since their farm was reallocated three years ago. There are
hundreds of thousands in a similar position.
I also interviewed a friend who is a successful black commercial farmer. He
bought his farm legally, long before the government's redistribution
When I phoned to suggest I visit him at home, he quickly
dismissed the idea. He said he was being watched on his farm, his new
neighbours apparently didn't trust him. He is viewed as an ally of the white
farmers who used to live in the area. So instead he came to meet me in the
anonymity of the capital.
Sitting in a borrowed car, I spent
much of the time glancing in the mirror hoping no passers-by had noticed the
He was anxious, too, and told me that he was thinking
of spending some time away from the farm in the hope that things would calm
He said there was still a lot of intimidation by ruling party
supporters. This man, who told me five years ago that he wanted to be a role
model for aspiring young Zimbabwean farmers, is even wondering if he will be
able to farm at all in another five years' time.
It is a
terrible comment on President Mugabe's government, and shows perhaps why one
young Zimbabwean tried to prevent Mr Mugabe's face appearing on
Beleaguered parastatals warn of impending food crisis
[ This report does
not necessarily reflect the views of the United
JOHANNESBURG, 5 May 2005 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's key production
and distribution parastatals have warned of major food shortages in the near
future unless government provides immediate funding to restore viability to
Their concerns surfaced amid reports that the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has so far failed to make available the Zim
$10 trillion (US $1.6 billion) recapitalisation package for rescuing 16
ailing but crucial state-owned companies, as pledged in January this
Under the Parastatals and Local Authorities Re-orientation
Programme, the RBZ promised financial support to revive production in the
parastatals, and revitalise declining standards of service provision in
local government councils.
Five months later, the central bank has
failed to disburse the money, citing a scarcity of foreign currency. In the
face of worsening nationwide shortages, the bank said it had been forced to
limit its foreign currency allocations to importing food and fuel, ahead of
other capital expenditure commitments.
The Zimbabwe Electricity
Supply Authority (ZESA), the nation's sole power supplier, warned of an
impending power crisis, just as government said it had pinned its hopes for
a successful winter wheat farming season on the country's few electrified
Addressing business delegates at the Zimbabwe
International Trade fair last week, ZESA's chief executive officer, Sydney
Gata, said the company might "sound alarmist", but it was true that the
country would face serious power supply problems as long as the foreign
currency crisis persisted.
"We might sound alarmist but, yes, there is a
serious, nationwide power supply problem looming," said Gata, noting that
ZESA needed at least US $2 billion to avert a major power supply crisis
between this year and 2010.
ZESA relies heavily on imports from South
Africa, Zambia, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to
satisfy the national demand, but Gata said the company was currently
operating at well below normal capacity, and production would continue
declining as more equipment broke down.
The country has been facing
worsening power cuts for the last three months, and it is feared that the
electric irrigation schemes set aside for the winter wheat farming programme
could fail to deliver a decent harvest due to power
National Foods Holdings (NFH) is the sole producer and
distributor of all basic food commodities in Zimbabwe, and also mills maize
and wheat purchased from the state-controlled broker, the Grain marketing
In its annual statement, submitted to the Zimbabwe Stock
Exchange last week, NFH said future food availability in the country was
under threat because of cash flow problems.
It noted that over the
years the company had been forced to import up to 70 percent of the annual
national food requirement at high costs, and forex shortages now hampered
its ability to acquire external supplies.
A senior company executive told
IRIN that government-imposed price controls on basic food products had the
net effect of destroying profitability, and ultimately the future
availability of food in the country.
"The company faces serious viability
problems in trying to maintain the balance of optimising service provision,
and at the same time increasing profits. The price control regime (which
applies to all NFH products) is unsustainable, as it compels the company to
produce or import at market rates, but sell at well below market value," the
NFH also called on the government to take
restorative measures to increase its production capacity, and warned that
the net effect of its collapse would "seriously impact on the availability
of basic commodities in the domestic market".
Only two of its five
milling sites, Bulawayo and Harare, were still operating, but at only five
percent of their monthly production capacity as a result of the crippling
shortage of foreign currency. Its remaining 2,000 workers were facing
The Cold Storage Commission (CSC) is in charge of the
livestock and beef industry - previously a key contributor to foreign
currency earnings - and also provided a pool of draught power to thousands
of communal farmers.
It had hoped to get enough financial support to
control a four-year epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease and resume its
lucrative exports to the European Union, but said efforts to restock the
depleted herds on its ranches had fallen by the wayside because of a
shortage of funding.
"We are facing serious difficulties, as the funding
has not been availed. We applied for funds for a short- and long-term
livestock rearing programme, as part of the national restocking exercise,
but we still have to wait," the CEO of the Cold Storage Commission, Ngoni
Chinogaramombe, told the official Sunday Mail.
Besides ZESA, NFH and
the CSC, the 16 loss-making parastatals targeted by the RBZ's ambitious
recapitalisation programme include national coal supplier Wankie Colliery
Company, the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, national milk supplier
Dairibord, National Railways of Zimbabwe and the GMB.
Bloch and Eddie Cross said the country was indeed facing a serious round of
shortages if production in the key parastatals was not restored.
RBZ has no choice but to prioritise food and fuel, as it is the only
national institution that can do that. Major job losses are looming in all
the national parastatals because of lack of capital funding, and detrimental
command economy policies like price controls," Cross commented.
government has only recently admitted that there was a need to import at
least 1.2 million mt of maize and 200,000 mt of wheat to cover the country's
cereal deficit. State-subsidised parastatals play a dominant role in all the
strategic sectors of the Zimbabwean economy.
Chofamba Sithole Last updated: 05/05/2005 20:51:37 SEVERAL changes have
occurred in the British election campaign.
Well, for a start, I have
ceased to be an outsider in this country's political process. It all changed
a few mornings ago when I received an official polling card from the local
authorities and a letter informing me that I was a registered voter and
would therefore be eligible to decide who rules this land of our former
coloniser for the next five years! I had not realised that by filling out
residence forms from the city council upon moving into my university
accommodation last September I was also being automatically entered onto the
I must say I was impressed by this development given the
fact that our own voters roll is an area of major political conflict and
how, even after checking one's name on the roll and re-registering, one's
right to vote may still remain precarious and uncertain. I vividly recall
how, in both 2000 and 2002, I found my name missing from the voters roll in
Harare Central constituency and only managed to vote after producing the
proof of registration slips that I had dutifully kept in my wallet for weeks
before the polls.
Is it not ironic, too, that I should enjoy the
right to vote in the British elections when, just last month, the highest
court in my country dismissed Diasporan Zimbabweans' demand to be
enfranchised as "lacking merit"! The argument advanced by justice minister
Patrick Chinamasa (Justice Chidyausiku has not bothered to explain his
argument yet) in opposing voting rights for Zimbabweans abroad is simply
flimsy and makes sense only in the context of the ruling Zanu PF party's
belief that all Zimbabweans abroad are 'sell-outs' and supporters of the
opposition. That's a nonsensical position and clearly lacks merit in the
context of the state's ethical and political obligations to its
The sovereign state's absolute claim as the primary and
legitimate mode of political community comes with moral obligations to those
whose loyalty and allegiance it demands as a sine qua non for its very
existence. Thus there cannot be any justification in principle for
disenfranchising citizens. Any argument to the contrary calls into question
the need to rethink notions of political community and citizenship; it means
we have to establish why territoriality should account for multiple levels
of citizenship and the state's diminishing moral obligations the farther one
is from its borders.
Anyway, let me conclude with an overview of the
latest developments in the British election campaign. Blair had been riding
a crest of resurgent public support in recent weeks, leading the 'creepy'
Michael Howard with eight percentage points in most opinion polls. However,
Blair's bubble has burst dramatically in recent days and New Labour's lead
has narrowed to just two points. It appears the Tory campaign strategists
were saving the best for last - they have invoked the ghosts of Iraq to
haunt Blair out of Number 10 Downing Street!
Howard, who is
derisively depicted as a spooky vulture by The Guardian's cartoonist, Steve
Bell, has swooped in for the kill. His party has erected new billboards all
over the country with a smiling Tony Blair and the words, "Wipe the smile
off his face on May 5." The image of Blair on the billboard is seen to
change, with the smile on the Premier's face literally disappearing, as
observers move from right to left.
However, Blair's charisma - on which
attribute he leads Howard by a whooping 31 percent - may be his only
salvation as people go to the polls. Pollsters say the Tories' assault on
Blair's personality is actually fuelling a sharp rise in his popularity.
Voters think Howard lacks the charisma required of a prime minister. It's a
tight race to the finish and no one is leaving anything to
Voters, yours truly included, will deliver the verdict this
Thursday. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last updated: 05/05/2005
20:10:31 ZIMBABWE has been in the news all over the world a lot in the
last few years. An odd phenomenon of the associated high profile of its
controversial president Robert Mugabe has been the deeply disparate passions
he rouses in different audiences.
The recent general election
his ruling ZANU-PF won, though not without a lot of controversy, showed that
the rural areas are largely where his support base remain, from the heady
days of 1980 and soon after, when the whole country was behind him. The
urban areas that are traditionally thought to be the locus of the
intelligentsia of a country continue to be repulsed by the man, his party
and their message and performance, a trend that began in the last few
A central part of Mugabe's message is that even if there
has in recent years been widespread decline in all sectors of performance,
wiping out many of the impressive early gains of the post 1980
Independence era, there are still important reasons nationalists and
Pan-Africanists should continue to support him. Those reasons, the argument
continues, include the fact that he and his government are under siege from
a hostile, racist western world that has not forgiven him for seizing
farmland from "their white kith and kin," who dominated productive farmland
up to 2000.
According to Mugabe, those western countries have
spared no effort to make the country suffer for his radical deeds at sudden
land re-distribution from 2000 onwards. The country's hyper-inflation,
reduced hard-currency earning capacity as all productive sectors experience
decline, the shortages of many basic goods, hyper-inflation and the many
other indices of decline under his tutelage are all somehow linked to this
purpoted diabolical western conspiracy.
While many Zimbabweans
have rejected this as absurd scapegoating for failure, this is a message
that has found a receptive audience in many parts of the black and
developing worlds. To many present or recently past victims of group
discrimination and marginalisation, Mugabe comes off like a
How many leaders, particularly in a
donor-dependent Africa struggling to find its feet in the world, dare to
tell off US president George Bush or British Prime Minister Tony Blair the
way Mugabe does? And he not only does so fearlessly, but eloquently and
using examples of these countries' marauding tendencies that one cannot
fault. Their pretext for going into Iraq and razing that country to the
ground is one such example that Mugabe uses to point out how his harshest
critics are far from paragons of virtue in their own conduct.
As such Mugabe has successfully cast himself in the mould of a great
Africanist, and at least rhetorical defender of larger developing world
interests against the depredations the powerful western countries would like
to visit upon them. Many people all over the world obviously feel there is a
vacuum in that regard, and Mugabe would seem to fill it very
Allegations of human rights violations, stolen elections,
corruption and economic mismanagement can then all be dismissed as nothing
more than the expected propaganda of that hostile western world Mugabe is
bravely challenging. Or even if true, the truth of the suffering that
Zimbabweans experience at the hands of Mugabe somehow pale in importance to
the greater "good" he is doing being a spokesman for the downtrodden of the
rest of the world!
The many reasons that Africans and many
others across the globe have a mixed, love-hate relationship with the
western world are obvious and many. As a Zimbabwean who once greatly admired
Mugabe but have little respect for him any more, it is not difficult for me
to understand his emotional appeal to an African who listens to his rhetoric
from afar and does not have to live under his ruler ship.
our standard for our leaders must be much higher now than how well they
articulate our many resentments at past and present, real and perceived
mistreatment from the West. It might have been largely enough to rally us to
support the continent's various liberation struggles many decades ago, but
today the challenges are quite different. Among them are unemployment,
HIV/AIDS and many other chronic health issues, development of human capital
and physical infrastructure, agricultural and industrial productivity,
unfair trade terms and so on.
The solutions to these great
challenges will continue to elude us as long as we allow ourselves to be
mesmerized by rulers who appeal more to emotions over past wrongs and their
present effects, than they do to what concrete plans they have to deal with
those challenges. Twenty-five years after the old (81) and now very
westernized, comfortable and bourgeoisie Mr. Mugabe came into power as a
scrappy guerilla leader, he has rhetorically reverted to a role he is no
longer fit to play!
Instead of merely telling us about the great
structural inequalities of the world, he should be using his power to show
us his ideas for strengthening Africa for its future generations to have a
chance not to be the permanent marginalised of the world. Instead the crafty
old Mugabe talks "radical" as his promising country crumbles from lack of
inspired leadership and ideas.
The man who scores a lot of
points among many sectors all across Africa and beyond for "telling off the
white man" builds a lavish personal mansion in Harare at a time of deep
hunger and deprivation among his fellow citizens. He spends millions of
dollars in hard currency to buy fighter jets from China when many companies
are operating sub-optimally or closing down because the country does not
have enough foreign currency to import essential raw materials, worsening an
already critical economic situation.
For the same reason, fuel
queues unheard of in many poorer countries have been endemic in Zimbabwe for
more than six years. Pictures of that embarrassing situation have been
beamed all across the world again in the last few weeks that fuel has
virtually dried up. He, his fashionable youngish wife and their large
entourages still somehow find the wherewithal and justification in this
environment of deprivation to make trips to the shopping capitals of
south-east Asia, having been banned from the Western capitals that were
their first-choice playgrounds. Despite the travel ban imposed on him and
his cronies by many western countries, many of them find ways to continue
their close ties to countries they have been coached to attack as the source
of all our problems.
The "land" that he makes such a hullabaloo
about having reclaimed from the whites, which reason some in Africa and
beyond still respect him for, despite his many sins and failures,
becomes less productive every year because of the many associated effects of
widespread economic implosion, further impoverishing those he pretends to
wish to empower. The rhetoric that sounds so "radical" from outside Zimbabwe
has cost the country incalculable goodwill way beyond the western countries
it is directed at. African leaders who cynically cheer Mugabe's populist
rantings in public would never think of following his ruinous
Much is made of his "look east" (Asia) policy in response
to his being spurned by the west, but many other African countries who do
not need to look particularly in any one direction have just as good or
better relations with south-east Asia, while also having mutually beneficial
relations with much of the rest of the world. They have those good relations
without needing to be virtual captives, second-generation colonies like is
happening with a Mugabe with precious few options. A country with a chronic
forex crunch will be indebted to this new colonizer for years to come. This
is not the conductof a smart African leader!
emotionally appealing Mugabe's rhetoric and antics may appear to someone
listening to and observing them from outside Zimbabwe, we should all wish
for and agitate for a far higher standard of leadership from Africa's rulers
than has been provided by the likes of Mugabe. The Africanism he spouts so
eloquently and romantically, stirring the hearts of many of us who are still
wary of the west for its treatment of us in recent centuries, is totally
spurious. For Africa to stand on its feet and stop sliding behind the rest
of the world by every measure, we need far more from our leaders than the
likes of Mugabe are able to deliver.
It is time to admire African
leaders based on problem-solving abilities, rather than merely on how well
they articulate resentments whose origins may are easy to understand. But
their articulation not only does not at all help us move forward, but
actually keep us feeling sorry for ourselves; wallowing in stagnation or
regression, as Zimbabwe under Mugabe is doing while some people cheer him on
for his impoverishing, hypocritical rhetorical "heroism." CONTACT
Johannesburg: The 62
South African men accused by Zimbabwe authorities of being coup plotters
could be released next Tuesday after 12 months in Chikurubi prison in
Harare, their lawyer said yesterday.
Lawyer Alwyn Griebenow said he
was not sure if the men would be released on the due date, but he would fly
to Harare to find out what the situation was.
The men were
still awaiting the outcome of an appeal lodged by Zimbabwe's
Attorney-General, Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, against the reduction of their
sentences, which would have seen them released in March.
has been set for the appeal, which will only be of academic value as the men
will be back in South Africa already," said Griebenow.
court officials confirmed on March 2 that the men were scheduled for
immediate release after a successful appeal against their sentences in the
high court. A week later, with all the paperwork completed, their lawyer and
families waited in vain for their return which was delayed when Gula-Ndebele
filed an application to appeal against the high court's
"The suspension of a sentence for early release of a
prisoner only applies to Zimbabwean citizens," Gula-Ndebele said at the
Griebenow said the appeal would only be of value to two
pilots who had received 16-month sentences for their role in the alleged
plot to topple the government of Equatorial Guinea.
judgment is given in their favour they won't have to wait until September 1
to be released," he said.
Two of the men due for release on Tuesday
were ill with tuberculosis, Griebenow said.
The men had been
"well and fit" when they had been arrested, and presumably picked up the
illness in prison, he said.
Francisco Marcus, who had been in
prison hospital for more than six months, was "already very weak and can
barely walk", while Melane Moyo had been in and out of the
Accusations of mistreatment of the prisoners had surfaced
during their imprisonment. Griebenow said their living conditions were
Their prison food had little nutritional value, they
slept on the floor, and sometimes weeks went by without running water, he
He said that the Zimbabwe prison authorities, in conformance
with prison uniform regulations, had refused permission to hand over jerseys
knitted for the men. - Sapa
Inexperiencd SA media failed Zimbabwe - Thloloe
May 5, 2005
By Karen Breytenbach
The SA media had
failed Zimbabwe because inexperienced reporters could not properly analyse
the nuances of the political situation leading up to the
This was one of the major criticisms voiced by Joe
Thloloe, recently resigned editor of e.tv news and chairman of the South
African National Editors' Forum.
"If at e.tv a journalist is
incapable of writing a fair and in-depth political story and is likely to
produce propaganda, we'd rather drop the story and go for something else,"
Thloloe, joined by the head of SABC television news Snuki
Zikalala and Wadim Schreiner, researcher for Media Tenor, an academic
publication on journalism trends, spoke on media freedom and television news
at a World Press Freedom Day gathering on Tuesday at Stellenbosch
Thloloe was reluctant to say why he had resigned while
on sabbatical to write a book, or why there was a recent spate of
resignations at e.tv.
Trends such as the "juniorisation of
newsrooms" due to commercial pressures, had caused news bulletins to compete
with soapies for entertainment value and to move away from serious political
reporting. There was also a lack of mentorship, because editors too are
fairly young, he said.
"We are abdicating our responsibility to
the public, because we forget to ask the hard questions.
hold ourselves accountable only to those who hold the purse strings - mainly
our advertisers," Thloloe said.
Thloloe argued that the news should
be educative rather than merely entertaining.
"We must not
forget our comrades in the war for press freedom, who fought and died for
our constitution... and Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. We
cannot undermine our democracy with tabloid stories harkening back to the
Bantu press of the 1930s," he stressed.
"In dealing with Zimbabwe
we simply chose sides, we did not critically analyse," he said.
Zikalala also felt strongly that news should be fair and substantiated. His
editors would not dare to write an opinion into a bulletin on Zimbabwe, he
"I say verify, verify, verify. Who said the elections were
not free and fair? If you can substantiate it you can write it, but don't
give me a mere opinion," he said.
Zikalala agreed that
juniorisation had led to "shallow and negative reporting" and said newsrooms
should work on the beat system, whereby each reporter would be assigned an
area of expertise.
"We cannot ignore market forces, but we try to
implement a developmental news approach. We want to offer a plurality of
voices," he said.
Zikalala admitted that the SABC was not
Schreiner said the SABC did not use government
news sources more often than the press or radio did, although its tone was
He felt that e.tv focused on the Schabir Shaik
trial at the expense of other political coverage.
LONDON - Unease is
mounting after the Zimbabwe parliamentary election in spite of declarations
of support from the region and a seal of approval from the Southern African
Many analysts, domestic and regional,
foresee a period of instability in a society now sharply divided between
urban and rural communities and between ethnic groups, with popular
legitimacy still evading the government after the poll.
particular analysts say President Robert Mugabe may be unable to recreate
the balance between tribal groups that held the ruling Zanu-PF party
together. Here the key concern is whether, with the election storm passed,
he is able to begin co-opting again the
Karanga leaders he ditched
some months earlier.
Mugabe has moved quickly to neutralise the
potential threat. He created a new Ministry of Rural Housing, to be run by
former parliamentary speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, the leading Karanga in
Mnangagwa was named among Zanu PF's 30 nominated
members of the 150-seat parliament. Compared to his former influential post
this is a substantial downgrading, but his calculation must be that it will
continue to allow him a political toehold in Zanu-PF
Mnanagagwa, the wealthy and powerful former head of
the secret police, was seen as the key representative of the southern
Karanga majority ethnic group, now generally displaced by Mugabe's Zezuru
Mnangagwa, one of the richest men in Zimbabwe,
failed to gain a seat in the election after his break with Mugabe at the
time of the Zanu-PF conference late last year. Then he was alleged to be
plotting a palace coup in the "Tsholotsho Declaration" group, named after
the venue for the meeting of dissident Zanu-PF leaders.
had been tipped as a potential presidential successor and last year made an
abortive bid for a vacant vice presidential post. This went to Joyce Mujuru,
wife of retired army commander Solomon Mujuru, whose close associate Sydney
defence minister - all in this key security
group are Zezuru. Mugabe loyalist Didymus Mutasa, 70, took over control of
the Central Intelligence Organisation as minister of state for national
Another Zezuru, former diplomat Tichaona Jokonya, was
named information minister, a post held from 2000 to 2005 by Jonathan Moyo,
who was expelled by Zanu-PF but won a seat as an independent last
Herbert Murerwa was named finance minister to succeed
Christopher Kureneri, who was arrested last year on charges of smuggling
more than US$1 million out of the country and violating nationality
Murerwa had been minister of higher education and was
acting in charge of finance since Kureneri's arrest. He presided over the
1998 collapse in the value of the Zimbabwean dollar, when Zimbabwe
intervened in the DR Congo.
As anticipated Foreign Minister
Stanislaus (Stan) Mudenge, a Karanga, was sidelined to higher education
while Zimbabwe's high commissioner in London, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, a
Karanga, took over the foreign ministry.
In a sign of defiance
to Western opinion Mugabe named Willard Chiwewe, former permanent secretary
in the foreign affairs ministry, among 10 provincial governors. Chiwewe
caused a diplomatic flurry during the take-overs of white-owned properties
when he issued a statement warning diplomats they would share the same fate
as Mugabe's opponents if they associated with them. This was after Canadian
ambassador James Wall was roughed up by war veterans at a Canadian aid
Mugabe's nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, has been made deputy
minister of science and technology. His older brother Leo Mugabe also won a
parliamentary seat. He is the son of Mugabe's sister Sabina, who was also
elected in the rural constituency of Zvimba South.
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is challenging Zhuwao's
victory in Manyame, pointing to a 10 000-vote discrepancy between the number
of votes cast and the final tally announced by the electoral
Enos Chikowore, a former minister who failed to
get a job in the new cabinet, was reported to have killed himself shortly
after meeting with Mugabe. He was in severe financial difficulties and was
seeking reinstatement in the cabinet as a way out, according to local
Mugabe was meanwhile reported to have turned down the
resignation of Reserve Bank chairman Gideon Gono who objected to the
president's plans to expand spending through payouts to Zanu-PF
The official results gave Zanu-PF 78 of the 120
contested seats in the March 31 elections, the Movement for Democratic
Change 41 and an independent (former information minister Jonathan Moyo) one
seat - but the opposition claims it actually won as many as 94
International analysts said that the election and the
support given Mugabe by the rest of the region had significantly set back
plans for more aid and other support from the US and European Union - it has
made African pledges on good governance much less credible, they say, and
that much harder to convince donor nation electorates.
monitoring team, led by a SA government minister, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka,
and a SA team led by the country's labour minister Membathisi Mdladlana, set
the seal of approval on the election, as expected, but SADC's approval
seemed more a verdict on its code of conduct for elections than on the
Zimbabwean poll. South Africa has officially described the Zimbabwe election
as reflecting the will of the people, but has not called it 'free and fair'.
Addressing reporters after cabinet's fortnightly meeting earlier this month,
government spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe said the question of whether the
elections were free and fair did not arise in cabinet. However, "Government
agreed that it reflected credibly the will of the Zimbabwean people," he
said. Cabinet was pleased by the "convergence" by all parties to a new
constitutional dispensation, Netshitenzhe said. But the African Union (AU)
observer team issued only cautious approval and stopped short of endorsing
the actual results as charges surfaced of massive rigging by Mugabe
supporters. A statement issued by team head Kwagwo Asari-Gyan said that at
the "point of ballot" the vote was conducted in a "peaceful and orderly
manner". However, he stopped short of declaring that the poll was free and
fair, claiming that the AU team could not comment on this as it had not
witnessed the full electoral process. The poll has again widened the split
between African leaders and the developed countries, just when they appeared
to be moving closer. The US, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the
European Union refused to recognize the elections as democratic while
elsewhere African voices are being raised in favour of bringing Zimbabwe
back into the international fold. The UN, too was qualified in its approval.
Secretary general Kofi Annan's spokesman said in the statement that "that
the electoral process has not countered the sense of disadvantage felt by
opposition political parties who consider the conditions were unfair" and he
called on the government to work for "national unity and economic recovery".
But in his victory statement, President Robert Mugabe urged the opposition
to accept defeat, saying they should "not look for all kinds of excuses
which might complicate relationships." In South Africa there has been
considerable anxiety and dismay following the poll. The Congress of SA Trade
Unions (Cosatu) called for investigations into the allegations of fraud and
said it believed the elections took place in "a flawed political and legal
context." The SA Communist Party commented as the polls opened that "the
situation is poised on a potential knife-edge, to a degree that is perhaps
not fully appreciated". "The danger lies not in today's actual poll, but in
what the coming days and weeks may produce," it said in a statement. But to
emphasise the African nationalist line that Mugabe represents to many Black
South Africans, the small Pan Africanist Congress congratulated Zanu PF "for
being the party of choice for the sixth time by the people of Zimbabwe".
However, it was clear that the overall climate did not allow a free poll in
the rural areas villagers were cajoled and threatened, food was used as a
political lever, in some constituencies there was outright rigging, civil
society organisations and the media were cowed, and potentially critical
monitors were vetoed. Pius Ncube, the outspoken Catholic archbishop for
Bulawayo , south of Zimbabwe, slammed what he described as the "evil and
systematic denial of food to hungry people" - incidents were reported mainly
in Matabeleland, in rural districts giving support to the opposition MDC.
Ncube called for civil disobedience. The election outcome was always clear -
as one commentator in the Financial Gazette noted, with heavy sarcasm, "Yes,
a resounding victory for Zanu-PF because it is so serious when it comes to
elections that it does not leave anything to chance ...". The constitutional
weighting towards Zanu-PF meant it already had 30 seats in the bag, and some
weeks earlier the government disenfranchised the entire expatriate voting
population - on one estimate 20 percent of possible voters, probably all
opposition supporters. Yet in the main towns the MDC still held onto its
seats, emphasizing again the class-based rural-urban split and also the
vulnerability of rural voters. They have little access to outside
information except through the state radio, and are more susceptible to
pressure from the ruling party. Contact of rural families with relatives in
the cities has been progressively weakened over the years of the crisis
because of the cost of local travel. Even so there was some inexplicable
rural voting. In one constituency nearly all the voters suddenly switched
from their usual support for the small Zanu-Ndonga party to Zanu PF - the
independent media saw this as just one example of wider rigging. While at
one level the battle between Zanu-PF and the MDC showed itself as one
between an entrenched remnant of the liberation struggle basing its power on
patronage politics, and a modernising sector based on a new middle class, a
parallel ethnic politics has also been coming prominently into play.
Mnangagwa was the most senior representative in government of the Karanga
tribe, the biggest ethnic group among the majority Shona, and comprising
over a third of the population. They now have almost no senior officials
while Mugabe's smaller Zezuru tribe, comprising around a quarter of the
total population, has taken the top posts. By putting out into the cold all
the top Karanga leaders in favour of his clan Mugabe was storing up trouble,
say analysts, and his move to give space again to Mnangagwa indicates he
knows this, though his offer may be too little. His record shows an ability
to balance tribal forces astutely, but the collapse of the system at the
party congress four months ago indicates that strains have now become very
difficult to handle. In addition the Zimbabwe economy is too weak to allow
the government large-scale resources for patronage to oil the way for
co-option of leaders. Mugabe's key card here has been the former white
farms, which he has doled out as rewards for loyalty to his largely Zezuru
supporters. There has been speculation that Mnangagwa and Moyo, who won his
seat in Tsholotsho despite an intense public campaign against him from Zanu
PF and Mugabe, will seek to form a "third force" between the Movement for
Democratic Change and the ruling party. The offer to Mnangagwa seemed aimed
at blocking that. In an ethnic scenario Moyo would bring in Ndebele
support - he recently publicly re-discovered that his family had been
persecuted in the Zanu PF Matabeleland pogrom in the early 1980s. Mnanagagwa
would bring along the Karanga and smaller tribes such as the Manyika, whose
Zanu-PF representatives voted for him in the party congress and suffered the
political consequences - the Manyika provincial chairman of Zanu PF, Mike
Madiro, was expelled from the party along with five other non-Zezuru
provincial chairmen for backing Mnangagwa. In addition to creating a senate,
Mugabe is planning to scrap separate presidential and parliamentary
elections, he said in an interview after the election. He also intends
boosting the number of members of parliament from 150 to about 200. The
changes would be along the lines of the draft constitution rejected in a
referendum in January 2000, a popular verdict that for the first time
signaled to him Zanu-PF's loss of support and galvanized him into a taking
over the white commercial farms. The MDC has also called for "an entirely
new" constitution and system of government; without this there cannot be
free and fair elections, it says. Meanwhile Zimbabwe's main opposition
party, the Movement for Democratic Change, decided to take up the 41 seats
it won in last month's parliamentary elections, which it claims were rigged.
The move has been seen as a sign of rapprochement in the political elite.
MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube said at a press conference in Harare,
"We must defend and occupy all the democratic space which we have won." But
the MDC remains in a quandary about its future course. Ncube said one
suggestion was to convene an alternative "people's parliament" based on the
correct election results, but this faced likely suppression by Mugabe if it
tried to meet within Zimbabwe's borders. The MDC maintains the party would
have won 94 seats in a free election, while more conservative estimates
suggest at least 60. The party is lodging token objections in court to
results in 13 of the 120 elected constituencies as a public demonstration of
the prevalent irregularities, he said. In addition to legal action, the MDC
would "engage in wide ranging consultations" but Ncube refused to detail
what might be considered. Backing for the party has come from urban workers
and middle class people, and from the white farming community - all those in
fact who were outside the charmed Zanu PF circle. The white commercial
farmers have now fallen away. For many of the others in the MDC the
emigration route will now seem the most realistic option. This human
resource drain will make social or economic revival in Zimbabwe even less
likely. The poll has left a dismal sense in Zimbabwe that little will change
until Mugabe goes. Again, the Financial Gazette commentator noted that
change would come "on its own like the sun, whether there is rigging and/or
violence, because its time will be ripe. No one can stop it - just as no one
could stop the Pope from dying ..."
THE national blood bank levels are still below the
required optimum level of 3 000 units although the current blood supply is
said to be satisfactory, the National Blood Transfusion Services (NTBS) has
NTBS procurement and public relations manager Mr Emmanuel Masvikeni
said blood bank levels were still low but there was a great im provement in
the blood supply.
"The current state is satisfactory although it is
still below the required optimum level of 3 000 units. Though still low,
there is great improvement in blood supply as compared to the same time last
year," he said.
Mr Masvikeni attributed the improvement in blood supply
to new strategies employed by NTBS.
"We introduced a donor follow-up
in tertiary institutions countrywide and university blood donors helped us
to increase blood collections during school holidays since they would be
open then," he said.
Research has revealed that pupils are the major
blood donors and usually there is a shortage of blood during and soon after
Meanwhile, in a bid to recruit more adult donors, NBTS
would be conducting a blood donation drive at Meikles Hotel tomorrow in
conjunction with M-web.
THE Zimbabwe National HIV/Aids Conference report was
on Tuesday released to the public, just short of a year after the country's
first ever HIV/Aids conference.
The conference, which was attended by
more than 600 delegates from governments, business and civic groups across
Southern Africa as well as from around the world, took place between June 15
and 18 last year.
Key among recommendations in the report, which was
distributed to journalists from different media houses at a workshop
organised by the National Aids Council (NAC), were issues of prevention,
care and treatment, workplace programmes and economic, legal and
The objective of the workshop, according to Mr
Tendai Chidzenga of NAC, was to disseminate the report of the conference to
journalists and agree on the role the media can play in pushing the
Under care and treatment for instance, the World
Health Organisation's goal is to treat 3 million people by
However, despite concerted efforts by the Government, it still has
only 6 500 people on Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART).
others are sponsoring their own treatment and many others are on company
treatment programmes, the numbers still fall short of the intended
It was, therefore, one of the report's recommendations that
workplaces adopted programmes that looked after the welfare of their
employees and facilitated easy access to treatment in the event of it being
Couples, the report recommended, should not be separated because
of working demands while there was need for companies to put in place better
retirement care packages
This was because employees, who contributed
to the national Aids levy and medical aid sometimes found themselves
destitute after leaving work.
It was also recommended that effective
strategies involving the informal sector be implemented since the informal
sector was increasingly becoming a major employer in the
Delegates to the conference, said they were concerned that with
the scaling up of ART, suppliers might run out of drugs.
raised the issue of ART affordability and called on the Government to take
appropriate measures to ensure that raw materials for the production of
Anti-Retrovirals (ARVs) were exempted from import duty.
was also challenged to ensure the availability of foreign currency for the
procurement of these supplies.
Delegates to the conference noted that the
orphans and vulnerable children referral system was not clear and was
Various line ministries, including the Ministry of
Education, Sport and Culture, Youth, Gender and Employment Creation and
Health and Child Welfare dealt with orphans and vulnerable
Each ministry, however, had different rules for the children
they assisted resulting in confusion.
Some of the issues raised after
the conference have already been looked into with the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe already allocating foreign currency for the purchase of drugs since
Reporter THE business community has called for an urgent solution to the
current fuel crisis.
In interview with the Herald Business, Zimbabwe
National Chamber of Commerce president Mr Luxon Zembe said his organisation
had been receiving reports from the business community on the impact of the
fuel shortage on their business operations.
"Our members have lodged
complaints that business is now grinding to a standstill.
is operating at lower capacity as fuel shortages have had a negative effect
on production and productivity levels.
"The situation is worse in
instances where machinery and engines are fuel driven. What you must
realise, at the end of it all, is that industry ends up paying unproductive
workers," said Mr Zembe. Besides, he said, the crisis, which had also taken
its toll on public transport, had resulted in loss of crucial production
time as workers now reported late for work.
Mr Zembe said while a lasting
solution to the crisis was being worked out, it was imperative that the
available fuel be fairly distributed to all sectors of the
He pointed out that although it was quite understandable for
some economic players such as farmers to receive preferential treatment in
fuel allocation, it was also critical to ensure other sectors were not
neglected as this would have unfortunate ripple effects on the rest of the
Meanwhile, the ZNCC president said as a business grouping, they
anticipated that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono would
urgently look into the issue of the exchange rate, among other pressing
issues, when he delivers his post-parliamentary election monetary policy
Dr Gono is expected to unveil, anytime soon, his
first post-election monetary policy statement review through which a number
of changes to and improvement in the previous ones are anticipated as
efforts to turnaround the economy move a gear up.
"There is no doubt
there is need for adjustment of the exchange rate.
"Without that we are
likely to witness, in the near future, diversion of resources on to the
parallel market. "The governor needs to come up with other ways for
incentivising the export sector."
Dr Gono was also expected to come up
with measures to keep a tight leash on the rate of inflation whose
deceleration is currently under threat from many pressures within the
The ZNCC president said if the Productive Sector Facility was
to be phased out next month, as originally planned, it was important to keep
the Distressed Companies Fund alive as well as find new ways to determine
"The governor also needs to come up with measures to
ensure the momentum gathered towards reducing inflation is
Dr Gono was also expected to shrink the gap between
inflation and deposit rates as part of efforts to encourage savings,
currently being discouraged by the negative real interest returns arising
from the disparity between inflation and deposit rates.
Reporter THE $250 billion allocated to Zimpost under the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe's Parastatals and Local Authorities Reorientation Programme (PLARP)
should go a long way in redeeming the ailing postal service provider, and
effectively turn around its fortunes.
Zimpost is the country's sole
postal service provider is therefore of strategic importance to the
country's economic well-being. However, the semi-Government institution has
been plagued by perennial industrial relations problems which have
culminated in a spate of worker dismissals and suspensions, an undesirable
situation that has threatened to throw its service delivery into the
Ageing equipment coupled with lack of sufficient working capital
have contributed their share to the poor service Zimpost clients have had to
endure for a long time.
There appears to be an urgent need to have
this company rehabilitated and ensure service delivery is efficient and
commensurate with, perhaps international standards, and money being paid by
consumers for such services.
As with several other troubled
parastatals, RBZ has allocated Zimpost a total of $250 billion under
A thorough audit will be carried out by the Reserve Bank to ensure
these funds are put to good use.
"As monetary authorities, we firmly
believe that implementation of our reorientation audit framework would
greatly enhance Zimpost's effectiveness in meeting domestic demand, as well
as supply postal services to the rest of the world," the central bank says
in its audit framework for the parastatal.
"Success of PLARP framework
significantly hinges on ensuring that all resources disbursed are
productively employed and fully accounted for through robust corporate
governance systems. "All these requirements for success are well within our
reach and RBZ is fully committed to playing a pivotal role in ensuring that
this is achieved."
The PLARP funds to Zimpost are expected to help the
institution recapitalise its operations as well as assist in
computerisation, transportation, network expansion, upgrading postal
equipment and establishment of communication centres.
On the other
hand, the reorientation audit would seek to ensure that the turnaround funds
are effectively and efficiently utilised and that there is "transparency and
accountability" during deployment of the funds.
RBZ would also take stock
of Zimpost's current holdings of computer equipment, motor vehicles, postal
equipment and facilities, as well as other assets and certify their
Various other areas such as assertion of Zimpost's legal framework
of existence, the board and its committee members, external auditors among
other administrative issues would also come under the spotlight.
central bank would also "assess Zimpost's orientation to strategic synergies
with other players, in the distribution of goods and services, and money
transfer services" both within the country and outside.
S.Africa press condemns "anti-panic" proposals 05 May 2005
Source: Reuters By Gershwin
JOHANNESBURG, May 5 (Reuters) - South African media on Thursday
condemned government plans to outlaw statements sparking "public panic", but
officials said fears that the move was aimed at stifling a highly critical
press were misplaced.
The government announced plans to bring in new
restrictions after environment group Earthlife Africa last week warned that
a former state nuclear testing site still posed a threat.
Thabo Mbeki and Minerals and Energy Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka both
called Earthlife irresponsible, and Mlambo-Ngcuka said the government would
consider laws prohibiting statements that created "public
South African media criticised the proposals. Business Day said
in an editorial they were already "horribly familiar" to those working in
"oppressive African states".
"(The government's) words should send
shivers down the spine of anyone who had the temerity to speak out against
the crude racism of apartheid, only to be silenced for 'inciting racial
conflict'," the respected daily said.
But government spokesman Joel
Netshitenzhe said the proposals had nothing to do with muzzling the media
and were aimed at preventing public panic.
"This government not only
believes in what is contained in the constitution. It is responsible for
what is written in the constitution," Netshitenzhe said.
He said the statements by Earthlife in particular had the
potential to sow panic as it had suggested that thousands of residents
surrounding the plant might need to be evacuated.
Other newspapers --
many of which have clashed with Mbeki over issues from official corruption
to AIDS -- also attacked the proposals.
"We don't think government should
tamper with the right to freedom of expression which is enshrined in our
constitution," The Citizen newspaper responded.
predecessor Nelson Mandela, Mbeki's ruling African National Congress (ANC)
has faced frequent charges of being intolerant of criticism -- especially
from the media, whom Mbeki has accused of having a racist
Mbeki late last year rounded on Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond
Tutu after he accused the former liberation movement of stifling debate of
controversial issues such as HIV/AIDS and Zimbabwe.
Over 5 million
South Africans are HIV positive -- the biggest caseload in the world.
Mbeki's government has frequently been accused of failing to tackle the
epidemic head-on, while Mbeki has also faced flack for not taking a tougher
line on crisis-hit Zimbabwe.
Time to declare our independence from the United Nations By Tom
DeWeese MichNews.com May 4, 2005
Nations is a mess. It now finds itself buried under scandals. It has Oil for
Food scandals. Sex scandals. Power-abuse scandals. Smuggling scandals. Theft
scandals. And unpaid traffic tickets. Rob, rape, and pillage seems to be the
UN's modus operandi.
Yet why is anyone surprised? The UN considers itself
above the law of mere nations. And it answers to no one. There is no vote on
UN leaders (other than by the culprits themselves). There is no
international referendum on its policies. The UN sets its own standards of
conduct and it controls its own judge and jury. These, of course, are the
very reasons why many have opposed U.S. membership in the UN. And it's why
many have feared the UN gaining any sort of power to gain its own ability to
tax, field an army, or create a court system. Possessing these three powers
drastically changes the UN from a volunteer membership organization to a
global governing body.
Compliant nations simply give the UN a pretense of
legitimacy. The United States government plays to the folks at home by
talking tough about the need for "UN reform." Yet not once has the
Republican-led Administration or the Republican- controlled Congress taken
any steps to withhold funds for UN programs. Instead, the U.S. continues to
go along with nearly every policy scheme, international conference and
peace-keeping mission, paying the majority of the funds, thus supplying huge
amounts of tax-payer money to UN coffers so that business as usual goes on
down at UN headquarters.
There is one public entity to which the UN at
least pretends to react. The court of public opinion. There is a growing
awareness, at least in the living rooms of common Americans, that something
is very wrong with the UN. The UN's greatest fear is that those Americans
might influence our leaders to withdraw from the world body. If that ever
happens, then the UN is finished and it knows it.
surfacing and pundits are pondering, questioning the future of the UN. To
sidestep the obvious that the UN has utterly failed in its stated mission to
promote world peace, or to even have a hint of influence in making anyone's
life better voices are beginning to suggest the word "reform." Reform the
UN, make it more "workable." American leaders, looking for a way to get
around the growing argument to dump the UN may latch on to such a reform
movement. But they should be careful what they wish for because they may not
get the kind of reform they are expecting.
The UN is never without a
contingency plan for its well-prepared agenda of global governance. A major
thorn in the side of those who seek to drive the UN into a position of
international power is the Security Council and the veto power of its
permanent members. Many say the United States controls the UN with its veto
power. Solution: take it away.
One of the twelve points of the Charter
for Global Democracy, which surfaced prior to the UN's Millennium Summit in
2000, was a plan to "reform" the UN by doing away with the Security Council
and replacing it with an "Assembly of the People." The Assembly would be
made up of "people from the world" in the form of non-elected,
non-governmental organizations (NGO's). Take note, these are the same NGO's
which write the background material for most of the UN treaties like Agenda
21, the Biodiversity Treaty, Rights of the Child, and even the Kyoto Global
Warming Treaty. NGOs are special interest groups (almost all leftist) who
are seeking to create the UN as a global government. They are the ones
pushing for UN tax schemes, standing armies, and the International Criminal
Court. While the average citizen focuses on the Security Council and its
dramatic, even heroic image, NGOs have become the driving force in setting
To them it would be a dream come true for the UN to scrap the
Security Council, which still pretends to be a place where nations simply
air their differences. They would then be free to install the Assembly of
the People through which their drive for UN power could accelerate unabated
by pesky U.S. vetoes.
The fact is the UN is not an instrument for
guarding the peace. The UN is the source for international unrest and
"reform" will not fix it. Most urgently, American leadership must not fall
into the trap set by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to allow the UN to
take the lead in rebuilding Iraq. Worse, Blair is also attempting to bully
the United States into embracing the Kyoto Climate Change Protocol. Such a
foolish move would be a disaster to the U.S. economy and would do nothing to
cool the planet.
For the past fifty years, as the UN lived off the
perception that it provided a forum where nations could air their
differences off the battlefield, more wars were fought than ever before in
human history. Instead of removing the threat to peace, the UN has
encouraged, even nurtured, regimes that waged violence on their neighbors,
and indeed, oppressed and tortured their own people.
The first great
challenge to the UN's ability to provide peace was the Korean conflict in
1954. Allowed to operate on its own, the United States would have waged war
against this aggressor and eliminated the communist regime and its threat
forever. However, because American leadership abided by United Nations
diplomatic authority instead of reason, not only was the regime allowed to
survive, the conflict was never resolved. Indeed the North Korean
communists' greatest ally, Red China, was also allowed to take root and
grow. As a result of that UN failure, today, both North Korea and communist
China are two of the leading international threats to peace. These are
festering sores that the United States will eventually have to deal with,
most certainly over UN objections.
Almost the exact scenario was played
out in the Vietnam conflict in the 1960's as UN resolutions tied American
hands from destroying the communists, allowing another brutal regime to
remain in power, again within the axis of China.
Today, fifty years
after the inception of the United Nations, the international community is a
dangerous place. Instead of peaceful, prosperous, stable trading partners,
the world is full of brutal, murdering dictatorships which starve and
torture their own people while threatening the security of their neighbors,
as once-great powers cower and use diplomatic doublespeak to ignore
responsibility. Most of these international thugs have two things in common.
1) Each has a voice and a vote in the United Nations. 2) None would be a
threat if they didn't.
The United Nations has come under the control of
outlaw nations, petty and tarnished former superpowers and self-ordained
special interest groups. Each promotes a socialist agenda that seeks to
redistribute the world's wealth into their own coffers as they diminish the
power of the United States and enslave the citizens of nations in a dark
ages of poverty and misery.
That's why terrorist states like Libya and
Syria are allowed to serve on the UN's Human Rights Commission as Israel is
condemned in resolution after resolution. It's the reason why a prosperous,
industrious nation like Taiwan is refused membership in the UN while a
murderous thug like Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe is given a prominent voice at
The United Nations is not "dysfunctional," as some
"reformists" have claimed. It is a criminal enterprise in which no moral
nation should ever participate, let alone perpetuate.
Many of our
elected officials indicate that the United States is bound to some kind of
forced membership in the UN, as if it's our legal duty. Congress has
resisted Congressman Ron Paul's efforts to pass his "American Sovereignty
Restoration Act" (H.R. 1146), which calls for the complete withdraw of the
United States from UN membership. Critics say it just isn't reasonable in
today's society. They say that the United States would become isolated from
the rest of the world. They say that the United States is bound by a treaty
to stay in the UN.
But according to legal and Constitution scholar, Herb
Titus, the Charter of the United Nations is neither politically nor legally
binding upon the United States or the American people. Says Titus, "The
Charter of the UN is commonly assumed to be a treaty. It is not." Instead,
Titus explains, the UN Charter is a constitution. As such, it is
illegitimate, having created a supranational government, deriving its powers
not from the consent of the governed (the people of the United States and
peoples of other member nations) but from the consent of the peoples'
government officials, which have no authority to bind either the American
people nor any other nation's to any terms of the Charter of the United
Titus goes on to explain: "Even if the Charter of the UN were a
properly-ratified treaty, it would still be constitutionally illegitimate
and void because it transgresses the Constitution of the United States in
three major respects: 1) It unconstitutionally delegates to the UN the U.S.
Congress' legislative powers to initiate war and the U.S. president's
executive power to conduct war; 2) It unconstitutionally transfers to the
United Nations General Assembly the US House of Representatives' exclusive
power to originate revenue-raising measures; and 3) It unconstitutionally
robs the 50 American states powers reserved to them by the Tenth Amendment
of the U.S. Constitution."
Titus declares that H.R.1146 is the only
viable solution to the continuing abuses by the United Nations. He says,
"The U.S. Congress can remedy its earlier unconstitutional actions of
embracing the UN Charter by enacting H.R. 1146."
The world of the UN
is like a parallel reality. It is no place for a nation born from the minds
of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. How would today's American
leaders in Congress react if they were suddenly brought before a tribunal of
Founding Fathers and told to justify American participation in such a
Rather than wasting more time and money on hearings and debates
over a new UN Ambassador, the Congress would better use its resources to
simply ignore the UN and quit. It is past time for the American people to
demand action of our elected officials to uphold the U.S. Constitution they
have sworn to defend. Just as our Founding Fathers did when confronted with
tyranny, it's time that the American people declare their independence from
the United Nations.
------------- Tom DeWeese is the
publisher/editor of The DeWeese Report and president of the American Policy
Center, an activist think tank headquartered in Warrenton, VA. The Center
maintains a website at www.americanpolicy.org.