The good news is that the WOZA women were finally granted bail and left out of a horrible jail after they dared to hold a peaceful demonstration a couple weeks ago.

The rest of the news is bad news, alas, and what makes it worse is that the destruction of that lovely country can be blamed on a single man: Robert Mugabe.

The local currency is worthless: The latest news says that the exchange rate is Z$28,4 quadrillion to the U.S. dollar… the good news is that some shops may accept foreign currency, and the Zimbabwean diaspora is sending home money that is keeping their families alive.

But despite this help, the UN estimates that over five million will need food aid this year. The crops are planted, but the rains are bad, many of the healthy have fled, leaving the sick, the elderly, women with small children, and others who are less healthy to plow the fields (usually in traditional farming, the men use dangerous oxen to plow the main crop in fields…women use hoes to plant a smaller garden with maize, grain, and vegetables. With many men absent, or dying of HIV, the main crops may not be planted unless tractors or handplows are available). To make things worse, the financial crisis means that good seed and fertilizer are not available, and some people may not have saved seeds from the previous harvest to plant.

During famine times, the elderly know which plants, roots, and fruits can be eaten, but searching for famine food takes time (and energy). In the meanwhile, school children aren’t getting taught in many schools, and as for medical care, many hospitals and clinics lack basic medicines.

HIV remains a major problem, and many do receive medicine from NGO’s, but there has been problems: the Global Fund (which funds such medicine) had their money (over $7million American dollars) borrowed from bank accounts by the government. It has recently “been returned”, but it makes many NGO’s leery that their money also might disappear, and the next time it might not be returned.

When Morgan Tsvangirai won the election (yes, I know, “officially” he won 49%…after three weeks of finagling the counts to make sure he didn’t get a majority), and after violence against his supporters led to his boycott the follow up run off election, local governments, worried about a civil war, started to mediate a power sharing agreement, which was actually signed, but never implemented.

The reason? The power sharing agreement is a farce. When it was signed, the understanding was that Mugabe could continue ruling the military, but Tsvangirai could run the police, allowing him to direct them to protect the violence against the opposition.

But the really bad news is that Mugabe, who has been supported by some in South Africa, has managed another slight of hand.

In the “power sharing” agreement between Mugabe and Tsvangirai (who won the original election), Mugabe was supposed to be allowed to control the military, but the local police were to be supervised by Tsvangirai’s half of the government.

Ah, but Mugabe refused, and wants to control the cops too. This allows him to use the police to break up peaceful demonstrations, freeing his army and “Green bombers” to terrorize the countryside far from reporters.

So Mugabe’s “enablers” in the SADC have now decided to pressure Tsvangirai to accept only partial control of the police… and the really bad news is that clueless reporters are calling this a “Mugabe win” or writing headlines implying that Tsvangirai is refusing to cooperate with the farce of letting Mugabe win while making Tsvangirai a leader on paper, without real power to change things.

Effectively SADC was instructing the MDC to accept Mr Mugabe’s definition of power-sharing - that they should take a junior role in his government.

“These regional organs are state to state,” David Monyae, a South African analyst, told the BBC. “The idea of opposition groups coming in and getting heard is not something they are comfortable with.”…

So the “impasse” continues: but it is only an “impasse” because Mugabe has no intention of giving up any real power, and he knows by delaying things he will win with the help of his “friends” in South Africa.

The bad news is that the people of Zimbabwe are the ones who will suffer.

Tsvangirai has no power to stop those who terrorize the country, or to control the plunder of Zimbabwe’s farms by Mugabe’s cronies, or even to change policies so companies can keep their mining industry open: when gold mines shut down because they can’t pay electric bills or pay their workers, something is very wrong.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at MakaipaBlog.