By Peta Thornycroft
12 November 2007
Zimbabwe's lands and security minister Didymus Mutasa has admitted in a
court in Europe that the government wrongfully seized white farms which
belonged to Dutch citizens who considered Zimbabwe their home. Peta
Thornycroft reports that at a hearing in Paris recently, a court is
considering what amount of compensation the Zimbabwe government should pay
to this group of farmers.
Five years after their homes and livelihoods were taken by President Robert
Mugabe's supporters, a group of 10 Dutch citizens who farmed in Zimbabwe
have presented their case for compensation to an international tribunal in
Lands and security minister Didymus Mutasa appeared in the Paris court,
despite a visa ban by the European Union on Mutsasa and members of the
ruling Zanu PF.
The ban was temporarily lifted to allow him to travel to Paris to give
evidence at the tribunal ten days ago. The hearings were closed to the media
and the public.
The farmers took their case to the Washington-based International Center for
Settlement of the Investment Disputes calling for the Mugabe government to
admit breaching a bilateral investment treaty with the Netherlands. Mutasa
admitted in court that the treaty had been broken.
The court is expected to present its ruling on the amount of compensation
the farmers should receive before March next year.
If Mugabe's administration fails to pay compensation to the farmers, they
would have the right to seize any Zimbabwe government property outside the
country including loans from the World Bank and export earnings.
There are an additional 50 farmers from Switzerland, Germany and Denmark
whose lands have been seized and who are also preparing to go to the
tribunal to get compensation. All of them come from countries that have
similar treaties with Zimbabwe.
More than 4,000 white farmers and hundreds of thousands of their workers
lost homes and incomes during the land seizures. The land grab began after
President Mugabe suffered his first political defeat in 2000 when he lost a
referendum for a new constitution that same year.
Zimbabwean Bob Fernandes, now living in Britain, is chairman of a group
called AgricAfrica, which helps pay for the farmers' legal fees. He said he
hoped this case would eventually lead to fair compensation for all Zimbabwe
farmers who were evicted from their homes.
A source close to the Dutch farmers, who have now all left Zimbabwe, said
they have claimed about $48 million (33 million euros).
British lawyer Matthew Coleman, who represented the farmers at the tribunal
said in an email: "The Zimbabwean government acknowledged that certain
'deprivations' had taken place without payment of compensation." He added
that it would "pay compensation in full as and when it is able to do so."
Mutasa defended the seizure of white-owned farms citing the colonial era in
which he said the best agricultural land was taken by white settlers, mostly
Most of the nearly 20 million acres seized by the government from white
farmers since 2000 is now lying idle. Less than 10 percent of evicted white
farmers have received compensation in the last seven years at less than 3
percent of the value of the properties.
The collapse of commercial agriculture triggered the dramatic downturn of
the Zimbabwe economy which now has the highest inflation in the world at
nearly 8,000 percent. Once the breadbasket of Africa, Zimbabwe now depends
on international aid to feed at least a quarter of the population.
By Sebastien Berger in Johannesburg
Last Updated: 2:20am GMT 12/11/2007
The South African president, Thabo Mbeki, who has been entrusted with
finding a solution to Zimbabwe's political crisis, sees Robert Mugabe as his
father figure, according to a new biography.
As one of the last independence leaders still running his country, the
Zimbabwean leader enjoys elder statesman status among many Africans.
But, according to Mark Gevisser, author of Thabo Mbeki: The Dream
Deferred, his relationship with the South African president is personal, and
it is "undoubtedly" affecting the talks Mr Mbeki is chairing between Mr
Mugabe's government and the opposition.
The negotiations are aimed at reaching agreement on holding free and
fair presidential and parliamentary elections next year. But every deadline
for agreement has passed without a deal being done, and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has made concessions in parliament
without receiving anything in return.
"Even though I'm certain Mbeki believes Mugabe needs to go, he has
proven he is not the right person to facilitate Mugabe's departure," Mr
Gevisser told The Daily Telegraph. "Because of the history of their
relationship it's not just a father but a father who he sees some allegiance
"I would question whether he would be able to be as cold and as
hard-nosed as he needs to be as a mediator. Mbeki is unable to bring enough
pressure to bear on Mugabe to force him to some sort of resolution. The
opposition doesn't have any trust in him and the government doesn't fear him
enough to listen to his hard words."
Mr Gevisser's claims will alarm the British and American governments,
which regard the talks as the best hope for a peaceful end to Zimbabwe's
Mr Mugabe's misrule has seen the economy collapse, with inflation at
8,000 per cent and more than four million people - a third of the
population - likely to need food aid.
Mr Gevisser's book, published by Jonathan Ball, details how in the
1970s the ANC was allied with a rival movement to Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF in the
war against Ian Smith's Rhodesia.
But Mr Mbeki recognised that Zanu-PF represented the majority
Shona-speakers in the country and "maintained some kind of informal contact"
with them during the armed conflict - anathema to ANC orthodoxy.
"Thabo Mbeki seems to be the only man in the ANC who expected - and
even approved of - Robert Mugabe's victory," Mr Gevisser writes.
Mr Mbeki later led the ANC's efforts to build bridges with the new
Mr Mbeki's main contact, Emmerson Mnangagwa, would go on to lead the
massacres in Matabeleland in the early 1980s, and later be minister of state
security. He is now seen as a leading candidate to succeed Mr Mugabe.
The author notes that Mr Mbeki's "latter-day appeasement of Mugabe was
rooted at least in part in an acute sense of the role the two men had played
together. Mbeki himself seemed to be driven by an atavistic loyalty to
Mugabe, a 'father' - even if exasperating, even if dangerous - within the
family of freedom fighters."
Similarly, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC, is seen as having no
The book adds: "Tsvangirai's ascendancy thus signalled the
struggle-family's inevitable demise - and presented, to many in the ANC, an
alarming harbinger of this eventuality in South Africa, too."
Mon 12 Nov 2007, 15:05 GMT
By Nelson Banya
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on
Monday the government had failed to solve a humanitarian crisis caused by a
slum clearance drive it launched in a Harare township two years ago.
According to the United Nations, about 700,000 people, were made homeless in
2005 when President Robert Mugabe's government launched "Operation Restore
Order" in an effort to clear illegal settlements and curb crime and disease
in parts of the capital.
Tsvangirai, who heads the main faction of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), said the government had failed to honour a pledge to provide
accommodation for those it moved out of the slums.
"Contrary to government promises of reconstruction, what we are witnessing
here is a humanitarian disaster," Tsvangirai said after touring the Hatcliff
township, where some people continue to live in makeshift shelters without
water or sanitation.
"This is testimony of lack of delivery ... democracy starts with a roof over
Tsvangirai, among dozens of anti-Mugabe activists arrested and beaten by
police earlier this year during an abortive government protest, has a strong
support base in Harare, especially in its poorer districts.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of its worst economic crisis since independence in
1980, with millions struggling to survive in the face of inflation above
7,900 percent, unemployment of about 80 percent and chronic shortages of
food and fuel.
Many Zimbabweans have fled to the cities to try to find work and food,
aggravating housing shortages in Harare and elsewhere.
The MDC blames the crisis on Mugabe's policies, including his controversial
seizure of thousands of white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks.
The 83-year-old leader says Britain and other Western countries have
sabotaged Zimbabwe's economy to try to bring down his government.
From The Nation (Kenya), 11 November
Nairobi - On August 3, 1983, President Robert Mugabe created Zimbabwe's
Fifth Brigade from soldiers drawn from the military wing of his ruling Zanu
PF. The brigade was known as gukurahundi, (rain that washes away chaff), a
name that was soon given to the government operation they undertook. Over
the next four years, Operation Gukurahundi would terrorise members of the
Ndebele community throughout southern Zimbabwe because of the perceived
threat they posed to Mugabe and his predominantly Shona regime. By the time
it ended, at least 20,000 people are alleged to have been killed. "It's an
episode you never hear brought up in conversation," says Zenzele Ndebele,
the soft-spoken 29-year-old journalist who has just released the first
documentary ever made on the subject. "Twenty-seven years after
independence, people are still afraid to bring it up. I'm not going to make
a penny off this documentary, but if it generates some dialogue I'll be
Gukurahundi: A Moment of Madness is a 25-minute investigation into what many
observers have labelled an attempted genocide. Given the current climate of
fear in Zimbabwe, gathering interviews from survivors was an exceptional
challenge. "Everybody here knows someone who was affected by Gukurahundi,"
says Ndebele, who lives near where most of the atrocities were committed, in
the southern city of Bulawayo. "But it was very, very hard to find anyone
who would open up. Of those who agreed to talk, several changed their minds
afterwards - they would call and ask me not to include them in the footage.
So I had to cut the film from 45 to 25 minutes. What you see is just a
fraction of what actually occurred."
That fraction seems horrifying enough. Archived footage of a young Mugabe
calmly promising to "crush the dissidents, completely," is counterposed with
present-day interviews in which some of those "dissidents" who survived
reveal the ordeals they were put through. One man describes scores of young
men being pushed down a mine shaft; those who resisted were shot and thrown
in, until the shaft filled with bodies and another had to be found. Another
recounts how, as a young boy, he was ordered to set fire to the house in
which soldiers had locked 30 of his family members. "Luckily," he says, "a
rain storm broke out after the soldiers left, and put the fire out." It was
a rare reprieve in a narrative of slaughter and denial that bears some
sinister parallels to the present.
Newspaper headlines from the mid-1980s show Mugabe's government government
denying any wrongdoing. "Of course when you're fighting a war, you expect
people to complain of excessive force," explains a smooth-faced Mugabe,
inviting his accusers to prove their allegations. Today, those same denials
and calls for proof of what everyone knows to be happening are offered in
response to allegations of police brutality against members of Zimbabwe's
main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Gukurahundi
demonstrates how the government erases its own misdeeds. One veteran
journalist describes how Fifth Brigade soldiers escorted him to the site of
a mass grave. "We knew the victims had been buried here," he says. "But by
the time the army let us near, they had exhumed and burned the bodies. The
grave was empty, and all that was left were ashes everywhere." Elsewhere,
doctors' reports that documented the stab wounds and marks of torture on
innocent civilians were denounced as lies; such reports were used as proof
of treason against the very doctors who made them.
On December 22, 1987, the government signed the Unity Accord, which put an
end to the fighting. Gukurahundi disappeared from the collective memory,
replaced by a surreal peace which, at first glance, appears to reign even to
this day. "If you didn't know what was going on in this country, you'd think
everything was normal," says Ndebele. But his own experience attests that
not far under the surface, things are anything but peaceful. For one thing,
he and his cameramen had to keep the entire project under wraps while they
were filming. "Whenever we drove out for an interview, we'd bring a tape of
a funeral and put it into the camera," he recalls. "That way, if we were
stopped at a roadblock - which happened often - and they asked us what we
were doing, we would just say we were coming back from filming a funeral.
The real footage we would hide elsewhere in the car."
Nevertheless, police intelligence officers got wind of what he was up to and
called him in one day. "They accused me of plotting to bomb the president,"
Ndebele says, laughing at the absurdity of the claim. "All sorts of
ridiculous accusations. But eventually they had to let me go." But the
completion of the documentary did not bring an end to such hassles. To begin
with, he had to sneak across the border into South Africa for the movie's
debut. "There was no way we could show it in Zimbabwe," he told this writer
the day before he left. "So I arranged to do it in Johannesburg. But
although I sent my passport off three weeks ago for a travel visa, I still
haven't gotten it back. They think all Zimbabweans want to stay permanently
in South Africa - they don't realise some of us are enjoying the chaos here
at home." By Ndebele's own admission, that enjoyment is about to be tested.
He fully expects the police to lock him up once the movie is out in
distribution. And yet, asked if he is worried about where that may lead, he
shrugs. "They can't do anything to me legally," he says. "Maybe they'll beat
me up. Let them. It will be good for history."
Government can acquire all farming equipment belonging to
dispossessed white farmers
JAG's decision to resort to the tribunal was spurred by a Supreme Court ruling last week that the government could acquire all farming equipment and machinery belonging to dispossessed white farmers.
The SADC Tribunal was established by Article 9 of the SADC treaty as a central institution of the regional body in 1992, but only launched in 2005, and has a mandate to ensure that member countries adhere to the rule of law.
John Worswick, chief executive officer of JAG, told IRIN they would also take their case to the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR), a statutory body of the African Union based in Banjul, Gambia, which monitors the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights to ensure that "freedom, equality, justice and dignity are essential objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the African peoples".
Several Supreme Court justices are among the beneficiaries of Zimbabwe's fast-track land reform programme, which sought to redistribute white commercial farmland to landless blacks, but which critics of the policy say has instead seen land handed out to government officials, politicians and high-ranking members of the ruling ZANU-PF party, and army and police officers.
President Robert Mugabe launched the government's fast-track land reform programme in 2000, but many white farmers warehoused their farming equipment and machinery before or after their land had been redistributed.
According to international donor agencies, more than a third of the population, or 4.1 million people, require emergency food aid, which analysts say was a result of the chaotic land reform programme and drought. The government blames the food shortages on sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union as well as the weather.
In a bid to regain Zimbabwe's previous position as a next exporter of food, the government has embarked on a programme to mechanise agriculture, billed as the "The Mother of All Farming Seasons", and has created a new ministry - the Agricultural, Engineering and Mechanisation Ministry - to oversee the mechanisation of the sector.
However, the inflation rate of nearly 8,000 percent - the highest in the world - has also led to acute shortages of foreign exchange to buy spare parts, chemical inputs, fuel and electricity. The recent poor winter wheat harvest was blamed on shortages of fuel and electricity, which made electrical and fuel-driven irrigation equipment inoperable.
The court ruling has triggered a wave of farm machinery seizures from the few remaining white commercial farmers, said to be about 400, and farmers told IRIN there had been reports of new evictions of white commercial farmers since the ruling.
Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu declined to comment and told IRIN, "I am hearing that they want to contest the court decision for the first time from you, which means that is a rumour, because they [JAG] have not told us that is the decision which they want to take. Court rulings should be respected."
Worswick claimed, "Since 2000, all judgements relating to land have been political judgements, and not based on justice and fairness. We are in the process of exhausting all legal avenues and at this stage we are at an advanced stage of forwarding our case to the SADC Tribunal and the ACHPR. The fact that the Supreme Court made its ruling does not mean that we should give up. We are prepared to go all the way to international courts in ... The Hague."
Of the about 4,300 white farmers evicted from their farms, only 300 had been compensated, according to Worswick. "The few that accepted the ridiculously low compensation were the elderly farmers who had become destitute because they could not farm. A majority of them wanted to buy medication," he said.
The farmers maintain that in terms of the value of land and infrastructure, such as dams, houses and barns, they are owed a total of US$30 billion, but the government argues that the farmers should only be paid compensation for improvements on the land, as it was stolen from the indigenous people by settlers during the country's colonisation in the 1890s.
Photo: Combined Harare Residents' Association
The EU wants to ease Zimbabwe's water and sanitation
"The EU is constantly looking for solutions through dialogue," said Xavier Marchal, who led 14 EU ambassadors on a 2-day tour of projects funded by the EU in southern Zimbabwe, including Bulawayo, the country's second city, which is experiencing a diarrhoea outbreak.
After Zimbabwe expelled its election observer team, the EU imposed targeted sanctions in February 2002, including a travel ban on senior officials of the ruling ZANU-PF party and freezing their foreign bank accounts. The EU has since renewed the sanctions.
The European Commission (EC) and individual EU countries, which are Zimbabwe's biggest donors, intend to scale up their funding in 2008, said Marchal.
In 2006 alone, EC-funded support for Zimbabwe amounted to more than US$125 million, while EU support, including bilateral support from member states, amounted to almost $282 million.
"We are going to commit more funds to water and sanitation, health, education, food aid, governance and the promotion of human rights ... we know that water is a difficult problem in Bulawayo," said Marchal. The city has recorded more than 3,000 cases since the diarrhoea outbreak was reported in August.
According to international donor agencies, more than a third of Zimbabwe's population, or 4.1 million people, require emergency food aid, which analysts say is a result of the chaotic land reform programme and drought. The government blames the food shortages on sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union as well as the weather.
President Robert Mugabe launched the government's fast-track land reform programme in 2000, and since then the inflation rate has risen to nearly 8,000 percent - the highest in the world - and has also led to acute shortages of foreign exchange to buy spare parts, chemical inputs, fuel and electricity. Electrical and fuel-driven irrigation equipment has also been left inoperable.
Low rainfall and an inability to keep up with the demands of a growing population in a depressed economic environment have put many of Bulawayo's 1.5 million residents in the grip of water shortages and often having to obtain water from unprotected sources.
Four months ago, the EC sunk 200 boreholes around Bulawayo to help city residents access water, but it has not been enough to keep up with the demand. Marchal said the EC would commit more funds to helping Bulawayo cope with its water shortage.
12/11/2007 16:57 - (SA)
Harare - Incessant power outages have forced Zimbabweans to import charcoal
stoves and charcoal from neighbouring countries for cooking.
A survey in some of Harare's poor suburbs revealed that more and more
residents have imported charcoal stoves from as far as Zambia while better
off Zimbabweans use anything from gas, generators and paraffin.
But gas, fuel and paraffin are largely available on the black market at
This is because firewood is relatively expensive compared to charcoal.
Most families said charcoal stoves are reasonably cheap because charcoal
burns longer and can be recycled over and over again.
All this comes at a time residents are going for over 20 hours or longer
without electricity in some areas.
Zimbabwe imports energy from neighbouring countries but the electricity is
only made available if the exporting countries have surplus energy.
Zimbabwe claims its energy imports constitute about 35% of the country's
national requirements but experts say imports actually account for 60% of
Power utility ZESA is optimistic that reconstruction work at one of Hwange
Thermal Power Station's units signed with Namibia's NamPower will help
augment the country's energy output while an increase in coal supplies from
Hwange Colliery Limited will help lift electricity production.
Currently Hwange Thermal Power Station is producing 250 MW a month owing to
increased coal supplies but the plant can produce up to 1 000 MW if fully
A bundle of firewood costs Z$500 000 and only cooks a single meal.
In fact many believe that electricity is grossly under-priced.
The troubled country is facing its worst economic crisis charecterised by
high inflation now close to 8 000%.
Zimbabwe, which depends on electricity imports, pays more than US$12m per
month for its energy requirements from neighbouring countries like South
Africa, Zambia, Mozambique and the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC).
Monday 12 November 2007
Precious Shumba, Harare, Zimbabwe
The battle for the control of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
Women' s Assembly has exposed several issues which key stakeholders have to
note. Key issues that require a critical analysis include the role of the
women in the MDC, the election process, the use of women by men, the use of
financial resources, the 50/50 campaign, Morgan Tsvangirai' s propensity to
reward those with financial muscle, lack of constitutional respect and the
unfair distribution of party resources to the structures.
The issues here are not necessarily linked to the women in politics. The
whole issue has been narrowed down to personality differences. In this
piece, this author will dwell on the place of the woman within the MDC
structure of governance. A clear roadmap for the women in politics will be
defined at the end. As I attempt to unpack the critical issues affecting the
women in the MDC, it must be understood that long before the October 2005
split of the MDC, women's participation in decision-making processes and
other positions of authority have remained a contentious issue.
The prevailing situation within the MDC has brought to the fore the
alliances that have emerged around the MDC President Tsvangirai, the ousted
Women's Assembly Chairperson Lucia Matibenga and the other contestant to the
leadership of the women's body Theresa Makone. What the party leadership has
failed to do since the crisis bedevilling the Women's Assembly started is to
utilize their existing structures to foster unity among key players, namely
the women, the youths, the war veterans, and influential leaders.
Serious consideration need to be given to the calibre of women candidates
the MDC will come up with for the harmonized elections. The time aspect
should help the parties' leadership to define the framework of engagement
with the grassroots. Failure to observe the restrictions imposed on the
process of identification of the rightful candidates through a transparent
and accountable process will definitely leave the MDC exposed to more
protests from disgruntled candidates just before the election.
The implication of such a scenario is that the electorate, both supporters
of the opposition and the ruling party will devalue the importance of the
electoral processes by political parties, and ultimately national electoral
systems, thereby entrenching voter apathy. From my experiences and
observations, the electorate easily gets put off by disjointed political
events prior to a major election.
Lessons must be drawn from the events that characterized the MDC
participation in the 2005 Parliamentary Elections when there was confusion
as to whether or not the opposition party would contest the election. The
conflicting signals that emanated from the party's hierarchy subdued the
electoral environment. In fact it must be noted that the MDC, which had 54
Members of Parliament elected in the 2000 June Parliamentary Elections lost
substantial ground and only managed a paltry 41 seats, giving Zanu PF a
According to WIPSU, in an article published in July 2007 by UN news agency
Irin, there are currently 22.2 percent of political offices are held by
women in Zimbabwe, including five female ministers in a Cabinet of 53, 24 of
the country's 150 parliamentarians are women; two of its 10 provincial
governors are women, and of a total of 305 councillors in urban areas, 43
are female. Women constitute 52 percent of the total population and these
figures are a mockery to the real statistics on the ground in relation to
Women and youths have been at the centre of the MDC elections machinery. The
participation of women as only voters is not helping the cause of women
growth as leaders and decision-makers. Existing women's organisations have
to look into this matter and devise a clear roadmap to ensure women have
fair representation in public and private office.
The African Union (AU) has called for a minimum of 30 percent representation
of women in public and private life, which can rise to at most 50 percent.
In our political context, the MDC has indicated that women must be at least
represented in a third of the available contested seats. What it does not
say is what it will do if the majority of the women in that quota loose the
Women within the MDC are deliberately ignoring the fact that the patriarchal
structure is abusing them through the creation of non-existent camps
fighting for the control of the women's wing. What is clear is that the
women are fighting a war that has very little to do with women issues but
more with power dynamics.
As the nation braces for the 2008 elections, women intending to contest the
upcoming elections as councillors, Members of Parliament and senators should
begin to caucus around issues that they identify with. Such pertinent
matters like universal access to ARVs, HIV and Aids, domestic violence,
access to productive resources like land, and agricultural inputs.
This does not apply to the MDC only but to Zanu PF where there is a split
along factional lines. Within the context of the ongoing conflict among the
key players in the MDC, the key intervention strategy from civil society and
other stakeholders would be to mobilize the structures around the
identification of election candidates in the Parliamentary and Council
Elections, scheduled for March 2008. Most importantly, civil society should
audit the parties' constitutions and establish how these parties value women
in their programmes. A policy framework, guaranteeing the equal
participation of women must emerge out of this process.
It is important to view the ongoing squabbles within the MDC and the
succession battles in the context of the 50/50 Campaign being pursued by
WIPSU which seeks to achieve parity in representation of women in
decision-making positions during the forthcoming 2008 elections. Women,
together with the youths should refuse to be used as pawns in a political
game that they are expected to act as dancers and cheerleaders.
The MDC Women's Assembly was dissolved following reports of divisive
politics by Lucia Matibenga, incompetence and mismanagement. What is clear
is that Matibenga was not treated in the best possible manner. A committee
led by home affairs Secretary Sam Sipepa Nkomo to enquire into the
allegations against Matibenga was formed. It recommended that the Women's
Assembly should not be disbanded. Morgan Tsvangirai disregarded these
recommendations and proceeded to fire Matibenga's executive.
She went to the High Court but lost her case. In dismissing Matibenga's case
on 26 October 2007, High Court Judge Justice Yunus Omerjee ruled that the
MDC had followed the proper procedures in dissolving the Matibenga-led Women's
Assembly Executive. The judge's argument was that since this was a political
matter and an elective congress of the Women's Assembly was going to be
convened in Bulawayo on 28 October 2007, the women would sufficiently deal
with the matter.
Matibenga claims in several media reports that she had no resources at her
disposal to discharge her mandate while the three other key offices of the
Chairperson, the Secretary General and the President have abundant resources
to use in their respective programmes, demonstrating lack of seriousness on
the part of the MDC in adequately resourcing the Women's Assembly. Despite
those setbacks, Matibenga has a significant backing of the labour women.
In contrast, Mrs Makone has her personal resources at her disposal to make
inroads in terms of campaigning, rolling out a comprehensive outreach
programme, and capacity building workshops for the women in leadership and
decision-making, without necessarily relying on the party resources. It is
widely recognised among the contestants that Mrs Makone has significant
support of the provincial chairpersons in the Women's Assembly and also in
Monday November 12 2007
IT seems to me that Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Zanu PF secretary for legal
affairs and also the Minister of Rural Housing and Social Amenities has been
short-sighted in his endorsement of Robert Mugabe as the Zanu PF candidate
in next year' s Presidential Election. I believe that he should have at
least widened his options and considered forming strategic alliances with
others seeking high political office in Zanu PF ahead of the December
1.. The focus of this analysis is mainly to highlight Mnangagwa's role in
the unfolding succession politics within the ruling Zanu PF.
While there is disharmony within Zanu PF on the role of each of the
leading contestants to the throne, there is consensus that Mnangagwa has
deliberately or unknowingly become a powerless Mugabe pawn in this
captivating power game. Mugabe has in the process become the main
beneficiary. He is exploiting that glaring opening effectively, entrenching
his hold on power.
There is no known benefit accruing to Mnangagwa in all his fights against
the Joyce Mujuru-led faction. It is clear that Mrs Mujuru wants to assume
the leadership of Zanu PF, backed by her husband, General Solomon Mujuru.
Mnangagwa has always been touted as a potential successor to Mugabe,
described as shrewd and ruthless. However, he has failed to convince me and
the rest of Zimbabwe that he has the capacity to maneuver his way to the
throne of Zanu PF. What holds him back from challenging Mugabe? Is it that
he is still haunted by his role in the 80's Matabeleland atrocities? Or that
he has too many skeletons in his cupboard that he fears Mugabe will expose
The resolution of the Zanu PF crisis of leadership should also be viewed
in the context of the ongoing SADC initiated dialogue between the MDC and
Zanu PF and the upcoming ANC Congress in Polokwane, Limpopo Province. The
outcome of the ANC Congress will surely redefine the terms of engagement
between the Zanu PF-led government and the ANC. A likely scenario is the
departure of Mbeki from the helm of the ANC while remaining the SA President
until 2009. Consideration should be given to Mugabe's relation to this
Another factor to ponder over is the security forces. In most democracies,
the security forces have no political role to play. But in Zimbabwe, the
military has categorically stated its position. That issue needs utmost
attention from the political players, including the MDC.
Considering the state of the Zimbabwe economy, I believe that political
adversaries have to focus their attention on the attainment of power by
exploring opportunities for alliances and engaging in other trade-offs.
Zimbabwe is bleeding. The masses are desperate for change. The crisis of
governance affects supporters of both Zanu PF and MDC. The crisis touches on
Being given powerful Cabinet posts should not be the absolute objective of
Mnangagwa. Instead it should be a springboard to combine forces with those
in Zanu PF opposed to Mugabe and build consensus around the issue of
succeeding the 84-year old ruler.
Opportunities readily available include, but not limited to seriously
engaging internal Zanu PF rivals like Mrs Mujuru, Simba Makoni, Sydney
Sekeramayi, Gideon Gono, and General Constantine Chiwenga.
Emissaries should begin to create the necessary arrangements on the ground
to consolidate a position of succeeding Mugabe at the December Zanu PF
congress. Although this would be outside their normal processes, it should
be done, nevertheless. All contestants must put Zimbabwe and her people
first before their personal interests.
Like Mnangagwa, Mrs Mujuru and those who back her have failed to strongly
challenge Mugabe and eventually force him out of the Presidency of both
Zimbabwe and Zanu PF. Their recent failure to block the process of
endorsement at Central Committee and Politburo levels has greatly
compromised their quench to assume the leadership of Zanu PF.
Clearly, Mugabe's strategy has been one of partnering the courageous but
vulnerable who have little to loose if they are eventually dumped. The roles
of war veterans Jabulani Sibanda and Joseph Chinotimba should be viewed in
this context. This is convenient to Mugabe because he has politically lost
the real support of the grassroots Zanu PF structures.
Ahead of the Zanu PF congress in December 2004, Mnangagwa had the backing
of six provinces, which all wanted him to become the next First Secretary of
Zanu PF and eventually President of the Republic of Zimbabwe if he could win
against the MDC. What has happened to that support? Has he abandoned his
ambition to become the leader of Zanu PF? I think he is hopeless of his
political future without Mugabe. He is not his own man. I believe that the
Tsholotsho saga was masterminded by ex-Information and Publicity Minister
Professor Jonathan Moyo.
In the same vein Tsvangirai should begin to nurture those around him for
eventual take over of the leadership of the MDC in the likely event that he
looses the Presidential Election to Mugabe. Strategically, he could actually
avoid standing in as the MDC candidate against Mugabe and contest one of the
safe seats in the cities to remain relevant. With the ongoing dynamics
within his party, he is unlikely to get the much needed support from the MDC
leadership once he is out of power, in line with the MDC constitution.
The way forward for Zanu PF ahead of the December Congress is for the
contestants to the throne to enter into strategic partnership that will
benefit them, beyond Mugabe's rule.
SW Radio Africa (London)
12 November 2007
Posted to the web 12 November 2007
An overzealous police chief on Sunday threatened to invoke the shoot-to-kill
order against MDC activists if they went ahead with their planned rally at
Nedziwa business centre in Chimanimani.
The officer-in-charge of Chimanimani police, identified as Inspector Banda
deployed heavily armed officers to cordon off the venue of the MDC rally.
The uncompromising officer, allegedly vowed 'he was above the law' and dared
anyone who challenged his authority that his or her fate would be sealed
Pishai Muchauraya, MDC spokesman for Manicaland said Inspector Banda told
them that as long as he remained officer-in-charge of Chimanimani the MDC
would never hold a rally in the area. Fearing for the safety of their
activists, the MDC called-off the rally and asked its supporters to
'Inspector Banda told us he had instructions from his superiors that no MDC
rally was to be held in Chimanimani and made it clear his officers would
shoot-to-kill anyone who disregarded that order. We didn't think he would go
to such extremes to shoot unarmed civilians but we didn't want to take any
risks either, so we decided to call it off,' Muchauraya said.
The spokesman accused the police of being so inextricably bound to the
ruling party that it would take years to get rid of the Zanu-PF
indoctrination from the police force.
'It's no wonder why human rights groups are saying politically motivated
violence and intimidation by the police is continuing in Zimbabwe. This is
true because I just witnessed it myself yesterday (Sunday). Zanu-PF is
negotiating in bad faith because when the Mbeki led talks began, we all
thought all hostilities against us would stop. But we were all wrong,' he
From 23 to 25 November 2007, around 51 head of states will be meeting in
Kampala Uganda for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
Their number includes Gordon Brown of the UK (head of the former colonial
power blamed by Mugabe for the crisis) and Thabo Mbeki of South Africa
(leader of the mediation process), as well as most of Zimbabwe's
neighbouring states and emerging powers like India and Nigeria.
We need your help to persuade these world leaders to make a commitment to
engaging with the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Sign the Commonwealth People's Charter on Zimbabwe by visiting:
PLEASE SEND ON TO EVERYONE WHO CARES ABOUT ZIMBABWE!
If you're going to be in Kampala on 21 November 2007, join the Royal
Commonwealth Society at the Grand Imperial Hotel, for the event
"Commonwealth Action for Zimbabwe".
For more details email Chi Kavindele on email@example.com or Eleanor O'Riordan
12th Nov 2007 00:30 GMT
By a Correspondent
LONDON - Exiled Zimbabweans have appealed to the Commonwealth to make the
deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe a priority at its meeting in Uganda
later this month.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe withdrew from the Commonwealth at a
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Nigeria four years ago after he
was criticised for human rights abuses and running a flawed election in
Mugabe said he was pulling Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth with immediate
effect in December of 2003, a year after a suspension by the grouping of
former British colonies had not been lifted.
He said he did not accept the decision made at the Abuja summit, to maintain
Zimbabwe's suspension indefinitely, resulting in a split within the leaders
of the Commonwealth, which then lost all leverage it could have had on
Mugabe and Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe Vigil, which has been protesting outside the Zimbabwe Embassy
in London every Saturday for more than five years now, said in a letter to
the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Don McKinnon:
"We look to our brothers and sisters in the Commonwealth to help us because
we have been failed by the United Nations. Over the years we have sent it
petitions signed by scores of thousands of people asking for help to stop
human rights abuses in Zimbabwe but the UN seems to have done nothing.
"Now the European Union has decided to ignore its travel ban on Mugabe and
instead invited him to the EU/African Union summit in Lisbon in December.
They seem to have been blackmailed by the African threat to boycott the
meeting if Mugabe is not allowed to attend.
"We know that the EU is worried about the tidal wave of immigrants coming
from Africa. But we believe that the solution does not lie in accommodating
dictators like Mugabe but by dealing with the problems of corruption and
human rights abuses to improve living conditions at home."
The Commonwealth has since said it is starting to engage Mugabe, who once
likened the organisation to characters in George Orwell's novel, Animal
Farm, where some members are more equal than others.
The vigil recently submitted a petition to the European Union urging it to
suspend government to government aid to the 14 countries of the Southern
African Development Community because of their failure to oblige Zimbabwe to
uphold their joint commitment to human rights.
By Henry Makiwa
12 November 2007
Revelations that the refurbishment exercise at football stadiums is behind
schedule may hamper the country's hopes of benefiting from the forthcoming
football world cup in neighbouring South Africa.
The world's football governing body FIFA will send a second inspection team
to visit Zimbabwe on Tuesday. The team will seek to verify whether the
country has complied in rectifying the identified repairs and improvements
to the stadiums. However, two of the country's biggest venues are reportedly
still not repaired.
Observers say FIFA may opt to strike Zimbabwe off the official supporting
countries in favour of other countries in Southern Africa, if they are
dissatisfied with work at the stadiums.
The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) has currently been repairing Harare's
Rufaro and the National Sports Stadium, while plans are afoot to start work
on Bulawayo's Barbourfields Stadium. Blame has been laid on government's
lack of hands-on approach in assisting ZIFA to acquire enough funds and
manpower for the refurbishments.
According to Harare city commission minutes from last week's meeting, there
are fears that Rufaro stadium, in particular, may be abandoned.
Completion of the security wall project, erection of boom gates, upgrading
of floodlights and a public address system are reported to be on the
outstanding jobs list, the city's commission heard.
The minutes further read: "If the stadium fails to pass the required
standard, the venue would be abandoned and council would have seriously let
the nation down and no teams would use the stadium."
On Monday, ZIFA chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya, admitted that the
National Sports Stadium is "months away from completion."
She said: "The work at the National Sports Stadium is a government to
government deal between Zimbabwe and China so our hands are tied there. The
repairs at Rufaro, contrary to state press reports, are ahead of schedule.
"We received funds from FIFA to put in new artificial turf and that is what
we have been doing. Any reports to the contrary are just rubbish."
Rushwaya herself is under fire as she has been charged with embezzling ZIFA
funds. She was arrested on Friday and appeared in court on allegations of
theft involving US$2 400.
Police picked up Rushwaya at the Zifa offices in Harare and she appeared
before provincial magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe, who remanded her to November
23 on Z$10 million bail. She refused to give much detail into the case,
insisting only that she is innocent and that there were political forces as
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Monday, 12 November 2007
A Zimbabwean job-seeker who collapsed and died in Cape Town last week, is
said to have succumbed to starvation.
Adonis Musati, 23, was a police officer in Chimanimani in eastern Zimbabwe,
but the economic crisis led him to South Africa to try to support his
He had spent a month at the Home Affairs Refugee Centre, trying to get a
work permit, reportedly with nothing to eat, sleeping in a cardboard box.
His family said they had learned of Adonis's death on the internet.
The BBC's Southern Africa correspondent Adam Mynott says Adonis Musati left
Zimbabwe and crossed into South Africa more than a month ago.
Like tens of thousands of his countrymen he had hoped to find work, but was
unable to get a permit.
On Friday 2 November, he collapsed on a traffic island near the offices of
South Africa's home affairs refugee centre in Cape Town and was found dead.
Braam Hanekom of Passop, a refugee rights organisation, told our reporter
that Adonis appeared to have died of hunger, having not eaten for four days.
But fellow Zimbabweans who met him outside the refugee centre told the South
African news website IOL that he had not eaten for two weeks.
"It is a disgrace that someone should die of hunger in one of South Africa's
richest cities," said Mr Hanekom.
He said there are 25,000 Zimbabweans like Adonis Musati in Cape Town looking
for work and food.
Up to 3m Zimbabweans have arrived in South Africa to escape the economic
crisis in their own country.
Family members living in Sasolburg in the Free State, are now in Cape Town
to identify his body and to make funeral arrangements.
His cousin Ivy Dhliwayo said the family had not heard of Mr Musati's death
from the Zimbabwean consulate, nor from the South African government.
"(His twin brother) Adbell read a story on the internet, and that is how the
whole family found out," she said.
Passop says it is funding the relatives' expenses and will try to get
Musati's body back home for burial.
by Hendricks Chizhanje Tuesday 13 November 2007
HARARE - Zimbabwe's largest workers union has called on the government to
slash income tax to a maximum 30 percent and raise the tax-free threshold to
cushion workers from the world's highest inflation of nearly 8 000 percent.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) that has repeatedly clashed
with President Robert Mugabe's government over worsening conditions for
workers said the tax-free threshold should be adjusted to match the
breadline or poverty datum line (PDL) that is estimated at Z$21 million.
Presently workers earning Z$4 million are not taxed, a figure the ZCTU
described as "nothing" considering Zimbabwe's hyperinflationary market where
prices of goods change sometimes on a daily basis.
The highest earner surrenders 47 percent of their income in tax to the
"In view of the declining real wages and salaries owing to hyperinflation,
there is an urgent need to cushion workers through linking the tax free
threshold to the pdl," the ZCTU said in statement outlining the union's
recommendations for the 2008 national budget to be unveiled next month.
The ZCTU called for the tax-free threshold to be reviewed on a quarterly or
even monthly basis, citing runaway inflation fast eroding workers salaries.
Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi was not immediately available for
comment on the matter.
Mumbengegwi last moved the tax-free threshold to Z$4 million up from $1.5
million in September in an attempt to placate workers, who the government
can ill afford to antagonise ahead of key presidential and parliamentary
elections next year.
The tax concessions have however been wiped out by inflation leaving most
workers barely able to survive.
The ZCTU, which has in the past staged crippling worker protests for more
pay and better working conditions, said it expected the budget to arrest
Zimbabwe's eight-year economic slide, end chronic shortages of foreign
currency and boost production levels to haul the southern African country
from the mire.
"The ZCTU hopes for a meaningful budget which will cushion the working
poor," said the statement.
President Robert Mugabe's government has had an uneasy relationship with the
ZCTU since 1999 after the labour federation gave birth to the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
Mugabe, who says the ZCTU is in league with Western powers bent on
overthrowing his government, often accuses the ZCTU of seeking to manipulate
genuine worker grievances to incite popular rebellion against his rule. -
by Simplicious Chirinda Tuesday 13 November 2007
HARARE - Rising political violence and human rights abuses could mar
Zimbabwe presidential and parliamentary elections next year, political
analysts and pressure groups said on Monday.
They said a report released at the weekend by a local human rights coalition
showing an upsurge in politically motivated violence was the clearest
indication yet that violence could still be used to influence the outcome of
polls despite talks between the ruling ZANU PF party and the opposition.
President Robert Mugabe's party and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change have since April held talks under South African mediation aimed at
finding a solution to Zimbabwe's long running political and economic crisis.
A key objective of the talks is to ensure free and fair polls next year.
University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure said
continuing violence and human rights abuses in the country showed how the
President Thabo Mbeki-led talks have failed to have any meaningful impact on
the ground, just a few months ahead of the March polls.
"We would have envisaged a situation where results will by now be telling on
the ground but as things stand nothing has changed," said Masunungure. "The
political violence is continuing, food queues are still evident and most of
these things will persist until election time," he added.
Violence-free and truly democratic elections next year are considered a
vital requirement to any effort to pluck Zimbabwe out of a crisis marked by
world record inflation of close to 8 000 percent, worsening hunger, poverty
But the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said in its latest report on
politically motivated violence that violence and human rights abuses have
continued despite the ZANU PF/MDC talks, adding that 2007 had in fact seen
some of the worst violence to date.
The Forum rejected claims by Mugabe's government that reports of politically
motivated violence after March 11 - when talks with the opposition
commenced - were false.
The rights coalition said it had the evidence to prove its claim of violence
and human rights abuses, saying for example in the month of September alone
it had recorded 29 cases of violations on the freedoms of association,
expression and movement while 86 cases of unlawful arrest and detention were
recorded in the same period.
"If the violence that is being reported in the latest (Forum) report
continues then that will have a bearing on the outcome of the election,"
said Rindai Chipfunde, director of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a
civic group focusing on voter education and election monitoring.
Jacob Mafume, who is co-ordinator of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC)
political pressure group, said rising violence was confirmation of Mugabe
and ZANU PF's unwillingness to act to end political violence as well as
their insincerity in the inter-party talks.
He said: "The levels of violence are continuing because of ZANU PF's
insincerity in the talks . . . they are telling their supporters that all
you need to do is to be violent in order to win elections."
ZANU PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira was not immediately available for
comment on the matter. The ruling party has in the past rejected charges by
churches and human rights groups that its militant supporters are behind
most of the political violence in the country.
Politically motivated violence and human rights abuses have become routine
in Zimbabwe since the emergence in 1999 of the MDC as the first real potent
electoral threat to Mugabe and ZANU PF's stranglehold on power.
Political observers say Mbeki - often criticised for his "quiet diplomacy"
policy under which he has refused to publicly censure Mugabe - should urge
the Zimbabwean leader to end political violence and repeal tough security
and press laws if next year's polls are to be free and fair. - ZimOnline
by Own Correspondent Tuesday 13 November 2007
JOHANNESBRUG - Zimbabwe's cash-strapped government says it will compensate a
group of Dutch farmers for properties seized under a controversial land
reform exercise only when it has the means to do so.
The Dutch nationals who owned farms in Zimbabwe have dragged the Harare
administration to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment
Disputes (ICSID) demanding US$15 million in compensation for lost land.
According to the farmers, their properties were protected under a bilateral
investment treaty requiring Harare to pay compensation to Dutch nationals in
disputes arising out of any investments in Zimbabwe. The ICSD began hearing
the matter two weeks ago.
In papers filed with the ICSD, Harare, which surprisingly did not object to
the centre's jurisdiction, refutes some of the farmers' claims but conceded
that certain "deprivations" had taken place without payment of compensation.
The government promised to pay compensation in full for such deprivations
"when it is able to do so". It did not give time when this would be.
President Robert Mugabe's government, which has over the past six years
seized land from most of the country's about 4 000 white farmers and gave it
over to blacks, has in the past maintained it would not pay for the land
because it was stolen from blacks in the first place.
The government has to date paid compensation to a handful of former white
landowners and only for improvements on farms such as buildings, roads and
However, if the Dutch farmers win their case they would be entitled to seize
Zimbabwe government property anywhere in the world if Harare fails to pay
Even more worrying for Harare, victory for the Dutch farmers' could pave way
for similar appeals for compensation from scores of foreign landowners
dispossessed during the land reforms.
Several countries among them Austria, France, Germany, Mauritius, Holland,
South Africa, Sweden and Malaysia signed investment protection agreements
with Zimbabwe before the land reform programme began in 2000.
Zimbabwe has largely survived on food handouts from international relief
agencies since land reforms began seven years ago after black villagers
resettled on former white farms failed to maintain production.
Poor performance in the mainstay agricultural sector has also had far
reaching consequences as hundreds of thousands have lost jobs while the
manufacturing sector, starved of inputs from the sector, is operating below
30 percent of capacity. - ZimOnline
By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
12 November 2007
A paper published by one of the most prestigious foreign policy institutes
in the United States says Washington and its international partners should
shift Zimbabwe policy to make ready for - and perhaps hasten - the departure
of President Robert Mugabe.
The paper from the Council on Foreign Relations in New York says U.S. policy
should focus on "sound recovery and reconstruction planning" and plan to
avert or minimize chaos in a political transition which, under worst-case
scenarios, could include civil strife, state collapse and destabilization of
the Southern African region.
U.S. policy towards Zimbabwe has been to pressure the Mugabe government
through travel and financial sanctions targeting senior officials, while
providing food aid and assistance battling the HIV/AIDS pandemic that has
decimated the population.
Author Michelle Gavin, an international affairs fellow at the Council,
suggests Washington and the international community could galvanize key
Zimbabwean players into action by making clear the benefits including major
donor funding that would be released on the institution of reforms,
potentially speeding Mr. Mugabe's exit.
U.S. officials should recognize that they "probably cannot compel President
Mugabe and his loyalists to step aside." But, "engaging with other members
of the international community now to map out a path for Zimbabwe's recovery
is more than an exercise in advance planning," Gavin argues.
"By working multilaterally to build consensus around governance-related
conditions for reengagement, and by marshaling significant reconstruction
resources in an international trust fund for Zimbabwe, the United States can
help establish clear incentives for potential successors to Mugabe to
embrace vital reform."
In doing so, "the United States can encourage and even hasten constructive
forms of potential political change by affecting the calculus of those who
are in a position to trigger a transition," writes Gavin. She adds that
recovery and reconstruction planning can also help avert "worst-case
scenarios of civil conflict, state collapse, and regional destabilization
from taking hold during any future attempted political transition."
The report, entitled "Planning for Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe," highlights
agriculture, the country's compromised security forces and youth as needing
Reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe sought
perspective on Gavin's proposals from journalist and Zimbabwe expert Andrew
Meldrum, now a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, Cambridge,
Gavin was not immediately available to expand on her policy prescription.
By Blessing Zulu
12 November 2007
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change continues to voice
concerns about the national voters roll, raising the prospect that so-called
"ghost voters" might play a decisive role in the national elections slated
to be held in March 2008.
The voters roll is coming to the center of crisis talks in Pretoria, South
Africa, between the MDC and the ruling Zanu-PF party, sources close to the
Following the 2005 general elections, South African President Thabo Mbeki,
mediating the talks, said Harare's voters roll was "defective and needed to
be looked at."
Opposition officials say the voters roll, which is still maintained by hand,
remains the ruling party's main mechanism for electoral fraud. Secretary
General Tendai Biti of the MDC faction of Morgan Tsvangirai and one of two
negotiators for the opposition in Pretoria, says inaccuracies in the voters
roll pave the way for the stuffing of ballot boxes, vote inflation and
reallocations of votes in closely fought constituencies.
Harare contracted in 1999 with an Israeli firm to computerize the roll, but
the registrar general has refused to give the opposition an electronic copy
of the document.
Elections Director Dennis Murira of the Tsvangirai opposition faction told
reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the party has
detected serious irregularities on the roll, including the names of dead and
By Carole Gombakomba & Thomas Chiripasi
Washington and Harare
12 November 2007
The Zimbabwean opposition faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai maintains that
Lucia Matibenga has been removed from her former position as head of the
formation's women's assembly, Matibenga refuses to recognize that removal or
the election last month of a replacement, and now says that she is launching
into electoral campaigning in the rural areas ahead of the 2008 elections.
Matibenga says her Women's Assembly executive was "unconstitutionally"
dissolved by the leadership of the Movement for Democratic Change faction
The National Executive of the MDC faction, which failed to meet on Sunday as
scheduled, has not yet reached consensus on the legality of that dissolution
or the validity of an extraordinary women's congress held recently in
Bulawayo. Independent reports have described that congress as chaotic and
Theresa Makone, the woman the faction says was elected chairman of the women's
assembly by that congress, also says she is gearing up for the elections.
Matibenga, who appealed to the high court after she was removed by the party
leadership, would not disclose her next legal move in the dispute. But she
told Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that she is
concentrating on getting her election campaign work done with the limited
resources at her disposal.
Meanwhile, faction leader Tsvangirai on Monday toured Harare's Hatcliff
suburb and told reporters its residents were still feeling the effects of
the state's 2005 eviction and demolition campaign dubbed Operation
Murambatsvina ("Drive Out Rubbish").
Tsvangirai challenged the government of President Robert Mugabe to address
what he said was a national housing crisis, as correspondent Thomas
The Women's International Perspective
November 12, 2007
By Constance Manika
I am always left cursing and depressed and angry after covering assignments
where I meet with People Living With HIV and AIDS. (We call them PLWAs
Having covered HIV and AIDS issues for the past five and half years, I have
grown to know many of the faces in the AIDS community.
I know almost everyone's "story", including deep secrets they say they never
have and never will tell anyone else. I am invited to their private family
parties; they ask me to cover their support group functions. They even phone
to update me on their health; when they are too sick to call me, they ask
their relatives or spouses to do it on their behalf.
I always listen, comfort, offer advice and help where I can; I have become
very close to many people affected by AIDS. I appreciate the fact that they
trust me that much. And I love talking to them. But when these " friends"
confide in me, they usually have problems and depressing news.
Often I am left stressed, because I cannot help. This special community of
friends all know I have no financial means to help them, being the underpaid
journalist that I am. They know that I, too, struggle to make ends meet in
this harsh economic environment that is Zimbabwe.
What is my life like? I have chosen to work for the so-called independent
press. Supposedly I am playing a very crucial part in writing the history of
Zimbabwe. Yet I live on less than $0.43 USD a day! Here is how I calculate
this $0.43 USD cents per day: it's very simple. I currently earn a salary of
Z$13 million a month. When divided by 30 days in a month, this means that I
earn $43 USD per month!
Then when I divide this amount by the current black market rate of the
United States dollar to the Zimbabwe dollar -- Z$1 million -- it means that
my employer expects me to live on $0.43 USD cents a day.
I am supposed to be a professional; was this why I went through college and
graduated with a Higher National Diploma in Mass Communication and
I attack the present government for their failures; for ruining the economy,
for underpaying civil servants. I cover civil servants' strikes (nurses,
doctors, etc) and demand that the government remunerate these people better.
My colleagues and I write stories showing how their strikes are crippling
delivery of critical health services and putting people's lives at risk.
Often, our reports produce good results: the problems get addressed.
Civil servants are rewarded salary increments, making them happy. Yet at the
end of a day spent covering their problems, I am supposed to go back and
take care of my two children on $0.43 cents USD a day. This is the hidden
hypocrisy of the owners of some of these independent press publishers: they
pocket all the profits and buy expensive cars and houses, and live like
kings and queens -- by exploiting us.
Our former classmates in the state-controlled media are much better paid for
promoting Mugabe's propaganda. Journalists for the state-controlled media
the same drive expensive cars the press moguls do; they live in up-market
suburbs. Meanwhile, we in the so-called independent press live from hand to
The comfortably situated journalists laugh at us behind our backs, saying,
"Those people are selling out their country and are getting nothing for it."
There is a really painful truth in this: the people who first started this
struggle against Mugabe have stabbed us in the back! They have become
greedy, and so in one sense are even worse than Mugabe himself. In any case,
they have really missed the boat.
The many independent journalists here comfort ourselves that we have a
passion for what we are doing. This is what keeps us going. Then I sometimes
think, what would happen if one day I just said to the people with AIDS who
count on me, "Please don't tell me about your problems, I don't work
overtime. Besides, I'm underpaid anyway." I could do that, but I don't want
to. I chose this profession; I have a passion for journalism and will never
tire of doing my work. I travel to see people with AIDS regularly when they
have problems. I pay my bus fare from my own pocket; I buy flowers and
fruits when I visit the sick, whether they are at home or in hospital. I
always use my own money to do this; never once have I claimed a cent in
compensation from the company for which I work.
My publishers don't stop to think that the associations I have developed
over the years with the AIDS community are the reason why their newspaper is
rated so highly for its HIV and AIDS reporting. Ironically, they have
received many awards over the years for this coverage. This is how it works:
one PLWA will tell another PLWA that this reporter from this paper is
sympathetic. Then, BOOM -- the next minute I have a scoop on my desk. Just
like that, their paper sells out that day. I write from my heart, but
unfortunately, my bosses apparently think I just work some sort of magic!
I love what I do, but I have grown to hate the capitalists who are focused
on profits and profit sharing, and nothing else. I am not saying that I
should be paid a fortune. I don't want to start cruising around town in the
latest, most expensive cars. But please, just pay me enough for my basics:
my rent, food, transportation and clothing!
The good thing is that my PLWA friends know I have no financial means to
help them. Nonetheless, they find solace just in sharing their issues with
me. I have no problem with this, but I can't help but feel useless and angry
at a system that has betrayed these men and women. What am I expected to do
when they tell me they have no money for food, for ARVs, for general
medication, or for school fees for their children?
Last week I attended and covered a function hosted by the New Life Support
group, which is a post-test club for PLWAs. It was set up by Population
Services International (PSI), an international non-governmental organization
PSI-Zimbabwe conducts social marketing projects on behalf of the
government's Ministry of Health and Child Welfare. It has programs with the
Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council and the National Aids Council on
HIV and AIDS prevention and Tuberculosis.
So at this function I bumped into most of my friends; they were graduating
after having completed a Life Skills and Sex Education Examination. They
will now go back to their respective communities and teach the young and the
old about issues of HIV and AIDS.
But the assignment left me worried about three special cases.
One AIDS friend whom for security reasons I will call Pamela told me that
she still had not found an NGO to help her get onto third line Anti
Retroviral Therapy (ART), which is not yet available in Zimbabwe.
This is particularly sad because early this year, the private media ran a
story on Pamela's desperate need for these drugs as soon as possible, asking
for donations, since at that time Pamela's CD4 count was at a low of 50.
(The CD4 count tells a doctor how strong a patient's immune system is, how
far HIV has advanced, and it helps identify the health problems for which a
person is at risk and helps determine which medications might be helpful.
Normal CD4 counts in adults range from 500 to 1,500 cells per cubic
millimeter of blood.) Pamela had been treated with both first and second
line therapies in 2002. Then two years ago, she was told that she needed
third line treatment -- urgently.
When a person begins ART, they start on first line drugs (these are readily
available in Zimbabwe but also relatively expensive). First line drugs such
as Stamudivine, Lamudivine and Nevirapine are available free through the
goverment's ARV program.
Many have described the side effects they now suffer from due to prolonged
use of the drugs. If or when a patient develops problems with or resistance
to all of the first line drugs, that person is then moved over to the second
line drugs (which are more expensive in Zimbabwe because they are imported
from outside the country).
Pharmacies here take special orders for these second line drugs, but only
for those who can afford them. These drugs can be imported from neighboring
countries such as South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique as well as
Europe. Then if one is unfortunate enough to develop resistance to second
line drugs, a PLWA has to move to third line drugs, whose availability and
expense is the same as second line; but which are only available for those
who can afford to import them.
And Pamela cannot afford all this. So, two years down the line and almost
five months after the newspaper article appeal, Pamela has not yet found a
donor who will contribute funds for her third line treatment. It is clear
she is living on borrowed time.
Her CD4 count is now down to 34; time seems to be running out for her very
quickly. When I spoke to Pamela at that graduation, she was her usual self:
chirpy and talkative and bravely hanging in there. I found myself admiring
her strength. Her little shoulders were carrying all that excess baggage but
it didn't even show, except to those who knew her.
I also briefly spoke to Samuel (not his real name) who lost his job at a
local hotel because his employers said he was looking "sickly." They argued
that for the sake of the company's image, they could not keep him on. They
forced him into early retirement.
The private media also carried a story on Samuel, who sought the help of the
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights in seeking some redress from the hotel.
His case has been pending for three years; now he is concerned that the
courts are too pre occupied with political cases between the Movement for
Democratic Change and the ruling ZANU PF to be concerned with "small fish"
like him. He had hoped that by this time the hotel would have compensated
him. Samuel's pension is slowly running out and soon he may not be able to
buy his ARVs, nor to take care of his family.
Then there is Roselyn (not her real name); she has no money to buy ARVs in
the private sector and has failed to enroll in the free state-run program. A
mother of two, she fears that if she cannot access ARVs soon, she will die
and leave her children orphans. We have tried to get Rose into programs run
by NGOs, but most of them are full. They say they will only start enrolling
new patients after the elections next year.
This is the political situation affecting health funding in Zimbabwe: not
only are many HIV programs very poorly funded, but funding on health and HIV
and AIDS generally has dried up, as many countries continue to withhold
funds in protest to of the human rights abuses, the corruption and misrule
of the Mugabe-led government.
According to the United Nations Children's Fund, health financing through
donor support per person in Zimbabwe is now down to $4 USD per annum.
Compare that to the $104 in Botswana, $39 in Lesotho, $192 in Mozambique,
$139 in Swaziland, $362 in Uganda and $190 in Zambia. Does anyone believe it
is just donor fatigue that is controlling the funds that go to Zimbabwe?
And caught in this political struggle are my friends Rose, Samuel and
Pamela. Many AIDS victims in Zimbabwe continue to die needlessly; while they
have no access to ARVs, the small portion of ARVs that are available are
being issued corruptly to those with "government connections".
The outlook is frightening:
More than 1.8 million are living with HIV. Of this figure, at least 3000
people die from AIDS-related illnesses in Zimbabwe each week.
Only about 86,000 people have access to these life-prolonging ARV drugs,
while more than 800,000 people are in urgent need of them. Of the 86,000
lucky enough to be on ART, 95 percent of those are on first line treatments;
4 percent are on alternative first line treatment; and 1 percent are on
second line treatment.
Zimbabweans are now running the race for universal access to treatment "on a
thorny track on bare feet," as one activist put it. Life or death is a human
rights issue, and it is my hope that donor agencies will soon see things
differently. The situation here is not just a political problem that needs
to be solved. The lives of very real people involved.
About the Author
Constance Manika is a journalist who works for the independent press in
Zimbabwe. She writes under this pseudonym to escape prosecution from a
government whose onslaught and level of intolerance to journalists in the
independent press is well documented.