Nov 16, 3:56 AM EST
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Zimbabwe's central bank chief says ordinary
Zimbabweans are to blame for the country's crippling inflation.
Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono is quoted in The Sunday Mail, a
state-owned newspaper, as saying inflation is due to what he calls a
"collective failure as a nation" to produce enough, particularly food. He
calls on Zimbabweans "to actively play a part in producing for the nation."
Zimbabwe's inflation rate is officially 231 million percent, the highest in
Government orders to seize white-owned farms starting in 2000 disrupted the
economy of what had been the region's breadbasket. The farms were to have
gone to poor blacks, but many went to ruling party loyalists. Agricultural
production has plummeted. Today, Zimbabwe faces a hunger crisis.
AFP 16 November 2008
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai warned Sunday that President
Robert Mugabe would cause the collapse of a power-sharing agreement if he
imposes a unity government.
"He would have literally collapsed the deal," Tsvangirai told AFP in
Strasbourg, northern France, during a rare visit to Europe.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader also said negotiations on
the power-sharing government with Mugabe must not be allowed to run on
"It can't be forever," Tsvangirai said. "We cannot go on and on and on."
At a press conference earlier, Tsvangirai insisted that his party was not
turning its back on its pledges and said it was vital for Zimbabwe to seize
the chance to form a government.
"We are not walking away from the deal, we support the deal. We continue to
defend the deal. But it must be a deal that reflects equitable power
sharing," he told reporters.
"If we miss the opportunity, then the tragedy for the country is even too
desperate to contemplate."
Zimbabwe's economy has collapsed with the world's highest inflation rate and
major food shortages, and many had expressed hope that the power-sharing
deal would be a way out of both the country's economic and political crises.
The MDC has said it would only join a unity government once a constitutional
amendment is passed to comply with all the terms of the September 15 deal,
under which Mugabe would remain president and Tsvangirai become premier.
Zimbabwe's parliament needs to approve an amendment to create the office of
the prime minister and define its powers.
Mugabe vowed to soon form a new government after regional leaders proposed
earlier this month that his ZANU-PF and the MDC immediately set up a new
cabinet. The proposal was rejected by the opposition.
EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel underscored that the opposition
leader retained the European Union's backing for his quest to become prime
"I assured Mr Tsvangirai of our support. Under the current circumstances, he
doesn't seem able to assume his responsibilities (as premier), he wants the
means provided by this responsibility, and we support him in this," he said.
"The strongest pressure that the EU can apply" to help him "is to announce a
very strong (aid) commitment if a government is soon formed," Michel said.
The European Commission provided Zimbabwe with around 90 million euros (114
million dollars) in humanitarian aid in 2007, but all development aid to
Mugabe's regime has been frozen.
November 16, 2008
By Our Correspondent
STRASBOURG - MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai says the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) lacks the leverage to push President Robert
Mugabe into an equitable power-sharing deal.
He, however, says the regional grouping sincerely wants to see a solution to
the Zimbabwean political and economic crisis.
Speaking at a press conference at the European Development Day in
Strasbourg, France, on Sunday Tsvangirai said the MDC still had confidence
in African institutions to assist in unlocking the current Zimbabwean
"It is not lack of sincerity but lack of leverage," said Tsvangirai. "SADC
lacks the leverage to bring to conclusion the problem in Zimbabwe."
Tsvangirai is in France to mobilise support from the European Union (EU) to
do more to address the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Zimbabwe.
The MDC does not believe the deal that it signed with Mugabe Zanu-PF is
dead, he says. The party hopes it will take time to implement it as directed
by the SADC summit earlier this month but sees potential conflict as long as
putting it into effect is delayed.
"We are not walking away from the deal as it provides the best possible
means to address the current economic decay that our country is going
through," he said. "But we will not take part in the government until it
reflects equitable power-sharing, because we believe the deal is the only
logical process to deal with our situation."
Tsvangirai spoke after European Commissioner for Development and
Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, pledged continued humanitarian assistance to
feed an estimated 5, 3 million people needing food assistance in Zimbabwe.
Michel said the EU had not changed its positions on sanctions at the moment
but would mobilize massive resources for the reconstruction programme in
Zimbabwe as soon as an acceptable power-sharing deal was in place.
"We want to re-establish economic equilibrium in order to assist the people
of Zimbabwe and Mr Tsvangirai here has asked us to maintain the humanitarian
assistance programmes to avert an economic catastrophe looming in his
country," Michel said.
The EU last year spent more than 9 million Euros in development and
humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe.
November 16, 2008
By Our Correspondent
THE Zanu-PF politburo is reportedly deeply divided over whether President
Robert Mugabe should retain Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon
Gono whose term of office expires in two weeks time.
Mugabe appointed Gono as governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe five years
ago on December 1 2003.
His arrival at the pinnacle of Zimbabwe's financial sector was characterized
by promises to turn the country's economy around by confronting the crisis
then afflicting Zimbabwe. He said he would ensure that Zimbabwe returned to
the fold of the international community where it would be able to access
financial assistance to facilitate the nation's economic recovery.
"Failure is not option," became the voluble governor's oft-repeated motto.
However, as the end of the five-year term looms, Gono has scored little
success in achieving the goals that he had set for himself and his team at
the central bank. The economic crises is much worse now than it when Gono
took over from the previous governor Dr Leonard Tsumba, who, unlike his
successor managed the Reserve Bank away from the glare of media publicity.
Now largely silenced by obvious failure, Gono has nevertheless secured a
seat for himself on the Zanu-PF bandwagon. He has been reduced to singing at
every opportunity President Robert Mugabe familiar hymn about international
sanctions being the major cause of Zimbabwe's economic downfall.
Highly placed sources in Zanu-PF say that a large number of members of the
party's politburo have become disillusioned about Gono's performance,
questioning whether some of his policies were genuinely aimed at finding a
solution to the financial and economic crisis facing Zimbabwe. They point
out that Gono's policies appear to be perpetuating the crisis, instead.
The Zimbabwe Times was informed that such politburo members were putting
pressure on Mugabe to identify a replacement for Gono. Mugabe was reluctant
to get rid of the governor, however.
Said one source: "While it may appear as if everyone wants Gono to remain at
the helm of the RBZ, there has been a fierce push within the politburo for
his removal. Some members of the politburo believe that Gono has failed in
his mandate and should be removed so that a replacement, someone with
realistic policies for economic revival, is appointed."
The source said the group agitating for Gono's removal had cited the outcome
of the March 29 general election as a sign that the policies of the central
bank had failed. They argued that whatever policies Gono had implemented,
had received the blessings of the Zanu-PF government hence the party's
rejection by the people at the polls in March."
Both Zanu-PF and Mugabe were defeated in separate elections held on March
"People are not stupid," said the source. "They realize that the central
bank and the Zanu-PF government have been working hand-in-glove in as far as
policy formulation is concerned. They realize that they are suffering
because of economic mismanagement which was co-authored by the party and the
Another source privy to the developments in the politburo said emissaries
had been sent to Gono to sound him out on the prospect of extending his term
as governor. Gono had reportedly implied that he was ready to step down at
This source said while Gono appeared happy to remain at the helm of the
central bank, the emissaries had discovered that the task of managing the
national purse was giving the governor sleepless nights and he was ready to
"Those that went to talk to him on the prospect of extending his term found
out that away from the face that he shows in public, Gono is, indeed,
looking for an escape out of his job.
"He told them that the job has not been an easy one and he might not be
ready to go for another term unless he is pressured to do so by President
The Zimbabwe Times was informed that a small clique of politburo members was
putting pressure on Mugabe to allow Gono to run the central bank for the
next five years.
The source disclosed that a number of politburo members felt that Gono's
policies had helped Zanu-PF to ride through a turbulent political storm.
The pro-Gono section of the politburo had apparently warned Mugabe that it
would be difficult to identify another governor willing to support Zanu-PF
as Gono had done. A new governor was likely to toe "the Western line" in
managing the Reserve Bank.
"There are some hardliners within the politburo who believe that Gono has
been subservient to the President to the extent that he has aided the party
financially and materially, things that no other governor would do," the
"These elements fear that any governor appointed to replace Gono would do
things the Western way so as to be able to get international aid into
Zimbabwe. This would entail that the party would have to scrounge for
resources, unlike in the Gono era where there were handouts to Zanu-PF all
the time, handouts that sustained the party during hard times."
During one of his televised monetary policy statements, Gono said he was
ready to leave office at any time should that be the wish of his
"Most of you are clamouring for the removal of this governor from office,"
said Gono. "Let me say this once again. Your governor is ready to leave
office at any time if my principals so desire."
Kumbirai Nhongo, RBZ spokesperson said there had been no indication as to
what was likely to happen on December 1.
"There is a lot of talk about what is likely to happen after the first of
December," Nhongo said. "We are not yet clear as to what is going to happen
but people have been speculating.
"It is best to leave speculation to speculators."
15 November 2008, 9:30 a.m.
This morning a National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) officer was arrested
at his home in Mutare. His arrest brings the total number of NCA members in
police custody in Mutare to ten, after a court magistrate ordered that the
nine detainees being held at Mutare Central Police Station be transferred to
Mutare Remand Prison to await a Monday court date.
In the early hours of this morning, police officers went to the home of
Manex Mauya, NCA Youth Chairperson for Manicaland. Mauya was arrested and
taken to Mutare Central Police Station. Although the police have not
provided an explanation for the arrest, NCA regional staff presume that he
was seized because of his involvement in Tuesday's peaceful protest in
Mutare. There has been no indication when Mauya will be brought to court or
what charges he may face.
On Friday, a court magistrate ordered that the nine NCA members being held
in Mutare Central Police Station be transferred to Mutare Remand Prison.
They will be held in this location until a court date scheduled for Monday.
This weekend represents the fifth and sixth days that these individuals will
be held without being charged.
The magistrate ordered that one of the detainees, a pregnant woman who is
reported to have suffered a miscarriage on Wednesday while in police
custody, be taken to Mutare General Hospital to receive needed medical care.
Lawyers for the detained individuals will work with prison officials to
ensure that the hospital visit occurs today. However, NCA staff are
concerned that three days have already passed since the woman experienced
the medical trauma, and the hospital may not have the necessary doctors or
medicines to deal with resulting complications.
The continued presence of NCA members in Zimbabwe's police stations and
prisons is a profound injustice and cannot be justified by bringing baseless
charges against these individuals. Today's arrest of an NCA officer
underscores the government's attempts to silence the organization through
violence and arbitrary detentions. However, the NCA remains committed to
its campaign for democratic reform in Zimbabwe and will go ahead with all
NCA Information and Publicity Department
November 15, 2008
By Raymond Maingire
HARARE - Most boarding schools in Zimbabwe have been forced into premature
shut down after the state-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB) announced it no
longer had any more stocks of the staple maize grain to keep supplying them.
Zimbabwe is currently facing an acute shortage of maize due to a combination
of a bungled planning ahead of the last agricultural season and the
reluctance of individual farmers to sell their maize to GMB, which offers
very low prices.
Zimbabwe's schools are supposed to close formally early in December.
Investigations by The Zimbabwe Times revealed that some schools were forced
to close as early as September due to the food crisis.
School authorities at the famous St Augustine's Secondary School in
Penhalonga near Mutare revealed the school was forced to officially close on
November 4 after it could not replenish its food stocks.
"The GMB only delivered five tonnes of yellow maize to the school last month
and the school had no choice but to send away all the other forms except for
Forms 4 and 6 students who are sitting for examinations."
A school teacher at Rufaro High School in the Gutu district of Masvingo
Province revealed the school was forced into premature closure last Tuesday
after the GMB told the authorities it could no longer make any further
deliveries of mealie-meal.
"The school opened in the third term only because of pressure from parents
who wanted their kids to learn despite the challenges," said the teacher.
"The school went against recommendations by the GMB's satellite station in
Chatsworth that it should not open at all this term because there was no
more mealie-meal to supply boarding schools.
"Parents were told to come and collect their children last Tuesday. Only
Form 4 and 6 students remained at the school to finish writing their exams."
A frustrated parent of one of the affected pupils said he was worried all
the groceries parents were made to pay and top-up fees they were made to pay
regularly by the school had gone to waste as the school went on to close.
"It is very worrying that our children are being sent back home after we
were made to pay top-up fees and buy groceries for both our children and
teachers who were threatening not to teach if we did not buy groceries for
them," said the parent.
Under Zimbabwean laws, the GMB is the only authority allowed to procure and
distribute maize serial. But due to the low producer prices paid to farmers
as gazetted, Zimbabwean farmers now avoid selling their maize to the GMB,
preferring to either keep the grain for their own consumption or sell it
illegally to dealers who offer prices which are much higher and are often
pegged in foreign currency.
The government has government barred schools from pegging their fees in
foreign currency. Meanwhile, teachers have gone on sporadic strikes since
the beginning of the year. Zimbabwean teachers earn roughly $80 000 per
This is not enough for a single journey from one of Harare's high density
suburbs into the city centre.
The MDC secretary for education Fidelis Mhashu said although his party could
not readily reveal the number of schools that had been affected by the food
crisis, most schools had closed due to the worsening humanitarian crisis.
"Ï do not have any ready statistics with me but what I can confirm is that
most boarding schools have closed due to a combination of food shortages and
the continued flight of teachers due to poor salaries," he said.
This year's academic calendar was largely chaotic due to the elections and
strikes by teachers over salaries
From Nhlanhla Landa in Gweru
TWO High schools in the Midlands province both run by the Roman Catholic
Church, recently shocked parents when they demanded school fees top ups in
foreign currency and bags of mealie-meal.
Regina Mundi High School just outside Gweru demanded that all students pay a
top up fee of 150 Rand and those sitting for Advanced level pay a further
The further fee was said to be for chemicals, the students would use for
their practical examinations.
Charging fees in foreign currency in Zimbabwe is a crime except in those
cases where students are foreigners.
Several parents with children at Regina Mundi, who stormed the Zimpapers
offices in Gweru last week, expressed their displeasure with the decision of
the school authorities.
"The situation at the school has now gone out of hand as we were asked to
pay top up fees of $310 000 at the beginning of October and we thought it
was the end of it as the money was just too much then. They are back again
with fresh and bigger demands," said an irate parent who identified himself
only as Mr Gumbo.
He said that there were some people who were taking advantage of the stand
off between the political parties, to make as much a killing as possible, in
the process making parents suffer.
He said the addition of school fees to the list of transactions done in
foreign currency was a burden to parents who were not paid salaries in
"We are paying our rentals in foreign currency, we buy most of our food
staffs in foreign currency and now we have to pay fees in foreign currency.
This is criminal and government should not allow it to happen. Those who can
afford to pay fees in foreign currency enroll their children in private
schools that charge in forex," added Mr Gumbo.
Several parents said the school was demanding Rands or the equivalent in the
local currency at a time when it was difficult for the majority to access
They complained that the new headmaster was very demanding and did not
understand parents' pleas.
"Our children have been complaining of poor diet ever since the new head
arrived last year, but she keeps demanding more, from cash strapped parents",
said a woman who refused to be named.
Parents with children enrolled at Loreto High school, about 60km from
Kwekwe, said their children were recently sent home after failing to pay a
top up fee in the form of a 50kg bag of mealie-meal.
Some of the affected students were supposed to start their examinations the
"Getting mealie-meal for the table at home is a marmoth task and what more
getting an extra 50kg for the school," said Mrs Ratidzo Dube.
Efforts to get a comment from the head of Regina Mundi were fruitless as she
was continuously said to be out of office.
Members of the staff who spoke on conditions of anonymity said they were
forced to demand foreign currency as most quotations the school gets were in
They said the Dairiboard and the Grain Marketing Board were the only
companies that were not demanding foreign currency.
Contacted for comment, the Provincial education director, Mrs Agnes Gumbo,
said it was illegal for schools to demand fees or any other payment in
'Charging fees in forex is illegal. Of course we sympathise with the schools
during these trying times, but we do not approve of such actions as engaged
by Regina Mundi authorities. The problem is being compounded by the RBZ
which is turning down applications by schools seeking to make bulk
withdrawals. One hopes there are no individuals trying to take advantage of
the situation to enrich themselves," said Mrs Gumbo.
She said the Ministry was coming up with ways of assisting schools so that
they do not end up overburdening parents.
Regina Mundi is one of the best schools in the province but controversy is
slowly creeping into the school operations.
There was a lot of outcry from parents a few weeks ago, concerning the
school 's selection criteria of pupils for next year 's form one places.
By Samukeliso Ndlovu
IN a bizarre incident - scores of Form Four pupils at Eveline Girls High
School in Bulawayo last week wrote the Ordinary level English Language
examination barefoot after school authorities confiscated their shoes for
failing to pay $300 000 each needed by invigilators' as transport fees,
Sunday News can reveal.
Some officials at the school said the action by school authorities on the
students due to sit for an examination was traumatising and was likely to
affect their results.
On Friday several students from the school could be seen roaming the wet
streets barefoot after they had been sent away to look for money so that
they could be given back their shoes.
The affected students were those sitting for the Ordinary Level end of year
examinations which commenced on the 3rd of November and end on the 3rd of
The Head of Eveline Girls High School, Mrs Iris Tshalibe on Thursday
defended the school's action, arguing that the students were lying that they
had been sent home as removing of shoes was done as a punitive measure for
the "delinquent students."
"These students were not chased away. We made them remove their shoes before
writing the examinations as a way of disciplining them as some of them had
spent the money that was supposed to be paid for invigilators transport.
"We had asked parents to contribute towards invigilators transport fares by
paying $300 000 per child, but we noticed that some of the children were
diverting the money for their own use. Taking their shoes off before writing
examination was a punitive measure. We were going to return them when the
examination for that day was over," said the official.
She added that non-payment of the invigilators fees did not mean the
students would not write their examinations.
However, a student from the school who spoke on condition of anonymity for
fear of victimisation, said they had their shoes taken away and were told to
go and find the money first before they were to be given their shoes back.
"We did not manage to pay the money so we were made to take off our shoes
before writing the examination and then told to look for the money after the
examination so that we may be given our shoes back.
"As for me, I had tried to explain that my parents did not have the money
but the teachers would not listen to it. I had to take off the shoes
otherwise there was a possibility that I would not be allowed to write the
exam," said the student.
She said she had no choice but to go back home in Nkulumane 12 suburb
barefoot as she could not find the money.
A parent who telephoned the Sunday News in connection with the matter said
it was inhumane for the school authorities to treat pupils who were writing
their examinations in this manner as it was bound to affect their
"What Eveline High School is doing is really not good. My children were sent
back and had their shoes taken from them for not paying $300 000 each. I am
sure if there had been proper communication with parents none of this would
"To take away students' shoes is not excusable under any circumstances. The
ground is wet these days and our children could catch all kinds of diseases
for walking barefoot, not to mention the effects it has on their performance
in the examination," said the parent.
Barefoot students could be seen milling around the school, waiting for their
turn to be given back their shoes after paying the $300 000.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe last week gave schools the go ahead to ask
parents to contribute towards invigilators fees since they did not have
enough money to report for work.
A teacher from the school said the RBZ had given invigilators $750 000 to
assist them during the examinations. Commuter omnibus operators are charging
$200 000 for a single trip into town.
"It is not even enough for two days' worth of transport, so we hope the
parents will assist by chipping in," said the teacher who declined to be
When contacted for comment, the Regional Director for Education in the
Ministry of Education Sports and Culture, Mr Dan Moyo, said it was a minor
issue as he had been told that it was only a disciplinary measure.
"That one is a minor issue, I have been told that it's a disciplinary
measure,' he said.
By Davison Makanga
HARARE, Nov 15 (IPS) - "I was raped by four Zanu PF militias at night, just
outside their base, during the elections. They took turns to rape me,
accusing me of supporting the opposition, MDC [Movement for Democratic
Change]", said Pauline Moyana* from Mutasa, a community in Zimbabwe's
eastern Manicaland province.
"They threatened to kill me and my family, so I had no choice but to give in
to their demands", she added. Moyana's homestead was destroyed and her
livestock killed as "punishment" for her alleged political affiliation.
Another woman, 53-year-old Sophie Makore* from Hurungwe in northern
Zimbabwe, says she has lost hope following a gruesome experience at the
hands of Zanu PF activists. A few months ago, militia men stripped her naked
and raped her multiple times. Like in Moyana's situation, the perpetrators
told her she was being penalised for supporting the opposition party.
Moyana and Makore's testimonies are only two of many women's accounts from
rural Zimbabwe that have taken place during the bloody and controversial
presidential election rerun held this June. One woman from eastern Zimbabwe
was drained by a doctor of 250 millilitres of semen after having been gang
raped for three days.
Stories of brutal militia raping young girls and women old enough to be
their mothers and burning of houses of MDC supporters are now being recorded
by a group of women rights activists who want to bring perpetrators to
justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
So far, only one man has been jailed for the rapes that have taken place
during the last few months. He was sentenced for 22 years in south-western
Zimbabwe's town of Masvingo.
Well-known Zimbabwean activist Betty Makoni recently formed the Zimbabwe
Rape Survivors Association (ZRPS), an organisation that records women's
politically motivated rape cases, lobbies for legal justice and
rehabilitates rape survivors at a safe house in neighboring Botswana, as
many women, out of fear of retribution, are too scared to testify in
"Most women were attacked physically but also suffered spiritual damage.
They are afraid of going back to their villages," says Makoni. "The women
are highly traumatised and, what makes matters worse, ostracised by local
"The pattern of the cases is that of systematic political persecution.
Testimonies from women reveal how army chiefs and Zanu PF militias
deliberately embarked on a campaign against MDC supporters. We are talking
of state-sanctioned violence here," she added.
ZRPS cooperates with a team of lawyers from US-based advocacy organisation
AIDS-Free World to gather evidence and seek legal recourse through
international or regional courts. Makoni said ZRPS will take the cases to
courts outside of Zimbabwe, because the country's legal system does not have
a history of trying cases of human rights violations in a transparent
"So far, we have assisted some 150 rape survivors, and 20 have given us
evidence for our case affidavits. We are working hard on bringing all
culprits before justice", said Makoni, revealing that, already 180 men,
mainly army officers, have been listed as respondents.
AIDS-Free World co-director Paula Donovan told IPS she believes the
systematic and widespread nature of the rapes will make a strong submission
in court, even though Zimbabwe is not party to the Rome Statutes of the ICC,
which tries persons accused of crimes against humanity.
" What has become clear is that such widespread nature of the sexual
violence constitutes crimes against humanity. We know Zimbabwe is not a
signatory to the International Criminal Court Convention, so [if the cases
will be not heart by the ICC] there are many avenues of pursuing them, for
example by getting a referral from the United Nations Security Council",
If the United Nations Security Council agrees in an unanimous vote that the
cases are of gravity, it will open the doors for Zimbabwean government
officials to be prosecuted, except for the country's president, who retains
immunity. The accused can be charged under universal, regional jurisdiction
of countries party to the international treaty of crimes against humanity.
Donovan says another option is to bring the cases before the Africa Court on
Human and People's Rights, although it was worrying that the court has not
tried a single case in the ten years since establishment. Another stumbling
block is that only 24 of 53 African Union member countries have ratified the
protocol creating the court in 1998. Rights groups blame bureaucracy and
lack of political will for the delay in justice.
"It's unfortunate that justice processes are slow but the women want their
cases tried, whatever it takes," said Donovan.
Activists say it is crucial that the cases are brought to court so that
women's rights can be restored in a country that has committed itself to
Millennium Development Goal 3, which aims to create gender equality and
Netsai Mushonga, coordinator of the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe said
state-sanctioned violence against women does not bear well for Zimbabwe's
efforts towards women's empowerment. "What is happening in our country is a
total disregard of women. Our leaders [who have sanctioned violence against
women] should be taken to task", she said.
The claims of Zimbabwean rights organisations have found support from
multiple international human rights bodies. Amnesty International last month
called for judicial justice for all perpetrators of state-sponsored violence
in Zimbabwe, lamenting that human rights violations with impunity are on the
increase. Another human rights watchdog, Human Rights Watch, reported that
sporadic violence is on the rise in the wake of the unity government
stalemate between Zanu-PF and MDC.
*Not their real names.
16 November 2008
The Combined Harare Residents Association today (November 16, 2008) held an Anti-Cholera march in the Harare’s most affected suburb of Budiriro where over 150 residents from the locality (Budiriro) and the surrounding areas of Glenview, Glen Norah, Highfields, Mufakose and from the other parts of the city braved the rainy weather to register their solidarity with the cholera victims and show their utmost dismay at the Government and ZINWA and the Health sector failure.
The residents led by the Association’s leadership: Simba Moyo (Chairperson), Beatrice Ngwenya (Vice-Chairperson) and other high ranking leadership, marched from Budiriro Shopping Centre to Budiriro Poly-Clinic and around the expressing their condolences to the bereaved families whose members died of Cholera. The residents carried clear messages to the Government and ZINWA as some of their placards read:
-Return water and sewer management to City Council!
-ZINWA must go now!
-Residents demand compensation to Cholera victims now!
-ZINWA/Government has failed!
-Clean water now!
-Stop the human rights violations!
-Stop Cholera Stop the Carnage now!
The suburb of Budiriro has been the most affected by the Cholera scourge which has rocked the city of Harare and claimed dozens of lives (over 100 people are feared dead in Budiriro alone, CHRA is still in the process of compiling accurate information) in less than a month. The cholera outbreak is a direct result of water shortages and unattended sewer bursts which have seen residents resorting to unprotected shallow wells and living in a heavily polluted and unhealthy environment.
The government responded by pumping
resources into ZINWA but there has not been any difference since residents in
Budiriro still do not have tap water but a few tanks from the UNICEF. The poor
provision of health services, despite the designation of Budiriro Poly-Clinic
Some members of the Association are reportedly to have been picked during the march while some still face the risk of being picked from their homes. CHRA was still in the process of verifying the number of arrested members at the time of the release of the statement. The state has a legacy of intolerance and suppression of any dissenting voice in its attempt to hide the gross human rights violations and mislead the world.
CHRA will continue to mobilize residents to demand transparency, responsibility, accountability and professionalism in local and central governance. The Association will not stand and watch a government committing such unpardonable and shameless human rights violations on its people and urges all people to stand for social justice and against an irresponsible Government!
“… would rather die of a bullet than Cholera!”
“ZINWA MUST GO NOW!”
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
145 Robert Mugabe Way
Exploration House, Third Floor
Landline: 00263- 4- 705114
Bitter disappointment at the failure of SADC to help Zimbabweans and, at the
same time, relief at the refusal by the MDC to cave in to Mugabe's
unreasonable demands: these were the main reactions at a large and
The Vigil hopes that SADC countries will provide desperately-needed aid to
Zimbabwe to replace the Western assistance that was promised if SADC's
power-sharing agreement had been honoured by Mugabe . . . but we doubt it.
SADC seems prepared to see us die - an African solution for an African
The Vigil decided to revive our petition aimed at spelling out the
consequences of inaction to the SADC region. The petition reads "A Petition
to European Union Governments. We record our dismay at the failure of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) to help the desperate people
of Zimbabwe at their time of trial. We urge the UK government and the
European Union in general to suspend government to government aid to SADC
countries until they abide by their joint commitment to uphold human rights
in the region. We suggest that the money should instead be used to feed the
starving in Zimbabwe."
We have sent a first tranche of signatures to the EU and will continue to
press it until it takes action. Our other petition, now gathering thousands
of signatures, also seeks to put pressure on the region to face up to its
responsibilities. It reads: "A Petition to the International Federation of
Football Associations (FIFA). With the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe
and the likelihood of unrest spreading to South Africa we call upon FIFA to
move the 2010 World Cup from South Africa to a safer venue. By the time the
World Cup takes place the Mugabe regime will have made the whole region
unsafe because millions more refugees will flee Zimbabwe prompting further
xenophobic violence in neighbouring countries. FIFA must ensure that World
Cup teams and their supporters are not endangered."
The Vigil has always felt that only our neighbours can help Zimbabwe and we
want to put pressure on them to do this. We find it dispiriting that our
African brothers seem to blame the situation in Zimbabwe on the victims.
A few snapshots:
· A passer-by brought a Zimbabwean 100,000,000,000 dollar special
Agro-cheque. We would like a steady supply of these useless notes to sell as
a joke to passers-by.
· Thanks to Lovemore Mukeyani and Jenatry Muranganwa for leading the
exuberant singing and dancing. The Vigil was also happy to be joined by
Batman in his full costume!
· After the Vigil, the Management Team met to discuss the way
forward. Apart from deciding to continue the petition to the EU, it was
agreed to have carol singing at the Vigil just before Christmas - 20th
· Vigil supporters were heartened to hear that a group of 3 elder
statesmen (former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former US President Jimmy
Carter and Mandela's wife, Graca Machel) are visiting Zimbabwe at the
weekend. We know that they will:
1. Stay at the Rainbow Towers
2. Dine at Meikles
3. Swan around Borrowdale Brook.
Well, the Vigil wants them to see:
The rivers of sewage in Chitungwiza
The dying cholera victims at the run-down Parirenyatwa Hospital
The scavengers rooting for food in the rubbish in Mbare
Once again, grateful thanks for David McAllister for his hard work on our
website. We think he has done an imaginative and intelligent job.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/
FOR THE RECORD: 157 signed the register.
FOR YOUR DIARY:
· Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Monday, 17th November at 7.30 pm.
Innocent Chofamba, the former editor of the Mirror, and Mqondobazi Magonya,
the former treasurer general of Imbovane, will discuss 'what next' for
Zimbabwe after the failure of the recent SADC meeting. Venue: Downstairs at
the Bell and Compass, 9-11 Villiers Street, London, WC2N 6NA, next to
Charing Cross Station at the corner of Villiers Street and John Adam Street.
· Next Glasgow Vigil. Saturday, 22nd November 2008, 2 - 6 pm. Venue:
Argyle Street Precinct. For more information contact: Patrick Dzimba, 07990
724 137. This will be followed by the ROHR launch in Scotland. Saturday,
22nd November 2008, 6 - 9 pm. Venue: Langside Hall (reception room) 1
Langside Avenue, Glasgow G41 2QR. Very close to Glasgow City Centre. (Buses
23; 38,38A,B,C; 45; 47; 5734; 90). Contact P Dzimba on 07990724137, C Samas
07799156802 or P Mapfumo on 07932216070 or 07533831617.
· Zimbabwe Association's Women's Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays
10.30 am - 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton
Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury
Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355
(open Tuesdays and Thursdays).
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
Sunday 16th November 2008
Dear Family and Friends,
Most nights between 11pm and midnight a Spotted Eagle Owl patrols my
neighbourhood. He's a big grey and brown owl with bright yellow eyes and
distinct ear tufts but it's his haunting, Hu - huuu call that alerts me to
his presence in or near my garden. The arrival of the owl often comes at
just about the time the electricity is switched on and I think that in the
years ahead whenever I hear the Spotted Eagle Owl hooting I will always
remember these darkest of days when my home country was collapsing. It is a
time when the losers of an election held eight months ago are still clinging
onto power even though they cannot even provide the most basic requirements
If we are lucky nowadays the electricity comes on in the middle of the night
when we are asleep. It doesn't last long. On good nights we have maybe five
hours of electricity before it goes off for the next 19 hours. It is
impossible to run a home, business or institution with just a fifth of our
power needs. The electricity supply (ZESA) is a government run enterprise
and is in a state of almost complete collapse. Zesa no longer send bills to
customers - they say they have no paper on which to print the accounts. You
have to volunteer payment, usually guessing what you owe, or risk
disconnection - leaving you without even those four or five hours of power
in the middle of the night. This week the government run ZESA refused to
accept cheques from customers - customers who are paying them for not
Water supply, controlled by ZINWA, a government enterprise, has collapsed
everywhere and this week came the chilling news from Medicens Sans Frontiers
that one million people in Harare alone are currently at risk from Cholera.
In cities, towns and villages around the country our taps are dry most of
the time, apparently because there are no chemicals to treat raw water.
Desperate people resort to desperate measures including collecting water
from shallow wells dug on open roadside land - even that alongside
cemeteries - and from cloudy pools in stagnant streams where mosquitoes
swarm in their thousands. Despite this, still we are required to pay water
bills every month, for the dirty, smelly water that sometimes splutters out
of our taps and into our toilets. ZINWA do not warn us to boil the water,
they do not send out accounts and they say that from December they too will
not be accepting cheques from customers - customers who are paying them for
not supplying water, paying them for disease.
In the middle of this week I went with a cheque to pay for my telephone
connection with Tel-One - a government controlled enterprise, and the only
fixed line telephone system in the country. To connect to a number outside
of my home town has become almost impossible in the last few months with the
exchanges being out of order for multiple hours every day. Tel- One no
longer send out accounts to customers so you must pay what you think you
owe, or be disconnected. Tel- One refused to accepted a cheque for less than
two million dollars. The next day a friend went to pay for their telephone
connection and had a cheque for three million dollars. Tel- One refused to
accept the payment saying they no longer accepted cheques for amounts of
less than ten million dollars and said that from next month they will not be
accepting any cheques at all.
Government controlled systems are collapsing all around us and ZANU PF have
no solutions for any of the massive problems which are closing the country
down, chasing away the tourists and leading a nation into starvation and
disease. It is time for a new election in Zimbabwe, one in which losers
actually lose and winners really win. I leave you with one last thought for
those who do not know: the contentious Ministry of Home Affairs does not
only contain the Police but also the Registrar General's office where
births, deaths and voters are registered.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.
Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party has embarked on a begging bowl project aimed
at raising funds for its annual national people's conference set for the
first week December.
Sunday 16 November 2008, by Bruce Sibanda
Zanu PF secretary for finance, David Karimanzira says that the party was
begging for funds that would enable it to hold a "fruitful people's
The party holds annual conferences every December and a congress after every
five years where it seeks to chart the way forward given the avalanche of
problems it is faced with as well as those affecting national development.
Close to 5 000 delegates will attend the conference set for Bindura between
December 10 and 14, 2008.
"We have done fundraising through our provinces. But unfortunately, costs of
products and services continues to rise. We continue to appeal to members of
the party and well-wishers to kindly donate towards the cause of the
national people's conference so that we hold a fruitful conference," said
He said at the moment, his party was not sure as to how big the begging bowl
would be given the fact that there was a failure by the government, headed
by Zanu PF politicians, to arrest the continued rise of costs of basic
commodities and services.
"We still have not received quotations from service providers. Even if we
are to get them today, there would be a serious change in the prices by the
time we go for the conference because of inflation which will then push up
the prices beyond our budgets," he added.
On most occasions, Zanu PF has had to use its muscle on civil servants to
donate towards some of its major functions but the trend has failed to
materialize nowadays as most civil servants have resisted these moves as the
cash they pocket in their earnings is inadequate to cater for their families
alone, let alone donating towards a Zanu PF function
Government accused of unequal distribution of land, fuel
Nelson G. Katsande
Published 2008-11-16 18:10 (KST)
Eight years after the start of the land distribution exercise in Zimbabwe,
some farmers who benefited from this programme have still not received their
promised machinery and inputs from the government.
The programme which started in earnest in 2000 has been widely blamed for
the country's current economic woes. In 2000, the government seized fertile
land from the country's minority white commercial farmers. The land was
subsequently distributed among liberation war veterans, government
officials, ZANU PF loyalists, with the first family (Robert Mugabe's family)
also getting its own share of land.
The National Food Security Programme set up by the government for the
2008/2009 farming season has already had its shortcomings. The committee set
up to oversee the fair distribution of inputs has been accused of
It has emerged that only ZANU PF supporters have been enlisted to get
government support while opposition supporters have been told to wait for
the finalisation of the power sharing deal signed three months ago.
There are allegations that fuel set for distribution to the farmers is
finding its way onto the black market where it is sold at exorbitant prices.
A farmer based in Mashonaland province told OhmyNews that he has waited in
vain for the inputs while a farmer next door has already received his share.
"I am an MDC supporter and will not compromise my party membership for the
inputs," he said. He alleged that he had been told to denounce his
opposition membership in order to receive the inputs.
Other farmers from Mashonaland Central province have still not received the
promised inputs and machinery eight years after they were allocated pieces
of land. The government has come under attack that it only used the land
programme as an election gimmick.
More than 3,000 white commercial farmers were forced to flee their land in
2000 when war veterans unleashed a reign of terror on the farms. Those who
resisted were killed and assaulted. Farm labourers were not spared either.
Thousands of farm labourers and their families were subjected to an orgy of
Most of the land seized from white farmers has remained under utilised owing
to lack of farming skills and machinery.
The land reform programme has been blamed for Zimbabwe's compounding
economic woes. Mugabe however, blames Britain and America for his country's
Most of the white commercial farmers fled to neighbouring countries were
they have revived farming activities. Some of them are said to be willing to
return to Zimbabwe under a new government.
In the March presidential elections in which opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai won, the hopes of many farmers who fled Zimbabwe were revived as
they sought to return and start farming activities in Zimbabwe. However
those hopes were dashed when Mugabe refused to vacate office and insisted
for an election re run.
Mugabe is Africa's longest serving statesman and is widely respected in the
region. Since the signing of the power sharing deal in Zimbabwe, regional
leaders have unsuccessfully resolved the impasse between the opposition and
Mugabe on the sharing of ministerial posts.
The deal brokered by former South African president Thabo Mbeki is still
pending, amid reports that hundreds of opposition activists are being
victimised by Mugabe's secret agents and police.
15 November 2008
By Brilliant Pongo
I write this article in response to my friend and editor of Nehanda
Radio.com Fortune Tazvida's article titled "Time for Zimbabweans to Fight
Back." My reason for responding is because I disagree with what he is
calling for or what I think he is suggesting (war); the following paragraph
from his article caught my attention:
"But my fellow citizens, I ask you today, what use is it to be peace loving
when your mother is going to die of hunger tomorrow? What use is it to be
peace loving when your sister will die in a hospital because they did not
have drugs to treat a simple headache? What use is it to be peace loving
when your brother gets killed because he voted for the party of his choice?
Before independence Zimbabweans were confronted with a similar choice on how
to deal with the rascist Rhodesian government. They chose war for freedom."
To my friend Fortune, I say brother it is easier to lead men to combat,
stirring up their passions, than to restrain them and direct them toward the
patient labours of peace. You ask very serious questions in your article,
which can provoke anger and rally people to think that we have no other
option but to take up arms. Nevertheless, I say take a step back, think
things through, there is nothing that war has ever achieved that we could
not better achieve without it.
Yes Zimbabweans are frustrated by what has become of their beloved country,
with the highest rates of inflation in the world and a shortage of just
about all basic needs, (food, clean water, electricity, fuel, medication
etc). It is indubitable that people are dying in Zimbabwe - from hunger,
disease and even political violence - but why call for war? However, do we
need to kill and butcher each other to get peace?
To put it rather crudely, fighting for peace as you seem to want us to do in
Zimbabwe is like screwing for virginity- can we beget peace through
violence? How is war going to make the crisis in Zimbabwe better? Pope John
Paul II once said "War should belong to the tragic past, to history: it
should find no place on humanity's agenda for the future". Let us not revert
to violence every time we fail to agree.
With all due respect Mr. Tazvida, let not your frustrations cloud your
better judgment. Personally I do not think encouraging people to take up
arms at such a critical juncture in Zimbabwe's history vis-à-vis
Power-sharing (while the deal is still in process) is a responsible thing to
do. Why would the peace-loving people of Zimbabwe want to compound their
pain and suffering by getting themselves into a war? Why should we fight?
Better still, who do we fight? War is a cruel thing. It fills our hearts
with hatred instead of love for our neighbours, and it would devastate the
fair face of our beautiful Zimbabwe. Yes we are hungry and we are in pain,
we watch our sisters die and our mothers go hungry all this at the hands of
our leaders, but war is not a way out, it is the worst option.
As things stand in Zimbabwe right now, we have on one hand, like it or not,
a large part of the population supportive of ZANU PF, and on the other hand,
an equally - if not slightly - larger part of the population backing the
Now, if war is to break out and was to be fought along these lines (Zanu vs.
MDC), then we would only be doing ourselves a great disservice as a nation
because brother would kill sister, mother would kill son and so forth. This
war would neither be tribal nor racial, thus families would be divided and a
nation would perish.
I ask you to remember and maybe be mindful of the fact that war is real, it
is not like what you and I in our day have become accustomed to and maybe to
a certain extent even desensitised, in the virtual world' (war on
television, in film or video games). War is real, people will die, many
people for that matter: the young, the old, and the vulnerable.
You may think that we already have seen the worst and that things could
never get any worse. I say think again, just cast your eyes to
not-so-distant places like DRC and Sudan, and you will learn that war
destroys happiness; it would bring darkness our people, the people of
Zimbabwe who are struggling to make ends meet as it is and will not help
them at all.
It will unnecessarily take too many lives only for us to come back to the
negotiating table. Even after many years of fighting (second Chimurenga) was
the Lancaster House agreement we are at the negotiating table right now let
us talk, let ZANU PF and MDC make the historical signing of a power-sharing
agreement that they signed on the 15th September work.
It is with their powers to get this to work we do not need a war in Zimbabwe
to solve this crisis, just like Benjamin Franklin said "All wars are
follies, very expensive and very mischievous ones. In my opinion, there
never was a good war or a bad peace.
When will mankind be convinced and agree to settle their difficulties by
arbitration?" Fortune Tazvida, it is easy to call for war but fighting in a
war is another thing whose son, whose daughter; do you want to die in this
war that you call for? Let us not call for wars that we will not be willing
Comment from The Washington Post, 16 November
While world leaders gathered here to unleash soothing words on the financial
tsunami swamping their economies, the daring "responsibility to protect"
doctrine adopted by UN members three years ago was being buried in the
killing fields of the eastern Congo. For the sake of your bank account, hope
that the international community can protect dollars, euros and yen more
successfully than it protects the lives and safety of people who happen to
live in failed or rogue states. In three years, "never again" has become
"sorry about that." Humanitarian intervention - proudly proclaimed as a
universal mission by Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and other Third Way leaders,
and eventually adopted at the 2005 UN summit - has fallen into serious
disrepair. The slaughter, looting and forced removal of defenseless
Congolese civilians around the city of Goma this month - even though they
were theoretically under the protection of 17,000 UN peacekeepers - are grim
testimony to the consequences of making righteous-sounding promises without
thinking enough about the means to carry them out. The money men and women
of the Group of 20 should take note. So should the incoming Obama
administration, which will have to fashion a new basis for the use of force
abroad for a Democratic Party that has been divided by that issue since the
The responsibility of the world's nations to act together to protect
citizens against massive human rights abuses by their own governments was
shaped by Clinton, Blair and Kofi Annan out of the sickening failure to
prevent genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and the successful military campaigns in
Bosnia and Kosovo later in the decade. Humanitarian intervention provided
Democrats with a unifying, and comfortable, middle ground from which to
support military action abroad. Even US cities, including Barack Obama's own
Chicago, have adopted resolutions demanding that the responsibility to
protect - known to its advocates as R2P - be made a cornerstone of US
foreign policy. But wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have stretched thin the
military capabilities of the US and its allies, and made public opinion much
more negative about intervention abroad in any guise. Reams of pious words
have been written or uttered, including by Obama, about the need to do
something to halt the brutal ethnic conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan.
But the failure of the UN, the US, the European Union and other regional
organizations to intervene effectively there and now in the eastern Congo
may be the final nail in the coffin of R2P. The civilians around Goma have
been effectively abandoned by the Congo's dysfunctional national army, which
more often victimizes them than protects them.
They are caught between this feckless force and the far more efficient,
better armed and absolutely ruthless rebel movement led by Laurent Nkunda,
who declared on BBC television last week that he intends to overthrow
President Joseph Kabila. Nkunda's bid to go from regional warlord to
national leader is covertly backed by neighboring Rwanda. Kabila has the
support of Angola, which may have already secretly provided troops to the
Congolese army. This conflict could erupt into an international crisis about
the time that Obama is being sworn into office. If it does, there will be
plenty of blame to go around. Alan Doss, the adept UN special representative
in eastern Congo, asked the Security Council on Oct. 3 for an increase of
3,000 troops. The blue helmet force also needs relief from crippling rules
of engagement that prevent it from defending the civilians. But there has
been no response by the council to Doss' plea. "What is happening in Goma is
very damaging for the responsibility to protect. It could be a turning
point," says Bernard Kouchner, France's foreign minister and one of the
doctrine's founders through his own humanitarian work. "We are witnessing
the consequences of the arrival of nationalism on a continental level."
That is, African governments accept humanitarian disasters rather than give
foreign-led forces the support or freedom to carry out massive rescue
operations. Kouchner, visiting Washington last week, also cited Zimbabwe as
a tragic case in point. He does find one ray of hope - the election of
Obama, who has a direct family connection to Africa and promises a fresh
start in US foreign policy. "This could change everything," Kouchner said,
"and not only for Africa. You Americans have just held a world election.
President Obama should not wait to show what that means."
From The Nation (Kenya), 14 November
By Josh Kron Kibati
As hundreds of tons of food aid were finally distributed to refugees today,
soldiers sit around getting drunk and stoned. Just down the road from the
front line in this civil war near the town of Kibati, tens of thousands of
Congolese waited in lines for sacks of rice and cassava to feed hungry
bellies, some of which have not eaten real food in a week. But a couple of
hundred metres north, the town centre has become a settlement of soldiers.
With not much left to do now that fighting seems to have turned further
north, the soldiers here that are supposed to be the last line of defence
for the city of Goma, the prize for Tutsi rebels loyal to dissident General
Laurent Nkunda that are less than a kilometre away, have begun to settle
down. There is not a civilian in site, but the soldiers - Congolese and
Angolan - who have taken over the town have begun to settle into life there.
Some carry sacks of beans on their head, others cook food on the front
porches of deserted homes. Others are washing and drying clothes, laying out
their laundry in the sun before the rains that will surely come.
The only action seen around this area was Tuesday night, when two Congolese
troops were killed in a midnight firefight with Nkunda's National Congress
for the People's Defence (CNDP). Promises of further troop deployments from
Angola, the United Nations and the Southern African Development Community
has helped cement an uneasy calm here. So far, the newly-arrived Angolan
troops are fitting in well with their Congolese counterparts, playing cards,
drinking beer and smoking marijuana to pass time on a front line that has
seen little action in recent days. Though Congo President Joseph Kabila
called on his southern neighbour for help at his most pressing hour - as
Nkunda and his troops banged on the gates of Goma - there has been little
for the Angolans to do. As the world has turned its attention southwards
towards the North Kivu capital of 600,000, the most recent fighting and
government defeats have been 175 kilometres to the north, outside the town
of Kanyaboyanga. The calm to the south allowed on Friday the World Food
Programme to deliver the firs serious amounts of food aid to starving
refugees captive behind rebel lines in the town of Rutshuru. A convoy that
left at 5am from Goma reached the rebel stronghold where a new
"administration" of the CNDP has recently been put in place. Renewed
fighting and accusations of war crimes in nearby Kiwanja led to a suspension
of food aid delivery that was supposed to take place weeks ago. Over the
next four days, approximately 100 tonnes of food will be delivered to some
60,000 displaced people now living under Nkunda's control.
The United Nations and aid agencies have come under criticism from the
international community and the African Union for failing to deliver on its
mandate of protecting civilians and relieving famine. The CNDP and Congolese
army announced cooperation in opening and securing "aid corridors" in early
November but had failed to live up to that promise as fighting broke out.
Since fighting broke out on August 28 between government and rebel troops,
over 250,000 have been left homeless, some criss-crossing their own tracks
twice a day, just metres ahead of spreading violence. The rebel troops loyal
to Gen Nkunda claim that they are fighting to protect the Banyamulenge,
Congo's minority Tutsi population he says is targeted by Hutu militias in
the area responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide. President Kabila has
responded by calling Nkunda a "terrorist" but has been unable on his own to
fight back, as a string of government defeats has left the rebels with the
upper-hand and Kinshasa calling on its neighbours for military support.
Angola was the first to respond by sending troops clandestinely in early
November. Though African soldiers speaking Portuguese and decorated in
berets showing the map of Angola, have been on the front lines for almost
two weeks now, Luanda announced just Wednesday that it would send troops.
There have also been unconfirmed reports that Zimbabwean soldiers are now on
the ground. Official announcement of that could catalyse East African
Community members Uganda and Rwanda to mobilise troops. The two countries
have twice invaded - and marched across - the Congo in the last ten years
and Rwandan President Paul Kagame has said that he will do what is in his
country's national interest regardless of world opinion.
Meanwhile, Tutsi rebels outside Goma have said that the city is no longer
their main target as they will focus on consolidating positions to the north
and beginning negotiations with the Congolese government. Fighting continued
around the town of Kanyaboyanga where government troops were accused this
week of atrocities and near the rebel stronghold of Rutshuru where a new
"administration" has been put into place. "Goma is no longer our priority.
It is not our main target," said rebel spokesperson Bertrand Bisimwa in a
telephone conversation. "Our target is negotiations, but if the government
shoots against us we will fight back and we will go to Goma and we will go
to Kinshasa, but until now going to Goma is not our priority." Gen Nkunda
claims that his National Congress for the Peoples Defence is protecting the
minority Congolese Tutsi from "genocide" at the hands of Hutu militia
responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Newly-appointed political
officers for the CNDP moved into new headquarters in Rutshuru, taking over
the office of the local administrator, a plush residence on top of a hill.
All Congolese government officials either fled the town or defected to the
CNDP when it was overrun by Gen Nkunda's forces in late October.
After reaching the city limits of Goma October 29th and threatening to take
the city the next evening, the rebels called a sudden ceasefire and turned
their focus to consolidating their positions and fighting Hutu militia in
the territory. The shift in military strategy comes as evidence mounts that
Zimbabwean troops have joined Angola outside Goma in support of the
Congolese army. "We will fight Angola too," Bisimwa said in a telephone
conversation Wednesday afternoon. "They are not stronger than us. No one is
stronger than us." While the United Nations has continuously refused to
acknowledge the presence of foreign troops in the country, journalists for
Nation Media Group met today soldiers in Kibati, 10 kilometres north of the
capital, speaking fluently in Portuguese while wearing FARDC labels stapled
onto their uniforms. FARDC is the French acronym for the Congolese Armed
Forces. "Yes, I am Angola," said one soldier named Davi. "But I am sick, and
now I must go to the hospital," he said, walking away. When he was told he
was speaking to journalists, he quickly shook his head and finger. "No, no
Angola here." Rumours have swirled for a week that Angolan and now
Zimbabwean troops have been operating outside Goma in support of the Congo
army. Kinshasa, Luanda and Harare all deny foreign involvement. This has
been uncovered as a blatant lie.