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Deconstructing the MDC


Nelson Banya

SPEAKING to this newspaper almost eight years ago, Morgan Tsvangirai, then a
leader in the labour movement, made the following analysis of Zimbabwe's
legislative shortcomings as a virtual single-party state:

News Editor
"I don't think at this point in time we have the capacity to kill the Bill
when it is reintroduced in parliament next Tuesday, simply because our
lobbying efforts on parliamentarians are most likely to come to nil. Judging
from past experiences, they (MPs) are likely to be whipped to sing and
support the official ruling ZANU PF line," he said then.

"You have to understand that over 70 of our parliamentarians are either
directly appointed by the President or are members of the cabinet or deputy
ministers who must, at the end of the day, pay their allegiance to the
ruling party. The remainder of the MPs, with the exception of a few
opposition and independent ones, also got there through the ruling party
ticket and you can pretty much predict which way they will vote once the
party chiefs crack the whip. Which leaves the workers and the ZCTU to resist
this levy imposition primarily on their strengths. I do not want to get into
details of how this will be done but I can let go of the fact that in
combined masses lies the power. There is a general consensus both within the
labour movement and outside of it that drastic action is needed so those in
power can come face to face with the reality of what happens when you rob a
man's means of survival."

Tsvangirai, now the undisputed but embattled leader of the Zimbabwean
opposition movement, made the foregoing statement in an interview with this
newspaper almost 8 years ago, on the eve of what remains, to date, Zimbabwe's
biggest mass action since independence as people protested against the
introduction of a 5 percent war veterans' levy.

This was to become the first in a series of several, if less spectacular,
protests spearheaded by the labour movement, which, in turn, formed the
launch pad for Tsvangirai's entrance into mainstream opposition politics.
Less than two years following the interview, in which Tsvangirai lamented
the virtual disenfranchisement of ordinary folk and workers in particular-
by a government that had grown increasingly insensitive and unaccountable to
the electorate- the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) came into being.
The MDC was to come within a whisker of ending ZANU PF's two-decade long
reign in the June 2000 Parliamentary election, winning 57 of the 120
contested seats.

The opposition party insists that election, like all subsequent ones, was
rigged in favour of ZANU PF.
Although the party did not wrest power from ZANU PF, it clearly had the
ruling party on the back foot, what with a series of blunders and own goals
that have seen the Zimbabwean economy decline at an unprecedented rate for a
country not at war.

What's worse, the ruling party, which has no clear succession policy and
faced the real prospect of a break-away faction last December after
President Robert Mugabe manipulated the voting process to parachute Joice
Mujuru into the vice presidency at the expense of Emmerson Mnangagwa, was
battling to quell internecine strife.

Clearly things could not have been any better for the MDC. Acutely aware of
this, Tsvangirai announced in August that he would be walking into town in
solidarity with the thousands of Zimbabwean urbanites who are having to walk
long distances due to the biting fuel crisis- another stark reminder of the
ZANU PF government's failure to manage the economy.

But despite the inroads the MDC has made in the past five years, the picture
painted by Tsvangirai all those years ago still obtains- ZANU PF enjoys a
technical two-thirds majority following another disputed election last
March, its MPs vote as a herd according to the party's dictates and even
more Zimbabweans- over 80 percent- live below the breadline, double the
percentage in the previous decade.

All this notwithstanding, it is the MDC, not ZANU PF, that is battling for
its political survival. It has always been accepted that ZANU PF, which has
in the past actively worked to undermine the cohesion and effectiveness of
opposition groups in the country, would be the single biggest threat to the
MDC's existence. But what many could not have foreseen was the implosion of
the MDC on account of what is undeniably a ZANU PF agenda.

The senate debate, which at face value appears to have riven the MDC apart,
is, as Tsvangirai rightly says, a ZANU PF project thought up to smoothen the
vexatious issue of succession politics in the ruling party at a time when
the country should be focusing on solving its myriad problems.
Clearly disillusioned with what he strongly considers three stolen
elections, Tsvangirai has long warned that the MDC should "no longer counsel
patience among the masses in the face of a deepening political and economic

He, however, clearly overestimated the persuasion this message held within
his party and, most importantly, among his colleagues on the management

What ensued and the implications thereof is well documented, but what has
been scarcely probed is the likely impact this fall-out will have on the MDC
in particular and the opposition movement in general. This is due to the
simple reason that this would largely be an attempt at divination.
What could be useful, however, is to interrogate the MDC as a political
formation steeped in protest politics.

Although it is one of the hackneyed criticisms leveled at the MDC, this
cannot be a weakness, except to the extent that the party fails to harness
the popular protest, not into an ideology, but into a movement that
ultimately addresses popular needs. The MDC has attempted to do this- not
once, not twice, but three times- through the ballot.

Against an adversary that progressively clamped down on democratic space,
first through a purge of the judiciary and then the closure of independent
newspapers, the MDC could only have come to the realization that- along with
its civil society partners- the struggle should now be for a new democratic

As if to buttress this argument, the ZANU PF government railroaded the 17th
amendment to the constitution, seeking, among other provisions, to restrain
the movement of 'traitors' and sideline the courts from adjudicating
land-related cases except in terms of settling compensation claims. The
contentious amendment also reintroduced the senate, an idea which was
vociferouslyopposed by MDC parliamentarians.

The spectacle of jubilant ZANU PF MPs singing "ZANU yawhina baba" must have
been nauseating to many Zimbabweans who do not see how another self-serving
legislative process would help ameliorate the acute, multi-faceted crisis
that confronts them.

Even more galling is the prospect of more parochial constitutional
amendments pushed by the ruling party. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa,
who reportedly confided in his central committee colleagues that the
reintroduction of the senate was an ad hoc measure, has said as much. After
the reintroduction of the senate following November 26, Chinamasa plans to
bring further amendments that will, among other issues, seek to harmonise
the presidential and parliamentary elections, no doubt with an eye on ZANU
PF's own problematic succession conundrum.

It remains to be seen, then, how the MDC, with its 41 representatives in the
House of Assembly and whatever number they get into the upper house, will
respond to yet another attempt by ZANU PF to ride roughshod over
long-suffering Zimbabweans.
As it stands, the opposition party has split right down the middle and is
paying dearly for its leadership's lack of common vision at such a critical
stage in Zimbabwe's quest for genuine democracy.
Both feuding factions have taken an absolutist position on participating in
the senate election - against clear evidence that there are merits and
de-merits in adopting either position. This inability to compromise has
thoroughly clouded the optimal view- one closest to the MDC's goal of ending
ZANU PF misrule and ushering in a new political dispensation underpinned by
democratic values.
In this context, participating in an election that is increasingly turning
farcical, only so that "democratic space" is defended, does not take the MDC
anywhere near its stated goals. If anything, it serves to legitimize the
ZANU PF legislative agenda. Witness how President Robert Mugabe and his
lieutenants have been quick to point to the MDC's symbolic parliamentary
presence as evidence of multiparty democracy in Zimbabwe. President Mugabe
has spurned all dialogue over the national crisis with opposition groups,
preferring to engage the opposition "in parliament."

The argument that the MDC should defend its territory against ZANU PF
encroachment rings hollow when one considers ZANU PF's predilection to foist
political appointees on the urban electorate. Most MDC municipal
administrations have been hobbled by political appointees in the form of
provincial governors and, in the case of Harare, an unaccountable commission
to replace an elected mayor and councilors.

Conversely, the boycott route has its own problems, chief of which is the
absence of plausible alternative action. Tsvangirai has spoken of
"democratic resistance" but precious little has been revealed by way of
specific measures.
True, "in combined masses lies the power", but this has to be harnessed and
a fragmented opposition party at war with itself is least likely to mobilize
anybody. Last week's foiled anti-poverty demonstrations by the ZCTU and
NCA - which saw police arresting over 100 demonstrators- provided a fresh
reminder that the state stands ready to silence all voices of dissent. It
would therefore require astute planning and execution to mount
extra-parliamentary action that will, as it did in 1998, jolt the ruling
elite to -for once- respond to the common man's cries of anguish.

Anything short of that will not wash.
What the ongoing internal crisis in the MDC has revealed- quite
disconcertingly- is lack of critical internal cohesion, leadership and
heart. What started off as a messianic project is now steeped in
hoplessness, thanks to petty jealousy, opportunism and outright battle

That the current multifaceted crisis that confronts Zimbabwe cries out for
change as an inevitable solution is common cause, but that change will not
materialize if those charged with charting its course cannot scheme beyond a
party constitution. The infantile name-calling among the MDC leadership
poses serious questions on the opposition party's ability to deliver on its
promises, exposing as it does a president who does not have control over his
party, lieutenants harbouring secessionist agendas and appalling
indiscipline, as epitomized by the eccentric Job Sikhala's outbursts.

In short, the opposition movement in Zimbabwe finds itself saddled with a
leadership that has virtually abdicated on its responsibility to deliver
democratic change.

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MDC spokesman defends decision to participate . . .


Charles Rukuni

Campaigning for the senate elections next week has been quiet. Unusually
quiet. So quiet that reports say law enforcement agents are worried that
something might explode at the last minute.

There are no posters of contesting candidates. No T-shirts. No caps. One
political commentator remarked that this was a clear sign that the country
could not afford the elections because even ZANU-PF, which usually dishes
out campaign material including shirts and dresses, has not been able to do
it this time.

The campaign has been overshadowed by squabbles within the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) which have literally split the organisation with
party leader Morgan Tsvangirai leading one faction that is against
participating and secretary general Welshman Ncube leading another that
wants to participate.

MDC candidates are contesting 26 seats mostly in Matabeleland and the
Midlands. The candidates were expelled from the party by Tsvangirai at the
weekend for defying his directive to pull out of the elections.

Party spokesman, Paul Themba Nyathi, who belongs to the faction that wants
to participate, said campaigning was at full blast.
"We have been extremely busy on the ground. Right now I am taking a day's
rest after seven hectic days," he said on Tuesday.
He said his campaign trail had taken him to Plumtree, Insiza, Gwanda,
Silobela, Lupane, Nkayi as well as Bulawayo where they were holding small

"We have a full schedule at our regional offices of the places and venues
where we are holding our campaign meetings," he said.
Political commentators say although Matabeleland and the Midlands are MDC
strongholds its candidates could lose the senate elections because of apathy
and the fact that the people may listen to party leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
who has called for a poll boycott.

One observer, however, said people should not read too much into the
elections. People were simply tired after having participated in more than
five national elections in five years.

"The MDC could lose simply because of fatigue and nothing else. People had
to vote in the national referendum in 2000, then in the parliamentary
elections of June 2000, followed by the presidential elections in 2002,
parliamentary elections in March 2005 and now senate elections. It's just
too much especially when the elections are not bringing any tangible
benefits to the electorate," the observer said.

Nyathi said taking part in the elections was a risk his faction was prepared
to take.
"This is a matter of political principle. We cannot succumb to a
dictatorship because this is extremely dangerous for any country," Nyathi
said. "It's not about popularity but about principles."

He said while the decision to boycott the senate elections might sound right
to the people because they feel there is no point in contesting against
ZANU-PF under the present environment, the main problem was that they were
forgetting that the party leader was ignoring a decision by the majority, a
decision he had promised he would abide by after the vote.

"Sometimes, I think we deserve the leadership we get because of our
docility. It might sound right to go with our leader and support the boycott
now because people agree with his decision, but what about tomorrow when he
makes a unilateral decision that people do not agree with?

"The question is how do you trust a leader who agrees that people should
vote and the outcome will be binding but then goes against his word? If the
majority is wrong, let them learn from their mistakes," Nyathi said.

An observer who preferred anonymity but said he was neither a supporter of
the MDC, nor the ruling ZANU-PF, but of the now defunct ZAPU, accused those
calling for a boycott of being hypocrites because they were already in
Parliament and wanted to shut others out.

"If the MDC is really serious about the boycott," he said, "they should pull
out of Parliament and out of all the councils."

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 . . as Tsvangirai sues


Zhean Gwaze

MOVEMENT for Democratic Change president Morgan Tsvangirai will today
continue his long-drawn battle to set aside President Robert Mugabe's
election in the 2002 presidential election. Tsvangirai's fresh
constitutional application in the Supreme Court follows delays by the High
Court to finalise his presidential election petition filed three years ago
before the lower court.

The Supreme Court application will be based in terms of section 18 of the
Zimbabwean Constitution, which provides for all Zimbabweans to have their
rights determined by an independent court within a reasonable period of

Tsvangirai abandoned the petition in the High Court this year when he lodged
the constitutional challenge in the superior court, arguing that he would
not get a fair hearing in the lower court.
President Mugabe and the Electoral Commission, respondents in the matter
have dismissed Tsvangirai's petition saying it was "merely frivolous or

In his head of arguments, already before the superior court, the MDC leader
says the matter requires speedy determination because the presidential
elections were bound by the constitution.

"The failure to give that speedy determination undermines the constitutional
democracy of Zimbabwe. The logic is that democracy has been undermined by a
false result-false by contrivance or error-and that an imposter or usurper
"An illegality is committed for every moment he adheres to power and his
actions are null and void. This has obviously grave implications for the
government of the country he purportedly heads, and thus the lives of its
citizens," the MDC leader will argue.

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Govt bows to UN pressure on shelter


Njabulo Ncube

IN a major volte face, President Robert Mugabe's government has accepted
United Nations (UN) assistance for the provision of shelter to thousands of
victims of its controversial Operation Murambatsvina scattered in and around
the country.

The government's change of heart, coming a month before the arrival of
another special UN envoy to assess the humanitarian crisis triggered by the
widely condemned clean-up exercise, follows this week's forcible removal of
hundreds of people that had been sleeping in the open in Mbare after the
demolition of slums six months ago.

Sources within the diplomatic community in Harare told The Financial Gazette
yesterday that Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo wrote to the UN on
Monday stating that the government had resolved to accept the world body's
help to specifically build shelter for people made homeless by Operation

Although Chombo was unavailable for comment yesterday, Yasuhiro Ueki, the
acting director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), confirmed
the latest development.

"I can confirm that we received a letter from the Government of Zimbabwe for
the UN to proceed with the construction of temporary shelter. The
confirmation was received late Monday. The eventual cost will possibly be
US$18 million," said Ueki.

Diplomatic sources, adamant that the government lacks the financial
wherewithal to construct decent accommodation for the clean-up victims
without external assistance, said the overall UN offer entailed building 20
000 temporary housing units at an estimated total cost of US$20 million.

The initial phase of the UN project would involve the construction of 2 500
units mostly in Harare and Bulawayo for thousands of urbanites rendered
homeless by the widely-condemned exercise.
UN Habitat head Anna Tibaijuka, who visited Zimbabwe in June and compiled a
damning report on the demolitions, put the figure of the homeless at 700 000

Tibaijuka also reported that more than 2.4 million others were left without
means of earning a living following the destruction of informal vending
sites and backyard industries. The UN offered to build temporary housing
units for the victims of the operation then but the government spurned the
offer, categorically stating there was no humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.

In a previous communication to the UN, Chombo stated that it was the
government's position that "there is no longer a compelling need to provide
temporary shelter as there is no humanitarian crisis."

Chombo also claimed in the communication to the UN that government had
addressed the most urgent shelter needs in Zimbabwe after it put into place
Operation Garikai, the successor to Operation Murambatsvina, a claim which
has been proved untrue as thousands of people are still homeless five months
after the beginning of the controversial operation.

Annan last month slammed President Mugabe's government for rebuffing UN
assistance. The UN chief said he was dismayed and disappointed by the
government's refusal to accept aid, despite growing evidence of a
humanitarian crisis.

Jan Egeland, the UN relief coordinator, is now expected in Harare in early
December to help with the project as well as assess the humanitarian crisis
besetting the southern African nation.
The government's Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle has dismally failed to meet
set targets.

Zimbabwe is grappling with one of its worst food shortages. The UN's World
Food Programme estimates that 4.3 million Zimbabweans are in need of food
aid but the Harare authorities are adamant only 2.4 million require
assistance. The WFP is currently feeding one million people in the country
and preparations are in progress to feed 2.9 million before the end of the

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Ministerial fraud suspect out of country


Njabulo Ncube

Investigations into allegations of rampant fraud within the Ministry of
Higher and Tertiary Education have taken a new twist following revelations
that one of the senior officials under police probe has left the country for
studies in Cuba.

Sources within the ministry expressed surprise yesterday at how the finance
officer, fingered in the employment of ghost workers at the ministry among
other corruption charges, was allowed to leave the country in the midst of
the investigations.
Other sources claimed the official, whose identity is known to The Financial
Gazette, was in fact a ghost worker herself and was instrumental in a
well-orchestrated scheme to fleece the ministry through payments to alleged
fictitious employees.

It also emerged that one of the senior financial officers (name supplied) in
the ministry, a key figure in a scam involving $3,3 billion, was also
allowed to visit a number of southern African countries during crucial
stages of the investigations.

The same sources said the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) fraud squad had
raised the issue of the "disappearance" of the two suspects, who were picked
up by the police for questioning when the scandal was exposed by this
newspaper in August this year, with the top officials at the ministry.

It is understood some senior officials in the ministry, unhappy with the
on-going probe, had made representations to the ZRP fraud squad
investigating the case to stop.

"It boggles the mind that these key people have been allowed to go when
there's a circular that no-one should go on leave or seek a transfer when
the investigations are in progress," said a source.
Stan Mudenge, the minister of Higher Education, and his deputy Sikhanyiso
Ndlovu, have not publicly responded to the alleged scam in the ministry
since this newspaper broke the story.

Last month, this newspaper revealed that an internal audit at the ministry
had unearthed pervasive corruption, with billions of tax-funds alleged to
have been misappropriated through rampant abuse of vehicles and fuel

The internal audit, carried out by the chief internal auditor in the
ministry, showed that vehicles valued at more than $3.3 billion were
procured from local car dealers by ministry officials within going to

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CHRA vows to resume battle with Chombo


Zhean Gwaze

A FRESH legal confrontation is looming between the Combined Harare Residents'
Association (CHRA) and Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, following
the extension of the Sekesai Makwavarara-led commission's term of office for
another six months.

The CHRA said Chombo was once again in contempt of court as High Court Judge
Rita Makarau had recently reaffirmed earlier rulings that the extension of a
commission's mandate beyond six months is illegal.

Justices Wilson Sandura and Hungwe have in previous cases also ruled that
Chombo cannot lawfully reappoint commissioners for an indefinite period.

The local government ministry has twice bulldozed its way into the affairs
of Harare City Council and imposed commissions whose terms of office have
been extended indefinitely.

The Makwavarara-led commission has been in office since 2003 when the
elected opposition Movement for Democratic Change mayor Elias Mudzuri was
fired by Chombo.

In the labour matter involving one of the imposed commissions, Makarau said:
"A Commission was allowed to remain in office past its legal mandate,
thereby creating the fictional vacuum. It is my view that to legitimise the
clearly illegal in the circumstances of this matter would be to offend
against the clear letter of the law as contained in the Urban Councils Act
and to usurp the functions of Parliament and to seek to legislate from the
bench by excusing which parliament has decreed illegal."

The residents' representative body has vowed to continue fighting a legal
battle with Chombo despite an earlier case on the legality of the commission
being set aside as not urgent by the High Court.
The CHRA said it was mobilising residents at various levels to press for an
organised and effective rate boycott, citing the Harare City Council's
chequered service delivery record.

"We are compiling all the relevant information to submit to our lawyers on
the way forward. Currently we are organising residents to boycott rates
expressed in the 2006 budget so that we unplug the source of income that the
commission will be enjoying at the expense of the residents," a CHRA
official said.

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Stocks plummet as anxiety grips market


Rangarirai Mberi

SHARES fell further yesterday on hefty selling by profit takers, as the
anxiety of the approaching national budget statement began to show on the

Individual investors were the major sellers, but institutional investors
helped keep the market from larger losses as they held on to their stock as
expected. There was little sign of widespread panic that shares would remain
depressed for too long, but analysts say Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa's
December 1 national budget for 2006 has begun to play on the minds of

"The market may well rebound next week, but investors are trading cautiously
at the prospect of possible measures such as higher or new taxes that may be
announced," said Donaldson Mandishora, equities analyst at ZABG
The market fell 3 percent yesterday, adding to the 3.84 loss it took on
Tuesday. But dealers say a rebound is near, given the poor state of other
investment vehicles.

"If you sell shares today, it's hard to see where else except back on the
stock exchange you can invest. The investment market is that dry and
equities are really the only option out there-legally, that is," a dealer
said yesterday.

The market appears to have discounted last week's inflation data, which
showed October inflation up 51 percentage points to 411 percent.

Cottco rose $600 to $4600 Tuesday after showing earnings per share up 277
percent to $156 in the September half year and executives at the country's
largest cotton buyer painted a sunny outlook for the full year. Delta fell
$3000 to $36 000 after it said it had acquired control of Ariston, but had
fallen well short of the 70 percent of the produce and flower exporter it
had targeted in its offer.

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Govt plans to set up export council


Munyaradzi Mugowo

The government, anxious to pull its trade balance from the red and arrest a
savage foreign currency crunch, has mooted plans to establish a National
Export Council that unifies existing, but fragmented industry and trade

ZimTrade acting chief executive officer, Elizabeth Nerwande, told The
Financial Gazette that the Ministry of Industry and International Trade has
heeded industry recommendations for a council - which would house fragmented
industry and trade bodies - mandated with implementing the proposed National
Export Strategy.
Nerwande said: "During the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) annual
conference held in Nyanga in September, stakeholders stressed the need to
craft the National Export Strategy in such a way that it brings our
fragmented economic and commercial interest bodies such as ZimTrade, CZI,
the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), the Export Processing
Zones Authority (EPZA), the Zimbabwe Investment Centre (ZIC), and many
others under one Council. "The present situation where each of these
institutions looks one way as another looks the other way is unhealthy. The
Industry and International Trade Ministry is currently working on a project
to unify these to improve policy delivery."
Nerwande, however, remained mum on details and referred all questions to the
Ministry of Industry and International Trade. But neither permanent
secretary Christian Katsande nor Minister Obert Mpofu could be reached for
comment yesterday.
Zimbabwe's export volumes and receipts have been falling steeply to levels
below US$9 million per year since their 1996 peak of US$444 million per
annum on the back of a rapidly shrinking gross domestic product (GDP)
triggered by a military expedition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
and the disastrous fast-track land reform, which broke the back of
commercial agriculture and agro-processing industries.
Before the economy went up in smoke, agriculture contributed 33 percent of
aggregate exports, trailed by manufacturing, mining and tourism, which
accounted for 32, 16 and 5 percent, respectively.
But the inexorable economic meltdown, that has pushed annual inflation above
400 percent and opened a yawning import gap, has left the country
precariously balancing its weight on the mining industry, which has emerged
as the leading growth sector, but contributing a modest four percent to the
country's GDP, this year forecast to sink to levels below two percent.
Nerwande said Zimbabwe's economic and international trade fortunes could be
recouped if the country undertook to jealously keep "the promising markets
unveiled by the Aichi (international trade) expo held in Japan earlier this
"The Expo has opened up doors for the country to penetrate new markets. Many
companies, in a cross-section of industries have scooped orders. So far the
main beneficiaries have been tourism and agro-processing industries. There
have also been follow-up inquiries to the IDC, with regards opportunities
for trade and investment. Mineral products such as coke and agricultural
commodities, particularly flowers are also on great demand in many new
markets, not only in Asia. We are looking for markets wherever they can be
found. These are great opportunities which we should not botch up."
She, however, expressed worry over the sustainability, continuity and
reliability of supply because, going by the trend, a majority of Zimbabwe's
exporters have been finding it difficult to process orders expeditiously due
to financial distress and logistical complications. The next world trade
expo has been slated for China in 2010.

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Gold producers under pressure


Zimbabwe's position a major gold producer continues to slide as its once
mainstay gold mining industry continues to decline as a result of political
and social unrest. Zimbabwe produced 12 562,3 kg of gold in 2003, down from
2002's 15 468, 96 kg. Out of at least 500 hundred registered gold workings
in Zimbabwe, several large scale mines exist in the central midlands region
of Zimbabwe.

Most of Zimbabwe's larger gold mines have been based on previous smaller
workings, therefore very few mines have been developed from grassroots

Zimbabwe's gold producers have been placed under a lot pressure, following a
dramatic rise in operating costs over the last few years. These rises have
been primarily due to Zimbabwe's restrictive foreign exchange laws as well
as the artificial exchange rate between the Zimbabwe dollar and the US
dollar. At the end of 2002 it was estimated that 45 significant gold mines
(those producing more than 10 oz/d) had closed. There was also been a
wholesale withdrawal of small producers from the formal sector. About eight
years ago there were over 1,000 such mines ('small workings') selling their
gold, as required, to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. By the end of 2002,
there were only about 30, and while many of these tiny operations have
closed, there has been a countrywide switch to black market sales.

AngloGold's Ashanti operates the Freda Rebecca mine, the smallest mine in
the Ashanti Group's stable, but also Zimbabwe's richest. Production from the
mine in 2003 was 51,091 oz at a cash operating cost of US$268/oz compared
with 98,255 oz at US$214/oz achieved in 2002. The decline in production was
a result of low availability of drill rigs and drilled reserves occasioned
by a challenging environment. The deposit is amenable to open pit mining and
a feasibility study is underway.
Falcon Gold is one of Zimbabwe's oldest gold producers, with three surface
and underground operations, viz ,Dalny, Golden Quarry and the Venice Mine.
The continuing deterioration of the economy has forced Falcon Gold to close
the Venice mine.

Anglo American opened the open cast Bubi mine, located 140km north of
Bulawayo, in mid 1998. Annual production from Bubi is 16 000 oz as well as
19 000 oz the Isabella opencast operation. Bubi is a low grade deposit,
averaging only 1g/ton from the oxide ore and less than 3g/ton from the more
costly refractory sulphide ore.

Consolidated Trillion Resources is in the process of disinvesting its
operational assets in Zimbabwe through the sale of its two gold mines in
Zimbabwe, the Jena and Indarama Mine. The Jena mine is located in central
Zimbabwe, approximately 270km from Harare. In 1999 the mine had total
resources estimated at 1.7 Mt grading at 4.7 g/t or 7.8 t of gold and
producing just over 15 000 oz gold in 1999. Trillion has sold its 50% share
of the mine to its partner, the Zimbabwe Mineral Development Corporation
(ZMDC) for $1.1 million.

Delta Gold has completed commissioning of the new Eureka mine, which has
been a developed on top of previous workings. The mine is situated 150 km
north of Harare in Zimbabwe. The mine has defined reserves of 438 000 oz
gold and a total estimated resource of 1 Moz. The mine intends producing 60
000oz/year and at full production, Eureka will be the second largest gold
producer in Zimbabwe. The mine is expected to have a life of mine of at
least five years, based on current reserves and resources.
First Quantum Minerals operate the 95% owned Connemara heap leach open pit
mine in central Zimbabwe. Connemara produced 21 500 oz gold in 1999 at a
cash cost of $215 per oz, and has 7-8 years of reserves estimated at
containing 3.2 Mt grading at 1.95 g/t or 199,407 oz gold.

Battlefield Minerals has developed its Pickstone - Peerless mine near
Chigutu in Zimbabwe. The current resource has outlined 100 000 oz (opencast)
at over 3g/t gold and almost 350 000 oz (underground) at 7.5g/t gold. A
further 50 000 oz resource is located in tailings.

Kinross Gold operate the Blanket mine located in south western Zimbabwe,
approximately 100km from Bulawayo. The mine is an underground mine with a
tailings retreatment facility. Blanket produced approximately 34 500oz in
2000 at (rising) cash costs of $236/oz. The mine intends producing 47 000 oz
gold in 2001 at cash costs of $200/oz. The mine has proven and probable
reserves estimated at 2.8 Mt grading at 2.36 g/t gold.

Rio Tinto Zimbabwe (RTZ) is Zimbabwe's second largest gold producer,
operating the Eiffel flats dump retreatment mine and the Patchway and Renco
gold mines. Rio Tinto has a 56% interest in RTZ. RTZ accounts for 10% of
Zimbabwe's production.

Conquest Resources plans to acquire 90% of the Babs and Beehive gold mines,
previously owned by British based African Gold PLC (Afgold) that sold the
assets to eliminate long term debt in the UK and Zimbabwe. Apart from the
Babs and Beehive acquisitions, Conquest also operates several other gold
mines: Glencairn, Blue Rock and Shamrock mines. The Beehive complex consists
of the Babs, Beehive, the small Antelope and the Eva open pit as well as a
central milling and processing plant.
However, African Gold still operates the Inez Mine, situated west of Kadoma
in central Zimbabwe. The Inez mine has reserves estimated at containing 645
000 t grading at 10.12 g/t, resulting in a total of 210 500 oz gold.

Development of the Beehive complex was placed on standby due to reduced
funding on the basis of Zimbabwe's worsening political and economical
situation. The Inez mine operations have been downscaled in the light of the
economic downturn and the mine's production has been reduced to a mere 30 oz
gold per week.

Independent Gold (Indepgold) is the Zimbabwe gold production arm of UK based
Lonmin plc that operates 8 gold mines in Zimbabwe, viz. Arcturus, How,
Anzac, Mazowe, Muriel, Redwing, Shamva and Tiger Reef mines which
collectively produced 189 000 ounces in 2000, producing more than 20% of
Zimbabwe's gold output. Indep are also evaluating the Tafuna Hill region
with Canadian Mandorin Goldfields. In order to focus on its South African
assets, Lonmin has sold its gold interests to a South African empowerment
company headed up by Mzi Khumalo.

In November 2002, Lonrho Mining sold its remaining gold mines to Pemberton
International Investments for US$15.5 million. The five mines in the group
produce about 170,000 oz/y, or over a third of Zimbabwe's official output.
Pemberton is effectively controlled by African Mining Group of South Africa.
Zimbabwe Mining Development Corp. also shut down its major gold producer,
Sabi in 2002- Mbendi profile.

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CSO to release industrial data


Ruramai Mutizwa

THE Central Statistical Office (CSO) will next week release industrial
output data for the third quarter, expected to show the impact of rising
production costs on industry.

The new CSO survey comes at a time most industrialists say they are
operating at below 30 percent capacity due to factors including high power
costs and shortages of foreign currency and fuel.
The CSO last week released inflation data for October, which is 51.2
percentage points up to 411 percent.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), which groups the country's
major industries, has reported scores of company closures this year, blaming
the closures mostly on the failure of companies to access foreign currency
for raw materials, and the rising cost of production.
Leading manufacturing firms have in recent months suspended or stopped
operations due to difficulties related to foreign currency, fuel and high
energy costs.

Dunlop, the country's largest tyre manufacturer, recently closed down after
failing to get foreign currency for crucial imports. Leading sugar refinery
Gold Star, a division of ZSR Corporation, resumed operations last month
after a month-long stoppage caused by logistical problems, while miller
National Foods suspended flour supplies after running out of wheat stocks.

In an effort to prop up these companies, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
had set up a concessionary finance facility, the Productive Sector Finance
(PSF) last year, but this was withdrawn after concern of misuse and worries
that the cheap funds would increase inflation.

This has left companies at the mercy of rising interest rates, which are now
above 400 percent.

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MDC self-destructs



            THE Movement for Democratic Change's political bubble has burst
and the opposition is now precariously balancing on a political knife-edge.
The party, which many felt was driven by the desire to further the
democratisation and expansion of political pluralism in Zimbabwe, now faces
the spectre of the stone it had pushed uphill slipping from its grasp and
rolling downwards - crushing everything it had worked for as a bulwark
against the stifling of democratic space.

            And it would seem there is no stopping the avalanche if the
growing intolerance, confrontation and hatred for compromise exhibited by
the feuding factions is anything to go by. True, unanimity is not a virtue
in politics, as people have to learn to agree to disagree. But in the MDC
case there are only two options - compromise or split. And it would seem
like the stage is, to all intents and purposes, set for the latter. Suffice
to say with the seemingly irreconcilable differences, the losses the party
will suffer as a result of the fallout may be immeasurable. Already the two
factions are attacking each other in public, underlying the gravity of the
crisis in the MDC because one does not open fire on friendly troops!

            It is important to note that the opposition party, a cluster of
different political persuasions which are often contradictory in terms, has
no one but itself to blame. In spite of arguments coming from both sides, we
are hard-pressed to believe that it is the self-serving Senatorial elections
that have stirred up the deep-seated and divisive discord which has blown up
former alliances and blocs within the opposition and which will certainly
touch off a lengthy period of splits, resignations and expulsions. There is
more to it than meets the eye because the widening cracks are symptomatic of
the differences that have always been simmering underneath.

            Differences over the Senatorial elections may provide a perfect
alibi. But the fact is that the MDC has for a long time been under severe
strain. There has always been a wide gap between the political convictions
and culture of the key founding members. This has always underlined the
potential for fissures within the loose coalition. We stated as much in our
editorials of September 2, 2004 and February 10 2005 after it emerged that
the party's executives were not singing from the same song sheet on critical
issues such as participation in elections under Zimbabwe's highly poisoned
political environment where people have suffered permanent emotional scars
as a result of the brutality and purposeless sadism visited upon them by
political attack dogs.

            We said then, to the chagrin of the party's spin-doctor, Paul
Temba Nyathi, that the more one scrutinises the MDC the more preposterous
assemblage it appears of egotism, self-importance, pride, fretfulness,
short-term political opportunism, self-delusion, bigotry, overgrown baby
mentality and even contempt for the millions of people. At no time has this
observation been more apt than now amid the deepening confrontation in the
MDC - with some ambitious-as-Lucifer party officials reportedly advocating
the reckless, highly irresponsible and dangerous secessionist notion of a
Ndebele state.

            The two factions are at daggers-drawn. Each is convinced that
only its course is the right one, triggering frontal attacks from both
sides, which in some instances have bordered on the absurd and politically
naïve. On one hand the pro-Senate faction, long speculated to be bent on
toppling party president Morgan Tsvangirai, sees the crisis as an
opportunity for the critical encirclement around the embattled MDC leader.
On the other, Tsvangirai, who seems to have been aware of the pro-Senate
faction's subtle machinations, also sees the woes besetting the opposition
as an opportunity to jettison the Welshman Ncube-led group, which might have
considered itself too indispensable and sacred. Unfortunately, contrary to
the laws of physics, any pressure in politics spawns a strong reaction,
which is why both factions are digging in their heels.

            Granted, Zimbabwe's political life has not been noticeably
shaken by the power struggles in the MDC, at least for now. But all the
crisis means is that the opposition party, which is very much a creation of
the circumstances obtaining in the country, has taken its eyes off the
ball - the fight for democracy to ensure that Zimbabweans organise freely of
their political convictions. This, more than anything else, is the reason
why the MDC has been a big disappointment to the multitude of its
supporters. It should be remembered that the Tsvangirai-led coalition of
labour, civic society and academia had benefited from voter anger and a deep
well of disenchantment over the unprecedented economic meltdown and the
inherent socio-economic difficulties blamed on the ruling ZANU PF. And
admittedly, as a real factor in Zimbabwe's political dispensation, it had
the moral authority, nay; mandate, to speak on behalf of the millions that
supported it.

            Of course some have argued that the opposition party is going
through a transition which most political parties in Southern Africa and
elsewhere have gone through. But coming as it does, at a time when the
public yearns for a strong opposition, there is no telling the implications
of the crisis of public confidence the opposition party now faces. Or will
it survive the inevitable backlash and remain politically relevant?

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I saw this coming


EDITOR - What is happening within the MDC now is not a surprise to me at
all. For a long time I have been one of the few voices always trying
unsuccessfully to present to the Zimbabwean people the darker side of the
"people's party". To those of your readers who still remember my past
contributions, I pointed out at one time that Britain was responsible for
the MDC's continued loss in elections and not rigging as people were made to
believe. The reason, I said, was simple - Britain hijacked the MDC to fight
for land on behalf of white farmers.

Instead of Tsvangirai telling expectant Zimbabweans what he was going to do
to turn around the economy, all we heard from him was how he was going to
"return land to its former owners". When there was an outcry about this
statement he flipped over and said he was going to redistribute the land
afresh. How? He did not tell us.
This shows a lack of clear policy direction on his part.

The other issue that is weighing down the MDC is, as the saying goes, too
many cooks spoiling the broth. There were just too many interferences from
foreigners that it became almost impossible for any enlightened Zimbabwean,
myself included, to keep identifying with the MDC.

Why was there such an out-cry from the white world - Britain, Australia, New
Zealand, USA and Canada - all countries of dubious backgrounds when it comes
to fighting for black equal rights? If this does not scare away any right
minded black person, then I do not know what will.

Please do not get me wrong here. I am not sayng that these countries should
not support the MDC. No, what I am merely saying is that they should have
done so in a more diplomatic way than the near anti-Mugabe xenophobia they
exhibited to an extent of becoming an anti-black euphoria. Look what
happened to Mr Dell? That is a clear case of xenophobia not befitting any
diplomat. Surely the next thing is to see him leading a bread-shortage riot
in the streets of Harare!

What I am saying is that foreigners should take this opportunity to take
their off hands our party and give us a chance to chart the way forward in a
manner that will win us votes, a crucial component of democracy.

Talking of xenophobic foreign interference brings me to the issue of how the
said "white countries" react to situations in Zimbabwe as compared to other
events in the world. Compare the rivers of crocodile tears that were shed by
these countries after a toddler was tragically killed during Operation
Murambatsvina to the deafening silence that greeted the killing of 46 people
in Ethiopia recently. Does this mean that black Zimbabweans have suddenly
become the "Jesus Christ" of these people so much so that they biblically
defend "persecution"?

I become very afraid for being accorded such biased favouritism because when
payback time comes, we shall pay with our very souls for this "generosity".

Look at what is happening in Iraq. When George Bush talks to the Americans
he tells them that the US army is in Iraq to fight against terrorism and to
defend American interests, but when he speaks to the Iraqis he tells them
that the US army is in their country to defend them against "tyranny". Which
of these two statements is true to an independent observer watching this

It is high time Zimbabweans open up their minds and tell anyone to shut up
once they start spouting rubbish. All along this courage has been lacking
and it is really heartening to hear that even people of importance within
the MDC ranks like Trudy Stevenson are beginning to show people how to
exercise their democratic right of criticising any leader as soon as they
start to drift towards autocracy.

For a long time we have watched helplessly as serious democrats were called
all sorts of names by these MDC zealots who all along were harbouring an
ambition of creating another dictatorship.
I repeat again my call for any party leader who loses two successive
elections to step down to give others a chance. Charity begins at home.
Democracy for Zimbabwe can only begin in the party that purports to be

Why are the people of Zimbabwe being misled into thinking that democracy is
only when Tsvangirai is president of Zimbabwe? No, that is wrong, democracy
will be there even with Trudy Stevenson as president of Zimbabwe as long as
her intention is not to stay as president forever.

Now that we all have had a chance to say our hearts out, that is democaracy
and this shows that the MDC will emerge from this saga stronger, with a
leader who knows that he can be booted out at any time and with members who
shall always question their leader's actions without fear of persecution.
Any democrat who uses such terms as traitor, sellout, comrade and any other
silly terms should be made to account for their dictatorial utterances. Also
the singing of stupid songs should be banned so as to foist discipline in
people for only empty vessels make the most noise. That way we can breed a
new generation guided by democratic discipline and tolerance capable of
listening carefully instead of just singing along.

Singing should only be reserved for the stadiums as we cheer our sports
teams, because the more you cheer political leaders the more they become
dictatorial. Dictators are to politics what celebrities are to the
entertainment industry. Both are self-centred until they are reminded that
the status they enjoy is because of the public who pay for their "shows".

Rodgers Svovah
United Kingdom

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My soul is not up for sale


EDITOR - It has been brought to my attention that some misguided MDC members
are moving around Harare North telling lies about me, specifically: lthat I
have been paid by ZANU PF to support participation in the Senate election;

lthat I received money from President Thabo Mbeki in South Africa to support
participation in order to legitimise President Mugabe.

Anyone who believes such blatant lies needs their head examined, in my view!
People who know me will know for certain that I would never accept money
from ZANU PF for anything whatsoever.

Indeed, if anyone from whatever background offers me money for favours, they
will discover I am one of the most fiercely resistant people against bribery
and corruption. That is how you sell your soul - and my soul is not for

The person or persons behind this defamation whisper campaign need to be
exposed for what they are - ZANU PF clones. To stoop so low as to indulge in
slander in order to promote the "No to Senate" campaign is disgusting, in my
view, and I do not wish to be associated with any such person or campaign.
It is pertinent to note that the allegation about "Yes to Participation"
members being paid by ZANU PF was earlier made at a rally in Silobela. It is
also pertinent to note that my personal position concerning participation
has never been made public. That I publicise the apparently unfashionable
side of the argument I will accept - my position as secretary for policy and
research requires me to present research and ideas for debate. Which side I
personally support has not been stated at any public forum, but I have
always stated the position of my district very clearly - they are against

Trudy Stevenson MP
Harare North

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When the cup of endurance runs dry


EDITOR - If there is anything that has skyrocketed as fast as inflation in
this country, then it is the acceleration of the so-called consumer
watchdogs towards the precipice of irrelevance.

Correct me if I am mistaken, but I fervently believe that one of the most
quintessential roles of a consumer watchdog is to ensure that its
stakeholders' (consumers) welfare is not incarcerated into the shackles of
annihilation. I am of the opinion that silence in face of adversities might
mean acquiescence to the status quo. And my conscience tells me that an
organisation that purports to further the welfare of consumers but has done
virtually nothing to that effect should just do the honourable thing - close

The misery of the Zimbabwean consumer has been catapulted to cataclysmic
heights owing to a myriad of factors. With inflation at 411 percent under
the backdrop of rampant shortages of essential commodities that include
fuel, foreign currency, sugar and even ideas to correct the lacuna, the
consumer has shown relentless resilience.

As a result of the tragic erosion of disposable incomes due to the spectre
of inflation (that is exhibiting all the factors of determination to keep on
rising) and coupled with incessant price increases - most of which are not
only unjustifiable but defy all facets of reasoning - the consumer has been
sacrificed on an altar of social, political and economic expediency. In
other words, the consumer has been made to play the pony.

The phrase that when elephants fight it is the grass that suffers and when
they mate, it is the grass again that suffers, holds water in the Zimbabwean
context especially with regards to consumer welfare. Without delving on the
causes of the economic malaise in the country, I am - as an affected
consumer myself - only able to say that the suffering of the consumer needs
to be assuaged.

What is pathetic about the whole situation is the total absence of any voice
representing the consumer in spite of the presence of a Consumer Council in
the country. What is shocking and heart-rending is the eerie silence and
monumental failure by consumer watchdogs to at least show their presence,
however powerless. The question that now boggles the mind is: do we really
need a Consumer Council in Zimbabwe?

Rentals have gone up unrealistically; transport costs are unbearable; prices
of basic commodities (whose definition has been revised from time to time to
include only the barest minimum essentials like mealie-meal) have continued
to soar at an alarming rate; and what has only remained static are the wages
of workers who are bearing the brunt of the hardship to an extent of
subsidising the employer since the take-home salary cannot take one
throughout the month. I will not belabour on the unemployed, the
unemployable and those already living in abject poverty lest I induce many
to cry.
The consumer has been resilient for so long a time feverishly hoping that
one day those who purport to represent him/her will fulfil their mandate.
But the consumer has been failed pathetically. This reminds one of Dr Martin
Luther King (Jr), the American civic rights activist who rose to fame for
his non-violent resistance to segregation and his world-acclaimed "I have a
dream" speech, who clearly pointed out that "in the end, we will remember
not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

The daunting chimera that the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) faces is to
prove its mettle and defend the reason for its existence. It is high time
the watchdog came out of its cocoon and save the consumer from the quagmires
of oblivion. And it has to do that NOW.

Besides issuing statements about the consumer basket and showing that an
average family of six requires more than $11 million per month when it is
crystal clear that the majority are far below that threshold, we have seen
little from the CCZ in terms of spearheading consumerism.

In the words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, there comes a time when the cup of
endurance runs dry and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the
abyss of annihilation.

Consumers of this country have long depleted their patience.

Canisio Mudzimu

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Letter from America


Media coverage of Mugabe overkill?
There is a raging debate here among Zimbabweans in the diaspora whether the
intense negative media focus on Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is a
deliberate racist overkill of a black nationalist leader. Whether it is true
or not, that President Mugabe has drawn negative attention to himself, the
intended effect is to isolate Zimbabwe and discourage trade with the suspect

Since July, the New York Times has posted a seasoned journalist, Michael
Vines, to Harare while Warren Hodge watches over the news from the New York
Times Foreign Desk.

On Sunday November 13, Vines files a front -page report condemning President
Mugabe for neglecting and lying about the homeless in Zimbabwe.
In addition, he takes up half of page 8, complete with two pictures and a
map of Zimbabwe. With meticulous documentation, for which the New York Times
is famous and feared for, Vines lays out figure after figure of displaced,
700 000 persons displaced and 1,2 million affected altogether.
Nokuthula Dube stands in front of her unroofed shack, having been driven
from her former home while pregnant. Robson Tembo, likewise sits in despair
in front of an unroofed shack, half destroyed by government agents. If this
story has been told 10 times by the Times itself since July 17, why tell it
now? It is true the suffering was absolutely needless, and this is what our
brothers failed to grasp. The story has nothing to do with whether the
demolished shacks were illegal structures; it is a moral issue stupid!

This onslaught is not without purpose. Those who make decisions notice
constant negative publicity, especially in the New York Times, that paper of
record and of conscience. The decisions are as mall as booking student
travel abroad programs.
My college has been trying to send students to Zimbabwe for two years.

How can I raise the matter on Monday if the Sunday New York Times is on the
Dean's table even as we deliberate?

But even more crucial is its effect on the Zimbabwe dollar. A country that
is regarded as a pariah by fair-minded writers of the New York Times, surely
cannot be up to any good.

There are persistent reports that the American CIA and the British MIV
hatched the death of the Zim dollar.

My source swears by the story and claims that as the reason lying behind the
seizure of a British diplomatic bag at Harare airport. The plot was simple;
to flood the black market with the US dollar and the British pound.

With such scare stories of a mad dog government running loose, anybody who
had any sense would want to keep his money in foreign currencies. Look at it
this way.

Would a normal man want to keep the Uganda shilling under General Idi Amin,
or would he prefer foreign money?

Such a barrage of negative publicity also serves another role. Apart from
delegitimising the incumbent government, it creates a crescendo of

The citizens expect such a government not to last very long, therefore
investments are held in expectation of a new dispensation round the corner.

The amount of mass hysteria has reached such a level as to be comparable to
that unleashed during the end of the Shah's reign. Nat Nentoff, a revered
freedom of the press veteran writer has this heading in the New York Village
Voice: Mugabe's Victims Mostly Black. Philip Pullela of Reuters shocks the
world by repeating: Mugabe calls Bush, Blair Terrorists.

There are two forces our African brothers have failed to master and to
comprehend - the economy and the media. The media works like packs of
wolves. At a signal, every member of the pack tries to outdo the other
members in reporting negative information.

As soon as there is regime change, the wolves pack their bags and fly to
find new and more interesting victims. The Zimbabwe government has abandoned
the fight to influence world media.

Margaret Thatcher in her book, Statecraft, says before one can govern, one
must win the argument first, and that is done in the media.

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Zim politics lacks common sense


Personal Glimpses

I HOPE I will not join American ambassador, Christopher Dell's hell by
commenting on the internal affairs of my country, which have gone really
haywire over the past week. The media feeding frenzy created by both the
divisions within the Movement for Democratic Change and the verbal feud
between the government and the US envoy has served to prove that when
self-interest and self-preservation are at stake, there can be a story to
justify every theory and utterance!

Unfortunately, in this form of verbal combat, the truth is always the first

Take the case of the American ambassador who has been attacked, threatened
and ridiculed for a speech he made at Africa University in Mutare. Dell got
into hot water because in that speech he happened to describe the situation
the way most Zimbabweans, weary from their endless struggle for economic
survival, see it too. But oh, what a hornet's nest he stirred by stating
that mismanagement rather than the targeted sanctions imposed by the
European Union and other western countries is the reason for the
unprecedented and rapid ruination of a once thriving economy.
Dell has ruffled feathers in high places for his forthright views, which
have resulted in him being accused of meddling in the internal affairs of
Zimbabwe. It is noteworthy, however, that out of the millions of words
uttered against Dell and his country by analysts and officials who have been
quoted in the public media so far, not a single word has been said to
disprove his allegations. Why have any of those over-enthusiastic
'commentators' fighting to outdo each other in singing the government's
praises not taken up the challenge to show why Dell's conclusions are
Instead of giving us the same old tired mantras about George Bush and Tony
Blair, they should explain why this country is in such dire straits
economically when it is not at war. They should say why the effects of the
drought such as severe food shortages, should be most biting in Zimbabwe
when the whole of Southern Africa has been affected by the same weather

Instead of hiding behind clichéd blanket accusations against the west, the
government officials and the countless media analysts pontificating on
Dell's supposed transgressions should respond at the same level by giving
point-by-point rebuttals.

Resorting to threats and bombast only proves how spot-on the envoy's
analysis was, and how much the truth hurts. It is tragic that in this
country, anyone who sees things differently from the official view is
regarded as an enemy and called all sorts of names.

What the absurd hubbub over Dell's speech shows is that what is really at
stake is the government's aversion to criticism rather than interference in
the internal affairs of the country. How is it that some ambassador's
statements have been eagerly welcomed when these representatives have spoken
positively about the very same issues on which the American envoy holds
different views. It does not make sense to say such matters are the internal
affairs of Zimbabwe only when the speaker is critical.

But common sense is in short supply not only in government circles these
days. The opposition MDC has caught the same fatal malady, hence the
self-destructive spectacle the nation has witnessed over the past few weeks.
Personally, I am not convinced that the issue of the useless and
money-gobbling senate is the real reason for the disgraceful public
bickering within the opposition party. But whatever the motives of the
pro-senate group are, they have lost credibility with the public. They have
shown greater courage of conviction in opposing their own leader than they
have done in taking a principled stand on issues that affect the public,
such as the recreation of the senate in the prevailing economic conditions.

This will mean even greater belt-tightening for the ordinary person but rich
pickings for the senators. Maintaining the redundant upper house will mean
pouring billions into another bottomless pit. And evidently the pro-senate
group within the MDC has decided to join the gravy train. The talk about the
need to stick to the decision to participate in elections is utter nonsense.
That decision was not cast in stone and there was no reason why it could not
be revisited if this group really had the interests of the people at heart.

And now to justify their betrayal of the masses who look up to the MDC to
lead them out of the misery visited upon them by ZANU PF misrule, these
pro-senators have resorted to mudslinging and unsubstantiated allegations
against the leader of their party. Their accusations sound no different from
what a ruling party apologist would say or what Jonathan Moyo used to say
about Morgan Tsvangirai when he was the government's main hatchet man.
What's going on there? Are some in the pro-senate group closet members of
the ruling party or Moyo's UMP?

As for Tsvangirai, he needs to tone down his pronouncements about the
 "rebel" group and act presidential and magnanimous. I was shocked the other
day to hear him say that as leader of the MDC he could slam the door in the
face of those defying him and "throw away the keys". This kind of talk is
really no different from the promise of hell for Dell. By now after six
years of being frustrated at every turn by ZANU PF Tsvangirai should know
that just being right is not enough. One needs skills to work for compromise
to resolve deadlocks such as the one that has torn his organisation apart.
It is obvious that he cannot do it by adopting the same hard-headedness and
vehement inflexibility exhibited by the ruling party.

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