Friday, 31 October 2008 11:26
SOUTHERN African Development Community (Sadc) leaders are on a
collision course over Zimbabwe's faltering power-sharing agreement which
they are due to discuss at an extraordinary summit, possibly next week.
Divisions among Sadc leaders have been simmering since the March
elections that President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF lost to the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) faction and its leader
Sadc in March held an emergency summit in Lusaka to discuss the
election crisis. Mugabe boycotted the meeting after his defeat in the first
round of the poll, but was criticised in his absence by the late Zambian
president Levy Mwanawasa.
Mugabe and Mwanawasa clashed at a Sadc summit in Lusaka last year,
provoking Mugabe to storm out.
The Sadc crisis meeting, expected to be held in South Africa, will be
the third inside two years to be called to discuss the Zimbabwe situation
after initial ones in Tanzania and Zambia. Sadc ministers are expected to
meet on November 4 or 5 in Mozambique to prepare for the summit.
Diplomatic sources said this week the summit could be explosive
following signs of wrangling during the ill-fated Sadc troika meeting of the
organ on politics, defence and security in Harare this week.
Despite a public show of unity, sources said Sadc leaders who met in
Harare between Monday and Tuesday were divided over what should be done to
break the deadlock between Zanu PF and the MDC on the allocation of
The troika leaders from Swaziland, Mozambique and Angola endorsed
Mugabe's proposal - which he gazetted on October 10 - and this did not go
down well with South African president Kgalema Motlanthe and his Foreign
Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
The troika claimed in its communiqué only the issue of the Ministry of
Home Affairs remains unresolved, but the MDC rejected this on Tuesday. It
wrote a letter to Sadc on Wednesday saying in fact there was a range of
issues which were unsettled. It said there were 10 ministries, governors and
diplomats and permanent secretaries which were still outstanding.
The party also said Constitutional Amendment No 19 and correcting the
forged September 15 agreement still remain unresolved.
The MDC also complained the troika issued a "misleading communiqué"
without seeing it, suggesting "shenanigans" by some troika leaders.
Sources said even Dlamini-Zuma was dismayed that the communiqué was a
misrepresentation of the troika deliberations. They said she wondered why
the communiqué did not put it on record that it was agreed the September 15
agreement was a forgery and should be corrected.
Sadc executive secretary Tomaz Salomao, who insists only home affairs
is outstanding as an area of dispute, has admitted that the September 15
agreement is flawed.
Diplomats say there were serious battles within Sadc over Zimbabwe.
"There are undercurrents of bickering among Sadc leaders, but they are
trying to avoid a public quarrel over Zimbabwe," a senior diplomat said.
"The forthcoming meeting might become a theatre of infighting unless
the issues are resolved behind-the-scenes."
Talks facilitator former South African president Thabo Mbeki wrote a
report to the troika on October 17 which was supposed to be presented in
Swaziland on October 20. The meeting failed to take place because Tsvangirai
did not attend due to problems with his passport.
Tsvangirai raised this issue with regional leaders on Monday, but
Salomao said it was none of their business.
Sources said Motlanthe expressed concern about Mugabe's unilateral
distribution of ministries. Motlanthe met with Tsvangirai at the talks,
while Mugabe met Sadc troika chair on the day, Mozambican president Armando
Guebuza, for private talks.
On 10 key ministries, the MDC suggested Mugabe should take defence,
national security (which is not a ministry at the moment), foreign affairs,
local government and lands and resettlement, while Tsvangirai would get
finance, home affairs, information, justice and agriculture.
However, Mugabe in his proposal took all but finance. He has now given
away finance and partially home affairs to the MDC.
Zanu PF's politburo met on Wednesday and resolved that Mugabe and his
negotiators should not give in to any more MDC demands. The United States
this week condemned Mugabe's refusal to relinquish some key ministries to
the MDC, while United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon said African
leaders must resolve the issue.
On Wednesday he said at a regional summit in the Philippines that
Zimbabwe's crisis talks "have been taking too long".
"I sincerely hope that President Mugabe will no longer disappoint the
international community," Ban said. "He should meet the expectations of the
Mugabe is likely to take a hardline stance at the Sadc summit at which
he is bound to clash with Motlanthe and key Sadc leaders such as Tanzanian
president Jakaya Kikwete and Botswana leader Ian Khama.
Kikwete, also AU chair, and Khama are known in diplomatic circles to
Khama, who boycotted the Sadc meeting in South Africa in August over
Mugabe, has publicly blasted the veteran ruler for claiming victory in June
after a campaign of terror following his first round defeat in March.
Mugabe tried to make peace with Khama when he came to the signing
ceremony of the agreement on September 15 by publicly claiming Khama was a
friend and even a relative. Mugabe also said Khama's father was his friend
in an apparent attempt to impress the current Botswana leader.
Mugabe is thus likely to be supported at the Sadc summit by Angola,
Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, Malawi and Namibia. Tsvangirai could have
South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia and Mauritius on his side.
Other Sadc states are generally neutral.
By Dumisani Muleya
Friday, 31 October 2008 11:22
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday tabled a damning report before
the Sadc organ on politics, defence and security meeting in the capital that
was highly critical of former South African president Thabo Mbeki's
mediation role in the country's crisis.
Impeccable sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that Tsvangirai
accused Mbeki of not mediating "fairly and impartially".
The prime minister-designate, the sources said, cited a number of
examples when Mbeki allegedly acted in favour of President Robert Mugabe
during the negotiations aimed at finding a negotiated settlement to the
Mozambican President Armando Guebuza chaired the troika meeting in the
absence of King Mswati III of Swaziland.
Swaziland's Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini represented the king,
while Angolan foreign minister Assunção dos Anjos stood in for President
José Eduardo dos Santos.
The meeting failed to unlock the deadlock on the allocation of cabinet
posts between Mugabe and Tsvangirai and referred the matter to the Sadc
summit expected soon.
Tsvangirai, the sources said, complained that Mbeki last week penned a
report to the troika endorsing Mugabe's unilateral allocation and gazetting
of ministries on October 10.
"The MDC leader accused the former South African president of doing
nothing to stop the Zanu PF government from violating some of the provisions
of the agreement, especially the crackdown on civic organisations and their
activists," one of the sources said.
The MDC, the source added, said Mbeki had failed to stop Zanu PF's
hostile rhetoric against Tsvangirai and his party.
It also accused the Sadc point man on Zimbabwe of failing to stop
negative and hate reporting by state media in line with the memorandum of
understanding signed by the parties on July 21.
"Tsvangirai complained that Mbeki was not treating the MDC like a
party that won the March 29 elections," another source said. "He accused
Mbeki of treating the MDC as a party at the negotiating table courtesy of
The former trade unionist also accused Mbeki of having done nothing
when it became apparent that the all-inclusive government deal signed on
September 11 was different from the one signed on September 15. The MDC
alleged that the deal was doctored.
Tsvangirai also attacked the former ANC president of not reining in on
Mugabe to ensure his passport is renewed.
The MDC leader did not travel to Swaziland on October 20 to attend the
troika meeting aimed at resolving the deadlock on ministries after the
government refused to renew his passport. The meeting was then moved to
Harare on Monday.
But while Tsvangirai made the scathing attack on Mbeki, the Sadc
troika maintained their faith in the facilitator. Sadc executive secretary
Tomaz Salomao told a press briefing on Tuesday morning that the regional
organ had confidence in Mbeki and it was not its mandate to negotiate travel
documents for politicians.
By Constantine Chimakure
Friday, 31 October 2008 11:20
GOVERNMENT'S crackdown on civic activists who took to the streets on
Monday in Harare to protest against delays in finalising the allocation of
cabinet posts between President Robert Mugabe and the MDC's Morgan
Tsvangirai has been described as incompatible with the spirit of the
recently signed power-sharing agreement.
Riot police quelled a demonstration by activists from the Women's
Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu),
Youth Forum and Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) and Women of
Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) who were marching to the venue of the Sadc Troika
meeting meant to resolve the deadlock on ministries.
About 40 activists were arrested during the protest that saw the riot
police firing teargas.
Political analysts said the police acted against the spirit of the
all-inclusive government agreement signed on September 15 between President
Robert Mugabe and leaders of the two MDC formations -- Morgan Tsvangirai and
The parties agreed to respect the rights of all Zimbabweans regardless
of political affiliation and recognise the freedoms of assembly and
association, especially done in a free, peaceful and democratic manner.
Eldred Masunungure, University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer,
said though the deal was not legally binding, the behaviour of the police
was in total contrast to the spirit of the pact.
Masunungure said: "The problem is that the power-sharing deal is not
legally binding. There is nothing that says police should respect human
rights or face the law in the deal. It is a statement of intent from a legal
standpoint otherwise nothing has changed."
However, Masunungure said if one viewed it from the spirit of the
agreement, government had violated what was agreed on.
"The incidents that occurred this week reflected bad faith. This also
goes to explain Tsvangirai's passport issue. It is dishonest for government
to say they don't have paper when we know people are being given passports
everyday. This is just meant to frustrate Tsvangirai and drain him of all
energy and enthusiasm," he said, adding that there was no evidence of
sincerity on the part of government. "It looks like all efforts and energy
by the government are not directed to resolve the impasse."
According to the WcoZ, 42 women were waving placards written "tafa
nenzara" ("we are dying of hunger") and "hatina maUS" ("we don't have US
dollars") to buy in the foreign currency shops, while students and youths
complained that the cabinet impasse had affected their lessons as lecturers
and teachers were on strike while some universities and colleges were still
ROHR information officer Edgar Chikuvire alleged that a senior Zanu PF
official with a team of youths hired from Machipisa abducted four of its
members after the demonstration.
Police spokesperson Andrew Phiri on Tuesday confirmed to state media
the arrest of 43 women for holding an "illegal" demonstration. They have
since paid admission of guilt fines and released.
By Wongai Zhangazha
Friday, 31 October 2008 11:15
ZIMBABWE'S chances of having a functional government soon are anywhere
between negligible and none as the protagonists in Zimbabwe's political
crisis have a long way to go before a final deal can be hammered out.
Political analysts this week said even if the planned Sadc Summit to
resolve the deadlock on the allocation of cabinet posts between President
Robert Mugabe and the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai and a new government is
formed, it would take months for government to start doing its work.
This, the analysts observed, meant a delay by the new government in
focusing on reviving the economy, service delivery and the democratisation
of the country as envisaged in the all-inclusive government pact signed
between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the leader of the other MDC formation, Arthur
Mutambara, on September 15.
Already, the analysts said, it had taken a long time to form a new
government to tackle the food crisis in the country and put logistics in
place for the 2008/9 agricultural season.
More than three million Zimbabweans are in dire need of food aid and
United Nations food agencies have predicted that the number could go up to
five million by January. Some people in rural Zimbabwe were reportedly
surviving on wild fruits.
Preparations for this year's agricultural season are in shambles with
little seed and fertilisers on the market due to acute shortage of foreign
currency to import the commodities.
The Sadc organ on politics, defence and security meeting on Monday in
the capital failed to unlock the deadlock on the allocation of ministries
between Mugabe and Tsvangirai and referred the matter to the regional organ's
While the organ said in its communiqué the outstanding ministry was
home affairs, the MDC-Tsvangirai said 10 cabinet posts were in dispute. The
party also outlined five outstanding issues and given the rate at which the
negotiations have been moving thus far, it would take months for a final
deal to be secured.
Analysts observed that there was no meeting of minds between Mugabe
and Tsvangirai and as a result a speedy pact was elusive.
Former South African president Thabo Mbeki who brokered the deal on
the number of ministries allocated to each party, left the cabinet
portfolios to Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara hoping the three leaders
would work out how they are shared. However, it will now take a whole Sadc
summit to secure agreement. And success there appears increasingly unlikely.
MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti this week regretted the failure by
the Sadc Troika to narrow the gap between the Zimbabwean parties and
bemoaned the suffering of the ordinary people.
He said at the core of the stalemate was lack of sincerity and good
faith on the part of Zanu PF. Biti said there were six outstanding issues in
the implementation of the September 15 deal - the parcelling out of cabinet
posts, sharing of provincial governors, composition of the National Security
Council (NSC), the appointment of permanent secretaries and ambassadors,
drafting of Constitutional Amendment No19 and the alteration of the deal
signed on September 11.
The MDC contends that there has to be equitable distribution of
portfolios. It accuses Zanu PF of power-grabbing after Mugabe three weeks
ago allocated "key" ministries to his party, among them defence, home
affairs, foreign affairs, local government, agriculture and media and
"In this regard the MDC has suggested a methodology in respect of
which the key ministries are paired in the orders of importance and relative
equality," Biti said. "We identified 10 key ministries which we believe are
supposed to be shared equitably. For instance, we have paired Home Affairs
to Defence, Justice and Legal Affairs to Constitutional and Parliamentary
Affairs, Mines and Minerals Development to Environment, and Youth to Women."
However, he said there was an attempt to ignore fundamental principles
and hence the claim in some circles that only the Ministry of Home Affairs
Impeccable sources in Zanu PF said Mugabe would not agree to the
suggested MDC methodology after the party's politburo meeting on Wednesday
ordered him not to cede any more ministries.
The MDC is pushing for an equitable sharing of the 10 gubernatorial
seats in line with the outcome of the March 29 elections although Mugabe in
August appointed members of his party to all the 10 posts. Zanu PF's central
committee has also ruled out changes in governors arguing that the unity
government deal did not cover the issue.
"The third outstanding issue is the question of the composition,
functions and constitution of the National Security Council (currently the
Joint Operations Command)," Biti said. "This is a critical issue in view of
the dangerous and partisan role that has been displayed by the intelligence
services in this country."
In terms of the all-inclusive government deal, Tsvangirai as prime
minister would sit in the NSC to be chaired by Mugabe.
The drafting, gazetting and debating of Constitution of Zimbabwe
Amendment No19 to operationalise the pact would also be another contentious
issue and an obstacle in the implementation of the deal.
The amendment would create the office of prime minister and deputy
prime ministers and would expand the numbers of MPs in both the House of
Assembly and Senate.
"Details of the constitutional amendment should come from the three
parties," one of the sources said. "The input into the amendment will be
contentious and there is a likelihood of another stalemate."
The source said MDC-Tsvangirai would fight for a constitutional
provision stating that Mugabe would make key appointments only after
"agreeing" with the prime minister. The MDC wants the word "consult" in the
agreement referring to Mugabe to be replaced with "agreeing". The sources
said Zanu PF would fight "tooth and nail" to block the MDC from curtailing
The two MDC formations, the sources added, would also fight to have a
constitutional provision empowering them to be involved in appointing
permanent secretaries, ambassadors, heads of parastatals and government
If the parties agree, Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No19 will be
gazetted in terms of the law. After being gazetted, the constitutional
amendment should be debated publicly for at least 30 days before it is
tabled, debated and passed by both the House of Assembly and Senate. Mugabe
would then sign it into law.
The MDC, according to Biti, would also like the Sadc summit to deal
with the "morally reprehensible" alteration of the agreement of September
"It is our understanding that the troika in fact made a resolution
that it is the agreement of September 11 that should be binding and we are
indeed surprised that it was not captured in the communiqué," Biti said.
"From the above, it is clear that there is so much that still has to be done
and a lot of goodwill, patience and wisdom, which so far has not been
evident or has not been exercised."
By Constantine Chimakure
Friday, 31 October 2008 11:12
MOVES are underway in Zanu PF Harare and Mashonaland East provinces to
oust chairpersons Amos Midzi and Ray Kaukonde for allegedly failing to
campaign for President Robert Mugabe in the March and June presidential
Impeccable sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that knives were out
for Midzi and Kaukonde with Harare South legislator Hubert Nyanhongo and
Mashonaland East governor Aeneas Chigwedere lined up to replace the two who
are linked to a faction in Zanu PF reportedly led by ex-army commander
The Mujuru camp reportedly opposed Mugabe's continued stay in power.
Speaking at a belated presidential election victory celebration for
Mugabe in the June run-off at Harare Polytechnic on October 19, National
Incomes and Pricing Commission chairperson, Goodwills Masimirembwa, said
Zanu PF should flush out leaders who were not backing Mugabe, especially in
This, the sources said, was in apparent reference to Midzi.
Masimirembwa said the party should use its on-going restructuring
exercise to remove such leaders.
"If you are a father and you have two children - the one is on
position 1 in class and the other on 50, who is supposed to teach the other
child homework?" he asked referring to Midzi's defeat in parliamentary
elections since 2000 to MDC's Tapiwa Mashakada in Hatfield.
Masimirembwa questioned why Midzi should be allowed to remain
provincial chairperson ahead of Nyanhongo, the only Zanu PF MP in Harare
Midzi is being accused of decampaigning Mugabe in the March 29
harmonised elections, in which the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai outpolled Mugabe.
Speaking at the same celebrations, Nyanhongo questioned how Harare
province had failed to mobilise supporters to attend the September 15
signing ceremony of an all-inclusive government deal between Mugabe,
Tsvangirai and the president of the other formation of the MDC, Arthur
Mutambara. He said this was a sign of poor leadership.
Nyanhongo said he was embarrassed to see Mugabe booed by MDC
He added that Zanu PF was aware of "traitors and sellouts" who should
be dealt with before the party's annual conference in December in Bindura,
Nyanhongo said it was an open secret that Harare and Mashonaland East
province did not endorse Mugabe's bid at the Goromonzi conference in
December 2006 to have his term extended to 2010.
"Sellouts must be shown the door before irredeemable harm is done to
the revolutionary party," said the deputy Transport minister.
In Mashonaland East, the sources said some Zanu PF officials loyal to
Mugabe wanted Kaukonde to be ousted and replaced by Chigwedere, the former
Education minister who took over from the businessman as governor of the
Kaukonde, the sources said, was accused of campaigning for
Vice-President Joice Mujuru to become party president during the Goromonzi
conference. Mugabe publicly reprimanded Kaukonde during the conference.
"Knives are out for Kaukonde," one of the sources said. "There are
moves to use the current restructuring exercise to remove him as chairperson
of the province. We will see how it will go because Kaukonde has grassroots
support and has done a lot in the province."
By Constantine Chimakure/Tinashe Farawo
Friday, 31 October 2008 11:08
HUMANITARIAN organisations have accused the government and war
veterans of denying them access to some parts of the country to distribute
The National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango)
said the hindrances were making it difficult for the organisations to fully
exercise their mandate to provide humanitarian needs and to control hunger
stalking the nation.
"The broader deficits in democracy and respect for the rule of law as
well as the limited commitment by some officials to adhere to international
humanitarian standards and principles have resulted in unabated disruptions
of humanitarian operations in many areas," Nango spokesperson Fambai
Ngirande said this week. "There is a clear need for stronger human rights
protection mechanisms to safeguard humanitarian workers and all Zimbabweans
from abuse by the powerful."
In Shurugwi last week, Nango said, a consignment of food from a
humanitarian organisation was monitored by suspected members of Zanu PF who
directed the food distribution.
Deserving individuals were reportedly denied aid.
On Tuesday, USAid stressed the need for complete and unhindered access
in order to provide critical humanitarian assistance in the country.
According to Nango, humanitarian operations were underway throughout
the country, albeit under very difficult conditions.
A combination of a severe drought, an unorthodox and costly land
distribution exercise and brutal pre- and post-election violence by Zanu PF
has seen Zimbabwe failing to feed its citizens.
The food situation was made worse when the government barred
humanitarian organisations from operating before the June 27 presidential
election run-off after accusing them of campaigning for the MDC's Morgan
Before the ban, three million people were being catered for by the
organisations. Now over five million people are in need of food relief.
By Thando Mpofu
Friday, 31 October 2008 11:06
"WE must not betray those who lost their lives during the countdown to
the sham June 27 presidential election run-off," bellowed MDC leader Morgan
"They didn't die in vain. The MDC will not be party to a bad
all-inclusive government deal."
The 15 000-strong crowd which thronged Sakubva Stadium in Mutare on
Sunday roared, ululated and clapped in approval of the former trade unionist's
Tsvangirai was in the Eastern Highlands to appraise his supporters on
the political settlement signed between him, President Robert Mugabe and the
leader of the smaller faction of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara, on September 15
in the capital.
With songs being belted out encouraging Tsvangirai to remain resolute,
the MDC leader did not mince his words on what he wants from the deal.
His speech was punctuated by party slogans and from time to time he
took to the dance floor in appreciation of the MDC's combative songs penned
by Glen View legislator Paul Madzore.
"We are saying to Mugabe we need power-sharing, not grabbing. We are
deadlocked on allocation of ministries. Zanu PF wants to take all key
ministries and leave us as junior partners in the all-inclusive government,"
he said. "We are saying no to grabbing. If they insist on power-grabbing, we
will go back to the trenches until we get what we want."
Tsvangirai said the MDC entered into negotiations that culminated in
the pact after realising the continued free-fall of the economy and the
suffering Zimbabweans were enduring.
"Despite that we won the elections in March, we agreed to engage Zanu
PF after realising that our people were suffering; they are now in war with
donkeys for wild fruits as a result of hunger stalking the nation. There are
no jobs and hospitals have now been turned into death traps, not places of
healing," he said amid applause from his supporters, most of them wearing
With the assistance of former South African president Thabo Mbeki,
Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara agreed to form a unity government whose
cabinet would be made up of 31 ministers.
The 84-year-old Mugabe would remain president, Tsvangirai prime
minister and Mutambara one of the two deputy prime ministers. The other
deputy would come from Tsvangirai's party.
On cabinet posts, Mugabe would have 15, Tsvangirai 13 and Mutambara 3.
"Since the day of signing we have been haggling on the allocation of
ministries between the three parties. Mugabe is saying that the inclusive
government must be by Mugabe," Tsvangirai said. "We are saying no to that
kind of dictatorship. We are not going to sell out and agree to a deal where
Mugabe remains with power. We are in the majority in parliament and that
should be reflected in the inclusive government."
He said the deadlock was on the allocation of cabinet posts, 10
provincial governors, institutional reforms, the appointment of ambassadors,
permanent secretaries and heads of government departments and parastatals.
Tsvangirai said his party had respect for African institutions like
Sadc and the African Union, which wanted the deal to be implemented.
He explained to his supporters that his failure to travel to Swaziland
to attend a Sadc organ on politics, defence and security meeting a fortnight
ago because government had refused to renew his passport, was a test of
sincerity on the part of Zanu PF.
"Failing to go to Swaziland had nothing to do with the passport. It
was a test of sincerity on Mugabe's part," Tsvangirai said. "If Mugabe wants
an agreement he must do everything to respect the MDC. If you cannot give me
a passport, how will you entrust me with the keys of the government?"
The MDC leader told his supporters that his party had lost confidence
in Mbeki as mediator of the Zimbabwe crisis, but did not give details.
He said: "We respect former President Mbeki, but we are saying if you
come to deal with the Zimbabwe issue you must come with clean hands. We
respect the African Union and Sadc. These institutions do not belong to
anyone. The institutions must support the people of Zimbabwe, not a
"At our meeting tomorrow (Monday) the Sadc troika should help us put
finality to this confusion. If we fail, the matter should be referred to a
Sadc summit and later the African Union."
The troika meeting has since referred the Zimbabwe issue to the Sadc
summit after Mugabe and Tsvangirai failed to agree on how to distribute
ministries between them at Monday's meeting.
Speaking at the same rally, MDC Women's Assembly chairperson Theresa
Makone vowed that the party would not enter into a marriage with Zanu PF
until Mugabe agrees to cede the finance and home affairs ministries.
"Without the two ministries we are not going to be part of a unity
government. We will rather go back to the trenches," Makone said.
Youth chairman Thamsanga Mahlangu said if the deal collapsed the MDC
should push for fresh elections.
"We will demand fresh elections under the United Nations. This time
around we will not permit Mugabe and Zanu PF to intimidate us," Mahlangu
said. "We are prepared to go back to the trenches and finish off Mugabe and
After the Sakubva rally, Tsvangirai and his team went to Mutungagore
Business Centre, Nyazura, for another report-back rally where he addressed
over 5 000 villagers.
He told the excited crowd that he had been touched by the level of
hunger in the country and pledged that once in government the MDC would make
food one of its top priorities.
This followed the villagers' narration of harrowing experiences of how
they and their families were going for days without food and have to survive
on wild fruits.
At Mutungagore Primary School Tsvangirai was given wild berries to
"I know you are suffering and once the MDC is in government, I will
put the food crisis as a first priority," he said.
By Constantine Chimakure
Friday, 31 October 2008 10:54
THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) on Wednesday passed a
resolution that parliament should ratify and approve all quasi-fiscal
activities by the Reserve Bank.
The CZI however said it was not happy with the central bank's donation
of vehicles to it.
Speaking at the two-day annual congress in Harare, CZI members blamed
the Reserve Bank for stoking inflation, currently at 231 million%, through
unilateral involvement in quasi-fiscal activities and excessive money supply
growth, whose figures were last released in March.
"Reserve Bank quasi-fiscal activities must go through Parliament,"
declared the members whose theme was the restoration of the manufacturing
"There is also need to focus on agriculture which is the backbone of
the manufacturing sector. Value addition of locally produced raw materials
can also turn the country's comparative advantage to competitive advantage,"
read another resolution.
Quasi-fiscal financing involves providing credit at low nominal
interest rates to selected sectors with low prospects of repaying the
credits resulting in them often viewed as subsidies or mere donations.
The industrialists also urged government to adopt an "Asian type" of
economic policy characterised by free enterprise economies, citing Brazil,
Russia, India, China and South Africa as examples of countries with
favourable economic policies.
Sources within the CZI, however, said the decision to push for the
involvement of legislators follows criticism on the recent donation of seven
vehicles to the industrial lobby group by the Reserve Bank.
This move, the sources said, was seen by some members as an attempt by
the Reserve Bank to "tame" the outspoken body, prompting the organisation to
contemplate on how it would pay for the "donated" cars without straining
relationship with Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono.
"This gesture by the Reserve Bank received mixed sentiments from most
members at the annual general meeting," said the source. "The CZI could soon
present a paper to the Reserve Bank on how it intends to pay for these cars
rather than receive them for free."
Opening the congress on Tuesday, Gono boasted of "pioneering" the
quasi-fiscal interventions, blaming economic sanctions by the European Union
and the United States.
He said low productivity in the manufacturing sector was also
hamstrung by foreign currency shortages, "unscrupulous pricing" models and
"protracted uncertainty" in the formation of an inclusive government.
Independent estimates suggest that capacity utilisation in the
manufacturing sector is now below 30%.
"Without doubt, the current unfavourable state of affairs in our
productive sectors, more so in manufacturing, has its roots in
multi-dimensional spheres of causal factors," Gono said.
Last month, the United Nations Development Programme also advised the
Reserve Bank to cease financing quasi-fiscal interventions. The central bank
has, however, continued pursuing what critics termed "supra ministerial"
roles in the absence of a supplementary budget that resulted from ballooning
By Bernard Mpofu
Friday, 31 October 2008 10:52
INDUSTRY has blamed power struggles between mining authorities
fighting for control over diamond deposits in Marange for the estimated
US$1,2 billion lost through diamond smuggling, businessdigest has learnt.
According to presentations made by industrialists at the just ended
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries congress, the Reserve Bank, the
Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) and the Zimbabwe Mining
Development Corporation (ZMDC) are currently engaged in a war of attrition
over the control and pricing of controversial precious stones in Chiadzwa,
resulting in minimum proceeds gained from the gems.
Instead CZI recommended government to streamline the institutional
framework of the mining sector, which accounts for about 40% of the export
"There is a dogfight between the country's institutions over diamond
pricing and the granting of mining concessions," said a top business
executive who spoke at the congress. " The area is currently under the
control of the President's Office and the Reserve Bank which is granting
licences for exporters. This setup could cause confusion when politically
linked businessmen manipulate the system to acquire mining licences.
Lack of proper institutional, orderly and legal framework for diamond
miners has also resulted in the country losing at least US$1,2 billion per
ZMDC - which is the government's investment arm, reportedly acquired
20 hectares of the estimated 70 hectares endowed with the diamonds although
it is understood to be struggling to make viable explorations. Business also
criticised the parastatal for failing to ringfence the mining area resulting
in massive pillaging of diamonds by illegal small scale miners and suspected
politically connected people.
MMCZ, which is legally mandated by the government to market minerals
to the international market is reportedly blaming the central bank for
undermining its authority in the pricing of diamonds.
"The Reserve Bank wants the sector to be treated like the gold
sector," he said. Government purchases gold deliveries from producers under
a support price facility that has been criticised by the gold miners.
Efforts to get a comment from the ZMDC and MCCZ were in vain. However,
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono last week blamed illegal miners for the
The chaos has since turned bloody in Marange amid reports of fatal
shooting incidents and alleged human rights abuses on illegal diamond miners
by the police. The diamond fields in the Chiadzwa area have attracted
thousands of people to the eastern border town of Mutare since their public
discovery two years back. Last year the Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono
estimated that at least US$400 million was lost to diamond smuggling.
A leading gold producer recently urged government to streamline
bureaucratic challenges in the mining sector blaming them for promoting
divestment in the capital-intensive sector. - Staff Writer.
Friday, 31 October 2008 10:45
HOPE for a better harvest next year is fading; experts have warned
that Zimbabwe's food crisis is set to claw into 2009 because of poor
preparation, lack of inputs and late arrival of rainfall.
Zimbabwean MPs last week declared the country's food shortage a
national disaster. More than half of the population is straying into
poverty, with most of the remaining population surviving from hand to month.
The word poverty looks ordinary in print with no peculiar sound when
uttered. Experiencing it however leaves one with an indelible mark on any
unfortunate victim, a mark difficult to erase.
Indeed when poverty invades one's territory and forcefully takes
charge of affairs nothing good comes of that, only misery with far reaching
Growing poverty is the major issue on Zimbabweans' minds as they watch
their once prosperous and peaceful country slip further into chaos, hunger
and economic collapse. And with no sign of rains, availability of fertiliser
or maize seed in sight, people are losing hope and becoming desperate.
The situation, paints a bleak picture of a country on the brink of
massive hunger, unemployment, stress and deteriorating health services.
Just nine years ago Zimababwe was known for assisting many countries
in Africa that did not have enough food following a poor harvest. In
Southern African it was once known as the bread basket of Southern Africa.
Zimbabwe's agricultural production has been hit by a long list of
difficulties, several rounds of severe drought, a collapsed currency that
has made fertiliser and other farm inputs -- if available - very expensive,
and farmers without knowledge of farming.
Economic consultant John Robertson said many people were living from
hand to mouth, as there was no food in the shops.
"The majority of the population is starving. There is no food. It is a
difficult situation in the country and there are no signs of a better
tomorrow on the ground," said Robertson.
In the arid south-western provinces of Matebeleland, desperate
villagers are said to be eating inedible wild fruits or unripe fruits to
The aid agency Save The Children in September reported that "many
people in the Zambezi Valley, the poorest and driest area, were now
surviving on a vile-tasting, fibrous root called makuri".
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has described the
situation as a national crisis and appealed for about US$140 million to feed
about four million people it says will be in need of food until mid next
"The situation is already critical in many rural areas, particularly
in the worst affected southern districts but also in some districts in the
east, centre and northwest of the country. A large number of farmers
harvested very little this year and have now exhausted their meagre stocks,"
said WFP spokesperson Richard Lee in a statement.
Zimbabwe's food situation was worsened by a three-month ban on relief
work imposed by government in June this year. The ban was lifted at the end
August, but non-governmental organisations are yet to resume full-scale
Alleged political interference during food distribution continues in
some parts of the country.
Zanu PF officials are said to be demanding that only their supporters
get food under the government-initiated subsidy programme, the Basic
Commodity Supply Side Intervention.
Said Eric Bloch this week: "Had the land programme continued to
respect property rights and thereby according quality new farmers with not
only the incentives to develop and enhance the lands, but also provided
them with the collateral security needed to source essential developmental
and working capital, agriculture would have grown from strength to strength".
Henrick Olivier, chief executive officer of the Commercial Farmers
Union, says the impending season was a "disaster" before it even starts. He
said inputs are in short supply. "This coming season... before it even
started, it's been a disaster. There are no inputs, there is no fuel,
fertiliser, chemicals or seed available and whatever is available is in
short supply. There is no preparations whatsoever. It's not a good season
that's lying ahead of us," said Olivier.
According to Movement for Democratic Change spokesman for Agriculture
Ransen Gasela, Zimbabwe requires an annual total of one million tonnes of
grain for human consumption and 400 000 tonnes for industrial use, but with
haphazard preparations way behind schedule, a harvest that size might be a
distant dream for the country.
Government, through the Reserve Bank, embarked on a massive
agricultural mechanisation programme while constantly reviewing producer
prices of such crops as maize, wheat, tobacco, cotton and small grains. This
was after realising that agriculture was not only the backbone of the
country's economy but was a critical factor to reduce the current high
Thousands of farmers have since benefited from the farm mechanisation
programme and have, in turn, vowed to increase agricultural output for the
2007/08 season which is yet to happen.
The average Zimbabwean has over the past seven years been longing for
economic prosperity. In other countries when inflation hits 50% it is
considered a big source of concern, if not a national disaster. To talk
about 231 million percent inflation would be unthinkable for the majority of
nations in the world.
In Zimbabwe, inflation is galloping, supermarkets employees are
spending a considerable amount of time changing price tags every day.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe no-longer publish the monthly
shopping basket because the price of basic commodities are changing almost
twice a day.
The consumer watchdog expressed concern at the rate prices are rising,
with a lot of people straying into poverty.
"Salaries are failing to cope with the rate at which prices are
rising. Over 70% of Zimbabweans are living below the poverty datum line.
Such figures are not healthy for the economic development of the country.
"From our surveys, we established that many families are living on one
meals a day. It is disheartening to note that most of the basic commodities
are below standards these days," CCZ said.
The Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe estimates the rate of
unemployment at 80%. The is driving many people to desperation. Many
Zimbabwe are longing for a time when they would spend time in a more
productive way than having to queue for bread and mealie, if you can even
find it, for candles if it is available, and for $50 000 at the bank which
is not enough for one to visit Mabvuku or Ruwa and come back.
There are reports of increased school drop-outs in rural areas as a
result of the misguided hand of poverty, driving them to the streets to eek
out a living.
Children of school going age are a common sight along some major road
intersections. To them, the red signal of traffic lights is an invitation to
do business right in the middle of the roads.
Since the economy started cruising in reverse gear, corruption has
reportedly been rampant with evidence of government officials who are
profiting from people desperately in need of basic commodities being
"They use their connections to access scarce commodities to enrich
themselves through the black market. The rich are getting richer by the day,
and the poor are getting poorer," vice president Joyce Mujuru was once
Another dilemma facing Zimbabwe because of poverty is coping with
HIV/Aids. About 1 000 Zimbabweans are reportedly dying of Aids-related
ailments every week, which is the equivalent of two huge Boeing 747
aircrafts filled to capacity crashing and killing everyone on board every
The emotional, social and economic ramifications have been serious.
Every Zimbabwean is either infected or affected.
The levels of poverty have also resulted in an increase in brain drain
as more skilled people seek greener pastures in other countries.
By Paul Nyakazeya
Friday, 31 October 2008 10:57
THE article that my learned colleague, Tendai Biti penned on October 18,
titled "Free markets root of global financial crisis" triggered a fierce
rebuttal from Rejoice Ngwenya, who went on to romanticise liberalism and
In his article of October 24, Ngwenya writes, "the market has built-in
mechanisms for self-correction" and that "for those that value freedom,
innovation and enterprise, the presence of government in their daily lives
is a negative force".
Nothing can be further from the truth. Ngwenya's philosophy is clearly
premised on the Washington consensus which held that good economic
performance required liberalised markets, financial stability and getting
prices right. Once government got out of the way, private markets would
allocate resources efficiently and generate robust growth!
However, this view neglects fundamental issues. Making markets work may
actually require regulation and policies that promote the smooth functioning
of those markets. Other cardinal considerations that militate against
unbridled markets have to do with equity, empowerment and egalitarian
development. It is therefore important for development policy to seek
complementary strategies that can advance these goals simultaneously.
The Washington consensus emerged from the experiences of Latin America in
the 1980s. At that time markets were not functioning properly, partly the
result of dysfunctional public policies. GDP declined for three consecutive
years and budget deficits were high and the spending underlying them was
being used not so much for productive investments as for subsidies to the
huge and inefficient state sector.
At first deficits were financed by borrowing - including very heavy
borrowing from abroad. Bankers trying to recycle petrodollars were quick to
lend and low real interest rates made borrowing very attractive. After 1980,
real interest rate increases in the US restricted borrowing and raised the
burden of interest payments, forcing many countries to turn to seignorage to
finance their deficits. Predictably, the result was very high and extremely
variable inflation (of course by normal standards, not Zimbabwean
The focus on inflation which was at the time the central macroeconomic
malady of Latin American countries, provided the backdrop for the Washington
consensus but led to stabilisation policies that were not conducive for
long-term economic growth and detracted attention from other major sources
of macro-instability, namely weak and unregulated financial markets. To that
extent I subscribe to Biti's strong views on the culpability of free markets
in regard to the recent global financial crisis. Growth will remain volatile
as long as financial markets remain at a tangent. Thus governments should
pay adequate attention on the financial sector to avert bank and credit
What happened on Wall Street most recently is not a new phenomenon. As
Stiglitz correctly observed, in the 19th century most of the major economic
downturns resulted from financial panics that were sometimes preceded by and
invariably led to precipitous declines in asset prices and widespread
banking failures. Financial crises have happened in the past, especially in
the US and will continue to occur as evidence shows that they have become
more frequent and more severe in recent years.
The importance of building robust financial systems goes beyond simply
averting economic crises through bailout schemes as is currently the
practice in Europe and the US. Stiglitz likened the financial system to the
"brain" of the economy. He said that it "plays an important role in
collecting and aggregating savings from agents with excess resources today.
These resources are allocated to others -- such as entrepreneurs and home
builders -- who can make productive use of them. Well functioning financial
systems do a very good job of selecting the most productive recipients for
these resources. In contrast poorly functioning financial systems often
allocate capital to low productivity investments. Selecting the projects is
only the first stage.
"The financial system must continue to monitor the use of these funds,
ensuring that they continue to be used productively. In the process
financial markets serve a number of other functions, including reducing
risk, increasing liquidity, and conveying information. Left to themselves
financial systems will not do a very good job" and "problems of incomplete
information, incomplete markets and incomplete contracts are all
particularly severe in the financial sector, resulting in an equilibrium
that is not even constrained Pareto efficient".
Therefore to Ngwenya, there is no such thing as free markets. Markets have
to be intelligently directed and regulated to achieve desired socio-economic
outcomes. That is the role of the developmental state so much espoused by
Krugman, Sen and Collier. Liberalism can never be the antidote to solving
financial and economic cycles such as the recent global financial crisis,
which are primarily the result of market failures.
Turning to Biti, failure by free markets to achieve global financial
stability does not imply wholesale government intervention is the panacea.
Intervention, though necessary, is not sufficient to ensure global
stability. Economic history is littered with examples of failed state-led
development strategies. The East Asian financial crisis of 1997 debunked
that myth (although for others it is the opposite). For many years the Asian
Tigers had been touted as star economies on the back of state-led growth
Linked to this, the experiences of the former communist countries -- the
Soviet Union, East Germany, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria, to mention a few,
exposed the serious shortcomings of state intervention. While government
intervention is noble (World Development Report, 1997), it has to rid itself
of the excess baggage of price controls, price distortions and huge budget
deficits. Moreover, the state has to reinvent itself and avoid economic
predatory policies, corruption, and other vices such as personal
aggrandizement, rent seeking and asset stripping which have become the
footmarks of failed states.
Zimbabwe has arguably been in the throes of a devastating financial crisis
since 2003 as typified by cash shortages, bank failures and low productivity
credit lending -- the result of an inimical economic environment. For us in
Zimbabwe, what happened at Wall Street might after all turn out to be a
picnic. And all that we can conclude from our own experiences with the
crises in the Zimbabwean financial sector is that over-regulation and not
the lack of it could be partly to blame. In economic development, the catch
lies in striking the correct balance between market forces and the role of
the state. Dogmatic approaches won't work. In this regard, the experiences
of China, as we know it today, are instructive.
By Tapiwa Mashakada ; An economist and the MDC's deputy secretary-General
Friday, 31 October 2008 10:30 CENTRAL bank independence is not much help if
the government doesn't exhibit a commitment to monetary stability. That
notwithstanding, it is imperative to examine without bias the manner in
which the central bank has implicitly acted in cahoots with the instigators
of the Zimbabwean catastrophe rather than use the tools at its disposal to
weather the trauma.
Such an endeavour essentially provokes examination of the qualitative worth
of the policies that the central bank undertook since 2004; a date chosen to
coincide with the shift from the orthodox economic policies to rein in
inflation that the central bank had been following albeit ineffectually, due
to the continual assault on the real economy by the government.
The year 2004 came with a fall in the inflation rate that had been rising
steadily since 1998. The fall coincided with the appointment of the
incumbent governor after the rather ignominious departure of his predecessor
against a backdrop of cash shortages in the last half of 2003.
The incumbent initially (though very briefly) introduced a regime of tight
monetary conditions which saw inflation falling immediately. The fall in
inflation was not solely a result of tight monetary policy, but there are
two other contributory factors. Firstly, there was a general fall in
inflation expectations following the appointment of the new central bank
chief and the prevailing opinion at that time was that the governor was the
only rational individual among a band of totalitarianists in the
bureaucratic machine. Secondly, the utter simplicity of the ideas initially
espoused, calling for no new analytical concept or factual discovery, which
was the essence of the incumbent's immediate appeal, hence the dramatic fall
in inflation at the beginning of 2004.
Buoyed by the initial success, the central bank embarked on a policy shift
that borders on financial wishful thinking. ".The thrust of the new charade
was that market forces are defunct and that a rescue package for Zimbabwe
necessitates a concoction of high public spending (in the form of
quasi-fiscal activities of the central bank) and cheap money propped by an
incomes policy. The fundamental elements of this dogma are based on a false
belief that the price mechanism needs to be supplanted by an array of direct
government controls for an effective synthesis".
"This atrocious philosophy shift manifested in the mirage of supply-sided
interventions with fancy names (Aspef, Bacossi, Operation Food Security,
SMEs Development Programmes, Farm Mechanisation Programme etc) that go
beyond the operational realm of a normal central bank of maintaining the
stability of the currency (both in domestic and external markets) and
soundness of the banking system".
Within the realm of this charade, the country was taken through a series of
crack operations that find no justification whatsoever in rational economics
except as the whims and caprices of the monetary authorities. These
operations took the form of a banking sector clean-up culminating in the
fall of several banks with depositors losing their monies. Then came the
anti-corruption operation targeted at business people, but the climax in all
this madness was to come during Operation Sunrise I, when roadblocks were
mounted by police and youths to curb the illicit movement of the Zimbabwean
In the final analysis, these crack operations all constituted some form of
state theft. However, from the central bank rhetoric all these actions were
tailored to "alter and ameliorate people's socio-economic life for the
better" from the ills of the capitalist society such as corruption,
speculation, etc which caused cash shortages, inflation etc.
Is the catastrophe not an unfortunate result of the central bank's self
indulgent financial experiments? In this regard another question needs to
be raised: Who benefited from these policies?
"One of the worst mistakes is to evaluate policies and programmes by their
supposed intentions and not by their results." The whole masquerade was
crafted to prop up a hugely unpopular government; there is nothing for the
man on the bus to Chitungwiza. The litany of exchange control measures and
counter-measures have been designed to ensure that the government collects
the highest possible amount of foreign currency from the meagre flows coming
into the economy largely through remittances.
A case in point is the recent partial dollarisation which the central bank
referred to misleadingly as the "launch of foreign exchange licensed
warehouses and retail shops (Foliwars)". Upon realising that the country had
virtually completely dollarised albeit unofficially, and the government was
still collecting taxes in the worthless Zimbabwean dollars, the central bank
allowed partial dollarisation so that the government can collect 15% of the
gross foreign exchange sales proceeds from each licensed
outlets in the now official dollar segment of the economy.
Where does the ordinary Zimbabwean benefit here? The ordinary Zimbabwean is
still getting his/her salary in the worthless Zimbabwean dollar, yet somehow
has to purchase goods using foreign currency. In justifying partial
dollarisation the central bank insinuated that this was just a temporary
move as "Foliwars are being introduced for an initial period of 18 months to
March 31, 2010 as an experiment as we gear ourselves for the 2010 World Cup
Games". Has the central bank ever heard of dollarisation hysteresis?
Dollarisation usually exhibits a non-reversible behaviour; there are some
cases where the implementation of successful disinflation programmes was not
enough to lessen sharply the demand for the hard currency.
The attempt by the central bank to divorce itself from political expediency
is feeble. It shares with the government the precept that monetary stability
has to be dispensed from above rather than created by the people themselves.
In this doom-laden saga, the central bank's ability to moderate the traumas
was undermined by its fundamental shortcomings. Its profoundly undemocratic
nature, embodied in its affinity to use emergency powers in the dispatch of
economics made it a perfect tool at the hands of an oppression machinery.
By Terrence Kairiza : A member of the Zimbabwe Economics Society and a PhD
student based in Japan.
Friday, 31 October 2008 10:24 "THE African is a special human type with some
wonderful characteristics. It has largely remained a child-type with a
child psychology and outlook. First we had looked upon the African as
essentially inferior or sub-human, as having no soul, and as only fit to be
a slave. Then we changed to the opposite extreme. The African became a man
and a brother. We were wrong, we were very wrong. The African is just a
These words were uttered by Jan Smuts, the then South African premier in
1929 during his Rhodes Memorial lecture at Oxford. Smuts, today celebrated
by some as a statesman and political philosopher, went further to argue how
Africans must never be beneficiaries of the human rights discourse
occasioned by the French revolution in 1789. In his view, human rights and
Africans were incompatible. Needless to say, such stereotypes obviously
reflected the dominant thinking of the time.
Apart from the myths of darkness and brutishness, the colonial discourse had
always constructed the African as a child, a poor little thing of dependence
and irrational faculties. No surprise then that revered old men could easily
be called a tea-boy, houseboy, or office-boy even by little white kids
without them taking offence.
As Africans in general and Zimbabweans in particular, the decolonisation of
the country led by the valiant and selfless fighters such as Joshua Nkomo,
Josiah Tongogara, and Robert Mugabe himself, helped to prove that we were
subjects and not objects of history. Across Africa, the emancipatory project
of the liberation struggles proved once and for all that we were a people
who could organise, mobilise and achieve a national vision without any
prodding. The struggle itself affirmed that the values human rights were not
an alien concept. We all as Zimbabweans and Africans, across the gender,
ethnic and geographical divides, played a part in this communal project.
Yet our post-colonial national experience as typified by our debilitating
crisis has seemingly reversed all our gains in terms of the collective
affirmation of our integrity, personal liberties and national vision
achieved through the anti-colonial struggle. As a result, the floodgates of
the colonial myths and stereotypes from other societies have opened up and
the Zimbabwean leadership must take full responsibility for this humiliation
of its citizens and African dignity as a whole.
As national leaders, Mugabe, Tsvangirai, and Mutambara must not only be
bound by a sense of responsibility to the suffering masses, but should also
demonstrate full commitment to the spirit of the negotiations that must be
underlined by unrelenting political maturity and an unshakable resolve to
prevail over their differences. In this vein, the failure of Tsvangirai to
attend the recent Sadc summit in Swaziland because he was denied a passport
on the pretext of printing paper shortages, portrays the Zimbabwean
leadership as big babies who are playing toy games in political office when
the country is on fire.
What better way can there be to portray Africans as unsophisticated and
child-like human beings, than to be bickering over passports and travel
documents when the economy is imploding and citizens are dying for lack of
panodol? How else can we better affirm colonial and neo-colonial stereotypes
of incompetence and irrationality, than to congregate Sadc nations in the
name of Pan-African brotherhood just to help us share government ministries?
Given the mammoth challenges of post-conflict reconstruction and development
that will soon face the nation, this impasse created by trivialities shows
that the men that we call our leaders cannot think beyond their personal and
sectarian interests. Like the colonial stereotype of the black leadership
greed and selfishness, egocentricity - not love and sacrifice for fellow
citizens - is the actuating motive of those we see as gallant. Mutambara is
therefore correct to admonish both Mugabe and Tsvangirai to put national
interest before all else because all else cannot exist without Zimbabwe and
the Zimbabweans who they both seek to govern.
Clearly, these negotiations have also taken far too long to conclude because
of the much ado about nothing of the so-called key ministries. The hopes of
Zimbabweans and indeed of those who are supportive of the GNU initiative are
beginning to wane because of lack of seriousness and babyish games by the
leadership. Yet Mugabe, Mutambara and Tsvangirai know only to well that
there were sections of the global community who stereotypically framed the
whole exercise as bound to fail because it was a project pursued by
"children" who were confusing a mountain for molehill.
Mugabe himself has lived up to the stereotype of an African dictator who is
so blinded by child-like selfishness to the extent he is no longer able to
separate national interest from personal interest like a child who grabs all
toys just for the sake of it. So when the talks are characterised by
child-like squabbles and endless unfruitful seesaws within the region, isn't
Mugabe and the African leadership presenting the prophets of doom with the
real gloom of a dark continent that is seen by others as a white man's
The other well-known post-colonial stereotype is that of protecting African
citizens from their brutish and ruthless leadership. This stereotype of an
African dictator is usually constructed through the selective appropriation
of human rights and history so that Western post-colonial representations
would generally ignore the colonial legacy and the negative impact of
neo-liberal globalisation on the continent when discussing crises within the
continent. In this regard, fair-minded African leaders who fight for the
interests of their people are sometimes demonised as visionless autocrats.
Mugabe doesn't seem to me to belong to this crop of leaders.
The Gugurahundi massacres, Murambatsvina nightmares, and the recent
electoral violence that was perpetrated in full public view as seen through
global television networks, project him as a leader who has excelled in
embracing Western stereotypes to the extent of even pushing the initial
boundaries of the stereotypical frame. His claim that he has "degrees in
violence" is as much a reality of his lived experience as it is a candid
acceptance of myths that are used to construct the political identities of
The negotiations provided an opportunity to say we can do better as
Zimbabweans in spite of our differences and political affiliation. They are
still a chance that we can use to redeem ourselves and once again affirm our
dignity, rights and responsibilities just as we did during the anti-colonial
struggle. However, something has to be done in terms of changing our
mindsets so that we begin to see ourselves as one family or one country. The
talks lack the promise for change because the attitudes of the leaders have
not changed. There is still a lot of child-like selfishness and bigotry.
As Zimbabwean citizens we must demand that these unelected - or better
still, unelectable, for some of them - leaders must shake off colonial
stereotypical labels and get down to the business of national reconciliation
and national economic recovery. They must inoculate themselves against
playing to the neo/colonial stereotypical badges that are mortgaging Africa's
dignity, vision and the simple values of ubuntu.
By Dr Last Moyo who writes from Seoul, South Korea. E-mail him:
Friday, 31 October 2008 10:21
AN extraordinary Sadc summit will have no capacity to unlock the deadlock on
allocation of ministries between President Robert Mugabe and the MDC's
Morgan Tsvangirai "unless and until" there is good faith between the two
Political analysts and commentators said failure by the regional bloc's
organ on politics, defence and security on Monday to resolve the impasse
would be repeated at the summit if Mugabe and Tsvangirai do not shift from
their current positions.
And there doesn't seem much prospect of that.
The failure, the analysts observed, left the unity government deal tottering
on the brink of collapse.
The Sadc Troika - made up of Swaziland, Angola and Mozambique - spent over
13 hours with Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the leader of the smaller formation of
the MDC, Arthur Mutambara, but failed to deal with the impasse.
Mozambican President Armando Guebuza chaired the meeting that was also
attended by Angolan Foreign minister Assuncao dos Anjos and Swaziland Prime
Minister Sibusiso Dlamini.
Newly elected South African President and Sadc chair Kgalema Motlanthe and
his predecessor Thabo Mbeki assisted the troika. Mbeki is the Sadc point man
on Zimbabwe and is the one who brokered the September 15 all-inclusive
government deal between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara.
But like previous negotiations, Monday's talks were deadlocked, according to
the troika, on who should be allocated the home affairs ministry between the
84-year-old Mugabe and former trade unionist Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai's party
on Tuesday said the impasse was over 10 ministries, not just one.
In a communiqué issued after the impasse was declared, the troika
recommended that the allocation of cabinet posts be referred to the full
summit of the 15-member regional bloc.
The troika suggested the co-sharing of the Ministry of Home Affairs or a
rotational system where MDC-Tsvangirai and Zanu PF would take turns to run
Tsvangirai rejected this saying he should be solely responsible for the
While an extraordinary Sadc summit would now have to be convened, political
analysts said the regional bloc was bound to fail to deal with the issue
unless Mugabe and Tsvangirai compromise.
They argued that there was a lot of mistrust between the two leaders and
moving them to accommodate each other would be a Herculean task.
Alex Magaisa, a law lecturer at the University of Kent at Canterbury in the
UK, predicted that Sadc would fail to resolve the impasse and blamed the
regional bloc for failing to enforce its own guidelines to avoid Zimbabwe
plunging into the morass.
"I fail to see what the Sadc summit will say or do which has not been said
or done in the many meetings they have held so far," Magaisa said. "They are
all fiddling and fumbling around giving great hopes and expectations where
little exist, while Zimbabwe itself literally burns."
He said Sadc should have long ago taken a realistic and robust view of the
situation in the country rather than "fumbling over symptoms" and address
the core of the problem.
"African leaders, Sadc especially, need to be bold enough with their
long-time colleague Mugabe. They must acknowledge and thank him for his past
service but tell him frankly that there is nothing new or revolutionary that
he is likely to bring to the table," Magaisa said.
"Elections were held and by all accounts they failed to comply even with
Sadc's own principles and guidelines. If they can't enforce their own rules,
then why bother setting them up in the first place? Even if it means giving
him a 'golden parachute', he can float and land in some paradise, but
thereafter Zimbabwe can perhaps entertain the possibility of an
internationally supervised election."
University of Zimbabwe political science professor, Eldred Masunungure, said
after the Sadc Troika's failure to deal with the impasse, the matter should
be referred to the African Union -- one of the guarantors of the unity
"There is not much that Sadc can do except to rely on the good faith of the
Zimbabwean protagonists," Masunungure said. "After Monday's failure, surely
Sadc should throw in the towel and refer the matter to a higher level ---
Masunungure wondered why more than a month after the pact was signed, the
Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) is yet to be formed as
specified in the agreement.
The Jomic was supposed to have been composed of four senior members of Zanu
PF and four senior members from each of the two MDC formations.Among its
objectives were to ensure the implementation in letter and spirit of the
unity government deal.
"This (Jomic) could have first played the role that Mbeki and Sadc are now
playing," argued Masunungure. "What is inhibiting the establishment of this
potentially useful conflict resolution mechanism? It is now also worthwhile
to explore the possibility of activating the reference group to assist
The reference group was appointed by Mbeki in July to help him to resolve
the Zimbabwe crisis and was made up of AU Commission chairperson Jean Ping,
United Nations undersecretary for politics Haile Menkerios and Sadc official
Another political scientist, Michael Mhike, said while it is not hard to
find a way forward on the impasse, much depended on Mugabe and Tsvangirai's
good faith and willingness to work together in the spirit of trust and
He said no amount of technical rules or arrangement would produce any
"Sadly, these crucial elements are lacking and I cannot see them
germinating, let alone growing and flowering in the near future," Mhike
lamented. "It all looks pretty pessimistic."
He suggested that Sadc should be "tougher and stronger" in its dealings with
Zimbabwean politicians, especially on the Zanu PF side.
"They (Sadc leaders) need to honestly acknowledge the problem in Zimbabwe
and identify where the source of the malaise is and deal with it decisively.
Somehow, I doubt they have the cojones to do it. Many of them seem to be far
too much in awe of Mugabe," Mhike said.
Mutumwa Mawere, Zimbabwean-born South African businessman, said Sadc should
think hard about what they have not done so far to resolve the country's
crisis and confront the problem in its proper construction and context.
He argued that while Sadc was a club of states with a limited mandate, its
members should register their honest views on the kind of Zimbabwe that they
want to see.
"It cannot be a Zimbabwe that is historically anchored and Zanufied," Mawere
said. "At the Johannesburg (Sadc) summit, it was resolved by Sadc that
parliament should be opened and indeed it was opened only to confirm
Tsvangirai's assertion that he enjoyed the majority support in parliament.
This was the minimum test given by Sadc as a basis for formulating a
strategy on Zimbabwe."
He argued that at the time, Mugabe was arguing that none of the principals
had control of parliament to claim the mandate to form a government without
Mawere said: "Having satisfied this requirement, Tsvangirai is back again to
Sadc with severely reduced powers making the whole experience just a sham.
Since September 15 the Zimbabwean parties have demonstrated their inability
to address even the smallest challenges facing the country to give Sadc
confidence that the arrangement will work."
He said there were two options to deal with the current deadlock.
"One is for Mugabe to be satisfied with the powers vested in him as head of
state and government pursuant to the talks and allow Tsvangirai some degree
of freedom to become the chief operating officer of the government," Mawere
He said the dispute over the ministries exposed that Mugabe still believes
that he enjoys the support of the majority of Zimbabweans and, therefore, no
"The other option is to go back to the people and let them decide who should
be the president through a legitimate, free and fair election supervised by
a non-partisan actor," Mawere said.
Even the Sadc Troika agreed that without faith between Mugabe and Tsvangirai
the Zimbabwe crisis was far from over.
The organ also emphasised that Zimbabweans, not outsiders, should find the
solution to the impasse.
By Constantine Chimakure
Friday, 31 October 2008 10:16 LAST week Zimbabwe's parliamentarians declared
that the country's food shortages are a national disaster. None can deny
that the critical scarcities of food, and that the little that is available
is unaffordable for many, is disastrous. But dubbing the shortages "a
national disaster" is a gross understatement. The reality is that the
paucity of food availability is a pronounced act of genocide on the part of
The current genocidal catastrophe is neither a sudden development, nor is it
the first in the 28 year history of independent Zimbabwe. The actions of the
Zimbabwean army, led by the Fifth Brigade, in the mid-1980s, condoned by
government, if not in fact motivated by it, subjected tens of thousands of
Ndebeles to diabolically cruel mutilations and death.
Moreover, it severely impacted negatively upon what had then been a growing
economy, in consequence of which many were subjected to such intense poverty
that significant numbers succumbed to the resultant ill-health and death.
And the current wave of genocide commenced more than eight years ago, and
has progressively become more and more intense. The first of the genocidal
actions embarked upon was an ill-considered, destructively pursued,
programme of land reform. It cannot be credibly denied that a dynamic
pursuit of land reform was very necessary.
For many, many decades the majority of the populace had been barred from the
ownership of land, and the abysmal barriers to land ownership had very
necessarily to be demolished, and the previously deprived enabled to become
possessed of land.
But this very real need did not justify the and reform being such as would
transform Zimbabwe from being the bread basket of the region, feeding not
only all its people, but also many millions in neighbouring territories,
into a country producing less than a third of its needs. It did not justify
blatant disregard for human and property rights.
It did not justify the destruction of the very foundation of the national
economy, a foundation which contributed more than a third of the total
economic outputs of the country (Gross Domestic Product), which generated
the predominant portion of the foreign exchange necessary for essential
imports, access to energy supplies, and for infrastructural development, and
which provided not only employment for more than 300 000 Zimbabweans, but
thereby the support and sustenance for over two million of the population.
In addition, it was the mainstay of the downstream economy which, in turn,
was the source of livelihood of many millions more.
Had the land reform programme been such as retained the developed
agricultural infrastructure, instead of reducing it to near total
destruction, and had it retained the skilled and experienced farming
community, which would have continued to be extraordinarily productive,
whilst facilitating the training and development of skills of new farmers,
Zimbabwean agriculture would have soared to ever greater heights, instead of
plummeting to all-time lows.
Had the programme continued to respect property rights, and thereby
according qualifying new farmers with not only the incentive to develop and
enhance the lands, but would also have provided them with the collateral
security needed to source essential developmental and working capital,
agriculture would have grown from strength to strength. In contrast to the
prevailing cataclysmic food shortages, Zimbabwe would have had even greater
surpluses than were characteristic of the pre-land reform era.
The attainment of the land reform objectives was further negated by the
magnitude of nepotistically based allocation of farms, and the extent to
which farm occupancy changed by non-governmentally authorised, but
undoubtedly condoned, assumption of farms by innumerable war veterans
(actual and pseudo), autocratically, violently at the point of the gun, and
tyrannically applying the principles of "self-service".
Government compounded the emasculation of agricultural production by
criminal mismanagement of the procurement and distribution of inputs, be
they seed, fertilisers and chemicals, or otherwise, and by the endless
prescription of speciously low, non-viable, producer prices for what little
agricultural production was forthcoming.
Although all these actions of commission and omission by government were
extremely major contributants to the gargantuan scarcity of food that
afflicts Zimbabwe today, and which are the principal causes of the massive,
malnutrition that exists in Zimbabwe today, government is irrefutably guilty
of adding thereto by other grievous misdeeds.
It has progressively destroyed much of the other sectors of the economy,
including mining, industry, and tourism, by ill-conceived,
counterproductive economic policies, by almost total failure to contain
corruption, by horrendous mismanagement of most of its parastatals, by
allowing intense infrastructural collapse, and by grossly excessive
It has done so by even more excessive (and highly destructive) economic
regulation, by a near-total absence of fiscal probity, by usurping the
autonomous determination functions of the central bank (instead obligating
it endlessly to undertake quasi-fiscal activities, uncharacteristic of an
independent, viable, central bank). It has exacerbated the economic collapse
by alienating most of the international community in general, and the donor
community in particular, and by the creation of a non-conducive investment
The result is that more than four-fifths of the population are desperately
striving to survive on resources below the Poverty Datum Line, and more than
half of those are struggling to exist below the Food Datum Line. But the
desperate attempts to survive do not succeed for all, and diverse estimates
suggest that an average of up to 6 000 Zimbabweans a week are subjected to
Those deaths are undeniably the consequence of all that government has done,
but should not have done, and of the actions that should have been taken by
government but which it has studiously failed to do.
As if all this was not a sufficiency of genocidal actions and failures, the
circumstances were worsened and intensified by government barring the
distribution of food by innumerable international concerned well-wisher
organisations during the months preceding the so-called "harmonised"
elections, and the subsequent presidential "run-off" election.
Government was determined to influence the electorate by its distribution of
food, but only to those that it perceived would support it, and therefore it
precluded others from engaging in food distribution.
Moreover, it itself having sought to use food as a vehicle for vote-buying,
it was paranoically convinced that the international aid agencies would do
likewise, and therefore hindered, obstructed and prevented their
engagement in bringing the food relief desperately needed for the survival
of many. Was not this a genocidal act?
Hence, the parliamentarians are correct when they refer to the food scarcity
crisis as a national disaster, but that is a minimisation of the reality.
That reality is that yet again many Zimbabweans are the victims of genocide!
Not, as government repeatedly contends, the victims of drought, of
sanctions, of Tony Blair, of Gordon Brown, George Bush and the European
Union, but of genocide.
Friday, 31 October 2008 10:05
MUCKRAKER has focused attention recently on the mendacity of the state media
in regard to the negotiations that have been taking place on a coalition
Their handlers have been feeding them downright lies which have appeared in
print in news stories and opinion pages.
We dealt with this in last week's column but it bears repeating here.
The worst example has been the accusation that Morgan Tsvangirai spent
Monday, October 20 playing golf with the US ambassador instead of attending
the Sadc troika meeting in Swaziland.
The story first appeared in a Herald front-page story on Tuesday, October
21. It was then repeated in a number of places finally fetching up on the
toxic shores of the Nathaniel Manheru column where it no doubt found
provenance in the first place.
"Tsvangirai plays golf with James McGee," Manheru wrote last Saturday. "He
likes it more than he likes anything else, his country included. This is why
he will not hesitate to miss national regional fixtures for one more game
with the American. Tsvangirai is the student, McGee the teacher."
There is only one problem with this story. Ambassador McGee did not play
golf with anyone on October 20. A phone call to his office could have
confirmed that. He arrived back from the States on October 19 and spent most
of October 20 at his office.
It would have been easy enough for Herald editors and contributors to have
checked out this elementary fact. McGee has been forthright about his rounds
with national leaders from all parties including Tsvangirai. But nobody did
check. Instead, the Goebellian lie was constructed and disseminated that he
was playing golf with Tsvangirai on October 20.
"Tsvangirai has been doing everything he can to sabotage the talks," Herald
senior assistant editor Caesar Zvayi wrote on October 21, "to the extent of
thumbing his nose at Sadc leaders gathered in Swaziland, choosing instead to
play golf with his principals in Harare."
Tsvangirai is thus portrayed as a delinquent leader unsuited to share
leadership in a coalition cabinet. Worse, the story was used to portray
Tsvangirai as a puppet of the Americans and British.
Nobody asked at which golf course this mythical round took place. Nobody,
except this paper, asked the MDC if their boss was indeed on the greens that
day. Instead the "lie of the week" was passed down through all the
structures of the state media and dutifully repeated.
The same goes for King Mswati's aircraft. The king offered it to Tsvangirai
to get him to Mbabane. But that story soon became one in which the plane
actually arrived here and returned empty-handed (Herald, October 25).
The public should be told that they are being lied to every day in the state
media. And those who are victims of officially-sponsored deceit should
ensure that a record is kept and those responsible made to account for their
betrayal of professional standards once we have our press freedom back.
In this context, it was interesting to see Foreign Affairs minister
Simbarashe Mumbengegwi calling for ambassadors based here to file accurate
reports on the country.
That is a good idea. We invite ambassadors to include in their reports the
lies referred to above, disseminated by government newspapers and electronic
media. Also, they should report on the 42 women arrested on Robert Mugabe Rd
on Monday this week when they sought to protest against lack of progress in
the inter-party talks. The talks took place at the Rainbow Towers Hotel
which was closed to the public that day. Teargas smoke wafted across Rotten
Row towards the hotel as a reminder of Zimbabwean realities.
Meanwhile, singing and chanting Zanu PF supporters were bused into the
nearby Zanu PF building.
Then there is the shocking story of Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu of
Woza who have been languishing in Mlondolozi prison in disgusting conditions
for a fortnight after they were arrested for leading a protest against the
political stalemate in the country.
They are facing charges of threatening peace and public order. The
magistrate who had been due to hear why they should be granted bail was
reportedly unable to do so because she was attending a workshop that day.
The state is opposing bail because it says the two women have pending cases
dating back to 2004.
That may indeed be true, but they have not been convicted on any of them.
This is so obviously a case of justice delayed becoming justice denied that
it deserves wide international coverage. It is emblematic of how nothing has
changed since the September 15 signing. The regime continues to lock up its
critics. This case is particularly pernicious because the two women have
been held under the state's crackdown on what it says are political crimes.
Meanwhile, what has happened to Gilbert Moyo who led the vicious assault on
Chegutu farmers earlier this year in what the farmers' lawyers argue was an
egregious breach of the ruling of the Windhoek court that the farmers should
not be harassed in any way?
Zanu PF negotiator Patrick Chinamasa was quoted in the Herald as warning
that if the British and Americans turned Tsvangirai into another Jonas
Savimbi, Zimbabweans would have to learn how to deal with "a Savimbi case in
our national politics".
Is this the same Patrick Chinamasa who was rejected by voters in the March
election? Has he made any progress learning how to deal with his defeat?
Zimbabweans certainly know how to deal with him!
That would include the rejection by voters of sclerotic mantras about
Savimbi which only the seriously challenged of intellects continue to trot
out when all else fails. Does Chinamasa really want to be placed in the same
league as Tafataona Mahoso who specialises in this sort of fossilised
Prof Arthur Mutambara has been subjected to much flack for the perception
that his impatience with Morgan Tsvangirai may drive him into a bilateral
deal with Mugabe on the appointment of ministers. Readers therefore need to
see the statement he put out last week condemning any attempt by Zanu PF to
"If Mugabe is under any illusion that he can unilaterally declare a
government, my party will not be involved in that government," he said. "We
will condemn and denounce that government and, more importantly, we will
call for international and global isolation of the regime."
Useful to have that on the record and as a response to what looks
suspiciously like a host of officially-inspired letters to the editor of the
Herald, demanding that Mugabe form a government without the MDC, which
contain give-away phrases such as "George Charamba is spot on."
Ian Khama has also been unambiguous in his recent pronouncements, calling
for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. "The wheels have come off there,"
he said of recent events.
An example of what he meant can be found at Harare International Airport.
The company that owns the carpark is now charging $500 000 for the first
This is a scandal. People collecting passengers could easily find themselves
Who owns the company that is taking advantage of the nation's plight to make
these extortionate charges? It would take 10 days of queuing at the bank to
raise the $500 000 needed to escape from the carpark!
By the way, none of the phonelines to the airport work. A recent passenger
trying to get to Lusaka with AirZim found himself delayed for six hours at
Harare airport. In that time he could have driven to Kitwe, his destination.
We note that Barclays is still deducting large amounts from customers'
accounts as fees, and then imposing swingeing interest charges as soon as
the account goes into the red. Didn't Gideon Gono say he was doing something
about these rip-off charges levied on customers who can't withdraw their
money because there are no bank notes available or because of arbitrary
ceilings? Or would that be unfair on the banks when he can't print money
Ian Khama is dead right. The wheels are coming off, and Mugabe's minions
think they can cope by forming a government of their own. It would be good
to let them try and watch the resultant mess. After all, this regime is a
serial delinquent which can't get anything right. But that would be
irresponsible seeing we have got the international community involved in
solving our problems and can't now run away from them. At least after the
saga of Tsvangirai's passport and the teargassing of demonstrators on Monday
they can see what the MDC is up against!
Readers were shocked by a report in the Herald ordering government officials
to hand their vehicles over to the police last weekend. Nobody could work
out what this was all about. Then it dawned. After a number of stories about
the progeny of chefs abusing government-issued vehicles, the government
decided to get tough on the issue.
What we liked were all the pathetic bleatings from people claiming they had
to finish their business first.
Over a weekend!
And what does the Rainbow Towers do about lost revenue from people turned
away by police on Monday? None of the other meetings held at the hotel over
the past two months have seen customers refused entry. A few journalists
yes, but not bona fide customers awash in forex.
It must have had a cost in terms of restaurants and bars closed to the
public. Who picks up the tab? And what are visitors to the country under the
Sanganai campaign supposed to conclude about gun-toting officers turning
people away from one of the country's leading hotels?
There will have to be some heavy "image perception" work here by the ZTA.
And we wonder what sort of adjustments there will have to be to image
perception when the public read about the three men who appeared in court on
Saturday on charges of kidnapping, assault and attempted murder. One of the
three is also being charged with impersonating a CIO officer.
Having lost his cellphone at Food King in Borrowdale, Energy Mutodi
allegedly picked up two till operators as suspects and drove to Harare
Central police station where he made a report. He also allegedly threatened
to harm Food King director Steve Gong and general manager Tendai Sandi in
the presence of the police while posing as a CIO officer.
After making the report, Mutodi and his two accomplices blindfolded the two
Food King till operators and severely assaulted them. They also assaulted a
security officer who was thrown into a pool of water and made to swim for
his life until he implicated his manager.
There have been a number of self-congratulatory stories in the press
recently on the role of the police. We would be interested to have Wayne
Bvudzijena's comments on this case.
Has the Met Office joined other national institutions in collapsing? The
Herald now routinely carries a message saying: "The weather report was not
available at time of going to print". When it does appear it is often
grossly inaccurate. On days that have been scorching hot at 32 degrees the
Met Office has given a forecast of 22 degrees!
Surely one of its officials can look out of his window and tell what the
temperature is outside and realise it's nowhere near what the Met Office is
telling the public. Or have they, like everybody else, stopped going to
Friday, 31 October 2008 09:57
IF editorial endorsements of candidates in the US election next week really
mattered, the Democrat candidate Barack Obama would win the poll over his
Republican opponent by a country mile.
On the eve of the historic election next week Obama can claim a landslide,
at least from approval of his candidacy by the media.
This is a rout for John McCain. As of yesterday, Obama was leading McCain
3-1. Major papers which endorsed incumbent Republican leader George Bush in
the 2004 poll have turned their backs on McCain. In a strong statement of
disapproval by the media last week, Alaska's biggest paper, the Anchorage
Daily News, endorsed Obama, abandoning Republican Vice-Presidential
candidate Sarah Palin. But here, who really cares what the media thinks
about the candidates? In fact senior journalists have said they have nothing
to do with the endorsements which are arrived at by editorial boards.
Washington Post deputy managing editor Milton Coleman in a presentation to
foreign journalists covering the polls last week said the endorsements had
nothing to do with journalism. To underline the hopelessness of the boards,
he said tongue-in-cheek that he does not even read editorials in his paper.
Does he not lead a charmed life?
Research done by the Pew Research Centre for People & the Press early in the
year concluded that an endorsement of a candidate by Oprah Winfrey or by
"your minister, priest or rabbi" holds more influence than an endorsement by
a local newspaper. Just over two-thirds of those Pew questioned said
newspaper endorsements have "no effect" on their vote.
Newspapers in the US are aware of their falling influence in shaping and
directing political agendas, but this has not deterred them from lining up
behind their candidate of choice. Why partake in this exercise in futility?
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Centre at
the University of Pennsylvania, wrote about newspaper endorsements in her
2000 book, Everything You Think You Know About Politics and Why You're
"The direct effect of editorials does not appear to be significant enough to
find," Jamieson said in an interview. "The effect of newspaper endorsements
is largely created through advertising about them that is sponsored by the
Editorial writers at US newspapers have explained endorsements with words
like "conversation", "values" and "credible".
Said Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor of the Washington Post: "An editorial
board spends four years pontificating and telling public officials what to
do. We come to an election, and it's the one time it's either A or B. Of
course, a lot of times we're not satisfied with the choice. We wish it was
C...but we're subjecting ourselves to the same binary choice that the voters
are subjecting themselves to... It's a humbling process.
"For once, we can't get away with endorsing pie in the sky. We're dealing
with what the choices are, and if the person you endorsed wins, you have to
live with that over the next years, just as all the voters."
But newspapers matter. Only this week, the McCain camp was pushing the Los
Angeles Times to release a tape which features Obama's meeting with a
Palestinian activist way back in 2001. The McCain camp has accused the LA
Times of refusing to release the tape to protect Obama. The paper has
endorsed Obama as president and has refused to release the tape on the
pretext that doing so would violate an undertaking made with the source of
These are desperate times and there is all the evidence that McCain is
clutching at straws to save the campaign. Barring any strange twist of fate
in the next five days, opinion leaders and think-tanks here believe Obama
will be President of the United States come next Thursday. They have reason
to believe so considering Obama's coherent and poignant political message of
change which has resonated with national sentiment of a country leading the
Western world into the depths of recession.
The battle for the White House has been fiery, crude and sometimes comical.
What could it have been without Palin's distractions? The riveting campaigns
have refocused the attention of the nation from football, burgers and pop
music. People are watching TV. The collective want of the Americans at the
moment is to be governed differently. Obama and his Republican opponent
McCain have change on the menu but opinion polls as of yesterday have
amplified the gulf in the content of the change message between the two
protagonists. Obama is leading McCain 50/44% and more democrats have turned
out to vote in those states where voting started early.
Other opinion polls have given Obama the advantage in traditionally
Republican states like North Carolina and Florida. All appears to be going
well for the Democrats but there is a strong feeling among observers that a
desperate McCain could turn to the courts to challenge the electoral
process, thereby raining on the Democrats' parade.
Obama, in the final leg of his campaigns, which has been dubbed the final
argument, has worked feverishly to drive home the point that McCain is
virtually a clone of incumbent President George Bush - the epitome of the
current economic mess characterised by foreclosures, job losses, a bearish
stock market and low confidence all throughout the economy.
This is McCain's curse. His campaign has to a large extent been shaped by
the Democrats' onslaught. He has been forced to prove that he is not joined
to Bush at the hip.
Kahiya is currently in the US.
Friday, 31 October 2008 09:43
VISITORS to Zimbabwe's capital this week would have got a reality check as
women planning to protest against the political stalemate in the country
were tear-gassed and arrested.
Other groups such as students were involved in the skirmishes that took
place in the city. The Rainbow Towers Hotel where the Sadc Troika was
meeting was sealed off to the public.
This will have provided a useful insight to the many travel writers the
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority has paid to come here to report on how normal the
situation is. But, more to the point, it exposes the repressive character of
the regime that is seeking international endorsement of its continued
purchase on power.
As members of the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe were being rounded up and
incarcerated, ruling party supporters were being bused into the Zanu PF
headquarters to express support for President Mugabe.
In Bulawayo, two leaders of Woza have spent two weeks in detention because
they protested against current conditions. The state opposed bail because it
said they had other pending cases against them. In fact no previous charges
have been successful.
Meanwhile Arthur Mutambara and the Standard newspaper are fighting charges
of publishing views that were prejudicial to the state.
As all these episodes illustrate, Mugabe's Zimbabwe remains a profoundly
repressive state where democratic rules are ignored. The September 15
agreement was quite clear in seeking to "uphold and develop press freedom"
and ensure people have "equitable and wide access to information".
That self-evidently is not happening as the so-called public media provide
the ruling party with platforms to attack the opposition in general and
Morgan Tsvangirai in particular. The persistence of partisan and
unprofessional behaviour in that part of the media beholden to Zanu PF is
one of the more striking features of the government's failure to abide by
the September 15 agreement. The public, as a result, are denied access to
information and prevented from making an informed choice when voting.
The other emblematic issue that has received much press comment recently is
that of Tsvangirai's passport. The Registrar-General has claimed that his
office did everything possible to oblige the MDC leader by issuing him with
an emergency travel document for travel to Swaziland on October 20.
Tsvangirai understandably says he is entitled to a passport like everybody
else instead of ad hoc documents that can be issued or withheld at the RG's
pleasure. The claim that there is no passport paper because of sanctions is
simply fatuous when others are being issued with theirs.
Indeed, what this affair reveals is the need for a Minister of Home Affairs
who can instill democratic and professional values in public servants.
The same goes for the police. When Dumiso Dabengwa took over at Home Affairs
in 1990 he made it his priority to introduce a culture of non-partisan
professionalism in the ZRP, a stance no doubt informed by his own
experience. There is a similar need now for ministers to ensure public
servants carry out their duties with a sense of professionalism and
accountability to the public they serve. That is not only true of Home
Affairs but extends to appointments of senior diplomats who have been
compromised of late by political pronouncements that have damaged Zimbabwe's
As well as inculcating a culture of professionalism we would have thought
this was an ideal opportunity for Mugabe to take an axe to the deadwood
surrounding him. He complained recently about the quality of his current
cabinet. So why does he insist upon retaining them? The process of adding
value to government extends well beyond the inclusion of opposition
ministers. It provides a perfect opportunity for the president to include in
his cabinet individuals who can manage a government department with skill
and dedication. There must surely be one or two such individuals with a seat
At the end of the day, what we have is a ruling party and government that is
determined to pretend their electoral defeat in March was merely an
aberration by a people temporarily distracted by hardship and Anglo-American
In fact it was for the first time since 2000 a nation passing judgement on
its indifferent and delinquent rulers. Unless they take that judgement on
board and eschew the comforting illusions of their own propaganda, there
will be little prospect of a lasting settlement. What in any case does Zanu
PF want to do to the country that it has not already done? After 28 years
there is so obviously a need for fresh thinking and international support.
But sadly, Zanu PF thinks it was cheated in March and has a mandate for more
damaging policies. So long as this idiocy persists, we can look forward to
nothing more than a divided and broken nation with no hope for the future.
Zimbabweans deserve better than this but will clearly be made to suffer for
a while longer.
Friday, 31 October 2008 09:39 FIRST, the good news: it is celebration time
in Harare. The bad: the rest of the country is not invited to the big party;
which is to say it is more of the same - more suffering.
We must celebrate in Harare because the stalemate in the talks between Zanu
PF and the MDC has achieved its key objective -- the removal of Thabo Mbeki
from the equation. The deadlock had nothing to do with so-called "key"
ministries or ministry. For if a foreign facilitator must ultimately assume
the presidential or prime ministerial prerogative to appoint a cabinet, he
might as well take over as president or prime minister.
Mbeki had to go because he refused to condemn Mugabe, or to cut electricity
supplies to Zimbabwe. This is a chorus we have heard since 2003. An
opportunity had to be found. All the nitpicking about the structural defects
of the power-sharing deal is hypocrisy. It is a figleaf of those looking
more at the letter than the spirit of the agreement and pretending that you
can get a perfect deal from imperfect mortals.
I doubt that the Lancaster House agreement would have been signed if those
involved in the negotiations were given the latitude to be as churlish as
they wished towards those trying to help them. Why would Mugabe and Joshua
Nkomo sign a deal which reserved 20 seats for whites? Why would they sign a
deal which put a 10-year moratorium on land when that had been the prime
motivation for the war? Now we are being given the impression that in
independent Zimbabwe it is more alien than anything else to be Zanu PF or
MDC; that they can't work together, even if it means sacrificing the nation!
Countrymen, you can take the talks to Sadc, the African Union or the United
Nations but you will come back empty-handed as long as it is power - not
people - which is at the heart of the dispute. What we will get from this
obsession with foreign solutions, to use Chinua Achebe's quaint expression,
"is pregnant and wearing a hat at the same time". Also beware of too many
Of late there have been belligerent calls for another election. It is a
seductive enough prospect if you are a well-fed politician and you don't
have to worry about where your next meal will come from but a cruel choice
if you are a hungry Zimbabwean who was used as pawn before the June 27
election run-off. I predicted then that an election would not resolve our
problems. I don't see what has changed since, unless it is assumed that the
party which proposes another election will alone dictate the terms and
conditions under which it will be held.
To me the talks gave this nation the best prospects for a fresh start
and national healing. There would have been no reason from now to carry to
the next elections the corrosive animosity and foul rancour between the
parties. The issue of a new constitution would have been resolved,
reasserting the independence of most of our national institutions which have
been compromised and corrupted over the years of fratricidal wars between
Zanu PF and the MDC.
We have let that opportunity slip through our fingers just to spite Mbeki
because he would not play to a popular public gallery; but at what cost to
the nation? Once the object of the negotiations shifted from national
well-being to the person of the mediator, the issue of cabinet ministries
became a moving target. Even in the MDC no one knows which ministry or how
many constitute a deal-breaker.
To the principals, what should have been an onerous responsibility to decide
the future of the nation was reduced to what Achebe would call a children's
eye-winking contest. You blink, you lose. Now that the negotiations were
taking place in a public park, the media became a decisive factor in the
minds of both the negotiators and their principals. What do we tell the
media? What do we say to our supporters after this long standoff? That we
have given in? That we have surrendered? Would that not be embarrassing? The
substance of the negotiations - relieving people's pain -- was put on the
The victory against Mbeki is a Pyrrhic one compared to the embarrassment we
have become to the African continent and its people all over the world. We
have been reduced to a nation of fools whose political leaders can haggle
for more than two months over the sharing of cabinet portfolios while their
electors are starving to death or are being fed by foreigners. To me both
leaders have proved to be heartless hypocrites, feigning infinite compassion
for the people when all they think about is how to gain or retain power.
I have no doubt that were it not for fear of the dire ramifications of a
political implosion in Zimbabwe, Sadc and the African Union would have
abandoned us to our fate long ago. Given the ingratitude and disrespect we
have repaid them for their efforts, no one would want to inherit the
unenviable task which Mbeki executed with such equanimity. South Africa in
particular will for a long time regret the resources it wasted trying to
help two selfish men decide what's best for their country. Could there be a
worse failure of leadership?
But the biggest tragedy is our loss of a sense of nationhood. We have become
party people. In the words of David Kaulemu, the notion of the state has
been replaced in our imagination by party politics.
The "obfuscation of the distinction between the state and the party in the
minds of leaders, professionals and indeed of the people of Zimbabwe, has
placed us where we are today", says Kaulemu. "Even opposition parties
struggle to imagine truly national and inclusive systems and processes." It
should be a humbling indictment.