Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:45pm EST
By Paul Simao
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Southern African nations must intervene more
decisively to end Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis, former U.N.
Secretary General Kofi Annan and other prominent world figures said on
Describing Zimbabwe as close to a humanitarian disaster, Annan urged the
Southern African Development Community's leaders to pressure President
Robert Mugabe and the opposition MDC to break a deadlock blocking the
formation of a unity government.
"SADC must bring its full weight to bear," Annan, flanked by former U.S.
President Jimmy Carter and human rights campaigner Graca Machel, the wife of
Nelson Mandela, told reporters.
"I think it is clear that SADC should have done more."
Annan, Carter and Machel, part of a group called the Elders, were barred
from entering Zimbabwe last weekend on a humanitarian visit. Mugabe's
government denied them visas, saying the visit was unnecessary.
A deepening economic crisis, marked by chronic food shortages and soaring
hyperinflation, has prompted millions of Zimbabweans to flee the country. A
cholera epidemic has killed almost 300 people and sent hundreds more into
Talks on sharing power between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai have bogged down over control of key ministries and the rivals'
parties are due to resume talks in South Africa on Tuesday.
Tsvangirai's MDC had threatened to boycott the talks, but party spokesman
Nelson Chamisa said: "Our team, consistent with the duty and obligation to
represent the people, will attend tomorrow's meeting in South Africa."
Machel welcomed South Africa's move to withhold some $28 million in food aid
to Zimbabwe to apply pressure.
"That's a good tone. Maybe other SADC nations should consider doing the
same," Machel said.
BEYOND "WAIT AND SEE"
South Africa's ruling ANC party leader Jacob Zuma criticized Harare's
decision to block the Elders as an "unfortunate act." President Kgalema
Motlanthe said his government had asked Mugabe for an explanation but
received no response.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack also condemned
Zimbabwe's government for barring the Elders.
"Rather than turn people away they should try to benefit from those who want
to try to help Zimbabwe get onto a better track," he said.
Zuma and Motlanthe urged a quick end to Zimbabwe's crisis.
"The situation has just gone beyond a situation where we could say 'wait and
see,'" Zuma told reporters. He said the Elders had told him Zimbabwe could
be months from collapse.
Carter said the crisis was worse than he had imagined and he felt southern
African leaders did not fully understand the extent of the misery in the
He said the United Nations, African Union and SADC should send teams into
Zimbabwe to properly report the crisis.
Opposition leader Tsvangirai accuses Mugabe, who won a June presidential
election boycotted by Tsvangirai because of violence, of trying to relegate
the MDC to the role of a junior partner in the government.
Mugabe has angered the opposition with a plan to push through a
constitutional amendment allowing him to name a cabinet alone, a move that
could wreck the power-sharing deal.
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF, Tsvangirai's MDC and a smaller MDC faction are due
to meet with mediator Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's former president, on
Tuesday. Mbeki has mediated the crisis since 2007 under a SADC mandate.
South Africa's ruling African National Congress, backed by Mugabe during its
decades-long struggle to overthrow apartheid, will also send a delegation to
Zimbabwe to assess the situation, Zuma said.
(Writing by Marius Bosch and Paul Simao; Additional reporting by Nelson
Banya; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
THEMBELA KHAMANGO | JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - Nov 24 2008 18:40
The crisis in Zimbabwe is worse than what the Elders -- a delegation of
prominent figures and former statesmen -- had imagined, it was announced in
Johannesburg on Monday.
"We were expecting a gloomy situation, but the situation is far beyond what
we could have imagined," said one of the Elders, Graca Machel, at a press
briefing in Johannesburg.
The Elders' delegation comprised former United Nations secretary general
Kofi Annan, former United States president Jimmy Carter and Machel, an
international advocate for women's and children's rights.
The three had planned to visit Zimbabwe over the weekend on a humanitarian
mission, but were refused entry. They continued their assessment of the
country's humanitarian crisis in Johannesburg by meeting political leaders,
aid agencies and business and civil society representatives from Zimbabwe.
According to the Elders, there was not enough food to meet immediate needs
and an acute shortage of seeds and fertiliser meant the harvest in April
next year would only produce a fraction of what was needed.
"The number of people reliant on food aid from the United Nations and other
agencies has increased from 2,6-million in October to 4,9-million in
November," said Machel.
Half the population of 10,2-million people would need food aid by January.
The trio said four major hospitals -- two of them in Harare -- had to close
their doors to almost all patients because of lack of medicines and basic
supplies like water.
"Hundreds of women needing caesarean sections or other assistance to give
birth safely are being turned away. Staff numbers are also falling as people
make their search for food a priority."
School attendance had fallen sharply from more than 85% in 2007 to just 20%.
Universities did not open at all this term.
Said Annan: "We knew when we planned the trip that the situation in Zimbabwe
was serious, but what we have learnt in the past few days is shocking.
"It is not just the extent of Zimbabwe's humanitarian crisis, but the speed
of deterioration in the past few weeks that is worrying. The scale, depth
and urgency of the situation are under-reported."
The Elders said the economic conditions and shortage of cash, mass migration
and displacement were part of the crisis the country was facing.
Said Carter: "The signing of the September 15 agreement raised hopes in
Zimbabwe and around the world, but failure to implement it in good faith and
create a good workable power-sharing government is leading to despair and
accelerating the crisis."
The power-sharing deal was signed between the Zanu-PF party and two factions
of the Movement for Democratic Change.
He said regardless of the challenges all parties should make the welfare of
the people their first priority and "put an end to unnecessary suffering of
Machel said there was no solution to the humanitarian crisis before solving
the political situation.
The trio made a "strong" appeal to the Southern African Development
Community to be more assertive and urgently deal with the situation in
Zimbabwe. -- Sapa
Z November 24 2008, 7:56:00
South African President Kgalema Motlanthe has warned of a total
collapse in neighbouring Zimbabwe if the current political impasse is not
resolved after meeting with the Elders, earlier today.
Motlanthe said the quibbling over ministries had to stop to allow the
unity government to focus on the humanitarian crisis that has deepened after
the cholera outbreak in that country.
The Elders, snubbed by Zimbabwe have catapulted the country back into
international focus as the deepening humanitarian crisis has given new
urgency to an amicable political solution while the country's political
leaders still bicker over a single ministry.
Motlanthe, the SADC chair is fast losing patience. He says, "Unless
the root cause of the political absence of a legitimate government is not
solved, the situation will get worse and may implode or collapse."
Last week, South Africa withdrew a promised R300 million because there
was no government to hand over the donation to.
Tough stance yields little
SADC's promised tough stance against Zimbabwe has yielded little. Two
weeks ago, the MDC refused to accept a SADC proposal to share the Home
Affairs Ministry and President Robert Mugabe threatened to form a unity
government but has so far shelved this plan.
Constitutional amendments to usher in a unity government will be
discussed at tomorrow's meeting. If they agree, the amendment could go
before Parliament as early as this week. Among others, it will allow
Tsvangirai to be sworn in as Prime Minister immediately.
But even then progress on the political front translates into food on
the table for ordinary Zimbabweans. While politicians shuttle back and
forth, their countrymen may face another year of severe food shortages. The
rainy season will come and go and nothing will be planted and the fate of
the millions of starving people now lies in the hands of those refusing to
Nov 24, 2008, 14:37 GMT
Johannesburg - The Elders, a group of leading activists and former world
leaders, on Monday urged Zimbabwe's opposition to go into government with
President Robert Mugabe in the interest of the Zimbabwean people.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party has been holding out on
joining a unity government on Mugabe's terms, demanding that power should be
divided equally between the parties.
But The Elders, founded by anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, following a
three-day fact-finding mission on Zimbabwe, called on the MDC to join the
government despite the party being offered a junior partnership.
Former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, former US president
Jimmy Carter and Mozambican social activist Graca Machel briefed journalists
in Johannesburg about their mission.
After being barred from travelling to Zimbabwe, the three met in South
Africa with Zimbabwe's opposition leaders and representatives of
non-governmental organizations, Western donors and UN agencies.
Calling on Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC to quickly
implement their September 15 power-sharing agreement, Carter said the MDC
could try to redress the imbalance in power after the government is up and
Zanu-PF and the MDC are due to hold fresh talks Tuesday aimed at resolving
their impasse on the formation of a unity government.
'The opposition has a majority in the parliament and an ability if they
combine their forces together they can outvote Zanu-PF and make
modifications in future laws,' Carter said.
'We don't see this likelihood tomorrow of all issues being resolved but if
there are any obvious inequities subsequently in the proper sharing or
dividing of power they can be corrected some of them at least not only by
immediate changes to the law but over a period of time until the new
constitution is in place or over next 18 months,' Carter added.
The Elders is a brains trust of founded by Mandela in 2007. Mugabe's
government denied them visas to enter Zimbabwe at the weekend, saying they
had not consulted officials about their visit.
Carter said the reports they had received were 'all indications that the
crisis in Zimbabwe is much worse than anything we had ever imagined'.
Annan criticized Zimbabwe's neighbours in the 15-nation Southern African
Development Community (SADC) for not getting tough enough with Mugabe.
'I think its obvious that SADC could have and should have maybe done more,'
As an example, he cited the damning reports by SADC and African Union
election observers on the June presidential run-off election, which found
the election that Mugabe alone contested neither free nor fair.
'They could have endorsed it because these were their own observers,' Annan
But The Elders took heart in the firmer tone taken by South Africa's new
leadership on Zimbabwe.
South Africa last week announced it was withholding an aid package to
Zimbabwe until a government was put in place.
'The tone which came from the government is a shift from what we are used to
hearing,' Machel, who is also Mandela's wife, noted, urging other SADC
members to take an equally strong tone.
November 24 2008, 1:00:00
An ANC delegation will soon be visiting Zimbabwe for talks with both
leaders of Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change. This comes as a
concerted effort is underway to resolve the Zimbabwean impasse. Tomorrow,
Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitator Thabo Mbeki will
be meeting the three feuding parties in South Africa.
The ANC has added its voice to the chorus of condemnation following
Harare's refusal to allow the "Group of Elders" into the country this
weekend. The Elders are on a mission to request regional leaders to act on
the current humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe.
The delegation included former United States President Jimmy Carter,
former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and rights activist
Graca Machel. The Elders also want a speedy implementation of the power
sharing agreement to allow for international assistance to the Zimbabwean
people. Today, they presented a report to ANC President Jacob Zuma on the
current humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile Zuma says the report paint a very bad picture with things
about to collapse. He says the spread of cholera which has left scores of
people dead has exacerbated the situation. Zuma says the situation is not
theoretical but rather one that is affecting the lives of people. He says
the situation now has gone beyond a point where leaders can adopt a wait and
Zuma pleaded with the Zimbabwe leaders to exercise their leadership
responsibility and implement a power sharing agreement. Meanwhile, the
Elders are currently holding discussing with SADC Chairperson, President
November 26 2008,
ANC president Jacob Zuma has deplored the decision of the Zimbabwean
government to refuse visa entry to former United Nations secretary general
Kofi Annan and other elders including former United States president Jimmy
Carter and a rights activist Graca Machel .
Speaking to journalist in Midrand, Johannesburg, after talks with the
elders, Zuma described the situation as unfortunate on the part of the
Zimbabwean government. He says it is clear that the mission of the elders
was purely humanitarian with no intention to get involved in the Zimbabwean
political crises. Zuma has stressed that the situation in Zimbabwe is now
critical, worsened by the cholera outbreak.
Presidential spokesperson Thabo Masebe says South Africa remained
concerned about the humanitarian and other problems confronting Zimbabwe,
and supported all efforts to resolve those. Meanwhile President Kgalema
Motlanthe appealed to the ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change to urgently initiate constitutional processes that will
enable the formation of a unity government.
Yesterday, Motlanthe met with his Botswana counterpart, Ian Khama, in
Pretoria where he emphasised the importance of Zimbabwe's implementation of
the power-sharing agreement which was signed in September in order allow
economic reconstruction in the country to begin.
A P Reeler
Director, Research & Advocacy Unit
It seems in Zimbabwe that the more things change the more they stay the
same, and we are all wondering who is leading who down the garden path.
Caesar Zvayi claims it is the MDC, playing the hare to ZANU PF's baboon by
trying to re-interpret the Agreement, whilst the MDC claims that ZANU PF is
negotiating in bad faith, and what could be a greater demonstration of bad
faith than doctoring the Agreement?
Despite all the warming exhortations of SADC, it does not appear that the
political crisis has moved beyond the startling election results of March
2008, except perhaps that we have an "agreement". However, even this
agreement now seems to have intractable problems, and the latest statement
from the MDC indicates that is still much more to discuss than merely the
issue of who controls the Ministry of Home Affairs. It seems increasingly
evident that this Agreement will fail, and it seems important to try to see
what can then be the way forward.
It also appears that many parties and persons have not read the Agreement
very carefully, especially in regards as to how the Agreement will interface
with all the existing Zimbabwean legislation. There have recently been two
detailed opinions on the Agreement and its implications, each starting from
different assumptions. This is not the place to recapitulate these
arguments, for is sufficient to point out that both outline many problems
that can (or will) emerge as a consequence of this deal: whilst
power-sharing is the aim, it is apparent from both analyses that the
Agreement, when implemented in Zimbabwean law, will leave ZANU PF in much
the same position as it was prior to the March election.
The difference in the two analyses is that one assumes that the "good will"
that is supposed to permeate the Agreement and its implementation - and
which drips its way through the Preamble - will be sufficient to overcome
most of the difficulties inherent in the Agreement. The assumption is fair
and it is clearly on the basis of assumed "good will" that the MDC remain in
the ongoing dialogue, and it is continually to the good will that all the
interested external parties, and especially SADC, keep referring. The second
analysis proceeds from an entirely different assumption; that ZANU PF has no
intention of sharing power, and hence, with the complete absence of "good
will", the Agreement will not lead to any change, except the most trivial.
It is worth repeating, however, that, despite the very different
assumptions, both analyses agree on the significant problems that will
emerge once actual government begins.
As indicated above, it is not the intention here to provide a detailed
comparison of the two analyses, but it worth going to the crux of the
problem, the powers of the President under the Agreement. Both analyses are
in agreement that the powers of the presidency remain considerable, whilst
the powers of the prime minister - which is yet to be specified in
Zimbabwean law - are ambiguous and probably subject in virtually all cases
to the powers of the presidency. This seems remarkable in the light of the
recent elections; the MDC quite clearly emerged as the front runner in the
March elections, whilst the result of the June Presidential election was
repudiated by all except ZANU PF. And yet the Agreement, will try to place
the MDC in the position of the junior party in the putative government.
Thus, it is scarcely surprising that there are difficulties in finalising
However, it is also evident that the country is in a parlous position, and
worsening by the day, and so there is anxiety about what to do with the
deal. There is a view that it should be implemented, warts and all, for the
good of the country: a bad deal is better than no deal at all. Then there is
another view that essentially is coming from the MDC's members - the winning
electorate in March - that argues that no deal is better than a bad deal.
Then there is a quiet voice that seems to suggest that the deal should be
abandoned in favour of new elections, which has come both from the MDC and
the Botswana government. However, there is a formal deal on the table,
signed by all parties, a contract if you will, and there need to be good
reasons for tearing up this contract. It is worth remembering here that this
is a mere agreement, without the force of law, and binding on the parties
only insofar as they have given their assent to it in "good will". The
Agreement will only be binding on the parties when Constitutional Amendment
19 is passed through Parliament and signed into law.
However, there seems to be a general view that this Agreement is immutable
and binding on all the parties, but, of course, it is common practice
throughout life, including politics, that contracts can be re-negotiated. If
I agree to buy some cows from you, it may be a demonstration of my good will
that I will give you a few of these ahead of signing the contract, and you
agree to give me the appropriate percentage of the purchase price. If this
small demonstration of good faith goes well, then we will both be very happy
to sign the substantive contract and bind ourselves in law. If, however, I
send you the cows, and do not see money in my bank, I may have second
thoughts about the deal, and we will go back to the negotiating table to
discuss the contract again. Politics is hardly different, but altogether
more serious, and particularly when the issue is underpinned by very serious
differences between the negotiating parties, as is the case in Zimbabwe.
So perhaps, before deciding on the content of the Agreement- which is not a
trivial issue as is suggested above - we can look to the confidence-building
that has followed the Agreement, and much of this is covered in the Preamble
to the Agreement. The Preamble describes the intentions of the parties, both
in acknowledging what has gone in the past as well as stating their
intentions for the future. One important clause, in paragraph 19, states
that the parties will "build a society free of violence, fear, intimidation,
hatred, patronage, corruption and founded on justice, fairness, openness,
transparency, dignity and equality." Implicit in this statement, and there
is no attribution of blame, is the idea that such things do not currently
apply in Zimbabwe: if they did, why would the parties to the Agreement
bother to mention them, and why would we need an Agreement if Zimbabwe was a
nation in which justice, fairness, openness, transparency, dignity and
equality were common and widely applied values?
So, using the analogy of commercial exchange, how have the parties tried to
demonstrate their good will since the signing of the Agreement?
The MDC have voiced continual concerns, and refused to attend the Troika
meeting in Swaziland, but have stayed with the negotiating process in an
attempt to get a final contract that will be mutually beneficial, and,
importantly, beneficial to the nation. Many suggest that they are wasting
their time, but the MDC has continued to try to "make the deal work". ZANU
PF, on the other hand, and importantly because they hold de facto political
power, have shown no signs that could even charitably be described as "good
Examine the facts since the signing of the Agreement. There has been no
attempt to put Constitutional Amendment 19 before the House of Assembly and
to create the position of Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers. Then
there are the continual arguments over the assigning of Minister portfolios,
and even an attempt to make this into law through yet another use of
Presidential powers. We can gloss over the observation that, with the ink
hardly dry on the Agreement, Robert Mugabe indicates that he will continue
to use his absolute powers just has he has for the past 20 years. These,
however, are not the only breaches of faith.
ZANU PF declined to give Morgan Tsvangirai a passport, which led to the
refusal to go to Swaziland, a decision that virtually all agreed with, since
this was done to the person that ZANU PF has agreed will share the
government with them. Even if the government was short of paper, it might be
felt that they could make a special case here to build confidence!
Then there is the continuing violence. Students bringing a petition to
Parliament are brutally dispersed, and again women and students are brutally
dispersed when trying to bring a petition to the negotiation taking place at
the Rainbow Towers. The WOZA women are brutally dispersed in Bulawayo, and
then Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu are arrested, denied bail, and
kept in jail for more than two weeks now. MDC supporters are violently
attacked in Epworth, with 20 persons injured, and five needing hospital
treatment. MDC members are abducted by ZANU PF supporters, and reports
indicate that one of them was murdered. So much for the attempt to build a
society free of violence and intimidation!
Jabulani Sibanda, notorious "war veteran", makes a public statement
threatening violence, and yet no attempt is made to arrest him for behave
likely to create a breach of the peace: that charge is reserved for the WOZA
leadership. The stated-controlled press, radio and television have shown no
attempt to open the media space, desist from hate speech and derogatory
remarks about the opposition. There has been no space given to the prime
minister designate to address the nation, but rather the continued
presentation of the MDC as "enemy".
This very brief review of the developments since the signing of the
Agreement, and there is much more that could be added, leaves us in no doubt
that ZANU PF has made little or no attempt to demonstrate the kind of good
will necessary to turn the Agreement into the binding contract that
What should then be done? Dismiss the deal completely; re-negotiate the
deal; or accept the deal for the good of the nation? Perhaps a first start
would be to understand why ZANU PF, having lost so comprehensively in March,
still insists on staring a gift horse in the mouth.
The simplistic answer is given all the time: they refuse to give up power
and its benefits. This is true in the most simple fashion, but the deeper
reason lies in their fear; fear of accountability and fear of another
election. The fear of accountability can be deduced from the tacit
acceptance that Zimbabwe is characterised by violence, fear, intimidation,
hatred, patronage, and corruption, charges that can be laid at the door of
ZANU PF, and the consequences of which follow them daily in the many demands
for truth and justice. It was therefore startling to many that ZANU PF was
not able to insert the expected clause on impunity in the Agreement.
Given the history of the past 28 years, ZANU PF fears about accountability
are hardly surprising, but there is little doubt that accountability is some
form cannot be avoided. It may take many years, and may take a form that is
yet to be defined, but as the examples of the past, and now the present -
Milosovic, Habre, Taylor, etc - all show accountability will happen. Even if
it is merely the way in which history will be written, the truth will out!
Accountability can be avoided in the short term by the device of holding
onto political power, and this is certainly one motive in ZANU PF's
obduracy. There is a much greater worry for ZANU PF however, and this
revolves around elections. Having lost the power to rig elections in ways
that were "acceptable", or at least did not disturb their neighbours unduly,
ZANU PF needs to delay the prospect of elections fro as long as possible.
The Agreement suggests that this should take place in under two years time:
18 months to get a new constitution after the government is constituted, and
elections certain to follow shortly thereafter. It is doubtful that ZANU PF
will emerge victors from such an election!
But herein lie one of the strangest phenomena concerning Zimbabwean, and
African politics. Everybody, including ZANU PF, agrees that the March poll
was valid and the result was accepted. True, there were many election
petitions mounted, but these are all failing in the Zimbabwean courts, and
hence the March results are acceptable by all standards. The Presidential
poll in June was not so acceptable, and only ZANU PF claims them as valid.
SADC repudiated the result, but continued to treat Mugabe as if he were
president, which leads this august body into horrible contradictions: in
their submission to the SADC Tribunal, they admit that they do not recognise
Mugabe as President, but also state that they will not bar him from SADC
summits and meetings. So does he attend as President or not-President?
The outcome does challenge common sense. When Ben Jonson cheats in winning
the 100 metres at the Olympics, he is disqualified, and the medal is given
to the person that came second. The Olympic Committee did not invite Ben
Jonson and Carl Lewis to a meeting to discuss sharing the medal. Playing
with this analogy a little more, we have the situation that Tsvangirai won
the heat before the final, which is little like Carl Lewis beating Jonson
the heat but losing the final, and losing it by a mile. But politics is not
like athletics, and the stakes are rather higher than a mere gold medal.
However, the analogy does help a little in seeing a way forward. Since the
March poll was acceptable, but not the June one, why not just have a new
Presidential election, internationally supervised, and have done with all
the games around trying to make the Agreement work? This is unlikely to meet
with any interest from ZANU PF, and for the very simple reason that Morgan
Tsvangirai would win by landslide margin in such a contest against Robert
Mugabe. This is actually understood by all Zimbabweans, including ZANU PF,
as well as by all external parties to the crisis, even by SADC.
However, political common sense is not prevailing in the Zimbabwe crisis,
and the world watches as one man holds an entire country to ransom with the
support of his presidential peers. This is the problem, and the Agreement
will not solve this: Robert Mugabe, lawfully under the Zimbabwean
constitution and the laws of the country, will remain in power, and, unless
there is radical re-negotiation of the Agreement, any deal with end up a
"bad" deal, and one that will not encourage re-investment in Zimbabwe. Those
that advocate a deal at any cost must convince Zimbabweans that this will
still produce the goods: the IMF and World Bank will re-engage, the donors
will return with balance of payments support and development assistance, and
investors will return. These are very doubtful outcomes of a bad deal, one
in which Mugabe and ZANU PF stay in power, and the MDC is a junior partner.
Against the bad deal can be juxtaposed the "new" deal. Tear up the
Agreement, and strike a new deal for a new presidential election;
internationally supervised, on a one-man, one-constituency vote, with
perhaps even those in the diaspora allowed to participate. There are no
prizes for guessing the result, and it would leave Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF
with two choices: lose with dignity, or resign and give the victory to the
person that won the first race in March.
SADC, the AU and the UN could make this happen if they had the will, and
were willing to put the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans above those of a tiny
elite. One single election, and then all three bodies could retire from the
problem, leaving Zimbabweans to sort out accountability, constitution,
economy, and the like. The alternative will be more and more negotiations
will ZANU PF plays for time, and Zimbabwe sinks into that worst of all
scenarios, the failed state.
November 24 2008 at 08:19AM
By Wendy Jasson da Costa
The Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) no longer
wants former president Thabo Mbeki as a mediator in that country's political
woes, saying he has been ineffective and has misrepresented the problems
stalling the power-sharing negotiations between it and Robert Mugabe's
"This is why we are calling on the SADC (Southern African Development
Community) summit... you need somebody else to mediate," said MDC
vice-president Thokozani Khupe in Durban on Saturday.
She told The Mercury that the SADC summit wrongly believed that the only
unresolved issue preventing the formation of a government of national unity
was the fight over the home affairs ministry.
However, there were several other unresolved issues, like the equitable
distribution of ministries, the issue of governors, ambassadors and
permanent secretaries, legislating the national security council, and
constitutional amendment 19, which was needed to give effect to the
The party also wants a transitional authority, which would lead to another
election, and control of five of the10 ministries.
"Unless these issues are resolved, we can't move forward," said Khupe, who
delivered the Harold Wolpe memorial lecture at the University of
KwaZulu-Natal's Centre for Civil Society at the weekend.
Speaking to The Mercury on the sidelines of the gathering, she said the MDC
had already told SADC that it no longer wanted Mbeki as mediator, but the
issue still had to be taken up with the African Union.
She said negotiators from both parties were expected to meet in Johannesburg
today to resolve outstanding issues.
The fiery Khupe said it was clear that Mugabe was not committed to finding a
solution to the crises in Zimbabwe and lashed out at SADC leaders for not
putting pressure on him.
"The leaders are putting pressure on the wrong person. They are putting
pressure on (MDC leader) Morgan Tsvangirai. South Africa is supposed to put
pressure on Mugabe. They must say right to his face: 'Mugabe, you lost this
election. Tsvangirai won the election. You must make sure that this deal is
At least 1 000 Zimbabweans and South Africans turned out to listen to Khupe
passionately speaking about the problems in her country.
Many of the Zimbabwean's wore T-shirts saying, "Drive out the filth. Drive
out the dictator, Mugabe must go", while posters declared: "Mugabe for war,
Tsvangirai for rebuilding."
However, the most common poster was: "Mugabe for dirty toilet."
Tsvangirai did not make it to Durban because he had a meeting with three
global leaders, who form part of a group known as "The Elders", in
The three - former South African first lady Graca Machel, former US
president Jimmy Carter and ex-United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan -
were to go on a humanitarian fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe on Saturday,
but were not granted visas by Mugabe's government.
Khupe said Zimbabwe should be open to all so that the world could see the
devastation in her country.
She said Zimbabweans were dying owing to lack of sanitation and health-care
services, and were eating poisonous roots and dogs to survive.
According to Khupe, children have not been writing exams and most,
especially at tertiary level, had lost out on an entire year.
She said teachers were now earning a pittance.
"We want 'the breadbasket of Africa' (a name given to Zimbabwe for its
former agricultural output) back again," she said.
However, Khupe praised the South African government for putting on hold at
least R300-million in humanitarian aid, saying that Zimbabwe did not have a
government and that previous aid destined for the people had gone to Mugabe.
She said: "Our policy is that we are going to remove the dictator through
democratic and constitutional means."
Khupe said despite the efforts being made and the MDC being "magnanimous"
and entering into a power-sharing agreement, Mugabe was not committed to the
"Morgan is the prime minister and the leader of the winning party in
Zimbabwe, but he has no passport. This is somebody who is supposed to go
into partnership with Mugabe... he can't entrust him with his own passport
so how can he entrust him with the keys to run the state?
"We want all Zimbabweans in South Africa to cross the Beit Bridge border
post and tell Mugabe to go," she said.
This article was originally published on page 1 of The Mercury on November
I know little of the thought process that drives Zanu PF but someone needs
to tell them for their own sake that they are now taking things too far.
First they loose an election, then, once they had persuaded regional leaders
to let them have another go, they run a campaign and is so distorted by
rigging and manipulation that not even their friends will acknowledge that
the election was ³free and fair².
Then they insist, in the midst of a nation wide shortage of food that there
is no crisis food is available. Now the acting Minister of Health is
saying that there is no health crisis when even his own officials are
admitting 300 deaths and thousands of cases of Cholera. It¹s a rerun of the
play where the King has no clothes but is persuaded by his minions to
believe that he is superbly dressed and he parades naked down the street
mocked even by the children.
This week the leader of the Zanu PF negotiating team in the SADC talks,
wrote to the South African ³President² Thabo Mbeki enclosing 4 copies of a
draft amendment to the national constitution that he claims was ³drafted by
the ³Government of Zimbabwe² and would he please circulate this to the three
parties in Zimbabwe for their consideration. Bizarre!
When we finally got hold of a copy of the draft we find that it still
reflects the changes that Zanu PF unilaterally inserted to the Global
Political Agreement that was finalised on the 11th September and then
foisted onto the MDC at the signing ceremony on the 15th September. It also
differs in a number of respects from that agreement and is clearly designed,
once again, to protect Zanu PF hold on power and the position of the
President in the new dispensation.
In other words; no change in the stance from the one that has effectively
held up the implementation of the deal for over two months. Now on Saturday
morning they deny entry visas for a group that includes the former Secretary
General of the United Nations, a former President of the United States and
the wife of Nelson Mandela that wanted to visit Zimbabwe to assess the
In the meantime the food crisis deepens; the water shortages in urban areas
takes a turn for the worse and untreated water is circulated in major urban
areas where Cholera is taking on epidemic proportions. Inflation continues
to spiral out of control and is destroying what is left of savings and
capital stock and leading to the closure of remaining companies.
They are still printing m money, still looting what is left in the coffers,
still in denial and still organising disappearances and killings and
beatings and torture. Someone not connected to the political situation said
to me ³ does Zanu PF not understand that every time they do these things,
they get weaker and less able to protect what is left of their safety and
heritage?² I must say that is very perceptive.
I expect the talks to resume on Wednesday this week, they seem to go on
forever and we must be getting close point where we must say ³enough is
enough². If Zanu PF does not agree pretty quickly to the amendments required
to give effect to the GPA and still insists on an inequitable distribution
of ministerial portfolios, let alone the allocation of governor posts and
diplomats then we must ask what next? Do we go back to the electoral system
and hold fresh elections?
That is what many people are saying including some regional leaders. If we
could get reasonable conditions for such a poll and strictly neutral
management and supervision of the poll, that it would resolve the crisis
once and for all. MDC would win by a wide margin and we could then get on
with the task of putting Zimbabwe back on its feet without the complicating
presence of the remnants of Zanu PF.
We could also deal with the perpetrators of the recent violence and
historical injustices without any fetters. Does Zanu PF really want that for
themselves? If they do not then its time they got on with the task of
setting up a government in terms of the deal they have already signed and
show no signs of respecting. MDC just wants to see the suffering of the
people brought to an end and the real problems of the country addressed. But
we are not going to go down the road that Zanu PF forced on Zapu in 1987.
In the mean time it has started raining we have had widespread rains and
the veld is greening up and trees starting the come into leaf and flower.
This is a wonderful time of the year in Zimbabwe after 7 months of dry
weather and recent heat. The only trouble is that land preparation and
planting has never been as restricted as it has this year. Farmers have no
inputs, no fuel and little incentive to do anything. If they do produce they
are paid nothing, forced to sell to state agencies and maybe even have their
crops confiscated. Farm invasions continue even as remaining farmers try
desperately to plant new crops.
The R300 million grant made available by South Africa for input supplies has
been frozen until a new government is formed and in any case was going to be
wasted on the Zanu PF heavies who purport to be farmers on their stolen
properties. This means that we will need food assistance for the net year on
a scale similar to this year about 1,4 million tonnes of cereals. Hunger
stalks the land and we are now hearing reports of death from hunger plus of
course deaths from Cholera, Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Although they were not allowed into Zimbabwe, the three ³Elders² would have
received a good briefing in South Africa on the crisis and will go away with
a clear understanding of the magnitude of the problem. I only hope that
their visit, although not intended to do so, will result is real pressure on
the Parties to wrap up the talks on the formation of a new government so
that we can start putting things back together again. I have been through
the draft of Amendment number 19 and found that if it is finally admitted
into law and accurately reflects the GPA, it could give us a workable
government. Perhaps that¹s the best we could ask for right now.
Bulawayo, 24th November 2008
So the jokes are set to resume again at a date to be announced this week in
South Africa. The talks, now called jokes in street lingo, come at time
when the country is in a deeper mess and deepening by the day. An estimated
number of more than 200 people have lost their lives due to a deadly cholera
epidemic that is set to worsen as the rains continue to fall mercilessly on a
country in distress. It should be highlighted that most of Harare’s high density suburbs don’t
have clean running water and are plagued with burst sewer pipes. I have had the
opportunity of driving through these populated urban settlements from Mabvuku,
Tafara , Warren Park, Budiriro, Sunningdale, Mufakose, Chitungwiza, Seke and
Mbare to mention a few and the likelihood of cholera spreading to these areas
and killing more people is indeed very real as service delivery is very much non
existent. A visit to Mbare’s neglected Matapi Hostels will surely indicate the dire
situation Harare residents are currently exposed to. Raw sewerage flows freely
in the area, and less than a km away is the biggest market in Harare that
supplies fresh produce to all of Harare’s high density areas. The intermittent
water crisis has reached areas like Avenues and Avondale where it was previously
non existent. The situation is heartbreaking as the relevant authorities don’t
care in any sort of way the welfare of Harare’s vulnerable residents and my plea
is to any organizations out there to please help curb the spread of the cholera
outbreak before more lives are lost. Basing on the situation on the ground the
outbreak is guaranteed to spread and cause deaths of unimagined proportions if
concrete action is not taken at this juncture. Almost
all of the government run municipal clinics located in Harare’s high density
suburbs have shutdown due to shortage of medicine and medical personnel as the
medical system completely crumbles. Desperate women with babies in the arms and
on their backs thronged a particular church organization close to the city
centre in search of medical aid for their young children sick with cholera
(depeicted in the images). The situation is bad as the disease is now virtually spreading to the
majority of the city’s high density suburbs I mentioned boveg. In some areas
that still have erratic water supplies, the water is already contaminated and I
have just learnt that maggots came out of a tap at a certain business premises
in located in the city’s centre after a water cut and a resumption of supplies.
A disaster of an enormous magnitude is on our hands and the health delivery
system which collapsed prior to this outbreak has been overwhelmed in a short
space of time. Devastating consequences are guaranteed in the following week if
extra ordinary action is not taken. God help us. The administration does not care of the welfare of the people and is set to
continue playing down the threats this disease is posing to the majority of
Harare’s urban populace. A disaster should have been declared already and the
civil protection unit deployed ages ago to try and contain the epidemic but the
authorities continue downplaying the undeniable threat residents are facing. Why they are willing to sacrifice the lives of so many innocent souls to tie
political ends boggles the mind? A line should have been long drawn a long time
back and political games should have had their own defined limits. But lies are
being fed to the local, regional and international communities downplaying the
catastrophe befalling the nation. The Zanu PF-led administration lost touch with reality a long time back and
has long considered urbanites supporters of the MDC thereby effectively labeling
enemies of the state. The past 28 years of Mugabe’s rule are filled with tones
of evidence that shows what Zanu PF does to people considered enemies of the
state. 28 years is a long time back, scores of innocent souls were murdered by
government agents and Zanu PF supporters countrywide post March 29 and ahead of
the June runoff and what was the administration saying at that time? Denials, denials and more denials on the occurrence of political violence
targeting MDC supporters while some of us witnessed with our own eyes the
results of the vicious onslaught, burying our murdered parents and colleagues
along the way. Those non governmental organizations with the capacity to help
should do so and not wait for the Zanu administration to request for help from
them, for it will not.
So the jokes are set to resume again at a date to be announced this week in South Africa. The talks, now called jokes in street lingo, come at time when the country is in a deeper mess and deepening by the day. An estimated number of more than 200 people have lost their lives due to a deadly cholera epidemic that is set to worsen as the rains continue to fall mercilessly on a country in distress.
It should be highlighted that most of Harare’s high density suburbs don’t have clean running water and are plagued with burst sewer pipes. I have had the opportunity of driving through these populated urban settlements from Mabvuku, Tafara , Warren Park, Budiriro, Sunningdale, Mufakose, Chitungwiza, Seke and Mbare to mention a few and the likelihood of cholera spreading to these areas and killing more people is indeed very real as service delivery is very much non existent.
A visit to Mbare’s neglected Matapi Hostels will surely indicate the dire situation Harare residents are currently exposed to. Raw sewerage flows freely in the area, and less than a km away is the biggest market in Harare that supplies fresh produce to all of Harare’s high density areas. The intermittent water crisis has reached areas like Avenues and Avondale where it was previously non existent. The situation is heartbreaking as the relevant authorities don’t care in any sort of way the welfare of Harare’s vulnerable residents and my plea is to any organizations out there to please help curb the spread of the cholera outbreak before more lives are lost. Basing on the situation on the ground the outbreak is guaranteed to spread and cause deaths of unimagined proportions if concrete action is not taken at this juncture.
Almost all of the government run municipal clinics located in Harare’s high density suburbs have shutdown due to shortage of medicine and medical personnel as the medical system completely crumbles. Desperate women with babies in the arms and on their backs thronged a particular church organization close to the city centre in search of medical aid for their young children sick with cholera (depeicted in the images).
The situation is bad as the disease is now virtually spreading to the majority of the city’s high density suburbs I mentioned boveg. In some areas that still have erratic water supplies, the water is already contaminated and I have just learnt that maggots came out of a tap at a certain business premises in located in the city’s centre after a water cut and a resumption of supplies. A disaster of an enormous magnitude is on our hands and the health delivery system which collapsed prior to this outbreak has been overwhelmed in a short space of time. Devastating consequences are guaranteed in the following week if extra ordinary action is not taken. God help us.
The administration does not care of the welfare of the people and is set to continue playing down the threats this disease is posing to the majority of Harare’s urban populace. A disaster should have been declared already and the civil protection unit deployed ages ago to try and contain the epidemic but the authorities continue downplaying the undeniable threat residents are facing.
Why they are willing to sacrifice the lives of so many innocent souls to tie political ends boggles the mind? A line should have been long drawn a long time back and political games should have had their own defined limits. But lies are being fed to the local, regional and international communities downplaying the catastrophe befalling the nation.
The Zanu PF-led administration lost touch with reality a long time back and has long considered urbanites supporters of the MDC thereby effectively labeling enemies of the state. The past 28 years of Mugabe’s rule are filled with tones of evidence that shows what Zanu PF does to people considered enemies of the state. 28 years is a long time back, scores of innocent souls were murdered by government agents and Zanu PF supporters countrywide post March 29 and ahead of the June runoff and what was the administration saying at that time?
Denials, denials and more denials on the occurrence of political violence targeting MDC supporters while some of us witnessed with our own eyes the results of the vicious onslaught, burying our murdered parents and colleagues along the way. Those non governmental organizations with the capacity to help should do so and not wait for the Zanu administration to request for help from them, for it will not.
A death warrant has been issued with immediate effect to all Zimbabweans
following the closure of major government hospitals and clinics countrywide.
The Parirenyatwa and Harare Hospitals are just a few of many hospitals that
have been closed for public treatment and consultations. The hospitals have
been closed because of the unavailability of drugs, health personnel, water
and electricity. Hospitals are now just dilapidated buildings whose state is
symbolic of the crisis bedeviling the health sector. The hospitals are death
waiting rooms where only those on the verge of dying are admitted hence the
hospital authorities claim that only emergency cases are attended to.
Recently, my friend lost a brother in law, a cholera case, who could not be
attended to as he was deemed "not to be an emergency case." As long as one
goes to the hospital with a semblance of life, that person is deemed fit and
therefore does not qualify to be an emergency case. One can only get
admitted when through the naked eye he or she is clearly on their death bed
and all they do at the hospital is to speed up your death as they have
totally nothing to resuscitate life - from equipment to staff.
What the hospital authorities and the government of Zimbabwe need to know is
that Zimbabweans are all emergency cases. No one can really be sane and
healthy living in such miserable and unsafe conditions. The environment just
makes one sick. People have no access to water, electricity, food, education
and even their own cash in the banks. People now sleep in bank queues all
for 500 000 dollars which is enough to buy a bunch of green vegetables. One
wonders how Zimbabweans really survive and how such people can be normal and
healthy when they are subjected to such injustices and disregard by the
government that claims to be for them.
This entry was posted on November 24th, 2008 at 11:38 am by Fungisai Sithole
culprit - the anthrax bacillus
Matabeleland North provincial medical director, Dr Gibson Mhlanga, confirmed the deaths of two people from anthrax, but a report in the official The Chronicle newspaper said six had died and over 200 cattle had been wiped out in the province's Dongamuzi area near Lupane, 120km north of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city.
The government dispatched its disaster management Civil Protection Unit (CPU) to Lupane last week to work with the Veterinary Services Department to vaccinate affected cattle in a bid to contain the disease.
Anthrax will further strain Zimbabwe's crumbling health delivery system, which has failed to contain a cholera outbreak that has spread to all 10 of its provinces. The waterborne disease has officially killed 294 people out of a total of 6,072 cases.
Medical officials in Lupane said the people who had succumbed to anthrax over the past week had eaten meat from infected cattle; several other villagers in the district have been hospitalised.
Villagers in the Lupane area who spoke to IRIN said they had lost a considerable number of livestock to the rapid onset infection, which is hard to detect in its early stages.
"My entire kraal was almost wiped out and the few cattle that I have remaining have been vaccinated [but] I am not sure whether the seven remaining cattle I have left will not die also," said Matthew Ncube, 57, who had already lost 35 of his animals.
Ephraim Moyo pointed out that the risk of human infection was rising with the approach of the festive season. "People eat a lot of meat, and the problem is that people in the village do not throw away cattle that die ... they eat the meat."
On its way
Anthrax infection usually results from coming into contact with the spores of the bacterium, infecting the skin, or inhaling them, or by eating infected meat; it does not spread from person to person.
The outbreak is causing serious concern in Bulawayo, where most people buy their meat from unlicensed butcheries that source the animals from rural areas like Lupane.
"Ever since the outbreak of anthrax I have not been buying meat from the vendors I normally buy from, as the meat that they bring from rural areas is not inspected," said Bulawayo resident Ndabezinhle Sibanda.
Symptoms of intestinal anthrax include severe abdominal pain, vomiting, severe diarrhoea, and bleeding from the digestive tract. Pulmonary anthrax, the most dangerous form of the disease, can rapidly turn into severe pneumonia. If anthrax is caught early, it is almost always successfully treated with antibiotics.
Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)
18 November 2008
Posted to the web 24 November 2008
THE country's oldest institution of higher education, the University of
Zimbabwe (UZ), opened for the 2008/2009 academic year even though it is
unable to admit students into the halls of residence because of the water
UZ's plight, however, is no different from the cholera outbreak in the
townships of Harare that daily continues to claim lives. The case in which
the UZ finds itself deserves the same response witnessed in the case of
cholera in parts of Harare.
Last week the Reserve Bank responded to the cholera crisis that has claimed
more than 100 lives by releasing additional financial resources, vehicles
and fuel to enable an adequate government response to bring the outbreak of
cholera under control and normalise water supplies.
By the middle of last week additional boreholes were being drilled in all
suburbs of Harare and Chitungwiza in order to boost supplies of clean water
to households, while more money was made available for the purchase of water
The UZ has a student population of more than 10 000 and the decision not to
open the halls of residence followed an assessment by the City of Harare
Department of Health that ruled there could be an outbreak of diseases if
students were allowed back without renovations and repairs to the
institution's dilapidated ablution facilities.
The government has been slow in attending to the renovations at the UZ.
There is no need for another outbreak of disease at the institution for the
government to spring into action and start shedding crocodile tears over the
threat to and loss of lives.
If water is one of the causes that led to the closure of the halls of
residence, why is there no similar determination to deploy drilling rigs to
Mount Pleasant so that the institution is not left at the mercy of the
hopelessly incompetent Zimbabwe National Water Authority?
And if the government protests that it has no resources, why doesn't Zanu PF
hold its annual congress at the UZ, because there is never a shortage of
resources to fund requirements of the ruling party. Hosting the Zanu PF
December congress at the UZ would achieve two things in one go: The ruling
party would have its annual feast-cum-talk show, while the university has
renovations undertaken at no cost to the institution.
If the political leadership in this country is committed to quality
education and to re-instating the UZ to its immediate-post independence
glory, they will whole heartedly welcome this suggestion. Mashonaland
Central can have its turn to host Zanu PF's congress next year after the
pressing problems at UZ have been attended to.
Zanu PF cannot gather in Bindura and profess commitment to education in this
country when they are neglecting the crisis at the UZ, a national
institution that admits students from all corners of the country. The plight
of those students, who have to contend with the rigours of academic
assignments and off-campus accommodation that even people in full-time
employment find challenging, deserves Zanu PF's urgent attention.
There are greater benefits that can accrue to a well-resourced UZ. In the
early 1980s the institution used to attract students from the region and
abroad. The country was generating additional foreign currency earnings, but
more importantly was the enriching exchanges of students and staff and
shared research programmes.
The plight of the UZ is just as compelling as that of the cholera- stricken
areas of the country. Something must be done.
By Tichaona Sibanda
24 November 2008
The country's service chiefs have personally taken charge of security
operations at Chiadzwa diamonds fields in Marange, where at least 50 people
have been killed by the security forces in the last few months. Authorities
are calling it Operation Hakudzokwi, or Operation No Return.
The battle to control the diamonds fields is fast degenerating into a
brutal, full scale 'military operation' to flush out illegal diamond miners.
Most of the miners are contracted by political heavyweights from ZANU PF who
pay them paltry sums, but make huge profits by selling the diamonds outside
Marange resembles a war zone, with soldiers from Mutare's 3 brigade
patrolling the area, aided by a helicopter gunship from the Airforce of
Zimbabwe. Teams of uniformed policemen are manning all roads leading out of
the diamonds fields, while state security agents are roaming the area posing
as diamond dealers. Soldiers have cordoned off the diamond fields, which are
10,000 square meters in size, and banned all illegal miners from the area.
But the illegal miners, who have thronged the area after government took
over the fields in 2006, have been slipping through the defence lines, at
times successfully, but lately with dire consequences. The soldiers are also
reportedly abducting suspected diamond buyers and panners in Mutare and
areas around Chiadzwa, and torturing them. After the torture sessions, the
panners are takenback to the diamond fields where they are forced to fill up
gullies and pits with their bare hands.
A policeman based in Mutare, who asked not to be identified, told us 'almost
every political heavyweight' in ZANU PF was involved in the scramble for
diamonds. He said internal policing has been taken over by the army in
'We know of syndicates that are controlled by powerful ZANU PF heavyweights
that are fighting for control of the diamond fields. Now the Joint
Operations Command has also moved in to protect their syndicates,' said our
Police and soldiers have launched a massive push to clear the diamond fields
of illegal miners, after thousands of Zimbabweans fought for survival in an
uncontrolled two-year-long diamond rush.
Air Marshall Perence Shiri and police commissioner Augustine Chihuri have
been seen recently in the area, supervising the clampdown. Our source said;
'Every now and then the service chiefs are in the area and there is talk
among police officers here that they may actually be coming to pick up the
diamonds, given the fact that no one dares to search them or their cars.
A security cordon has also been ringed around Manicaland province, with
roadblocks along every major road that passes through Mutare.
In January last year, the World Diamond Council accused River Ranch Diamond
Mines - a Zimbabwean firm owned by retired General Solomon Mujuru and his
business partner Tirivanhu Mudariki, a former ZANU PF MP official and
others - of smuggling diamonds mined in the country and "blood diamonds"
from the Congo, into South Africa.
It's reported the smuggled diamonds are certified as clean under the
Kimberly Process, before being sold to unsuspecting international buyers. A
charge River Ranch vehemently denied.
Almost all diamonds from Marange are currently being traded illicitly. Very
few diamonds from the area are being sold through normal state channels.
Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono has said that the country was losing
almost US$200 million a month through illegal diamond dealings.
The Chiadzwa fields used to be managed by South African diamond giant, De
Beers. After Zimbabwe's independence in 1980De Beers sold it's franchise to
African Consolidated Resources. But the government confiscated the fields
from ACR in 2006 and handed them to the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has deployed agents of the country's
Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) to Botswana to investigate
allegations that Botswana is training youths of the Zimbabwean opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to destabilise Zimbabwe, the local
Monday 24 November 2008
Botswana and Zimbabwe have traded accusations over the alleged training of
the militant youths, forcing the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) to intervene.
Botswana's President Ian Khama is a relentless critic of his Zimbabwean
counterpart, and has been calling for fresh presidential elections in
Zimbabwe while vowing not to recognize Mugabe as the president of Zimbabwe.
The Botswana media, quoting intelligence sources, said Zimbabwe deployed its
first batch of intelligence operatives into Botswana on 17 November 2008,
and that the intelligence operatives will remain in Botswana for three
months, compile information and report back for Mugabe's "consideration and
"About 50 senior officers were deployed into Botswana on Monday (17 Nov) for
a three-month period," a senior CIO source based at Magnet House in
Bulawayo, was reported to have said.
The Magnet House is said to be the provincial headquarters of the CIO.
"They are expected to provide weekly reports to headquarters, before
compiling a joint final report that will be handed over to the President
upon completion of their mission," the source said.
Teams of spies
The intelligence officers, who are said to be operating in 10 separate teams
that will cover different locations in Botswana, were reportedly drawn from
various provinces in Zimbabwe, with Harare and Bulawayo providing the bulk.
The operation is said to have been a recommendation of the Joint Operation
Command (JOC) after a meeting in Harare.
The Zimbabwean government is said to believe that when MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai stayed in Botswana briefly before the presidential elections in
June, he had negotiated a "Plan B" with the country's leader, in case the
MDC lost the elections.
The alleged 'Plan B' is said to be the training of the MDC youth for
military action against Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwean government also believes that some retired army and police
officers might be involved in conducting the training of MDC youth in
Meanwhile, a Zimbabwean living in Botswana has confirmed the reports of CIO
operatives being deployed to Botswana.
"I met a man I know originally in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. He is a CIO guy and
I personally know him and he knows me too. This is getting out of hand, any
Zimbabwean living in Botswana can be implicated as MDC military trainee,''
the man told PANA on the condition of anonymity
''When I met the man, I pretended not to see him and I don't know if he saw
me," the man said.
However, there has been no comment from the Botswana or Zimbabwe government
on the matter.
on the parade ground
"When I joined the fire service I was happy, because my dream of fighting fires and saving people's lives had finally come true. I always dreamt of myself driving though red robots [traffic lights], racing in a fire engine with sirens wailing.
"My dream was always to be a hero to people after saving their property from fires, but I spend whole days sitting and doing nothing, as there is [a lack of] fuel to enable us to attend to fires ... [with] frequent water shortages affecting residential suburbs and the entire city.
"The fuel situation is desperate, as we get supplies from NOCZIM [the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe] once in a fortnight; sometimes we do not get the fuel during the two-week period, and during that time the whole emergency services is at a standstill.
"It's disheartening to tell someone at the end of the line that you will not attend to his or her burning house because you do not have fuel to get there ... Out of about 30 operational fire engines in the city, only one is in use at a time due to the shortage of fuel.
"The situation is demoralising, because in some instances we are forced to attend to more than one emergency with one fire engine. I remember in one instance, after attending to a road accident, we were called to attend to a fire in one of the high-density suburbs.
"We had one small fire engine, which was inadequate to deal with the fire, and the engine ran out of water and residents were very angry and they ended up pelting us with stones.
"At times, when you report for duty you discover that your colleagues did not report for duty, and you know at once that they have resigned. A lot of colleagues have resigned since the beginning of the year.
"Every week there is a new group of recruits being trained, but they also do not stay; they leave after a few months on the job - some don't even wait to graduate, they just leave.
* The fireman spoke on condition IRIN did not use his real name
Zimbabwe is currently facing its most serious cholera epidemic ever. The disease has spread across the country and claimed the lives of hundreds. Medecins sans Frontiers have warned that the situation is exceptionally serious and on 24th November claimed that 1.4 million people are potentially at risk. Even the state-owned Chronicle has reported a death toll of 44 at Beitbridge and reports have recently been received of people dying in Bulawayo of cholera. If this is not treated as a national disaster and if clean drinking water, proper medication and adequate sewerage systems are not restored throughout Zimbabwe, our entire population is potentially at risk.
Since we are all at risk, let us all as Zimbabweans respond rapidly to this crisis.
Firstly, we need to know what cholera is:
Cholera is a highly infectious bacterial disease. It is spread through drinking contaminated water and touching faeces (human waste) with hands, which is then passed to the mouth. The symptoms for cholera are watery diarrhoea, sometimes vomiting, muscle cramps and body weakness.
Secondly, we need to know how to prevent it:
· Water can also be treated with household bleach eg jik. Make up a 1 litre solution of 250ml bleach to 750ml water (this solution is NOT to be drunk). Add three drops of this solution to every 1 litre of water, which can then be used for drinking
· We need to eat food while it is hot and thoroughly cooked. We must know that our food has been hygienically prepared.
Simple rule: Boil it, Cook it, Peel it or Forget it!
Third, we need to know how to treat cholera:
Simple rule: It is VERY IMPORTANT that if you suspect someone to be suffering from cholera, you must take them to the nearest clinic/ hospital/ doctor/ nurse to receive treatment. A person can die from cholera within hours if untreated.
PLEASE PASS THIS INFORMATION ON TO EVERYONE THAT YOU KNOW.
We are standing on the brink of an enormous catastrophe. This is the reality of the cholera outbreak in our country.
The more terrifying reality is the vulnerability of our population to this terrible disease. The majority of our people are malnourished, many are HIV positive and there are thousands of children and elderly headed families are already struggling to survive. Not only are these people likely to be infected with cholera, they are very likely to die from it.
We note that those now in control of the Ministry of Health have called for help from the WHO, UNICEF and the UNDP. However, this is too little, too late. We place the responsibility for this crisis firmly at the feet of the Mugabe regime. Many deaths could have already been prevented had the regime fulfilled its obligations and provided us with:
We, as the MDC (M), are deeply concerned by this disastrous cholera outbreak. We are committed to doing everything within our power to relieve the terrible suffering of our people.
Therefore, we urgently call upon our leaders, Arthur Mutambara, Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe to keep their promise made on 15th September. We believe that the best hope for our country lies and in a functioning government and particularly a health minister who genuinely is concerned for the needs and well being of each and every Zimbabwean. We need a new Health Minister who is genuinely concerned about the plight of suffering Zimbabweans and who will urgently mobilise help from the international community to ensure that we have sufficient medicines and health personnel to deal with this catastrophe. We also need a new Minister of Local Government and Minister of Public Works who will urgently work with MDC controlled local councils to unblock and repair our sewers.
All of this will only happen when everyone puts the interests of the nation before their personal interests. We must understand that this is a national disaster which will only be fixed when we all start pulling together. It is shameful that our beloved nation should have been brought down to such a perilous state and it is now time to restore the dignity of our nation and all its people.
Secretary for Health
24th November 2008
November 24 2008 at 10:48AM
Johannesburg, South Africa - Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and Graca Machel
visited a church housing Zimbabwean refugees on Sunday as they continued
efforts to ease Zimbabwe's humanitarian crisis even though they were barred
from entering the country.
The former UN secretary-general, the former US president and human
rights advocate Machel, who is married to Nelson Mandela, said on Saturday
they were denied visas for a mission to assess the needs of Zimbabweans,
many of whom are suffering from hunger and disease.
The three are members of The Elders, a group Mandela formed to foster
They have insisted their visit was not related to regional attempts to
get President Robert Mugabe and his rival, opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, to implement a stalled power-sharing agreement.
On Sunday, the three talked to men, women and children who have fled
Zimbabwe and sought refugee at the Central Methodist church in downtown
Carter spoke to 14-year-old Kennedy Manyani, an orphan who crossed the
crocodile-infested Limpopo River into South Africa by himself three months
"I came because my grandmother could not afford to buy me clothes,
food," he told Carter.
More than 1 600 people are squeezed into the church with many more
sleeping on the pavement outside. An estimated three million Zimbabweans
live in South Africa and millions of others have fled to neighbouring
countries in search of jobs and security.
While Zimbabwe's political crisis occupies politicians, the
humanitarian crisis is deepening. The health system has collapsed and a
cholera outbreak has killed nearly 300 people in Zimbabwe, the United
Annan said at the church it was extremely important for southern
African countries to realise that regional efforts were needed to control
the cholera epidemic.
The three were met with cheers as they made their way through the
"Their visit boosts morale. It shows us that we are not alone," said
Herbert Nedi, 24, who helps at the school and adult education centre the
church has started.
Zimbabweans, who were the targets of anti-foreigner violence in South
Africa in 2008, daily face the risk of arrest, beatings, harassment and
The church was raided by police in 2008 and a number of refugees -
most of whom are undocumented migrants - were deported.
"We are very vulnerable here," said Bishop Paul Verryn.
On Sunday, Carter, Annan and Machel met with Botswana President
Seretse Ian Khama and representatives of aid agencies and Zimbabwean social
They met with Zimbabwe's main opposition leader on Saturday and are
scheduled to meet South African President Kgalema Motlanthe on Monday.
Khama has been one of the few African leaders to openly criticise
"Our biggest concern is that the focus is moving away from the plight
of the Zimbabwean people, who are currently suffering through starvation and
diseases," he said after an earlier meeting with Motlanthe in the South
African capital, Pretoria.
Annan said on Saturday that Zimbabwe gave no official reason for
refusing them visas for the mission.
But the Sunday Mail, a mouthpiece for the Zimbabwean government,
quoted Foreign Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi as saying Annan had failed to
consult with the government beforehand on the "timing and program" of the
The minister accused Annan of "misrepresenting the facts" about the
aborted trip, and criticised the group for launching the mission, according
to the newspaper.
"We take strong exception to any suggestions that there are those out
there who care more about the welfare of our people than we do," he was
quoted as saying.
Mumbengegwi also said the group would have had difficulty conducting a
meaningful assessment, because the government had already completed its own
"humanitarian audit" in conjunction UN agencies based in the country, the
No details of that audit have been made available, and in the
newspaper report, Mumbengegwi did not name any of the UN agencies involved.
The Elders - including 12 former world leaders and prominent rights
activists - have mediated in a number of other international crises, such as
Sudan and Kenya. - Sapa-AP
By Alex Bell
24 November 2008
Zimbabwe's deadly cholera outbreak has sparked fears of the disease taking
hold in South Africa, as scores of Zimbabwean victims are reportedly
crossing the border for treatment unavailable in their country.
This is according to South African health officials, who this weekend met
with their Zimbabwean counterparts to discuss the outbreak now affecting
both countries. Phuti Seloba, spokesman for the health department in the
border town Musina, said the weekend meeting in Zimbabwe's Beitbridge was
'fruitful', saying the disease is "our common problem and we need to solve
it jointly." Seloba however declined to reveal to journalists how South
Africa plans assisting Zimbabwe over the water-borne disease.
Four people, including a South African truck driver who was hospitalised in
the southeastern coastal city of Durban, have died in South Africa in the
past week. The other three victims, who died in Musina, were Zimbabweans who
fled the outbreak in a desperate bid to receive treatment in South Africa.
The situation paints a clear picture of desperation, with Zimbabweans
choosing to make the often dangerous border crossing to seek help for a
disease that experts say is relatively easy to treat. Officials in South
Africa say more than 160 people have been treated for the disease in Musina,
and all but three of the patients are Zimbabweans.
Meanwhile as concerns in South Africa grow that the disease will continue to
spread in that country, the death toll in Zimbabwe continues to rise. The
United Nations has said at least 294 people are confirmed to have died in
hospital from the outbreak. But according to an anonymous senior member of
an international aid group, the numbers may be far higher. "The 300 deaths
all occurred in hospitals," the official said in a recent press report. "The
number of deaths in the community must be up to 400 per cent higher."
Another 6000 people are believed to have been diagnosed with the disease,
which has spread to almost all provinces - appearing in new towns almost
every day. The charity Doctors Without Borders estimated last week that 1.4
million people, just in and around the capital Harare, are at risk of the
disease and there have been unanswered calls for the government to declare
the outbreak a crisis. The government, still firmly in the clutches of ZANU
PF, has instead made a determined effort to keep the nature of the crisis
behind closed doors - going as far as barring the influential group of
global leaders, The Elders, from visiting the country to assess the
humanitarian crisis. Journalists are reportedly also being barred by ZANU PF
youth from going into clinics in Budiriro, where it's believed at least 10
people are dying from cholera each day.
SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel Saungweme explained on Monday that the
government is now also "taking advantage of the situation" by using the
cholera outbreak as an excuse to clamp down on everyday life. He explained
that streets vendors have become the targets of police who confiscate their
wares "supposedly in an effort to fight cholera."
"This is clearly part of a broader propaganda campaign to keep people in
line with ZANU PF," Saungweme said. "The government hasn't done anything to
even try to alleviate the dangers of the outbreak."
The government has turned the epidemic to an even greater advantage, by
banning two rallies planned in Harare over the weekend by the MDC. The
official explanation was "because of the cholera situation".
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
There has been a lot of debate in the media, of late, relating to what
exactly the term '' power-sharing government '' means and entails. The main
thrust of this article is to seek to clarify the obvious and in some cases,
deliberate, distortions and untruths peddled by the State media on the
subject of power-sharing. A power-sharing government is a government in
which two or more political parties join hands in forming and running it.
The ratio of power-sharing is entirely determined by the preceding agreement
between the contracting political parties who agree to enter into a
power-sharing government. What is patently clear is that there is no precise
formula for a power-sharing government. There is definately no
one-size-fits-all approach to the formulation of a power-sharing government.
Each power-sharing government is unique and indeed, peculiar, to its own
specific and special circumstances. Put differently, the model of a
power-sharing government adopted in country A is not necessarily suitable
for country B.
The power-sharing agreement signed by Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai, Mr.Robert
Mugabe and Mr. Arthur Mutambara on September 11, 2008 and solemnized amidst
much regional funfare on Monday September 15, 2008 underpins the need for
the country's two major political parties, namely the MDC led by Morgan
Tsvangirai and ZANU(PF) led by Robert Mugabe to share power equitably and
fairly. There is nowhere in the memorandum of agreement where any one
political party is described as the dominant political party and thus, the
party that will literally invite other political parties to join it in
forming a so-called all-inclusive government. My understanding of the 9/11
agreement is that it forms the global framework in terms of which an
all-inclusive government is to be formed. It is therefore preposterous and
indeed, fallacious, for ZANU(PF) to perceive itself as the '' dominant''
political party that should unilaterally determine the parameters and
ramifications of an all-inclusive government in Zimbabwe. The 9/11 agreement
conceptualises a government in which the MDC formations and ZANU(PF) share
power equally.More importantly,the 9/11 agreement has the outcome of the
March 29, 2008 harmonised elections as its bedrock. The agreement seeks to
give effect to the wishes of the Zimbabwean voters as expressed in the
results of the March 29, 2008 harmonised elections in which Morgan Richard
Tsvangirai emerged as the winner of the Presidentail electoral contest. It
is beyond debate that Robert Mugabe was beaten hands down by Morgan
Tsvangirai in the March 29,2008 election.A sham election was held on June
27,2008 in which Robert Mugabe competed against himself and won ''
resoundingly''. One doesnot have to be a rocket scientist to appreciate the
overwhelming lack of legitimacy of the charade that took place in Zimbabwe
on June 27, 2008.
Surely, if Robert Mugabe ''won'' the June 27, 2008 election run-off fairly
and legimately with over 85% of the total valid votes cast as announced by
the thoroughly discredited and partial Zimbabwe Electoral Commission(ZEC),
then why didn't he proceed to quickly form a government as the overwhelming
''winner'' of the Presidential election run-off? The mere fact that Robert
Mugabe has not formed a government nearly five months after ''trouncing''
Morgan Tsvangirai during the June 27, 2008 run-off election speaks volumes
about the lack of legitimacy of that particular election ''result'. The
annals of history have recorded the murderous campaign, perpetrated by
ZANU(PF), that preceded the June 27, 2008 Presidential election run-off.
This one-man ''election'' received unprecedented and universal condemnation
from even the SADC observer mission, the Pan-African Parliament observer
mission and the AU observer mission. This is the main reason why Thabo
Mbeki found it very necessary to broker the power-sharing agreement of 9/11.
If Robert Mugabe had ''resoundingly'' won a free and fair Presidential
election run-off on June 27, 2008, then surely he would not have allowed
Thabo Mbeki to '' force'' him to share power with ''losers'' like Morgan
Tsvangirai. In normal electoral dispensations, an overwhelming winner of a
free and fair election can NEVER be compelled to share power with a loser.
It will really be up to the winner to show his magnanimity by inviting the
loser to join him in government. And we all know that it is not within
Robert Mugabe's political DNA to invite opposing electoral losers into his
Morgan Tsvangirai is, therefore, perfectly within his rights when he demands
that there must be genuine and equitable power-sharing between himself and
Robert Mugabe before he can join the so-called all-inclusive government.
Robert Mugabe and ZANU(PF) have absolutely NO right to unilaterally dictate
the terms and conditions of the power-sharing government. By unilaterally
apportioning cabinet portifolios as done by Robert Mugabe some few weeks
ago, the need for Morgan Tsvangirai to be more carefull in his dealings with
Mugabe cannot be over-emphasised.As Tsvangirai has repeatedly said,it is
better to have NO deal than to have a BAD deal. The people of Zimbabwe spoke
on March 29, 2008 and who are we to ignore the wishes of the voters who
chose Tsvangirai to be their President? The 9/11 agreement should not and
indeed, cannot,be taken as a substitute for the people's choice as reflected
in the outcome of the March 29, 2008 harmonised elections.I f
anything,Morgan Tsvangirai should be applauded for exhibiting true
statesmanship by agreeing to have Robert Mugabe, a clear loser of the
legitimate March 29, 2008 Presidentail election, remain as Head of State!
Power-sharing is not and can never be an easy thing to do in politics.
Political parties, rightly so, contest for poltical power to enable them to
form governments. Thus, it is always going to be very difficult and
painfull, for electoral winners to form coalition governments with electoral
losers. Even in Kenya, the situation is not all that rosy. Raila Odinga, the
true and genuine statesman that he is, was forced to share power with Mwai
Kibaki in order to avert a major catastrophe in Kenya. But recently and
especially after the outcome of the Waki Report was made known, things have
really been on a knife-edge in Kenya. Justice Philip Waki's report is
basically an analysis of the causes and effects of the post-election
violence in Kenya between December 2007 and January 2008. And now some
politicians in Raila's political party are crying foul; alleging that the
Waki Report is a witch-hunting exercise meant to tarnish their image by
labelling them ''warlords'' who masterminded the post-election violence.
There is even talk of bringing those politicians implicated by the Waki
Report to trial at the International Criminal Court at the Hague to face
charges of crimes against humanity.
This clearly shows the need for Morgan Tsvangirai to enter a power-sharing
government ONLY after insuring that the rug will not be pulled from under
his feet once he blindly enters into a government that is dictated by the
whims and fantasies of Robert Mugabe and his ZANU(PF) party.All important
issues such as the promulgation of Constitutional Amendment No.19, the
equitable distribution of cabinet portifolios, governerships, senior
diplomats and senior civil servants as well as the composition and
operations of the National Security Council, have to be clearly and
unequivocally canvassed and agreed upon before Morgan Tsvangirai can be
sworn in as Zimbabwe's new Prime Minister.Nothing short of this should be
acceptable. Power-sharing doesnot mean rushing into an
improperly-constituted government simply because the people are
suffering.Fortunately for Morgan, the majority of the people understand the
basis of his reservations and certainly; he remains arguably the most
popular national leader in Zimbabwe at the moment.
Written by Senator Obert Gutu.
Senator Gutu is the Senator for Chisipite. He is a member of the MDC
National Legal Committee as well as the MDC National Information Committee.
As Zimbabwe's crisis deepens, what is more frightening is the usual
indifference and puzzling calmness of the people of Zimbabwe. They are
behaving like sheep waiting to be slaughtered at a time when they should be
itchy, antsy and revolting. Since the election of 2002 we have witnessed a
nation haplessly slipping through every grade of despondency. Today, it is
sitting at the very abyss of gloom while Mugabe's blatant disregard for the
crisis he created continues. As I watched with utmost disgust and
displeasure at the unfolding horror of hunger and cholera-associated deaths
in Zimbabwe, I got very angry especially bearing in mind that this is a
crisis that could (and can) be avoided.
The current situation in Zimbabwe only begs the questions: What is the
solution? Could it be continuously engaging in endless unity talks? Do we
push for another election? (even though the previous elections were won but
rendered inconsequential)? Sh ould we continue to sing 'we shall overcome'
while the country regresses to Dark Ages and continues to burn? Or this is
the time to rise up against a rabid dictator by taking matters into our own
hands as citizens and co-heirs of the country we love?
Malcolm X rightfully stated that “nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can
give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it.”
Although Zimbabwe's civil society was systematically emasculated by ‘men of
the sword’ through torture, intimidation and outright elimination,
oftentimes in the form of cold-blooded murder, it has to be resurrected. The
people of Zimbabwe remained silent for a decade even though Francis Bacon
reminded us that “silence is the virtue of fools”. For time immemorial, we
have heard the common expression that Zimbabweans are the nicest and
peace-loving people on earth. We are certainly seeing where that
peace-loving trait has led us.
Mugabe's dismissal of The Elders group comprising former US President Jimmy
Carter, Graca Machel and Kofi Annan should have caused a lot of outrage to
Zimbabweans. How mean-spirited could he be to deny millions of Zimbabweans
an opportunity to be helped by well-meaning world statesmen? After all it
was the same Annan who successfully orchestrated a plan that redeemed a
once-botched democracy in Kenya. Annan ended acts of barbarism sponsored by
politicians where Kenyans were using machetes to slash each other's throats.
It took a death toll of over 1000 Kenyans to find a solution. How many more
lives of Zimbabweans will the ongoing crisis claim before a solution is
The sole purpose of Elders group was to seek further enlightenment about the
humanitarian condition in Zimbabwe in order to figure out how best to
mobilize resources in aid of Zimbabwe. Being a paranoid regime, Zanu PF's
insensitivity to the suffering of masses culminated in politics taking
precedence over people's lives.
As Mugabe naturally approaches death, one would think that these last days
should see him seeking redemption and forgiveness having lived such a
loathsome life full avarice, vile and violence. It is bewildering to note
that the man is not moved by all the deaths that he has caused. Cholera and
hunger are only a tip of the iceberg falling in the same matrix of gross
negligence and cruelty by Mugabe and his government. I guess it20is no big
deal for a man who has spent his entire career as 'the' captain of murderous
Particularly disturbing was the snubbing of Graca Machel by Mugabe given
mutual history of political collaboration that the two share. In addition,
one would have hoped that by now Mugabe had taken a page from Mandela's
persona and learn how to handle himself with grace and humility, the
hallmark of true statesman.
Any sane person in Zanu PF (if any) should know that Mugabe has become the
country's biggest liability. As Zanu PF prepares to host its annual
conference next month, one would also hope that Zanu PF momentum must be
building to de-throne Mugabe just like the ANC did to Thabo Mbeki in South
Africa. Once upon a time, a rebellious and former Member of Parliament, the
courageous Margaret Dongo once shocked the nation when she stated that Zanu
PF had become a party of “Mugabe's wives”. Sadly the whole nation has nowo
suffered the same fate.
All Zimbabweans at home and in the diaspora must unite and do their part. We
need to join each other with great resolve to restore sanity. A united
people can send those fools and despots in power packing. Zimbabwe needs
leaders with good ideas on how to move the nation forward, rebuilding
crumbling economy, reopening schools and restoring health delivery system.
It is sad that Mugabe and his fellow Social Darwinists have destroyed a once
productive and truly altruistic society based on the time-tested African
tradition of instinctive cooperation and selflessness. Unfortunately,
Zimbabwe has become a jungle where survival of the fittest is the norm, much
to the benefit of the kleptocrats in the corridors of power. As reports of
deaths from cholera and hunger continue to spiral, people's power must force
Mugabe and his men to act or leave (or both). Let us also not forget that
these are the same men whose crimes against humanity are piling up.
It is sad that Zimbabweans have become so afraid that they cannot dare to
engage in a peaceful demonstration, at least. They cannot even stand the
smell of teargas. I know as a past President of Student Representative
Council how colleagues detested even the thought of running battles with the
police in trying to get grievances of students' welfare addressed, but they
still did. However we are dealing with life or death issues right now, in
The police, CIO and the soldiers will die of cholera and hunger too if
nothing is done urgently to address the political problem which start and
end with Mugabe and his cronies. They must not stand in the way as people
press for change. A reversal of the current environment is long overdue.
There is no doubt that a democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe is good for
everyone if a 'government of the people, by the people and for the people'
is given a chance.'
The Movement of Democratic Change (MDC) is preoccupied with breaking the
'talks' deadlock, which is not a bad thing at all as their efforts are
commendable. Critics can say what they want but the route taken by Morgan
Tsvangirai is strategically ideal because it has the support of the
international community. The problems faced by Zimbabwe require just that,
an avalanche of international aid and reconstruction funds from
The biggest challenge is that such an engagement is presenting a huge
leadership vacuum in the civil society. A push for return to normalcy by the
civil society and a proactive diplomatic offensive by the MDC are not
mutually exclusive. The complementarity between these two fronts has never
been this imperative. 'Unity government' talks can take another two months
or even forever yet the people continue to suffer unjustly. In any case I am
one of those few people cautiously bullish about an MDC cracking whip at the
I always want to cite the example of the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine,
which in spite of the heavy snow and freezing temperatures, saw the people
defiantly undertaking political protest that changed their lives forever. It
was over the same grievance, a stolen election by the ruling party. The only
difference is that in Zimbabwe, the losers invite the winners to form a
Supporters of the opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko did not wait for him
to lead them, they simply poured spontaneously into Independence Square in
Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine. It is also important to note that they
acted out of conviction, even before the elections were20announced. It
suddenly became a national resistance movement.
Only one instruction was the guiding principle, that they were 'not going to
leave this square until we secure victory'. Has that been done in Zimbabwe
before? NO. Is that possible? At a time of such a crisis- YES. At this stage
Zimbabwe also needs a different kind of political approach! People must rise
against Mugabe and his men, whose only political convictions are to stay in
power until kingdom come while a people perish.
People of Warren Park must rise at the crack of dawn to meet people of
Mabvuku at Africa Unity Square. People of Highfields must rise up early in
the morning and meet the people of Hatcliff at Africa Unity Square. People
of Dzivarasekwa must rise up early in the morning and meet the people of
Chitungwiza at Africa Unity Sqaure. People of Kambuzuma must rise up early
in the morning and meet the people of Mabelreign, Mbare, Borrowdale,
Mufakose, Glen Norah, Glen View, etc at Africa Unity Square. Suddenly there
will be millions at Africa Unity Square. No amount of police force will
deter a people with such a resolve. Let us also remember that the crisis has
also disproportionately affected them (men in uniform).
Even if Zimbabweans choose to continue treading on the path of
pusillanimity, much to their own detriment, the words of Mahatma Gandhi will
one day come to haunt Mugabe and his men. Gandhi warned that “There have
been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in
the end they always fall. Think of it, always."- Mahatma Gandhi.
In the final analysis, the people of Zimbabwe are required to play their
part as it is their obligation to defend their dignity and never to give up
those basic rights. Dr Martin Luther King reminded us that “The ultimate
tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence
over that by the good people.”