Thursday 27 November 2008
Wednesday November 26, 2008
STATEMENT: The people of Zimbabwe urgently need the help of the whole world
to stop the impending famine and plague.
The people of Zimbabwe need their political parties to commit themselves to
ending the needless suffering they endure every day.
The humanitarian crisis that is now engulfing all Zimbabweans represents the
greatest threat ever to face our country.
While millions face starvation in the coming months, the death toll from
cholera is now sitting at over 50 people per day and will increase
dramatically now that the rainy season has begun in earnest.
In this regard, I would like to take this opportunity to thank former United
Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former United States President Jimmy
Carter, and Dr Graca Machel for their commitment to understanding the
Zimbabwean crisis and for trying to identify solutions to halt the
humanitarian catastrophe that faces the country.
It was no surprise to anyone that Mr Robert Mugabe denied them access to the
country, to see firsthand the appalling conditions that Zimbabweans are
living under as a result of his political and economic mismanagement.
Mr Mugabe would prefer that the suffering that he and ZANU PF have caused,
and continue to cause, remains in the dark.
When we signed the political agreement on September 15, 2008, we believed
that ZANU PF was willing to work with us to address the challenges facing
the country. Sadly, their intransigence to date is making that appear
Therefore, the MDC must instead work with those Zimbabwean organisations,
groups and individuals to address the humanitarian crisis.
In this quest, we look also towards any country, regional or international,
multi-lateral bodies and NGOs to join with the MDC and the people of
Zimbabwe in helping us solve the problems of our country.
Therefore, in the absence of any progress in the talks, the MDC is now
committing itself to addressing the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.
The people of the country have mandated us to end their suffering, to work
towards a New Zimbabwe and a New Beginning.
In the absence of a legitimate government in Zimbabwe, in the absence of a
government of Zimbabwe that puts the will and welfare of the people first,
the MDC must take on this leadership responsibility.
The people of Zimbabwe are determined to endure the suffering so long as
there is no meaningful change in the way that they are governed. That is the
message that they have given to the MDC and it is the message that the MDC
gives to the rest of the world.
This does not mean that we are turning our back on the Global Political
Agreement, nor are we withdrawing from the talks.
Rather, we are saying that until we see real indications that the
negotiations will end the suffering of all Zimbabweans we cannot allow
ourselves to be distracted from working towards the goal of alleviating the
The tragedy that is Zimbabwe is not caused by the current political impasse.
Rather, this political impasse and the current suffering are caused by a
former ruling party refusing to acknowledge both the will of the people and
the hardships they are causing the people.
To suggest the current problems facing our country can be solved by the MDC
becoming a powerless partner in a ZANU PF government, fails to acknowledge
the truth about the causes of the crisis and the fact that such a
development would result in the perpetuation of the peoples' suffering.
The Mugabe team negotiates as though their priority is to cover up the
problem rather than solve it. Establishing a unity government dedicated to
covering up the problem would be easy; establishing a unity government that
can help to solve the problem is very hard.
The most recent sign of the lack of good faith by ZANU PF is the
reappointment of the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono. This
individual, who has been the architect of Zimbabwe's economic collapse and
has blatantly plundered the national treasury to fund ZANU PF and its elite,
has been rewarded with another five-year term.
Surely, if Mr Mugabe was genuine in his desire to address the problems
facing the country he would not breach the global political agreement by
making any senior appointments unilaterally.
Furthermore, the continued abduction of MDC members that we have witnessed
in the past few weeks, including confirmed disappearance of 15 of our
members reflects the ongoing disregard for the spirit of cooperation and
coexistence and demonstrates the lack of good faith on the part of Mugabe.
Sadly, the negotiations have also been hampered by the attitude and position
of the facilitator, Mr Thabo Mbeki. He does not appear to understand how
desperate the problem in Zimbabwe is, and the solutions he proposes are too
He is not serving to bring the parties together because he does not
understand what needs to be done.
In addition, his partisan support of ZANU PF, to the detriment of genuine
dialogue, has made it impossible for the MDC to continue negotiating under
In this regard, we have written to the Chairman of SADC, South African
President Kgalema Motlanthe, detailing the irretrievable state of our
relationship with Mr Mbeki and asking that he recuses himself.
In the meantime, the MDC is continuing in discussions with no prejudice on
the outstanding issues with the other political parties.
I would like to reiterate that the MDC has ready, willing and able
leadership to bring about the change that Zimbabwe needs from an inclusive
We have a viable and bankable economic stabilisation programme and other key
policies, that we want to discuss with ZANU PF so that we can implement them
together to respond urgently to the suffering of our people.
That is the mandate we have from the people.
I thank you
President, Movement for Democratic Change - ZimOnline
by Norest Musvaba Thursday 27 November 2008
JOHANNESBURG - Former South African President Thabo Mbeki has accused
Zimbabwe's opposition of being a spoiler obsessed with criticising President
Robert Mugabe, in an ugly spat that has overshadowed fresh talks to rescue
the country's troubled power-sharing deal.
In a surprisingly bad-tempered letter, Mbeki - who is the regional SADC
grouping's mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis - told the Morgan Tsvangirai-led
opposition MDC party to get on with the business of rebuilding Zimbabwe in a
unity government with the ruling ZANU PF party.
The opposition party did not need to wait for approval from its "external
supporters" to join the unity government Mbeki said, closely echoing claims
by Mugabe that the MDC is a puppet of Britain and the West.
The letter said to have been written by Mbeki in reply to a letter by MDC
secretary general Tendai Biti complaining about the ex-president's
impartiality as mediator confirms the bad blood known to exist between
Tsvangirai and Mbeki.
However, its tone and thrust seems over the top coming from one in Mbeki's
position where as mediator he is expected to be impartial and moderate in
"The MDC-T like the other Zimbabwe parties, must within an inclusive
government, take responsibility for the future of Zimbabwe, rather than see
its mission as being a militant critic of President Mugabe and ZANU PF,"
Mbeki said in the letter, a copy if which was shown to ZimOnline.
He added: "All that is now required is that these leaders must remain true
to their word. They must implement the Agreement they signed.
"In this regard they (MDC-T) have absolutely no need to refer to their
external supporters for approval, whoever they might be, and however
powerful they might seem, including any and all South African formations.
"Realistically, Zimbabwe will never share the same neighbourhood with the
countries of Western Europe and North America which have benefited
especially from the migration of skilled and professional Zimbabweans to the
Mugabe has often labelled the MDC a puppet party of Western governments
opposed to his leadership and says the opposition is being used by the West
to undermine Zimbabwe's sovereignty and sweep him from power. MDC denies the
Biti, who is the opposition party's chief representative to talks, was not
immediately available for comment on the matter while Mbeki's spokesman
Mukoni Ratshitanga could also not be reached.
Negotiators from ZANU PF, MDC and a breakaway faction of the opposition led
by Arthur Mutambara have since Tuesday been meeting with Mbeki to review a
draft constitutional amendment Bill that would allow Mugabe to form a unity
government outlined under a September 15 power-sharing agreement.
The power-sharing agreement has stalled as the Morgan Tsvangirai-led
opposition MDC party and ZANU PF fight over control of key ministries,
distribution of gubernatorial posts, ambassadorships and other top
Referring to Tsvangirai as "Sir and dear brother" Mbeki accused the
opposition leader and his party of contemptuously repudiating serious
decisions made by SADC heads of states and other regional leaders.
Mbeki wrote: "Because leaders in our region did not agree with you on some
matter that served on the agenda of the SADC Extraordinary Summit Meeting,
you have denounced them publicly as cowards.
"It may be that, for whatever reason, you consider our region and continent
as being of little consequence to the future of Zimbabwe, believing that
others further away, in Western Europe and North America, are of greater
SADC leaders at an emergency summit in Johannesburg on 9 November ruled that
Zimbabwe's rival political leaders form a power-sharing government
"forthwith" to end a debilitating political stalemate gripping the country
since Mugabe's controversial re-election last June.
They also ruled that the MDC and ZANU PF co-manage the ministry of home
affairs, in charge of the police and whose control had been an obstacle to
the formation of a unity government.
But Tsvangirai - who wants the MDC to have sole control of home affairs that
oversees the police after ZANU PF retained control of the army - rejected
the ruling and accused SADC of siding with Mugabe.
Mbeki added: "All of us will find it strange and insulting that because we
do not agree with you on a small matter, you choose to describe us in a
manner that is most offensive in terms of African culture, and therefore our
sense of dignity as Africans, across our borders."
Mbeki said because of the delay in forming a new government, southern Africa
and Zimbabwe's neighbouring countries have an unavoidable obligation to
carry much of the weight of the burden of the Zimbabwe crisis.
"You know that among other things, various countries of our region host
large numbers of economic migrants from Zimbabwe, who impose particular
burdens on our countries. None of our countries and governments has spoken
publicly of this burden, fearful that we might incite xenophobia," he
said. - ZimOnline
by Mutumwa Mawere Thursday 27 November 2008
OPINION: On Tuesday, November 25 2008, Zimbabwe's Minister of Finance Samuel
Mumbembegwi, whose status like all his Cabinet colleagues including
President Robert Mugabe has been described by South African President
Kgalema Mothlante as illegitimate, announced the re-appointment of Gideon
Gono as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for another
The legal, economic and political implications of this critical appointment
still have to be digested.
If anyone had any doubt as to who is in charge, notwithstanding the signing
of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and the subsequent intervention of
the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), this
appointment goes a long way towards confirming the widely held view that
people who voted for change on March 29 had no idea that such change would
mean Mugabe and Gono on both sides of a worthless Zimbabwean coin.
Zimbabweans will have to endure another five years of political manipulation
that Gono has proved to be a master at. During his term, he has successfully
been able to divert attention from the core source of the political and
economic crisis by manufacturing enemies of the state. His tenure has
witnessed the centralisation of executive power and the emergence of the RBZ
as the super state.
While negotiators for an inclusive government have been deadlocked on the
allocation of ministries, the real focus ought to have been on the economy
and the toxic threat presented by Gono.
He has demonstrated that one does not have to be a minister of home affairs
to control the police. All the operations that have been credited for
undermining human and property rights largely have their origin in the mind
He is a man preoccupied on blaming others and yet through his own actions
Zimbabwe has had to endure the worst economic policies and programmes
The re-appointment of Gono reflects the misplaced and distorted
understanding of the true nature of the response to the global financial
crisis that has seen the state intervening through financial support in
developed capitalist economies.
Gono and Mugabe can claim credit for being the harbingers of the
nationalisation project and introducing the most efficient money printing
systems but the truth needs to be told in the national interest about the
bankruptcy of the kind of policies that Gono has put in place over the last
To what extent is Gono culpable for causing the economic crisis will remain
an issue for countless conversations to come but what is significant is that
under his watch more zeros have visited the country notwithstanding his
favourite slogan - "failure is not an option".
Gono has effectively transformed the government of Zimbabwe into an agent of
the RBZ and in so doing all the key resource allocation decisions are no
longer being made by Cabinet but by him.
He has, therefore, single handedly exposed the futility of the project to
set up an inclusive government when his approach can hardly be described as
Gono believes in total control and his enemies have been transformed into
enemies of the state. There is no institution left in Zimbabwe that is not
under his payroll and control.
The failure of the contesting political actors to locate the real problem in
Zimbabwe in its economic dimension may have a lot to do with how Gono
It would not be surprising if he has not facilitated an outcome that has
caused the allocation of ministries and not the role of the RBZ as the
stumbling block to the formation of the national unity government.
Given the state of the economy and the control Gono wields, it is unlikely
that members of the opposition are also not beneficiaries of financial and
other logistical support from Gono.
For anyone to hope to have a decent living in Zimbabwe, Gono has proved to
be a useful partner to the extent that his re-appointment may not be as
controversial as who should control the ministry of home affairs.
Gono has framed the Zimbabwe crisis as emanating from a combination of the
targeted sanctions and the actions of criminals and economic saboteurs.
He sees himself as an economic patriot and above all as an angel while
choosing to describe those he needs to divert attention from the bankruptcy
of his policies as demons.
Judging by the way the state media has in the last few weeks been lobbying
for his re-appointment, one can safely conclude that even his principal,
Mugabe, may also be a victim of Gono's manipulation.
If Mugabe was fully informed of Gono's activities, one would not have
expected him to re-appoint him without consulting his partners - MDC-T and
MDC-M and also the state media would not have been used for lobbying
The appointment of Gono prior to the formation of an inclusive government
clearly demonstrates the contempt with which Mugabe holds the former
opposition parties, who now have a combined majority in parliament.
At the very least, Mugabe should have delayed the appointment to allow the
GPA to be implemented.
If Mugabe's legitimacy is conditional on the formation of an inclusive
government, where does this leave Gono's re-appointment that has been made
on a partisan basis?
Clearly Mumbengegwi's illegitimacy is not in doubt and yet he is the bearer
of good news to Gono. Could it be the case that there is consensus among the
contesting parties about the indispensability of Gono?
Gono has already given himself a very favourable rating. What rating would
Zimbabwe give Gono if it had any say in it? Can a functioning economy thrive
where there are no checks and balances?
The Parliament of Zimbabwe has been reduced to a spectator in so far as
budgetary allocations are concerned and oversight of the executive branch of
government that is now in the intensive care unit.
Gono's journey of discovery and economic random walk began with the monetary
measures that soon gave way to a series of measures that can hardly be
described as monetary.
Economic management became just like a sellotape job to patch up leaks. As
the leaks grew, the economic doctor kept on piling more and more sellotape
until the economy became a sellotape economy. One can hardly describe the
economy of Zimbabwe as functional.
Gono knows what his principal wants to hear and he has been good at
packaging the message for him. His loyalty is to Mugabe and it would have
been unthinkable for Mugabe to push for his continued term in the knowledge
that Gono's position was in dispute.
It is remarkable to the extent that the economy is where the biggest injury
is that there appears to be no dispute between the MDC and ZANU PF on what
the country needs to do.
For change to be believable, there must and should be minimum conditions
that ought to have informed the negotiators. It is legitimate to ask why
Gono is missing on the agenda. Clearly for Zimbabwe to move forward someone
must bridge the information gap.
Any rational economic actor would agree that Gono poses the most significant
threat to progress and yet he finds himself with a new lease of life at a
time when the economy is in crisis. Under him, the difference between
Zimbabwe and the RBZ is the same.
If Gono controls the police, then perhaps he should be the ideal candidate
to be the minister of home affairs as it appears that there is no dispute
between the parties about his conduct and usefulness to Zimbabwe.
It was reported in the state-run Herald newspaper that: "At the time of his
appointment, Dr Gono inherited a weakening currency, runaway inflation,
unattractive interest rates and rampant indiscipline within the financial
services sector. He managed, within a few months, to briefly stabilise
inflation during the first half of 2004, returned sanity to the banking
sector and tried to reform the foreign exchange rate to spur export
performance. Dr Gono has also played a key role in building broad national
consensus around formulation and co-operative implementation of monetary,
fiscal and structural policies, including the inception of a comprehensive
framework to turn around and privatise public sector enterprises. During his
first term, the Reserve Bank has been key in funding crucial national
development programmes, among them the four phases of the Farm Mechanisation
Only history will judge if the above is a correct assessment of Gono's
record. - ZimOnline
By Jonga Kandemiiri
26 November 2008
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's reappointment of Reserve Bank Governor
Gideon Gono for another five year term drew sharp fire Wednesday from the
main formation of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
MDC founder and prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai said the
reappointment of the central bank chief in the midst of negotiations on
power sharing between the two groupings of the MDC and Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF
displayed "a lack of good faith."
"This individual, who has been the architect of Zimbabwe's economic collapse
and has blatantly plundered the national treasury to fund ZANU-PF and its
elite, has been rewarded with another five-year term," Tsvangirai declared
in a broad policy statement.
"Surely, if Mr. Mugabe was genuine in his desire to address the problems
facing the country he would not breach the global political agreement (on
power sharing signed Sept. 15) by making any senior appointments
Analysts said the economy has been devastated under Gono's stewardship with
inflation according to one U.S. monetary expert hitting some 89 sextillion
percent. The last time the government offered price data it said inflation
ran at 231 million percent in July.
Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of Tsvangirai's MDC formation said Gono's
reappointment violates the power-sharing pact signed onSept.15.
Economist Prosper Chitambara said Mr. Mugabe reappointed Gono for short-term
political reasons, but the move has longer-term consequences.
November 26, 2008
By Raymond Maingire
HARARE - Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono says he will
slash Zimbabwe 's inflation to a single digit number by the end of his new
term of office in 2013.
Gono has also pledged to abandon his controversial quasi-fiscal policies
that have seen all government departments and ministries relying on the
central bank to finance their operations.
The controversial central bank governor however defended his unorthodox
practices which he said were extraordinary but necessary steps "deployed as
survival interventions in the national interest".
Gono, 49, was on Tuesday reappointed central bank chief for another five
year term by President Robert Mugabe.
Speaking while presenting his acceptance speech in Harare Wednesday, Gono
said in the course of his new tenure, he will deliver a "low and stable
single-digit inflation, anchoring a table and predictable business
Traditionally Reserve Bank governors have not delivered acceptance speeches
on appointment. They have quietly settled down to the task in hand.
Currently, Zimbabwe 's inflation is officially pegged at an all time high of
231 million percent.
Independent economists believe the official figure could be an
underestimation as inflation could now be running into billions percent.
When Gono took over the reigns as central bank governor in December 2003
inflation was still hovering around 600 percent.
Through printing huge quantities of bank notes to finance extravagant
government expenditure, inflation ballooned to the current levels.
"With effect from January, 2009, therefore," Gono said, "the Reserve Bank
will be focusing on the core businesses of inflation control and financial
Gono said during his new term, all parastatals, local authorities and all
Government Departments and Ministries would fund their own operations.
"Under the new thrust," he said, "the Reserve Bank will soon establish a
stand alone, self-funding and well capitalized developmental institution
that will manage all the work-in progress under the previous quasi-fiscal
desks of the bank, as well as meeting any other developmental programmes as
they would arise in future, leaving the bank with core functions.
"All the bank's quasi-fiscal outlays since 1 December, 2003 have been fully
amortized such that there will be absolutely no penny to be transferred as a
burden on the fiscus, and hence (on) the tax payers."
Meanwhile, Gono's reappointment has been greeted with disappointment by many
Zimbabweans who feel he has failed to reverse the fortunes of the country's
"Gono has failed in every aspect required of his job," said a Harare based
businessman majoring in bank risk control, "By reappointing him to his post,
Mugabe has simply rewarded failure because not any of Gono's successive
monetary policies has succeeded."
Elvis Matenda said Gono's re-appointment was obvious from the outset.
"He was obviously going to be re-appointed," he said. "The appointment
should be viewed in the context of Mugabe's patronage system.
"Mugabe does not appoint people on merit but on how loyal they are to his
rule. His government is brimming with dead wood but he keeps on rewarding
them with new posts."
From the ZANU-PF mouthpiece
THE reappointment of Dr Gideon Gono as Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor for
a second five-year term starting next Monday is testimony to his
indefatigable efforts to the compelling task of stabilising the economy.
He is starting a new term faced with the monumental challenge of restoring
confidence in the country's economy, particularly the financial system.
Indeed, the central bank governor's job is one of the most challenging, as
he grapples sanctions, galloping inflation, banking indiscipline, foreign
currency and cash shortages among others.
Dr Gono faces the unenviable task of beating the illegal sanctions, which
have seen a German company abruptly stopping the supply of a special paper
used for printing the local currency.
This has created the cash crisis the country is currently facing. He also
needs to continue monitoring the banking sector, where some banks have
developed a propensity to stray out of their core business and indulge in
But Dr Gono is not new to challenges, having weathered several storms during
his first tenure in office.
He astutely handled the banking crisis, which exploded soon after he entered
into office in December 2003.
Many will remember how the crisis left a number of banks closed, while the
banking sector's sound footing was restored.
The Governor is very much aware of the fact that we are in a major economic
crisis, one that is largely caused by the sanctions, and where there is
potential for the crisis to grow in scale and scope with each day.
But we believe he has proved his mettle.
He is a smart and effective professional who is now very familiar with the
central bank's operations and knows how to handle crises of any magnitude.
Dr Gono is not afraid of taking responsibility.
In the past, he has acknowledged that his plans to inject billions of
dollars in stimulus spending would drive inflation higher, but stressed the
long-term benefits of investment in needy areas, such as agricultural
However, his biggest challenge remains that of taming inflation, currently
running into several millions. He needs to put in place a framework or
systems that recognise early warning signs of financial crises and be able
to deal with them.
There will be more perils in Dr Gono's course as he continues to be the
centre of attention with his interventions aimed at saving the economy.
He certainly needs the support of all stakeholders of the economy and
politicians in this endeavour. We are however, quick to warn him that the
risks of being sabotaged exist and he should not be distracted.
But the bottom line is the central bank governor's job is at the moment no
place for theorists. The task at hand has no time for persons who make
reference to book economics and financial theories.
Since his appointment to the helm of the country's financial nerve centre in
2003, Dr Gono has not wavered on his belief that old orthodoxies need
rethinking to confront today's crises.
The fact is, the country's economic perils are clear and immediate, they
need practical and circumstantial solutions.
In Dr Gono's own words: "We are in extraordinary circumstances that require
extraordinary measures. And failure should not be an option.''
We believe the circumstances we find ourselves in need the calibre of the
person of Dr Gono, who has a reputation as a heavy-puncher and banking
Dr Gono fits the bill and deserves a second term. We give him our thumps-up
and wish him well.
November 26, 2008
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - Zimbabwean labour leaders on Wednesday called for mass
demonstrations next week against caps on daily withdrawal limits from bank
accounts imposed by the central bank amid rising poverty and weakening
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)'s general council resolved at
its special sitting in Masvingo on Tuesday that the mass action against
critical cash shortages should take place on December 3.
"Zimbabweans will be expected to go to their banks on 3 December 2008 to
demand their money," said a ZCTU statement to The Zimbabwe Times on
Wednesday. "A procession will be made to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe where
the ZCTU leadership will deliver a petition to the Governor."
The ZCTU, the country's largest labour federation, has already written to
RBZ governor Gideon Gono, whose term of office was extended Monday for
another five years, that he must immediately scrap the limits on withdrawals
or face mass action.
Just last weekend, Gono scoffed at protests against him; he said the
demonstrations were the work of his detractors who wished to see him removed
as central bank chief.
The RBZ has imposed cash withdrawal limits ostensibly in a bid to stem
illegal foreign currency trading which the central bank blames for fuelling
Zimbabwe 's supersonic inflation.
Depositors are currently allowed to withdraw a maximum of Z$500 000 daily.
However, the amount is not even enough to buy half a loaf of bread.
The daily withdrawal limits have crystallised public anger against Gono. The
extension of his term of office has sparked widespread outrage in Harare
Wednesday. The labour leaders addressed a letter to Gono stating that the
daily caps were hurting ordinary citizens and described the current maximum
cash withdrawal limit as "a joke."
ZCTU said the mass protests would also be against high taxation, rising
poverty and human rights abuses.
Zimbabwe's runaway inflation estimated at 231 million percent in July, which
is at the centre of the strike, has rendered the local currency worthless.
The government has partially dollarised the economy, worsening the plight of
The ZCTU has also demanded that workers be paid in foreign currency and has
threatened to lead protests for this.
Once a success story in Africa, Zimbabwe is now suffering from shortages of
banknotes, fuel and foreign currency. Political commentators say the
government of President Robert Mugabe, in power since independence from
Britain in 1980, is likely to face resistance in the coming months, because
anger was welling up among Zimbabweans
"What we are seeing now is a country without a central administration, where
things simply happen like the current price increases, the indiscipline on
the stock exchange and so on," said an academic with the University of
Zimbabwe , who refused to be named.
He said the planned confrontation with the government would not solve the
problems besieging Zimbabwe . The government cannot, he said, restore sanity
in the economy because it has lost control.
The rule of supply and demand would see things stabilise as consumers and
traders came to a compromise, he added.
Elias Madzimure, a resident of Glenview, a low-income suburb of Harare ,
said painful compromises should be made by the politicians at the talks for
life to return to normal in Zimbabwe .
"Workers in most urban areas are bearing the worst brunt of this crisis
authored by Gono," said Madzimure. "The government seems not to care at all,
and now they have renewed Gono's term of office despite his shocking
failures as governor.
"The MDC should annul this appointment once it is in government. I fully
support the position taken by the ZCTU."
He said Mugabe should stop "politicking" and address the problems facing
Zimbabwe , without pointing fingers at Britain and the opposition, when he
fails to deliver.
"If the difficulties are due to sanctions (imposed by the European Union and
the United States ), Mugabe should show his ability as a leader," said
Madzimure. "Was he just able to rule well with the support of the former
"The current economic hardships have left all recreational places like
drinking places deserted. Prices of everything have gone wild. So, who is in
control? You can't blame the people if they protest."
"The government may crush the demonstration, but the spirit is very high,"
said one labour leader when asked about the risks of strike action.
The protests were scheduled to begin in Harare , with a march to the Reserve
Bank along Samora Machel Avenue to hand over a petition to Gono demanding
the removal of the withdrawal limits.
Another procession to government offices was expected in Bulawayo .
The government has threatened unspecified action against the demonstrations,
which, it warned, were illegal under the Public Order and Security Act.
Miriam Kwashi, a Harare businesswoman, urged the government not to prevent
people from demonstrating but listen to their problems and find solutions.
By Patience Rusere
26 November 2008
The World Health Organization said Wednesday that it will provide some
US$117,000 worth of medical supplies to help Zimbabwe deal with the cholera
epidemic that had claimed 366 lives as of the latest count provided Tuesday
by another United Nations agency.
WHO's South Africa representative, Stella Nyaguwe, told reporters in
Johannesburg that the amount allocated was based on requests from medical
relief workers in Zimbabwe.
South African Health Minister Barbara Hogan offered an assurance that
Zimbabweans in South Africa needing medical treatment would receive it
whatever their legal status.
Blessing Chebundo, a member of the health committee of the formation of
Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change led by prime minister-designate
Morgan Tsvangirai told reporter Patience Rusere that the assistance is
welcome, but more needs to be done.
27 November 2008
Science and Health Editor
CAPE TOWN - The government would do all it could to assist cholera-stricken
Zimbabweans seeking medical care in SA, Health Minister Barbara Hogan said
yesterday, warning that any attempt to turn them away would make the disease
harder to contain.
"We are facing a humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. Under no conditions would
we want to stop entry of any person who is ill crossing from Zimbabwe into
SA. The situation is dire there," Hogan told a briefing yesterday.
The United Nations has recorded 8887 suspected cholera cases and 366 deaths
in Zimbabwe, with Harare and Beit Bridge worst affected. More than half of
Zimbabwe has been affected by cholera. Its sanitation and water purification
systems have broken down.
The disease has spread to Botswana and SA, where Limpopo has been hardest
hit, with 187 cases and three deaths recorded by Monday. Patients suspected
to have cholera have also been treated in Gauteng, KwaZuluNatal, Mpumalanga
and Western Cape.
"The o utbreak is Zimbabwe-based. We are not considering it a crisis in SA
at all," said Hogan. SA was assisting the World Health Organisation (WHO),
which was co-ordinating humanitarian efforts to combat the cholera outbreak
in Zimbabwe, she said.
The WHO estimated it needed $117000 to procure a range of critical supplies,
including body bags, medical equipment and water purification supplies, said
its South African representative, Stella Anyangwe.
The health department sent a "national outbreak response team" to Musina in
Limpopo, and ensured extra staff were assigned to the its hospital.
Hogan said the government was alarmed by the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe,
which underscored the need for the country to resolve its political issues .
President Robert Mugabe and the leaders of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change agreed to form a unity government on September 15, but are
still deadlocked over the delegation of key positions.
Earlier in the day, Zimbabwe's Deputy Health Minister, Edwin Maguti, said
the government would not declare the epidemic a national emergency because
the cholera was under control, and blamed the outbreak on western sanctions.
"We now have the situation under control and there is no need to declare a
national disaster," Maguti said. "Western governments must like what they
see with the cholera outbreak because it is their illegal sanctions that
On Tuesday, Oxfam called on Mugabe's government to declare an emergency.
HARARE, Nov 27 (AFP)
Children in the suburbs of Zimbabwe's capital run along a stream of raw
sewage, jumping between the mountains of garbage that has not been collected
in months, just steps from an emergency cholera clinic.
The suburb of Budiriro is the epicentre of a nationwide cholera outbreak
that has infected nearly 9,000 people and killed 366, according to the
United Nations -- the latest tragic consequence of Zimbabwe's economic
Nearly 100 patients are waiting for treatment at the clinic, but shortages
of drugs and equipment mean that few will actually receive any help.
A vehicle from the funeral parlour stands parked outside.
Inside the clinic, patients lie on the floor to await treatment. The lucky
ones sleep on beds that have no mattresses.
"Things are bad," says one patient lying on the floor. "There are no drips,
when they come it may be too late for some of us."
Cholera causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting that eventually kills a
patient, but is easily prevented by washing hands, cleaning foods, and
keeping drinking water away from sewage.
Those conditions are almost unimaginable luxuries in many parts of Zimbabwe,
where the crumbling economy means burst sewage lines go unrepaired, and
utilities can't always treat drinking water.
Vegetable vendors still sell their wares amid the urban debris, unconcerned
by the swarms of flies hovering above their uncovered tables.
"There is no water and toilets are not flushing. We are struggling," Chipo
Chimwe said across town in the neighbourhood of Kambuzuma.
"We will die if things remain as they are. They say we have to boil our
water -- when there is no water and no electricity. We need help urgently."
Zimbabwe's government insists the outbreak is under control, but residents
here say they fear many more will die unless sanitation facilities are
Women and children in Kambuzuma wash their laundry in a shallow well, saying
they dare not use the water in their taps at home.
"The little water coming from our taps is not properly treated," Tracy
"The drinking water -- it smells of sewage. Children are suffering from
diarrhoea. We don't know when things will get back to normal," she sighs.
Victoria Kuronga, another Kambuzuma resident, accused Zimbabwe's political
leaders of wasting time in power-sharing talks rather than addressing the
"These politicians just think about themselves at our expense," she said.
"It would have been better for them to hold these talks in Kambuzuma where
they can see raw sewage daily. Then maybe they would appreciate our plight.
We are suffering."
Zimbabwe has ignored warnings from neighbour South Africa, the United
Nations and aid agencies, who say the country is facing a humanitarian
"The situation is under control," Deputy Health Minister Edwin Muguti told
AFP, reacting to calls for Harare to declare a national health emergency.
The government's disdain has left Zimbabweans unable even to properly mourn
the dead, some public health officials quietly lament.
Health experts say if a cholera patient dies, the body must be buried within
72 hours, meaning Zimbabwe's lengthy traditional funeral rites cannot be
"Anyone who dies of cholera has to be put in plastic and the body is put
into a coffin," said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"That person would have to be buried within three days and unfortunately
there will be no body viewing, which is a very unpopular and hard decision."
Published:Nov 27, 2008
WHILE appreciating the need for a solution to the political situation in
Zimbabwe, given the humanitarian crisis there, I cannot agree with the blame
being placed at the door of both Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe. - B
The whole sorry mess is Mugabe's doing. He has the blood of thousands on his
hands, including those who have died recently of cholera.
Thabo Mbeki must also shoulder a large portion of the blame. He tiptoed
around Mugabe for years with his failed "quiet diplomacy" and then hailed as
a victory the hasty power-sharing deal, which did not include even how the
important portfolios would be awarded.
With his experience of Mugabe, and the Zimbabwean leader's deviousness and
desperation to cling to power, Mbeki must surely have realised the deal was
not worth the paper it was written on and that Mugabe was never going to
The MDC won the elections but the ageing despot clings desperately to power.
Tsvangirai is expected to compromise and agree to play second fiddle to
Mugabe. It is just unacceptable.
South Africa, SADC and the rest of the world should have insisted Mugabe
step down, or, at the very least, agree to new elections, supervised by
monitors from foreign countries.
As dire as the situation is, Tsvangirai must stand firm until Mugabe is made
to give him a meaningful share of power or, preferably, stands down and lets
the arduous task of getting Zimbabwe and its people back on their feet
begin. It will take decades, I fear.
The dishonesty, hypocrisy and ignorance emerging from South Africa in the
past week stabs at the heart of all those working for democracy in Zimbabwe.
The group of three 'Elders' spent a couple of days in South Africa talking
about Zimbabwe and say they have been shocked by what they have learnt.
Where have they been for the past 10 years? Have they read nothing, heard
Even though they were not allowed into Zimbabwe, they submitted a report to
South Africa's President Motlanthe. He says he was shocked by the report and
talks about 'quibbling over ministries'. Where has he been for the past 10
years? Has he read nothing, heard nothing?
They say the situation is desperate - and so it is - but it is not helped by
this dishonesty, hypocrisy and ignorance.
They say the Zimbabwean party leaders must put aside their differences and
join in a power-sharing government to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe - as if
another short-sighted and deceitful agreement like the one signed in
September will do anything to improve the situation.
Contrary to the perception emerging from the talks in South Africa, the
crisis in Zimbabwe is caused by Mugabe alone and is not the result of the
failure to set up a power-sharing government and may well be worsened by it.
If Zimbabweans see that their democratic will is again thwarted they may
well be reduced to violence.
There is no way through for Zimbabwe until there is real power-sharing and
to treat Tsvangirai as a junior partner when he won the general election
last March will do nothing to help Zimbabweans. If he joins the government
as a puppet nothing will change. Is this what the Elders want? South Africa
clearly does, as is evidenced by the insulting letter reportedly sent to
Tsvangirai by the mediator Mbeki in which he apparently complained of his
links with the West. Where does Mbeki think aid and investment will come
from to revive Zimbabwe? China, North Korea, Burma, Iran, Libya, Venezuela,
Cuba? The $30million offered by South Africa will not go far given the
mendacity and greed of the Mugabe regime.
If there is to be any real pressure for change in Zimbabwe it must be
applied on the Mugabe regime. The Botswana government sees this clearly
(watch BBC Hardtalk with Phandu Skelemani, Foreign Minister of Botswana -
The Southern African region must take its advice and isolate the regime. For
our part the Vigil wants to see:
1. No recognition of Mugabe's illegitimate regime
2. Neighbouring countries to refuse visas to members of the regime
3. A freeze on the assets of members of the regime
4. Tighter UN sanctions on the regime
5. The establishment of refugee camps in countries bordering Zimbabwe
where desperate Zimbabweans can seek food, medical attention, shelter and
education no longer available at home.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
Opinion from the ZANU-PF mouthpiece
By Tafataona Mahoso
WHILE former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was dancing with Laurent
Nkunda's war criminals in the DRC, Zimbabwe was confronted by three other
former somebodies demanding to come here also.
These were former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, ex-US President Jimmy
Carter and former Mozambican First Lady Graca Machel, who is now married to
These three claim to constitute a humanitarian mission or commission without
saying how they were chosen to constitute such a mission or who commissioned
them on the basis of what authority and to accomplish what task!
The very same Anglo-Saxon forces who were behind the so-called UN Special
Envoys in 2005 are behind the current mission.
People will remember Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka and Jan Egeland who came here
claiming to represent Annan's office and turning out to be "CIA jackals" in
the service of Anglo-American interests.
If humanitarian tragedies are that important, why don't these "Eminent
Elders" go to Afghanistan where the Anglo-Saxon powers are fully in charge
and where more than four million Afghan women and children face a bleak and
severe winter without food or shelter?
If Afghanistan is too far away, the elders could perhaps go to Somalia where
"regime change" has made it possible for that country to go for 17 years
with no legitimate central Government.
Why do they seek to divide and destabilise a stable country?
From the point of view of Africa and the Sadc region, Mrs Machel and Carter
can be forgiven for not knowing what they are doing or how to do it.
Annan, however, is expected to know better because he is a well-trained and
experienced diplomat. He is also an experienced African who by now should
know enough about the tricks of imperialism and white racism.
Therefore, whether or not the Government of Zimbabwe eventually allows these
three busybodies to come in, the people need to examine Annan's score card.
He became secretary-general of the United Nations in 1997 because one
country alone refused to renew Boutros Boutros-Ghali's second term in that
The UN Security Council had voted 14 to 1 in favour of renewal of
Boutros-Ghali's term but the US stopped the renewal because he was viewed as
too close to the Non-Aligned Movement to allow the UN to be used as a front
for the dismantling and recolonisation of former Yugoslavia by Nato.
The same US administration was instrumental in Annan's elevation as Mr
The US and Nato got their way at the UN, proceeded to dismantle Yugoslavia,
waged an air war against Serbia, and created conditions for the final
secession of Kosovo from Serbia.
In celebration of this US-Nato colonisation of the UN under Annan, the then
Chairman of the US Foreign Relations Committee Senator Jesse Helms asked to
address the Security Council and was allowed to do so on 20 January 2000.
This was the first time someone from that US Senate office had ever
addressed the UN Security Council.
This is what Senator Helms told the Security Council on 20 January 2000.
"They (US citizens) know instinctively that the UN lives and breathes on the
hard-earned money of the American taxpayers. And yet they have heard
comments here in New York constantly calling the United States a 'deadbeat'
. . . They see the majority of the UN members voting against America in the
"They have read reports of raucous cheering of UN delegates in Rome, when US
efforts to amend the International Criminal Court Treaty to protect American
soldiers were defeated . . . Now, I grant you, the money we (the US) spend
on the UN is not charity. To the contrary, it is an investment - investment
from which the American people rightly expect a return.
"They expect a reformed UN that works more efficiently, and which respects
the sovereignty of the United States . . . So, as the representatives of the
UN's largest investors, the American people, we have not only a right, but a
responsibility, to insist on specific reforms in exchange for their
investment . . . Most Americans do not regard the United Nations as an end
in and of itself - they see it as just one part of America's diplomatic
After Yugoslavia, Serbia and Kosovo, Annan's most spectacular failure was
The secretary-general failed to use the reports of UN weapons inspectors in
Iraq to strengthen those powers and organisations who were opposed to the
US-UK campaign to invade the country.
This failure is clearly documented in the massive collection of articles by
Media Lens Media Alert, which is entitled "The Western Media and Iraq:
Once Iraq was invaded in violation of the UN Charter and on the basis of
lies that UN weapons inspectors and the UN secretary-general knew to be
lies, Annan faced another spectacular failure.
His own representative in Iraq was killed, when insurgents against the
illegal occupation of that country accused the UN mission there of being
indistinguishable from the US-UK occupation forces.
The insurgents bombed the UN mission headquarters in Iraq.
Under Annan, UN offices were again attacked by patriots in Cote d'Ivoire and
Lebanon, again for failure by UN representatives there to distinguish
themselves from the imperialist interests of France, the US, the EU (in the
case of Cote d'Ivoire) and the interests of the US and Israel (in the case
Zimbabweans of course remember Annan as the UN secretary-general who, when
he occupied that office, failed to stop the UK, the US, the EU, Australia
and their white racist allies from imposing sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Zimbabweans also remember that President Robert Mugabe has used every UN
forum since 2000 to appeal to the UN to stop the Anglo-Saxon axis from its
illegal interference in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe.
We received no help from Annan.
But Annan did far worse than failing to use his office to mobilise the UN to
Annan's office itself inflicted much damage on Zimbabwe when it agreed to
send Tibaijuka and Egeland on missions similar to the one which he now wants
The 2005 Zanu-PF National People's Conference in Esigodini condemned the
behaviour of Annan's so-called special envoys.
The same conference urged the Government of Zimbabwe in future to be highly
sceptical of any similar envoys and missions.
The behaviour of the two envoys was shocking because it did not fit the
manner and style of UN diplomats as Zimbabweans used to know them during our
Second Chimurenga in the 1970s and during the best years of the Non-Aligned
This new and strange behaviour by Annan's subordinates fits that of the
people John Perkins calls "CIA jackals" in his book Confessions of an
Economic Hitman. It fits the behaviour of the people whom Cuban patriots
Mules are unsuspected people whose job is to smuggle someone's information
or agenda through well-guarded doors or borders.
CIA jackals are spies planted in NGOs, companies and multilateral and
inter-governmental agencies to carry out the destabilisation missions of
singular countries or blocs of countries.
They are usually called in at the third stage of imperialist intervention,
when the first two stages have failed to produce results.
The whole typology of intervention and destabilisation in pursuit of regime
change includes five stages, the last of which is direct military
intervention as we see in Iraq today, according to John Perkins.
CIA jackals are spy-activists whose aim is to cause social, political and
psychological havoc by attacking the public morale and unity of the people
as demonstrated in the last two elections in Zimbabwe.
The language of Tibaijuka's report and the language that Egeland used on the
BBC after visiting Zimbabwe was not the language of UN special envoys.
It was the language of CIA jackals, intended to denigrate, provoke, insult,
demoralise and divide the people of Zimbabwe.
But besides the language, there was also real conduct. Both Egeland and
Tibaijuka betrayed their real agendas when they got to Bulawayo.
This means that the people who sent them believed that Bulawayo in
particular and Matabeleland in general provide the soft entry points for
clandestine destabilisation forces.
Bulawayo is the place where both "envoys" withdrew from the public domain
into backyard and gutter projects and politics beyond the reach of the media
and beyond the eyes of the public officials.
This was not accidental.
The NGOs and Embassies who have sought to sponsor divisive politics in the
last 15 years have also tended to treat Bulawayo in particular and
Matabeleland in general as if they were their pet projects and not local
domains of a sovereign country.
Through Egeland, the British, the EU and America were trying to influence
the UN to treat Zimbabwe differently from similar cases because here they
had already gone ahead with Tibaijuka to condemn the urban ghetto
reclamation and reconstruction programmes here as "genocide".
To remain consistent and in order not to embarrass the NGOs that they
sponsored to denounce the programmes, these imperialist forces wanted the UN
to install refugee tents in Zimbabwe's cities.
Such tents would serve as photogenic propaganda sites for global mass media
and all the imbedded spies and journalists here.
Crisis Zimbabwe Coalition would get a boost to its reason to exist, since
Zimbabwe would then appear as a country with a massive and permanent
internal refugee population.
The NGOs could be paid to induce ordinary poor people to join the tent
tenants just as many were also induced to trek to Britain and South Africa
and lie about needing political asylum.
But such scheming on the part of the US and UK is delusional.
The overwhelming majority of the people of Zimbabwe are pre-occupied with
land redistribution, resettlement and the agrarian revolution.
How do we know this?
We know this from Zanu-PF's 2005 Esigodini National People's Conference
which resolved to condemn the two UN envoys serving as spies for Britain, US
and EU forces against Zimbabwe.
Therefore the Government of Zimbabwe is to be encouraged to insist that the
UN must not make ridiculous demands on member states which are not UN
demands but are the bilateral requirements of a minority of white countries
such as Britain, Australia, America and some EU countries.
Likewise, unemployed busybodies like Annan, Machel, Desmond Tutu, Obasanjo
and Carter must stop making absurd demands on African peoples.
Government must remember that the Anglo-Saxon powers have not yet declared a
truce in their media terrorism against Zimbabwe, which has been a critical
feature of their overall propaganda war.
In that war, humanitarian intervention has been used most frequently. As
Ludo Martens has warned; "This sort of campaign (which applies psychological
terrorism under the guise of human rights concerns) is nevertheless nothing
new and should not come as a surprise to progressive people.
"Military specialists have written many books and articles about the weapon
of disinformation in Nato doctrine (for instance). According to those
specialists, disinformation can be a weapon as powerful as heavy artillery.
"In the words of Colonel Trinquier, French specialist in anti-communist
warfare: 'Today war is a whole consisting of actions of all kinds,
political, social, economic, psychological, armed, and so on, which aim to
overthrow established power in a country.'
"In every important struggle the facts brought to us by the imperialist
media are a well-doctored mixture of lies, half-truths and real facts."
The so-called "Eminent African Elders" have been nominated by imperialism to
try to reverse the diplomatic achievements of former South African President
Cde Thabo Mbeki and Sadc in Zimbabwe.
Martens also cites a CIA specialist in the science of lying who wrote about
how the US conducted its "black propaganda" against the people of Vietnam.
"Just writing that communists are bad is cheap. The art is (for the CIA to
get certain forces) to commit crimes disguised as communists, that is the
way to gain credibility."
In the Zimbabwean case, the US and UK have lost credibility over Yugoslavia,
Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and Abu Graib Prison.
Their forces therefore gravitate toward those institutions, which still have
The UN has a long relationship with the leaders of Zimbabwe. Therefore it is
a most attractive target for infiltration, manipulation and even
In fact, some of the manipulation is not even made known to UN officials.
For example, in 2005 some embedded journalists were supposed to come to
Zimbabwe under the guise of covering our Senate elections when in fact their
task was to take pictures and stage stories which could be manipulated and
sensationalised in order to scandalise the UN humanitarian coordinator
Putting homeless people in make-shift tents, as proposed by Annan's envoy in
2005, instead of building solid houses in real communities is typical of
what is notoriously known as the "misery industry" driven by NGOs.
The tents would provide the symbolic confirmation of the crisis outlined in
Tibaijuka's report but impossible to justify on the ground where the people's
pre-occupation then and now has always been how to get the inputs needed for
a potentially good farming season.
Therefore, the best these retired stooges could do for the people of
Zimbabwe is to get the US and the UK to lift their illegal and racist
However, we have already said the UN and its volunteers are targeted because
they are more credible that the British Foreign Office, the US State
Department or the CIA.
The UN has a relationship with the people of Zimbabwe going back to their
struggles against UDI and apartheid.
That good track record can be abused by a now thoroughly compromised UN
system to achieve objectives contrary to those which the people were
pursuing during earlier struggles.
EDITH LEDERER | UNITED NATIONS - Nov 27 2008 07:41
Zimbabwe's growing crisis has seen school attendance plummet from more than
90% to 20%, major hospitals and clinics close, cholera hit record levels and
millions of people go to bed hungry, a senior United Nations humanitarian
official said on Wednesday.
Catherine Braggs, the UN's deputy emergency relief coordinator, said
Zimbabwe is in the throes of a humanitarian breakdown across many sectors,
from food production and healthcare to education. It is the result of a lot
of causes including three years of failed agricultural harvests, bad
governance, economic policies, hyperinflation and sanctions, she said.
Braggs echoed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's plea to donors on Tuesday
to disregard the political crisis in Zimbabwe and provide money for
critically needed food and other aid.
At the moment, she said, just less than four million people need food aid
"and that number is going to rise as we go into the hunger season,
traditionally between January and April".
"The situation is acute and is expected to worsen by the end of the year,
and probably get even worse in the beginning of the year," she told a news
conference. "So without massive assistance this situation is going to get
much, much worse, not just food insecurity", but across many sectors.
Last year, the UN issued an appeal for just less than $400-million for
Zimbabwe for 2008, and received 75% of the request, which is considered a
Because of the deteriorating situation in the last few months, the UN asked
donors for an additional $180-million to $200-million to meet growing
demands this year.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization said earlier this month
international donors had not responded to the appeal for additional funds,
forcing it to start rationing cereal and beans. It warned food aid will run
out by January unless it gets new funds.
In addition to the extra money for 2008, the UN this week appealed for
$550-million for humanitarian aid for Zimbabwe in 2009.
Braggs said that compounding the shortage of food is a breakdown in health
services as well as the education sector.
"For a country that used to have more than 90% school attendance, now we're
seeing less than 20%," she said.
This is largely because "teachers are not being paid or being paid
insufficiently to cover even one day of transportation to the school, so
they do not show up", Braggs said, and because students either can't get to
school or can't pay tuition fees.
The dramatic fall in school attendance is "a real concern for us because
school is one of the safe environments for children, including orphans, so
it is both a literacy issue and a safe environment issue", she said.
In the last few weeks, Braggs said, "there have been closures of major
hospitals because of the lack of medical personnel".
"They simply didn't go to work ... again because they don't get payment and
they just can't afford the transportation cost to be able to go to work,"
she said. "We also know of severe depletion of medical supplies, which has
led to the closure of a number of major hospitals and clinics."
Braggs also cited a major increase in cholera cases, to almost 9 000, with
366 deaths as of Tuesday. "It's higher than the country has ever seen," she
The number of cholera cases and deaths "is directly traceable to the fact
that many communities now have depleted their ability to provide clean water
because of the lack of chemical treatment", Braggs said.
"So there is an urgent need for water and sanitation. It's also directly
traceable to the collapse of the health system, where there's insufficient
health personnel as well as insufficient medical supplies." -- Sapa-AP
By Peter Clottey
27 November 2008
The Zimbabwe government is sharply criticizing Botswana over its call for
neighboring countries to squeeze embattled President Robert Mugabe out of
power. Gaborone contends that forcing President Mugabe out of power would
end the escalating political and economic crises in Zimbabwe. But Harare has
described the Botswana pronouncement as an affront to Zimbabwe's
sovereignty, adding it would not tolerate such impudence. Botswana has also
called on members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to
take a robust stance by isolating President Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF
administration. George Mkwananzi is a Zimbabwean political analyst. He tells
reporter Peter Clottey that Zimbabweans welcome Botswana's uncompromising
"This is a really practical and realistic approach to the problem of
Zimbabwe, which is very refreshing coming in the backdrop of tampering
coming from the likes of Thabo Mbeki and other regional leaders who have not
been very firmed in their dealings with Robert Mugabe. I think the approach
must change and it must change radically. And this call by Botswana is what
the people of Zimbabwe will really welcome," Mkwananzi noted.
He disagreed with Harare's assertion that Gaborone is infringing on
"I think this is sheer madness on the part of Robert Mugabe and members of
his regime to claim that it is interference on their sovereignty because
that sovereign country is actually squeezing its own population and is
actually killing its people. The international community, particularly the
neighbors cannot fold their arms and watch innocent civilians being murdered
by an irresponsible, illegitimate and illegal regime. So, it is a
responsibility on their part to save and redeem the situation in Zimbabwe by
way of intervening in whichever way to ensure that the crisis does not
continue, "he said
Mkwananzi said there was need for Zimbabwe's neighbors to support Gaborone's
call for leaders in the region to isolate the Zimbabwe leadership.
"If they are reasonable, if they have borne the brunt of Zimbabweans living
in their own country pouring into other countries like South Africa has
done, then they should see that there is a need to heed the call from
Botswana," Mkwananzi pointed out.
He said the crisis in Zimbabwe is specifically having a telling effect on
neighboring South Africa.
"South Africa in particular has been receiving hoards of Zimbabweans
crossing the border into South Africa. And of late, we know that there are
people carrying with them diseases, which are going to affect the South
African population, and this would not end there. So, it would surely put
pressure on the South African fiscals having to take care of unbudgeted
presence of people of Zimbabwe within their midst. So, South Africa must be
the first country that must take heed of what the government of Botswana is
suggesting, and then the rest of the region should back that initiative," he
Mkwananzi said South Africa has not been tough on President Robert Mugabe's
failure to implement the recently signed power-sharing agreement with the
"It's absolutely true. South Africa has been putting pressure more on the
opposition to accept an unfair and inequitable deal in Zimbabwe. Instead of
barking to the correct tree, they are barking at the wrong tree. They are
allowing Robert Mugabe run Scott free instead of asking him to allow
meaningful degree of power to go to the opposition," Mkwananzi noted.
Meanwhile, the leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) says there has been no progress in Tuesday's power-sharing talks with
the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Negotiators from Mugabe's ZANU-PF, and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and a
breakaway MDC faction began meeting Tuesday with former South Africa
President Thabo Mbeki who is mediating to try to agree on a draft
constitutional amendment. The amendment would allow a new unity government
to be formed under the power-sharing deal with Mugabe as president and
Tsvangirai as prime minister, but the parties are still arguing over wording
and the allocation of ministries.
TANGIERS, Morocco (AFP) - Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
Wednesday won a pro-democracy award at a Moroccan political-economic forum
in the Mediterranean, known as MEDays.
"The 2008 MEDays prize for political dialogue has been awarded to the head
of Zimbabwe's opposition for his efforts to promote democracy in his
country," said the vice-president of the Moroccan think-tank that organised
Mekki Lahlou, of the Amadeus Institute, said Tsvangirai had planned to
receive his award in person Wednesday, but had to travel to South Africa
instead for a new round of negotiations on Zimbabwe's political crisis.
Tsvangirai won a first round presidential election in March, but pulled out
of a run-off accusing President Robert Mugabe's party of coordinating deadly
attacks against his supporters.
In September the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) signed a
deal with Mugabe to form a power-sharing government and become premier, but
negotiations have stalled over the allocation of ministerial posts.
Guests at the two-day forum in Tangiers that ends Friday include Spanish,
French and Moroccan ministers. They are expected to discuss economic
development, the environment and peace in the Mediterranean.
United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI)
Date: 26 Nov 2008
A top United Nations humanitarian official today appealed for massive
international assistance to help alleviate the severe humanitarian situation
in Zimbabwe, without which she warned the situation was going to get much,
Addressing a press conference today at United Nations Headquarters in New
York, Catherine Bragg, Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator in the Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), described the situation in
the southern African country as "acute" and expected to worsen towards the
end of the year. Currently, there were slightly less than 4 million people
who were considered food insecure and in need of food assistance. That
number was going to rise as the "hunger season" approached, traditionally
between January and April. Without massive international assistance, the
situation is going to get much, much worse.
Her appeal came on the heels of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's statement on
Zimbabwe yesterday and the launching of the consolidated appeal for that
country earlier in the week.
She told correspondents that what was prevailing in Zimbabwe today was not
just a food insecure situation; it was also a multisectoral humanitarian
situation. There was now an outbreak of cholera in the country, which had
spilled over into the country's neighbours, as well. The number of victims
of cholera had now reached almost 9,000 -- the highest the country had ever
recorded -- and the number of persons who had died of the outbreak had
reached 366 as of yesterday, which she said was a "very high mortality
She told correspondents that the number of cholera incidents at the moment,
as well as the high mortality rate, was directly traceable to the fact that
many communities now had depleted their ability to provide clean water,
because of the lack of chemical treatment. Thus, there was now an urgent
need for water and sanitation. It was also directly traceable to the
collapse of the health system, due to insufficient health personnel, as well
as insufficient medical supplies.
Also, she said, at the moment there was a breakdown both in health services
and in education. There was now less than 20 per cent school attendance, in
a country that used to have over 90 per cent attendance. That was largely
because of teachers not being paid, or being paid insufficiently to cover
even one day of transportation to the school. So, they simply did not show
up. Further, students sometimes were unable to attend school because some
schools in the country were demanding payments in food, which, of course,
the students did not have.
"So, we're very concerned about this very, very low level of school
attendance at this point", she said, adding that, in light of that dire
situation, this week the United Nations had launched the consolidated appeal
for 2009 for a total of $550 million, the highest appeal ever for Zimbabwe.
Last year's appeal had been just under $400 million and had been "very well
subscribed", and was, at this point, 75 per cent funded. However, that 75
per cent funded was for the original number. OCHA's calculation, because of
the changing circumstances and the fast-deteriorating situation, was that
there would be a shortfall until the end of the year of roughly $2 million,
before getting into what was needed for 2009. About 60 per cent of the $550
million was for food.
Continuing, she appealed to donors for continued generosity to deal with
what she said was a "very serious situation" and also assured them that
their aid was going through. "We are able to reach the 3 million
beneficiaries who were in need of aid at the moment", she said. "That is not
to say that the operating environment is not challenging. In fact, it is
very challenging. With hyper-inflation, the Government is sometimes
accessible, and sometimes it is not; sometimes cooperative, and sometimes
Responding to a correspondent's question, Ms. Bragg confirmed the United
Nations had completed a detailed and comprehensive study of the humanitarian
situation in Zimbabwe and that was what the consolidated appeal had been
about. The consolidated appeal was not just a funding appeal, but was
actually a strategic overview of the situation, as provided by the
participating organizations -- the United Nations and the non-governmental
organizations. A total of 35 such entities participated in the consolidated
appeal process in the case of Zimbabwe.
Asked to elaborate on the general state of the health sector in the country,
she said, in the last few weeks alone, there had been closures of major
hospitals, because of the lack of medical personnel. Many of those personnel
simply did not go to work, either because they did not get paid or they just
could not afford even the transportation to get to work. There was also
"quite a brain drain" of health-care workers leaving Zimbabwe itself and a
severe depletion of medical and health-care supplies.
To a journalist who wanted to know what was responsible for the depletion of
medical supplies in the country, Ms. Bragg answered: "Because of the
breakdown in the whole economy, the government expenditure is, in fact,
insufficient to support any of the basic social services. And that's just
one of the symptoms of it."
Asked what the United Nations system was doing on the cholera outbreak, in
light of reports indicating a lack of chemicals to purify water in the
country's major cities, she said the United Nations was part of a task force
within Zimbabwe's Ministry of Health set up to coordinate the response to
the cholera situation. Also, because of the hyper-inflation now buffeting
the country, the United Nations had recently managed to negotiate "the
dollarization" of the humanitarian operation, thereby avoiding the foreign
currency exchange rules of the Zimbabwean Reserve Bank, which tied all
currency transactions to the local currency. That somewhat protected against
wild fluctuations in the cost of delivering aid, she said.
Asked if anyone had indicated readiness to fund the end-of-the-year funding
gap, she said that many donors were ready to fund the gap between now and
the end of the year. No actual pledges had been received for 2009, because
the appeal had only been launched last week, as part of the global appeal,
and only two days ago, locally, in Harare for Zimbabwe. With the exception
of China, which pledged a contribution whose details she did not readily
have, no other donor had done so since the Harare launch meeting two days
Given the political situation in the country, did she think there was "donor
fatigue" within certain traditional donors to respond to the humanitarian
crisis in Zimbabwe? another correspondent asked. Ms. Bragg replied: "I would
think that the fact that the 2008 appeal has been subscribed to 75 per cent,
making it one of the top three appeals we have globally, indicated that, in
fact, donors are quite able to distinguish between humanitarian needs and
any political development and their own political viewpoint. I would imagine
that that would go forward as well."
She added that OCHA had been talking to many donors about the funding
situation in 2009, not just for Zimbabwe, but globally as well, and OCHA's
reading at this point was that the level of contributions would probably be
maintained, rather than being diminished. That was largely because, for most
of the donors, their budgets for 2009 had already been allocated.
Compiled by DAVE ITZKOFF
Published: November 26, 2008
The Zimbabwean playwright and political satirist Cont Mhlanga has won the
Freedom to Create Prize, awarded by the artistic philanthropy group
ArtVenture, the organization announced. Mr. Mhlanga has been an outspoken
critic of Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, and his work has been banned
by that regime. The award was given to Mr. Mhlanga at a ceremony in London
on Wednesday. In a statement ArtVenture said it had created the distinction
"to highlight a forgotten frontline of artists defending their freedom of
expression at great personal sacrifice." It comes with a prize of $50,000,
half of which Mr. Mhlanga has pledged to the Women of Zimbabwe Arise Group,
an equal-rights organization.
Eight African drug smugglers were convicted and sentenced to death
with two-year reprieves on Tuesday in south China's Guangdong Province,
local official said.
Another African was jailed for life at the mass sentencing at
Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court, said a court official.
The four Ugandans, two Benin nationals and three Zimbabweans were
convicted of involvement in trafficking drugs, ranging in amount from 654 to
1,986 grams, the official said.
In six cases, drugs were found in smugglers' bodies. About 1,200 grams
of heroin was found in a 25-year-old woman named Asaria Mushangwe in June,
the official said.
The largest amount of heroin, weighing 1,986 grams, was found in
39-year-old Ugandan woman Jean Ndawula Kirunda's luggage when she arrived at
Guangzhou airport from Bangkok last year, the official said.
Four of the nine were in their twenties and the youngest was
22-year-old Taapatsa Lauraine Itayirufaro from Zimbabwe.
Tugwete Edith, 27, from Zimbabwe, female, was sentenced to life jail,
the official said.
The other five were Fagbemi Ismaila Ayinde, 30, from Benin, man; Annet
Namisango, 38, from Uganda, woman; Charles Candia, 23, from Uganda, man;
Habiba Musa, 29, from Uganda, woman; and Ismailou Alamou Adechian, 33, from
(Xinhua News Agency November 26, 2008)
THE Zimbabwe Institute of Management has resorted to reviewing fees on a
weekly basis, a move that has been criticised by students who feel they
might be forced to drop out.
The fees have to be paid in cash only or alternatively 60 litres in fuel
Last week fees were $18 million and reviewed upwards to $27 million this
week, a move that has brought an outcry from students doing their courses
with the institution.
"Please note that fees for Strategic Management module is $18 million cash
instead of $16 million as previously stated or 3x20 litres fuel coupons per
individual. We accept that this is inconvenient. Please accept our
apologies," read a letter issued to a student doing an Executive Diploma in
Business Leadership (DBL), last week.
The students said they had failed to make payments as their monies were
stuck in the banks as the withdrawal limits were so little that even if they
withdrew daily, they would still fail to pay the fees.
This has resulted in most students breaching the contract as they attended
lectures without having paid their fees.
The institution ordered students to make outstanding payments this week as
next week the fees would be increased.
"Our records show that you attended the Strategic Management module
presented on 21 to 23 November 2008. However, our records do not reflect
your payment of $18 million fees for the session. Our contract stipulates
that no classes should be attended before the student has made full payment
for the module.
"Please settle your debt, which is now $27 million. Students are aware that
our fees are reviewed every Monday, and students in default of payment have
to defray their debts by paying the current rate for the week when payment
is made," read another letter issued this week.
The student said the fees reviews had strained their studies and called on
the Government to look into the issue as they feared that they would be
forced to withdraw from their courses.
One student said it would be much better if the institution sought a licence
to charge fees in hard currency to avoid the unnecessary weekly reviews that
posed a threat to their education.
By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg
Published: November 27 2008 02:00 | Last updated: November 27 2008 02:00
Lawyers for John Bredenkamp said they would seek to challenge a US Treasury
decision to place the Zimbabwean tycoon on a list of "cronies" of President
Robert Mugabe's regime subject to sanctions.
A spokesman for Mr Bredenkamp, who was ranked as one of the richest men in
his adopted home of Britain in 2002 with an estimated fortune of £720m, said
the businessman was "astonished" by the decision, which "ignored the fact
that he was imprisoned by the Zimbabwe government for alleged passport
violations in 2006".
A statement from the US Treasury described the former captain of the
Rhodesia rugby team as "a well known Mugabe insider involved in business
activities, including tobacco trading, grey-market arms trading and
trafficking, equity investments, oil distribution, tourism, sports
management and diamond extraction".
Blacklisting 20 companies owned or controlled by Mr Bredenkamp, the Treasury
claimed he has "financially propped up the regime and provided other support
to a number of its high-ranking officials". It will henceforth be illegal
for US citizens to do business with Mr Bredenkamp or his companies, although
his empire is thought to have scant connection with the US.
Also added to the sanctions list - which the US has been tightening while Mr
Mugabe has clung to power after March's violent elections - was Billy
Rautenbach, a former business partner of his fellow white Zimbabwean.
Mr Rautenbach has a long history of involvement in the opaque Congolese
mining sector and is wanted in South Africa in connection with alleged fraud
He had supported "large-scale mining projects in Zimbabwe that benefit a
small number of corrupt senior officials", the Treasury claimed. The
Treasury, however, gave no details of how either man had supported the
Two further people were placed under sanctions: a Thai businesswoman
acc-used of assisting "kleptocratic practices" and a Malaysian urologist
des-cribed as one of the
president's "physicians and business advisers".
* Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday called for former South
African president Thabo Mbeki to step down as the mediator in Zimbabwe's
"He does not appear to understand how desperate the problem in Zimbabwe is,
and the solutions he proposes are too small," Mr Tsvangirai said.
Police raid addresses owned by tycoon implicated in controversial sale of aircraft to South Africa
Thursday, 27 November 2008
A dramatic raid on addresses in South Africa linked to a controversial international arms dealer yesterday cast fresh doubt on would-be president Jacob Zuma's political future.
South Africa's renowned financial crimes unit, the Scorpions, swooped on properties owned by John Bredenkamp, a businessman, erstwhile political ally of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and a man involved in a controversial arms deal that has already seen Mr Zuma's financial adviser imprisoned.
Mr Bredenkamp is accused of improperly profiting from a deal to sell fighter aircraft to South Africa. Mr Zuma is due to face his country's Supreme Court in the next 48 hours in connection with the same case, the outcome of which could decide the South African presidency.
It is alleged that a British arms manufacturer offered inducements to secure a major contract for its partially owned Swedish partner Saab to supply fighter jets to South Africa.
The controversial raid by an elite police unit used by former South African president Thabo Mbeki in his attempts to discredit Mr Zuma – a unit facing disbandment under a Zuma government – has significantly raised the political stakes in a case that is tipped to determine who leads Africa's largest economy after elections next year. No independent evidence has been produced to support the claims against Mr Zuma.
It also marks the return to centre stage of the colourful and controversial Mr Bredenkamp, who on Tuesday was hit by financial sanctions after being named by the US as a key backer of the Mugabe regime. The former captain of Rhodesia's rugby team is thought to have acquired his first fortune by helping the international pariah regime of Ian Smith evade UN sanctions following its unilateral declaration of independence in 1965. His second fortune was made after independence, when he built up the largest tobacco company outside of the US. He ran his businesses from Harare and had a good relationship with the Mugabe government he had previously worked to prevent taking office.
The South African-born businessman, who has held Zimbabwean and Dutch passports as well as enjoying British citizenship, was once rated among the 100 richest men in the UK. He has since fallen out with Mr Mugabe and is now resident in Britain after having his Zimbabwean passport revoked. Fana Hlongwane, once a senior aide to the late former South African defence minister Joe Modise, was also raided in Johannesburg over the same alleged kick-back scandal yesterday morning.
The raid on Mr Bredenkamp's premises marks the culmination of a long-running investigation into sales of aircraft to South Africa by the British company BAE Systems. It was not clear whether the Scorpions had obtained any information that would help them in the investigations of the activities of Mr Bredenkamp. His lawyer, Ian Small-Smith, confirmed that the raid on his client, who owns a number of properties in Britain and has secured indefinite residency, would not affect his intention to remain in the UK. "It's a long, long story," said Mr Small-Smith, who initially agreed to comment further on the case but was then unavailable to do so.
The Scorpions, who were last year asked by the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) for help in investigating the suspect arms deal, declined to comment further on the purpose and outcome of the South African raids. The alleged BAE payments to Mr Bredenkamp are said to have been made between 2003 and 2005 by Red Diamond Trading, a BAE subsidiary registered in the British Virgin Islands. The monies moved from a Lloyds TSB account into one owned by Kayswell Services, a company also registered in the British Virgin Islands of which Mr Bredenkamp was listed as a beneficiary. Red Diamond was liquidated on 30 May last year, just before the firm announced that Lord Woolf, a former chief justice, was due to begin an investigation into its observance of anti-corruption rules.
The once-close relationship between Mr Mugabe and Mr Bredenkamp appears to have been broken after the former rugby star was accused of supporting a plot to replace the 83-year-old president with his long-time ally, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The disclosure of the plot saw Mr Bredenkamp jailed in Zimbabwe for four days on charges that he had violated citizenship laws by owning two passports, one Zimbabwean and the other South African.
Sebastien Berger, Foreign Correspondent
a.. Last Updated: November 27. 2008 1:04AM UAE / November 26. 2008 9:04PM
JOHANNESBURG // When Robert Mugabe's government made clear that three of the
Elders, the distinguished group of global statesmen, were not welcome in
Zimbabwe last week, South Africa's leaders tried to intervene - and failed
Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general, Jimmy Carter, the former
president of the United States, and Graça Machel, the wife of Nelson
Mandela, wanted to mount a humanitarian fact-finding mission to the
benighted country, but were considered "partisan" by Harare.
"We did make attempts to speak to President Mugabe about the request of the
Elders to visit Zimbabwe," said Kgalema Motlanthe, South Africa's president.
"The response was he was out of town and as soon as he would come back they
would give him the message he should come back to us.
"He didn't come back to us."
Mr Motlanthe has a dry, formal manner, and he described events in a
straight, factual way. But the naked snub he revealed speaks volumes about
Mr Mugabe's attitude towards his fellow leaders, and the impotence of the
international community when it comes to Zimbabwe.
Even when faced with as unthreatening a prospect as a visit by three
respected elders, Zimbabwe's octogenarian leader chose simply to ignore the
attempted entreaties of his colleagues and within days the problem -
literally - went away, leaving him as untouched as ever.
Having been in power for 28 years, Mr Mugabe's longevity - coupled with his
role in the struggle for independence on a continent where anti-colonialism
remains a key political consideration - gives him an unparalleled standing
among his peers. And as one of the last surviving "big men", he considers
himself senior to the upstart heads of state of nearby countries who might
dare to criticise him - an outlook epitomised by his public patronising of
Ian Khama, the president of Botswana, at the signing ceremony for the
power-sharing deal in September, when he told him what a good man his father
Mr Annan himself criticised the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) for failing to take a tougher stance on Zimbabwe. "They could have at
various stages taken different decisions which could have had a different
impact," he said.
Mr Mugabe has made a remarkable comeback over the months since the first
round of the elections in March, when his Zanu-PF party lost its
parliamentary majority for the first time since independence in 1980 and he
was beaten into second place in the presidential poll by Morgan Tsvangirai,
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
At the time, some analysts were predicting he would be gone within 24 hours.
Instead, and despite widespread western condemnation and even some African
criticism, he remains president and appears to be in a position to dominate
the unity government, if and when it is formed. It is a tribute to the
effectiveness of brutality, intransigence and sheer determination to hold on
to power, whatever the consequences for others.
As a result, and especially given Zanu-PF's nature as a power network that
extends across the machinery of the Zimbabwean state, rather than simply a
tool of one man at the top, realpolitik has to come into play.
"Anyone who is sensible enough to analyse the results of the elections will
have to admit that all parties involved need each other to work," Ms Machel
"We may not like many things which have happened with that government, but
it has to be brought on board. There's no possibility of ignoring it.
"As we stand, the interests of power are in certain hands. We have to work
with those hands to open and release it. We may not like it, but pragmatism
says that's the way to go."
It is undoubtedly the most realistic position to take, but it is fraught
with dangers, given Mr Mugabe's oft-demonstrated bad faith.
SADC went down the pragmatist route this month when it decreed that the home
affairs ministry, the subject of a deadlock between Zanu-PF and the MDC,
should be administered jointly.
The decision left no part of the state security apparatus in the exclusive
control of the opposition and Zanu-PF accepted it with alacrity, while the
MDC rejected it. Effectively, the region had given its imprimatur to Mr
Mugabe's power grab.
Even if it had been willing to confront him, he had given it no plausible
alternative if it wanted to keep him in its faltering negotiation process.
Tony Reeler, a Zimbabwean activist writing for the Institute for Democracy
in South Africa, said: "There are now exceptionally serious questions about
whether SADC is an institution with the gravitas to resolve the crisis, or
is merely a club for all the old 'Liberation boys', who value each other
more than they value their respective peoples.
"For it is clear that this most recent decision of SADC has continued the
old game of placing leaders above people."
The Carter Center
Date: 25 Nov 2008
As president, I worked actively with African leaders and the British to
change the apartheid regime of Rhodesia into a democratic Zimbabwe in 1980.
Eight years later, The Carter Center established one of our first Global
2000 agriculture projects in Zimbabwe - so successful that we soon shifted
our emphasis to more needy countries. At that time, Zimbabwe was known as a
breadbasket for the region and set an example for the rest of Africa in
economic stability, education, and health care.
Now, after almost three decades of governmental corruption, mismanagement,
and oppression, Zimbabwe has become a basket case, an embarrassment to the
region and a focus of international concern and condemnation. From our
earliest days, the Elders have monitored this political and humanitarian
crisis, while realizing that its resolution must come from within Africa.
There is great aversion among even the most enlightened African leaders to
"interference" from former colonial powers and their allies, including the
United States. However, these same leaders have been reluctant to assume
responsibility for the political stalemate and evolving humanitarian
Since I had played a strong role in the founding of his nation and worked
closely and harmoniously with President Robert Mugabe early in his tenure,
the African Elders welcomed my participation in a mission to assess,
publicize, and help to alleviate the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe.
I met former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Graça Machel, women's
activist and wife of Nelson Mandela, in Johannesburg, South Africa, on
November 21. The Elders' CEO Mabel van Oranje and her staff had made an
advance visit to Zimbabwe and arranged our itinerary there and in South
Africa. Their understanding with the Zimbabwe government officials was that
our visas would be issued when we arrived in Harare, if not earlier.
However, when we met with former South African president Thabo Mbeki, the
mediator designated by other Southern African (SADC) leaders to facilitate
the political dispute in Zimbabwe, he delivered a message from Harare that
we would not be welcomed and no visas would be forthcoming.
We had known that this was a possibility, so we proceeded to learn as much
as possible from a series of delegations that came from Zimbabwe to meet us
in Johannesburg. We obtained visas and airline tickets for those who needed
our help. Our discussions were with ambassadors of major donor nations,
heads of UN agencies, regional managers of CARE, Save the Children, World
Vision, and Zimbabwean civil society leaders who were human rights
defenders, business and financial executives, representatives of teachers,
doctors, nurses, farmers, women, and victims of torture and AIDS. We also
met with Botswana President Ian Khama, South African President Kgalema
Motlanthe, ANC party president (and prospective South African president)
Jacob Zuma, and Zimbabwe's opposition party leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and
In summary, we had a complete and balanced agenda and more frank discussions
than would have been possible in the oppressive and restrained environment
The current political crisis originated with a fraudulent presidential
election in March 2008, with Tsvangirai (MDC) probably winning an actual
majority, but being awarded 47.9 percent and Mugabe (ZANU-PF) 43.2 percent
of the votes when the results were finally announced five weeks after
Election Day, forcing a runoff between the two. Orchestrated violence and
brutal persecution of Tsvangirai and his supporters forced him to withdraw
from the runoff, and Mugabe retained his office by default. African
political leaders largely ignored reports by their election observers, but a
series of negotiations under SADC auspices finally resulted in a
power-sharing agreement signed by Mugabe and Tsvangirai on September 15.
President Mugabe has not been willing to cede any real power to his
opponent, who is supposed to assume the co-equal role of a strong prime
minister. A constitutional amendment will be required to establish this
office in the government and to spell out its legal duties. It is imperative
for this to be accomplished without delay so that a functioning government
can be formed.
With Tsvangirai in exile (not being issued a passport), the trend toward a
national tragedy has accelerated. The official inflation rate is now 231
million per cent (the actual rate 2,000 times as much), and thousands of
people stand in line each day to receive an allowance of 500,000 Zin dollars
(about 2˘ U.S.) from their own bank accounts, not sufficient to buy even
half a loaf of bread. Teachers receive about one U.S. dollar per month,
which will not pay the cost of transportation to and from schools, many of
which have closed. Within the last three months, school attendance has
dropped from 85 percent to less than 20 percent, with students going mainly
in hopes of obtaining some food. Teachers report that there are 20 students
for each remaining textbook.
The manager of a supermarket chain reported that shelves are empty of
necessities, so some valued workers, as in banks, are compensated with a few
liters of fuel or a basket of food instead of the worthless currency (bills
are in denominations of 100s of billions). Meanwhile, top government
officials and other privileged people can exchange Zim money at a favorable
rate that is several thousand times more than the official rate available to
other citizens. They profit greatly from these monetary transactions and
shop in special stores.
The four major hospitals, the medical school, and most other hospitals and
emergency clinics no longer operate, and police have clashed with doctors
and nurses who insist on the ability to treat their patients. It is reported
that 3,500 AIDS victims are dying weekly, and there are cholera outbreaks in
all ten provinces because of uncontrolled sewage and lack of clean water.
More than 600 cases of cholera were reported on the Zimbabwe side of the
main South Africa border crossing during the four days prior to our arrival.
The government admits 294 deaths from cholera, and Zimbabwe doctors told us
that there are more than 6,500 cases, with a death rate ten times greater
than when normal treatment is available. This outbreak of cholera is
arousing growing opposition to immigrants in all the neighboring countries.
The exodus continues; the UN reports an average of 19,000 "mobile and
vulnerable people" (MVPs) leaving Zimbabwe each month, with 15,000 of them
entering South Africa and most of the others going to Botswana. It is
estimated that as many as 4 million people have left Zimbabwe, seeking food,
medical care, and freedom from abuse. Some of the more privileged move
freely back and forth across the border, selling purchased goods at a huge
profit when they return home. The middle class is departing, leaving behind
the extremely poor and the small elite group around Mugabe who are profiting
from the economic disaster.
One night we visited Central Methodist church, where 2,000 refugees were
eating and sleeping in the rooms and corridors. Bishop Paul Verryn was
struggling to raise funds to support this remarkable humanitarian operation.
Human rights activists reported to us that there has been a recent increase
in police brutality, especially at the international borders, and frequently
mentioned Police Superintendent Commander Mabunda as orchestrating the
Almost all of this year's planting season has been lost because of a lack of
seed and fertilizer, and the World Food Program estimates that 50 percent of
the population will need food assistance before April 2009. The next
potential harvest will be in April 2010 - if supplies become available.
Relief agencies report the channeling of available supplies to ruling party
loyalists and a deliberate starving of MDC party leaders.
This entire debacle is exacerbated by denials of an emergency by Mugabe, who
uses the controlled news media to blame the suffering of his people on
non-existent economic sanctions. His tightly controlled and well organized
political party, ZANU-PF, has always been a military organization, with
humanitarian concerns relatively unimportant compared to remaining in power.
Ambassadors from donor nations and leaders of major humanitarian
organizations report that there is no substantive contact permitted between
them and national government officials.
Without a political solution, the economic and social fabric of society will
continue its free fall. When it is impossible to pay the army and the
enormous civil service, the result may be a resort to internecine violence
in what could become a failed state, similar to Somalia.
The overriding problem has been reluctance of key African leaders,
especially in South Africa and neighboring SADC countries, to confront
Robert Mugabe and force him to accept the result of the March election and
more recently to comply with negotiated political agreements to share
governmental authority with Morgan Tsvangirai and the opposition party. The
result is that human suffering, denied and concealed by the Mugabe regime,
escalates and the poisonous effects, including a cholera epidemic, are
spilling over into the entire region.
If action by SADC leaders continues to be ineffective, it is imperative that
the African Union and the United Nations take action. A first step, short of
intercession, could be to send independent fact-finding teams to Zimbabwe to
obtain information directly from major donors, international relief
agencies, medical doctors, teachers, farmers, and other citizens who have
described their experiences to us.
In the meantime, there is a desperate need for food, medicine, and cash
contributions, which can be made to established humanitarian agencies
including CARE, World Vision, and Save the Children - or Bishop Verryn. It
is counterproductive to contribute money that can be confiscated by the
Zimbabwe government. Additional information will be posted at
26 November 2008
By Doreen Mutemeri
It is frustrating and quite unfair for many Zimbabweans in the diaspora to
have their lives placed in limbo all because an 84 old geriatric called
Robert Mugabe behaves like he owns the country. The current state of power
sharing talks make it clear Mugabe has no interest in genuinely sharing
power with the opposition.
Reports as I write suggest over 3000 people have died as a result of the
cholera epidemic, a water-bourne disease that is easily curable. But in a
country where medicines are now hard to come by and there are no chemicals
to treat water, the password to survival is 'don't get sick or you die.'
Even as people die the government refuses to declare the crisis a national
emergency. Instead the Deputy Health Minister Edwin Muguti focussed on the
blame game, accusing so-called western sanctions for the epidemic. Is this
not the same government that banned NGO's from doing humanitarian work a few
One might argue being in the diaspora is a blessing because you do not meet
the suffering first hand, but I wish to argue that the trauma of not knowing
which of your relatives is going to die next is very hard to deal with.
Every phone call back home is a heart-stopping exercise. Its almost like
marking the register or conducting a roll call to see who is still alive and
who has died.
Food shortages, cholera, power cuts, erratic water supplies all combine to
brew a tragic cocktail of death and despair. Of course all these miserable
conditions do not visit our wel taken care of politicians. They live in
plush homes in Borrowdale and have boreholes and generators that cushion
them from their own mess.
There is a slim chance Mugabe will read this article but if he ever does, I
want to ask him how he feels about every single person who has died in
Zimbabwe, from the Gukurahundi Massacres, political violence, those who have
starved to death, the white farmers needlessly killed? Is there any
satisfaction in clinging to power through violent means.
It is not too late for Mugabe to rejoin the family of God where peace and
love reign supreme. The Zimbabwean President is a Catholic to the best of my
knowledge and I think a visit to the Cathedral, which is near his
Munhumutapa Office is long over due. Surely the divine spirit will intervene
and direct him to Gods path. The people have suffered enough.
Doreen Mutemeri is a gender activist based in the United Kingdom.