November 28 2008 at 06:38AM
Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change says it has officially
withdrawn from negotiations with Zanu-PF until Thabo Mbeki is replaced as
the official Zimbabwe facilitator of the Southern African Development
MDC announced this on Wednesday in response to a letter which Mbeki wrote to
Tsvangirai on Monday. Mbeki wrote the letter in response to a letter which
MDC secretary general Tendai Biti wrote to him on November 19.
In his letter Biti described the recent SADC decision calling on MDC and
Zanu-PF to share the disputed Home Affairs Ministry, as a "nullity".
He said the MDC could not proceed this week - as Mbeki and Zanu-PF wanted
them to - with negotiations for Constitutional Amendment 19 which would
create the position of prime minister for Tsvangirai in a unity government
as this would legitimise the SADC ruling.
He also complained that the Zimbabwean state had completely collapsed, that
the government was unable to provide basic amenities such as food, education
and health to its people and that it was viciously attacking MDC members.
Mbeki responded, in great detail, in his letter that MDC had already agreed
to meet on November 19 and 20 to finalise Amendment 19 and that he believed
that the best way to solve the collapse of the state which Biti referred to
was for the MDC to help pass Amendment 19 to get into government as soon as
possible to tackle the problems Biti identified.
Mbeki also took exception to Biti's dismissal of the SADC decision on
sharing the Home Affairs Ministry as a "nullity".
Mbeki added that perhaps MDC believed the Southern African region and Africa
were of little consequence to the future of Zimbabwe, and that others in
Western Europe and North America were more important.
The MDC took this last remark as Mbeki implying that it was doing the
bidding of Western powers - an accusation often levelled against it by
Zanu-PF - and said this was further evidence of Mbeki's anti-MDC bias which
it had complained of often before. It said it would therefore appeal to SADC
to remove him as facilitator.
This article was originally published on page 1 of The Star on November 28,
by Own Correspondents Friday 28 November 2008
JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe's rival political parties on Thursday signed a draft
constitutional amendment Bill that - once passed by Parliament - will allow
President Robert Mugabe to form a new unity government outlined under a
September power-sharing deal.
But sources, who were involved in the inter-party talks, were quick to point
out that agreement on Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill No. 19 did not
mean a power-sharing government will be in place soon, especially because a
host of issues that the Morgan Tsvangirai-led opposition MDC formation had
raised were not addressed.
Analysts see a unity government as best placed to tackle a severe economic
crisis ravaging Zimbabwe and seen in the world's highest inflation rate of
231 million percent, acute shortages of food and basic commodities.
"The night is still very young on this thing (unity government)," said a
source from the Tsvangirai MDC, who did not want to be named because he did
not have permission from the party to discuss the matter with the Press.
"We signed the draft bill but that does not mean we gave commitment to join
the unity government before all these other equally important issues are
resolved," the opposition official added.
Tsvangirai's party, which holds the most seats in Parliament and could very
easily block passage of Amendment 19, had wanted the talks to also discuss
equitable sharing of key ministerial posts, distribution of gubernatorial
posts, ambassadorships and other top government posts.
But negotiators from Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party and the other MDC
formation led by Arthur Mutambara declined to discuss these issues saying
they had instructions from their principals to only discuss the draft
In addition, ZANU PF and the smaller MDC formation noted that the
contentious issue of control of the home affairs ministry that Tsvangirai's
party wanted discussed had already been resolved by the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) and therefore could not be reopened.
"Issues that SADC has dealt with already like the ministry of home affairs
should be left to be resolved by the regional body," said a source from the
Mutambara-led MDC formation, who spoke on condition he was not named.
The SADC, which tasked former South African President Thabo Mbeki to mediate
in Zimbabwe and is the guarantor to the power-sharing deal, three weeks ago
ruled that MDC Tsvangirai and ZANU PF jointly control the ministry of home
affairs and ordered the rivals to immediately form a unity government.
But the MDC - which insists it should control the home affairs ministry that
oversees the police after ZANU PF retained control of the army - rejected
the ruling and accused the SADC of siding with Mugabe.
Tsvangirai on Wednesday called for Mbeki's recusal as mediator, accusing the
ex-South African leader of incompetence as a mediator and of bias in favour
The opposition leader said in statement that his party would no longer
participate in the negotiations officially until Mbeki was removed by SADC
as mediator, adding his MDC's negotiator was remaining in talks on an
"without prejudice basis".
Tsvangirai was travelling to north Africa last night and could not be
reached for comment on Amendment 19. But his representative in the
negotiations signed up all the agreed details of the constitutional
However Tsvangirai, Mugabe or Mutambara can still reject the signed Bill or
seek changes to or deletion of some of its clauses despite the fact that
they authorised their representatives to sign up on Thursday.
According to our sources, agreement on Amendment 19 was only possible after
negotiators agreed to stick to the principles outlined in the September 15
political agreement and to exclude all clauses and provisions that were not
in the accord but were contained in two conflicting drafts that had been
submitted by ZANU PF and MDC-T.
For example, ZANU PF's proposal that Mugabe be given powers to dissolve the
unity government in the constitutional amendment was thrown away on the
basis that it was not part of the September 15 unity agreement.
Also rejected were proposals by MDC-T to give more powers to the office of
prime minister that will be held by its leader and to make the proposed
council of ministers more powerful than Cabinet.
Negotiators, who began leaving South Africa after concluding talks
yesterday, also agreed to reinstate the original agreement that was signed
privately by their principals on September 11 and to throw away a version of
the agreement that was fraudulently altered by ZANU PF and given to
political leaders to sign on September 15.
"We were able to reconcile many of the differences between MDC-T and ZANU PF
on the details of the constitutional amendment very easily because we agreed
to just stick to the outline of the actual unity agreement," said one
Meanwhile Mugabe is expected to proceed with gazetting the constitutional
amendment after which it will be tabled in Parliament for approval to give
legal force to an historic power-sharing agreement that has however looked
November 28 2008 at 06:40AM
Mr Thabo Mbeki
Again, as you know, the letter from the Hon Tendai Biti ends with the appeal to the facilitator - "We look forward to hearing from you on the way forward."
The above observations and allegations made by the Hon Tendai Biti are indeed extremely grave and demand immediate action.
The very firm and unequivocal view of the facilitation in this regard, which the Hon Biti requests, is that we must move with the greatest speed to establish the Inclusive Government, as provided for in the Global Political Agreement.
We must, as a matter of extreme urgency, establish the new Zimbabwe government, which will include the three parties represented in the democratically elected Zimbabwe parliament.
This government must operate according to the principles and procedures detailed in the Global Political Agreement, which both determines that RG Mugabe will be president, and that Morgan Tsvangirai will be prime minister, and specifies the roles of these leaders in the Inclusive Government.
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.
The signing of the Global Political Agreement has provided the possibility for the leaders of the people of Zimbabwe to govern Zimbabwe together, and together to solve the national problems, including the ones raised by the Hon Tendai Biti in his letter to me.
All that is now required is that these leaders must remain true to their word. They must implement the agreement they have signed.
In this regard, they have absolutely no need to refer to their external supporters for approval, however powerful they might seem, including any and all South African formations.
All that is required is that you, the leaders of the people of Zimbabwe, should do what you have committed yourselves to do, and that is all!
In the context of the observations made by the Hon Tendai Biti in his November 19 letter to the facilitator, Zimbabwe urgently needs precisely the agreed Inclusive Government, to:
The Hon Tendai Biti should not transfer the achievement of these tasks to the facilitator, SADC and the AU.
This responsibility belongs squarely to the people of Zimbabwe and their leaders.
The official signing of the Global Political Agreement in Harare on September 15 opened the way for you as Zimbabwe's leaders, and the formations you represent, to act together not as political opponents, but as partners in pursuit of a shared and defined objective of the reconstruction and development of Zimbabwe, the reconciliation and unification of its people, and the entrenchment of democracy.
As you have agreed, in the first instance this must be expressed in the formation of the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government, which must work together as a cohesive formation, together as one, to address the priorities identified in the Global Political Agreement, in the manner prescribed in this agreement.
You and I know that objectively, Zimbabwe desperately needs the establishment of this Inclusive Government, and that this is the most urgent demand of the masses, the people who elected the three parties, including yours, which are represented in the Parliament of Zimbabwe.
Without in any way reflecting on their merits, which would require protracted investigations, the only and most rational way to address the challenges raised by the Hon Tendai Biti is to form the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government and table the matters at issue even at the very first meeting of the cabinet of the Inclusive Government.
We suggest, humbly, that given the fact of the Global Political Agreement, the MDC (T), and indeed the MDC (M), should no longer treat themselves as opposition parties or protest movements, and neither should Zanu PF consider and relate to them as such.
The agreement that has been reached and signed provides that Zimbabwe will and must have a ruling coalition of three co-operating parties.
Acting together, within the agreed framework, these will and must constitute the new "ruling party" of Zimbabwe, which must govern Zimbabwe as this "one" entity.
Contrary to all this, the Hon Tendai Biti asks that we should support the delay in the formation of the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government and help to sustain an untenable situation according to which, despite the agreed and signed Global Political Agreement, the signatories should continue to treat one another as opposed political formations engaged in a deadly fight, one against the other.
Where conflicts and problems continue to persist among the Zimbabwe political parties and the supporters of these, surely the framework has now been established for these to engage one another to address these conflicts and problems!
I am certain that the longer we postpone using this framework, relying on the luxury of a facilitator and other informal advisers, the longer we will perpetuate the terrible misery that afflicts the people of Zimbabwe.
As facilitator, a neighbour and an African, I am immensely proud of the extraordinary work you have done to develop the comprehensive consensus that now exists among yourselves as the leaders of the people of Zimbabwe, which provides the roadmap which defines what must be done to pull Zimbabwe out of the abyss.
What the people of Zimbabwe, our region and Africa now need is the sense of patriotism among yourselves as leaders of the people of Zimbabwe and as African patriots, which will inspire you, despite and beyond personal and partisan interests, to implement the agreements you have concluded.
In this regard, it may be that together, openly, and sooner rather than later, we must give an account to the masses of the people of Zimbabwe of what has been agreed during 18 months of negotiations, and what it is that holds up the united, national advance towards the alleviation of the problems of Zimbabwe, and therefore the speedy improvement of the quality of the lives of the people.
You know this, too, that the rest of Southern Africa, your neighbouring countries, has also had the unavoidable obligation to carry much of the weight of the burden of the Zimbabwe crisis, in many ways.
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.
Loyal to the concept and practice of African solidarity, none of our countries and governments has spoken publicly of this burden, fearful that we might incite the xenophobia to which all of us are opposed.
Nevertheless, the leaders of the people of Zimbabwe, including you, dear brother, need to bear in mind that the pain your country bears is a pain that is transferred to the masses of our people, who face their own challenges of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.
This particular burden is not carried by the countries of Western Europe and North America, which have benefited especially from the migration of skilled and professional Zimbabweans to the north.
In the end, when all is said and done, Zimbabwe will have to exist in peace and productive collaboration with its neighbours in Southern Africa and the rest of Africa.
Realistically, Zimbabwe will never share the same neighbourhood with the countries of Western Europe and North America, and therefore secure its success on the basis of friendship with these, and contempt for the decisions of its immediate African neighbours.
I say this humbly to advise that it does not help Zimbabwe, nor will it help you as prime minister of Zimbabwe, that the MDC (T) contemptuously repudiates very serious decisions of our region, and therefore our continent, describing them as "a nullity".
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 importance.
In this context I have been told that because leaders in our region did not agree with you on some matters that served on the agenda of the SADC Extraordinary Summit Meeting, you have denounced them publicly as "cowards".
Such manner of proceeding might earn you prominent media headlines. However, I assure you that it will do nothing to solve the problems of Zimbabwe.
As you secure applause because of the insult against us that we are "cowards", you will have to consider the reality that our peoples have accepted into their countries very large numbers of Zimbabwean brothers and sisters in a spirit of human solidarity, prepared to sustain the resultant obligations. None of our countries displayed characteristics of cowardice when they did this.
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 offend our sense of dignity as Africans, across our borders.
As facilitator I am more than convinced that we should hold the November 25 meeting as proposed by your negotiators, to agree on the text of Constitutional Amendment No 19, and the procedures for its approval.
The facilitation therefore confirms the arrangements that have been made for this critically important meeting.
Consistent with the principle agreed from the very beginning of the SADC-mandated negotiations, that no party to the negotiations has veto powers, the facilitation will engage any party that arrives to attend the November 25 meeting which your negotiators proposed, and which we convinced the other parties to accept.
As a matter of courtesy, as well as for their information and action, I would like to inform you that I will make available the November 19 letter of the Hon Tendai Biti to me, and this response to you, to:
This article was originally published on page 16 of The Star on November 28, 2008
November 27, 2008
HARARE - A group of soldiers, all wearing full military uniform and enraged
when bank tellers failed to pay them amounts they wanted to withdraw after a
day in the queue, ran amok and vented their anger on the staff of the bank
along Samora Machel Avenue in Harare.
The soldiers numbering between 60 and 70 had waited in the queue up to
closing time at 3.00 pm.
Banks in Harare are now required to serve all customers already in the
banking hall at closing time.
"So the soldiers remained in the banking hall of the ZABG (Zimbabwe Allied
Banking Group) on Samora Machel after closing time," an eye witness who was
in the bank at the time told The Zimbabwe Times.
"Around 4.30 pm we were told that there was no more money to pay out. That's
how the havoc started. The soldiers, all of them in uniform, went on the
rampage. They assaulted the bank staff, including the management staff, They
went outside and broke windows. People fled from the bank and from Samora
Machel Avenue in front of the ZABG."
The soldiers had then blocked and disrupted the flow of traffic along Samora
Machel Avenue in front of the bank. The military police had then arrived on
"The soldiers ran down Samora Machel Avenue, towards main Harare post
office," the witness said. "They entered the Ximex Mall behind the post
office and disrupted business there. People fled in all directions from the
"This was the first time for the people to see anything like this. We are
used to seeing soldiers beating up people on the orders of the government.
Today the soldiers were protesting against the authorities.
"They were protesting in frustration. People spent the whole day in the bank
to withdraw only $500 00, A loaf of bread costs between $2 and $2,5 million.
The fare for the shortest distance by public transport in Harare, that is
from the city to Mbare, is $500 000.
"The soldiers are better off than the rest of us. They ride on public
transport for free as long as they are uniform. When the military caught up
with the soldiers at Ximex Mall they fled again. They highjacked mini buses.
I understand they caused havoc in Mabvuku and Ruwa in the evening.
The witness said the spectacle of soldiers in uniform venting their anger
against the authorities was a first in Harare.
Long queues outside banks have become a common feature in Zimbabwe where
there has been a serious shortage of currency for many months now.
A meeting convened by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions in Masvingo on
Monday called on Zimbabweans to converge on banks next Wednesday on December
3 and stage demonstrations if they fail to withdraw funds from the banks.
27 November 2008
A historic judgement on an application by Zimbabwean commercial farmer Mike
Campbell against the seizure of his land by the Mugabe government will be
delivered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal in
Windhoek, Namibia, on Friday 28 November at 09h30.
The Tribunal was launched in 2005 as the court of last appeal within the
region where SADC citizens would be able to go should justice not prevail in
their own countries.
In December 2007, the Tribunal ruled that Campbell should be given
protection on his Mount Carmel farm until the main matter could be
During March this year, 77 other farmers and their workers were given
protection along with Campbell. However, this ruling has not been respected
by the Zimbabwean government.
Operating with impunity, it has continued to victimise and prosecute
commercial farmers - many of whom were protected by the SADC ruling - for
attempting to continue farming operations in the face of rapidly rising
starvation levels countrywide.
On Sunday June 29, just two days after the violence-ridden Presidential
run-off election, Campbell, together with his wife Angela and son-in-law Ben
Freeth, were brutally attacked and abducted from their farm in the Chegutu
They were taken to a notorious militia camp where they were severely beaten
and tortured for hours late into the night. Then, with guns held to their
heads, they were forced to sign a piece of paper stating they would withdraw
the case from the SADC Tribunal.
In July, the Tribunal found the Zimbabwean government to be in contempt of
court and the matter was referred to the SADC Heads of State.
Since then, the Zimbabwean government has deliberately defied the Tribunal
ruling and prosecutions have continued.
For example, Paul Stidolph, who was granted protection by the Tribunal, is
being prosecuted for allegedly failing to vacate his farm which was taken
over by an army general.
He is due to appear in court on Friday November 28, the same day that the
Tribunal issues its judgment on the main matter.
Digby Nesbitt, who is also protected by the Tribunal, has an assistant
commissioner of police living illegally in his house alongside him and men
with guns continuously intimidate him and prevent him from farming.
Another commercial farmer who is on the list of protected farmers, Deon
Theron was prosecuted and forced to leave his property.
Tragically, more than 80 of Theron's dairy cows starved to death after a
reserve bank official took over his farm and the cattle were given neither
access to grazing, nor alternative feed.
"Since the country continues to face chronic shortages of milk, and
malnutrition has escalated dramatically, the loss of the dairy cows, and
their needless suffering is criminal," said Freeth.
The main judgement taking place in Windhoek on Friday will centre on three
q Can the Zimbabwean government take property without the right to a
hearing in a court, as it is currently doing with impunity?
q Is the Zimbabwean government obliged to pay fair compensation within
a reasonable period if it takes property from the legal owners?
q Is it legitimate for the Zimbabwean government to operate in a
discriminatory matter where property is taken only from the whites and given
almost exclusively to black cabinet ministers, Zanu PF legislators, judges,
security force personnel and other senior civil servants and party members?
The forthcoming judgment in this landmark property rights case is very
significant in the history of the SADC region.
It will be the first time that the court has made a final ruling and it will
be the first time that SADC has used the Tribunal building.
The judgement will set the tone as to whether property rights will be
respected in the 14-member country grouping in the future.
It will also set a precedent regarding discrimination issues and whether
they will be allowed to persist in SADC.
However, the crux will hinge on whether the SADC heads of state decide to
take firm action - with a peace-keeping force if necessary - to ensure that
Zimbabwe respects the rule of law; or whether the state of lawlessness will
be allowed to prevail.
The SADC judgement will be made against the backdrop of the grave
humanitarian crisis which is spiralling rapidly out of control in Zimbabwe.
Levels of starvation have increased alarmingly and aid organisations are
currently feeding more than 3.8 million people, many of whom have no access
to medical care, clean drinking water or sanitation.
In January, this figure will rise to around 5.5 million of the estimated 7-8
million people left behind in the country. In 2000, the year of the land
invasions, the population was estimated at 12.5 million.
The hunger stems directly from the lawlessness and disrespect for property
rights that has criminalised farmers for trying to produce food for the
"It is critical to the future of the Zimbabwean people that the
international community ensures the SADC tribunal judgment is respected and
that farmers and their farm workers are properly protected from future
prosecutions and acts of intimidation," said Freeth.
He expressed disappointment that a bus which had been organised to transport
a group of the 77 farmers to Windhoek to hear the judgement was denied a
temporary export permit by the Zimbabwean authorities.
by Own Correspondent Friday 28 November 2008
JOHANNESBURG - The US on Wednesday accused southern African nations of being
"short-sighted" for failing to step up pressure on Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe to agree a "reasonable power-sharing arrangement" with the
"It is short-sighted for the region to allow Mugabe to do this, and I
believe that the region has the capacity to put enough pressure on him to
get a reasonable power-sharing arrangement," United States secretary of
state Condoleezza Rice told the media in Washington.
Echoing Botswana's call to the region this week, Rice urged Zimbabwe's
neighbours to turn the screws on Mugabe .
"Frankly we need more help from the region," she said adding that the region
stood to bear the full brunt of the Zimbabwe crisis if it was not resolved
Botswana, one of the few African countries that have openly criticised
Mugabe's June re-election said Zimbabwe's neighbours should bring economic
pressure to bear on Harare following SADC's failure to persuade the veteran
leader and the opposition to implement a September power-sharing deal.
The power-sharing agreement has stalled as the Morgan Tsvangirai-led
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party and ZANU PF fight over
control of key ministries, distribution of gubernatorial posts,
ambassadorships and other top government posts.
As the US continues to show growing impatience with the Zimbabwean leader,
Rice said Mugabe was squeezing out the MDC while he continued to entrench
himself in power.
"It looks to me as if what Mugabe is doing is that he is pulling as much
power into his own hands as he possibly can," she said. "What started out as
power-sharing talks don't look very promising."
On Tuesday the US slapped sanctions on four allies of Mugabe, a move that
Rice said "really have teeth" and will see their assets in the US seized
while US citizens would be banned from doing business with them.
The US has maintained visa sanctions and asset freezes on the Harare
administration since 2002 following disputed elections, allegations of human
rights abuses and the often violent seizure of white-owned farms for
redistribution to landless blacks.
Early this year the US, the European Union and other Western countries
widened the sanctions to include companies and individuals doing business
with Harare, following Mugabe's re-election in a vote widely condemned as
undemocratic. - ZimOnline - ZimOnline
JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - South Africa's ruling party chief Jacob Zuma on
Thursday urged regional leaders to pressure Zimbabwe's squabbling leaders to
resolve a ruinous political and economic crisis.
"The region remains seized by the conflict in Zimbabwe. The political
impasse and the economic meltdown have been joined by the health crisis,"
Zuma told journalists, amid fears that the toll from a cholera epidemic
could touch 400.
The head of the African National Congress (ANC) party said the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc "must work to ensure the
impasse is resolved."
"It's critical that political leaders act decisively to address the needs of
the people," added Zuma.
Zimbabwean political parties signed a power-sharing accord two months ago
but the formation of a new government has been delayed by a disagreement
over the distribution of key ministries.
President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and opposition Movement for Democratic
Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai have been at loggerheads over the ministry
of home affairs which controls the police.
"The plight and suffering of Zimbabweans is no longer an internal matter it
is now a global matter, it is affecting the region," said Zuma.
"Leaders must work to implement the deal, the more you delay the more you
push Zimbabwe to the worse," he added.
The latest round of Zimbabwe talks were suspended on Wednesday after
Tsvangirai accused mediator Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's last president, of
not fully understanding the situation in Zimbabwe.
"Mbeki did a very good job which led to the signing of the deal, so the
failure for the Zimbabweans to reach an agreement should not be pinned on
him, SADC has met a number of times to try and make the deal work," said
The explosion of cholera is the latest sign of the collapse of the country
which was regarded as a post-colonial success story in the first two decades
after independence from Britain in 1980 but is now burdened by the world's
highest rate of inflation -- last put at 231 million percent.
The nation's dilapidated infrastructure has left sewage flowing openly in
the streets while drinking water goes untreated.
The disease has spread to neighbouring South Africa, where six people,
including two nationals, have died of cholera after returning from Zimbabwe
over the last week.
By Blessing Zulu
27 November 2008
After weeks of stalemate, talks among Zimbabwe's main political parties on
sharing power in a national unity government moved forward on Thursday as
negotiators agreed on the form of a constitutional amendment to establish
the new office of prime minister.
The draft amendment was being sent to President Robert Mugabe, head of the
long-ruling ZANU-PF party, Morgan Tsvangirai, founder of the Movement for
Democratic Change and prime minister-designate under the power-sharing deal
signed Sept. 15, and rival MDC leader Arthur Mutambara, designated deputy
prime minister in the proposed government.
If the draft amendment meets their approval it can move on to parliament for
passage and eventual signature into law by Mr. Mugabe - but Tsvangirai MDC
sources warned that the bill might not pass if Mr. Mugabe does not make
further concessions on sharing key posts.
The power-sharing negotiations in the Johannesburg suburb of Sandton were
still proceeding under the mediation of Thabo Mbeki, the former South
African president, despite the demand this week by the Tsvangirai MDC
formation that he be replaced as talks facilitator. Tsvangirai charged in a
statement this week that Mbeki misrepresented the content of talks.
Relations between Mbeki andTsvangirai hit what seemed to be a new low after
Mbeki sent the opposition leader a letter taking him to task for dismissing
recommendations by the Southern African Development Community urging speedy
formation of the national unity government, and implying that he was
beholden to and under the influence of Western governments.
Harare-based political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya told reporter Blessing Zulu
of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that that in strife-ridden Zimbabwe, the
agreement on the the constitutional amendment draft offered the country's
long-suffering citizens a glimmer of hope.
Friday, 28 November 2008
Johannesburg - An exiled Zimbabwean human rights lawyer has added to
condemnation of some section of the international community, for their
persistent pressure on the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to form a
unity government with Robert Mugabe's ZANU (PF) despite the latter's refusal
to share power fairly. In an exclusive interview with The Zimbabwean this
week, Gabriel Shumba, who is also the Director of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum
(ZEF), described as unfortunate recent comments by the Elders and mediator,
Thabo Mbeki, that the MDC should first form the unity government and
negotiate the power imbalance later.
"There is absolutely no justification for putting pressure on the MDC,
the party that won the elections, and is in no way responsible for the
worsening crisis in Zimbabwe," said Shumba.
"The crisis was authored, in some instances deliberately, as a means
to the end of power by Robert Mugabe and ZANU (PF). They however, remain
defiant and unrepentant in the face of such endless suffering and I think it
is an indictment of the weakness of our regional and international
institutions that the world appears helpless to deal with the monster that
is the ZANU (PF) dictatorship, whilst finding a convenient scapegoat in the
MDC," he added.
Shumba's comments came after two of the Elders - former United States
President, Jimmy Carter and Mozambican social activist Graca Machel, when
briefing South African journalists in Johannesburg , urged the MDC to enter
into a compromise deal with ZANU (PF) and try and resolve their differences
from within government ranks.
"If there are any obvious inequities subsequently in the proper
sharing or dividing of power they can be corrected some of them at least not
only by immediate changes to the law but over a period of time," until a new
constitution was in place or over the next 18 months, Carter said.
"As we stand, the institutions of power are in certain hands. You have
to work with those hands to open them and release it," said Machel.
However, Shumba, who has also been a victim of Mugabe's political
violence on opposing views, said that this was unworkable.
"Mugabe's track records of mala fides in any negotiations are record
breaking. I therefore would not advise them (MDC) to enter into this
arrangement before all important issues are agreed to and legally cast in
stone. Unilateral appointments and fraudulent alteration of the agreement
are some of the recent actions by ZANU (PF) from which the MDC should learn
lessons" said the human rights lawyer.
"The best thing for Zimbabweans is a transitional structure towards
free and fair elections. However, this has to be augmented by international
humanitarian intervention to alleviate the continued suffering of the
people," he added.
By Ellis Ncube
November 27, 2008
By Our Correspondent
HARARE -Two more mines have closed because of declining revenues and general
This follows the closure early this month of one of the biggest gold mining
conglomerates because the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had failed to pay more
than US$20 million it owes for gold deliveries dating back to 2007.
Bindura Nickel Corporation has put Trojan Nickel Mine near Shamva and
Shangani Mine about 100 km east of Bulawayo on a care and maintenance
The company says the move is designed to mitigate the effects of declining
nickel prices, low production levels, unfavourable exchange rates and
periodical power cuts which have undermined viability.
"As BNC (Bindura Nickel Corporation) revenues are currently insufficient to
cover its operation costs, a decision has been taken to place Shangani and
Trojan mines on a care and maintenance basis with immediate effect," a
cautionary statement to shareholders says.
The Corporation has also put one of the biggest smelters and refinery on a
care and maintenance basis. But this will be done as soon as stocks have
Last month, Metallon Gold mine, a conglomerate owned by South African mining
magnate Mzi Khumalo closed Shamva Gold Mine one of the largest gold
producers, throwing more than 3 500 workers out of employment.
The mine was closed as gold producers blamed the central bank of failing to
honour its financial obligations to producers. The central bank has often
accused the high value mining sector of shady deals involving the
externalization of funds and smuggling minerals out of the country.
BNC says it had taken these drastic measures to cut costs although its
primary objective is to retain and maintain critical infrastructure and
skills with the hope of resuming operations when more favourable business
The mining sector alongside the agricultural sector have been the backbone
of the Zimbabwean economy but both have been devastated by government
policies adopted over the past decade that have stifled investors efforts
A haphazard land reform programme initiated by Zanu-PF in 2000 triggered the
collapse of agricultural sector which provided primary raw materials to
manufacturers spawning a severe foreign currency shortage.
Mining laws and regulatory controls instituted by the Reserve Bank have
combined to restrict expansion of the sector, further worsening foreign
28 November 2008
CHINA, which has been criticised for propping up President Robert Mugabe,
has pledged vaccines worth $500000 to fight cholera in Zimbabwe, as the
death toll climbed to 366.
China's deputy head of mission in Zimbabwe, He Meng, told the Herald
newspaper Beijing would bring the vaccines soon.
"We are sympathising with the Zimbabwean people ," he was quoted as saying.
China would also give Zimbabwe food to help ease shortages.
World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative Custodia Mandlhate
said containing the outbreaks with the prevailing poor water supply and
sanitation was difficult. The WHO - a United Nations agency - was helping
the government co-ordinate partner contributions, support case
investigations and manage and set up treatment centres.
Cholera kits worth more than $900000 had been handed to the ministry of
health and child welfare before the outbreak as strategic stocks.
Mandlhate said that the WHO would procure different items valued at $400000
to replace the stocks that were running out.
The latest report from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian
Affairs indicated that so far 366 people had died of cholera in Zimbabwe,
108 of them in Harare.
A further 8887 cases were attended to countrywide, with Harare topping the
list with 4697 cases.
Cholera cases have been reported in SA and Botswana .
Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs president Fortune Charumbira has called on the
government to embark on "spirited" cholera awareness campaigns in the rural
He said most rural people remained vulnerable to the disease because of lack
of knowledge, the Herald reported.
The health system in Zimbabwe, which has the world's highest inflation rate
of more than 230-million percent, has been hit by drug and equipment
shortages while many doctors and nurses have left the country in search of
The major public hospitals have shut down in recent weeks and garbage
remains uncollected in most towns, which are also struggling to cope with
water shortages and broken sewers. Doctors and nurses were beaten by
soldiers last week when they protested at the conditions.
Cholera causes vomiting and acute diarrhoea, and can rapidly lead to death
from dehydration. It spreads fastest in situations with poor sanitation or
where contaminated water is used for drinking or for preparing food.
Many Zimbabweans had hoped the power-sharing agreement signed by President
Robert Mugabe and opposition rival Morgan Tsvangirai in September would help
rescue the economy, but it appears to be unravelling as the two fight for
control of key ministries.
November 28 2008, 6:20:00
The KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Health Department says two Zimbabweans
suspected with cholera symptoms have been admitted at the RK Khan Hospital
in Durban. Blood samples of the two have been taken but preliminary results
indicate that they do not have cholera. But second tests will be
administered to ascertain if this is really not cholera. KZN Health
Department spokesperson Leon Mbangwa says they have been admitted at an
isolation ward for further tests.
Mbangwa says one of the patients had travelled to Zimbabwe and
returned with his cousin to South Africa. He says preliminary test of the
two showed no signs of cholera. One person who had travelled to Zimbabwe
died in KZN as a result of cholera.
Mbangwa says of the two patients has been working in this country for
Meanwhile, Limpopo Health spokesperson, Phuti Seloba, says over 250
cholera patients have been treated at six hospitals in the province since
last week. Two critically ill patients have been transferred from Musina and
Siloam hospitals to the Polokwane provincial hospital. Seloba says that most
of them are Zimbabweans who are working in South Africa.
|Thursday, 27 November 2008|
document of the former president's views on HIV/AIDS is finally published
A recent study by Harvard researchers has estimated - conservatively - that the prolonged refusal by the Mbeki government to provide anti-retroviral drugs through the public health care system in South Africa resulted in some 365,000 early deaths. This accounting has been accepted by South Africa's new Minister of Health, Barbara Hogan, who told Celia Dugger of the New York Times "I feel ashamed that we have to own up to what Harvard is saying ... The era of denialism is over completely in South Africa."
There is a lot that is known about Mbeki's racially driven immersion in AIDS pseudo-science. The ANC government's involvement in the putative AIDS cure Virodene - which led to the initial hostility to AZT and then into ‘denialism' - has been documented in detail on this website (see here.) For an article setting out Mbeki's subsequent AIDS ‘dissidence' see here.
But there is much that still has to come out about the secret history of that period. It is beginning to do so. As Dugger notes, since Mbeki's recall "stories about what happened inside the ANC have begun to tumble out, offering unsettling glimpses of how South Africa's AIDS policies went so wrong."
One of the important missing documents has been the letter written by Thabo Mbeki - with the help of Minister Essop Pahad and his legal advisor, Mojanku Gumbi - to the head of the Medical Research Council Professor William Makgoba. It was sent off under the name of - but not signed by - the then Premier of Limpopo Ngoako Ramatlhodi.
Shortly thereafter Ramatlhodi had told Makgoba that he had been acting "on behalf of a collective of the President, Pahad, and Mojanku." The letter had been sent as a Word document to Makgoba and, it subsequently emerged, the electronic signature on the document suggested that it had been written on Mbeki's personal computer. Under properties it had stated: "Author: Thabo Mbeki", "Company: Office of the President".
Although the letter has been reported on before it has never been published. However, a PDF version was posted along with Dugger's New York Times article on the cost of Mbeki's AIDS policy. Ramatlhodi had confirmed to Dugger the true origin of the letter. A transcription follows below. It provides a vivid insight into President Mbeki's state of mind at the time, his racial paranoia and his hubris. (The references to Mbeki in the third person were probably inserted at the end of the drafting process.)
Mbeki's letter to Makgoba:
PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL
December 11, 2000
Dear Professor Makgoba,
I beg for your indulgence for writing this unsolicited letter to you.
It may well be that when you receive it you will not have time to read it given your tight schedule However, I do request that you spare some of your invaluable time to respond to the matters raised in this letter in order to educate me and others so that we become more enlightened on this issue I am about to raise.
The matter I want to raise relates to this rather vexed issue of HIV/AIDS.
You might ask why I pick on you in this regard. My impression is that you have emerged as the towering authority on this issue. At least that is how the liberal press in this country and elsewhere in the world would have us believe. This is the reason why I thought it prudent to initiate an intellectual debate with one who is becoming an arbiter on a matter as serious as the one under consideration.
I have no doubt that you would be fully aware of the unabating character assassination our President has bean subjected to by the media on this issue. The depth and scale of the assault is nothing less than a public lynching of the head of state and government. What concerns me and others like me is that this media uses you as the counterveiling and educated voice of scientific truth and sanity, that is opposed to the uneducated and irrational voice of President Thabo Mbeki.
The point about this particular matter is that whereas the persuasive influence of political assertions depends greatly on popular beliefs and convictions, the validity of scientific truths does not depend on opinion polls.
One of the peculiar things about the controversy that has raged around the head of President Mbeki on the issue of HIV/AIDS is that this truism has been turned on its head.
In this rather strange situation, the politician seems to be searching for the truth, regardless of the content of popular belief, which is a fundamental matter with regard to the politician's obligation to win votes in elections, and therefore survive as a successful politician.
On the other hand, the scientists who differ with him seem to justify their "scientific" propositions on the base that opinion polls, among scientists and the ordinary people, demonstrate popular support for their views.
And yet, almost by definition, new scientific truths are a repudiation of popular and generally accepted views, which makes scientific originality inherently n act of scientific rebellion.
It would seem to me that even in a revolution, the successful politician must skate on the crest of the incoming tide.
On the contrary, the epoch making scientist, the revolutionary scientific thinker, must swim against the powerful force of the incoming tide.
However, I may be moving ahead of myself and the case I seek to present to you.
Let me therefore start where I should have begun in the first place.
In your very challenging book, "Mokoko," you make the blowing very interesting observation,
"For example, course curricula (in African Universities) were designed to be extensions and at times replicas of the curricula in the colonial power. The examples of the medical and engineering curricula in South Africa and West Africa come to mind. Most South African doctors today practise, or would find it easier to practice the medicine they were taught at Medical School better in the UK than in South Africa' for the curriculum is based on and is a true replica of the British system of health care. The textbooks, the journals and the role models are almost exclusively British-American. Even diseases for which we have enormous advantages, prevalence and experiences, the South African doctor has to wait for research or solutions about aetiology, modes of presentation and treatment protocols to originate from Europe and America, where ten or twenty patients will have been studied. By faithfully copying this curriculum the British of course reward us with recognition; and this in the simple-minded constitutes international standards and recognition. The faithful reproduction of curricula appl(ies) to many other fields of study. Having studied in both the UK and America I realise how sensitive and suspicious the British or American scholars are of knowledge outside their own experiences. For South Africa, there were two logical reasons for this imitative approach: to maintain international standards and recognition that we are acceptable to the colonial power and to facilitate the education and subsequent return of the colonialists back to the motherland. The criterion of standards was not qualitative, but socio-political and historical. English-speaking colonies wanted recognition from Britain, French-speaking and Portuguese-speaking wanted recognition from France and Portugal respectively. At the same time when this recognition was taking place in Africa, there were no reciprocal recognitions of standards between either Britain, France or Portugal in terms of their education systems. To the contrary, the British did not recognise French, Portuguese or Spanish degrees and despised them." (Mokoko, p 174.)
As you know, some of the questions that President Mbeki as asked with regard to HIV/AIDS are:
since HIV infection in 1985 affected essentially male homosexuals in both South Africa and the United States, what has happened to change the situation in South Africa, such that HIV transmission in the latter has become heterosexual?
since HIV was said not to be endemic in this part of the world in 1985, when did it become endemic and why?
In general, why is the transmission of HIV in the developed western world largely restricted to gay men and intravenous drug users while in Africa it affects almost completely ordinary heterosexuals with virtually no incidence of drug abuse? and,
what substance is there to the argument about the dangerous toxicity of such anti-retroviral drugs as AZT and what is the implication of this?
Again as you [are] aware, President Mbeki has been in contact with some of the so-called AIDS ‘dissidents', such as Dr David Rasnick.
Seine of these ‘dissidents' serve with you and other ‘orthodox AIDS scientists' on our President's Scientific AIDS Panel.
The combination of these two factors - the President's inquiry end his contact with the ‘dissidents' - has produced various responses, many of them distinctly unpleasant.
One of these, as you know, is the charge that the President is lagging behind the development of scientific knowledge by at least 15 years.
What is said is that the questions the President is raising were answered by western scientists at least 15 years ago.
It is also said that the ‘dissidents' the President speaks to lost the scientific argument to other western scientists at least 15 years ago.
After this seemingly powerful argument, it is assumed and intended that our President should then admit the error of his ways with regard to the matter of HIV/AIDS and shut up!
All that is said is that Western science long made a ruling!
The question is then asked - what right does a non-scientist have, such as our President, to question matters that science in Britain, France, Portugal and the United States answered many years ago!
The real question however that those who oppose President Mbeki are asking is, what right does any African have to question the findings of western science, regardless of whether he or she is a scientist or not!
Indeed, a petition has been signed allegedly by many scientists, part of whose argument is precisely this - that President Mbeki is wrong to ask questions when western science has already answered such questions.
I understand that you were one of the signatories of this petition, which was prepared in the context of the Durban International AIDS Conference.
Everything I know limited and inconsequential as it may be, tells me that you were right when you warned, in ‘Mokoko', against our slavish subservience to western science!
It is said that the heterosexual transmission of HIV is, in particular, a specifically African phenomenon.
Accordingly, sub-Saharan Africa accounts for at least two-thirds of the global incidence of HIV/AID, it is said.
These circumstances suggest to me that, as you write in ‘Mokoko', with regard to "diseases for which we have enormous advantages, prevalence and experiences, the South African doctor (should not) wait for research or solutions about aetiology, modes of presentation and treatment protocols to originate from Europe and America, where ten or twenty patients will have been studied."
Your current position seems to be a repudiation of the intellectual honesty inherent in the paragraph I have just cited. I sincerely hope I am wrong in my observations, in case I am not, I request you to assist me and others like me to understand the sudden change. We would be greatly indebted to you for such enlightenment.
This is important given the pride we held you in as you waged a seemingly principled struggle at the University of the Witwatersrand. In those days many of us saw the author of Mokoko living out our ideals as African people. That is why many of us held you up as a hero, and perhaps that is why we bother at all to engage you on the issues that seem to puzzle us.
My contention is that the President is being vilified merely for asking questions. You seem to be part of those who are calling for his head unless he repents and proffer an apology to western science The irony is that none of those occupying the self appropriated high moral ground have yet produced any evidence to suggest that the President is wrong. They are all refusing or are unable to provide scientific answers to the questions that President Mbeki has posed.
In the book ‘Mokoko' you write:
"The mention of the word Africanisation sends shocks and shivers into the various establishment structures. The word Africanisation has become negatively politicised Politically, it conjures up a déjà vu phenomenon of dictatorships, military coups, the expulsions, exodus of Europeans, Asians and unstable governments; economically, it represents poverty, famines and a mess; in development terms, it reminds one of the total lack of it; in education it brings into focus the lowering of standards, campus thrashing, kidnappings, poor academic scholarship; in health it brings memories of mutilation of bodies, witchcraft and AIDS somewhere in the continent. (My emphasis.) Europeans have found this word, its interpretation and what it embodies uncomfortable. They have decided on its meaning and interpretation from their perspective i.e. provided a Eurocentric meaning and promoted this throughout the world. (p206)
I could not agree more!
In this context, I would like to remind you of the story of the forced removals of Africans from District Six in Cape Town during the Year 1901.
Of District Six, Vivian Bickford-Smith has written:
Its population was drawn from all over the world. By 1900 the largest component was formed by people whom the Cape Government referred to variously as "Malay", "Mixed and Other" or "Coloured"... The District also had large numbers of recent immigrants from Britain, several thousand Jews from Tsarist Russia and several more thousand Mfengu, Gcaleka and Gaika from the Eastern Cape...
A vast range of nationalities were represented in the District, including considerable numbers of Indians, Chinese and Australians."
(Historical Society of Cape Town: CABO 1985, Vol 3, No 4.)
Out of this population drawn from all over the world, the colonial government picked on at least 6000 Africans and forcibly removed the to a place called Uitvlugt, with the township later named Ndabeni.
This was to be followed in 1902 with the passage of the Native Reserve Locations Act which prescribed that Africans resident in Cape Town had to live in their own segregated locations.
Those who do not know would be pardoned if they thought all this had to do with an early expression of the apartheid policies implemented after 1948, which resulted in the ultimate destruction of District Six during the 1950's.
However, the reason for this early forced removal was the fact that in 1901, Cape Town was affected by a serious outbreak of the dreaded bubonic plague!
Here are some excerpts from a letter signed by one H.S., which appeared in the Cape Times of April 3, 1901.
"Sir, - Don't you think the time has arrived when we should take a leaf out of the book the Boers, who, in spite of all their faults, know how to manage the nigger, viz., to prevent them having the monopoly of the pavements and hustling ladies and gentlemen, who, naturally afraid of coming into contact with them during these plague times, prefer giving them a wide berth, leaving the pavement for the street and master nigger monarch of all he surveys? Surely the police, who often direct their energies into the wrong channel, and leave undone what they ought to do, may be ordered to keep undesirables off the pavement, and by doing so arrest the spread of plague from contact...How on earth, even if you keep yourself as clean as possible, can one avoid infection if such things are permitted, (mixing all races in public transport), seeing also that the Dock busses and cabs proceeding townwards from the Docks are crowded with the dirtiest Kafirs in creation? Is this a civilised country or are we living amongst a lot of barbarians? - I am, etc."
You may think that this ‘Letter to the Editor' represented the views of the ‘white lunatic fringe.'
In her 1989 doctoral thesis, ‘Public health and Society in Cape Town:
1880-1910' Elizabeth van Heyningen reports:
"At a special meeting of the Sanitary and Health Committee of the Cape Town City Council (in 1900), Mr Owen Lewis urged that the ‘kafir' population was a source of great danger. Should the plague break out, he predicted, it would probably be in the quarters in which they lived. The Chief Sanitary Inspector, Corben, objected, arguing that there were fewer cases of infectious disease amongst Africans in Cape Town than whites in proportion to their numbers."
She also reports that an eminent British scholar of his day, Professor Simpson, considered African culture to be totally inimical to city life. The learned professor said:
"The natives coming direct from their kraals in the native territories to work in Cape Town, being unused to town life, are unable to adapt themselves to their new conditions and crowd together when permitted, to extraordinary degrees."
In other words, they could not but generate filth and breed disease!
A conference of all the white governments in South Africa was held in Pretoria in 1899 to agree on a co-ordinated response to any outbreak of the plague.
Clause 15 of the agreement reached at the conference stated:
"That as far as possible steps be taken for preventing vagrancy and the unrestrained movements of natives within or from any infected place."
The actual situation however is that the racial breakdown of the plague case in the Cape Peninsula in 1901 was:
White : 207
And yet the reality is that it was the Africans who were forcibly removed.
The reason for this is perfectly clear - racism!
White South Africa, supported by a British Professor, knew it as a matter of fact that to be African meant that you were obvously and naturally a carrier or the plague!
The April 4, 1901 issue of "Imvo Zabantsundu" carried an article discussing steps that had been taken after a small outbreak of the plague in the King Williamstown area towards the end of 1900.
The correspondent wrote:
"Plague restrictions came into operation in King Williamstown last week. It is a matter of great regret that regulations for the public safety cannot nowadays be carried out without creating a sense of grievance among the Natives. The present writer was, we believe, the first to be turned away from the train under a regulationthat no aboriginal Native or Asiatic should be allowed to travel by rail without a certificate of inoculation and a pass from the Plague Doctor. It will thus be seen that from this the white people are exempted. We have thus yet another illustration of the working of the formula of ‘Equal rights for all civilised men south of the Zambezi.' Of course the poor Natives are quite puzzled why it is that rom them a certificate of inoculation should be exacted even when proceeding to a place three miles out of town, while the wearers of another colour should go scot free...Our people are the more perplexed since the plague is not endemic to this Country. It comes from abroad with ships...The Natives we believe have no objection to be treated as other people, but they demur to be dealt with differently, and that without rhyme or reason."
As Corben, the Cape Town sanitary inspector knew in 1901, we also know that there was no organic relationship whatsoever between the fact of our being African and the outbreak of the bubonic plague.
Yet, despite the brave voices of Corben and others, the disease of racism dictated that white South Africa expel the Africans from central Cape Town, in much the same way as rats were exterminated in central Cape Town to wipe out the plague.
Being an educated person, you will, of course, know that a worse fate befell the Jews when the Black Death (the bubonic plague) hit Europe in the 14th century. Dr E.L. Skip Knox of Bolse State University has written:
"As ever in Europe, when a crisis arose, the Jews were easy targets of blame. They were not the only group accused of poisoning water or practising witchcraft and hence bringing on the plague, but they suffered the anger of mob violence over a wide area. There were massacres, especially in the cities along the Rhine River... On one day in Strasbourg in 1349, nearly 200 Jews were burned to death by an angry mob." (The Black Death.)
Those who carried out theseatrocities were, undoubtedly, most certain about the correctness of their diagnosis that the Jews were the cause of the Black Death. The fact of the matter, however, is that this represented nothing but pure racism, unadulterated anti-Semitism.
I am pretty certain that if, at that time, there had been significant numbers of Africans in Europe, as there are now, their fate would have been no different from that of the Jews and the Gypsies.
Those who attributed the spread of the bubonic plague in Cape Town and elsewhere in the country in 1901 to the Africans, were similarly very certain about the correctness of their diagnosis.
Once again, the fact of the matter was that this represented nothing but pure racism, a continuation of the process of the dehumanisation of the African people.
And so I return to the issue of HIV/AIDS.
You will of course understand that ‘the poor Native' writer of this letter is also quite puzzled as to why, once again, we the Natives are accused of being the biggest global threat to human life, accounting for fully two-thirds of the global incidence of HIV!
With regard to the plague, we were charged with being naturally filthy, natural providers of the suitable habitat for carrier vermin, dangerous agents for the propagation of a killer disease.
As far as I understand it, nobody has charged that HIV thrives in circumstances and because of squalor and unhygienic conditions.
I suppose that this time around we should be grateful that we are not being accused of being naturally filthy and therefore a natural habitat for HIV.
A Kenyan doctor, Dr G.S.N. Wanene has made a point that seems logical to me, a non-scientist. He says:
"There is no compelling scientific reason to make us assume that there are fundamental differences in the performance of heterosexual acts in the West and in developing countries. Heterosexual activity in the West and in Africa is still the same heterosexual activity, and ONLY THE COLOUR OF THE INSTRUMENTS IS DIFFERENT. Sub-Saharan Africa has 10% of the World's population. It therefore has 10% of the World's population. It therefore has 10% of the world's heterosexual activity. It should have roughly 10% of the world's heterosexually spread HIV. Africa has more than 70% of the world's HIV problem. It appears somebody has given Africa the other 60% and wants the Africans and the rest of the world...to blame that EXTRA 60% of Sub-Saharan HIV/AIDS on EXTRA heterosexual spread in Africa." (Wanene's emphases). (HIV/AIDS: The Outside Story)."
Of course, these comments relate to the question that President Mbeki posed to the Scientific Panel on which you serve.
How are we to explain all this - that African heterosexual activity is highly toxic, whereas Western heterosexual activity is perfectly benign!
Or is it that as Africans we are so heterosexually hyperactive that we account for 70% of the world's heterosexual activity!
All this is puzzling to ‘poor Natives' such as the President and I.
Dr Wanene quotes one Negley Farson as having written in "Last Chance in Africa", Seventh Impression, January 1953, p.34:
"Any idea that he (the African) should cut down on his birth rate - us contraceptives for instance - just strikes him as ludicrous... Fornication, the black man seems convinced, I about the only pleasure left to him."
Dr Wanene also quotes our own Field Marshall Smuts has having said:
"The African is the only happy human...no other race is so easily satisfied, so good tempered, so carefree... The African easily forgets past troubles, and does not anticipate future troubles. This happy-go-luck disposition is a great asset, but it also has its draw backs. There is no inward incentive to improvement, there is no persistent effort in construction, and there is complete absorption in the present, its joys and sorrows."
You will of course be familiar with the book, "AIDS, Africa And Racism" written by Richard and Rosalind Chirimuuta. They too provide some very interesting quotations.
They write that various arguments were used to justify slavery.
"Black people were disease ridden, dirty in their habits, uncontrolled in their sexual behaviour, and incapable of higher human values such as honesty or sexual morality," they write. (My emphases.)
"Such views were succinctly expressed by an apologist for racism, Winfred Collins, in a book published in 1918 entitled ‘The Truth About Lynching and the Negro in the South (In Which the Author Pleads that the South Be Made Safe for the White Race)":
Collins writes: "Two of the Negro's most prominent characteristics are the utter lack of chastity and complete ignorance of veracity. The Negro's sexual laxity, considered so immoral or even criminal in the white man's civilisation, may have been all but a virtue in the habitat of his origin. There, nature developed in him intense sexual passions to offset his high death rate." (My emphases"
The Chirimuuta's also quote a November 1988 edition of the British magazine, The Spectator, as saying, when it addressed the issue of the spread of AIDS among the British heterosexual population:
"But there is another endangered group. To alert or protect them will require still more unfashionable candour than to address the homosexuals. That group is the West Indians. Their men sire their children, and often move on to another partner. Stable families are rarer than among whites, let alone Indians. To talk to West Indians about Aids will require more plain speaking - and risk more cries of ‘racism' - than has been dreamt of in Lord Whitelaw's philosophy. It will be a brave government that will do it in time. But it will probably have to be done in the end."
As you say in "Mokoko", "in health (the word Africanisation) brings memories of mutilation of bodies, withcraft and AIDS somewhere in the continent."
In his book, "The Rise of Christian Europe", the eminent British historian, Hugh Trevor-Roper (later Lord Dacre) says:
"Undergraduates, seduced, as always, by the changing breath of journalistic fashion, demand that they should be taught then history of black Africa. Perhaps, in the future, the will be some African history to teach. But at present there is none, or very little: there is only the history of the Europeans in Africa. The rest is largely darkness, like the history of pre-European, pre-Columbian America. And darkness is not a subject for history... (We may) amuse ourselves with the unrewarding gyrations of barbarous tribes in picturesque but irrelevant corners of the globe... It is European techniques, European examples, European ideas which have shaken the non-European world out of its past - out of barbarism in Africa...and the history of the world, for the last five centuries, in so far as it has significance, has been European history."
Out of Africa, no techniques, no ideas, only darkness and unrewarding gyrations of barbarous tribes!
Undoubtedly, the learned British historian included among these the heterosexual gyrations of the barbarous black tribes, which activity made them especially prone to HIV infection!
The Chirimuuta's also document the intense effort made by western scientists to provide racist, insulting and anti-African "scientific proof" that HIV originates fro Africa and spread from there to the United States and elsewhere.
For instance, the quote a paper published by The Lancet in April 1983. The paper, written by I.C. Bygbjerg, entitled "AIDS in a Danish Surgeon (Zaire, 1976)" says:
"Little attention has been paid to the hyperendemic focus of KS (Kaposi's Sarcoma) in central Africa...is there a connection between African and American AIDS/KS; is the underlying cause another deadly, but slow-acting, African virus introduced to America, perhaps via Haiti...?"
Among the many instances they cite they also quote from an article published in the British American Journal on April 27, 1985, "AIDS: the African Connection", written by P. Jenkins et al, which says:
"Further it has been suggested that the agent causing AIDS, currently believed to be HTLV-III, may exist in a stable equilibrium in an African environment but alters its expression in a new population."
In 1983, the Bureau of Epidemiology in Paris stated:
"We suggest that Equatorial Africa is an endemic zone for the supposed infectious agent(s) of this (AIDS) illness."
Not to be outdone, the Swedes L. Morfeldt-Manson and L. Lindquist had their article, "Blood brotherhood: a risk factor for AIDS?" published in The Lancet on December 8, 1984. In the article they write of a Scot who, they say, died of AIDS in 1982. They say:
"On reviewing the history of this patient (who had previously been admitted in a Stockholm hospital), we found that he was interested in anthropology and that he had taken part in ritual interchange of blood with people belonging to remote tribes in East Africa ("blood brotherhood"). He had a Tanzanian girlfriend when living in Tanzania."
The article, "AIDS: an old disease from Africa?", written by Dr Kevin de Cock, was published in the British Medical Journal in August 1984. In this article he says:
"It is suggested that the first Americans with AIDS acquired the condition in the early 1970's in Africa. AIDS is increasingly recognised in Black Africans, and early African cases preceded the first documented American cases by several years."
One of the contributors to the criminally cruel and insulting mythology about AIDS and Africa was none other than the Belgian Professor Piot, currently head of UNAIDS.
He and his colleagues spent 3 weeks studying 38 patients at the Mama Yemo and Kinshasa hospitals in Zaire. Where else would the Belgian scientists go in search of the origins of the plague except their country's former colony, the erstwhile Belgian Congo!
Their article, "Acquired Immunodeficiency syndrome in a heterosexual population in Zaire," based on this study, appeared in The Lancet of July 14, 1984.
To their credit, having noted that a number of the patients suffered from various infectious diseases, including malaria and tuberculosis, the authors make the admission that:
"Tuberculosis, protein calorie malnutrition, and various parasitic diseases can all be associated with depression or cellular immunity."
The Chirimuuta's make the seemingly correct observation that "unless such diseases are carefully excluded, depressed cellular immunity could not support a diagnosis of AIDS."
Yet despite all this, Professor Piot and his friends make the following finding:
"Using as the numerator the number of cases of AIDS seen during the three weeks of this investigation and which came from Kinshasa and as a denominator the population of Kinshasa (about 3 million) we estimate (my emphasis) the annual rate to be about 17 per 100,000. If children were excluded from the denominator the rate would even be higher. This is a minimal estimate, and it is comparable with or higher than the rate in San Francisco or New York."
To which the Chirimuuta's comment:
"On the basis of a three week study, with limited diagnostic facilities, an unsound scientific method and a sample of less than 30 patients, Kinshasa's AIDS problem is worse than San Francisco's!"
As you know, sixteen years after the publication of this article in The Lancet, characterised among other things by ‘unsound scientific method', Professor Piot, is now firmly settled in his seat as Chief of UNAIDS.
An international civil servant employed, among other members of the UN, by African states, he continues as to the manner born, to make all sorts of estimates about the incidence of HIV/AIDS in Africa, including the former Belgian colony now called the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The figures which puzzle Dr Wanene as they puzzle this ‘poor Native' come from none other than Professor Piot who started his career as a European sangoma in Africa more than a decade-and-a-half ago.
Let me, for the last time, mention yet another of the articles cited by the Chirimuuta's. This one was, again, published in The Lancet on May 31, 1986.
Written by A.J. Nahmias et al, it is entitled, "Evidence for human infection with an HTLV III/LAV-like virus in Central Africa, 1959." Inter alia it says:
"The place of origin of HTLV-III is controversial but most workers have suggested Africa. Most cogent to the issue has been the isolation of a related virus from the African green monkey, the high incidence of AIDS in many central African countries, and serological evidence for a high prevalence of infection. Because of the importance of this issue we decided to test 1213 (frozen) plasmas, obtained...from various parts of Africa...We have demonstrated that at least one individual from central Africa had been exposed to a virus similar to human HTLV-III more than a quarter of a century ago."
The Chirimuuta's comment:
"Firstly the authors stated that the tests on plasma frozen for many years can give false positive results, secondly only one of 1213 specimens was positive, and thirdly the authors are not even convinced that the individual had actually been exposed to HTLV-III. Yet this much quoted paper proved that AIDS originated in Zaire!"
With regard to the issue of the African green monkey, I would also like to refer you something written by Baron Cuvier, who has been described as "the great naturalist of the early part of the (19th) century."
"This is what he wrote:
"The Negro race...is marked by black complexion, crisped or woolly hair, compressed cranium and a flat nose. The projection of the lower part of the face, and the thick lips, evidently approximate it to the monkey tribe: the hordes of which it consists have always remained in the most complete state of barbarism." (Quoted in: Black Athena, by Martin Bernal.)
It is not difficult to see how those brought up on these prejudices would find it quite easy to trace the passage of a virus from the African green monkey, to the barbaric African who is close to ‘the monkey tribe' and thence to the civilised Westerner, as western science did indeed try to do with regard to HIV.
Naturally, in the face of a new, puzzling, hitherto unknown and terrifying killer plague, where else but in Africa would western science find the cause for the plague, a continent that is so much the home of everything bad and evil which the West claims it could never be!
The western observations we have cited tell me that essentially two factors have made sub-Saharan Africa the epicentre of the HIV/AIDS pandemic that Professor Piot alleges it is. These are:
The western conviction that as Africans including our fauna such as green monkeys, we are inherently and intrinsically diseased: and,
The western conviction that we are inherently and intrinsically addicted to hyperactive heterosexual intercourse, compelled by the instinctive African drive for immediate physical gratification.
As Professor Piot and his fellow Belgians did in the article we have quoted, I accept that sub-Saharan Africa is exposed to many things that will result in the immune deficiency of many among us.
But clearly, I cannot and will never accept the virulently racist and anti-African Western propositions reflected under the ‘bullet points' above.
Everything I have seen and heard suggests to me that it was for the same reason that President Mbeki posed the questions he did.
Like him, I am interested not in the propagation of racist ideas and insults but in scientific information that will help us to deal with the AIDS challenge in our country and continent.
I find it deeply perplexing that you, of all people, should have found it necessary to engage the President in hostile polemic rather than respond to his request.
I am perplexed hat an eminent African scientist such as yourself, who fought at Wits University to defend the integrity of African scholarship, should have become such a determined defender of what seems to me to be a grievously dehumanising projection of ourselves as Africans, including yourself.
I was taken by surprise when you took a position contrary to other African scientists such as Dr Wanene and the Chirimuuta's, siple on the basis that western science had spoken.
As you know, there are many other African scientists who have made and are making a significant effort to unravel AIDS as it manifests itself in Africa, even if this has meant going against established western orthodoxy.
By African I do not mean black, but include, as all of us should, white African scientists.
I have in my possession a set of statistics dealing with: "Health statistics in African countries with high (H) and low (L) incidence of AIDS in 1992 and (year ending April) 2000."
Based on figures derived from sentinel surveillance carried out by the WHO, the document is compiled by Barrie Craven PhD, Reader in Economics, Newcastle Business School, University of Northumbria, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK and Gordon Stewart, M.D., Emeritus Professor of Public Health at the University of Glasgow.
These statistics show that in the year 2000, the mean incidence/100,000 of AIDS stood thus in:
South Africa: 30
Thus South Africa falls significantly below the average for the African countries with the lowest incidence of AIDS.
Of course, Professor Piot tells a radically different story, which I see you are very read to broadcast, seemingly with the greatest enthusiasm.
I notice also that for your efforts, you earn the fervent applause of precisely the same people who were against your election as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand, who, as you report in ‘Mokoko', resorted to the most unprincipled ways and means.
Those against whom you now speak with such determination are the same people who fought in many principled ways to have you elected to this position.
You might wish to remember what has been said in the context of warfare, that when the enemy garlands you and sing your praises, it is not because you are inflicting casualties on his or her battalions but because you are concentrating your fire on your own regiments.
But perhaps all of us misunderstood you when you wrote in ‘Mokoko' that:
"The nature of the our reconciliation problem revolves around dealing with the superficial, but totally ignoring the fundamental socio-biological factors that have shaped this society over three and a half centuries. This is the nature of South African reconciliation. It will not provide long lasting solutions to the deep prolonged racial wounds and scars that stretch over generations, almost inherited racially in a Mendelian fashion. There can be no reconciliation by attempting to forget the past. The truth of this past must first be acknowledged. Once this has happened it will provide the foundations of reconciliation...It's the support of the ordinary man that kept and carried me through. Even to this day, long after the event. I can walk tall amongst my people with pride. Many often come and shake my hand, some in disbelief but many, for a job well done."
Among the socio-biological factors that have shaped our society over three and a half centuries are the western scientists who helped to create the psychological dependence that obliged Africans to depend on these western scientists for solutions to problems they were otherwise uniquely positioned to solve.
These are the people who created the ‘Eurocentric African university' which you sought to overthrow and replace with a truly African University.
It is they who created a "scientific" view of the African that made us the very essence of everything despicable in human society and behaviour.
I hope that you will continue to walk tall among your people, with pride, and that they will continue to shake your hand, despite your seeming readiness to embrace and propagate this "science."
Whether this hope is fulfilled depends entirely on you and what you say and do.
As the successors to those who removed the Africans from District Six in 1901 and imposed restrictions on the movements of Africans in King Williamstown in the same year learnt perhaps belatedly, the ‘poor Natives' can both think and act in their own interest.
Even Lord Dacre can no longer sustain the notion that as Africans all that we represent is darkness, which is not a subject for history.
I must suppose that no self-respecting scientist will stand up today to claim that Africa is the home of original sin, in much the same way that it has become difficult to find anybody in our country who supported the system of apartheid.
The changed circumstances oblige the racists to reposition themselves and refashion their weapons. Nevertheless they remain racists.
We all wish that you will feature in the history our own historians will write, as the bold and honest African scientist and intellectual we read of in ‘Mokoko'!