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MDC dogfight intensifies

Zim Online

Fri 4 November 2005

      HARARE - Bickering intensified in Zimbabwe's divided main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party with deputy secretary general
Gift Chimanikire yesterday accusing party leader Morgan Tsvangirai of
allegedly "bribing" members of the MDC's national council to attend a
meeting tomorrow.

      Tsvangirai, facing an open revolt led by MDC secretary general
Welshman Ncube, called the council meeting because he wants the key body -
that is the supreme decision-making authority outside congress - to call an
extraordinary congress to address divisions rocking the opposition party,
ZimOnline understands.

      But Chimanikire, who has sided with Ncube, in a bad-tempered
statement, urged council members to boycott the meeting saying Tsvangirai
did not have powers to unilaterally convene meetings of the national

      Chimanikire, who accused his party leader of waging violence against
MDC members opposed to his position, said whatever transpired at the council
would be illegitimate.

      He said: "The MDC as a party strives to uphold and promote the
principles of democracy in the eyes of the people of Zimbabwe. We are seen
as the custodians of the progressive values that will lead to a better
future in Zimbabwe. For some time now the party president has consistently
failed to uphold these values and principles."

      "In yet another move to usurp and violate the constitution of the
party, Tsvangirai has called a meeting of the national council for this
Saturday. He does not have the powers to unilaterally convene such a

      "Having spent the past three weeks attempting to bribe and coerce
members of the national council . . . any resolution emerging from such a
fraudulent process will be totally lacking in legitimacy."

      Tsvangirai's spokesman William Bango however dismissed Chimanikire's
statement saying the council meeting was called in accordance with party
procedure and insisted it would go ahead regardless of calls for a boycott.

      "Members of the council do not take orders from a mere deputy
secretary general, they know that Tsvangirai is the president of the party
and that Tsvangirai called the meeting . . . (he) is within his rights as
president of the MDC, he has not violated anything," said Bango.

      He added: "Unless the circumstances have changed outside the knowledge
of the bulk of members of the MDC, the meeting is going to go ahead with the
councilors present on Saturday."

      Divisions in the MDC that insiders say had simmered over the last
three years broke into the open last month when Tsvangirai refused to accept
a narrow vote by the party council to take part in a November 26 election
for a new senate that political analysts say will be used by President
Robert Mugabe to extend his patronage network.

      The council voted 33:31 to contest the election but Tsvangirai
rejected the vote saying it served no meaningful purpose for the MDC to take
part in a poll that was sure to be rigged by Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF

      Tsvangirai also said the MDC could not be part of the project to
create a new senate which he maintains is a sheer waste of scarce resources
by a country facing hunger.

      But Ncube and his group maintain that the MDC should contest the poll
after its council voted to do so and say Tsvangirai breached the party's
constitution by rejecting the outcome of the vote.

      The pro-senate group also says it will be unwise for the MDC to donate
political space to Mugabe and ZANU PF by boycotting the election.

      The dispute between the two factions of the MDC has also assumed an
ethnic dimension with support for Tsvangirai's position strong among regions
dominated by the Shona ethnic group to which he belongs while Ncube, an
Ndebele, is solidly backed in south-western regions populated by his Ndebele
tribe. - ZimOnline

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It's back to the "village well" in Zimbabwe's crumbling cities

Zim Online

Fri 4 November 2005

      CHITUNGWIZA - Balancing a bucket filled with water on her head, much
like in the old childhood days in the rural district of Chirumhanzu,
42-year-old mother of four Marian Kanyonga breaks a sweat - it has been a
hectic morning.

      She has just made her sixth trip to a nearby unprotected well, where
using a rusty old plate she has to kneel and scoop water into her 25-litre
bucket, a skill she has now almost perfected into an art.

      Kanyonga is not alone, women and children, buckets and containers in
hand discuss the problems afflicting them, from water shortages, raw
effluent flowing in the streets, uncollected garbage to a burgeoning
HIV/AIDS epidemic that is killing at least 3 000 Zimbabweans every week.

      This is not Chirumhanzu, a dusty rural area, more than 200km south of
Harare. It is Zengeza suburb, situated in the dormitory town of Chitungwiza,
some 30km south of the Zimbabwean capital, where water has become an elusive
commodity with some residents forced to walk several kilometres to buy the
precious liquid for $1 000 a litre.

      Residents live in fear of a serious health crisis.

      Only varying in detail, this same scenario in Zengeza is easily
replicated in other residential suburbs in the main cities of Harare,
Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru and even in the small towns of Bindura, Shamva and
Karoi - residents at many different occasions have to go without water
either because there are no water treating chemicals or because water pumps
have broken down.

      The water shortages are a poignant reminder of the degeneration of
urban services in Zimbabwe's cities and towns as the country grapples a
severe a six-year economic recession that has left local authorities'
abilities to deliver services severely hamstrung.

      "This is now part of our life," said Kanyonga as she makes her way
home, visibly irritated and exhausted. "Right now my kids have been
complaining of running stomachs because of this water, it's unhealthy but it
is the only thing we can get."

      Urban councils say falling revenues, interference and little
government support have impacted on services while creaking infrastructure,
a growing urban population and effects of Zimbabwe's worst economic crisis
have added to the woes.

      For example, local authorities say the shortage of water treating
chemicals and frequent pump breakdowns are because there is no foreign
currency to pay foreign suppliers of chemicals or spare parts.

      Built in then colonial Rhodesia to cater for a smaller black urban
population, and now suffering from neglect, Zimbabwe's urban infrastructure
is giving in and crumbling fast.

      Post-independence optimism that gripped the country in the 1980s has
now been replaced by a widespread feeling that life is getting harder, a
dangerous political equation for President Robert Mugabe's government.

      Only last week, the country was thrown back into the dark ages, when
authorities in the town of Shamva started using donkey and ox-drawn carts to
remove garbage as fuel shortages bite.

      In some low-income suburbs of Harare such Tafara and Mabvuku,
residents have gone for months without a single drop of water and have had
to rely on untreated water from shallow streams and wells, raising the
possibility of outbreaks of diseases such as cholera.

      In the gold and nickel mining town of Bindura, residents have now
resorted to fetching water from disused mine shafts which is however
dangerous as the water is laced with cyanide and mercury.

      Urban Planners Association of Zimbabwe chairman Percy Toriro said the
water woes could have been improved if authorities invested in
infrastructure, most of which was set up during the colonial days.

      "We spent a lot of years without expanding our water infrastructure
and now we are paying the price," Toriro told ZimOnline. "We need to
urgently invest in infrastructure if we are to see an end to the water

      But the government has dithered, especially on the Matabeleland
Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) which was first mooted in 1924 by the then
colonial regime in a bid to draw water from the mighty Zambezi river to
supply the dry south-western Matabeleland region including the second
largest city of Bulawayo.

      At independence, Mugabe' government was handed three major water
projects which the Rhodesia government had planned for, among them the MZWP
and construction of Tokwe-Mkosi dam, which have all failed to take off.

      But it is not only shortage of clean drinking water that city
residents have to face, they must also from time to time grapple with tonnes
of raw sewage flowing from burst pipes into their homes.

      It takes days for city authorities to repair burst pipes either
because they do not have replacement pipes or fuel to travel out to repair
the pipes

      "The threat of diseases like cholera is real not only in Harare but in
all cities. Provision of vital services like water and rubbish collection is
the bedrock of a city," said an official from the Combined Harare Residents

      Only recently the government launched a controversial demolition of
illegal housing and vending structures, saying this would also decongest the
city with the hope of improving services. But residents say the situation
has only become worse.

      Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo charges that the
opposition-run Chitungwiza has failed and this week gave it 24-hours to come
up with a turn-around plan, which critics say points to steps towards
ousting the council and run the town via a commission as has happened in

      But for Kanyonga and thousands of other residents, the squabbles and
tug-of-war between the politicians is remotely distant and the least of
their worries - they dream of the day water taps will run again and save
them the daily trip to the well. - ZimOnline.

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Harare cracks whip on new black farmers

Zim Online

Fri 4 November 2005

      HARARE - A Zimbabwe government land audit team has recommended
sweeping changes in farm ownership saying only farmers who are able to
submit credible five-year development plans must be given 99-year leases.

      Harare, stung by criticism of falling output on former white-owned
farms, says the new farm owners must produce five-year production plans
before being allowed to sign the 99-year lease agreements, according to a
lease agreement document crafted by the land audit team.

      The audit team was set up under the supervision of Lands, Resettlement
Minister in the President's Office, Didymus Mutasa.

      Zimbabwe is facing severe food shortages after President Robert Mugabe
seized white-owned farms and distributed them to blacks. But the new black
farmers have however failed to maintain production on the farms which has
seen the country depend on food handouts from donors.

      The Zimbabwean government also says it will carry out random
inspections on the farms to assess progress on the development plans and
ensure production is maintained at the correct levels.

      According to the document, the government says it will also repossess
under-utilised land without obligation to pay for improvements done on the

      According to the lease document, land holders will be required to pay
annual rent as well as provide water and decent accommodation for their
workers. They must also ensure that poaching and indiscriminate cutting down
of trees do not occur on their properties.

      In a rare admission of failure by government authorities, deputy
agriculture minister Sylvester Nguni, last week attacked the new breed of
farmers in Zimbabwe whom he accused of lacking a passion for farming.

      The deputy minister also admitted that the government had erred during
its allocation of land "which saw people without the faintest idea of
farming getting vast tracts of land." - ZimOnline

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Harare's Reluctance to Issue Appeal Hinders Food Aid Efforts


      03 November 2005

An uncooperative Harare government is discouraging the arrival of what
limited donor assistance may be available, say humanitarian sources, and
competing needs for food aid across the Southern African region complicate
the outlook for assistance.

International organizations providing food aid say funding is insufficient
to feed the nearly 10 million people in the region who are already going
hungry or may soon be without adequate food supplies and facing the ravages
of malnutrition.

Something approaching another $160 million is needed from donors or the
emergency aid will not arrive on time, according to the United Nations World
Food Program.

Reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe talked with
Johannesburg-based World Vision spokesman Robert Michel about how Harare's
failure to issue a formal appeal for food aid is hurting the country's
chances of getting its fair share.

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MP takes Tsvangirai to court


03/11/2005 21:30  - (SA)

Harare - An outspoken opposition MP in Zimbabwe has gone to court to
challenge his suspension by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader
Morgan Tsvangirai, say reports.

Job Sikhala claimed that Tsvangirai breached the party's constitution by
suspending him over false allegations he made last week that the MDC had
received $2.5m of illegal foreign funding from Ghana, Nigeria and Taiwan.

Sikhala said: "My suspension from the party or from carrying (out) my duties
is unceremonious and illegal in that it breaches or contravenes article 10
of the MDC constitution."


He said: "Instead of living up to the constitution and consulting others and
or reading this superior document, he simply decided to suspend me."

Sikhala's shock claims sparked a furore both in and outside Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe's laws prohibited political parties from receiving outside

The member of parliament for the low-income St Mary's suburb in Chitungwiza
quickly backtracked, arguing that he was upset by wrangles within his party
that threatened to split it in two.

However, police announced they would press on with investigations.

Tsvangirai said Sikhala's false statements had brought the party into
disrepute and sent him a letter of suspension earlier this week.


Other top party officials claimed the opposition leader had not followed
party procedures for suspending members.

The six-year-old MDC was wracked by squabbles over whether it should take
part in this month's senate elections.

Tsvangirai was against participation. He said Zimbabwe's electoral laws
resulted in "illegitimate" outcomes.

But other senior officials accused him of overruling a majority vote in
favour of participation by the party's national council last month.

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Weekly Media Update 2005-41

Click here for report

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Mugabe must accept UN help

Business Day

Posted to the web on: 04 November 2005


The Zimbabwean government's decision to reject humanitarian assistance from
the United Nations (UN) is deplorable.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appealed to Harare to allow the UN to
help ease the plight of tens of thousands of people left homeless by
Operation Murambatsvina (Clean-up campaign).

This appeal has fallen on deaf ears as President Robert Mugabe's government
argues that there is no need to provide assistance as there is no
humanitarian crisis.

What is even more inexplicable is that our government appears to be turning
a blind eye to Harare's intransigence and the suffering of Zimbabweans. It
is lamentable that the broader international community seems to have a far
greater sense of the urgency required to deal with the crisis unfolding in
Zimbabwe than the leading power in the region.

SA has an obligation to act to help ordinary Zimbabweans who continue to
suffer hardship due to Mugabe's policies.

On a more pragmatic level, it is in SA's self-interest to take urgent
action. As Zimbabwe continues to go from bad to worse there is every chance
that many more Zimbabweans will flood into SA in an attempt to flee the
economic and political meltdown in that country.

This fact was recently acknowledged by Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz
Pahad who admitted that government was concerned with the exodus of
Zimbabweans. However, his attempt to portray SA as helpless to address the
situation is disingenuous in the extreme.

There are a number of concrete actions that government could take, a good
start would be to impress upon Mugabe the need to accept UN assistance and
to send a clear message that his worst excesses will not be tolerated. We
simply can no longer afford to bury our head in the sand. Unless urgent
action is taken there is every chance that the crisis in Zimbabwe will pass
the point of no return.

Joe Seremane MP
Democratic Alliance spokesperson on Africa, Parliament

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Family budget surges to $11,6m

The Herald

By Kudzai Chawafambira
THE monthly budget for a low-income urban family of six surged to $11,6
million in October, a 20,9 percent increase from the September figure of
$9,6 million, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe has said.

Major movers such as cooking oil, which went up by 119 percent, roller meal
45 percent, meat 31 percent, bath soap and transport, among others,
propelled the basket beyond the reach of thousands of families.

"The continued rise in prices of basic commodities has condemned many
families into dire straits, including some who were in the middle-income

"The incessant rise in the price of roller meal, bread, cooking oil and
sugar among others, is a major worry to consumers," said the consumer

A 20kg bag of the Grain Marketing Board's Silo roller meal costs $90 000,
but most supermarkets stock refined mealie-meal which costs anything between
$115 000 and $160 000 for a 10kg packet.

A standard loaf of bread now costs $29 000 way above the gazetted price of
$7 500.

The CCZ notes with concern price disparities of goods and services and warns
consumers against being ripped off by unscrupulous traders.

Although the economy is drifting towards free market forces, the huge price
jumps experienced in recent months continue to boggle consumers and
economists alike.

It is against this background that the consumer watchdog is urging consumers
to shop around, critically examine prices displayed and to compare prices
before parting with their hard-earned money.

The consumer watchdog's low-income urban monthly basket reflects that many
families are becoming increasingly vulnerable to poverty and hunger as
shortages of basic commodities continue unabated and price adjustments occur
almost on a daily basis.

Surveys for the consumer basket are conducted twice a month while the basket
is calculated by averaging the prices of goods from retail outlets
throughout the country.

The CCZ's basket accurately depicts the cost of living in Zimbabwe and if it
was adopted as the official Poverty Datum Line (PDL), millions of families
would be classified as living in abject poverty.

The consumer body recently established an information and resource centre
that will act as a one-stop shop in providing comprehensive services and
information on consumer rights.

This would enable consumers to have a degree of self-protection, as they
will enter the market with a critical mind.

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Zimbabwe MPs to probe Lindela deaths

New Zimbabwe

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 11/04/2005 09:37:28
THE Parliament of Zimbabwe on Thursday resolved to probe the deaths of
Zimbabweans at South Africa's Lindela Immigration Holding Centre.

The chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and
Home Affairs, retired colonel Claudious Makova confirmed that his committee
would soon visit the death trap, but he could not give an exact date.

Makova, the MP for Bikita West added that after probe his team would comply
a report to be presented in Parliament.

According to a damning report by South Africa's Independent Committee of
Inquiry 28 Zimbabweans out of 43 migrants died in the holding cells.

When the report came out, South Africa's Home Affairs Minister Mapisa
Nqakula said: "This report is indeed a damning report and a real indictment
on our work as a department."

The independent inquiry committee was headed by Rev. Otto Mbangula, who is a
retired minister of the Methodist Church. It stumbled on the grim picture
after it was asked to look at four deaths in detail, including those of two

The committee did not give a breakdown on the nationalities of the dead, but
it said nine had died in holding cells while another 411 were hospitalised
during the same period.

The committee also established that Lindela holding facility was
overcrowded, at times with up to 50 inmates sharing a single room designed
to hold 30 people, most of the deaths could have been prevented if the
medical care facility had enough capacity to deal with cases of people who
are sick and that medical staff were poorly trained to deal with the health
hazard at the facility.

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Mystery as Mengistu moved from Harare home

New Zimbabwe

By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 11/04/2005 09:41:42
ETHIOPIA's former military dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, has abandoned
his Harare home in the plush suburb of Gunhill and is now living in Kariba,
near the Zambian border.

Mengistu -- wanted for war crimes in Ethiopia -- lives in Zimbabwe as a
guest of President Robert Mugabe.

Intelligence sources said Thursday that Mengistu left Harare sometime in
July and has not set foot at his Highlands home.

It was not clear whether the man who once ruled Ethiopia with an iron fist
had decided to live in Kariba permanently.

"Mengistu left Harare some time in July. He is living at a private residence
in Kariba. The move is a security measure. Once in a while he visits Harare
as he has acquired a stake in a local wholesale company which is based in
the capital," said the source.

A former colonel in the army, Mengistu fled to Zimbabwe in 1991 following
his ouster by rebel forces in a country he ruled with an iron fist after the
1974 assassination of emperor Haile Sellassie.

Thousands of people were murdered during his rule commonly referred to as
the "Red Terror".

In 1995, he survived an attempt on his life .His would be assassin, an
Ethiopian, was shot and wounded by Mengistu's bodyguards and the police
protection unit.

At the time, the Ethiopian government denied any involvement in the
assassination attempt.

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Looking into Zimbabwe from outside

New Zimbabwe


            Last updated: 11/04/2005 09:51:13
      ONE of the great benefits of travel is the sense of perspective it
gives a person on his previous life and situation. When one is in a
particular situation, they sometimes get so bogged down in the minute
details of getting through it that they can lose that sense of perspective.

      On the other hand another benefit is to more keenly realise the good
things about the previous life/position. It is difficult to do this until
you have had an opportunity to step outside it for a while.

      These are the thoughts that pre-occupy me a little less than two
months after leaving Zimbabwe, the longest time I have been away from home
in almost thirteen years. Apart from just being removed from my routine of
so long, I have also been privileged to be regularly on the move during
these last several weeks, which forces one to reflect even more on the great
and sudden contrasts one experiences.

      Robert Mugabe's regime looks every bit as incompetent and ridiculous
from central or southern Europe as it does from Harare. This may seem too
obvious to need mentioning, but whenever I have run into fellow Africans or
other black people I have been eager to see whether the relative alienation
of being "a stranger" in Europe would help explain Mugabe's one-time appeal
to a lot of blacks in the diaspora. I have seen no evidence of it. There are
many who for racial or ideological reasons would have liked to have a strong
African or black leader to champion the "black cause" if there is any such
unified thing any longer. But Mugabe's excesses;his numerous and now
undeniable failures no longer make it possible for them to hold him up as
any kind of positive model.

      Mugabe's recent rantings at the FAO in Rome did not get anywhere near
the kind of world notice that the Zimbabwean state media would have us
think. But those who did hear the gist of what he said simply shook their
heads as if to say "oh, Mugabe, there he goes again; what can you expect
from that madman and what publicity stunt will he come up next?" This kind
of dismissive, off-hand reaction is almost more humiliating than an attack
based on facts and figures.

      But then again, when the ruler of a hungry, dysfunctional country goes
out of his way to make a fool of himself in the way Mugabe does, it is quite
appropriate for a wise man to say "don't bother arguing with a fool, people
might not notice the difference between the two of you!"

      Economic integration is an important subtext of the great changes that
are taking place in Europe at the moment. Even in relatively prosperous
societies where there are concerns about joblessness (panics over figures of
10% unemployment versus Zimbabwe's 70%+ for example!) there is a an
acceptance that global competition is a big reason for slower growth and
that any hopes of reducing this problem can only happen with Europe acting
in concert economically. So while there may be linguistic, cultural and
other tensions between the nations of Europe, with the exception of Britain
there is also a fairly widespread acceptance of the benefits of at least
economic cohesion.

      Contrast that to the super-nationalism of the worlds's weakest
economic entities -- Zimbabwe sadly being an example of a country that has
dragged itself deeper into the doldrums of economic marginalisation.

      Graphically and closely seeing how economies that were until recently
mighty and unchallengeable scramble to find ways to fend off the many
advantages of dynamic upstarts like the emerging powers of Asia makes
Mugabe's pitiful, pissing-in-the wind cries of "sovereignty" seem so
relevant, and on many different levels.

      The "sovereignty" that he thunders about is based on artificial,
arbitrary national boundaries imposed on Africa by Western nations. How odd
then that it is the African "liberators" who would then hold so tightly to
those boundaries! But even if we accept that the importance of those imposed
boundaries is an unavoidable, important stage of re-asserting our rejection
of being ruled/controlled by Westerners, the fact of the matter is still
that we do that at the cost of Africa continuing to be fragmented and
powerless internationally. So Mugabe's version of "sovereignty" looks more
like a defence of a personal political fiefdom to rule over than the more
useful idea of a viable geographic/economic or even military or political
entity. Simply put, the old, overstayed dinasaur at the helm of Zimbabwe
still screams "sovereignty" at a time much more powerful nations are
scrambling to develop synergies to survive the globalisation that is staring
us in the face, whether we like it or not. The debate has moved from "is it
a desirable thing?" to "how can we manouvre within its reality to our best
advantage against other nations/economic blocks?"

      But don't tell that to Mugabe and his propagandist Tafataona Mahoso,
their heads have been stuck so long in the sand they don't know that's where
the world is at now in its thinking!

      We still have state propagandists telling us the evils of
globalisation when many others in the world far better equipped than us to
deal with it are busy figuring out how to maximise the benefits and minimise
the ill-effects of this phenomenon that no nation on earth any longer has
the choice to avoid or sidestep.

      George Charamba and Tafataona Mahoso are Mugabe propagandists with
whom I am fascinated because of how they are so out of touch with the
realities of the age in which we are living, and how to strategize to do so
to one's advantage. This is how "national interest" makes the most sense

      It is one thing to try to spin information in the favour of a
particular point of view, which these two valiantly but unsuccessfully do.
But to have just been outside the straitjacket of a controlled information
environment like Zimbabwe's makes it so abundantly clear that these boys are
trying to cork the bottle long after the genie has escaped. The porosity of
information is such that you simply cannot stop it seeping in everywhere by
closing newspapers for instance.

      It is to live in a fools paradise to think "the Herald has a
circulation of X thousand" and the other papers have a circulation of X
minus Y thousand so we are on top of the game." The hunger for the truth is
so strong that people seek it out in ways that can simply not be reflected
by the simplistic circulation figures Mugabe propagandists may feel so smug
about, after working so tirelessly to kill or prevent competition.

      One would also be amazed at the reach, depth and power of ostensibly
small-circulation papers in Zimbabwe and international Zim-web sites.The
power of an idea whose time has come is so obvious in a relatively free
society, even if we all know that simple truth intellectually. But from my
new vantage point the pathetic efforts of the Zimbabwean authorities to ward
off the ultimately inevitable seem laughable and just plain stupid.

      I have been intrigued about how I have seen no sense in Europe of
"kith and kin" sympathy for Zimbabwe's white farmers in the admittedly
limited circles in which I travel and ask questions. The world-wide
opposition to Mugabe is because his regime stinks so much that it is not
even possible for any who would like to defend him to say "ah, he ruined his
economy but he was really, genuinely trying to improve the lot of the

      I am also struck by how there is a sharp, fairly definable contrast
between the general expressions of black and white Zimbabweans at what is
going on in their homeland. The anguish at the destruction of a beloved
country is shared, but I seem to perceive in the websites and articles of
some white Zimbabweans a surprising pining for the era of privilege, over
and above the lamenting of what Zimbabwe has been reduced to by Mugabe. As I
read the outpourings of many ex-Rhodies, as opposed to the tiny remnant of
progressive Zimbabwean whites, I sometimes find myself having no problem
agreeing with the facts of their lament at the neutral,objectionable indices
of Zimbabwe's troubles.

      But I often also find myself fascinated at how out of step their
conclusions of what must be done are with possible reality, whether now or
in the post-Mugabe era. The society has moved on in many ways that they
simply haven't kept up with , or in some cases even noticed. Many seem to be
pining for a time that will never come again, no matter who is ruling over
Zimbabwe.More on this later.

      Zimbabwe is a sexy international story not only because of the drama
and suddenness of its decline, but its many symbolisms for different groups
all over the world. For some Rhodies, the state of Zimbabwe today is a way
of saying "world, we told you that we were raping, dispossessing and
murdering the natives for their own damn good." One can quite clearly pick
this sentiment up in a lot of their dispatches.

      But it is also interesting how a lot of Western journalists who
consider themselves enlightened and outside the racist paradigm go to
Zimbabwe and either talk to their country-men or have to talk to white
Zimbabweans to feel that their reports to their home bases have "weight."

      So often an obscure European or other Western aid worker, economist or
diplomat is the prism through which we are told the unfolding story of
Zimbabwe, as if the natives cannot speak or draw conclusions for themselves
about their own situation! Perhaps the natives are not too objective or
sufficiently analytical, their thinking must be corroborated by a white
point of view in order to be valid! More later!

      I accept that economic reasons have spurred migration as much as or
even more than political reasons throughout the ages. So we all know of
people who are claiming political persecution in Zimbabwe to remain in
various Western countries when they never gave a damn about politics. This
is neither new nor unique to Zimbabwe or Africa.

      But I find myself being appalled at the many opportunists who besmirch
the struggles of thousands of Zimbabweans by claiming to be politically
persecuted when they are nothing of the sort. This is a kind of sacrilege of
the anti-Mugabe struggle that a disturbing number of Zimbabweans abroad are
involved in. By all means, go ahead and look for innovative ways to get your
"papers" but don't desecrate the sacrifices of the many Zimbabweans who have
really made contributions to a better Zimbabwe, at the risk of their
livelihoods or very lives, by claiming to be one of them when you are an
economic refugee! What's the matter, are you ashamed to openly say you just
wanted a better material standard of living? If you regard being involved in
the anti-Mugabe struggle as a more noble base from which to claim asylum,
why then aren't thou really contributing to that struggle in one way or
another from wherever thou art, o thou hypocrite?!

      One of the hardest things to get used to in wandering through
relatively normal societies is the realisation of how much energy we must
expend in Zimbabwe just doing very ordinary things. To run a business in
Zimbabwe even half-way successfully at the moment takes super-human effort
on even mundane things like just getting enough fuel to keep one's vehicle
fleet going.

      It is startling to come from this environment and to once again
experience life in societies where one has the time and peace of mind to
take a deep breath, to reflect, to plan for the future with a certain degree
of confidence that many important variables to one's success are under

      The average Zimbabwean businessperson eking out a living under the
hostile, harsh environment created by the ruinous Mr. Mugabe would make it
virtually anywhere in the normal world! Sometimes we speak of the Zimbabwean
resilience disparagingly, but it is more apparent to me than ever before
that when Mugabe and all he represents are finally defeated, Zimbabwe will
rise again!

      Finally, there is no way to minimise the great suffering that Mugabe's
rule has wrought on Zimbabweans. The main measure of our decline is how
poorly we are doing today compared to how we were doing before and to how we
could be doing; never mind how much "better off" we may still be compared to
many other countries. It is like trying to console an unemployed German or
French citizen to not get too uptight about his situation because "after
all, the overall standard of living in your country is better off than that
mess of a country Zimbabwe!"

      Comparing apples to oranges in this way does not help at all. That
having been said, I marvel at how little the reality of economic prosperity
corresponds to a sense of well-being an individual, community or nation

      Being in wealthy, prosperous, peaceful Europe for these last few weeks
and a few more has reminded me of that. Despite the misery wrought on the
country by Mugabe and his gang, Zimbabwe has a spirit and a reservoir of
serenity I could not possibly explain to a European in the context of the
political upheavals taking place there. Economic prosperity and material
peace-of-mind can certainly contribute significantly to this quality, but
they can neither create nor compensate for it.

      This is a meandering way of saying that we have many precious things
to fight for in Zimbabwe beyond what may be obvious by the standards of how
we measure life in the world today. Let none of us ever get too cynical,
complacent, comfortable or afraid to ever lose sight of that or give up the
struggle to reclaim our homeland from the bandits who hold it hostage today.

      Chido Makunike is a social commentator and a New

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In peril: The rock images of Africa

      By Marc Lacey The New York Times

      THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2005

      KAKAPEL, Kenya There are two markedly different manmade etchings on a
rock face here, and it is hard to decide which is the more jaw-dropping.

      One, dating back thousands of years and featuring the outline of an
elephant, is a sign that this hilltop in western Kenya was a special
gathering place for early Africans. The other, no more than a few years old,
featuring the names "DENNIS" and "PATRICK," is a sign that Africa's rock art
is under threat.

      Whoever carved those names seems to have disregarded the site's status
as a cultural treasure. Authorities responded to the defacement by erecting
warning signs and metal fencing around the rock face and declaring it a
monument. But that has not stopped numerous copycats from slipping under the
bars and scrawling their names into posterity.

      Rock art has been discovered - and defaced - the world over. In the
United States, a man was arrested in Utah last year for writing "I love you,
Wendy" on a sandstone wall bearing ancient American Indian drawings. In
another case, three stolen pieces of Indian rock art were recovered in 2003
from the front yard of a Nevada home, after being taken there in violation
of the federal Archaeological Resources Protection Act.

      But in Africa, there is a lack of oversight at many of the rock art
sites, leading experts to offer a grim prognosis for their future. "It's
very endangered," said David Coulson, the founder and chairman of the Trust
for African Rock Art, a preservation group that sponsored a conference on
the problem in Nairobi last fall. "Populations are rising so fast, and sites
that were in wild, uninhabited areas have development growing around them.
So you have graffiti, the single biggest threat."

      Experts have long traced or photographed rock art images so they will
at least be remembered once they are gone. The rock art trust has built a
digital photographic archive of many of the fast-fading images, said
Coulson, a photographer who has documented rock art in more than 20 African
nations. And lasers are being used to record rock engravings in three
dimensions. The trust will sponsor an expedition early next year to record
the "Fighting Cats" in southern Libya, a spectacular site that has existed
for thousands of years but is in danger of crumbling into the surrounding

      Efforts are also under way to educate people who live among the
ancient art about the value of the sites. Last year, the trust organized a
well-received exhibition of rock art at the Nairobi National Museum that ran
from November to February. The display, featuring photographs of rock art
from throughout Africa and a simulated rock shelter, later traveled to Dar
es Salaam, Tanzania, and went on view Sept. 15 for a three-month run at the
Uganda Museum in Kampala.

      Most rock art, however, is seen in the field. The rock art sites
across Africa may number in the hundreds of thousands, experts say; their
paintings and engravings, some 10,000 years old and perhaps much older, are
spread over vast areas, often in inhospitable terrain.

      The most striking sites in the Sahara and in southern Africa, once
known only to locals, are now being discovered by outsiders. For example,
getting to a little-known site in Kenya, a place not normally associated
with rock art, requires a boat trip to Mfangano Island, one of the tiny
isles in sprawling Lake Victoria. A long hike up a rocky hillside eventually
leads to a cornfield. Beyond that is some rocky terrain; off to the left,
behind a makeshift gate put up by locals to protect the art, is a hidden
shelf of rock bearing odd, circular symbols.

      "If this goes, it means our culture is gone," said Jack Obonyo,
director of the island's museum. "We would lose our identity. I would still
be Jack, but I am also an Abasuba, a descendant of my ancestors who painted
this." Obonyo spins a colorful tale of what Mfangano Island residents
believe the concentric circles, spirals and sunbursts mean.

      He recounts a long-ago battle between the Abasuba people and rivals
from another island. As the rival Wasaki moved in, the Abasuba women stood
at the hilltop rock shelter at Kwitone dressed as men, frightening away the
advancing warriors. The symbols were painted in celebration.

      Unlike the rock art buried deep in caves in southern Europe, African
art was painted and etched on rock faces far more exposed to the elements -
and the public. Looting of the treasures also seems more commonplace. Early
explorers of Africa chipped away the rock paintings and carted them off to

      Such looting still occurs, carried out by private collectors and their
middlemen. Niger has dispatched guards on camels to patrol its far-flung
desert sites, but the area is so vast that they cannot possibly keep a close
eye on the art. Morocco is another nation where vandalism has been fierce.

      "The most barbaric thing we've ever seen was in Morocco, where
thousands and thousands of 5,000-year-old engravings are bashed and broken
off and taken out of the country," Coulson said. "It's an organized trade."

      He said he had heard of galleries in London and New York selling
illegal rock art at astronomical prices, with a small piece fetching $10,000
or more.

      "For us, these sites have a spiritual, almost religious feel to them,"
Coulson said. "It's almost sacrilege to deface them."

      The African rock sites often still play a role in local communities.
Experts have found food offerings outside painted sites in Zimbabwe, for
instance, and learned of church services and traditional circumcision
ceremonies at sites in Kenya and Tanzania.

      Of course, even those who no longer believe in the spiritual powers of
the images may treasure them.

      "I don't worship the pictures like my ancestors did, but I give them
respect," said Obonyo, admiring the rock symbols on Mfangano Island at close
range one recent day. "It makes me proud of who I am."

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MDC Press Statement



4 November 2005







The MDC, as a party, strives to uphold and promote the principles of democracy. In the eyes of the people of Zimbabwe we are seen as the custodians of the progressive values that will lead to a better future in Zimbabwe.



For some time now the party president has consistently failed to uphold these values and principles.



Members of his inner circle, and staff in his office, have been actively involved in paying and mobilising youth to perpetrate violent acts against other party members. 



In July of this year the party suspended a gang of youths, closely associated with Tsvangirai, after senior party officials and members of staff at the party HQ in Harare were subjected to intimidation and violent attacks. The only crime the victims of these violent acts had committed was to express views that were divergent to those held by Tsvangirai’s inner circle.



A party is in a sorry state when technical staff are forced to work from home due to the fear of being violently attacked if they go into the office. 



In addition to his close association with incidents of violence and intimidation, Tsvangirai’s willingness to ignore agreed procedures and processes for decision-making, and act unilaterally, has further fueled divisions within the MDC.  



The simmering tensions provoked by Tsvangirai acting outside of the MDC’s constitution, and acting in a manner contrary to the values and principles of the MDC, came to a head over the issue of participation in the Senate elections. His refusal to accept the democratic outcome of the secret ballot held by the National Council (a process which he supported prior to the results being announced), his deliberate misrepresentation of the Council’s resolution and his use of coercive methods to rally people to his point of view, was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back.



The MDC, as a party, simply cannot sit back and allow an individual to run roughshod over the standards we have set ourselves since our creation 6 years ago. No individual can act with impunity and willfully violate the party’s constitution.



Not only is Tsvangirai in flagrant breach of a constitution that he helped to formulate, he also stands accused of helping to construct a renewed web of violence and intimidation against party members, which is scarring our image as a party that protects and promotes human rights.



He has lifted the suspension of those found guilty of violence back in July, he has been silent when candidates for the Senate elections have been either attacked, had their homes attacked, or been subjected to gross intimidation by his supporters; and he has been silent when supporters and senior party officials aligned to him have publicly threatened other party leaders deemed to be pro the Senate elections.  Moreover, he stands accused of bribing the grassroots and party officials to support his point of view on the Senate elections.



These are not the actions of a democrat; they are the actions of a dictator-in-the making.



In yet another move to usurp and violate the constitution of the party, Tsvangirai has called a meeting of the National Council for this Saturday (5 November). He does not have the powers to unilaterally convene such a meeting. Having spent the past three weeks attempting to bribe and coerce members of the National Council, Tsvangirai now hopes to ‘persuade’ the National Council to reverse its decision on the Senate elections.



If this illegal meeting takes place, the MDC, as a party, will not recognise any resolution that is agreed upon. Any resolution emerging from such a fraudulent process will be totally lacking in legitimacy.



We urge all members of the National Council, who seek to uphold and defend the MDC’s constitution, not to attend this meeting.



Gift Chimanikire, MDC Deputy Secretary General



Notes To Editors:



By his actions the president has willfully violated a number of sections of the constitution (see table below)


4.4 Every member shall have the duty:

(a) To accept and conform to the constitution…


6.1.1 It shall be the duty of the president

(a) To uphold and defend the Party Constitution;

(d) To promote the principles of democratic discourse and participation and equality of all members within the party; … 6.1.2 The president; shall in general act as a spokesperson on major policy issues and shall be the principal public representative of the party, provided that nothing in this section shall be construed as empowering the president to act or do anything contrary to the party’s principle of open, transparent and democratic decision making.


Codes of Conduct


9.1 All office bearers shall comply with the Code of Conduct for all Office Bearers of the party.


Code of Conduct for all Office Bearers of the Party


2. Such members shall conduct themselves with the highest standards of personal integrity and honour and shall not involve themselves in dishonorable conduct.



Chronology of Events (in brief)



15 August – Following the passing of the Constitution Amendment Bill (No17) by parliament the NEC meets to deliberate on the issue of participation in the Senate elections. It is agreed that all provinces will consult their structures, canvass views, and submit reports to the National Council which would ultimately decide on whether to participate


September – consultation rallies held around the country


3 October - Morgan Tsvangirai, in an interview with Violet Gonda of SW Radio Africa said there was no division between himself and Prof Ncube over the Senate issue and that they addressed rallies together the previous weekend. “Prof Ncube was with me in Marondera and he explained to people that there is a window through which people should go and consult and that the National Council would meet to decide”.


Tsvangirai added that, “..we are allowing public debate and consultation over this issue [senate elections]. Tsvangirai also informed Gonda that the MDC “shall not be rushed and the final decision would be announced when the National Council meets next week”.


6 October - William Bango, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, responded to questions about divisions in the MDC by telling SW Radio Africa correspondent Tererai Karimakwenda that “Morgan Tsvangirai has always said everyone in the organization, from president to peasant, is allowed an opinion and allowed to vote. This is why there are so many positions regarding the senate elections being allowed to be debated.”


8 October - Reuters carried the following news story: MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told around 5,000 cheering supporters in the capital Harare on Saturday that the party’s decision-making national council would decide on Wednesday on whether to take on the ruling Zanu PF party for senate seats”. 


12 October – MDC National Council meets to decide on whether or not to participate. Due to the clear divisions over the issue it is agreed that the matter will be decided by secret ballot. Tsvangirai is in fully agreement with this procedure. The outcome is 33 in favour of participation, 31 against and 2 spoilt papers. Tsvangirai refuses to accept the democratic outcome.


13 October – Tsvangirai writes to all party provincial chairpersons instructing them to ignore a letter written by the party’s deputy secretary general instructing provinces to start selecting candidates for the forthcoming senate elections.


14 October – Tsvangirai writes to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission misrepresenting the party by saying that it had resolved not to participate in the Senate elections and calling upon the Commission to register as independents anyone from the party purporting to stand in the name of the party.


17,18,19 October – MDC Vice-President Gibson Sibanda attempts, on numerous occasions, to organize a meeting of the ‘top 6’. Tsvangirai refuses to meet.


20 October – President Mbeki twice invites Tsvangirai to a meeting in Pretoria. Tsvangirai refuses to attend. Tsvangirai’s spokesperson disingenuously informs the media that no invitation was extended to Tsvangirai.


27 October – 5 MDC youths linked to Tsvangirai appeared in court accused of attacking party members who had registered as candidates for the senate elections. The candidates were attacked as they filed their nomination papers in Gweru.


28 October – First meet of MDC top 6 to try and resolve differences and maintain unity. Professor Brian Rafopolous acts as mediator.


29 October – At a rally in Harare Tsvangirai did nothing to stop supporters singing songs that threatened violence against the ‘pro-senate’ group (‘some of us are sliding on razor blades’ and ‘traitor dig a hole’).


31 October – The mediation efforts of Professor Raftopolous break down. Despite having no powers, in terms of the MDC constitution, to do so, Tsvangirai announces that he will call a National Council meeting on Saturday 5 November at which he ‘will get the Council to support his decision to boycott the Senate elections’. Such a move would be illegal.




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