Fri 10 Oct 2008, 13:24 GMT
By Nelson Banya
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's political rivals agreed on Friday to seek
renewed mediation from former South African President Thabo Mbeki to try to
end deadlock over posts in a unity government, the sides said.
President Robert Mugabe, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur
Mutambara, who heads a breakaway opposition faction, failed again to agree
on who gets key ministries under a power-sharing deal vital to ending
devastating economic turmoil.
Mugabe's ZANU-PF had previously said there was no immediate need for further
mediation by Mbeki, who brokered the deal last month just days before he was
forced to give up South Africa's presidency by his ruling African National
"The three leaders agreed to call in the facilitator to assist in resolving
the outstanding issues. An appeal will be made to the facilitator for him to
travel to Zimbabwe," said Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Mugabe's chief
Mbeki has agreed to continue his mediation in Zimbabwe on behalf of southern
Africa's regional bloc despite being ousted.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which accuses ZANU-PF of
trying to sideline it in the power-sharing government, had called for more
help from Mbeki, the Southern African Development Community and African
Opposition spokesman Nelson Chamisa said Mugabe and Tsvangirai met for about
an hour on Friday.
"It's still a tale of a deadlock. There is now consensus that there is
indeed a deadlock, so the intervention of the mediator becomes both
imperative and inevitable," Chamisa said.
He was unsure when Mbeki would travel to Harare.
"We're hoping that maybe by the end of next week. Mugabe says he will be
busy this weekend."
Under the deal, Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain
in 1980, would retain the presidency and chair the cabinet, while Tsvangirai
as prime minister would head a council of ministers supervising the cabinet.
Zimbabwe's political crisis worsened in June when Mugabe was re-elected
uncontested in a poll boycotted by Tsvangirai, citing attacks on his
Official data on Thursday showed annual inflation surged to 231 million
percent in July, reminding the leaders of the dire economic situation and
the need to form a government quickly to tackle the crisis.
Fri, 10 Oct 2008 13:59
Zimbabwe's ruling party said political leaders did not need to invite former
South African president Thabo Mbeki to mediate as there was no deadlock on
power sharing, the state-run Herald said on Friday.
"We should learn to overcome our challenges and as negotiating parties we
feel that we should not find easy ways to avoid taking hard decisions," said
Zanu-PF chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa, adding there was no need to
continue "abusing" Mbeki's office.
The leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
Morgan Tsvangirai, on Thursday denounced the "deadlock" in talks with the
ruling party on the composition of a new government.
He called on the intervention of the regional bloc, the Southern African
Development Community, which mandated Mbeki, and the African Union (AU).
Since the power-sharing accord was signed on 15 September in Harare, the
Zanu-PF and the MDC have met several times without resolving the issue of
allocation of ministries and government agencies.
The MDC says Mugabe's Zanu-PF wants to take influential cabinet portfolios
such as defence, home affairs, finance and local government.
According to the Herald, negotiations were continuing and President Robert
Mugabe is expected to meet on Friday with Tsvangirai and the head of the MDC
splinter group, Arthur Mutambara.
But Tsvangirai's MDC told AFP it was unaware of such a meeting.
"We have not received any correspondence to that effect," the party
spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, said.
"I suppose Zanu-PF wants to validate its claim that there is no need for the
intervention of the mediator," he said.
Mbeki's spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga, simply told AFP that "he (Mbeki)
has accepted that he is going to continue with the mediation efforts,"
either in South Africa, in Harare or over the telephone.
The dream of a new deal could end this weekend
Sources within Zanu-PF have told me this week that Zimbabwe's President
Robert Mugabe will decide on Sunday to bring down the curtain on the
farcical power-sharing talks. He will announce, probably early next week,
that the dream deal with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), signed
with such fanfares only a few weeks ago, is off.
Then he will announce his new cabinet. This will include Arthur Mutambara,
leader of the tiny MDC breakaway faction, purely for window-dressing. All
the other members will be hard-line Zanu-PF party men. And for Zimbabwe,
nothing will have changed.
Throughout the talks Mugabe has been faced with three options. If you make
the existential effort to look at things through his eyes, his final
decision has been obvious and inevitable.
His first option was to ignore the wailings and threats from his core
Zanu-PF support in the Politburo and the Central Committee, and give the MDC
control of some of the government's key ministries.
This, he soon came to realise, would have resulted in the mass resignation
of the security chiefs and other top men, including his right-hand man
Emmerson Mnangagwa, now known to have organised the well-documented
Gukurahundi massacres in the 1980s.
Mugabe would then have been left with a skeleton party to lead, he would
have little personal power, and he would be highly likely to face either a
military coup or a new breakaway Zanu-PF even more toxic than its parent.
Both his career and his life would be in danger.
Option two facing Mugabe was to convince the MDC to accept a lesser role in
the new government, promising that it would be constantly consulted, and
that leader Morgan Tsvangirai's opinions would be taken into account.
To be fair, he appears to have attempted to take this option. But the MDC
were having none of it. Tsvangirai insisted on a full and tangible share of
government. One MDC negotiator told me: "We know Mugabe. We know we can't
trust him. Once bitten, twice shy. We refused."
This left Mugabe his third option, which he appears to be taking. He is
calling the whole deal off, accusing the MDC of failing to listen to reason,
of being driven by "western masters", and of trying to steal all power from
Can he do this? Why not? After all, his arguement goes, he's been running
the country without any form of unity or power sharing with anyone else for
years, so why not just keep going?
What can the MDC do in the face of such implaccable defiance? It has asked
for ex-President Thabo Mbeki to resume his mediator role. But Mugabe has
personally told Mbeki of his intentions. Mbeki has no wish to be associated
closely with the resulting debacle, and at the time of writing has yet to
appear in Harare.
The MDC has also appealed to the Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC) and the African Union (AU) to intervene. It's a forlorn hope, but at
the moment this is all the MDC - and the rest of us in Zimbabwe - have.
Posted on Friday, 10 October 2008 at 09:22
Friday, 10 October 2008 13:27 HT Staff
Movement for Democratic Change on Friday claimed that talks to allocate key
cabinet positions have reached deadlock, leaving a power-sharing accord in
jeopardy, a spokesman said.
"The three principals met and there is now a shared consensus among them
that there is a deadlock," Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the MDC said.
"The intervention of the mediator therefore becomes imperative," said
President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF was not available to comment.
In September Zimbabwe's political rivals signed a landmark power-sharing
deal aimed at ending the country's ruinous political crisis.
Under the deal, 84-year-old Mugabe would retain his position as head of
state, after nearly three decades in power, while Tsvangirai took up the new
post of prime minister.
Tsvangirai's MDC claims that Mugabe's ruling party wants to retain key
posts -- believed to be the defence, home affairs, state security and
finance ministries -- in violation of the pact.
Tsvangirai had also said in statement Thursday that the MDC and ZANU-PF had
made no progress in the talks. "There has been no progress made on this
entire section as ministries can only be negotiated comprehensively and not
individually," Tsvangirai said.
The two parties have been deadlocked for the past one month and there are
fears the GNU deal will collapse if something drastic isn't done to break
By Lebo Nkatazo
Posted to the web: 10/10/2008 20:24:13
ZIMBABWE'S President Robert Mugabe risked confrontation with the opposition
on Friday after publishing a list of ministries which he said had been
allocated to the three parties to a power-sharing agreement.
In a surprise development, coming just hours after a meeting between Mugabe,
and opposition MDC faction leaders Arthur Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai
broke off from a meeting without agreement on the cabinet, Mugabe went on to
assign 30 of the 31 ministries - 15 for his Zanu PF party, 13 for Tsvangirai's
MDC and three for Mutambara's MDC.
Only the Finance portfolio remained unassigned.
In a government gazette, using his powers in terms of paragraph (a) of
subsection (1) of section 31D of the Constitution which says the President
"shall appoint Ministers and may assign functions to such Ministers,
including the administration of any Act of Parliament or of any Ministry or
department.", Mugabe said there was still discussion over the Finance
New Zimbabwe.com could not obtain a copy of the gazette, but reliable
sources said it had been availed to the state media for publication late on
Friday by Zanu PF's chief negotiator and outgoing Justice Minister Patrick
MDC Tsvangirai spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the ministry allocation was
"just a wish list for Zanu PF and some in the other MDC".
"There is bitter disagreement on Finance, Home Affairs, Local Government,
Foreign Affairs, Education, Media and Justice," he said.
Earlier on Friday, Chinamasa told reporters that Mugabe, Tsvangirai and
Mutambara had asked former South African President Thabo Mbeki "to come and
assist in overcoming the impasse" on the sharing of cabinet posts.
Edwin Mushoriwa, a spokesman for Mutambara's MDC said in another statement
that Mbeki was expected in Harare "early next week".
Mbeki painstakingly got the power-sharing accord signed last month between
the three leaders, raising hopes that Zimbabwe will emerge from its dragging
political drama and economic meltdown.
But no sooner had the parties signed the power sharing agreement, which will
see Tsvangirai become Prime Minister and Mugabe remain President, that the
parties started haggling over who gets which ministry in the new government.
These are the ministries gazetted by Mugabe, with a footnote that discussion
is on-going over Finance:
MDC Tsvangirai: 13
1 Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs
2 Economic Planning and Investment Promotion
3 Energy and Power Development
4 Health and Child Welfare
5 Labour and Social Welfare
6 Water Resources Development and Management
7 Public Service
8 Sport, Arts and Culture
9 State Enterprise and Parastatals
10 Science and Technology Development
11 Information Communication Technology
12 Public Works
13 National Housing and Social Amenities
MDC Mutambara: 3
1 Regional Integration and International Cooperation
3 Industry and Commerce
Zanu PF: 15
2 Home Affairs
3 Foreign Affairs
5 Local Government and Urban Development
6 Mines and Mining Development
7 Lands, Agriculture and Resettlement
8 Environment, Natural Resources and Tourism
9 Higher and Tertiary Education
10 Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development
11 Justice and Legal Affairs
12 Media, Information and Publicity
13 Women's Affairs, Gender and Community Development
14 Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment
There is still a debate on the finance ministry.
By Tichaona Sibanda
10 October 2008
Constitutional amendment 19, which was expected to be railroaded through the
second session of the seventh Parliament that begins in Harare on Tuesday,
has not yet even been drafted.
Almost a month after the signing ceremony of the power-sharing agreement the
drafting of the Bill has still not happened because of the impasse over the
sharing of key ministries.
MDC MP and chief whip Innocent Gonese told Newsreel the new constitutional
amendment needed to be drafted 30 days before it can be tabled in
'Nothing meaningful will come out of this (parliamentary) session. We are
still waiting for the conclusion to these talks so that we have a new
government that will start to address the plight of the people,' Gonese
The MDC chief whip highlighted the fact that the only item on the order
paper in parliament next week would probably be debate on the president's
speech, which he said will not move the country forward.
The constitutional amendment is aimed at creating the post of prime
minister, which will be assumed by Morgan Tsvangirai. The power-sharing deal
will allow the three parties to appoint three cabinet ministers from outside
members of Parliament. The three ministers will have the power to sit, speak
and debate in Parliament, but will not have voting powers.
Further, the MDC-T will appoint two non-constituency senators while MDC-M
appoints one. Mugabe has already appointed 5 senators from ZANU PF.
Non-constituency senators will have voting powers. There will be two
vice-presidents from Zanu PF. Mugabe's party retains the two posts that were
created following the 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu and Zapu. There will be
two deputy prime ministers, one from Tsvangirai's MDC and the one from
There will be a cabinet of 31 ministers, 15 ministers from Zanu PF, 13 from
Tsvangirai's MDC and three from Mutambara's MDC. There will be 15 deputy
ministers, eight from Zanu PF, six from Tsvangirai's MDC and one from
But for now all this is still theory - as Zimbabwe still awaits a new
government and some sign from Robert Mugabe that he will relinquish some of
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 10 (AFP)
UN chief Ban Ki-moon Friday expressed concern about the impasse in a
Zimbabwe power-sharing accord and urged the two sides to step up efforts to
reach a "workable" deal as soon as possible.
"The secretary general is concerned about this impasse," UN deputy
spokeswoman Marie Okabe told a press briefing. "He urges the parties to
focus hard on reaching a workable agreement as soon as possible."
"It is critically important to get a government in place and to take steps
to restore the economy and get Zimbabwe on a path to recovery and a better
life for its people," she added.
She stressed the world body was doing its utmost to work with the new Harare
government to help solve the problems facing the bitterly divided southern
Okabe also expressed alarm over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in
the country, with more than five million Zimbabweans facing severe food
Warning that it will run out of stocks in January, the UN World Food Program
appealed for 140 million dollars to provide vital relief rations over the
next six months.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe agreed on Friday to allow
outside mediation in a bid to break a four-week deadlock over cabinet posts
in a new unity government with his opposition led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
After earlier insisting there was no need for South Africa's former leader
Thabo Mbeki to resume his troubled mediation mission in Zimbabwe, Mugabe's
camp said it now accepted a third party was needed.
Following talks between the opposition and Mugabe's Zimbabwe African
National Union - Patriotic Front, ZANU-PF's chief negotiator Patrick
Chinamasa confirmed Mbeki would now be asked for his help.
Since a power-sharing accord was signed on September 15 in the capital
Harare, Mugabe's ZANU-PF and Tsvangirai's main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change have met several times to agree on a share of ministries.
The MDC has argued it should take the lion's share of power as it won most
votes in March's first round of elections. MDC leader Tsvangirai pulled out
of the second round after mounting violence against his supporters.
However, the opposition party has accused ZANU-PF of trying to cling onto
all the major cabinent portfolios including defense, home affairs and
Mbeki, who was toppled as South African president last month, has been
widely accused in the past of being too soft on Mugabe who has led the
former British colony since independence in 1980.
UN troubleshooter Haile Menkerios is serving as the UN high-level
representative on a so-called "reference group" -- also including the
African Union and a security panel of the Southern African Development
Community -- set up to assist the South African mediators and provide
regular progress updates.
By Lance Guma
10 October 2008
The offices of a human rights pressure group were raided by police on
Friday, immediately after the group held a demonstration around 11am.
About 200 members of Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) took to
the streets of Harare marking what they called a campaign for democracy and
justice in Zimbabwe. The demonstration itself was without incident as the
police were taken by surprise and only deployed after it had ended.
According to ROHR Information Director Edgar Chikuvire, riot police
patrolled the Harare city centre before some of the officers raided their
Alexandra Park offices, looking for the leaders who organized the march.
Chikuvire spoke to Newsreel while in hiding and says several other members
of the group have also gone underground. ROHR feels the power sharing accord
signed by the MDC and ZANU PF sets a very bad precedence for human rights in
the country because people are being denied the chance to get a government
of their own choosing. 'Our hopes are underpinned in the need for people to
embrace and feel passionately for the need to be ruled by a government that
will be accountable to them simply because they chose it into power,' ROHR
said in a statement.
The group also pointed out that despite the deal being signed the country's
crisis, 'continued unabated.' The group further argues that, 'Zanu-PF is
making frantic efforts to retain the power that it lost to Morgan Tsvangirai
and the MDC during the March 29 election, a situation that is a direct
assault on the people's power and constitutional right to choose the leader
they want.' ROHR says it's campaign will encourage Zimbabweans to demand
free and fair elections, whose outcome will reflect the people's will.
ROHR is led by the former MDC Chairman for the UK province, Ephraim Tapa.
Several activists run the Zimbabwe office. Last month it sponsored a High
Court application by Rodgers Chigwededza, Tinashe Gotora, Jackson Mabota,
and Precious Mateyeni, demanding that the central bank scrap cash withdrawal
limits. Justice Joseph Musakwa ruled the case was not urgent and had to wait
in line like all the other court cases. ROHR slammed the decision saying,
'in other words we are supposed to join another queue to stop the cash
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
LAGOS, NIGERIA Oct 10 2008 10:22
Kenya's Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, on Thursday blasted African leaders'
fear of criticising each other, saying it was stifling the continent's
progress towards democracy.
"The African Union has fallen short, failing to condemn brutal regimes and
sham elections, including the second round of elections in Zimbabwe. This
has now become the norm.
"But we should not be surprised at the AU's failure to stand up for
democracy, many of our nations' leaders have some skeletons rattling loudly
in their cupboards," Odinga said.
He condemned what he called African leaders' "diabolical conspiracy of
silence and complicity in refusing to condemn their neighbours", which had
helped some of the continent's infamous dictators, such as Mobutu Sese Seko
of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda's Idi Amin and Malawi's Kamuzu
"Time has come when we must turn our backs on that negative history," he
said, adding "we must confront our demons".
Odinga, who spoke at a silver jubilee lecture for one of Nigeria's major
dailies, the Guardian, said while there had been progress on the continent,
there was still much to be done.
"The AU is not doing sufficient in Darfur, in Somalia and other troubled
spots in Africa," Odinga said.
"The AU needs to be more engaged,"
"The Darfur problem is a sore on the conscience of African people ...
Kenya's security is completely compromised by the insecurity in Somalia," he
He also criticised the AU for failing to condemn the violence-racked second
round of elections in Zimbabwe in which President Robert Mugabe stood
He said Mugabe has "dragged the name of Africa into the mud".
"Mugabe turned out to be a brutal dictator. He has turned to be grotesque
and a parody of a leader," he said.
10 Oct 2008
Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Lulu Xingwana has asked SA's
commercial farmers to join the agriculture department in coming to the aid
of Zimbabwean farmers to prevent a food crisis in that country in the year
The minister told the farmers' union AgriSA at its annual congress in
Pretoria yesterday that she had received an urgent request to assist in
Zimbabwe. She also asked SA's financial services institutions to join in the
rescue effort of Zimbabwe's farm sector.
An agricultural intervention may, however, be too late to prevent a food
crisis in Zimbabwe, according to an estimate by the United Nations' Food and
Agriculture Organisation (FAO) last month that about half of Zimbabwe's
people would need food aid next year.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union president Trevor Gifford told the
congress earlier that the country would be unable to plant the required
1-million hectares of maize needed to feed itself. There was fertiliser for
only 40000ha and seed for a maximum of 360000ha, while the minimum annual
planting is 1-million hectares.
Gifford said Zimbabwe would have to rely on food aid from the international
community and its southern African neighbours at least until 2010. The
recent power-sharing agreement was meaningless to farmers, and harassment
and evictions were continuing. "There is no rule of law," he said, warning
that hunger and social disintegration were likely to lead to regional
In making her appeal for help for Zimbabwe from SA's commercial farmers,
Xingwana appears to have performed a virtual turnabout in her attitude to
commercial farmers. She recommitted her department to supporting an increase
in food production in SA and to facilitate investment . She said the
government was making an effort to mitigate increases in fuel and fertiliser
prices. Good progress was being made, particularly in coming to an
arrangement with industry about fertiliser prices.
Xingwana also admitted that "some of the land and farms handed over" for the
purposes of land and agrarian reform in SA were "not working" and asked SA's
commercial farmers to come to the assistance of emerging farmers who, she
said, had an important role to play in SA's agriculture and in providing
Earlier, the president of the International Federation of Agricultural
Producers, Ajay Vashee, reminded delegates that the global food crisis added
75-million people to the number suffering from hunger since last year.
That brought the number of people with insufficient nutrition for life and
work to about 900-million, most of whom were African. The FAO estimated at
its Rome meeting earlier this year that food production had to double by
2050 to meet world food needs.
"This will have to be done on essentially the same land area, using less
water. At the same time, farmers are being asked to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions to fight climate change and also to conserve biodiversity," Vashee
said, noting that governments, African ones included, lacked the political
will to meet those needs
Posted Fri Oct 10, 2008 6:00pm AEDT
Australia, New Zealand and Canada have issued a joint statement about their
grave concern over Zimbabwe.
The three nations say three weeks after the power-sharing arrangement was
reached, there is an ongoing unacceptable political and humanitarian
Inflation in Zimbabwe is officially at 231 million per cent.
The joint statement says Zimbabwe's people are facing critical shortages of
food and clean water.
It urges the parties in Zimbabwe to resolve their differences as soon as
The United Nations World Food Program has made an urgent appeal for $US140
million to help feed the people of Zimbabwe.
The UN says almost half the population are already suffering from
Food stocks are expected to run out by January, leaving an estimated 5
million Zimbabweans in need of emergency help.
The state-run daily newspaper, The Herald, said the driver behind the inflation rate was wheat shortages that forced bakers to import ingredients, which led to a higher bread price.
After a succession of dismal harvests, attributed to environmental factors and political disruptions, nearly half of Zimbabwe's citizens will require food assistance in the first quarter of 2009, according to the UN.
Several attempts by President Robert Mugabe's government to bring down inflation - including lopping off ten zeroes from the currency, introducing a new currency, and price controls - have failed to put brakes on the multimillion percent inflation rate.
The importance of a political solution to counter hyperinflation was illustrated in the wake of elections this year, when the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won a majority in parliament for the first time since independence in 1980, and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai narrowly missed winning the presidency.
"There is a widely held perception that the Zimbabwe dollar is seriously undervalued in the parallel market. The sharp 65 percent appreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar on the parallel market in the immediate aftermath of the 29 March 2008 elections suggests that this is, in fact, the case," said a recent UN Development Programme (UNDP) discussion document.
Independent economists have estimated the real inflation rate at billions of percent: Zimbabwe's financial malaise is not seen as a direct consequence of Mugabe's 2000 fast-track land reform programme, in which more than 4,000 white-owned farms were redistributed to landless blacks, it is rather a series of injudicious decisions overlaying structural economic weaknesses inherited from the former Rhodesia that are being amplified.
At independence Mugabe's government inherited a dual economy "characterised by a relatively developed and diversified formal economy sitting alongside a neglected and underdeveloped peasant-based subsistence rural economy," according to the UNDP discussion document, Comprehensive Economic Recovery in Zimbabwe.
The trigger for the current
hyperinflation environment can be traced to the so-called 'Black Friday' crash
of the Zimbabwe dollar on 14 November 1997, which was precipitated by the
government's unbudgeted payment of gratuities to war veterans
The trigger for the current hyperinflation environment "can be traced to the so-called 'Black Friday' crash of the Zimbabwe dollar on 14 November 1997, which was precipitated by the government's unbudgeted payment of gratuities to veterans of the liberation war.
"This was followed in 1998 by Zimbabwe's participation in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which further contributed to the ballooning fiscal deficit," the UNDP document noted.
Inflation rose from 19 percent in 1997 to 56 percent by 2000, when the land reform programme was launched - spearhead by the war veterans - so that by 2006 inflation was running at more than 1,000 percent and reached hyperinflation levels by 2007.
"Zimbabwe's inflation is fundamentally caused by excess government expenditure, financed by the printing of money in an economy with a real gross domestic product (GDP) that has been declining for the last nine years. Money supply growth has been completely decoupled from economic growth, the inevitable result being continued and accelerating inflation," the UNDP said.
Between 1998 and 2006 Zimbabwe's GDP contracted by 37 percent, and by 2000 per capita incomes were lower than those in 1960.
Poverty has accelerated, according to the 2003 Poverty Assessment Study Survey (PASS II), from 55 percent of Zimbabweans living below the Total Consumption Poverty Line (TCPL) to 72 percent of the population by 2003, or an increase of about a third in eight years.
A rider to Zimbabwe's economic deterioration is the effect of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which UNAIDS and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) calculate may decrease GDP growth rates by between one and two percent.
About 1.6 million Zimbabweans between the ages of 15 and 49 years old are living with HIV/AIDS, although prevalence of the disease declined from 20.1 percent in 2005 to about 15.9 percent by 2007.
The document was written by Dale Doré, director of Shanduko, a Harare-based non-profit research institute on agrarian and environmental issues, Tony Hawkins, Professor of Economics at the Graduate School of Management at the University of Zimbabwe, Godfrey Kanyenze, director of the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe, Daniel Makina, professor of Finance and Banking at the University of South Africa in Pretoria and Daniel Ndlela, director of Zimconsult, a Harare economic consultancy firm.
Full recovery, defined simply
in terms of a return to peak real per capita incomes of 1991, would take twelve
"Full recovery, defined simply in terms of a return to the peak real per capita incomes of 1991, would take 12 years, assuming a bottoming-out of the decline in the course of 2008, and uninterrupted growth of five percent annually from 2009 to 2020," the discussion document noted.
"And, given that Zimbabwe is susceptible to drought - on average every three years - and that with the decline of commercial agriculture this vulnerability has increased, even the five percent annual growth in per capita GDP may be beyond the upper bounds of probability."
There is no one-size-fits-all remedy for hyperinflation, but there is consensus that delinking the political manipulation of the exchange rate and monetary systems is a prerequisite.
Professor Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins University in the US believes measures used internationally to restore economic confidence and rein in hyperinflation require "punishingly high" interest rates, causing slow GDP growth, stagnation of living standards and the worsening of poverty during the "stabilisation period."
Hanke contends in the UNDP discussion document that, should there be a political settlement in Zimbabwe, the new government has three options to consider: dollarisation, free banking, or a currency board, all of which have their pros and cons.
Dollarisation or randisation - the rand is the monetary unit of South Africa, Zimbabwe's neighbour and the continent's economic powerhouse - would entail one of the foreign currencies being made legal tender instead of the Zimbabwe dollar, which would die a natural death.
Photo: AdsD der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
burn during the 1920s hyperinflation in Germany's Weimar Republic
A second consideration is "free banking", used in colonial Southern Rhodesia until 1940, in which private commercial banks issued currency notes with 'minimal regulation'.
The third consideration is a currency board, which would mean holding "foreign reserves equal to 100 percent of the domestic money supply determined at a fixed exchange rate ... as a result, money supply, and thereby interest rates, are determined 'entirely by market forces'."
Handing over "monetary policy to outsiders or even to market forces would be a high-risk strategy for a fresh administration," the UNDP discussion document said, especially in the light of Mugabe's consistent accusations that Zimbabwe's economic decline was a result of "former imperialists" trying to re-colonise the country.
"Furthermore, the suggestion that Zimbabwe should abolish its central bank when much smaller regional economies – Lesotho and Swaziland – find it necessary to operate a central-bank system, even though they are members of the Rand Monetary Area, is unrealistic," said the UNDP document.
Should there be some sort of political settlement, the creation of an independent central bank under a new constitution was likely to be part of the public debate.
"Given Zimbabwe's unhappy recent history with a politically driven central bank, the economic case for RBZ [Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe] independence is very powerful," the document noted.
Whatever solutions are used to tackle Zimbabwe's hyperinflation, its legacy will haunt the country for many years, and manifest itself in such areas as investor confidence - both local and international - and the rebuilding of "once strong" public institutions.
Thursday, 09 October 2008 19:03 Phil Matibe
Full bellies, and the state of village granaries, not the size of the
county's mansions or opulence of its urban elite, are the universal measures
of the prosperity of any nation with an agrarian based economy.
Regardless and in spite of good rains this season, Zimbabweans are facing
famine again due to archaic government policies.
Communal and commercial farmers alike are in a dilemma over when seeds,
fertiliser, agro chemicals shall become available and when to plant. The
first early October rains have already fallen and with less than 30 days
left before the official start of the rainy season, fields earmarked for
maize have yet to be tilled.
Winter ploughing which should have occurred in June/July as a way of
conserving moisture and suppressing weeds is no longer practiced in most
farming regions due to ineptness, the shortage of fuel and draught power.
In a 21st century mechanized agriculture environment Zimbabwe needs 42 000
tractors in the 60 horsepower range in order to adequately cultivate all its
land for a successful season. Implements in the form of ploughs, disc
harrows, ridgers, planters, sprayers and rippers are also required for these
Farmers usually undertake timely soil analyses, scientific ways of
determining the amount of nutrients in the soil. These soil tests also tell
the farmers the pH values and determine how acidic the soils are.
Recommendations for the amount and type of fertilizer or lime needed to
amend the soil for optimum plant growth are availed to the farmer.
The Department of Research and Specialist Services (DR&SS) carried out these
invaluable tests at minimal cost to the farmer. However, most experienced
soil scientists have resigned due to poor working conditions and the
analytical laboratory technicians have moved to greener pastures. The DR&SS
offices and research plots have been earmarked for demolition to make way
for the expanded State House and to create a new home for the Presidential
Farm soil analyses, rainfall and fertiliser records are indispensable in any
agricultural planning and every competent farmer keeps meticulous journals
from previous years. However, irresponsible war veterans and their
land-invading accomplices used these for toilet paper or to light fires on
When farms were sold in Zimbabwe, the provision of every agreement of sale
was for each farmer to surrender the title deeds and all farm records upon
payment of the selling price. Any new farmer attempting to farm without
these vital records, which in some cases were centuries old, is akin to a
deaf doctor treating a blind patient with the help of a mute nurse.
Zimbabwe can easily produce the 1.8 million metric tonnes of maize in a
single season needed to feed its 12.5 million citizens if the agrarian
reform programme is depoliticised and conducted in a transparent fashion.
The final total maize production estimate for 2008 is 575 000 metric tonnes,
a 28 percent decline from last years production.
Security of tenure, an economically sustainable producer price, is a
prerequisite if farmers are to plant maize and remain viable.
Maize is a controlled product declared by the Minister of Agriculture and
Rural Resettlement as controlled in terms of the Grain Marketing Act. Maize
can only be bought or sold in terms of the controls of the Act and any
producer who wishes to dispose of excess production can only do so through
the Board as prescribed in Statutory Instrument 387 of 2001, which makes it
an offence for any person who fails to deliver any controlled product to the
Grain Marketing. Movement of maize, maize meal, wheat and wheat flour from
one specified area to another without a valid movement permit or private
trading in these commodities is illegal.
The GMB has been selling grain to a cartel of ZANU (PF) briefcase
businesspersons at the controlled price of US$42.80 per metric tonne. These
unscrupulous functionaries then sell the maize to millers and the consuming
public for US$390 per metric tonne.
Persons who are currently occupying productive farms and cannot prove
delivery of cereals consistent with the previous farmer's output need to be
ejected from these farms and only competent agriculturalists must resume
farming. An audit of the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) intake accounts would
reveal and identify bona fide farmers. It is illegal in Zimbabwe to market
maize by private treaty and anyone who has done so since 2000 has committed
a serious offence.
It is important that seed producing farmers and farms be exempt from the
fast-track land distribution exercise. Isolation of a seed crop is essential
to ensure non-contamination by other commercial varieties. Seed producing
farms need a buffer zone and wind direction is a determinant factor in any
resettlement model. The haphazard allocation of land has to be reversed if
organised agriculture is to return and help avert hunger.
Fertilisers are crop and soil specific, therefore, the RBZ and Gideon Gono
must refrain from importing chalk dust and other Chinese powders for use as
agricultural fertilizers in Zimbabwe. All crop chemicals imported for use in
Zimbabwe previously were subjected to registration after rigorous testing by
the DR&SS. Zimbabwe now risks having pests and diseases that are resistant
to approved agro-chemicals and our future food crops are in danger of being
devoured by pests that had previously been suppressed to manageable levels.
Zero tillage or minimum tillage is a possible alternative for planting this
year's maize crop but this will require special farm implements. Fields for
zero tillage must have adequate stover (crop residue). Agronomic practices
that will control the infestation of weeds need to be employed.
Without an urgent change in the agrarian reform policies, Zimbabwe's economy
shall continue to decline and famine shall embed itself in our rural
communities. Agriculture in Zimbabwe is rudderless, a microcosm of the
leadership vacuum, cronyism, corruption and ineptness that has now become
the hallmark of the present illegitimate regime.
A farmer can be a great politician, but can a politician be a great farmer?
GWERU, October 10 2008 - Gweru residents have expressed shock over the
constant Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority's tariff hikes in the light
of poor service and have threatened to boycott paying bills.
"What angers me most is that I do not know exactly what warrants that
high charge because we rarely have electricity. Four logs of firewood now
cost Zd 10 000 and you can imagine how much we spend on firewood for a whole
month, while a candle costs more than Zd 5 000. If you add all that plus the
bills that we got from ZESA and compare to the salaries most of us get, one
wonders how ZESA expects us to manage," said a fuming Adam Gunda.
Most of the bills shown to this reporter showed that ZESA's monthly
charges were above the monthly salaries of the majority of residents.
Mercy Maphosa, a nurse who had a bill of Zd 68 000 dollars said: "We
have a fixed power usage of 5Amps and we have been billed Zd 68 000 - my
salary is below Zd 30 000. The sum is ridiculous considering that there are
other bills that need to be settled with this paltry salary of mine and
Gunda who normally uses an average of ten Amps a month said he
received a bill of over Zd 83 000 compared to the Zd 3000 that he paid last
Others suggested that it was better to have no electricity at all than
pay a power utility that is not providing power to the consumers.
Wilbert Muringani, Chairman of the Gweru Residents and Ratepayers
Association (GRRA) said: "I am very disappointed that we have meetings and
they seem not to be very fruitful. We meet these people thinking that we
will have tried to solve something, and in favour of the residents. The fact
that these people keep on increasing their tariffs will not augur well with
the residents who after all hardly get the power."
He warned that if the power utility continued to increase tariffs
without improving on service delivery, his association will mobilise its
members to boycott paying tariffs.
Gweru, October 10 2008 - The critical shortage of food in Zimbabwe has
resulted in some residents in Gweru faking their relatives deaths for in
order to get maize from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) Depot.
Investigations carried out by this reporter revealed that some hungry
families were conniving with some funeral companies and other relevant
authorities to get fake burial orders so they could use them to get mealie
meal for their staple sadza.
Although, it was impossible to obtain official comment from the depot,
RadioVOP understands that the situation is so rampant that at times
officials from the depot have to visit the houses of those who bring burial
orders to establish whether the purported funerals are genuine.
A Mkoba resident, who spent five days behind bars for faking a
funeral, explained that the conditions prevailing in the country have forced
almost everyone to devise survival tactics.
"If you see or hear of someone faking death, it means that person
would have gone through a lot, tried all tricks of survival... It is taboo
to fake a death in our culture as it means that one is wishing for a
funeral, I was driven to fake death by hunger and could not bear to see my
family continue starving. Unfortunately luck was not on my side," explained
The GMB gives pereference to those in possession of burial orders or
to people with special needs. However the GMB verifies all information
including taking visits.
"On the day that I took the fake burial order to the GMB we were
called into a room and were asked who we had lost and were the funeral was
and I gave them my house number...On our way, I confessed that I had lied
inorder to save my family which was starving but all the same I was punished
as they said i had misrepresentation of facts was a crime," explained the
The survey also revealed that most people were fraudulently getting
documents that indicate they have to buy medicines or had been bereaved, in
order to withdraw more than the permitted Zd 20 000 daily withdrawal limit.
DR ALEX T. MAGAISA
Last updated: 10/11/2008 16:21:34
THE apparent deadlock over the formation of the new Cabinet in the wake of
the agreement between Zanu PF and the MDCs has caused much pessimism and
despondency among ordinary Zimbabweans.
The agreement was only going to work if the parties acted in good faith and
cultivated a culture of trust and confidence between them. These ingredients
are sadly lacking, hence the continuation of the political impasse that has
so debilitated the economy of the country.
In order to gain an understanding of the current difficulties over the
allocation of cabinet seats, I intend to revisit a model of power previously
employed in these pages.
The basic feature of that model, conveniently adapted from Susan Strange's
theory of power in the international political economy, is Structural Power,
which is the power to shape and determine the structures within which others
operate. It is the power to set the agenda and decide how things are or
should be done. The Cabinet itself the key structure for this purpose.
We saw in the past how Zanu PF traditionally uses Structural Power to set
the agenda and framework in which persons operate and relate to each other
within the political and economic landscape.
In many ways, the battle over the cabinet is centred squarely on the desire
to, on the part of Zanu PF, maintain close hold on the sources that confer
structural power and on the part of the MDCs, to gain control of the same
Strange identified four sources of Structural Power, namely Production,
Finance, Security and Knowledge. Put simply, the proposition is that
structural power is held by those that are able to first, exercise control
of people's security; make decisions and control the manner of production;
control the financial architecture, i.e. supply and distribution of finance
and control the definition, development, dissemination, storage of and
access to knowledge broadly defined to include information, ideas and
To these four, we added welfare as another source of power - the ability to
provide or withdraw aid to the people.
The election season was the climax of the battles over the control of
sources of Structural Power. But the elections failed to decisively deal
with the issues at stake, leaving the Thabo Mbeki-mediated negotiating
process to decide matters.
When, therefore, the agreement was signed on 15 September 2008, after many
twists and turns, the hope was that although it was a messy compromise, it
would pave the way for recovery. Yet a fundamental weakness of the agreement
is that it does not provide for an efficient enforcement mechanism or what
little there is, is not capable of doing the job effectively.
A key shortfall is that it does not properly deal with the allocation of
cabinet seats, which symbolically signify the amount of structural power
that each of the parties commands under the proposed order.
Yet because structural power is the key form of power that Zanu PF and the
MDCs have been fighting for, it is odd that this was not properly and
effectively dealt with prior to the signing of the agreement.
A quick look at some of the so-called key ministries within the framework of
this model should help indicate why the fight over the cabinet is simply a
perpetuation of the struggle over Structural Power.
The Home Affairs ministry is chiefly responsible for policing affairs. It is
part of the security apparatus, alongside the military and intelligence
services. It is understood that Zanu PF will retain the Defence Ministry,
responsible for the armed forces. In any event, as the Commander-in-Chief of
the Armed Forces under the Constitution, Mugabe and Zanu PF were always
going to have greater leverage in this area.
The police authorities have greater day-to-day involvement with the ordinary
people. Control of both the defence and police authorities would enable Zanu
PF to retain the tight hold they have had over the security forces for 28
years. Within the above model, it would enable Zanu PF to have exclusive
control of security as a source of structural power.
An alternative outcome in the spirit of the compromise agreement, and in
order to share power arising from the security structure, would be to share
the ministries that make up the security structure.
Since Mugabe and Zanu PF already draw power from the military by virtue of
his supreme command as President, it makes sense to allow one of the MDCs to
have leadership of the police authorities. In any event, the MDCs' control
of the police authorities would not be as exclusive as Zanu PF fears,
because under the Constitution, the Police Commissioner-General is a
The arrangement of sharing power drawn from the security structure is not
new. When Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980, Mugabe became Prime Minister
and was also in charge of the Defence Ministry. His rival, Joshua Nkomo took
the Home Affairs Ministry.
Of this arrangement, Nkomo says in his autobiography, The Story of My Life,
that it was necessary for him and his party, PF ZAPU that they "demand a
senior ministry dealing with security matters. Robert Mugabe himself took
the ministry of defence, responsible for the armed forces. I took the
ministry of home affairs, in charge of the police. That seemed the formula
best calculated to win the confidence of the fighting men of both armies and
to contribute to the building of a real sense of impartial national
These words echo very loudly in today's political environment and show why
it is necessary to share power arising from the security structure.
Second, the finance ministry is critical in that it confers leverage over
financial and economic matters, which represents the Finance Structure as
outlined in the above model. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has
epitomised the critical role of the provision (or withdrawal) of finance and
the significant power that this represents.
Whoever controls this ministry and the institutions falling under it will
have enormous power drawn from the finance structure. Zanu PF has had
exclusive control of this ministry for 28 years. Given the state of the
economy, it has not worked well and is unlikely to work any better going
forward. They know that nothing will work if the old order persists. But the
fear is that letting finance slip might mean letting go of the power that is
drawn from the finance structure.
The same analysis applies to the power drawn from the knowledge structure,
in this case the dissemination of information through the media. The
agreement referred to the electronic media, including foreign-based radio
stations. But it was strangely mute on the print media, where, as we have
seen in the last 8 years, information laws were employed to cause the
closure of a number of newspapers.
Zanu PF would like to control the ministry that is responsible for
information matters because it would retain its dominance of the media. The
perpetual abuse of the state media, in some cases the use of hate language,
has continued even after the agreement was signed. For as long as Zanu PF
retains the type of control that it has had over the media, it means it will
retain the greatest, if not exclusive control of power drawn from the
In a nutshell, the on-going squabbles over cabinet positions represent the
continuation of the struggle between the parties for the control of sources
of structural power. Structural power confers the ability to set the agenda.
The key sources of power, namely production, security, finance and knowledge
have to be accounted for in determining the allocation of cabinet positions,
because they give a symbolic (and actual) signal of who has greater leverage
in the proposed government.
Zanu PF has, for a very long time enjoyed a monopoly over the sources of
Structural Power. It is hard for them to give that up because it would
signal a diminution of its power over the state. But given the circumstances
that they face, they have very limited options.
It could well happen, as a result of frustration that the MDCs could decide
to walk away and leave Zanu PF in charge of all sources of structural power.
But they know as well, that power under those circumstances would be
Good faith and common sense are essentially if the current impasse is to be
Alex Magaisa is based at Kent Law School, The University of Kent. He can be
contacted at email@example.com
10 October 2008
Posted to the web 10 October 2008
Denouncing the implications of the Mugabe-Tsvangirai alliance, Kola Ibrahim
assesses the consequences of a pro-capitalist union for the Zimbabwean
working masses. Emphasising the MDC's and ZANU-PF's moral bankruptcy, the
author concludes that unless the country's labour movement is resurrected to
take a lead in forthcoming struggles, its future will be doomed.
Events postdating the political stalemate that precipitated the unilateral
elections in Zimbabwe where Robert Mugabe was the sole contestant could
hardly be described as respite for the working but poor masses of Zimbabwe.
News had it that Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change's
(MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai concluded an agreement for negotiation with the
possibility of forming a unity government (as witnessed in Kenya and as
advocated by Nigeria's Umar Yar'Adua). This is coming at a time when
inflation in the country has skyrocketed to over 2 million percent; a sign
of an unprecedented plummeting in the standard of living with over 80
percent of the population officially poor. The increase in living wage is
linear while the inflation (which was 200,000 percent about three months
ago) is increasing geometrically. The situation is so terrible that the
government had to give free food to the masses. It is under these conditions
that the opposition - that should serve as the beacon of hope and a platform
for struggle for better living - is in reality forging an alliance with the
rotten, anti-poor and dictatorial Mugabe government. This clearly reveals
the real quagmire in which the poor masses of Zimbabwe find themselves, a
quagmire overseen by a rotten government with practically no platform of
hope and change.
During the presidential run off, Tsvangirai had predicated his withdrawal
from election based on widespread violence against the opposition members
which he rightly claimed could snowball into serious crisis if the contest
should continue. Inasmuch as one cannot deny the reality of Mugabe's brazen
violence, the retreat of Tsvangirai and his party in the election is a
reflection of the political frustration that has beset the working poor. How
else could one describe a situation where the masses who voted out the
Mugabe dictatorship, (despite unprecedented campaign of violence) would back
off from defending their choice at the run off, even if it includes taking
arms against the regime? The main reason is that Tsvangirai and his MDC
party do not represent any beacon of hope for the masses; they possess no
clear-cut economic programme to take the country's economy out of the woods
or any plan to challenge imperialism. A glance through the MDC's website
clearly reveals its pro-rich, pro-imperialism neoliberal economic
orientation that will further economically disenfranchise the working poor.
In its normal messianic nature, the opposition did not reveal how it intends
to resolve the land problem (which in the real sense affects the poor
Zimbabwean farmers than the much-touted white farmers). Maybe he is taking
after Nigerian crooked politicians who conceal their ignorance-cum-hypocrisy
with the argument that they do not want the other party to steal (or maybe
loot) their programme when they are really the same birds flocking in
different camps. This is coupled with the fact that Tsvangirai himself was
formerly part of Mugabe's dictatorship - his former official physician -
just as many of the MDC stalwarts are former staunch members of Mugabe's
The fact that Tsvangirai and the opposition do not pose any genuine
alternative to the masses is clearly manifested in the manner in which
Tsvangirai reacted to the violence initiated by the Mugabe's shock troopers.
Rather than appeal to the working masses and youth to organise and resist
the fascist troops (who are in reality in minority), he is fond of calling
on the 'international' community (note his definition of international
community means the imperialist nations of the US and Europe) to use
military actions and sanctions against Mugabe. The implication of this is
that he has contempt for the masses for which he claims to be 'fighting'.
Any international action by any imperialist country will not be in the
interest of the working poor of Zimbabwe and will either boost Mugabe's
status as an anti-imperialist - which he never was - or help imperialism
establish a military and economic base in the country (and turn the country
into another Iraq - where a 'liberation' war overseen by the US and Europe
has turned into war over oil and occupation). This has further intensified
the skepticism felt by the Zimbabwean poor attitude towards him, something
which in the process has unfortunately given the Mugabe regime another lease
A possible calculation of Tsvangirai is that reliance on the working masses
could inspire a mass movement that may push him to the left. This will
definitely undermine his capitalist neoliberal economic programmes. This
will definitely also diminish his status to govern on behalf of big
business. Having realised that imperialism had more in its hands than the
problems facing Zimbabwe, and fearful of the consequences of a mass movement
to dislodge Mugabe on his political interests, Tsvangirai resorted to
negotiation with a regime he has decried as dictatorial. He was even
reported to have renounced all his critical statements on Mugabe's
dictatorship. This treachery of Tsvangirai is not unexpected because - as I
had earlier stated in my previous commentaries on Zimbabwe and Kenya
(published in many newspapers and websites) - as a pro-capitalist
politician, he is bound to limit his struggle for power within the precinct
of capitalism and not raise the masses to their feet. The era of progressive
capitalism is long gone, and the current neoliberal capitalism is not
favourable to mass movement, even one that would give it a 'human face.'
It is vital to stress that the treachery and the pro-imperialist,
anti-masses character of Tsvangirai (and his MDC) should not bolster any
latent credibility for Mugabe's autocratic regime. As against the claim of
many commentators that Mugabe is an anti-imperialist, anti-apartheid hero,
he actually emerged from imperialism, even during the apartheid struggle. Of
course, like every other nationalist petty bourgeois and in the spirit of
the mass anger against imperialism during the period, he was against
apartheid, but he was also used by British imperialism to maintain its
presence in Zimbabwe. It is noteworthy to state that the same Mugabe who
claims to be fighting white rule did not take white big farms during the
anti-apartheid victory, when the movement was raging, but rather negotiated
with British imperialism. But having lost control of the economy through
subjugation of the nation to the poisonous neoliberal pills of
commercialisation of social services, privatisation of public corporations
and trade liberalisation (which led to the loss of over 25,000 jobs in 1996
alone and a slashing of wages by 25 percent in 1995, among other terrible
results) and looking for a shortcut, resorted to anti-imperialism slogans.
Ridiculously, the land distribution could only benefit just a thousand of
rich black farmers (out of millions of poor and landless farmers) most of
whom have stakes in his ruling ZANU-PF party. Therefore, it is a miscarriage
of logic to present Mugabe as fighting imperialism. The economic woes
witnessed in Zimbabwe are a product of the anti-poor neoliberal policies of
imperialism implemented by Mugabe in the 1990s and not a result of economic
sabotage of western imperialism as some people claim. While of course the
role of western imperialism, which in actual fact benefited from the
neoliberal policies implemented by Mugabe (and subsequently left the economy
in ruins), should not be underemphasised, this should not be done to bestow
credibility on the Mugabe regime.
This also brings to focus the role and hypocrisy of imperialism in the
crisis facing Zimbabwe. Aside from the fact that imperialism contributed to
the country's economic woes, western imperialism's reactions again reflect a
certain hypocrisy. It will be recalled that while these nations (especially
the US and the United Kingdom) were condemning the Mugabe regime, they did
not mention their roles in the economic crisis. No relief package was given
to the poor people of Zimbabwe who are groaning under economic woes that had
provided unprecedented wealth to capitalist corporations. Rather,
imperialist nations in the UN Security Council prefer to place sanctions -
including in economic and military form - which will further the sufferings
of the Zimbabwean poor, who represent anywhere up to 80 percent of the
country's population. Though sanctions were vetoed by China and Russia, this
does not portray any section of imperialism in any good light. The fact is
that it is sheer selfish capitalist interests that drive foreign policy and
Russia's and China's vetoes are not a product of sympathy for the Zimbabwean
poor, but an attempt to boost their capitalist economic agendas. For
instance, Russia has been boosting markets in Third World countries for its
economy, especially its gas industry. Furthermore, Russia has been trying to
stand on its feet in the committee of imperialist nations after the collapse
of Stalinism (a grotesque caricature of genuine socialism), something
reflected in the recent nationalism campaign begun by Vladimir Putin, a
policy meant to mask the glaring failure of capitalism in Russia. The only
way for Russia to stand therefore is by posing as an alternative to US and
British imperialism, all the while pursuing the same capitalist and
imperialist policies (Chechnya as an example) in the eyes of Third World
countries with the central aim of boosting its outreach economic status.
As to China, it is a known fact that the Asia country's recent economic boom
coupled with its importance to the world (and US especially) economy has
boosted its international status, something which has further reinforced its
struggle for resources and markets to sustain its economic boom. Failure in
this regard will spell political doom for the fragile ruling class of China,
and as a result, the international economy. This informs its international
politics and indeed the veto. As against the thinking that the veto is meant
to protect Africa's interests or liberate countries of the Third World, it
is worth recalling the terrible role of China in sustaining Sudan's terror
and its direct repression in Tibet.
In the much the same vein, the US and the UK's pro-sanction vote shows no
concern for human rights. The historic record of the two countries has been
one of sustaining tyrannical governments: in its arming of strategic
supporters in Chile, Panama, Morocco and; in supporting armed forces against
popular governments like Cuba (since the 1960s), Nicaragua (in the 1970s),
and Venezuela (since 2002). Even the role of US and other section of
imperialism in recent events in Africa have confirmed the treacherous policy
of imperialism. For instance, despite the brazen manner of election-rigging
in Nigeria and Kenya, the US (and later the UK) was the first country to
congratulate the beneficiary of the rigging, even when people rejected the
election. Therefore, the crisis in Zimbabwe is also a clear failure of
international capitalist politics which tailored its political agenda
according to the interests of profit of the big capitalist classes of each
country, especially the imperialist ones. The latest reports indicate that
the European Union has endorsed the negotiation between Mugabe and
Tsvangirai, and has in fact commended South Africa's government, the new
face of imperialism in Africa. Definitely, this recognition of the
negotiation will give a new lease of life to Mugabe, yet the same EU had
earlier strongly condemned Mugabe's sit-tight rule!
More horrible is the reaction of most African countries to what amounts to
political barbarism in Zimbabwe. Aside most African leaders who maintained
criminal silence, those that claim to have spoken out - like Angola's Dos
Santos and Nigeria's Umar Yar'Adua - are little different from Mugabe in
their manner of emergence, repressive activities and economic policies, and
their comments have been evasive, mostly in the attempy to boost their image
while avoiding confrontation with Mugabe. In fact, to show the level of
Africa's political doom, Mugabe even threatened to expose any African leader
who criticises his government. However, Thabo Mbeki went a mile further by
not only giving surreptitious support to Mugabe but also organizing a power
deal between Mugabe and the opposition MDC to stabilise Mugabe's government
and give him international recognition. Aside from the moral burden of most
African rulers, the fear of a mass revolt in Zimbabwe, which can set the
masses of other lands in motion, is a dangerous sore that made many African
leaders keen to maintain a notorious deafening silence. It is this same
silence that was maintained during the Kenyan election standoff. Most
African leaders are lapdogs of capitalist imperialism, who fear losing their
status as apron strings of imperialism through mass movement. Gone and never
to return is the old era of petty bourgeois nationalism of many African
leaders. The crisis in Zimbabwe has manifested the 'primer faecal'
(apologies to Wole Soyinka) nature of capitalism and imperialism, and the
terrible stench is suffocating the working poor of Africa and the world at
What is the future of Zimbabwe, and the implications of the present
situation for the poor people of Africa? As has been said earlier, the major
reason the poor masses had not come to the centre stage of the struggle to
chase away Mugabe is the fact that they see no alternative to the rotten
Mugabe regime, as represented by Tsvangirai and MDC. However, the political
alliance being forged between Mugabe and Tsvangirai will further deem the
future of the working poor of Zimbabwe. As against the position of some
commentators that the deal will restore sanity to Zimbabwe, the reality is
that the deal will further deem any hope of respite for the masses who have
been suffocated by the economic strangulation. It should be noted that the
simple majority gained by Tsvangirai in the first round is a sign that the
masses are in need of change but do not have trust in the capitalist
economic policy of MDC and Tsvangirai. This coupled with the political
bankruptcy of the MDC further alienated the Zimbabweans who prefer to stand
aloof rather than shed blood on behalf of one capitalist politician, who
stand for nothing clear. Therefore, the political alliance between Mugabe
and Tsvangirai will further frustrate the masses - some of whom still nurse
some illusion in Tsvangirai - who will now feel totally insecure. Expected
economic failure that will result from this rotten collaboration will
further estrange the masses, who may, in the absence of clear cut working
class leadership, resort to self-help through sectarian means as witnessed
in the Kenya election crisis, something which is only the first phase of the
Unless the labour movement in Zimbabwe is resurrected to take a lead the
oncoming political and economic struggle of the working masses for change,
the future is doomed. The labour movement and working class activists in
Zimbabwe must start to build a political alternative that will genuinely
defend the interest of the poor Zimbabweans. Such movement must incorporate
the working class with other oppressed strata including the peasants and
youth (most of whom are unemployed and thus pose a serious challenge to the
social stability of the country) by linking their demands together.
With the clear manifestation of the political bankruptcy of the opposition
MDC and Tsvangirai, the stage is set for a social revolution by the working
and poor people of Zimbabwe to bring back the economy in the interest of the
working poor of the country, and to restore sanity to the polity. This is
the central task of the labour movement and the working class movement in
not only Zimbabwe but the whole African continent. It is unfortunate that
the Zimbabwe Trade Union Congress (ZTUC) has played an insignificant role in
the whole political development to provide a serious political hope for the
Zimbabwean poor. Genuine pro-working class organisations in both Zimbabwe
and the whole African continent must start the process of building a
working-class mass movement in Zimbabwe as a stepping stone towards forming
a pan-African working-class movement that will bring back the fighting
spirit of the African poor for genuine socialism where the vast but
mismanaged and plundered resources of the continent (human, material,
natural and monetary) will be nationalised and democratically run by the
working and poor people themselves. This will mean that the huge
agricultural resources of Zimbabwe (and other African countries), rather
than being struggled over by the both imperialism and local moneybags, will
be used to develop a vast, environmentally friendly agro-based economy that
will employ the majority of the country while providing the resources to
develop the country - provide basic social infrastructures along with free,
qualitative education, healthcare, cheap, efficient and environment-friendly
transport, agriculture and communication system, and a developed
industrialised economy - which cannot be achieved within the framework of
neo-colonial, neoliberal capitalism. This transformation cannot be achieved
without working class solidarity, and the elimination of decadent capitalism
It is unfortunate that most labour leaders in Africa did not take a
practical action in support of the working poor of Zimbabwe, with most of
them either supporting one section of the bourgeoisie or the other. This
clearly shows the pro-capitalist orientation of most of the central labour
leaders in Africa, since the collapse of the Stalinist Soviet Union. One
would have expected the labour movements in Africa to declare solidarity
with mass action in support of the Zimbabwean poor but for the pro-business
character of the labour leadership. This is not to say that the working poor
are not ready for change. On the contrary, the mass movement that greeted
the recent capitalist-induced food crisis is a sign that the masses are
ready for social change, but for the character of the pro-capitalist labour
leadership. The spirit of solidarity of the African poor is clearly
manifested in the heroic actions of South African dockworkers, who refused
to ship arms meant for Mugabe to implement a form of fully fledged fascism.
The lesson to be learnt from the present Zimbabwean issue is the need for a
political platform of the working poor in each and every African country to
lay the basis for social revolution to enthrone a socialist society in the
continent to prevent total descent to barbarism. This is the challenge
before the labour movement and pro-working class activists in Africa to
build a change-seeking, fighting, mass-based, democratic working class
organisation and movement as a basis for a mass socialist political
* Kola Ibrahim is a member of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM),
Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at
10th October 2008
I have been writing this Letter from the Diaspora for one whole year now.
This is Letter No 52. I have no idea who reads the letter or whether it
makes any difference but for the first time in 52 weeks I have to admit that
I am lost for words. There are no words to express my horror and disgust at
what is happening in Zimbabwe. Horror at the level of hunger and poverty
being experienced by ordinary Zimbabweans and disgust at the politicians who
continue to play their childish power games while all around them the
country sinks further and further into the abyss.
The World Food Programme yesterday issued an appeal for 140 million dollars
to save 5 million Zimbabweans from imminent starvation. With the
international economies in such disarray and billions being spent by
governments to rescue failing banks it is hard to see this WFP appeal
succeeding in raising sufficient funds to rescue Zimbabwe from its
self-inflicted wounds. The rainy season is less than a month away in
Zimbabwe and there is still no seed and no fertilizer in the bankrupt
country for the new agricultural season. The country faces another
disastrous crop failure which Robert Mugabe will no doubt once again blame
on sanctions and greedy white farmers. In a carefully researched piece in
the UK Times this week Jan Raath estimated that less that 400 white farmers
of the original 5000 remain on their farms. Since the Agreement was signed
on September 15th some 60 farmers have been forced, often at gunpoint to
abandon their farms. 'Land grabbers' Jan Raath call them. " Army officers,
magistrates, agricultural officials, local government officials are walking
into homesteads and settling in, commandeering farmers' vehicles, furniture
and the food in their fridges." All this while the people of Zimbabwe die
slowly of starvation, of AIDS or water-borne diseases. The forthcoming rainy
season can only increase the misery as malaria takes its annual toll and
health care system collapses for lack of resources. A whole generation is
being wiped out while the land grabbers and fat cats look the other way,
blind and deaf to the cries of the suffering masses.
What of the next generation? The pupils at primary schools, the bright young
men and women at universities and colleges who will be the future leaders of
the country. What hope for them? This week four major institutions of higher
learning failed to open their doors for the new semester citing 'budgetary
constraints', the collapse of basic infrastructure and the absence of
lecturers who, along with secondary and primary school teachers, have fled
the country in their thousands. In educational terms, 2008 has been declared
a 'non-year'. There will be no Grade Seven exams and possibly no O's or A
levels either. Pupils and college students will just have to repeat a year
in 2009 they are told. And what guarantee do they have that things will be
any different next year? Without a political solution, nothing will change.
So while Mugabe and Zanu PF continue to hold on to power there is no end to
Zimbabwe's misery in sight. The official inflation rate is an unimaginable
232 million percent, twenty times more than it was a month ago. None of
Gideon Gono's attempts to bring down inflation and rescue the economy have
succeeded; in fact; they have made things worse. The sight of food outlets
laden with goods for sale in foreign currency right next to empty shelves
for local currency sales proves the point.
The country is being held to ransom by Robert Mugabe and his gang of
thieving supporters who continue to plunder the country's resources while
the people die a slow and lingering death. More than anything else, it is
the total lack of humanity, the callous indifference to the suffering of the
African people by the president and his party that leaves me lost for words.
In his determination to cling to power at all costs Robert Mugabe is
committing silent genocide while Africa and the rest of world look the other
way. There are no words to convey that horror.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle. PH.
[MDC Media Release]
MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai will on Sunday 12 October 2008 address
a rally at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare dubbed the "Big
President Tsvangirai is expected to unpack the character and substance
of the political deal that was signed by the three principals of the
three major political parties on 15 September 2008 in Harare.
Members of the MDC national executive are expected to address the
rally, which is expected to start at 10.00 am.
Department of Information and Publicity
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1. Mike Jack
Eddie Cross' letter - as usual informative and encouraging- in the l forum
on 6 October has the (now suspended) "RTGS rate" - his estimate of the rate
between banked Z$ and USD cash or transfers - going from 7000 at the end of
August to 2m on 3rd October. About right.
The annualised rate of change in this forex rate- a good measure of
inflation given that most costing and pricing was done with regard to the
RTGS rate- is 286 times in about two months- 55 quadrillion percent p.a
compounded each 2 months - give or take a few quads.
With the suspension of RTGS and inter account transfers, and to the extent
that anyone will wish to - or have to - use banked Z$ funds, the rate will
now have to factor in the additional delays in processing cheque payment.
Current inflation will we even higher than the quadrillions implied by Eddie
Cross' start August to early October figures.
55 quadrillion percent is about the same as a doubling each week - on that.
If cheque payments take 5 working days the "Cheque Rate" would need to be at
least twice an inter account transfer rate. We have recently seen the RTGS
rate go nearly 10 times in a week- hard to factor that in- and there seems
to be no reason why it should not get higher still.
Current inflation, as measured, by the open market Z$ exchange rate, is
probably out of the quads and into the quints now - it has to be a World
record? And these figures make nonsense of inflation in the mere billions of
percent, based on historic year on year estimates that feature in the Press.
It is now almost impossible for any business that does not operate in forex
to trade and stay solvent. Dollarisation (including Randisation etc) is the
only option that will help make business viable again - but probably there
will be a serious but futile attempt to prevent this - along the lines of
the price blitz - as dollarisation threatens the patronage base.
While the new scheme to allow licensed outlets to buy and sell in forex will
result in some more product on the shelves, it is not clear on what terms
local manufacturers will be allowed to charge in forex. In any case, local
companies operate under so many disincentives that further
de-industrialisation is inevitable until all controls (exchange, price) are
abolished, threats to ownership removed and confidence returns. A big
2. Joe Whaley
If Churchill had been alive today, in reference to the Dark Continent, he
would have said something along the lines of "Never before in the history of
mankind has so little been achieved by so many with so much"!!
3. Eddie Cross - Filibustering
Today it's the 8th of October - nearly 4 weeks since the SADC brokered deal
was signed. It's now 7 months since the March elections took place and both
Zanu PF and Robert Mugabe were soundly beaten by the MDC. Yet we still do
not have a government and Zanu PF continues to behave as if they had the
right to control the State and to make all key decisions. No Minister is in
office legally at this moment of time yet they continue to drive government
vehicles and draw their salaries. Many continue to work in their old offices
as if nothing has happened.
Just as was the case in Kenya, the Party that should have taken over from
the incumbents has been forced by regional pressure to concede a compromise
deal that is proving to be unworkable. If the experience of the past 4 weeks
is anything to go by, we have learned that the SADC brokered agreement is
most likely to produce a dysfunctional government that simply cannot make
the decisions required on a daily basis to resolve our many problems. It is
also clear that Zanu PF does not have any intention of meeting their
obligations in terms of the deal and is not in the slightest way concerned
about the rapid collapse of Zimbabweans society and the economy.
The economy now slides to a halt leaving millions of people without an
income and no access to even the most basic necessities, schools close their
doors and Universities are unable to function. While preparations for the
next cropping season are simply non-existent and water and electricity
supplies dwindle, while poultry, pig and dairy farmers watch their stock
starve and die; Mugabe and Mbeki fiddle and procrastinate.
Since the signing, of course, we have had the ANC coup in South Africa.
Unlike the Zimbabwe process there was no quiet diplomacy involved in that
operation! In four days, the ANC very publicly, recalled Mr. Mbeki, forced
him to resign and appointed a new (not elected) President. Mr. Mbeki and his
supporters in the ANC have subsequently embarked on a political guerrilla
war and might shortly announce they are forming a new alliance grouping to
oppose the ANC in elections in early 2009.
I was asked by the staff in our factory what was happening and I said that
the two bulls in South Africa were fighting and were not interested in the
cows next door - even though the Zimbabwe cow was ready for some sort of
consummation of the agreement. They understood that analogy immediately and
saw that this was what was now holding up progress.
Someone else came to me and asked, in real sincerity, why was Zanu PF
delaying the process of forming a government? They were right in that final
part - they are filibustering this deal very effectively and it has nothing
to do with the fundamentals or power sharing. The question of why is not so
easy to determine. One ambassador told me that in his view it was quite
simple - they wanted time to loot the store before they handed over the
keys. And that they are doing - in great style with millions of dollars in
hard currency leaving the country daily for safe refuge elsewhere.
The other part, of course is that they know that the formation of a new
government - the resumption of government by Cabinet selected on a
democratic basis (in so far as the deal recognises the outcome of the March
elections), marks the end of years of luxurious living, access to foreign
exchange on special terms, power and influence and protection from the reach
of law enforcement agencies.
The MDC has appealed to the region and the African Union several times in
the past two weeks for the mediation to resume and for help with the issues
that remain. Each time that Mbeki has looked likely to come to the country,
Zanu PF have said 'no, we do not need his help, the issues that remain are
insignificant', and Mbeki has taken them at their word and stayed at home.
An easy decision when you think that he is trying to pick up the remains of
his life and to rescue what is left of his part of the ANC.
But the consequences of this delay in the consummation of the SADC deal are
very serious. In an unstable world where markets are collapsing and rescue
efforts are under way on a scale not seen since the 30's in the last
century, the double impact on South Africa of not only the collapse of the
ANC Alliance but the collapse of the Zimbabwe deal, could put southern
Africa into a tail spin. The Rand may have gone through the 9 to 1 barrier
today and looks set to perhaps hit the lows of several years ago. Inflation
is already too high and global commodity prices are falling rapidly.
The Zimbabwe economy, in my view, is now as close as it has ever been to
real collapse. Companies simply cannot carry on under these circumstances. I
spoke with a young civil servant today about her salary. She said she was
paid $13 000 in local currency credited to her account at a building
society. That is about US$1,50 at the street rate. Even so she had not been
able to draw the money out and was virtually working for nothing.
Hunger and starvation now stalks the land - even those in employment are
going without food for days on end. The flood tide of refugees going to
South Africa is worse than ever and if allowed to continue will create
mayhem in South Africa shortly. The MDC is ready to tackle all these
problems and has well advanced plans to do so, but it cannot move one
millimetre without the formation of a government headed by the new Prime
There is little we can do about this filibustering operation by Zanu PF -
that is the task of regional power brokers. If they do not come to the party
and break the deadlock, the whole thing will collapse in an ignominious heap
and further punish the reputation of Africa and African leadership. We can
ill afford that at this point in our history.
Eddie Cross is MP for Bulawayo South and the MDC's Policy Coordinator. This
article was first published on his website October 8 2008
09 October 2008
All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions of
the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice for
By Alex Bell
10 October 2008
Protest action group the Zimbabwe Vigil is marking its 6th anniversary
outside the Zimbabwe embassy in London on Saturday - this as the country's
political, humanitarian and economic crises continues to put millions of
lives at risk.
The Vigil was launched on the 12th of October 2002 after MDC MP Roy Bennett
and Tony Reeler of the Amani Trust suggested a regular vigil against the
illegitimate regime in Zimbabwe, as an effective way to raise awareness in
the UK about the plight of the Zimbabwean people. The pair cited the hugely
successful pickets outside South Africa House during the time of apartheid
and as a result the Central London Branch of the MDC set up the Zimbabwe
Vigil - which has been held every Saturday since.
The group's main focus over its six years has not only been to raise
awareness, but also to put pressure on Southern African regional leaders and
European leaders, not to recognize the Robert Mugabe regime. The group uses
weekly protests, as well as high profile campaigns and strongly worded and
often controversial petitions, to urge action against the human rights
violations in Zimbabwe. The most recent high profile action was the combined
protest with Tibetan and Burmese human rights groups during the Beijing
Olympics, outside the Chinese embassy in London. All three countries are
victims of China's use of its veto in the UN Security Council to protect
human rights abusers.
The group's use of petitions, often signed by passersby during the Saturday
Vigils, has been another successful form of protest, despite certain
controversies. Most recently, the Vigil issued a petition to football
association FIFA urging them to pull the 2010 world cup away from South
Africa. The group has said the petition is not to punish Africa, but to put
pressure on the region to take action against Mugabe.
The Vigil's coordinator, Rose Benton, told Newsreel on Friday that the
anniversary "is not a celebration, because nothing has changed in Zimbabwe."
She explained that the group has done well to raise awareness, but expressed
anger that "a dictator can keep his hands on Zimbabwe and the world is
apparently unable to do anything."
The Vigil has stated since day one that it will continue until
internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. But
Benton said on Friday she never thought the protests would need to enter
their sixth year. "Every year we say that surely we won't be here for
another year," Benton said, "and yet we're still here."
But Benton added that the Vigil will not give up its efforts and made it
clear that their motivation to keep going is the Zimbabwean people. "We've
always said we're not in this for fame," Benton explained. "We are saying to
people back home that we care, and that is the most important message."
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Trudy Stevenson
Last updated: 10/10/2008 16:48:41 Last updated: 10/07/2008 18:23:18
FORMER Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo (who among others presided
over Operation Murambatsvina to destroy over 700,000 people's homes) led
celebrations of World Habitat Day at Town House on Monday - as hundreds of
thousands of residents of Harare and Chitungwiza scurried around looking for
water! Water to flush our toilets, water to wash ourselves as well as our
babies, sick and elderly and water to drink, here in this capital city in
the year 2008.
At the UZ campus in Mt Pleasant, where some 5000 people were supposed to
congregate, there has been no water for over a month, despite lies put out
by ZBC that ZINWA had sunk boreholes and everything was sorted out.
Students, lecturers and workers travel here from as far as Chitungwiza,
hoping they will be able to relieve themselves in the northern suburbs and
even get a drink of clean water. Alas, they find themselves reduced to
squatting behind whatever shelter they can find - and then going thirsty.
People's stay on campus is determined by their bodily functions. They have
to rush in and do whatever they can before nature calls - or before they are
driven away by the stench.
On Saturday, Pomona dumpsite started burning again, and the pall of noxious
smoke was so heavy over Emerald Hill the sky turned dark and we could hardly
Last year, the Environmental Management Agency fined Harare Municipality for
polluting the atmosphere from Pomona and other sites, and ordered the city
to close the dumpsites down - but they are still in operation, poisoning the
atmosphere and residents.
In my area, no-one has been to collect our refuse for a month now, and I
know it is the same elsewhere. Our bins are overflowing, garbage is piling
up behind the shopping centre and in the drainage ditches, and rats, flies
and fleas are having a field day.
Again, the city was ordered by the EMA last year to put in place sustainable
waste management practices to guarantee a clean, safe and healthy
environment for residents - but the situation has deteriorated, not
This is our habitat in the northern suburbs, and it is very much worse in
the high density areas, where people have still not been able to replace
their homes and are squashed together in all manner of makeshift
How dare Chombo even show his face on such a day? And how dare the
Municipality of Harare go along with this pretence? They should all hang
their heads in shame, for they have failed and continue to fail, however
much they may try to pass the buck.
Trudy Stevenson is the former MP for Harare North and member of the MDC
October 10, 2008
HELSINKI (Reuters) - Former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari won the Nobel
Peace Prize on Friday for his work on conflict resolution.
Ahtisaari, 71, was in the international limelight when he organised and
hosted talks between Indonesia's government and the Free Aceh Movement, who
signed a peace deal in August 2005 to end 30 years of armed struggle.
The statesman made his mark in international diplomacy as point man for the
European Union, when he persuaded then Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic
to accept NATO's terms for ending the Kosovo air campaign in 1999.
The work in Kosovo earned Ahtisaari a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize
in 2000, and in 2006 he was again tipped as the likely winner after the
successful outcome of the Aceh talks.
Until March last year Ahtisaari mediated Serb-Albanian talks on Kosovo as
the EU's envoy. He drafted a plan advocating EU-supervised independence with
broad autonomy for Kosovo's Serb minority, but Serbia and Russia have
Ahtisaari was perhaps best known abroad for his role as a U.N. official in
negotiations on the independence of Namibia from South African rule,
achieved in 1990.
A no-nonsense diplomat, Ahtisaari investigated U.N. operations in Iraq after
the 2003 truck bombing that devastated the organisation's Baghdad
headquarters and killed 22 people, including the chief of the mission,
Sergio Vieira de Mello.
His findings - that security had been "dysfunctional" and "sloppy" -
prompted U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to propose a $97 million overhaul
of the world body's security arrangements, and 778 new security jobs.
Ahtisaari, president of Finland from 1994 to 2000, demonstrated his
leadership credentials by leading his homeland into the European Union in
1995 and economic and monetary union in 1999.
He spent virtually his whole career in the foreign service, and is known to
be more at ease and in touch with world affairs than domestic politics.
Ahtisaari bowed out of national politics in 2000 to head various
international institutions and projects promoting peace, democracy and
He served as an independent arms inspector in Northern Ireland from
2000-2001 and in 2000 was picked as one of three "wise men" to assess the
Austrian government's commitment to upholding human rights and combat
Since then he has also been the U.N. special envoy for the humanitarian
crisis in the Horn of Africa, and in April 2002 he headed a fact-finding
team to investigate the scene of a three-week Israeli assault on Jenin in
the West Bank.
Ahtisaari is married and has one son.
Winners of Nobel Peace Prize in past decade:
2008 - Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari for peace work from Namibia
2007 - Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC).
2006 - Muhammad Yunus and Bangladesh's Grameen Bank for work to end poverty.
2005 - International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its head Mohamed
2004 - Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai.
2003 - Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi.
2002 - Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
2001 - The United Nations and Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
2000 - South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.
1999 - Medical aid charity Medecins Sans Frontieres.
1998 - Northern Ireland politicians John Hume and David Trimble.