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Trust white people at your own peril: Mugabe

By Richard Chidza, Staff Writer
Saturday, 13 October 2012 10:17
HARARE - While he looked forward to a “God-given victory” in elections next
year, President Robert Mugabe revelled the win by Venezuelan dictator Hugo

“Zanu PF shares their victory. It is our victory too and one against
imperialism. He defeated the false hopes of imperialism against a hugely
popular Bolivarian revolution.

“The machinations of the United States were there for all to see in the form
of internal structures (opposition) with the intention of fighting Chavez
from within. The people of Venezuela won,” Mugabe said.

He said Chavez is “a great friend of ours.”

“Leader (Chavez) is a great friend of ours and their victory is our victory.
Any gain of revolutionary forces the world over is a giant stride and gain
for the masses,” said Mugabe.

Mugabe once again took time to lament the demise of Muammar Gaddafi who was
toppled by his people last year, blaming his late ally for playing with

“A lion eats flesh and you can never trust it with your sheep no matter how
passive that lion is. Trust white people at your own peril,” Mugabe said.

“South Africa still has remnants of apartheid who still pass judgment in
favour of whites. We cannot part with this soil. We are made from it and we
will die here. If some people think their fortunes lie elsewhere, they can
go there,” he said.

Mugabe congratulated former Kenyan Mau Mau guerrillas who last week won a
landmark case in Britain that will allow them to sue the British “for their
savagery as those people tried to fight against colonialism.”

Mugabe said he wondered what the MDC meant by ‘good election climate.’ “We
have cheated democracy by coming together and creating a group to govern. I
do not know whether they want earthmoving equipment to level the playing

“We can never have anything better than this in terms of the environment for
elections. We have peace and a few sporadic outbreaks of violence can never
be bigger than the general environment of peace prevailing in the country,”
Mugabe said.

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MDC-T exposed, in disarray: Mugabe

13/10/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe told supporters Friday that Zanu PF was assured of a
“blatantly God-given victory” in elections next year, claiming the MDC-T was
in disarray after being exposed as incompetent and corrupt.

Mugabe, who was addressing the Zanu PF central committee at the party’s
Harare headquarters said: “They (MDC formations) have been exposed from top
to bottom. God (is) giving Zanu PF an election victory on a silver platter.”

He said “gross shortcomings” which included corruption in local authorities
and the failure to provide basic services had weakened the MDC-T which won
the legislative ballot as well as the first round of the Presidential
elections in 2008.

Mugabe insisted that elections would go ahead in March, dismissing claims by
the MDC-T that conditions were not yet in place for a free and fair ballot.

“The MDC-T is saying let us level the ground. I do not know kuti kunodiwa
matractors here to level the ground? You cannot get it better than this,” he
“If there is a fight in one place or the other that does not mar the general
peace; what is important is that people must be able to vote without

“On our side we will ensure that there is no pressure exerted on the people.
Asingade kuenda kuma elections, we do not force anybody.
“Some people think that they are important. That is nonsense. We will
proceed. We are sailing on the road to elections in March. Vasingade, we do
not force.”

Mugabe said the coalition government which was established following
inconclusive elections in 2008 should have been replaced after 18 months.

“We have cheated on democracy. Democracy does not go that way,” he said.
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai agrees that the unity government is no longer
workable but wants political reforms fully implemented before new elections
can be held.

But Mugabe said he rivals did not want elections because they were enjoying
the luxuries which come with being in government.

He however demanded an end to factions in Zanu PF saying divisions had cost
the party dearly in the 2008 elections.
“Let us now look forward in unity and have discipline of a level much higher
than 2008. A winning party needs discipline, needs order, focus and
direction. Factions never build a strong party,” he said.

“Factions arise from selfishness and egotism that has no room in a party
which is a people’s party. Let us move as one solid body and that way we
will win as one. We won Chimurenga because we were united.”

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Mugabe predicts landslide election victory


HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has said his Zanu PF party was ready to
bury its political opponents in elections he insists will be held sometime
in March next year.

Addressing his party’s Central Committee yesterday, the 88-year-old
Zimbabwean strongman said his party was facing easy opposition.

“This is a chance we have been given by God,” Mugabe said. “Corruption is
the order of the day in the MDC and they have not looked at the people’s
needs. They are fleecing people of their hard-earned cash and sticking their
hands into people’s resources.

“That is sacred money they are stealing and if we are to be defeated by them
in the next election then nesuwo tinenge takaora (we will be a rotten
party),” said Mugabe to rapturous applause.

He said there was groundswell of discontent against the MDC that he urged
his party to utilise to maximum advantage.

“This is an election in which we are supposed to ride on the people’s
grievances. There are tonnes and tonnes of grievances created by the MDC.
This is a victory given to us by God on a golden platter.

Their people who are running councils do not understand that they are
supposed to be serving the people, enhancing the people’s lives,” the Zanu
PF leader said.

“Instead they are forcing people to pay for electricity and water that they
do not even use.

“Only two days ago, University of Zimbabwe vice chancellor Professor Levy
Nyagura told me he was going to close the university.

“I asked why and he told me they have tanks but with no water for two weeks
yet Lake Chivero has water and the pumps are there. “They want children to
stop going to school and unleash diseases on our people. The MDC cannot even
get pumps to work and you tell me the people will elect them back.

“Then I would say we are rotten. These are crimes against the people, crimes
against humanity,” Mugabe said in a stump speech to crank up a
faction-riddled party reportedly teetering on the brink.

He warned against a repeat of the so-called “bhora musango” strategy,
reminding his comrades that a loss for him will also be a loss for them too.

“But we need to move as a block. Nobody owns people; if you are a leader
then you should understand that the entire people look up to you for
guidance and you should provide that,” the veteran ruler said. “No one is
above the party.

“We should now focus, be orderly and have direction so that we do better
than we did in 2008.

“We should win together as a party. Whatever we are doing is for the party,”
said Mugabe - ZimDiaspora/Daily News.

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VIP welcome in Zimbabwe for Malema

Staff Reporter 19 hours 19 minutes ago

HARARE - Ousted African National Congress youth league leader Julius Malema
arrived in Zimbabwe yesterday for a visit that will highlight Zanu-PF’s
growing hostility towards South African president Jacob Zuma, amid reports
that he was likely to meet President Mugabe.
Mr Zuma is currently the regional mediator on Zimbabwe’s crisis, but is
coming in for increasing criticism from president Robert Mugabe’s party
because of his insistence upon reforms before polls. Mr Malema – who has led
miners’ strikes in South Africa and was charged last month with money
laundering – has vowed to remove Mr Zuma from power by the end of the year.
Witnesses said Mr Malema was whisked through the VIP section of Harare
International Airport on his arrival late yesterday afternoon.
Floyd Shivambu, a spokesman for Mr Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters group,
said the leader would meet “progressive forces in Zimbabwe” to discuss
economic freedoms.
The South African has been inspired by Mr Mugabe’s controversial programme
of white company takeovers. Economists warn it will kill what is left of
Zimbabwe’s economy, already wrecked by more than a decade of chaotic farm
There are reports that the ANC believes Zanu-PF is aiming to use Mr Malema
to try to topple Mr Zuma.
Malema arrived in Harare on alleged visit for the wedding of Zanu- (PF)
youth leader, Tendai Wenyika
The wedding is set for Chisipite Gardens Saturday.
Wenyika said in an interview that Malema touched down at the Harare
International Airport at 3pm.
“He is a friend of mine and he accepted the invitation to attend my wedding
and he confirmed to me that he would be coming ,” said Wenyika.
Wenyika is also the Deputy Secretary General of the Pan African Youth Union.
She said Malema was accompanied by his sidekicks suspended ANC Secretary
General Sindiso Magaqa and Floyd Shivambo, spokesperson for the Economic
Freedom Fighters, a South Africa based youth organisation fighting for black
economic empowerment, in addition to an unnamed number of friends.
Wenyika dismissed reports that Malema would be holding talks with Zimbabwean
government officials to discuss issues of economic freedom.
Journalists waited anxiously at the arrivals section for the outspoken
former ANC Youth leader but their efforts were in vain as Malema did not
show up.
In an effort to locate him, journalists tried to engage workers at the
Harare International Airport who were giving conflicting statements over the
exit point Malema would use out of the airport.
After a period of wondering from one point to another, journalists were
advised that Malema was using the old section of the Harare International
Airport as his exit point but it was too late as Malema’s convoy could be
seen from a distance speeding away.
A lady who was in a BMW vehicle which was following behind the convoy
mockingly waved at journalists.
A security source at the Harare International Airport said Malema had been
whisked away to avoid the attention of the media as well as the general
‘We did not want unnecessary attention around him. That is why he had to be
whisked away,” said the source. Malema is expected to attend the wedding of
Zanu- (PF) youth league member, Tendai Wenyika
Malema’s relationship with Zanu (PF) has raised many questions and at one
time ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe claimed the expelled ANC youth
leader was being funded and trained by Zanu (PF).
In June this year Malema said South African President Jacob Zuma should
cease to be the SADC facilitator to the Zimbabwean crisis due to his hard
stance against President Mugabe and ZANU-PF.
In 3 April 2010, Malema visited Zimbabwe, in what was described as a visit
on indigenisation. He was expected to meet Zimbabwean president Robert
Upon landing in Harare, Malema was greeted by Zanu-PF supporters as well as
Zimbabwe's Youth and Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, and ZANU-PF
Youth Chairman Absolom Sikhosana, as well as Zimbabwean business figures who
had risen to prominence in recent years.
Morgan Tsvangirai,Zimbabwean Prime Minister, condemned Malema's visit, after
Malema criticised Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change
During the visit, he described Tsvangirai as an ally of "imperialists", and
called for the Zimbabwe-style seizure of mines and farms in South Africa
(see below).
Youth organisations in Zimbabwe criticised Malema's visit, citing his
controversial racial statements and alleged corruption.
Malema's comments during the visit sparked fears that South Africa would
follow Zimbabwe's chaotic land reform example.
Malema also blamed the MDC for introducing political violence to Zimbabwe,
and defended Robert Mugabe's political and human rights record.
On Malema's return from Zimbabwe, the ANC Youth league released a statement
praising Mugabe and Zimbabwe's land seizures. It also called on South
Africa's youth to follow the example of young people in Zimbabwe, and to
engage in agriculture in order to reduce their dependence on white farmers.
Malema's support within the ANC Youth League remains strong, although no
longer monolithic.
Malema's visit came while President Jacob Zuma was trying to broker a
political settlement in Zimbabwe, and reportedly caused concern among ANC
officials, but Zuma himself blessed the visit.
The ANC, however, in a later statement distanced itself from the ANC Youth
League's electoral support of ZANU-PF

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Chombo threatens Harare city council

12/10/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

HARARE city council has two weeks to resolve the capital's water supply
crisis, local government minister Ignatius Chombo said Friday.

“We have written to the council several times but the attitude of the Mayor
is disheartening,” Chombo told state radio.

“We are saying we are giving them a two-week ultimatum to deliver and if it
doesn’t, appropriate action will be taken.”
Chombo has either suspended or dismissed at least eight MDC-T mayors and
several other local authority officials over allegations of mismanagement
and corruption.

Harare has been battling a serious water supply crisis as creaking
infrastructure fails to cope with demand and constant pipe bursts leaving
residents without supplies for days on end amid fears another cholera

Town clerk, Tendai Mahachi recently appealed for government assistance,
conceding that the city council did not have the resources to address the

"We have failed dismally and are now appealing to the government to bail us
out," Mahachi said adding that about US$250 million was needed to
rehabilitate the city’s water treatment works and delivery infrastructure.

Initially designed for 300,000 people, Harare’s water supply system must now
cope with a population estimated at more than 2.5 million.

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ZEC hints at Presidential poll outcome delay

13/10/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has insisted that publication of
Presidential election results can still be delayed beyond the five days
stipulated by law.

Acting ZEC chair, Joyce Kazembe, told state radio that the electoral body
reserves the right to delay announcement of results in the event of

She insisted that the five day period stipulated in amendments to the
electoral legislation was subject to review.

The five day period was agreed by GPA parties as part of reforms to the
country’s electoral laws ahead of fresh polls next year.

The requirement was aimed at preventing the 2008 crisis when announcement of
the first round results of the Presidential ballot was delayed for more than
a month.

Attributed to logistical problems, the delay stocked political tensions in
the country amid claims by opposition groups that the results were being
massaged in favour of President Robert Mugabe.

Analysts however said Mugabe was using the delay to strategize on how to
face the biggest crisis of his 28-year rule after losing the Parliamentary
ballot to the MDC.

Final tallies for the legislative vote gave the MDC-T 99 seats, Zanu PF 97
and the breakaway MDC faction 10.

When eventually released, the results showed that MDC-T leader Morgan
Tsvangirai had won 47.9% of the vote and Mugabe won 43.2%, thereby
necessitating a run-off.

Mugabe won the re-run after Tsvangirai pulled out accusing his rival of
launching a brutal crackdown on his supporters.

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MDC-T legislator arrested

12/10/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

MDC-T MP for Mbizo constituency in Kwekwe, Settlement Chikwinya, has been
arrested, the party confirmed Friday.

Party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said Chikwinya was being held at Kwekwe
Police Station.

"He has been picked up by police on allegations of having implicated a Zanu
PF vigilante group called Al-Shabaab in the murders of MDC supporters in the
province. We also gather that he is yet to be charged on those allegations,”
Mwonzora said.

The MDC-T claims the youth group has been terrorising Kwekwe and surrounding
areas in a bid to coerce people into supporting Zanu PF ahead of fresh
elections expected next year.

“It’s a group of youths who find inspiration in the activities of Al Shabaab
(a Somali militia). Some of them have been arrested by the police and
fined,” Chikwinya said in an interview with a local weekly.

“They operate from Kwekwe and surrounding areas and since their leader is a
known provincial leader, we can say they operate in the whole province.”

But Zanu PF spokesman, Rugare Gumbo denied any knowledge of the group
insisting: “This is the first time to hear about them,” he said.

Chikwinya is the second MDC-T legislator to be arrested this week after
Energy Minister Elton Mangoma was also picked up on allegations of insulting
the President at a rally held five months ago.

Mangoma was however, released following a caution.

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Church wants climate for fair poll

Saturday, 13 October 2012 10:16
HARARE - Zimbabwean church leaders on Friday urged the creation of
conditions for a free and fair general election and avert the 2008 poll

A delegation of over 200 church leaders met Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
in a closed meeting at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare and conveyed the
church’s message that governing parties should achieve the goal of
campaigning in peace and staging violence-free polls.

Church leaders expressed concerns over the deteriorating situation in

They appealed to the PM to ensure there will be free and fair elections,
referring to escalating political violence linked to upcoming general

Using diplomatic terms, the church said it was “greatly concerned”, while
the MDC contemplated pulling out of the GNU in protest at the violence in
which several of its supporters have been targeted.

The Daily News learnt that church leaders conveyed a strong statement
condemning lawlessness and political intimidation.

“The major concern by the church is the issue of violence,” Tsvangirai’s
spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said.

“They said elections were an unsafe era for the church. They appealed to
government to make a peaceful environment.”

The MDC, citing spiralling violence and what it called Mugabe’s “tyranny”,
indicated this week, it was envisaging a campaign against the growing
“anarchy” in the country.

It was not immediately clear if the 200 church leaders would meet Mugabe,
who has been preaching peace all along.

The clerics join the rising chorus of condemnation of political violence and
intimidation blamed mostly on Zanu PF which is facing its sternest electoral
challenge since independence from the 13-year-old MDC.

The PM, flanked by MDC organising secretary Nelson Chamisa, explained to the
church leaders how far the inclusive government has gone in terms of
stopping the economic haemorrhage, unpacked the draft constitution’s
negatives and positives including term limits for the president and service
chiefs; devolution, increased role for women, expended Bill of Rights and
respect for the family.

“The church admitted the draft is a major improvement from the current
constitutional status quo,” Tamborinyoka said.

Church leaders expressed concern about the sabre-rattling from security
commanders that they will not allow anyone without liberation war
credentials from taking power.

The PM told the church leaders there was no role for security forces in an
election except to maintain peace.

“He said it was disturbing to note that machinery of violence had still not
been dismantled on the ground, with chiefs summoned to military
headquarters, that is what is wrong with the next election,” Tamborinyoka
said, adding the PM will take the issue up with the President.

The PM also discussed the constitution reform exercise that is heading to
the Second All Stakeholders Conference, and expressed the necessity for the
conference to be staged in peace.

Mugabe also told a central committee meeting that the conference must not be
allowed to descend into chaos.

MDC organising secretary and ICT minister Nelson Chamisa. - Gift Phiri

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Mpofu reads riot act

Saturday, 13 October 2012 10:14

HWANGE - Mines minister, Obert Mpofu, yesterday read the riot act to mining
companies here and ordered them to develop a decrepit local school.

Speaking during a prize- giving day at Chilusa Secondary School in Hwange,
Mpofu ordered all mining companies in the area to upgrade the school,
failure of which they will face dire consequences.

The tough-talking Mpofu was was celebrating his 61st birthday.

Mpofu had been alerted that the school was located at the centre of the
mining town yet it was dilapidated.

“There are a lot of mining companies here but there is no development taking
place,” Mpofu said.

“I hereby order South Mining Company to equip Chilusa School science
laboratory, Makomo Investments to fence the school, Hwange Colliery Company
to build the administration block and the Zimbabwe Power Company to
electrify the school and Chibondo Company to build teachers’ cottages.

“I am the boss here and anybody who refuses to comply, tell me and they will
face the consequences.”

The minister intimated that community share ownership trusts under the
indigenisation drive will be launched in Matabeleland North soon.

Mpofu said he was a formidable minister who had all other ministries
crawling to him for funds.

“I am not only a big doctor but a big minister too,” said Mpofu, who
recently obtained a doctorate. In fact, I am the most important minister. We
are the ones keeping the country going and all ministers come to me for
money,” he said. - Lloyd Mbiba

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Mokoomba: Keeping the Tonga language alive through music
10 OCT 2012 15:06 - PERCY ZVOMUYA
Mokoomba is a band from Zimbabwe but Mokoomba isn't a Zimbabwean band and are different from the average Zimbabwean outfit in a lot of ways.

Mokoomba is a band from Zimbabwe but Mokoomba isn't a Zimbabwean band.

I realise I am treading on dangerous territory here. That opening line assumes that there is a quintessential Zimbabwean sound, whose existence and provenance one might swear an oath before a sober judge.

Mokoomba are different from the average Zimbabwean outfit in a lot of ways. They don't sing in the three major languages, English, Shona or Ndebele but in Tonga, a minority language spoken on both sides of the Zambezi. They are not even based in the capitalHarare or Bulawayo but in the tourist centre of Victoria Falls.

The Tonga are the people who gave the Victoria Falls its real, which is to say, original name of Mosi oatunya, (the smoke that thunders). If you never go to the Victoria Falls, the Tonga name encapsulates what the gorge and the cascading waters are really about.

Mokoomba, whose latest CD Rising Tide is a big hit in Europe, is the band that's keeping the Tonga language alive and breaking the dominance of the bambazonke (winner take all) language duo poly of Ndebele and Shona. The band was formed from the nuggets of a talent competition in which Zimbabweans, Zambians and Mozambicans battled it out. The rest, as they used to say, is history.

Feverish chanting
A stand out song on the cd is Masangano on which the six men band feature Guinean kora player Prince Diabate. The song begins in a laid back style, tentative, before it gives way to feverish chanting made popular by the likes of Malian maestro Salif Keita over a bouyant melody that would be at home, again, on a Keita cd.

But the CD doesn't just have the imprint of West Africa; there is all the sound textures you would expect from a contemporary band of young people, including rap and reggae. But, beneath this universalist exterior, there is something Zimbabwean, even if its unstable and always vanishing. The foreign influences are to be expected on a CD on which 13 guest musicians are featured. There is a Dane (Lene Norgaard Christensen), Swedish born cellist Anja Naucler and several other nationalities.

Other notable tracks include Mangongo on which the band's chief vocalist Matthias Muzaza soars beautifully above the fast-paced, percussive ambience of the drum based Jit sound that reminded me somewhat of Biggie Tembo and the Bhundu Boys, the first Zimbabwean band to conquer the "world"; there is something, too, about Oliver Mtukudzi in this song.

Track five, Misozi, is in communion with the Zimbabwean sound's central African rhumba roots, a lifelong project of the late master Simon Chimbetu. Chimbetu, a war veteran, learned to appreciate the Rhumba sound during the days he spent in guerilla camps in Tanzania. Upon return to an independent Zimbabwe, he tried to fuse that genre with a Zimbabwean sensibility (whatever that is).

Mokoomba is a phenomenon, a band that makes use of what's local while borrowing from others to create.. ahem ahem …something strange and beautiful-whatever its passport.

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The 'menacing cloud' hanging over Zimbabwe elections
Harare, capital of Zimbabwe

The authorities in Zimbabwe have been painting a rosy picture of the country's economic prospects but concern is mounting about the forthcoming elections, following the imprisonment of supporters of the Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai.

The jacaranda trees are in bloom here - bright purple smudges looming over the broad, hot, drowsy streets of Harare.

It is four years now since this country was rescued from a failed election, violence and economic ruin by a power-sharing deal that has somehow survived.

Today, schools are open. The shops are full. Corruption may be rampant but at least hyperinflation is a distant memory. In the crowded markets, impossibly grubby American dollar bills - now the national currency - slide from hand to hand.

Start Quote

"After the deaths and torture and beatings of 2008, people feel like, 'If we can survive that, we can survive anything'”

Petina GappahZimbabwean novelist

After so much drama, and misery, Zimbabwe is starting to feel like just another normal but disappointing African nation.

Picture a precociously gifted teenager, who survived a car crash and a coma, but was never quite the same again.

"We're optimists," says Petina Gappah, "almost to a fault."

She is a well known novelist, who has come home full of energy and determination following years spent abroad.

"After the deaths and torture and beatings of 2008," she says, "people feel like: 'If we can survive that, we can survive anything.'"

But Zimbabwe's optimism and its resilience are about to be put to the test once more.

Four years on and election season is finally approaching again - like a menacing cloud above those jacaranda trees.

From Our Own Correspondent
  • Insight, wit and analysis from BBC correspondents, journalists and writers from around the world

"Do unto others as you would others do unto you…" said President Robert Mugabe the other day, urging people to vote freely, and in peace.

He is 88 now and visibly frail - his health and longevity the subject of much speculation and some wishful thinking.

He can still stand and speak in public for an hour and a half. But his usual venom is diluted these days by an almost priestly preoccupation with respect and tolerance.

Does he mean it? Has age softened Mr Mugabe? It seems unlikely. But perhaps it does not really matter any more.

Robert Mugabe inspects the guard of honour during Defence Forces Day celebrations

His slight frame is almost eclipsed by the burly generals who crowd around him and who appear to act as if the state, Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, even the rule of law, are their personal property.

Right now, for instance, dozens of members of the Movement for Democratic Change party are in jail. The MDC is the former opposition party terrorised into pulling out of the 2008 elections and now part of the unity government.

One group of 29 have been locked up for 17 months - all accused of murdering a policeman. On Wednesday, an MDC minister was arrested for allegedly insulting President Mugabe.

The charges look to many here like a typical Zanu-PF plot, part of a systematic campaign of intimidation - a beating here, a petrol bomb there - that seems destined to intensify as next year's elections draw closer.

You would think the MDC's leader - now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, would be up in arms about the arrests.

Morgan Tsvangirai speaks at an MDC party rallyMorgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister in February 2009

But four years in a power-sharing government with Zanu-PF have taken their toll.

Joining that government may have been a brave move - one that saved Zimbabwe from collapse - but the daily grind of politics and compromise has left the MDC looking diminished and unprepared.

Credible allegations of corruption are circling.

Mr Tsvangirai himself has been caught up in an undignified scandal about which of his many recent girlfriends is, or should be, his new wife.

"I am extremely disappointed," says Petina Gappah. "He should have been more prudent. I'm not sure that Mr Tsvangirai is the best that the MDC has to offer."

None of this will be remembered, of course, if Mr Tsvangirai rallies and wins the presidency next year in a free and fair election and Mr Mugabe slips quietly into retirement.

But how likely is that? Lots of time and foreign money is being spent right now on trying to produce a new constitution to make sure there is a level political playing field, and no repeat of the violence of 2008.

But even if some version of that constitution is approved, there is no reason to expect that the security forces or the state media will abandon their furious loyalty to Mr Mugabe.

This may be a nation of optimists but the word "election" scares people. I have spent some time on the streets here trying to talk to shoppers and commuters about politics. Life is a little better now, many will concede, but mention President Mugabe and eyes flicker and mouths close.

"You have to be brave to talk about that," one man said to me, "people are watching."

How to listen to From Our Own Correspondent:

BBC Radio 4: A 30-minute programme on Saturdays, 11:30 BST.

Second 30-minute programme on Thursdays, 11:00 BST (some weeks only).

Listen online or download the podcast

BBC World Service:

Hear daily 10-minute editions Monday to Friday, repeated through the day, also available to listen online.

Read more or explore the archive at the programme website.

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Zimbabwe’s empowerment to plunder

By Chris Tongogara

Published: October 13, 2012

What Empowerment Hon. Gutu?

First of all thank you for sharing the SA Airport Empowerment talk with the readers at large. I am glad the delayed flight facilitated rapport among you, Hon. Kasukuwere and all the other participants in the informal conversation as you waited for the next flight back home. Hope you traveled well!

Please note this issue well. I am a patriot and not a sellout. I believe so well in the progress of my country and would celebrate the revival of the old (1980-1990) Zimbabwe that had plenty of everything and fun. Empowerment is a noble cause. It stands to benefit us the majority who have suffered for numerous decades through being marginalized by the colonial system. Empowerment should therefore be a vehicle for the ordinary person to realize a dream of getting a share of the economy and therefore enjoy a piece of the national cake. Empowerment therefore sounds quite a lucrative arrangement and well-intended with long term beneficial consequences for the nation at large. In a nutshell, empowerment is well-intended, sounds great, enticing and futuristic in the true sense. Even if the advertisements for empowerment simply stated the objectives as I noted them above, the whole nation would sing “Hallelujah” and march in solidarity with me.

Now, here is the problem with the Empowerment policy in Zimbabwe:

Asset Accountability

There has not been an outright open table accountability of how this system is serving the masses. It’s a matter of hearing how good and how patriotic the deal is without genuine demographical statistics covering the physical evidence of benefits and beneficiaries. We hear of Old Mutual shares, Chiyadzwa shares and many other announcements but the stock-taking of real beneficiaries remains under the carpet. There has not been a public register of assets and named beneficiaries to point to real game-changing motives by the Ministry. At the end of the day, people have lost confidence in the agenda and they perceive it as an excuse for ZANU PF big wigs to plunder national assets and stash them into their own pockets for personal gain. I wish Hon. Kasukuwere could actually create a national asset register that could be continually published in major papers and online publications to convince us all that about the real events in this project. All we hear to date is the preaching about how great and awesome this empowerment deal is but the results are hardly tangible or seen. All projects must be advertised and the benefits and beneficiaries noted down per district and province for everyone to see and believe. To date this agenda sounds hard to sell because as long as one is not an insider or from the high echelons of ZANU PF, it sounds like there is not enough information provided except that we must religiously believe in empowerment as good for us yet it’s hard to feel the preached about benefit. Yes we believe in it but we need tangible results for the benefits.

ZANU PF and Empowerment

Unless proven to the contrary, the public perception on this empowerment deal seems inclined towards benefiting mainly ZANU PF top guys or real foot soldiers for the party. As long as anyone does not agree with the ZANU PF ideologies, the access to capital has been reportedly frustrating. This empowerment deal does not make sense if it is being used for the benefit of supporters of a single political party. We would be happy to see a public register that actually names other political party members as being decent beneficiaries of this great project. As this is a national cause, it should never be a campaign tool to advance ZANU PF interests as if the funds are from the Shake-Shake building. These are national assets tapped from those in program compliance and the distributing team should be balanced and set aside political persuasions.

Abuse of National Resources

A few weeks ago we read online about some Old Mutual funds meant for the Empowerment deal having been diverted to unintended uses like paying lobola or buying groceries for in laws as some threw weddings and birthday parties. Upon efforts made to reach the responsible Minister for comment, his response off-handedly dismissed detractors and pessimists for the program. He deliberately chose not to get into real specifics on such hullaballoo. That created a further blow to the seriousness of the program. The general picture before the public eye is that there is gross abuse of national assets and no one really cares about this abuse of national assets for as long as a single political party name remains attached to the empowerment cause as a marketing gimmick.

Chicken Farming

I wish the Empowerment Team could also devise better investment guidelines that avoid the easy-to-follow and overdone business of chicken farming. Sounds like every other person who got the empowerment loan bought chicks for a project and when they became chickens, he traded them for beer or slaughtered them for guests and the story ended there. Do these folks have advisors? Do they have any other plans besides encouraging or sponsoring the rural youth to raise chickens and praise as they also worship the party? If Empowerment is to be effective then there is need for diverse principles in implementation. There are more areas to invest in that include technology ideas, renewable energy facilities, carpentry, fisheries, canneries, metal work, manufacturing and better retail. To analysts like me, it sounds like Empowerment in Zimbabwe means giving bread crumbs to village youths to raise chickens and giving real capital to men and women of repute to open banks, manufacturing plants and factories that employ disgruntled villagers desperate for work after they exhaust their paltry empowerment loans. There should be fair play and equal consideration in this deal if by any means it is going to be seriously perceived.


Detailed reports have revealed that untold chunks of diamond revenues are not being accounted for, and recently MDC-T senator Eddie Cross opened up an expose’ that demonstrated with well laid out mathematical data, how millions if not billions are being lost in ‘mysterious’ ways.

With all the great news about diamonds and their potential in raising revenue, it doesn’t make any sense to continually hear of economic challenges, shortages and many other problems that could be avoided if the diamond revenues were honestly accounted for. Where is the empowerment deal when the revenue is not being ploughed back into the economy to create direct benefits that all citizens can feel and enjoy. It makes a mockery that Zimbabwe has diamonds but the revenue is hardly seen and accounted for.

The Chinese

With the sanctions in place, the coming of the Chinese as partners in infrastructure development sounded lucrative. But rolling forward, many of us have become skeptical because it sounds like we are, through the back door, now inviting the same colonial system that made us drive the British away. And we keep singing, “Zimbabwe shall never be a colony again!” Aren’t we being hypocrites on this issue? We are slowly mortgaging our national assets to the Eastern bloc in the name of “partnerships.” And yet we are preaching empowerment for our folks and self-sustenance for the nation at large. There is no one to really account for all these misguided developments that are happening in every one’s eyes. No one wants to be asked as to whether there is a timeframe for these foreigners to leave and create space for the locals and yet these are the problems that will affect many generations to come. I am not being xenophobic here but all I am saying is that if this empowerment sermon is to garner traction, then there should be maximum effort to cut back on foreign dependency or sharing of the little we have.

The Public Commuter Business

With such solid empowerment doctrines being preached at every street corner and on every bill board and paper, why is government acting through the police still zealously trying to destroy the struggling commuter transport business as they deploy police officers to demand bribes? So where is the empowerment when our very own Masters of the game are the ones deploying cops to take the little we have made for the day? Rank marshals act wantonly in the name of ZANU PF. They openly demand bribes and police come in and also demand bribes from struggling transport operators who face lots of challenges to make it. Isn’t this a mockery to the empowerment deal? Please re-consider.


As I write, most major conservancies, wild sanctuaries, biospheres and abutting land for agriculture research stations have been parceled out to top ZANU PF leaders and their immediate family members. The whole urban land nationwide has been subdivided in the best parts for the benefit of the 50 most powerful men and women in the ZANU PF party using the “Empowerment” explanation. We hated the colonial system like poison. The British never treated us well as they used apartheid principles to suppress and oppress us. But this new form of conduct that lacks future planning is simply driving Zimbabwe into the steep slope. At this heightened pace of national asset and resource plunder, seriously, where does Zimbabwe stand in the next 15 years? Are we going to be still farming or having any wildlife or seasoned water and land use planning? Please let us not use the word “Empowerment” to plunder the little that we have or to personally enrich ourselves.


The Ministry of Empowerment needs serious advisors. They need strong economists, accountants, planners, lawyers and engineers to help them analyze and advise about how the current and future economy will stand to gain. With this current trend where anyone is taking the law into own hands to justify long due “empowerment” we could be heading for a Banana Republic. From now on, those at the helm of this project must do the following:

Finally, enough of this “Empowerment Is Good For Us” song, without solid examples of the real impact of the program. Otherwise it remains a deal to enrich the top politicians as the grassroots crowds are propagated to believe merely sing a praise song; Get this deal known and give us real solid and decent business empowerment examples. Finally, please don’t forget to engage real experts good at marketing and explaining your agenda to the full satisfaction of all across the social board. While the empowerment deal is sincerely welcome and appreciated, I am yet to be convinced on how well it is serving Zimbabwe from an ordinary person’s experience. Thank you for reading.

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A particularly bad week for freedom of speech in Zimbabwe

October 12, 2012, 1:13 pm

It was a particularly bad week for freedom of speech in Zimbabwe. The
Minister of Energy and Power, Elton Mangoma – an MDC man of course – was
briefly arrested for ‘undermining the authority of the president’ but he was
released after signing a Warned and Cautioned statement. The offence related
to an incident back in May at a meeting in a Bindura township. Mangoma was
addressing local business people and was allegedly heard, chanting
anti-Mugabe slogans. Presumably others joined in since it was an MDC
meeting; strange then, that it has taken five months to bring a charge
against just one man, Elton Mangoma. Not so strange when we realise that he
is one of the leading negotiators in the ongoing talks with the South
African facilitators.

Zanu PF will do everything they can to weaken the opposition party’s
position in the negotiations and arresting MDC people on trumped-up charges
is just one way of doing that. It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility
that there’s a hot line between the police commissioner and the president
with Mugabe directing Chihuri to exactly which individuals he wants picked
up. Certainly, the police appear to be willing partners of Zanu PF in the
attempts to silence the voice of the opposition. Even in matters which are
not normally considered controversial or political, the police continue to
behave in an anti-democratic way. Aids activists this week applied for
permission to march through the city of Harare to hand in a petition to the
Aids Council. Nothing political in that you would think: their petition
related to the supply of drugs to aids sufferers. The police in their wisdom
declined to allow the march on the grounds that it would block the traffic
on Nelson Mandela and might be hijacked by political parties! The
combination of traffic jams and political demonstrations would be too much
for the police to handle apparently. Perhaps if they were not so busy
infiltrating other areas of public life, the police would have more officers
on the beat to protect the public and maintain law and order – which is
after all their principal mandate. Addressing the Africa Prosecutors
Association the Deputy Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs revealed that
Zimbabwe is undergoing a systematic militarisation of Prosecutors’ offices,
allegedly to deal with a huge backlog of cases. Out of 200 public
prosecutors, 125 are drawn from the police, 6 from the prison service and 5
from the army. Objectivity should be the watchword of legal officers but it
is difficult to see how that could be the case when the Prosecutor’s offices
are largely staffed by military and prison personnel whose allegiance is
known to be to Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF.

Zimbabweans also know that the media is dominated by pro-Zanu PF voices. The
Herald is the national daily and it never fails to laud Mugabe to the skies.
Only one other daily paper can claim to be independent and that is the Daily
News. The editor and his deputy were arrested and held for two hours this
week after their newspaper had been named in a criminal defamation suit by a
former governor of the Reserve Bank, Munyaradzi Kereke. It was so obviously
another trumped-up case without merit in law, and the men were released
after two hours. “It’s all being driven by hardliners with powerful
connections” said the editor, Stanley Gama and as if to illustrate the truth
of Gama’s statement, Kereke went on to claim that Morgan Tsvangirai and
Tendayi Biti had fleeced the country of millions of dollars. Kereke was not
concerned with proving the accuracy of his remark, he was simply carrying
out Zanu PF’s remit which is to ‘rubbish’ MDC on every possible occasion.
You can be sure there will be no policeman knocking on Kereke’s door in the
middle of the night with an arrest warrant for criminal defamation; he is
acting on orders from the top. Meanwhile, Mugabe continues to shed crocodile
tears, calling for peace and tolerance in the country, while knowing
perfectly well that it is his own supporters who are guilty of acts of
violence against the MDC and that the police will never arrest his Zanu PF
followers. Neither will they do anything about the hordes of war veterans
who have invaded the Minister of Finance’s offices; they don’t even bother
to explain why they do nothing to expel the invaders. Neither have they
taken any action against the notorious Chipangano gang which has actually
barred MDC supporters from buying at market stalls in Mbare. Today comes
news from Kwekwe of an horrendous attack on an innocent bystander by a
member of the Alshabab militia, another machete-wielding Zanu PF aligned
group. In front of members of the public enjoying a quiet evening drink, an
innocent man was brutally hacked to death. The police have still not
arrested his murderer despite the presence of several witnesses.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle, Pauline Henson

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Dogs in the manger

October 13, 2012, 1:50 pm

Dear Family and Friends,

To the beckoning whistles of the Paradise Flycatchers and under a blistering
October sky, Zimbabwe waits for the rain. As every day gets hotter and drier
and we think ‘maybe today,’ everything around us seems to be in a state of
growing unease, infected with the delirium of October heatstroke.

Because of the three week truck drivers strike in South Africa, a few items
began disappearing from supermarket shelves in Zimbabwe, making us wonder if
this was October delirium or frightening reality. Little gaps on the shelves
reminded us not only of those recent nightmare years when there was no food
to buy but also of the fact that an estimated eighty percent of the food on
our tables is still imported. It’s a frightening fact that is hardly ever
talked about here because it exposes the real truth of twelve years of land
seizures. But this is one of those facts that that you can’t hide because
everyone can see all the run down, unproductive farms along any highway in
any part of the country. The majority of commercial farms in Zimbabwe, given
out as reward for political patronage, remain locked in ‘dog in the manger’
mode: I don’t really know to do with it but I’ll be damned if I’ll let you
have it. The few farms you do see working are growing money not food.
Tobacco yes, food no, is probably the best way to summarize the view from
Zimbabwe’s window.

Local economist Erich Bloch said that a meltdown in Zimbabwe could occur in
a matter of weeks if trucks from South Africa didn’t start coming in.
Despite the October heat it is very chilling to realise how quickly and
easily we could plunge back into those horrific years when hunger was
everywhere and shops were empty.

Ironically, while farms remain unproductive and food is being imported,
October is the time of year when everyone gets into a feverish state about
planting maize. From back gardens to roadsides and wetlands to railway lines
the dust is flying in and around all urban areas as little squares are
cleared. Last year the trio of inputs consisting of a 20kg bag of seed
maize, 50 kg bag of Compound D and 50 kg bag of A.N. fertilizer cost $78.
This year the cost of those three same inputs has gone up by 25% and it now
needs $100 to get a small field of maize (corn) into the ground. It’s hard
to comprehend the 25% increase when officials continue to assure us that
inflation has gone down. This October even though people know yields will be
reduced, they are preparing to plant without fertilizer and say they will
just hope for the best.

Zimbabwe’s been stuck in this tug of war between the ‘dogs in the manger’
and those ‘hoping for the best’ for so long and as the rain clouds gather it
looks like we’re about to waste another rainy season out there on the farms.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.

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