Mon Oct 17, 2005 7:01 PM BST
By Philip Pullella
ROME (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Monday railed against
U.S. President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair, calling them
"international terrorists" bent on world domination like Adolf Hitler.
Mugabe departed from his text at a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of
the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to accuse Bush
and Blair of illegally invading Iraq and looking to unseat governments
"Must we allow these men, the two unholy men of our millennium, who in the
same way as Hitler and Mussolini formed (an) unholy alliance, formed an
alliance to attack an innocent country?" he asked rhetorically.
"The voice of Mr Bush and the voice of Mr Blair can't decide who shall rule
in Zimbabwe, who shall rule in Africa, who shall rule in Asia, who shall
rule in Venezuela, who shall rule in Iran, who shall rule in Iraq," he said.
Mugabe accuses Britain and the United States of working to unseat him
because of his forcible redistribution of white-owned commercial farms among
blacks, which has helped plunge his country into its worst economic crisis
since independence from Britain in 1980.
"Is this the world we desire? The world of giants and international
terrorists who use their state muscle in order to intimidate us? We become
the midgets," he said.
Some delegates applauded his fiery anti-Western speech several times.
But U.S. Ambassador Tony Hall, who protested against Mugabe's presence at
the celebrations, later told Reuters it was "very unfortunate" that the
Zimbabwean leader had politicised an event that was supposed to draw
attention to world hunger.
"I think he chews up his own people and spits them out," said Hall, who
visited Zimbabwe in August. "He has taken a perfectly good country and
Blair's spokesman told reporters: "Nothing that Mr Mugabe says surprises us
or will deflect us from our view of what is going on in Zimbabwe, which is
far from a laughing matter".
Aid groups have estimated 5 million of Zimbabwe's 12 million people may need
food aid this year. Critics say Mugabe's policies have considerably worsened
their plight, though he denies this.
In his speech, Mugabe defended the land redistribution, saying it was needed
to redress the "gross imbalances" of British colonialism.
"AGENT OF IMPERIALISM"
The European Union slapped a travel ban on Mugabe after accusations of vote
rigging in parliamentary polls in 2000 and in Mugabe's re-election two years
later. But he is allowed to travel to EU countries to attend U.N.-sponsored
Relations between the United States and Zimbabwe have also soured in recent
years, Washington accusing Mugabe's government of human rights abuses and
In January U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice named Zimbabwe alongside
Cuba, Belarus, Myanmar, Iran and North Korea as "outposts of tyranny".
U.S. officials said last month Washington was preparing to impose travel
sanctions on Mugabe, members of his government and their extended families.
Mugabe attacked U.S. envoy Hall as an "agent of imperialism" and then
thanked FAO Secretary-General Jacques Diouf for inviting him despite the
While all the other leaders who addressed the assembly from a lectern did so
standing alone, Mugabe was flanked by two bodyguards who stood inches away
as he accused Bush and Blair of creating "an inferno" in Iraq.
(Additional reporting by Stella Mapenzauswa, Katherine Baldwin)
Afternoon press briefing from 17 October 2005
Asked for a response to Robert Mugabe's comments comparing President Bush
and the Prime Minister to Mussolini and Hitler, the PMOS said that nothing
Mr Mugabe said surprised us, nor would it deflect us from our view of what
was happening in Zimbabwe, which was anything other than a laughing matter.
Asked if we thought it was wrong that Mr Mugabe was a guest in Rome, the
PMOS said that was a matter for Rome. Put to him that we held the EU
presidency, the PMOS said that last time he checked Italy was a sovereign
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has drawn applause and anger for a
speech denouncing the UK's Tony Blair and US President George Bush at a UN
Mr Mugabe described the leaders as "unholy men" at the meeting in
The European Commission responded by saying the tirade justified a
travel ban that the European Union imposed on the Zimbabwean leader.
The US accuses Mr Mugabe of starving his people and has said his
presence at the food summit is "disheartening".
Mr Mugabe defended his land reforms that have seen thousands of
farmers evicted and said rich nations' farm subsidies were "crippling" the
Some delegates to the Rome meeting applauded Mr Mugabe's condemnation
of the Western leaders on several occasions during his speech and then at
The Rome conference is being held to mark the 60th anniversary of the
UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Though officially banned from travelling to EU countries, Mr Mugabe is
allowed to visit them when on UN business.
European Commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj expressed regret over Mr
Mugabe's "unconstructive" statements.
"What he has been saying in the last days and hours can only confirm
the decisions that the European Union took concerning Zimbabwe," Mr Altafaj
The US ambassador to the FAO, Tony Hall, said Mr Mugabe, as well as
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez who also criticised Western policy, "chose
to politicise an event that was meant to be about feeding the hungry people
of the world".
Zimbabwe is struggling to feed an estimated 3.8 million people in the
rural areas, and has to import at least 37,000 tons of maize a week.
Mr Mugabe used his speech to lambast President Bush and UK Prime
Minister Tony Blair, whose governments have been among his severest critics.
"Must we allow these men, the two unholy men of our millennium, who in
the same way as Hitler and Mussolini formed [an] unholy alliance, form an
alliance to attack an innocent country?" asked Mr Mugabe, apparently
referring to Iraq.
"The voice of Mr Bush and the voice of Mr Blair can't decide who shall
rule in Zimbabwe, who shall rule in Africa, who shall rule in Asia, who
shall rule in Venezuela, who shall rule in Iran, who shall rule in Iraq," he
Mr Mugabe said his land reforms, which enabled the government to seize
hundreds of farms owned mostly by white Zimbabweans, had been part of a
process to correct colonial injustices.
He blamed agricultural subsidies offered to farm produce from
developed countries for crippling "the development of agriculture in
Mail and Guardian
17 October 2005 11:35
As economic hardships and food shortages bite in Zimbabwe,
thieves are mounting armed raids on potato farms near the capital Harare,
the state-controlled Herald reported on Monday.
Thieves armed with axes, spears and slingshots in large groups
of up to 80 people have assaulted guards, killed their dogs and stolen
potatoes worth one billion Zimbabwe dollars ($38 000) from Stamford and
Goodhope Farms over the past three months, it said.
"While a selected group will be fighting the guards, a larger
group will be digging for the potatoes before getting away with their loot,"
the newspaper said.
"The latest raid was on Saturday night when two security guards
were injured and two dogs killed in the skirmishes," the paper added.
The report said the stolen potatoes are sold in the capital
Harare for up to Z$250 000 ($9,60) a sack.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of its worst economic crisis in 25 years
of independence, with inflation close to 360% and spiralling poverty and
shortages of basic commodities, including the staple maize meal.
President Robert Mugabe's government, which has so far refused
to make an international appeal for food aid, claims it is importing
sufficient quantities of maize meal to feed its 11,6-million people.
Last month Mugabe said in an interview on the sidelines of the
United Nations General Assembly summit that while maize meal was in short
supply due to drought, the country has "heaps of potatoes".
"We have heaps of potatoes but people are not potato eaters...
they have rice but they're not as attracted [to that]," he was quoted as
Zimbabwe was once dubbed the bread basket of southern Africa due
to its bumper harvests of maize. However, following several years of drought
and a controversial land reform programme launched five years ago that saw
the seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks, harvests have
In a separate article, the Herald reported that Mugabe told
Zimbabweans in Rome, Italy where he is attending a Food and Agriculture
Organisation meeting that the country would harvest only 250 000 tonnes of
maize this year, out of a required amount of 1,8-million tonnes. - Sapa-DPA
Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe
PROMOTING NON-VIOLENT PRINCIPLES TO ACHIEVE DEMOCRACY
Cardinal Napier joins his brother cleric of the Roman Catholic Church in Zimbabwe and other regional church leaders in branding the Mugabe regime guilty of a crime against humanity in relation to the politicization of food, and in calling upon the international community to act.
Cardinal Napier was part of a South African Council of Churches delegation which, on visiting Zimbabwe in July to assess the scale of the humanitarian crisis caused by Operation Murambatsvina, expressed shock and outrage. Under the guise of restoring order, the government's controversial operation to "Drive Out the Filth" destroyed the homes or jobs of at least 700 000 people and the lives of 2.4 million others, affecting almost a fifth of the population - currently estimated at 11 million. The informal economy, which fed 40 percent of the people, was wrecked. The International Crisis Group estimates that Zimbabwe's internal refugee problem is between four and five million. A further 3,5 million people are estimated to have fled the country, mainly to countries within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), notably South Africa.
Also in July, the Executive Council of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa noted: "There is little doubt that we are witnessing a tragedy of unprecedented enormity. We have on our hands a complete recipe for genocide." They went on to urge the international community to act "vigorously" to expose the tragedy of Zimbabwe.
Although the international community has continued to drag its heels in this regard, a mechanism by which it can take action is in fact available.
The Treaty of Rome is the statute governing the International Criminal Court, and Section 7 (2) (b) of that statute defines "extermination" (a crime against humanity) as "the intentional infliction of conditions of life, inter alia, the deprivation of access to food and medicine, calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population."
David Coltart, secretary for legal affairs of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has already said "there is no doubt … this regime is guilty of constructive intent to deprive people of access to food which will in turn destroy a part of the population." In a letter to colleagues he wrote: "The Mugabe regime knows that its brinkmanship with the UN and the WFP regarding the question of who will distribute UN food … is delaying the supply of desperately needed food aid. People are now starving, and no doubt many are already dying as a result throughout the country." This he cited as evidence of the regime's "gross negligence and callousness."
On June 30, 2005, James Morris, director of the World Food Program, said at the United Nations that southern Africa was the world's gravest crisis at present, and that Zimbabwe was the epicentre. The UN's World Food Program lists the number of people in need of food aid in Zimbabwe as between four and five million. The Mugabe regime has consistently denied that the country faces food shortages and has refused to appeal for help formally from the World Food Program.
The call by church leaders for the United Nations to intervene swiftly to avert a looming tragedy raises the issue of state sovereignty. Here it is interesting to note that the World Summit held on September 14-16, 2005 in New York adopted the "International Responsibility to Protect" doctrine. In terms of this doctrine the international community has a responsibility to intervene in a country where genocide, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity directed at the population of that country are taking place. Accordingly one of the core principles to which all UN Member States are now committed is that "where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect."
Even against President Mugabe's devious ways and continued intransigence there is therefore a mechanism for the international community to act, and to act decisively, to counter the threat of a major catastrophe before it is played out in bitter tragedy.
As Namibia's National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) executive director, Phil ya Nangoloh, commented: "Leaders of dictatorial regimes out there can no longer hide behind the so-called principle of non-interference in the affairs of another state in order to get away with murder with impunity."
Furthermore, first among the elements of the "responsibility to protect" enshrined in the UN doctrine is the "responsibility to prevent" - defined as "to address both the root causes and direct causes of internal conflict and other man-made crises putting populations at risk."
Archbishop Pius Ncube has repeatedly warned the international community of the politicization of the food issue by the ruling Zanu PF party, and of the tragic consequences for the people of Zimbabwe.
The present major food crisis began with the violent farm invasions orchestrated by Mugabe in February 2000 after losing a referendum to change the constitution and further entrench his power. Today this once highly productive engine of the economy has been virtually destroyed. Prior to the land invasions, the sector brought in about US$700 million annually, but is now estimated to earn below US$200 million. Formerly breadbasket of the region, the country has grappled with persistent food shortages and serious levels of hunger since 2001. At the same time, the Mugabe regime has achieved the dubious distinction of presiding over the fastest-shrinking economy in the world.
Until now the seriousness of the food crisis has been brought to world attention by the opposition movement, civil society and the church. Surprisingly, during the past month, the government's own agents have admitted to the severity of the food crisis.
On September 8, 2005, Ministry of Agriculture permanent secretary Simon Pazvakavambwa disclosed to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries that the country had only three weeks' supply of food left. "If for some reason imports stop, we are finished…. and if we take too long (to import food), there may be no food in many people's homes in the coming weeks," he told his stunned audience.
Pazvakavambwa was immediately taken to task by State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa and the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Joseph Made, for disclosing "classified information". Mutasa said that the allegations were baseless as the government was importing 15 000 tonnes of maize each week from South Africa to feed the people.
Mutasa's figure of 15 000 tonnes inadvertently lent credence to Pazvakavambwa's revelations and revealed the gravity of the situation. The importation of just 60 000 tonnes of maize each month represents a major shortfall since the national requirement is more than 150 000 tonnes.
Zimbabwe needs more than 1.8 million tonnes of maize to feed the nation until the next harvest in May 2006, just seven months away. At the rate of 15 000 tonnes every week, it will take the government up to 30 months to import the required amount.
The same week, the state-owned Herald newspaper, which normally churns out government propaganda, published the following warning: "Zimbabwe faces a serious food deficit during the next farming season because of a severe shortage of seed and fertilisers, coupled with poor planning and management of the agricultural sector."
The article continued: "So serious is the situation that some farming experts told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands and Agriculture yesterday that even if the heavens opened up, no meaningful farming would take place."
The catalogue of failures in the agricultural sector reported to the Parliamentary Committee makes dismal reading.
Producers of seed, fertiliser, chemicals and farming equipment reported that the country has minimal stocks of fertiliser and seed, while funding was released late for the 2005-2006 agricultural season.
The same depressing picture of chronic shortages of materials and foreign
currency and a lack of forward planning emerges across the whole range of
agricultural activities, from seed and fertilizer production to the provision of
tillage and irrigation equipment. For the first time in history, the country has
run out of 6mm discs. All this leaves an already crisis-ridden Zimbabwe ill
prepared for the next growing season.
The Parliamentary Committee's chairperson, Walter Mzembi, concluded that the information and statistics presented to the committee pointed to a grim future. "The information you have given us as a Parliamentary Committee simply shows there is no season," he said.
This evidence is supported by first-hand accounts from across the country of large swaths of once-productive farmland now lying idle, with little sign of the normal preparation of fields for planting ahead of the first summer rains.
The end result of the Mugabe regime's plundering of agricultural resources and gross mismanagement of the economy is that today close to half of the population is in urgent need of food aid, without which they will quite simply starve. The 1,8 million tonnes of the staple food required to see the country through to the next harvest is nowhere in sight.
Recently a pro-government newspaper reported that people were struggling to meet escalating food costs, with a bucket of maize selling for between Z$150 000 and Z$200 000, far beyond the reach of many villagers in dire need of food. Just this week Archbishop Pius Ncube spoke again of his fears of "starvation by inflation" for those who could not afford even the little food available.
On October 10, 2005 Mrs Justice Rita Makarau handed down her judgment in the case of Elton Steers Mangoma v Didymus Mutasa in the MDC electoral challenge for the Makoni North Constituency - case EP 12/05.
Although she dismissed the application to set aside the election (because of the excessive burden of proof now imposed on a losing candidate by the new Electoral Act), page 23 of the judgment revealed the following significant finding:
"I am satisfied that throughout the constituency, villagers were threatened with the withholding of food and other handouts and were denied these if they supported the MDC. To borrow a phrase used by the petitioner during his testimony, it was made clear to the villagers (that) supporting the MDC meant going without food and other handouts.
In my view, a graphic and rather sad example of how the villagers were made to exchange their right to belong to a party of their choice for food is afforded by the evidence of Mabvepi Mawanga who witnessed a fellow MDC member exchanging his MDC T-shirt for a bag of food at a public meeting. The other MDC members were then invited to do likewise if they wanted the food handouts. This occurred in the communal area. The practice of withholding food and agricultural inputs was however not confined to one part of the constituency. It was practiced in urban Headlands, in the resettlement areas and in the communal areas.
The perpetrators of this practice were the leadership of Zanu PF at the village levels and the war veterans residing in the constituency."
It should be noted that State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa is in charge of food aid distribution. This month he announced the government was holding back a decision on whether to invite international relief agencies to help feed starving Zimbabweans until after the Senate Election on November 26. In August 2002, Mutasa, then organisation secretary for Zanu PF, said: "We would be better off with six million people, with our own people who supported the liberation struggle", which equated then to almost half of the population.
During the past five years, the once resilient Zimbabweans have been subjected to massive food shortages, the collapse of health care system and chronic shortages of essential medicines. Thousands have been abused or tortured by the regime and now live in abject poverty without access to medical care. As a result of Operation Murambatsvina, hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwe's most needy people are homeless.
It is estimated that over 3,000 men, women and children die of AIDS related diseases each week. Life expectancy in Zimbabwe has plummeted to just 33 years. The estimated 3,5 million refugees in neighbouring countries face increasing levels of xenophobia and police victimisation while struggling to survive themselves and still send food and money to their families back home.
All this adds up to a devastating indictment of the Mugabe regime. Leaving aside for the time being the issue of accountability for crimes against humanity perpetrated by the regime, the immediate priority has to be the mounting of a massive humanitarian relief operation. The scale and urgency of the crisis now facing between a third and half of Zimbabwe's debilitated population requires a response which is way beyond the resources and the proven limitations of Harare.
The case for United Nations' intervention therefore is overwhelming - not on Mr Mugabe's terms and according to his timetable, but as soon as the UN can respond to prevent a catastrophe of major proportions. The time has come for the international community to demand action. Zimbabwe must be referred to the UN Security Council without delay.
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October 17 2005 at 10:25AM
Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic "difficulties" posed no
threat for South Africa's (SA) financial systems stability, the SA Reserve
Bank (SARB) said on Monday.
In its latest financial stability review, the central bank states:
"The economic and political difficulties in Zimbabwe seem to be deepening".
A recent International Monetary Fund mission found that real
production was likely to decline by a further seven percent this year, while
foreign currency reserves were down to three days' worth of imports.
Foreign exchange shortages have restricted essential imports for
industrial and agricultural production, fuel, energy and basic commodities -
further exacerbating the decline of the formal economy and the Zimbabwean
government's revenue base, the report says.
The country's budget deficit was estimated to exceed 14 percent of
gross domestic product, and unemployment was put at 75 percent.
More than 70 percent of the Zimbabwean population was living under the
poverty line as food shortages, exacerbated by drought, posed an additional
A United Nations report on the government's urban slum clean-up
campaign, dubbed Murambatsvina, found that 700 000 people had lost their
homes or livelihoods or both, the SARB said.
"The operation has had a major economic, social, political and
institutional impact on Zimbabwean society, and its effects will be felt for
many years to come."
Though not posing a threat to South Africa's financial systems
stability, a total collapse in Zimbabwe could have wider political, economic
and social consequences for the region, the report warns.
On developments in the broader Southern African Development Community,
the report said a lack of capacity, know-how, training and funding were
limiting plans for the region's macro-economic convergence.
"Despite these challenges, good progress has already been made by the
SADC region with the harmonisation of financial systems and markets in order
to enhance the robustness and efficiency of the financial system in the
region." - Sapa
By Tichaona Sibanda
17 October 2005
High Court Judge Maphios Cheda on Monday admitted in Bulawayo that
there was unfairness and the use of food as a campaign weapon by Zanu (PF)
during the March Parliamentary elections.
He said this practice was a violation of the electoral laws in the
country and urged the government to investigate the charges. Judge Cheda
however stunned everyone when he dismissed with costs an MDC election
petition to nullify the Bubi Mguza constituency results because of violence
against opposition supporters.
Jacob Thabane, the MDC parliamentary candidate for Bubi-Mguza
constituency, blasted Judge Cheda and asked if anyone not from Zanu (PF) was
ever going to win a court case in the country.
The hotly contested seat in Matebeleland North went to government
minister Obert Mpofu, after an orgy of violence by his supporters left
opposition supporters frozen with fear.
Thabane's rural home was razed to the ground by Zanu (PF) thugs. But
the Judge exonerated Mpofu by saying all the disturbances did not influence
the outcome of the election.
Themba Nkosi our correspondent in Bulawayo said despite Judge Cheda
acknowledging the high level of intimidation as well as violence and the use
of food to campaign for the ruling party, he still dismissed the MDC
'In his judgement, the High Court Judge told the court that village
heads withheld food from MDC supporters. He admitted as well that the use of
food to campaign for the ruling party was a violation of electoral laws, but
still went on to declare that Obert Mpofu won the election fairly.'
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Professor Stanford Mukasa
17 October 2005
In Letter from America Dr. Stanford Mukasa discusses the leadership
crisis in the MDC.
The leadership crisis in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is
revealing a lot about the nature and character of leaders in the MDC.
One MDC politician once said the MDC leadership is infested with
opportunists who are now threatening to destroy the party.
And the leadership crisis that has brought the MDC to the brink of
collapse is one evidence of this.
Two issues stand out in the leadership struggle.
The first is a procedural issue. It had to do with honouring the
democratic tradition behind the rule of law. When Tsvangirai announced a few
days before the MDC National Council meeting that the decision on whether to
participate in the sham Senate elections would be made at that meeting
Tsvangirai was giving legitimacy and credence to a decision- making process
that included consultation and voting.
The fact that Tsvangirai, in his capacity as president and chair of
the MDC National Council meeting, allowed the delegates to vote meant that
Tsvangirayi understood and had agreed to the process where the decision was
to be resolved by a simple majority.
It also meant that he understood and accepted that once a majority
vote had been registered everyone was bound by that decision. This is the
essence of the rule of law where the Constitution of the MDC must reign
supreme and no one can be above it.
Based on the above argument and from purely a parliamentary procedural
point of view it logically follows that Tsvangirayi violated a cardinal
pillar of the MDC Constitution.
The second issue is what I call a substantive issue. It has to do
with the circumstances in which the voting was done. Underlying a democratic
vote is always the assumption that members are voting in the interests of
the party and its millions of supporters.
In this case the substantive issue here was the Senate. Robert Mugabe
had created the Senate to reward losing politicians and cronies in ZANUPF.
The Senate has absolutely no role or relevance to the struggle for democracy
and the rule of law in Zimbabwe.
Senators are not likely to have any veto powers over the decisions of
the lower house or Parliament. Both the Senate and Parliament will be the
hijacked instruments of manipulation and convenience for Mugabe and ZANUPF.
The Senate will be a very heavy burden on the Zimbabwean economy and
taxpayers at a time when the economy is tottering on the brink of collapse.
It is reported that running the elections next month and maintaining the
Senate for the last two months of this year alone will cost a staggering
$200 billion dollars. That figure will easily double or triple next year.
The money will obviously have to come from programs that were intended
to help Zimbabweans in the areas of health, education, agriculture, etc.
With unemployment in Zimbabwe at an estimated 70 percent the Senate will be
a white elephant and a very heavy burden for the embattled Zimbabweans.
The Senate is the latest example of just how Mugabe and ZANUPF are
fiscally irresponsible. They love to spend money recklessly. It shows they
do not care at all about what to Zimbabwe after they are dead, buried in the
dustbin of history and long forgotten. They do not care about investing in
the future of Zimbabwe. The worst thing is that neither Mugabe nor ZANUPF
have created nor are capable of creating wealth. Their closest attempt at
creating wealth is when they lie in ambush waiting for the few remaining
commercial farmers to harvest, and pouncing on and chasing them away in
order to seize the farm. But they are good at spending other people's money.
Herein lies their fiscal irresponsibility. Since Mugabe and ZANUPF do not
know what it takes to create wealth it does not worry them that they spend
money without due regard for investment.
Mugabe and ZANUPF live for today. They spend taxpayers' money as if
there is no tomorrow. And they have to rely on the oppressed Zimbabweans
for their white elephant and unproductive projects. The Senate is an
unproductive bureaucracy. Like Parliament the Senate will be undemocratic
and a rubber stamp for Mugabe's psychotic obsession with money on his
It was this broader picture that Tsvangirayi was concerned with that
led to his overriding the vote of the National Council. It is amazing that
the 33 delegates who voted to participate in the elections did not see the
broader picture that everyone in Zimbabwe not only sees but experiences.
Why would anyone in the MDC leadership vote to legitimate this gross
waste of the nation's scarce resources just to reward Mugabe's failed
politicians? Why are the MDC leaders who not only voted to participate in
the elections but are insisting, in an open defiance President Tsvangirayi's
directive, on going ahead in participating in the elections?
There is one and, only one, explanation, for this madness. The
Senate offers money and other material resources. To many MDC top officials
this is a chance to make money. Never mind whether the circumstances of such
voting are one big sham.
How else does one explain this fanatical insistence on participating
in the sham white elephant Senate elections against the background of an
economy which is in dire straits? The women's and youth leagues of the MDC
as well as six of the twelve provinces have vehemently expressed their
opposition to participation in the Senate elections.
Virtually all other opposition parties in Zimbabwe have also opposed
participation. Under these circumstances how do those in favour of MDC's
participation hope to launch any meaningful campaign?
They have argued that the 33 - 31 vote in favour made it official that
MDC would participate in the elections. That was technically correct. They
also argued that they did not like to have to work with ZANUPF MPs in
constituencies which were MDC strongholds.
Both arguments are very weak and short sighted.
The 33 - 31 vote was not a majority vote in a substantial sense. This
vote split MDC right in the middle. If MDC were to go ahead and participate
in the elections 50 percent of the membership would be doing so against
their will. Better to withdraw from the elections than to participate under
such a 50-50 split.
The other argument, namely, that some MDC officials did not want
their MPs to have to work with ZANUPF senators in MDC strongholds has
absolutely no merit at all. Since when have ZANU_PF MPs ever cooperated or
shown a willingness to work meaningfully with MDC MPs? With or without MDC
senators ZANUPF will always ignore MDC when it comes to interacting with
people in their constituencies.
Tsvangirai was right to use his veto power to override the vote of the
National Council. This is known as the principle of checks and balances. The
president of the United States has the power to veto a majority decision of
the Senate. The Senate will need a two-thirds majority to override the
presidential veto. What Tsvangirai did was tantamount to a presidential
veto. It is an acceptable action in a democracy.
It must be noted that this was a very rare occasion Tsvangirai had
ever vetoed a majority decision. Surely his critics must look at the
circumstances that led to his decision instead of quoting democratic voting
procedures like they were quoting from the Bible.
In some ways, the public must welcome this development in the MDC. For
a long time MDC was in danger of inertia. There were many opportunities
where MDC could have effectively organized its supporters into a concerted
mass demonstration but they missed an opportunity to do so.
Many people have been wondering why MDC is not effectively organizing
its supporters. One reason may have come from this leadership crisis. The
MDC leadership is carrying very self serving individuals who are more
concerned with their immediate and personal material benefits that a full
commitment to serving the interest of the Zimbabweans.
Out of this crisis one hopes will emerge the true and dedicated
leaders who will take the struggle for democracy to a new level.
As for the rebels who insist on participating in the Senate elections
time has come for a thorough purge of the party, bringing in new officials.
Tsvangirayi had allowed himself to be surrounded by people with
self -serving interests. This has cost MDC a lot in terms of credibility.
Tsvangirayi is now awakening to the realization that he needs to put
his foot down and reassert his leadership of the party. Certainly
Tsvangirayi will be praised by the majority of party supporters for not only
walking the walk but talking the talk.
He has had a grassroots experience of what people are going through.
He walked to work with them for several weeks. Tsvangirayi has also been
arrested, handcuffed and kept in jail for a number of days. He has received
his share of the baptism by fire. Unfortunately he has for a long time been
a prisoner of some members of this executive who have not demonstrated a
real commitment to the struggle for democracy.
A real commitment is shown by results. Zimbabweans will be very proud
that their colleagues in the UK won a decisive victory in an asylum case. In
South Africa Zimbabweans overwhelmed South Africa's efforts to contain and
control the Zimbabwean influx. And they succeeded. We understand South
Africa will now scrap visa requirements. These are significant victories and
show what a determined people under a unified leadership can achieve.
With a new team of dedicated officials on board the MDC should be able
to launch an onslaught against Mugabe and ZANUPF that will yield successes
such as those in South Africa. But as long as MDC leadership continues to
carry ambitious and selfish leaders MDC will never succeed in bringing any
meaningful changes to the country.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Mail and Guardian
17 October 2005 11:04
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is set to visit all
of the country's ten provinces in a bid to bolster support for a boycott of
next month's senate elections, his spokesperson said on Monday.
The move by the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) comes amid a deepening crisis in the party, with the majority of
members in the party's national council in favour of participating in the
polls for an upper chamber of Parliament.
"He'll visit all the provinces," said Tsvangirai's spokesperson,
He reiterated that Tsvangirai had decided the MDC would boycott
the polls "in the interests of serving his party".
Zimbabweans are expected to elect 50 members to fill a
newly-established senate on November 26. The MDC strongly opposed a law
passed in August by members of President Robert Mugabe's party that set up
the senate, which will have a total of 66 seats.
Last week Tsvangirai told reporters that his party would boycott
the senate election, saying that Zimbabwe's electoral playing field "breeds
illegitimate outcomes and provides for predetermined results".
But senior members of his party, including the vice president
and the secretary general want the party to contest the elections.
Last week Gift Chimanikire, the deputy secretary general, was
reported to have instructed provincial party structures to select candidates
to stand in the election.
But Bango said Tsvangirai had subsequently written to the
country's electoral commission telling them not to accept any candidate from
the opposition party.
He said that without Tsvangirai's authority, no member of the
opposition would be able to contest next month's polls.
The charismatic MDC leader, a former trade unionist, helped set
up the party six years ago. He has already survived several gruelling
challenges, including two charges of treason brought against him by Mugabe's
government. He was acquitted of one charge, while the other was withdrawn
earlier this year.
However, senior party officials are said to be unhappy about his
leadership abilities. The MDC lost ground in parliamentary elections in
March as the party saw its number of seats reduced to 41 from the 57 seats
it won in the 2000 polls.
Tsvangirai at the weekend addressed party structures in Harare
and its satellite town of Chitungwiza. Supporters there were "very
enthusiastic" over Tsvangirai's call for a poll boycott, Bango claimed.
Although Harare and Chitungwiza were areas that already
supported a boycott, Tsvangirai was confident of a warm reception in areas
where opposition supporters wanted to contest the polls, Bango said.
"He's very confident about that," said Bango when asked if he
could convince party structures in Matabeleland North and South to boycott
the senate elections.
Meanwhile Mugabe said in Italy where he is attending the 60th
anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that Zimbabwe's
senate elections would go ahead with or without the MDC's involvement, the
state-controlled Herald reported.
"Senate elections will go ahead with or without MDC
participation and even the infighting in the opposition camp would not deter
the polls," Mugabe reportedly told a group of Zimbabweans studying in
Italy. - Sapa-DPA
A number of prominent business executives and entrepreneurs have left
Zimbabwe under unceremonious circumstances in the last few years. The
government has consistently referred to them as fugitives from justice and
some of their properties have been expropriated by the state. Dr Magaisa
revisits the case and argues that the current impasse is not helping anyone
and is one of the numerous factors that are detrimental to the country's
prospects in the economic sector.
By Dr Alex T. Magaisa
Last updated: 10/17/2005 16:00:31
IN a previous article in this column, we cautioned about the dangers of
excessive regulation in the financial sector. We revisit that area and this
time focus on the more general point about the law-making process.
Although we focus on the financial sector, the issues raised in this article
would apply with equal force in other areas of business, social and
Over the last five years, a number of business executives have departed
Zimbabwe in unceremonious circumstances and are often referred to as
fugitives from justice although they contend that they were escaping
Many of them were at the forefront of a fledgling black upper middle class
and had stakes in the financial sector although others had begun to find
space in the mining and industrial sectors. Their involvement in the
financial sector could have played a key role in national development in the
In the early years of Independence, the major financial institutions did not
have favourable policies and credit facilities for the majority of the
The growth of the indigenous financial sector created new space for players
in other industries and provided more opportunities for the general public.
But we should also have anticipated some teething problems in the process.
It would have been necessary to prepare ground to deal with such problems.
However, the lack of a particular policy for the process of empowerment
restricted space to a few individuals.
The greatest error was that liberalisation of the financial sector was not
accompanied by proper laws to guard against excesses. It is well-known that
where opportunities arise, opportunists follow.
The lack of proper regulation - such as the then division between
authorisation and supervision of banks created avenues for opportunists.
However, when problems did arise in the financial sector, the response
appeared to be excessive. To compensate for lack of laws in the first
instance, the authorities appeared to design new laws that went far beyond
the normally accepted rules.
More importantly, the response did not seem to take into account the fact
that the problems arose at a time when the economic conditions were dire and
therefore some of the extra-legal practices were in fact, necessitated by
the circumstances of the time.
While this is not an excuse for perpetrating illegality, it is a factor in
the general scheme of things that could be taken into consideration in
creating the necessary legal response.
There is no denying that there were some undesirable elements in the sector.
However, the manner in which the authorities approached the sector as a
whole, raised more questions and caused a dent in the country's profile.
The laws that were created appeared to straddle individual freedoms and
create shortcuts in the justice system.
The result was that any person that felt that his liberty was under threat
took flight. This has been interpreted to mean that those who fled did so
because they were guilty. But such a blanket conclusion excludes other
Is it not also possible that given the manner in which the other accused
persons were being dealt with under the laws and sometimes beyond the laws,
no reasonable person in a position where his liberty was under threat would
subject himself to the system?
The tribulations of the likes of James Makamba, Chris Kuruneri and others
were probably sufficient to persuade some to flee or to justify their
escape. In many cases we are told that for example, trading in foreign
currency was done at the behest of authorities and in the case of Kuruneri,
even Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono testified that the man had done a
national service at a time of great need.
Most individuals have at one point or another been forced to delve into the
parallel market in order to meet the needs of the time.
But there is also the problem of unequal treatment of offenders under the
laws. The principle of distributive justice requires that like cases be
In the last few years a number of cases against companies have been brought
before the courts for breaching the foreign exchange rules. We have seen in
many cases some large international banks and finance institutions that have
got away with fines for similar offences without any threats to the liberty
of individual directors or executives in those companies.
How then can one reconcile the approach to the local banks, whose executives
were being sought in their personal capacities while executives of
multinational banks have not faced such threats and instead had their
corporate entities fined?
This is the same inconsistency that affects confidence in the local
markets - you never know if rules will be applied and if so, to whom and in
In my view, this matter needed, and still requires a sober approach from the
authorities. It does not help to simply dismiss the executives as economic
Not only has the country lost to other countries some of the most
enterprising individuals in business, but it has also lost whatever
resources these people may indeed have outside Zimbabwe when it needed them
The worst part is that the manner of the treatment has added to the negative
image of the country. It is so easy to blame others for our problems but
quite often we are the architects of our malaise.
Whatever the justifications of the government position, the treatment of the
executives is largely seen in the international markets as persecution
within a generally hostile socio-political atmosphere.
It is one of the big ironies of our time that at a time when the country is
seeking to advance the cause of the local people, it is at the same time
stifling the growth of those sectors and chasing out individuals who could
be at the forefront of promoting that cause. It is trying to score but at
the same time conspiring to concede an own goal.
We can see that in making the laws that were meant to deal with
externalisation and related problems in the sector, the government could
have enhanced its position by taking a sober approach and not make a
knee-jerk reaction, as it appeared to do.
The process of law-making, especially in areas where constituencies are
well-defined and easy to identify, is enriched a great deal by consultation
and rigorous debate.
Laws must also be made in context - that is, they ought to reflect the
contextual factors within which they are meant to apply. Quite often, laws
are made without sufficient public consultation and rigorous debate.
It is well-known that the formal role of parliament is to make laws. The
role of the executive government is to create policy, which is often
translated into legislation through parliament. In practice, where the
government controls parliament, we know that it is in fact the executive
that makes law, with parliament acting simply to rubber-stamp the laws.
There are many departments of government that are responsible for creating
policy. It is at this stage when public consultation must initially take
At the very least the policies must be published and brought to the
attention of the key stakeholders. So for example, the RBZ should issue its
policy for consultation with the financial sector specifically, since they
are the constituency that it seeks to regulate.
Consultation is then followed by responses from the stakeholders and this is
even before the law has been drafted. People debate about the laws, the
procedures and the goals that are sought. Thereafter, the department issues
its responses, incorporating the views gathered from stakeholders.
The response paper is sent back to the stakeholders, together with the
drafts of the bill where possible to demonstrate that their views have been
taken into account.
This is where we see accountability - the state being accountable to its
citizens in the process of law-making. The bill then goes to parliament,
where elected representatives representing a wider constituency debate it
before it is passed into law.
Of course this is the ideal scenario and some who have never seen it work
might think it is impossible.
In my view, many of the laws that currently regulate the financial sector
could have been vastly improved if they had been subjected to this rigorous
At least the authorities would legislate from a position of knowledge of how
the key stakeholders feel and the consequences for business and investment.
The lawmakers do not have a monopoly of knowledge or wisdom. They need to
consult widely before enacting laws.
Finally, there is every reason to reconsider the government's approach
towards the estranged business community. Zimbabwe has more to gain from
their inclusion than from their exclusion. We cannot expect to attract
foreign capital for development when we show disregard and contempt for our
own entrepreneurs. They may have erred but they are certainly not beyond
Dr Magaisa is a lawyer specialising in Economic and Financial Services Law.
He is also a columnist for the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper. He can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
JOHANNESBURG, Oct 17 (IPS) - On paper, regional integration in Southern
Africa has made advances -- with countries being knit together by protocols
and agreements of every stripe.
It's a pity there isn't a similarly comprehensive network of roads and
railways, say transport analysts -- who point out that true regional
integration will remain a pipe dream if goods cannot move efficiently
between Southern African states.
Angola, recovering from civil war, has only 850 kilometres of functional
railway lines. The state of transport links is even giving cause for concern
in South Africa, the most developed country in the region.
"Our infrastructure is falling apart. Our rail network, which has been
allowed to go bad in the past 15 years, is falling into pieces," Paul
Browning of the Pretoria-based Lesiba Mudau Transport Consulting firm told
IPS. And, it does not stop there.
"Our ports require a big investment: the ports are clogged. Customs
procedure needs to be improved and speeded up," Browning added, blaming
mismanagement in the transport sector for the current state of affairs.
The decay of railway infrastructure has placed unhealthy demands on South
"We have unhappily witnessed a general shift from rail to road, even of some
cargoes that should ideally be transported by rail for safety and other
reasons," Transport Minister Jeff Redebe told the International Railway
Safety Conference 2005, held near the coastal city of Cape Town earlier this
"Between 2002 and 2004, leaking tankers accounted for some 418 incidents,
and there were 117 derailed tankers, 661 incidents of decanting and 53
spillages," he noted.
These concerns are echoed by Alex Visser from the Department of Engineering
at the University of Pretoria, who says that the road network as a whole is
in need of attention.
"South Africa's secondary roads are badly deformed," he told IPS. "We also
have a 240,000 kilometres of unpaved roads. They need funding in order to
Acknowledging that poor infrastructure is crippling development across the
continent, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) has placed a
priority on improving transport links. (NEPAD is a blueprint drawn up by
African leaders to attract more investment to the continent, in exchange for
Transport initiatives already underway include the five-billion-dollar
Maputo Development Corridor, launched in 1996, which stretches between the
Mozambican capital and South Africa's northern Gauteng province. This region
is the economic nerve centre of the country.
The Beira Corridor links Mozambique and Zimbabwe, while the Congo-Bas
Corridor joins the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and
In addition, Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos has announced that his
government will spend four billion dollars over the next decade to rebuild
Angola's railways, with an emphasis on trans-border networks.
Shortcomings with the Southern African transport network are compounded by
delays at border posts.
"Zambia faces serious cross-border transport problems," Silane Mwenechanya,
head of the Zambia Business Forum, told IPS. "It takes almost a week to
clear a vehicle at Chirundu (the main border post with Zimbabwe)."
From Chirundu, Zambian trucks proceed to South Africa's port city of Durban
to deliver cargo for export.
"Clearance at Beitbridge is faster," Mwenechanya said. Beitbridge is the
border post between Zimbabwe and South Africa; about 600 trucks pass through
According to Radebe, border delays cost the 14-nation Southern African
Development Community (SADC) about 48 million dollars a year.
Browning has also expressed concern about the slow pace of implementing
joint transport ventures in the region, as required by the SADC Protocol on
Transport -- citing the plight of an estimated 60,000 migrants from Lesotho
who work in South African mines.
"Thousands of people from Lesotho work in the mines in Free State province.
And, 90 percent of the taxis (commuter vehicles) that transport the migrants
to South Africa are owned by South Africans," he said.
Browning is involved in upgrading South Africa's 100,000 ageing taxis, an
initiative that is expected to cost about 3.1 billion dollars over a period
of five years. (END/2005)