October 21, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe-Zimbabwe's main opposition party warned Tuesday that unless
its leader Morgan Tsvangirai is issued a passport he will not attend a
meeting next week aimed at breaking a deadlock in power-sharing talks.
Tsvangirai boycotted a meeting of a key committee of the Southern African
Development Community in Swaziland on Monday. He complained that the
Zimbabwean government's refusal to grant him a passport made it difficult to
get to the meeting and symbolized President Robert Mugabe's refusal to treat
him as an equal.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed the power-sharing deal last month but are
deadlocked over how to allocate ministries in a 31-member unity Cabinet.
Tsvangirai accuses Mugabe's ZANU-PF party of trying to hold on to too many
of the most powerful ministries.
Because of Tsvangirai's absence from Monday's meeting, officials rescheduled
the meeting to next week, and said it would be held in Zimbabwe.
However, their efforts may be "in vain," Tsvangirai's party said .
The party said the "failure" to issue a new passport to Tsvangirai ahead of
the rescheduled meeting would indicate that Mugabe's party's is not willing
to continue with the agreement.
"And therefore, the attendance of President Tsvangirai at next week's
meeting will serve only to present a false impression of the relationship,"
between Mugabe's party and the opposition, the statement said.
© Copyright 2008 Associated Press.
Tue 21 Oct 2008, 12:08 GMT
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition party said Tuesday that only
fresh elections would resolve a dispute over who controls key cabinet posts,
a make-or-break issue under a power-sharing pact signed with President
Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, have clashed over control of ministries and weeks of
face-to-face talks have failed to break the deadlock.
The political impasse has raised fears that last month's power-sharing deal
may collapse and plunge Zimbabwe's economy deeper into crisis.
"The preferred trajectory is to conclude the negotiations, but in the
absence of the ideal, Zimbabweans have no other way out but to decide who
should have power through an election which is credible," MDC spokesman
Nelson Chamisa said.
Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in a presidential election on March 29 but with too
few votes to avoid a June run-off, which was won by Mugabe unopposed after
Tsvangirai pulled out, saying his supporters had been subjected to violence
Chamisa said there was lack of trust between Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the MDC,
which was reflected by the government's failure to issue Tsvangirai a new
passport after he filled up his old one several months ago.
Tsvangirai failed to attend a regional emergency summit in Swaziland Monday
after authorities only gave him an emergency travel document.
Monday's meeting, called by the Southern African Development Community, a
15-nation regional body, to seek a breakthrough in efforts to form a joint
cabinet, was postponed until October 27. It will take place in Harare.
ZANU-PF chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa Tuesday accused Tsvangirai of
stalling on the September 15 power-sharing deal.
"Tsvangirai's failure to come to Swaziland seems to us to reflect his own
reluctance or hesitancy to finalise and conclude discussions on the
formation of an inclusive government," Chinamasa told the state-owned Herald
In an editorial, the Herald urged Mugabe to form a cabinet without
Tsvangirai, adding that the MDC leader should renounce Western sanctions
before being issued a new passport.
The MDC said Tuesday that Tsvangirai would address "report back" rallies in
Zimbabwe over the weekend to update supporters on developments since the
deal was signed.
Tsvangirai has accused ZANU-PF, which lost a parliamentary election in
March, of trying to seize the most important ministries and relegate the MDC
to the role of junior partner in a new government.
The cabinet talks are seen as critical to solving Zimbabwe's economic
meltdown. Inflation has hit 231 million percent in a country suffering acute
shortages of food, fuel and currency.
Millions of Zimbabweans have fled the country in search of food and work in
neighbouring nations, especially South Africa.
(Editing by Giles Elgood)
October 21, 2008
By Our Correspondent
HARARE -The facilitator in the ongoing power-sharing negotiations between Zanu-PF and the two MDC parties, former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, arrived in Harare on Monday, October 17, armed with a set of proposals which he submitted to the parties.
Included in the proposals was an allocation of ministries to the various political parties. The Zimbabwe Times has obtained a copy of the Mbeki proposals.
What follows is the full text:
REFLECTIONS AND PROPOSALS OF THE FACILITATION: TOWARDS THE ACHIEVEMENT OF THE OBJECTIVES OF EQUITY AND POWER - SHARING IN THE CONSTITUTION OF THE INCLUSIVE GOVERNMENT, IN HARARE, 17 OCTOBER 2008.
1. On 15 September 2008, Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations signed the Agreement between Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front (Zanu-Pf) And the Two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Formations, On Resolving the Challenges Facing Zimbabwe. By this means the parties bound themselves to a vitally important framework which would, among others, inform their approach to the composition of an inclusive government. The agreement visualizes the provision of a genuine, viable, permanent, sustainable and nationally acceptable solution to the Zimbabwe situation.
2. The Agreement sets out the manner in which the power-sharing arrangement will work, including the number of Executive posts each party will hold.
3. The Parties have, over the past few weeks, been engaged in a process set to lead to the formation of the inclusive government.
4. The MDC-T has submitted a proposal to the Facilitation on the distribution of Ministries, stating that the allocation of portfolios should be guided by the principles of equity and power-sharing. Specifically, the proposal says the allocation of portfolios “must be guided by the principles of equality, genuine power-sharing….this is at the core of any successful cooperative government”.
5. The facilitation agrees that these principles are correct and indeed reflect both the spirit and letter of the Agreement.
6. The realization of the objective of equity requires that the Parties should use a commonly agreed standard against which to measure whether, in the main, the important objective of equity and power-sharing has been achieved.
7. The Facilitation proposes that the Parties should agree that only the provisions contained in the agreement can and should serve as this commonly agreed standard. In particular, this commonly agreed standard is provided by the priority tasks of the inclusive government as identified in the Agreement. In turn, these priority tasks define which among the various portfolios will serve as lead Ministries. Broadly, the priority tasks can be grouped into the following seven categories.
Adoption of a new
Constitution for Zimbabwe
Rule of Law
Restoration of Economic Stability
The Land Question
State Organs and Institutions
Delivery of Social Services
National Healing, Cohesion and Unity.
8. We will now proceed to discuss each priority tasks, with particular reference to the current distribution of Ministerial portfolios.
A New Constitution
Article VI of the Agreement states that it is the fundamental right and duty of the Zimbabwean people to make a constitution “by themselves and for themselves”.
The need urgently to adopt a New Constitution for Zimbabwe is borne out by the specific timetable set out in the Agreement. This matter has been at the center of the political debate in the country.
The MDC-T has been allocated the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary affairs, responsible for overseeing this process.
Rule of Law
Article X, XI and XII of the Agreement provide for the recognition and protection of all the rights enshrined in the constitution for all citizens without discrimination.
The Parties recognize also the rights of all citizens to a safe and secure environment. The Police service plays an important part in this area.
Both Zanu-PF and MDC-T share the Responsibility for the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Restoration of Economic Stability
One of the central tasks identified by the Parties is to restore economic stability and growth in Zimbabwe. In this regard, Articles III and IV of the Agreement identify the issues of Production, food security, poverty and unemployment and the challenges of high inflation, interest rates and the exchange rate as needing urgent attention. The matter of the lifting of sanctions is also raised.
The Ministry of Economic Planning and Investment Promotions, allocated to the MDC-T, will play the leading role in the overall development and implementation of the Economic Plan within which the inclusive government will pursue the objective of economic recovery.
The Ministry of Finance, also allocated to the MDC-T, will play the leading role with regard to public Finances and Fiscal matters.
The other Ministries that are directly relevant to the achievement of the economic objectives have been allocated as follows:-
• Ministry of
• Ministry of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development
• Ministry of Mines, Mining Development
• Ministry of Lands and Resettlement
• Ministry of Agriculture
• Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources
• Ministry of Tourism
• Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development
• Ministry of
Energy and Power Development
• Ministry of State Enterprises and Parastatals
• Ministry of Information Communication Technology
• Ministry of Public Works
• Ministry of
Regional Integration and International Cooperation
• Ministry of Industry and Commerce
The Land Question
Article V of the Agreement acknowledges the need for the redistribution of land to the majority indigenous people of Zimbabwe. Land ownership and use is an important part of the economic and social programmes of Zimbabwe. The Ministries of Lands and Resettlement, and Agriculture, which have been allocated to Zanu-PF, will play a leading role in this regard.
State Organs and Institutions
A Public service that serves the needs of Zimbabweans without any discrimination is important for the success of all government programmes. Article XIII of the Agreement states that state institutions do not belong to any political party and should be impartial in the discharge of their duties. The two Ministries which play a lead role in this regard are the Ministry of Public Service and the Ministry of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development, allocated to MDC-T and Zanu-PF, respectively.
Delivery of Social Services
The need urgently to change the lives of all Zimbabwean citizens for the better runs through the entirety of the Agreement. The Ministries directly relevant to the achievement of this objective have been distributed as follows:-
• Ministry of
Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development
• Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenization and Empowerment
• Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education
• Ministry of
Health and Child Welfare
• Ministry of Labour and Social Services
• Ministry of Water Resources Development and Management
• Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities
• Ministry of Science and Technology Development
• Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture
National Healing, Cohesion and Unity
The Agreement sets out measures to be considered by the new government to assist in the process of national healing and reconciliation. These measures include an examination of whether there needs to be set up a mechanism for this purpose.
The Agreement refers also to the need to attract the return and repatriation of all Zimbabweans in the Diaspora. The Ministries of Justice and of Home Affairs, were both Zanu-PF and MDC-T have a presence would, among others, play some role in this regard. More importantly, the apex of the government (the Presidency and Premiership) where all three Parties to the Agreement are represented, would necessarily take the lead in this regard.
9. The Facilitation is of the view that the distribution of Ministerial portfolios as set out above does achieve the objectives of equity and power-sharing as would be required in terms of the priority tasks identified in the Agreement. This should further be reinforced through the allocation of Deputy Ministers.
Accordingly, the Facilitation commends the current allocation of Ministerial Posts to the Parties for their adoption. To the extent possible, all the Parties have been allocated portfolios which allow them to have a presence in each of the Priority sectors identified above.
Further, the facilitation recommends that the Parties should assess the practical achievement of the principles of equity and power-sharing in the Inclusive Government, six months after its inauguration.
Tuesday, 21 October 2008 12:08
The MDC wishes to make it clear that while there is no valid legal or
logistical reason why President Tsvangirai should not be issued with a new
passport, the significance of this issue is far greater than the travel
document in question.
For purposes of clarification, and for the avoidance of doubt, President
Tsvangirai neither refused nor boycotted the meeting in Swaziland. It is
Zanu PF, which stopped the President from attending this meeting. Zanu PF's
behaviour is an affront to African institutions and processes.
The failure by the Zanu PF-controlled Ministry of Home Affairs to issue a
passport to President Tsvangirai is a stark illustration of the lack of
trust and goodwill exhibited by Zanu PF towards the MDC and towards the
political agreement the main Zimbabwean parties are meant to be
The insistence by Zanu PF on issuing President Tsvangirai temporary travel
documents limiting the countries to which he can travel puts the entire
political agreement in jeopardy. It showcases Zanu PF's lack of sincerity in
implementing the political agreement signed by the three political
principals on 15 September 2008.
While every Zimbabwean is entitled to a passport under the country's
constitution, President Tsvangirai, having the mandate of the majority of
Zimbabweans, should be issued with such a document in order that he can
represent the people of Zimbabwe regionally and internationally.
Several political events on the ground serve to illustrate Zanu PF's lack of
genuineness and commitment to the political settlement. These include the
unilateral appointment of provincial governors, the convening of Parliament
without consent of the MDC, the unilateral allocation of key ministries to
Zanu PF, the swearing-in of the two Vice Presidents, the continued use of
hate speech and hate language by the public media. It also includes the
politicization of food aid and the deployment of soldiers in preparation of
by-elections even though the political settlement has frozen all
by-elections in the interim.
The history of President Tsvangirai's application for a new passport just
goes to show the condescending and petty-minded attitude of Zanu PF towards
the MDC, with which it is meant to be forging a new political reality, and
the individual who is now the Prime Minister designate.
President Tsvangirai's previous passport was full and no longer valid for
travel and thus he applied for a new passport in June 2008.
Many other Zimbabweans have applied and have already been granted passports
since the date of President Tsvangirai's application.
After months of waiting for his new passport, President Tsvangirai took his
case to the High Court and then the Supreme Court, where he was told that
the matter was not an urgent one.
In the meantime, if he wants to travel, despite being the leader of the
largest party in parliament and the Prime Minister designate, President
Tsvangirai has to apply for a temporary travel document on a case by case
basis. This is despite the fact that the MDC has learnt that his passport
was ready weeks ago and is awaiting authorization from President Mugabe
before it will be released. Indeed, in a democracy, as Prime Minister
designate, President Tsvangirai would have been issued with a diplomatic
passport as a matter of protocol.
This does not bode well for the implementation of the political agreement
that is under negotiation. If the two parties cannot learn to trust one
another, then working together for the betterment of the Zimbabwean people
may prove impossible. Indeed, if Zanu PF cannot trust President Tsvangirai
with his own passport in his pocket, how can it be expected to work with him
as the Head of Government of Zimbabwe?
While the MDC thanks the SADC and the African Union for continuing to focus
on the Zimbabwe crisis and for rescheduling their meeting from yesterday in
Swaziland to next week in Harare, this may be in vain if Zanu PF continues
to display such a blatant lack of trust. The failure to issue a new passport
to President Tsvangirai prior to next week's meeting will be taken as an
indication that Zanu PF is not willing to proceed in the spirit of the
agreement and therefore, the attendance of President Tsvangirai at next
week's meeting will serve only to present a false impression of the
relationship between Zanu PF and the two MDCs.
Meaningful negotiations cannot proceed while Zanu PF continues to hold Mr
Tsvangirai hostage and prisoner in his own country. President Tsvangirai,
like any other Zimbabwean, is a prisoner in his own country. As the saying
goes, "Prisoners don't negotiate."
Hon Nelson Chamisa, MP
Secretary for Information and Publicity
Tue 21 Oct 2008, 16:08 GMT
WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - South Africa's African National Congress
leader Jacob Zuma urged Zimbabwe's politicians on Tuesday to work harder to
end a political impasse over the distribution of cabinet posts.
Speaking after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at
the State Department, Zuma said Zimbabwe's political crisis was a key topic
in their first meeting.
"We share the same views that a quicker solution to Zimbabwe is desirable
for the sake of the Zimbabwean people and their country," said Zuma, who as
leader of the ANC is expected to be the next South African president after
"We also agreed that Zimbabwean leaders should be urged to complete the
package which is already on the table so that it is implemented for the sake
of the Zimbabwean people," he said.
Zuma also discussed Zimbabwe and other issues with President George W.
Bush's national security adviser Stephen Hadley in meetings at the White
On Monday, the United States threatened to impose new sanctions against
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and his supporters if he reneges on a
Sept. 15 power-sharing deal with the country's opposition leader Morgan
Zuma said Rice told him current U.S. sanctions would stay in place until the
political situation was resolved. Neither side can agree on the allocation
of cabinet posts, particularly for Zimbabwe's home affairs and finance
The United States has been urging Zimbabwe's neighbors, including South
Africa and the regional grouping South African Development Community, to put
more pressure on veteran president Mugabe to end a political stalemate
Zuma said South Africa strongly supported SADC's efforts and the African
National Congress was engaging both Mugabe's ZANU-PF party as well as the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
"We are urging both parties, as the ANC, to find a solution," he said.
Zuma said he also discussed with Rice the political situation in South
Africa, where ex-defense minister Mosiuoa "Terror" Lekota announced a
breakaway party would be launched, splitting the ANC and challenging its
years of dominance.
Asked whether he expected the ANC to split, Zuma said: "I don't know. You
must listen to Terror Lekota and what he says. The ANC has spoken on this
matter and I think we are watching this situation as it develops."
"I do not want to speculate on these matters ... I do not have inside
information on that," he added.
The ANC forced President Thabo Mbeki to step down last month at the climax
of a power struggle between him and Zuma, a move that prompted Lekota to
resign and threaten to form a breakaway party.
Pressed on whether he expected to be the next president of South Africa,
Zuma replied: "That is in the hands of the ANC." (Reporting by Sue Pleming,
editing by Jackie Frank)
Oct 21, 2008, 10:32 GMT
Harare - Eleven more people have died in a new outbreak of cholera, an
acutely infectious disease, in northern Zimbabwe, state media reported
The daily Herald newspaper quoted the local civil protection unit in the
run-down former agricultural town of Chinhoyi as saying that the deaths had
occurred in the last three weeks, while 500 had been treated for the
Earlier this month, health officials confirmed that 16 people had died in
the dormitory town of Chitungwiza on Harare's outskirts.
Like nearly all urban areas in the country, the two centres are stricken by
prolonged breakdowns in water supplies, which result in exploding sewerage
pipes that spew raw effluent into crowded townships, while refuse collection
has mostly ground to a halt.
'The widespread outbreaks of diarrhoeal diseases, including cholera, across
Zimbabwe, resulting from the catastrophic breakdown of urban water supply
and sanitation services will dramatically worsen with the rainy season which
begins in less than a month,' warned Gregory Powell, the chairman of the
Zimbabwe Child Protection Society, warned.
'A toxic combination of under-nutrition and diarrhoea is likely to result in
the deaths of thousands of children, and many more into acute, severe
Felix Mubvaruri, a spokesman for the state-controlled Zimbabwe National
Water Authority office in Chinhoyi, said the organization was severely short
of equipment, including rods for clearing blocked sewers. He blamed the
constant power cuts afflicting all urban areas. 'If we could have
uninterrupted electricity, we would be able to pump water to all residents.'
The country is in the midst of a dramatic economic and infrastructural
collapse, with inflation officially calculated at 230 million per cent and
the local currency plunged to one- quadrillionth of its value since the
beginning of the year, following nearly 30 years of violent, reckless rule
by 84-year-old President Robert Mugabe.
Tuesday, 21st October 2008. 2:37pm
By: George Conger.
The signing of a power-sharing agreement last month between President
Robert Mugabe and leaders of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) in Zimbabwe has not lessened the strife within the Diocese of Harare.
Editorials and opinion pieces published by the government backed
Harare Herald have accused supporters of Bishop Sebastian Bakare and exiled
members of the clergy of being stooges of the MDC party, and a stalking
horse for the Church of England, which is accused of wanting to reclaim
Harare as colonial missionary diocese. While President Mugabe appears to
have kept his hold on power, junior members of the government and the ruling
ZANU-PF party have objected to the political deal, fearful that their
positions will be undermined. While personal and political alliances within
the murky world of ZANU-PF politics are unclear, it appears the former
Bishop of Harare, Dr Nolbert Kunonga --- an ally of President Mugabe --- has
gone over to the rejectionist front.
The political controversies have not stopped Dr Bakare --- Dr Kunonga's
Provincial appointed successor --- from inaugurating a rebuilding campaign
for the diocese. On Oct 26, Dr Bakare will kick off the Nehemiah Festival,
with a service at the Harare Showground, where he will confirm 1,000 people.
Bibles, Prayer Books, devotional materials and other church goods will be
offered for sale to raise money to rebuild the diocese.
"Every Anglican in the Diocese of Harare has a role to play in the
rebuilding of the church through donations in cash and or in kind," Patrick
Mahari, the Chairman of the Nehemiah Committee told The Zimbabwean.
The government remains hostile to Dr Bakare, even though he has denied
being a backer of either political party. On Sept 7 the state controlled
press charged the former Dean of Bishop Gaul Theological College in Harare,
the Ven Archford Musodza of conniving with foreign powers and former members
of the Ian Smith regime to overthrow the government and oust Dr Kunonga.
Driven into exile, Dr Musodza is currently archdeacon of Northern
Botswana. The Herald charged Botswana was a "financial, diplomatic and
propaganda rear-base from which to divide and destabilise Zimbabwe on behalf
of the British and the North Americans."
Dr Musodza and the Diocese of Botswana were agents of Anglo-American
foreign policy, the Herald said, and were circulating a "shooting list of
The government newspaper published excerpts from a letter alleged to
have been written by Dr Musodza to "one Christine" in Harare, stating that
"once the old man, Mugabe is ousted," that "will also be the end of (Dr
The Herald said the letter stated that once the MDC "takes the reins,
then all former white farmers are assured of a return to their farms. The
church will be restored and we can mobilise all Anglicans to now vote for a
Bishop of Zimbabwe from Britain who is not polluted.
"The British bishop will be mandated to return the Zimbabwean Church
back to correct hands, the English Church with proper British ethos," the
letter allegedly stated.
Dr Musodza was in league with the MDC as well as members of the former
Selous Scouts, Rhodesia's crack anti-terrorist squad that fought ZANU during
the 1970s, to bring down President Mugabe and Dr. Kunonga, the Herald
charged. The charges of treason levelled by the Herald were nonsensical
"lies" Dr Musodza told The Church of England Newspaper. "This is Kunonga's
way of fighting those whom he considers as his enemies," he said.
While it was true that he had kept in touch with his former secretary
at Marlborough parish in Harare, and continued to receive the parish
magazine, his letters to her "never intimated that I was working and
scheming to oust the regime" and the allegations fraudulent.
Dr Musodza explained: "I am one of those that Kunonga does not want to
see," and the forged letters were a preemptive strike launched by
controversial former bishop to discredit the opposition. However, the people
of Harare will not be intimidated by Dr Kunonga and his "stooges," he said.
"Despite the beatings and the accusations of being opposition
supporters, despite being pushed out of the churches which they built using
their own hard earned resources, despite being maimed, they have remained
resolute and committed to the orthodox faith as they received it," he said.
Yet, the future was bright. "Although people have been barred from
using their churches, and are using other people's churches, as well as some
parishioner's homesteads, the faith remains strong and the hope of returning
to their official places of worship is looming on the horizon," Dr Musodza
By Violet Gonda
21 October 2008
Leaders of the group Women of Zimbabwe Arise, Jenni Williams and Magodonga
Mahlangu, will remain in prison until Friday 24th after a Bulawayo
magistrate reserved judgement on their bail application. A WOZA statement
said the magistrate said the 'court is very busy.' Bail hearings are
normally heard on an urgent basis.
The two have been in police custody since last Thursday after they were
arrested during a peaceful WOZA demonstration, protesting the extreme
hardships being suffered by Zimbabweans.
They are being held at Mlondolozi Female Prison in Bulawayo. WOZA says their
leaders are being victimized and prison authorities deliberately failed to
take Williams and Mahlangu to court, claiming they had no fuel.
The pressure group said Kossam Ncube, the defence lawyer, had also been
given permission by a senior prison officer at Mlondolozi prison to collect
Williams and Mahlangu in his own vehicle if transport was not available, but
was informed it was no longer possible when he arrived at the prison.
WOZA says the on-going detention of the leaders and the delaying tactics and
machinations of the state are a clear violation of their rights and the
power-sharing agreement and further evidence that ZANU PF has no desire to
act in good faith.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
October 21, 2008 Edition 2
By Hans Pienaar
Independent Foreign Service
A Zimbabwean teacher union is calling for this year's matric exams to be
scrapped, because it expects 97% of pupils will fail.
Raymond Majongwe, secretary-general of the Progressive Teachers Union of
Zimbabwe (PTUZ), said a union survey had found pupils only had 23 days of
normal learning this year, and that a pass rate of 3% was expected.
Education is one of the government services that has come to a standstill
because of the stalling of the power-sharing deal over the allocation of
ministries. It has also been hit by the economic meltdown, which has made
the cost of travelling to school exorbitant.
According to aid organisations and unions, thousands of teachers have been
the target of Mugabe's crackdown after the March 29 parliamentary election.
Many acted as observers at polling stations and were blamed for
"interfering" in the electoral process by putting up results immediately
after the elections.
"It is difficult to imagine the meltdown in the education sector happening
in a country that is at peace. You only see this kind of degeneration in
countries that are experiencing civil strife or a full-fledged war,"
"Normally, at this time of the year, schools would be busy with
examinations . but it would be grossly unfair to conduct them, given that
there was hardly any learning. Examinations should just be cancelled this
Conservative estimates say 45 000 teachers have left the profession since
2004, taking up positions in neighbouring countries and the UK. Others are
giving private lessons to pupils at their homes.
"There was no learning that took place this year, which opened with teachers
embarking on industrial action because of poor salaries.
"The situation was made worse as the majority of teachers did not turn up,
having elected to look for greener pastures in other countries," Majongwe
School children also stopped going to school because they were hungry.
October 21, 2008, 11:15
Zimbabwean youths living in South Africa will converge at the ANC
Headquarters in Johannesburg to deliver a petition to party president Jacob
Zuma. The Revolutionary Youth Movement of Zimbabwe says the petition will
call on Zuma to intervene and help break the political impasse in the
The Movement's Simon Mudekwa says they want Zuma to apply pressure and
intervene. Mudekwa has highlighted their wish to have the Southern African
Development Community and the African Union also intervene in the process.
He says they want to see an amicable resolution to their problem.
Meanwhile the government of Botswana has spoken out to say a re-run of
presidential elections in Zimbabwe is the only way to break the political
deadlock. It expressed regret at the failure of power-sharing talks between
President Robert Mugabe, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
leader Morgan Tsvangirai and head of a smaller opposition faction, Arthur
An emergency summit on Zimbabwe in Mbabane, Swaziland, has now been
postponed until Monday. Botswana's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phandu
Sekelemane, says Mugabe has not honoured the power sharing agreement. -
Additional reporting by Reuters
October 21, 2008, 06:00
United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has expressed hope that
former President Thabo Mbeki will help to break the deadlock in the power
sharing negotiations in Zimbabwe. Ban has once again urged the Zimbabwean
political leaders to find a common ground in the interest of the country.
Mbeki has spent almost the whole of last week in Zimbabwe trying to broker
another deal regarding the control of some key ministries. The UN says it is
concerned with the political impasse in Zimbabwe because it is affecting
poor people and delaying the rebuilding of the economy. The world body's
food agency is currently asking for financial donations of $140 million to
feed some 4 million hungry Zimbabweans over the next six months.
Ban has indicated he is throwing his weight behind Mbeki to break the
political deadlock. Secretariat spokesperson Michelle Montas says the UN
remains ready to assist Mbeki's mediation efforts in whichever way it can to
establish a government of national unity in Zimbabwe. Together with the
African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the UN
is part of the reference group created to boost Mbeki's mediation efforts.
Meanwhile the SADC Troika discussions on Zimbabwe have been postponed to
next week Monday. This comes after the leader of Zimbabwe's Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) faction, Arthur Mutambara, yesterday walked out of
the SADC Heads of State Extraordinary Summit in Swaziland. Mutambara
labelled the talks illegitimate because of the absence of Tsvangirai.
HURUNGWE- Chief Kerechani Dendera had to flee for dear life from his
homestead at the weekend here after three hundred women demostrated of
hunger gripping rural folk.
The demostrators had brought another woman who had fainted due to
hunger that taken its toll in rural Hurungwe area.
The enraged women forcibly took the chief's car that he was given by
The women wanted to ''show Chief Dendera victims of hunger wiping the
vulnerable in remote areas'', according to Eneresi Maponga of Nyamupfukudza
''As women we are suffering, scrounging for wild fruits to feed our
children who are victims of hunger. Chief Dendera is a traditional leader
who has spoken at funerals but can not give solutions as a traditional
leader to the problems we are facing here. We are starving and we brought
this lady as a testimony of what we are staring in our homes silently,''
Villagers here are surviving on wild fruits and edible roots called
mupama and manyanya that resemble sweet potatoes.
The villagers called for an immediate solution on food distribution
around the country so that the country can avert a humanitarian crisis that
Most schoold children have since abandoned lessons at the schools and
are footing to Gache-kache fishing camp, about 60 kilometers east of Doro
area, where they look forward to ''make a living through fishing''.
Meanwhile villagers in President Robert Mugabe's home village in
Zvimba are also survivimg on wild fruits known as hacha that is common food
''We are starving here and no food donors have distributed any grain
of maize and our own son Mugabe is stil yet to get wind of how we are
starving'' said an elderly Rainos Makamba of Chikaka village in Zvimba
Zimbabwe has at least 5 million people facing acute food shortages.
Zanu PF has abused food distrubution as political weapon during campaigns
The resignation of Thabo Mbeki as South Africa's president is linked to the
failure of Zimbabwe's power-sharing agreement. The result is to restore the
political initiative to Robert Mugabe's regime, says Roger Southall
20 - 10 - 2008
Harold Wilson, Britain's prime minister when Ian Smith's Rhodesia proclaimed
its independence in 1965, once famously said that "a week is a long time in
politics". His descendant as Labour Party leader and prime minister, Gordon
Brown, responded to the lightning-speed of events during the current
financial crash by jocularly updating the phrase to "an hour....". For his
part, South Africa's former president Thabo Mbeki might regard a month as
the appropriate length of time for the wisdom to take hold - for it has
taken just this period for the Zimbabwean power-sharing agreement he
mediated to turn from new dawn to cold ashes. Roger Southall is honorary
research professor in the sociology of work programme, University of the
Mbeki's resignation as South Africa's president on 21 September 2008
followed a high-court ruling that favoured his great political rival Jacob
Zuma (see "Thabo Mbeki's fall: the ANC and South Africa's democracy", 13
October 2008). A bleak moment, but amid the retreat from office there was
the simultaneous comfort of widespread accolades for what many deemed to be
the eventual triumph of his much-criticised "quiet-diplomacy" effort to
bring a political settlement in Zimbabwe. The problem is that the two events
were in reality connected: for Mbeki's ejection helped to precipitate the
collapse of the deal - between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai - in which he had invested so much of his political
The road from Harare
The quiet-diplomacy strategy - designed to reconcile Robert Mugabe's ruling
Zimbabwe African National Front-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) and Morgan
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) - had long been regarded
as ineffective, even futile, in face of the intransigence of Mugabe and his
regime. But in the end, after many tortuous problems and numerous
stand-offs, it seemed to work. In Harare for the signing ceremony on 15
September 2008, the three central figures - Mbeki, Mugabe and Tsvangirai -
all shook hands and beamed smiles for the cameras. The two Zimbabweans
pledged themselves to an agreement which would move Zimbabwe forward - even
though their hostile or indifferent body-language told its own story. It was
a brief, and it as it has turned out illusory, moment of hope.
The road from Harare began in Pretoria, with a high-court ruling that South
Africa's presidency had interfered in the National Prosecuting Authority
(NPA's) attempted prosecution of African National Congress (ANC) president
Jacob Zuma on corruption charges. The result - within a fortnight, equally a
long time in politics - was a decision of the ANC's national executive
committee that left Mbeki no option but to resign. In so doing, the ANC also
collapsed the already shaky foundations of the proposed agreement in
Zimbabwe - for although Mbeki retained his role as mediator, he had now lost
whatever authority he had as president. Robert Mugabe was laughing.
The threads of a deal turned to shards. It had all looked different when
Zanu-PF's defeat in the parliamentary elections of March 2008 provoked the
regime to intensify violence throughout the country - in turn leading Morgan
Tsvangirai ultimately to withdraw from the presidential election of June.
This left Mugabe unchallenged and able to claim the formal legality of a
victorious re-election; but his international credibility was in shreds,
with support for him visibly draining even within the Southern African
Development Community SADC). There were reports too of Mugabe's erstwhile
ally China becoming impatient with the recalcitrance of its latest client
regime, and wanting a settlement which would promise an end to political
unpredictability and greater security of its growing involvement in
Zimbabwean mining.Among openDemocracy's many articles on Zimbabwe under
Mugabe's regime was increasingly isolated; the economy was in tatters,
withmost of the country's population starving; the option of sending out
signals of willingness to accommodate with the MDC seemed unavoidable. This
allowed Thabo Mbeki to think that the moment of "quiet diplomacy's" triumph
had come. But if crisis can be opportunity, opportunity can be danger: and
so it proved for Morgan Tsvangirai, for Mugabe's determination to retain the
presidency and his regime's refusal to stand down meant that the MDC leader
faced the choice of either walking away from the situation or seeking some
sort of second-best deal.
If he walked away, he faced the possibility that Mugabe would cobble
together an agreement with Arthur Mutambura (leader of the MDC's minority
faction); this would complicate the political situation while doing nothing
to prevent the continuing collapse of the economy. If he made a deal, he
could at least try to reverse the trend of events by attracting support from
moderate elements within Zanu-PF away from Mugabe.
Tsvangirai's strength in these circumstances was that only a deal which
genuinely shared significant power between the MDC and Zanu-PF could unlock
the door to international legitimacy and life-giving international aid and
credit; his weakness was that Mugabe still had the brute power of state
forces behind army him - whereas the MDC's supporters were so battered,
bruised and hungry they were unwilling to risk further physical
confrontation with the president's thugs, police and army.
Tsvangirai had long been highly distrustful of Mbeki, accusing him - with
justification - of having cosseted Mugabe. But over several weeks he allowed
himself to be lured into a deal, which on paper looked workable. Robert
Mugabe would remain as executive president, with Morgan Tsvangirai as prime
minister; Zanu-PF would hold fifteen ministries,the MDC thirteen and
Mutambura's MDC faction three (providing a united MDC with a notional
majority); Zanu-PF would retain the ministry of defence (thereby avoiding or
postponing the MDC's day of reckoning with the army), but the MDC would fill
the home-affairs ministry (responsible for the police) as well as finance;
and while Mugabe refused to concede the ultimate right to appoint ministers
to the cabinet, Mbeki achieved a compromise whereby a council of ministers
would supervise the cabinet.
Even on paper there were dangerous ambiguities - especially over who would
wield effective power. It was known that key players within the military
hierarchy and Zanu-PF politburo remained opposed to any accommodation with
Tsvangirai, so it was far from certain that they would honour the letter
(let alone the spirit) of any deal. Furthermore, many argued that the MDC's
control of the finance ministry would be useless unless it could also take
control of Zimbabwe's reserve bank, which controls foreign-exchange
allowances and the printing of money. Nonetheless, Tsvangirai - who in any
case leans instinctively towards compromise rather than confrontation -
acceded under Mbeki's lobbying to signing a deal in mid-September which
seemed to bring the MDC to the edge of power. At the same time he signed
before Mugabe's concession of key ministries was confirmed - so the haggling
continued even after Mbeki had returned to Pretoria.
Mbeki's enforced resignation now changed the game-plan. South Africa's
attention was diverted from Harare to Pretoria, the nation absorbed by the
sudden appointment of Kgalema Motlanthe to the presidency. Mugabe's luck was
reinforced when global capitalism went into a tailspin, rendering Zimbabwe
even more of a sideshow. Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma insisted that Mbeki would
continue to serve as a mediator in Zimbabwe to bring the deal to a close,
but his leverage was now undermined.
The hawks in Harare - always concerned that Mugabe might give away too
much - chose to take full advantage. They insisted that the process be
thrown into reverse, and demanded unilateral actions that would negate both
the spirit and the letter of the negotiations. Thus Mugabe announced the
appointment of Zanu-PF stalwartys Joyce Mujiru and Joseph Msika as
vice-presidents, and threatened to renege on promises previously given that
key ministries would be granted to the MDC. Tsvangirai blustered, and
threatened to pull out; the unthroned Mbeki returned to Harare to hold
things together. But he was now, visibly, yesterday's man. Mugabe's
continuing prevarication and Tsvangirai's lack of muscle mean only that
negotiations drag on with no immediate end in sight.
A lesson in power
Zimbabwe is bankrupt: inflation (officially 231,000,000% but estimated by
many economists as over four time this figure) has tipped the economy
towards both pre-monetary bartering and dollarisation; some 3 million of the
most able Zimbabweans have left the country, most to South Africa, to find
work; around 6 million people of those who remain are living in desperate
food insecurity (often on the verge of starvation), and heavily dependent
upon remittances of food and finance from their relatives outside the
It has been said often that the disastrous collapse of Zimbabwe's economy
will translate into the collapse of Robert Mugabe's regime. Such predictions
have until now always been proved wrong. The military men who stand behind
Mugabe remain bitterly resistant to conceding power: worried about being
prosecuted for human-rights offences by a successor government; concerned
about losing the farms they seized from white farmers; and fearful of losing
their access to the foreign currency handed out at favourable rates to
Zanu-PF cronies by the central bank. For the moment they are digging in,
reckoning that Thabo Mbeki is unlikely to have the unambiguous support of an
ANC government now distracted by internal rebellion (as pro-Mbeki rivals
threaten to break away to form a new party) and its own mounting financial
problems. The more political tensions grow within the ANC, the less will the
Motlanthe government want to risk Mbeki staging a belated diplomatic
triumph. Quiet diplomacy is dead.
True, common sense and the work of time would seem to dictate that the
Mugabe regime's days are numbered. History, at some point, will indeed sweep
him and his cronies away. But Mugabe and his generals are still playing for
time, and as long as they can continue to gain access to arms and foreign
currency they are likely to continue to lead all other players in what is to
them a game of cynical political manipulation.
If the dollars threaten to dry up - a prospect brought closer by the relapse
in global-minerals markets) - then in theory the attraction of power-sharing
with the MDC should increase. It is possible, then, that the coming weeks
might see the installation of Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister as formal
head of an MDC-led coalition government. That in turn might open the door to
financial stabilisation, aid and relief - although even that is now brought
into question by global financial turbulence and donors' tightening budgets.
Even if events take this new twist, however, there can be no change in
Zimbabwe's regime until the state's military backing is vanquished. This is
the nettle that South African mediation has continuously failed to grasp.
The lesson of the power-sharing agreement that failed is that only a
As the economy collapses and mass starvation looms, Robert Mugabe still
refuses to yield power.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008; Page A16
WHEN ZIMBABWEAN strongman Robert Mugabe signed a deal to share power with
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai last month, we were skeptical that it
would end the country's crisis. At best, we hoped, it would stop Mr.
Mugabe's murderous campaign against opposition activists and permit
international relief agencies to deliver food to the starving.
As it turns out, even those modest gains have not been realized. Violent
attacks on the opposition continue, and aid groups have been hamstrung by
the freezing of their bank accounts. Desperate Zimbabweans, including a
growing number of children, continue to pour out of the country as refugees.
Inside, the economy has utterly collapsed: Inflation was calculated at 231
million percent early this month and was headed toward the billions. The
United Nations is guessing that 5 million of Zimbabwe's remaining 9 million
residents will soon need food handouts to avoid mass starvation.
Still, the 84-year-old Mr. Mugabe refuses to yield even the share of power
he promised to give up -- and African leaders continue to tolerate and
enable him. Though he promised to give up half the ministries to the
opposition in a new government, Mr. Mugabe unilaterally named his own slate
to all of the most important cabinet positions, including the ministries of
defense and home affairs, which govern the army and police. He has left only
the finance ministry for Mr. Tsvangirai -- and that's because he expects the
opposition to persuade Western governments to resume aid to the country and
thus prevent the collapse of his regime. Mr. Tsvangirai has reduced his
demands to one: that the opposition control home affairs and the police,
which might allow it to curtail political violence. Mr. Mugabe refused,
causing the breakdown of the latest mediation effort by former South African
president Thabo Mbeki.
Mr. Mbeki is part of the problem; he has been sympathetic all along to Mr.
Mugabe's attempt to remain in power despite his defeat in an election in
March. The 14-member Southern African Development Community, which appointed
Mr. Mbeki, is now trying to mediate through a six-country committee. But it
would be unwise for Mr. Tsvangirai, who refused to attend the first day of
the talks, to compromise further -- or for aid donors to fund a facade. It's
not likely that Mr. Mugabe's regime can survive much longer in a country
that has ceased to function. Unless he is willing to peacefully cede power,
neither African leaders nor Western donors should take further action to
prop him up.
My work mate came back from the bank today and informed us that the minimum
bank balance is going up to $10 million as from 1 November – up from $5,000
currently. I suppose we should be grateful – at least this time they’re giving
us advanced notice. Meanwhile, we just got an email from a subscriber: So many things are not right and it takes a brave person to say it. The
kombis are ripping off the poor people as they raise prices uncontrollably each
time they feel like. Here in Kadoma a journey of less than 8 kilometres cost
$15,000 just imagine and nowhere to report to. What world are we living in and
where is this going to take us. The politrixians continue to block any progress, and you begin to wonder what
the point of all of it is anyway. As another subscriber wrote: Does it matter who gets the ministry of Home Affairs? Years ago, the then
minister, Moven Mahachi, told me the police commissioner was not reporting to
him as he should. He knew he was not getting the truth, but couldn’t find out
what the hidden truth was. If this is how they treat their own, can anyone else
expect them to cooperate? The Frustrated Citizens of Zimbabwe wrote to us recently – begging the
question, what citizen isn’t frustrated these days: I would like to put on record that I, along with probably the vast majority
of Zimbabweans, am disgusted with the utter lack of advancement regarding the
settlement of the political situation in this Country. The last month or two has seen the total collapse of virtually every scrap of
the last remnants of civilisation that was gasping for survival in Zimbabwe
while the negotiators carry on ad infinitum as if nothing is amiss!!! Surely the population of this Country demonstrated loudly and clearly that
they do dot wish to be dominated any longer by the corrupt and evil ZANU PF.
Just what right have they to “demand” certain Ministries? None whatsoever as far
as we are all concerned!! The economy has finally been TOTALLY destroyed. We consider that it is now
completely beyond any form of resusitation. It is DEAD. Why cant you politians
accept that and simply bury it? Why on earth Mugabe wants to hang on to it is
beyond imagination. He and his cronies do not remotely have the capacity to
revive any sort of economy whatsoever. For goodness sake just tell him that;
although we must agree that his mentality is beyond reasoning!! Further, no form of law and order has existed in Zimbabwe for many years now
and will never return as long as ZANU PF have any sort of control over it. Even
the most simple of simpletons can see that; except the most simplest of the lot;
ZANU PF. We are getting sick and tired of the situation. Everything has fallen to
pieces. The Cities are a disgrace, cholera and worse simply waiting in the
sidelines to break out causing a catastrophic situation. We cant even get our
own money out of the banks any more, and when we finally manage to scrape a
little cash up, there is no food to buy anyway. I think that the biggest
achievement ever made by ZANU PF was the total destruction of the food chain,
from the farms to the industrialists to the shops!! The time is more than ripe
for MASSIVE public demonstrations!!
My work mate came back from the bank today and informed us that the minimum bank balance is going up to $10 million as from 1 November – up from $5,000 currently. I suppose we should be grateful – at least this time they’re giving us advanced notice.
Meanwhile, we just got an email from a subscriber:
So many things are not right and it takes a brave person to say it. The kombis are ripping off the poor people as they raise prices uncontrollably each time they feel like. Here in Kadoma a journey of less than 8 kilometres cost $15,000 just imagine and nowhere to report to. What world are we living in and where is this going to take us.
The politrixians continue to block any progress, and you begin to wonder what the point of all of it is anyway.
As another subscriber wrote:
Does it matter who gets the ministry of Home Affairs? Years ago, the then minister, Moven Mahachi, told me the police commissioner was not reporting to him as he should. He knew he was not getting the truth, but couldn’t find out what the hidden truth was. If this is how they treat their own, can anyone else expect them to cooperate?
The Frustrated Citizens of Zimbabwe wrote to us recently – begging the question, what citizen isn’t frustrated these days:
I would like to put on record that I, along with probably the vast majority of Zimbabweans, am disgusted with the utter lack of advancement regarding the settlement of the political situation in this Country.
The last month or two has seen the total collapse of virtually every scrap of the last remnants of civilisation that was gasping for survival in Zimbabwe while the negotiators carry on ad infinitum as if nothing is amiss!!!
Surely the population of this Country demonstrated loudly and clearly that they do dot wish to be dominated any longer by the corrupt and evil ZANU PF. Just what right have they to “demand” certain Ministries? None whatsoever as far as we are all concerned!!
The economy has finally been TOTALLY destroyed. We consider that it is now completely beyond any form of resusitation. It is DEAD. Why cant you politians accept that and simply bury it? Why on earth Mugabe wants to hang on to it is beyond imagination. He and his cronies do not remotely have the capacity to revive any sort of economy whatsoever. For goodness sake just tell him that; although we must agree that his mentality is beyond reasoning!!
Further, no form of law and order has existed in Zimbabwe for many years now and will never return as long as ZANU PF have any sort of control over it. Even the most simple of simpletons can see that; except the most simplest of the lot; ZANU PF.
We are getting sick and tired of the situation. Everything has fallen to pieces. The Cities are a disgrace, cholera and worse simply waiting in the sidelines to break out causing a catastrophic situation. We cant even get our own money out of the banks any more, and when we finally manage to scrape a little cash up, there is no food to buy anyway. I think that the biggest achievement ever made by ZANU PF was the total destruction of the food chain, from the farms to the industrialists to the shops!! The time is more than ripe for MASSIVE public demonstrations!!
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2008
By: Guest blogger
Guest blogger Helen describes the despair as another building society
struggles and the prime minister can't leave the country.
"Don't go anywhere near CABS," was the message that flicked round the town
soon after 8am on Monday morning.
CABS is one of the main building societies in the country and for the last
month there has been an incessant queue of hundreds trying to withdraw the
daily cash limit of their own money from savings accounts in branches
A fortnight ago CABS' plate glass window fronting the pavement collapsed
into a million pieces, unable to withstand the pressure of hundreds of
desperate, angry customers.
You can't see into the banking hall anymore, the shattered glass shop-front
has been replaced by sheets of plywood and wrought iron bars.
Two security guards are totally overwhelmed when it comes to controlling the
crowds and almost every day the scenes are of riot police with helmets,
baton sticks and dogs.
The latest unrest at CABS was audible rather than visible. News got out that
bank notes hadn't arrived from the central bank in Harare and customers were
being told to go away and come back after lunch.
This has become an almost daily message and people have just about reached
breaking point. An angry buzz that sounded like a swarm of bees at first,
rapidly grew into shouts, chants and fist waving: "We want our money!"
people shouted. "Give us our money!" they demanded.
As the noise level rose, more and more people swarmed forward. All semblance
of a queue collapsed as people ran from all directions bringing traffic to a
Two people running from the other side of the road slipped and fell in the
purple Jacaranda flowers that are lying in thick carpets on pavements,
overflowing dustbins and roadsides everywhere.
It was coincidental that this was happening on the same day that Morgan
Tsvangirai should have been travelling to Swaziland for a SADC meeting but
already the rumours were circulating: our Prime Minister designate couldn't
travel because he still hadn't been issued with a new passport.
Most people have run out of hope of anything positive coming out of the five
week old power sharing agreement between the MDC and Zanu PF.
It's become clear for all to see that Zanu PF aren't prepared to share
anything and while they argue about cabinet posts everything has come to an
almost complete standstill and daily life is now all but unbearable.
In the town's three main supermarkets, all of which have dozens of branches
across the country, there is barely anything left on the shelves.
Since the Reserve Bank Governor allowed some shops to trade in US dollars,
those not on the list, or unable to raise the government trading fee, have
From these three main local supermarkets that can't raise the fee to trade
in US dollars the only goods for sale were cabbages, onions, light bulbs,
tea leaves, condoms and over-ripe vegetables.
One shop had a few packets of meat lying at the bottom of a freezer but it's
a risky business buying meat from supermarkets when power cuts last 10 to 15
hours at a time and occur at least three times a week.
In the searing heat of an October day as the chances of a riot at CABS over
bank notes collapsed, the rumours became fact.
Morgan Tsvangirai hadn't gone to Swaziland, Arthur Mutambara had said that
he wouldn't attend the SADC summit unless Tsvangirai was present and Mr
Mugabe carried on as if nothing had happened - just as he has for the last
seven months since the MDC won the people's vote to govern Zimbabwe.
October 22, 2008
JOEL comes every second Monday. He does a great job of keeping our small
Johannesburg garden in shape. Joel is one of hundreds of thousands of
Zimbabweans who pull out weeds, rake lawns, mop floors and serve customers
in South Africa's cities and towns.
I don't know if Joel is here legally. I have never asked, but I can guess.
If he wasn't, I don't expect he'd tell me the truth. It wouldn't, in any
event, lessen his need for the 70 rand (just over $A10) that I pay him for a
couple of hours' work. With his own country collapsing, gardening is one way
Joel can feed his family - two daughters, one 13 and one barely 18 months,
who live on the outskirts of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city.
In many ways Joel symbolises the fate of his wretched country that lies on
the other side of the Limpopo River from South Africa. He carries great
weight on his thin shoulders, but in a typically stoic Zimbabwean way he
bears it - and grins. Joel doesn't speak good English, but he has a great
grin. When his second daughter was born his grin beamed joyously. What was
the little girl's name?, we asked. In a country whose speaker of parliament
goes by the common name of Lovemore, Joel's baby fitted right in.
Marvellous, he grinned. His daughter was named Marvellous.
Every second Monday, my wife would ask how Marvellous was doing. Joel would
grin and repeat what he knew. It wasn't first-hand knowledge. He didn't see
her regularly. He didn't even see her last Christmas. He couldn't save
enough for the trip and send money and food for the family at the same time.
Basics are hard enough to come by in Zimbabwe. Specialties like baby formula
don't exist. To buy a large tin of formula cost about 300 rand and he would
spend half as much again to get someone to deliver it.
It has been a very difficult 12 months. Joel's wife died last year. He said
it was sudden, but nothing more. One of Marvellous' grandmothers took over
looking after her. Earlier this year Joel himself became sick. He contracted
TB, ended up in hospital and couldn't work for two months. TB is common in
southern Africa, especially among people with HIV. I don't know if Joel is
HIV-positive. I've never asked, but I can guess. If he was, he'd be unlikely
to tell me the truth. He'd be afraid I would sack him.
A colleague of mine did sack him, in fact. Annoyed that he wasn't able to
come and do her garden each week, she sent an SMS telling him not to come
back. He gave me the key to her house and asked me to return it to her.
(Lest you leap to any hasty conclusions about white South Africans, this
colleague is a Brit who has settled here.)
But Joel bounced back. He takes his prescribed medicine, which South
Africa's public health system gives him free each month, and he is keeping
the disease at bay.
Two weeks ago, Joel said he was planning to go back home for Christmas. He
advised us that, with the signs of a peace deal finally being worked out, he
might stay there. We would need to find a new gardener.
Last week, however, a proposed peace deal between Robert Mugabe and Morgan
Tsvangirai deadlocked. And last week Joel got terrible news. An SMS from his
family asked him to call. When he did, he heard Marvellous had died.
Joel normally comes on a Monday, but he came on Saturday. We and some of his
other clients gave him money to get home. My wife took his hand and said how
sorry she was. On our garage step, Joel burst into tears. He buried his head
in his arms and cried. It was just as eloquent as that grin, but far, far
When he stopped crying, I asked him where his daughter was. In a reminder of
the surreal tragedy he was returning to, he said he would need $Z16 million
to pay for the body and take it home for burial at his home about 20
kilometres outside of Bulawayo.
This week, Zanu-PF and MDC leaders were due to travel to Swaziland to try
and sort out the deadlock under regional mediation. It didn't start as
planned, as Tsvangirai was denied a passport to go.
Joel, however, travelled back to Zimbabwe to collect from the mortuary the
body of a daughter he hadn't seen for a year. As he left Johannesburg, he
didn't even know how she died.
When Zimbabwe's political crisis is finally solved, no one will be fingered
for the mess. Not Mugabe, whose co-operation is vital; not Thabo Mbeki,
whose so-called quiet diplomacy allowed Mugabe to continue as he has for so
long and who remains a mediator. Nor will Britain, whose inconsistencies
over funding for land redistribution allowed feelings of resentment that
Mugabe successfully milked.
The victims, by contrast, are clear. But how many are there? If I asked
Joel, I don't think he could tell me. But I can guess. There are a lot.
Michael Bleby is an Australian journalist working in Johannesburg for
Business Day, South Africa's main business daily.
Tuesday, 21 October 2008 16:54
It takes more than a month for a letter to make its way from Bulawayo to
Harare, a distance of 400 km
Service delivery by government owned parastatals is pathetic owing to the
decline of the country's economy that has seen skilled and unskilled labour
move in search of greener pastures elsewhere. One adversely affected
parastatal is the mail delivery company Zimbabwe Post (Zim Post).
Service delivery has drastically gone down owing to the mass exodus of
employees and lack of fuel. I was sent a registered article by an uncle of
mine in Bulawayo 4 weeks ago and this morning I had the laborious and time
consuming task of trying to trace it.
After being sent back and forth between my local post office and Harare's
main central sorting office I managed to narrow down the search and learnt
that the article is supposed to be at the local post office but they are not
able to give it to me since its in one of the stock piled bags that have not
been opened and the letters distributed due to Zim Post being short staffed.
I came across numerous dissatisfied customers that had the similar
complaints and in Zimbabwe a queue provides the perfect opportunity to
discuss current affairs and have an understanding of the feelings and
thoughts of regular people on current political affairs.
The point of discussion was the current deadlock over the allocation of
ministerial posts and a certain gentleman was of the opinion that it's a sad
and pathetic situation to have the Prime Minister designate be denied a
passport and given an emergency travelling document instead considering how
important the ongoing consultations are to the suffering masses. He believed
that the delaying tactics Mugabe was employing are meant to buy time while a
sinister plot by the untrustworthy Zanu PF is being planned.
Similar sentiments were echoed by a uniformed soldier from Zimbabwe's
National Army who I was a bit uneasy to discuss politics with at first owing
to the perceived loyalty of members from the army to Mugabe.
I felt comfortable after he expressed his unhappiness on the issue and his
concern on the current shortage of maize meal. His household ran out of the
essential commodity recently and the prospect of returning home without
maize meal was troubling him. He said that he had found somebody who was
willing to sell him 20 kilograms of maize for 300 rands, an amount he found
to be exhorbitant and difficult for him to procure owing to his rather low
The ZNA man was however of the opinion that Tsvangirai and Mugabe have an
understanding of each other and are somehow playing politics with the
people's lives and eat and dine together, while their supporters butcher
Generally the people I talked to seemed to have consensus outrage regarding
to Tsvangirai's denial of a passport as it delayed the formation of an
inclusive government to address their day to day problems thereby prolonging
The situation has reached breaking point and a speedy solution to the
problems is urgently required.
Time to demonstrate SADC
It’s time that the people of Zimbabwe showed that they have had enough of
Mugabe and his Zanu PF regime. The SADC meeting that was scheduled to take
place in Swaziland has been postponed to Monday the 27th (next Monday) and
will be held here in Zimbabwe.
Surly this is an ideal time for Zimbabweans to demonstrate to the SADAC
heads of state that enough is enough. Now is the time for WOZA, ZCTU and
other labour organisations to co-ordinate a massive demonstration on this