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Mbeki wades into MDC fray

Zim Online

Sat 22 October 2005

      JOHANNESBURG - South African President Thabo Mbeki has told leaders of
Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party their
bickering will scuttle his efforts to broker talks between the party and
President Robert Mugabe's government, authoritative sources told ZimOnline
on Friday.

      Mbeki on Thursday summoned to his Tshwane offices MDC secretary
general Welshman Ncube and four other top leaders of the party sharply
divided with party leader Morgan Tsvangirai over whether the party should
contest a senate election on November 26.

      Tsvangirai, who was not part of the group that met Mbeki, insists the
MDC should boycott the poll but the party's national council, many of whose
members hope to win seats in the new Senate, narrowly voted to participate,
a decision Ncube and his group insists must be upheld.

      "Mbeki has waded into the fray," said a source privy to the
discussions between the South African leader and the MDC officials.

      The source, who requested anonymity, added: "The President (Mbeki)
told the MDC leaders that their bickering will give Mugabe an excuse to
refuse to meet the opposition in talks to find a sustainable and democratic
solution to Zimbabwe's problems."

      Mbeki's spokesman Murphy Morobe would not comment on the matter saying
he was not even aware whether his boss had met the Zimbabwean opposition
leaders to encourage them to resolve their differences.

      "I do not know about that meeting sir. I haven't been briefed or
advised," he said.

      Ncube could not be reached for comment on the matter while Tsvangirai
said he had not been briefed about an MDC delegation visiting Mbeki and that
he was not aware of what they may have discussed.

      The MDC leader said the only meeting he was aware of was one of the
party's national executive that is scheduled for today in Harare that
analysts have said is a last saloon chance for the opposition party to
resolve widening differences or break up. Mbeki, criticised for refusing to
publicly censure human rights abuses by Mugabe, has been working to bring
the Zimbabwean leader and the opposition on the table to cobble up a
settlement to end the country's political and economic crisis.

      Mugabe, who says Zimbabwe's crisis was engineered by Britain out to
fix his government for seizing land from white farmers, has publicly
indicated he does not wish to meet the MDC insisting he would rather talk to
Tony Blair who he says is the principal behind the opposition party.

      According to the sources, Mbeki now fears his project to broker a
negotiated solution that could bring Zimbabwe out of isolation could be
derailed if the MDC continues bickering or even splits.

      "His fear is that if it was already difficult to bring Mugabe to talk
to a strong and united MDC, it would just be impossible to make him come to
the table if the opposition party is splintered or is still together but
weakened by factionalism," our source said.

      Forged out of the labour movement together with various civic society
groups in 1999, the MDC rapidly grew to become the biggest threat yet to
Mugabe and his ZANU PF's hold on power.

      But the party faces a damaging split over the senate vote which
Tsvangirai has vehemently opposed saying it will be rigged by ZANU PF and
that in any event the proposed senate is of no value in a country that
should be better spending scarce resources buying food for a quarter of its
12 million people facing starvation after poor harvests.

      Tsvangirai is backed in his position by the party's key youth and
women's wings. But several other top leaders of the MDC say the party should
not surrender political space to Mugabe and ZANU PF by boycotting the senate

      Apart from Ncube, other senior leaders pushing for the MDC to run in
the November poll are vice-president Gibson Sibanda, deputy secretary
general Gift Chimanikire, chairman Isaac Matongo and treasurer Fletcher

      Meanwhile, cracks in the MDC appeared to widen further on the ground
with the provinces of Matabeleland North, and South selecting candidates to
be nominated for the election on Monday when the nomination court sits.
Selection of candidates were said to be taking place in Bulawayo and parts
of Midlands provinces.

      Elections co-ordinator for Matabeleland South province, Petros Mokoena
said the party there had chosen Albert Mkandla to represent Insiza
constituency while Riduas Tlou and Luthe Tapela would stand for Gwanda
Central and Bulilimamangwe constituencies respectively. Mokoena said
elections in the Beitbridge and Matopo constituencies would be held today.

      Vice-chairman of the opposition party in Matabeleland North province,
Abednico Bhebhe, said the party had finished choosing candidates but said
these would be made known on Monday.

      "As far as we are concerned, come Monday we will be submitting our
candidates to the nomination court," Bhebhe said. "We simply cannot allow
anyone to do as they please. We should learn to respect party positions if
the MDC is to stay," he added, taking a swipe at Tsvangirai for refusing to
accept the party national council vote that came out 33:31 in favour of

      But other provinces north of the country such as Harare, Manicaland
and Mashonaland West and Central were adamant that they will not be
contesting the poll as the differences appear to be taking a regional and
ethnic line.

      Northern Zimbabwe is inhabited mostly by the majority Shona tribe to
which Tsvangirai belongs. The southern provinces are populated by largely
Ndebele speakers the same group to which Ncube belongs. - ZimOnline

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Interbank market fails to kick off

Zim Online

Sat 22 October 2005

      HARARE - Foreign currency trading failed to start on the newly
re-introduced interbank market yesterday after differences between the
central bank and local banks on what rate to use prompting fears that the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe wanted to interfere and influence the exchange
rate, dealers said.

      RBZ governor Gideon Gono on Thursday relaxed foreign exchange controls
by re-introducing the interbank market for foreign currency in a bid to
improve official foreign currency inflows and end a thriving black market.

      But by the end of business yesterday no trade had been conducted
despite two marathon meetings between bank treasurers and the central bank.

      Exporters are now entitled to sell 70 percent of their proceeds onto
the interbank market while the remainder would be sold at the central bank
auctions whose rate would be determined by the RBZ.

      "There were two meetings held between treasury officials and the
Reserve Bank but there was no agreement on what rate to start with," a forex
dealer with a Harare commercial bank said. "We could not agree on a rate and
effectively we failed to trade, we are now looking at Monday."

      Analysts welcomed the re-introduction of the interbank market, the
first time since it was scrapped in 1999 but say it is unlikely to end
critical foreign currency shortages or snuff-out a thriving black market.

      Foreign currency shortages highlight Zimbabwe's worst economic crisis
since independence in 1980, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), once
a key lender to Harare, says the country's economy is now the worst
performing in the world.

      "Despite the meetings, it is still not clear whether the rate will be
importer or exporter-determined or whether it's the banks who will actually
set the rate," another dealer with a commercial bank in the capital told

      "You can look it from any way you like, whether there is an element of
interference from the central bank or whether these are just minor problems
which we will overcome by next week."

      Foreign exchange shortages have fuelled a thriving black market where
the local currency is trading at three times the official rate. The Zimbabwe
dollar was trading at $26 004 to one greenback at the RBZ-run hard cash
auctions on Thursday compared to around $90 000 to one American unit on the
black market.

      Gono has however predicted that the auction rate would converge with
the market determined interbank rate by December 2006.

      The RBZ managed auctions have failed to stymie demand for foreign
currency, which has put pressure on the exchange rate but analysts say the
interbank, if left to market forces will help narrow the gap between the
official exchange rate and black market rates.

      The analysts said with an expected depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar
on the interbank market, inflation would jump in the short term before
stabilising next year but exporters are seen further benefiting from a
weaker currency. - ZimOnline

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FEATURE: Nothing to celebrate for Zimbabwe's teachers

Zim Online

Sat 22 October 2005

      HARARE - At the crack of dawn, Tendai Mukaro, a 43-year old school
teacher in the sprawling poor suburb of Zengeza, lamely crawls out of bed to
begin preparations for the day.

      Shuffling his feet on the way to the bathroom, as if dreading the day
ahead, Mukaro suddenly stops to release a long, painful cough.

      His battered body, which has endured years of hard work and exposure
to chalkdust, is aching with pain. But he has no option but to soldier on
like "a man".

      Soon, in these small hours of the day, Mukaro is on his way to work
some 12km away. Like the majority of workers in crisis-sapped Zimbabwe, he
can no longer afford bus fare to go to work.

      Ironically on this day, Friday 7 October 2005, teachers in Zimbabwe
like their counterparts around the world, were "celebrating" World Teachers'
Day, a day to recognise their immense sacrifices and dedication to duty.

      But sacrifices, Mukaro says, have brought little to Zimbabwe's more
than 100 000 teachers who according to him, "have nothing to show for the
dedication and loyalty to duty except their poverty and misery."

      To illustrate his point, Mukaro explains that he - a senior
mathematics teacher at a Harare government-run high school - nets a monthly
salary of Z$3 million.

      Out of that sum, $1 million must go to pay the landlord. His wife and
five children must make do for the month with the remaining $2 million,
which is far short of the $9 million that the state-funded Consumer Council
of Zimbabwe says an average family of six requires for basic survival per

      "We are only surviving by the grace of the Lord," says Mukaro, a
distinctive ring of both pain and anger unmistakable in his voiced.

      Indeed it appears nothing else but divine will could be the
explanation why Mukaro and his fellow teachers continue to defy Zimbabwe's
worst ever economic crisis that has spawned shortages of food, fuel,
electricity and every other basic commodity while inflation has surged
beyond 350 percent.

      The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party and
Western governments blame President Robert Mugabe for mismanaging the
economy which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from
Britain 25 years ago.

      Mugabe denies the charge blaming Western governments opposed to his
seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks five
years ago of sabotaging Zimbabwe's economy in a bid to incite an uprising
against his government.

      But for Zimbabwe's teachers, there may have been nothing to celebrate
on World Teachers' Day but certainly there was everything to fear after the
government issued a strong memorandum to all teachers on the day threatening
to fire any who dared embark on an industrial action to press for more pay
and better working conditions.

      Education permanent secretary Stephen Mahere said the government would
not hesitate to replace striking teachers with soldiers and retired
educationists to run schools.

      "We were shocked that instead of the government looking to address our
plight, it is actually looking at emergency measures to fire us," another
Harare teacher, Samuel Nzombe, told ZimOnline on the sidelines of the World
Teachers' Day celebrations.

      The disgruntled school teacher said he could not even afford to send
his children to boarding schools which offer better standards and facilities
but levy higher fees.

      Yet another school teacher, who chose to remain anonymous, for fear of
victimisation said the teaching profession expected a better understanding
of their plight from President Robert Mugabe and Education Minister Aeneas
Chigwedere who are both former teachers.

      Instead, teachers say the two have consistently refused to give a
sympathetic ear to their plight.

      Mugabe's government five years ago unleashed a reign of terror on
school teachers in rural areas whom he accused of campaigning for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

      Former university student leader and secretary general of the militant
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), Raymond Majongwe criticised
the government for failing to recognise the efforts of teachers.

      "While doctors and nurses have left the country for greener pastures,
most teachers have decided to stick it out but all they get are threats from
this government. How can a teacher work for a salary which is enough to buy
only a 100 loaves of bread?" said Majongwe.

      A standard loaf of bread sells for Z$28 000.

      At least four million Zimbabweans are said to be living outside the
country after they fled the political and economic crisis facing the

      "Ill-treating the teacher, as this government is doing, is sabotaging
the educational sector which the same government says it has improved over
the years. The teachers' poor working conditions have a negative effect on
themselves, their families, the schools, the pupils they teach, the nation
as well as the country's economy," said Majongwe.

      Fidelis Mhashu, an MDC parliamentarian and chairman of the
parliamentary portfolio committee on education, said their pleas for a
better deal for teachers over the last five years had fallen on deaf ears.

      He said: "It's frustrating to be always talking about the same issues.
What has now happened is that some teachers are shortchanging their pupils
by breaking from school early to run home for private lessons with pupils
who can afford it. This is bad for the country's education."

      With an increasingly arrogant government, Mukaro, like so many other
teachers still in the "trenches" in Zimbabwe, sees no quick respite for his
woes. - ZimOnline

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AIDS Epidemic Hits Zimbabwean Education

Institute for War and Peace Reporting

One-third of Zimbabwe's teachers are infected with HIV, but there is little
medical help available for them.

By Tino Zhakata in Harare (Africa Reports No 45, 21-Oct-05)

Looking dehydrated and dejected, Tarisai Marikopo mumbles to herself as she
struggles to pick her way out of Mukwati Building, a complex that houses
Zimbabwean government departments in central Harare.

Her umpteenth visit to the Public Service Commission at Mukwati to have her
pension processed has failed yet again, eight months since she had to quit
her teaching job on health grounds.

At 34, Marikopo, whose emaciated frame and pitted skin tell of her long
illness, fears she will eventually have to surrender in the battle with HIV,
as her hope of getting money to buy essential anti-retroviral drugs - which
delay the onset of AIDS, but do not cure the killer disease - fades with
each passing month.

"With each visit to the pensions office, I'm losing hope of surviving,"
Marikpo told IWPR as she adjusted the wig she now wears to disguise her hair
loss. "I'd hoped to get my money which I badly need to buy myself drugs
every month."

Marikopo said she been trying to soldier on with teaching English and
history classes at Mutoko High School, 150 kilometres northeast of the
capital Harare, but had to stop when a serious bout of malaria degenerated
into an unidentified illness. After missing about six months' work because
of ill health, she was advised to quit and take time out to recover.

In a rasping voice interrupted by sporadic coughing, Marikopo explained, "At
first, doctors thought I had problems with chalk dust as I suffered chronic
coughs as well as serious chest pains. But when I started losing weight and
sweating a lot I decided to have an HIV test."

Trying to force a grin, she went on, "I didn't want to believe it and even
wanted to kill myself when I tested positive."

Marikopo's husband had married a "new wife" in the United Kingdom, where he
fled in 2000 after quitting his job as a manager at a fast-foods outlet in

He still sends money to Marikopo, but she is left to take care alone of
their two children, Tanatswa and Tonderai, 13 and eight years old, who stay
with her in the tiny home she shares with her aged parents in Chitungwiza, a
dormitory town southwest of Harare.

"It's been hell trying to fend for the children alone, especially now that I'm
not well. For the past eight months I have not had my pension since I quit
teaching," she said.

Marikopo is one of hundreds of teachers who have been forced out of work in
Zimbabwe by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

According to a new survey by the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe,
PTUZ, nearly 600 teachers are known to have died of AIDS-related illnesses
in 2004, while 362 teachers have died in the first six months of this year.

"Many more are infected [with HIV] and are suffering in silence," said the
report. "The majority of schools in Zimbabwe have lost at least one teacher
to the disease and at least two or three teachers [per school] are on
AIDS-related sick leave."

The government estimates that some 27,000 of the country's 80,000 teachers
are HIV-positive.

PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe told IWPR, "A lot of teachers are
dying of [AIDS]. It's just a big scandal that no one seems to care about.
The [government-run] National AIDS Council has released funds for HIV/AIDS
antiretroviral drugs for the army, the police and the prison services, but
there are no specific funds or programmes for teachers."

Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world. Nearly
three million people in a population of 11.5 million are HIV-positive, with
more than 4000 people dying each week from AIDS-related infections. Human
rights organisations estimate that some 1.5 million Zimbabwean children have
lost one or both parents to the pandemic.

The World Health Organisation says about 300, 000 of those infected by the
virus urgently need anti-retroviral drugs, but fewer than 20,000 are
receiving the treatment.

"To date, there is not a single teacher who has received anti-retroviral
drugs from the programmes the government claims to have embarked on,"
alleged Majongwe. "As teachers, we are enlightened about the disease, but it's
sad we have nothing to do about it at the moment."

The PTUZ report said, "The increasing levels of poverty among teachers have
contributed to the high level of attrition [from AIDS]. It is unfortunate
that whilst teachers are the engine room for social behavioural change, the
National AIDS Council and the Ministry of Education continue to sideline us
in the battle against HIV/AIDS."

Marikopo tried to seek help from a clinical research programme run at
Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare which offers free anti-retroviral drugs, but
she was told the programme could not accept any more people. Parirenyatwa
and one state hospital in Bulawayo, the country's second city, are the only
centres offering free anti-AIDS treatment. Teachers working in rural areas
have no access to treatment.

Antiretroviral drugs are available for sale in selected Zimbabwean
pharmacies, but the country's spiralling inflation has put the price of
medication beyond the reach of most people with HIV. For example, a monthly
course of Stalanev - a combination of three essential drugs - which in June
this year cost 400,000 Zimbabwean dollars, now costs 1.5 million, nearly the
entire monthly salary of a junior teacher.

Marikopo said, "I had been hoping to get a lump sum from my 13 years of
service, but the usual bureaucracy in government departments is letting me
down. We can't expect anything from the Public Service Commission. The
problem is nobody there seems to know what they are supposed to be doing.
There's so much confusion there and it takes ages to have the simplest thing
done. There are a lot of retired teachers who have died without getting
their pensions."

Even if Marikopo had remained at work, the 4.4 million Zimbabwean dollars
that senior teachers like her take home each month is not enough to make
ends meet, for one person let alone a family. Junior teachers are far worse
off with take-home pay of about two million dollars. The Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe estimates that a family of six needs at least 9.6 million dollars
each month for a basket of basic food and household goods.

Western countries and donor organisations are reluctant to help Zimbabwe
fight the AIDS epidemic, as they are doing elsewhere in Africa, because of
President Robert Mugabe's poor human rights record and autocratic
tendencies, the lack of transparency in accounting for AIDS fund donations,
and the politicisation of distribution of essential food and medicines.

The average amount of international funding each year in southern Africa is
74 US dollars per person infected with HIV, according to the United Nations
Children's Fund. But in Zimbabwe that figure is just four dollars a head.
Critics say the Zimbabwean government has not been doing enough to make sure
anti-retroviral drugs reach the infected, and that distribution is skewed by
political preferences.

"Teachers are going into prostitution because they can't sustain
 themselves," said an angry Majongwe. Noting that President Mugabe was
himself once a schoolteacher, Majongwe said, "As a product of this
profession, [he] must go back to basics and improve conditions of the
profession that made him what he is today."

Tino Zhakata is the pseudonym used by an IWPR contributor in Zimbabwe.

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Zimbabwe: Harsh Realities of Daily Life

Institute for War and Peace Reporting

As the economy continues to crumble, the poor have become poorer, with very
few able to afford a decent meal a day.

By Dzikamai Chiyausiku in Harare (Africa Reports No 45, 21-Oct-05)

Thomas Zhuwao is one of the many people whose lives have been shattered by
Mugabe's policies. In an interview with this reporter, he explained how he
survives under the gruelling conditions that Zimbabweans have become
accustomed to in the past five years, each of which has seen an absolute
decline in the country's gross domestic product.

IWPR: How old are you and where do you live?

Zhuwao: I'm 57 years old and I live in Epworth (A squatter camp about 50
kilometres southeast of Harare). I am married with three children.

IWPR: Your house in Epworth, was it demolished under the government's
Operation Murambatsvina [Operation Drive Out the Rubbish], which was
launched last June?

Zhuwao: Yes, I had three rooms but the police condemned it saying it was an
illegal structure, so they razed it with a bulldozer. They left one room for
me where I now stay with my family. I took out the roofing sheets for the
destroyed rooms and piled them in the yard but they were stolen the same

IWPR: Is there running water and a toilet at your house?

Zhuwao: There is no water. I used to have a well but it has dried up. I get
water from neighbours. I have a pit latrine. I wanted to connect potable
water but I can't afford to do so anymore. I don't think I will ever again
afford to do that.

IWPR: And your children, do they go to school?

Zhuwao: My first-born son is 24 years old. He stays with me because he can't
get a job. [Zimbabwe's unemployment rate is about 80 per cent]. The second
one is a girl and she is 16. She dropped out of school because I could not
afford to keep her there. The youngest is 12. I'm not sure whether she will
finish school because as it stands we are struggling with school fees.

IWPR: When did you come to Harare?

Zhuwao: I came from Mozambique in 1965 and started working as a gardener in
Marlborough [a Harare upmarket suburb] until 1973. I later went to work in
Borrowdale [another upmarket suburb], again as a gardener until I retired in

IWPR: Did you get a pension?

Zhuwao: No I got nothing.

IWPR: So how do you survive now without a pension?

Zhuwao: I work at night as a guard and then during day I sell cigarettes and
sweets in town.

IWPR: But vending is illegal. Do the police arrest you?

Zhuwao: Yes, we are arrested every day. Sometimes, we bribe the police to
release us before we reach the charge office. Sometimes, they take
everything you have and then let you go. The cheeky ones would give you a
few slaps before they take your things. But most of the time we just bribe
them and they leave us alone.

IWPR: How much do you pay them?

Zhuwao: The last time they caught me I paid 60,000 Zimbabwe dollars (enough
to buy two loaves of bread). Sometimes they demand more, but we stand our
ground because we know they are also desperate for whatever bribe they can
lay their hands on.

IWPR: How many meals does your family eat each day?

Zhuwao: It depends if I have money, but on a good day they have two meals,
although we can't afford bread. Instead of having breakfast in the morning,
we save money for lunch and sometimes for supper.

IWPR: You have lived under Ian Smith's colonial government and then after
Independence you have lived under President Robert Mugabe. Which era would
you say was better in terms of quality of life?

Zhuwao: Well, under Smith there was racism and segregation. But to be honest
I think the quality of life was better. As a gardener I used to eat bread
every day. But under Mugabe things are really bad. I can't afford to buy
bread. This shirt I have was a uniform at my last work place where I was a
tea boy. Since then, six years ago, I have not bought a shirt. Under Smith
prices did not change drastically as they do now. If I had 50 pence I knew
that would buy the same thing I used to buy last week. Now I am not sure
whether 50,000 Zimbabwe dollars in my pocket today will buy the same things

IWPR: Which one would you say was the hardest year in your life?

Zhuwao: 2005. This is the worst year in my entire life. Things are going up
in price every week and my house was destroyed.

IWPR: Where do you think you will be three years from now?

Zhuwao: I don't know. I just hope things will be better then, but what I see
is that things might get worse. I pray that things will be better. I just
pray because this is not life we are living.

IWPR: But why don't you go back to Mozambique? I hear things are better

Zhuwao: I have been thinking of that but I now have a big family here and I
don't think I would manage. Even if I wanted to go back, after forty years
here, I don't have any money to travel or start a new life there.

IWPR: And what are you going to have for lunch today?

Zhuwao: A bun. I survived the police today.

Dzikamai Chiyausiku is the pseudonym used by an IWPR contributor in

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Opposition Factions Seek Reconciliation


By Carole Gombakomba
      21 October 2005

Factions of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change were set to
meet on Saturday in an effort to resolve serious differences over whether to
take part in or to boycott senate elections called for November 26 by the
ruling party.

Sources in the party said efforts were under way to end an impasse between
the MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai, and five other top officials who broke
with him after he overrode a vote by the MDC party's national council for
contesting the elections.

Mr. Tsvangirai argues that the senate was restored and the election called
largely to bolster the ruling party's grip on power. Zimbabwe civil society
organizations support him on this, arguing as well that the elections will
be a poor use of scarce funds at a time when food and fuel are in critical
supply and the economy is in a shambles.

Some of the dissenting officials, who include MDC Secretary General Welshman
Ncube and Vice President Gibson Sibanda, were said to be heading for a
meeting with South African President Thabo Mbeki related to the Zimbabwe
opposition imbroglio.

But they were expected back in Harare late Saturday to meet with Mr.

Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe talked with the
party's official spokesman, Paul Themba Nyathi, about developments in the

President Robert Mugabe involved himself in the dispute, criticizing Mr.
Tsvangirai for "breaching" the opposition party's constitution. In a speech
to youth supporters of his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic
Front, Mr. Mugabe accused his chief opponent of "terrorizing those who are
in favor of participating in the elections."

Tsvangirai spokesman William Bango told Carole Gombakomba that Mr. Mugabe's
own record left him in no position to criticize the MDC president.

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I'm Zimbabwean, and have no choice

New Zimbabwe



      Last updated: 10/22/2005 10:13:29
      MOST Zimbabweans do not have a choice to be anything else apart from
being Zimbabwean. They are Zimbabwean and nothing will take-away their
Zimbabweanness; not even the terror, the horror and the dread spread by
Robert Mugabe. They are not Zimbabwean by choice but by birth. It is
therefore their birth-right to be treated with respect and dignity by
political leadership.

      Mugabe treats Zimbabweans like contents of a sanitary night-bucket
that exude the eerie smell associated with organic decay. It seems Mugabe is
taking solace from the uncanny knowledge of their allegiance to Zimbabwe to
cut their short and miserable lives even shorter and more miserable. He has
managed to reduce their pride and their virility to the lowest state ever,
turning men into women and women into toys for his games of perverted

      We do not have a choice to be anything else but weeping, mourning,
crying and lamenting Zimbabweans. We are not like Mugabe's trusted friends;
the British business moguls resident in Harare, Chinese businessmen, the
fugitives like Mengistu of Ethiopia and others so sacred and so well
protected by Mugabe's claws of insanity. These are the few people who have
choices. They could be Zimbabwean only by choice. They have elsewhere to
fall back to when the chips go down.

      Van Hoogstraten has a choice. He can be anything else but Zimbabwean.
He can have worthy friends; friends worthy to mention without shame. He
chooses to exercise his democracy to a friend of his own choice though. He
chooses Mugabe over other nobler choices. Agh..., he chooses dirty money
over his conscience. At least he has a choice!

      We, the sons and daughters of the so-called soil that has been soiled
with the blood of our own people cannot escape the rot so devilishly brought
for us by Mugabe.

      We remain without choice when it comes to citizenship. We are stuck in
a sinking ship with Mugabe at the helm. We cannot jettison ourselves because
we are chained to Mugabe's Zimbabwe. If we could temporarily break the
chains of Mugabe's Zimbabwean-ness and jump over-board, the cold waters that
are infested with hungry sharks would welcome us.

      We cannot mutiny as the captain is holding loaded guns onto our heads.
We are wretchedly in short of choices. The madding captain of the ship is
getting excited. He derives pleasure from our desperation and hopelessness.
He surely knows that we deserve better. He knows that we do long for the
choice to another choice which has nothing to do with his choice.

      We are starved for choices. As if we are in a gulag in Siberia, our
choices are limited to losing with Mugabe and pretending to be winning with
him. I blame it on Karl Marx's doctrines; they accentuated Mugabe's madness,
rabidity and wickedness.

      Still we have no choice!

      The one choice we have so far embraced as suffering Zimbabweans is the
choice to remain inactive. We have grown so used to suffering and turmoil
that we are almost accepting it as the normal way of life. Mugabe is a happy
man. He is happy that the people of Zimbabwe are embracing his totalitarian
and repressive rule as the normal way of Zimbabwean life. We have been
conditioned in the most bizarre way possible.

      We remain with our choice to be docile and receptive to torture,
murder, poverty, rape of our womenfolk and abuse of our children. In living
with our choice to remain loyal to those who cause us to live perilous
lives, we have to accept the sad rewards. We cannot openly disagree with
Mugabe. We have to treat him like a God-sent angel with tidings of peace and
goodwill. We have to silently sulk at our stupidity. Mugabe has extended his
largesse to only allow us to fantasise on anything else that has nothing to
do with him.

      We are allowed to sulk silently. We have the express right to remain
silent even when the urge to explode in verbal anger visits us. We are
allowed to dream but are forbidden to tell what we dream. We have the right
to castles in the air, yet it is a crime to complain about the discomfort in
the hovel that you call your home. Our minds conjure up democratic
dispensations for our country, yet it is unthinkable to mention such to
Mugabe and his lieutenants. We are doomed, condemned, ruined and damned to
remain Zimbabweans with no choice but to whinge in total silence.

      From time to time, Mugabe's agents, the agent provocateurs test our
resolve. They give us men and women who form political parties that have
hot-line links with ZANU-PF Headquarters. They are so many yet they have
done so little to unseat the scourge from Zvimba.

      ......and now we could, we just could be having a choice to Ultimately
Pulverise Mugabe (UPM); just in time before Unholy Mugabe Passes-out (UMP).

      Why was I not born Zambian or Tswana?

      Masola wa Dabudabu is a columnist for New and was
previously a regular columnist with the banned Daily News. He writes from

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JAG Open Letters Forum No. 392


Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.


Letter 1:

It so happens that when people are desperate, they start blaming each other
instead of collaborating against a common enemy. I have been reading all
the mail, newspapers, listening to news on radio, TV etc. What I have
gathered is that there is a consensus in Zimbabwe; across the world, that
Mugabe is either a sin or a stain on our conscience.

The problem Zimbabwe faces is that, too much time has been spent
criticising Mugabe instead of plotting how to get rid of him. Too many
people say different things about Mugabe's ghost, that haunts them day and
night, but how do we get rid of Mugabe? I remember Karl Marx once said
"revolutions are the locomotives of history". By this he meant that ,for
example, ideologies about change should be translated into action instead
of reformism and constitutionalism.

Mugabe has been obsessively over-criticised to an extent that it is
actually benefiting him. In Zimbabwe the problem is no longer Mugabe, but
the absence leadership with charisma! certainly Tvsangirai does not possess
it because of his political upbringing. Trade unionism and revolutionary
change are not compatible ideologies. Imagine the amount of human capital
being under utilised in Zimbabwe, which could be used to stir a popular
revolution. With such a high level of unemployment and poverty affecting
everybody including the middle classes, the situation has never been riper
for a popular uprising!! Such an uprising can never be containable
especially given Mugabe's financial situation. His military and police are
under funded and can easily cross the lines during a revolution, this is
what the people in Ukraine did, because they had leadership.

Imagine an 80 something year old dictator, denying millions of young
Zimbabweans the right to live. Mugabe is a paper tiger, that can easily be
defeated if a leader emerges who is ready to risk it. The current debates
about the senate and constitutional change is a waste of time.  Why waste
time talking about a constitution when Mugabe does not respect the law? The
bible says "where there is no vision, the people perish" we need people
with a vision like Nehemia in the bible. Mugabe can easily be overthrown
while he is away on his wasteful holidays.  One idea is to ambush him while
he is in Rome or whatever place he visits. This responsibility lies with
all those Zimbabweans enjoying beer in exile. Lets stop criticisms which
will not take us anywhere.



Letter 2:

Dear JAG,

Let's be grateful that GGGG lives in Scotland.  They are welcome to him and
his narrow minded views. What's history is history and cannot be changed -
we have all moved on.

Let there be peace in our land.

B.M. Mutare.


Letter 3:

Dear Family and Friends,

I am writing this letter from a very tense Zimbabwe where the situation is
changing rapidly. Here are just a few things that have happened in the last
couple of weeks.

The inflation rate jumped 94 percent in a month, going from 265 percent in
August to 359.8% in September 2005.

In the last sixteen days the price of a standard loaf of white bread in
Marondera has almost tripled in price from eight to twenty thousand

The four pack of toilet paper that I wrote about last week, the one that
cost fifty two thousand dollars - this week that same pack costs ninety one
thousand dollars.

In a country where at least 2 million people face hunger this Christmas and
where the government has to import 37 000 tons of maize a week, productive
farms continue to be invaded. In the last few days 2 farmers were evicted
in Manicaland, another was shot in the shoulder and the CFU said 25 other
farmers had been ordered to be off their properties by the end of the
month. The Governor of the Reserve Bank said that these invasions were
fuelling inflation and just had to stop. He said all productive farms
should be regarded as sacred but again his words fell on deaf ears as they
are not backed up with political intent or action.

Zimbabwe's only tyre manufacturer, Dunlop, announced that they have been
forced to stop production and sent over 800 workers home as they have no
foreign currency for critical imports.

National Foods, the country's biggest miller has said that the closure of
its mills in Harare and Bulawayo is now in sight as they have nothing to
grind, mill or refine - no wheat and no maize.

At the top of my son's mid term circular from school this weekend is a
statement which reads: "We have received a Directive from the Acting
Permanent Secretary of Education to close school on the 24th November."
This is 8 days before the official end of the school term and the second
time in six months that the government have closed schools early so that
they can hold elections.

In between all these things life sort of staggers on. Every day we wait
for, and usually get, water cuts and electricity cuts. Every night we get
no explanations or answers to any of the fuel, food or economic calamities
but just more self congratulatory propaganda on state television.  In this
atmosphere the MDC finally announced they would not take part in the Senate
elections. Ordinary Zimbabweans who have lost everything, who are hungry,
unemployed and walking around in transparently thin second, third and
fourth hand clothes, hope that this time the MDC will stick to their
decision and remember who it is they represent. Until next week,
love cathy. Copyright cathy buckle 15th October 2005.
My books "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available from:


Letter 4:

Dear JAG,

A lot of effort and expense has gone into the day/night cricket function at
Lilfordia School which is taking place on Saturday 22 October. We've got 4
sky divers, a helicopter has been organised to come out to the school which
we will be raffling for 9 people to go for a quick ride, music, jumping
castle a water slide etc. It's also a highlight for the youngsters to play
cricket in coloured clothes and use a white ball (they get a taste of
international cricket).

If last year is anything to go by, I will see you Saturday for another
excellent day.

Andrew Marchussen

All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.

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