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State prosecutor charged with contempt of court in Muchadehama trial

By Violet Gonda
22 October 2009

If there was ever any doubt, an incident in court on Thursday shows that the
State completely disregards the rule of law in Zimbabwe. A public
prosecutor, Andrew Kumire, was sentenced to five days in jail for contempt
of court, by Harare Magistrate Chioniso Mutengi, but managed to evade the
prison cells by filing a bail application through another Magistrate,
Mishrod Guvamombe, and was granted bail immediately, without the State

Kumire is the prosecutor in the trial of human rights lawyer Alex
Muchadehama, who is accused of having secured the "unlawful release" on bail
of freelance journalist Andrison Manyere and MDC officials Chris Dhlamini
and Gandhi Mudzingwa on 17th April, in 'collusion' with Constance Gambara,
the Clerk of High Court Justice, Chinembiri Bhunu. The three individuals had
spent several months in jail following their abduction by state security
agents in December 2008. Muchadehama, who has successfully represented
several other victims of state-sponsored abduction and torture, is standing
trial for alleged contempt of court.

Kumbirai Mafunda, Communications Officer for the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights (ZLHR), said there was drama in court when the prosecutor
disrespected the magistrate, who had repeatedly told him not to ask leading
questions of one of the State witnesses. Magistrate Mutengi had also asked
him not to bring up issues which had not been raised during cross
examinations, but the law officer continued to disobey orders and shockingly
made a rude sound (kuridza tsamwa) at the magistrate.

Mafunda said: "Magistrate Mutengi actually said the court felt insulted by
the sound that Mr Kumire made, which she said is contemptuous of the court."

Despite being ordered not to leave the court, Kumire is said to have 'bolted'
out of the courtroom when the magistrate had gone to look for prison guards
to arrest him.† The prosecutor is alleged to have fled to the Attorney
General's Office to consult with his colleagues. The ZLHR communications
officer said prison guards went there and brought him back to the Rotten Row
Magistrates' court, where he was detained in the holding cells.

Later in the afternoon, Kumire bypassed Magistrate Mutengi who had committed
him to prison, and personally applied for bail before Magistrate Mishrod
Guvamombe, who immediately granted him bail. The ZLHR Communications Officer
said:† "In many circumstances the State has objected to the granting of
bail. The State did not even appeal the granting of this bail. So we feel
this is the most brazen selective application of the law."

Muchadehama's trial was postponed to the 17th November.

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Tsvangirai expected in DRC to meet Kabila

By Tichaona Sibanda
22 October 2009

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was scheduled to meet the Democratic
Republic of the Congo President Joseph Kabila on Thursday, on the third leg
of his five nation tour of SADC states.

Tsvangirai's shuttle diplomacy is part of a strategy to get key SADC leaders
fully appraised of the situation in the unity government, after his party
disengaged from ZANU PF last week Friday.

Apart from the MDC leader's whirlwind tour, high ranking party officials in
Harare have initiated a daily programme of interacting with diplomats
stationed in the capital, as part of the diplomatic offensive the party is
now mounting to build regional and international pressure on Robert Mugabe.

An MDC official told us the exercise is to convince regional governments
that Mugabe remains the biggest threat, not only to Zimbabwe, but to the
whole region. On Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa said his
country was concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe and that the country
'should not be allowed to slide back into instability.' Zuma had met
Tsvangirai in Cape Town.

SADC's Troika on politics, defence and security co-operation is expected to
convene a meeting next week Thursday to try to iron out the differences
between Tsvangirai and Mugabe. This date was set following talks on Tuesday
in Chimoi, Mozambique, between Tsvangirai and President Armando Guebuza, the
current chair of the troika.

Mugabe has since last year failed to implement the power sharing deal he
agreed with Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, leader of the other MDC

The unity government remains shaky as a result of outstanding issues and
non-compliance by Mugabe, that continue to impede the transitional
government. ZANU PF and the MDC-M are also pushing for the three principals
to the GPA to meet and discuss the issues, outside the realm of a full SADC
summit or Troika meeting.

Welshman Ncube, secretary-general of the Mutambara faction, said on
Wednesday the three leaders were due to meet by the end of the week in
crisis talks to resolve the current problems.

Sources in the MDC-T told us they doubted such a meeting will be held
anytime soon because Tsvangirai has grown tired of 'lies and promises 'from
Mugabe since the formation of the unity government.

'The Prime Minister is mobilising the region to solve this crisis once and
for all and he has been promised that the Troika will look into it. So there's
no way he will compromise that position by talking to Mugabe before the
Troika meeting,' a source said.

After Tsvangirai's scheduled meeting Thursday with President Kabila, the MDC
leader is expected to visit Botswana and Angola for talks with Jose Eduardo
dos Santos and Ian Khama.

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Zimbabwe's Business Lobby Group Boss Threatens Biti, Mangoma

Harare, October 22, 2009 - The Affirmative Action Group (AAG) Vice
President Themba Mliswa has† threatened to confront and force Ministers of
Finance and Economic Development Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma to release
funds to new farmers who benefited† from the Robert Mugabe land reform.

He said the two ministers were sabotaging the inclusive government by
refusing to channel $500 million acquired from the IMF towards agriculture.

"The two ministers are sabotaging the successful land reform
programme. They are reluctant to disburse the IMF funds towards agriculture.
We want† to warn them† that† we are not† going to† let them sabotage the
economy by refusing to give farmers loans, we are definitely† going to take
action against them ...", he said. "We want these politicians not to
politicise the issue of agriculture because it's a national food issue."

"Farmers do not have anything to give banks as collateral because they
have not been making profits over the past five years because of illegal

The AAG has also warned to take over Nestle Zimbabwe if it continues
to refuse to buy milk from First Lady, Grace Mugabe.

Meanwhile farm equipments distributed last year by Reserve bank
Governor Gideon Gono to the Police Protection Unit (PPU), are lying idle at
Tomlinson Depot as the beneficiaries have nowhere to put them.

PPU is responsible for escorting the Presidential motorcade guarding
diplomats and Zanu PF ministers and senior party officials.

To persuade them to remain loyal last year the Reserve Bank Governor
gave each one of them an ox-drawn scotch-cart, generator, a harrow, ox-drawn
plough and knapsack sprayer. All these are lying idle in the police camp.
According to† police† officers† who benefited† from† that programme,
they were† just† given the farm implements without soliciting for them.

"Everyone in the PPU department was given a full set of the equipment.
Most of us sold the implements because we had nowhere to put them. We† do
not† have† farms and the Government bribed† us† with these irrelevant
things," said† one† police officer who is left† with a† scotch cart which
has no wheels.

"Last year† was† a difficult year† and† we benefited† from selling the
equipment, which† we traded† at† give† away† prices† to real farmers who
were supposed to benefit.Scotch cart wheels were sold to car owners and I am
planning to sell the scotch cart body to the members of the† apostolic
church who are bothering† me," said another police officer who is† part† of
the† presidential guard at state† house.

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Mugabe cannot be part of Zimbabwe's road to democracy: DA

By Alex Bell
22 October 2009

South Africa's main political opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), on
Thursday said Robert Mugabe cannot be part of Zimbabwe's road to democracy,
saying the dictator must be offered an 'exit strategy' for the country to
ever recover.

The party presented its 'Roadmap to Democracy in Zimbabwe' in the South
African parliament on Thursday morning, as a response to the MDC's decision
to disengage from ZANU PF in the unity government. DA Parliamentary Leader
Athol Trollip told SW Radio Africa that the 'neutral and objective' document
is the best basis for a new course of action for Zimbabwe's future, saying
"it will allow for a clear path towards the establishment of democracy."

The roadmap, Trollip explained, is very simple with only four primary
objectives that need to be achieved. These are: an agreement to hold fresh
elections, the formation of an interim government, the formation of a new,
people driven constitution, and ultimately free, fair, democratic elections.
Trollip explained that while these steps are obvious, "it is the way in
which they are implemented that will determine whether or not Zimbabwe

Trollip continued that there are two fundamental issues that need to be
addressed if the roadmap is to succeed, with the first being that Robert
Mugabe cannot be part of the process.

"The position he currently holds is illegitimate and, as a result, his
interests and the interests of those close to him have compromised the
current arrangement," Trollip said. "One cannot build a democracy on a
series of first principles that are fundamentally tainted."

The DA parliamentary leader said an effective exit strategy must be
established so that Mugabe willingly steps down from power. But he argued
this will only happen with a 'united front' behind the proposal. He
explained that the second fundamental issue is that international, and in
particular regional leaders, must pledge to oversee the roadmap's success.

"The Southern African Development Community (SADC), the South African
government and the United Nations must show willingness to use force if
Zimbabwe's political parties stray from this roadmap," Trollip said.

Trollip acknowledged that here-in lies the biggest challenge for the roadmap's
success, and he criticised SADC and the ANC led government in South Africa
for not applying pressure on Mugabe and ZANU PF to adhere to the Global
Political Agreement. Trollip argued that South Africa missed a critical
window of opportunity to be tough with Mugabe while Zuma was still SADC
chair, but he expressed anger that Zuma has now adopted the notorious policy
of 'quiet diplomacy' to Zimbabwe.

"Before he was elected as the country's president, Zuma was making all the
right noises about Zimbabwe," Trollip explained. "But those noises have now
become a whimper, just mist on the water."

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A roadmap to democracy in Zimbabwe

Written by The Zimbabwean
Thursday, 22 October 2009 13:09
South Africa's main opposition party, the† Democratic Alliance,† is
today launching a 'roadmap to democracy' for Zimbabwe.† They† believe, if a
properly functioning and legitimate democracy is to be established in
Zimbabwe, then a new course needs to be plotted.

That course needs to be objective and neutral and not determined by
the vested interests of any of the parties in Zimbabwe.† The DA† believe s
its† roadmap meets these criteria: it is a neutral course of action which,
if agreed to, allows for a clear path towards the establishment of a
democracy.† A statement today from the party reads:
We believe this to not only be in the interest of the Zimbabwean
people, who have suffered for decades at the hand of a repressive
undemocratic regime, which has held their interests to ransom and
systematically eroded away their democratic rights, but in the interest of
South Africa, the SADC region and Africa more broadly. Only if Zimbabwe is
restored as a democratic state, can it recover and grow.

The roadmap is simple. It consists of four broad steps:
An agreement to hold fresh elections;
The formation of an interim government;
The formation of a new constitution;
Democratic elections.

These steps, no doubt appear obvious, but it is the way in which they
are implemented and the particular processes followed in making each of them
a reality that will determine whether or not Zimbabwe succeeds. The devil,
as they say, is in the details.
The accompanying document sets out many of these requirements in some
detail. Two points are particularly important:
First, Robert Mugabe cannot be part of the process. The position he
currently holds is illegitimate and, as a result, his interests and the
interests of those close to him have compromised the current arrangement.
One cannot build a democracy on a series of first principles that are
fundamentally tainted. The roadmap proposes that an agreement be reached
whereby Robert Mugabe willingly steps down from power. This exit package in
turn, will only work if there is a united front behind it. Those inside and
outside Zimbabwe must agree that this is the right course of action and
unite behind this purpose.
Second, and in much the same fashion, should the roadmap be accepted,
it is essential that all parties back up their commitment to it with action.
This action must centre around the sustained use of all mechanisms at the
disposal of the regional and international community to achieve its purpose.
Ultimately, if the roadmap is adopted, and it is subsequently sabotaged, as
a final and last resort, we believe the regional and international community
must be willing to resort to force, to achieve the desired outcome.

It immediately becomes apparent the critical role that South Africa
will play in this process.
Not only does it need to use every mechanism at its disposal to get
the roadmap adopted, but it then needs to be willing to use what leverage it
has to make sure it is adhered to. It needs to lead on this matter. The time
for accommodating the undemocratic behaviour of Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF is
over and the focus needs to shift from appeasement, to outcomes.
It is important too, to explain the role that the Global Political
Agreement (GPA) will play in this process. The DA believes the GPA is the
only mechanism able to negotiate (in conjunction with the regional and
international community) an exit package for Robert Mugabe and the other
steps contained in the roadmap. We believe this mechanism should shift its
focus from attempts to agree to a constitution that is contested and warped
by political interests, towards a series of steps that will result in a
constitution that best represents the will of the Zimbabwean people.
One final point is worth making: The roadmap we present today is an
ideal. It is similar to the ideas that underpin a constitution. It is not an
analysis but a plan of action. In this sense it is only as strong as the
political will vested in it.
This is the second such roadmap proposed by the Democratic Alliance.
In 2003 former leader of the DA Tony Leon proposed a similar such idea.
That, however, was before the last round of elections and the creation of
the GPA. The difference between then and now is two fold, on the one hand,
in the GPA, we have a mechanism through which a roadmap can be worked
towards and adopted; on the other hand, the situation in Zimbabwe has
continued to deteriorate and the suffering of the people in Zimbabwe has
Now, more than ever, we need a clear plan of action on Zimbabwe. We
need the regional and international community to unite and we need the South
African government to play a defining role in this regard. We believe this
roadmap is the mechanism around which those with an interest in seeing a
democratic Zimbabwe should unite and, perhaps more importantly, we believe
it is the only credible and acceptable way to establish a functioning and
legitimate democracy in a country that has had its democratic dignity
systematically eroded away.

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Parastatal workers to be paid, after demo ends in agreement

By Alex Bell
22 October 2009

A demonstration in Harare by a group of farm and factory workers,
representing almost a thousand employees who have not been paid by an
industrial parastatal, came to an end this week after an agreement was
reached with the corporation's management.

The representative group of workers travelled to the capital on Sunday to
confront the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) over non-payment of
salaries for almost a year. The workers, from IDC farms and the BonneZim
agro-packaging factory in Chegutu, told SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon
Muchemwa this week that they were demanding to be paid in full, backdated
for seven months. The group had been sleeping in trucks in the capital since
Sunday night trying to reach an agreement with IDC management, who
originally had only offered a partial pay out.

The IDC meanwhile in a press statement denied that any demonstration had
taken place, refuting our report on Wednesday that detailed the workers'
plight. In its statement the IDC said it "has always been solvent and has
never failed to pay its staff salaries."

"There was some industrial relations unrest at BonneZim due to, amongst
other issues, non-payment of salaries to factory workers and other issues
which arose due to mismanagement at the company. The reason why the workers
committee visited the IDC offices on Monday was to try and understand what
actions the Corporation was taking to recover any losses from the reckless,
improper or criminal conduct by some BonneZim directors, management and
employees. There was absolutely no demonstration or protestations at our
offices as you will note that these factory workers are not on our direct
payroll," the statement read.

But our correspondent Muchemwa explained that he was turned away by the same
authors of the statement, when he tried to get comment from them earlier
this week. Muchemwa reported on Thursday that the IDC management had finally
come to an agreement with the workers, who had returned to their homes.

Our report on Wednesday meanwhile had wrongfully suggested that the IDC had
taken over Kondozi farm in 2006. To clarify;† the parastatal had been given
authority by the government to revive the broken down horticultural estate,
two years after it had been left destroyed in the process of the so called
land reform program. IDC then purchased BonneZim from industrial company
Murray & Roberts, as it was believed this was the key to reviving Kondozi.
But apparently the IDC plans never materialised.

Instead Kondozi was taken over by the Agricultural and Rural Development
Authority (ARDA), which sources have alleged was a front for the farm to be
taken over by the then transport Minister, Chris Mushohwe. Mushohwe,
currently the governor of Manicaland, is still in control of the land.

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Kenyan PM urges Mugabe to step down

By Lance Guma
22 October 2009

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has urged Robert Mugabe to 'relinquish
power' saying the ZANU PF leader alone was 'responsible for the political
stalemate' in Zimbabwe. Speaking in France during a joint press conference
with the French Foreign Affairs Minister, Odinga did not mince his words,
bluntly saying; 'In Zimbabwe Mr. Mugabe is not part of the solution to the
political problem; he himself, is the problem.'

Odinga urged the international community to act fast in trying to convince
Mugabe to step down, arguing this would be better for Zimbabweans who have
already suffered enough. "Moreover it's high time these political
compromises were stopped, that in our countries allow losers to remain in
power," Odinga said. Kenya, like Zimbabwe, was the first to have a power
sharing government that accommodated both the winners and losers of a
controversial election which was marred by violence and many deaths.

Last week Thursday, Botswana's President Ian Khama warned that Zimbabwe's
power sharing government was on the verge of collapse. Speaking to the AFP
news agency on the sidelines of a rally in Botswana, ahead of elections
which he eventually won, Khama said of the coalition; 'It is limping along
and there is a real danger that the whole thing could collapse.' Khama made
it clear if the coalition did collapse they would not recognize a ZANU
PFonly government headed by Mugabe because 'he certainly did not win the
presidential election last year.'
Meanwhile prominent newspaper, the New York Times, has issued a hard hitting
editorial, accusing Mugabe and his party of trying 'to blow up the
power-sharing arrangement ever since neighboring states put it together last
year.' The paper says SADC must demand that Mugabe finally abide by the
terms and spirit of the power-sharing deal. 'If he refuses, the community
should withdraw recognition from his government and insist on new,
internationally supervised elections.' This supervision was important to
ensure 'democracy, not intimidation' determined the outcome of the
While SADC dallies around what to do with Zimbabwe, the Economic Community
of West African States (ECOWAS), showed how it's done by moving swiftly to
impose an arms embargo on the military junta-ruled Guinea, for mass human
rights violations. After the massacre of over 150 people at an opposition
rally ECOWAS called an emergency summit in Nigeria last Friday and suspended
the country. Another member, Niger, was also suspended by the group after
its president went ahead with elections in violation of constitutional
provisions permitting only two terms in office.

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Mugabe loyalists storm out of House

Posted Thursday, October 22 2009 at 13:09

HARARE, Thursday

The rift between Zimbabwe's coalition parties has spilled into the country's
polarised parliament after legislators from President Robert Mugabe's party
walked out protesting against critics of the veteran leader.

Zimbabwe was plunged into a fresh crisis last week after Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change started boycotting
cabinet and council of ministers meetings.

Mr Tsvangirai's party said it was suspending cooperation with Mr Mugabe's
Zanu PF eight months after they formed the unity government because it was
not happy over delays in the implementation of their power sharing

The dramatic pull out was triggered by the jailing of MDC treasurer general
Mr Roy Bennett on terrorism and banditry charges.

Mr Bennett whom the MDC says is being targeted for being white was released
on bail last weekend pending the commencement of his trial next month.

A Zanu PF legislator torched another protest in parliament on Wednesday when
he accused the MDC of disengaging from cabinet and the council of ministers
because "white ex-commercial farmer Roy Bennett has been indicted for trial
in the High Court on terror related charges."

The MP said the disengagement was not consistent with Mr Mugabe's speech at
the official opening of parliament two weeks ago where he called for
national reconciliation.

But an MDC MP hit back saying Mr Mugabe's speech was only fit for people at
mental institutions.

This prompted a mass walkout by the Zanu PF legislators who accused the MDC
of disrespecting the president.

Only two Zanu PF MPs remained in the house.

The parliamentary session, which resumed on Tuesday after a two month break
has so far been characterised by heated exchanges as MPs from across the
political divide heckled each other.

Meanwhile, the three principals in the unity government are likely to meet
as soon as President Mugabe returns from an ongoing summit in Uganda at the

According to Zimbabwe's power sharing agreement, Mr Mugabe, Mr Tsvangirai
and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara share executive authority and if
any of the parties pull out, the country would be plunged into a
constitutional crisis.

"The principals need to talk to each other and agree on things that they
agree on and disagree on things that they disagree on," said Industry and
Commerce Minister, Professor Welshman Ncube who is also secretary general of
the smaller faction of the MDC.

"But more importantly they need to find a way of living with what they
disagree on and continue to talk about those things."

There were also reports that Southern African Development Community

(SADC) leaders will on October 29 hold talks with Zimbabwe's estranged
leaders in an effort to break the deadlock.

SADC and the African Union are the guarantors of the political settlement
that sought to end Zimbabwe's decade old political and economic problems.

Members of the SADC troika on politics, defence and security - South Africa,
Angola and Mozambique - were mandated to deal with the Zimbabwe crisis.

Mr Tsvangirai who is on a regional tour to appraise the leaders of the
latest developments has already been to Mozambique and South Africa.

On Wednesday, he met President Jacob Zuma whose office issued a statement
that the South African leader had "expressed concern at the situation in

Mr Zuma who is regarded as an important asset in resolving conflict in the
region said "Zimbabwe should not be allowed to slide back into instability."

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TV journalists arrested and held during cabinet meeting

Published on 22 October 2009

Reporters Without Borders today condemned mistreatment by Zimbabwean
intelligence agents of two journalists working for Arab satellite TV station
Cameraman Austin Gundani was physically assaulted and then held for three
hours, with his reporter colleague Haru Mutasa, at the presidency where they
had arrived on 20 October to cover a cabinet meeting from which Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had pulled out.

The worldwide press freedom organisation said the incident demonstrated that
"worrying tensions between President Robert Mugabe and his power-sharing
government can have harmful consequences for the work of journalists".

Austin Gundani had been filming the arrival of Zimbabwean ministers at the
offices of President Mugabe when he was brutally arrested.

The two journalists were then locked up in a cell and interrogated,
according to information obtained by Reporters Without Borders.

The incident came on the day Zimbabwe had improved its position on the
organisation's just-published 2009 world press freedom index compared with
the previous year.

"The government has announced the return of the BBC and CNN, but it has to
be said that it remains difficult for the international media to work in
Zimbabwe without encountering trouble", the organisation said.

It also comes a week after an independent photo-journalist, Anne Mpalume,
was arrested in Manicaland in the east of the country where she was
reporting on illegal diamond mining. The authorities accused her of not
having permission. She was released on bail and will appear in court on 26

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Toothless SADC would do well to emulate Ecowas

October 22, 2009

By S'Thembiso Msomi

AS Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai embarks on yet another
emergency regional tour, searching for help, he must be wishing that his
troubled country was in West Africa, where He must have read with envy at
the weekend the news that the Economic Community of West African States had
imposed an arms embargo on the military junta-ruled Guinea for "mass human
rights violation".

Even as he headed for South Africa for the first in a series of meetings he
hopes to hold with regional leaders, Tsvangirai would have known that there
was no hope of the Southern African Development Community adopting a stance
against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as tough as the one taken by
Ecowas on Saturday against the leaders of Guinea and Niger.

In case you have missed your continental news, here is an update.

Following the massacre of, reportedly, more than 150 people at an opposition
rally in Guinea last month, Ecowas convened an emergency summit in Abuja on

But unlike those "crisis summits" we have become accustomed to in the
southern part of Africa, the Ecowas meeting was no talking-shop.

West African leaders, headed by Nigeria's Umaru Yar'adua, reacted by
slapping Captain Moussa Dadis Camara's regime with an arms embargo.

They also mandated Yar'Adua to lobby the African Union, the European Union
and other international bodies to do the same.

In a statement issued after the summit, Ecowas described the state-sponsored
violence in Guinea as a "real threat to the peace, security and stability"
of the entire West African region.

"All steps must be taken immediately to stop the spate of killings of
innocent Guineans who are yearning for immediate restoration to
constitutional order," Yar'Adua later said.

The summit also threatened to impose "full sanctions" on Niger if President
Mamadou Tandja went ahead with his unconstitutional plans to serve a third
term as head of state.

Now contrast all of that with the SADC's pussyfooting around Mugabe, who
continues to give regional leaders the middle finger. For that is what he
has done by plunging the SADC-sponsored and shaky Zimbabwean government of
national unity into a fresh crisis.

If he were serious about making the unity government work, Mugabe would have
stopped his foot soldiers from harassing Tsvangirai's close ally and the MDC's
deputy minister-designate, Roy Bennett.

Bennett's most recent detention was calculated to provoke Tsvangirai and the
MDC into pulling out of the unity government. But the collapse of the unity
government would not only be a blow to those within Zimbabwe seeking peace
and stability, it would leave the SADC - especially South Africa - with much
egg on its face.

For years, the region has successfully persuaded the rest of the world that
it should not intervene in the Zimbabwean crisis because the SADC leaders
were the best placed to resolve the conflict.

Then, a year ago, it seemed that the SADC - and especially former president
Thabo Mbeki - would be vindicated, as Tsvangirai and Mugabe concluded a
historic power-sharing deal.

But it has been downhill ever since, with the Zanu-PF leader reneging on key
components of the agreement.

Despite calls for help from a desperate MDC, the SADC has done very little
to ensure that Mugabe meets his end of the bargain.

Would Ecowas have allowed such total disregard of its authority by a member
state? I think not.

Academic Adekeye Adebajo once said that bodies such as Ecowas and the SADC
need "local hegemons like Nigeria and South Africa" to provide leadership.
Nigeria is now doing just this for West Africa, while we in the south are
left asking: Where is South Africa?

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CHRA to meet Munich delegation

CNewLog2145 Robert Mugabe Way, Exploration House, Third Floor; Website:

Contacts: Mobile: 0912 653 074, 0913 042 981, 011862012 or email,,

22 October 2009

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) will meet a Delegation from Munich City, Germany today the 22nd of October 2009. The meeting is as a result of the long standing relationship between the Munich City and CHRA. The Delegation consists of the Mayor of Munich City, Munich city Council officials and representatives of HAMUPA.

The delegation comes at a time when the residents of Harare are facing a myriad of challenges in service delivery especially water supplies, health and waste management. The meeting will be a platform for CHRA and the delegates to exchange ideas on local governance issues as well as to explore ways by which Munich can work together with the City of Harare and CHRA to resuscitate and improve municipal service†† delivery in Harare. Meanwhile, the CHRA team has already met the delegates at a reception that was conducted at Town House on the 20th of October 2009. The CHRA team also accompanied the delegates on a tour of the Morton Jeffery Water works as well as the City’s Kevin Waste Management Depot. The tour was an eye opener for the delegates as they had first hand experience of the challenges that the City of Harare is facing in terms of the critical equipment that is needed for the resuscitation of waste management projects as well as water and sewer reticulation. The meeting with the delegates is one of the numerous efforts by CHRA towards engaging different partners in addressing service delivery challenges in Harare.

CHRA remains committed to advocating for good and transparent local governance as well lobbying for quality and affordable municipal services.

CHRA Information, making the implicit, explicit

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What Would Gandhi Do? Zimbabwe, Neo-imperialism and the Lessons of Nonviolence
Monday, October 19, 2009

The theme for this year’s Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA) annual conference, held from October 8 to 10 at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, could not have been more apropos. Phrased as “The Power of Nonviolence,” it compelled me to think about the ways in which Nonviolence theory and praxis could be brought to bear in the search for solutions to one of Africa’s most intractable puzzles, the case of Zimbabwe. No sooner had the conference ended and we had all returned to our respective bases than Zimbabwe shot up onto the world headlines once again. The Tsvangirai faction of the Movement for Democratic Change’s (MDC-T)) Agriculture Deputy Minister-designate Roy Bennett was indicted and remanded to jail on Wednesday October 14, to await his trial on charges believed by many to be politically motivated. He is being tried on charges of “possessing weapons for the purposes of insurgency and banditry,” according to the Zimbabwe Times. High Court Justice Charles Hungwe restored Bennett's bail two days later, on the same day that Prime Minister and MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai announced that the MDC-T was disengaging from the Government of National Unity.†

The Last Straw

News reports described the Roy Bennett issue as the last straw that broke the GNU’s back, despite Tsvangirai’s clarification that the disengagement was not a direct result of the Bennett trial. The
Zimbabwe Times quoted Tsvangirai as telling reporters: “Let me emphasise this . . . this decision has not been made because of Bennett as some might want think. This has purely nothing to do with Bennett but with the collapse of trust in our Zanu PF partners in government.” Rumors that the MDC-T were contemplating pulling out of the Government of National Unity predated the events of this past week. The Financial Gazette titled its Friday October 2 comment “No to MDC Pull Out”, and urged the MDC-T to explore other ways of resolving the problems dogging the GNU, other than withdrawing from the eight-month marriage of convenience.

The statement from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
announcing the “disengagement” offered the context for the decision as the culmination of “outstanding, non-compliance and toxic issues” that continued “to impede the transitional government”, eight months after it was implemented. “Despite countless meetings among the Principals, despite countless press conferences, despite numerous correspondence and trips to SADC and SADC leaders and despite a SADC summit, the above issues remain outstanding,” said the statement issued on Friday, October 16. It laid out a litany of breaches, intransigence and recalcitrance from the ZANU-PF side: provincial governors had still not been appointed; the appointments of Governor of the Reserve Bank and the Attorney General had not yet been rescinded, despite their illegality; the deputy minister of Agriculture had not yet been sworn in; and the Global Political Agreement had not yet been reviewed, way past the 6-month point as was the agreement.

Tsvangirai went on to point out how ZANU-PF had failed to enact a paradigm shift to reflect the spirit of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), abusing and disrespecting it. More ominously, he cited “the extensive militarization of the countryside through massive deployment of the military and the setting up of bases of violence that we saw after the 29th of March 2008.” ZANU-PF had imposed more than 16,000 youth functionaries onto government payroll, who had been imposed on the government payroll, and there was continuation of “selective and unequal application of the rule of law”. ZANU-PF’s mouthpieces,
The Herald newspaper and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation “continue to treat the MDC and our leaders in government as if they were a third-rate treasonous and sell-out element instead of a genuine and equal partner in the transitional government.”

In what was probably a painful acknowledgement of what many had already known about the marriage of convenience, Tsvangirai turned the scathing critique inward:

“On our part, we have papered over the cracks and have sought to persuade the whole world in the last eight months that everything is working.† We have sought to persuade our constituencies that the transitional government was on course and was the only business in town. In the process, we have put at stake the reputation, credibility and trust of our movement and to ourselves as leaders. We have done everything in order to make this government work and we have done so purely for one reason, the need to restore hope and dignity to our people; the need to give our people a new start and a new beginning.”

Tsvangirai’s tone was very assertive, emphasizing how it was the MDC that was supposed to be the dominant partner in the inclusive government: “The truth of the matter is that it is our Movement that won the election of 29 March 2008. It is our Movement that has the mandate of the people to govern this country. It is our Movement that has strategically compromised on that mandate by executing the GPA and by entering into the transitional government.† It is our Movement upon which the hope and future of millions of Zimbabweans is deposited.”

In September this year the MDC started consulting its membership and support base about the idea of whether to hang in there and try to work things out. On the MDC’s
website, a poll started on September 24 asked if the party should abandon the inclusive government. As of October 17, 54.5 percent of 393 respondents advised against pulling out, over 45.5 percent who voted yes. According to the Mail and Guardian of South Africa, Tsvangirai asked for an emergency meeting with Mugabe following the indictment and jailing of Bennett on Wednesday. Mugabe is said to have refused. Tsvangirai in turn refused to convene a scheduled cabinet meeting. The Sunday Times of October 18 described rumors about a meeting between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai hours after Tsvangirai’s announcement on Friday, in addition to earlier rumors that Mugabe had been frantically attempting to meet Tsvangirai. Following the decision to disengage from the inclusive government, the MDC-T ordered all its cabinet ministers to pack up and leave their government offices and operate from their party’s headquarters, according to the Zimbabwe Times.

For many, it was just a matter of time before this unraveling was to get underway. For others, it is a disturbing trend of events for an arrangement that, however inconvenient and undesirable, had began to bear tangible fruit on the ground inasfar as the living conditions of ordinary Zimbabweans. The Zimbabwe crisis has not suffered a shortage of detailed, impassioned proposals and suggestions for how to resolve it. These have ranged from military options, from both inside agitation and outside Zimbabwe, to political settlements, such as the inclusive government, insisted upon by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which both ZANU –PF and the two MDC factions ended up agreeing upon. The monumental events of this past week are likely to unfurl that process all over again. Tsvangirai said it was now time to “assert and take our position as the dominant party in Zimbabwe,” even as the MDC-T were ceasing all collaboration with the ZANU-PF. It remains to be seen how this assumption of the MDC’s rightful place in government is going to be implemented.

Among the many proposals offered as potential ways of ending the Zimbabwe impasse, there has not been much said about nonviolent action. With the exception of a
special report published in 2003 by the Washington DC-based United States Institute for Peace (USIP), none of the major think tanks and interested third parties have ever mentioned, or let alone paid attention to the issue of nonviolence as a plan of action capable of being a viable solution to the Zimbabwe crisis. This is at once curious and yet not surprising. Curious because not only has nonviolent action been successfully used in difficult contexts of political repression around the world, it has actually been adopted as a strategy by a number of groups in Zimbabwe, including the MDC itself, in its first six years. But it is also not surprising because despite the success nonviolent resistance has registered in a number of cases of repression around the world, it has not been as celebrated as military campaigns have, and continue to be. With the exception of Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent movement in the first half of the century, first in South Africa and later in India, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Civil Rights Movement in the United States of the 50s and 60s, methods of resistance to political repression that rely on means other than violence receive less attention in the mainstream media.

The 2003 special report issued by the United States Institute for Peace was titled “Zimbabwe and the Prospects for Nonviolent Political Change.” The report was commissioned by USIP’s Research and Studies Program, and was written by three scholar-analysts who were living and working in Zimbabwe at the time. Their names were not provided, for reasons of their personal safety. With the term “Nonviolent Political Change” prominently gracing the title, the report offered a detailed description of events in 2003, most notably the strategies that the MDC and its partners had undertaken to pressurize Mugabe’s ZANU-PF into democratic reforms. The report stated that when civil society groups began to emerge in the 1990s, their main tactic was to use strategies of nonviolence to bring about change in Zimbabwe. Most of these strategies took the form of mass stay-aways, which paralyzed economic activity in some of Zimbabwe’s major cities. Beyond these mass stay-aways, however, it was not clear how these civil society coalitions and the MDC approached the concept of nonviolence in both its theoretical and strategic considerations. The report offered no definitions of what it termed ‘nonviolence’, nor did it cite any particular Zimbabwean proponents of nonviolence spelling out what specific approaches they would use, other than mass stay-aways.

Violence and Nonviolence in Zimbabwe

The most compelling evidence that there were Zimbabweans who espoused nonviolence as both principle and strategy appeared in an article written by Senator David Coltart and published on the news site in September 2006. The article was picked up by The New African in their May 2007 issue, which had a 17-page supplement dedicated to presenting various sides to the Zimbabwe story. The sponsored supplement of the May 2007 issue of the New African dedicated six articles to the issue of violence in Zimbabwe, two of them written by two members of the MDC affected by the violence from within their own ranks.

David Coltart is an MDC-M member of parliament from the Mutambara faction who has since become Zimbabwe’s Minister of Education, Sports and Culture. Citing both Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Coltart wrote that the best way to deal with Mugabe’s authoritarianism was through nonviolent techniques. He traced his personal commitment to nonviolence to two brutal wars he had experienced. First was the war for independence, and second was the Gukurahundi, the massacre of Ndebeles in what Mugabe called a war against rebels, in the mid-1980s. “These experiences made me vow that I would do all in my power to prevent further conflict in Zimbabwe,” he wrote. Coltart pointed out that violence was endemic to Zimbabwean society, going back to the wars of the 19th century.

"Violence was used by Lobengula to suppress the Shona. Violence was used to colonise and the threat of violence was used to maintain white minority rule. Violence was used to overthrow the white minority. And since independence, violence as been used to crush legitimate political opposition."

Coltart added that a culture of impunity had taken hold, in which violence was used to achieve political ends, and the perpetrators were thriving on those victories won through violence. “As a result, violence is now deeply embedded in our national psyche. Political violence is accepted as the norm.” The MDC was different from other Zimbabwean political parties because of its commitment to ending political violence and promoting nonviolence as a principle, wrote Coltart. MDC members had at various times debated as to whether the brutality of Mugabe’s government could be encountered through nonviolence, however the MDC always maintained a “broad consensus that this was the only course open to us if we were to act in the long national interest.”

Coltart was anguished by the violence that was being perpetrated by members of the MDC, a development he argued was undermining the entire nonviolent strategy. On September 28, 2004, MDC youths were said to have attempted to murder Peter Guhu, MDC Director of Security. While this incident shocked Coltart, he was even more disturbed to learn that senior MDC officials were part of the attempted murder plot. An inquiry was carried out, but no action was taken against the members who had plotted the attempted murder. More violence was to follow in May 2005, when the same MDC youth were sent to assault other MDC members. In July 2006 MDC youth from Tsvangirai’s faction seriously injured a member of Mutambara’s MDC faction, Trudy Stevenson, stoning her in the head and breaking her arm. They also damaged the car Stevenson and other party members were traveling in. Other cases of political violence perpetrated by the MDC involved petrol bombings of police officers, some of whom incurred severe burn injuries.

Coltart wrote that if the MDC were to transform Zimbabwe into a better place, “we simply have to break this cycle of violence. We will find that if we do not stamp out violence in our ranks now, it will come back to haunt us.” The reason why ZANU-PF’s political violence had reached the proportions it had was because of the century-old trend, repeating itself and no one seemed to have learned the lesson that violence begets more violence. Coltart said that violence played right into the hands of ZANU-PF, whose sole purpose had been not only to intimidate but also to “provoke the opposition into a physical fight. The regime desperately needs a pretext to use all the power at its disposal.” Whatever mass-action the MDC and its partners were to plan needed to be “carefully organized by people who have a deep-rooted commitment to and understanding of nonviolent techniques,” he wrote.†

The MDC are not the only group espousing nonviolent techniques in Zimbabwe. The women’s group
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) state in their mission statement that their goals are “based on the principles of strategic nonviolence.” When the group organized a protest to commemorate this year’s International Day of Peace on September 21 in Bulawayo, they were brutally attacked and dispersed by the police. Some onlookers threatened the police with physical violence in retaliation, but the group’s leaders stepped in and asserted the group’s nonviolent approach: “we are non-violent activists and any history should write that the people who disturbed the peace with violence were Zimbabwe Republic Police officers, not peaceful human rights defenders.”

Given the history of Zimbabwe and the role violence has played for more than a century, the idea of nonviolence would not be an easy one. One interesting irony is that even Robert Mugabe himself once read Mahatma Gandhi, and for a while contemplated nonviolent resistance, according to Mugabe biographer Heidi Holland (2008) in her book
Dinner with Mugabe. The belief that Zimbabwe’s freedom could only be won through armed struggle was pervasive, probably given the brutality of the racist regime of Ian Smith. Speaking to Bill Sutherland and Matt Meyer in a 1992 interview for their book on Pan-Africanist peace perspectives, then Minister of Foreign Affairs Nathan Shamuyayira said the question of nonviolence as a tactic for Zimbabwe’s independence struggle was out of the question. Many felt that the victories Gandhi had achieved for India and Martin Luther King Jr. for civil rights in the United States could not be used as examples for Zimbabwe, whose context was far different. But according to Coltart, the MDC did view nonviolence as a viable response to ZANU-PF’s violence, even when members of the MDC did not always adhere to nonviolent principles.

That Senator David Coltart became the new Minister of Education, Sport and Culture in February 2009 was a particularly promising sign in light of the expectation for a new curriculum and a reformed educational system. Nonviolence education requires an intellectual framework to guide practical training and discipline, under a broader Peace Education curriculum and pedagogy. Several African countries have embarked on the incorporation of Human Rights Education into their school systems, through the efforts of educational Non-Governmental Organizations. Perhaps the most significant breakthrough came in September when seven African Ministers of Education met in Mombasa, Kenya, to discuss the incorporation of Peace Education into their school systems. While seven countries were able to attend the conference, the original invitation went to twelve countries, under the auspices of the
Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA). The twelve countries were Angola, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya (Host), Madagascar, Mozambique, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, and Uganda. Zimbabwe was curiously not on the list, although the conference was open to any interested country on the African continent. Handled carefully and properly, the introduction of Peace Education into the school systems of African countries could be the one deciding factor that might transform the educational landscape and make the school system responsive and relevant to actual African contexts.

Incorporating Peace and Nonviolence Education into the school systems of Zimbabwe and other African countries, not to say the rest of the world, is a long-term project requiring meticulous planning, consultation and deliberation. But Zimbabweans are looking for solutions for the immediate crisis also. Long term planning need not wait for immediate solutions first, nor can immediate solutions be considered a substitute for long term planning. If the nonviolence approach adopted by the MDC, WOZA and other Zimbabwean groups is going to bear fruit, there will be an urgent need to pay serious attention to lessons from other contexts where nonviolence had been attempted, learning from both the successes and failures.

Gandhi Today

Although not a mainstream ideology, nonviolent theory and practice are not new in Africa. As Desmond Tutu writes in the preface to Guns and Gandhi in Africa: Pan African Insights on Nonviolence, Armed Struggle and Liberation in Africa (Sutherland & Meyer, 2002), it was in South that Mahatma Gandhi developed his concept of Satyagraha, variously understood as a soul force that seeks truth through nonviolent action. Nonviolent action has therefore been a part of the strategies that South Africans have used to end apartheid since the late 19th century. In his autobiography titled Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah (1958) discussed how Gandhi’s concept of nonviolence influenced the strategies that Ghanaians used to win their independence in 1957 as the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to do so. Uniquely called Positive Action, Nkrumah trained members of his party in nonviolent techniques, and won Ghana’s independence without resorting to violence. Zambia’s first president Kenneth Kaunda was also a proponent of nonviolent action, and wrote a book about the predicament of nonviolence for independence movements faced with brutal, racist violence. Tanzania’s first president Julius Nyerere was also a proponent of nonviolence, as were other Pan-Africanist movements which adopted various nonviolent techniques even as they also flirted with violence when they deemed it necessary.

The morning of Saturday October 10th, the last day of this year’s PJSA annual conference, started with a plenary session. The session was titled ‘Gandhian Traditions’, and brought together three distinguished scholar-activists who study and teach Gandhian nonviolence. The first panelist to speak was Dr. Veena Rani Howard of the University of Oregon, who pointed out that in today’s world Gandhi’s values were considered ascetic, and were dismissed as quaint, and merely symbolic. The second speaker was Fr. Cedric Prakash, SJ, Director of the Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. Fr. Prakash spoke about the challenges of mainstreaming the concept of Ahimsa, or nonviolence, in Gandhi’s own backyard which today is wracked by various kinds of violence. The panel’s third and last speaker was Dr. Michael Nagler from the
Metta Center for Nonviolence Education, in Berkeley, California. Dr. Nagler pointed out that there had been a major shift in our thinking about nonviolence today. He said approximately 3.6 billion today lived in a region of the world where a major nonviolent event had occurred. He said this shift could also be seen in the study of science, with a noticeable turn toward the study of positive psychology in neuroscience. Nonviolence was now being taught in institutions across the world, and even the PJSA had made Nonviolence the theme for this year’s conference, observed Dr. Nagler.

As I write, the
Gandhi-King Conference on Peacemaking will be underway next week in Memphis, Tennessee, an annual gathering, since 2004, of peace scholars and practitioners, activists and community leaders. Georgia congressman and former student leader during the Civil Rights Movement, Representative John Lewis is pushing legislation through congress to enact a bill named H.R. 3328: the Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative Act of 2009. If passed, the bill would fund research and collaboration amongst scholars and students in both India and the United States to promote peace and nonviolence around the world. Another bill also aimed at promoting peace and nonviolence in the United States and abroad is H.R. 808, initiated by Congressman Denis Kucinich for the establishment of a cabinet level Department of Peace and Nonviolence. Adding to the shift, the PBS television documentary series titled A Force More Powerful, produced by Steve York and Jack DuVall, and the accompanying book edited by Peter Ackerman and Jack DuVall, catalogued no less than six major nonviolent revolutions, going back to the early 1900s up to the close of the century. That project helped tell the larger, if not less often told story of how nonviolent social change has been an important factor in 20th century struggles to end political repression.

If Dr. Nagler is indeed right about this shift, and there is good reason to believe he is, would it be too idealistic to imagine the role that nonviolence can play in seeking peaceful resolutions to some of the most difficult problems of violence and war that we are faced with today? And having seen the evidence for the presence of attempts to use nonviolent techniques in addressing the problems Zimbabwe is undergoing, what lessons might we draw from these attempts?

Lessons of Nonviolence

There are several tenets of nonviolent theory and practice that can help us begin answering the above two questions. There are noticeable differences between approaches that have suggested nonviolent strategies, and those that have not. The suggestion to use violent means to end the Zimbabwe impasse has gained traction, understandably so, given the frightening levels of violence that ZANU-PF has unleashed on members and supporters of the MDC and critiques alike. As Senator Coltart has pointed out, retaliation for this violence has played right into ZANU-PF’s philosophy of violent repression, a key lesson that nonviolence theory and practice teaches.†

As Senator Coltart has also argued, cycles of violence repeat themselves endlessly, even over hundreds of years. Nonviolent theory and practice, under the broader framework of Peace Studies, emphasizes the importance of studying the root contexts of problems in order to know how to address them. The Zimbabwe case has created such a revulsion for Robert Mugabe that to suggest a role for historical factors in leading to the present crisis has become passť. As Mahmood Mamdani observed in an essay in the London Review of Books in December 2008, the discourse on Zimbabwe turned into a dichotomous contention between two options: one either adored Mugabe, or one abhorred him. In his attempt to free the debate from such a binary, Mamdani suffered the fate of many who have made the argument for historical understanding of the roots of the problem, being dismissed as someone who was defending Robert Mugabe. Thus when Heidi Holland wrote her psychobiography of Mugabe, attempting to provide both a historical context and a psychoanalytical interpretation of why Mugabe turned from a hero to a villain, the result was a book whose description of the context that created Mugabe became something of a rare breath of honesty and a break from the vilification and demonization, which was nevertheless not totally absent.

Holland published an op-ed in the New York Times at the time her biography of Mugabe, Dinner With Mugabe, came out. The op-ed was titled ‘
Make Peace with Mugabe,’ in which she pointed out that Robert Mugabe’s real quarrel was with the British, arising out of promises they had made, and had then reneged on. “Indeed, he told me that he was prepared to sacrifice the welfare of his country to prove his case against Britain,” wrote Ms. Holland, a point Mr. Mugabe buttressed in his recent CNN interview with Christian Amanpour in September 2009, when Mugabe told Amanpour one does not leave power because an imperialist has demanded thus: “You dig in.” Ms. Holland went on to suggest that for someone who was prepared to destroy his country just to make a point against an opponent, estranging and vilifying him the way the West was doing was equally reprehensible. “That he has an arguably justifiable complaint against a major Western power — namely the repudiation of the land reform pledge — is doubtless an embarrassment in the West. But that Britain and others choose to shun Mr. Mugabe rather than attempt to settle these differences is quite frankly reckless.”

As evidence of that recklessness, much has been said about “Smart sanctions,” whose devastating effects on the Zimbabwean economy, as a combination with economic mismanagement by ZANU-PF, have little that can be said to be smart about them. Not much is said about the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA), passed in the US Congress and Senate in January 2001 as S.494. Dismissed by much of the White liberal left and African critics of Mugabe as irrelevant to Zimbabwe’s economic crisis, that bill effectively prohibited the biggest international financial institutions and traditional bilateral donors from entering into any economic and financial relationships with the government of Zimbabwe. As provided in Section 3 of the Act, the terms “International Financial Institutions” and “Multilateral Development Banks” include all the global financial institutions that most African and other developing regions of the world have long depended on for loans, development aid and the day to day running of their governments. Included in these categories are the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, as well as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The Act also recommended requesting the compliance of the European Union, Canada and “other appropriate foreign countries” in maintaining the sanctions stipulated in the Act.

Love Thy Enemies, Including Robert Mugabe

Ms. Holland’s advice to the West may have been premised on the politics of realism and pragmatism, but it also points toward an important principle in nonviolent theory and practice. Both Gandhi and King preached that at the heart of principles of nonviolence was love; nonviolent activists protested against oppression and injustice whilst still being able to love and respect the perpetrator of those vices. Nonviolence strategies did not aim to defeat and humiliate an opponent, a piece of wisdom that allowed the British to leave India without ill feelings. It was this philosophy that also enabled the wider mainstream American public to understand and appreciate the Civil Rights struggle, leading to both the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and 1965 respectively. Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu extended this philosophy, framed in the African concept of uBuntu, as it facilitated the extension of forgiveness from Black South Africans toward White South Africans, and enabled a transition from White minority rule to a democratic dispensation that opened up political participation for all South Africans.

It is not very easy for many people to consciously imagine themselves forgiving Robert Mugabe and facilitating a new process of engagement with him, but neither does Mugabe show signs of a capability to do that himself. But therein lies one of the hardest principles of nonviolent theory and action as bequeathed to us by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Seeing nonviolence as both principle and strategy opens up new possibilities in thinking differently about the causes of the Zimbabwe crisis, and envisioning new solutions that represent a break from the intractable impasse that has clouded the minds of many. Zimbabwean peace activists have a lot to teach us about nonviolence, given the realities of what they go through every day. Nonviolent theory and practice teaches that local activists have a much better chance of effecting change in their own locality than activists coming in from outside, with no deeper knowledge of the issues and ties to the community. This does not mean outsiders have no role to play; rather it means outsiders need to show their solidarity based on respect of local knowledge, a consciousness and awareness of historical wrongs and their own complicity in that history, as well as a readiness to learn from the people of the area.

What Gandhi and King Would Advise

We can only imagine what Gandhi’s and Martin Luther King Jr.’s advice would have been toward dealing with the question of Zimbabwe. However several factors highlighted in this article offer key concepts in nonviolence theory and practice as a compelling alternative towards attempts to better understand and resolve problems of violent conflict anywhere in the world.† Some of the biggest struggles to end repression in the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century have been carried out using largely nonviolent means. One such untold story is how my own country Malawi waged a largely nonviolent struggle between 1992 and 1994 to rid itself of an entrenched thirty-year dictatorship.

In Zimbabwe, the MDC, WOZA and such other groups are keeping the traditions of nonviolent struggle alive, even as they learn new lessons about what works and what does not. Entrusting a crucial Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture to a strong, respected advocate of peace and principled nonviolence is a major step that has the potential to transform the role of education in how Zimbabweans and other African nations envision the future. The spirit of uMunthu/uBuntu is not completely dead in Southern Africa; in fact it offers a new framework for uMunthu-based peace education and nonviolence, built on endogenous epistemologies that transform themselves with changing times. Handled with the requisite care and sensitivity, the recent ADEA conference in Mombasa, Kenya, by seven African Ministers of Education to lay the foundation for a peace education curriculum in African school systems will be a major step in envisioning a different future for Africa.

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Jacaranda time in Zimbabwe

The purple blossoms of jacaranda trees decorate Harare's avenues and distract the viewer from the increasing grime and crime in Zimbabwe's capital city. (GlobalPost)

Purple blooms in Harare mask the rot in Mugabe's capital.
By Zimbabwe Correspondent (author cannot be identified because of Zimbabwe's press restrictions)
Published: October 22, 2009 07:01 ET

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Mention Zimbabwe and the listener will think of chaos and decay. But in October, with jacaranda trees displaying their striking purple blossoms, the nation’s capital, Harare, could easily be described as charming.

White British settlers imported the trees from South America at the end of the 19th century. Whole avenues are awash with masses of mauve blooms.

Their appearance heralds the arrival of summer, which in Zimbabwe arrives on the dot at this time of year. And as the heat increases so does the prospect of rain.

There is nothing more dramatic than a highveld thunderstorm as lightning bolts zigzag down to earth. Within a few weeks the arid countryside is transformed into a sea of green.

The coming of the rains marks the end of the jacaranda’s brief reign. It is soon replaced by flame trees whose flowering branches provide a scarlet-red canopy across the city.

Postcards from the 1960s show a prosperous and well-laid-out town with flowerbeds and tidy streets. Statues of colonial founders stare down from their pedestals, a breed confident in the perpetuity of their rule.

Times have changed. Harare has not escaped the impact of population growth evident everywhere in Africa. Zimbabwe has burgeoned from 5 million to 12 million in a generation.
Every nook and cranny is now occupied as rural folk drift to towns to seek, if not their fortunes, then jobs and subsistence.

Vestiges of the old city can be seen here and there. But the remains are sad to behold. Bicycle tracks are overwhelmed by rogue shrubs, some street lights haven’t worked for years and sidewalks contain pot holes that would comfortably consume an unsuspecting pedestrian. Indeed, some have.

But viewed from the perspective of the hill that overlooks the city, it is a pretty and well-ordered town laid out in a grid pattern. The statues have, of course, been relocated. But students of “contemporary” (1950s) architecture may be pleased to know that the main artery through the city center contains some of the finest examples of '50s street lamps surviving in Africa including their “Chinese hats.” And some of them actually work.

Here the great mining, banking and insurance companies had their headquarters in the boom years of the Federation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland — today Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. All three countries experienced post-colonial economic collapse but none so dramatic as Zimbabwe.

A few banks remain but mostly the businesses have migrated to office parks on the periphery of the city. And with their departure the city has succumbed to crime and grime. Piles of rubbish occupy street corners. And street kids beg at traffic lights.

President Robert Mugabe is universally blamed for the blight of a once-beautiful city.

Irresistible demographics have played a role but change has not been well managed. An energetic, business-minded mayor has the daunting task of putting the city back together again. He’s unlikely to succeed. But some pot holes have been filled.

“One thing he [Mugabe] can’t take from us is the weather,” one old timer chuckles.

It is true that Harare has one of the finest climates in the world. At 5,000 feet it is never too hot or humid and the winter months of May, June, July and August are filled with cloudless blue skies as the rain keeps a discreet distance.

Zimbabwe has a well-developed tourism infrastructure and an impressive range of wildlife. But the resorts are empty with hotels reporting 30 percent occupancy. The customer is king. There is no problem with comfort or security at the country’s main resorts. From its mountains in the east and national parks in the west, to the stunning Victoria Falls and tranquil Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe offers a range of sights for the visitor.

But the tourists won’t be coming back just yet. Like the rest of us they are waiting for the main obstacle to change being removed from the road ahead. Foreigners and Zimbabweans alike hope that it won’t be too long now.

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