The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

MDC to seek arbitration if deadlock persists

by Cuthbert Nzou Friday 24 October 2008

HARARE - Zimbabwe's prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai has told
foreign diplomats that he will push for international arbitrators to step in
to break a deadlock over formation of a unity government if African
mediators failed to resolve the matter.

Tsvangirai met diplomats from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation
(OECD) and Development countries on Wednesday. Yesterday he met African
ambassadors accredited to Harare to brief them on a power-sharing deal with
President Robert Mugabe that has stalled over who should control key
ministerial posts in the unity government.

Diplomatic sources said during the meeting with diplomats from the OECD, the
opposition MDC party leader said the main outstanding issue on the
allocation of ministries was home affairs and accused Mugabe of not being

He told the diplomats that he did not travel to Swaziland to attend a summit
of the regional SADC grouping's security Troika on Monday because Mugabe's
government was refusing to issue him a new passport.

"He said the refusal to grant him a passport was symbolic sign of
insincerity on the part of government," a Western diplomat said. "Tsvangirai
insisted that home affairs was the bottom line."

The diplomats said Tsvangirai told them that if the 15-nation SADC and the
African Union (AU) - the guarantors of the September 15 unity government
deal - fail to unlock the impasse, he would push for the establishment of an
arbitration group to deal with the deadlock.

"Tsvangirai said the arbitration group would have to be made up of African
and international statesmen to deal with the deadlock," another diplomat
said. "He said the group would have to be formed through a mutual agreement
between ZANU PF (Mugabe's ruling party) and the MDC."

Those present at the meeting held at the Spanish ambassador's residence were
diplomats from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, South
Korea, Australia, Canada, Austria, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic,
Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Portugal.

Yesterday, Tsvangirai spoke to African diplomats about what he described as
Mugabe's lack of sincerity in the talks; disrespect for African leaders and
institutions; deception; acting in bad faith and giving MDC responsibilities
without authority.

Tsvangirai is said to have expressed frustration with the way Mugabe has
been behaving since the signing of the main agreement last month.

It is understood he also dealt with the issue of former South African
President Thabo Mbeki who he said was not impartial.

This followed Mbeki's report to the SADC troika, in which he endorsed Mugabe's
unilateral decision to allocate all key ministries including defence,
justice, foreign and home affairs to ZANU PF.

The report also backs the decision to give finance to MDC while home affairs
would be rotated between Tsvangirai's party and ZANU PF.

Tsvangirai said the fallout over his passport, which he said symbolised the
limit on freedom of movement and other liberties, was evidence that Mugabe
was not sincere. He also wondered why Mugabe flew to Swaziland in a state
airliner, using public resources and left him behind.

Talks broke down last week largely over home affairs.

However, the MDC says there is still a problem over ministries of local
government, foreign affairs, lands and agriculture, information, women,
youths, justice and defence. Although defence has gone to Mugabe as the head
of state and government, the MDC is using it to bargain for home affairs.

The failure by Mugabe and MDC leaders to agree on ministries has taken back
the Zimbabwe crisis into the international spotlight.

MDC-Tsvangirai spokesperson Nelson Chamisa confirmed his leader's meeting
with diplomats, but declined to give details.

Chamisa said: "It was a routine briefing President Tsvangirai gave them on
the party's position on the talks. It was more of an update to our
distinguished members of the diplomatic community from our continent as well
as the whole world." - ZimOnline.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Opposition Head To Attend Summit Next Week -Spokesman


HARARE, Zimbabwe (AFP)--Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will
attend a summit next week aimed at saving a troubled power-sharing accord,
his party's spokesman said on Friday.

"We are not boycotting Monday's meeting," Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) spokesman Nelson Chamisa told AFP.

"It is our hope that this meeting will bring closure and finality to this
issue of power sharing and enable Zimbabwe to respond to the dire situation
which the people are facing," he added.

Tsvangirai had refused to go to Swaziland for a meeting with Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe and four other regional leaders on Oct. 20, in
protest that he was only given emergency travel documents at the last

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

South Africa leader urges Zimbabwe MDC to attend talks


Fri Oct 24, 2008 8:27am BST

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African President Kgalema Motlanthe on Friday
urged Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai not to boycott talks on
forming a cabinet and said only more dialogue would break an impasse.

"When you seek a solution to a problem, you talk to those that you disagree
with," Motlanthe said on SABC radio. "You can't make peace with your
friends. You make peace with your enemies, your adversaries."

"...The niggling problems can only be addressed by following this process of

Zimbabwe's opposition MDC has said Tsvangirai could boycott next week's
regional summit in Harare aimed at rescuing a power-sharing deal, saying an
election may be needed to break the deadlock over control of cabinet seats
in a new government.

Tsvangirai, set to become prime minister, has accused President Robert
Mugabe's ZANU-PF of trying to seize the lion's share of important ministries
under a power-sharing deal which was signed on September 15 but has since

Fed up with weeks of fruitless talks, the MDC leader snubbed an emergency
Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Swaziland this week
that was to address the issue, citing Harare's refusal to give him a new

The summit was rescheduled for October 27 in Harare. Former South African
president Thabo Mbeki has been mediating talks but critics say he has been
too soft on Mugabe and lacks leverage after he was ousted as president last

The power-sharing deal is seen as Zimbabwe's best hope for halting a
devastating economic meltdown marked by the world's highest inflation and
acute shortages of food and fuel.

(Reporting by Rebecca Harrison and Marius Bosch; Editing by Jon Boyle)

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Fresh elections loom for Zimbabwe

JASON MOYO - Oct 24 2008 08:01

Ahead of next week's regional summit to save the Zimbabwe power-sharing
deal, what began as a row over a passport has escalated into the possibility
of yet another round of elections for weary Zimbabweans.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was due to meet the executive members of
the MDC this week, in a meeting which a spokesperson said could see his
withdrawal from the power-sharing agreement and a call for new elections.

If this happens, Zimbabwe could be holding its eighth poll in as many years.

MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said: "Our national executive committee will
meet before Friday to decide on the way forward, although I must hasten to
say there is growing consensus for us to withdraw from the September 15
deal. Our structures are now calling for a fresh presidential election. They
are of the opinion that a fresh election is the way forward."

This week the government of Botswana also called for new elections.

Tsvangirai will not meet any resistance from the hardline ranks of Zanu-PF
if he decides to pull out of the agreement. Jabulani Sibanda, leader of the
radical war veterans' movement, has called for RobertMugabe to stop talking
to the MDC and form a government.

"The nation will take action to defend itself from Tsvangirai," he said.

Sibanda is a fervent Mugabe ally and headed a violent campaign last year to
purge internal Zanu-PF opposition to Mugabe's re-election as party leader.

As editorials in state media became more strident in their calls for Mugabe
to ditch the deal and form a government, senior Tsvangirai supporters were
also ratcheting up pressure on their leader to boycott next Monday's summit,
withdraw from the deal and seek a new election.

The power-sharing agreement is unravelling over which party gets control
over the home affairs ministry -- under which the police fall -- despite
Mugabe making an important concession by yielding the finance ministry.

Tsvangirai refused to attend this week's summit in Mbabane, Swaziland, angry
at the Zimbabwean government's refusal to issue him with a passport. But
others have reported anger within the MDC over a report, said to have been
prepared by South African mediator Thabo Mbeki, which backs Mugabe's
allocation of ministries. "To the extent possible, all the parties have been
allocated portfolios, which allow them to have a presence in each of the
priority sectors," said a report, which was circulating among MDC officials
ahead of the Mbabane summit.

The "priority sectors" are listed as the restoration of economic stability,
delivery of social services, the rule of law, adoption of a new
Constitution, the land question, restructuring state organs and institutions
and national healing, cohesion and unity.

There has been no comment from Mbeki on the document.

While the pressure mounts on both Mugabe and Tsvangirai to withdraw from the
deal, political analysts are split over which of the two men would suffer
the most damage from such a decision. Many believe Mugabe has little left to
lose, while Tsvangirai is still seeking to build relations with African
leaders who are still wary of him. "It would be a dangerous mistake for
[Tsvangirai] to be labelled a spoiler by both the SADC [Southern African
Development Community] and the AU [African Union]," said Eldred Masunungure,
a political analyst.

There is also debate over whether either of the two main parties is prepared
for a new round of elections, or if Zimbabweans themselves want to be put
through another round of what could well be even more violent campaigning.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, discredited for a month-long delay in
releasing results in March, stoked the fires this week by announcing it was
preparing to hold by-elections in five constituencies, against a clause in
the September 15 power-sharing agreement that stays such elections for a

Herald: Tsvangirai's passport woes justified
Zimbabwe's state-owned Herald newspaper, which normally reflects official
thinking, has said opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai should be the last
person to get a passport.

In an editorial, titled", Morgan should be the last to get a passport", the
paper accused Tsvangirai of campaigning for Western sanctions against
Zimbabwe, which, it said, had crippled every sector of society, including
the passport office.

The newspaper said Tsvangirai -- who refused to travel to a regional summit
on Monday to discuss Zimbabwe's deadlocked power-sharing deal unless he was
issued with a passport -- did not deserve any special treatment from the
registrar general's department, which issues passports.

"Why does he want special treatment when he campaigned for the sanctions
that have affected every sector of society including the passport office?",
the editorial read.

The Herald said Tsvangirai should have travelled to Swaziland using an
emergency travel document (ETD) as he has often done in the past.

"Would he be the only Zimbabwean travelling on an ETD?" it asked. "We hope
African leaders have seen for themselves the kind of opposition we are
trying to rehabilitate into national leadership in Zimbabwe.

"Shortage of passports aside, Tsvangirai should be the last person to get a
passport, and only after he condemns the sanctions that have constrained the
registrar-general's capacity to meet the national demand for passports."

Because of Tsvangirai's failure to travel to Mbabane, regional leaders will
try to meet in Harare on Monday next week to find a solution to the troubled
Southern African nation's deepening crisis.-- Zimonline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mbeki concerns western envoy

24 October 2008

Hopewell Radebe

Diplomatic Editor

A WESTERN diplomat has expressed concerns about former president Thabo Mbeki's
failure to pressure Zimbabwean President Robert Muga-be over violating his
public commitment to that country's power-sharing pact.

The concerns support the Movement for Democratic Change's (MDC) growing lack
of confidence in Mbeki's ability to take the process further. The MDC also
accus es him of endorsing Mugabe's choice of cabinet positions in his report
to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) troika meeting in
Swaziland this week.

The diplomat who cannot be named, said Mbeki's report to the troika proved
he was not leaning on Mugabe to make concessions. Mugabe has assigned all
key positions, including justice, defence, intelligence, police, home
affairs, finance, tourism and mines, to Zanu (PF) members.

Tsvangirai has refused to compromise on finance and home affairs, which
includes the police. He says that for the country to recover the MDC needs
to drive the reform process, and ensure that the police restore the rule of
la w.

Meanwhile, the MDC has asked the African National Congress if its president,
Jacob Zuma, will take over mediation. The MDC has also pinned its hopes on
President Kgalema Motlanthe. He is also SADC chairman and a central figure
of the ANC and its tripartite alliance partners which has been hostile to
Mugabe's regime in the past.

Mbeki has been accused of siding with Zimbabwe's liberation movement to the
detriment of the country's greater good.

The diplomat expressed doubt that foreign aid for Zimbabwe's economic
recovery was likely if certain key ministries were not given to the MDC.
Most international funding institutions no longer trust Mugabe's technocrats
and cronies.

The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculos-is and Malaria, last year rejected
proposals from Zimbabwe for further grants to combat TB and malaria.
Zimbabwe was seeking a total of $48,5m for malaria and $25,5m for
tuberculosis over five years.

Of $32,7m approved previously, about $25m has been withheld after
allegations of misappropriation of resources and theft by the ruling party

He said Mugabe was refusing to relinquish power or negotiate a political
solution or exit because there was still "enough meat on the carcass for him
and his closest allies to survive a while longer".

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Cabinet impasse forces Zim parliament to suspend business

by Tendai Maronga Friday 24 October 2008

HARARE - Zimbabwe's Parliament has suspended sitting because it would be
futile for the House to sit when there is no government, in yet another
example of deepening paralysis in the country following a power-sharing

Social Amenities Minister and acting leader of the House of Assembly
Emmerson Mnangagwa said the lower chamber would adjourn until November 11
but said it could be recalled much earlier, "in the event certain measures
are put in place".

He was referring to the formation of a unity government under a September 15
power-sharing agreement that has however stalled because President Robert
Mugabe and opposition MDC party leader Morgan Tsvangirai cannot agree on how
to share key Cabinet posts.

"Because of the constraints relating to the non-existence of the inclusive
government, the House will not be sitting for a while," Mnangagwa told the
House on Wednesday. "In the event measures are out in place, we may be able
to call for the sitting of the House at a much earlier date."

The Parliament was elected on March 29 but did not convene until August as
the country had to hold a presidential run-off election on June 27 and also
because of the need to give chance to power-sharing talks that were only
concluded with last month's deal.

The key House of Assembly, which is for the first time dominated by the
opposition after Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party lost the March poll, had sat
for only seven days before adjourning on Wednesday, clearly unable to
function in the absence of government.

The Southern African Development Community's security Troika holds a summit
in Harare next Monday to try to end the deadlock between Mugabe and
Tsvangirai over control of the most powerful Cabinet posts in the unity

On Monday, Tsvangirai refused to travel to a regional summit in Swaziland to
discuss the Cabinet deadlock, insisting the government should issue him with
a passport. The meeting had to be postponed to October 27 in Harare but
Tsvangirai has indicated he will still not attend should Mugabe's government
insist on not giving him a passport.

Meanwhile legislators from all parties called on Wednesday for urgent action
to mobilise food aid as many families across the country are said to have
run out of food and are surviving on wild fruits or just a single meal a

"This motion is neither MDC nor ZANU PF, but it is supported by both
parties. We agree on this issue that the people who are hungry are
Zimbabweans," said ZANU PF chief whip Joram Gumbo, supporting the motion
moved by MDC legislator for Makoni West constituency, Webber Chinyadza.

Analysts see a power-sharing government as the first step to ending
decade-long food shortages and economic crisis in Zimbabwe. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zuma Urges Zimbabwe Adversaries to Consider the Poor during Monday's Talks


By Peter Clottey
Washington, D.C.
24 October 2008

The president of South Africa's ruling African National Congress Party (ANC)
is calling on Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and the main opposition to
consider the plight of the poor ahead of Monday's meeting to resolve the
ongoing political impasse. Jacob Zuma says ordinary Zimbabweans are
suffering due to the country's economic meltdown, adding that it behooves
the leadership to compromise on finding a lasting solution to a
power-sharing government.

Zuma reportedly discussed the Zimbabwe crisis with US President George
Bush's national security adviser Stephen Hadley in meetings at the White
House this week. The Zimbabwe power-sharing agreement signed last month
between the ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) aims to form a unity government to resolve the country's problems.

In Washington, Zuma told reporter Peter Clottey that there is still hope for
a resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis.

"I think there is a process in Zimbabwe that is taking place. As you know,
that having gone through a trying kind of situation with regards to the
election, finally there were negotiations that were mediated by the former
President Thabo Mbeki, finally agreed to have an arrangement that stipulates
the power-sharing kind of arrangement," Zuma pointed out.

He said there have been challenges in implementing the power-sharing

"Of course there are problems that while the power-sharing agreement is on
the table, they've got difficulties in implementing it, probably because
they are not agreeing on some final points. Now, the process is on to try to
do that in solving the problem, and I have been informed that on Monday,
there would be a meeting in Zimbabwe that was organized by the troika of
SADC (Southern African Development Community) to try to bring this matter to
a close. The indication is that they are very close to clinching a deal. We
are hoping that would happen," he said.

Zuma said there is need to encourage both the ruling and opposition parties
to find a common ground.

"The point that we have been making to the Zimbabweans is that it is
important that the leadership in Zimbabwe must take into account the plight
of the poor people who have suffered so much," Zuma noted.

He said as an outsider, it would not be appropriate to dictate to the
stakeholders on what to do in the negotiations.

"I cannot spell out the details of what people should do because I'm not the
party involved. I'm not even mediating to say, look, from my point of view
this is what I think you should do. The appeal I'm making is that they
should be determined, not only the leaders, but also their parties, that
compromises should be made for the sake of Zimbabweans. How that is done as
a detail is, I think, a matter that is for the Zimbabweans. I can't dictate
to them and say do this and don't do that. It is not easy to do so," he

Zuma said Zimbabwe's leadership should take the plight of the suffering
masses into consideration in the negotiations.

"I think what we can do is just to remind our brothers and sisters that,
look, Zimbabweans in the meantime are suffering. Their suffering could only
be relieved by them, and it is their responsibility as the leaders to ensure
that they instill confidence to the Zimbabweans, even to their own
leadership," Zuma pointed out.

He said the demand by the opposition MDC calling for a fresh election
supervised by the international community if the power sharing agreement
fails is not the best solution to the Zimbabwe crisis.

"I don't think when the Zimbabwe tension is so high, you could go back to
elections. It would end up with same results of violence. I think what we
need at the moment is power sharing. Power sharing is important because it
begins to deal with that tension. It begins to dissolve, and it begins to
make the Zimbabweans learn how to work together so that by the next
election, we don't have the tension. That option of going to election right
now, I think, would worsen the problem of violence, and I don't think that
is an option," he said.

Meanwhile, the United States Monday threatened to impose new sanctions
against Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and his supporters if he reneges
on the September 15 power-sharing deal with MDC opposition leader Morgan

Zuma reportedly said South Africa strongly supports SADC's efforts and the
ANC is engaging both Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the MDC.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabweans' patience wearing thin with Mugabe and Tsvangirai

Zimbabwe's political leaders, chiefly Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai,
share responsibility for the drawn-out power sharing talks and every life
lost, pain experienced and suffering taking place since September 15, 2008,
writes prominent women's rights advocate JANAH NCUBE.

Posted to the web: 23/10/2008 21:29:19
ON THURSDAY, October 16, 2008, I spent the day meeting with women from
across the country discussing their suffering, hopes and aspirations in the
face of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
Questions were concentrated on the current impasse on cabinet appointments
and how it exacerbates the plight of ordinary folks in the country. It
appears the signing of the power sharing agreement did not take the country
forward as expected. It brought more talks and has exposed the lack of
commitment and sincerity harboured by the political parties' principals.

From this, we learnt that some leaders from the opposition are quick to play
the blame game even when they are self-serving. At least, they can afford to
do just that, by riding on Zanu PF's wrongs; past and present. The people of
Zimbabwe bear the heaviest brunt of all this self-serving and public
posturing by these political leaders.

The GPA was meant to be a demonstration of a common vision to get Zimbabwe
out of its socio-economic and political mire. Certainly, the document is
peppered with all the 'right' words, the 'right' tones, and possibly
positive projections that pledged to deliver us to the 'Promised Land'.

Indeed, it is not perfect, however, all the needed ingredients have been
provided for.

When Professor Arthur Mutambara, Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai signed
the document, we believed it to be the necessary demonstration of their
willingness to start afresh, to work as one and to be determined to walk in
trust. At least to walk the nation from the shadows of an unenviable past,
into a future where the citizens will find worth and value in themselves as
a people.

Time, however, is exposing them as lacking in integrity. They talk left and
walk right. Some have even on the brink of crossing from the radical left to
the far right.

Given all the obtaining obduracy, women asked: "What is a key ministry, and
who determines this?"

Another asked: "Who cares who gets the ministry of home affairs when people
are dying around the country from starvation and lack of adequate medical

"Would these talks still be on-going if they were meeting in the locations,
the high density areas of Harare where burst sewage pipes cause streams of
sewage to flow into homes and drinking water sources?

"Are these leaders prepared to spend more than a day in the high-density
suburbs where all the vagaries of poverty gape are at their starkest?"

Absurdly, they are meeting in a five star hotel; in the midst of
unparalleled opulence. On behalf of the poor and victimised women and
children, they eat good food and drink the finest wines which most
Zimbabweans cannot access. In all this sumptuousness, we hear they are
talking about the problems of the impoverished!

These are the issues that women grappled with all day long. Questions
continued to be as far ranging and reaching as one can imagine given the
level of suffering.

Is this deal really going to work? Are the political parties and their
leaders focused on Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans?

It is certainly easy to hurl insults and condemnation at Robert Mugabe and
Zanu PF, that is what we are used to and that is the easy thing to do.
Certainly he and his party deserve the strongest condemnation and bear the
greatest responsibility for the state of the country: Economically,
Politically and Socially.

However, in our deliberations as we went through the contents of the GPA, as
we also engaged with the three chief negotiators who came to attend segments
of our meeting; it became clear to us that what is being said in the media
is not the real situation.

It clearly emerged that another new form of patriotism based on some
people's unquestioning support of one opposition leader seems to have
sprouted; one that says, 'hear no evil, see no evil and even dream no evil'.
It is a kind of naïve realism that surrogates our mental faculties to the
canonisation of opposition leaders even when they are self serving.

We also noticed that the concept of negotiating behind closed doors in
secret has been abused as it has left the country without correct
information on what is going on in the negotiations, except what the
politicians tell us. And so, they all come out from the same meeting saying
conflicting statements. While the other says they have a problem with ten
the ministries, the others say they have agreed to nearly all of them except
one or two. One is left wondering whether these people were in the same room
in the first place.

Amid all this, once in a while we are treated to some media hype and
generated stories of a deal that is so imminent, but like a mirage it
remains elusive and the poor are left nursing their pains and licking their
wounds; in their minds and hearts with hopes and aspirations dashed.

The politicians are now experts at politicking the progress, based on their
partisan interests while the ordinary people are unfortunately left to make
head or tail of those polarised views. The polarisation that has dogged the
country has been totally entrenched.

Sadly, we all are viewing these developments with clearly elaborate frames
and biases and this has become the way media is also reporting the
Zimbabwean story. The government mouthpiece has been fabricating lies about
the developments; sadly the so called 'independent' media continue to lie to
the teeth in support of opposing views.

The three principals, Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara, share responsibility
for the drawn-out talks, the delays and consequently share responsibility
for every life lost, pain experienced and suffering taking place since
September 15, 2008.

The ripple effects of not having a government in place as of September 15,
2008, in my view, lie squarely on the shoulders of Tsvangirai and Mugabe.
They have become the greatest enemies of our people and our country. They
have lost sight of the issues, the people and the country. They are dancing
to the tunes of their egos, the few people around them and for some of them,
it is clear they have strings attached to other forces that are tugging at
them when they get close to finalising the talks.

They are not committed to solving Zimbabwe's problems and alleviating the
plight of our suffering people. The show of that commitment would have been
in realising that they have to compromise and give up some of their
positions for the sake of bringing Zimbabweans together and allow for
healing, feeding and building the country.

Women are tired of all these processes that give rise to promissory notes
that never deliver the results. It would appear this is about the transfer
of power from one group of men to another. It is about a few people at the
helm of political processes protecting their own interests.

They are making decisions, supposedly representing 'the masses'. They do not
consult the same masses. Instead, they have been blatantly misrepresenting
the facts and the truth to whip up hate, intolerance and enrage people to
take hard line positions.

While the leaders are chauffeured into air conditioned suites at the Rainbow
Towers, ordinary people are relegated to queuing all day long for rations of
their own money amid frustrations and the blazing hot sun. The consequences
of delaying the implementation of the GPA are the hard lived realities of
starvation, cholera, darkness with no electricity and humiliation as a
people who are now appearing helpless and destituteness for those internally
displaced citizens.

These politicians are certainly out of touch with reality. It seems the
issues that are at the top of the agenda for the people of Zimbabwe -- food,
clean water, electricity, accessing their hard earned cash from the banks -- 
are not the same priorities for those sitting around the negotiating table
enjoying all the opulence. They are after power, getting a ministry that
they will use to pull each other down, control, for glamour and self

Unless we have a government in place where all the parties are committed to
work together, the country's ills will not be fixed. Unless the three
principals stop politicking, clean water will not run through the tapes and
the burst sewers will remain flowing into the residential areas.

Everyone has to work together. The commitment was to establish a government
of Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans. Morgan Tsvangirai is going to be a prime
minister responsible for all the ministries including the fifteen that will
be designated to Zanu PF and the three designated to the MDC led by
Professor Mutambara. Mugabe is going to be President of all Zimbabweans not
Zanu PF card holders alone. We all witnessed that event.

As one of the women observed in our meeting: "Who do they want to rule when
we are dead and finished?'" It is time to rise up and be true leaders. The
country cannot be held at ransom and be kept in distress because these few
men are failing to sit through a process until they find a workable

This call is for Mugabe to stop the deception and show that he is a
responsible man and committed to the Zimbabwe he fought for and was jailed
for by colonialists.

It is also a call for Tsvangirai, to stop the boycotts and stay-aways, and
go into the meeting room and insist that no-one leaves until everything is
agreed so that the change he has been fighting for can be realised for the
people of Zimbabwe.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Provincial Police Take Issue With Bullhorn Campaigning


By Jonga Kandemiiri
23 October 2008

Officials of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change in
Manicaland province said two activists were detained Thursday by police in
Nyazura, Makoni South, for more than two hours after they used a mobile
loudspeaker to publicize some political rallies.

The rallies in Rusape and Mutare, provincial capital, are scheduled to be
addressed by MDC founder and prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai.

Officers seized car keys from the two MDC activists, threatening to charge
them with making a public nuisance by announcing the rallies with a bullhorn
or loud-hailer, in local parlance.

MDC activist Blessing Dhimba told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio
7 for Zimbabwe that he and his fellow activist were released after receiving
a stern warning if they continued to make public announcements in this
manner police would open fire on their car.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Coming of the Dry Season

Dr Alex T Magaisa

Last updated: 10/24/2008 23:22:01
THEY called to say that the first rains had finally arrived. They said the
weatherman had promised yet more rains, as if he were the Rainmaker. They
said the minister predicted, yet again, that there would be a bumper
harvest. But there is no seed, no fertiliser. The villagers are hungry.

There is nothing new here, I thought. What about the politics, I asked.
Well, they are still talking, they replied.

By the time I put the phone down, I wondered, whether this was yet another
false promise; that despite the rains, this could be, to use the title of
Charles Mungoshi's haunting collection of short stories, the coming of
another dry season.

Optimism and Pessimism

I have seen enough in my years to understand that you are either of two
kinds of people.

There is a breed that is highly optimistic -- a type that tries very hard to
find goodness in other humans. This type sometimes ends up believing its own
wishes and dreams far though they might be, removed from reality.

They believe that every human has a 'core of goodness' - something that if
you search harder and more patiently, can be rescued and nurtured for the
greater good. Often this type meets with great disappointment when, and it's
usually the case, their dreams are dashed.

Then there is another breed that is cautious to the point of pessimism.
These ones are more sceptical. They know the human is inherently incapable
of being trusted so they take everything with a pinch of salt.

This type does not allow its dreams to stand for reality. It is the
pessimistic type; pessimism itself being useful insurance cover against the
likely spectre of disappointment.

Yet, this too is a privileged lot, because when they are proven wrong; when
things do actually work contrary to the pessimistic view, they are
nevertheless pleased. They win both ways. They say, 'we told you so' when
things fail but smile with contrived surprise when things do work.

Sadly, I do not belong to the second group. Unfortunately, try though I do,
to be cautious and pessimistic, the eternal optimist in me always triumphs.
It is a great weakness, I admit, because often I, like others of my ilk, are
disappointed. It is a weakness because we should learn to be more sceptical.

On this single occasion though, whilst it was hard to suppress the feeling
of optimism, it was, quite rightly qualified with caution. I was therefore
'cautiously optimistic' when the political protagonists in Zimbabwe signed
the September 15 Agreement.

There had been too many bitter fights between the protagonists and the text
of the Agreement itself was fairly messy. But even then, I thought that
despite the technical shortcomings, the signatories could do well to abide
by and uphold the 'spirit and principles' of the accord.

Here I was, hoping for that 'core of goodness' in humans to triumph. I
genuinely hoped they would but I was wrong to think they could actually do

As events since September 15 have shown, there is an apparent paucity of
respect, trust and confidence between the parties. It is difficult to
envisage a proper working relationship under the proposed structures.

There is a wrong assumption that once the cabinet allocations have been
'agreed', everything else will fall into place. The reality is that whatever
happens on October 27 when they meet with the SADC Troika, the gap in trust
and confidence is likely to remain.

Creativity for a Special Problem

But it's not all doom and gloom. Time has come for more creativity in
dealing with the preliminary problem of government structure. The structure
of government or indeed its composition is not an end in itself. The
politicians must ask themselves: What are we trying to achieve in
government? Clearly, there are problems that need resolution - that must be
the priority.

This question calls for robust policy considerations, as opposed to the
identity of persons at the helm of ministries. After all, the idea of
collective responsibility essentially means that all ministers are
responsible for the decisions taken by cabinet, whether or not they agree
with them.

As noted before in this column, the September Agreement has a rather odd
requirement that cabinet decisions must be taken by 'consensus'. This means
everyone in cabinet must agree. This will be hard to achieve given the
painful birth of the new government. It almost makes nonsense of the current
fight for specific portfolios.

It seems to me that the matter of governmental structure calls for some
innovation on the part of negotiators. A basic problem of the current
approach is that they are trying to fit within the traditional ministerial
model of government something that is not easily amenable to that model.
Having gone to such great lengths to devise a pact that is an extraordinary
solution to an unusual problem, you would think that it's logical to extend
the innovation further to the manner in which government is structured.

The Policy Perspective

It can't be too late to try out other mechanisms of resolving the conflict
by framing the question from a policy perspective. This would entail
identifying the key policy areas, perhaps focussing on problematic areas in
today's environment: economic policy; health and social welfare; Legal and
Constitutional Reform; Internal (Home) Affairs; External (Foreign) Affairs;
National Security Affairs; Education; Food and Agricultural Affairs; etc.

A modest idea might be, instead of resorting to the traditional ministerial
model, to constitute special joint executive committees comprising
representatives of each party - with the responsibility to drive the agreed
policies appertaining to each special area.

The issue ceases to be about a party 'controlling' a particular ministry but
a joint body specially constituted according to each policy area. What our
politicians should be spending their time on right now is not the identity
of the ministers as such but the priority policy areas and how they hope to
approach them in government.

This model of joint authority and responsibility of the special executive
committees could also augur well for the principles and rules under the
Agreement. Consensus must be built through a system that allows for a high
level of collegiality between the responsible ministers.

A model where the representatives of each party work together in specially
appointed committees is more likely to be conducive for the growth of good
team ethics, cross-party relations and also minimise the points of conflict.

Are relations really that bad?

Much is made of the bad relations between the MDCs and Zanu PF at an
organisational level or perhaps the leadership level when you consider the
relationship between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

I do believe, however, that outside the political rhetoric, ordinary people
might be surprised that politicians on either side actually do have personal
relationships which can facilitate a working relationship. They borrow money
from each other; they are related in one way or another - through marriage,
sharing totems, where they come from, they went to school together, etc.

You just have to consider the reported relationship between Theresa Makone
of the MDC, reportedly close to the Tsvangirais, and Jocelyn Chiwenga, wife
of the Army Commander who has had her own fair share of battles with
Tsvangirai. Or that the new Speaker, Lovemore Moyo, is related by marriage
to Zanu PF's Sithembiso Nyoni.

Impecunious MDC MPS have been said to borrow money from their more wealthy
Zanu PF counterparts. There could in fact be many more such finer
relationships. The clashes do indeed exist, but like in every other sphere
of life, it is not impossible to find extra threads that can bind people
together, beyond the politics of the day.

In my opinion, having haggled over the cabinet posts to fit within the
traditional ministerial model, it might be worth the effort to be more
creative. I only offered a modest proposal here. It is flawed and needs
better consideration. But the basic idea is not about my proposal; it is
that it might do us some good to think 'outside the box', forgive the use of
another tired cliché. It's a bleak situation and I fear it could be another
'dry season' in the offing.

Alex Magaisa is based at Kent Law School, The University of Kent. He can be
contacted at

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabweans Sympathetic to Tsvangirai's Passport Issue


By Tendai Maphosa
23 October 2008

Some Zimbabwe government supporters say President Robert Mugabe should form
a government without the opposition, following an opposition boycott of
talks Monday in Swaziland. Tendai Maphosa asked ordinary Zimbabweans in
Harare what they think about this latest threat to the power-sharing deal
signed last month and reports for VOA.

After failing to agree on the allocation of Cabinet posts last week,
Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change decided to refer the matter to the Southern African Development

They agreed to meet with SADC representatives earlier this week, but that
meeting never took place. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he could not
travel through South Africa to Swaziland for the meeting because he does not
have a passport.

Mr. Tsvangirai surrendered his passport when it ran out of pages earlier
this year and it has not been returned.

But President Robert Mugabe's government says Mr. Tsvangirai was issued an
emergency travel document that was sufficient to attend Monday's meeting.

VOA sought the opinions of some Zimbabweans on the matter.

For one man, it is simply a matter of respect - if the government can issue
Olympic gold medalist Kirsty Coventry a diplomatic passport then the man he
described as "our president" should not be denied an ordinary passport.

"It is wrong, Tsvangirai is our president and they give him an emergency
passport," he said. "Kirsty Coventry has a diplomatic passport and
Tsvangirai is given a document that expires in six months, it does not make

Another man says if he was issued with an emergency travel document Mr.
Tsvangirai should have traveled to Swaziland. But he said the prime-minister
designate should get a passport.

"He definitely deserves to have that passport," he said. "The talks should
have been held with him present, and I think him not having a passport was
neither here nor there."

The government claims they could not issue Mr. Tsvangirai with a passport
because they have run out of imported paper for passports. Mr. Mugabe's
spokesman George Charamba says this is due to sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe
by the West.

But this Zimbabwean man scoffed at Charamba's claim, saying the passport
office is issuing passports to ordinary Zimbabweans daily, and he says for a
high fee they can get their passport in 24 hours.

"They have one-day passport services, they should just give him a passport.
They are negotiating in bad faith," he said.

But the government's supporters disagree. Zimbabwe war veterans'
organization leader Jabulani Sibanda has urged Mr. Mugabe to appoint a
Cabinet without the MDC.

The Herald daily newspaper, a government mouthpiece, quotes Sibanda as
saying Mr. Tsvangirai lost the elections and efforts to accommodate him in
the inclusive government should not make it appear as if he is important.
Sibanda also warned Mr. Tsvangirai of unspecified action should he continue
to "behave the way he is behaving".

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe's endurance test

A flawed leader of a flawed party, yes, but Morgan Tsvangirai deserves
support for opposing Robert Mugabe's bullying

Blessing-Miles Tendi,
Thursday October 23 2008 20.30 BST

Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC have often been criticised for their failings
in confronting Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF's authoritarian rule. Certainly,
the MDC has reproduced some of Zanu-PF's undemocratic practices. "He who
fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a
monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into
you," as Nietzsche wrote.

For a long time, the MDC did not understand what sort of political animal
Zanu-PF is and the lengths it would go to in order to maintain power,
particularly its manipulation of Zimbabwe's history to shore up its waning
legitimacy and the party's resort to political violence. As Tsvangirai once
admitted to me, the MDC was "naïve" for thinking "Mugabe would give up power
through the ballot box" and was unaware that Mugabe would use the "land
question to delegitimise a legitimate opposition movement".

At its inception in 1999, the MDC was a broad political party in terms of
composition. Consequently, defining itself was made all the more difficult.
It had to cater to its various constituencies and some of them, white
farmers especially, left it exposed to Mugabe's charge that the MDC was a
"puppet" of white interests. The MDC's associations with the west also
harmed the party's image. It did not criticise double standards over human
rights in the west and the fact that Britain failed to honour its land
reform commitments in Zimbabwe adequately.

Furthermore, the MDC had exaggerated faith in the power of the international
community. The international community is not a silver bullet that can open
up internal space needed for democratic reform and human rights promotion.
Indeed, the international community's involvement in Zimbabwe became part of
the problem and not the solution. "We were a young and emerging party.
Mistakes happen," Tsvangirai conceded to me in 2006.

I could go on expounding a litany of the MDC's weaknesses: the party's
disunity; the use of tribal politics by some of its members; internal
violence; the party's lack of depth in leadership qualities. But doing so
would be overlooking a point that many commentators continue to overlook
when assessing the fortunes of Tsvangirai and the MDC, which is how
difficult it is to conduct opposition politics in Zimbabwe.

Being an opposition party in Zimbabwe is one of the toughest political
challenges in Africa and the evidence for this is long. In the early 1980s,
under the guise of crushing dissident activity, committed by a "poorly armed
group of less than 400 at their peak who survived mainly by avoiding
confrontation", Mugabe deployed the army to Zimbabwe's Matabeleland province
where it carried out systematic violence and intimidation to crush Zapu -
the main political opposition at the time. An estimated 20,000 Zimbabweans
lost their lives. The sheer force and calculated methodology of the violence
the MDC suffered at the hands of Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe's presidential election
runoff earlier this year was reminiscent of this early 1980s violence.

To be part of the opposition in Zimbabwe is to be a "sell-out",
"un-African", "pro-colonial" and "illegitimate". It is to lose one's human
rights, as exemplified by Tsvangirai's failure to attend a meeting of
regional leaders, aimed at breaking Zimbabwe's ongoing power sharing
deadlock, in Swaziland on Monday because the state would not grant him a
passport, curtailing his right to freedom of movement. Tsvangirai, MDC
members and supporters have, of course, witnessed worse. Torture, beatings,
detention, murder and harassment are the staple diet of those associated
with the opposition.

The MDC's continued existence - given the state's attempts to destroy it
since 1999 - speaks volumes of the immense courage and willpower the
opposition has shown under Tsvangirai. He is a flawed leader, and so is his
party, but courage and the ability to endure are two qualities Tsvangirai
and the MDC can never be faulted for. Global bodies, African organisations
and reform-minded African leaders owe them greater assistance in the face of
Mugabe and Zanu-PF's refusal to share power.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Learnmore Jongwe: Six Years Gone Now but Not a Forgotten Hero!

Friday, 24 October 2008 06:43

On 23rd October 2002 the Zimbabwean nation woke up to the shocking
news of the passing away of the charismatic legislator, Learnmore Jongwe.

According to the government officials, Jongwe was said to have
committed suicide overnight by a drug overdose of malaria tablets. However,
according to many observers, the official version of his death could never
be taken at its face value.

Calls were immediately made for an independent inquiry to verify the
actual cause of his death. Sadly though, it is now six years later and the
Zanu-PF led government has never enabled any kind of inquiry to be
undertaken to lay to rest any lingering doubts and suspicion pertaining to
the actual cause of his untimely death.

As such as the nation marks the 6th anniversary of his passing away,
it is perhaps trite and necessary to reiterate the call once again for an
independent commission of inquiry to be set up to address adequately all the
persisting theories surrounding his death.

It is also necessary to once again re-assert the fact that the
allegation of violent murder of his own beautiful wife, Rutendo; that the
late legislator was facing at that time represented a very tragic end of his
illustrious public service to his nation.

The tragic events of the last months of his life must not be allowed
to overshadow the greater part of his life. It must be never forgotten that
he rose from the obscurity of a disadvantaged peasant childhood to
international reputation by the sheer strength of his determination and raw

At the time of his death, Jongwe had become such a huge source of
inspiration to millions of Zimbabweans especially the nation's majority
youth population. A lot of young people admired his successful political
career and aspired to be like him. He was such an exemplary role model.

Jongwe first emerged into national limelight when he was elected as
the President of the University of Zimbabwe Students Union in October 1996.
Then a few months later his credentials as an outstanding leader of his
generation were further consolidated when he was elected as the President of
the revived Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) in March 1997.

In May 1999, Jongwe duly completed his Bachelor of Laws degree and
proceeded into private legal practice with a leading law firm in Harare.

But it was in his role as one of the founding leaders of the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) that he ensured his place among the best young
leaders Zimbabwe has ever produced.

Jongwe was initially elected as the national Youth Chairperson of the
MDC before being elevated to the post of national Secretary for Information
and Publicity at the inaugural congress of the MDC.

Immediately afterwards his key role in the national discourse was once
again cemented, when he was elected as the Member of Parliament for the
Kuwadzana constituency in Harare.

Jongwe served his nation with so much dedication and distinction.
There is no doubt that had it not been for the family tragedy that stopped
him on his tracks, he could ended up as one of the greatest leaders that
Zimbabwe has ever produced.

Now with the prospects of a new government in terms of the 15th
September 2008 agreement, Jongwe could have been in line for his first
appointment into the national Cabinet as a Minister from the MDC.

Sadly this was not to be.

Today Jongwe will continue to rest, assured that his contribution to
the development of his country will not be forgotten.

Last week some former student leaders met in Harare and agreed to
continue his legacy for the benefit of the national posterity especially
from the student and youth perspective.

A new trust will be registered soon in Zimbabwe that will seek to
promote his lasting legacy to be known as the Learnmore Jongwe
oundation.  - By Daniel Molokele

Mr. Daniel Molokele
Cell. +41 78 906 3896
Tel. +41 22 879 0502
Skype: daniel.molokele
Facebook: daniel molokele

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Why Sharing Is Safest Bet For Zim Generals

Thursday, 23 October 2008 19:21
ZIMBABWE'S military chiefs are reported to fear prosecution under the
power-sharing agreement. These fears are said to have prompted Mugabe's
announcement that Zanu PF would assume control of all key ministries in the
new government, in turn prompting Morgan Tsvangirai's announcement that the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will play no part in such an
It seems Mugabe is inclined to placate his chiefs and lose the deal.
But he and the generals have got it wrong. Noncompliance with the agreement
through the continued retention of power, entailing continued illegitimacy
in the eyes of the world, is no way to rule out prosecutions. By retaining
power in the same old way, military chiefs may avoid prosecution at home but
the threat only becomes that much more magnified outside Zimbabwe.
A refusal to relinquish power and honour the agreement will foreclose
on the stabilisation that power-sharing can bring, sending the economy into
further free-fall and making travel an even greater necessity -- to obtain
basic commodities and healthcare, among other things. And like Gen Augusto
Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator, arrested in a London hospital by
British police for crimes committed in Chile, Gen Constantine Chiwenga, the
head of Zimbabwe's defence force, may find that a routine scan at a
Johannesburg clinic leads to a more extended and unpleasant stay than he
could ever have imagined. Under universal jurisdiction, those responsible
for the most egregious crimes -- such as crimes against humanity -- can be
prosecuted and punished wherever they are found, even if those crimes
happened far outside the arresting state's territory.
Although universal jurisdiction is still treated with some
circumspection in a number of countries, that caution is likely to be put
aside when the international community is forced to witness the defeat of
the power-sharing agreement by the very actors who are most responsible for
the atrocities in Zimbabwe. Nor can prosecutions before the International
Criminal Court (ICC) be discounted. Although Zimbabwe is not party to the
ICC, and Zimbabwe's generals face no immediate indictment, the ICC may yet
have a role to play -- as recent developments in Sudan make clear. Like
Zimbabwe, Sudan is not party to the ICC, but ICC prosecutor Luis
Moreno-Ocampo now seeks an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar
al-Bashir. He can do this because the United Nations (UN) Security Council,
through a resolution, referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC.
Recently, a security council resolution sought to have Zimbabwe
declared a "threat to international peace". Although it did not seek to
refer the situation in Zimbabwe to the ICC, had the resolution passed, it
would have meant the first step in that direction. But the resolution was
ultimately defeated, primarily because negotiations for a power-sharing
agreement in Zimbabwe were continuing.
A clear indication that those negotiations have failed, such as the
negation of the agreement, as signalled by Zanu PF's unilateral actions, can
only prompt renewed efforts at having the security council take up this
matter. The irony in the military chiefs' concern that the power-sharing
agreement exposes them to prosecution is that the agreement may be their
very best guarantee against exactly that fate.
Tsvangirai has time and again emphasised that Zanu PF officials need
not be fearful of prosecutions under a new government. For making these
statements, Tsvangirai has incurred much opposition, and is likely to incur
more. Human rights advocates will argue that international law demands
prosecutions for crimes such as those committed in Zimbabwe -- crimes
against humanity.
Far more distressing will be the arguments of those victims who insist
they're entitled to see justice done. And a new Zimbabwean government would
be well advised to ensure that some form of justice is offered -- at the
very least in the form of acknowledgement of the crimes committed and
compensation for those who were victimised. But if Tsvangirai, MDC office
bearers and organisers -- many of whom have been among those most brutally
targeted -- can collectively agree that prosecutions are to be passed up to
secure a power-sharing arrangement, it is difficult to imagine that the rest
of the world would not pay heed and defer. And if they won't defer... the
power-sharing agreement still represents the best hope of an improved
economy, which will mean the military chiefs probably won't need to travel.-
Business Day.
Fritz is a visiting associate professor at Fordham Law School's
Leitner Centre.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

More Greed For Power Than Compassion

Thursday, 23 October 2008 19:17
THE scene is in a luxury hotel, somewhere in Harare, not far from the
two major hospitals where people are dying of the most curable diseases;
where nurses and doctors are helpless.

All they can do is stare at their professions being rubbished. What is
a doctor or nurse without medicine to give to save a life? He or she is like
a cow without an udder.
As far as I can see, it seems the elder gentleman is no longer able to
make decisions which will be respected by his lieutenants. They don't trust
him. Age has taken its toll on him. And wealth has taken its toll on them.
They have no time to recognise that they, indeed, lost the election and are
now a minority in a Parliament they had always taken as their preserve.
With power in their hands for 28 years, the imagination tends to
shrink also. Most of them are career ministers, not because of effective
performance, but simply because they are endowed with the power to worship
President Mugabe. They no longer know anything about their original
professions. There are medical doctors in there who no longer know how to
prescribe simple medicines. There are engineers who have no idea how a
bridge looks like structurally. There are lawyers whom you cannot even trust
to defend you after you steal a chicken. There are many without the
imagination to think that the country is not a democracy where the will of
the people prevails.
The ruling party has a history of swallowing. They swallow the economy
while everyone starves. They swallow public posts while the qualified of the
nation escape to other countries where their talents are respected. They
swallow power and think that since they are the only ones with throats, no
one else should be allowed to swallow.
Their last political swallowing was when Jongwe swallowed the Bull,
Joshua Nkomo, humiliating him to the whole nation and making him look like
he was never Robert Mugabe's political mentor. Ndabaningi Sithole, another
Mugabe mentor, was treated like a destitute, and died like one.
Their only reason for swallowing everybody -- we liberated you and we
have the right to rule you and do what we want with you until donkeys grow
horns. Mugabe once said, "I will rule until I am 100 years old."
People sitting near me laughed. I did not. It was not a joke. He meant
it. That is where the negotiations are now. He loses an election, and then
demands to take the whole loaf while the winners get a mere slice.
The old men and women who have been his hangers-on do not know if
their ill-acquired wealth will be safe in other hands. For they have looted
and plundered our country for 28 years and Mugabe never asked them to
account for that wealth.
Mugabe and his clique are not interested in this power-sharing deal.
All they plan to do is to ensure that they drag these talks out for as long
as possible so as to frustrate the MDC parties. If the MDC walks out of the
talks, there will be huge parties of celebration in Zanu PF centres. Panofa
mujoni, matsotsi anoita mabiko.(When the chief policeman dies, thieves and
crooks throw a big party). This is the tool which Zanu PF is trying to use.
So, the MDC, being young generally, might get into the excitement of
leaving the talks. This would be butter on Mugabe and his cronies' bread.
The Zimbabwean economy has collapsed, but African economies do not collapse
until there is no food in State House. Everyone else can die, but as long as
His Excellency the President and First Secretary of the Party,
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the Cockerel of the Nation, is
alive, the nation is healthy, according tothe Zanu PF doctrine.
Zanu PF has vowed not to give away the Home Affairs ministry at all
cost. They have turned the police into a party instrument for winning
elections through torture, intimidation, imprisonment and murder.
On one occasion my technical equipment for writing books was stolen.
The police did not have any transport to come over, so I sent a driver to
collect the three policemen. As they started their work, one policeman
looked at me in the light of dawn and asked: "Are you the writer?" And when
I said, "Yes", you should have seen how they all dropped their pens and
"It is political," said the chief of the group. Case closed.
A once effective and respectable police force was reduced by Zanu PF
to a sloganeering force which addresses rallies and tells the citizens who
they should vote for. Soldiers too have stopped being defenders of the
nation. They are defenders of Mugabe's party. As for the secret police, they
are reportedly paid according to how many victims they have decimated in
defence of Mugabe's party.
The militia are another tragic story. Youngsters are paid to perform
the most brutal and vulgar acts which I suspect will end a lot of them in
psychiatric hospitals.
The security ministries are not for the security of the state. They
are for the security of Mugabe's party. The party leaders must continue to
get fat as the people get thinner and thinner before death. They enjoy it,
looking at once-proud citizens reduced to beggars and paupers. Despite being
professed socialists, their philosophy is simple: "What is the meaning of
wealth if everyone has it? Some have to be poor so we can enjoy the plenty
when others have nothing."
I don't know how to describe it, but I think Zanu PF rule should be
called arrogantocracy -- rule through arrogance. This has turned their eyes
from the suffering around them: children dying, the sick without medicines
in hospitals, schools without any education taking place there, workers
walking long distances to work on empty bellies. And most of Zanu PF have
higher university degrees!
The power-sharing deal was signed in haste. The MDC ran, and forgot
that the important thing is to arrive at the finishing point. Meanwhile, the
old foxes of power had taken away the finishing point markers.Thabo Mbeki,
being an experienced politician, I am not sure about his negotiating skills,
should have make it mandatory that the three parties sit down one afternoon
and divide the ministries into categories:
* category 1 security ministries
* category 2 legal/law ministries
* category 3 administrative ministries
* category 4 social services ministries
* category 5 technical ministries.
And then as wise men and women are supposed to do, he would have said:
okay, 50/50 in each category, step by step. The logjam we are in would not
have occurred. And Mbeki, poor man after being ousted by his own, would have
come out clean on these issues without giving Mugabe a blank cheque in that
poorly crafted so-called agreement.
In the end, we have to understand Mugabe's psychology. He is simply
the old-fashioned school-teacher who whipped students for asking questions
and punished them by making them memorise the whole Alfred Best's Student
Companion. Those teachers were more qualified in flogging students than in
teaching them anything. The Mugabe generation of teachers of the 1950s never
imagined there were some students more brilliant than them in their class.
I remember in the mid-1960s, my old teacher asking me a hygiene
'When should you take a bath,' he said.
'Whenever I am dirty,' I said. Then I was subjected to a thorough
public flogging in front of the whole class. The old English hygiene book
said, 'take a bath every day,' and the teacher felt insulted that I had not
read and respected the book.
The teacher was a master, and the master's knowledge was never to be
disputed. That is Mugabe, a man who thinks that he is the most brilliant
person Zimbabwe has ever produced.
I do not put much faith in this political experiment of power-sharing.
Most experiments fail, but if this one succeeds, I will have cause to
celebrate and restore my hope in my country's political system with all its
strengths and weaknesses.
But for now, I think there are more weaknesses than strengths, more
greed for power and wealth than compassion for the patient people who are
willing to die and afraid to throw even a little pebble at those who cause
them to die unnecessary deaths.

*Chenjerai Hove is an award-winning Zimbabwean writer living in exile.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

BTH investigates murder of ZEC election official
SW Radio Africa

24 October 2008

Transcribed by Brilliant Pongo

Lance Guma: Hello Zimbabwe and welcome to Behind the Headlines my name is Lance Guma. The body of a senior Zimbabwe Election Commission official who disappeared in June this year, turned up at a hospital mortuary in Norton on Thursday last week. According to the Zimbabwe Times website the body of Ignatius Mushangwe, the ZEC director of training and development, was found murdered and his partially burnt body dumped in the bush.

Now Mushangwe courted the ire of Mugabe’s regime by leaking information on how the government had printed 9 million ballot papers when there was less than 6 million registered voters. He also exposed how ZEC ordered 600 000 postal ballots to be used by just a few thousand police and soldiers. This week on Behind the Headlines we have decided to investigate, who killed Mushangwe and why?

To help us answer some of these questions we have former civil servant Liberty Mupakati. Thank you for joining us Mr Mupakati.

Mupakati: Thank…you are welcome.

Guma: Now clearly something happened here which is not right Liberty and first of all who was Mushangwe and apparently you knew him?

Mupakati: I knew him because I actually worked with him for a while in Marondera. I know from the mid-nineties he was the District Registra for Marondera District. The Registra Generals’ Department is a department in the Ministry of Home Affairs and he was like responsible for Marondera District there.

Guma: OK and clearly this new position (in ZEC) Director of Training and Development, that was a promotion I take it.

Mupakati: Ya it was a promotion. After he left Marondera he was actually promoted to go to be the provincial head in Masvingo. And then from Masvingo that’s when he was head-hunted to go to ZEC as a Director of Logistics…..Polling and Logistics.

Guma: Where are these guys gotten from in terms of recruitment? Are they picked up from the army, the prison service or just in general anywhere? Where do these guys get picked up from?

Mupakati: ZEC I think there are only like 2 people who came from the Registra General’s department, I think its 3. Sekuramayi who is the Deputy Chief Elections Officer. He was formerly a deputy to Tobaiwa Mudede. And then you also have the other 2. You have Mushangwe and Murenje. There were actually with the Registra General’s Department.

But the others (Utolile) Silaigwana was in the army, he was a former teacher in the army before his promotion. Then you have Dominic Chidakuza who is the secretary for ZEC. He was a law officer in the Attorney General’s office. And then he was transferred over to ZEC when ZEC was incepted.

And then you also have the others who are soldiers like your (George) Chiweshe formerly a soldier and then later a judge. There should be about 2 more soldiers in there. Nyikayaramba has since moved on but he is still like part of ZEC anyway. Most of them are from the army, intelligence services, from the police force and the rank and file civil service.

Guma: Now the Mushangwe scandal if I may call it in terms of the fact that they did kill him, was he the only person targeted. I remember from the pre-interview discussion you mentioned another official.

Mupakati: Obviously, at the height of the problems in ZEC, at the height of the election dispute, soon after the March election when Tsvangirai won and they had to do things, so that he could not get an outright majority.

Obviously there were people within ZEC who were giving out information to other people and my understanding then talking from people within ZEC and other people who worked outside ZEC who had an interest in the outcome of the elections, they thought either Mushangwe or Murenje who is the Director of Training, where out for the taking, which meant one of them could actually be killed for divulging too much information to people who were not necessarily supposed to be knowing what was going on.

Guma: MDC official Morgan Komichi told the Zimbabwe Times that during a Political Parties Liaison Committee meeting, Mushangwe ‘stood his ground in saying that ballot papers should only be issued to police details on duty and not to all and sundry. Is that the reason why you think they lynched him?

Mupakati: Ya obviously it was a culmination of numerous events. As you will recall, soon after the elections, the results were known by, I think it was a Sunday. Just after the results…actually the people who were leaking that information, unfortunately one of them is assumed to be the late Mushangwe.

As you might be aware after the first elections at the end of March, a decision was then taken to get all the soldiers and all the police force and all the prison services staff to actually vote in front of their superiors. The fact that Mushangwe tried to put a spanner in that, tried to actually stand his ground, that obviously what they were planning was illegal, might actually, probably, brought his fate probably much faster than it was planned.

Guma: I see here police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka at the time is said to have complained about Mushangwe. The police then claimed they were looking for him on allegations of ‘failing to distribute postal ballots to the collections centre’ and ‘destroying spoilt ballot papers without authority. Immediately after these threats Mushangwe disappeared. Who can we blame for his death, I mean who would normally carry out such an act, killing a ZEC official?

Mupakati: Ah…I would say there are a number of probabilities. You are looking at maybe people….then Zimbabwe was lawless, all it required was for Mandipaka, probably acting with the blessing of his boss Wayne Bvudzijena to just leak word probably to the Police Internal Security Services (PISI), or probably to Musara Mushana Mabhunda at Law and Order.

If he thought that could be easily traced back to him, he could have leaked word to the war veterans who were by then unto a force unto themselves. Probably he could have gone through the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) or maybe the army itself. Like I said ZEC is like a collection of who is who from the different agencies who are all capable of killing. I would like to think Mandipaka obviously knows, what, who might actually have killed. I’m thinking he actually ordered the hit after consulting with other powers that be.

Guma: And during this time a lot of things were put on the doorstep of the Joint Operations Command. Do you think they might have run this operation past that particular group.

Mupakati: Like I said, ZEC obviously, ZEC even up to now is just a mere appendage of the all powerful JOC. Obviously for Mandipaka by himself he wouldn’t have authorized such. I think by Zimbabwean standards Mushangwe is quite a fairly senior officer of the state and for him to be killed just like that, required maybe the acquiescence of more senior people. So obviously for Mandipaka or people to decide that maybe they wanted to expend of Mushangwe from the scene, then it would have required the powers that be to sanctify the operation.

Guma: Preliminary post mortem results show that he was strangled before his body was set on fire. Now why would they set his body on fire, what’s the strategy there.

Mupakati: I think probably it could be two-fold. Obviously the body was partially burnt, they didn’t want to burn it completely, because they wanted him to be like, identified. So part of it could be burning as in maybe doing away with evidence, maybe if they wanted DNA traces they wouldn’t do that. So maybe it could have been to wipe off the evidence. And also the burning aspect could be used to instill fear to his other colleagues who are still remain in ZEC, that obviously if you cross our line, this is what we are capable of doing, and we can do it with impunity.

Guma: The discovery of the charred body in a public place is the talk of the whole town in Norton. But like I asked you last time when we did this story for news, where was his body? He disappeared quite some time in June and the body was only discovered now, what could have happened here?

Mupakati: There are a lot of, I wouldn’t say hiding places, but there are a lot places where bodies can actually be kept, so that they are not discovered. If they wanted to like permanently dispose of it, they could have done so without people knowing where he was anyway. I would answer that, maybe the military hospital is one good hiding place, the one close to the airport.

They could have just like have taken him, put him there and kept him forever and people then wont say anything, if they are asked to talk. It could be that maybe the body was at the hospital depending on who ordered the hit. And it might wont be suprising that maybe in any one of the mortuaries in Harare or maybe in hospitals outside Harare.

All they need, all the people in the mortuaries need, is just the word to say, you arent supposed to say anything about this. If you talk we know who obviously works in this hospital, who actually has records of the bodies. So it could have been anywhere. That they decided to dispose of it and dump it at Norton town centre, obviously it was just their way of saying, they wanted his body to be found.

Because when he disappeared obviously part of the state machinery actually leaked that he had fled the country becuase of what he had done. He was involved in ‘election fraud’. So obviously if they wanted to pursue that line, if they wanted people to believe that line, they could still have maintained that, but someone somewhere thought maybe lets bring closure to the family and get them to know that their loved one is dead. Thats why they dumped their body in Norton.

Guma: It is kind of tragic that with a case like this. After all is said and done, it is kind of obvious who killed him, isn’t it?

Mupakati: Ya it is, obviously. I think everyone knows he was killed at the behest of the state anyway, Zanu PF to be honest, I think we can narrow that down and hold Mandipaka responsible. And I think if there was any sort of justice. If the justice system was anything to go by in Zimbabwe then Mandipaka would be the prime suspect because of obviously the heated argument they had in the past and also his statements after they knew they had killed the guy. He was seen then trying to give out these statements that there was a warrant of arrest, when they knew that the guy was dead.

Guma: Now obviously the guys in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission know a lot. They know too much in fact. How does the state deal with them. How do they know they will not get another Mushangwe who will leak information.

Mupakati: I would think maybe probably the way they have handled this case maybe in terms of how they disposed his body is actually meant to instill fear in the officers who are still there, that maybe if they decide to go against what they are told, then maybe they might suffer the Mushangwe fate and at the same time there is the twin side where these people are actually pampered as it were.

They are given, all them have got like 3 or 4 cars and I know from what I hear from the people who are working there that they drive, like, the latest 4x4’s. And even people who are cleaners in ZEC have access to these cars. So its a way of buying their loyalty, but if that doesnt work, then they can go to the other extreme which is like kill. They can kill you and maybe bury your body like what they did with Ignatius’ body and just dump it without nothing happening to them.

Guma: that was Liberty Mupakati former civil servant in Zimbabwe. He is now exiled in the United Kingdom. Mr Mupakati thank you for joining us and helping to answer some of the questions on this case.

Mupakati: You are welcome Lance. Thank you so much.

You have been listening to Behind the Headlines a programme that looks into the issues and individuals dominating the news, where others have scratched the surface, we dig deeper to bring you the full story. If you would like to participate in the programme or have comments or suggestions please e-mail or call 0912-643-871 in Zimbabwe or 0044-777-855-7615 in the United Kingdom, so from me Lance Guma, until next Thursday, dont be making any headlines of your own.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MDC Should Be Wary Of Mugabe And Zanu PF

Thursday, 23 October 2008 20:56
WE would like to express our support for the MDC and their negotiating
team during this crucial time.

We also applaud the party for getting back to us the people with
updates on what is taking place.
In this crisis, as in any, information dissemination is vital. We
should constantly remind the world of what is happening behind the enemy
lines and the sinister moves Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF are taking.
The refusal by Mugabe to issue Tsvangirai with a passport may be
Mugabe's Waterloo. Dictators have a tendency of overrating themselves and
pushing their luck too far.
Whilst Mugabe had an opportunity to meet with the regional leaders in
the absence of the MDC  it evidently was not of benefit to him.
MDC must continue to demand Tsvangirai's passport as a necessary step
towards  creating an atmosphere of goodwill.
They have now every reason to demand things in writing. Mugabe has
demonstrated that he is not willing to play fair. They should no longer
leave anything to chance. All the demands must be tabled and agreement
sought on issues such as the constitutional amendments.
The agreement should be rid of all vague clauses. The powers of the
president, even to declare war and a state of emergency, must be done with
the agreement of the prime minister.
At the moment the illegal regime in Harare has no accountability and
is plundering and looting national resources.
Parliament must create a select committee to take stock of what is
taking place during these negotiations. The committee must document how
government resources are being used.

Agrippa Zvomuya,

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Candid Comment: Hell Hath No Fury Like A Sister Insulted

Thursday, 23 October 2008 20:46
Sister Petina,
THANK you very much for your comments (BOTTOM OF PAGE).

I have received dozens this week, some quite insulting. But I have
ignored most. You are not so lucky because you are not just one of those as
far as I am concerned.

First, let me apologise for letting you down.

I however want to state that I am very disappointed by what I feel is
a deliberate misreading of my article, especially where the criticism has to
be laced with insinuation of either love or hatred for the person of Morgan
Tsvangirai and not his errors of judgement. To me that is tragic coming from

It is also fodder for tribalists in the MDC who can never see anything
wrong in their leader, the same things we criticise Zanu PF followers for,
the very reason Margaret Dongo is so famous for calling them Mugabe's wives.
We are following close behind.
Then there is the stereotypical Zimbabwean argument. When you
criticise the MDC, you are Zanu PF and vice-versa. There are no
Zimbabweans -- you are either Zanu PF or MDC or you don't exist. So people
are always looking for where you fit in and you are done. And you too Petina
of all the people?
The "social ministries" were used merely as a reference point. It
derives from the MDC policy document and manifesto in which their priorities
have been simplified to "food", "health" and "education". Go to their
That to me should be the core aim of any political party which wants
my vote. That is also why I have always voted for the MDC, and whatever
reasons you have for it, I have been let down.
There are reasons ascribed to violence etc, but there are also errors
of judgement by its leadership. What party quarrels with its women's wing on
the eve of a national election?
Let's minimise the culture of pointing fingers. We have had enough of
that with President Mugabe and colonialism and imperialists. We are now
being psyched up for another 30 years of blaming Mugabe. Then when
Tsvangirai leaves, somebody jumps in to blame him. How convenient!
Finally, the import of my article. Your reasoning is no different from
the dozens I have received since Monday, which is what worries and angers me
The import of that article was simply that ALL government ministries
are the same. It is unfortunate that we are having to deal with a
monstrosity called unity government where two political parties must share
portfolios. I stated clearly in my article that we have a stalemate because
of "mutual mistrust and suspicion" between Zanu PF and the MDC and that this
is not something Thabo Mbeki could cure. That is why our people must
continue to suffer.
It is the mistrust which is refocusing the parties on the CIO, police,
army and away from the core business of government -- service delivery, a
social role which doesn't need an army. That is my point.
I didn't say Zanu PF should get security ministries. I said the
parties are behaving as if Tsvangirai will only supervise ministers from his
own party in the Council of Ministers. My understanding is that in any
government ministers execute cabinet decisions, not party ones. But like you
say, if the aim is to exact revenge and win the next election, then I am
genuinely sorry. In short, it simply means replacing Zanu PF with the MDC.
There is no respite. Is that what the people understand by "change"? I
thought democratic change meant something nobler than that.
So if MDC supporters were beaten and arrested, we don't need a truth
and reconciliation commission to seek justice but outright retribution! If
that's your point, I give up Petina.
I admit I am in the middle of the storm and am daily buffeted by it,
but I can't lower myself to a level where revenge is elevated to national
policy through the allocation of ministries.
What message are we sending to the less sophisticated who have no
qualms about killing just as they have been deployed by Zanu PF at every
election? That it is the right thing to do if your party is in charge of the
police and the army to beat up and kill your opponents!
For I know it is leaders ultimately who decide what needs to be done,
not necessarily the people. If Mugabe had opted for retribution and revenge
in 1980, I can tell you there would have been millions of people supporting
him. He opted for reconciliation; the same people plus erstwhile enemies
supported him. "People" is a very delicate and fickle substance and a ready
resource for political mischief.
Let me restate my point: revenge and mistrust between political
parties should not form the basis for the allocation of ministries. All
ministries are the same, but unless you are at war, social ministries are
closer to the needs of the people. Service delivery is not a factor of the
army or police. Is this another maguta project?
I will conclude with some observations by my one time lecturer in a
philosophy course at the University of Zimbabwe, David Kaulemu on the two
main political parties. He says in both, the party has replaced the state.
In the current contest, the MDC sees itself as the only "authentic" voice of
the people. Each party, says Kaulemu, is trying to convince the people that
the other party is not a legitimate part of the nation-state "and people are
morally required to reject the other party". This view, he says, is inimical
to multiparty democracy in the two parties' worldview you don't share
"We have not seen in word or in deed the acceptance by one party of
the legitimacy of the other. Each defines the nation so narrowly that it
excludes the other," he says.
His further comments have an ominously true ring in the current
dispute between the two parties. He sees no attempt by Zanu PF and the MDC
to build "party-political neutral" national institutions. "It is difficult
to imagine Zanu PF and the MDC collaborating in creating such structures
even as they battle to occupy them. And yet this is what should happen."
These comments were made way back in 2004.

Nyathi's analysis leaves a lot to be desired

WHILSt I respect your freedom of expression, I don't agree with your
reasoning that allocation of social ministries should be seen as a measure
of who is a genuine leader to lead the masses of Zimbabwe out the current
economic crisis.

You don't seem to acknowledge that there is both a political and
economic crisis in Zimbabwe. There is need to address both issues at the
same time, so as not leave a vacuum which may be detrimental to stability.

Zimbabweans have been tortured and brutalised  by Zanu PF for nearly
three decades. The police have stood by and let down the people they are
supposed to protect. .Zanu PF and Mugabe have been using the security agents
(including the police) to hold onto power for so long.

I am a Zimbabwean born British, who is looking forward to investing in
Zimbabwe on a small scale, and like me, there are many potential investors
who would not feel comfortable to invest in a country where there is fear of
security apparatus even though there might be clean streets and schools as
you suggest.

I want to invest in a country with law and order, where I know the
police will protect me if I am mugged, where the police will assist me if
someone beats me because of my political belief, NOT where the police will
stand aside and watch me being raped.
I am sorry, but your reasoning is a bit shallow. State security is a
vital ingredient for investment. If Zimbabwe is ever to hold a free and fair
election then there is need to diffuse political tension and boost voter
confidence by sharing the security organs between all political parties.
MDC Mutambara should lead the Intelligence and Youth (to supervise the
Militia), Morgan Tsvangirai Home Affairs, Mugabe the  army that he so loves.

Sarudzayi Barnes,
United Kingdom.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Comment: Not An Outcast Forever

Thursday, 23 October 2008 20:44
ALTHOUGH prospects of a unity government seem to be diminishing by the
day, it remains a major objective of both main parties if for no better
reason than that neither has a Plan B.

President Mugabe cannot secure funds for recovery without the MDC. And
the MDC has nowhere to go except into government.

When it does eventually coalesce, one of the first functions of a
coalition government will be to reconstruct foreign policy so the country is
no longer the leper it has become of late.

Zanu PF will of course fight this every step of the way in the
delusional belief that it is carrying some sort of revolutionary mantle, but
we cannot have international reengagement without a change of attitude. The
era of idiotic fist-waving must end and be replaced by something more

In 18th century France foreign policy was described as the "domain of
the king". In other words attempts by ministers to wrest control from
monarchs met with little success.

We face the same problem. Foreign policy is crafted in the Office of
the President. Foreign ministers have for the most part been nothing more
than ciphers. But with a change in the architecture of power it's time to
get real. Zimbabwe needs the world and that means an end to the pretense
that it can manage on its own.

What we need most of course is balance-of-payments support to solve
our forex shortages. The IMF will not open that door until it is satisfied
that macro-economic distortions are being addressed. That means investors
will sit on their hands.

As it stands, no serious effort is being made to tame inflation or
limit spending. Printing money is doing the opposite of what is needed.

The United States and European Union agree with the opposition that
President Mugabe only wants a coalition to aid his own political recovery
after the monumental defeat in March. Once back in the driving seat he will
then pursue populist policies such as nationalisation in the mining and
manufacturing sectors that are guaranteed to sink the economy further.

Those in his immediate circle care not whether he is doing the right
thing. They are enjoying the crumbs of patronage that fall from his table.

Farms continue to be arbitrarily seized, critics prosecuted, and the
public media abused. This remains a regime profoundly hostile to change.

Countries such as Cuba and China that regularly lock up critics are
happy to endorse Mugabe's misrule. But Sadc significantly is no longer so
keen to look the other way. Our state media has been openly complaining
about the lack of support member states are giving Zimbabwe, in particular
their silence on sanctions. And South Africa is no longer quite the firm
ally it was under its previous ruler.
This points to a growing consensus that the next government needs to
address. If the post of foreign minister is given to somebody of the calibre
of more recent incumbents, who excel only in denouncing those who are
feeding us, there will be no recovery to speak of.
That reality is evident to everybody except the current crew. If
donors and investors are to return, there must be a new policy of
accommodation. That in turn must be built on domestic reform. There is
absolutely no point having a unity-government if the president and Zanu PF
are intent upon clinging to the empty mantras of the past. Zimbabwe has no
significant cards left to play. Appalling exhibitions such as that in
Sharm-el-Sheik will only compound our isolation.
The MDC has said nothing in this regard since September 15. This is
understandable as they await a political settlement. But that shouldn't stop
them telling the nation and the world that Zimbabwe will not forever remain
the outcast it is today.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Muckraker: 'Some countries are facing worse problems'

Thursday, 23 October 2008 19:10
NEWSFLASH: The nation will be relieved to learn that President Mugabe
can use a cellphone.
This important development was reported with a front-page picture in
the Herald on Monday which showed the president chatting on a cellphone at
the airport prior to his departure for a Sadc meeting in Swaziland.
The Herald didn't tell us what the conversation was about -- perhaps a
last-minute reminder to pick up a copy of Home & Garden at Mbabane airport
or perhaps some Mars bars -- but the purpose of the picture was undoubtedly
to convey the impression of a thoroughly modern head of state utilising all
the technical tools at his disposal.
What we need to know now is, can he use a computer and perhaps even
Bluetooth? But he needs to exercise maximum caution when advertising his
communication skills. President Nicholas Sarkozi of France was the victim of
Internet hackers last month who, it was reported on Sunday, broke into his
bank account and stole 200 euros.
Not a king's ransom, you may think, but certainly a disconcerting
The ebullient Sarkozi didn't look too put out, however. He was shown
arriving at Camp David after a meeting of La Francophonie -- the French
Commonwealth -- in Quebec. The only cloud hanging over that get-together was
the news that Rwanda has abolished the use of French in favour of English
and applied to join the formerly British Commonwealth.
This is the outfit, let's remind ourselves, that Zanu PF publicists
like to call the Queen's tea party. That's because, having made every
conceivable effort to remain inside, Zimbabwe left in a huff when it became
clear its suspension would not be lifted.
The publicists would have us believe this was a decision of the
 "white" Commonwealth but in fact the move to maintain Zimbabwe's suspension
had support from all regions including West Africa, the Caribbean, South
East Asia and the Pacific.
It would have been impossible to have maintained the suspension on the
basis of a handful of countries agreeing. There had to be substantial
consensus, a point understood by all observers except those at the Herald
and Sunday Mail who are intent on keeping the public ignorant!
Now the Commonwealth is looking forward to Zimbabwe rejoining once
there is a genuine and viable domestic accord.

Judith Makwanya was suggesting last Thursday evening that the
presentation of credentials by the new French and German ambassadors showed
recognition of President Mugabe.
It may well have done so. But it certainly didn't imply endorsement of
how he got there. Indeed, the French ambassador was quite explicit. Laurent
Contini took the opportunity to reiterate France's "deep concern" regarding
the parties' delayed implementation of the political agreement of September
"As indicated by the European Union, I reaffirm the need to respect
the will of the people of Zimbabwe as expressed in the elections of March 29
2008," he said. "Only a government of unity that translates such popular
aspirations could be given a positive reception," he said.
"I also wish to emphasise that the European Union, as the major donor
to Zimbabwe, has upheld its constant commitment in favour of the people of
Zimbabwe. As recently underlined by the ministers of Foreign Affairs of the
European Union, the EU stands ready to adopt a package of measures to assist
in the consolidation of democracy and in the country's economic and social
recovery as soon as a government of unity will permit to set in motion the
restoration of the rule of law."
Couldn't be clearer than that, could it? There are some in the upper
echelons who believe they can carry on behaving badly such as refusing to
issue Morgan Tsvangirai a passport. This is an abuse of power. Zanu PF
should understand that there will not be a penny coming from donors until
they stop using agencies such as the Reserve Bank and the National Incomes
and Pricing Commission to misgovern.

Evidence of this was forthcoming this week with a statement by NIPC
head Goodwills Masimirembwa who appears to be both blind and deaf.
President Mugabe's electoral promise to empower the people was being
thwarted by the need to negotiate with the MDC, he told wartime
"President Mugabe promised to empower the people by taking over the
manufacturing industry after the successful implementation of the land
reform programme," Masimirembwa claimed. "Now he is engaged in a
never-ending dialogue with the MDC when he is supposed to be working on
ensuring that people are economically empowered."
So what makes Masimirembwa think people have been "empowered" by
Mugabe's policies when they are destitute and starving?
What sort of empowerment is it when the country has to depend upon the
US and EU for basic sustenance?
Masimirembwa, whose thinking, if we can call it that, was decisively
rejected by voters in March, now wants Mugabe to inflict further damage on
the country by doing to manufacturing what he did to land.
How bad does it have to get before zealots like Masimirembwa get a
grasp on the extent of the country's decline? Or do they content themselves
with the thought that it is all somebody else's fault?
By the way, does anybody recall claims that Zimbabweans in the
diaspora were mobilising funds for recovery? Did anybody hear any further
mention of those funds? And what about the Mother of all Seasons? How much
was spent on that advertising fiasco?

A few weeks ago we drew attention to the river cascading down East
Road in Avondale. This was following a lecture from Zinwa on how we should
save water.
Muckraker drove past it this week. It is now a lake. Why has the
Botswana embassy not complained? Or is this part of their punishment!

What a disappointment David Mwanak0a has been to Zanu PF. They were
hoping to use a small incident at his farm in Leicestershire to bring a huge
indictment of racism against the whole British population. In fact he
declined to be a pliant tool and told BBC's African Perspectives that he
would not return to Zimbabwe to practise farming because it would be like
throwing money down a hole.
Zanu PF's publicists were outraged by this frank admission. They had
hoped he would say he benefited from Mugabe's education system. And their
disappointment was compounded when he declined to accuse his neighbours, who
had lodged a complaint of theft, of racism but instead called it ignorance,
which is obviously what it was.
Dissatisfied with this explanation, the publicists proceeded to bring
all the charges Mwanaka would have brought if they had been in charge of his
interview. They accused him of  "Mugabe-bashing".
Very funny, and enjoyable watching these commentators squirm. Nothing
seems to be going right for them!
We recall at the height of the farm occupations one of the most common
charges made in the state media was that   "Zimbabweans would never be
allowed to own property in the UK or have a farm there."
Echoing this frustration, a letter writer to the Herald, Kuda J
Muronzi, said it was  "ridiculous for for the opposition to act as if Cde
Mugabe and the nation owe them any favours".
"They are the ones that called for the sanctions that are killing us
today and they have still not found the stomach to be honest and tell their
British and American financiers to leave this country alone,"  Muronzi
He has a point. The British and Americans should be told to leave this
country alone -- once Zanu PF agrees to reject violence against its
opponents; once the rule of law is restored; once the government stops
abusing the public broadcaster for partisan purposes; once the RBZ stops
printing money; once we have a professional Registrar-General's office; once
Tsvangirai has a passport; once Ignatious Chombo stops interfering with
councils; once the government stops begging for food from countries it
insults weekly; --- then -- and only then -- should we tell them to leave us
alone !

Muckraker welcomes Caesar Zvayi back to the columns of the Herald
after his brief sojourn in Botswana. We congratulate him on his appointment
as senior assistant editor.
On Tuesday he complained that President Mugabe's powers were being
sub-contracted to the Sadc troika.
"What message are we sending over the June 27 run-off if the president's
landslide does not give him powers to form a government?" Zvayi wanted to
know, in much the same tenor as Masimirembwa.
The answer is obvious. The so-called landslide was a fraud. Is that
not the conclusion reached by many Sadc states and indeed by most credible
observers at home and abroad; that the June result was procured by violence
and manipulation?
We are still to get an explanation from the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission why they released constituency results in dribs and drabs when
all the results were already in. We also want to know why the presidential
vote took nearly three months to count. The ZEC has failed to provide
satisfactory answers on those key issues. But at least we know why its
chairman received a medal !

Next in line for a gong: Tobaiwa Mudede. He thought he was performing
a signal service to Zanu PF by refusing Tsvangirai a passport. But while
this sort of political clumsiness may satisfy the government's inner needs,
it was an own goal.
Anybody with eyes can see that an emergency travel ocument and a
passport are two different things. An ETD can be manipulated to limit travel
to specific destinations and indeed to hold up travel altogether.
The Herald devoted many column inches to explaining why Tsvangirai was
wrong to complain about his ETD, but nowhere did it explain why he hasn't
been issued with a passport.
Zanu PF clearly wants to inconvenience him. But in so doing it has
exposed the regime as insincere. That is not the message it wants to convey.
Hence the heading "Mudede refutes Tsvangirai's passport claims".
But the damage had been done. Mugabe looked bad.
As for the claim that Tsvangirai "went playing golf" on Monday, it is
a blatant lie of the sort inserted by official sources in journalists' copy.
Let's at least record it as emblematic of the way the state media is
manipulated for partisan purposes. What we want to know is who fed the same
lie to Zvayi who used it in his column without asking a single question as
to its veracity?

We were interested to note that Zanu PF chief whip Joram Gumbo will be
leading a delegation of MPs to attend the forthcoming session of the
Pan-African Parliament. Zimbabwe will be in the same boat as Somalia and
Sudan, we gather. But Gumbo assures us he will give the "true Zimbabwean
situation". There was no crisis in the country, he said. "Some countries
were facing worse problems".
It was critical the local media took a robust stance in telling the
Zimbabwean story, he said.
He can be assured we will play our part.
Zvayi, by the way, referred to Ian Khama as  "the slouching novice in
Don't we recall Mugabe in his long rambling address on September 15
denying making any hostile remarks about Botswana's leadership? That
evidently didn't include the newspapers which his government owns and which
slavishly reflect his views on a daily basis!

On Tuesday the Herald carried a pernicious editorial saying "Morgan
should be the last to get a passport".
We thought he was the last! It said we should all swallow the line
that there wasn't enough paper because of MDC-sponsored sanctions.
We bet young Robert had one for his recent visit to New York among the
president's gang of 54. In fact we suspect it was a diplomatic one.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Erich Bloch: Near-zero Business Confidence

Thursday, 23 October 2008 19:06
THE only thing in Zimbabwe that is declining at a greater pace than
the economy is the level of business confidence.

Almost without exception, the business community is naught but doom
and gloom, depression and despondency, pronounced pessimism and filled with
a near-absolute conviction that economy is beyond recovery.

The overwhelming majority of Zimbabwe's "captains" of commerce and
industry have totally convinced themselves that the entirety of the economy
will very imminently cease to exist, that their businesses will be wholly
destroyed, that they will be joining the vast ranks of impoverished, and
that the economy, their businesses, and their anticipated loss of any and
all wealth, is wholly beyond redemption.
Admittedly, there are a few (but only a very few!) of a different
frame of mind. They are not oblivious to the appalling circumstances
prevailing in Zimbabwe. They are wholly aware of the dismal lack of genuine
democracy, of the endless, contemptuous disregard for the fundamentals of
the rule of just law, of the abysmal disregard for human and property
rights, of the extensive abuses of power and the gargantuan prevalence of
corruption, of the worst ever sustained hyperinflation ever experienced, and
of the ongoing contraction of the economy.
And they are aware that these are but some of the immensely great
negatives that characterise Zimbabwe today. But they do not allow it to
blind themselves that, in time, there will be transformation. They do not
myopically fail to recognise that a metamorphosis will occur, although
inevitably it will be long and slow. They recognise that there are very
intense problems, but perceive problems to be challenges which must be
addressed, and potentially transformed into opportunities.
 It is not that they are hallucinatory optimists, but are determined
to be realists who neither succumb to unfounded wishful thinking, or to
misplaced or exaggerated pessimism formed from narrowed vision which
conceals the evidence of history that ultimate change, and therefore
recovery, is undoubted. (They do, however, recognise that further grievous
deterioration may well precede the assured ultimate upturn and that it is
vitally necessary to strategise for survival through the period of further
However, so extensively widespread is the pessimism that the
distressed perspectives of the despondent majority can well turn their
prophecies into realties, thereby greatly exacerbating the diabolically bad
prevailing circumstances.
That pessimism is blinding all too many of the business community from
seeing opportunities of overcoming, or at least of minimising, the
innumerable afflictions bearing down upon the operations of their
enterprises. In very many instances, that pessimism is also stimulating
business decisions which are only knee-jerk, reflex reactions, without
considered evaluation of the consequences of those decisions. There are very
numerous examples of such ill-considered, grossly counterproductive
One such example is that a large number of businesses in general, and
industry operations in particular, recurrently decide to discontinue sales,
notwithstanding  their holdings of stock, on grounds  that anticipated
replacement  costs exceed attainable sale prices for those existing
In striving to avoid losses upon stock replacement, the enterprises
disregard the magnitude of continuing cost, inclusive of salaries and wages,
rents, finance charges, costs of utilities, and very diverse administrative
costs. In the absence of sales, there are no revenues to cover those costs,
and therefore seeking to avoid an envisaged future loss, immediate losses
are incurred.
  Instead, those businessmen should recognise the adage of decades
past, that "no one makes a loss by taking a profit" and, therefore, as long
as the existing stocks are sold at prices above cost, a profit is realised
which can service the fixed costs. Thereafter, upon more costly replacement
of stock, the replacement stocks  must be priced above their cost, thereby
enabling profit to cover ongoing fixed costs.
In like manner, all too many businesses seek to pre-empt future
inflation by pricing their products on a foundation of estimated replacement
costs, instead of the actual costs sustained.
As the cost inflation is futuristic, such inflation does not at all at
that time prevail within the economy, resulting in the prices of the
products being considered by customers to be excessively high, with many
such customers therefore not purchasing the goods, leaving the enterprise
possessed of unsold stocks, without the revenue flows required to fund
operations, let alone to yield profits.
Moreover, to such extent that sales are attained, albeit of lesser
quantities than intended, the seller is fuelling inflation, and that
inflation adversely impacts on the seller's operating costs.
Yet a further example is that of the fortunate few (many miners and
other exporters) who directly or indirectly trade foreign exchange, other
than within the interbank market. Normally, rates of exchange are driven by
the relationship of availability to demand, as is the case with any
commodities in a normal economic environment, and for an extended period of
time that was certainly so in Zimbabwe's foreign currency alternative
markets (usually known as the parallel market).
But most of those trading their foreign exchange now determine their
selling rates by aligning them to  their projections of forthcoming
inflation, or using indices such as the Old Mutual  Implied Rate (OMIR),
which is a notional rate determined by correlating  the price  of Old Mutual
shares on the London Stock Exchange with that on the Zimbabwe Stock
Exchange. But those share prices are driven primarily by perceptions of
political developments, both positive and negative, and by the performance
of Old Mutual's operations in diverse countries, resulting in immense
fluctuations unrelated to inflation.
The results of the sellers of foreign exchange resorting to inflation
or OMIR rates to determine selling prices of their foreign exchange have, in
recent weeks, been a sharp decline in demand for that foreign exchange. This
is due to intending purchasers not having the working  capital resources to
fund purchases,  or to their recognition that the magnitude  of the foreign
exchange  costs would, when incorporated into the selling prices of their
goods, be such as would make much of those goods unsaleable.
Concurrently, in the few instances that trades are effected, they are
yet further fuellants of the horrendous hyperinflation which is destroying
the Zimbabwean economy. The foreign exchange sellers are victims, together
with all others in Zimbabwe, of that hyperinflation, so effectively they are
allowing avarice to shoot themselves in the foot.
These are but a few of many examples of how many businessmen are
destroying themselves and the economy, and thereby unintentionally according
substance to their excessive  pessimism, which has reduced business
confidence to near zero levels, also therefore  negatively  impacting upon
much-needed investment, which is a fundamental for a substantive economic
The imbalance between the many, many pessimists, and the few
optimists, and the even lesser number of realists, is reminiscent of the
writings,  more 150 years ago, by Charles Dickens, in A Tale of Two Cities,
when he wrote: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
was  the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring
of hope, it was the winter of despair,  we had everything before us, we had
nothing before us.....".  Most of Zimbabwe's business community align their
perspectives with the second part of each stanza, and thereby preclude the
first part from materialising.

Back to the Top
Back to Index