The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Life and death a matter of cash withdrawals in Zimbabwe's crumbling
Bensen Mambo, a 40-year-old accountant, roamed the corridors of Harare's
biggest hospital, occasionally stopping, moaning quietly, and waving his hands
in the air when his dilemma became too much to bear.
His strange behaviour hardly seemed out of place in Parirenyatwa Hospital.
Once it was Zimbabwe's showpiece teaching hospital with 1,000 beds - but now it
is a shell of a building, filthy, crumbling, and mostly empty.
It has almost no drugs or working equipment, and the handful of doctors who
have not fled abroad have pretty much given up trying to treat the trickle of
patients who still come. A blood trail from an accident victim meandered from
beneath a wheeled stretcher, in a ward whose plaster walls were crumbling.
Patients gazed at the ceiling in a deathly silence.
Mr Mambo's wife Mary was one of them, diagnosed with a kidney ailment and in
desperate need of treatment which he could easily afford.
But in the cruel and surreal world of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe the devoted
husband could not withdraw his savings from the bank in time to pay doctors for
the care that could have saved her life.
The hospital told him that he had to make a Z$20 million down payment before
they started treatment (the equivalent at black market rates of around £7.20) -
but the banks have a withdrawal limit of just Z$50,000 per day. Then he was told
to buy drugs from private pharmacies to save her at the cost of Z$30 million. By
the time he got special clearance from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,
hyperinflation had forced up the cost of the drugs to Z$50 million.
On Thursday she died as he knelt beside her bed. But his agony wasn't yet
complete. He had to transport her body back to their hometown of Chinhoyi, 80
miles away, where their three children were waiting, this time at the cost of
"The doctors have been criss-crossing this place, watching her waste away
without care," he said. "She was not a candidate for death, I have my money in
the bank but they have been cruel enough to deny me access to that money."
Mr Mambo's tragedy was barely noticed in Parirenyatwa Hospital, named after
the nation's first black doctor. That man's son is now the Health Minister,
David Parirenyatwa, a Mugabe crony who has been accused of orchestrating violent
attacks against supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
In the hospital patients writhe in agony, begging listless doctors for help.
Many lie there for days without treatment. But when The Sunday Telegraph
spoke to the medical staff, they insisted that they could not help unless
patients brought their own medicines.
Last week some of the remaining doctors, a dwindling and demoralised band who
are themselves struggling to survive financially, told the health ministry that
they could no longer work there.
"Doctors say this is not a strike, but they cannot possibly continue to try
and treat people in such a degrading and unprofessional environment," one
leading private sector doctor said.
No operations are being carried out and although the casualty department was
open, patients were slumped in the waiting room, hoping to see doctors who never
The state of the hospital has become a metaphor for a country which is slowly
dying from neglect, as hopes fade that a power-sharing political solution can be
found to the nation's problems.
The opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has confirmed that he will attend a
summit in Harare tomorrow which is aimed at saving an agreement to form a unity
government with President Robert Mugabe. But Mr Mugabe's refusal to give up
unfettered control of the security forces means that the deal, agreed weeks ago,
looks no nearer to working.
Mr Mambo's wife was not the only patient to die last week because of lack of
funds. The parents of a three-month-old girl, Natasha, arrived with a huge boil
which they had tried to treat at home.
A nurse, who did not want to be named for fear of Mr Mugabe's violent
supporters, said: "When she arrived her life could have been saved but her
parents had exhausted all their savings on the bus fare. They could not raise
the $10 million required.
"She died while everyone watched right here in the waiting room, because she
could not be attended to without the required down payment."
Other patients made a long and painful journey from the countryside only to
be told on arrival that the doctors would no longer see them. Among them was
61-year-old cancer sufferer, Thembile Damisa, frail and skeletally thin, who sat
despairingly in a wheelchair in the hospital grounds.
"I will have to go home," she said. "I can't plant this year, so the people
will have to plant for me, I am too weak. I hope I can come back to see the
doctor soon. But it is hard and expensive to get to town."
Another woman was limping out of the front doors of the hospital. She said:
"Everyone has been discharged. Perhaps we should go to traditional healers
Zimbabwe's gathering health crisis was taking on alarming new forms too.
There are believed to have been hundreds of cholera cases, including many in the
capital Harare. Aid workers fear hundreds more are dying unnoticed in the
country's hunger stricken countryside, where social services, from education to
health, are at a stand still.
City families are forced by lack of power to cook on open fires where
sewerage waste clogs drains, producing swarms of flies and a nauseating
At least they have something to eat. In much of the countryside a food crisis
of enormous proportions is raising the spectre of famine. In many areas village
people are in fierce competition with donkeys for a wild fruit known as "hacha"
which thrives in arid conditions.
Every morning hundreds of villagers head for the hills to gather the fruit,
which they laboriously grind and prepare for lunch and supper.
A story doing the rounds relates how a 33-year-old woman, desperate to feed
her family, tricked her neighbours by undressing, climbing into a hacha tree and
started plucking its fruit.
When the rest of the village arrived in the grey early morning light, they
took to their heels thinking a ghost had joined the fray.
Aid workers warn that tens of millions of pounds are needed to deal with the
worsening food crisis.
slams Mbeki's bias
Sunday Times Foreign Desk
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will tomorrow formally complain
Southern African Development Community over what he views as former
African president Thabo Mbeki's bias towards President Robert
MDC insiders told the Sunday Times on Friday that
Tsvangirai has prepared a
dossier chronicling alleged incidents of Mbeki's
bias, the latest being his
recommendations that Mugabe and Zanu-PF be
allowed to play a dominant role
in the envisaged new inclusive
SADC's committee on politics, defence and security,
which comprises Angola,
Mozambique and Swaziland, meets in Harare tomorrow
after being forced to
abort a summit in Mbabane, Swaziland, because
Zimbabwean authorities refused
to grant Tsvangirai a
Insiders say Tsvangirai is angry that Mbeki never took action
unilaterally convened parliament, unilaterally appointed 10
governors and gazetted ministries.
maintained the silence of the grave in all these matters," said a
confidant. "If he (Mbeki) can't persuade Mugabe to give Morgan a
passport, how can he be able to coax Mugabe to give Tsvangirai the
of Home Affairs, which issues the passports?"
Zimbabwe: No Health Services To Talk Of
Saturday, 25 October 2008
THE country's two largest referral hospitals in Harare are as
They are turning away patients because
they have run out of drugs,
equipment while health personnel, including some
supporting staff, have
reportedly just stopped going to work.
the past week, Parirenyatwa and Harare Hospitals, Zimbabwe's
institutions, have only been attending to a handful of
patients and road accident victims.
Patients coming for regular
check-ups were being turned away as there
was no staff.
Standard visited the two public hospitals there was very
little evidence to
show that the health centres were fully operational.
On Thursday and
Friday afternoon Parirenyatwa Hospital's casualty
department and the
emergency centre were deserted.
Two senior nurses were advising
patients in need of medical attention
to try private hospitals as nurses and
doctors were on strike.
Before even presenting our case, The Standard
was advised to go and
"seek treatment elsewhere".
even critically ill, were being turned away,
although the nurses were
insisting those were the one category of
patients they were
"They told me to go back because there are no doctors but
look my son
is dying," said 34-year-old Patience Tinarwo as she left the
dejected. "No one was prepared to help him."
son, four-year-old Edmond, had been referred to the hospital
from a local
clinic with suspected meningitis.
He looked very weak and wasted. His
mother said because of the
continuous headaches he had been crying often for
the past two days.
Insiders also told The Standard that nurses and
other support staff at
the two hospitals had been on strike for nearly three
weeks while senior
doctors stopped work last week saying they could not cope
anymore with the
workload in the absence of nurses.
doctors were also protesting against poor working
infrastructure. They believe the conditions are unbearable
for them to come
to work and watch patients die.
The Standard understands that late last
week senior doctors reportedly
discharged a large number of patients
admitted at both hospitals saying the
institutions had become "death
Insiders say some of those discharged on Thursday and Friday
by the senior doctors were still very ill and would, under normal
circumstances, not be sent home.
"We know some are going home to
die but there is nothing doctors can
do. We have tried for a long time but
this hospital is now worse. They may
pick up many other infections and
diseases," said one doctor, who requested
"It is better
they (patients) go home or seek treatment elsewhere than
wait to die here
The Standard also observed that wards in both hospitals were
depleted. However, the heavy presence of student nurses - who are
spending most of their time doing nothing - was
They are holding fort in the absence of qualified nurses.
Also, in the
absence of senior junior doctors are reportedly taking care of
patients but say they fear liability in case a patient dies under
Under normal circumstances junior doctors are supposed
supervised by senior or middle-level doctors.
Gwatidzo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights
(ZDHR), said the
unfolding crisis was clear testimony of a government that
had failed totally
to protect its people.
He called on the donor community to intervene
urgently to set up a
disaster fund to save millions of lives in the country.
"There is need for
urgent interventions without which many people that
depend on the public
health sector, will die," Gwatidzo said. "The
government and the donor
community must chip in now, not tomorrow."
Already, lives are being lost because of the collapse of the health
Since the beginning of the year, Cholera alone has killed
and more deaths could occur before year-end unless authorities
to improve sanitation and water supplies in cities and
ZADHR blamed the outbreak of cholera on broken-down public
infrastructure, the result of years of unprecedented economic decline and
political turmoil in the country.
The cholera-related deaths have
been cumulatively recorded this year
including cases from earlier outbreaks
between February and August in
Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland
East and Masvingo.
Senior doctors said they unsuccessfully tried to
engage Minister of
Health David Parirenyatwa.
Parirenyatwa was not
immediately available for comment.
Chairman of the Health Services
Board Lovemore Mbengeranwa said it
would not be possible to address the
problems bedevilling the health sector
because of the current economic
His board had made numerous representations in a bid to
nurses and doctors' concerns.
"We know doctors and
nurses need better salaries and working
conditions and have made
recommendations to the ministry but unfortunately
our recommendations are
sometimes not taken up," Mbengeranwa told delegates
who were attending a
Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) national
For example, he said, his board had recommended some time ago
lowest paid health worker get a salary of $400 000 a month but that
slashed to $31 000.
While senior government officials fly to
South Africa and other
countries with good health delivery systems for their
treatment, ordinary Zimbabweans are left wondering how much
nation and international community can continue to watch as
Zapu revival gathers momentum
Saturday, 25 October 2008
Zanu PF officials pushing for the revival of PF Zapu will
Saturday convene a mass rally at White City Stadium to decide the fate
the Unity Accord as the looming split in the ruling party moves to the
public domain for the first time.
Vice-President Joseph Msika, the
most senior surviving PF Zapu leader
following the death of Joshua Nkomo,
will attend the meeting, signalling the
seriousness of the problems
afflicting the party, impeccable sources said.
Last month, Zanu PF
politburo and central committee members from the
region demanded an urgent
special PF Zapu congress to review the accord
which joined together the
former liberation movements to end the Gukurahundi
massacres in the western
parts of the country.
The ruling party's provincial co-ordinating
committee complained that
former PF Zapu members were not treated as equals
and communicated its
concerns to President Robert Mugabe.
the straw that broke the camel's back was their
negotiations that led to the power-sharing agreement with
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Organisers of the meeting, which
might send shock waves in Zanu PF,
said although it was not a PF Zapu
congress its resolutions would be
"It will be a
no-holds-barred meeting," said a senior member of the
"Our people will be given the opportunity to say
whether they still think
this marriage is still sustainable."
Sources said the open meeting
might put Msika and those PF Zapu
leaders still accommodated in the Zanu PF
government in a corner as there
was a groundswell for a pull out among the
The decision to call a public forum was reportedly taken
realisation that some leaders harbouring ambitions of getting
posts in the inclusive government were not in favour of the
Information and Publicity Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu recently
his colleagues from the region for calling for the revival of PF
instead they should take the blame for the ruling party's
"The writing is on the wall," said another Zanu PF politburo
"Mugabe is left with three officials from Matabeleland fighting in
corner but November 1 will be a watershed."
Effort Nkomo, a
senior Zanu PF provincial member, confirmed the
meeting, which he said was a
consultative forum to discuss the September 15
The accord is already under strain after Dumiso Dabengwa, a
nationalist and former Zipra commander, campaigned against Mugabe in
run-up to the March elections.
Former members of Zipra, PF
Zapu's military wing during the liberation
war, also pulled out of the
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans
Association last month, saying
they were not treated as equals by their
Delays in conferring hero status on former PF Zapu members had also
wedge between the two groups.
State accused of 'Big Brother' role in Editor's case
October 2008 20:26
THE Attorney General's office last week faced the
playing a "Big Brother" role in the case involving Deputy
Minister-designate Professor Arthur Mutambara and his co-accused, The
Standard Press and its editor Davison Maruziva.
Mutambara, the newspaper and Maruziva arose on 20
April this year following
publication of Mutambara's Independence Day
opinion article in which he
criticised the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's
delay in releasing the 29
March presidential poll results.
In his article, Mutambara lamented the
irony of celebrating
independence amid a myriad of problems, among them
violence and economic collapse.
criticised a judgement by High Court Judge, Justice
Tendai Uchena dismissing
an application by the opposition MDC compelling the
Commission to release the results of the March 29 poll,
then delayed by
nearly a month.
The state says Mutambara's message contained falsehoods
the state and was contemptuous of the courts.
the defence argues that the contempt charges cannot stand without
complaint from High Court Judge, Justice Uchena.
The state, represented
by Tawanda Zvekare from the AG's office last
Wednesday said that it took it
upon itself to remedy the case.
"The judiciary itself may not be aware
that they have been derided or
that the statement said may be contemptuous
to them," Zvekare told
magistrate Morgan Nemadire. "Realising this, the
state took it upon itself
to remedy the case, that is the reason why we do
not have a statement from
Justice Uchena or the High Court itself . . . This
is not an anomaly, the
state just took it upon itself to remedy the
But counsel for Mutambara, Beatrice Mtetwa said the AG's office
playing the role of Big Brother to the High Court.
friend here has made a startling revelation that the High
Court may not even
be aware that an offence was committed," she said. "The
AG's office is
playing a Big Brother role to the High Court
. . . It is equivalent to
saying Mtetwa was raped and pressing ahead
with charges saying with the way
she is walking, it looks like she was raped
even if I deny the
She said it was even more baffling that the state now argues
whole judiciary was derided yet the charge sheet only talks of
"But still, the AG's is not the court and this
therefore means that we
still do not have a complainant," she said. "Either
way, Zimbabweans are
allowed to interrogate or comment on judgement of any
court in a judiciary
system which calls itself independent."
defence also said that there was discriminatory application of the
where members of the opposition are selectively prosecuted upon
on legitimate matters, which Mtetwa said was a breach of the
Mtetwa pointed out that the state media has insulted
opposition party members but that Zanu PF members, including
Robert Mugabe have in the past criticised court rulings without
the same AG's
office taking it upon itself to prosecute them in the same
manner it was
prosecuting Mutambara, The Standard and Maruziva.
is quite clear that the state has excised certain parts of
opinion article) in order to justify what clearly is a
prosecution," Mtetwa said.
In citing the case of Mthembi-Mahanyale
against the Mail & Guardian
(2004) and several other precedents, she
said the Criminal Law (Codification
and Reform) Act had not been subjected
to the scrutiny by the Supreme Court.
Defence lawyers for Mutambara, the
Standard Press and Maruziva have applied
for their case to be referred to
the Supreme Court.
Magistrate Nemadire will on November 12 deliver his
ruling on the
application for a referral to the Supreme Court.
Ex-MP Defies Court Orders Over Farm Occupation
Saturday, 25 October
Former Gutu North MP, Lovemore Matuke is in contempt of
court after he
breached a court order not to interfere with activities at a
farm he invaded
As farm invasions and confusion continue
in Masvingo, Matuke who is
also the provincial Zanu PF finance secretary is
embroiled in a farm
ownership wrangle with Thomas Johannes Nel, who owns
Mijn Rust farm.
Nel has since filed an application of contempt at
court, complaining that Matuke had breached a peace order he
was given by
the same court last year barring him from carrying out farming
the farm beyond a 30 hectare plot he was given. Matuke is also
assaulting the applicant's workers.
According to court
records, Matuke invaded Mijn Rust farm in July last
year, again breaching a
Consent Order that had been signed between Nel and
the then Minister of
Special Affairs, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement,
Didymus Mutasa on May
18, 2005 in the Administrative court in Harare.
The Order was signed
after Nel had surrendered his two other farms in
Gutu to the government to
enable a smooth resettlement of landless people
under case numbers LA
4671/04, LA445/04 and LA 4267/04, leading to, Mutasa
granting him ownership
of the farm he was left with.
In the court papers, Nel's defence
Lawyer, Rodney Saratoga Makause
argues that Matuke's invasion of the farm
"Because of the agreement in the Administrative court
applicant and the minister, the occupation of the property by
(Matuke) is unlawful," said Makause in court
However, Matuke also filed a notice of application arguing
same minister had given him an offer letter on September 3, last
the court granted a peace order to Nel, which barred the former
undertaking farm activities and also not to harass the latter and his
But the latter last week told the court that Matuke had
ploughing on his farm and had had sent his workers to assault Nel's
workers until the case had been finalized by the courts.
court papers said: "The responded has breached the court order by
the applicant's employees, removing fences and ploughing some
land, clearly disturbing the applicant's dairy farming
Nel, in his court papers, claims that he had also lost several cattle
the respondent and his employees had destroyed his grazing land.
of farm invasions and disturbances are on the increase in
reports that eight commercial farms including one that was
by former Masvingo provincial governor, Willard Chiwewe
were invaded by war
veterans and Zanu PF supporters last week.
Reports say the Zanu PF
supporters and the war veterans, who have
since established temporary
structures, are cutting down trees
indiscriminately and are also looting
Farmer Sues Mudede For Refusing Him Passport
Saturday, 25 October 2008
BULAWAYO - Zimbabweans whose parents migrated from other
still being denied citizenship on the grounds that they are
changes to the country's laws, a fresh High Court case has
A prominent Nyamandlovu farmer, Sweet Sweet, born in Zimbabwe
ago but struggling to trace the origins of his father, is suing the
Registrar-General, Tobaiwa Mudede, for refusing to issue him with a
Sweet and three of his siblings say they have been denied
the basis that they were aliens regardless of the fact that
they were born
and raised in this country.
Their lawyer, Job
Sibanda of Job Sibanda & Associates, said the case
indicated a worrying
misapplication of the law by the Registrar- General's
"Imagine the plight of ordinary Zimbabweans who have no access to
he said. "The law was changed a long time ago and it's no longer
for them to renounce citizenship they never held."
from neighbouring countries including their offspring
born and raised in
Zimbabwe, some of whom have never been to their father's
origin, were all rendered stateless in 2001.
But in 2003 the law was
changed to exempt those with one of their
parents who was born in a Sadc
country and entered Zimbabwe on or before
have continuously stayed in the country since birth and have
foreign citizenship or foreign passports were also exempted
their alleged foreign citizenship.
Despite the changes and several
court rulings in favour of aliens'
children, the RG's office still requires
them to renounce their alleged
"The problem we
have with the respondent (RG's office) is that we have
all been denied
passports by the respondent's office despite having been
born and grown up
in Zimbabwe," Sweet said in his founding affidavit. "None
of us has ever
sought, or was granted the citizenship of any other country
and all of us
have always regarded Zimbabwe to be our permanent home."
He said they
believed that they were entitled to be declared
Zimbabwean citizens and to
be issued with passports upon payment of the
Media Freedom Must Remain On The Agenda
Saturday, 25 October 2008
THE media in Zimbabwe remains severely grieved by the country's
operational environment that continues to deprive citizens of their
constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression and also
dispossesses the media's professional outlook.
This sad media
scenario has prompted media stakeholders under the
auspices of the Media
Alliance of Zimbabwe to hold an all-stakeholders
National Media Law and
Policy Reform Conference to be held during the first
The conference is aimed at bringing together a broad base of
from all sectors of Zimbabwe who will chart a way forward on media
and freedom of expression in light of the current sorry state of our
Media have a critical role to discharge in a transitional phase
as the one that Zimbabwe is currently going through after the signing
power-sharing deal between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations.
have been anticipating the birth of a new democratic
dispensation liberal to
diverse opinion, free expression and tolerance, and
one that recognises the
universality of human rights.
contrary, the state media have not shown any form of
appreciation of the
spirit of the political agreement between the country's
Contrary to Article 19 (d) of the power-sharing agreement
that advocates for
"fair coverage to all political parties for their
activities", the state media continues to divide the
country on grounds of
political ideologies that sustain the hostilities
between the political
State media have denied coverage to activities involving the
Minister-designate, Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputies since the
the deal. The MDC formations have been short-changed as coverage
the sole right for President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF despite
Tsvangirai holding a political rally last weekend and recently
with the electorate in Harare's city centre during the past few
surely are legitimate activities by the Prime
Minister-designate that are
worth mentioning in the public media - at least
to any objective,
professional journalists who take pride in their
The conference is ideally crafted to portray a democracy
acknowledges independent, free and pluralistic media that can
fulfil their mandate in democratic processes that inform
reconstruction and healing.
The current state of
journalism in Zimbabwe, informed by the laws and
policies in place, is in no
way positioned to push the agenda of national
healing, reconciliation and
The peace-building, reconciliation role of the media
professional, accountable, objective and balanced journalism that
and promotes political stability as opposed to journalism that
nation along political lines.
Stopgap measures such as
article 19 of the agreement and several
hollow amendments to AIPPA, POSA and
BSA will not democratise the media or
benefit any stakeholders. The only
democratic stable solution to the current
media woes is only an explicit
constitutional provision that indisputably
guarantees media freedom. This
will assure the journalists of security that
the media will be firmly
anchored and positioned to undertake its ethical
and responsible obligations
of informing the citizenry without fear of
falling foul of AIPPA, POSA, BSA
and the Interception of Communications Act
(ICA) and any other laws intended
to suppress media freedom and freedom of
expression, association and
An explicit constitutional guarantee of Freedom of the Media,
the norm in other African democracies such as South Africa, Zambia
Namibia, will include protection of freedom of expression, media
diversity, pluralism and access to information. The plague of
retrogressive media laws such as AIPPA, BSA, POSA and ICA
will be null and
void as they do not hold a place in any democracy governed
by the spirit of
Despite assurances to the 41st
Session of the African Commission on
Human and Peoples Rights by the
Zimbabwe government to amend AIPPA and other
repressive laws to comply with
the Declaration on the Principles of Freedom
of Expression, the laws are
still effective and still as repressive. The
cosmetic amendments to media
laws by parties involved in the political
negotiations passed in January are
not anywhere close to the expectations of
the people as espoused in the
People's Charter where freedom of expression
and access to information are
labelled as key to the country's movement
towards a true democracy.
The December amendments to AIPPA, POSA and BSA focus on minor
issues that do not address the fundamentals of basic freedoms
such as the
right to freedom of expression and media freedom. One is puzzled
pride of achievement and co-operation that engulfed Zanu PF and MDC
undemocratically fast-tracking the amendments through parliament.
that Parliament has resumed sitting, it is imperative that MPs
on issues of media freedom and freedom of expression and their
rights on the agenda. The people's hope for democracy need to
by articulating relevant issues of basic human rights in
professional face of the media fraternity characterised by
responsibility, accountability and objectivity needs to be
through sound policies from the august house.
*This is the first part
of a continuing article on Media Law and
Policy Reform in Zimbabwe, building
up to the National Conference. Part 2
will dwell on public media and its
role in a transitional phase into
democracy and the professionalisation of
the media fraternity as Zimbabwe
Zvidzayi is the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe Project Officer.
Mzingeli Gets His Due...At Last
Saturday, 25 October 2008
CHARLES MZINGELI is featured on the cover of a new book on the
political history of Zimbabwe.
This is as it should be. I have
always been amazed at the absence of
Mzingeli's name in many accounts of the
struggle against colonialism.
The book is The Urban Roots of Democracy
and Political Violence in
Zimbabwe - Harare and Highfield - 1940-1964, by
assistant professor of African history at Kent State
University, in Kent,
The cover features a picture of
Mzingeli, in wide-brimmed hat,
glasses, moustache, dark suit, white shirt
and dark tie.
The picture is almost as I remember him in the late
1950s, as a
reporter on The African Daily News, widely quoted during and
Shamuyarira's tenure as editor.
includes a valuable peek at correspondence
between United States diplomats
in Salisbury and Washington, and a number of
nationalist leaders, including
Without quoting the letters and conversations at length,
it can be
said with certainty the impression is created that Zanu, at its
begged for funds from the US government.
The author says
after the split in 1963, Zanu, led by Ndabaningi
Sithole who had studied in
the US, appealed for funds from the Americans.
One of Sithole's "point
man" was Mugabe. The relevance of this, in the
context of the pathological
dislike of US policy in Zanu PF today, is stark.
But for me, the book
is most satisfying when it dwells, longer than
any book on our political
history that I have come across so far, on
first chapter is entitled Charles Mzingeli's leadership and
working-class citizenship, and begins thus:
historical legacy is complex, but one aspect of it
is in serious need of
revision. The notion that he was a 'sellout' needs to
be put in the context
of what came before the 1960s, and of how he felt a
betrayal by the younger
leaders, particularly after the original decision to
boycott the African
seats in the Federation Parliament was ignored in 1952."
The next year,
federation came into being and among the MPs from
Southern Rhodesia were
Mike Hove and Jasper Savanhu. There were MPs from
Nyasaland and Northern
Rhodesia, as well, among them Scotting Chingattie and
Manoah Chirwa, Daudi
Nyamba and Kumibikano, respectively.
Federation was later attacked by
many nationalists as a fraud, created
to perpetuate the domination of the
three countries by the white
supremacists in Southern Rhodesia.
When it was killed in 1963, nobody remembered Mzingeli's opposition to
But both Shamuyarira and Lawrence Vambe, my bosses at African
were categorical in acknowledging Mzingeli's role in the early
days of the
Brought out in the book is Mzingeli's unwillingness to engage
confrontational politics with the rulers - perhaps his major undoing, in
era when all over Africa, blood was being shed for freedom.
I joined African Newspapers in 1957, Mzingeli, though far from
political has-been, had been overwhelmed by the radical fervour of
his acolytes in the Reformed Industrial and Commercial Union
(RICU) - James
Chikerema, George Nyandoro and Paul Mushonga.
They were in the
forefront of the formation of the Southern Rhodesia
Congress (SRANC), the same year.
Mzingeli's views may still have
provided good copy for The African
Daily News. But my regular contact then
was Naison Mhlanga, chairman of the
Harare township advisory board, a
toothless forerunner of today's city
his quest for a participatory role for Africans in
Eventually, the radicals won and the struggle took a violent
life-and-death struggle for the support of Harare and Highfield
between Zapu and Zanu.
In 1963, a few months after I had left the
country to work in Northern
Rhodesia, the late John Matowe and I drove from
Lusaka to Salisbury to visit
In December 1963, the
federation was abandoned. Zimbabwe - unlike
Zambia and Malawi - had no
united African political party to take on the
white supremacists and their
talk of "dominion status".
The rest is history: there was a 15-year war
in which an estimated 40
000 perished. Nobody can say with any certainty if
Mzingeli's strategy would
have worked better.
What is certain is
that Mzingeli, in this one book, is given his real
due as a catalyst in the
Another Agricultural Disaster
Saturday, 25 October 2008 19:25
THE government last week admitted four failures which are going to
contribute to yet another disastrous agricultural season.
week unanimously supported a motion to declare the food
shortages in the
country a national disaster. The move rebuts government's
to acknowledge inability to meet domestic requirements of
food, in the hope
of hiding its culpability.
The Minister of Agriculture, Rugare Gumbo,
said they had started
issuing temporary licences to individuals willing to
inputs such as fertiliser and maize seed, effectively
owning up to a
nationwide shortage of inputs required for the 2008/2009
But that kind of admission is unlikely to help
efforts to prepare
Zimbabwe to grow enough food for its requirements because
it is too late in
the farming season. By the time the inputs are shipped and
Zimbabwe it will be well past the planting period.
Farming inputs should normally be on farms in July or at the latest by
end of August. The first rains fell last week and the government's
announcement on granting licences is a stark admission that while it was
busy ordering and parading tractors and combine harvesters, it forgot that
seed and fertiliser would be needed.
But it is also a startling
revelation that despite its assurances
during past weeks and setting targets
of 500 000 hectares for maize in order
to produce two million tonnes, the
government was unaware that the country
did not have the necessary inputs.
It is especially startling that this
should come after further bungling over
the targeted wheat hectarage because
of inadequate inputs and failure to
make alternative arrangements for power
supplies to the farmers it
encouraged to grow wheat.
The government abuses ordinary hard-working
Zimbabweans at every
opportunity. When the new batch of tractors, seed and
fertiliser were being
handed out, it was suggested that priority would be
given to large-scale
commercial farmers. Now small-scale farmers - the
people who in the past
were responsible for producing as much as 60% of the
food requirements -
should resort to animal-drawn ploughs and use manure
because there is
inadequate draught power and fertiliser.
large-scale commercial farmers applied for land, one of the
that they provide proof of their ability to run such
enterprises using their
own resources. Yet the government continues to
spoon-feed people who had
declared independent means of sustaining their
reason why Zimbabwe has a food deficit is because these spoilt
done nothing to justify the pampering they are getting from the
Even more perplexing is the role of the Maguta/Inala
as the military's contribution to feeding the nation. Now
there is another
diversionary scheme called Champion Farmers whose
operations and target
areas are so secretive that apparently none of the
law-makers know about
them. Such is the extent of government's
The one clear lesson from the government's experiments is that
one thing to declare an interest in farming, and quite another to be
put the interest into practice. Most of the government-empowered
waiting for the day they get their title deeds, so that they can
their farms and live happily ever after on the proceeds, because
not sure the scheme in its entirety will survive a new political
Since the 2000 disastrously chaotic farm invasions,
the government has
provided abundant evidence of breathtaking incompetent
planning, which in
part is responsible for the current food shortages that
have spawned a
humanitarian crisis that threatens nearly five million
Zim Standard letters
Right Time For Tsvangirai To Walk Away
Saturday, 25 October 2008
IF President Robert Mugabe is adamant about not giving Morgan
Tsvangirai the stronghold ministries of Finance and Defence, Tsvangirai has
the sanction of the entire electorate to walk away from the talks.
Zanu PF has bludgeoned the economy for the last 28 years and the
party is pleading for one last chance to grab an open check from
national budget and share big chunks from the proceeds before they are
For Mugabe to cry for the Ministry of Finance is but to take
nation for granted because, economy-wise, there is nothing new they can
deliver today, which they have failed to deliver in the last three
It was unsettling to watch the You Tube video posted on
Saturday October 18 wherein Professor Arthur Mutambara openly
asked the West
to step aside and let Africa solve its own crisis. He said
the obvious words
spoken by those with hidden skeletons in
Mutambara forgot that the West becomes concerned when
abused by illegitimate governments masquerading as sovereign
states. It was
also nauseating to hear him mention that the issue about
trivial since the government would be inclusive.
Through his bridled and biased speech, he therefore impliedly called
everyone to encourage Tsvangirai to accept insignificant ministries
Gender and that of "Without Portfolio", and letting Zanu PF grab key
ministries in the interests of the starving Zimbabweans.
his emphasis on "starving Zimbabweans". I wish he had
highlighted the fact
that Zanu PF actually caused the mess and should never
be trusted by the
electorate to run the government again. The interview was
incensing, but also reminded anyone of the usual political rhetoric
yields nothing and paves way for countless citizens to suffer.
Mutambara's assertion that the issue about allocation of ministries in
power-sharing deal is trivial is in itself an early warning sign of how
power hungry he could turn out to be. Anyone watching could easily tell how
anxious he was to get on the throne and rule regardless of his entry without
He already seems pro-Zanu PF since he appears like the
calibre. Given his college day hatred for undemocratic
remains shocked on how he now portrays himself as a
supping with the devil to sympathize with the draconian
Many still wonder to date how Mutambara made it to the table
did not even a win the deserving votes for the position. He entered
the back door. Now he speaks of the West trying to stir some trouble
catalyzing bickering among the troika in the name of ministries
The learned Professor forgets that Zanu PF is renowned for its
and spendthrift habits. If the Ministry of Finance is left in the
Gideon Gono, surely that's a big joke given the history of his
The West, the World Bank and IMF can't be blindfolded and
tricked to fund
any project in Zimbabwe if the economy is to continue to be
driven by drunk
drivers and losers and Zanu PF spendthrifts.
would be an open check to get into town to shop for the last
common knowledge that Zanu PF is in the departure lounge. To
ruthless and carefree party with funds is simply to encourage
squirrel away millions of money into personal pockets of the Zanu PF
who must utilize the very last opportunity and grab the last loot for
personal gain. They must do so and grab the last big chunks to cushion their
lives before the final whistle.
This is an urgent matter and their
current motto now is: "It's now or
never." That being the fact, Tsvangirai
must remain resolute, hold tight on
finance and keep the West updated about
any move. The talk about being a
West stooge is neither here nor there.
African leadership is famous for
incompetence. If all was well, surely who
would try to unseat a just and
We are almost
approaching the end of the year and Zanu PF is still in
power despite the
dreary loss of elections in March. Water treatment
chemicals, food, fuel,
medicines and major basics continue to be in short
supply. Mugabe and his
men continue to feast and celebrate as the country is
bleeding. Why should
Mugabe hold the nation to ransom and refusing to hand
over the requests of
the electorate submitted through Tsvangirai?
Why should Mugabe call the
shots when we did not give the mandate to
do so? Why should Tsvangirai be
playing the loser when he is in fact the one
who won the elections? Why
should the terms be subject to the pleasure of
Zanu PF and
By walking away, Tsvangirai will send the right message to
He will dissociate himself from power-hungry dictators who are
have their cake and eat it. Through open protest, Zanu PF will be
illegitimate by the world and will be dealt with accordingly as a
full-fledged dictatorship. The time to walk away is now.
continues to be arrogant and unconcerned with the plight of
it's about time Tsvangirai walked out. That will send a clear
Mugabe and the world. If these talks cannot yield immediate
it's about time Tsvangirai returns to the electorate to
Saturday, 25 October 2008 20:00
educated friend of mine accused MDC and its leadership for
country to ransom.
I thought he was joking until he started
ranting on and on about the
need to "tell people. . .the importance of not
trusting whites. . . and how
racist Europe is and. . .the British. . . and
so on". How hard it was to get
his PhD under white
Surely, those in the Diaspora after waking up to
cereals, bacon and
egg breakfasts, should know that Zimbabwe and those in
the thick of things
right now are not interested in the racism out there.
They are preoccupied
with survival and the need live another
Please if you have had a bad experience with some
whites do not take
it out on innocent, hungry and angry Zimbabweans. We
deserve better, respect
To my friend, do
not forget to link education, knowledge and wisdom to
become a wise man with
a wealth of knowledge and care.
Fear Of The Unknown
25 October 2008 19:59
THE reason why Zanu PF does not want to give up
Home Affairs even
after having a monopoly over it for 28 years is so they
can continue to
abuse it in the manner we saw with Morgan Tsvangirai's
resulted in his failure to travel to Swaziland for the Sadc
Zanu PF is afraid that if someone else has the Ministry
Affairs, they could be as vindictive as they have been over the
arresting opposition politicians and their supporters on spurious
lawyers, judges and trade unionists, and banning rallies or marches
organised by anyone who does not belong to Zanu PF.
They are also
afraid that anyone in charge of the ministry would,
driven by vengeance,
conduct a vendetta against those responsible for so
much suffering at the
hands of the government. The list is very long.
What is intriguing is
that PF Zapu would want to claim that the
Ministry of Home Affairs is
theirs. So by extension they are admitting that
PF Zapu, which should
understand what it is to be a victim of the state
abuses, has been at the
forefront of persecuting anyone who is suspected of
being a member or
supports the opposition?
Zim Needs Fewer
Saturday, 25 October 2008 19:58
SEVEN months after
the properly contested presidential election
Zimbabwe still awaits an
appropriately constituted government.
Since then a very
flawed agreement of sorts was cobbled together but
is yet to launch because
of the sticking point of sharing cabinet posts.
What defies all logic
is that the politicians are clearly unconcerned
by the plight of the people
they claim to represent. At the moment, all
they seem concerned about is
who gets what ministry - and what a massive
cake they are fighting
It is highly irresponsible if not hypocritical to haggle for a
of the ministries without having the courage or decency to question
of the proposed cabinet. The whole world is in financial melt-down
own country has been very broke for the past eight years, if not
How, therefore, can we justify even considering a 31-member cabinet
the trappings of brand new posh cars and free fuel, subsidised
allowances for telephone and domestic workers and numerous
Add to this, 20 deputy ministers and permanent
mind that the proposed government is so grossly top
heavy with a president
and his two deputies, as well as a prime minister and
his deputy - they may
as well each double as a ministers to justify the
Zimbabwe is broke and there is this deluded belief that
are just waiting with open cheques to fund the lavish
lifestyle that our
government has become accustomed to.
contrary the donors look on in shock at the tragedy that
continues to play
out in our crumbling country. They have a responsibility
to their tax
payers and obviously need to justify why they should finance
that chooses to have a cabinet bigger than their own. How many
of us have
at some time stopped giving money to a relative because instead
his family he uses the money to buy alcohol and cigarettes?
There is no
doubt that the size of the proposed cabinet will certainly
push our country
deeper into the economic wilderness in which we have been
years now. To the average Zimbabwean, the purpose and mandate
of this weird
creature called government of national unity is simply to end
the cycle of
poverty and starvation by bringing back economic stability,
accountability and put together a meaningful constitution.
Instead, there is
a preoccupation with politics of appeasement and reward -
hence so many
ministries, designed to ensure that as many as possible senior
from each party are appropriately rewarded and therefore
Zimbabwe is a small poor country and should have no more than 13
Agriculture, Defence, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Justice
Parliamentary Affairs (+Constitutional Affairs) Home Affairs, Health
Welfare, Public Service, Labour & Social services,
Government & Public Works, Industry & Commerce
(+Department of Mines;
Department of Tourism) Energy and Water Resources,
Transport & Communication
(+Department of Information).
government of national unity seriously thinks that it requires
in order to function, then we have failed to break the cycle
governance and we are in very serious trouble.