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Bulawayo to evict vegetable growers

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

From Pamenus Tuso in Bulawayo
issue date :2005-Oct-08

THE Welfare Society of Bulawayo (WSB) and the Bulawayo City Council are
headed for a clash after the council decided to evict people growing
vegetables at the southern end of West Park cemetery.
West Park was designated and gazetted as a cemetery in 1999.  The graveyard's
southern portion, Greenspan Garden, has since its designation been used for
growing vegetables, mainly by Mzilikazi and Barbourfield residents.
Last month, the municipality served notices to the residents to discontinue
their activities in the area.
But the intended eviction has angered the WSB, a civic organisation
championing the rights of the city's less privileged residents.
The society has written to mayor Japhet Ndabeni Ncube expressing its
"The Welfare Society of Bulawayo has learnt with disbelief that the city
council has served notices to the more than 500 welfare clients at Greenspan
Gardens. The executive committee of the society is nevertheless concerned at
the displacement of the people as it will indeed impact negatively on their
welfare," said the letter.
The society said reports emanating from the affected residents suggested
that council was more concerned with the welfare of the dead than the
But despite the feud, council has pledged to go ahead with the project.
"As much as your clients will be disadvantaged, the area is designated as a
cemetery and cannot be used for anything
"In any case, welfare gardens can be established anywhere while a cemetery
must be gazetted," said Bulawayo town clerk Moffat Ndlovu, responding to WSB's
The city's engineering services department has already prepared the layout
plan for the new cemetery, while the department of health services awaits
relocation of the affected residents.
West Park Cemetery was opened in November 1999

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Department in bid to unite farmers' unions

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Oct-08

THE Department of Public and Interactive Affairs is geared to see all
farmers' unions in Zimbabwe amalgamate in a major development it says will
benefit the key agricultural sector.
Principal director William Nhara told a news conference in Harare yesterday
that the department was set to finalise proposals made by stakeholders
during nationwide consultative meetings.
"For the benefit of the agrarian (reform) and efficiency of the agricultural
sector, it has become imperative for all stakeholders in the sector to focus
on the creation of a single body."
The latest development will see all farmer representatives from small scale,
communal (A1) to commercial (A2) incorporated into a single entity.
In the last three months, Nhara said, the government had been consulting
widely with the three major farmers' unions -  the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union
(ZFU), Zimbabwe Indigenous Commercial Farmers' Union (ZICFU) and Commercial
Farmers' Union (CFU) - and the consensus was that they formed one union.
"It is the department's hope that all stakeholders will maintain their
mature approach to issues that will ensure the promotion and welfare of the
farmers and protection of their interests," he said.
Nhara added that the idea was also aimed at involving farmers in the policy
and decision making on issues concerning agriculture an area the farmers
complained about being sidelined.
"If they speak with one voice, they will be heard more and even better," he
The issue of amalgamating the three farmers unions dates back to the late
1980s when the Joint Presidency Council (JPC) comprising the ZFU, CFU and
ZICFU was formed.
Recently, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Dr Gideon Gono said the various
farmer representative organisations were causing confusion.

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Govt to pay $36bn gratuities

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Oct-08

THE government will in January fork out at least $36 billion in gratuities
to former political prisoners, detainees and restrictees, ending years of
lobbying by the political group.
The one-off payout will be in addition to  other accompanying benefits such
as education and medical grants being enjoyed by veterans of Zimbabwe's
liberation war. Even though figures were not made available, the other
benefits may even surpass the initial payment to the group, given the
spiralling inflation.
According to Statutory Instrument 194 of 2005 published in the Government
Gazette yesterday, the ex-prisoners, detainees and restrictees, numbering  6
000, will receive a one-off payment of $6 million each. Benefits will also
include funeral grants and loans for members wishing to go into business.
Under the Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees Act, a former
prisoner, detainee or restrictee is defined "as any person who after January
1 1959 was imprisoned, detained, or restricted in Zimbabwe for a period of
at least six months, or for two or more periods amounting to not less than
six months, for political activity in connection with the bringing about of
Zimbabwe's independence on April 18 1980."
Beneficiaries wishing to embark on income generating projects can apply for
loans whose rate of interest would be fixed by the responsible minister.
Any ex-political prisoners, detainees and restrictees or their dependent
children wishing to pursue academic or vocational training may be entitled
to "full tuition fees and levies, the cost of all prescribed textbooks and
study materials, and full boarding materials."
Payments for the children's education would only be made if it has been
proved that the people concerned are unable to meet the costs.
All the funds would be released subject to the approval of a board set up in
terms of the Act.
Those attending non-government schools and institutions will be entitled to
an education grant equal in amount to the education benefit at government
institutions. The beneficiaries' fund would also be used for their medical
or dental treatment.
In addition to these benefits, there would also be funeral grants that shall
be at the same rate as those paid to civil servants.
The funeral benefit shall be payable to the surviving spouse, the deceased's
eldest child over 18 years of age or a close relative.
This extra financial burden on the government will mean that the Minister of
Finance, Herbert Murerwa, will have to accommodate the former prisoners in
next year's budget.

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FEATURE: Police overzealousness in enforcing orders baffles Zimbabweans

Zim Online

Sat 8 October 2005

      HARARE - A police officer mills around the confines of Harare's Africa
Unity Square, a folded copy of the government-owned Herald newspaper sunk
inside the side pockets of the faded blue denim trademark of the police's
anti-riot squad.

      An oversized helmet plants monstrous features on him, as he
meditatively leans against a road signpost, with some teargas canisters
clipped around his trouser belt.

      Scanning the faces of passersby suspiciously, his upper teeth chew
piteously at the scales of a visibly famished lower lip before a dehydrated
tongue flicks over both lips to restore some life and luster on them.

      It is 3pm and the policeman has been deployed here together with his
colleagues since 4am without any food rations to see them through the hot
afternoon. The operation is to quell a looming demonstration by a local
civic group.

      After a lapse of a few minutes, a battered police Land Rover truck
stutters past at high speed, as its occupants frantically signal that the
demonstrators are nearing the famous square.

      Together with his colleagues, the police officer suddenly springs to
life, tightening on the heavy wooden truncheon in readiness for action.

      No sooner does the group of placard-waving youths emerge round the
corner of Nelson Mandela Street than our police officer joins his colleagues
to accost and pummel hard on the heads and bodies of the youthful

      Their crime? Demanding a change to a constitution that has allowed one
of Africa's last remaining Big Man-style rulers - President Robert Mugabe -
to maintain a stranglehold on power since Zimbabwe's independence from
Britain 25 years ago.

      It is not just the excesses of Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party
that many observers have found surprising but also the overzealousness with
which security forces particularly the police have crushed any attempt by
ordinary citizens or opposition political parties to challenge the status

      But for how long, political analysts wonder, will brutal police
firepower continue to beat back swelling discontent among a population
starved of jobs, food, fuel and almost every other basic survival commodity.

      For example in 2000, at the height of violent farm invasions led by
government supporters and self-styled veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s
independence war, the police remained spectators refusing to uphold the
constitutional duty to protect the property rights of citizens whose farms
and equipment were being seized illegally.

      When the courts ordered the police authorities to arrest the farm
invaders, the government blocked the move saying it could not set war
veterans in the law enforcement agency against those illegally occupying
white farms.

      Besides the police force did not have enough manpower to ensure every
white-owned farm was protected, the government said.

      But the "understaffed" police force was however quick to act to
enforce law and order, arresting white farmers or their workers who tried to
hit back at the farm invaders.

      Assured the law would not touch them, the war veterans and their
supporters plundered, not just property but life as well. More than eight
white commercial farmers were murdered over the past five years while
several hundreds of their black farm workers were severely assaulted.

      Farm equipment worth billions of dollars was also stolen while more
than 50 percent of wildlife on white-owned conservancies was poached. No one
has been arrested or prosecuted to date for the offences most of them
committed in broad daylight.

      Zimbabwe has grappled severe food shortages for the last five years
largely because of the destabilisation caused on the mainstay agricultural
sector by the farm invasions.

      In 2002, the conscience of the police force was again put to the test
when the state agency was called to enforce the tough Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order and Security Act

      AIPPA forbids journalists and newspapers to operate in Zimbabwe
without being registered with the government's Media and Information
Commission. Journalists who breach this law face up to two years in jail
while newspapers will be forcibly shut down and their equipment seized by
the state for publishing without being registered.

      The POSA among other things outlaws criticism against Mugabe and also
bans Zimbabweans from gathering in groups of more than three to discuss
politics without permission form the police.

      But the police have used the two laws exclusively against the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, independent
journalists and newspapers.

      Four months ago, the police were at the forefront of the government's
controversial urban clean-up campaign under which thousands of shantytown
homes, city backyard cottages and informal business kiosks were demolished.

      The campaign, condemned as inhumane by the United Nations, left at
least 700 000 people without homes or means of income. A further 2.4 million
people were also affected by the home demolition campaign, according to the

      At least one policeman was killed during the operation while several
hundred other officers were also left homeless after the backyard cottages
they rented were destroyed.

      Even as they fell victim to the clean-up operation, police officers
continued to implement the operation with much zeal and enthusiasm much to
the surprise of many observers.

      One senior police officer explained why his colleagues behaved in this
way:  "In 2000, Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri toured the country
threatening to fire any police officer found to be siding with the 'sellout
MDC'  and demonstrated that by firing more than 10 senior officers who
issued orders for the arrest of war veterans who were brutalising innocent

      Siding with the MDC in police circles can either mean actively
supporting the opposition party or taking action, no matter how proper and
lawful, against ZANU PF supporters, said the police officer, who spoke on
condition he was not named.

      He added: "Chihuri is presiding over total fear within the police
force and this is why his tenure is being extended because he has converted
the police into a ZANU PF tool."

      Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena refused to discuss the matter when
contacted by ZimOnline.    And among the questions ZimOnline would have
wanted to ask the police Spin Doctor was:  For how long shall the fear of
losing their jobs continue to be sufficient to keep junior police officers,
disgruntled by poor pay and working conditions, as willing tools of their
commanders? - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe's sole tyre manufacturer halts operations

Zim Online

Sat 8 October 2005

      BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe is sitting on a road carnage time bomb amid
revelations this week that the country's sole tyre manufacturer has ceased
production due to a shortage of foreign currency to import raw materials.

      Dunlop Zimbabwe, which has asked large fleet operators to import their
own raw materials and help save jobs at its Bulawayo tyre-making plant, said
it was last allocated  foreign currency by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) in mid-July, a situation that was making it impossible to continue

      In a document shown to ZimOnline this week, Dunlop Zimbabwe managing
director Phil Whitehead said the company had run dry of raw materials and
had been asked by the RBZ to hold on for a few weeks following a meeting on
29 August.

      He appealed to companies with excess funds in their foreign currency
accounts (FCAs) to bail the company out so as to save the country jobs and
precious hard cash being used to import tyres. The company employs about 800
workers and is the sole manufacturer of tyres in the country.

      Some 30 000 more workers are employed in downstream industries,
according to Whitehead.

      "If there are people with surplus of FCA money available and following
usual exchange control approvals it would be possible to import raw
materials. If you have a big vehicle fleet - it would be good for us to
discuss with you efficient use of your forex to keep your fleets going," he

      Imported tyres cost at least eight times more than locally produced
ones and the country requires double the amount of foreign currency to
import a tyre compared to when it imports the raw materials and manufactures
the tyres locally, according to Whitehead.

      An imported light truck tyre costs about Z$17 million compared to only
Z$3 million for a Dunlop manufactured one. The Dunlop brand is the only
locally produced tyre while the rest are imported.

      Zimbabwe has grappled severe foreign currency shortages since the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) withdrew balance-of-payments support six
years ago following disagreements with Harare over fiscal policy and other
governance issues.

      The hard cash shortages have worsened for local firms in the last
three months after the government diverted a total US$135 million to the IMF
to pay off outstanding debts in a bid to avoid expulsion from the Fund.

      Food, fuel, electricity, essential medical drugs, industrial machine
spares parts and nearly every other basic commodity is in short supply in
Zimbabwe because there is no hard cash to pay foreign suppliers.

      With both the rainy and festival seasons around the corner the closure
of Dunlop could Zimbabwe dearly in lives lost in road accidents and the
number of insurance claims as a result of the carnage. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe soldier orders police to detain man for 18 hours

Zim Online

Sat 8 October 2005

      KAROI - A top army officer ordered police in Karoi town to detain a
motorist he had a misunderstanding with while driving around this small
farming town, 203km north-west of Harare.

      But the police officer in charge of Kaori, Ernest Duri told ZimOnline
on Friday that the motorist, Raymond Nhemwa, was locked up in cells for
about 18 hours after a report by army major Tichaona Chinyanga that Nhemwa
had insulted President Robert Mugabe.

      Duri said: "Who is the guilty one, the one who pays an admission of
guilt fine or that one who does not? He (Nhemwa) admitted that he had
insulted the President and paid the fine."

      Under the government's draconian Public Order and Security Act, it is
an offence to insult or ridicule Mugabe. Several Zimbabweans have been
arrested in the last three years for allegedly uttering words perceived to
be insulting to Mugabe's person or office.

      But Nhemwa, who was locked up in police cells on Tuesday and released
the next day, denies ever insulting Mugabe saying he paid the fine only to
secure his freedom.   He said he had a "misunderstanding" with the army
officer who he said accused him of poor driving. Fearing for his safety,
Nhemwa said he decided to report to the police at Karoi police station.

      However, Chinyanga followed him to the police station where he told
police officers to lock him up for insulting Mugabe.

      "I asked the police officers whether there were other witnesses who
could testify that they heard me insulting the President but the police said
it did not matter that there were no witnesses because they were arresting
him on the orders of the army officer," Nhemwa said.

      Chinyanga could not be contacted for comment on the matter but the
Zimbabwe National Army soldier has been accused in the past of harassing
civilians in and around Karoi. - ZimOnline

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FEATURE: Zimbabwean school children dash from beerhall to classroom

Zim Online

Sat 8 October 2005

      MUTARE - Every night, Mushando Bar, a run-down council beerhall in the
poor suburb of Sakubva in Mutare city, explodes into life as patrons drown
their seemingly unending sorrows.

      The beerhall is a hive of activity as hundreds of patrons dance the
night away and imbibe their "scuds," a local opaque beer renowned for its

      Young girls who are barely in their teens are also here, flaunting raw
flesh as they sell their souls while engaging in the "oldest profession."

      It is amid this shocking debauchery and acculturation that would have
made old Sodom appear mere child's play, that nine-year-old Tinashe Musvize
wakes up every morning to go to school.

      Tinashe, a Grade 3 pupil from Mutanda Primary School in the eastern
border city of Mutare, frankly admits that his is not the best of places to
call home.

      "This is where we now live. I go to school every day from here and
these are all my textbooks," says the shy young boy from the beerhall
storeroom the family has converted into their bedroom.

      Tinashe's textbooks are neatly stacked beside heaps of crates of beer.
The family's earthly possessions, which include some few thin blankets, are
piled in one small corner.

      Tinashe's family is part of a group of 21 families that sought refuge
in this beerhall after their homes and backyard shacks were destroyed by the
government three months ago in a controversial clean-up exercise code-named
Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out The Filth).

      At least 700 000 people were rendered homeless after President Robert
Mugabe sanctioned the destruction of urban slums in a massive military-style

      Another 2.4 million Zimbabweans were also directly affected by the
operation, according to a hard-hitting United Nations report compiled by the
world body's special envoy Anna Tibaijuka.

      The United States, Britain, the European Union and other major Western
governments also criticised the clean-up operation calling it a violation of
the rights of the poor.

      But Mugabe has vociferously defended the exercise accusing critics of
the government programme of "romanticising squalor."

      As Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating World
Habitat Day this week, life has never been the same for Tinashe and the rest
of the 21 families here.

      "We have problems keeping our children away from the main bar. But
most of the time they sneak in. Our main worry is that this is the place
where all the prostitutes do their business. We are praying for a safe
environment for our children," says Memory Musvize, Tinashe's mother.

      While the families are holed up in this derelict beerhall, about 265
kilometres away in the capital Harare, Local Government and National Housing
Minister Ignatius Chombo, was cynically paying tribute to the government for
"improving" the housing standards for its people.

      Marking World Habitat Day, Chombo said: "Our government has moved
great strides to ensure that all our people have decent housing. Indeed our
actions over the past months have shown commitment to ensuring decent
accommodation for Zimbabweans."

      Like Tinashe and the other 21 families, Tongai Zisengwe, a small-time
cobbler in the city, is also in the same predicament. He is now staying in a
disused soccer pitch, completely at the mercy of the weather, together with
his wife and three children of school-going age.

      "It is because of the government's actions that I am now living in the
open like this. There are no toilets, no water, nothing for human survival.
The government has only worsened my situation," he says wearing a sad face.

      Four months after being promised better accommodation, Zisengwe is
still sleeping in the open.

      "I hear them (government officials) talk about an operation to build
houses for everyone whose home they destroyed. Such talk makes me angry,
very angry.

      "I have been to the government offices and nothing has come up. I was
openly told to forget it because the houses are too few for everyone," he

      The Zimbabwe government last July launched an ambitious housing
project to placate rising world anger over the housing demolitions.

      The new reconstruction programme, codenamed Operation Garikai/Hlalani
Kuhle has so far failed to meet its targets as the Harare authorities battle
a severe economic crisis blamed on Mugabe's mismanagement.

      Analysts say Harare is too broke to raise the Z$3 trillion (about
US$300 million) needed for the housing project. - ZimOnline

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Mugabe bars food aid distribution until after Senate polls

Zim Online

Sat 8 October 2005

      HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's government will allow international
relief agencies to feed an estimated four million hungry Zimbabweans only
after Senate elections in November, ZimOnline has learnt.

      Authoritative sources said the government wanted to maintain monopoly
on food aid distribution and use it to maximise votes in the election set
for the end of next month.

      The government, which accuses non-governmental organisations (NGOs) of
backing the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, also
wanted relief agencies shut out of food aid distribution for now because it
feared the NGOs might use the exercise as a pretext to mobilise support for
the MDC.

      "The Ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe have been
ordered to use the bulk of the foreign currency they have to import more
grain. The grain would be distributed in the rural areas to shore up support
for ZANU PF," said one government, official, who declined to be named.

      State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, also in charge of food aid
distribution, confirmed the government had held back until after the Senate
polls a decision on whether to invite international relief agencies to help
feed starving Zimbabweans.

      But he denied that this was because the government wanted to
manipulate food aid to win more votes in the election whose exact dates are
yet to be made public.

      Mutasa said: "Most of these NGOs play politics with food and they
might as well use the food handouts to influence our people to vote for the
imperial lapdogs, the MDC. We are busy with the Senate elections and after
that we will look at the situation. But it should not be lost that we have
the capacity to feed our own people."

      Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa in August told Parliament that the
government was suspending its Grain Marketing Board's monopoly over maize
and wheat trade to allow private firms to also import the staple grains. But
to date private firms are being allowed to import only stockfeed.

      Mugabe, who in July told World Food Programme (WFP) director James
Morris that Harare would accept aid from the organisation, also promised
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan last month that he was not
opposed to international help although the Zimbabwean leader said he was not
happy with some NGOs he said politicised food aid.

      The cash-strapped Harare government has however refused to formally
appeal to the WFP for help and has also not permitted NGOs free reign to
feed hungry people insisting it has the capacity to ensure every Zimbabwean
has food.

      The WFP and other international relief agencies are allowed to feed
only selected groups of people living with HIV/AIDS, orphans, school
children and the elderly.

      The MDC, churches, human rights and civic groups have in the past
accused Mugabe and his government of denying food aid to opposition
supporters as punishment for not backing the government. The government
denies the charge.

      Zimbabwe has faced severe food shortages since 2001 which critics say
are in large part because of the seizure by Mugabe's administration of
productive land from white farmers and giving it over to landless black

      Failure by the government to give skills training and inputs support
to the black villagers to maintain production on the former white farms has
seen food output plummeting by about 60 percent. The government however
denies its land reforms are responsible for Zimbabwe's food problems instead
blaming this on poor weather. - ZimOnline

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Sokwanele Newsletter : Even the goats are beginning to die

Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe

Even the goats are beginning to die
Sokwanele Report : 7 October 2005
Zimbabweans as a people are not given to complaining. They put up with no end of hardships and difficulties with a dull sense of resignation to the worst. Normally such a stoical attitude would be regarded as a virtue. After all who wants to be known as a whinger? But in Zimbabwe things are very far from normal. The cause of our suffering as a people is not the weather or the stars, nor even Tony Blair (someone please tell Mugabe!) No, the cause of ninety-nine per cent of our suffering can be traced back to bad governance and the appalling mismanagement of the economy. For this reason it is high time we stopped suffering in silence, and let out a roar of disapproval to the authors of our misfortune, who of course are none other than the ZANU PF elite. It is time we demanded our dignity, our God-given freedom and the human rights which were once enshrined in our Constitution - until, that is, the ruling clique decided it was necessary to their continued enjoyment of power and privilege that we be deprived of them.
Because of our tight-lipped silence who for example, apart from those who experience it as their grinding daily routine, are aware of the intense suffering of those who live in the more remote rural areas?
Take the Gogo (grandmother) I spoke to this week who lives in Siabuwa in the Zambezi Valley about a hundred kilometres from Binga. She had to come into Bulawayo a few weeks ago to visit her daughter and to care for the young grandchildren while their mother was in hospital. Now it is time for Gogo to return to her own home in Siabuwa. How would she get there, I asked. My question prompted the most amazing revelations about the incredible difficulties now endured by those who live far from the nearest town.
Normally Gogo would have a choice of travelling either via (the Falls Road) Kamativi and Binga, or via Nkayi and Gokwe. The western or the eastern route as you could say, both of which take one over some difficult terrain and bone-shaking roads at the best of times. However in these grossly abnormal times one does not have these options any more. Because of the acute shortage of fuel across the whole country most rural buses have just stopped running. People may queue for days only to be told that the service has been cancelled. No forex, no fuel, no bus service - leaving thousands of stranded travellers in abject misery. And that was just the start of Gogo's woes …
I enquired further what she was going to do. Could she not get a lift on some vehicle going to Binga? Possibly, replied Gogo (and at considerable cost) but the real problem with that route was how to get from Binga on the shores of Lake Kariba to Siabuwa, a hundred kilometres inland. No buses have run on this road for many weeks now, leaving desperate commuters to make the journey on foot. How long would such a journey take? Two to three days was the reply, depending on one's state of health. Gogo went on to explain that rural people forced to walk this road had to be continually on the lookout for wild animals. (The road passes through forested areas and skirts wildlife safari areas and the Chizarira National Park). For this reason people tend to walk in groups, and they stop walking at 5 in the evening when the elephants are on the move, to or from the water. Walkers set up big bonfires at night to scare off the elephants and other wildlife.
What food did these people have, I enquired. Gogo replied that they live off the wild berries along the road. And was there really no chance of a lift for exhausted commuters? Only the occasional National Parks landrover, I was informed, or the even more rare rural ambulance. Apart from the strict orders given to National Parks drivers not to give lifts along the way, their vehicles are too small anyway and could at best help a few stranded walkers. If there was a particularly old or frail person on the road one of the rare ambulances might provide a lift (at a price), but commuters could not hope for anything more. In a matter-of-fact tone Gogo explained that patients returning to their rural homes from the hospital in Binga would normally try to build up their strength for about a week before starting the journey.
So clearly the western route via Binga was not a realistic possibility for Gogo. Was the eastern route via Gokwe any better, I enquired. Possibly so, because Gogo had heard that the "Shoe Shine" buses did occasionally run the long route to Gokwe via Kwekwe. (The Shoe Shine Company presumably raising some forex for fuel from their Botswana operations) The fare would be something like $ 680,000 - or was that last week's rates? In any event from Gokwe onwards, or for the last 165 kilometres of the journey, she would be on her own. No buses are now running further than Gokwe. So how would Gogo do this stretch of the journey? That is not impossible, she replied because there are lorries travelling that route carrying coal from a nearby mine. However it transpired that the lorry drivers always insist on a premium for a lift, and that could be up to twice the price of the corresponding bus fare - if the buses were running, which they are not, if you understand! And such an inflated price for the doubtful privilege of sitting perched on top of a load of coal on an open-backed truck.
At this point in the conversation I thought I had taxed Gogo enough about the hazards and discomforts of rural travel in the Zimbabwe to which Robert Mugabe has reduced us all. What about the food situation in Siabuwa, I enquired.
For over three years I learnt, the people of that dirt-poor region had been receiving a life-saving monthly food handout from Save the Children UK. Everyone over the age of 55 (and including those below that age who were known to be without food) could then rely upon a generous allocation of mealie-meal, cooking oil and beans. But this was no more, because ever since the ill-fated Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Bill had first been mooted in 2004 the Mugabe regime had banned humanitarian organizations like Save the Children from continuing with their general feeding programmes. Save the Children UK was given permission to continue its developmental work, such as digging wells to provide drinking water, but was ordered to discontinue the feeding. The reason cited by local ZANU PF officials was that these NGOs were engaging in a subversive political programme in support of the opposition MDC - which according to my well-informed Gogo, was absolute nonsense.
The obvious next question was, how the people are surviving. The simple answer, it emerged, is that many are not. Many are succumbing to early deaths as a result of a major food deficiency. Statistics are difficult to come by in the very nature of the situation - a remote location with only rudimentary heath care facilities, and extreme sensitivity on the part of ZANU PF to anything resembling a proper health care study. But said Gogo, people are dying of malnutrition now. A visitor to the area could not help but notice how thin most people are. Anyone in the community believed to possess a significant amount of food, will have a trail of people to the door, virtually begging for help.
My final question to Gogo was how she personally was managing to survive. She paused and a look of quiet resignation crossed her wizened features.
"Aha," she said, "I used to keep chickens, but now there is an outbreak of Newcastle disease - right across Binga, Lupane, Hwange. Many, many chickens have died. Now I have nothing left to sell. The goats have a disease too. Even the goats are beginning to die."
I have to confess I was shocked and appalled by what Gogo told me this week. I had thought I knew about the suffering of the rural people, but in truth I knew nothing. Thank God for Gogo's courage in talking to an unknown reporter. My personal resolve - it's the least I can do - is to tell her story to as many as will listen.
Isn't it time to end the silence about the intense suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans under this grossly incompetent and totally uncaring regime? Why don't we all resolve to tell it the way it is? Let us demand back our stolen freedoms and human rights. Let us consign this ungodly ZANU PF regime to the dustbin of history where it belongs.

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Tribalism rife for Zimbabweans in exile? (resent with details)

Sent: Friday, October 07, 2005 7:38 PM
Subject: Tribalism rife for Zimbabweans in exile? (resent with details)


Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.



Programme divided into two parts, Thursday 06 October and Thursday 13 October 2005 on the internet and on the respective Fridays on Medium Wave in the morning. Also on archives for 2 weeks (internet).


Its rife but no one wants to talk about it. Behind the Headlines walks on eggs as it attempts to balance the hot potato of a subject that is tribalism. Is it fair to paint all Shona speakers with the same brush and blame them for the Gukurahundi Massacres in Matabeleland? Can we say in the absence of freedom of expression in Zimbabwe, minority tribes find it easier to let out their bottled up feelings of resentment once they are in another country? With so many intermarriages who really is Shona or Ndebele? Do we rely on dishonest politicians to harmonize relations or as a people we should set our destiny outside those who merely seek power? Pedzisai Ruhanya (Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition), Daniel Molokela (Human rights lawyer) and Musekiwa Makwanya (political commentator) debate.

Lance Guma
SW Radio Africa
Behind The Headlines
Thursday 5:15 to 5:30pm live on the internet at
Friday     5:15 to 5:30am on Medium Wave broadcasts 1197khz
Also available on internet archives after broadcasts at
SW Radio Africa is Zimbabwe's only independent radio station broadcasting from the United Kingdom. The station is staffed by exiled Zimbabwean journalists who because of harsh media laws cannot broadcast from home.
Full broadcast on Medium Wave -1197KHZ between 5-7am (Zimbabwean time) and 24 hours on the internet at

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Retraction: Access to treatment a concern for displaced living with AIDS//KILL

Sent: Friday, October 07, 2005 6:26 PM
Subject: //


Please ignore this story which was erroneously released on 6 October. It
contains factual errors and has been deleted from IRIN's web site.

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Tick, tock

Sent: Saturday, October 08, 2005 3:34 PM
Subject: Tick, tock.

Dear Family and Friends,
I went grocery shopping at the biggest wholesale supermarket in Marondera
on Friday. In a town with a population of probably nearly a million
people, there are only two wholesalers and this one used to be jam packed,
wall to wall with people. Just a couple of months ago you would wait,
sometimes for half an hour, just to reach the front of the queue to pay
for your groceries. All that has changed in the last couple of weeks as
Zimbabwe's inflation has soared and it has now become almost impossible
for businesses to replace their goods as the prices are going up so

I spent the first ten or fifteen minutes just walking around the
wholesaler looking first at the prices and then at what wasn't available.
Aside from potatoes there were no vegetables at all to buy; none, not even
the common and easy to grow things like carrots, tomatoes, cabbages or
beans. Aside from seven small punnets of strawberries there was no fruit
at all to be bought - not a banana or even one single orange. There was no
bread of any type or any other bread products like rolls or buns. There
was no milk, cheese, eggs, margarine or yoghurt. There was no sugar, maize
meal or flour. Whew, basic shopping for the family has become a nightmare.

Eventually, after walking around and picking things up and putting them
back, I did eventually buy a weeks worth of groceries and it was
frightening. A four pack of one ply local toilet paper had increased in
price from thirty seven to fifty two thousand dollars in just six days. My
groceries, with no dairy produce, vegetables, meat, alcohol or
confectionery, cost the same as a four bedroomed, two bathroomed house on
an acre of land with a swimming pool had cost just four years ago.  How
utterly absurd that this is the situation on the ground in a small
Zimbabwean farming town, where the day time temperatures are in the high
twenties celsius and the farms are right there, on our front and back
doorsteps. How ridiculous too that in these circumstances Zimbabwe has
this week been hosting a UN conference on food safety and security in
Africa. One day during the week I switched on local television to see if I
could find some coverage of the food safety conference. Mr Mugabe's speech
to the delegates was being replayed, the one where he defended his
governments seizure of all white owned commercial farms over the past five
years. "Land, land, land" he said, "means food, food, food to the people." 
That speech was followed by a couple of minutes of film footage showing
elaborately dressed women delegates with amazing head gear, acres of
yellow flowing tablecloths, and people sipping delicately from their
bottles of pure spring water. It did not show desperate ordinary people in
Zimbabwe trying to bring food safety into their own homes as they scour
the supermarkets for anything they can afford to buy.

So, while Mr Mugabe is adamant that land, land, land means food, food,
food, ordinary people like me are saying tick tock, tick tock, how much
longer can this situation hold. It feels like a time bomb which is ticking
down, faster and faster. Please remember the ordinary people of Zimbabwe
in your thoughts and prayers. Until next week, love cathy Copyright cathy
buckle 8th October 2005
My books "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available  from:

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Speech by Tony Leon on Zimbabwe in London

THURSDAY 6 OCTOBER, 2005 – 18H30
“The Prospects for South Africa and Zimbabwe” (4 257 words)
I am grateful for the opportunity to address this distinguished forum on a subject that is of pressing concern to South Africans, to Zimbabweans and to friends of Africa around the world.
South Africa is viewed as a symbol of our continent’s hopes and prospects at the dawn of the twenty-first century. At the same time, Zimbabwe, our neighbour to the north, has come to symbolise the bleak history of postcolonial Africa, its failures and its fears.
I hesitate to speak of South Africa and Zimbabwe in the same breath – although that is the topic which my hosts have assigned me and I will do my best to address it.  The late Israeli statesman and diplomat Abba Eban (1915-2002), who was born in South Africa, often warned of “the perils of analogy”.
A red apple and a red rubber ball, he used to say, seem almost identical at first. The one is red, round, shiny and good to eat. The other is red, round, and shiny, too—but that is where the similarity ends. One small distinction can make all the difference.
It is frustrating to those of us living in Africa that people around the world tend to lump African countries together, such that trouble in one reflects poorly on all.
Africa is unique in suffering this fate. Few would see North Korea as a reflection on East Asia, for example, and few would take autocratic Byelorussia as an example of politics in Eastern Europe.
Furthermore, there are important differences of scale to take into account. Zimbabwe is a small country, with a population of just under twelve million people and an economy not much larger than the South African coastal city of Durban.
South Africa’s population, by contrast, is roughly four times larger, at forty-five million people. Our economy is more than twenty times larger; by far the biggest on the continent—and unlike Zimbabwe’s economy, which is heavily reliant on agriculture, South Africa has a diverse, modern economy.
Having made these distinctions, it is important to recognise that South Africa and Zimbabwe share a border, as well as similar ethnic groups and cultural, linguistic and religious features. Prior to the present troubles, Zimbabwe was South Africa’s largest trading partner in the region.
More important, we share a history of British colonialism, of racial discrimination, of struggles for freedom, and of transitions to multiparty, nonracial, constitutional democracy. Zimbabwe, in fact, played a small but important role in helping to facilitate South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle and our move into the democratic era.
South Africa: Parallels and Differences
Zimbabwe’s freedom was achieved more than a decade earlier than South Africa’s—in 1980 as opposed to 1994—and therefore Zimbabwe has been seen, for the past twenty-five years, as an indicator of South Africa’s future political direction.
Many of the same notes of reconciliation and racial harmony that resounded throughout South Africa’s first decade of democracy were also heard at Zimbabwe’s independence from President Robert Mugabe himself.
Five years ago, at the start of Mugabe’s disastrous, murderous and politically opportunistic land reform campaign, it was considered alarmist—and even potentially racist—to suggest that South Africa would “go the same way”.
Now, however, the notion seems less far-fetched, and certainly less taboo in public discourse in South Africa. The people raising the prospect of “another Zimbabwe” are not, in the main, white people but concerned black observers.
Take Trevor Ncube, for example, one of Africa’s foremost black media entrepreneurs. He built his publishing empire in Zimbabwe and now owns the highly-regarded weekly Mail & Guardian in South Africa.
Ncube said in a recent speech:  “I'm concerned about the similarities that I'm reading between South Africa and Zimbabwe, and good Lord I hope I'm wrong, because if I'm not, then South Africa is headed the direction of Zimbabwe.”[1]
Increasingly, the parallels between Zimbabwe and South Africa have become more than just rhetorical.
Land reform is one example. Under strong pressure from its allies in the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the government of the African National Congress (ANC) is now pushing a more radical line on land reform. Senior members of the Cabinet are speaking about expropriation as a viable alternative to the “willing buyer, willing seller” approach.
Indeed, late last month the government moved for the first time to expropriate land from a commercial farmer in the North West Province. The case involves a dispute over the restitution of land taken away by the apartheid government, and not simply redistribution of land as such. Still, it has gained national and international attention.
The great virtue of the South African system of government, as opposed to the Zimbabwean one, has been the continued independence of the judiciary. South African courts have ruled against the government on many occasions, and the government has respected these decisions, though not always with great enthusiasm. The courts also rule against opposition parties occasionally, which we have to grin and bear.
Lately, however, the ruling party has been talking of the need to “transform” the judiciary. This is not merely an attempt to make the bench more representative of the demography of the country as a whole, as the Constitution requires. Rather, “transformation” is being abused to appoint judges that are more deferential to the executive and to the ruling party.
Already, the government has proposed new legislation that would give it greater day-to-day administrative control over the courts. These proposals have prompted stern protest from senior jurists, black and white.
It is worth remembering that the Zimbabwean judiciary was also once regarded as robust and independent, until Mugabe started stacking the courts with subservient partisan appointees.
And long before the rise of Morgan Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe also had a strong political opposition in the form of Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU).
That party was destroyed, partly through a brutal campaign of state terror and murder in Matabeleland, and partly because Nkomo allowed his party to be absorbed into the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Popular Front (ZANU-PF).
There is, thankfully, no such state violence in South Africa today, nor is there likely to be any in the future. And my party, the Democratic Alliance, which is the largest opposition party, is growing rapidly—more rapidly, indeed, than the ANC.
We made an historic choice to remain an opposition force when we could, like Nkomo, have joined the ruling party. In 1996, I was flattered when President Nelson Mandela offered my party a seat in Cabinet. We held several talks on his offer, and the repeated sticking point was the issue of whether it would be possible for our party to serve in the Cabinet and still disagree with or dissent from some of its decisions.
President Mandela told me that dissent would be impossible—that we would have to face the world “like Mugabe and Nkomo”. But I believed that South Africa needed a responsible, viable dissenting voice. And so the offer was declined.
Today, I think, South Africa is better off for not having a “Mugabe and Nkomo” in government, but a proper tension between the government and an opposition loyal to the Constitution.
But many other, smaller opposition parties have been swallowed by the ANC or have succumbed to ANC pressure. These include the once-mighty National Party, which governed during the apartheid era and no longer exists, as well as the Inkatha Freedom Party, which is losing the decades-old battle against its ANC rival in the Zulu heartland of KwaZulu Natal.
The ANC is also determined to extend its control over all independent public institutions and civil society organisations in the country.
Again, it is important not to overstate the case. In comparing the first decade of South Africa’s freedom to the first decade of independence in Zimbabwe, South Africa’s commitment—both political and practical—to human rights and democracy is far stronger.
One obvious example is that our first democratically-elected president, Nelson Mandela, stepped down after his first and only term in office, while Mugabe has been in power for twenty-five years.
Our current President, Thabo Mbeki, has pledged to step down at the end of his current term in 2009. He has similarly helped persuade former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano to step down, as well as former Namibian President Sam Nujoma. The question is why he has failed to do the same in Zimbabwe.
South African support for Mugabe
Despite South Africa’s commitment to constitutional democracy and freedom, our government continues to provide material, political and ideological support to the Mugabe regime, which has become the most despotic and rights-delinquent government in all of Southern Africa.
For several years, South Africa’s policy towards Zimbabwe was referred to as “quiet diplomacy”, but even this bland euphemism is no longer apt. We are no longer quietly critical of Zimbabwe. We are, on the contrary, open and avid Mugabe supporters.
This past winter, Zimbabwe conducted a devastating Khmer Rouge-style campaign of forced removals which it referred to as Operation Murambatsvina—or “Drive Out the Trash”. Several hundred thousand homes were destroyed and as many as 2,4-million people—roughly one-fifth of the population—was affected, according to the United Nations (UN).
This atrocity, which UN envoy Anna Tibaijuka suggested could constitute a crime against humanity, is equivalent to the forced removals carried out by the apartheid government in scale, speed and brutality.
Yet the South African government did not offer even a whimper of protest or criticism against Mugabe’s actions. Our government did not even intervene when a shipment of food aid from the South African Council of Churches (SACC) to the victims of Operation Murambatsvina was prevented from entering Zimbabwe.
Instead, our government apparently offered Zimbabwe a loan of several hundred million US dollars to help it pay off its debts to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – which is threatening Zimbabwe with expulsion—and to help the Zimbabwean economy recover from its debilitating, government-induced and entirely avoidable collapse.
In the end, Mugabe came up with 120 million US dollars on his own, reportedly by raiding his country’s foreign exchange reserves. This bought a temporary reprieve from the IMF, but it pushed the informal exchange rate to 100 000 Zimbabwean dollars to 1 US dollar, a completely unsustainable level.
Thus far our government is remaining silent about the whole affair, but according to Zimbabwean Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, talks with South Africa about a loan are still active.
The political cost of propping up Mugabe
In stark contrast to its lack of results in Zimbabwe, our government has accomplished a great deal in the field of conflict resolution elsewhere in Africa.  South Africa has helped broker peace agreements in Congo, Burundi and the Ivory Coast. Our government has also taken up the Palestinian cause and attempted to mediate between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
But in all this frenetic worldwide activity, our government seems to have little time to encourage the Zimbabwean government to speak to its opposition.
The political damage of South Africa’s relationship with the Mugabe regime is also damaging many of the bold and hopeful initiatives towards African stability and development that our government and our President in particular have undertaken.
Firstly, Mugabe has revived the tragicomic image of the African dictator, just as the world thought it had consigned the Mobutus, Idi Amins and Sani Abachas to the dustbin of history.
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development, or Nepad, has also lost ground, if not credibility. The lofty goals of democracy, transparency and economic growth and development contained in Nepad’s founding documents are being torn up one by one in Zimbabwe. And South Africa, which played the leading role in building Nepad and selling it to the G-8 nations, is failing to intervene, calling the viability of the whole project into question.
The African Union has also suffered. It set out, at its inception in 2002, to shed the image of its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, as a club of dictators. And the AU has, to its credit, sent peacekeeping missions to Sudan and tabled a report criticising human rights violations in Zimbabwe. But its leaders have nonetheless refused to condemn Mugabe’s actions directly.
Even more disappointing has been the behaviour of Zimbabwe’s neighbours in SADC. Far from criticising him, many SADC leaders have endorsed Mugabe’s land reform programme on several occasions.
That is not to say that African nations are united behind Zimbabwe. On the contrary, many African nations refused to join South African’s lead in defending Zimbabwe at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria in December 2003. But since then they have rarely translated their disapproval into open criticism or censure.
It is remarkable that modernising African leaders are willing to pay the price of condoning Mugabe’s behaviour, overtly and covertly, given the high cost in terms of continental aspirations and the perceptions of the international community.
This week’s issue of the Economist reports that growth in inward foreign investment in Africa in 2004 was only 0,6 percent, as against 71,8 percent in Asia and 43,9 percent in Latin America. There are many causes of our continent’s economic stagnation, but clearly support for Mugabe is sending the wrong signals to investors.
South African potential, and problems
Our country is on the cusp of great achievements, of seizing the opportunities that the global economy provides us and using them to grow and develop not only our own economy, but also the economies of our trading partners throughout the African continent.
South Africa’s economic growth has broken through four percent. While this is not as high as the government’s target of six percent, it is a sign of real progress and extends the gains we have made in the last ten years, which have seen the longest period of uninterrupted economic growth in our nation’s history.
South Africa’s economic success also fuels prosperity in the rest of Africa. Over the past decade our country has become the single largest source of foreign direct investment on the continent.
In addition, a recent study carried out by researchers at the International Monetary Fund concluded that “[a] 1 percentage point increase in South Africa’s per capita GDP growth, sustained over five years, is correlated with a 0,4 – 0,7 percentage point increase in growth in the rest of Africa”.[2]
Furthermore, millions of South Africans who previously lacked access to services such as electricity, telephones, water and sanitation are now connected to them, thanks to ambitious efforts by the national and local governments, in both ANC- and opposition-controlled areas of the country.
There are, however, several warning signs.
South Africa has tumbled downwards on the world’s objective measure of the quality of life, the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index. We have fallen more than thirty places in a single decade, and we now rank below even the troubled Palestinian territories.
The chief reason for our decline is the calamitous drop in average life expectancy, from roughly seventy to fifty years, due to the rapid spread of the HIV/Aids pandemic. There are now well over five million South Africans living with the disease; more than a million are thought to have died already; and more than a third of young people in their late twenties are infected.
Unemployment is also an enormous problem. Despite economic growth, more and more South Africans are out of work. The official unemployment rate hovers at about thirty percent; it rises to forty percent if we consider those people who have given up seeking work. Income inequality has decreased between whites and blacks, but it has grown rapidly among black South Africans.
This year, with local government elections looming in the next several months, the spotlight has fallen on municipal governments, half of which are officially considered dysfunctional enough to warrant intervention from the central government.
The burden on South Africa’s government and society will become even heavier if Zimbabwe continues to fail and our country is flooded with refugees. Already, there are thought to be perhaps as many as two to three million Zimbabweans living in South Africa, both legally and illegally. Thousands more arrive every day.
One of the justifications for the government’s “quiet diplomacy” has been that South Africa can ill afford to allow Zimbabwe to collapse and to have millions of refugees on our doorstep. Yet that is precisely what is happening. It is not political change that is causing Zimbabwe to become unstable, but political stagnation.
And political stagnation in South Africa is also a possibility, especially if we cannot break out of racial stereotyping and racial patterns of voting.
Last year, I was interviewed by Tim Sebastian of the BBC on his Hard Talk programme. He asked me whether it was really possible for a white person to become President of South Africa, or if I was simply “delusional”. He would never have asked Michael Howard, before the recent British election, whether a Jew could become Prime Minister.
I told him: “I am not interested or obsessed with people’s racial identity. The previous South Africa failed because of that.”
The good news is that South African minorities have remained involved in the political process, which was not the case in Zimbabwe.
The Lancaster House agreement of 1979 guaranteed white Zimbabweans 20 percent of the seats in Parliament, whereupon most whites, satisfied that they would be represented, withdrew from politics.
Racial minorities in South Africa, by contrast, have chosen to remain involved—and all political parties, including the ANC, court their votes. This bodes well for the future—not just in terms of minority rights, but also for racial reconciliation and constitutional democracy as a whole.
The enduring strength of South Africa’s democracy is our nation’s greatest asset, and one that we should put to good use in helping to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis.
The road map to democracy in Zimbabwe
In 2003, the Democratic Alliance proposed a new policy for South Africa to adopt towards Zimbabwe, called the “Road Map to Democracy in Zimbabwe”.
Loosely based on the international “road map” to peace between Israelis and Palestinians, our road map provides clear goals, clear timetables, clear rewards for progress and clear punishments for failure.
The Zimbabwe road map incorporates plans for public, multiparty negotiations; the departure of Mugabe from office; the establishment of an interim government; the drafting of a new constitution and the holding of new elections. As Zimbabwe reached each stage, it would be rewarded with greater international aid and assistance.
We presented the Zimbabwe road map to then-Deputy President Jacob Zuma and updated it ahead of the Commonwealth’s Abuja meeting. We proposed that the African Union guide, direct and oversee the entire process, determining the exact schedule and the specific incentives and punishments involved.
The idea seemed to find considerable traction in policy circles, and a similar approach was proposed at the Commonwealth meeting, which suggested that Zimbabwe remain suspended from the organisation until it had achieved certain interim reforms. This stepwise approach, however, was not supported by the South African government, which wanted Zimbabwe to be re-admitted immediately.
Instead, Zimbabwe left the Commonwealth entirely after the Abuja meeting.
In contrast to the opposition perspective, the South African government persists in seeing Zimbabwe (akin to its approach to HIV/AIDS) as being essentially a problem of poverty and underdevelopment and, of course, colonialism.
This was illustrated with vivid clarity when President Mbeki appeared before Parliament to answer questions recently.  DA Chairman Joe Seremane—himself a former victim of the apartheid government and a prisoner on Robben Island for six years—asked the President about the effects of Zimbabwe on Africa’s efforts to promote its own growth and development.
“[W]hy should the South African government continue backing the ZANU-PF government at the expense of the rest of the Zimbabwean citizens?” Seremane asked.[3]
President Mbeki’s response was tellingly evasive:
…I notice that the honourable member hasn’t mentioned other very large challenges on our continent and I am not quite sure why. Whether it is the Congo, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire or Mauritania and so on, these are matters on which, as I am saying, we are trying to contribute the best we can, to try and find solutions thereto. Yes, indeed, you need this base that he referred to in order for each one of our countries to be able to address this very serious challenge of poverty and underdevelopment.
I do not believe that I need to say anything more about Zimbabwe. We have addressed this matter many, many times, and our position hasn’t changed on this issue…[4]
In one respect the President was right: our position hasn’t changed. But the situation in Zimbabwe has become far, far worse.
In an article in the current issue of the Spectator, Andrew Gilmour writes approvingly of the UN’s recent reforms. He notes:
… in one of the most radical restatements of international law of the past century, the entire UN membership went along with a declaration accepting the right of the world community to take military action in the case of governments failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes and ethnic cleansing. Prime Minister Tony Blair was right when he said, ‘For the first time at this summit we are agreed that states do not have the right to do what they will within their own borders’. No longer will governments who carry out mass butchery be able to hide behind the mantra of national sovereignty to prevent the UN interfering in their crimes.[5]
There are still limits to what the UN can do to intervene, certainly in the aftermath of the Iraq war and its difficulties. Military intervention, even if the UN were to agree on such a course of action, would create many more problems than it would solve, as would broad economic sanctions.
When the UN Security Council considered Tibaijuka’s report on Operation Murambatsvina, it chose to do little more than recommend an urgent increase in humanitarian aid.
However, the principle was upheld: member states may not do whatever they like to the rights and lives of their own citizens.
Conclusion: the need for leadership
There is a strong case for further UN action on Zimbabwe but what is needed most is political leadership among Zimbabwe’s neighbours—leadership that is willing to abandon its fond attachment to antique nationalism and the doctrine of absolute national sovereignty, and to embrace the cause of human rights.
We need leadership that is prepared to break the old bonds of “struggle solidarity” between ZANU-PF and its sister liberation parties. We need leadership that is prepared to accept that even the parties of liberation can lose elections and fall from power from time to time.
In many ways, Zimbabwe is repeating the history of Ian Smith’s Rhodesia in the narrow days after his Unilateral Declaration of Independence. Mugabe is alone, isolated and resentful, with only the support of South Africa to count on, along with the shared racial and ideological allegiances of its ruling party.
The parallels are striking, save in one respect.
When I was a young boy growing up in Durban, I remember that virtually the entire white population was pro-Rhodesia and regarded British Prime Minister Harold Wilson as a sell-out and Ian Smith as a saviour. Anyone who expressed sympathy for the cause of black Zimbabweans provoked titters of disapproval.
Today, despite Mugabe’s attempts to portray himself as the hero of the African masses, and regardless of the support he receives from radicals living in the comfort of Johannesburg or London, few Africans care for him at all.
A recent survey by a market research firm in South Africa found that only fourteen percent of black South Africans approved of Mugabe’s rule.[6]
In the 1970s, despite his own utter commitment to apartheid and the near-complete uniformity of white opinion in South Africa, Prime Minister John Vorster turned his back on Rhodesia in what Ian Smith was later to describe, in his autobiography of the same name, as “The Great Betrayal”.
The question is why President Thabo Mbeki cannot bring himself to do the same—despite widespread disapproval for Mugabe among black South Africans, despite the enormous economic and political costs of supporting Mugabe, and despite the great gains for Africa that an end to the Zimbabwe crisis would bring.
What Britain and South Africa’s friends abroad must tell President Mbeki at every opportunity is that there is no way the Zimbabwe crisis is going to be resolved, and no way that Africa will succeed, unless he takes a stand.
Until he does, the world will be simply waiting for Mugabe to disappear—to take the “Abacha option”, we might call it. But that may merely prolong the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans for many more years. It is clear that a properly-managed process of political change, while not without its costs, is the only way forward for Zimbabwe.  To leave Mugabe in office would be a disaster. 
South Africa can play a leading role in guiding the process of change. We simply cannot allow Mugabe to continue in power in Zimbabwe any longer, nor can we permit the devastation of his country to continue. It is hurting South Africa; it is hurting Zimbabwe; it is hurting Africa as a whole.
The world is waiting to assist us in building a new Zimbabwe. All we have to do is make the right choice—to say “no” to Mugabe and “yes” to the Zimbabwean people.
I thank you.
[1] “Media mogul draws SA, Zim parallels.” 16 Aug 2002. URL:
[2] Arora, Vivek and Athanasios Vamvakidis. “South Africa in the African Economy: The Implications of South African Economic Growth for the Rest of Africa”. Paper presented at Bureau for Economic Research (BER) Conference, Sandton, South Africa 18 July 2004. URL:
[3] Hansard. Debate in the National Assembly 8 September 2005.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Gilmour, Andrew. “Stop bashing the UN.” The Spectator 1 Oct 2005.
[6] Research Surveys. “How do South Africans view key Government foreign policies?” 7 Dec 2004. URL:

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