August 31 2009 , 6:01:00
Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders are expected to
debate the role of South Africa as facilitator in the Zimbabwean dialogue at
the Summit of Heads of State and Government in the Democratic Republic of
Congo next week.
President Jacob Zuma is expected to brief regional leaders on the
current situation in Zimbabwe at the summit. Zuma travelled to Zimbabwe
last week. International Relations and Corporation Director-General, Dr
Ayanda Ntsaluba today said the Summit will also debate the future of
Zimbabwe's facilitation team. The SADC mandated South Africa to lead the
mediation efforts in that country last year.
This led to a global political agreement brokered by former president
Thabo Mbeki, which led to the formation of an all inclusive government.
Ntsaluba acknowledged that there are still challenges in implementing the
agreement in full. But South Africa remains convinced that its northern
neighbour is on the road to recovery.
At the summit, DRC President Joseph Kabila will be appointed as the
new chair of the regional body. Already questions are being asked on the
state of readiness of the DRC to lead the 14-member regional body, as the
DRC faces many pressing domestic matters.
Ntsaluba says no decision has yet been reached on whether to grant
temporary asylum to former Congolese rebel leader, Jean Pierre-Bemba. South
Africa is one of the countries that was recommended by the International
Criminal Court to host Bemba. The country is still consulting on the matter.
Photo: Anthony Kaminju/IRIN
African President Jacob Zuma
The two-day visit on 27 and 28 August by South African President Jacob Zuma to the country's troubled northern neighbour was characterized by a marked difference in style. Mbeki, appointed as mediator by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to resolve Zimbabwe's economic and political crisis, was seen by analysts as indulging Mugabe; Zuma was more direct.
After opening Zimbabwe's 99th agricultural show in the capital, Harare, Zuma dismissed statements ahead of his visit by Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, that his presence was only ceremonial. Mbeki was not part of the visit.
"I visited Zimbabwe in my capacity as President of South Africa, as well as in my capacity as Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community, both of which are guarantors of the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
The agreement was signed in September 2008 by Mugabe's ZANU-PF, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and now Prime Minister, and Arthur Mutambara, leader of an MDC faction, which facilitated the formation of a unity government in February 2009.
"I decided to use the opportunity of opening the Harare Agricultural Show to meet the esteemed leaders of political parties to ascertain progress with regards to the implementation of the Global Political Agreement," Zuma said. He held closed-door discussions with Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
The progress of the unity government has been tortured. ZANU-PF has stalled on implementing some aspects of the GPA, among them the appointment without consultation of the reserve bank governor and the attorney general, and Mugabe's refusal to swear in provincial governors, or a white former commercial farmer, Roy Bennett, as deputy minister of agriculture.
For this [economic recovery] to
happen, it is absolutely necessary that the Global Political Agreement be fully
implemented without delay
"For this [economic recovery] to happen, it is absolutely necessary that the Global Political Agreement be fully implemented without delay," Zuma said.
ZANU-PF has complained that the MDC has not done enough to convince Western countries to lift sanctions imposed mainly against the ZANU-PF elite. The US and Britain, the former colonial power, have said sanctions would be lifted once there was respect for human rights and democracy.
"We are aware that some economic development partners and donor countries have put some benchmarks to be met before they can extend assistance, and currently only offer humanitarian assistance," Zuma said in his speech at the agricultural show.
"The achievement of an effective recovery is also dependent on the removal of sanctions and other measures that hold back economic development."
A senior ZANU-PF official, who declined to be identified, told IRIN: "We are a party with a long history of negotiating and we have certainly worn down the MDC - of course, we cannot negotiate ourselves out of power."
However, a senior MDC official, who declined to be identified, told IRIN: "Zuma did get some concessions from Mugabe that certain provisions of the coalition deal would have been implemented by the time the [SADC] summit is held. Very soon there will be some developments."
A two-day SADC summit begins on 7 September in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. "This will provide an opportunity to review progress in the implementation of the agreement, and for the countries of Southern Africa to reaffirm their commitment to assisting Zimbabwe," Zuma said.
"At the same time, we have called on all parties in
The region's leaders [at the
SADC summit] need to press Zimbabwe openly and publicly for human rights reforms
to prevent the country from backsliding into state-sponsored violence and
Human Rights Watch, a global watchdog, noted in a report released on 31 August, False Dawn: The Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Government's Failure to Deliver Human Rights Improvements, "There is mounting evidence that the new government is failing or unwilling to end serious human rights violations, restore the rule of law, institute fundamental rights reforms, and chart a new political direction for the country."
The report also noted that "ZANU-PF retains control of all senior ministries, including the Ministries of Defence, Justice, State Security, and Foreign Affairs; and it co-chairs Home Affairs. The party therefore wields significantly more power than the MDC in the government, and is unwilling to institute human rights and governance reforms."
Georgette Gagnon, Africa director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement: "The region's leaders [at the SADC summit] need to press Zimbabwe openly and publicly for human rights reforms to prevent the country from backsliding into state-sponsored violence and chaos."
By Alex Bell
31 August 2009
A beleaguered commercial farmer in Chegutu, who has faced months of
intimidation and attack by land invaders this year, was on Monday night
without a home, after his farmhouse was burned down in an apparent arson
attack on Sunday.
Ben Freeth has endured some of the worst attacks on Mount Carmel farm since
the renewed offensive against the commercial farming community began in
earnest this year. His farmhouse, the homes of some of his workers and an
on-site factory for the farm produce, were also burned down in the fire,
which started while he and his family were at Church. Freeth explained on
Monday that because land invaders have stolen all their equipment, including
their tractors and irrigation pipes, the family was not able to put out of
the fire when they returned home. He described how, with a strong wind, the
fire quickly spread, destroying his home and the houses of his staff.
"There was only enough time for me to get my family's passports and our
computer, but that was all," Freeth explained. "We have literally been left
with the clothes on our backs."
Freeth's staff have also lost everything, and Freeth said he is determined
to rebuild and give his staff a chance to also rebuild their lives. He
explained that arson would never be proved, but argued that the fire would
not have been so devastating if land invading 'thugs' had not stolen their
equipment. Freeth added that surrounding farmers would usually rush to help
fight a fire, but the renewed attack against Zimbabwe's farmers means most
have fled. Freeth said he, his family and workers were left alone to battle
"While we were fighting the fire, some of the thugs were driving around on
our tractor with our water pumps and dowsers, but they didn't come near us,"
Ben explained. "They were probably laughing at us."
The attack came mere days after South African President Jacob Zuma delivered
an implied rebuke to Robert Mugabe over the continuing lawlessness on
white-owned commercial farms, when he said that the six-month-old coalition
government should ensure productivity on all agricultural land. Zuma was in
Harare last week to mediate in the unity government dispute and made it
clear that he backed Tsvangirai's insistence that Mugabe had failed to meet
his obligations to restore democratic reforms.
Last year, Freeth and his parents in law, Mike and Angela Campbell, were
abducted and severely beaten, on the day that Mugabe was announced the
winner of the farcical one-man presidential runoff election in June. Freeth,
his family and his workers have since endured months of intimidation and
harassment by farm invaders, working for ZANU PF top official Nathan
Shamuyarira. The intimidation continued, regardless of the formation of the
unity government in February. In April some of Freeth's staff were arrested
and severely beaten when they tried to defend the farm against the land
invaders. Mike and Angela also fled the farm months ago because of the
constant stress of the harassment by the land invaders.
The invaders meanwhile have completely taken over the farm, destroying and
looting property and plundering the farm produce for personal gain. All the
attacks have been reported to the Chegutu police who have repeatedly refused
to aid Freeth and his family.
Freeth has also written urgent letters to Prime Minister Tsvangirai pleading
for the unity government's intervention, but the pleas have apparently
fallen on deaf ears.
Despite promises by the unity government to encourage food production on
farms, there still has been no effort to stop the attacks that have left the
community reeling. The government has instead been at pains to dismiss the
farm invasions as isolated 'disturbances', which Tsvangirai said were blown
out of proportion by the media.
Freeth's farm is supposed to be protected by a ruling passed down by the
human rights court of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) last
year. The SADC Tribunal ruling ordered the government to protect more than
70 farms against future attack in the name of land 'reform'. But the ruling
was ignored and even nullified by Mugabe, who condoned the renewed farm
invasions this year. The Tribunal then ruled the government was in contempt
for ignoring the earlier ruling, but this has done nothing to prevent the
attacks from continuing on the farms.
Meanwhile, the complete breakdown of the rule of law in Zimbabwe continues
to take its toll on the farming community's elderly people, after a farmer's
wife was found murdered in their home this weekend.
75-year-old Sophie Hart was discovered bound and apparently strangled, when
her husband returned to their home in Kadoma on Sunday. The house had
reportedly been ransacked, but not much was missing, suggesting the
intruders were merely after cash. The death brings to three the number of
murders of elderly farmers that have taken place in the country since the
unity government was formed in February. The Commercial Farmers Union has
previously said the attacks show the rule of law no longer exists in
Zimbabwe, and that the elderly are soft targets for criminals.
BIKITA, August 31, 2009 - A Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T)
party activist who had gone into exile in the run-up to last year's bloody
June 27 run-off elections was murdered upon his return home over the
weekend, police and the legislator for the area, Heya Shoko, confirmed.
Bikita West Member of Parliament (MP) Shoko said Edwin Chingami (32),
an ardent MDC supporter who was an election observer for the party at the
initial March 29 harmonized elections, was killed at a funeral in Ward
eight, Chirove village under chief Nhema over the weekend.
Chingami had fled the country for fear of retributive violence that
had hit the country.
"He had come for the funeral wake of his niece when some ZANU PF
youths started accusing him of being a sell-out who had fled the country.
They started beating him up and witnesses said he fled but was hit by a
stone on the head," Shoko said.
Provincial police spokesperson Inspector Phibion Nyambo confirmed the
incident, but denied the murder was politically motivated.
"We received a report of murder at a funeral. The suspects were drunk
as there was beer at the funeral wake. I have not heard that the victim was
killed because of his political affiliation," said Inspector Nyambo.
But MDC-T provincial chairman, Wilstuff Sitemere confirmed that
Chingami, a district youth chairperson, was murdered for campaigning for the
MDC-T, as well as standing as the party's elections observer.
"He was the target by ZANU PF youths aligned to former legislator
Claudius Makova for vigorously campaigning for the MDC. They had told him
that he will die whenever he returns, that's why it took him so long to come
back. But this time around, his relative had died and he had no option but
come back. We sadly mourn his death, he is a martyr," Sitemere said.
Contacted for a comment, the Minister of National Healing, John Nkomo,
said he was unaware of the incident. Nkomo however said that he would
investigate the matter so that the culprits are dealt with harshly.
"As the national healing Ministry, we urge people to throw their
political differences so that the country can move forward. We also urge the
justice system to deal harshly with the perpetrators of fresh political
violence," said Nkomo.
August 31, 2009
By Our Correspondent
HARARE – The British government will pump US$100 million into the country this year to help hard-pressed Zimbabwean people, the new British ambassador has said.
The new British diplomat, Mark Canning told reporters after a courtesy call on Vice President Joice Mujuru that London was encouraged by movement on the political and economic front in the six months that President Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara have run government.
Canning, who is replacing Andrew Pocock who ended his tour of duty last month, said the money was promised to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai when he visited London during a tour of Western capitals two months ago to seek financial resources for the bankrupt administration.
“There is support from the British government for the inclusive government,” Canning said. “We want it to succeed. We are putting quite substantial resources into Zimbabwe this year. We are putting US$100 million into health, water and sanitation, primary education. We are encouraged by developments on the economic front. We have seen some movement on the political front. Obviously we hope that will evolve further.”
The funds will be channelled through non-governmental organisations and the United Nations amid concerns the money could be misused if channeled through the treasury.
The first signs of an apparent thaw in bilateral relations between Britain and Zimbabwe were seen at the inauguration of South African president Jacob Zuma in Pretoria on 22 April, where a meeting on the sidelines between Prime Minister Tsvangirai, and Britain’s minister for Africa, Mark Malloch-Brown, is believed to have been the catalyst.
Mugabe has consistently blamed Britain for Zimbabwe’s economic woes – including hyperinflation, unemployment of up to 94 percent and having more than half the population on food aid – but Mugabe’s strong role in the unity government has been an obstacle to monetary assistance and investment.
Six months ago Zimbabwe was in crisis with thousands of people dying from cholera, mass unemployment and inflation running at two hundred and thirty one million per cent.
In February a power-sharing Government was formed between Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and the MDC led by Tsvangirai.
Canning, who comes to Zimbabwe from Burma, said the health situation along with the general humanitarian challenges in Zimbabwe remained very serious. The £60 million (US$100 million) will include £4 million for local food production, including tools, seeds and fertilizer, and £1 million towards textbooks for Zimbabwean schoolchildren to address the shortage of materials in the country’s newly reopened schools.
The rest of the money will be spent on meeting humanitarian and other essential needs, including medicines and HIV/AIDS treatment; support for water infrastructure and sanitation; the human resources for health scheme; support for smallholder agriculture and livelihoods; assistance for returned migrants; and the implementation of the national gender action plan.
In a separate interview with BBC World last week, Canning said the British government was concerned about the cholera outbreak that killed over 4 200 people recently, with his government putting a great deal of effort in to putting in place the measures that will make any return of cholera easier to deal with.
The British envoy said there had been a “remarkable improvement” in the first six months of the GNU.
“Inflation’s come down to single digits,” he said. “Essential services have been restored; schools are open, hospitals and clinics. Civil servants, doctors, nurses are being paid in a way that they were not. Sound economic policies have been brought in. Now the salaries that the government is able to pay to doctors and others are of course not as much as they would want and that’s what, as I understand it, has precipitated that strike. But looked at in the round it’s been a fairly significant record of achievement since February.”
Doctors have however agreed to call off the strike after negotiations with the Prime Minister last Tuesday.
Canning said on the political front in areas of governance, human rights “the going has been a lot tougher” but said there had been “some positive steps”.
“We’ve seen for example the readmission of the BBC a couple of weeks back,” he said. “We’ve seen the launching of a process of constitutional reform. But there is a great deal more to be done to improve governance to eliminate political violence and that is going to take some time I think to address.”
By Violet Gonda
31 August 2009
There is still no information as to when the provincial governors and Deputy
Minister of Agriculture, Roy Bennett, are going to be sworn into office.
Last week Gorden Moyo, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's office,
said that according to the provisions, the governors and Bennett are
supposed to be in office with effect from September 1st. He said the delay
is caused by Robert Mugabe, since the implementation is in the hands of the
presidency as he is the one responsible for the swearing-in of the
On the 15th September, a year will have gone by since the Global Political
Agreement was signed by the rival political parties, but there are still no
real democratic reforms. The media is still tightly controlled by ZANU PF,
who are also accused of seriously backtracking on the process of creating a
new constitution, while the bickering over the appointments of the Attorney
General and Central Bank governor continues.
Critics widely believe the so-called constitution making process is simply a
side-show and that the MDC is running the risk of legitimising a despotic
regime that continues to maintain a tight grip on power. Political analyst
Professor John Makumbe says the unity government has been 'limping' along
from the very beginning and that it is very unfortunate that there are so
many outstanding issues, a year after the signing of the GPA. He believes
ZANU PF is doing this deliberately to force the MDC to pull out. Professor
Makumbe said he spoke to the Prime Minister last week who said he was under
pressure to pull out - not from his party, but from ZANU PF. "Morgan has
said he is positive because he says there is no going back and there is
nothing to go back to apart from pain, suffering and hyperinflation," said
Makumbe. But the analyst blasted the MDC for not doing enough to put
pressure on ZANU PF to honour the provisions of the GPA.
Meanwhile, the MDC-M have appointed former Harare North legislator, Trudy
Stevenson, for the position of Zimbabwe's ambassador to Senegal. Stevenson,
who is also the party's Secretary for Research and Policy, replaces
Siyabonga Malandu Ncube, the MP for Insiza South, who was the party's first
nominee. But he declined the post last week.
Trudy joins four other ambassadorial nominees who are undergoing three
months diplomatic training in Harare, before their deployment. The other
four are from the MDC-T and they are Hebson Makuvise, ambassador-designate
to Germany, Jacqueline Zwambila, ambassador-designate to Australia, Hilda
Mafudze, ambassador-designate to Sudan and Mabed Ngulani,
ambassador-designate to Nigeria.
Unconfirmed reports say the trainee diplomats will only be deployed to their
posts next year because the government is broke.
from the cold
The Global Political Agreement signed in September 2008 between Zimbabwe's various political rivals, which gave rise to the unity government in February 2009, includes writing a new constitution, expected to be introduced in 2010.
The current constitution was adopted at independence from Britain in 1980 after the Lancaster House negotiations led to Ian Smith's white minority government being replaced by a democratic dispensation.
"We are looking forward to a constitution that reflects and respects the rights of all citizens as inalienable, including those of gays, lesbians and transgenders," Fadzai Muparutsa, programme manager for Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), told IRIN.
Homosexuality is outlawed in Zimbabwe - although there are no specific laws prohibiting lesbian relationships - but President Robert Mugabe's nearly three decades of rule have been increasingly hostile towards the gay community, and he has denounced gays as "Un-African" and "worse than pigs and dogs".
"Specific mention of sexual orientation should be made in the new constitution and homosexuality should be decriminalized. We have made this clear to the parliamentary committee in charge of the whole process; South Africa did it, and so can we," Muparutsa said.
South Africa, Zimbabwe's southern neighbour, became the first country in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in its 1994 constitution, after the demise of apartheid, and the first African country to legalize same-sex marriages in 2004.
We want a constitution that
expressly enshrines our social, political and economic rights and
Farai Mungoni, advocacy officer of the National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped, dismissed the present constitution as "disability insensitive."
"Disability is only mentioned in passing in Section 23 of the current constitution, which says no one should be discriminated against because they are disabled, but that's not enough. We want a constitution that expressly enshrines our social, political and economic rights and freedoms," he told IRIN.
"Voting rights for the visually impaired, especially, are being violated. Blind people are assisted by police officers when voting, which virtually robs them of their right to a secret vote - these people should be assisted by trusted associates of their choice. Government should also introduce ballot papers that are in Braille," Mungoni said.
However, the introduction of a new constitution is far from assured, as Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the main opposition party, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, are locked in arguments about the provisions.
"Lack of funds is another serious problem threatening the process," co-chairman of the parliamentary select committee, Paul Mangwana, told IRIN. "We need about US$9 million to fund the process, but government is literally bankrupt."
A number of civic groups are also insisting that parliament hand over leadership of the process to civil society, and have threatened to mobilize the public to reject the draft in the required referendum.
HARARE, ZIMBABWE Aug 31 2009 13:09
Zimbabwe has grossed $19,6-million from diamond sales during the first seven
months of the year, government statistics showed on Monday, amid concerns
about rights abuses in the nation's diamond fields.
The state-run Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe could not provide
statistics from last year, when many mining operations shut down because of
world-record hyperinflation that forced many businesses to stop operating.
The Kimberley Process, the global diamond watchdog, estimates that last year
Zimbabwe produced $43,8-million worth of diamonds.
The Southern African country only sells unpolished or rough diamonds, but
last month the Kimberley Process warned against "blood diamonds" emanating
from Zimbabwe's eastern Marange diamond fields.
A Kimberley team visited Zimbabwe to investigate allegations of human rights
abuses in Marange diamond fields, and recommended suspending diamond sales
from the country for at least six months.
In a public report, the watchdog accused the Zimbabwe army of illegal mining
in the Marange diamond fields, where it said civilians are subjected to
Zimbabwe has two other diamond mines, Murowa and River Ranch, which are
Kimberley certified and are not involved in the claims of abuse.
Between January and June this year, Murowa diamond -- owned by Rio Zim --
mined 87 388 of carats compared to 135 000 carats at the same time last
year, the company said in notice to shareholders.
Murowa blamed the decline in production because of depressed global prices.
There were no immediate figures from River Ranch as it is a privately owned
The Kimberley Process was launched in 2003 to curb the flow of conflict
diamonds into the mainstream market following wars in countries like Liberia
and Sierra Leone. -- AFP
By Tichaona Sibanda
31 August 2009
Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu has said the inclusive
government is more than ready to start issuing licences for new television
and radio stations.
Shamu told Radio VOP over the weekend that his ministry was 'ready and
raring to go' to register new players in the electronic media, and then he
blamed Parliament for delaying the process.
'We don't know why parliament is taking time, they should send the names of
the people to the President and once that is done we can start giving out
licences. I am getting enquiries from many people who want to get licences
everyday,' Shamu is quoted as saying.
But Masvingo Urban MP, Tongai Matutu, chairman of the House Legal and
Procedural Committee, told us that Shamu was barking up the wrong tree by
blaming Parliament instead of Robert Mugabe.
'As an MP and Minister of Information, Shamu should be well aware that
Parliament's Standing Rules and Orders Committee has sent a list of nominees
to Mugabe for approval for both the Zimbabwe Media Commission and the
Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe,' Matutu said.
'Surely you can't tell me the Minister is unaware Mugabe has been sitting on
the lists since they were submitted to him early this month. The truth of
the matter is that there is no sincerity from our colleagues in ZANU PF to
open up the airwaves. It has always been a nightmare for them,' Matutu
The MDC-T legislator said the Minister of Information is supposed to pick
three individuals from the list provided by parliament to sit on the
broadcasting board, to oversee the country's electronic media.
Those who have been nominated to join the broadcasting authority from the
media commission list are academic Vimbai Chivaura, publisher Benson Ntini,
former Mass Media Trust executive Godfrey Chada, media lecturer Clemence
Mabaso, former ZBC executive Susan Makore and former ZANU PF legislator
A Parliamentary Act to provide for the functions, powers and duties of the
broadcasting authority was enacted in 2001, but not one single licence has
In theory, once the board of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe is in
place it is expected to advertise and invite applications for the following
licences: national commercial radio licences, national commercial television
licences, local commercial radio licences and community radio stations.
Currently the country has three independent weekly newspapers and does not
have any independent radio or television stations. In comparison South
Africa has 36 private national newspapers and 110 private community
newspapers, four private television channels, three public television
channels, 49 community radio stations and 16 commercial radio stations.
Namibia, a country much younger than Zimbabwe, has six private newspapers,
three private television channels, two public newspapers and 11 private
radio stations. Malawi, one of the smallest countries in the region, has
five private radio stations.
Recently the BBC and CNN had the restrictions placed upon them, lifted by
But Shamu claimed that the BBC had never been banned from 'carrying out
lawful activities' inside the country, but added that the BBC and the
government had now 'acknowledged the need to put behind us the mutually
ruinous relationship of the past'.
31 August 2009
Bulawayo was last week plunged into darkness after the Zimbabwe Electricity
Supply Authority (ZESA), disconnected power from residential and industrial
areas over unpaid bills.
The MDC MP for Luveve in the city Reggie Moyo confirmed that some areas in
the high density suburbs had their electricity switched off because of
outstanding bills owed to ZESA.
'I've had many complaints from residents about the issue and we are busy
trying to see how best this can be resolved without going to such extremes.
The problems people are facing is there is no ready cash in hard currency.
People are struggling to get the foreign currency that we are using as
tender in the country, it's very unfortunate,' Moyo said.
Areas worst affected by power cuts are Cowdray Park, Sizinda, Pumula,
Tshabalala, Nkulumane, Emganwini, Nketa high density suburbs and Belmont
industrial areas, where ZESA workers began disconnecting electricity last
Thuso Khumalo, a resident in the city, told us he owed ZESA money in
outstanding bills and was facing a crisis because ZESA engineers might call
on his house to switch off power at any time.
'Its true many people owe ZESA money but where do we get the cash from.
People in government know that people are struggling to get cash and should
therefore approach this matter with sensitivity,' Khumalo said.
Reports in the city's newspapers said outstanding bills for most residents
ranged from US$100 to US$200. The power utility company issued ultimatums to
customers to pay up, or risk being cut off. The company gave customers who
had not paid their bills from February until 30th June 30th to pay.
Zimbabwe started using multi-foreign currencies in February but most people
are not able to settle their bills as their salaries are so low.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Parliament's Standing Rules and Orders Committee is expected to meet today
to deliberate on the "committee of experts" to be used to interview
candidates for the remaining independent commissions.
The SROC meeting follows an exercise carried out last month where
shortlisted candidates were interviewed to sit on the Zimbabwe Media
The process was, however, shrouded in controversy amid allegations of bias
along political lines in the manner interviewees were scored.
The SROC has since forwarded the final list to President Mugabe for
consideration for appointment.
In an interview last Friday, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs
Minister Eric Matinenga confirmed the SROC meeting.
"We are meeting as SROC to agree on the committee of experts that will
assist us in interviewing the next round of independent commissions.
"The next round will be the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Human
Rights Commission," said Minister Matinenga.
The Anti-Corruption Commission completes the list of independent commissions
which the SROC has to select people and submit the list to the President to
be considered for appointment.
The committee of experts and a panel of legislators conducted interviews for
people to sit on ZMC at Parliament building, amid a lot of controversy
during and after the process.
August 31, 2009
By Geoffrey Nyarota
ONE of the shortcomings of the process of negotiation that culminated in the
signing of the Global Political Agreement on September 15, 2008, was the
fact that the whole process was shrouded in total secrecy.This was the
essence of former South African President Thabo Mbeki's "quiet diplomacy".
By the time Zimbabweans discovered that Mbeki's policy was nothing but a
strategy to camouflage his covert plan to subvert the will of the people of
Zimbabwe, as expressed in the elections of March 29, 2008, it was too late
to reverse the process and we have protested since then at the outcome of
Jacob Zuma, the recently elected President of South Africa, is the
beneficiary of abundant goodwill among a section of the population of
Zimbabwe. It has so far not been convincingly explained why there is this
widespread expectation that Zuma will perform successfully where Mbeki
failed to bring the Zimbabwean political impasse to a satisfactory and
But it appears that Zuma is essentially following in the footsteps of his
predecessor through negotiating in secret and without accounting to the
general Zimbabwean public. During the Lancaster House Conference back in
1979, Willie Dzawanda Musarurwa and Eddison Mudadirwa Zvobgo, the spokesmen
of PF-Zapu and Zanu-PF respectively kept as well as David Mukome of Bishop
Abel Muzorewa's United African national Council kept the world regularly and
adequately informed on developments at the constitutional negotiations. So
did the British government.
When the agreement was finally signed it did not come as a surprise to
anxious Zimbabweans or observers throughout the world.
Zuma spoke at the banquet held in his honour on Thursday night. He also made
a public address when he officially opened the Harare Agricultural Show.
Neither of his speeches was earth-shattering in any way. He also engaged the
three Zimbabwean leaders in talks whose content remains shrouded in secrecy.
He did not brief the press as scheduled before departure on Friday. He
assigned a representative to this task.
But Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite
Nkoana-Nashabane merely articulated virtually word for word what turned out
to be the same sentiments expressed by Zuma when he opened the agricultural
Zimbabweans are therefore left to speculate on the substance of the talks.
The whole atmosphere is surreal.
What had aroused the excitement of the Zimbabwean political establishment
ahead of the visit of the chairman of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) was the spectre, however remote, of the new South African
head of state possibly achieving instant success where Mbeki failed dismally
in efforts to build a foundation for lasting peace, reconciliation and
prosperity in troubled Zimbabwe.
Whether there were any dramatic or enduring political developments in Harare
during Zuma's visit, neither he nor his three principal hosts has stated
categorically or explained in detail.
Zuma's major message at the Show grounds was that the West must remove the
sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe. The fact that Zuma made this particular
appeal, while fully aware of the negative response it is likely to evoke yet
again in Western capitals, highlights the underlying fact that on his first
official visit to troubled Zimbabwe Zuma may not have been motivated by any
genuine desire to be the final catalyst for political change in his country's
It's not as if Zanu-PF is not fully aware of what measures to take to get
the sanctions imposed on its leadership lifted. In any case, it is not an
impossible task to meet some of the outstanding conditions of the GPA. It is
not easy to understand why there is a perception that the welfare of
Zimbabwe will be undermined if the government allows newspapers to publish
and circulate freely or refrains from persecuting Zanu-PF's political
The government of national unity, which hosted Zuma and whose performance
since inauguration six months ago has failed to satisfy the expectations of
both the public and the politicians themselves, was the outcome of
negotiation between President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the two MDC's led
by Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.
Negotiations were prolonged as Zanu-PF weighed the advantages or otherwise
of entering into a coalition government with the MDC.
The major expectation of Zanu-PF negotiators as the talks dragged from one
venue to the next was that, in the final analysis, the MDC, by joining the
GNU, would secure legitimacy and credibility for both President Mugabe and
his party, following the debacle of the June 27 election.
Zanu-PF expected the MDC to prevail on Western nations on behalf of the
coalition government to recognise the new administration, remove the
sanctions on Zanu-PF officials and pour into Zimbabwe desperately needed
Prime Minister Tsvangirai immediately embarked on a three-week long tour of
Washington and seven western capitals. Which ever capital Tsvangirai
visited, his hosts were unanimously adamant on one demand. They expected to
see tangible or visible signs of genuine democratic change in Zimbabwe
before they would put in place any plans for a rescue package for the
The outstanding issues were clearly re-defined. Law and order must finally
prevail, persecution of non-Zanu-PF supporters and officials must stop,
there must be an end must to the new wave of commercial farm invasions while
meaningful media reform must be implemented.
As Tsvangirai returned to Harare largely empty-handed, considering the
quantum of funding required, it dawned on Mugabe that he may have
over-estimated the capacity of Tsvangirai and the MDC to get the sanctions
lifted and successfully canvass for a wholesale injection of foreign aid. In
the eyes of Zanu-PF, the prospect of these two achievements had constituted
the major value of the MDC to the government of national unity.
Meanwhile, by the time of Tsvangirai's visit abroad the MDC had, by signing
the GPA, considerably restored the legitimacy that Mugabe and Zanu-PF
This was particularly true of at least the African continent, where seeds of
doubt about Zanu-PF's intentions had been sown by the political violence
that engulfed Zimbabwe between April and June 2008 and the emergence of
Mugabe as head of state, following a one-candidate presidential election.
Exactly a year later, in June 2009 the MDC had ceased to be a serious threat
to Zanu-PF's political hegemony. The utterances of George Charamba, Webster
Shamu and more recently of Didymus Mutasa have quite obviously not been
without the official endorsement of Mugabe himself. The MDC makes the
fundamental mistake of assuming that these are the utterances of wayward or
misguided Zanu-PF apparatchiks, who can easily be reined in through Zuma's
Mutasa's statement last week that political power in Zimbabwe was not meant
for sharing was particularly ominous. It was made on the eve of Zuma's
eagerly anticipated arrival in Harare.
Meanwhile, both Zanu-PF, through low-ranking official Paul Mangwana, and the
breakaway faction of the MDC through the calculated statement of its leader
Arthur Mutambara, have both stated their position unequivocally on the
inevitability of a five-year term of office for the government of national
Tsvangirai and the mainstream MDC, have strangely and suspiciously, remained
silent on this particular issue.
As Zuma flew into Harare Mutambara issued a strong statement. Towards the
end of the statement he expressed an opinion which must have remained
uppermost in the minds of those who attended the banquet in honour of Zuma
at State House on Thursday night.
"The primary drivers of change in our nation should be the Zimbabweans
themselves," Mutambara said.
"Foreigners can only help us help ourselves. . It is actually embarrassing
and demeaning that we should be waiting for Zuma or SADC to encourage us to
implement things that we agreed to do six months ago."
The Deputy Prime Minister is totally correct. Zimbabweans have displayed
over the past 10 years an expectation that foreigners will solve their
problems while they sit back and observe.
As Zuma winged his way back to Pretoria where his own nation's many problems
await his personal and urgent attention as South Africa forges ahead towards
the 2010 World Cup, the mainstream MDC quickly issued a statement.
"The MDC applauds today's statement by the SADC chairman and South African
President Jacob Zuma which made it clear that all parties forming the
inclusive government should be committed to fulfilling the letter and spirit
of the Global Political Agreement," the statement said.
The MDC needs to explain what there is to applaud about a statement that
could qualify as Political Platitude of the Year. What is new about a
statement that thousands of Zimbabweans have themselves expressed over the
past six months?
"The statement by the SADC chairman is refreshing. President Zuma has made
an unequivocal statement that African nations should commit themselves to
human rights, good governance and democracy if our continent is to extricate
itself from the bad-boy image," the statement continues.
There is nothing refreshing or particularly unequivocal about Zuma saying
African governments must uphold human rights, good governance and democracy.
This particular statement has, in fact, become a rather tired cliché.
It is a sign of desperation that Zimbabweans place the utterances of a
visiting head of state under the microscope for any signs of hope about
their own future.
If there was anything revealing about Zuma's speech, it was the lame appeal
to the West to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe. The West has repeatedly made
its position abundantly clear on this particular issue. This position was
well articulated during Tsvangirai's visit to Europe and the United States
The MDC prides itself as a party of excellence. They must demonstrate that
quality. The Zimbabwean electorate bestowed its faith in Tsvangirai and MDC
on March 29, 2008. It is an absolute betrayal that the MDC now transfers
that same faith onto Zuma, who was not even a factor at the time of that
landmark election and who has no track record whatsoever as a power-broker
Human rights watch
August 31, 2009
The Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Government's Failure to Deliver Human Rights Improvements
Click here to read the full document
SW RADIO AFRICA TRANSCRIPT
HOT SEAT: Violet Gonda presents this week’s Hot Seat and her guest is Member of the European Parliament, Geoffrey Van Orden , with an insight into the mood in the EU parliament over Zimbabwe ’s inclusive government. Almost all ZANU PF Ministers and MPs are on the targeted sanctions’ list and they claim these ‘sanctions’ are hampering the implementation of the Global Political Agreement. How constructive is it to keep the restrictions in place on one half of the government, when there is now a unity government? Would they be removed if the MDC seriously campaigned for this, as ZANU PF wants them to do?
Broadcast: 31 August 2009
Violet Gonda: Geoffrey Van Orden, a member of parliament for the European Union and a member of the Foreign Affairs committee in the European Parliament is my guest on the programme Hot Seat and is here to talk to us about the EU ‘restrictions on Zimbabwe ’. Hallo Mr Van Orden.
Geoffrey Van Orden : Good morning, very nice to talk to you.
VG: First of all I’d like to congratulate you on your re-election to the new parliament.
GVO: Thank you very much.
VG: Let’s start with the mood in this new parliament regarding Zimbabwe and the whole coalition government. What are people saying about the Government of National Unity in Zimbabwe ?
GVO: Well of course it’s early days in the parliament because we have new members and they’re just finding their feet at the moment but I would say that the mood is positive in the sense that we’re encouraged that there has been some good developments in Zimbabwe - that Morgan Tsvangirai is doing well as Prime Minister. He of course is a very good representative of Zimbabwe when he comes to foreign countries to represent your country. But of course we are still concerned about the implementation of the GPA and of the general situation in the country because there’s so much more to be done in order to expedite Zimbabwe ’s return to freedom and prosperity.
VG: And of course the EU has imposed restrictions on
Zimbabwe, so do we expect anything different in this new parliament and do you
think it’s time to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe?
VG: There is now an inclusive government in Zimbabwe so what
is the EU’s common position on Zimbabwe , especially to do with these sanctions,
VG: What sort of changes? I was actually going to ask that
have conditions been met?
So in other words, first of all we want to see the levers of power in Zimbabwe in proper democratic hands and that the views of the people of Zimbabwe are being respected. That means that we’ve got to work out, or Zimbabwe has to work out a new constitution as soon as possible, I don’t think we can afford to wait a year for this you know, I think it should be done far more quickly, everyone knows what’s needed. So we need a new constitution and then as quickly as possible after that new constitution has been approved there must be free and fair elections with proper international monitoring, and the results of these elections then properly respected. Now that’s what we want to see. We want to see an end to violence on the streets and we know that only very recently at the opening of the constitutional conference for example on the 13 th of July, some of the MDC representatives were attacked there. This is no way to conduct democratic politics. So we want to make sure that people are free to express themselves in Zimbabwe , that they’re not going in fear of their lives or in fear of arbitrary imprisonment. And so these are all things that need to be done and until this is done, we can’t properly move forward in terms of rebuilding the Zimbabwean economy, which we know the desperate state that people are in and we need to get moving on that as soon as possible.
VG: Now Zanu-PF says that the MDC created these sanctions and is actually piling up pressure on the MDC to campaign for their removal. First of all, were the sanctions instigated by the MDC?
GVO: Of course not. The sanctions were instigated by democratic countries in Europe - which were appalled by the conditions then reigning in Zimbabwe - and of course these are sanctions where other parts of the world, the United States and Australia and many other countries have joined in as well. And I say again, these are not sanctions against Zimbabwe , they had no effect on the economic situation of Zimbabwe . We have to look at the blame for the economic crisis which has afflicted the country for so many years is firmly in the hands of Mr Mugabe and the regime which has kept him in power. You can’t blame anybody else for the economic problems. It’s nothing to do with sanctions, it’s nothing to do with attitudes of the United Kingdom , it’s none of these things. It’s bad land policies, it’s bad economic policies, it is bad political oppression and of course also, you’ve had drought and an economic downturn globally which has had an impact as well, but the blame for the economic situation in Zimbabwe is fair and squarely laid at the feet of Mr Mugabe and his regime. He can’t blame anybody else and any objective observer would agree with that statement.
VG: Earlier on you said that there are 203 individuals on the sanctions list - so it is a given that they are personal sanctions but what about these 40 companies, what about their impact or…
GVO: These are companies or other bodies, which are closely associated with the 203 people on the banned list. In other words, these are if you like, organisations which are pursuing the commercial interest of those people. This is a quite separate matter from the wider Zimbabwean economy and that, to overcome the problems there, then we need to get commercial farming back up in operation again, we need to get the country on the move. It’s nothing to do with these sanctions.
VG: So if the MDC categorically asks for a lifting, will it be done?
VG: What is your reaction to this statement by the Vice President, Joyce Mujuru where she said, and I quote “ Zimbabwe groans under sanctions, unlawful sanctions which must go for her to regain her lustre. This is a challenge comparable to the dismantling of settler colonialism. It needs heroes.” What do you say about this?
VG: Now there are some who say that the EU restrictions impact have worsened the humanitarian situation in part because they compliment the very strict financial sanctions imposed by the US through ZIDERA, the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, what can you say about that?
VG: On the issue of the farms, the land issue that you mentioned just now, do the EU sanctions prevent the sale of farm produce to Europe from farms that were given to people following government acquisition?
VG: How then would you respond to people who say that this will have a direct impact on the economy because those restrictions then hinder the ability and capacity of this inclusive government, for example, to raise the resources that are badly needed?
VG: Zanu-PF and other critics continue to say that these sanctions are unfair and that other regimes are undemocratic and persecute political opposition yet remain without sanctions, especially regimes in Africa, so why is Zimbabwe unique?
VG: How would you respond to critics who say it looks as though the UK in particular is making concessions towards Libya for example for an oil trade deal and that would the sanctions in Zimbabwe remain in place if there were large reserves of oil in the country?
VG: Are you not worried that this could advance the Zanu-PF cause by continuing with the sanctions?
VG: I was actually going to ask a question that goes in line with what you are talking about - that almost all Zanu-PF ministers and MPs are on the sanctions list and there are none from the MDC, now that there’s a unity government is it constructive to put sanctions on one whole half of the government?
VG: And a final word Mr Van Orden.
GVO: Well all I would say is there is some encouraging news from Zimbabwe, there is still a long way to go, I want to see change brought about as quickly as possible, I want people to recognise the realities of the situation, not to be taken in by these false accusations and all this nonsense about the effects of international sanctions and all that and I want people to get on with the hard task of restoring freedom and democracy and economic prosperity in Zimbabwe and we will do all we can to assist that process as long as there are right minded and good people in power.
VG: Geoffrey Van Orden, a member of parliament for the European Union, thank you very much for participating on the programme Hot Seat.
GVO: Thank you so much.
Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
BILL WATCH SPECIAL
[28th August 2009]
Ceremonial Opening of Parliament Delayed
The Second Session of the Seventh Parliament will not be opened on Tuesday 1st September. A new date for the Ceremonial Opening by the President will be announced later. Meanwhile the First Session continues, and the Senate and the House of Assembly will meet on Tuesday 1st September to deal with any unfinished business. The House of Assembly may also meet on Wednesday for members’ Question Time.
Parliamentary Committee Meetings Open to the Public Next Week
Members of the public wishing to attend these meetings are advised to telephone Parliament  first and check with the appropriate committee clerk that the meeting has not been cancelled or rescheduled.
Monday 31st August
House of Assembly Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy
Meeting with Minister of Mines and Mining Development
10 am, Committee Room No. 413
House of Assembly Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance, Economic Planning and Investment Promotion
Oral evidence from Ministry of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion
2 pm, Committee Room No. 4
Senate Thematic Committee on Gender and Development
Familiarisation brief on international agreements on Gender and Development
2 pm, Committee Room No. 3
Senate Thematic Committee on HIV/AIDS
Discussion on male circumcision
2 pm, Committee Room No. 2
Tuesday 1st September
House of Assembly Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Welfare
Discussion on Health Care Financing with Stakeholders
10 am, Committee Room No. 1
House of Assembly Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Rural and Urban Development
Reviewing Traditional Leaders Act
10 am, Committee Room No. 413
House of Assembly Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce
Oral evidence from Ministry of Industry and Commerce
10 am, Committee Room No. 311
Thursday 3rd September
House of Assembly Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth, Gender and Community Development
Familiarisation brief on international agreements on Gender and Development
10 am, Committee Room No. 3
House of Assembly Portfolio Committee on Education, Sport and Culture
Oral evidence from Zimbabwe Teachers Association [ZIMTA] and Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe [PTUZ]
10 am, Committee Room No. 4
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.
August 31, 2009 Paul Maritz, right, is chief executive of VMware and Tod Nielsen is
chief operating officer. SAN FRANCISCO (New York Times) – Microsoft’s No. 1 rival is a household
name, Google. But a strong candidate for No. 2 is a company that is scarcely
known outside the technology industry: VMware.VMware
is the brainchild of Paul Maritz the chief executive officer and his business
partner Tod Nielsen, the chief operating officer. Both are former Microsoft
executives. Paul Maritz was born and raised in Zimbabwe. “VMware is definitely a threat,” said Gary Chen, an analyst at IDC, a
research firm. “After Google, it is the company Microsoft fears most.” Google and VMware pose a broadly similar challenge to Microsoft, by
potentially undermining the dominance of its most lucrative products, desktop
software and operating systems. While Google represents the attack from above,
VMware is the assault from beneath. Google, the search giant, offers free advertising-supported software for
e-mail, word processing, calendars and spreadsheets online, as alternatives to
Microsoft’s popular Office products. For Web-based programs like these, it is
the browser — not an operating system like Windows — that is the vital layer of
software on the computer. VMware is the leader in so-called virtual machine software, which allows a
computer to run two or more operating systems at once. Its software resides on
top of the hardware and beneath the operating system. But as VMware’s technology becomes more powerful and it adds more features to
its products, it can start to supplant the operating system from below — just as
the browser can from above. VMware’s leadership adds an edge to its bottom-up challenge to Microsoft. A
year ago, Paul Maritz, a former senior executive at Microsoft, took over as
chief executive. In the late 1990s, he was regarded as the company’s
third-ranked executive, the person with the most responsibility and authority
after Bill Gates and Steven A. Ballmer. Maritz walked away from Microsoft a wealthy man in 2000, and he focused
mainly on philanthropic work like microfinance, conservation and rural
development projects, especially in Africa (he was born and raised in Zimbabwe).
In 2003, he founded a small Web start-up company, but his business interests
were a far cry from the mainstream of corporate combat. The lure at VMware, Maritz explained, was the chance to lead a company riding
a wave of game-changing technology. “It’s a rare opportunity to be part of a
paradigm shift,” he said. “That’s what attracted me.” In January, Maritz was joined by Tod Nielsen, another former Microsoft
executive, who became VMware’s chief operating officer. As 11 000 business partners, developers and customers gather in San Francisco
for the start of the company’s VMworld conference on Monday, the strategy under
Maritz is clearly taking shape. In August, the company announced that it planned
to pay $420 million to acquire SpringSource, a maker of open-source software
development tools, some of which analyze and tweak the performance of
applications. Adding such features could allow VMware’s technology to
essentially sidestep an operating system like Windows. “It makes us far less dependent on the operating system to manage the
applications,” Nielsen said. So far, virtualization technology has been used mainly to cut costs in data
centers, where it lets companies handle computing chores with fewer machines,
using less energy and floor space. Now, companies are starting to use it to
manage software that is delivered to their workers on desktop PCs across the
corporate network. VMware plans to make a big push into the desktop and notebook market,
introducing technology next year to better handle high-end graphics and allow
users to do work even when they are not hooked into a network. In data centers, VMware wants to demonstrate that beyond the hardware
savings, the next frontier is the reduced operating costs that result from
increasing the number of servers that are “virtualized.” Today, VMware says companies typically have one human administrator for every
50 server computers, while data centers with more than half of their machines
virtualized can fairly quickly increase that to one to 200 or higher. “We have to go beyond capital costs to speak to doing more for our customers
by using virtualization to reduce operating costs and operational complexity,”
Maritz said. “We are entering a significant turn in this market.” And, he observed, “we do have the footsteps of Microsoft behind us.” Indeed, Microsoft is coming. Its game plan is a rerun of the strategy it used
in the Web browser market — bundle free virtual machine software into its
operating system. In July 2009, Microsoft introduced its HyperV virtual machine
in Windows Server 2008. New features to help it catch up to VMware will be
introduced in October. “Our strategy is to integrate virtualization into our product line in
Windows, with our management software and the familiar Microsoft developer
tools,” said Mike Neil, a general manager in the Windows server division. Microsoft has a long way to go. At the end of last year, more than 80 percent
of virtualized computing workloads ran on VMware, analysts estimate, with the
remainder shared by Microsoft, Citrix Systems’ Xen, Virtual Iron and others. But
only 15 percent of servers have been virtualized, and with that percentage
likely to at least double over the next five years, there is still plenty of
opportunity in the market. There is considerable interest in Microsoft’s offering, analysts say. A
recent report by Gartner projected that Microsoft’s share of installed virtual
machine software would increase to 29 percent by the end of 2012, from 8 percent
at the end of last year. “Microsoft is going to be very formidable in this space,” said Stephen F.
Shuckenbrock, president of the large enterprise division at Dell, which is a
partner of both VMware and Microsoft. “Many customers, at the very least, are
intrigued by the free virtualization software bundled by Microsoft.” VMware, based in Palo Alto, Calif., is a formidable company today, solidly
profitable with $1.9 billion in revenue last year. (It is majority owned by EMC
but reports financial results separately and has its own stock listing.) The
company Mr. Maritz inherited last year, when the founders, Diane Greene, the
chief executive, and her husband, Mendel Rosenblum, a Stanford computer
scientist, departed, had a “great foundation with wonderful people and wonderful
technology,” Maritz said. Still, Maritz added, VMware needed to move up the technology ladder and
“master some new tricks” to stay ahead of Microsoft. Whether it can do that in
the long run is the big question surrounding the company. “It has fantastic technology, but will it be a fantastic business?” asked A.
M. Sacconaghi, an analyst at Bernstein Research. “The browser was fantastic
technology, but it turned out not to be good business.” Both Maritz and Nielsen are veterans of the browser wars of the 1990s, from
the Microsoft side. They are optimistic that VMware can stay ahead. “This is
going to be a battle for sure,” Nielsen said. “But we are going to stay focused
and continue to outrun them.”
August 31, 2009
Paul Maritz, right, is chief executive of VMware and Tod Nielsen is chief operating officer.
SAN FRANCISCO (New York Times) – Microsoft’s No. 1 rival is a household name, Google. But a strong candidate for No. 2 is a company that is scarcely known outside the technology industry: VMware.VMware is the brainchild of Paul Maritz the chief executive officer and his business partner Tod Nielsen, the chief operating officer. Both are former Microsoft executives. Paul Maritz was born and raised in Zimbabwe.
“VMware is definitely a threat,” said Gary Chen, an analyst at IDC, a research firm. “After Google, it is the company Microsoft fears most.”
Google and VMware pose a broadly similar challenge to Microsoft, by potentially undermining the dominance of its most lucrative products, desktop software and operating systems. While Google represents the attack from above, VMware is the assault from beneath.
Google, the search giant, offers free advertising-supported software for e-mail, word processing, calendars and spreadsheets online, as alternatives to Microsoft’s popular Office products. For Web-based programs like these, it is the browser — not an operating system like Windows — that is the vital layer of software on the computer.
VMware is the leader in so-called virtual machine software, which allows a computer to run two or more operating systems at once. Its software resides on top of the hardware and beneath the operating system.
But as VMware’s technology becomes more powerful and it adds more features to its products, it can start to supplant the operating system from below — just as the browser can from above.
VMware’s leadership adds an edge to its bottom-up challenge to Microsoft. A year ago, Paul Maritz, a former senior executive at Microsoft, took over as chief executive. In the late 1990s, he was regarded as the company’s third-ranked executive, the person with the most responsibility and authority after Bill Gates and Steven A. Ballmer.
Maritz walked away from Microsoft a wealthy man in 2000, and he focused mainly on philanthropic work like microfinance, conservation and rural development projects, especially in Africa (he was born and raised in Zimbabwe). In 2003, he founded a small Web start-up company, but his business interests were a far cry from the mainstream of corporate combat.
The lure at VMware, Maritz explained, was the chance to lead a company riding a wave of game-changing technology. “It’s a rare opportunity to be part of a paradigm shift,” he said. “That’s what attracted me.”
In January, Maritz was joined by Tod Nielsen, another former Microsoft executive, who became VMware’s chief operating officer.
As 11 000 business partners, developers and customers gather in San Francisco for the start of the company’s VMworld conference on Monday, the strategy under Maritz is clearly taking shape. In August, the company announced that it planned to pay $420 million to acquire SpringSource, a maker of open-source software development tools, some of which analyze and tweak the performance of applications. Adding such features could allow VMware’s technology to essentially sidestep an operating system like Windows.
“It makes us far less dependent on the operating system to manage the applications,” Nielsen said.
So far, virtualization technology has been used mainly to cut costs in data centers, where it lets companies handle computing chores with fewer machines, using less energy and floor space. Now, companies are starting to use it to manage software that is delivered to their workers on desktop PCs across the corporate network.
VMware plans to make a big push into the desktop and notebook market, introducing technology next year to better handle high-end graphics and allow users to do work even when they are not hooked into a network.
In data centers, VMware wants to demonstrate that beyond the hardware savings, the next frontier is the reduced operating costs that result from increasing the number of servers that are “virtualized.”
Today, VMware says companies typically have one human administrator for every 50 server computers, while data centers with more than half of their machines virtualized can fairly quickly increase that to one to 200 or higher.
“We have to go beyond capital costs to speak to doing more for our customers by using virtualization to reduce operating costs and operational complexity,” Maritz said. “We are entering a significant turn in this market.”
And, he observed, “we do have the footsteps of Microsoft behind us.”
Indeed, Microsoft is coming. Its game plan is a rerun of the strategy it used in the Web browser market — bundle free virtual machine software into its operating system. In July 2009, Microsoft introduced its HyperV virtual machine in Windows Server 2008. New features to help it catch up to VMware will be introduced in October.
“Our strategy is to integrate virtualization into our product line in Windows, with our management software and the familiar Microsoft developer tools,” said Mike Neil, a general manager in the Windows server division.
Microsoft has a long way to go. At the end of last year, more than 80 percent of virtualized computing workloads ran on VMware, analysts estimate, with the remainder shared by Microsoft, Citrix Systems’ Xen, Virtual Iron and others. But only 15 percent of servers have been virtualized, and with that percentage likely to at least double over the next five years, there is still plenty of opportunity in the market.
There is considerable interest in Microsoft’s offering, analysts say. A recent report by Gartner projected that Microsoft’s share of installed virtual machine software would increase to 29 percent by the end of 2012, from 8 percent at the end of last year.
“Microsoft is going to be very formidable in this space,” said Stephen F. Shuckenbrock, president of the large enterprise division at Dell, which is a partner of both VMware and Microsoft. “Many customers, at the very least, are intrigued by the free virtualization software bundled by Microsoft.”
VMware, based in Palo Alto, Calif., is a formidable company today, solidly profitable with $1.9 billion in revenue last year. (It is majority owned by EMC but reports financial results separately and has its own stock listing.) The company Mr. Maritz inherited last year, when the founders, Diane Greene, the chief executive, and her husband, Mendel Rosenblum, a Stanford computer scientist, departed, had a “great foundation with wonderful people and wonderful technology,” Maritz said.
Still, Maritz added, VMware needed to move up the technology ladder and “master some new tricks” to stay ahead of Microsoft. Whether it can do that in the long run is the big question surrounding the company.
“It has fantastic technology, but will it be a fantastic business?” asked A. M. Sacconaghi, an analyst at Bernstein Research. “The browser was fantastic technology, but it turned out not to be good business.”
Both Maritz and Nielsen are veterans of the browser wars of the 1990s, from the Microsoft side. They are optimistic that VMware can stay ahead. “This is going to be a battle for sure,” Nielsen said. “But we are going to stay focused and continue to outrun them.”
The article "Money usually the root of all evil" from Eddy Cross is very
refreshing. But I want to add two items more:
1. A member of parliament has to enjoy immunity. If a member of parliament
is ever charged with criminal offences, he or she is immune against
prosecution unless a defined majority of the parliament is lifting that
immunity of the respective person. This is to protect the members of
parliament against persecution on political grounds via criminal courts as
we watch it happening now in ZImbabwe. The German constituion has such a
provision and it is strongly observed.
2. The GA has to be held responsible about his legal actions to an elected
committee of respected figures of the judiciary. This committee must have
the right to discipline the GA in the case that his/her conduct is