By Kate Hoey
THE Prime Minister's statement on Zimbabwe is a breath of fresh air. He has
shown that he is serious about engagement on Africa.
He is adamant that he will not take part in the EU-Africa summit due in
December if it means sitting down with Zimbabwe's dictator Robert Mugabe.
This welcome shift in Government policy has come in the same week when the
Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, spoke out to implore that our colonial
past should not to be used as an excuse for doing nothing. His call was
endorsed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu who called on the UK to toughen its
stance on Zimbabwe.
The Prime Minister cares about poverty in Africa and this statement shows
that he is treating African leaders as responsible adults rather than making
patronising allowances for their shortcomings.
The cosy solidarity of Africa's political elite, and the scourge of
corruption, have drained countries on the continent of economic and
political vitality since they achieved independence. If the leaders of
African Union nations insist on inviting Mugabe to the summit in Portugal,
they will show, yet again, that for all their fine words on democracy and
human rights, the plight of the people of the continent count for very
little compared to the power and privilege of the ruling elites.
I have visited Zimbabwe undercover several times over recent years and seen
the desperation and despair of life under Mugabe's brutal oppression.
I helped families fleeing in terror as the regime's armed forces moved in
with bulldozers to demolish their homes. People who live in areas that stand
up to this oppression are deprived of food, starvation and access to food
has been used as a means of political control.
The call for action by the British government from Archbishop Sentamu, who
suffered in his homeland Uganda under the dictatorship of Idi Amin, and
Archbishop Desmond Tutu - a hero of the anti-apartheid struggle in South
Africa - helps dispel the myth that Zimbabwe is an African crisis that needs
an African solution.
I have said many times it would be great if there was an African solution
but we have waited long enough for quiet diplomacy to work, as Archbishop
He said: "Africans must hang their heads in shame for having allowed such a
desperate situation to continue almost without anybody doing anything to try
and stop it."
Besides, the UK and other donor nations are all stakeholders in this crisis.
Zimbabwe is a country that under a democratic regime with an efficient
economy could easily feed itself with surplus for exports so
why should we be expected to foot the bill for feeding a third of the
population of Zimbabwe and yet be denied the right to engage in finding a
Save the Children reported this week that Zimbabwean children as young as
seven are walking alone through hostile territory to cross the South African
border in a bid to escape crushing poverty at home.
Despite the media being banned, brave journalists continue to slip in and
get their footage out. ITV's coverage this week has shown the desperation of
the people and the continued abuse of human rights.
Last March the dreaded CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) broke up a
peaceful meeting of Zimbabwe's opposition leaders, took participants into
custody and brutally assaulted them. Images of the bloodied faces and broken
limbs of Morgan Tsvangirai and his colleagues shocked the world. President
Mbeki of South Africa promised to actively seek a solution. So far there has
been little progress.
The Prime Minister has also stated that he will raise the issue at the
United Nations and try to get agreement to the appointment of a EU envoy to
help support the transition to democracy. This will pick up on the
commitments made by African nations following the G8 Gleneagles summit in
2005, and which so far have not been honoured.
There is little point in a mechanism to protect good governance and human
rights that can only engage with
countries where good governance and human rights are already well-advanced.
I am pleased that our Government will also consider, as Australia has done,
expelling children of Zanu PF Ministers studying at schools and universities
here. I will continue to call for a sporting boycott of Zimbabwe something
which was so successful in fighting apartheid in South Africa.
The people of Zimbabwe feel forgotten and isolated. The news of Gordon
Brown's stand in solidarity with them will raise their spirits -
particularly those brave souls in the trade unions, civil society, churches
and students organisations who risk life and limb to carry on the struggle
Despite being imprisoned and beaten by Mugabe's secret police, there are
heroic Zimbabweans who refuse to flee or remain silent.
They are the hope for the future of Zimbabwe.
Kate Hoey is Labour MP for Vauxhall.
Last Updated: 21 September 2007 9:01 AM
By David Blair, Diplomatic Correspondent, and Natalie Paris
Last Updated: 1:10pm BST 21/09/2007
Gordon Brown has been accused of employing "arm-twisting" techniques
to manipulate Africa over his threat to boycott a summit between African and
The Prime Minister has said he will not attend an international
gathering in Lisbon if Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, does.
His announcement has drawn criticism however.
Zimbabwe's UN Ambassador, Boniface Chidyausiku, said Brown had "no
right to dictate" who should be at the summit.
In an interview last night, he insisted that Mugabe had a sovereign
right to attend and that the bigger issues affecting Africa should take
Dr Gertrude Mongella, the Tanzanian president of the Pan-African
Parliament, denounced Brown's decision as unhelpful.
"We do know there are some problems (in Zimbabwe), but if somebody
wants to arm-twist Zimbabwe, that's not the best way to solve the problems,"
she said in an interview on the Socialist Group website.
"I think this is again another way of manipulating Africa. Zimbabwe is
a nation which got independence."
She added: "I think in the developed countries there are so many
countries doing things which not all of us subscribe to: we have seen the
Iraq war - not everyone accepts what is being done in Iraq."
Stressing that the Zimbabwean people should not be punished for
Mugabe's actions, she urged all government leaders to attend and "develop a
very committed dialogue to solve problems, rather than threatening each
other by going or not going."
"I think if we want to move in the right direction, with the African
way of doing things, you discuss things under a tree till you agree," she
said. "So if somebody does not come under a tree to discuss, that is not the
African way of doing things."
Belgian Socialist MEP Alain Hutchinson said Zimbabwe's problems should
certainly be highlighted, "but we should not let the question of Zimbabwe
derail this important summit".
The European Commission also agreed that the summit must go ahead
regardless of Gordon Brown's threat.
Louis Michel, the aid and development commissioner, said: "We think
that a single individual case cannot take as hostage the relations between
Mr Mugabe was banned from visiting EU member states in February 2002.
But Mr Michel said this restriction, which also applies to all Zimbabwean
cabinet ministers and senior figures in the ruling Zanu-PF party, did not
stop them from coming to international meetings.
In principle, he said this measure would not prevent Mr Mugabe from
joining the summit in December.
"I expect it is possible to have a compromise, but if there is no
compromise, what can you do? The only option I cannot accept is suppressing
the summit," Mr Michel said.
He denied that he was criticising Mr Brown and said that he shared the
Prime Minister's view of "how Mugabe is leading his country". But Mr Michel
said that Britain should attend nonetheless.
Privately, EU officials believe that Mr Brown's stance leaves room for
The Zimbabwean leader could be invited to attend the summit on the
understanding that he declines and sends his foreign minister instead.
Mr Brown, who was thoroughly briefed on Zimbabwe's crisis last month,
has not ruled out attending the gathering under these circumstances.
A Foreign Office briefing note reads: "We believe Zimbabwe should be
represented and are open to solutions that allow for someone other than
President Mugabe to be present."
The Foreign Office pointed to the precedent of a summit held last year
with Asian countries. Burma's regime, which is subjected to the same
restrictions as Zimbabwe's leadership, sent its foreign minister.
But Mr Mugabe's foreign minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, appears as
number 78 on a list of 125 Zimbabweans subjected to restrictions. In theory,
any assets these individuals hold in European banks should also be frozen.
A British official contradicted Mr Michel's interpretation of the EU
travel ban, saying that it did prevent anyone on the list from attending
international summits. It was a "bit of a stretch" to say that an exemption
could be used in these circumstances. "For us the key thing is not having
someone who is on that list," he said.
If Britain sticks to this position, compromise will be unlikely. But
the Foreign Office briefing suggests that London will yield and allow Mr
Mumbengegwi to attend.
Posted : Fri, 21 Sep 2007 12:35:10 GMT
Author : DPA
London - The British government indicated Friday that it expected
little support for its threatened boycott of European Union- Africa summit
if Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe attends. A spokesman for Prime Minister
Gordon Brown, who has threatened a boycott of the Lisbon meeting in December
if Mugabe is present, said the government was working on the assumption that
Mugabe would go and Brown would therefore not attend.
Asked whether Britain had been lobbying its European allies to match
Brown's threat, the spokesman said: "He is not dictating to anybody else who
can go and who cannot go. He is making his position clear that, on the
assumption that things work out as expected, he will not go."
The EU presidency has said no invitations for the summit have yet been
issued, and the matter would be decided over the next few weeks.
"The Prime Minister has made his position clear," the spokesman
21 September 2007
Jens Laurson and George Pieler
THE US and UK are suggesting they may ratchet up pressure against the Mugabe
regime, but it may be too little to affect the attitudes that count: those
in Africa. The recent Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit
in Lusaka, Zambia, showed the world once more the "resolve" of Zimbabwe's
neighbours to rescue a failing country. That resolve consists of nothing but
empty rhetoric, and even that rhetoric tends to bolster, not work at
removing, the source of the problem: Robert Mugabe and his regime of crooks.
"We are a democracy just as any other democracy. We don't need reform." So
says Patrick Chinamasa, the Zimbabwean minister of justice (oxymoronic or
cynical?) Such fine words too often issue from those countries furthest from
the democratic ideal.
It recalls the negative correlation very often found between a country's
official name and the level of freedom found therein. The more references to
democracy and republicanism and "freedom" in the name, the greater the
chance the country is ruled by an autocratic clique, junta or dictator.
The German Democratic Republic comes to mind, or the Democratic Republic of
Congo, formerly Free Congo - neither place having ever manifested any of the
characteristics splashed across their titles.
Caveat emptor, then - truth in packaging laws do not apply.
Zimbabwe has not renamed itself the People's Free Democratic Republic of
Zimbabwe - not yet - but it might as well, so solidly does it belie such a
Office-holders who respond "unofficially" in defence of rotten dictatorships
always seem to huff and puff with amazingly similar, schoolboy-level tricks
Simon Khaya Moyo, Mugabe's ambassador to SA, showed these colours when he
recently responded, in the Zimbabwean state-controlled newspaper The Herald,
to an article by these - in Moyo's words- "thoroughly misinformed" and
"sabre-rattling" authors that had appeared in Business Day.
But the true tragedy in Zimbabwe is not the "lived lie" of state officials.
That is to be expected. Instead, it is the timid or
nonexistent response from other southern African countries to the crisis -
humanitarian, social and economic - that is Zimbabwe today.
Mugabe was greeted with generous applause in Lusaka, while incoming SADC
chairman, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, called for peace and stability
in the neighbouring state. That may be difficult in a country with 80%
unemployment, the most massive hyperinflation since the Weimar Republic and
large-scale starvation just around the corner. It is less difficult to look
at the source of the problem - and it isn't the limited embargo of the west.
It is Mugabe and his cronies.
As Mugabe is still hailed as the liberator and heroic freedom fighter
against the British, no one seems willing to admit that the native hero has
turned out a cruel and unaccountable egomaniac who cares infinitely less
about the wellbeing of his own people than the British did.
The paralysis that strikes southern African states in dealing with such a
neighbour is truly disheartening.
Before continuing with Mugabe-bashing on "democratic grounds", though, it
might be worthwhile to suggest that Zimbabwe strikes us as so offensive not
just because of the state of democracy in the country, important though that
Let us imagine that Mugabe had not ruined the economy to the tune of an
official inflation rate of 7600% and climbing (and surely higher in truth),
coupled with shrinking gross domestic product and more than 60% of the
population living on less than $1 a day. Suppose his party did not need to
bus people out of the country so that they could buy basic foods (in a
formerly food-exporting country).
If he only were a dictator, violating human rights, freedom of expression,
freedom of movement - Zimbabwean human rights activists headed to Lusaka
were simply denied the right to leave the country - and freedom of political
participation ... If he only rigged polls and awarded the land to his family
and friends that he expropriated from - usually white - Zimbabwean farmers .
Were those his only transgressions while reigning over a booming - not
decrepit - economy, and a well-fed - not starving -
people, and an orderly - not corrupt and crime-riddled officialdom - might
we forgive him, or grumble less loudly?
We hope for our sakes that we would still speak out.
And it is the shame of southern Africa that Zimbabwe's neighbours don't
speak out, even as the situation presents itself.
They may one day have to answer to the Zimbabwean population -whatever is
of it - once they have been freed of the Mugabean burden. And once, with
some fortune and luck, they have found a head of state who acknowledges
basic standards of civilisation.
Laurson is editor-in-chief of the International Affairs Forum. Pieler is
senior fellow with the Institute for Policy Innovation.
Save the Children
Zimbabwean children as young as seven are walking alone through hostile
territory to cross the South African border in a bid to escape crushing
poverty at home, research by Save the Children has revealed.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
These children, many of whom are recently orphaned, see South Africa as a
land of opportunity where they can find work and a place at school,
according to the aid agency's latest report, Children Crossing Borders.
But many of these children who arrive in South Africa unaccompanied have no
form of identification and cannot register for help from the authorities.
Only one in three children of the children interviewed during the research
was in school and most were forced to work in unreliable and dangerous jobs.
They live in squatter camps and on rubbish dumps where many must beg for
The research found that children are forced to pay bribes to unscrupulous
guides to enter the country and many were beaten and robbed by these
'guides'. Half of the children surveyed had paid a bribe, 80% of those to a
'guide' and 14% said they had been assaulted while attempting to cross the
South African law obliges authorities to protect and care for these
children, but the sheer number crossing the border from Zimbabwe and other
southern African countries like Mozambique is overwhelming. Under-funded and
ill-equipped communities in South Africa simply cannot cope with the influx
of unaccompanied children.
"These children see South Africa as the Promised Land," said Dominic Nutt of
Save the Children. "But the dangers they face travelling long distances
alone and then once they reach South Africa are horrendous. They are poor,
hungry, young and highly vulnerable and are easy prey for criminals or
people seeking to exploit them.
"It's hard to imagine how bad the lives of these young people must be that
they leave home, alone, to face such terrifying risks."
Save the Children is planning to build a series of shelters along the border
where children can be cared for, fed and schooled in safety without fear of
being forcibly returned.
Notes to Editors:
a.. The findings of Children Crossing Borders is based on a survey of 130
children carried out by the University of Witwatersrand on behalf of Save
the Children in Johannesburg, Musina (on the Zimbabwe border) and Malelane
and Komatipoort (on the Mozambique border) in early 2007.
SW Radio Africa (London)
21 September 2007
Posted to the web 21 September 2007
The Tsvangirai led MDC is expected to send an envoy to President Thabo Mbeki
with an ultimatum that they will be forced to withdraw from the mediation
talks if there is no end to state violence against its supporters, Newsreel
learned on Friday.
Following the party's national executive meeting in Harare on Friday, the
party leadership was mandated to demand an unconditional end to violence and
intimidation against its supporters. If the arbitrary arrests, intimidation
and killings don't end, the MDC will pull out of the talks.
The head of foreign affairs, Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro, said the
meeting unanimously adopted a resolution to withdraw its team from the talks
if the regime continues to target its members.
'It was highlighted Zanu-PF was not negotiating in good faith. The national
executive felt the party could not continue negotiating with them whilst at
same time they are busy killing, arresting and beating up our colleagues,'
The meeting declared it was satisfied with what has emerged from the Mbeki
led talks so far. Mukonoweshuro said they got a blow by blow account of what
has transpired since the talks began.
'As a way forward, the meeting decided the party should embark on an
extensive countrywide tour to brief our members of what has been going on.
This intensive exercise will begin in the next coming days,' he said,
Mukonoweshuro explained also why the MDC did not oppose the constitutional
amendment 18. He said it was simply a starting point.
'I know people, including our civil society partners, have said a lot about
this perceived deal, but it is their democratic right to challenge the party
if they think its drifting away from its set goals. But I will want to
reassure everyone that this is not the case,' he said.
He said there was still a lot to come in the negotiations between the two
parties, including the electoral laws, the reconstitution of the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission and the political environment. He added people should
realize amendments to Bill number 18 were only the beginning. The role of
the defence forces and the police, as well as the repealing of POSA and
AIPPA, remain to be discussed.
By Trust Matsilele
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has lashed out at the
behaviour demonstrated by the ruling ZANU PF thugs in the disruption of
developmental projects taking place in parts of Matabeleland.
The opposition MDC, led by Aurthur Mutambara confirmed to the Zimbabwean
that ZANU PF was working in unison with notorious Central Intelligence
Organisation agents in the disrupruptions of developments in the country.
"ZANU PF activists working in cahoots with state agents, tried to disrupt
developmental projects in Nkayi constituency last week.
"The projects had been initiated by the local Member of Parliament for
Nkayi, Hon Abednico Bhebhe through the Parliamentary Constituency
Information Centre", read by of the statement from MDC.
According to information supplied to The Zimbabwean, these problems started
on Wednesday last week at Hlangabeza High School when elements of the CIO,
working with the police and ZANU PF activist threatened to arrest officials
from the donor community who had funded the community project.
The project included the building of a reservoir tank and the construction
of the girls hostels for the school. Formal notifications to both the school
authorities and council had been made beforehand and parents and children
who had been invited for the occasion had turned up in full force for the
The situation soon changed when the Hon MP and his entourage arrived to
grace the occasion. The Headmaster of the school, disclosed that he had
been threatened over the project by some overzealous ZANU PF persons and
that he feared for his life.
Bhebhe is also reported to have hosted officials from another donor
community who had funded some development projects at two more schools in
the constituency in the previous week.
Bhebhe had sourced funding for the renovations and construction of classroom
blocks at Gababi and Sembeule primary schools and had come to officially
hand over the projects.
Reports also supplied by the MDC office says on arrival at Gababi school,
the Hon MP and the officials found that teachers and school officials had
been taken to some kangaroo court for questioning by state agents over the
The evil acts by the ruling ZANU PF are surprising as the Minister of
Education Sports and Culture, Eneas Chigwedere and the ministry officials
had been notified by the Hon MP about the occasion. Parents and children who
had gathered at the school to witness the official hand over soon dispersed.
21 September 2007
President of Botswana Says Zim-Botswana Peace Parks "On Ice"
WASHINGTON DC - Responding to public questions at the National Geographic
Society yesterday the president of Botswana, Festus Mogae, said that
implementation of Peace Parks between Zimbabwe and Botswana were 'on ice'
primarily due to concerns about uncontrolled poaching and foot-and-mouth
disease outbreaks in Zimbabwe.
The President said that the peace park on Botswana's southern border with
Zimbabwe (Limpopo-Shashe Transfrontier Conservation Area) was facing
implementation problems related to foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in
Zimbabwe that required the construction of a disease control fence along the
border, while the Northern (Zambezi-Okavango Transfrontier Park) was 'on
ice' primarily due to poaching concerns in Zimbabwe.
Many conservationists regard the peace parks concept as a visionary and
innovative approach to conservation. The peace-parks ideal acknowledges that
animal movements should not be constrained by artificial human boundaries
and aims to restore large contiguous habitats as mega parks for wildlife
conservation and to attract tourism to the region that can generate
sustainable development revenues for these often under-served rural
The President's response, however, highlighted an issue that many
conservationists have fretted about privately. If one country sharing a
peace-park descends into civil war or chaos that undermines of sustainable
management practices of those areas, then it places the whole mega-park at
SW Radio Africa
By Cris Chinaka
3:26 a.m. September 21, 2007
HARARE - Despite an economy close to collapse, Zimbabwe President
Robert Mugabe looks stronger than ever, with the domestic opposition in
retreat and Western nations divided over how to deal with him
Mugabe has brushed aside years of international pressure to step down
over charges of ruining the once-prosperous nation, violating human rights
and rigging elections to stay in office.
And now political analysts say the divided opposition, intimidated by
security forces and weakened by tactical mistakes, presents no real
challenge, giving Mugabe space to manoeuvre and to cast calls for his exit
as a Western plot.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's threat to boycott December's
EU-Africa summit in Lisbon if Mugabe attends appears to have misfired,
opening a European split on the issue after Portuguese sources said they
would push ahead without him.
Mugabe, 83, last of the iconic African liberation heroes in power,
retains strong support on the continent despite fears Zimbabwe's meltdown
could blight the whole of southern Africa.
The collapse this week of a general strike in protest against a
government wage freeze underlined how the opposition seems have run out of
ways to confront Mugabe, regarded as a cunning and ruthless political
With six months to go before presidential, parliamentary and local
government elections, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is riven by
divisions over strategy, personality clashes and leadership wrangles which
undermine its ability to exploit Zimbabwe's economic crisis.
The MDC split into two factions two years ago in a bitter quarrel over
participation in elections for an upper house of parliament, and has been
struggling to find the same stature that almost won it power in elections in
2000 and in 2002.
Although the factions - headed by main opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara - have found a common platform in talks with
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki, they
have not agreed on a single candidate to challenge Mugabe in the 2008 polls.
NO REAL CHALLENGE
Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said the split had left the MDC
unable to mount a meaningful challenge in the elections.
'I'm not sure the opposition has its house in order, the leadership
continues to wrangle, they remain indecisive and in disarray ... their
support base is disoriented and lacks clear direction,' he said.
'They need to demonstrate capacity not only to win, but also to guide
the nation out of the economic disaster.'
The opposition is further divided over a deal under which the MDC and
the government unanimously passed an electoral bill on Thursday effectively
giving Mugabe room to choose his successor but reducing his powers to
appoint some legislators.
Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of an MDC-allied political pressure group
National Constitutional Assembly, has branded the parliamentary deal a 'act
of treachery' while rights campaign group Crisis Zimbabwe Coalition said the
MDC had sold its soul for no clear gains.
Although Mugabe has largely cowed the opposition by routinely
deploying riot police to crush street protests, analysts believe an
organised MDC could still pose a strong challenge to Mugabe at the polls,
exploiting discontent with misery caused by the economic meltdown.
Zimbabwe faces chronic shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency,
as well as unemployment over 80 percent and the highest inflation rate in
the world of 6,600 percent.
Once one of Africa's most prosperous nations, Zimbabwe's combination
of poverty and AIDS has brought life expectancy down from nearly 60 in 1990
to around 40 now, among the lowest rates in the world.
Mugabe, Zimbabwe's ruler since independence from Britain in 1980,
rejects blame for the crisis, saying domestic and Western opponents are
sabotaging the economy to oust him.
Tsvangirai - a former trade union leader who has been at the helm of
the MDC since its formation eight years ago - is still seen as Mugabe's main
But many analysts say the 55-year-old has squandered his opportunities
and been outflanked by the veteran Zimbabwean leader. He may lose more
ground in the Mbeki-mediated talks.
'Mugabe is not negotiating himself out power, and, may by conceding
ground on non-crucial issues, actually be running rings around the MDC,' a
senior Western diplomat told Reuters.
'The MDC's structural weaknesses and lack of experience is coming to
the fore on this,' he said.
IAN BELL September 22 2007
Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe is a joke. Not a good joke, and certainly not a
funny joke. Yet had you set out to caricature a dictatorship and satirise
the logic of all tyranny, tracing every disaster from hopeful beginnings to
squalid conclusions, the man and the country he controls would fit the bill.
Where Mugabe has ruled, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. Here
there is tragedy and farce in one.
He was a hero once. To some, he still is. He seemed, better than most, to
embody a tradition of African nationalism in the struggle with white
colonialism. To hear him tell it, he is still fighting that good fight, and
still calling Britain to account for its colonial past and its presumptuous
present. After a quarter of a century and more, however, the old man is
running out of convenient villains.
The west's post-colonial record in Africa is nothing - at best nothing
much - to be proud of. Neglect, influence-peddling, political interference,
debt bondage, arms sales and infinitely patronising attitudes have featured
heavily. Talk of shared histories and responsibilities have been cheap. When
it has mattered most - in Rwanda, in Darfur - the contrast between reality
and rhetoric has been stark. Mugabe's singular achievement, where Zimbabwe
is concerned, has been to erase much of this from the memory.
British rule in the old Rhodesia did its African people no favours. Ian
Smith's UDI state stripped away the mask of benign colonialism for good. The
theft of land - Mugabe's justification ever since - was wholesale and
blatant, the racism undisguised. In 1981, independence and liberation were
held to be one and the same thing: Bob Marley even wrote a song, a good one,
to that effect. And since? Here the joke becomes elaborate, like a bleakly
comical guessing game. It would be easier to ask what is right with Zimbabwe
than to count the ways in which things have gone terribly wrong. A complete
list would fill several pages.
Democracy? In order to ensure his own rule Mugabe has rigged elections time
and again. Not even his friends have been able to blame that on nefarious
Britain. Opponents have been assaulted, jailed or killed; journalists are
censored ruthlessly; and, daily, the people flee. Some say that one-third
have gone to South Africa and elsewhere.
The economy? In the crudest sense, that doesn't exist. The official best
guess puts inflation at 7600%, but that is presumed to be an underestimate.
Some 80% of the remaining population live below the poverty line. The black
market, where £1 sterling is worth 500,000 Zimbabwean dollars, is the single
growth industry. Agriculture, once the country's pride, has never recovered
from Mugabe's decision at the turn of the century to reclaim land from white
farmers and redistribute it, often to cronies. The Aids crisis has hit
Zimbabwe hard. One adult in six under the age of 45 is thought to be
Shops have been emptied since Mugabe decided to fix inflation with crude
price controls. One household in five has no access to decent water. Petrol
is scarce and power cuts are frequent. Four million depend on food aid
(Britain is the second-largest donor) and life expectancy, having fallen
year by year, stands at 37.
Habitually, Mugabe blames British "sabotage". Some African states such as
Angola, protective of their independence and sensitive to outside
interference, believe him. An old British promise of "reparations" for land
thefts is still invoked and is still, in some quarters, effective. It was
striking, meanwhile, that the Zimbabwean leader was met with loud applause
when he turned up at a meeting of southern African presidents earlier in the
year. For some, even 26 years on, the aura of the liberator remains.
So what? Britain's recent experiences in the great game of liberal
intervention have not been distinguished. We pick and choose our battles,
often cynically. We can acknowledge our colonialist debts with aid and fine
words, but if yet another African country is at the edge of destruction
thanks to yet another dictator, what are we supposed to do. Invade? Ignore
the mad accusations? Exert diplomatic pressure, whatever it might be worth,
on South Africa's Thabo Mbeki to make some sort of progress after years of
pretending to broker a deal between Mugabe and the (divided) opposition
Movement for Democratic Change?
Zimbabwe is a test case. It can tell us one of three things. Either the
western democracies mean what they say when they fret over the condition of
Africa, or they are hypocrites and do not truly care, or - the answer no-one
really wants to hear - there is nothing worthwhile to be done. In the last
case we do our best to keep the World Food Programme going, hope that Mugabe
falls from his perch soon, and ensure that he is given no opportunity to sit
in the same room with a British Prime Minister.
That, so he says, is to be Gordon Brown's gesture. He wants to toughen up a
modest sanctions regime. In the meantime, he will refuse to attend a meeting
between EU leaders and the African Union in Portugal in December if Mugabe
is allowed to be present. The point, as the Prime Minister wrote in a London
newspaper this week, would be to prevent the dictator from "diverting
attention from the important issues that need to be resolved".
Zimbabwe is important. After Darfur and continuing havoc in the Congo
Republic, it probably counts as the most important African issue. As he
indicated when visiting the continent shortly before becoming Prime
Minister, Mr Brown cares deeply about Africa's fate. But you have to ask: is
this it? His disgust at the thought of encountering Mugabe shows principle.
What will it change, precisely?
The International Crisis Group reports that Zimbabwe is "closer than ever to
complete collapse", yet advises Britain not to interfere. Desmond Tutu and
John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, take precisely the opposite view. Last
weekend the latter wrote: "The time has come for Mr Brown finally to slay
the ghosts of Britain's colonialist past by thoroughly revising foreign
policy towards Zimbabwe and to lead the way in co-ordinating an
The archbishop, Ugandan born, added that the "time for African solutions'
alone is now over". Britain, he said, must mount the kind of campaign that
was mounted against the Smith regime and against apartheid South Africa.
Sentamu demanded "smart", targeted sanctions against the Mugabe elite. "We
cannot look the other way on Zimbabwe," he said.
True, I think. Certainly it would offer a more honourable cause than
anything Iraq has provided. Yet even given Mugabe's disgusting record, the
implicit irony of intervention is striking. Are the western powers truly to
return to Africa in the 21st century determined to civilise the natives? If
so, we had better ask again why our failures were quite so catastrophic in
the first place.
Was it all our blame, as a self-serving Mugabe would have it, or none of our
fault, as we prefer to believe? Somewhere between the two, I suspect.
Meanwhile, the pragmatic Chinese, busy befriending governments all over
Africa, have just deserted their client in Zimbabwe. No more subsidies from
that source. Liberal intervention in Mugabe's wasteland, when and if it
comes, may amount to no more than an effort to pick up the pieces.
By staff writers
21 Sep 2007
A Christian aid agency reports that Zimbabwe is in an increasingly desperate
situation, with little food due to drought and poor harvests, and the
collapse of civil infrastructure meaning basic services are no longer
available to the majority of Zimbabweans.
Churches are helping to fight poverty, hunger and HIV among Zimbabwe's
decimated communities and helping to meet the basic day to day needs - says
UK Christian relief agency Tearfund.
The news comes as Prime Minister Gordon Brown looks set to boycott a summit
of European and African leaders to be attended by the Zimbabwean President,
Peter Grant, Tearfund's International Director, says children are now
suffering from very high levels of chronic malnutrition. "People are dying.
It's the very young, the very old, and those with Aids who are the most
vulnerable," says Peter. "We heard recently of a church leader who had to
bury a grandmother and a baby from the same family over the same weekend. As
the year goes on with the continuing food shortages, we can expect the
situation to get worse, and more people to die."
With inflation exceeding 4500% - some reports put the figure nearer 8000% -
currency no longer buys food and medical care. Even if people could afford
to go to hospital, there are no longer medical supplies to treat them. The
wages of hospital staff do not even cover the bus fare to work.
The crisis has engulfed the cities, where food distributions were rarely
seen previously. Middle income school teachers told Tearfund that they can't
even afford to buy sugar. Pastor Promise Manceda leads a church in Bulawayo
and sees the stark reality. "If the middle classes consider themselves poor,
then the most marginalised people in society are hit so much harder," says
Promise. "We have to help them - and it is only with God's strength that we
are still able to."
HIV and Aids related illnesses have compounded the suffering - leaving many
unable to work in fear and isolation. Unemployment is over 80% and those
that can find casual work often do so for small amounts of food. Others
search around for vegetables to supplement meagre amounts of maize, getting
by on one inadequate meal a day. Because of the lack of food over the last
five years many of Zimbabwe's children suffer from chronic malnutrition and
an increasing number are too sick to go to school.
Esinah is a grandmother in her 80's, caring for eight Aids orphans. Queuing
for maize, beans and oil at a food distribution funded by Tearfund she spoke
of the people dying in her community. "There have been many deaths and
people are starving," says Esinah. "Without this food we could be dead by
now. Only God knows what will happen."
Supporting churches in wider relief response is at the heart of Tearfund's
vision. The UK agency is funding, assisting and standing with them as they
tirelessly work to fight poverty and social injustice. Tearfund's Peter
Grant talks of the churches having a biblical mandate to speak out against
poverty - as they continue to engage the public square while they can,
remaining non-political within civil society. "To speak out requires real
courage and they need our support in prayer," adds Peter. "They need
practical support and continued international pressure for change."
Tearfund is currently funding feeding programmes for some 9500 orphans and
vulnerable children. Working through churches and church based agencies this
is relieving some of the immediate suffering - providing essential, but very
limited, assistance. Many more need help.
Published: 21 September 2007
Robert Mugabe is a much-misunderstood man. I don't mean that he is the
virtuous leader of his own imagination - nothing could be further from the
truth; but he is equally far removed from the caricature African dictator
who eats the testicles of his enemies for breakfast.
A friend who had known him for many years once described him to me as
"urbane, witty, sophisticated, sensitive, thoughtful - and ruthless". These,
presumably, were among the attributes which impressed the British when they
got to know him during the Lancaster House negotiations of 1979 which paved
the way for Mugabe's now 27-year-long rule in Zimbabwe.
The affection was mutual: the same friend told me that on the death of Sir
Christopher Soames - the British Governor during the transitional period -
Mugabe flew to Britain with a Union Jack which he tearfully laid on Soames's
coffin. Despite the fact that he had suffered much under the Rhodesian
regime - the then Prime Minister, Ian Smith, had refused to let Mugabe out
of jail to attend the funeral of his four-year-old only son - Mugabe treated
his old adversary with a certain courtesy. He preached the idea of
reconciliation between whites and blacks some time before Nelson Mandela
became celebrated for espousing the same admirable doctrine.
As if to demonstrate that, for at least the first 15 years of his rule,
Mugabe did his best to protect the 5,000 white farmers who controlled 75 per
cent of the country's farmland - despite the fact that most of them showed
absolutely no inclination to train up their indigenous workforce.
By contrast, Mugabe's treatment of the minority black tribe, the Matabele,
was savage.In 1984, Mugabe's Shona clansmen massacred an estimated 20,000 of
their ancient tribal enemy - almost all of them civilians. The British
reaction to this was interesting. It did not stop the Conservative
Government from awarding Mugabe an honorary knighthood; while the British
Left, in general, took the view that it would be a display of colonialist
arrogance to seek to interfere.
This desperate concern not to appear "colonialist" has paralysed Britain's
policies towards Zimbabwe ever since Labour came to power 10 years ago. This
is in a way rather odd: such anxieties did not stop Tony Blair from
committing British troops to the invasion of Iraq - a country which was
invented by the civil servants of the British Empire - neither did it
prevent Blair from sending in our armed forces to try to sort out Sierra
Leone. Moreover, such oppression as Mugabe and his Zanu-PF band of brothers
endured had not been at the hands of the British state but of a rebel regime
which had declared Unilateral Independence from Britain and the
It took a black public figure, John Sentamu, to say what no white politician
has dared to utter. Last weekend the Ugandan-born Archbishop of York
declared that "Britain needs to escape from its colonialist past when it
comes to Zimbabwe. Mugabe is the worst sort of racist dictator. The time for
African solutions alone is now over ... it is time for the sanctions and
campaigns that brought an end to apartheid in South Africa to be applied to
the Mugabe regime." Gordon Brown has risen to the challenge ... by refusing
to attend the forthcoming EU-African Union summit in Lisbon unless Mugabe is
Like most (if not all) sanctions, this has the effect of making us feel
slightly more virtuous while doing nothing to end the oppression it is
notionally designed to deter. I would imagine that Robert Mugabe would be
delighted if his presence in Lisbon turns out to be the cause of Britain's
absence from the table; and if Portugal should rescind its invitation, does
anyone seriously imagine that this would do anything to put a single extra
gram of maize into the mouths of Zimbabwe's children - or accelerate by one
second the ending of Mugabe's rule?
The "time for sanctions", as John Sentamu puts it, is well and truly over -
even supposing that there ever would have been a point. The view that it was
sanctions that brought an end to white apartheid rule in South Africa is a
common misconception. It was the end of the Cold War which finally isolated
South Africa politically from the West: it was no longer seen as a bastion
against communism in its own continent. The same historical watershed had a
tremendous influence on Pretoria: it could no longer pretend to its own
people - or to itself - that it was defending them against the local
outreach group of the Soviet dictatorship.
Mugabe, too, disavowed his Marxism when the Soviet regime fell - although
the corruption of his Zanu-PF cadres is as crude a demonstration of brute
political power as any one-party state could devise. It was, in fact, the
Blair government's concerns about the allocation of spoils to Mugabe's
cronies which caused the transformation in Mugabe from faithful friend to
Under the Lancaster House agreement with the government of Margaret Thatcher
we had pledged to finance the compensation to white farmers as their
farmland was gradually handed over to black Zimbabweans - who in practice
were always going to be Mugabe's mates. On 5 November 1997, however, Claire
Short, then the Secretary of State for International Development, wrote an
astonishingly ill-judged letter to the Zimbabwean Minister of Agriculture
and Land, Kumbirai Kangai.
It brusquely cast aside all previous undertakings: "We do not accept that
Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in
Zimbabwe. We are a new Government from diverse backgrounds without links in
former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and as you know we were
colonised not colonisers."
It would have been hard to construct a letter more skilfully designed to
enrage Mugabe - or even a man with a much thicker skin than the Zimbabwean
leader. Short's amazing assertion - that because her family was of Irish
stock there was no need to honour a commitment to Zimbabwe entered into by a
previous British government - was an inimitable mixture of shamelessness and
sanctimony. That friend of mine who knows Mugabe says that Short's letter
sent him into a rage against Britain which has scarcely abated for the
Who knows, perhaps it was awareness of his own minister's responsibility for
the quite unnecessary transformation of Mugabe from friend to foe which
deterred Tony Blair from applying his doctrine of liberal imperialism to
Zimbabwe. In any case, New Labour has learnt from its adventures in southern
Iraq that it is relatively straightforward to kick the door in: it's quite
another matter to clear up the mess afterwards.
Dire beyond belief as the plight of Zimbabwe is, the only people who should
put an end to the tyranny of Robert Mugabe are his own - and they will.
The National Constitutional Assembly's National Chairman, Dr Lovemore
Madhuku has threatened to cut ties with the both formations of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change after they strongly backed the
notorious legislation, 18th amendment which seeks to anoint a ZANU PF
successor once Mugabe resigns.
Madhuku was recently quoted in one of Zimbabwe's weekly newspapers as saying
the NCA was cutting ties both MDC formations over their support on
constitutional amendments without involvement of all Zimbabwean citizens.
"We are cutting our ties with the MDC for going to bed with ZANU PF,"said
Madhuku breathing fire.
Analysts are saying the move by the MDC might see the once vibrant party
being seriously butchered by the ruling party, as it is likely to lose more
supporters who are in the civic society who are worried by the newly born
unity between MDC and ZANU PF.
Our source within the upper echelons of ZANU PF confirmed that, his party
was now going to the elections with more hope than before the 18th amendment
was passed as it was facing strong threats from MDC and the civic society
"The fact that the two 'formations' of the MDC have been able to agree on
such a fundamental issue of principle in relation to constitution-making
makes the NCA wonders why the party split over the senate, itself a product
of Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 17).
"Both formations seem to be out of touch with the aspirations of ordinary
Zimbabweans who are clamouring for an open and genuine process of
democratization. Accordingly, the claims by one of the MDC formations that
it is 'closer' to the people must be dismissed as hollow.
"Only a genuine and people driven-driven process will bring the much-needed
transformation of our society", read part of the statement by the opposition
National Constitutional Assembly.
The NCA also repeated that the amendment backed by the MDC was undemocratic
and heavily ignored interests of Zimbabwean in their contribution to the
national debate and democratization process.
"The NCA wishes to repeat here that Amendment (No. 18) does not, in any way,
advance the interests of the people of Zimbabwe.
" For instance, it provides for the following, that Zimbabweans will not be
able to elect a president of their choice whenever the office of the
president falls vacant in between parliamentary elections. Parliament will
now elect a president who can serve a term beyond four years. In other
words, Amendment 18 now creates a situation where a person who has not been
elected by the people can govern Zimbabwe for four years (but less than five
The MDC agrees to this, the size of Parliament has been increased beyond
the capacity and requirements of the country. The House of Assembly
increases from 150 to 210 members, while the Senate balloons to 93 members
from 66. The MDC agrees to this.
It provides for a Human Rights Commission when the Bill of Rights has not
The MDC agrees to this, it does not provide Zimbabweans in the Diaspora the
right to vote. The MDC agrees to this, it does not change the manner of
appointment of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), yet it entrusts ZEC
with more sensitive roles such as the delimitation of constituencies. The
MDC agrees to this.
The NCA also called on all Zimbabweans who believe in a people driven
democratic constitution to strongly express their dissatisfaction over the
manner in which the constitution has been altered for the interests of those
few in parliament.
"Accordingly, the NCA urges all Zimbabweans to reject piecemeal amendments
to the constitution and in the process reject the proposed Amendment Number
18. The NCA encourages Zimbabweans to intensify the push for a new,
democratic, people-driven constitution", said the NCA.
Censorship and Political Interference Rife at State Broadcaster
Henry Muradzikwa the chief executive officer of Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Holdings (ZBH) has admitted that political interference and censorship of
news reports is the order of the day at the state-controlled national
Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and
Communications, Muradzikwa said interference with ZBH's editorial policy and
government's expectations of the state broadcaster undermined media freedom.
"We have been reporting on the basis of deception. What does the
shareholder (government) want? The shareholder must make it public." he
Muradzikwa said the Ministry of Information should be clear on how it wants
the broadcaster to report. He said provincial governors were abusing ZBH
bureau chiefs by treating them as part of their staff.
He also revealed that ZBH's Iran-backed digitalisation programme had been
stalled because of an unsettled debt of US$3 million. "The difficult is that
this is not a ZBH debt alone. It was incurred by both ZBH and ARDA
(Agricultural Rural Development Authority). ZBH has paid its half."
MISA-Zimbabwe insists that the long term credibility of the state
broadcaster hinges on its transformation into a truly independent public
broadcaster backed by comprehensive media law reforms that will expunge
restrictive legislations such as the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) in
compliance with the SADC Principles and Guidelines on the Conduct of
The SADC Guidelines espouse the full participation of citizens in the
electoral process, press freedom and equal access by all political parties
to state media, freedom of association and political tolerance and
independence of the judiciary among its other 10 fundamental tenets for the
holding of free and fair elections.
The transformation of the ZBC into a truly independent public broadcaster
among other contributory factors will go a long way in securing a free and
fair environment ahead of the 2008 elections. The prevailing regulatory
environment as dictated by the BSA and the ZBC's governance, ownership and
management structure chokes its editorial independence allowing the Ministry
of Information and Publicity free reign over the appointment of its board of
directors, chief executive officer and editorial decisions.
MISA-Zimbabwe submits that for the ZBC to be respected as a truly
independent broadcaster there is need for new legislation that surrenders
the appointment of its board of governors through a transparent public
nomination and selection process. This means that there should be legal
provisions enshrined in the broadcaster's charter or constitution
guaranteeing its editorial independence, as well as ensuring that it is
accountable to the public. The overall goal of the new legislation should
not only be to fulfill the right to freedom of expression of the media, but
more importantly, to ensure that all Zimbabweans have the right to
participate freely, fully and creatively in the management and operations of
their public media.
For any questions, queries or comments, please contact:
Research and Information Officer
Media Institute of Southern Africa - Zimbabwe
84 McChlery Drive
P.O Box HR 8113
Tel/Fax: 263 4 776165 / 746838
Cell: 263 11 02 448
SW Radio Africa (London)
21 September 2007
Posted to the web 21 September 2007
Zimbabwean police arrested and held Kenneth Matombo, the brother of labour
leader Lovemore plus one of his workers, for two days as a ploy to exchange
their freedom for the capture of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union
The police have been trying to apprehend Lovemore Matombo and his entire
leadership, including his secretary general Wellington Chibhebhe, since
Monday for their role in organizing a two-day job boycott on Wednesday and
Thursday. The entire leadership has been in hiding during this week.
According to lawyer Alec Muchadehama, the police visited the ZCTU
president's Harare home on Monday night but were told that he was not home
by his security guard whose name was given only as Steven. Only Matombo's
brother Kenneth was in the house. After ransacking the entire house and
confiscating mobile phones, they opted to seize the two as a bait to attract
Matombo to the Harare central Police station.
Muchadehama says while in police custody, Kenneth and Steven were assaulted,
interrogated and harassed before they were released on Thursday night on
Z$40 000 fines.
Muchadehama said: "Kenneth and Steven were beaten up and were forcibly made
to dance to music while in police custody. The charge preferred on them was
of "criminal nuisance" on the pretext that they aided Matombo to go into
"Together with three other ZCTU activists who were held in Harare, they were
denied legal assistance as the police threatened to hold them for as long as
they wanted if the lawyers made any move to get involved. Their plan was of
course to get the leadership to show up at the police station and then
exchange them in return. It was a clear case of ransom," Muchadehama said.
It is understood that the police are still looking for the ZCTU leadership.
Political commentator Farai Maguhu, said most people in the country's major
cities had ignored the stayaway because the need to fend for their families
outweighed the need to protest against government. He also said the heavy
handedness of the security forces, who threatened the business community
with closure, also influenced the outcome of the strike.
At least ten ZCTU activists and leaders were arrested countrywide between
Monday and Thursday. Among them Reason Ngwenya, the regional chairman of the
ZCTU in Matebeleland, who was picked up by police in Bulawayo on Tuesday.
Police had assaulted and detained ZCTU National Organiser Michael Kandukutu,
Tennyson Muchepfa from the National Engineering Workers' Unions, and Justice
Mucheni from the Food Federation, the previous day.
Maguhu said: "The presence of the security forces that visited most business
struck fear in workers. The arrest of the labour leaders also brought
similar effects and as a result of the fear of state terror, people turned
up for work.
"The ZCTU in future needs to consult the workers on the best strategy
because their attempt seemed to lack enough consultation. People would have
wanted to participate but there is need for the workers input before
leadership calls for action," he said.
SW Radio Africa (London)
21 September 2007
Posted to the web 21 September 2007
An intern at the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Memory Kadau, was arrested
and detained overnight Thursday whilst administering the Coalition stand at
the Non Governmental Organization Expo in the Harare Gardens.
Kadau was arrested by three plain cloths police officers from the Harare
Central Police Law and Order section, who accused her of distributing
material denigrating Robert Mugabe.
According to officials from the Coalition, police alleged that banners at
the organisation's stand, containing statements made by liberation war hero
Josiah Tongogara, constituted "criminal nuisance". The group had stuck up
banners with pictures of victims of police brutality and a pre-independence
speech on free and fair elections, by Tongogara.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition vice chairperson, Tabitha Khumalo, said police
have since released Kadau but threatened to hunt down and arrest the
Khumalo said: "Our entire leadership has been warned that the police are
coming, so we are supposed to be very scared right now. They are alleging
that we misrepresented the person of Tongogara when we quoted his 1978
speech in which he called for foreign observers for a free and fair election
before the transition of Rhodesia to Zimbabwe.
"Our argument is that Tongogara said these things and we did not pick them
from a dustbin, they are recorded in the annals of our history. It is the
government that feels threatened that we are now ridiculing Mugabe, because
his statement challenges the state of things today when we can not exercise
our democratic rights without government repression," she said.
Meanwhile, Crisis Coalition lawyer Charles Kwaramba, from Zimbabwe Lawyers
for Human rights, has revealed that Kudau was subjected to intensive
interrogation and denied food and water before she was released Friday
afternoon. The lawyer noted that police officers were threatening to beat
her up if she failed to disclose where they could find the Crisis
By Angus Shaw
Associated Press Writer
Updated Sep 21, 2007, 12:47 pm
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - President Robert Mugabe, accusing the West of
trying to push Zimbabwe into collapse, declared it would survive thanks to
its people's resilience and support from Africa, state radio reported.
Mugabe said Britain, the former colonial ruler, and his opponents
sought his ouster.
"In spite of their heinous attempts to destroy the country and bring
down its democratically elected government, Zimbabwe has not collapsed and
will not collapse,'" the radio quoted him as saying at a state banquet
recently for visiting President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of the oil-rich West
African nation of Equatorial Guinea.
Mugabe thanked Equatorial Guinea and other African nations for their
"solidarity." He told President Obiang Zimbabwe would always be grateful for
his support against enemies who "sought to demonize the country's leadership
at every opportunity and deceive the world about what is happening in my
Mugabe said his nation had not come to a standstill because of what he
called "the resilience and revolutionary spirit of the Zimbabwean people."
Western countries have imposed a travel ban on Mugabe and ruling party
leaders to protest violations of democratic and human rights, following the
government ordered, often violent seizures of thousands of White-owned
commercial farms that began in 2000 and disrupted the agriculture-based
economy. Some U.S. enterprises are barred from trading with Zimbabwe.
Foreign loans, development aid and investment have dried up in seven
years of political and economic turmoil in the former regional breadbasket.
Zimbabwe is facing the world's highest official inflation of 7,634
percent, though independent estimates put real inflation closer to 25,000
percent. The International Monetary Fund has forecast inflation reaching
100,000 percent by the end of the year, prompting some predictions of
economic collapse and Mugabe's departure from office.
Cornmeal, bread, meat and most staples have disappeared from the
shelves since a government edict June 26 to slash prices of all goods and
services by about half in efforts to tame inflation.
Acute shortages of gasoline have crippled transport and delivery
services. The food shortages have spurred illegal black market trading in
scarce goods sold at more than four times the government's fixed prices.
Stores were mostly left with a few canned foodstuffs. Bathsoap,
toothpaste, biscuits and tea were among the latest goods to disappear.
Equatorial Guinea President Obiang arrived in Harare recently and was
scheduled to officially open the country's main agriculture show in the
Officials at the showground said the government allowed pricing
controls to be lifted for a single livestock auction that was part of the
show. State media has given prominence to this year's show, arguing farming
Amid Zimbabwe's growing international isolation, the government and
distant Equatorial Guinea have signed an extradition treaty and a series of
trade and cooperation deals since a group of mercenaries plotting to
overthrow President Obiang were arrested in 2004 when their plane landed in
Harare to collect weapons from the Zimbabwe state arms maker.
21.9.2007 at 11:16
The Finnish government said Thursday it had not yet decided how it would
react to the possible participation of Robert Mugabe, the president of
Zimbabwe, in the EU-African Union summit in Portugal in December.
"We are monitoring the situation and hope that the EU president will find a
common solution," Riina Nevamäki, an EU aide to Prime Minister Matti
Vanhanen (centre), told the Finnish News Agency.
Further, Finland has yet to decide whether Mr Vanhanen or Tarja Halonen, the
president, will attend the summit.
Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, had said on Thursday he would not
attend the summit if the Zimbabwean leader did.
Sweden, like Finland, is following the situation and hopes for a single EU
line to emerge.
However, Roberta Alenius, a press aide to Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish
prime minister, was quoted as saying by Swedish news agency Tidningarnas
Telegrambyrå that Sweden´s aim, like that of most other EU countries, was
that President Mugabe would not attend the summit.
The autocratic head of state and about 100 members of the Zimbabwean ruling
elite are banned from travelling to EU member states.
COMMENT: Local governance on the nose dive.
This week experienced a further collapse in the local governance situation
in Harare and the country. The water and sewer situation continues to
deteriorate as ZINWA fails to provide competent sewer and water
administration. CHRA received an up sage of reports on burst sewers that
have not been attended to for ages and a new wave of disease outbreaks
arising form these sewer bursts. The water situation has also reached
critical levels as residents in most parts of Harare for days without water.
In Mabvuku and Tafara the situation is even desperate as residents are
collecting water in streams a situation that has heavily compromised the
health of residents.
In Glen View and Budiriro residents are also reeling under heavy water cuts.
The power situation has not been the better. The water situation is worse in
Bulawayo where residents go for weeks without running water. ZINWA has
maintained that it needs heavy capital input from government in order to
undertake maintenance work and improve its services.
The power situation has not been the better at all. The power authority
actually predicts the situation will not improve until at least 2010.
Zimbabwe used to receive power supplies from South Africa , Botswana ,
Mozambique and the Democratic republic of Congo . Only Mozambique continues
to supply a meager amount of power as others have opted out due non payment
from Zimbabwe . The power authority maintains that it also needs heavy
foreign currency input to provide effective services. Zimbabwe produces and
imports a combined capacity which is slightly above half the expected
capacity. This means that on a daily basis half of Zimbabweans have to
The refuse situation has also worsened. Informal and formal dumping sites
continue to be flooded with uncollected waste as the city of Harare claims
that it has no fuel to carry out effective waste management services. In
Mbare this has led to disease outbreaks like Cholera and Dysentery. The
healthy delivery system is receiving and processing hundreds of cases
related to Cholera and Dysentery every month.
This week CHRA has collected the stories (headlines) below for your
consumption. These stories serve to reflect the local governance challenges
faced by the residents in Harare and Zimbabwe . From this week we will only
be sending you briefs so as to avoid loading your e-mails.
Should we pay ZINWA for Mukuvisi water? The story covers the concerns of a
disgruntled resident who is conscientising other residents not to fund an
incompetent body that is not providing a service. The contributor poses a
rhetorical question on why they should pay ZINWA when the body is not
providing quality service. ( Sunday Mail 16 September 2007)
Dumpsite fire raises fears of ` Bhopal `. The story raises the challenges
that have come as a result of waste incineration by the City of Harare at
the Pomona dumpsite. ( The Standard 16 September 2007) www.thestandard.co.zw
MDC accuses Chombo of meddling in Nkayi RDC. The story covers fears raised
by the MDC on the meddling of the voters roll by Minister Chombo( The
Standard 16 September 2007) www.thestandard.co.zw
Bulawayo to get water once in 11 days. The story highlights the water crisis
in Bulawayo amid revelations that the situation will deteriorate. (Zimonline
21 September 2007) www.zimonline.co.za.
For more information contact the Combined Harare Residents Association
(CHRA) on the addresses below.
CHRA Information Desk
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
145 Robert Mugabe Way
Exploration House Third Floor
Mobile : 0912638401
Landline: 00263- 4- 705114
By Bronwen Dachs
Catholic News Service
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- With housing at Zimbabwe's largest
university closed for more than two months, many students are likely to drop
out as they struggle to find food, shelter and transportation to their
lectures, said a church official.
Officials at the University of Zimbabwe in the capital, Harare, are defying
a high court order to reopen residences they closed in July and "are adamant
that they will not let the students return," said Alouis Chaumba, head of
the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe.
"The situation is terribly bad," Chaumba said in a Sept. 21 telephone
interview from Harare. He said students "are commuting to the university
from all over the country."
After students' failure to pay additional housing fees and incidents of
vandalism on campus that authorities blamed on students, university
officials ordered up to 5,000 students out of university housing July 9 just
as they were to begin two weeks of exams. The court order to reopen the
residences came a week later.
However, with the housing remaining closed, "the students have to find
transport to campus," which is about three miles from central Harare,
Chaumba said. With chronic shortages of fuel, "fares are very expensive," he
Many walk to save the fare, "but it's very hot and they get tired walking
this distance to and from lectures every day," he said.
The Harare-based justice and peace commission "managed to provide them with
one meal a day during exams, and now they are trying to find their own food
and shelter," Chaumba said.
Many students "are likely to drop out," he said.
Parents are struggling to pay their children's university fees in a country
crippled by the highest rate of inflation in the world and unemployment of
more than 80 percent, Chaumba said.
Shortages of food, foreign currency and fuel are acute in Zimbabwe, and
large numbers of people are migrating to the neighboring countries of South
Africa and Botswana. With elections scheduled for March, political violence
Two student union leaders were arrested Sept. 18 during a campus protest to
demand a resolution to problems affecting students, reported the U.N. news
The report said that some students without housing sleep in the waiting room
at Harare's central railway station.
Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)
21 September 2007
Posted to the web 21 September 2007
The international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)
has called on Catholics around the world to redouble their prayers for the
people of Zimbabwe and especially for the Catholic Church there.
A report published Tuesday by the International Crisis Group said "Zimbabwe
is closer than ever to complete collapse." Inflation is between 7,600
percent (government figures) and 13,000 percent (independent estimates).
Four out of five of the country's twelve million people live below the
poverty line and a quarter of them have fled, mainly to neighbouring
countries. A military-led campaign to slash prices has produced acute food
and fuel shortages, and conducting any business is becoming almost
The German-based Catholic charity ACN said more than ever, Zimbabwe needs
massive spiritual and material support. The charity is standing by the
church in Zimbabwe, a spokesman said, and especially by the former
Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, since the charity wishes to give a
"clear sign of solidarity with those who are suffering for justice and
ACN shares the view of the bishops of Zimbabwe, who have described the
campaign against former Archbishop Ncube as "outrageous". Pius Ncube had
raised his voice in defense of the oppressed, the spokesman added, and the
church had been among the few who defend the poor and oppressed. Now the
church herself was under attacked in such a scurrilous manner.
The Catholic Church in Zimbabwe has increasingly become unable to materially
help the people, ACN reported, although, despite the growing difficulties
she is striving tirelessly to do so. There is no food, since this is being
deliberately held back by the government and then sold off at exorbitant
prices, according to local reports.
A local source told ACN: If someone is hungry and has the money, then he
will pay whatever price is demanded." All vehicles are checked by the police
and if food is found in them, it is confiscated. The owners have no recourse
The church has neither an import nor a transport license, ACN reported, but
she still does whatever she can for the people. Inflation is now officially
at over 7,000 percent. It is virtually impossible to buy food at the
official prices, and the black market prices are usually around four times
higher. Unemployment stands at around 80 percent and most families can
barely afford even a single modest meal a day.
ACN declared itself united with the people of Zimbabwe, in prayer and hope
that "the good God, Who sent Jesus to proclaim freedom to prisoners and to
set the downtrodden free" (cf Lk 4:18-19), might hear their feeble cries
China ducks question
Q: My first question is, on China's assistance to Zimbabwe. Mr. Liu Guijin,
the special envoy of the Chinese Government on African Affairs, said on
Tuesday that China has halted its development assistance to Zimbabwe, but
will continue to offer humanitarian assistance. But the Chinese Ambassador
in Zimbabwe said yesterday that China's assistance to Zimbabwe in all forms
will continue. Could you tell us whether China's policy towards Zimbabwe has
changed or not?
A: China has normal and sound state-to-state relations with Zimbabwe. We are
ready to continue to develop our relations with Zimbabwe on the basis of the
Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. We hold that the affairs of
Zimbabwe should be resolved by the Zimbabwean government and people in the
end. The international community should offer constructive assistance to the
reconciliation, stability and development in Zimbabwe.