|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
By Brian Latham
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe wants the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change to treat him like a "big brother".
And the MDC should be talking with his Zanu-PF party - behind closed doors,
he said in a rambling and contradictory speech at the funeral of Vice
President Simon Muzenda on Wednesday.
Muzenda died at the weekend aged 80.
In a surprisingly conciliatory moment, Mugabe embraced the MDC as fellow
Zimbabweans and "sons of the soil" but then went on to rebuke them.
'But I am a big brother and you will listen to a person who is bigger'
"Sons of the soil should behave like sons of the soil. They should not rise
against each other."
"Of course, there'll be differences. But I am a big brother and you will
listen to a person who is bigger. A person who is bigger is bigger, and
there is nothing you can do."
Mugabe went on to say: "We sort things out in our house, not (British Prime
Minister Tony) Blair's house. Then, when we go out, people won't see we've
been shouting. But when it comes to a fight, we can fight."
And, after saying that Zimbabweans should unite regardless of colour,
religion or tribe, Mugabe took a swipe at the country's few remaining white
farmers, accusing them of being "Rhodesians" bent on undermining Zimbabwe.
"I read that an association of farmers has decided to defy the land
acquisition policy and not work with new farmers."
"Instead they've decided to go to the European Union to ask the EU to
withdraw our beef exports. They like our beef, it is delicious."
"If they were really Zimbabweans, would they really do this?" he asked.
In fact, Zimbabwe's beef export quota of just more than 9 000 tons a year
was withdrawn by the EU two years ago over concerns about foot-and-mouth
disease, largely caused by the rampant cutting of farm fences by Mugabe's
Then, in a speech that lasted for about an hour, Mugabe veered off to say:
"We don't recognise these farmers as Zimbabweans. We must show them the
gate." - Independent Foreign Service
MDC rejects Mugabe's call for unity
By Andrew Chadwick in Harare
President Robert Mugabe called
yesterday for unity between all Zimbabweans,
including the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
But the MDC quickly rejected the rare display of conciliatory rhetoric as
rambling speech at the state funeral of Vice-President Simon Muzenda,
Mr Mugabe called on Zimbabweans to settle their differences internally and
not "in Blair's home", referring to the British Prime Minister.
"We are sons of the soil together, and sons of the soil should behave like
sons of the soil, not rise against each other," he said.
Since the formation of the MDC four years ago hundreds of its supporters
have been killed and thousands beaten or imprisoned by Mr Mugabe's
supporters and state security agents.
Paul Themba Nyathi, an MDC spokesman, said: "Mugabe is leading a country
where 70 per cent are unemployed, 80 per cent live below the poverty line
and more than five million people require food aid. If he was serious about
rectifying the situation he would take practical steps." The funeral, which
began three days of national mourning, was attended by thousands of
Zimbabweans who cheered the call for unity.
But the loudest cheers came when Mr Mugabe castigated white farmers for
failing to take part in the government's land seizure programme and blamed
them for the loss of lucrative beef exports to the European Union.
8:22:20 AM (GMT +2)
Zimbabweans breathed a collective sigh of relief when President Robert
Mugabe announced the setting up of the Presidential Land Review Committee to
audit the emotive land reform process, which has been dogged by controversy.
This was because there were high hopes that once Charles Utete assumed
the high-pressure responsibility to dig deeper into the stinking land grab
scandal, government would avoid, as had happened before with the results of
investigations into issues of national significance, the temptation to sweep
the findings of this investigation under the carpet in spite of who is
And before the ink is even dry on the Utete Committee report, there is
already a whiff of panic within the ranks of corrupt politicians and civil
servants who acquired more than one farm in contravention of government’s
stated policy of one-man one-farm, which in itself could lead to crossed
paths between Utete’s team and the exposed politicians.
That the President saw it fit to appoint this committee is, in itself,
an acknowledgement by government of the existence of serious irregularities
and down right corruption in the whole land redistribution process marred by
multiple farm ownership which we feel has dealt a bruising blow to the
country’s economic empowerment endeavours.
There were justifiable reasons for the government to believe that
corrupt politicians and civil servants had pushed the envelope too far.
There reportedly is rampant fronting whereby leading and influential
politicians have acquired several farms and registered them in the names of
their children, mothers, sisters, brothers etc.
Some of the politicians and civil servants, who should have known
better as they are the architects of the government policy, are claiming
that they have since handed back some of the farms, as if that should reduce
their moral blameworthiness. Why, in the first place, had they accepted
several farms when they were aware of the government stipulation of one-man
one-farm? The mind boggles.
We are not, and should never be, swayed by arguments that some of
these people had multiple applications for farms in various provinces and
were successful in all cases. Another pertinent question is, would they have
handed back these farms (that is if they did at all) were it not for the
Utete investigations? Obviously not. Handing back the farms was an
after-thought that could have gone unthought of were it not for fear of
This is why we strongly feel that these people should be exposed for
what they are, remorseless, uncouth and corrupt individuals whose life is
all about self-aggrandisement. Zimbabweans demand full disclosure and they
should get it for the government to be able to restore integrity in the
whole process of equitable land redistribution.
ZANU PF’s broken independence promises
9/25/2003 8:05:26 AM (GMT +2)
On March 4 1980, the then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe addressed the
nation in the following terms:
"Only a government that subjects itself to the rule of law has any
moral right to demand of its citizens obedience to the rule of law . . .
"I urge you whether you are black or white, to join me in a new pledge
to forget our grim past, forgive others and forget, join hands in a new
amity, and together, as Zimbabweans, trample upon racialism, tribalism and
regionalism, work hard to reconstruct and rehabilitate our society as we
reinvigorate our economic machinery . . .
" . . . There can never be a return to the state of armed conflict.
"Finally, I wish to assure all the people that my government will
strive to bring about meaningful change in their lives.
"Let us constitute a oneness derived from our common objective and
total commitment to build a great Zimbabwe that will be the pride of all in
"Let us deepen our sense of belonging and engender a common interest
that knows no race, colour or creed.
"Let us truly become Zimbabweans with a single loyalty."
The extent to which Mugabe’s government systematically undermined
these commitments, since 1980, is dramatic. Yet they expect Zimbabweans to
observe the rule of law, even unjust laws such as AIPPA and POSA.?
Mugabe gave another address to the nation on 17 April 1980, on the eve
of Independence Day. The following is an excerpt from that address:
"As we become a new people, we are called to be constructive,
progressive and forever forward-looking, for we cannot afford to be men of
yesterday, back-ward-looking, retrogressive and destructive.
"Our new nation requires of every one of us to be a new man, with a
new mind, a new heart and a new spirit.
"Our new mind must have a new vision and our hearts a new love that
spurns hate and a new spirit that must unite and not divide.
"That, to me, is the human essence that must form the core of our
political change and national independence.
"Henceforth, you and I must strive to adapt ourselves, intellectually
and spiritually, to the reality of our political change and relate to each
other as brothers bound to one another by a bond of national comradeship.
"If ever we look to the past, let us do so for the lesson the past has
taught us, namely, the oppression and racism are inequalities that must
never find scope in our political and social system.
"It could never be a correct justification that because the whites
oppressed us yesterday when they had power, the blacks must oppress them
today because they have power.
"An evil remains an evil whether practised by white against black or
black against white.
"Our majority rule could easily turn into inhuman rule if we
oppressed, persecuted or harassed those who do not look or think like the
majority of us. Democracy is never mob-rule…"
In a separate interview on July 5 1988, the then President Canaan
Banana expanded on why there were no trials for war crimes against the
" . . . But that what would it have paid us to do that? The very
things against which we fought — humiliation, indignity, torture, violence,
imprisonment . . . we could not in all honesty perpetuate those values,
vices, that had sustained Rhodesia.
" We had promised, we were not against a colour but against a system.
When that system had been overthrown, we were determined to honour our
pledge, our goals, the respect for the dignity and worthiness of human
It would be interesting to interrogate Banana on how far this remains
true in contemporary Zimbabwean politics?
On April 20 1988 BBC broadcast another Mugabe interview where he ended
"The trajectory, we said, of our guns was political . . . we had to
create quite a high level of political consciousness. You always had a
political commissar . . . all the time to tell the story that our fight was
just, that we were to overhaul the system as it stood and create a more just
system based on majority rule.
Democracy was, therefore, to be the basis of our political system."
It is questionable — whether between the surge towards a one-party
state in the 1980s and current politics of chaos —democracy has ever been
Zanu PF’s guiding principle?
The ideas, promises and commitments contained in the above interviews
are what I call the independence promise.
This is the basis upon which Mugabe’s leadership is being critiqued
The question this article seeks to deal with is simply the extent to
which Mugabe and/or Zanu PF have lived up to the promise in word and
A revolution gone amok?
Over the last three years, Zimbabweans have maimed each other, run
down their economy, burnt down hope and trampled upon goodwill, all in the
name of politics or anti-imperialism or land reform?
This mutation from liberators to oppressors can not be explained away
by the high premium Africa places on politics.
This political culture suggests that there is something fundamentally
wrong with the Zimbabwean psyche.
For instance, what drives a group of young people to gang-rape their
mothers and sisters?
What motivates neighbours to turn against each other in the most
vicious and senseless outpouring of hate and violence?
What demon causes well-educated statesmen to adopt the most irrational
economic, social and political policies with a sense of impeccable
These are signs of serious psychological, emotional and intellectual
The situation is worsened by the complacency with which Zimbabweans
have learnt to suffer creatively, undoubtedly normalising the abnormal.
Some people unasha-medly say Mugabe must go, but the other guy is not
Once again we reduce the suffering of the masses — and indeed our own
suffering — to an issue of personality preference or a literacy test.
If the other guy is not good enough, where is the better alternative?
It is ridiculous to behave as though the national crisis is an event that
will pass away without any strategic effort on our part.
The crises confronting Zimbabwe should not be reduced into a mere
Theorising about Zimbabwe’s never ending woes has become an industry
in South Africa.
Our national infamy does very little to feed the hungry or put
medicines in our hospitals.
We are faced with the critical dilemma of being an over-verbalised
problem, with ill-conceptualised solutions.
In certain circles we are a typical African prototype and Mugabe a
perfect African caricature.
Yet in other circles, we are celebrated for standing up against
imperialism, white hegemony and blah, blah, blah!
Frankly, how we are perceived matters very little unless if we
urgently solve our cash, foreign currency, domestic debt, hyper-inflation,
unemployment, food security and legitimacy crises.
We are different, but we are not enemies.
Zimbabwe’s socio-economic and political crises are fueled by a
debilitating identity crisis.
This identity crisis is at the core of Zimbabwe’s politics of chaos.
Its centre-piece is the simplistic notion of a singular identity.
This thinking pervades our national conversation.
You are either Zanu PF or MDC, for blacks or against whites, etcetera,
Anyone who dares escape or ignore these constructed social limitations
is immediately quarantined or ostracized.
Government officials continue to propagate a
politics that is
ill-suited to accommodate diversity, hence the silly reference to the office
of the head of state as being a ‘straight jacket’. Any notion of individual
rights and liberties is met with incomprehension, mistrust and naked
hostility. As a result, Zimbabwe’s political terrain is replete with
fanatics and xenophobes who reduce identity into regimes of "straight
jackets". This is how party-rapists, murderers and other political criminals
are manufactured. Once again, this is a gross violation of the independence
promise of building a "new politics" based on "new thinking" and "new men".
Everything in Zanu PF’s current politics suggests the resurrection of the
Rhodesian ghost, childishly embracing a haunted past. How then can a
progressive future be imagined?
State propagandists insist
that we assume personal and collective
identities based, in reverse, to those of our enemies (real or imagined).In
the unfolding of Zanu politics over the last two decade we, First, hear of
Zapu dissidents, then witches and wizards in the party, then "stooges of
imperialism" amongst political opponents, followed by people with no totems
and then those ingrates (the born frees).The list is endless.
Mugabe has over the last decade
plied up an impressive list of enemies
and set out to destroy them. But these so-called enemies are Zimbabwe’s
workers, peasants, farmers, industrialists, young professionals, students,
minorities and ordinary citizens. In Mugabe’s political vocabulary, the
non-Zanu majority in the nation are ‘enemies’. This is political
superstition of the highest order.
identity of being violent towards "our enemies" is not a given
that we must accept without questioning. Rather it is a problem that must be
defined, interrogated and thrown away. We are – as one famous historian once
suggested- as much children of our time as we are those of our parents. The
time we are living in and the reality that surrounds us defines as much who
we are and what we aspire for, as does the historical struggles of our
parents. We live in a world experiencing greater democratization and
freedoms. Why then should Zimbabweans deserve or settle for less?
The Myth of a single loyalties?
In contemporary Zimbabwe race is, in itself, not an absolute
ingredient of what constitutes our respective identities. Indeed the
category ‘black’ has some very serious fractures and contradictions based on
class, gender, ethnicity and age. Should we not question these in the
intense process of negotiating who we really are as individuals and as a
As a general fact of life we often feel affiliated
positions (political or otherwise) because of two key factors, namely the
influence of others in our group or that of the opponents (real or imagined)
of our group. If-for instance- our race is under attack we flaunt our colour
as a key component of our identity or if we are too weak we hide it .This is
also true of political affiliation, ideological persuasion and religious
beliefs. Whether we flaunt or conceal components of our identity, our
immediate fears and aspirations still pre-occupy our self-identification. As
a result, asserting our threatened identity becomes an act of
self-liberation .The question remains, is our blackness under threat in
Zimbabwe, and if so, from whom? Is it not true that our class identities are
more under threat from the false consciousness of the recent politics of
"straight jacketed" blackness? The same could be said about gender,
generation, and etcetera. Clearly race agitation is-when standing alone- an
inadequate tool for effecting equitable socio-economic transformation. Its
self-righteous idiom might actually destroy social cohesion, whilst
concealing other regimes of inequity in our society. It is a myth that must
be exploded through a more scientific critique.
Crime is not revolution
dangers of race agitation are seen in Zimbabwe where socialists
have paradoxically engaged in the redundant right wing politics of hate and
plunder. For instance, one excuses killing white farmers because ‘they
deserve it .They deserve it because "we" can recollect all the horrendous
indignities (descriptions, dates and statistics supplied) they made us
suffer- between 1890 and 1980- before our policy of reconciliation?
Curiously the most vocal advocates of race-agitation have been the middle
and upper classes. The same groups that are terrified of class-agitation of
the ZCTU kind. Against this other type of agitation they are quick to raise
arguments of economic interests and the like. But who has been the major
beneficiary of this limited politics, in land redistribution and economic
To define our national
identity based on hate, revenge and fear hardly
speaks volumes for our emotional intelligence, let alone political acumen.
Particularly because the emotions of fear and insecurity do not always tend
towards rational human behaviour.Vengence does not necessarily result in
equality or justice, it obscures the distinction between good and evil.
Spreading hate and fear through propaganda gives primacy to these factors as
opposed to the reality of the alleged threat. It is this manufactured fear
and insecurity that has produced sycophants and killers within our political
terrain. Exhausted nationalism has found refuge in this politics of the
right. It has telling implications on the legacy of liberation movements and
Mugabe employed similar politics with very dire
consequences in the
events surrounding the Gukurahundi atrocities in the Midlands and
Matabeleland in the 1980s.Clearly therefore, this politics of grudge and
hate hasn’t just been about black and white? Crime committed against
defenseless citizens in the name of the party or the leader is not
The Gukurahundi affair teaches us that his
"straight jacketed" notion
of identity encourages sectarian, intolerant, domineering and violent
conduct. There are those citizens that Zanu PF considers as "ours" and over
whom it is protective. It also denounces them if they are not radical
enough; it intimidates them into parroting party positions and punishes them
as "sell-outs" if they seem to accommodate the other side. This seems to be
the fate that has befallen Edison Zvogbo, lately. In politics of grudge and
hate, the other side does not deserve the dignity we fought for, the rights
we claim to have brought from the bush nor the land that belongs to all
black people? They (the other side) are neither black nor people, simply
because they are opposed to us. The only thing that matters is our
‘militant, demagogic and most fanatical views’.
History is not like a caterpillar that moves on a
linear path, but
rather advances along an infinite number of paths. What we choose to do or
not to do now will determine whether our future is made up of our dreams or
nightmares. We have a unique opportunity to author a new future based on new
Taking the Independence promise seriously
Our forbearers bequeathed to us a wealthy heritage
which we must
acknowledge and be proud of. So too have our social institutions and popular
traditions. But who we are is more than what our ancestors and the
liberators taught us. We are also affected by the dictates of our
contemporary reality and experiences. Our current realities and experiences
enhance our ability to compare ourselves to similarly or differently
circumstanced people elsewhere in the world. Through these new lenses we are
able to define ourselves and our world as we see fit. There is no political
pharmacist who can prescribe that future for us, we just have to fashion it
In this reality that surrounds us ,it
is foolish to accept the
monolithic identities prescribed by our political high priests .We are a
generation with an infinite range of choices and identities that defy the
current regime of "straight jackets". Once we accept this particular fact,
we will realize the foolishness of trying to kill off difference and
divergence. In fact, we may even realize the prudence of opening up
political space to permit the wide range of citizen identities to enrich our
national debate and thinking. This is the cure to our madness, realizing
that the ocean of citizen experiences and identities can not be contained in
our obsessions with "straight jackets". This prudence causes a government
with a ‘siege mentality’ to repeal repressive legislation and facilitate
rather than become a victim of political change. It causes the likes of
Mugabe to take the independence promise seriously.
.. Brian Kagoro is a human rights lawyer and a political
Financing national budget locally is inflationary: bank
9/25/2003 8:24:08 AM (GMT +2)
A BANKING sector-financed national budget will further propel
inflation to dizzy heights, a local financial institution warned this week.
The latest Intermarket Economic Research Update released this week
said the use of domestic bank finance was "largely inflationary", but it was
unavoidable because the government had limited options given that it could
not borrow offshore.
According to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) statistics, foreign
financing for the government’s budget deficit had tumbled from $7.8 billion
in December 2002, to a cumulative shortfall of $1.6 billion.
"The proportion of bank finance in the budget deficit has remained
upward over the years, rising on a year to date basis from $5.5 billion or
43.3 percent of total financing in January to a projected 64.8 percent in
the second half," the report said.
Zimbabwe’s inflation rate accelerated by 27.1 percent over the July
rate to 426.6 percent year-on-year for August.
The Intermarket Economic Research Update said that despite the
introduction of a dual interest rate policy in November last year, money
supply had remained upward.
"As depicted by the plot, the correlation between inflation and
monetary expansion is quite apparent.
"Given an expansionary monetary policy framework premised on the need
to shore up the supply response of the economy, broad money supply has
increased on a year-on-year basis from 113.7 percent in April 2002 to 226.6
percent in April 2003," Intermarket said in the report.
Domestic credit had, in tandem, grown significantly over the same
period from 100.4 percent to 158.4 percent.
The bulk of this domestic credit had been channelled into less
productive activities, with the RBZ estimating that 70 percent of private
sector credit had been used in non-productive activities.
The excessive money supply growth situation, coupled by a contracting
economy, is worsening the inflationary situation in the country.
"It may be difficult to reverse the current trend on money supply, and
hence inflation, unless the government reduces its exposure to the banking
"Inflationary pressures will thus remain entrenched in the domestic
economy in the absence of a holistic, all-encompassing macro-economic
framework addressing the underlying drivers of prices."
The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Herbert Murerwa,
last month presented a supplementary budget to Parliament amounting to $672
billion that will inflate the current budget by 87.2 percent to cover
expenditure overruns during the year.
The additional expenditure put the total for the year at $1.44
Additional revenue amounting to $600 billion is expected, taking the
global revenue target to $1.1 trillion.
This implies a budget deficit of $301 billion, or 7.3 percent of Gross
Domestic Product (GDP), against the original target of $230 billion or 11.5
percent of GDP.
Banking sector finance will amount to $195 billion (64.8 percent),
while non-banking sector finance will amount to $45 billion (15 percent).
The RBZ overdraft will cover $61 billion (20.3 percent).
Paltry $46m paid out to displaced farmers
9/25/2003 8:06:49 AM (GMT +2)
THE government, whose haphazard land reform has plunged Zimbabwe into
a basket case, has so far paid a paltry $46 million in compensation out of
the more than $72 billion it should cough out to displaced farmers.
Claims by the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) contradict a statement
issued by Agriculture Minister Joseph Made last week that farmers were
ignoring calls to claim compensation.
Made said the government may soon disburse the $8 billion originally
meant to compensate white commercial farmers to the resettled indigenous
Reacting to Made’s threats, a CFU spokesperson said: "It may be an
intention by government to have a deadline for compensation because as far
as we know the government has not communicated anything to that effect to
us. This is only meant to give the international community an impression
that displaced farmers are being compensated when we are aware nothing is
A prominent Harare lawyer said while it was within the Agriculture
Minister’s powers to set the deadline, Made still requires a regulatory
framework to exercise it.
"It is within the powers of the minister to determine the pace the
compensation process should proceed. Obviously they can not operate without
time limits, but the government should regulate the process," the lawyer
The CFU spokesperson told The Financial Gazette this week that less
than 120 farmers affected by the violent land seizures were compensated out
of the 4 500 white commercial farmers.
The former commercial farmers claim that $23 billion worth of
equipment was either looted, seized or vandalised before and after the
expiry of Section 8 notices of the Land Acquisition Act.
"Compensation has been very minimal and according to the assessment
from members, government has only compensated 120 properties out of the
estimated 6 000 taken up for resettlement," said the CFU spokesperson.
Tobacco sales to decline by 30 percent
9/25/2003 8:06:15 AM (GMT +2)
ZIMBABWE could fail to reach the targeted 100 million kgs of
flue-cured tobacco sales by at least 30 percent when curtains finally come
down on another dramatic selling season, which ends on October 17.
Industry players told The Financial Gazette this week that indications
were that between 70 million and 80 million kgs of tobacco could pass
through the auction floora by the close of the selling season.
The projections are below the government’s expectations of 100 million
kgs, which is half the tobacco that which went through the country’s three
auction floors last year.
The decline in output is attributed to the poor export support
exchange rate and changes in the land tenure, which saw 90 percent of
white-owned commercial farms being given to landless black people during the
controversial land reform.
Indigenous farmers have not been able to match productivity levels of
their white counterparts because of funding constraints and the lack of
"The decline in tobacco output means that the foreign currency will be
much less than the Agriculture Ministry’s forecast and will be below the
government’s budget," said economic consultant John Robertson.
The vice-chairman of the Tobacco Growers Trust, Thomas Nherera, said
if farmers would maintain an average delivery of 800 000 kgs a day, the
country would sell at least 90 million kgs by the end of October and earn at
least US$200 million.
Last year, Zimbabwe earned US$430 million from the golden leaf,
representing 35 percent of the country’s total exports and 12 percent of
Gross Domestic Product.
The country requires about US$400 million a month to meet all its
requirements, but monthly inflows have averaged US$30 million or less than a
week’s import cover.
This means that money obtained from tobacco sales this year will not
be able to cater for a month’s needs.
Zimbabwe Tobacco Association president Duncan Miller said the decline
in volumes showed the end of the tobacco selling season because prices had
increased and were attractive to any farmer.
Daily prices averaged US$2.80 over the past week, up from US$1.58 when
the season kicked off on April 23.
The industry is also expected to experience a slump next year owing to
late planting and the shortage of inputs.
Recent attempts at resolving the crisis by stakeholders
9/25/2003 8:19:27 AM (GMT +2)
This article chron-icles the various efforts by the stakeholders to
resolve the current crisis since it raised its ugly head in 1997. It is
important to realise that serious efforts have been made to redress the
crisis, but they have all floundered for the same reason: lack of political
will to implement agreed positions.
When government reached a settlement with disgruntled war veterans in
November 1997, where each of the estimated 50 000 former combatants was
awarded a one-off gratuity payment of Z$50 000 and a monthly pension of Z$2
000 beginning January 1998, it sought to introduce a levy to finance the
deal. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) organised demonstrations
on the 9th of December 1997 protesting against the proposed levy. At its
annual congress held in Mutare early in December 1997, ZANU (PF) also
rejected the introduction of the proposed levy.
Government thereafter sought to raise Sales Tax by 2.5 percent to
partly finance the settlement. ZCTU organised a two-day stay-away in March
1998, calling for the removal of the increase in Sales Tax by 2.5 percent to
fund the war veterans’ package and the development levy. A stalemate
developed between labour and government, prompting employers to approach
government in August 1998. As a result, the three social partners, the
Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ), ZCTU and government met on 2
September 1998 to discuss the way forward. This meeting marked the birth of
the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF).
On 4 September 1998, the TNF agreed to, among other things, remove the
development levy with effect from 1 January 1999 and scrap off the 2.5
percent increase in Sales Tax with effect from 1 November 1998.
Towards the end of September 1998, fuel prices were hiked by 67
percent, which fuelled inflation. Irked by the erosion of the packages
agreed in the TNF, ZCTU organised a stay-away in November 1998 and
thereafter threatened weekly stay-aways on Wednesdays. The TNF was quickly
reconvened to discuss the fuel situation among other issues. Government
admitted there was a lot of corruption at the state-owned fuel procurement
organisation, NOCZIM, and promised to clean up the organisation. Realising
that the government was not prepared to deal with the underlying causes of
economic decay, exclusive economic policies, fiscal indiscipline and
deteriorating governance, ZCTU and at least 40 other civic groups organised
a Working People’s Convention on 26-27 February 1999 at which they agreed to
form a "broad based movement for change". This movement, which was later
named the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was officially launched on 11
September 1999. Since the launch of the MDC, the political landscape of the
country has never been the same again. The turning point was the February
2000 referendum, which amply demonstrated that the political pendulum was
swinging in favour of the new opposition.
Meanwhile, as the economic crisis deepened, the TNF was reconvened in
October 1999 to explore possibilities of developing and signing a binding
Social Contract. On the 19th of January 2000, the three social partners
signed a Declaration of Intent, which outlined the obligations of the
parties. The ZCTU withdrew from the negotiations, citing lack of seriousness
on the part of government as evidenced by the continued violence. Following
the 70 percent increase in fuel prices of June 2001, ZCTU organised a
two-day stay-away in July 2001, which resulted in the reconvening of the
TNF. The parties agreed on national minimum wages for agriculture, and
industry and commerce based on the June 2001 Poverty Datum Levels of Z$4 000
and Z$8 900 respectively. The parties also agreed to negotiate viable prices
with producers. However, as the negotiations were going on, government
slapped price controls on all basic commodities. As with the price controls
introduced in 1998, these failed to control prices and created shortages,
which resulted in a thriving parallel market.
Realising that the problem was political, the social partners under
the TNF agreed to go on a retreat to discuss what they termed the "political
risk factor". What emerged from this retreat is the Kadoma Declaration,
which highlights the need to restore relations with development partners,
restore the rule of law and good governance.
In an attempt to go it alone, government launched its Millennium
Economic Recovery Programme (MERP) early in 2000. As was the case with
ZIMPREST, MERP was largely ignored. In his address of Parliament in August
2001, the President announced that government was now implementing a
10-point strategy, which was agriculturally driven. The 10-point plan
remained a mystery, with then Minister of Finance Economic and Development
insisting that MERP was still alive. That, in itself, clearly showed the
extent of policy contradictions within government and the existence of two
diametrically opposed views on how to manage the economy.
It is important to mention that after the Parliamentary elections of
June 2000, the new Csabinet incorporated technocrats. The idea was to
project a problem-solving approach on the part of government. However, it
became clear that the new technocrats could not change the wheels of
government, resulting in the key technocrats from whom much was expected,
Nkosana Moyo and Simba Makoni resigning in frustration. After the
Presidential elections of March 2002, a new "war-cabinet" was unveiled on 24
August 2002, ostensibly to defend the government’s position.
In the 2003 national budget statement announced on 14 November 2002,
the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Herbert Murerwa declared
price controls as ineffective and blamed them for promoting the parallel
market. In a move that contradicted the budget statement, government
published Statutory Instrument (SI) 302 of 2002 on Control of Goods (Price
Freeze) Order on 15 November 2002, a day after the budget statement. The SI
extended the list of items covered by the price freeze for a period of six
With businesses on the brink, CZI cobbled together a last gasp
economic recovery proposal, which was presented as a matter of urgency to
the acting President, Simon Muzenda at the end of December 2002. The
document is entitled: "Government and Business Partnership on Key Economic
Issues" dated 20 December 2002. In the proposal, business offered to support
government’s Agrarian Reform, in return for an active partnership with
government (including regular meetings with the President). The proposal
insisted on consultations on key issues as part of confidence building.
To make the deal attractive, business offered to regulate itself on
the basis of a Business Charter, to pursue price management (as opposed to
controls), to raise off-shore lines supported by export earnings, to
minimise foreign exchange leakages, to proportionately reduce prices where
the exchange rate has been reduced and stabilised, and to share notes with
other key stakeholders such as TNF. The main issue in the proposal was the
suggestion on export incentives. To ‘incentivise’ exports, the proposal was
that for exporters, the first 50 percent of earnings be exchanged at the
official rate of Z$55 to the US$, while the second 50% attracts a favourable
rate of Z$800 to the US$. For mining, the suggested rate for the first 50
percent was as above. However, a higher rate of Z$1 350 to the US$ was
proposed for the remaining 50 percent.
These efforts coincided with the reconvening of the TNF in December
2002. The TNF developed an Incomes and Prices Stabilisation Protocol which
was signed by government, business and labour on 30 January 2003. The
protocol adopted the concept of price management whereby the ‘social
partners’ would negotiate prices of basic commodities. Meanwhile, government
pledged to reduce the deficit to 11 percent of GDP, inflation to 96 percent
by end of 2003.
Apart from the Incomes and Prices Stabilisation Protocol, the TNF also
agreed to sign and put into effect the Kadoma Declaration. The Kadoma
Declaration deals with the political issues such as restoration of good
governance, restoration of normalcy, and in particular relations with
development partners. The Declaration spells out in detail what has to be
done to deal with the "political risk factor". This includes, among others,
the restoration of the rule of law and good governance, and
de-politicisation of public institutions and restoration of relations with
A tripartite position on immediate measures to stimulate the economy
was adopted. These were based on the proposals from business. Instead of
having multiple exchange rates as suggested by business, the TNF recommended
an inflation consistent exchange rate of Z$800 to the US$. The Minister of
Finance and Economic Development was requested to develop immediate policy
measures based on those adopted by the TNF. It was as a result of this
request that government launched the National Economic Revival Programme
(NERP) in February 2003. Already, it has emerged this programme is not being
Other sub-committees established include one on economic empowerment,
which sought to develop measures to democratise the economy and establish an
Empowerment Charter with sectoral schedules for indigenisation of the
economy. Realising that what it had identified were only immediate measures
to deal with the crisis, the TNF agreed to negotiate an economic policy to
cover the medium to long-term period.
However, the political will to implement the adopted positions was
conspicuous by its absence. In a move that contradicted the adopted
principle of negotiated prices, government unilaterally increased fuel
prices by almost 100 percent on 25 February 2003, followed by another
unilateral fuel price increase of at least 200% on 15 April 2003. Irked by
the continued unilateral decisions of government, ZCTU demanded the reversal
of the latter fuel price increase and organised a three-day stay away from
23-25 April 2003. At the same time, ZCTU announced that it had withdrawn
from the TNF until the fuel price hike was reversed. The business sector
also raised its disquiet with the violation of the Prices and Incomes
Stabilisation Protocol. In a bid to pacify labour, government and business
met on 24 April 2003 and agreed to introduce new minimum wages. Business
only agreed to the new minimum wages on condition that the price controls
were lifted. However, ZCTU rejected the new minimum wages, arguing that they
were now outdated given that they were based on January 2003 Poverty Datum
Since then, the TNF has not been reconvened. Meanwhile, the crisis is
deepening with the emergence of an acute shortage of cash in banks,
continued shortage of foreign exchange, basic commodities, and fuel among
The sad reality is that while clear policy recommendations have been
suggested by the TNF and other fora, they have been ignored, with
devastating consequences for the economy. The issue therefore is that the
"problem" is not a technical one, but rather a political one. One may bash
the Reserve Bank, bureaucrats, economists etc. but that will not change the
course of the economy. Traveller’s cheques have been tried and failed; now
the Reserve Bank is introducing bearer cheques in a bid to stem the cash
crisis. All this will fail, unless the root cause of the crisis is
addressed: lack of political will to implement inclusive, transparent and
Our friend, Libya has done the sensible thing, restored its
relationship with the international community. The sooner we realise that
while the rest of the world may not need Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe needs the rest
of the world, the better it is for our economy and future.
Peace is NOT the absence of WAR
Peace is the Absence of FEAR
Therefore by definition Zimbabwe is at WAR because there is FEAR
Fear of POSA
Fear of AIPPA
Fear of CIO
Fear of Police/ Army/ young thug militia
Fear of partisan Judiciary
Fear of total anarchy
Fear of an aged lunatic tyrant & his out of control "government"
Fear of a bleak & unknown future with no security whatsoever
Fear of a life where FEAR is the dominant emotion
If we could do that in our homes, we would never
be short of cash.
Government does have the right to print money but they should follow strict
rules. When government needs money to run the country, it is supposed to
collect that money in taxes. If the government spends more than what it
receives as tax, it can borrow the difference as an extra tax. This money
collected would be used to pay back the borrowed money. Our HIV/AIDS levies
do not count as an extra tax. Those that are sick should directly benefit
from this money.
QUESTION: WHEN SHOULD GOVERNMENT PRINT MORE MONEY?
ANSWER: ONLY WHEN THE ECONOMY IS GROWING.
If the economy is growing, the amount of money printed should be equal to
that growth. For our household, we say that we are achieving good financial
housekeeping if money coming in is exceeding money going out. For the
country we might call it good governance. The important issue here is the
fact that our government has borrowed money and spent it. If the borrowed
money had been invested carefully, the investment would have generated the
money needed to repay the lenders. Borrowing is not bad or dangerous if the
borrowed money is invested rather than being used to build expensive houses
and luxury items.
However, for individuals as well as governments, it is very dangerous to
borrow money and simply spend it like a small child buying sweets to ease
hunger. When the time comes to pay it back, another bigger amount has to be
borrowed because the lender will have to be repaid the capital and paid an
additional amount in interest. As the amounts get bigger, the borrower gets
deeper into debt, like the child who remains hungry and malnourished even
after eating the sweets. In Zimbabwe, government has been spending borrowed
money for many years, and has had to borrow to repay the loans and borrow
yet more to pay the interest. If Zimbabwe had to pay this debt tomorrow,
every man, woman and child in the country would need to contribute at least
$ 50 000.
QUESTION: WHO ARE THE LENDERS AND ARE THEY RESPECTED?
ANSWER: YOU AND ME - WE, THE PEOPLE ARE THE DISRESPECTED LENDERS.
It is the ordinary Zimbabweans that PAY for the government and its people to
work. We pay their water and electricity and we even pay their staff
salaries. We have heard that we contributed through our taxes to build a
house worth over FIFTY billion Zimbabwe dollars. How much did we contribute
to this expense instead of paying to build our own houses? Government use
our money through the POSB, pension funds such as NSSA. NSSA is the
government's compulsory pension scheme for the whole nation. Building
Societies such as CABS and Beverly have grown because we ask them to keep
our money. It is an outrage that we struggle to get our money back when we
now need it so badly. We have heard that Banks are making billions of
dollars of profit during these hard times but we, the owners of the money,
can only draw $5000 of our own money after queuing for hours - day and
We did not give permission to lend our money to government; they just passed
a law telling the banks and savings institutions to lend our money to the
state. When the debt was growing very rapidly several years ago, government
decided to cut the interest rates to reduce the amount it would have to pay
to the lenders - that's us. This seemed a good idea for government, but it
was a bad move for us. The interest we earned from our savings and pension
funds went down very steeply and we are suffering. Inflation was rising
strongly at the time, but the money that we received in interest was too
little to make up for inflation, so when the loans were repaid with
interest, our savings institutions received very much less in buying power.
In effect, government has used our savings without our permission, to pay
off the national debt. This process has left thousands of people in poverty
and made the savings held by the rest of us very nearly worthless. That is
how our savings have now become a debt that averages $50 000 for every one
But now government is finding that the idea was not as clever as they first
thought. They have to keep borrowing to pretend to pay us back and so they
will just print more money instead of earning it. They will print the money,
and keep on printing it until enough has been printed to meet the payments
and maybe there will be enough for us.
They were told this would cause inflation. Their answer? "So what? That is a
problem for the future." A fast track short term 'solution' to disaster! A
hungry child buying sweets instead of eating food.
So government has been trying to print the extra money it needs. But this is
also proving difficult to do because it is a cockeyed solution. Foreign
exchange has to be spent on the very special paper and printing inks and on
the printing plates and machinery. Unfortunately, Zimbabwe is very short of
foreign currency because export industries have had to struggle to survive
and many have had to shrink or close. We are even more short of foreign
exchange because we now have to import food that we used to grow for
Our own shrinking economy has caused the Zimbabwe dollar to lose most of its
value, so we now need many more of them to buy a United States dollar or any
other currency. This has increased the costs of importing everything and has
caused more inflation. The government has been able to print quite a lot of
money, but this has increased inflation even faster. It is like running in a
circle. You get nowhere! The higher the inflation, the more money is needed
to pay the prices and the more that has to be printed, and this then causes
even more inflation. Our inflation rate is now the highest in the world. It
is so high that we are finding it impossible to produce enough money to keep
up with the rate at which prices and wages are rising.
WHAT CAN WE AFFORD TO BUY AS PRICES GO UP AND UP AND NOTES BECOME HARD TO
Look at how the prices for basic commodities have gone up since 1981 and at
the same time less and less of us are working. There are 70% of ordinary
Zimbabweans unemployed. How do they afford to feed their families?
Zimbabwe Grocery Prices 1981, 1999, 2003
Item Quantity 1981 Jan-99 Aug-03
Bread Loaf 0.25 8.80 950.00
Mealie Meal 5kg 0.51 29.35 4,180.00
Rice 500g 0.41 47.50 1,415.00
Milk 600ml 0.16 5.30 430.00
Tea 500g 0.24 21.09 1,462.77
When prices double, the amount of money needed to pay those prices also has
to double. Wages have to go up so that workers can afford to pay the higher
prices, and that makes the production of the needed extra money even more
important. But we see that government has failed to do what was necessary
and we see that they cannot even do the wrong things the right way.
The Zimbabwe Mint in Bulawayo opened in August 2001 to produce coins. It is
now a 'white elephant'. We cannot even get the Banks to accept coins from
us, as they seem to be worthless as money.
The rate at which we need to print notes is already more than what
government can print, so we are having to spend even more of our scarce
foreign currency to pay foreign companies to print notes for us. Worse
still, somebody in government believes that bank notes with larger
denominations will become the cause of yet more inflation, the Reserve Bank
has not been allowed to produce notes with values of $5 000 or $10 000 or
This means that we still have to print many more notes than we would need if
bigger notes were permitted - any Grade Four child could tell you that - but
we are not allowed to have them. Forty $500 notes would have the value of
one $20 000 note and printing forty notes costs forty times as much as
printing one note. How long will our authorities fail to solve problems that
any 10-year-old could solve? We think that this is a very poor standard of
governance and that this is what has caused the bank note crisis. It is this
quality of economic management that is giving you a problem in managing your
household budget and so the economy has become cockeyed. (Cockeyed means
crooked, lopsided, drunk or it can be used to describe a foolish scheme.) If
you have other views, please tell us.
QUESTION: HOW AND WHY DID THAT CRISIS DEVELOP?
ANSWER: INFLATION AND NOT ENOUGH CASH FLOWING.
The situation and, on top of it, the use of "silly solutions" means that
inflation is now more than 400% (year-on-year). We need more than five
times the value of bank notes than needed only a year ago to purchase the
same goods. The cycle is: 1. Shortages 2. Price increases 3. Rising costs.
The result is black market profiteering and it leads us back to point one.
HOW CAN IT BE SOLVED AND WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
Take time to read and understand what caused this CASH CRISIS. Spread this
informational sheet to friends and discuss it with them. Decide to take
action! Complete and cut out the Protest Note and deliver it to your bank or
building society. If Government mismanagement means that the banks cannot
fulfil their obligations to their customers, they must try harder to
convince government of its failed policies. By delivering this Protest Note
you will be forcing your bank to join you in saying NO to an unfair and
lopsided economy where the money owners have become the victims.
We request the following of our Bankers:
1. The Reserve Bank must consult us the people before
introducing unusual solutions such as Travellers and Bearers Cheques. We do
not want them - we want bank notes!
2. The Reserve Bank must prepare for the printing of higher
denomination notes such as $10 000 and $50 000. The release of the $1 000
note will not solve our queuing blues or meet the mass demand because of
3. As our Bankers, it is their duty to protect their clients
from state intimidation regarding our cash needs. Intimidation on this issue
will further reduce our confidence in the banks and force us to close our
Banks must put pressure on Government to cut spending and stop their
meddling in the financial sector. We can tell them on behalf of my
suffering family members that we want cockeyed systems OUT - Zvinhu zviri
kokayi hatidi - Izinto eziKokayi azifuneki!
SERVICE, RESPECT & CASH - NOT COCKEYE SYSTEMS!
I am a client of your Bank/ Building Society and have spent many hours
queuing to withdraw my money held in trust by your bank in my account. Some
people even spend the night on the pavements, hoping to receive cash. Even
on those occasions when we do manage to withdraw some cash, the amounts we
get do not even cover our families' needs. This situation is now serious and
we are suffering because of it. We will not continue to suffer in silence as
the State continues to destroy the economy. We feed our families on a poor
diet of over-priced black market goods. Our children are getting thinner
whilst black marketers get fatter.
1. We do not want Traveller or Bearer Cheques; we want bank
notes in good supply and in higher denominations $10000 and $50 000.
2. We remind you, that banks have an obligation to their
clients. We need efficient service and to be protected from intimidation.
We, the powerful citizens have been made unwilling victims burning on the
altar of corruption and stupidity.
3. We request that Banks and the Reserve Bank pressurize
Government to cut spending and stop meddling in the financial sector.
4. On behalf of my suffering family members, I say cockeyed
systems OUT - Zvinhu zviri kokayi hatidi - Izinto eziKokayi azifuneki!
JUSTICE FOR AGRICULTURE
PR COMMUNIQUE - September 25, 2003
Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for the statement from Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe.
I attach for your information and forwarding to the Crisis Coalition in
Zimbabwe a copy of the constitutional academic, Greg Linington's,
preliminary note on the Daily News case. Greg Linington may be contacted at
email@example.com. He is author of Constitutional Law of Zimbabwe, published by
the Legal Resources Foundation.
Some Comments on locus standi and the Daily News case Greg Linington
I have not yet had sight of the Supreme Court's decision denying the Daily
News locus standi to challenge the constitutionality of provisions in the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. What follows is based
upon information derived from the ZW News Website. According to ZW News,
the Supreme Court was not prepared to entertain the constitutional
challenge because the Daily News has not registered in terms of the Act.
The Supreme Court's decision is, to say the least, quite astonishing.
Section 24 (1) of the Constitution says: 'If any person alleges that the
Declaration of Rights has been, is being or is likely to be contravened in
relation to him (or, in the case of a person who is detained, if any other
person alleges such a contravention in relation to the detained person),
then, without prejudice to any other action with respect to the same matter
which is lawfully available, that person (or that other person) may,
subject to the provisions of subsection (3), apply to the Supreme Court for
redress' (my emphasis). Thus, one may invoke section 24 (1) even if the
Declaration of Rights has not been contravened in relation to the applicant
concerned. It is sufficient if there is a likelihood of a contravention
occurring. The meaning of the phrase 'likely to be contravened' as it
appears in section 24 (1) was considered by the Supreme Court in United
Parties v Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Others
1998 (2) BCLR 224 (ZS). Gubbay CJ said that '*it does not embrace any
fanciful or remote prospect of the Declaration of Rights being contravened.
Nor does it refer to the Declaration of Rights being liable to
contravention * rather it means a "reasonable probability" of such a
contravention occurring.' He added that 'there must exist a realistic or
appreciable probability - and not merely a reasonable possibility - for
there to be the requisite basis to invoke a constitutional challenge.'
This requirement was certainly satisfied by the Daily News. AIPPA clearly
contains a number of provisions, which violate the constitutional rights of
newspapers such as the Daily News. It is submitted therefore that there was
no need for the Daily News to register under the Act in order to acquire
locus standi. The language of section 24 (1) and the United Parties
decision make this clear.
I gather though, that the main thrust of the Supreme Court's ruling in the
Daily News case was that because the paper has not registered, it does not
have 'clean hands', a fact which, the court says, precludes it from
initiating constitutional litigation. This is a quite incredible
conclusion. In an earlier decision, Minister of Home Affairs v Bickle 1983
(1) ZLR 99 (S) the Supreme Court held that even persons who may be guilty
of contempt will not necessarily be precluded from instituting
constitutional applications. Fieldsend CJ said at 106-107: If the courts
are to fulfil the obligations put upon them by the Constitution, they
cannot, save in the most exceptional circumstances, deny an aggrieved
person access to them. Section 18 (1) of the Constitution provides that
every person is entitled to the protection of the law and section 18 (9)
provides that every person is entitled to be afforded a fair hearing within
a reasonable time by an independent and impartial court or other
adjudicating authority established by law in the determination of the
existence or extent of his civil rights or obligations. It must not be
forgotten that what we are dealing with in this appeal is the impact of
administrative action by Government upon the individual. In this area the
courts should not be astute to find reasons for abdicating their
responsibility. They should not deny a person an opportunity to seek their
protection unless he has by his conduct put himself outside the processes
of the court. It is not part of the court's function to deny a person
access to them in order, for example, to assist some administrative
process. The public policy consideration in this case appears to me to be
governed by section 24 of the Zimbabwe Constitution order. This grants to
any person who alleges that the Declaration of Rights has been or is likely
to be contravened in relation to him the right to apply to the Supreme
Court for relief. This constitutional right of access should prevail unless
it is plain that the contempt of which the applicant may be guilty itself
impedes the course of justice. As Denning LJ said in Hadkinson v Hadkinson
 2 ALL ER 567 (CA) at 574: "It is a strong thing for a court to
refuse to hear a party to a cause and it is only to be justified by grave
considerations of public policy. It is a step which a court will only take
when the contempt itself impedes the course of justice and there is no
other effective means of securing his compliance." It is interesting to
note that in England, where until 1879 there was a judicial procedure for
declaring a person an outlaw, the courts did not deny a declared outlaw
access to them without exception. In, for example, Hawkins v Hall (1856) 1
BEAV 73; 41 ER 109 an outlaw was allowed to apply to the court to set aside
an attachment which had been irregularly issued against him and was
successful in his application. See too Davis v Trevanion (1845) 14 LJ QB
138. If that principle were to be applied here Bickle, even if he were an
outlaw, would be entitled to seek the protection of the court from the
action taken against him and his property. He would be defending himself
against what he alleges is an illegal action'
A number of important points emerge from the above passage. Firstly, a
person may only be denied access to the courts for the purpose of mounting
a constitutional challenge in the most exceptional circumstances. This is
the result of reading sections 24, 18 (1) and 18 (9) of the Constitution
together. As the court said, the constitutional right of access must
generally prevail. This will remain the case even if the applicant is an
outlaw. Also of importance is the fact that the court held that access
cannot be denied simply in order to assist in some administrative process.
Applying these points to the present case, it is clear that the Daily News
does not have to have 'clean hands' in order to challenge the
constitutionality of provisions in AIPPA. Even if the Daily News is an
'outlaw', by virtue of not having registered under the Act, (something
which is in any case untenable, since it has not yet been convicted of an
offence in terms of section 72 of the Act), it cannot be denied access to
challenge AIPPA. Moreover, it is submitted that registration is an
administrative process required by section 66 of AIPPA. But, as was said in
the Bickle case, access to the courts cannot be denied simply in order to
assist in some administrative process.
I have tried in the limited time available to me to look into the position
in respect of standing and access to the courts in Canada and South Africa.
It would appear from what I have been able to gather that the point about
'clean hands' raised by Zimbabwe's Supreme Court in the Daily News case,
has never been raised, argued or considered in Canada or South Africa in
the context of constitutional litigation. (Obviously I will look at this
question more carefully as I find more time, but that appears to be the
position as far as I have been able to tell so far.) It would appear
therefore that in Canada and South Africa failure to comply with impugned
legislation is not a necessary prerequisite to acquiring constitutional
locus standi. If the Daily News is now going to be charged under section 72
of AIPPA for failure to register under the Act, the laying of such a charge
must surely confer locus standi upon the Daily News to challenge the
constitutionality of provisions in AIPPA. This remains the case even if we
accept the correctness of the Supreme Court's ruling in the initial Daily
News application. (I would like to see the exact language of the Supreme
Court's ruling in that matter.) In this connection the Canadian Supreme
Court's decision in R v Big M Drug Mart  1 SCR 295, is of some
importance. The court held that a defendant to a criminal charge is at
liberty to raise any constitutional defect in the law under which the
charge is laid because 'no one can be convicted of an offence under an
unconstitutional law'. In that case, the applicant was a corporation which
would not normally locus standi to allege that there had been a denial of
the constitutional right to freedom of religion, since that is a right that
normally vests in biological persons. For our purposes however, the key
point is that the laying of criminal charges automatically confers locus
standi to challenge the constitutionality of the law under which the charge
has been brought, regardless of whether locus standi exists on any other
Zimbabwe's Christian Churches Demand Repeal Of Media Laws
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP)--Christian churches in Zimbabwe
Thursday the repeal of oppressive media and security laws, as nine reporters
for the country's only independent daily were charged with violating the
The reporters from The Daily News, which the government banned last
Saturday, were charged with working for the paper without official
accreditation from the state-appointed media commission, the Associated
Newspapers group said.
Police said 45 of the paper's 60 journalists were sought for
questioning on the same grounds and were also likely to be charged under the
sweeping security and media laws, said Gugulethu Moyo, the group's corporate
and legal adviser. The laws were passed last year to stifle criticism of
President Robert Mugabe's increasingly authoritarian government.
The churches, in a statement, likened Mugabe's government to "the
beast in Revelation 13 which usurps power and terrorizes God's defenseless
people thus fermenting anarchy and lawlessness in the land."
Clergy and pastors of the nation's 59 Christian denominations,
representing about half the population who are Christians, said the
government abandoned fundamental principles of protecting the common good of
the people, upholding justice and the rule of law and of being "custodians
of social and moral values."
"Any government that negates these principles forfeits its God-given
mandate to rule. It therefore cannot demand submission and obedience of its
citizens," the statement said.
The deepening economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe was marked by
political violence, suppression of any form of opposition, rampant official
corruption and economic mismanagement that impoverished the majority "while
the rich get richer," the statement said.
It said the churches committed themselves to campaign for democratic
and social reform that included the repeal of security and media laws.
The state media commission banned The Daily News on Saturday by
denying it registration to publish under the strict media laws. Since its
launch in 1999, the paper has given a voice to critics of Mugabe's 23-year
The paper, with 300 employees and a daily readership of more than
940,000, has said it will challenge the ban in court.
On Monday, four Associated Newspapers directors were charged on
allegations of violating the media laws before the official ban on Saturday.
The offense carries a penalty of a maximum fine of 300,000 Zimbabwe dollars
($364 at the official exchange rate of 824-1) or two years in jail.
A coalition of pro-democracy and reform groups described the banning
of The Daily News as the ruling party's "most serious attack yet on freedom
A crackdown on independent civic organizations and church and
independent human rights groups was likely to intensify without an
independent daily newspaper to report on it, said Brian Raftopoulos, a
spokesman for the Crisis Coalition.
The Daily News has reported on government action to prohibit
opposition political activities and clamp down on rights groups, labor
groups, independent- minded judges and journalists during the country's
worst economic and political crisis since independence from Britain in 1980.
In January 2001, The Daily News' presses were destroyed in a bomb
attack hours after Information Minister Jonathan Moyo described the paper as
"a threat to national security which had to be silenced."
Since 2000, more than 200 people have died and tens of thousands have
been assaulted, tortured and hounded from their homes in political violence
blamed mostly on ruling party militants, police, state security agents and
Dow Jones Newswires
Mugabe leaves for UN General Assembly in New York
September 25, 2003, 12:34 PM
Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean President, who is battling international
isolation, left Harare early today to attend the United Nations General
Assembly in New York, state radio reported. Mugabe, whose controversial
re-election last year was rejected by many Western powers as fraudulent,
cannot visit the United States except on UN business under travel sanctions
imposed by Washington on key Zimbabwean officials.
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said Mugabe had gone to New York with
Stan Mudenge, the Foreign Minister, his wife Grace and some senior
government officials. Mugabe - whose government is also under travel
restrictions in the European Union - has attended several UN conferences
abroad and political analysts say he has often used them as a platform to
attack his Western critics.
Zimbabwe is struggling with a severe economic crisis, which critics blame on
government mismanagement. Mugabe counters that the southern African country
is a victim of economic sabotage by Western powers opposed to his seizures
of white-owned farms for black resettlement.
International donors, including the World Bank and the International
Monetary Fund (IMF), have suspended aid to Zimbabwe over the last three
years over Mugabe's land and economic policies. The country was suspended
from the Commonwealth after Mugabe's controversial re-election.
South African official sources and diplomats based in Pretoria said this
week that Thabo Mbeki, the South African President, would not make a stand
calling for Zimbabwe's invitation to a Commonwealth summit in Nigeria in
December. Mbeki's standpoint deprives Mugabe of his only powerful backing. -
Comment from The Cape Times (SA), 25 September
Chance to mend fences will be lost if Mugabe clings to old guard
By Basildon Peta
Has the death of Vice-President Simon Muzenda created an
President Robert Mugabe to unite his divided country by appointing the
leader of the Movement for Democratic Change as a replacement? After all,
some of Mugabe's staunch allies, like President Thabo Mbeki and Nigeria's
President Olusegun Obasanjo, have fought hard to encourage a united
government in Zimbabwe as the only realistic way of rescuing the country
from its seemingly bottomless economic and political quagmire. MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai and the top brass of his party, including
secretary-general Welshman Ncube and national chairman Isaac Matongo,
demonstrated unprecedented magnanimity by visiting Muzenda's home in Harare
to convey their condolences. As the country mourns the death at the weekend
of Muzenda, who was 80, speculation has been mounting about how Mugabe will
use the sudden vacancy to settle the succession question. Analysts say that
in a functional democracy it would not be unreasonable to expect Mugabe to
use his deputy's death as an opportunity to offer an olive branch to the
"But in the mad circus that Zimbabwe has
become, it is more than foolish to
expect this to happen," said University of Zimbabwe analyst Lovemore
Madhuku. The reason is not the opposition's dislike for an unity arrangement
with the Mugabe regime, but mainly Mugabe's demonstrated belief that
Zimbabwe and his government would be far better off without an opposition.
Although the MDC would probably refuse to be part of Mugabe's government, if
Mugabe extended an olive branch this would portray him as a magnanimous
statesman eager to take steps to resolve the crisis in his country. Although
this would play to his advantage, Mugabe would most likely rather miss the
opportunity. As it is, Mugabe used a memorial service for Muzenda as an
opportunity to demonise the MDC as "British puppets" who would never rule
Zimbabwe "as long as I live".
If the prospects of
Mugabe's appointing Tsvangirai are zero, what about a
young candidate from within Zanu PF who has the credentials - such as former
finance minister Simba Makoni - to improve the party's credibility and
standing? "There is no chance of this happening, either," said University of
Zimbabwe political scientist Elphas Mukonoweshuro. "Mugabe will stick to the
old guard and Muzenda's successor is going to come from the old school." Any
young Zanu PF politicians who have shown a serious inclination to work with
the opposition and engage the international donor community have been
branded "traitors". None of the many analysts interviewed thought Emmerson
Mnangagwa would not be Mugabe's choice. Mugabe has done everything to ensure
that Mnangagwa, the Speaker of parliament and Zanu PF head of administration
implicated by a United Nations report in looting the Democratic Republic of
Congo - will succeed him. "If Mugabe delays announcing Mnangagwa's
appointment, it will be because he wants to give him more time to
consolidate his power in the party before elevating him," said Madhuku.
There are many reasons for
Mugabe's sticking to Mnangagwa, but the most
compelling is that the speaker is Mugabe's best insurance policy against
future prosecution. In the early 1980s, as minister of state security in
charge of Zimbabwe's dreaded spy agency, the Central Intelligence
Organisation, Mnangagwa oversaw the systematic elimination of an estimated
25 000 Mugabe opponents in Matabeleland. The findings of a 1984 inquiry
commissioned by Mugabe to investigate the Matabeleland massacres after an
international outcry have not been made public, despite pressure by civic
groups. Any moderate candidate who may, after taking office, bow to public
pressure and release the findings is therefore automatically disqualified
from the succession race. If, through some stroke of fate, Mnangagwa fails
to be appointed, Mugabe's next choice, analysts agree, would be Defence
Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, another hardcore Mugabe fanatic also implicated
in the DRC looting. John Nkomo, the charismatic Zanu-PF national chairman
considered by many as one of the few Zanu PF men who could make a difference
by breaking with Mugabe's past, is out of the equation because of his
moderate tendencies. Like many other opportunities that have arisen to
resolve Zimbabwe crises, that of settling the succession question and
brightening the country's prospects by appointing a credible candidate has
come - but is certain to go begging since it is likely that Mnangagwa - a
prominent member of Mugabe's old guard - will be appointed.
Speak out on Zimbabwe crisis, Chrétien urged
Leaders too soft on Mugabe, MP says
Delegation from Africa visits Ottawa
NATIONAL AFFAIRS WRITER
OTTAWA—Prime Minister Jean Chrétien should speak out clearly on the crisis
in Zimbabwe, and insist that African leaders agree to criticize their
colleagues, a Zimbabwe opposition MP said yesterday.
"I am not finding the Canadian voice coming out clearly with a specific
position on Zimbabwe," Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushongasaid yesterday. "You
are too nice, too diplomatic, too quiet. The Prime Minister of Canada should
be very clear, very specific. We need these voices."
She said that African leaders have been reluctant to criticize leaders like
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who do not hold free and fair elections,
and who abuse human rights.
"I am not asking the Northern governments to do something about this, but I
am asking the Northern governments to ask the African governments to begin
to take a position on their own brothers," she said.
At last year's Commonwealth conference, Chrétien was instrumental in a
compromise that delayed any condemnation of Mugabe until after the March,
2002, election. Only after clear indications of electoral fraud, violence
and intimidation did Canada withdraw funding from the Zimbabwe government —
while the observer mission of the Organization of African Unity called the
election "transparent, credible, free and fair."
Misihairambwi-Mushonga, an opposition MP, said Canada should be very clear
about what it means by free and fair elections and respect for human rights.
She is part of a delegation of African legislators active in fighting
corruption who are visiting Ottawa to discuss ways of strengthening
parliamentary institutions on their continent.
Chrétien will be travelling to the Commonwealth conference in Nigeria later
this fall, and several African delegates said they hoped Canada would
reinforce the role it is playing in Africa.
Canada has committed itself to spending $500 million through the Canada Fund
for Africa, and is focusing on strengthening parliamentary institutions and
helping stop corruption, fighting AIDS and polio, and reducing poverty.
Nigerian MP Gabriel Suswah said corruption is a two-way street. A serious
problem is that Western banks have agreed to take massive deposits of stolen
funds from African dictators, including an estimated $40 billion from
Nigeria, he said.
"If Canada would bring pressure to bear on these countries, it would help a
lot," he said. "If we could get things right in Nigeria, there would be a
change of attitude in other countries."
Ugandan MP Augustine Ruzindana said he would like to see Canada more engaged
"You definitely can do a lot more than you're doing now," he said.
JAG OPEN LETTER FORUM
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to
firstname.lastname@example.org with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.
Letter 1: Re Open Letter Forum 145 of 16-09-03.
I would like to add my voice to the current "pot of discussion" that has
boiled over, after John Kinnaird made his statement in your Open Letter
I salute you Sir for stirring the pot. In my opinion, you stated your
opinion after observing the BIG PICTURE. Your views have touched many folk
and your illustrations were pertinent to many issues that "needed" to be
AIRED. This is obvious by the number of varied responses that you have
The following opinion is put simplicistically. The intention is to provoke
alternatives and/or acceptance in thoughts, not malice.
In the Universe (and that includes Zimbabwe), each living person has
immense POWER and ability, to BE and DO absolutely anything.
Through the ages that POWER has been subjugated for a variety of reasons.
This has allowed governments (can also read kings, presidents or chiefs) to
evolve. They become stronger, only because they are allowed to by their
people (can also read serfs, nation or tribe). They "absorb" and become the
Hand in hand with subjugation, goes the mental reconditioning that keeps
the "powerful" in power and the "everyone else" in their place!!
Like rungs on a ladder, society has its strata. In simple terms, each layer
in that strata, grovels to the layer above and bullies the layer below.
That is what humans perceive to be power.
Through history many men and women have attempted to STAND UP for their
beliefs. They wanted "their personal power" back. Whenever the POWER
noticed this, they took action to suppress the rising up. Knock out the
"voices" and terrorise "all others" back into submission. This happens in
the 1st, 2nd and 3rd world - from cities like London and New York, to small
villages in Outer Mongolia, in all facets of daily life, whether tangible
Therefore if you choose to be submissive - you will be subjugated.
If you choose to be powerless - you will be. Everything in this, and any
other life, is about CHOICES and CONSEQUENCES.
Sometimes you "choose" on an "individual" basis. That is your prerogative,
and in turn, the "individual" is responsible for the consequences. Sadly
the "comfort zones" of life preclude many from looking at the Big Picture.
The scrabble of betterment and another rung UP the ladder blinds the vision
of speculation, consideration and consolidation.
Since this country's birth, a little over a 100 years ago, farmers have
been an important and integral part of the meteoric development of this
country. Not many would dispute this. They fed the nation and the
neighbours. An almost "grovelling" culture was developed with regard to
their rung on the ladder. This was valid as long as it was in balance, so
almost everyone went along with the situation. However human arrogance is
so destructive. Clichés are created for good reason. Pride (read Arrogance)
comes before a fall.
The farmers have always had the POWER in this country - singly and
collectively. They have on varying occasions used it and abused it!! They
were responsible for numerous great achievements, and in their time, have
been admired by the world at large. However Pride, becomes arrogance, which
becomes infallibility. Individuals wish to climb the ladder, so they leave
the crowd. Whilst there is another rung to climb to, they are prone to
forget to look above and below, and side-to-side. Perhaps changes should
have been made to the rung they were on? Perhaps there were too many people
on that rung and some would have to drop off for the survival of the
others? Perhaps there was no rung above? Perhaps consultation with, and
consideration of others may have created alternatives?
However the "individual" choices were made, when the choices should have
been COLLECTIVE and FIRM.
Therefore when the consequences followed - the "individual" CANNOT and
SHOULD NOT expect the support of others.
We can continue ad infintum - but perhaps "WE" as Zimbabweans should all
consider the bottom line to the big picture as
- yesterday has gone and cannot come back
- mistakes were made in so many areas
- face the consequences
- CHANGE thoughts, words and deeds
- get out of victim mode and act with unified conviction
- deal in the NOW
In closing I wish to share some pearls of wisdom that have come into my
Inbox this week -
"A person is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes himself to be
the creature of outside conditions".
"To get control of our circumstances we must first acknowledge personal
responsibility for being where we are".
"Fear does not have any special power unless you empower it - by submitting
"All laws are created because of fears". Sincerely
A friend sent me this message this afternoon - I don't know who the author
is but he/she is spot on!! White Africans have NOTHING to apologise for!
I am sick to death of people from certain quarters vilifying White
Colonialists. I am sick of hearing how bad my forefathers were and of
people trying to make me feel guilty for being White.
I am proud of what those early settlers did, proud of their hard work,
proud of the schools and hospitals they built. Proud of the railways and
roads they laid through harsh, savage and fever-ridden terrain. Proud of
the cities and towns they erected and the highly productive farms they
hacked from the virgin bush. I am proud of the industries and technologies
they brought to Africa, of the cars, telephones, computers, TVs and radios
that the indigenous people love so much. I am proud of the fact that
through my forefather's efforts to stop infant mortality the Black
population in Zimbabwe has grown from less than half a million in the 1890s
to 13 million today.
The likes of Mugabe and Mbeki should be eternally grateful to the Whites
because they would never have been in power today if it were not for the
rule of law and order and equal opportunity never experienced under the old
tribal system. They would have been swiftly despatched with a knobkerrie
to the skull for trying to usurp power from their chiefs. Without our
forefather's presence in Africa there would have been no Fort Hare
University, no Mercedes Benz, no private jets and no palatial homes for
Chefs. Perhaps they would have been slaves in some dingy Arab
establishment, having been sold by their chiefs or even been abducted by
marauding Zulu or Matabele Impis.
Lets face facts - no country can say it has never had outside influences to
help it develop. Even Britain was colonised by Rome and benefitted
immensely in every department from law to plumbing. Their Dark Age began
when they rejected the Romans and slid back into primitive life for awhile.
Africa owes an enormous debt of gratitude to the Christian Missionaries who
faced almost insurmountable odds to take the Word of God to all His
creation. So - please, let us all live in harmony without criticism and
sniping. Our forefathers did a fantastic job - let's live up to their
standards when crime was properly punished and integrity was applauded not
I'm an ex Farmer from Featherstone and proud of it. And now I'm a townie.
What John Kinnaird wrote is the truth and the truth hurts. Will those
wingers out there grow up?
Well done to him for having spoken up.
All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
ZIMBABWE: Journalists harassed as crackdown on Daily News continues
HARARE, 25 Sep 2003 (IRIN) - Police in Zimbabwe on Thursday released a list
of 45 Daily News staffers whom they instructed to report to Harare Central
The list included past and present Daily News employees and journalists, all
of whom applied for accreditation, but whose applications were not forwarded
to the government-appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC) because
the publishers of the country's only independent daily newspaper -
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) - were challenging the
constitutionality of the Access to Information and Protection and Privacy
Journalists who failed to register at all are not included on the list. By
mid-afternoon on Thursday, 15 of the company's Harare-based reporters were
still having their statements recorded at Harare Central Police station.
"The list was submitted at The Daily News offices about 11 am [by the
police], and a message was passed on to say all those on the list should
report to Harare Central Police Station. It includes the names of reporters
in all four bureaux of Bulawayo, Gewru, Mutare and Masvingo, so there are 15
reporters in all here," a journalist on the phone from the police station
The situation in the bureaux was still tense but normal by mid-afternoon,
with reporters anticipating police raids on the provincial offices.
It was not possible to reach any of the Daily News management for comment,
as they were said to be preparing for a board meeting to be held on Friday
in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Although the agenda for the Johannesburg meeting was not immediately
available, the board is expected to discuss the newspaper's options, should
the Administrative Court rule in favour of the State. Earlier this week the
ANZ group applied to the Administrative Court for the MIC's ruling that the
organisation and its reporters would not be allowed to register be
overturned, saying the decision was unlawful and unconstitutional.
The ANZ group argued that the MIC was improperly constituted, as no
associations of media houses and journalists were consulted when it was
Meanwhile, the ANZ director of operations, Innocent Kurwe, and the Daily
News editor, Nqobile Nyathi, are expected to address workers at all the
bureaux about the latest developments and the way forward from Monday next
Police raided the Daily News offices and printing works to stop production
on 12 September, a day after the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe ruled that ANZ
was operating illegally. Police occupied the Daily News premises and
confiscated all the computers from its Harare head office. Although some of
the equipment was returned last week after ANZ secured a court order
compelling the police to do so, more computers were seized after the police
and the attorney-general's office won another ruling which cancelled the
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena announced on Tuesday that the police were
keen to interrogate all the journalists whose articles had appeared in the
Daily News and its sister publication, the Daily News on Sunday, between
January and the day of the ruling.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Zimbabwe) has since condemned
the harassment of the journalists as yet another blow to the establishment
of a free press and democratic governance in the region.
In a statement on Thursday the NGO coalition, Crisis in Zimbabwe, called
upon all Zimbabweans "who value democracy to join in the campaign to demand
the resuscitation of the Daily News".
25 Sep 2003 16:06:27 GMT
Gas explosion injures 13 in Harare
(updates with details, cause of explosion)
HARARE, Sept 25 (Reuters ) - A gas cylinder exploded in a shop in central
Harare on Thursday, injuring 13 people and sending glass flying over a wide
area, witnesses and firemen said.
"It was a gas cylinder explosion, 13 people were hurt and taken to
hospital," a fireman at the scene in Zimbabwe's capital told Reuters. "No
one was killed." There were no further details.
"We heard an explosion in the shop next to ours and I saw glass flying
everywhere," a woman bystander said.
Police cordoned off the area around the damaged shop for about 300 metres as
fire engines and ambulances sped to the explosion in an alley adjacent to
Julius Nyerere Way and Robert Mugabe Avenue. Thousands of bystanders also
rushed to the spot.
"There was an incident...we do not have details at the moment," Police
Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena told Reuters.
Tension linked to Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic crisis is
mounting in Harare, a stronghold for the main opposition party, the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC).
Farmers May Sue Government
September 25, 2003
Posted to the web September 25, 2003
FRUSTRATED by a lack of assistance from government, a group of South African
farmers whose land has been seized in Zimbabwe has formed an organisation to
lobby on its behalf.
The group, Concerned Investors in Zimbabwe, says it may ultimately consider
legal action against government if members feel it is not supporting their
cause through diplomatic means. They charge that government has not been
taking steps to protect their interests, in contrast to the efforts taken by
European Union (EU) member states.
Crawford von Abo, a founder member of the group, says that of the few farms
that have not been seized, most belong to citizens of EU countries. Farms
belonging to Austrian, Danish, French and German citizens have been
untouched, he says.
In the absence of diplomatic pressure from Pretoria, the group says it is
difficult for its members to recover their properties.
Von Abo was arrested for being on his farm last year although, he says, the
notice that his land was to be seized had been withdrawn.
Another founder member is John Mackenzie, whose family has had its two farms
in Zimbabwe seized.
About 10 other South Africans who farmed in Zimbabwe have expressed interest
in joining the group, says Von Abo. He estimated that there were about 60
South African citizens farming in Zimbabwe before the controversial land
Among the South African landowners in Zimbabwe is the Oppenheimer family,
who gave away part of its landholdings to the Zimbabwe government.
Von Abo, who farmed in Zimbabwe for 50 years, lost 14 farms in the country.
He says he wrote to President Thabo Mbeki about the matter last year. The
letter was passed onto the foreign affairs department, which Von Abo says
replied only six months later.
In February, Von Abo says, he received a letter from Deputy Foreign Minister
Aziz Pahad, who said the Zimbaweans had agreed to return his farms. But he
says his farms have not been returned to him. "I don't want to fight my own
government but I would like it to get the Zimbabweans to uphold their
agreement to delist my farms."
The group also plans to raise public awareness and be a contact point for
those who have lost their investments in Zimbabwe.
In a statement released by the group, it alleges that the seized properties
are not used for genuine resettlement but allocated to faithful Zanu (PF)
Daily News Africa - (SA)
Zimbabwe - lest we forget
September 25, 2003
By the Editor
These are dark
days indeed for our namesake in Zimbabwe - the Daily
News. Not only have the newspaper's owners been interrogated and charged
with publishing without a licence, but its 45 journalists now face a bleak
future. They don't have a newspaper to work for, and have now been told they
will be charged for working without proper accreditation.
For the Daily News, however, licences and accreditation are just a
smokescreen. It is clearly the newspaper's highly principled and courageous
stand against excesses by the Zimbabwean government that has incurred the
wrath of that government, prompting draconian measures that have seriously
threatened the independence of privately-owned newspapers.
It is no secret that the Daily News has been a thorn in the side of
the Zimbabwean authorities. Its journalists refuse to be lackeys of Robert
Mugabe's government, which displays scant respect for the rule of law and
intimidation and harassment they are being subjected to today is
no different to what many journalists in South Africa endured only a decade
or so ago under apartheid. Lest we forget, it is critical for us to recall
the many instances of imprisonment, arbitrary detention without trial,
torture and withdrawal of basic rights and liberties our journalists had to
If we are indeed proud of the role we played here as journalists in
challenging injustice, it is imperative for us to make our voices heard when
the government of a neighbouring state is guilty of similar excesses.
The people of Zimbabwe gave us succour and support in our dark days.
It is time we as South Africans - and that includes our government -
reciprocated. Save the Daily News and press freedom in Zimbabwe.
Mbeki Says Diplomacy Needed for Zimbabwe
S. African Urges Softer Approach Toward Mugabe
By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 25, 2003;
NEW YORK, Sept. 24 -- South African President Thabo Mbeki said today that
economic sanctions and international pressure will not force Zimbabwe's
authoritarian president, Robert Mugabe, to introduce political and economic
reform to his beleaguered country.
"People have made very strong statements about Mugabe and Zimbabwe.
Selective sanctions of one kind or another have been imposed, and they will
not change the situation in Zimbabwe," Mbeki said. "They're extremely
sensitive to being told what to do."
The approach most likely to be effective, Mbeki said, is a softer diplomacy
that encourages negotiations between the Mugabe, 79, and the opposition he
has fought mightily -- and, by most accounts, unfairly -- to keep out of
In an interview at the Plaza Hotel in New York, where he was attending the
opening of the U.N. General Assembly, Mbeki talked expansively about Mugabe,
the Bush administration's Iraq policy and South Africa's HIV/AIDS crisis.
Mbeki has been criticized for moving slowly to address the epidemic.
One in 10 South Africans -- nearly 5 million people -- is infected with HIV,
according to government statistics. Mbeki said, however, that no one close
to him has perished from the disease.
"Personally, I don't know anybody who has died of AIDS," Mbeki said. Asked
whether he knows anyone with HIV, he added quietly, "I really, honestly
Mbeki said that the Bush administration hurt its own cause in Iraq and
harmed the United Nations by invading the country without U.N.
authorization. Although South Africa has sent de-mining personnel to Iraq,
Mbeki said that President Bush could collect more international
contributions for the reconstruction project if he worked with the world
"It would be so much better," Mbeki said. A postwar democracy and rebuilding
effort approved by the United Nations would be less politically fraught, he
said, than the current U.S.-dominated occupation, which has become a target
of Iraqi resistance fighters and their allies.
But with the White House and the Pentagon continuing to set terms, Mbeki
said, contributing countries face the suspicion that they are participating
"because the U.S. says so, or with U.S. permission. You are not far from the
position where somebody says, 'You are now acting as an agent, in collusion
with the occupying power.' "
On Zimbabwe, Mbeki defended his decision not to confront Mugabe publicly or
impose sanctions on its trading partner to the north.
"One of the worst ways to have proceeded would have been to make statements
to make good newspaper headlines," he said. "That wouldn't produce any
When people demand that he make a tough statement, Mbeki said, he asks what
he should do if he criticizes Zimbabwe and Mugabe does nothing in response.
"People can't answer this question," Mbeki said. "Because if you say,
'Impose sanctions,' I say first of all, 'Find me a Zimbabwean who's making
that demand,' because no Zimbabwean makes a demand like that on us."
Mbeki said Zimbabwe imports about 40 percent of its electricity from South
"If we said, 'Switch off the lights,' to that 40 percent extent, you produce
a worse situation in Zimbabwe and you have a million Zimbabweans crossing
the border to us. Is that the outcome we want? Of course it's not."
Mbeki has urged Mugabe and his rivals to work together, despite Mugabe's
moves to silence independent voices and imprison his political rivals, most
notably the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai,
who was put on trial for treason.
Tsvangirai's party has filed a court challenge to Mugabe's narrow election
victory in 2002 and wants Mbeki to lean more heavily on the Mugabe
Mbeki said that it is still "realistic" to expect Mugabe to change after 23
years in power and that he was "pretty confident" that the two leaders would
reach an agreement.
"What we've been saying to the Zimbabwe leadership for some time, both the
ruling party and the opposition, is that they have to deal with these
problems. They . . . need to sit together and say, 'We've got political
problems, we've got economic problems. How do we solve them?' "
Few countries have as tangled a history with the AIDS virus, or face as
grave a threat, as South Africa does. Mbeki refused for years to recognize
the link between HIV and AIDS and long denied the value of anti-retroviral
drugs. As recently as December, Mbeki gave a two-hour speech to the African
National Congress leadership about the party's future and barely mentioned
Mbeki said yesterday, however, that his government is days away from
completing a study about how to make anti-retroviral drugs more available to
AIDS patients in South Africa. Specialists are studying guidelines from the
U.S. National Institutes of Health and have begun to conclude that South
Africa is badly unprepared to deal with the crisis.
The country "does not have the health infrastructure to make these drugs
available to whoever needs them," said Mbeki, who reported that the study
team is considering proposals to concentrate treatment programs at teaching
"Because of the nature and sensitivity of these drugs, it's important that
the people who dispense them and supervise their use must be specially
trained. You can't just give them to some doctor or nurse," Mbeki said.
"It's not like people coming in with a stomachache and you give out whatever
thing deals with a stomachache," Mbeki continued. "Because indeed what you
could be doing, you'd be giving out these things and killing people."
© 2003 The Washington Post Company