Wednesday 26 September 2007
HARARE - Zimbabwe civic society leaders will this week meet in Bulawayo to
plot resistance to a government constitutional reform Bill that received
backing from the opposition but which civic groups say is piecemeal and was
drafted without input from all stakeholders.
In a sign of increasingly hostile division between organised civic society
and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party,
authoritative sources said the Bulawayo meeting will agree on a "programme
of action" that will among other things include street protests against
Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Number 18.
Analysts have warned that the widening rift between the MDC and its main
allies in civic society will weaken opposition to President Robert Mugabe,
strengthening the veteran leader's grip on power months ahead of key
presidential and parliamentary elections next year.
"The feeling is that there was great betrayal by the MDC (in backing the
government bill) so civic groups want to come up with a position," said a
top civic activist, who did not want to be named.
She added: "Street protests as well as petitioning governments in the SADC
(Southern African Development Community) region not to neglect the concerns
of civic society in their attempts to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis are some
of the strategies we are likely to adopt in Bulawayo."
Lovemore Madhuku, who is chairman of the National Constitutional (NCA)
political pressure group confirmed the Bulawayo meeting but refused to be
drawn into details.
"It would be proper to comment after the conference otherwise I would be
accused of pre-emptying the purpose of the conference," said Madhuku.
In addition to the NCA, other civic groups expected to attend the Bulawayo
meeting include the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Christian Alliance,
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Women's Coalition, Zimbabwe National
Students Union and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.
Some of the civic groups boycotted a Monday meeting called by main
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to explain why the MDC endorsed
government constitutional reforms and have threatened to cut ties with the
The two secretaries-general of the divided MDC, Tendai Biti and Welshman
Ncube, were initially included among officials to address the Bulawayo civic
conference but their names were struck off the list of speakers, as
differences between the opposition party and its civic allies appear to be
steadily turning to resentment of each other.
Biti and Ncube were not immediately available for comment on the matter but
an official of the Tsvangirai wing of the MDC downplayed the widening rift
with civic society.
"Divergent views are welcome, as long we still believe in taking Zimbabweans
out of this crisis. We, in the MDC, will not be worried," said Nelson
Chamisa, spokesman of the Tsvangirai-led MDC.
The SADC last March tasked South African President Thabo Mbeki to mediate in
The MDC, which had initially pushed for an entirely new constitution that
would guarantee basic freedoms and free elections, says it agreed to back
the government's constitutional Bill in the spirit of the SADC-led dialogue
and in the greater interests of resolving Zimbabwe's crisis.
The government's constitutional Bill will see constituency boundaries
changed, parliamentary elections brought forward by two years while
Parliament - which Mugabe controls - will be empowered to elect a new
president should the incumbent fail to serve a full term.
Analysts see the clause empowering Parliament to elect a new president as an
exit mechanism allowing Mugabe, 83, to quit active politics, handpick a
successor and possibly rule from the sidelines. - ZimOnline
Wednesday 26 September 2007
By Edith Kaseke
HARARE - Zimbabwe's military has raised the political stakes against the MDC
by effectively threatening a coup if President Robert Mugabe lost elections
in 2008, a sharp departure from the new spirit of co-operation reached at
talks between the two parties.
Analysts say Mugabe, who has ruled the country since independence in 1980,
has increasingly relied on the military to hang on power amid tensions over
a collapsing economy, mainly reflected in hyperinflation and rocketing
In 2002, on the eve of the controversial presidential election, then army
commander retired General Vitalis Zvinavashe told a press conference that
the military would not be loyal to a person who did not participate in
Zimbabwe's liberation war.
This was seen as a direct attack on Mugabe's main challenger MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangiria, a former trade union leader who did not fight in the
1970s war of independence. Tsvangirai went on to lose the closely contested
vote but accused Mugabe of massive rigging.
Army Brigadier General David Sigauke at the weekend repeated threats to
overthrow any government that is not led by Mugabe and his ZANU PF party,
telling soldiers attending a graduation ceremony that Zimbabweans should
vote wisely and that the army would defend the country's sovereignty,
including using the barrel of the gun.
"It therefore remains our duty to defend our rightful heritage," Sigauke
told soldiers at a pass out parade. "As soldiers, we have the privilege to
be able to defend this task on two fronts, the first being through the
ballot box and second being the use of the barrel of the gun should the
worse comes to the worst."
"I may therefore urge you as citizens of Zimbabwe to exercise your electoral
right wisely in the forthcoming election in 2008, remembering that 'Zimbabwe
shall never be a colony again'," Sigauke said.
Defending Zimbabwe's sovereignty has been used by Mugabe in the past to mean
denying the MDC power.
Mugabe has labelled the MDC a puppet party of Western governments opposed to
his leadership and says the opposition is being used by the West to
undermine Zimbabwe's sovereignty and sweep him from power. MDC denies the
In July this year, the veteran leader alleged that Britain had tried to
entice the military to effect a coup against Mugabe but this had failed
because soldiers were loyal to Zimbabwe.
Mugabe says the military is the vanguard of the country's sovereignty and
last year warned opposition members that soldiers stood ready to pull the
trigger against those seeking to oust him.
The comments from Sigauke, a senior military officer are particularly
unsettling as they come at a time when the ruling ZANU-PF and the MDC are
engaged in political negotiations spearheaded by the Southern African
One of the key demands by the opposition is the removal of the military from
bodies running elections.
Mugabe has in the past five years increased the number of former military
personnel to serve in state parastatals and key ministry departments as he
seeks to bolster his grip on power.
For example, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that runs
polls, George Chiweshe, is a former judge advocate general in the army and
was appointed to the High Court in 2001 after Mugabe purged the bench of
independent judges. He took charge of the commission in 2005.
Other former military officers appointed to head key state firms and
institutions include Attorney General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele who is a former
military intelligence officer, air commodore Mike Karakadzai who is general
manager of the National Railways of Zimbabwe and retired colonel Samuel
Muvuti who heads the state's Grain Marketing Board (GMB).
The GMB is often accused by human rights groups of refusing food aid to
opposition supporters as punishment for not backing Mugabe.
Most of the former military personnel participated in Zimbabwe's 1970s war
of independence and have vowed unwavering loyalty to Mugabe, who at 83 years
is one of Africa's oldest leaders. - ZimOnline
Wednesday 26 September 2007
By Chenai Maramba
KAROI - Zimbabwe army soldiers on Tuesday invaded a white-owned commercial
farm in the north-western Karoi farming district, barely 24 hours after
Vice-President Joseph Msika called for an end to farm seizures.
In yet another example of the confusion and chaos that has characterised the
Harare government's controversial farm redistribution exercise, a group of
about 15 soldiers from the army's 2.3 Infantry Battalion invaded James
Stidolph's Grand Parade farm forcing the white farmer - who was among the
about 600 white farmers remaining in the country - to flee.
The soldiers, who were led by a Brigadier-General Dube, are said to have
ordered operations at the farm to stop as they divided the land amongst
"They told us not to irrigate the tobacco fields and also stopped us from
transporting beans and wheat from the farm to the market," said a worker,
who declined to be named for fear of victimisation by the soldiers.
Stidolph, who was among 11 white farmers that Msika had reportedly said
should be allowed to continue producing food for the country, told ZimOnline
from Harare where he has sought refuge: "I am here in Harare where the issue
is being handled by senior government officials."
Msika on Monday announced the government would not allow further evictions
of white farmers who he described as a key stakeholder in the country's
The Vice-President, who has in recent months spoken against farm seizures,
is among a group of top government and ZANU PF officials worried about the
rapid decline in agriculture and who have pushed to stop fresh evictions.
Zimbabwe's agricultural industry has collapsed over the years and the blame
has been laid squarely on President Robert Mugabe's land redistribution
policy that saw thousands of white commercial farmers being forced off their
land since 2000.
Zimbabwe has survived largely on food handouts from international relief
agencies since the land reforms began seven years ago after black villagers
resettled on former white farms failed to maintain production.
Poor performance in the mainstay agriculture sector has also had far
reaching consequences as hundreds of thousands have lost jobs while the
manufacturing sector, starved of inputs from the sector, is operating below
30 percent of capacity. - ZimOnline
Wednesday 26 September 2007
By Lizwe Sebatha
BULAWAYO - A Chinese company contracted by the government to construct the
Gwayi-Shangani dam in Matabeleland North has pulled out from the project
after the government failed to honour its contractual obligations, ZimOnline
Chinese International Water and Electrical (CWE), which was awarded a tender
to construct the dam, reportedly pulled out after the government failed to
meet a "cash-upfront" demand before more work could continue.
The dam is the main component of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project
(MZWP), a long-term plan to tap water from the Zambezi River through the
construction of a pipeline to bring water to Bulawayo.
Ruling ZANU PF politburo member and chairman of MZWP Trust, Dumiso Dabengwa,
yesterday revealed that the government reneged on its contractual agreements
forcing the Chinese company to suspend work on the project.
The trust is responsible for implementation of the Zambezi water project
seen as a long-term solution to problems currently faced by water-starved
Addressing a meeting organised by the National Association of
Non-Governmental Organisations in Bulawayo yesterday, Dabengwa said CWE was
demanding payment before work could proceed.
"The construction of the dam has stopped because of lack of funding and the
Chinese company that was awarded the tender has pulled out saying they need
to be paid first before more work could be done," Dabengwa said.
The former Zimbabwean cabinet minister revealed besides difficulties in
paying the Chinese contractors, the project had also been dogged by problems
in financing purchase of raw materials.
"There are no funds to purchase about 300 000 tonnes of cement that is
required for the project, he said.
"There are no funds for the cement. We have approached the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) but we have not got any response yet," he said.
The Chinese company was also contracted to lay a 32-kilometre pipeline
linking Mtshabezi dam to Mzingwane dam, one of the city's major water
Zimbabwe's second city has faced perennial water problems for more than two
decades during which both residents and the city fathers have pinned their
hopes on an ambitious project to draw water from the Zambezi River.
Boreholes which have been providing the residents with most of their water
needs have also dried up in some parts, leading to the surfacing of black
market water dealers who are charging as much as Z$50 000 for a 10-litre
Bulawayo has five dams that supply water to the city but three of the dams
have already been decommissioned.
The two remaining dams have failed to meet the city's daily water
requirement of 120 000 cubic metres. The city council is only able to pump
out 69 000 cubic metres of water daily from the available sources. -
Wednesday 26 September 2007
††††† By Regerai Marwezu
††††† MASVINGO - President Robert Mugabe's government has reinstated the
licences of all private abattoirs in another embarrassing admission that the
state beef monopoly has no capacity to meet demand.
††††† The government withdrew the licences of all private slaughterhouses on
11 July, accusing them of defying orders to reduce meat prices by half in
the state's attempts to rein in rampant inflation.
††††† Industry Minister Obert Mpofu said at the time that the state-owned
Cold Storage Company (CSC) would be given sole responsibility for
††††† But Mpofu yesterday announced that all abattoirs had now been given
the green light to operate.
††††† "We have re-licenced all the abattoirs because we have discovered that
the CSC has no capacity to supply beef to the nation," Mpofu said.
††††† The reinstatement of licences of all slaughterhouses comes about a
month after the Harare authorities announced the lifting of the ban on 42
private abattoirs to alleviate severe shortages of beef around the country.
††††† The lifting of the ban had at the time sparked allegations of
favouritism with some mainly white abattoirs accusing the government of
re-licensing slaughterhouse owned by individuals with close links to the
ruling ZANU PF party.
††††† Mpofu was yesterday confident that beef supplies would have improved
by the end of the week following the entry of more players and the recent
increase in prices.
††††† "We have also increased the price of beef with immediate effect and we
hope by the end of the week meat will be available in most butcheries," said
††††† A kilogramme of economy beef is now going for $685 000, up from the
previous recommended price of $144 000.
††††† Super beef now sells for $800 000 a kg from $250 000 previously.
††††† Mpofu said the government would continue to push for greater
participation by indigenous blacks in the beef industry but said
implementation of such a policy was being frustrated by some white abattoir
owners who opted to remain closed than to be forced dispose of their shares
††††† Most white owned abattoirs in southern Zimbabwe had remained closed
since last month after the government refused to re-licence them, demanding
that they first dispose of at least 50 percent of their shares to blacks.
††††† ZimOnline is reliably informed that one of the abattoirs was being
forced to sell part of its shares to ZANU PF bigwigs and army generals in
return for an operating licence.
††††† It could not be immediately established yesterday whether the
concerned abattoir that resumed operations on Monday this week had sold part
of its stake to ZANU PF politicians.
††††† "The policy has not changed and we are still encouraging and not
forcing all white owned abattoirs to take on board blacks," said Mpofu.
††††† In the south-eastern Masvingo province, most butcheries started
receiving meat deliveries on Monday from abattoirs.
††††† "We slaughtered about 54 cattle yesterday (Monday) and today we are
slaughtering 55," said an official with a local abattoir who refused to be
††††† "The government has however ordered us to supply the local market
first before exporting the product," he added. - ZimOnline
Wednesday 26 September 2007
JOHANNESBURG - Southern African Development Community (SADC) states on
Monday said they would boycott the European Union-Africa summit in Portugal
in December if President Robert Mugabe is barred from the meeting.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown last week raised the stakes when he said
he would boycott the summit if Mugabe is allowed to attend the summit, the
first in seven years.
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has since last March been leading a
regional initiative between the ruling ZANU PF party and the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party to break the eight-year impasse.
SADC leaders, who have in the past consistently rallied behind the veteran
Zimbabwean leader, say the Portugal summit could be scuttled if Mugabe is
barred from the summit.
"Attempting to isolate His Excellency President Robert Mugabe would be
contrary to the letter and spirit of that initiative and, thus, the SADC
position is that of non-participation if one of the region's leaders, namely
President Robert Mugabe, is not invited," said Leefa Martin, the SADC
Mozambique's foreign affairs minister Alcide Abreu told the international
media that Maputo was fully behind the SADC position on Mugabe's invitation
to Portugal adding that southern African would boycott the sumit if Mugabe
"We support African strategies," Abreu said. "We support the position taken
by the leadership of these bodies (SADC and the African Union)."
Last week, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa said he would boycott the
Portugal summit in sympathy with Mugabe if the Zimbabwean leader is barred
from the meeting.
Meanwhile, the European Commission said European leaders must take the
Portugal summit as a chance to engage with Mugabe in the search for a
solution to the southern African country's crisis.
"If Mugabe attends, we cannot think of a better occasion to raise our
concerns about fundamental human rights and democracy. We think the agenda
is rich enough and we have waited too many years to devote too much
attention to this singular issue," said commission spokesperson, Amadeu
Tario. - ZimOnline
Wednesday 26 September 2007
By Patricia Mpofu
HARARE - An intern with the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition pressure group who
was arrested for distributing literature demanding free and fair elections
next year has been released from police custody without charge.
Memory Kadau, a university student on attachment at Crisis, was arrested on
Thursday while manning the group's stand at the Non Governmental
Organisations (NGO) Expo that was held at the Harare Gardens last week.
Kadau was detained at Harare Central police station where she was
interrogated during the night by state security agents who accused her of
working for a "bogus organisation" bent on effecting regime change in
She was released on Friday after spending the night in filthy cells at the
Sources within the civic group said Kadau was picked up at the Expo by
plain-clothes police officers from the Law and Order section.
The police accused the civic group of abusing the name of the late Zimbabwe
African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) chief General Josiah Magama
Tongogara after it used his pre-independence speech on free and fair
elections on the organisation's banner that was on display at the Expo.
The former ZANLA chief called for free and fair elections supervised by the
international community in a seminal speech at the height of the liberation
struggle in 1978.
Tongogara died in a car accident a year later on the eve of Zimbabwe's
Kadau's lawyer, Charles Kwaramba, said his client was subjected to intensive
interrogations while she was being detained at the police station.
"Police officers were threatening to beat her up if she failed to disclose
where they could find the Crisis Coalition's leadership," said Kwaramba.
Police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka could not be reached for comment on the
Thousands of civic activists have been arrested over the past seven years
for allegedly violating the country's tough security laws while others have
been arraigned before the courts on flimsy charges.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party has often
accused the Zimbabwean government of arresting and harassing its supporters
in an attempt to intimidate and stop them from backing the opposition
party. - ZimOnline
posted: 2:19 PM, September 25, 2007 by Michael Clancy
By Chris Thompson
Village Voice Staff Writer
Now that everyone's finished live-blogging and hyperventilating over Iranian
strongman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Columbia address, maybe New Yorkers can
finally notice that a gen-yoo-wine, Pol-Pot-ain't-got-shit-on-me monster is
walking the streets of our fair city.
Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, who has spearheaded a genocidal
starvation campaign against his political opponents and murders tens of
thousands of his own people every year, has arrived in the city and plans to
address the United Nations General Assembly tomorrow. The aging, cynical
despot, whose wife shopped for shoes in European capitals while his soldiers
forced 1 million people to flee Harare and starve in the countryside, will
reportedly argue that American and European sanctions are illegal and
have-get this-caused terrible deprivation in Zimbabwe.
But so far, only the New Republic's James Kirchick has noticed that one of
the worst human beings on the planet is browsing the aisles at
Bloomingdales. "What's going on in Zimbabwe, in genocidal proportions, is
worse than Darfur," says Kirchick. "It's unfortunate that people don't care
about it. But that's the way it's always been."
In fact, New York has a sordid history of accommodating Mugabe, thanks to
everyone's favorite race-baiter, City Councilman Charles Barron. Four years
ago, Barron led a "fact-finding mission" to Zimbabwe and returned with a
report that exonerated Mugabe as much as the English language will allow.
("Zimbabwe remains one of the most stable countries in Africa," read the
report's conclusion.) Barron even invited Mugabe to speak at City Hall,
where roughly a dozen councilmembers applauded and fawned over Africa's
Pundits around the country have filled their gullets with the easy
satisfaction that comes with denouncing a Holocaust-denyin',
terrorist-financin' demogogue like Ahmadinejad. But when it comes to
confronting people who have refined the art of deliberate mass starvation,
no one seems terribly interested. When Bill Bennett learned that President
Bush planned to use his time at the General Assembly to denounce
Myanmar-which rivals only Zimbabwe and North Korea as the worst place on
Earth-he went on his radio show and sighed, "I'm for democracy in Burma, but
do we have to talk about that today?" National Review Online editor Kathryn
Jean Lopez echoed Bennett's sentiment, as if presiding over a regime of
fifty million slaves was somehow less odious than a Persian nutjob trying to
lay a wreath at Ground Zero.
Fortunately, Mugabe has finally done something every American pundit will
find truly monstrous-he met with Ahmadinejad this morning.
Wed 26 Sep 2007, 0:29 GMT
By Jason Szep
BOSTON (Reuters) -South African Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu said on
Tuesday he was "devastated" by the human rights abuses of President Robert
Mugabe's government in Zimbabwe, where the economy has virtually collapsed.
But Tutu, who has criticized South African President Thabo Mbeki for his
policy of "quiet diplomacy" toward the Zimbabwean leader, said he was
growing more confident in Mbeki's efforts to coax it's southern African
neighbor toward political reform.
"I have in the past lambasted the softly, softly approach. But I have to
admit I have been very surprised," Tutu said in an interview with Reuters.
He cited signs that Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party and its political
opposition, had moved toward a compromise that could lead to elections next
Tutu said he struggles to understand how Mugabe, denounced as "tyrannical"
by U.S. President George W. Bush at the U.N. General Assembly in New York,
changed so drastically after steering the former British colony to
independence in 1980.
Under Mugabe's 27-year rule Zimbabwe has plunged from prosperity -- it was
once called the "bread basket" of southern Africa -- to penury.
"I'm just devastated by what I can't explain, by what seems to be an
aberration, this sudden change in character," said the 75-year-old former
archbishop of Cape Town.
"But it does not in any way remove that he did do very well. Zimbabwe was
for a very long time a showcase country."
Mugabe, a former Marxist guerrilla, is accused of engineering the country's
chaotic descent with controversial policies, like the seizure of white-owned
commercial farms, many of which were handed to cronies or inexperienced
Zimbabwe is now wracked by severe shortages of food, fuel and foreign
currency. It has the world's highest inflation rate of more than 7,000
percent, it's mines and industries are crumbling and the unemployment rate
is estimated at around 80 percent.
An estimated two to three million Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa.
Mugabe's government has widely condemned for rigging elections, beating
opposition leaders, crushing street protests and intimidating the press.
Tutu, who took on South Africa's apartheid government as the country's first
black bishop and won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, said Mbeki's policy toward
Mugabe's government now appears to be working better than expected.
He said he was encouraged by constitutional changes that could bring
presidential and parliamentary elections to Zimbabwe next year, citing
recent talks between the opposition and the ruling Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front that could "pave the way for possibilities of change."
"And that has been exclusively due to the SADC (Southern African Development
Community) initiative where President Mbeki has played a critical role and I
am ready to commend them and to say let us give them a little more time and
see whether something substantial actually does emerge," he said.
By Sebastien Berger in Musina
Last Updated: 2:55am BST 26/09/2007
††††† More than a million Zimbabweans will have fled into South Africa by
the end of the year, according to a new report.
††††† The survey for Zimbabwe's Mass Public Opinion Institute is the first
scientific examination of emigrants forced out by Robert Mugabe's political
and economic misrule.
††††† "People are leaving for survival," said Daniel Makina, a professor at
the University of South Africa, who carried out the study.
††††† As they arrive in Musina, the northernmost town in South Africa and a
nondescript sprawl of buildings at the end of the road to Johannesburg,
immigrants are greeted by a giant yellow poster.
††††† "We know why you're in South Africa," it reads. "Life in Zimbabwe is
murder these days." It implores emigrants to return to vote "for freedom" at
the next elections.
††††† Nearby, the Sibanda cousins, illegal arrivals from Bulawayo with
nothing but the clothes on their backs, rested after their journey.
††††† In the dry season Kipling's "great, grey-green, greasy" Limpopo, the
river frontier, is more of a narrow stream and in many places holes have
been cut in the triple border fence. Nonetheless, the journey is not easy.
††††† The cousins paid a guide 80 rand each, about £6 but more than a
month's wages for many Zimbabweans.
††††† "Now we don't have money to buy anything like food," said Bernard, 23,
a sculptor with a wife and son to support.
††††† It took the pair three days to walk from Beitbridge, the official
border post, across the frontier and to Musina. They did not eat, slept in
the bush and had to run the gauntlet of police and robbers, both of whom, he
said, would "hit you thoroughly"; the former if you tried to escape and the
latter to demand money and clothing.
††††† But he added: "It's better to come like this because there in Zimbabwe
it's bad. There's no jobs. There's no money."
††††† Leo, also 23, a trained hairdresser, said: "We're sitting here because
we are hungry and too tired.
††††† "We are starving in Zimbabwe. There's nothing to do. We are just
looking for a job, for piecework. Then we can buy bread and eat."
††††† Their thin build and threadbare clothes were evidence of their plight.
Like migrants the world over, though, Zimbabweans in South Africa face
accusations that they are criminals and deprive locals of employment.
††††† The South African home affairs minister has suggested legalising
economic migrants, but for now Zimbabweans found without papers face
immediate deportation - at a rate of 17,000 a month so far this year.
††††† Prof Makina said the government's attitude was determined by its
foreign policy. "There seems to be a reluctance to accept that there is a
political crisis in Zimbabwe," he said.
By Daniel Howden
Published: 26 September 2007
Zimbabwe's long-heralded food crisis has finally arrived in the big cities
as empty supermarkets have begun to enforce rationing.
Huge queues are forming in towns and cities for staples such as cooking oil
and milli-meal porridge and millions are now trying to survive on a single
meal a day.
"Even if the shops have cooking oil you are only allowed one bottle per
person," said a teacher in Harare, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"People are watching for delivery vans on every corner and then running to
wherever they stop."
In the desperation, two babies died in the crush of food queues last week in
the second city of Bulawayo and another small child has reportedly died in a
similar incident in Harare.
Previously, even in the worst periods of the economic crash, the
supermarkets' shelves, in what was once among Africa's most affluent
countries, have been full. The World Food Programme estimates that as many
as four million people are in danger of starving as the situation
Zimbabwe's 83-year-old president has sought to blame the economic meltdown
on international sanctions but in reality they only apply to the movements
and assets of his own cabal of apparatchiks and cronies.
While senior officials loyal to Mugabe continue to live lavishly, the
southern African country is in the grip of unimaginable superinflation, with
the real rate climbing above 13,000 per cent. The cost of keeping above the
poverty line has this week risen to ZD12m per week. Average salaries for
police officers, teachers, soldiers and factory workers remain around ZD4m.
The response of Robert Mugabe's government to the economic collapse has been
to clamp down even harder on all forms of opposition. While talks between
the ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
go on behind closed doors in South Africa, the arbitrary arrests and beating
of Mugabe's opponents continues at home.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the largest of the two opposition factions,
has reportedly sent an envoy to the South African president Thabo Mbeki,
saying he will abandon the Pretoria talks unless there are firm guarantees
that intimidation of his supporters will stop.
Mr Tsvangirai, who was himself badly beaten by police earlier this year, has
been criticised by civil liberty groups after agreeing to a constitutional
deal with the Mugabe regime this week that will see the President increase
his control over the election process.
Opposition leaders insist in private that they have wrung concessions from
Mugabe but their claims have been greeted with widespread scepticism.
††††† By Carole Gombakomba
††††† 25 September 2007
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of
Iran, whose countries were once designated "outposts of tyranny" by the U.S.
administration, met Tuesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General
Assembly and called for developing nations to unite against Western
Iranian state media said the two leaders discussed "the need for unity of
the developing states against.U.S. and British neocolonialism." The Iranian
report said President Mugabe lashed out at what he described as "the
unilateralist approach and misuse of the U.N. Security Council by the
He urged countries in the developing world to "confront such approaches by
the big powers," according to the Iranian dispatch. The report said the
Iranian president expressed appreciation for Zimbabwe's "active presence" in
the Non-Aligned Movement ministerial session on human rights held in Tehran
Offering perspective, independent political analyst Hermann Hanekom of Cape
Town, South Africa, told reporter Carole Gombakomba that the alliance
between Mugabe and Ahmadinejad was unlikely to bring about much of a
response from developing countries, which stand to benefit from aid provided
by the major powers.
On Tuesday, U.S. President George Bush in remarks to the General Assembly
called Mr. Ahmadinejad's government a "brutal regime" that denied
"fundamental rights" and said the behavior of Mr. Mugabe's "tyrannical
regime" was "an assault on its people and an affront to the principles of
the Universal Declaration" of human rights.
Published: 26 September 2007
Sir: Dominic Lawson (21 September) misunderstands the exchanges on land
between Britain and Zimbabwe both in 1979 and in 1997.
In the early years after independence I was the British government's
representative on the committee in Harare that approved the resettlement
projects that both governments jointly financed, including the cost of land
purchase and infrastructure. Each scheme was appraised for economic
viability by British officials and most were visited. Independent
evaluations showed that the great majority worked well, enabling thousands
of small-scale farmers to make a living. More than two million hectares
changed hands in this way.
President Mugabe showed no interest, then or later, in solving the complex
issue of land ownership via this carefully planned route. The flow of new
proposals slowed and the Zimbabwean capacity to implement them was
dismantled. British aid funds pledged after independence were not fully
claimed and a renewed offer made by Lynda Chalker in 1989 was not taken up.
In 1997 Mugabe thought the arrival of a Labour government would enable him
to tear up the compromises he had made, but never acknowledged, at Lancaster
House. He wrote to Tony Blair asking for a fresh start based on the British
government accepting full responsibility for buying out the white farmers
(most of whom were not British) and handing the land to his government to
distribute as he thought fit, the position he had consistently taken. The
letter from Clare Short that Lawson criticises was a rational response. It
again offered financial and technical assistance for an organised,
Zimbabwe-led, programme of land purchase and resettlement in partnership
with other donors
Further efforts by Britain, the UN and the World Bank over the next two
years to negotiate a sustainable rural development programme that would meet
justifiable political expectations were brushed aside. Mugabe eventually
acted alone, with the tragic results that The Independent continues to
report. The responsibility lies wholly with him and his associates.
A snub to Zimbabwe's leader will be seen as a patronising and arrogant act
by the former colonial power
Wednesday September 26, 2007
Which is more important, the future of Africa or Gordon Brown's need to
demonstrate that he's a tough man of unbending principle? I ask because I
genuinely cannot understand the prime minister's out-of-the-blue ultimatum
that he will boycott the Africa-EU conference in Lisbon in December if
Robert Mugabe is there. What is he trying to achieve? He cannot really think
that his portentous statement of intent will scare or persuade Mugabe into
abandoning his own trip; on the contrary, it will merely reinforce his
desire to come.
Nor can Brown be so naive as to believe that all the other African leaders
will happily attend the party if Mugabe is left off the guest list. He
surely realises that a snub to Zimbabwe's leader will be seen as a
patronising and arrogant act by the former colonial power. The leaders of
most of the former British colonies are worried and angry that Mugabe is
destroying his country, but they will rally around him in the face of some
ham-fisted gesture emanating from Britain. At a recent summit of southern
African states, which leader was given the most rousing acclamation in the
conference hall? It wasn't praise for the way he runs Zimbabwe; it was the
applause of solidarity.
In any event, I cannot see the Portuguese acceding to Brown's wish to have
Mugabe excluded, nor is there any likelihood of other EU states (except,
perhaps, a couple of small ones) joining the Brown initiative. So what will
it achieve? It is possible that the prime minister's clumsy intervention may
damage the prospects of the conference, the outcome of which is important to
both Africa and the EU. He cannot want that. If he is making a purely moral
point, he can be accused of hypocritical selection. There are many nasty
governments and leaders with whom he is perfectly happy to break bread.
∑ The Living Tongues Institute and the National Geographic Institute have
revealed new research showing that a language is dying every two weeks, and
that 40% of the world's 7,000 or so languages can be considered endangered.
I know I should care, but I can't. An unwritten, undocumented language
expires with the death of the second-last person to speak it. The last
survivor may mutter it to himself, or explain it to a researcher, but it is
no longer a living language. One may regret its loss because it had a vivid
vocabulary or because it was the last link to a community that is no more.
But does it matter?
Languages decline because members of the societies that sustained them adopt
other options. They move from villages to towns or cities. Having jobs
obliges them to speak the language of the workplace. The children watch
television, and go to schools that don't teach their native tongue. Soon the
only people who speak it are the elderly; they die off. A language cannot be
separated from the society that nurtures it. When that society goes, so -
inevitably and rightly - does its means of communication, and I do not see
the point of trying to keep it alive artificially.
It is different, of course, where substantial written records of the
language survive the demise of the community that used it, but that is
rarely the case with the tongues said to be endangered. So I am not sad that
we may be losing a couple of thousand small, hardly used, languages. We will
still have several thousand left.
∑ I owe Marcel Marceau a strange debt. He did me a big favour, long ago,
without knowing it, just by being who he was. I was in Johannesburg; my
parents had emigrated there from Marseille. I found out very quickly that
Marcel was an unknown name there - except in its feminine form. "Why have
you got a girl's name?" I was asked a thousand times, not kindly, usually
accompanied by a snigger. Much of my post came addressed to Marcelle.
It was no use citing Proust as proof of the name's maleness; he was not well
known in the schoolboy and other ignorant circles that were teasing me (not
that I knew much about him myself, but my father assured me that he was very
famous, back in the old country). Nor had the reputation of Marcel Cerdan,
the boxing world champion I was named after, reached South Africa.
And then Marceau came touring and was a big hit, much written about and
discussed. Suddenly there was another Marcel, overwhelming evidence of the
masculinity of the name. The teasing and the girlie-oriented remarks
stopped. Thanks to the great mime, I had a real name at last.
∑ I am surprised to find myself writing in support of President Ahmadinejad
of Iran. Columbia University in New York had invited him to speak there,
last Monday; but before he was allowed to utter a word, the university's
president, Lee Bollinger, who had extended the invitation, spent 10 minutes
insulting his guest in the most boorish, crude, crass, intemperate, hostile
and personally offensive manner. Later, Ahmadinejad made many unacceptable,
provocative and absurd comments, most of them predictable, but, to me, it
was the American who emerged from that session the more dislikeable figure.
I don't of course mean that an impolite host is more objectionable than a
holocaust denier, but Bollinger did something I would have thought
impossible - force me to sympathise, however fleetingly, with the president
∑ This week Marcel saw (on the same day) Yella: "A gripping German thriller,
bleak and menacing"; A Mighty Heart, the film of Daniel Pearl's kidnap and
murder: "Disappointingly shallow; Angelina Jolie acts OK, but no more"; and
A Disappearing Number, at the Barbican: "The Complicite theatre group's
clever, exciting and imaginative interpretation of higher mathematics."
††††† By Blessing Zulu
††††† 25 September 2007
Zimbabwean consumers are feeling the shock of yet another round of price
increases for food and transport driven, economists say, by the Zimbabwe
dollar's continued tumble against the U.S. dollar and other convertible
The U.S. was fetching Z$500,000 on the parallel market on Tuesday compared
with Z$40,000 to Z50,0000 in May - in effect a tenfold depreciation. The
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe recently reset the official rate to Z$30,000 from
just Z$250, though most economists said the move was too little of an
adjustment to make a difference.
Transport costs in Harare and most rural areas have doubled recently while
the cost of food keeps rising. A a loaf of bread goes for Z$150,0000 on the
parallel market though the official price is Z$30,000. A 10-kilogram bag of
maize meal - Zimbabwe's staple food - sells for Z$500,000 - ten times the
official price of Z$50,000.
Few firms are maintaining output, as they are losing money at state-imposed
Independent economic consultant Bothwell Deka told reporter Blessing Zulu of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the scarcity of foreign currency is hitting
Meanwhile, South African Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni said Tuesday
that the erosion of property rights in Harare has been one of the causes of
the country's economic crisis. Mboweni was giving a a lecture at Rhodes
By Jethro Mpofu
Last updated: 09/26/2007 08:18:59
AS I write, the Zimbabwean political and economic atmosphere is heavily
pregnant with important possibilities. Like any other pregnancy, there is
the much prayed for possibility that a new bouncing baby Zimbabwe will be
born when a new constitutional and political order is realised.
There is also the rude possibility of an abortion or the uninvited
disappointing miscarriage. Yet, it remains the task before all serious
Zimbabweans to work over time to ensure that this historic opportunity to
reinvent Zimbabwe is not again squandered.
Prosperity might forever charge us with the capital sin of constitutional,
economic and political negligence if we once again miss this opportunity to
restore to normalcy the legal, economic and political workings of our
country through sober debate, serious dialogue and free and fair elections.
The national troubles that Zimbabweans from all classes and all walks have
endured during the violence, food shortages, water shortages, high cost of
living and collapse of law and order should naturally condition all of us to
sobriety, seriousness and concrete resolve to unite and navigate our country
out of the angry seas of economic and political chaos that currently
punctuate the condition of our country -- reducing it to the status of a
colony of hell on earth.
At this stage, it is as obvious as the sky that all Zimbabweans, in the
ruling party, in opposition ranks and in the church and general civic
society can sense and also see the urgent need for a new constitutional,
political and economic order in our land. The questions are what must be
done, who must do it and how must it be done?
I must state at this point that I am humbly and politely addressing myself
to the honour, the courage, patriotism, commitment and the sacrificial
spirit of the men and women of Zimbabwe who so far have risked life and
limb, tempted fate and diced with death himself by leading opposition
political parties, civic groups, churches, student organisations and other
societies that have for so long been struggling and negotiating for a new
I must also state that I am applying myself to those Zimbabweans who are
still operating within the leadership ranks of the ruling party, but have
the preparedness to work together with all other Zimbabweans in the grand
historic project of delivering Zimbabwe back to glory and progress.
I must also emphasise that I wish to salute the collective heroism, courage,
endurance and patience of the ordinary and common Zimbabwean citizens who
have seen it all at its worst in Zimbabwe. These are the populations and
communities of Zimbabwe who have for so longer than life chosen peace under
economic and political conditions that have long clearly justified war.
I also wish, finally, to observe the essence of, and the concern, interest
and commitment sometimes rightly and sometimes very wrongly of the global
community of other nations and countries who must have above all other
interests seen the light that the economic, constitutional and economic
recovery of Zimbabwe will be a giant contribution to the prosperity of
humanity under the sun.
"The fly that does not listen to advice", the Masai of East Africa say,
"will follow the corpse to the grave and end its young life."
I hereby seek to politely offer my humble personal advisory words to the
comrades and friends who populate and drive the engines of opposition
politics in Zimbabwe. They include Cde Morgan Tsvangirai, Professor Jonathan
Moyo, Professor Aurthur Mutambara and many other luminaries who have taken a
generational stand that a new Zimbabwe must be born.
To these men and women of courage, I wish to repeat these words of the late
revolutionary Amilcar Cabral that "Unity In Struggle" is what we need in
Zimbabwe. As our elders also have said, "no matter how big your hand is, it
unfortunately cannot cover the sky."
We have arrived at a historical corner of our country's condition where no
opposition leader is either too small or too big for these demanding
political exigencies in our country. The stubborn reality before us comrades
and friends is that we will be challenging common sense and contradicting
common political wisdom if we ever imagine that a single opposition grouping
will single-handedly unseat Zanu PF and sentence Mugabe to the dustbins of
There is an inevitable need for unity of purpose and strategy comrades. To
concentrate on coining clever insults about each other, to invest our
energies and efforts in phrasing hurtful labels against each other and to
waste words describing and defaming each other is but to major on minor
issues and to minor on major issues like the proverbial villager who burnt
down the whole village to fix a troublesome rat.
I wish to forward the point comrades, that if Zanu PF is to be consigned to
its rightful place as the vanquished in the impending elections in the year
2008, there is need for opposition political parties in Zimbabwe to come up
with a strategic alliance formula that will ensure that opposition
candidates do not contest each other in all constituencies in the country.
Any move otherwise will donate unexpected victory to Zanu PF.
It is also said by our elders that "those who spit at the sky will only soil
their own faces," which donates to us the wisdom that whilst criticism
amongst opposition political parties and other groupings is healthy and
democratic, jealousy and malice, inspired condemnation and criticism of each
other will only work hard to protect the status quo and reduce us to the
status of "enemies of the people and opponents of progress."
It is not an exaggeration that when brothers fight over a field it is a
stranger who will reap the harvest. We need to unite and solidify into a
deadly force that will engineer a revolutionary conspiracy that will make
victory a must for Zimbabwe.
There are also the brothers and sisters who occupy positions within the
functions of the current government. It is so easy to bundle them into one
black bag of condemnation and blame and label them traitors, criminals,
killers and other labels, but what happens in the history and life of all
nations is that there are some among the ruling clique who we can talk to
and work with openly and covertly to achieve the goods for our country.
To ignore their presence, to minimise their experience, to forget their
abilities can as well indicate that we are like the innocent mechanic who
chooses not to know the efficiency of used spare parts. There are valuable
eyes, brains and bones of Zimbabwe that we need to liberate from the history
of Zanu PF and invest in the future of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is also very rich with civic organisations of serious cause and
concern. The NCAs of our country, the WOZAs of our country, the MISAs of our
country, the Crisis Coalitions of our country, Bulawayo Dialogue, Bulawayo
Agenda, NYDT and others are all organisations that can help shepherd the
hearts and minds of the populations of Zimbabwe to register as voters and to
seek election as candidates in the coming elections.
To be angry with Zanu PF alone, to shout angry slogans and march down the
streets in protest when one is not a registered voter is not only to work
for the status quo but it is also clearly comparable to pelting an elephant
with pebbles and to threaten a mountain with a needle. It is our civic
organisations that must act as watchful touts of the vehicles of liberty in
Talking about the masses, it is important for us in the opposition political
parties and civic society organisations to remember that while we are proud
of the wealth of professors and other elites in our ranks, it is the
peasants who own history and are the water that we swim in as we pursue our
varied goals in the process of seeking a new Zimbabwe.
The campaign for "unity in struggle", voter registration and unity of
purpose must be taken out of the comfort of hotels, boardrooms and halls to
the rural areas where the devil has made it a habit to conceal his ugly self
plotting unwanted and retrogressive victories for the common enemy.
The role of the international community in influencing what happens in the
economy and politics of Zimbabwe cannot be ignored although it should not be
exaggerated. Zimbabwe is indeed a global economic and political player, but
in the interests of our sovereignty and dignity as an African people, it is
important that we realise that democracy for us will not be donated from
anywhere or imported from any foreign capital but will be produced here in
Zimbabwe for the consumption of the Zimbabweans.
In conclusion, I wish to put it before Zimbabweans and all others around the
globe who value humanity and wish Zimbabweans well in their pursuit of
economic and political happiness that a new Zimbabwe is indeed possible. A
new constitutional and political order in Zimbabwe is feasible and
opportunities for the creation of the same are abundant.
It is important however for Zimbabweans in opposition political parties and
those in the civic society to understand that only a broad united front of
politicians from all formations in the Zimbabwean political landscape will
unseat the ruling regime. If we approach the coming elections as fragmented
entities we will surely be sleep-walking our country into doom.
Jethro Mpofu is Bulawayo based political activist and advocate for a United
Opposition Political Front. He can be contacted on e-mail:
SW Radio Africa (London)
25 September 2007
Posted to the web 25 September 2007
Police in Mutare are still to charge MDC youth leader Lloyd Mahute who is
alleged to have insulted Robert Mugabe by describing him as senile. The
youth leader is being held at Mutare central police station.
Mahute's lawyer David Tandire said his client denies he ever said those
words. Tandire explained that police intend to transfer Mahute to Chipinge
where the 'crime' was committed. The MDC youth secretary for Manicaland is
alleged to have told a party rally in Gaza, Chipinge north, two weeks ago
that Mugabe should be relieved of his duties because he was 'insane and
'My client denies allegations being levelled against him. He believes he is
being framed by the police. We will wait until 48 hours elapses before we
apply for discharge if they don't charge him,' Tandire said.
Mutare police have failed so far to transport Mahute to Chipinge because
they have no fuel. Tandire said if they fail to do so by Wednesday they will
compel the police to bring him to court in the city, as authorities might
consider to making an application for further detention.
Pishai Muchauraya, the MDC spokesman for Manicaland laughed at reports that
police had no fuel to transport Mahute to Chipinge. He said it showed
government was no longer in control of things in a country that was going
downhill on daily basis.
'They are saying there is no fuel, but their chefs are driving around
needlessly around the country and visiting their farms. This is a joke. If
people say Mugabe has destroyed the country, this is exactly what they
mean,' Muchauraya said.
SW Radio Africa (London)
25 September 2007
Posted to the web 25 September 2007
National Constitutional Assembly chairperson Lovemore Madhuku has denied he
was assaulted, as reported in many sections of the Zimbabwe media. The
constitutional expert said he sees no reason why he should be assaulted in
Zimbabwe, by people attending pro-democracy activities.
Reports said a group of MDC youths broke up a civil society meeting in
Chitungwiza on Saturday and assaulted Madhuku for denouncing the two
factions of the MDC for agreeing to piecemeal changes to constitutional
amendment number 18. Madhuku said he was surprised by the origins of the
report, blaming the MDC information department.
But party spokesman Nelson Chamisa said their youth chairman Thamsanqa
Mahlangu issued a statement on Sunday saying his party categorically denied
it's youths had anything to do with the alleged assault, after the media
reports had emerged.
But Madhuku maintained that he blamed the MDC for the leaked report, that
incorrectly said he had been assaulted.
'It is not true I was assaulted and it is also not true the meeting was
disrupted. There were two guys, whom I know very well, who wanted me to
explain fully why we were against the MDC--Zanu-PF deal. The other guy was
querying why I was criticising the MDC and said I should either retract or
withdraw my statement,' Madhuku said.
During the meeting Madhuku said he criticised both Zanu-PF and the MDC and
that his speech was well received. He was more critical of the MDC because
he said they had abandoned their quest for a people-driven new constitution.
He said as far as he was concerned there was nothing else to discuss with
the MDC concerning the amended Bill, because the two factions had sold out.
The only solution to the crisis was overhauling the whole constitution and
not 'panel beat' bits and pieces that still favour the ruling party.
'They were lied to by Zanu-PF that they will get a new constitution before
an election. That's why we boycotted Tsvangirai's meeting yesterday (Monday)
because we cannot be part of that stupid agreement,' he said.
However, Madhuku tried to be conciliatory when he said they have not
completed slammed their door on the MDC, adding there was still a lot they
can talk about as long as they admit they made a mistake dealing with
'These guys should just admit they made a big blunder. I have no problem
working with them again, but again they should be open and tell Zimbabweans
††††† By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
††††† 25 September 2007
Hopes that relations between Harare and London would have improved with the
arrival of Prime Minister Gordon Brown are fast evaporating.
Mr. Brown declared last week in a London newspaper that it would be
inappropriate for him to attend December's European Union-African Union
Summit in Lisbon if President Robert Mugabe were to be present. He cited the
country's steep descent into poverty and the human rights record of the
That statement drew a barrage of protests from Harare and some African
leaders threatened to boycott the summit themselves if Mr. Mugabe were
This week, Harare's government-controlled Herald newspaper personalized the
issue in an article that implied that Mr. Brown, of Scottish origin, was of
much the same ilk as former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith and other
Director Gordon Moyo of the Bulawayo Agenda told reporter Ndimyake
Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that any expectations Mr. Brown
would have taken a less confrontational line than his predecessor, Tony
Blair, were misplaced.