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'Half of Zimbabwe will soon need food aid'

The Telegraph

By Sophie Arie
Last Updated: 2:28am BST 27/09/2007

Half of Zimbabwe's people will be dependent on emergency food aid next
year, a senior British diplomatic source has said, in a damning indictment
of President Robert Mugabe's regime.

Of an estimated eight million Zimbabweans still in the country, "we
know we'll be feeding four million people by January or February, possibly
more", the official said.

He estimated that since Mr Mugabe began seizing white-owned farms in
2000, the population has fallen from 12 million to eight million.

Of the estimated four million who have fled, up to three million have
moved to neighbouring South Africa and a large number has moved to London.
It is estimated that 100,000 Zimbabweans are crossing into South Africa
every month.

The stated aim of Mr Mugabe's land grab was to make Zimbabwe
self-sufficient and assert its independence from Britain. Instead it has
rendered half its population dependent on the outside world for their next

Ironically, Britain is now the biggest single donor paying for food
supplies for Zimbabweans.

Hyperinflation and recent price cuts have worsened the situation
causing "a really very serious food and every other kind of shortage," the
official said.

If Mr Mugabe stays in power for another 18 months, a further two
million people may leave, he warned.

Describing Zimbabwe as a place that "feels half empty," the diplomat
said rural areas are particularly badly hit, with middle-aged people "either
dead of HIV or gone." If Mr Mugabe stays in power, the source, said "he
would outlive Zimbabwe".

Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, recently met the senior
diplomat. "He said to me there is no food in this country. That is a slight
exaggeration but only a slight one."

Mr Mugabe was expected to address the UN general assembly in New York
last night amid reports that he and his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, are considering forming a coalition against "global bullies".

Mr Mugabe's attempts to control inflation by cutting prices have only
made the situation much worse. While inflation is officially less than 7,000
per cent, the official said it was "probably between 13,000 and 20,000 per
cent. No one knows".

He warned that shortages of supplies were now so bad that "even the
black market is beginning to dry up".

Yesterday, the Zimbabwean parliament passed a bill giving local owners
majority control of foreign firms.

Shell, BP and Barclays are among the British companies still operating
in Zimbabwe although most foreign companies have already reduced their
activities in the country to a minimum.

The official said Mr Mugabe was unlikely to relinquish power or be
forced to stand aside by members of his own Zanu-PF party.

Parliamentary and presidential elections are due in March. But the
opposition is unlikely to mount a serious challenge and, he observed, "the
people have chosen flight, not fight".

Talk of a coup led by retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru is
gaining momentum, he said. "What's left? General Mujuru has a palace coup
option," he said.

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Mugabe slams Bush over human rights


Thu Sep 27, 2007 4:25am BST
By Claudia Parsons

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, accused U.S.
President George W. Bush of "rank hypocrisy" on Wednesday for lecturing him
on human rights and likened the U.S. Guantanamo Bay prison to a
concentration camp.

"His hands drip with innocent blood of many nationalities," Mugabe said in a
typically fiery speech to the U.N. General Assembly. "He kills in Iraq. He
kills in Afghanistan. And this is supposed to be our master on human

Mugabe, 83, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, was speaking
the day after Bush scolded the governments of Belarus, Syria, Iran and North
Korea as "brutal regimes" in his speech to the General Assembly.

Bush criticized the Zimbabwe government headed by Mugabe as "tyrannical" and
an "assault on its people."

Critics accuse Mugabe of plunging Zimbabwe's once-thriving economy into an
abyss of widespread food shortages and hyperinflation. Mugabe accuses
Western countries of sabotaging the economy as punishment for his seizure of
white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks.

"What rank hypocrisy," Mugabe said of Bush's speech.

He said Bush imprisoned and tortured people in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and
at Guantanamo, the U.S. military prison in Cuba where al Qaeda suspects are

"At that concentration camp, international law does not apply," said Mugabe,
a former Marxist guerrilla who fought for independence from Britain.

"America is primarily responsible for rewriting core tenets of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights," he said. "We seem all guilty for 9/11."

Bush has come under international criticism for holding suspects without
trial at Guantanamo and for interrogation techniques that human rights
groups say amount to torture. Bush denies the United States tortures.

Mugabe said Bush and his ally, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, "rode
roughshod" over the United Nations when they went to war in Iraq, yet now
Bush was asking the world body to expand its role in Iraq.

"Almighty Bush is now coming back to the U.N. for a rescue package because
his nose is bloodied. Yet he dares to lecture us on tyranny," Mugabe said.

He accused Britain and the United States of a campaign to destabilize and
vilify Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is grappling with the world's highest inflation rate of more than
6,600 percent, shortages of foreign exchange, fuel and food and rocketing
unemployment that has left many people unable to buy even basic foodstuffs.

South African Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu told Reuters on Tuesday he
was "devastated" by the human rights abuses of Mugabe's government and he
struggled to understand how Mugabe had changed so drastically after steering
the former British colony to independence.

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Zimbabwe Activists Bring Cause to Capitol Hill

Ida Wahlstrom
OneWorld US
Thu., Sep. 27, 2007

      WASHINGTON, Sep 27 (OneWorld) - Civil society activists from
Zimbabwe recently traveled to the United States to lobby for a more just
international economic structure and to raise awareness about their
country's devastating economic crisis.

      Ntando Ndlovu and Rutendo Hadebe spent the majority of their
week-long visit on Capitol Hill, urging U.S. lawmakers to promote
legislation that favors a more equitable global economic system.

      Many citizens' groups in Zimbabwe have blamed the country's
economic woes in part on restrictive policies imposed by the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) and other global agencies in return for financial
assistance and promises of debt cancellation.

      Zimbabwe has the world's highest inflation rate and over 35
percent of its citizens are unable to provide for basic household food

      Ndlovu and Hadebe came to Washington specifically to encourage
the United States government to take a leadership role in advancing a fairer
global trade regime and "democratic, people-centered economic governance" in
the global South in general and in Zimbabwe in particular.

      The United States wields tremendous power within the governing
boards of the IMF and World Bank, which are both headquartered here. These
institutions play a crucial gatekeeping role in directing investments,
loans, and grants that contribute to the development of poor nations.

      In order to more effectively communicate their message to an
American public, the activists have partnered with the Philadelphia-based
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Nobel Prize-winning non-profit
organization that promotes social justice and global economic fairness.

      Of the 12 million Zimbabweans still living in the country -- 
several million have fled due to the spiraling economic and political
situation -- 70 percent reside in rural areas and work mainly in

      Analysts attribute this country's current economic situation to
various factors that have unraveled over the last decade. These include a
series of poorly managed and underfunded land reform programs; a global
economic system that favors wealthy nations; and isolation from the
international community and most humanitarian aid agencies, spurred by
repressive and corrupt political practices.

      Although many of Zimbabwe's concerns seem tied to decisions made
in official circles, Ndlovu and Hadebe emphasized the central role
grassroots activism can play in affecting political and social change. The
women told OneWorld that, "if ordinary people are not aware of and involved
in their country's government, lasting change is not possible."

      A government responsive to its citizens' needs, the activists
continued, would prioritize "pro-people policies" that not only guarantee
basic needs such as food and health care but incorporate regular civilians
into the political decision-making process.

      After independence was achieved from Britain in 1980, Ndlovu
added, the Zimbabwean government made ample investments in education and
health care, but many simply understood this as newly gained privileges, not
as innate and indefinite rights.

      The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD), one of
the many organizations working in partnership with the AFSC, teaches
ordinary Zimbabweans to be more assertive and to demand their rights be
fulfilled, even in a period of economic crisis.

      Zimbabwe's Women in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU) is also active
at the grassroots level, promoting gender equality and political
participation by reaching out to local communities across Zimbabwe.

      Among many other initiatives, WiPSU is currently staging a
national campaign that demands full gender parity in government and
throughout Zimbabwean society, arguing that women leaders are more likely to
promote "pro-people policies" like expanded health care and education

      The group's team members also travel regularly throughout
Zimbabwe's villages to educate local people about basic politics. The
programs are intended to provide rural Zimbabweans the basic tools and
terminology needed to participate in politics and hold their elected
officials accountable.

      Activist Hadebe agrees with this approach. The power lies with
the people, she told OneWorld, and leaders should act "in light of what the
people are asking for."

      The activists are hoping that a combination of people power
within their country and activist efforts among global financial circles
will bring about lasting economic and social improvements for the people of

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Urban hunger now a reality - analysts

The Zimbabwean

HARARE - It is high time the Zimbabwe government swallowed its pride and
abandons price controls enforced in July considering the huge problems they
have created for business and ordinary Zimbabweans, leading stock market
analysts said this week.
The pricing of basic foodstuffs at levels 50 percent below normal market
levels has left firms selling goods below cost, Zimbabwe Stock Exchange
chairman Emmanuel Munyuki noted.
The price gap has led to job losses and has intensified food shortages, said
another analyst Witness Chinyama.
He said it was high time government accepted that its pricing model did not
Chinyama spoke amid deepening bread shortages, as Zimbabwe failed to pay for
wheat imports that have been docked at the Beira port for the past two
months now.
The economic basis of running a bakery has been rendered "nonsensical",
Chinyama added. "They have to cut back. There have been some lay-offs."
Food shortages - already widespread in rural areas because of a grain
shortage - are now a real problem in urban areas.
Independent studies have found that the price of goods such as soap and
vegetables have risen by up to 180 percent on a thriving black market over
the past month alone.
Munyuki said demand for shares in financial services firms has helped the
stock market withstand the country's economic collapse.
Many investors have seen high returns from banking stocks, despite a poorer
performance from shares in industrial and manufacturing concerns among the
71 companies listed on the stock market.
"We have survived by the grace of God," Munyuki said. "There is nothing that
anyone has done to explain why we are still more or less doing business and
still making money. Other sectors have collapsed altogether... it is nothing
less than a miracle of God." - Chief Reporter

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There is life in Zimbabwe, native tells development committee

United Methodist News Service

Sep. 26, 2007

By Linda Green*

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMMS) - Even as the African country of Zimbabwe falters
under a staggering inflation rate of 7,500 percent, "there is life," says a
Zimbabwean native.

Speaking to members of the Africa University Advisory Development Committee
Sept. 21 and Sept. 22, the Zimbabwean - who asked for anonymity out of
concern about government repercussions - said that while numerous challenges
face the sub-Saharan country, the most difficult is shortages of basic
commodities on market shelves.

However, food is available outside the established channels. "One has to
stretch a little bit to make sure food is on the table," she added.

The development committee, established in 1993, works with the Africa
University Development Office in Nashville and agencies of The United
Methodist Church to raise money for the school's capital, endowment and
operational needs.

Waiting for change The Zimbabwean native assured the committee members that
while the country is facing turbulent times, "there is life in Zimbabwe."
"We are surviving," she said.

What is happening in Zimbabwe is not new to Africa. "The history of Africa
and the history of a lot of African countries is that they all have gone
through some of these adversities and have come out of it," she said.

The country has experienced water shortages and drought, a lack of foreign
currency, electrical outages, political repression, economic hardships and
poverty. An estimated four out of five Zimbabweans live below the poverty
line. Since 2002, an estimated 3 million residents have fled to South Africa
alone, while others have gone to Zambia and Botswana.

"A few years ago, Angola faced similar economic challenges, but today has
the fastest-growing economy in the world, at 35 percent, making it three
times the growth of the United States," said the Zimbabwean, who does
business throughout the continent.

Critics of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe blame government mismanagement
for much of the nation's woes. At 83, Mugabe has been Zimbabwe's only
president since the country achieved independence from Britain 27 years ago.
His tenure has been marked by economic crises that include chronic shortages
of food and fuel. Unemployment today is estimated at above 80 percent, and
human rights leader Desmond Tutu, former Anglican archbishop of Capetown,
has called for Africa and the world to pay attention to Zimbabwe's plight.

School carries on

Despite all that is happening, Africa University officials say the school
continues to function unaffected by the politics of the country. While it is
affected by commodity shortages, the university farm helps make up for that
by providing vegetables, milk and eggs for the school.

The university also "continues to operate without any interference from the
government," James Salley, director of institutional advancement

He told the committee that all of Zimbabwe awaits a change. "We believe a
change is going to come to Zimbabwe. The people are waiting for that change.
It will not be violent but orderly and in God's time."

A sign of change occurred Sept. 18, when a constitutional deal was approved
by the country's ruling and main opposition parties. The constitutional
amendments pave the way for joint parliamentary and presidential elections
in 2008 and would reduce the president's term from six to five years. Some
consider the deal a first step in lifting the country from its economic and
political malaise.

The amendments also are expected to re-draw electoral boundaries, increase
the number of representatives and move up parliamentary elections by two

*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville,

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SA govt admits Zim threat to 2010

The Zimbabwean

South Africa's hosting of the 2010 soccer World Cup has been the major
factor behind that country's change of approach regarding the worsening
crisis in Zimbabwe.
An official from President Thabo Mbeki's office in Pretoria told The
Zimbabwean this week that "Mugabe has to go soonest, otherwise we continue
taking the risk of international politics causing us to lose the hosting of
the World Cup".
On the other hand, this paper has established through informed sources privy
to the politics that influence the Federation of International Football
Associations (FIFA) that Australia is quietly placing itself to be on stand
by to host the soccer finals in the event SA is "found to be unsuitable,
mainly for the dangerous and very serious crisis in Zimbabwe".
"We have to admit it, the hosting of the World Cup became the major factor
in our government coming to the position that Mugabe has to go and if Zanu
(PF) has to remain in power, it has to reform or at least work with the
opposition in a government of national unity," a source said.
"We are actually under a lot of pressure and racing against time because by
June next year there must be undoubted signs of things normalising and the
economy recovering."
The Zimbabwean recently reported how minutes at hand showed the SA
government now admitting that "they have acted as a buffer and protected
Mugabe" but who "never meant to keep any of the promises made to the SA
government. This was seen as the highest level of abuse of the person and
office of the (SA) presidency". - Itai Dzamara

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No chance of free and fair - Makone

The Zimbabwean

HARARE - Ruling party militants are unleashing terror in Zimbabwe's rural
areas, in what the opposition says is an attempt to lock out its campaigners
ahead of the crunch 2008 vote.
Militants are storming rural areas, while members of the ruling party youth
militia in green government-issue uniforms are manning roadblocks to seal
off districts to supporters of the opposition.
Ian Makone, the MDC elections secretary, accused President Robert Mugabe's
party of creating "no go areas" for opposition supporters ahead of the vote
scheduled for March next year.
"Such areas are being systematically extended ... there is no prospect of
the elections being free and fair in these areas," he said.
Zanu (PF) spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira was not immediately available to
respond to the allegations. But he has in the past denied reports that the
ruling party used intimidation to cow the electorate into submission.
The Zimbabwean heard that in Karoi, scores of slogan-chanting militants
ordered farm workers on Sunday to buy ruling party membership cards to help
them pass through the militia checkpoints.
Without a card, "you are humiliated. We were made to kneel in the road and
beg to be let through and sing slogans," said a farm worker who asked not to
be identified.
The youth militias have ignored government assurances that only police are
permitted at roadblocks. Police have not prevented the militias throwing up
Police were unavailable for comment on violence.

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Hot seat interview: Professor Welshman Ncube - controversial Constitutional Amendment no.18


Broadcast 25 September 2007

Violet Gonda: My guest on the programme Hot Seat today is Professor Welshman
Ncube, the Secretary General of the Mutambara led MDC formation. Thank you
for joining us Professor Ncube.

Welshman Ncube: Thank you

Violet: Now there are serious divisions over constitutional Amendment no.18
and many especially in the civil society have accused the opposition of
betraying the people by agreeing to the Amendments with the ruling party.
Can you first of all tell us why both MDCs reached this agreement?

Welshman Ncube: Well let me, Violet, first say that the agreement or
understanding on Amendment no.18 must be understood in its proper context.
I am dismayed at the dishonest presentation of what it stands for and taking
it completely out of context. The context is that - you have ongoing
dialogue and discussions over a wide-range of issues, which have caused
conflicts in our country. And as part of that process there came the issue
of Amendment no.18, which ZANU PF wanted to pursue and that agreement is a
side agreement within the context of a broader discussion.

Why did we reach that agreement? Firstly, you have to realise that we have
agreed in the dialogue that there are five items for negotiations. First: A
new constitution for Zimbabwe. Secondly: New electoral laws. Thirdly: Reform
of security legislation including POSA (Public Order and Security Act).
Fourthly: reform of media laws including the Broadcasting Services Act as
well as AIPPA (Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act). Then
finally: the political climate in the country. Under the political climate
you have such things as sanctions, the use of traditional leaders, the youth
militias, violence and so forth and so on. All those things are on  the

And in our presentation in parliament on Tuesday the 18th, we made it very
clear that the side agreement on Amendment no.18 does not detract to our
commitment to a new constitution before the elections. And that within the
auspices of the dialogue there is the understanding we are negotiating the
modalities of how to come up with a new constitution before the elections.
And the question is - how can we reconcile the ZANU PF position, which has
been unilateralist in the past, which has excluded public participation -
with our preferred position of having an open, transparent process which is
as inclusive and is as participatory as possible. And that is what is being
negotiated - how do we find a compromise between those two positions. And
that has to be done before the elections and that is agreed upon and is
being negotiated around.

So it is very clear that when we therefore agree to the deal on Amendment
no.18 it is within a context of undertakings and understandings that the
question of a new constitution before elections remains firmly on the
agenda. That is the context that all those who have criticised this have, in
my view, have deliberately ignored because we have made it clear in our
presentations in parliament. Even ZANU PF itself made it clear that this is
a temporary measure pending agreement  around the modalities on how to come
up with a new constitution.

Violet: But Professor Ncube, others would ask that if you are negotiating
for a new constitution what is the point of wasting time amending the
present constitution.

Welshman Ncube: Good question.  Remember in any negotiations you cannot get
the perfect world you want. The perfect world we would have loved - if we
could get it - was a situation where we did not have to deal with any
piecemeal Amendments. But the world is not always perfect, you don't always
get what you want, you have to compromise. We were faced with a situation
where ZANU PF was saying they have resolutions of its Central Committee,
they have a commitment to proceed with Amendment no.18. If we did not want
to discuss Amendment no.18 they would proceed with it as it was published.
Or if we wanted to discuss it or were willing to discuss it or were
persuaded to discuss it, we could then deal with our objections on content.
What is it in the original Amendment no.18, which we were unhappy with. We
then discussed that and we therefore were able to change significantly the
original Amendment no.18.

For instance: Out went the appointed members of the House of Assembly.
Secondly: All elections were now synchronized in one day including local
government parliamentary as well as presidential. The variance factor in
delimitation, which they were increasing to 25%, they agreed to put it back
to 20%. The question of composition of Senate, which was disproportionately
made of unelected people - we attempted to re-balance it by providing more
senators who are elected. They became 60 of them. And all of those things
are an improvement. A marked significant improvement on Amendment 18.

If anyone then says it would have been better for us to allow ZANU PF to
proceed unilaterally with an amendment, which contained many problematic
provisions rather than at least improve on it, then I do not know what we

For me and for us, it is better to have a better content than to have the
worst possible content because we are saying we do not want to talk about
Amendment no.18. Therefore in our view Amendment no.18 is a great
improvement on content. Fair and fine there are those who will quibble with
the question of whether or not this little concession does not violate the
major principle of saying let us make a new constitution. In our view it
does not for the simple reason that it is a stepping-stone to the bigger
question. If we can clear Amendment no.18 and end up with an open and
transparent constitution before the elections - what is the problem with

Violet: But let's assume it's a step in the right direction as you seem to
be implying here. What about the other outstanding issues - like the voter's
roll, the eligibility of voters outside the country. Why couldn't you as the
opposition "as a confidence building measure" persuade ZANU PF to allow
postal votes or even to dismantle youth militia bases before you agreed to
such an arrangement?

Welshman Ncube: First of all with Amendment no.18. you could only discuss
those issues, which were already raised in the public amendment no.18. You
could not start to add issues, which were not covered by the original
Amendment no.18. That's number 1.  Secondly, all those issues, which you
raised, are firmly on the agenda. I will not pre-empt and I will not
disclose things, which are supposed to be confidential at this stage. But
everything you have referred to is firmly on the agenda and being discussed.
And indeed some of the issues you raised have actually been cleared in terms
of the dialogue and you have to appreciate that everybody wants all the five
items to be dealt with so that at the end of the dialogue you have one
comprehensive agreement covering the five agenda items - the constitution,
electoral laws, security legislation, media laws, the political

... and some of them have been cleared or will be cleared. There will be
compromises there will be agreements around them. But  because you have five
items on the agenda all of which have to be cleared at the end of the
dialogue, you cannot then have a situation where you are taking out some of
those things. You need a comprehensive agreement covering all the five
agenda items. And all those things you refer to are on the agenda.

Violet:  But when are the people or the general public going to find out
what exactly is being discussed.  And why is there so much secrecy about
these talks between the political parties?

Welshman Ncube: Well firstly, that question is best asked to SADC and the
SADC leadership. The rules of the dialogue and engagement were set by SADC
and were set by the mediator. In their wisdom they believed that negotiating
in the glare of publicity would ensure - in our polarised situation that
each of the sides will focus more on public grand-standing and scoring
points rather than doing proper negotiations. They then created the rule -
which all the parties accepted - that the negotiations should remain in
terms of content remain confidential. So I am not the best person to answer
that question. That question is best answered by the mediator and SADC who
in fact - in their wisdom, found it necessary to impose that confidentiality

Violet: But how then are you going to be held accountable for the decisions
that you actually make if you can't at least tell the public the process or
progress of the talks?

Welshman Ncube:  Firstly we are accountable to the structures of the
political parties we represent and we report confidentially to our National
Councils.  ZANU PF to its Central Committee or Politburo, the two MDC
formations to their National Councils and that is where the accountability
lies, in the first instance.

Violet:  But does it not bother you as the opposition leadership that there
is nobody else  - even from the civic society - being informed but
yourselves. Is this not elitist?

Welshman Ncube:  No it is an issue between the mediator and the civic

Violet: Now the common understanding right now is that you have sold out, as
the opposition, and some prominent civic leaders have called it a betrayal
of principles - in the way that you have agreed to these amendments with the
ruling party. What can you say about this?

Welshman Ncube:  Firstly, everybody has a right to form the opinion they
form. We respect the opinion held in good faith by anyone who holds that
opinion. Regrettably in our view that opinion is mis-informed and is a down
right wrong. As I have explained previously, without having to repeat
myself, there is no sell-out agreement of any kind. This is a comprehensive
dialogue. The agreement on Amendment no.18 must be understood within the
context of a confidence building, it must be understood within the context
of that it is a side agreement. The broader issues, the fundamental issues
are being addressed in the main dialogue and clearly therefore there is
nothing about selling out in respect of this specific issue at all.

Violet:  But Professor Ncube does it not now concern you though that you now
don't have the backing of the support base in the civic society? Let me just
quote some of the responses from leading civil and human rights leaders who
spoke about this in the different newspapers or internet sites. The NCA
chairperson Dr. Lovemore Madhuku said 'you have capitulated as the
opposition.' Another human rights lawyer Arnold Tsunga  is also quoted
saying 'it is surprising that the two MDCs  could enter deals with ZPF when
they know the deteriorating human rights conditions outside parliament.'?
Fambai Ngirande the spokesperson of the National Association of NGOs said
there was no citizen participation whatsoever in the formulation of that
amendment. Now as I asked you before - does this not concern you that you
don't seem to have the backing from the civil society?

Welshman Ncube: Well firstly you have to ask yourself what is the proper
role of civil society. The proper role in our understanding of civil society
is not to be a front for any political party. It is not to be an extension
of any political party. They are to be independent, they are to play their
advocacy, they are there to criticise and to basically mobilise for  those
things that they want. And consequently, in my view, if they hold a
different opinion on this particular issue they are entitled to voice that
opinion even if in our view that opinion happens to be wrong.  And that is
their proper role. And therefore you should not seek to conflate and subsume
civil society as an extension of the MDC or the opposition. The opposition
is about politics. It is about competing for political office. Civil society
is about advocacy, about specific certain issues, which fall within the
areas of those civil society organisations. And for me the most important
thing is that civil society remains independent and plays that independent
role and if they hold the opinions they hold and they have articulated
them - that is very good, in fact that is how it should be.

Violet: But do you not think what they have to say about the process is
important and  is it fair on the general populace if you don't consult with

Welshman Ncube: Firstly it is a downright wrong and a lie to say we have not
been  in touch and we have not been consulting with the civil society. We
have. And if we disagree we disagree.  You cannot say because we have
disagreed we have not consulted and we have not discussed.?? Secondly, you
ought to realise that civil society, as I have repeatedly  been saying,
ought to be independent ought to have its own views and indeed in a proper
society in a proper democracy there should not always be agreeing with the
opposition. They should not always agree with the ruling party or the
government of the day and I do not see anything wrong in them holding a
different opinion and articulating that opinion. And if those? of us who are
in the political forefront consider that they have valid opinions - those
opinions would be taken into account.??

Violet: But you know, I spoke with the NCA leader, Dr Madhuku and he said
that he only saw this document after it was secretly passed to him by a
parliamentarian and it's interesting that you are saying that you did
consult with the civic society. Now he says this shows that the MDC cannot
be trusted. These seems like harsh words from the civic leader. What can you
say about this???

Welshman Ncube: Violet you're flogging a dead horse, consultation does not
mean? giving documents. It means talking and raising the issues that are at
stake and that was done. I do not wish to be involved in any slanging match
with anybody else. The fact that we are in disagreement is acknowledged and
is respected. Passing documents to people is not consultations. Consultation
is discussing the issues as they arise.??

Violet:  You were part of the civil society as the National Constitution
Assembly in 2000, where you actually agreed to reject anything that is short
of a people driven constitution. So what really has changed, did you not as
an opposition agree never to agree to piecemeal amendments?

Welshman Ncube: First, accept that the NCA position was never meant to be a
fundamentalist position. The most important thing was always about finding a
new? democratic constitution. It was not holding a prisoner hostage to a
process (inaudible). A? process is always negotiable as long as at the end
of the day there? has been some participation, at the end of the day there
is a new democratic? decision.

Secondly, amendment number 18 is merely, as I have repeatedly said in? this
interview, a side agreement. There is an understanding that we will have ?to
agree on the modalities of coming with a new comprehensive constitution?,
which will seek to reconcile our ideal open transparent people centered
constitution-making-process. With the ZANU PF way you cannot maintain two
fundamentally opposed positions forever. You need to sometimes to make a
compromise and that is what we are? talking about. Where can we find a
compromise, which will be reassuring to ?everybody, which will allow us to
have some public involvement in the? making of new constitution. That is why
we are in the dialogue and that is what ?we've been talking about over the
last couple of months.??

Violet: But do you understand why your critics would ask about why you are?
having these side agreements because its no secret that ZANU PF has? never
played by the rules. What makes you think that the ruling party will? comply
and play by the rules this time???

Welshman Ncube:  Well first, that is a strange question, we have no reason
to think they? will play by the rules, we have no reason to think that they
will not. The? whole point of a negotiation if you have a crisis and you
have a problem you will? negotiate and say - alright these are the wrong
things that we have ?been doing, we want them to come to an end. What is the
technical agreement ?we can reach to bring them to an end?  And that is what
we are doing. You ?cannot say because in the past you have not respected
agreements or you have? done wrong things, we can no longer find it useful
to negotiate and agree on new rules. It is an exercise in futility.??

Imagine, for instance in 1979 in the negotiations the Patriotic Front says;
'Ian Smith has no record of observing agreements he has a record of violence
and? therefore we can't talk to him because we don't believe any agreement
will? be implicated.' Imagine in South Africa in 1994, them saying that the
apartheid  ?regime had a history of violence, a history of breaching
agreements therefore? we can't talk to them to have a new agreement. That is
plain nonsense.?? What you need to do is to put that issue to the test. You
negotiate, have an? agreement, have mechanism of insuring its enforcement
and put it to the? test.??

Violet: But truthfully speaking what is the MDC getting out of this because
the? violence is continuing, arbitrary arrests are continuing and some even
say? that the MDC has unwittingly given Mugabe's electoral process
legitimacy which? will ensure that he will go to elections in a much
stronger position.? Did ZANU PF really need your endorsement? It is in the
majority ?after all and could have passed this amendment without your
approval. ?So why did you bother???

Welshman Ncube: That is plainly wrong, it is plainly wrong and also
dishonest! The ?amendment, which was passed was not the same Amendment which
ZANU PF wanted ?to enact! I will not repeat what I said - all the
improvements, which are on ?Amendment no.18 in terms of composition of the
house of assembly, in terms of? synchronization of elections. So if we had
let ZANU PF do what it wanted it ?would have passed the original Amendment
no.18, which would have contained? fundamentally wrong things that we did
not want to be in place. That is the? point that ought to be underlined and
underlined clearly, that Amendment? no.18 as passed is a different creature,
it is a different animal from the ?original published Amendment no.18.

And secondly, we have said painstakingly Amendment ?no.18 is not the end. It
is not the beginning and the end.? It is merely a confidence building
measure and as I have painstakingly tried ?to say, we have firmly on the
agenda, the issue of a new constitution? before the election.??

Violet: But I am sorry Professor Ncube to keep going back to this same
issue,  but for ?years the opposition has questioned Mugabe's legitimacy,
and for years you have been saying Zimbabweans have no confidence in ZANU
PF. And you even? branded yourselves as a government in waiting and now you
seem to have made a u?-turn in the name of 'confidence building measures.'
Your critics ask; 'whose ?confidence are you trying to bring out now???'

Welshman Ncube:  Well, firstly does that imply if the Mugabe regime is
illegitimate? it means that you can't negotiate with it to create new rules?
Unless of? course you have arms and you can fight them and drive them and
then you have imposed peace terms. And therefore as long as they are there
and are a force to reckon with and you want to change the situation you need
to be able ?to dialogue with them. It is as plain as that . Anything else,
unless you have? a war and you can drive them out of the country, is

Violet: Were you put under pressure by the South Africans to agree with

Welshman Ncube:  Certainly not. The role of the South Africans is a
facilitation ?role. They simply bring the parties together. If there is a
dispute they ?help the parties find alternative ways of compromising around
that disputed ?issue. So there is no role to pressurise anyone on content,
they can put ?pressure on people to stay in the negotiating table until they
agree but? they definitely do not pressurise on anyone on what to accept and
on what not to ?accept.??

Violet: You said during your contribution in parliament lat week that at
the? negotiating table you are there as one MDC and that you agreed to
endorse ?this amendment as one MDC, We heard that the two MDC leaders Morgan
Tsvangirai and Professor Arthur Mutambara met? Thabo Mbeki last week. So
what are you actually planning regarding the unity ?issue.??

Welshman Ncube :  Well we are talking about the SADC dialogue and Amendment
no.18 and that's a? completely different matter.??

Violet: Amendment no.18 has to do with elections and surely the public?
deserves to know what is happening in terms of the two warring factions in
the ?MDC??

?Welshman Ncube: I am afraid I have nothing further to add to our National
Councils' ?resolutions and that is in the public arena and there is nothing
new on the ?issue.?????

Violet: But come elections are you going to participate as two MDC's or one?

Welshman Ncube: Violet there is absolutely nothing new on that subject! As
things stand at the moment there is no agreement to fight elections as one.
We? have sought that agreement we have placed on public record all the
things that ?we did in order to obtain an agreement. Regrettably no
agreement has been accepted by both sides and that is where things stand.
And there is nothing? else I can add unless there is a movement in one
direction or another at the? moment there is nothing new.??

Violet: But isn't it important to unify yourselves as the opposition first?
before you commit the nation to be committed to ZANU PF? We are not hearing?
anything about the unity of the two MDC's and is this not important first
to? deal with or to tackle?

??Welshman Ncube: Our National Council has pronounced on that, that we put a
united front, a coalition against the Mugabe regime and that we were
instructed to do everything we ?could to secure it and regrettably we have
not been able to do so.? And it doesn't matter how many times you ask that
question, the answer will? remain the same.??

Violet Gonda: And finally Professor Ncube, come elections and there is no
new? constitution, will the MDC still participate in the elections???

Welshman Ncube:  Well, that's not a decision for me. All I know is that at
the end of the SADC dialogue and if it flops and there is no new
constitution and nothing ?happens, the MDC collectively, the National
Council will have to make their resolution one way or another and it is not
for me at this stage to pre-empt? that decision.??

Violet Gonda: Thank you very much Professor Welshman Ncube.

Comments and feedback can be emailed to

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Solidarity Statement to MDC and Zimbabwe civil society

Zimbabwe Information Centre Inc – Australia

Dear Friends and Comrades,

The Zimbabwe Information Centre in Australia stands 100 per cent with the people of Zimbabwe in their powerful desire for democratic change, especially now when the Mugabe regime is so isolated from the people, under so much international scrutiny and pressure, and presiding over such a profound economic and social collapse of a once proud nation.

Our view is that the projected national elections in 2008 can only bring about genuine democratic change if:

  • there is an immediate cessation of repression of the opposition, civil society and ordinary people suspected of supporting these two;
  • the repressive laws on public assemblies, the media and communications are withdrawn;
  • the elections are managed by an independent Election Commission with United Nations supervision;
  • a new accurate electoral roll is compiled;
  • Zimbabwean citizens in exile can vote;
  • International observers can monitor the election process from at least one month prior to the vote and while the counting takes place;
  • there is a transitional independent political authority in Zimbabwe, with United Nations involvement, between now and the elections to ensure that repressive actions by the police and military cease as soon as this program is agreed.

We believe that the Constitutional amendment on elections adopted by the Zimbabwe parliament on September 20, 2007, can only be a part of this kind of reform package, and that the people of Zimbabwe can have no confidence about the reform process unless there is a total package.

We do believe that the Constitutional amendment of September 20 is part of a process that may enable the full package to take shape.

We realise the enormous stress under which everyone in Zimbabwe is living and working, and express our deepest wish that you can stay united in this delicate moment, to maximise the opportunities for genuine political change to democracy, giving real hope for the revival and reconstruction of your nation.

September 27, 2007.

Peter Murphy, Secretary



SEARCH Foundation
Level 3, Suite 3B, 110 Kippax St,
Ph: 02 9211 4164; Fax: 02 9211 1407
ABN 63 050 096 976
promoting democracy, social justice and environmental sustainability

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From the streets of Harare

The Zimbabwean

Just as we tried to establish what had suddenly caused many people to
scramble around a newspaper vendor along First Street in Harare last week on
Thursday another stampede down the street attracted our attention. This one
was a result of the arrival of an ice cream vendor.
Chaos and near fist fights ensued soon after the arrival of The Zimbabwean
and the Financial Gazette newspapers. Within about 30 minutes The Zimbabwean
was pronounced finished and the majority of vendors had hidden many copies
of that would later be sold at the black market, at prices as high as $50
Zimbabweans are desperate for information. They are paying the huge price of
evil plans by a mad regime, and some crazy Jonathan Moyos who made sure to
close newspapers and continue blocking the establishment of more players in
print and electronic media.  But the story with ice creams is more
The stampede was not at all a result of a huge reduction in prices. They had
actually been increased by more than 100% from those imposed by the wayward
Mugabe regime in July.  The major reason behind many Zimbabweans scrambling
for anything that is available, from ice cream, to freezits, bananas and
even cream doughnuts, is they have been condemned to grinding poverty.
The reality of hunger in the lives of the majority is understated.  A man
arrives home from work and finds his wife and three kids licking their dry
lips in a the dark because there is no electricity. Visiting the toilet
takes him face to face with heaps of unflushed waste - there has not been
water for almost 24 hours.  When electricity is switched on towards
midnight, all that the wife can put together for the family is porridge -
mealie meal has almost run out and there is none to buy in the shops. The
porridge only has a little sugar in it. There is nothing else for the meal.
The man wakes up in the morning and finds electricity switched off, water
still not flowing from the taps.  He heads for work, having washed only his
face.  Come lunch time, he struggles around the city centre, but there is
nothing to buy in the shops. There are not even bananas or oranges on the
streets. He is almost fainting, hence he gives it his best shot to get an
ice cream after the unexpected arrival of the ice cream man.
These are harrowing tales everyone now openly discusses in commuter
omnibuses, in queues and even at funerals in Mutoko. Zimbabweans now know
that despite his clever deception and propaganda, Robert Mugabe is the
architect of their hell on earth. His stupid claims about sanctions, MDC,
Blair, Bush or saboteurs have ceased to impress more than the few hypocrites
that surround him.
And the time of reckoning shall certainly come!

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Mutambara set to address diasporas this weekend

The Zimbabwean


Staff Reporter

Johannesburg: The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by
Professor Arthur Mutambara will this weekend hold a rally and congress to
launch next year's elections in Johannesburg .

 According to MDC's information officer Ngqabutho Dube, Mutambara, vice
President Gibson Sibanda and local chairman Jabulani Mkwanazi are to address
the rally at Hillbrow Theatre on Saturday.

Hillbrow is a suburb where thousands of Zimbabweans who have fled the
political and economic meltdown in their country live.

"As the South African branch of the MDC we are pleased that President
Mutambara will come and address exiled Zimbabweans as an expression of the
party's concern about the worsening political impasse in Zimbabwe ," said

This will be the first meeting to be addressed by the senior leadership of
the MDC in South Africa and according to Dube, more rallies are lined as
Zimbabwe gears for presidential, parliamentary and council elections in
March next year.

Dube added that they were a great need among Zimbabweans in Diaspora to
engage in the democracy project as this would help in delivering a
democratic dispensation soon.

"All Zimbabweans are encouraged to come and attend this rally as it will
among others address the issue of action plan from the party's leadership
structure," added Dube.

Analysts are already predicting a political victory for the MDC led by
Mutambara as far as the diasporas constituency is concerned as the other
faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai had previously failed to address the rally.

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African Leaders Push Continental Issues at UN General Assembly


By James Butty
Washington, D.C.
27 September 2007

Several African leaders addressed the UN General Assembly in New York
Wednesday , including Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra
Leone, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is a Pan-Africanist and
deputy director for the UN Millennium Campaign based in Nairobi, Kenya. He
told VOA that unlike the past, African leaders speaking at this year's U.N.
General Assembly meeting are pushing continental African issues.

"What is interesting to me is the fact that in the past, African leaders
tended to come these meetings to be led, and what is emerging now is that
they are actually bringing their own issues onto the agenda, and I think
this is absolutely important. The speeches of President Thabo Mbeki (of
South Africa) and President Yar'Adua (of Nigeria), both of which I listened
to actually emphasized those. They talked about what they are doing but also
within the wider context of African solutions to African problems and Africa's
contributions to global solutions, and I think that is the right way to go,"
he said.

On the situation in Sudan's Darfur region, Abdul-Raheem said Africa must
remain united in its demand for President Omar al- Bashir of Sudan to
respect the idea of a hybrid peacekeeping force.

"There is basic agreement that both the African Union and the United Nations
need actually to be tougher with the government of Khartoum that it is
simply not acceptable for a government to be condoning a massacre of its own
citizens. I think all the agreements are in place. What is necessary is
implementation, and I think in the spirit of genuine Pan-Africanism and in
the spirit of global peace and security that both the African Union and UN
exert pressure and expedite the implementation of having this hybrid force
on the ground to protect civilians against these killers," Abdul-Raheem

 He said there is an African consensus about the need to reform not only the
United Nations but also other international institutions, including the
International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

"Really for the UN to have continued relevance and credibility and
legitimacy with peoples of the world, it must be reformed. A situation where
five member states will the veto can hold the rest of us for ransom is
simply not acceptable," he said.

President Bush on Tuesday extended by one year sanctions against Zimbabwe
government officials, including President Robert Mugabe for undermining
democracy in that country.

Abdul-Raheem said change in Zimbabwe cannot be imposed by the West. Instead
he said the Zimbabweans must decide for themselves.

"This idea that Western countries can somehow decide for us where to have
democracy weakens the argument for democracy, and in the specific case of
Zimbabwe unfortunately, I am of the view that the more these people posture
on Zimbabwe, the less they are giving room for Africans to actually help
this problem in Zimbabwe, and they are giving more ammunition to President
Mugabe who regards anybody who questions the excesses of the regime as
agents of the West," he said.

Abdul-Raheem agreed that there is a problem in Zimbabwe the fact that
President Mugabe has held on to power for nearly three decades. But he said
it is not the West that can bring about change in Zimbabwe.

"It is not (President) Bush that will bring change to Zimbabwe. That change
has to come from within, and I think the mediation role that is being played
through SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) anchored by South
Africa, should be given some chance, because at the end of the day, whether
it is ZANU-PF, whether it is MDC, whether it is non-ZANU-PF, non-MDC, peace
would all Zimbabweans, and they will still have to live in the same
 country," Abdul-Raheem said.

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