The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Zimbabwe hails IMF decision delay
A black farmer in Zimbabwe tills the land
Zimbabwe is beset with financial problems
Zimbabwe has saluted the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) decision to delay a judgement on its possible expulsion for another six months.

The fund said it would "revisit" the expulsion issue in six months' time.

Zimbabwean state radio said Friday's decision by the IMF executive board "was achievement against all odds".

The country has been in arrears with the IMF since February 2001 because it failed to pay interest on the $4.5bn (£2.5bn) it had borrowed from the fund.

Help for vulnerable urged

Last month, it unexpectedly repaid $120m, but needs to find $175m more

Finance minister Herbert Murerwa said: "The IMF has made the right decision in view of the fact that Zimbabwe has made very significant progress in reducing its debt (to the fund), introducing reforms and implementing appropriate policies."

Fuel queue in Zimbabwe
Zimbabweans face desperate shortages of fuel

Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono said the country's continued membership of the IMF "holds the key to Zimbabwe's future prosperity".

But the radio broadcasts ignored the fact the IMF were giving President Robert Mugabe just six months to improve the country's economy.

The IMF's executive board had said Zimbabwe's partial payment had been a factor in deciding to defer its judgement, as well as the government's "initial policy steps" in the exchange rate and monetary fields this year.

Those changes included raising fuel prices and relaxing a state monopoly on key grain and fuel imports.

The IMF has also urged the government to prove more social security for vulnerable groups, such as those with HIV/Aids and people made homeless by Mugabe's Operation Restore Order urban clearances.

Zimbabweans face a deep economic crisis, with high unemployment, rampant inflation, and food and fuel shortages.

Mr Mugabe says Western "sanctions and boycotts" are responsible for most of the country's financial problems.

Late drive

If Zimbabwe is ejected from the organisation, it will be the first country to be expelled since Czechoslovakia in 1954.

The loss of membership would make it more difficult for the country to borrow money in the future from both private and public lenders.

President Robert Mugabe at the opening of Zimbabwe's parliament in June

It would not be eligible for IMF loans which aim to help countries in temporary economic difficulties - at the price of adherence to strict economic conditions.

According to Zimbabwe state radio, central bank chief Gideon Gono had been lobbying hard to avoid expulsion in the run-up to the vote, holding 11th hour meetings with officials from the UK, Africa, France and Germany .

Government officials have also denied newspaper reports that it raised the $130m to pay off a substantial sum of its arrears by raiding the foreign currency accounts of exporters.

Earlier, Mr Murerwa denied reports in South Africa's Business Day newspaper that he and Mr Gono would present the IMF meeting with a $50m cheque.

"We have already paid $120m and that's all for [the] time being," he told the AFP news agency. "We have paid a significant amount of the loan and we will not be making any payments now."

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Postponing the inevitable

As the Mugabe regime gets more and more desperate, its economic and political positions get increasingly incoherent.  Having in the past been brazenly disdainful of the International Monetary Fund, it is now suddenly desperate to remain a respectable fee-paying member.  This objective could have been facilitated by accepting the economic lifeline on offer from South Africa, but that would have required political compromises to be made.  The regime's desperation is greatest in the political realm, as evidenced by its spurning outside assistance and opting instead to squander the country's extremely scarce foreign currency resources to repay a large chunk of the arrears owed to the IMF.  It is like a badly behaved schoolboy offering his pocket money to a rich uncle, rather than improve his schoolwork.

Zimbabwe's crisis is fundamentally political.  There can be no satisfactory solution to the catastrophic economic crisis that Zanu-PF has inflicted on the country without dealing with the issues of legitimacy and the restoration of democratic norms and the rule of law.  The key to Zimbabwe moving forward lies in the strategy that MDC as a Party has mapped out.  This involves the repeal of repressive laws, the demilitarisation of the state, national dialogue and the adoption of an interim Constitution.  This will allow for a period of transition, during which a comprehensive economic programme, acceptable amongst others to the IMF, would be put in place, followed by fresh elections. 

Zanu-PF is well aware of how deeply unpopular it is amongst the people of Zimbabwe and persists in clinging onto power by rejecting any suggestion that involves opening up the democratic space in this country. It is in this context that the government has spent US$120 million on the repayment of arrears at a time when fuel and every imported raw material is in chronic short supply and when the government itself has admitted that the country has only 3 weeks of food left.  Whether such a large payment was actually required in order to impress the IMF Executive Board was always doubtful, but what was certain is that this would not lead to any immediate new loans from the IMF. 

By contrast, the consequences of not having money to import food are immediate and dire, particularly for people in the rural areas.  The government's persistent refusal to acknowledge the severity of the food crisis and to spurn the assistance from the international community (which can only be released after an official request has been lodged) has genocidal  implications.

The IMF is well aware of what is required for Zimbabwe to start moving forward, but has nonetheless granted the regime a further 6 months reprieve.  However, the language in the announcement of the Board's decision is damning.  It notes that the exchange rate and monetary policy changes that have been made recently "fall well short of what is needed to address Zimbabwe's economic difficulties" and calls for the adoption and implementation of a "comprehensive and coherent adjustment program as a matter of urgency".  Having a fully articulated economic programme is precisely what the regime has proved itself unwilling to do in the past and there is even less reason to suppose it will do so now.

Events in the last 2 weeks have dramatically underscored the regime's errant schoolboy obstinacy.   At the same time that the IMF arrears were being paid, the government forced through the Constitutional amendments which further undermined private property rights, amongst other problems making it impossible for farmers to be able to borrow using land as collateral.  In its economic policy-making, the pattern has been for the regime to bring in rapidly changing piecemeal measures to band-aid the economy forward, but leaving the underlying problems to fester.  Having one or two of the "right" elements in place is not good enough: it can actually make things worse when the rest of what would be required in a "comprehensive and coherent" programme are missing. 

Our concern right now is that the recent precipitous monetary policy changes, which were clearly made to impress the IMF, are so heavily compromised by the lack of fiscal restraint that the result can only be accelerating inflation (put into over-drive by this week's 120% increase in fuel prices) and further contraction of exports as firms cannot respond to the new incentives because of shortages of energy and inputs.  All indications about the next summer cropping season - non-availability of seeds, fertilisers, finance and other inputs and very low levels of land preparation - point to another disaster in the agricultural sector, with the inevitable knock-on consequences throughout the rest of the economy.  Zimbabwe is heading for yet further contraction of GDP and employment and worsening of poverty. 

The IMF Executive Board is evidently more than aware of this, stressing the need for "adequate social safety nets and food security for vulnerable groups, including those affected by 'Operation Restore Order' and HIV/AIDS".  Behind the polite language that is required of an international institution is harsh and anxious criticism.  We in the MDC would go further in outright condemnation of the incumbent government for wilfully turning one of the strongest economies on the African continent into its worst basket case. 

The sharp criticism by the IMF needs to be taken as a wake-up call by the regime to stop its purposeful destruction and put the country back onto a positive, development-oriented path.  The starting point has to be a willingness to engage with the region, the opposition, civic society and all other stakeholders on the key political issues which need to be resolved before a lasting solution to the Zimbabwe crisis can be forged.   This will provide the legal and constitutional basis for a coherent and internally consistent economic strategy to be formulated and implemented.  Without this, the IMF's 6 month reprieve will just be a postponement of the inevitable. 
Morgan Tsvangirai

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Zimbabwe president, in Cuba, decries IMF
HAVANA -- Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe arrived in Cuba on Saturday, criticizing the International Monetary Fund, even though the organization a day earlier deferred a decision for six months on whether to expel the African nation.
Mugabe blames Western sanctions and boycotts for many of his country's problems, including 255 percent inflation and 80 percent unemployment, and says powers influential in the IMF have imposed the strictures.
The international lending organization is "willed by the big powers which dictate what it should do," Mugabe told reporters. "We have never been friends of the IMF and in the future we will never be friends of the IMF."
But last week Zimbabwe made a surprise $120 million payment on its IMF debt of $295 million and the international lender deferred for six months whether to expel Zimbabwe, saying the arrears payment and economic changes figured in the decision.
In Harare Saturday, Zimbabwe state radio called the postponement an "achievement against all odds" because of what it said was a campaign against the United States and Britain and others "opposed to Zimbabwe's economic turnaround."
The European Union, the United States and leading Commonwealth countries including Australia and Canada have imposed sanctions against Mugabe.
The IMF suspended aid to Zimbabwe in 1999 after disputes over unbudgeted expenditures, the value of its currency and the cost of its participation in the war in Congo. Within a year the World Bank and the African Development Bank followed.
By 2001, Zimbabwe had stopped making payments on all foreign loans. Two years later, the IMF suspended the country's voting rights and began the process that could lead to the country's expulsion.
"IMF is almost never a real assistance to developing countries," Mugabe said after arriving on the communist-run island, which withdrew its involvement with the IMF many years ago.
Mugabe, making his ninth visit to Cuba since 1978, said he was looking forward to meeting with his ally and "brother," President Fidel Castro.
Zimbabwe's economy has been in free fall since March 31 parliamentary elections, widely seen as fraudulent, gave Mugabe's African National Union-Patriotic Front 55 of parliament's 120 elected seats.
The IMF board said the deferral gives Zimbabwe with a further opportunity to strengthen its cooperation with the IMF in economic policies and payments.
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The Sunday Times - Britain

September 11, 2005

Tyrant? You can only be talking about Tony Blair . . .
Daphne Barak was given an exclusive interview with the Zimbabwean president

I MET him at his state house with its beautiful gardens. He broke the peaceful atmosphere by making an entrance with many armoured cars after my arrival. I then had to wait several hours before he appeared. The conversation was pleasant, though he lacked any warmth.
I asked him about the incident with Tony Blair and the Prince of Wales at Pope John Paul II’s funeral, one of the rare occasions when he has been able to travel to meet western leaders.

RM: We were allotted seats close to those of the British . . . the United Kingdom begins with U and Zimbabwe is Z, so we are at the bottom of the alphabet and they put us together with Prince Charles and, of course, the prime minister . . . The incident was more between me and the prime minister. We’d never met, but he deserted his seat because he realised that our own seats were next to their own. But Prince Charles remained in place.
He’s a real gentleman. We’ve known each other. All members of the royal family have visited us. They’ve been to the state house. We were not strangers to each other. So we sat next to each other. I didn’t expect the prince would behave in the same crude way as the prime minister . . . We’ve talked to each other several times. And we always remember that he was the one sent on April 17, 1980 to lower down the British flag in a ceremony at one of our stadiums here. We chatted . . .
DB: At the funeral?
RM: We chatted, yes. And of course we reminisced on the past, over the past. And, I assure you, as far as Zimbabwe’s concerned, my own government was concerned, we have not changed in attitude. Changed in terms of our respect for the royal family. We’ve still got them as good friends.
DB: Was your conversation about politics or social?
RM: Just social and pleasant.
DB: Jack Straw’s remark regarding the “un-handshake” [Straw says he mistakenly shook Mugabe’s hand at a UN summit] . . . That was quite a memorable remark: “I didn’t recognise him because it was dark.”
RM: That’s nonsense. Absolutely nonsense. I recognised him immediately. I didn’t soil him through the greeting, did I?
DB: I read an article where [Blair] called you a tyrant.
RM: Well, look at the two of us . . . When Mozambique was in trouble [Zimbabwe] went to the assistance of Samora Machel, his government and the people of Mozambique to resist this onslaught — this attack on their sovereignty . . . What did Blair and [George W] Bush do in Iraq? They went to destroy the sovereignty of the people in Iraq.
DB: You are suggesting that if somebody’s a tyrant, it’s not you . . .
RM: That Blair is the tyrant! Here the opposition is free to run in an election, and they did so. They got 41 seats . . . I have never been a tyrant in any way that anyone can describe.
DB: You and your country have received some unfavourable publicity lately. How do you explain the sudden escalation?
RM: Well, it has always been the British leading the onslaught against Zimbabwe. And this because of the land issue. We disagree with Blair because he reneged on the agreement, the understanding we had reached at Lancaster House when we negotiated our independence, that the British would assist us with funds to enable us to acquire land for a settlement.
DB: When will you finish?
RM: My life?
DB: No. Being president.
RM: Well, I’m president by virtue of election. I was elected for six years. I’ve got about two and a half left.
DB: Is that your last term?
RM: I want to rest. Yes.
DB: Is that final or maybe you will change your mind?
RM: No. I've no thought of changing my mind. I think I want to retire and the party will choose someone else. I'll be in the background within the party and remain in the party.
DB: What do you think is the biggest misconception about Robert Mugabe?
RM: It is that they regard me as far too independent . . . I'm popular with the grassroots in Africa and everywhere. Even in South Africa. But . . .
DB: But not overseas.
RM: Overseas — because I fought against imperialism. I fought against Anglo-Saxons. It's the Anglo-Saxons. They’re out and out racist, which is my problem. And this world is not just Anglo-Saxon, which they must remember — the Bushes and the Blairs — that we also exist in this world.
DB: What is the most hurtful thing they wrote about you?
RM: It’s the misrepresentation that I’m a tyrant. I’m not.
DB: That’s the most insulting?
RM: Yeah, yeah. If there was judgment by some supreme power of the three of us — Bush, Blair and Robert Mugabe — I’d be the first to receive greater justice from the Almighty . . . I’ve killed no one like they are doing. People are dying in Iraq, even Americans dying. And what for?
DB: Who are your best supporters outside Africa?
RM: China . . . they are our greatest friends.
DB: Do you have friends in Europe?
RM: We have had excellent relations with France, and also Germany. I’ve been invited to Africa-France meetings, and I’ve attended them with [Jacques] Chirac. Italy’s also a good friend.
DB: Are you friends with Chirac?
RM: Yeah, yeah. We have a rapport.
DB: If I was Tony Blair, what would you tell me?
RM: I’d tell you that you must change your ways so that we can co-operate . . . We are open for discussion.
DB: Every discussion includes compromise.
RM: Well, compromise depends on what you are discussing. On the land question there is no compromise. None at all. No, no, no.
The full interview with Mugabe will be on Five News at 5.55pm today with a special report on Five News tomorrow at 7pm
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Zimbabwe's maize stocks depleted, report says

    September 10 2005 at 02:12PM

Harare - Zimbabwe holds only three weeks' supply of its national staple maize, the topmost official in the agriculture ministry was quoted as saying on Saturday.

"Although we have been importing, we only have three weeks' supply of maize," the Daily Mirror newspaper quoted Simon Pazvakavambwa, permanent secretary in the agriculture ministry, as telling a business conference.

"If we are not careful, there will be no food on the table next year," he said.

The United Nations World Food Programme estimates that 4,3 million Zimbabweans are in need of food aid but the government of President Robert Mugabe has said far fewer people - 2,4 million - are hungry in a country of close to 13 million.

'There will be no food on the table next year'

Pasvakavambwa said the shortage was brought about by drought and the increasing prevalence of subsistence agriculture.

He blasted what he termed "cellphone farmers" - agriculturists who let their land lie fallow.

"These people want to take heart in the fact that they own pieces of land but they do not utilise it," he said, adding: "How can the country have targets when we have such people?"

Farming experts told a parliamentary committee on farming this week that there would be no meaningful production even if it rained as the country had only 26 000 tons of maize seed against a required 51 000 tons. - Sapa-AFP

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Zimbabwe civic groups plan conference to discuss new constitution

author/source:Zim Online (SA)
published:Fri 9-Sep-2005

The conference whose theme is: "Deciding Zimbabwe’s Destiny – A New Constitution For All, By All – Now!" is set to be attended by the all the major political parties and civic groups in the country

Harare - Zimbabwe civic groups will next week convene a conference to discuss the way forward in the wake of the government’s railroading of constitutional amendments in parliament last week. The conference whose theme is: "Deciding Zimbabwe’s Destiny – A New Constitution For All, By All – Now!" is set to be attended by the all the major political parties and civic groups in the country. Among the groups scheduled to attend are the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the National Constitutional Assembly, Zimbabwe National Students Union, Zimbabwe Liberators Platform and the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists. Jacob Mafume, a Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) board member whose group is organising the conference, confirmed the plans but referred questions to his boss Arnold Tsunga. The ZLHR said the conference will provide a platform "to meet, discuss, devise strategies and build consensus on the way forward" on the constitutional reform. Last month, President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party used its majority in the House to railroad controversial constitutional amendments that will, among other things, create a senate and empower the government to seize land from the mainly white farmers without recourse in the courts.

ZLHR criticised the government’s handling of the constitutional reforms in parliament saying the manner in which the Bill was passed "clearly highlight the need for a constitution that is owned by the people and adopted through a popular process rather than a partisan approach." The lawyers said the conference will seek to "develop an agenda on how the nation can be galvanised into bringing about a new constitution, adopting measures that will compel the authorities to address the need for restoration of the freedoms and democracy that have been incrementally eroded by the government since independence." The organisers did not divulge what these "measures" would entail. But the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) led by Lovemore Madhuku has in the past demonstrated in the streets demanding a new democratic constitution. Contacted for comment on Thursday on the planned conference, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa who was at the forefront in pushing the constitutional reforms in parliament, scoffed at the civic groups’ proposals. "I suppose it is just a way of accounting for the funds they (non-governmental organisations) get from donors. The Zanu PF government finished the constitutional matter by passing a landmark Bill last month. Where were they? Everyone was consulted," he said.
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Chinese People's Daily

HIV/AIDS infection rate declines in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's rate of HIV/AIDS infection is declining due to behavior change among the adult population, a government official said on Friday.
Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa said the number of people infected by the AIDS pandemic now stands at 21 percent, down from 24 percent last year.
"The number of people living with the virus is now 21 per every hundred people as compared to the previous figure of 24 per every hundred people," he said.
The minister stressed the need for married couples to be faithful to each other and the young people to practice abstinence until marriage as a way of combating the disease.
He also said that the government was battling to reduce the infant mortality rate from the current 75 per 1000 children.
He revealed that the government intended to provide free maternity care for all mothers in the country so that the local health delivery system was in line with the Millennium Development Goals.
Source: Xinhua
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 Guardian (UK)

UN appeal for southern Africa draws a blank

Andrew Meldrum in Pretoria

Not one penny has been pledged to the United Nations emergency appeal to avert a famine threatening 10 million people in southern Africa, the world body has said. The UN launched a plea for $88m (£48m) at the end of August for food and agricultural assistance to six countries in the region. "Ten days later, we have received zero pledges for this appeal. It seems we are losing the battle for the world's attention to get help to these vulnerable people," said Jan Egeland, the UN's humanitarian chief. He told the Guardian that, without timely donations, many people could die - as they have in Niger. He was most concerned about Malawi, where 4.2 million people were in need of immediate food aid. "We are trying to break the world's wall of silence regarding hunger in Malawi," said Mr Egeland. "It is not a Niger situation yet, but we want to prevent that tragic situation from happening again." Malawi's chronic food shortages had created a situation in which 45% of children under five were stunted. UN figures show that a third of the total population is undernourished. Mr Egeland said that across southern Africa, 10 million lives were at stake, including four million people in Zimbabwe and others in Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia. The United Nations wants the donor community to act now on southern Africa while there is still a chance to avoid a crisis such as the one in Niger, where warnings of looming disaster went unheeded for too long. Mr Egeland said the United States, Japan and some European countries were giving aid to southern Africa, but it was not enough.
He called on oil-rich nations to be more generous. "They have had windfall earnings in this last year," he said. "We can save a life for $1 a day. There is no better investment in the world." Other relief specialists echoed Mr Egeland's warnings. "Southern Africa is the most pressing humanitarian crisis today," said James Morris, director of the UN's World Food Programme, after visiting the region last month. Yesterday, his agency said hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people in Mozambique would go hungry unless the international community made positive steps to tackle the food deficit. Oxfam has also issued an urgent appeal for southern Africa, saying neglect now could result in disaster. The charity has begun distributing food in Malawi and will supply seeds to farmers in the region. "Niger was forecast six months in advance, yet rich countries did almost nothing until the 11th hour. People died as a direct result," said Neil Townsend, Oxfam's humanitarian coordinator for southern Africa. "Now there is an impending crisis in southern Africa. If rich countries wait to give money, once again, until television crews show children dying, people in southern Africa will pay the price of their neglect." The international agencies linked the region's food shortage to poor rains and high rates of HIV/Aids.
In Zimbabwe, however, many critics of President Robert Mugabe place the blame squarely on his mismanagement of agriculture in a country once regarded as a regional breadbasket. "Zimbabwe's decline in maize production has been dramatically greater than its neighbours over the past five years," said the Washington-based Centre for Global Development. "The policy of land seizures and the chaotic disruptions on the farms is likely the main reason the staple maize production fell by three-quarters." However, the drastic drop in Zimbabwe's food production has not only been caused by the seizures of white-owned farms. The Mugabe government is also accused of neglecting the poor black subsistence farmers that it claims to have helped. On Thursday, only weeks before the seasonal rains are due, Zimbabwean officials admitted there were not adequate supplies of seed and fertiliser for the growing season. Privately, UN officials say they are frustrated by Harare's refusal to agree an emergency appeal to help the hundreds of thousands of people made homeless by the Mugabe government's housing demolitions.
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SW Radio Africa
Housing scandal

By Tichaona Sibanda and Tererai Karimakwenda
It has emerged that most victims of Operation Murambatsvina in Bulawayo will not benefit from a new housing scheme launched by government soon after the clean-up exercise ended. Over a million people were made homeless during the operation and following the worldwide condemnation of the operation, government promised that it would construct houses to accommodate them. An investigation by our correspondent in Bulawayo, Themba Nkosi revealed that 98 percent of the victims will not be allocated the houses because of the high price being asked for the deposit. Government has built more than 150 houses under Operation Hlalani Kuhle/Garikai in Bulawayo, but most of them have been allocated to members of the police, army and prison services. Nkosi told us that members of Mugabe's security forces can afford the deposits but not the victims of the clean-up exercise. Most of the victims are still homeless and many are destitute and harbour deep resentment towards the government for deceiving them. To add insult to injury, government has been allocating stands that are not serviced.
Officials from the ministry of local government were at Hopley Farm outside Harare on Thursday allocating stands to people from various high-density areas who had already filled out applications. The new stands are meant to be given to the displaced victims of Operation Murambatsvina, but our correspondent Simon Muchemwa reports that the applicants who benefited Thursday are not the victims living outdoors at Hopley or other camps, but people who already have stands elsewhere. Muchemwa said there are suspicions that many of those who were invited to apply are relatives of Zanu PF chefs. He estimates about 200 applicants showed up Thursday, a good number of them with applications already filled out. The majority were in their mid-twenties. Although there is some construction taking place at Hopley, Muchemwa said many of the stands were vacant and beneficiaries would need enough money to build within a specified time period. As it is now, the stands have not been serviced and there is no running water. The displaced families being kept at Hopley Farm by the government still have to walk about 2 kilometres to find clean water from the Mukuvisi river near Glen Norah. Currently, wooden poles supporting asbestos roofs serve as shelter for the families living at Hopley. Some have wrapped plastic around the poles to block the cold winter air and rain. Basically they are living outdoors while the government continues to limit access to them by those wishing to help. Muchemwa said there was a heavy presence of army and police officers on Thursday.
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To an EXCEPTIONAL  Report Back Meeting.
Join our Bulawayo South MP The Hon. David Coltart
and our special guests :

Mr Paul Temba Nyathi, and Mr Roy Bennett ( Pachedu )


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Inner Circles, Outer Circles and Subsets of Zimbabwean Politics

By Ralph Black



With no end to the current crises in sight, discussion as to the possible solutions to the multi-layered crises in Zimbabwe sounds like a high school mathematics lesson on the introduction to sets.


According to press reports the US Congress is considering the effectiveness of an initiative that would encourage, the outer circle of Zanu-PF’s leadership to embrace a reform strategy that would effectively isolate the liberation war party’s inner circle leadership, positioning the party near the centre of the polarized political field.  A simultaneous initiative is being considered to entice key members of the opposition’s outer circle, to drive the opposition’s embattled strategy in a direction that would result in the synthesis of both parties outer circle leadership in the creation of a subset of political leaders that would reach a compromise on the way forward.


The political calculus of this plan could work.  However, several factors have not been considered, by political strategists.


The outer circle leadership of Zanu-PF has its political umbilical firmly attached to the body politic of the Zanu-PF inner circle, leadership.  Any attempt to carelessly or surgically detach this umbilical at this point will result in literal bloodshed.  The proposed militarization of the war veterans by the military and security heavyweights within the ruling party’s inner circle, speaks to this reality.


Further, the Outer circles of the opposition party – the MDC, is grappling with their own survival and have no political clout to survive a separation from the party’s body politic.  The first challenge of the outer circle of the MDC leadership would be to overcome the dynamics of sheer indifference or the threat of the fragmentation of the opposition’s political base.


The proposed lifting of the targeted travel restrictions for select members of Zanu-PF’s moderate or outer circle leadership figures is an insufficient start.  This proposed strategy would ring fatal for any individual worthy of such exemption, and the chances for a peaceful-nonviolent transition to democracy will undoubtedly fail.  Let the facts speak for themselves.  During the parliamentary vote on the constitutional amendments that firmly set in place the foundation for Mugabe’s new apartheid, none of the earmarked moderate Zanu-PF leaders voted against the passing of the oppressive amendments.  If any hope of a moderate wing emerging from within the ruling party existed the outcome of the parliamentary vote speaks volumes.  Further the absence of over a third of the opposition legislatures from parliament during the constitutional vote signals, if nothing else the sheer indifference of opposition legislatures to the future of the country or deep division within the opposition movement.


The following is recommended;


To the Zanu-PF moderates, rally behind a steel and velvet personality within the party, that has earned the respect by blood or diplomacy of the leadership circles and support base.  Support of such a personality – and such personalities exist, should center on his/her acceptance of the following;


  1. Unconditional undertakings to embark on complete constitutional reform.
  2. Complete commitment to restore the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, security services, armed forces and independent press.
  3. A commitment to abide by the terms of a new constitution, and the promotion of accountability, transparency in leadership and an unwavering adherence to the principles of human rights.
  4. Unfaltering commitment to holding free and fair elections within a reasonable time frame.


To the MDC, abandon the lukewarm approach to unseating Zanu_PF.  Mobilize, organize and empower the opposition support base to confront the abuses of the current regime through the implementation of a civil disobedience campaign, which should escalate in intensity finally rendering the country inoperable and ungovernable.  The effective implementation of such measures would unify the party’s support base and signal to the regime the legitimacy of the party’s call for reform, reaffirming that the opposition party is a sufficient agent of change.  The theoretical framework for adopting extra democratic measures to confront the ruling party must be based within the nationalist framework of;


  1. Complete constitutional reform
  2. The unconditional restoration of the rule of law, and the independence of all democratic institutions.
  3. Economic and political empowerment of the nations population


Political appeasement of the kind and nature currently being undertaken, by the opposition reduces the political prospects of the opposition party to affect change.  The opposition should concentrate on building its capacity to negotiate, rather than selling out to the ploys of the proponents of the “Third Way


The political flatulence emanating from the proponents of “the third way” will remain such unless a radically different approach to dealing with the Zanu-PF lead government is formulated by the forces of democracy in Zimbabwe and supported by the international and regional community.


Ralph Black is the Director of Communications for the Association of Zimbabweans Based Abroad.   He can be contacted by e-mail at  He writes in his personal capacity.



Ralph B. Black B.Th CRCST
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Sent: Saturday, September 10, 2005 10:31 PM
Subject: On Mugabe and Katrina - Article

On Mugabe and Katrina

By Ralph Black




What Hurricane Katrina has done to the U.S. Gulf Coast, Mugabe’s Murambastvina has done to Zimbabwe. 


In the week leading up to the American Labor day holiday Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc and devastation along the US Gulf Coast.  The residents of New Orleans bore the brunt of the Hurricane, with an expected death toll of an estimated 10,000 people.  Over 250,000 people have been displaced and are officially designated refugees.  Chilling tales and images of chaos, death and untold suffering have been beamed across the US, giving the American people a wake up call, exposing the vulnerability of their ordered society to natural disasters.  A collective lesson has been thrust upon the consciences of mankind.  The object of this lesson authored by Mother Nature, is that there is a thin line between order and anarchy, prosperity and poverty. .It can be safely assumed that those affected by the ravaging effects of Hurricane Katrina have a clear insight into the suffering of the 700,000 Zimbabweans displaced by Mugabe’s Operation Murambastvina.


Operation Murambastvina unlike Hurricane Katrina struck the Zimbabwean poor without notice.  In the hours of the 19th of May 2005 and in the following weeks, the Zimbabwean Government bulldozed thousands of dwellings, Aids clinics and orphanages, leaving 700,000 Zimbabweans homeless and affecting an estimated 2, 4 million citizens.  Aids patients amongst them children were violently removed from the hospices and clinics that rendered them care and thrust into the open air to face the elements.   An estimated 500,000 children lost their educational opportunity, without the hope of ever attending school again.  Operation Murnmbastvina, directed by the Zimbabwean government was executed with depraved indifference to its likely effects on the lives of the marginalized and poor.  Those affected by the Zimbabwean Governments policy of social reconstruction by sledge hammer and bulldozer, now live in holding camps, not as comfortable as the New Orleans Superdome or the Houston Astrodome. 


While much has been made of the sluggish response of the US government to the American tragedy, the American people can be assured that their elected officials have responded, to the suffering with tones of compassion in comparison to the Zimbabwean government’s response.  Ironically the US military and national guard are engaged in saving lives and reconstruction efforts, whilst the Zimbabwean military and Zanu_pf youth Militia were involved in the destruction of dwellings and places of healing and business.  Those displaced by Katrina have received federal assistance to rebuild their lives in the form of housing, educational, medical, employment assistance, while on the other hand across the world in the Southern African Country many displaced by the Mugabe’s government have been left to starve and die in the bush.  To add insult to injury the Zimbabwean government has actively prevented humanitarian assistance from reaching the homeless, hungry and sick people, sighting errors in the number reportedly affected by its inhumane policy of social reconstruction.


Perhaps there is a fundamental difference between an act of nature allowed by God and the act of devastation directed by man.  The former tests the spirit and character of humanity, in the face of human suffering, while the latter reveals the insane motivation of men intoxicated by power to inflict suffering on the venerable, in an attempt to immortalize their rule.


Ralph Black is the Director of Communications for the Association of Zimbabweans Based Abroad.  He can be contacted by e-mail at  He writes in his personal capacity.

Ralph B. Black B.Th CRCST

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