By Sebastien Berger, Southern Africa Correspondent, and Peta Thornycroft
Last Updated: 2:35am BST 20/09/2007
Zimbabwe's opposition have been accused of "co-operating in their own
demise" after they reached agreement with President Robert Mugabe's regime
on major constitutional reforms.
Under the landmark deal, Mr Mugabe's power to appoint 30 MPs has been
abolished and the number of parliamentary seats will be raised from 120 to
An electoral commission consisting entirely of the President's allies
will draw up these constituencies. They could seize the opportunity to rig
the new seats in favour of the ruling Zanu-PF party before presidential and
parliamentary polls due in March.
Both factions of the divided Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have
agreed to this. They have also endorsed a key amendment of the constitution
which allows parliament - where Mr Mugabe's allies have a majority - to
choose his successor if he dies or retires. Previously, this would have
triggered an election.
Securing this amendment was one of Mr Mugabe's longstanding ambitions.
The MDC has now agreed to support it in parliament.
Jonathan Moyo, a former cabinet minister who now sits as an
independent opposition MP, said the reforms would "give Mugabe a new lease
of life". He added: "We don't need 90 new constituencies as we have a
dramatically declining population with people leaving the country and deaths
A scathing commentary carried on the ZW-News website, which is
normally aligned with the MDC, said: "By failing to put up even ultimately
futile arguments against the Bill in parliament, they have done precisely
what the government desires. They have begun the process - however
unwittingly - of cooperating in their own demise."
"Glaring by its omission is any mention of the comprehensively rigged
voters's roll, the totally biased electoral apparatus and election courts,
and the various Zanu-PF controlled militias that make any talk of free and
fair elections a sick joke."
The agreement was reached during talks in South Africa's capital,
Pretoria, mediated by President Thabo Mbeki. The MDC hopes to replace
Zimbabwe's current election commission with an independent body. They also
want to agree an entirely new consitution.
But having conceded these key changes, the MDC has been left with
minimal bargaining power.
Critics say the MDC has been co-opted into lending legitimacy to Mr
Mugabe's regime. The opposition's key negotiators were Prof Welshman Ncube
and Tendai Biti, who represent both wings of the divided party. Mr Biti has
difficult relations with his superior, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of one MDC
These divisions mean that Mr Mugabe has little to fear from the coming
election. Both factions of the MDC may stand against one another, splitting
the opposition vote.
Published: 20 September 2007
Reports this week from Zimbabwe have graphically illustrated the appalling
and tragic situation in which the people of Zimbabwe now find themselves.
The facts are stark: four million people have fled the country; 80 per cent
of the population are unemployed; four million will be on food aid by the
end of the year; and average life expectancy has fallen to just 37.
There is no easy solution to end this suffering. But I am determined that
Britain continues to do everything it can to help the Zimbabwean people.
We are currently the second largest donor in Zimbabwe, providing up to £40m
a year in humanitarian assistance and for HIV and Aids care in support of
the most vulnerable. In addition, the British Government is announcing today
an additional £8m for Zimbabwe this year, to be delivered through the World
But this alone will not be enough. And working with our international
partners we must do more to press the Zimbabwean government to change.
We will ensure that the EU maintains sanctions against the 131 individuals
in the ruling elite, including President Mugabe, who have committed human
rights abuses - and extend sanctions to other individuals where necessary.
We will suggest to EU partners the appointment of an EU envoy to help
support the transition to democracy. We will press the UN Security Council
to review more regularly the situation on the ground, and to dispatch a
humanitarian mission to Zimbabwe.
We also need to support the important efforts of presidents Kikwete
[Tanzania] and Mbeki [South Africa] to negotiate a return to democracy.
We need to be ready for the day democracy returns to Zimbabwe. We are
working with African and international partners to prepare a long-term
recovery package for when conditions exist to allow economic reconstruction
to begin. This will include measures to help Zimbabwe restart and stabilise
its economy, restructure and reduce its debt, help skilled people who have
left the country return home, renovate schools and hospitals, and very
importantly support fair land reform. And Britain is ready to contribute our
share to this endeavour.
It is also right that I make clear my position on the forthcoming EU-Africa
Summit. I want this summit - under the leadership of [Portugal's] Prime
Minister Socrates - to be a real success. It is a serious opportunity to
forge a stronger partnership between the EU and Africa in order to fight
poverty, tackle climate change, and agree new initiatives on education,
health and peacekeeping.
President Mugabe is the only African leader to face an EU travel ban. There
is a reason for this - the abuse of his own people. There is no freedom in
Zimbabwe: no freedom of association; no freedom of the press. And there is
widespread torture and mass intimidation of the political opposition.
President Mugabe's attendance would mean lifting the EU visa ban that we
have collectively imposed. I believe that President Mugabe's presence would
undermine the summit, diverting attention from the important issues that
need to be resolved. In those circumstances, my attendance would not be
Britain will not shirk our responsibilities to the people of Zimbabwe and I
am determined that we do all we can to help them forge a better future for
themselves and their children.
Published: 20 September 2007
My heart bleeds when I go to a Johannesburg restaurant these days and find
all the waiters are my compatriots, Zimbabweans. These menial workers are
nurses, lecturers, accountants, engineers and other professionals forced to
flee their once prosperous homeland by Robert Mugabe's political and
economic Pol Potism. Professionals I used to spot in BMWs in Harare are now
Imagine what goes through me seeing a friend who was once a high flyer in a
bank running a brothel in Hillbrow, a suburb of Johannesburg. Zimbabwe, my
country, once made me proud of my heritage. It was the breadbasket of Africa
and an exporter of tobacco, gold and platinum. Now it is reduced to a being
net exporter of prostitutes.
I speak for many Zimbabweans when I welcome Gordon Brown's apparent move to
adopt an energised new stance against Mugabe's fossilised regime.
Sceptics will not easily embrace the shift. They will say it plays into Mr
Mugabe's claim that he is a victim of neocolonialism. They will say it plays
into Mugabe's rhetoric that he is being victimised for empowering his black
countrymen by redistributing white farmland. They will repeat the same tired
mantra, that Africans should take the lead in reining in Mr Mugabe.
But the philosophy that African states should take the lead on Zimbabwe is
bankrupt. Most of these African countries remain a collection of mismanaged
entities that would not survive without Western subsidies. What leverage do
Mozambique, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and many others, whose
national budgets are half funded by donors, have over Zimbabwe?
How can one expect Angola's Jose Dos Santos, who has overseen the economic
stagnation of his country, despite billions of mismanaged income from oil
revenues, to sit with Mugabe and discuss good economic governance? How can
Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo, who has relinquished power in a flawed
election, have been expected to counsel Mugabe on the virtues of democracy
as the Commonwealth once naively mandated him to do? How can Equatorial
Guinea's Theodoro Nguema, reputed to have eaten the testicles of opponents
and bankrupted his oil-rich country, bring counsel on Mugabe?
We Zimbabweans have reconciled ourselves to the fact that our fellow
Africans will do nothing for us in our hour of need. In desperation, we have
to look to our former colonisers for help.
If the EU sanctions imposed on Mugabe's circle of cronies were extended to
children and relatives, the men and women who make up Mugabe's edifice would
be forced to rethink. And maybe then, things could start getting better for
all of us.
By Daniel Howden, Deputy Foreign Editor
Published: 20 September 2007
There are two faces that Zimbabweans are used to seeing at election time.
One is the seemingly ageless visage of their current President, Robert
Mugabe, and the other is that of Tony Blair. The last polls to be held in
the southern African country two years ago were billed as the "anti-Blair"
election. After seeing off rumours of a palace coup from members of his own
ruling party earlier this year, Mugabe launched into a four-hour speech in
which he made no mention of millions of starving Zimbabweans, nor of
astronomical inflation. There were, however, countless references to the
former British prime minister and his sinister plot to recolonise Zimbabwe.
And so it has been for the past five years. Mr Blair told the Earth Summit
in Johannesburg that the state of Africa was a "scar on the conscience of
the world". Mugabe replied: "Blair, keep your England and let me keep my
Ever since Mr Blair's public attack on the disastrous handling of the
seizure of white-owned farms in Zimbabwe, Mugabe has used the notion of a
foreign conspiracy to enduring effect. Meanwhile, a country that was once
Africa's bread basket has lurched into famine and the British Government has
abandoned its megaphone diplomacy in favour of back channels and what the
South African government calls "quiet diplomacy".
In the 27 years since emerging as the first leader of independent Zimbabwe,
the former Catholic school teacher has proven himself incredibly adept at
twisting the words of his allies and opponents and staying a step ahead of
both. While the 83-year-old President is often portrayed as a cartoon of an
African dictator in the British press, he has managed to identify himself so
completely with the independence struggle that white critics are seen as a
neocolonialist and possibly racist.
The very slim hope of political progress in Zimbabwe now rests with talks
under way in South Africa. Sources close to the negotiations involving the
ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition groups have for the first time
expressed "guarded optimism" that they might get an agreement. The
International Crisis Group, an independent think-tank, said this week that
British attacks on the Mugabe regime had been "counterproductive" and
sanctions "ineffective". In private, many opposition figures inside Zimbabwe
are wary of British leaders posturing and point out that there has been a
significant gap between rhetoric and action. No one close to the talks in
Pretoria seems keen for Britain to pick up the megaphone again.
20 September 2007
SENEGALESE President Abdoulaye Wade has reignited his rivalry with President
Thabo Mbeki by saying that efforts to end the crisis in Zimbabwe should not
be left to the South African president alone and it needed a broader
approach involving more than one African head of state.
Mbeki was mandated by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to
secure a deal on constitutional reform between Mugabe and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ahead of presidential and parliamentary
polls in March next year.
"It's a big mistake to always say that Zimbabwe should be left to Mbeki,"
Wade said on Tuesday.
"Mbeki is a man who has a huge amount of goodwill but this is a situation
which just one person cannot resolve alone, that much is clear."
Wade, who called Mugabe a "bad lawyer with a good cause" , said more African
heads of state, including himself, should be involved in the mediation.
Wade's comments echo remarks made by Nobel prize laureate Archbishop Desmond
Tutu, who said that the mediation was not enough and Africa must do more to
end the crisis in Zimbabwe.
But Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said Mbeki's quiet diplomacy was
He pointed to an agreement on Tuesday by the MDC for a constitutional
amendment allowing Mugabe to anoint a successor, in exchange for limiting
his power to appoint MPs.
Pahad said the agreement was a first step in reforms that would help ensure
credible elections in Zimbabwe next year.
This is not the first time that Wade has sparred with Mbeki over leadership
on African issues.
In June, ahead of a summit of the Group of Eight nations in Germany, he
accused the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad) - a brainchild
of Mbeki - of wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and achieving nothing
for the world's poorest continent.
Wade said Nepad had proved no more than a talking shop. "I have decided no
longer to waste my time at meetings where nothing gets done, " he said at
Though no reaction to Wade's comments has been recorded from SADC leaders,
it seems unlikely they will come out in support of Wade's call for a
collegial mediation in Zimbabwe.
On Tuesday, Mozambican President Armando Guebuza came out strongly in
support of Mbeki's mediation in Zimbabwe, saying that the process was in
"good hands" and that the SADC "supports him". With Reuters
20 September 2007
I had intended to vent my anger on the increasingly incorrigible behaviour
of South Africa's teenagers, their apathetic parents, a paralysed Education
Department and a misfiring government.
However, I am inclined instead to focus on an ill-informed reaction by a
journalist and former colleague to Sowetan's current series of articles on
"Why do you say there is a crisis in Zimbabwe and why do you say crossing
the border is fraught with danger for those fleeing their country," he
charged just the other day.
I was still mouthing an answer when he continued with his bombardment:
"There is no danger at the Beit Bridge border post. Actually, it is not all
that bad in Zimbabwe."
The former colleague was disgusted by the very idea of running the series.
He detested everything about it. In the series, readers are invited to vote
"yes" or "no" to whether the government's strategy on Zimbabwe is right.
"What do you mean by that? Why do you ask such a question," he pressed.
I have said before in this column that I am the kind of fellow who looks at
you very closely if you perplex me.
Only this time I could hear him but not see him. He was on the other end of
the line, you see. But I know him and he is my friend, though it is a while
since we last met.
So, I let him go on with his tirade. I have heard many like him before. I
realised that he is one of the cynics who say that anyone who dares to opine
on the suffering of the African people of Zimbabwe either has an agenda, is
a hypocrite, or an apologist for Morgan Tsvangirai and whites, and is a
President Robert Mugabe hater.
And as my former colleague went on, only one question he had asked earlie r
kept dancing inside my head. "Why do you say there is a crisis in Zimbabwe?"
It conjured up the image of a road-weary woman trying to cross illegally
into the country caught by South African soldiers armed with R1 rifles. So
did the face flashing before my eyes of a man who walked more than 500km,
leaving behind a young wife and two little sons to escape hunger.
More images jumped in my mind of men and women braving the Limpopo River and
its crocodiles only to be arrested and deported.
I pondered the former colleague's anger at me, at Sowetan. I tried to fathom
why and came to a sad conclusion.
What is happening in Zimbabwe ought not to be.
Zimbabwe is a proud nation that gallantly fought for its liberation from
British colonialists. President Mugabe is a hero, not only in his country
but across the continent.
Now, to answer my former colleague: Yes, the great Zimbabwe is in a crisis.
If a man runs away from his country to another because he is hungry, that is
It is a crisis when a free country cannot feed its people.
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
20 September 2007
Posted to the web 20 September 2007
AN average family of five in Zimbabwe required close to $12 million in
August if it was not to be classified as poor, latest statistics show.
For food items only, the same family needed $4,5 million, up 11,3 percent on
the July figure of $4 million, the Central Statistical Office reported on
"The August 2007 Food Poverty Line for an average of five persons in
Zimbabwe stood at $4 528 000," said the CSO in a statement. "This represents
a gain of 11,3 percent relative to the June 2007 figure of $4 067 200."
The FPL represents the minimum consumption expenditure necessary to ensure
that each household member can (if all expenditures were devoted to food)
consume a minimum basket representing 2 100 kilo calories.
An individual whose total expenditure does not exceed the Food Poverty Line
in deemed to be very poor, according to the CSO.
On the other hand, the Total Consumption Poverty Line (TCPL), which is
naturally higher than the FPL, was derived by computing the non-food
consumption expenditures of poor households whose consumption was just equal
to the FPL.
The amount was then added to the FPL and if an individual does not consume
more than the TCPL, he or she is also deemed poor.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe last reported in June that an urban family
of six in Zimbabwe required $8,2 million.
The CCZ family basket is confined to urban areas while the CSO poverty lines
cover both rural and urban areas.
The poverty line figures also vary by province as prices vary from place to
place. The August TCPL for an average household ranged from $9,2 million in
Mashonaland East Province to $15,6 million in Bulawayo Province.
According to research, most Zimbabwean employers do not prioritise inflation
in wage negotiations. A salary survey released by Lorimark in late 2006
revealed that only 15 percent of the companies took into account inflation
when reviewing salaries.
Furthermore, workers have repeatedly urged Government to constantly review
the income tax brackets, a point Government has always taken into account in
its national and supplementary budgets.
The tax brackets and tax-free thresholds have been revised twice so far this
year, with those earning below $4 million no longer liable to paying tax.
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
20 September 2007
Posted to the web 20 September 2007
The latest wave of power cuts that has hit Mashonaland Central is delaying
tobacco transplanting in the province with a mere 2 percent of the targeted
18 000 hectares of land having been transplanted so far.
To avert such disruptions Government is buying generators to mitigate the
effects of power cuts in tobacco, milk and horticultural production.
It has already bought 150 generators and more are being imported with funds
provided by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Provincial tobacco specialist Mr Tinomuonga Hove said transplanting began
two weeks ago and is expected to be completed by the beginning of November
for the early planted irrigated crop.
So far the province has managed to plant 475,5 hectares.
It is targeting to put 18 000 hectares of land under tobacco.
Mr Hove said the power cuts, coupled with delays by the National Oil Company
of Zimbabwe in releasing fuel to tobacco farmers, has further delayed the
"Tobacco requires a lot of water during transplanting and the constant power
cuts have really affected the transplanting process hence farmers are
finding it difficult to irrigate the transplanted crop.
"Sometimes farmers spend the whole day without electricity which is
sometimes only reconnected late at night," Mr Hove said.
From: Trudy Stevenson
Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2007 3:18 AM
Subject: Hansard - Ncube and Sibanda on Constitution Amendment 18
Attached and below extract from Hansard yesterday Prof Ncube and Leader of
the Opposition Gibson Sibanda on Constitution Amendment 18 Bill.
Zimbabwe Parliamentary Debates
House of Assembly Tuesday 18 September, 2007
CONSTITUTION OF ZIMBABWE AMENDMENT (No. 18) BILL
PROF. Welshman NCUBE:
I rise to make a contribution to the debate on the Constitution of Zimbabwe
Amendment No. 18 Bill. I begin by fully and unconditionally endorsing the
remarks of my colleague Hon Khupe and wish to add the following.
I confirm what the Minister of Justice, Leal and Parliamentary Affairs, has
said in his statement in respect of the process and content of the
negotiations which are taking place between the Government of Zimbabwe and
ZANU PF on one hand and the MDC in its collective sense - (Laughter!) -
For the avoidance of doubt, particularly for those in the media fraternity
who keep speaking the language of MDC negotiating as two formations - that
is not the case. At the negotiating table there is one MDC.
For those of our compatriots who love our beautiful country, some might be
alarmed and say those of us in the MDC might appear on the face of it to be
abandoning the principles we have fully enunciated over the last 8 years on
how we believe a new Constitution for Zimbabwe must be made. Let me take
the opportunity to explain and enunciate those principles and how they fit
in with what we are trying to do in order to resolve the national crisis.
I can speak authoritatively on these principles because I can say I was
there at the beginning of the NCA and the crafting of its principles. For
those who are not aware, the very first meeting which conceptualized and
began the process of constituting the NCA took place in Belgravia, and was
convened by Tawanda Mutasah, attended by Brian Kagoro, Everjoice Win,
Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and myself. Thereafter, the NCA as we know
it was constituted and formed.
In the process of its birth and in trying to define its mission and its
guiding principles, it hired as a consultant and retained the services of
Justice Ben Hlatshwayo, who was not a judge then, to come and document the
same - the foundation of the NCA issues. In the interest of time, that
document was then debated and adopted by the task force of the NCA. At that
time I was the spokesperson of the NCA and President Tsvangirai was the
Chairperson. The NCA agreed that we needed a new constitution for Zimbabwe
which would be crafted or written in an open, transparent and participatory
manner. In that regard, we as members of the NCA were there to oppose two
things. One: the piecemeal amendments to the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Two:
the unilateral manner of setting such piecemeal amendments.
Mr. Speaker, it is important to understand those two principles. Let me say
that these two principles were conceptualized, conceived and adopted, not to
be verses in a bible. They were strategic and tactical principles which
were intended to forge the making of a people-driven constitution. I
despair today when I read and hear the attempt to transform these principles
into some fundamentalist decrees which, we are told, are to be regarded as
completely sacrosanct. As far as we understood them, they were supposed to
be means to an end.
Zimbabwe today, as Hon. Khupe has said, is faced with a national crisis
which all of us acknowledge. We might differ as to the causes and sources
of that crisis, but I think we all, across the political divide, agree that
we are in a crisis. Consequently those of us who love this country are
saying that somewhere along the line as a people we lost each other.
Notwithstanding the intolerance Hon. Khupe talked about, notwithstanding the
anger and emotion, if we are to move forward, Mr. Speaker, we need to find
each other. (Mr Zwizwai: Murima imomo) Laughter- What we are attempting to
sow within the dialogue that we are engaged in is to find each other. Our
contribution to supporting the Amendment Number 18, as to be amended at the
Committee Stage as explained by the hon. Minister, is our attempt to say"
let us reach out to each other, let us find each other, let us give
confidence among ourselves." If what it takes to find each other is for us
to support these amendments, we are prepared and we are supporting these
amendments in that context, with the hope that as negotiating teams move on
with the rest of the agenda of the dialogue, which the Minister has
explained includes the question of a new constitution for Zimbabwe - how to
come up with that new constitution; the question of a new Electoral Act -
how to come up with it (Mr Mutasa: and the question of sanctions) - the
question of how to deal with contentious provisions in POSA and AIPPA, and
indeed the question of sanctions. They are on the agenda and we will deal
with them. We hope that we will find each other around all these issues.
When we come back to this house, we will come back with a package which
includes resolutions of all the issues which have divided us over the last
eight or so years. That is our hope, Mr. Speaker, and it is in that context
that we stand before this august house today, taking that step into the
dark. I had the privilege, Mr. Speaker, to spend the whole of Saturday in a
meeting discussing these issues with President Mutambara and President
Tsvangirai - (Laughter) - Mr. Speaker, I was impressed by their commitment
to the dialogue process. I was impressed by their deep concern for the
suffering of ordinary people of this country (Hon Members: Hear, hear!) - As
President Tsvangirai said at that meeting: "There is no such thing as a
risk-free political decision", and therefore when we take this decision, we
are fully cognizant of the political risk inherent in it. But we take it
with our eyes open in the hope of serving our people. We believe that we
cannot continue to conduct politics for the sake of politics. We believe
that we must begin to conduct our politics in the service of the people,
otherwise it is meaningless.
Lastly, Mr. Speaker, I want to comment very briefly on the aspect relating
to the composition of the Senate which has worried some of my colleagues, in
terms of what they perceive to be the disproportionate number of unelected
people in the Senate. Unelected in the sense of direct election, in that
you have 18 chiefs elected by other chiefs, you have 10 Governors or is it 8
Governors plus 5 appointed by the President. Let me just explain, Mr.
Speaker, that when elections were not synchronized, these numbers would have
been very problematic, but when you have synchronized elections, you elect
your Councilor, you elect your MP, you elect your President. The person who
wins the Presidential race then has the right to constitute the government
of the day from the day of his or her election. Whereas when the elections
were not synchronized, you could have a scenario where one political party
could win a Parliamentary election whilst the Presidency is in the hands of
another party. So the potential of subverting the government will not
happen in the proposal before you. Whoever has been elected President has a
mandate for the next 5 years to form a government. So it becomes irrelevant
as to whether or not you have these disproportionate numbers of unelected
people. I thought I should end by making that explanation.
Mr Gibson SIBANDA:
I stand to add my voice to the debate on the Constitutional Amendment Numebr
18 which is before this House. Indeed today is the beginning of a historic
moment in this House. The speakers who have spoken before me on this debate
have stated very clearly, the Leader of the House Hon. Chinamasa has already
spelt out how the SADC resolution led to the dialogue that has come to a
phase where we begin to resolve the issue before this House.
We have seen the Berlin Wall fall, the Cold War between the West and the
East come to an end, and indeed we have seen 27 years of one man imprisoned
on an island becoming a Head of State after 27 years, because there was the
will and the commitment. I bfind today that, between the two parties who
are represented here in this august House, we can find the solution to the
crisis in Zimbabwe. The Amendment is a landmark, in that it has started to
put in place solutions to some of the issues that have bedeviled our nation
We are in the process of making history and finding a solution to our
crisis. Despite the divisions that occur between the parties, I think
maturity has come to be realized in this House. It is my honour that I
support and add my voice to the smooth passage and the continued dialogue
between ZANU PF and MDC. Yes, as the Professor and Hon Khupe have stated,
we are one formation when it comes to resolving the issues that are facing
this country, and indeed we are united as Zimbabweans who are sitting here,
who have been elected from all the constituencies here represented, and it
is a duty upon us as elected representatives to find the solutions to the
political, economic and social crisis we are facing.
Indeed, I support the smooth passage of this Amendment 18 to the
Constitution of Zimbabwe.