The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Breakthrough or sell out?

The Economist

Sep 27th 2007 | JOHANNESBURG
From The Economist print edition

The opposition's surprising acceptance of Robert Mugabe's latest clever move

ROBERT MUGABE appears once again to have wrong-footed those who have been
trying to oust him. Britain's prime minister, Gordon Brown, is trying to
prevent Zimbabwe's president from attending a much-heralded summit meeting
of the African Union and the European Union in December. Mr Brown says he
will not attend if Mr Mugabe does. But it seems clear that most African
governments will stay away if Mr Mugabe is excluded. Portugal, the summit's
host, is apparently likely to bow to African pressure and hold the summit
whether or not Mr Brown shows up. And British officials hint that even if Mr
Brown stayed away, other ministers would almost certainly attend.

Better still for Mr Mugabe, both factions of Zimbabwe's divided opposition,
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), have recently sided with the
ruling party, ZANU-PF, endorsing some controversial constitutional
amendments that may well strengthen its grip. This has dismayed many of the
lobbies-human-rights campaigners, churches, women's groups and so on-that
usually back the MDC, further fracturing an already crumbly opposition.

The amendments proposed by the ruling party allow Parliament, which is
dominated by ZANU-PF, to choose a successor if the president steps down or
dies before the end of his term. Simultaneous parliamentary and presidential
elections look set for March 2008. Seats in the lower house will increase
from 150 to 210, and constituencies will be redrawn. This will favour rural
areas, where ZANU-PF's grip is tighter than in the towns. The ruling party
gave ground by agreeing to limit the president's power to appoint some
members of parliament; a supposedly revamped electoral commission will be in
charge of redrawing constituencies.

Until now, the MDC had strongly opposed the amendments on the ground that
they would entrench the ruling party ahead of the election. The MDC had
insisted on a new constitution, the repeal of repressive security and media
laws, and for Zimbabwe's diaspora, thought to be more than 3m-strong, to be
allowed to vote. Some pro-reform organisations are aghast at the MDC'S
reversal. The National Constitutional Assembly, a lobby that for a decade
has called for a new constitution, accuses its former ally of treachery.

For its part, the MDC calls its volte-face a confidence-building gesture. It
has been talking to ZANU-PF under the auspices of Thabo Mbeki, South
Africa's president, who was asked in March by the 14-country Southern
African Development Community (SADC) to help solve Zimbabwe's crisis. Behind
its official policy of united support for Mr Mugabe, the regional grouping
is divided. The British say that a change of mood was noticeable at the
latest SADC summit, in Lusaka in August, and that countries like Tanzania
and even Namibia that were previously loth to challenge Mr Mugabe have begun
to see his refusal to budge as damaging the whole region.

So SADC has hailed the constitutional deal as a breakthrough. Enthusiasts
point to reports that ZANU-PF may relax (though not repeal) the media and
security laws and work towards a new constitution-at some stage. Some also
argue that letting Mr Mugabe in effect pick his successor would make him
likelier to step down. Negotiations between his party and the MDC continue,
but it is unclear whether Mr Mugabe's lot will make serious concessions.

Divide and rule
The opposition is weaker than ever. It has been unable to stir up the
millions of victims of Zimbabwe's economic catastrophe. The MDC faction
headed by Arthur Mutambara said in July that attempts to unite the party and
field a single presidential candidate had failed. He denounced Morgan
Tsvangirai, the party's founder and head of the other faction, as "weak and
indecisive". Meanwhile, many of the party's mostly urban supporters have
left the country: in all, a quarter of the population may have gone. The
MDC's allies look weak too. A recent strike call by the Congress of Trade
Unions was largely ignored. Other groups' efforts to hold marches and
protests have fizzled; people have long been cowed by the beatings and
arrests routinely inflicted by the regime.

Despite reports that the latest registration of voters was badly flawed, Mr
Mbeki and some of his fellow leaders in the region are keen for next year's
elections to be deemed reasonably fair, after which they hope that Mr Mugabe
will step down and ZANU-PF will draw one of the MDC factions, probably the
one led by Mr Mutambara rather than Mr Tsvangirai, into a coalition. That,
they hope, will pave the way to an internationally-backed recovery. Whether
Mr Mugabe is contemplating such a scenario is another matter.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MDC MPs in Parliamentary Walk-Out in Protest At Racist Bill


SW Radio Africa (London)

27 September 2007
Posted to the web 27 September 2007

Henry Makiwa

Members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change on Wednesday night
walked out of parliament in protest at the racially biased Indigenisation
and Empowerment bill, as Zanu PF MP's pushed the bill through parliament.

The goal of the controversial bill is to ensure at least a 51% shareholding
for indigenous black people in the majority of businesses - including the
rich banking and mining sector.

Through a heated session late Wednesday night, the opposition opposed the
bill in its entirety, labelling it "racist" and accusing the ruling party of
plotting to loot the national coffers through the planned legislation.

Massive disputes ensued culminating in the opposition walking out. Arguments
started when Harare North MP Trudy Stevenson, Dzivaresekwa legislator Mr
Edwin Mushoriwa and Kambuzuma legislator Mr Willias Madzimure opposed a
section of the Bill which defined "indigenous Zimbabweans".

The opposition legislators maintained that the section was racist,
unconstitutional and not consistent with international conventions Zimbabwe
had signed upholding equality of all people regardless of race.

The ruling party's MPs however remained adamant that the bill would benefit
the majority of the black populace and pushed it through for enactment by
Robert Mugabe, because of their superiority in numbers in parliament.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa, said the opposition accused the ruling party
of creating lawful grounds for its leaders to loot national resources if the
planned legislation is enacted.

Chamisa said: "We opposed every clause of that bill because it is clearly
for the benefit of Mugabe and his Zanu PF cronies. They are setting the
stage for themselves to loot the national coffers under the guise of
empowering the common people.

"For us to walk out was a statement of divorcing ourselves from a ploy to
loot the country unjustly. So Zanu PF remains alone in passing the bill and
will be held responsible for its parasitic approach at munching everything
good in its way. The most unfortunate thing however is that this new
development further shuns investors away when we badly need them."

The planned legislation also provides for the establishment of an
empowerment fund which will offer assistance to the "financing of share
acquisitions" from the public-owned firms or assist in "management buy-ins
and buy-outs.

The Bill will affect a number of foreign owned companies, including the
world's two largest platinum producers and there are fears that it will
signal the death knell for the country's economy.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

South Africans anxious over Zimbabwe "indigenization" bill

Monsters and Critics

Sep 27, 2007, 15:56 GMT

Washington/Harare - An organization representing South African businesses
expressed concern Thursday for South African investment in Zimbabwe after
the parliament in Harare passed a bill aimed at giving black Zimbabweans a
majority share in foreign-owned firms.

'We would hope that the political framework will become a commercial
political framework that will allow our companies to continue to do business
in Zimbabwe,' Business Unity South Africa CEO Jerry Vilakazi told SAfm
radio.

Zimbabwe's parliament Wednesday passed a bill ensuring that 'indigenous
Zimbabweans,' defined as those who were disadvantaged under colonial British
rule ending in 1980, were given a 51-per-cent stake in most businesses.

Hundreds of foreign companies have interests in Zimbabwe, in the mining,
banking and retail sectors mainly.

South Africa's platinum mining giants Impala Platinum and Anglo Platinum are
among the South African companies deemed likely to be most affected by the
bill if passed.

Lawmakers from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) walked
out of parliament to protest the bill, which has yet to be passed by the
Senate.

The move is the latest by Mugabe's ZANU-PF Party against non-black business
owners in Zimbabwe following a controversial land reform programme that has
seen thousands of white landowners thrown off their farms, most without
compensation, since 2000.

Some analysts have questioned how much Zimbabweans stand to gain from the
measure given the current poor performance of the economy. Inflation is
running at at least 6,600 per cent and unemployment at around 80 per cent.

The bill's passing was also shrouded in uncertainty over its implementation.

Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Minister Paul Mangwana told
parliament businesses would be given time 'to indigenize.'

'We will allow them time to indigenize. We have to look at each business in
its own right.'

But some analysts were sceptical, noting the suddenness with which farms
were seized by members of the ruling party and their allies.

'People just don't trust the Zimbabwean government,' Dianna Games, founder
of Africa@Work consulting company told Deutsche Presse- Agentur dpa, who
thought the bill was likely to deter further foreign investment.

'The Zimbabwe government is sanctioning itself,' she said, referring to
repeated complaints by Mugabe that Western sanctions aimed at the ruling
elite were driving business away.

Most companies had 'no problem with indigenization' but were afraid the rule
of law would not be adhered to, she said.

Foreign companies would, however, probably continue to tough out the
Zimbabwean crisis in the hope that 'the economy will turn around in the next
couple of years and that everything will bounce back.'

The passing of the indigenization bill, which has been in the offing for
years, comes in the run-up to parliamentary and presidential elections set
for March 2008 that Mugabe, 83, is expected to contest.

In a populist move aimed at appeasing discontent over hyperinflation, the
government in June ordered businesses to more than halve their prices,
fuelling widespread food shortages.

2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Comment

Sandile MatanzimaSep 27th, 2007 - 16:18:42

Some of the happenings in Zimbabwe will follow on into South Africa in a few
years from now. South Africa has actively supported Mugabe's murderous
policies and continues to fund Mugabe and provide support to assist mugabe
stay in power. It is uncomprendendable that Zimbabwe's main opposition
parties are so naive as to think that Mbeki is an honest broker in the SADC
sponsored negotiations with zanupf. Mbeki will do his utmost to ensure that
zanupf remain in power. So Zimbabwe can forget about free and fair elections
as they are already rigged in every possible way.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Foreign firms assess new Zimbabwe ownership bill

Reuters

Thu 27 Sep 2007, 12:35 GMT

By Nelson Banya

HARARE, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Foreign-owned companies in Zimbabwe said on
Thursday they were assessing the likely effects on their business of a new
law forcing them to give local owners majority holdings.

The empowerment bill, pushed through parliament by the government on
Wednesday, will give Zimbabweans a 51-percent stake in foreign firms,
including the important mining and banking sectors.

More than 300 foreign-owned business are still operating in Zimbabwe and the
legislation raised concerns that investment might dry up.

Some feared a repetition of government seizures of white-owned farms in 2000
to redistribute among inexperienced indigenous black farmers, a
controversial move which economic analysts say led to the current economic
crisis.

Analysts said foreign businesses had scaled down or written off their local
interests, but mining companies were still exposed.

These included the world's two largest platinum producers Anglo Platinum and
Impala Platinum (Implats).

"As far as we are concerned we have agreements in place and these will be
taken into account when looking at the overall compliance," David Brown,
chief executive of Implats, told Reuters in an e-mail reply to questions.

London-listed Old Mutual and South Africa's Standard Bank, which has a
14-branch network in Zimbabwe, said they were still studying how the bill
would affect their businesses.

"We are still reviewing the legislation and the process by which it will be
implemented," Standard Bank spokesman Ross Linstrom said.

"NO CLARITY"

It was not clear how the bill would be implemented.

"There is no clarity at all and this will put a further damper on the
economy, especially with the view that it is a political gimmick," Sheunesu
Juru, a fund manager at Zimnat Insurance said.

Some foreign investors fled after the land seizures. Others stayed behind,
hoping to ride out an economic storm in what was once one of Africa's most
prosperous countries.

Senior officials have said the government will honour agreements made with
foreign investors.

Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Paul Mangwana said the
process would be gradual.

"We may start with 20 percent, move on to 25 percent or to 40 percent
depending on the sector," he told parliament on Wednesday.

"We will allow them time to indigenise. We have to look at each business in
its own right."

However, uncertainty was growing as the unpredictable Mugabe tightened his
grip on power and the economy edged towards collapse.

"What this (law) does is it worsens the investment climate, and the
perception of Zimbabwe has not been good for a while now," Best Doroh, an
economist at ZB Financial Holdings.

"The timing -- certainly from an investment point of view, is wrong --
although from a political standpoint it would appear designed for next
year's election."

That view was shared by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), which alleges that the bill is designed to enrich President Robert
Mugabe's supporters before presidential and parliamentary elections next
year.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has branded some
foreign businesses "serpents", accusing them of raising prices and stashing
foreign earnings abroad as part of a wider Western plot to remove him from
power.

He faces little resistance from a weak opposition, but opponents and his
Western critics hope the economic meltdown will increase pressure on the
defiant leader.

Zimbabweans have been increasingly frustrated as they struggle to cope with
the world's highest inflation, officially put at 6,600 percent, as well as
food, fuel and foreign currency shortages.

Mugabe, who denies allegations of widespread human rights abuses, has made
it clear that dissent will not be tolerated.

(Additional reporting by James Macharia in Johannesburg)


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe told to change tack for IMF reconciliation

Yahoo News

GABORONE (AFP) - The IMF will continue to shun Zimbabwe until its central
bank stops meddling and the government starts managing its natural resources
properly, a senior official said on Thursday.

"Zimbabwe must put in place the proper economic policies and gradually they
will see the IMF coming on board," International Monetary Fund executive
director Peter Gakunu said on a visit to Botswana.

"The problem with Zimbabwe is that the central bank is getting involved in
business. It is not its duty to do so," Gakunu told reporters.

"Zimbabwe's situation is difficult. We have a government whose
macro-economic framework does not conform to reality."

The IMF effectively suspended its dealings with Zimbabwe after a delegation
paid a fact-finding visit to Harare in December last year and the southern
African country only narrowly avoided expulsion from the organisation.

Zimbabwe's startling economic decline has accelerated since then, with
inflation now standing at more than 6,500 percent.

Production of everything from gold to farm produce has plummeted in recent
years with companies struggling to access foreign currency and pay for
parts.

Gakunu, formerly a senior official in the Kenyan finance ministry, said that
Zimbabwe had plenty of natural resources to help underpin its economy.

"Zimbabwe has a lot of resources. It should start managing them properly,"
he added.

President Robert Mugabe has blamed the former British colony's economic woes
on his Western foes which imposed a limited programme of sanctions on senior
government members after he allegedly rigged his 2002 re-election.

The IMF has previously expressed concerns about the central bank in Harare,
accusing it of over-printing bank notes in order to finance government
expenditure.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Violence Will Dominate Agenda in Next Round of Talks



SW Radio Africa (London)

27 September 2007
Posted to the web 27 September 2007

Tichaona Sibanda

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa is likely to insist that negotiators
from Zanu-PF and the MDC sit down together in the next round of talks and
try to halt a month long explosion of violence in Zimbabwe's rural areas.

A source in Johannesburg told us Mbeki has been made aware of the MDC's
concerns regarding the reign of terror unleashed by ruling Zanu-PF party
followers against its supporters.

Most rural supporters of the MDC have been 'battered and pummelled' by
ruling party militants in the last four weeks following a number of
successful rallies held by the opposition party, in what was once termed
Zanu-PF's strongholds.

MDC director of elections Ian Makone said militants are storming rural
areas, while green bombers are manning roadblocks to seal off districts from
opposition officials. The Tsvangirai led MDC national executive met in
Harare last week and cast doubt on the sincerity of the mediation talks, in
light of the current aggression towards its supporters.

Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro emphasised on Thursday that there could be no
solution to the crisis in the country if Zanu-PF keeps up its attacks and
refuses to repeal draconian laws such as POSA and AIPPA. He said it was time
Zimbabwe followed SADC electoral guidelines.

'Constitutional amendment number 18 is now water under the bridge. There are
still substantive issues like POSA, AIPPA, the Broadcasting Act and the
voters' roll to look at. These issues should also be put on top of any
future talks between the two parties,' Mukonoweshuro said.

Zanu-PF is taking advantage of such laws to create 'no go areas' for
opposition supporters ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections
set for March next year. Analysts fear there is no prospect of the elections
being free and fair if intimidation and harassment is allowed to continue.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Ignore media, Mugabe tells UN chief

iafrica.com

Thu, 27 Sep 2007

President Robert Mugabe used a meeting with UN chief Ban Ki-moon to deny
Zimbabwe was facing a humanitarian crisis and accuse his Western critics of
trying to stir up trouble, state media said Thursday.

"The president told the secretary-general that the situation in Zimbabwe was
not as dire as portrayed by the British and the Americans who have always
had a fight with Zimbabwe," Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba told the
Herald newspaper from the ongoing UN General Assembly in New York.

Mugabe told Ban that Zimbabwe, currently facing widespread food shortages
and mass unemployment, would have informed the United Nations if the
situation was "dire", and his government was currently able to cope.

"The president also told the secretary-general not to let his office be
abused by the British and Americans who have a history of trying to drag
Zimbabwe to the United Nations Security Council," Charamba said.

The meeting came ahead of Mugabe's speech at the general assembly on
Wednesday when he upped his war of words with George W. Bush, accusing the
US president of "rank hypocrisy" for describing the regime in Harare as
tyrannical.

Mugabe, in power of the former British colony since independence in 1980,
said Bush's hands were dripping in blood as a result of US military
misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"He has much to atone for and very little to lecture us on the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights," said Mugabe.

"He kills in Iraq. He kills in Afghanistan. And this is supposed to be our
master on human rights?"

Mugabe said Bush's regime had ignored international law with its treatment
of prisoners at the US detention camp in Guantanomo Bay, Cuba, and was
"taking out his anger for failing to find the culprits of 9/11 on other
countries".

In his own address to the assembly on Tuesday, Bush had accused Mugabe of
heading a "tyrannical regime" which had "cracked down on peaceful calls for
reform (and) forced millions to flee their homeland".

Mugabe and his inner circle have been subject to targeted sanctions by the
United States and European Union since he was alleged to have rigged his
re-election in 2002.
AFP


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe gives Mbeki his feedback on negotiations

SABC

September 27, 2007, 12:30

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has told President Thabo Mbeki that his
party remains fully supportive of the current negotiations with the
opposition MDC. The two leaders met on the sidelines of the UN General
Assembly debate in New York yesterday.

Zanu(PF) is in the process of sending a letter to the South African
Government in this regard.

Mbeki addresses Myanmar issue
With tension rising in Myanmar after 200 monks were reportedly detained,
Mbeki called on that Government to respect the rights of people to hold
peaceful protests.

Yesterday the Security Council held an emergency session, but failed to
condemn the repression in Yangon. China ruled out calls for sanctions or a
UN condemnation of the ruling junta's use of force.
Washington and the EU earlier asked the council to consider punitive
measures.

Earlier this year South Africa came in for heavy criticism for voting
against a resolution urging democratic reform in Mynamar.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Crisis group's Zimbabwe report doubly flawed

Comment from Business Day (SA), 27 September

Nicole Fritz

The International Crisis Group (ICG) released a new report on Zimbabwe
recently titled Zimbabwe: A Regional Solution? Any report issued by the ICG
is to be taken seriously. Strangled neither by the grubby compromises of
realpolitik, nor inflated by the quixotic visions characteristic of so much
nongovernmental organisation activism, the ICG is able to walk a middle
ground, often proposing the most sensible and effective solutions for
countries in crisis. Yet, surprisingly, its most recent report, calling on
the extension of a large aid package to Zimbabwe conditional on full
co-operation with the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
mediation process, suffers the flaws of an approach that is both too
pragmatic and too idealistic.

Although the report insists that the objective of any Zimbabwe reform
process cannot be regime change but must be the guarantee that all adult
Zimbabweans are able freely and fairly to elect their next government, the
report also contends, without any suggestion that this might be problematic,
that SA and SADC mistrust the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
especially the larger faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai. If that is so -
given the ICG's access to various high-level sources there is no reason to
doubt this - that hardly suggests that SA or SADC are well positioned to act
as good-faith mediators or to best secure an environment in which free and
fair elections can be held. The report maintains, also without critical
comment, that given the fracturing of the MDC, "the political risks the
ruling party and SADC members who distrust the opposition are being asked to
take are relatively limited".

In essence: neither Pretoria nor SADC should be concerned about the reform
process ahead of the Zimbabwe elections as those elections will almost
certainly return to power the party of their preference: Zanu PF. But this
would seem, again, quite at odds with engagement in a process aimed at
securing free and fair participation. In footnotes, the report attributes
suspicion of the MDC to its association with white farming interests, the
west, etc, and remarkably suggests that ethnic considerations might lie
behind Pretoria's ostensible preference for the Arthur Mutambara-led faction
of the MDC. Allegedly, Pretoria wants the Ndebele, closely aligned with the
Mutambara faction, represented in government. If there is any credibility to
such claims, it seems to follow that the South African government should at
least be called on to explain such preference.

The report's central recommendation is that President Thabo Mbeki and SADC
should require the west to lift sanctions and extend a large aid package
conditional on full Zanu PF co-operation with the mediation process and
implementation of reforms. And yet, as the report admits, Mugabe has been
particularly adept in outmanoeuvring his opponents within Zimbabwe and
outside. This leaves the reader to question why, if Zimbabwe under Mugabe
were to be offered such relief, he would, in fact, honour any undertaken
given. What leverage might be used once the package has been extended? If
the ICG report maintains that the best hope for a resolution to the Zimbabwe
crisis is a seemingly deeply partisan SADC-driven mediation process, it says
too that the only real prospect for change in Zimbabwe comes from Zanu PF
itself and not the fractured political opposition.

Here it appears to forget its own insistence on preconditions essential to
free and fair elections - such as the removal of ghost voters and the
enfranchisement of the diaspora. With those secured, who knows the result a
free and fair election might yield and what response the fractured
opposition might offer if, combined, it commands a majority? The risk with
this type of pragmatism-heavy analysis is that it pre-emptively forecloses
on other outcomes, conditioning ways forward on only a very few
alternatives. In fact, it is exactly this type of approach - an insistence
that SADC is the only way ahead - that may help explain the MDC's rather
surprising recent support for a constitutional amendment that seems only to
prejudice its chances in any ensuing elections.

But if the report is too pragmatic it is also unreasonably idealistic. Its
premise - that SADC is potentially able to and will exert meaningful
pressure and criticism in respect of Zimbabwe, and can avoid the duplicity
and hypocrisy of the west - ignores real regional alliances within SADC. As
the report itself acknowledges - and then seems to discount - "some members
(of SADC), Namibia and Malawi in particular, remain Mugabe supporters;
Angola, often a regional rival, would not be dissatisfied to see SA's
mediation fail." But whatever the geopolitical or personal alliances, can it
really be expected that SADC states will blithely ignore their own political
realities? Can Angola, long overdue elections, let alone free and fair ones,
genuinely insist on such a process for Zimbabwe? And will Swaziland's king,
who brooks no political opposition, be meaningfully concerned about the
Zimbabwean government's failure to allow the same?

Fritz is the director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Bishop Nolbert Kunonga should resign, says Botswana bishop

Episcopal Life Online

By Trevor Grundy, September 27, 2007
[Ecumenical News International] Bishop Nolbert Kunonga of Harare in Zimbabwe
should resign his post following his attempt to withdraw his diocese from
the Anglican Communion's Central Africa Province. This is due to his
opposition to the granting of what Kunonga described as "Christian rights"
to homosexual Christians, says Botswana Bishop Musonda Trevor Selwyn Mwamba.

Speaking from his office in Gaborone, Mwamba told Ecumenical News
International: "The decision taken by the Bishop of Harare is tantamount to
a schism. The next logical step is for the Bishop of Harare to resign."

Mwamba added: "The See of the diocese of Harare will then be declared vacant
and a new bishop elected to replace Kunonga. The schismatic group should not
be under any illusion in thinking that they have title to the properties and
various trusts legally vested in the diocese of Harare."

On September 8, Kunonga proposed a resolution at a synod of the Anglican
Church of Central Africa held in Malawi that the Harare diocese should
withdraw because some of the synod's bishops supported full "Christian
rights" for homosexual people.

"What a shock it was for most delegates, who until then believed that all
the bishops, clergy and laity in the province were of one mind on the issue
of homosexuality, namely, that the province holds to the Lambeth Conference
resolution ... which calls for a listening process, dialogue and
reconciliation," Mwamba said.

Mwamba noted that the issue of homosexuality raised at the Malawi synod was
"simply a cover for the real underlying issue: a quest for personal power."

He added, "The vicious slander that was being spread to tarnish the
reputations of some bishops in the province was and is intended to ensure
that when the electoral college meets to elect the next archbishop of
Central Africa, these bishops will stand little chance of success."

A statement by Kunonga in the State-controlled Herald newspaper in Harare on
September 15 that said Mwamba is "an avowed homosexual" was libellous, said
the Botswana bishop. He said that in an interview in the Herald, Kunonga was
quoted saying that Zimbabwe's eastern diocese of Manicaland supported his
plan to withdraw Harare from the Central Province, a claim denied by the
Rev. Eston Dickson Pembamoyo, provincial secretary of the Church of the
Province of Central Africa.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zanu PF Thugs Hired By MP Assault Masvingo Residents


SW Radio Africa (London)

27 September 2007
Posted to the web 27 September 2007

Lance Guma

The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) alleges that Masvingo South
Zanu PF MP Walter Muzembi on Thursday hired a group of thugs to assault
residents in central Masvingo ahead of a planned weekend rally by the MDC.

The MP is said to have hired buses and transported over a hundred thugs into
the city centre. Once in the town centre the mob began to indiscriminately
assault residents going about their daily business.

Edson Hlatswayo the Secretary General of the Great Zimbabwe University in
Masvingo was arrested by police during the disturbances. Benjamin Nyandoro
from ZINASU accuses the state machinery of trying to intimidate residents
ahead of the MDC 8th anniversary celebrations set for Saturday. He says the
operation is targeting all civil society and student leaders in the area who
are suspected of helping the opposition mobilize for the rally.

ZINASU on Thursday released a statement saying the disturbances were
deliberately aimed at scaring away participants to a public meeting which
had been organised at the Charles Austin Theatre in the city. The Zimbabwe
Youth Forum organised the forum but at the time of broadcast it was not
clear if the mob had succeeded in disrupting the meeting. Efforts to get
comment from the Zanu PF MP implicated in the violence were not successful
by the time we went to broadcast.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Rural Commuters Are Going Nowhere


UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

27 September 2007
Posted to the web 27 September 2007

Harare

Rural commuters in Zimbabwe cannot catch a bus to their nearest clinic or
shop anymore as the spiralling economic decline forces many transport
operators to shut down their services in the countryside.

"A lot of money is required to maintain buses, most of which are ageing and,
given that foreign currency cannot be accessed easily for the importation of
spare parts and tyres, operators are left with no choice but to ground their
fleet ... for those that are still functioning, the owners tend to opt for
city-to-city roads that are not as bad as rural roads," said Miller Musanhi,
president of the Zimbabwe Rural Transport Operators (ZRTO).

Erratic fuel supplies, caused by the lack of foreign exchange to import it
in adequate quantities, had also forced operators to reduce the number of
buses plying rural routes, leaving villagers unable to access health
services, schools and even grocery stores.

Raina Tomu, 70, who lives in Mukosa, a village about 350km northeast of the
capital, Harare, resorted to consulting traditional healers after she could
not get to the nearest hospital. "Many pregnant mothers die when they
develop complications and, when I am relatively well, I help as a midwife; I
have witnessed a number of children die at birth simply because we don't
have buses coming to Mukosa," Tomu told IRIN.

Many teachers, disgruntled by the poor transport service, have left a nearby
school. At the beginning of the new school term earlier this month, fuel
shortages left thousands of returning pupils and teachers in rural areas
stranded for days, as only a few buses were available to carry them.

Entrenching poverty

According to various studies commissioned by the Zimbabwean government and
the World Bank, conducted between 2003 and 2006 by Practical Action
Consulting, a development consultancy, poor transport in Zimbabwe's rural
areas was entrenching poverty.

"The inability of rural people to access goods and services usually results
in isolation," said a summary of the studies posted on the consultancy's
website. "In turn, isolation entrenches poverty. This poverty could mean:
poverty of ideas, poverty of innovation, poverty of opportunity, poverty of
health, poverty of income and even poverty of hope for a better future."

Poor transport systems in rural areas had brought stunted access to economic
facilities such as markets and grinding mills, social facilities such as
clinics, hospitals, schools, telephones and government offices, besides the
difficulty of meeting the demand for farming transport, particularly during
the harvest.

Rural transport in Zimbabwe had failed to develop because of the lack of an
effective national travel policy, inadequate consultation between operators
and local government departments, and the deterioration of road
infrastructure owing to poor funding, the studies noted.

Mukosa resident Ndaiziva Bhamusi was forced to close down his small shop and
grinding mill after the only bus that plied the route stopped in December
2006. "While I regret lost income, it should be remembered [that] people
from surrounding villages have been affected negatively," he said.

"Being peasant farmers, they relied on those buses not only for the sugar,
cooking oil, tea, and maizemeal that I milled, but for the transportation of
agricultural inputs from the nearest town, Mount Darwin. My fear is that
their farming activities will suffer drastically if we don't urgently get
another bus."

The stranglehold of Zimbabwe's seven-year economic recession, characterised
by runaway inflation - currently at around 6,500 percent - acute shortages
of essential commodities, power and water, as well as foreign currency, has
left more than 80 percent of the population unemployed.

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The End of Winter


Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 27th September 2007

In the subtropics it is quite easy to detect when spring is about to arrive.
The contrast between winter and summer is so great that the slightest
changes alert the acute observer to the new season.

In the tropics it is not so easy. Sometimes it is the arrival of a migrant -
the other morning we heard our first Piet My Vrou (the Red Chested Cuckoo),
that unmistakable call of the summer migrants. In other instances it is the
new flowers and early spring foliage. In the dry tropics it is most often
the early flowers - well before any new foliage. Right now our dry golden
veld is starting to stir, first the Knob Thorns - great swathes of white and
cream down the dry riverbeds and spread across the open bushveld. Then small
shrubs with their brilliant yellow flowers, the wild Wisteria, pale purple
and blue showers of blossoms on the most unlikely looking trees and shrubs.

Perhaps it is because it is so dry and arid that we notice these things more
than the emerging greens of the wetter lands of the north. What always moves
me is the resourcefulness of these early flowering trees and shrubs. They
must dig deep to find the water for this end of winter celebration and
certainly they do it to signal that soon the rains will come and life will
start a new cycle. The veld is almost completely bare at this time of year -
the past summers foliage has fallen and everything waits for the rains. For
the Giraffe the early flowers are more than just a signal of change, they
are life saving.

Zimbabwe is just like this at present - our shelves are bare; our factories
silent and empty, people forage for anything to eat and keep their homes
supplied. What is available is poor quality and expensive. Choice is
non-existent. We are like Impala scrounging fallen leaves and spent seedpods
to fill our stomachs. Only digging in the sand or walking long distances to
an isolated drinking point finds water.

But these severe conditions do not suggest to the wild life or to us that
there is no life - in fact this is a time of expectation. We know that
change is coming just a sure as day follows night. These severe conditions
do not deter the migrants - they arrive as scheduled, flying in from their
sumer homes in Europe and central Africa. Some making flight of over 10 000
kilometers from the lush green plains of Europe to travel to the harsh, dry
open veld of Africa. They know that the rains will bring richness to this
wilderness that is not found elsewhere and here they will grow strong and
fat in preparation for the next flight to Europe.

For me I have always known that one day the season will change here. The
rains might fail but we still go out and prepare for the next season. This
time I can see lots of signs that a real change of season is about to burst
on us. Like the bushveld, you have to be aware and to look closely for the
signs.

Often in Africa we have to search in far places for sign that the coming
season is going to be a good one. We look at the El Nino conditions in the
Pacific Ocean, we study the monsoon rains in India, we watch the early rains
in South Africa and the rainfall patterns across the tropics. This year all
the omens are positive. We have seen good early rains in South Africa; heavy
rain in the tropics and India and the El Nino in the Pacific is benign.

In politics you can see the same indicators - those who know what is
happening behind closed doors are saying that change is under way - not as
in previous seasons, but this time real change. If I look into the corridors
of power in the USA or the EU, I see the same spirit - a burst of new
flowers signaling a new season. If I look south, I see the same signs. I
even see the first migrants - young people returning home, suddenly restless
for the dry open spaces of Africa, for the smells of dust and cattle manure
and the red sunsets and the cry of a fish eagle high in the sky above us.
New investors with cash to spend and fences to build before the grass comes
through the dry pastures.

Crazy? Yes - if you do not know your seasons, simply good judgment if you
do.

The question I ask is what is Zanu PF doing about all this. They embarked on
a strategy that assumed they could handle the SADC leadership using their
traditional allies in the group. They assumed they could ring fence Mbeki
and his team and ensure that their power and influence over events would be
muted and distorted in their favor. They were wrong on both counts; SADC has
acted on the basis of an agreed principled consensus and Mr. Mbeki has
proved to be a wily opponent and clever manipulator himself.

Zanu PF suddenly find themselves in the Kraal at the diptank and are milling
about trying to find an exit where there is no exit except over the top and
that is simply too high for them at this stage. I hear that Mr. Mugabe
threatened to leave the SADC recently - that fits. "Stop the world, I want
to get off!" he was saying. His colleagues simply told him to stop being
silly and eat his porridge.

The MDC is in there as well - we know what is coming and are now preparing
for the dipping. We do not have the parasite load that the Zanu PF people
have and have little to fear. We are just working to make sure that the dip
is the right strength for those bugs!

I said to a group of students the other day "are you ready for this battle -
the final battle, have you got your gun and is it loaded?" What I meant was
that this time and in this struggle our only weapon is our vote, we can
defeat tyranny with the pen - that is our weapon. I said to the students, if
you are not registered to vote you are no use to us, you cannot help in the
fight. We do not need people who can throw rocks, we need people who can
vote and vote intelligently.

I see that one of our military leaders has repeated the nonsense that they
will not accept an MDC victory - another sign that spring is on its way! He
needs to know that if the people of the country vote overwhelmingly for
change, it will come no matter what they say. MDC is working flat out to get
ready for the final battle - are you ready to participate. We will be ready
for the dip tank - are you?


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Institute launches Economic Framework for Zimbabwe


27 September, 2007

The Zimbabwe Institute is launching its economic policy programme named
Progressive Zimbabwe. This is a comprehensive programme that seeks to create
a dynamic and vibrant economy that will provide jobs, food and economic
opportunities for all the people of Zimbabwe.

Put together by a talented multi-disciplinary team of Zimbabweans,
Progressive Zimbabwe is rooted in the Social Democratic principles that the
Zimbabwe Institute firmly believes in. As such the principles enunciated in
Progressive Zimbabwe will succeed under a government that follows a
democratic governance path driven by consensus, solidarity and participatory
decision making.

Amongst the highlights this programme proposes:

a) A US$10 billion external assistance package which will include:
A US$5, 3billion Humanitarian Crisis and Emergency Programme in the first
ten years that will address (i) the immediate food needs (ii) implement
emergency measures on HIV/Aids crisis (iii) establishment of new
institutions(including Truth Commission and Anti-Corruption Commission) to
support a democratic dispensation (iv) agrarian reform

b) A transformation agenda that includes the establishment of:

(i) A new democratic constitution that will safeguard the rule of law and
the protection of the civic, economic and political rights of citizens.

(ii) Participatory governance. This will see the establishment via an Act of
Parliament of the Zimbabwe Economic Development Council (ZEDC) as the main
consultative body to work closely with Parliament, economic ministries and
the Reserve Bank to formulate and supervise the implementation of specific
policies and programmes.

(iii)The transformation agenda will also include the rolling out of a more
transparent land reform programme that will empower the majority of
Zimbabweans, diversify productive activities on the land and significantly
increase productivity in the communal areas.

(iv) It also involves the embracing of an anti-corruption ethos that will be
driven by the Anti-Corruption Commission.

c) Stabilisation: At the point of transformation a progressive
government is inevitably going to need a stabilization and recovery
programme. Progressive Zimbabwe addresses this.

This economic programme is part of the Zimbabwe Institute's contribution to
the search for comprehensive solutions to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Work on the economic programme and other key areas is ongoing and updates to
this programme shall follow in response to the situation on the ground in
order to ensure that the programme remains a ready blueprint for a new
transformation government in Zimbabwe.

We call on all democratic political parties in Zimbabwe, civil society,
SADC, African Union and the international community to consider the key
proposals of this programme as an alternative blueprint to the resolution of
the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Isaac Maposa
ZI Executive Director

Brian Raftopoulos
ZI Chairman


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimta Joins Teachers Strike As It Enters Third Week



SW Radio Africa (London)

27 September 2007
Posted to the web 27 September 2007

Henry Makiwa

Zimbabwe's two teachers unions on Wednesday finally found common ground when
the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) called for its membership to join
in the national strike.

Most teachers in Zimbabwe went on a go-slow early September in protest at
poor salaries, while some went on a full strike a fortnight ago, following
calls by the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ).

According to sources, leaders of ZIMTA - largely seen as docile and
compliant to the government - told its members to join the strike Thursday
after discussions with government for a salary review fell through.

The PTUZ's general secretary, Raymond Majongwe, welcomed ZIMTA's "late entry
into the fray" describing the teachers crisis as "needing the support of
all".

Majongwe said: "We feel sad for the students who have to go without classes
and its unfortunate to the parents as well but it is the government that is
to blame.

"The government has the express responsibility of ending this strike if it
can pay teachers a reasonable salary. It is part of it's terms of governance
to cater for civil servants, teachers included, but it has dismally failed
so far. We however, welcome ZIMTA who have finally seen that negotiations
with this government do not work, for joining the job action."

Some teachers in Zimbabwe are earning as little as Z$2 million, an
equivalent of 3 pounds sterling on the black market. A fortnight ago,
teachers spurned a 100 percent salary increment from government, demanding
instead a Z$15 million basic salary plus a Z$5,2 million housing allowance
and Z$4 million transport recompense


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Farmer Arrested


The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe

27 September 2007
Posted to the web 27 September 2007

Harare

A Former Karoi commercial farmer, Neil Saywood, has been arrested for
overstaying and refusing to vacate a farm that was acquired by Government
and allocated to another farmer.

Saywood was refusing to vacate Glen Ellen Farm that has since been allocated
to Mr Matthew Tana Zharare. He was supposed to leave the farm by July 31,
2007 to pave way for the new occupant but he continued farming and resisting
attempts by the new owner to move onto the property. He was arrested on
Friday and detained at Karoi Police Station. Saywood has since appeared
before Karoi magistrate Mr Archibald Dingane, who remanded him out of
custody on $10 million bail to October 10.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

China rivalry pushes EU to hold Africa summit

Reuters

Thu 27 Sep 2007, 14:25 GMT

By Ingrid Melander

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Growing competition from China in Africa has convinced
most EU countries to do what they have refused for years: suspend a boycott
of Zimbabwe's controversial leader to ensure a long-delayed summit with
Africa takes place.

All previous plans to hold an EU-Africa summit have stumbled over whether to
invite Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. African leaders have refused to
come if he was barred while Britain and other European countries have
refused to invite him.

But EU diplomats see the necessity of holding the first EU-Africa summit in
seven years in December and are adamant this does not signal a change of
policy towards Mugabe, whom they accuse of widespread human rights
violations.

"Is there a change of attitude towards Mugabe? Certainly not. But towards
the possibility of having a summit, yes," said European Commission spokesman
for Aid and Development Amadeu Altafaj.

"The Africa-China summit in particular has been an alarm bell for some," he
said.

Highlighting its growing push into the commodities-rich continent, Beijing
hosted with great fanfare at the end of last year a summit for nearly 50
African leaders.

The 27-member EU is Africa's largest trading partner with trade totalling
more than 200 billion euros last year. But China leapt into third place in
2006 with 43 billion euros and has stepped up investments. Last week China
announced a $5 billion loan to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Portuguese diplomats, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, say
the long delay in holding a proper dialogue with Africa has cost Europe a
lot, not least in losing business opportunities to China.

Today experts say no matter how EU officials feel about Mugabe, they cannot
afford to miss an opportunity to sit down with their African counterparts.

"It is a major priority for the EU. We cannot let the situation in Zimbabwe,
however bad it is, hinder, block, EU-Africa relations," said an EU official,
who asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

MUGABE OR BROWN?

Western critics accuse Mugabe of rigging elections, violently suppressing
the opposition and ruining Zimbabwe's once-thriving economy through
mismanagement and political cronyism. But African leaders see him as an
independence hero.

This time, former colonial ruler Britain is so far sounding like the lone
voice of dissent from Europe. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he
would not attend the summit if Mugabe was there.

Invitations have not yet been sent, but Portugal insists it will go ahead
with plans to hold the summit on December 8-9 in Lisbon and all leaders will
be invited.

Officials said a majority of EU states backed Portugal, though some Nordic
countries and the Netherlands also take a hard line on Mugabe.

"It cannot be that the European Union, which is the main political, economic
and trade partner of Africa ... does not have a summit with Africa," said
one senior EU official, who also did not want to be identified.

John Kotsopoulos, of the European Policy Center think-tank, said the focus
on Zimbabwe and boycott of Mugabe was mostly a domestic British policy
issue.

"For most of the EU there are larger issues than just the bilateral question
of Zimbabwe," he told Reuters.

"Ironically we might end up having Mugabe and not Brown (at the summit)," he
said.

SANCTIONS

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.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, accuses the West
of sabotaging the economy as punishment for his seizure of white-owned farms
to resettle landless blacks.

The EU took sanctions against Zimbabwe after the seizure of the white-owned
farms and Mugabe's disputed re-election in 2002.

They include an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze on Mugabe and more
than 100 other top officials. The travel ban can be lifted for international
meetings such as the planned summit.

Andebrhan Giorgis, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, says
sanctions and condemnations of Mugabe have been counterproductive and helped
to strengthen his grip on power.

A senior African Union diplomat said it was still not certain the summit
would take place, adding it would be very damaging for the 27-nation bloc if
it was cancelled yet again.

"What is happening on the EU side?," African Union Ambassador to Brussels
Salah Annadif asked.

"The question of Zimbabwe or any other European or African country, should
not compromise EU-Africa relations. We are waiting for the invitations ...
we want to be optimistic, we hope the summit will take place," he added.

Portuguese diplomats say they are still trying to secure an agreement that
could ensure that all come. But in months of diplomatic contacts they have
not yet found the right formula.

Some diplomats had been hoping that African states could persuade Mugabe not
to come.

The senior EU official said: "That's wishful thinking."


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mozambique won't attend summit without Mugabe

SABC

September 27, 2007, 10:15

Mozambique will not attend the forthcoming Europe-Africa summit if
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe is excluded, Radio Mozambique has
reported. Eduardo Koloma, the Mozambican deputy foreign affairs minister,
said the participation of Mozambique in the summit set for December in
Portugal depended on the unconditional attendance of Mugabe.

Koloma's remarks come in the wake of similar threats by Zambian President
Levy Mwanawasa - also SADC regional chairperson. "Mozambique subscribes to
the principles and decisions of SADC leaders and the position of the
regional body was announced by the current chairperson.

"As current chairperson he speaks for the region," said Koloma.
Participation of Mugabe at the meeting, which is expected to discuss
co-operation between Europe and Africa, hangs in the balance after UK leader
Gordon Brown threatened he would not attend if Mugabe was invited. Mugabe is
barred from travelling to most European countries in terms of sanctions
imposed on the southern African country.

This week Mugabe was quoted in the international media as having said UK and
America should "stay out of his country's business".

"Bush and Brown have no role to play in our national affairs; they are
outsiders and should therefore keep out." Mugabe was quoted as having said
in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly in New York this
week. - Sapa


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Lord Morris calls for Zimbabwe rethink

From cricinfo, 27 September

Lord Bill Morris, the former Trade Union Congress leader and director of the
ECB, has called for a fresh review of English cricket's position on
cricketing relations with Zimbabwe, in particular whether Zimbabwe should be
allowed to tour England in 2009. The thorny issue of Zimbabwe continues to
stalk the ECB, largely because of the UK government's failure to take any
decisive action. Critics of sporting ties with Zimbabwe have been heartened
by indications that Gordon Brown will be more hard-line towards Robert
Mugabe than was the case when Tony Blair was prime minister. "The prime
minister is on the record saying that in blunt terms he doesn't want to be
in the same room as Mugabe," Morris told Inside Sport in The Daily
Telegraph. "That raises the whole question of 2009 when Zimbabwe are due to
share the tour with Australia. If the PM doesn't want to be in the same room
as Mugabe, how fair is it to ask sportsmen and women to be on the same field
of play with representatives from the regime?"

Morris had been spoken of as a candidate for the vacant role of ECB
chairman, but he declined to stand and earlier this week Giles Clarke won
the backing of the first-class counties. "That is one of the first issues
[Clarke] will face and my concern is this is not going to be a private
conversation between the ECB, the ICC and Zimbabwe cricket," Morris said.
"It will become more and more political as the regime becomes more and more
oppressive and this will be one of the things the board will have to grapple
with and the chairman will have to show leadership on." Morris said that had
he taken charge of the ECB then he would have implemented a comprehensive
review of all the issues. "You have to take into account the ICC view
because Zimbabwe are pretty close to returning to Test match cricket. But
you cannot see the English situation in isolation. John Howard [Australia's
PM] has made his position clear, Zimbabwe will not be allowed to tour
Australia. To argue that politics should be kept out of cricket is just a
dream."

Back to the Top
Back to Index