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IMF provides $510m loan for Zimbabwe amid worries that Mugabe party will grab funds

http://www.guardian.co.uk
 

• Move is another step in country's rehabilitation
• MDC fears cash may be diverted to Zanu-PF

 
 
Children collect water in Harare, Zimbabwe

Children carry water collected from a stream in Budiriro neighbourhood in Harare, Zimbabwe, Dec 17, 2008. Photograph: © Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

Zimbabwe's crippled economy received a boost when the IMF sanctioned a $510m (£311m) loan, its first to the country in a decade.

But the move stirred conflict between the partners in Zimbabwe's unity government amid fears it would used to shore up President Robert Mugabe's regime.

Gideon Gono, Zimbabwe's reserve bank governor, said the IMF had paid it $400m via a fund for developing countries hit by the global recession, with a further $110m to follow next week.

"I can confirm that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe did receive the funds," Gono told the state-owned Herald newspaper, adding that he and the finance minister, Tendai Biti, would discuss how to deploy the funds.

The money will be used to replenish Zimbabwe's dwindling foreign currency reserves and has been released on condition it is not diverted to other projects.

Political leaders hailed the decision as a sign that Zimbabwe's unity government is ending the country's spell in the international wilderness.

The IMF wound down its programme there 10 years ago and formally withdrew in 2002, adopting a "declaration of noncooperation" with Mugabe's government.

Eddie Cross, an economist and policy co-ordinator for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said: "This is the first significant IMF involvement with Zimbabwe for more than a decade.

"The magnitude is very substantial, about half our total budget this year. It's a very large contribution."

But the MDC opposed Gono's appointment at the reserve bank and will be anxious to ensure he does not control the funds in case they are directed to the coffers of Mugabe's Zanu-PF party instead of the impoverished population.

"Gono is part of the reactionary elements fighting the unity government," said Cross. "He's been the principal culprit for the meltdown of the economy. We've been successful in … circumventing him and that's what we'll do with this money.

"It will be controlled very carefully, otherwise it will be used and abused and find its way to all sorts of nefarious activities and corrupt institutions."

Another MDC source added: "Gono has tried to take the money but Biti is trying to take charge." The source added that Zimbabwe may be unable to draw down the funds until it has shown it can repay a debt of $5.7bn to various creditors. "The funds will come but it will be in the context of Zimbabwe having committed to clearing these debts," he said.

The IMF told Zimbabwe two weeks ago, in a letter obtained by Reuters, that it would not receive the $510m until it repaid arrears of $142.2m. In a letter to Biti, the IMF's acting director for the African Department, Mark Plant, said countries with arrears would not receive aid until they had cleared them.

"Thus, although Zimbabwe is eligible to receive the SDR (Special Drawing Rights) under the general allocation, it will not receive its share under the special allocation ... until its arrears have been cleared."

G20 leaders agreed in April to treble to $750bn the IMF's capacity to help struggling economies. According to the IMF's website, all 186 members were eligible to receive the money from 28 August in proportion to their existing quotas with the fund.

Zimbabwe has suffered a decade of economic meltdown and record hyperinflation, worsened by the withdrawal of western aid over policy differences with Mugabe's previous administration, before he formed the unity government this year with rival Morgan Tsvangirai.

Western donors have demanded broad political and economic reforms before giving direct aid to the government. Donors currently provide only humanitarian aid. Dominique Davoux, the EU's head of economic co-operation and food security in Zimbabwe, told a business conference in Harare this week that efforts to restore ties were being made.

"Zimbabwe's international relations are on the mend, with bilateral and multilateral re-engagement efforts taking centre stage, starting with the prime minister's visit to Brussels in June," Davoux said. "It's moving very slowly and we want it speeded up to deal with areas of concern on both sides."

Davoux said any possible financial assistance to the unity government -which says it requires about $10bn to rebuild the economy – depended on successful negotiations.


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Biti warns IMF loan unaffordable

http://www.iol.co.za

    September 04 2009 at 08:08PM

Harare - The International Monetary Fund said on Friday it had
allocated a $510-million loan to Zimbabwe, but finance minister Tendai Biti
said the government cannot afford to take the loan.

The allocation follows an agreement by the G20 group of the world's
leading economies in April to increase to US$750-billion the IMFs support to
economies stricken by the world recession.

But Biti told German Press Agency dpa: "It's not a grant, its a loan.
It attracts interest.

"We would be contracting debt when our balance of payments and our
debt burden is very fragile. We have less than US$2 million in import
reserves. Our arrears account for 150 percent of gross domestic product.

"There is no way we can take that (loan) up in the context of the
arrears and the deficit. It would be very imprudent."

The loan would have been the IMF's first payment to Zimbabwe since
1999, soon after which President Robert Mugabe launched a campaign of
violent repression, mass seizures of white-owned commercial farm land and
economic policies that plunged the economy into chaos and saw the country
fall steadily back on its payments to international creditors.

A power-sharing agreement between Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, his
pro-democracy opponent but now prime minister, was inaugurated in February
and Biti abolished the worthless national currency and introduced the US
dollar as legal currency.

The action promptly stabilised the country's inflation rate of 80
billion percent a month, and filled supermarket shelves that had been empty
for nearly a year. - Sapa-dpa


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Zimbabwe, Madagascar to top SADC summit agenda

http://af.reuters.com

Fri Sep 4, 2009 3:24pm GMT

* Regional summit to address Zimbabwe, Madagascar crises

* South Africa to call for unified stance on Zimbabwe

* Congo to take over chairmanship of the bloc

By Joe Bavier

KINSHASA, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Southern African leaders will seek a united
position on ensuring implementation of Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal at a
summit in Congo next week that will also discuss Madagascar, the bloc's
other political crisis.

Heads of state from the 15-nation Southern African Development Community
(SADC), which has been leading efforts to resolve the crises, will also had
over chairmanship of the regional body to host Democratic Republic of Congo.

The group will seek a united position after Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai called on SADC to push President Robert Mugabe to fully implement
a February agreement to end the country's political and economic crisis.

"The important thing is that even now it is going to be important moving
forward for SADC to act in unison," Ayanda Ntsaluba, South Africa's director
general for international relations and cooperation, said at a briefing this
week.

"We could have easily still have been at a point now when we would all be
saying, look, this thing is not working. It is a disaster. Zimbabwe is
moving backwards. But, I am sure all of us would agree that we are not at
that point, which is a major achievement on its own, given where we have
been in the past."

Tsvangirai's MDC accuses Mugabe's ZANU-PF of failing to honour an agreement
to reverse the appointments of political allies to key posts. ZANU-PF has,
in turn, charged that the MDC has not fulfilled its pledge to condemn
sanctions imposed by Western governments on Mugabe and his inner circle.

Analysts expect South Africa's new President Jacob Zuma to take a tougher
stance than his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, in seeking an end to the impasse
and years of turmoil that have pushed millions of Zimbabweans to seek work
in South Africa.

However, South Africa's efforts to put pressure on Mugabe at the summit
could meet resistance from other regional governments, which, with the
exception of Botswana, have largely shied away from openly criticizing the
Zimbabwean president.

Former Mozambiquan President Joaquim Chissano has been tasked with leading
talks on Madagascar, where Andry Rajoelina, a 35-year-old former DJ, ousted
former President Marc Ravalomanana in a March coup.

Chissano is expected to present a report on progress on the talks during the
Sept. 7-8 meeting but it is unclear how much leverage the body, which has
suspended the country's membership, has on the Indian Ocean island's
political leaders.

Talks on Madagascar in Mozambique's capital Maputo collapsed last week as
the parties failed to agree who should hold the top jobs in a transitional
government.

Congo takes over leadership of the group as it still struggles contain
continued fighting and humanitarian crises in its east.

"I think if any one of us said (Congo) is not going to struggle a bit, I
think we would be lying. It is a huge responsibility," Ntsaluba said, adding
that Congo could benefit from the experience. (Editing by David Lewis)


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Sadc members for Zimbabwe USD 10 billion economic plan

http://www.portalangop.co.ao

9/4/09 4:01 PM

Luanda

Luanda- The member countries of the Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC) are supporting the Zimbabwean Economic Recovery Emergency Programme.

The programme is estimated at USD 10 billion, of which USD 2 billion are
destined to cover the emergency and immediate needs, in order to support the
budget and the credit lines in USD one billion.

The intervention of SADC member States may support Zimbabwe in budget,
credit lines, joint venture and manufacturing under hiring.

Some countries such as Angola, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, including
China have already responded to the need of Zimbabwe, by supplying material
and financial support.

Figures show that the Zimbabwean economy will grow 3.7 per cent, regarding
its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2009 due to the improvement that it is
foreseen in various sectors.

SADC groups Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho,
Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South
Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


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African Commission rules Zimbabwe's AIPPA should be amended

http://www.swradioafrica.com/

By Violet Gonda
4 September 2009

The government is coming under fire after another African body ruled against
it. News agencies this week focused on government pull-out from the SADC
Tribunal that ruled in favour of white commercial farmers. But earlier the
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights had ruled that the
Zimbabwean government should repeal sections of the repressive Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act. This happened in June, after
complaints by the Media Institute for Southern Africa-Zimbabwe, the
Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights.

A recent statement by MISA Zimbabwe said: "The complainants challenged the
constitutionality of the requirements compelling journalists to be
accredited, criminalisation of offences relating to abuse of journalistic
privileges and statutory regulation of the profession." The Zimbabwean
government unsuccessfully argued that there was nothing prejudicial with the
registration and accreditation of journalists, that the right to freedom of
expression was not absolute and that the practice of journalism did not
place it beyond statutory regulation.
The MISA statement goes on to say: "The government has since amended AIPPA,
only to replace it with yet another statutory body in the form of the
Zimbabwe Media Commission and in terms of Constitutional Amendment No 19 of
2008. This is in breach of the provisions of the African Charter which
states that self-regulation is the best system of effecting professionalism
in the media."
Observers say Mugabe and his hard liners are now clearly showing that they
will abide by no rule, of any law, be it Zimbabwean or African.


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MDC says cabinet not consulted about SADC Tribunal pullout

http://www.swradioafrica.com/

By Violet Gonda
4 September 2009

On Wednesday the state controlled Herald newspaper reported that Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa had delivered a letter to the Registrar of the
SADC Tribunal, to formally withdraw Zimbabwe from any legal proceedings
involving the regional court. Chinamasa said: "There was never any basis
upon which the Tribunal could seek or purport to found jurisdiction on
Zimbabwe, based on the Protocol which has not yet been ratified by
two-thirds of the total membership of SADC."

It is widely believed that this is happening because ZANU PF is very unhappy
with recent Tribunal decisions, in favour of white commercial farmers who
are fighting against the acquisition of their farms by the government.

But on Friday the MDC said it was not aware that a decision to pullout of
the Tribunal had been made. Godern Moyo, the Minister of State in Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's office, told SW Radio Africa he only heard
about it in the press, and revealed that neither the Prime Minister nor the
cabinet were consulted on the issue.

Moyo said: "The proper procedure of government, if a decision of that
gravity had to be taken, that decision had to be taken either through the
Council of Ministers or through cabinet and I was in the last two/three
cabinet meetings. I was there and nothing of that nature was brought to the
attention of cabinet to make a decision."

"You are talking about the policy of government in relation to other
countries, more so in relation to the sub-region, and all members of
government should be aware of that and should be consulted on such issues
and we are not aware ourselves."

The Minister said until there is proper communication on this matter by the
Justice Minister 'to me it remains something that is not true.it's too
ghastly to be true."

The MDC said it expected all members of the coalition government to act in
unison and bring important issues to the cabinet or the Principals.  "The
Principal that I work with is not aware of that," added Moyo.

Meanwhile a legal opinion by lawyers, who took the cases of the commercial
farmers to the Tribunal, dismissed Chinamasa's move saying it was 'lacking
of any legal foundation.'

South African lawyers Jeremy Gauntlett, F B Pelser and constitutional law
expert Professor Jeffrey Jowell, said: "There is no bona fide basis for the
contention that the rulings by the Tribunal do not bind the Government of
Zimbabwe."

The barristers said Zimbabwe is a signatory to the SADC treaty and the
Protocol setting up the SADC Tribunal, in terms of article 16(2) of the
Treaty, is binding on all SADC members, rendering ratification unnecessary.

Despite scores of commercial farmers being given temporary relief to stay on
their farms by the Tribunal, disruptions continue in Zimbabwe in serious
breach of the ruling. A second ruling showing the Zimbabwe government in
contempt has also been ignored.

The regional court has now asked its parent body to consider enforcement
against Zimbabwe, at the forthcoming SADC summit in the DRC.


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US Embassy slams Herald for "false report"

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/?p=22221

September 4, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - The US embassy has slammed the State-run Herald newspaper for
"inaccurate and irresponsible" reporting of a visiting delegation of US
congressman.

The Herald report rubbished the visit by the delegation of US congressmen,
who concluded two days of meetings with senior Zimbabwean government
officials in Harare Thursday.

In a report under the heading "US Congressional team's visit raises
eyebrows," the paper claimed that the motive of the congressmen had been
questioned following their "impromptu last-minute call on President Mugabe
at State House yesterday just as they made their way to the airport," an
assertion vehemently rejected by the US embassy.

The embassy advised that as a matter of fact, all diplomatic channels had
been followed and the request for the meeting with the Presidet had been
done well in advance.

The Herald claimed the visiting US delegation had "apparently not planned to
meet President Mugabe and had only scheduled appointments with MDC-T
officials, including Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai."

The delegation met separately with President Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai, and Speaker of the House of Assembly Lovemore Moyo and the
tri-partite chairs of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the
Constitution.

The five-member delegation was the largest group of American policymakers
Zimbabwe has hosted in more than a decade and was led by Representative
Gregory Meeks (D-New York) and included Representatives Jack Kingston
(R-Georgia), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas), Melvin Watt (D- North Carolina)
and Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio).

Quoting unnamed sources, the Herald reported: "Well-placed sources revealed
that the five-member delegation realised that they had made their intentions
too obvious and decided on a last-ditch meeting with President Mugabe to
make their mission appear impartial.

"Yesterday, the delegation made an unannounced visit to State House that
only went ahead out of courtesy though President Mugabe was surprised to
hear they suddenly wanted to meet him," the paper claimed.

"President Mugabe, who is Head of State and Government as well as
Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, and was in the process of
accepting the credentials of three new ambassadors to the country when word
arrived that the American delegation wanted to see him before they flew out
of the country later in the day," the paper further reported.

But the false report attracted the wrath of the US embassy, which railed
against the newspaper for practising gutter journalism, an oft-repeated
accusation against the newspaper.

Just last Wednesday the Prime Minister accused the newspaper of seeing three
parallel structures in the government of national unity and inflaming
tensions.

"I am writing to express the Embassy of the United States of America's
concern about the inaccurate and irresponsible September 4, 2009, Herald
article 'US Congressional team's visit raises eyebrows'," said Tim
Gerhardson, public affairs officer at the US embassy. "I am seeking a
correction in the Herald at the earliest possible time."

"The U.S. Embassy submitted Diplomatic Note number 227/09 to the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Zimbabwe (with copies to the Offices of
the President and the Prime Minister) on August 14, 2009, requesting
meetings for the delegation led by Representative Meeks with the President
and Prime Minister," Gerhardson added.

"In addition to the Note, officials of the U.S. Embassy met with and talked
with staff from the Minister of Foreign Affairs on several occasions before
the delegation arrived and sought ministry assistance in scheduling a
meeting with President Robert Mugabe."

Gerhardson said while awaiting the delegation's arrival, the Charge d
affaires of the Embassy of the United States of America discussed the
delegation's interest in meeting with the President, with the Minister of
Foreign Affairs, and explained the delegation's fixed departure time.
Efforts to schedule the meeting continued throughout the time the delegation
was present in Harare, he said.

"We find the assertion in your article that it was an "impromptu last minute
call" on President Mugabe grossly inaccurate and would like this impression
corrected for the benefit of both your readers and professional journalism,"
Gerhardson said.

The Prime Minister on Wednesday also accused the State media of publishing
"vicious propaganda" that threatened the country's power-sharing government.

"The political climate continues to be marred by unfortunate and vicious
propaganda that emanates from the state media," Tsvangirai said in a
statement marking the first anniversary of the power-sharing agreement.

It "presents a real and credible threat to this inclusive government and its
ability to impact positively on the lives of all Zimbabweans."

While peace and stability have begun to take root in Zimbabwe, the media
remain under the shackles of President's vice-like grip.


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Tsvangirai fires security agents

http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk

4 September 2009

By ZimOnline

HARARE - Zimbabwean Prime Minister (PM) Morgan Tsvangirai has ordered the
removal of 15 agents from his close security team following a
misunderstanding among the guards which sources said could have compromised
the Premier's security.

The sources said Tsvangirai -- who in March survived a serious car accident
that killed his wife and which was partly blamed on poor security
arrangements for the Premier -- acted after a disturbing incident involving
some of some of his guards during a dinner hosted by President Robert Mugabe
for neighbouring South African leader Jacob Zuma last Thursday.

According to our sources, who spoke on condition they were not named, one of
Tsvangirai's senior state-provided guards, who they identified only as
Mashundure, inexplicably ordered a vehicle that is used by some of the
Premier's security men removed from Mugabe's presidential State House palace
where the banquet was taking place.

"Mashandure who has caused a lot of embarrassment for Tsvangirai ordered one
of the Toyota Prado vehicles out of State House and yet it carries the PM's
security team. The PM's security would have been compromised by such an
 act," said a source, who is very close to Premier.

Tsvangirai, who has survived attempts on his life before, uses security
agents provided him by the state when he became Premier as well as a team of
agents provided by his former opposition MDC-T party.

It was not immediately clear whether Mashandure's intention was to remove
Tsvangirai's guards from the MDC or whether the effect of his instruction
would simply have resulted in fewer agents - whether MDC or state-provided -
left to watch over the PM. According to our sources, it was the MDC security
team that refused the order by Mashandure to remove the security vehicle and
its occupants.

Secretary to the PM Ian Makone refused to take questions on the matter. He
said: "I am not in a position to comment. I do not think it is an issue for
discussion at the moment."
Although the VIP protection unit falls under the police, the law enforcement
agency's spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena refused to discuss the matter referring
ZimOnline to the President's Department.

Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba was not immediately available for comment
on the matter. Last week's incident is the second inside four months after
Tsvangirai was in May forced to make a U-turn when state security agents
denied one of the cars in his entourage entry into State House for a dinner
hosted for a North Korean delegation.

In April state security agents manning Tsvangirai's offices at Munhumutapa
Building blocked civic activists who wanted to meet the PM from entering the
building that also houses Mugabe's offices. It only took the intervention of
Tsvangirai's deputy Thokozani Khupe for the activists to be allowed entry.

While the incidents clearly confirm the security establishment's lack of
respect and contempt for Tsvangirai, the incident at State House last
Thursday will only help fuel speculation about the PM's safety under the
protection of the same state security agents who openly dislike him.


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Prison Officers Tortured By Military Police

http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk

4 September 2009

By The Zimbabwean

MASVINGO - Seven prison officers from Mutimurefu Maximum Prison are nursing
serious injuries following severe torture by military police on Thursday,
RadioVOP is reliably informed.

The seven, Olinda Muzenda, Makasi Chamunorwa, Maringo Sydeney and Owen
Mujake were still admitted at Masvingo General Hospital by Friday morning.
Sources from Mutimurefu, about 30 kilometers away from Masvingo, said four
military police from Gweru assaulted all the officers who did not report for
duty in time. The officers allege that the military police was using button
sticks, clinched fists and booted feet to assault them for not being
punctual.
"We were late at work by only ten minutes so they started to beat us. We
were ordered to scroll on the ground. The whole process took more than four
hours and some of our colleagues collapsed and could not finish the
punishment," said another victim.
Officer in charge at Mutimurefu Superintendent Piason Mushangwe, confirmed
that some officers were 'punished for ill behaviour' but was quick to say
there was no need to publish such information.
"Those officers were no longer following instructions at work so they were
only punished for their ill behaviour. Punishments are always there. I know
that they went to hospital so that they exaggerate what happened. I do not
think they were beaten to the extent that they would be admitted at the
hospital. You can actually deduce from what they are doing and find that
these guys are very mischievous. They were coming to work at their own time
and would go home anytime again.
"As the management at regional office, we thought the military police would
help to instill discipline to these junior officers. However, there is no
need for you to rush to publish this information," said Mushangwe.
Some prison officers said they were now afraid of going to work.
"It is now frightening to go back to work because we can be beaten for one
reason or the other. We can not manage to be at work by 0715 hours because
we use public transport from our homes in town," said another officer.


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Zimbabwe army to consider male circumcision

http://www.sokwanele.com/thisiszimbabwe/archives/4658
 

News24 have one of those headlines that make readers do a double-take: Zim army may be circumcised.  Minister of Defence, Emmerson Mnangagwa is reported to have said this in a speech:

“I want to plead with all our senior officers in our uniformed forces to seriously consider the matter of male circumcision”

It’s all about HIV/AIDS prevention. In June 2009 the Health Minister, Dr Henry Madzorera said:

“We are advocating for male circumcision as part of measures to control the spread of HIV. Studies which have been done have shown that circumcision reduces the spread of HIV by up to 60 percent and a number of countries have embraced male circumcision as a strategy to control the spread of HIV,” he said.

In 2008, The Zimbabwe Times reported that male circumcision could halve AIDS rates. They had sums to go with:

Tripling the rate of male circumcision in a country with a current circumcision rate of 25% and a high rate of heterosexually-acquired HIV will eventually halve HIV incidence, a mathematical model by Richard White of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has shown.

However it would take 50 years for that 75% rate of circumcision to reach full effectiveness, and it would require circumcision of the majority of sexually-active adult men (aged 15-45) rather than, as recommended by the World Health Organization, males aged 12-30, if it were to be as effective as is possible. It was shown that circumcision would immediately result in money being saved, however, as the cost per HIV infection averted would always be lower than the cost of providing care if that infection had not been averted.

HIV/AIDS is obviously a desperate issue in a country like ours where prevalence of the disease is extremely high, and any approach that might do something to reduce the spread and positively impact on life expectancy should be considered. A 2005 study looking at attitudes towards using adult male circumcision for Sexually Transmitted Disease and HIV Prevention in Zimbabwe  found that 45% of Zimbabwean men surveyed answered ‘Yes’ in response to the question “If you are uncircumcised, would you like to be circumcised if this practice is confirmed to reduce the risk of contracting HIV or STIs and if it is performed safely and affordably?”

It’s a complicated topic, fraught with all sorts of issues; for example, where are women in all this and will this encourage risky or dangerous sexual behaviour, etc.? As complicated as it is, its bound to be more complicated when it is Mnangagwa talking about it - a man inextricably linked to the most grotesque abuses of human rights during the Gukurahundi in the 1980s, a Zanu PF hardliner, and the current Minister of Defence.  The combination of all these points provides opportunity for salacious speculations on motive and modus operandi.

The Zimbabwe Mail couldn’t resist and put all factors into the pot to produce this ramped up version of the story - less medical science and more man’s biggest nightmare:

“Young man, this is a national program codenamed “Operation Vhura” (meaning, cut it open), which will be initiated by us, members of the security forces, the police, and prison officers. From there, we will come to your house and ask your wife and kids to take a walk while we work on your thing,” he said in a broad smile.

I have to admit to almost falling off my chair and weeping with laughter at this point. The article then took on an even more startling direction, attributing their information to “uncollaborated reports”:

But, uncollaborated reports say the program is to coincide with the next general election campaign in which Emmerson Mnangagwa is likely to be the Zanu PF candidate.

Sources say, the army and party militia will be smoking out all male citizens in villages and towns in a program intended to instill fear before elections. It is believed that the chiefs and village heads will be asked to submit names to militias of all male subjects in their neighbourhoods.

Oh my word! Mnangagwa is capable of just about anything that invokes terror but I find it hard to displace my current impression of the man and replace it with the picture offered by the Zimbabwe Mail. I see him as a guy who would tend more towards overt violence like beatings  and butchery rather than engage himself with the subtleties of terror by ’snippery’. The mind just boggles!

So all I can say in response to all of this is that I wish more Zimbabwean men would just use condoms.


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State broadcaster admits censoring music

http://www.zimonline.co.za/

by Sebastian Nyamhangambiri Friday 04 September 2009

HARARE - The state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) - formerly
known as Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) - has admitted that it
censors music that "contains provocative political statements". ?

This was revealed in a letter to the lawyers of musician Hosiah Chipanga
whose latest album, "Hero Shoko", has been banned on national radio
stations. ?

"After listening to the six tracks on Hero Shoko we are of the view that
some of the tracks contain provocative political statements which we feel is
out of place especially during this time of the infancy of the inclusive
government," wrote ZBH company secretary Norman Mahori in a letter delivered
to Chipanga's lawyers, Gutu and Chikowero Attorneys, on Monday. ?

"As a public broadcaster, it is our duty to promote harmony in society. We
will accord airplay to those tracks which we found to be in order," Mahori
added, in the letter dated August 27.

In July, Gutu and Chikowero Attorneys threatened to take legal action
against ZBH if they did not lift the ban on Hero Shoko, saying the company
was a public broadcaster with monopoly of airwaves in Zimbabwe. ?

In an interview Chipanga welcomed the development, although his music is not
yet being played on radio. "I have achieved some victory, I am not sure why
ZBH does not want songs which have constructive criticism," Chipanga said.

"As an artist I sing what I see. The society must listen if it is
beneficial. Praise singing does not develop the society. Look at where we
are. Everyone is suffering," the outspoken musician said.

The album - laden with messages that attack President Robert Mugabe's
previous ZANU PF administration - hit the airwaves for a little while before
being pulled off air in May.

In one of the songs, "Baba Nkomo", the slim musician questions the failure
to accord hero status to the late Ndabaningi Sithole, James Chikerema and
Canaan Banana yet they played important roles in Zimbabwe's liberation
struggle.

And in another song, "Nhunzi nechironda" (the fly and the wound), the
controversial singer attacks ZANU PF party and likens the party's habit of
blaming the West for Zimbabwe's problems to a wounded person who wastes time
chasing after the flies coming to feed on his wound when he is better served
by simply getting the festering wound treated.

The ZBH runs Zimbabwe's only television and radio stations. The ZBC was
initially conceived as a public broadcaster but has over the years been
tightly controlled by Mugabe's ZANU PF government, which has the final say
on senior editorial and managerial appointments.

Even after formation of the unity government between Mugabe and MDC leaders
Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara in February, the ZBC has continued to
be used as a ZANU PF propaganda mouthpiece, prompting Prime Minister
Tsvangirai on Tuesday to complain that the state-owned media had continued
to foment hatred and disunity in Zimbabwe. - ZimOnline


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Zimbabwean farmer besieged but defiant


http://www.theglobeandmail.com

Geoffrey York

Johannesburg - From Thursday's Globe and Mail Last updated on Thursday, Sep.
03, 2009 08:42AM EDT

With all of his crops and farm equipment looted, Ben Freeth could only watch
helplessly as his thatched-roof farmhouse burst into flames and burned to
the ground this week.

In the distance, he could see someone driving a stolen tractor with his
firefighting equipment. The tractor kept moving, ignoring the flames.

Wednesday morning, just three days after the first blaze, another mysterious
fire erupted. It destroyed the farm of his 76-year-old father-in-law, who
was nearly killed in a beating last year.

The two suspected arson attacks were the latest blow to Zimbabwe's dwindling
band of white farmers. Besieged by farm invaders, stripped of their
possessions, menaced by armed thugs, many of the few hundred remaining
farmers are on the verge of giving up.

Mr. Freeth, a deeply religious man, insists that he will stay and fight. "We
will rebuild," he said yesterday. "That is our hope, that is our prayer. We
don't know how we're going to do it. All our crops have been stolen. We've
had no income this year. . We're basically pretty well bankrupted."

For his father-in-law, Mike Campbell, the torching of his farm yesterday was
a final devastating defeat. He still suffers brain damage and other injuries
from the savage beating by farm invaders last year. For months he has been
hiding like a fugitive, unable to return to his farm for fear of another
vicious assault.

"Mike is in no position to rebuild anything," Mr. Freeth said. "He's hardly
able to walk. His family knows no other life, but he has been deprived of
that life."

Mr. Campbell, who owns the biggest mango farm in Zimbabwe, was evicted from
his property by farm invaders in April. His $600,000 crop was stolen and
sold to street vendors who hawked the fruit on the streets of a nearby town.

Mr. Freeth's farm equipment was stolen four months ago. His crop of mangos
and oranges was looted. His farm workers were beaten and their power cut
off. His children were surrounded and intimidated by armed thugs. And when
the blaze erupted on Sunday, he and his family escaped with only the clothes
on their backs.

At a meeting with supporters in Johannesburg yesterday, Mr. Freeth was on
the verge of tears as gave an emotional account of the blaze at his
father-in-law's farm.

At the age of 39, he has three young children who were distraught at the
fire and the recent attacks. He admitted he felt "anger and despair" at the
latest ordeal.

"But we're going to carry on," he said. "I haven't lost my courage. In fact,
I'm more adamant than ever. So far I'm still free and I've still got life,
and I will use that freedom and that life to do whatever I can."

He said the invasion of the two farms was led by an armed thug who calls
himself "Land Mine." In one recent invasion, he said, Land Mine and his
followers chanted, shouted, pushed people around, dragged burning tires
through the front door and threatened to "eat your children."

he police have done almost nothing to stop the invasions, he said.

"There is total impunity. It's absolutely tragic. We have a government that
doesn't care about the rule of law. Somalia is around the corner, the Congo
is around the corner, unless we can get back the rule of law."

Nine years ago, Zimbabwe had about 4,300 white-owned commercial farms, and
the country was one of the breadbaskets of Africa. Now fewer than 300 of
those farms remain active, often reduced to small plots , and Zimbabwe's
farm output has dropped drastically, leaving most of the population
impoverished and heavily dependent on food rations from relief agencies.

The country has a capacity to produce 400,000 tonnes of wheat, but its
harvest this year is expected to be just 12,000 tonnes.

On the 120-kilometre stretch of highway between Zimbabwe's capital, Harare,
and the town of Chegutu where Mr. Freeth and Mr. Campbell are based, only 10
white-owned farms remain, and all are under heavy siege from invaders, Mr.
Freeth said.

Five of the 10 farmers have been pushed off their land, and all 10 are
facing various forms of prosecution, he said. Yet the 10 farmers are
supporting more than 5,000 farm workers and their dependants.

In February, opposition parties were allowed into the government in a
coalition with President Robert Mugabe's ruling party. But the coalition has
failed to stop the farm invasions and other attacks on white farmers, Mr.
Freeth said.

The invaders have ignored a court ruling that Mr. Campbell and other farmers
obtained last December from a human-rights tribunal set up by the Southern
African Development Community, the body representing 15 nations, including
Zimbabwe. The tribunal ordered Zimbabwe to protect the farmers from eviction
or harassment, but Mr. Mugabe said the ruling was "nonsense."

The tribunal then found Zimbabwe in contempt of court for ignoring the
ruling. Zimbabwe responded yesterday by announcing that it was withdrawing
from any legal proceedings by the tribunal.


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JAG letter to PM re SADC Tribunal



3rd September 2009

The Prime Minister,

Office of the Prime Minister,

Harare.
URGENT

Dear Sir,

Righting Past Wrongs, Or Perpetrating Fresh Ones?

Members of JAG and others in our commercial farming community, turned to the
SADC Tribunal in Windhoek after the Government here chose to bar them from
being heard in our local courts.

The Tribunal, an independent and professional body, found that the land
reforms here are a violation of the rule of law, and are racist.

Neither the SADC Tribunal nor JAG have rejected the need to redress past
racism here; but the SADC Tribunal specifically held that the approach in
use here is racist because it is arbitrary;is benefiting largely the wrong
people; and has made no real effort to ensure compensation.

Each of the above findings by the Tribunal was firmly based on facts, and
can withstand any objective investigation, however detailed or extensive.
After inviting the whites to accept the hand of reconciliation and to invest
at Independence, a policy of ethnic cleansing instead began in 2000, and is
still pursued. Most whites since then have been stripped of their farms
entirely, regardless of when they acquired them or from whom.
[eg I bought land which government didn't want, in 1987, which had been sold
by a Government company; yet had it taken from me `to redress past wrongs'
in 2002.]

Due compensation has never been assessed - even for improvements or
movables - nor has government ever collected the promised contributions from
its A2 beneficiaries, who, as well as enjoying homes, dams & buildings rent
free, have often reaped & sold crops our members had sown and grown, and
used inputs and equipment that our members were forced to hurriedly abandon.
Nobody else can be asked to pay for that enrichment.

Most critical for Zimbabwe surely is the Tribunal's second finding:
the program has benefited the wrong people.

Agricultural production has not plummeted in Zimbabwe because it has
replaced white farmers with black farmers. It collapsed because 20 years
after Independence it decided to replace farmers with non-farmers.

The continuing secrecy over who benefited and the obstacles to a land audit
are directly linked to that. So too is the nation's inability now to feed
itself, supply its commerce or industries, or pay even a small % of what it
owes to the `pigmentally challenged'
people who invested in commercial farming here.

No scrutiny of Zimbabwe's land redistribution can come to any different
conclusions.

We note recent claims to a SADC body by the Minister of Justice [Zanu Pf,
repeatedly a land beneficiary, with his spouse] that the SADC Tribunal
established by the SADC summits does not exist legally.

We have seen too with sadness that its rulings and the utter contempt for
these displayed by the Zimbabwe government have been ignored so far by the
SADC Summit itself.

The Chair of SADC will visit here shortly. Another Summit is due too, in
Kinshasha.

We wait to see whether either brings any halt to the persecution of our
farmers here.

If the Justice Minister's view is the view of the current Government in
Zimbabwe and/or of SADC - ie if the Tribunal's authority is now belatedly
challenged or its findings to be ignored by its regional parent - our
members evidently must go elsewhere for justice.

The programme here not only violated the SADC Treaty but also the COMESA
Treaty, CERD [Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination], the
ban on exploitation of ethnicity in the Constitutive Act of the African
Union, and many other international agreements. Our members thus, if
need-be, can approach another forum [one not hindered by the above
challenges] for more effective relief.

We are told Zimbabwe citizens cannot approach the UN Committee upholding
CERD directly as its government has not agreed to direct complaints; but a
complaint can be lodged by another Member State. That Committee is a
worldwide arbiter on unfair racial discrimination, with authority to report
to the Security Council, and in turn to the ICC.

For good reasons, State-sanctioned racism has been agreed to be an
international crime.

It cannot matter whether it is white-on-black or black-on-white racism.
If our government here persists with it, and SADC or its Tribunal have no
capacity to stop it, our members must seek assistance from other State
parties to CERD to help cure it.

We trust we will get that. Few still follow the old adage "An eye for an
eye"; most accept Dr Martin Luther King's warning:
"That leaves everyone blind". And fewer still endorse "Two eyes for an eye",
the system of gross injustice evident in practice here since 2000.

If we are driven to it, we do not doubt of finding support from a state
party to let CERD investigate all that has happened here; nor doubt that its
investigation will dispel many popular myths and lead to a further finding
that the land reform is excessive, oppressive and influenced by ulterior
motives; and hence another finding that it constitutes State-sanctioned
racism, persisted with by government here knowingly, even after the first
impartial findings to that effect by the SADC Tribunal.

We ask: Is this what the inclusive government and its SADC guarantors want?

We do not know if extra steps can be taken in time to protect our few member
investors remaining on commercial farms here. We urge government to first
review its policies; not just for the sake of our members but also for the
benefit of others who may be affected. This includes all beneficiaries, who
may find new declarations of `racism' open more doors to prosecution in
countries accepting universal jurisdiction for international crimes.

As State racism - even reverse racism - is such anathema to the world
community, an international crime and inherent threat to world peace, any
finding against Zimbabwe by CERD can lay a foundation too for a report to
the Security Council, and a referral to ICC. It will bind the UN and provide
proof everywhere of a crime; inhibit all efforts to revive agriculture; and
taint any funds of beneficiaries. The latter can expect to find themselves
required by anti-money laundering laws in many countries to fully explain
the source of finances they want to use there for health, holidays, or the
education of their children.

Is this in fact what the Inclusive Government of Zimbabwe now wants?

It seems unlikely that it could deliberately wish to persist now with a
racist agenda.

We respectfully suggest that instead

A. The government should heed the specific rulings by the SADC
Tribunal, and the reasons given by it for those decisions.

B. The drive by the State towards near-total ethnic cleansing on
farms must halt until a full re-evaluation of the current situation and of
the nation's needs has been done, and its people - in whom the land of
Zimbabwe ultimately vests - have then been consulted.

In this regard we ask each member of your present government, and its
guarantors, to recall our post-Independence government's assurances when it
invited investments here: that there was enough land, if reasonably shared,
for all farmers to farm.

After more research, this remained its position. The 1992 National Land
Policy, `People First' and other land reform programmes until
2004 all recorded this. 6 000 affidavits by successive Ministers, lodged
with the Administrative Court, swore the acquisition of only 5 of the 11
million hectares commercially held would resettle all the landless and meet
social justice - before they abandoned efforts to convince local courts and
barred us from them. We know unused irrigation land held by the State at
Mwenzi, Dande, etc offered [still offers] huge potential; as did the
underused land held by some commercial farmers.

Although the IPA promises to restore agricultural production, which is
urgently needed, no study has been done since 2000 to determine how to best
use the land in Zimbabwe, nor, most importantly, to establish how ordinary
people in Zimbabwe want to see it used.

Few Zimbabweans, we believe, still support racial persecution and vendettas.

No scientific study has ever established that it was necessary to expel any
white farmer from farming, let alone ALL of them.

Records show that farmers here surrendered 23% of commercial farm land
willingly to government in the first decade after Independence; surrendered
to it, too, all £23 million provided by the British government for paying
them [voluntarily taking payment in local money instead for reinvestment
here]; and by 2000 were generally post-1980 investors, who had bought farms
only after being told the government had no interest then in these, and
would compensate any buyer fully if it later wanted to use them. Further to
this our research shows that 76% of land held by our commercial farmer
constituency at 2000, legally changed hands since 1980 under private treaty
sales involving deeds of transfer, and certificates of no present interest.
Couple to this the legal transfer of land owned by companies not requiring
deeds of transfer and the percentage of land purchased by our member's and
our commercial farming constituency since 1980 is in excess of 85%. These
land transactions were legitimate involving payments of transfer taxes,
rates and capital gains tax to the Government. This would leave less than
15% of commercial farm land held by our constituency at 2000, open to any
form of historical dispute.

While the few whites still farming are being prosecuted by this government
for farming - or just for occupying homes they built or bought, which
government has no funds to pay them for - vast tracts of formerly productive
farmland simply lie idle.

Sadly the only explanation we have ever had for why government chooses to
displace more people [including most farm-workers and their families, many
with no other home] than it resettles, and for evicting farmers while other
good agricultural land is not used, is a threat by President Mugabe,
televised at the start of the land invasions in 2000, that if he saw white
farmers supporting MDC he would fight us, and fight us to the finish.

Some members of course did support MDC, either for selfish or unselfish
reasons; others did not; but this was never good reason for a pogrom to
eliminate them all from the land.

With respect, it is time now for government to call a halt to this racist
persecution, with SADC ensuring that this is done as its Tribunal has
recommended, while all take stock of what is needed and wanted here.
There is no doubt in our mind that the findings of the SADC Tribunal were
well founded on fact; and that any further enquiry by any other
international body must result in even more damning findings and
recommendations - particularly if the same path is still pursued here
despite the Tribunal's warnings.

The Inter Party Agreement promises adherence to the principles of the rule
of law. The Tribunal found this was too being violated in regard to our
members and other farmers.

Surely no-one in government here or in SADC can seriously suggest that the 5
esteemed Judges from 5 different SADC jurisdictions were not competent to
reach a proper verdict on that issue?

Government and SADC must expect now to be judged locally and internationally
by their deeds, and not just by their words.

We look for clear signs that all promises made in the Treaty and IPA which
affect our members will be respected and upheld. They have never sought a
fight to the finish here, and do not believe that such a fight can
ultimately benefit anyone in Zimbabwe.

The best way forward seems to be a moratorium, pending review and wider
consultation. The alternative to that could well be CERD and other
international fora.

The country is clearly at a crossroads now, and its leaders must decide
whether to pursue the old policies or not. Do all members of the inclusive
Government want to ignore all Tribunal rulings or to be painted with the
same `racist' brush? We very much doubt this.

These are issues the Council of Ministers, and Cabinet, have to urgently
consider.

Our questions are directed to your office since the Prime Minister is
responsible in terms of the IPA for overseeing the formulation of government
policies by the Cabinet.

Our letter will be copied too, in courtesy, to the President, as Chair of
that Cabinet, and to representatives here of the other members of SADC and
the diplomatic community.

This letter is longer than I at first intended. No single letter of course
can ever do justice to the complexities of the land issue in Zimbabwe. Land
has been at the centre of conflict in Zimbabwe for more than a hundred
years. We see this crossroads as a once in a lifetime opportunity to put the
land issue to rest; and we trust that through co-operation, imagination,
national commitment and respect, we can all avoid the pitfalls and errors of
the past, and urgently find a better way forward for everyone in Zimbabwe,

Yours faithfully

John Worsley - Worswick

CEO The Justice for Agriculture Trust (JAG)


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JAG reply to pull out of SADC Tribunal


ANNOUNCEMENT ZIMBABWE HAS PULLED OUT OF SADC TRIBUNAL - JAG REPLY

SADC's commitment to human rights, democracy & the rule of law is written in
its Treaty.

Its Tribunal found Zimbabwe violated it. People encouraged to invest by its
government for 20 years after Independence were from 2000 suddenly told they
had the wrong skin colour to hold any land in Zimbabwe - and barred by
lawmakers from any protection by its courts.

Most lawmakers had benefited personally, but few had been landless. They
simply made themselves their own judges, and barred from court the people
whose land they now had.

Clearly the bar violated the rule of law - and would not have been needed if
our investors here didn't have a good case.

The Tribunal also found the state's policy RACIST as

It was arbitrary

Benefited the wrong people

And made no real effort to compensate

Although government still conceals full facts, that finding too can't be
disputed. Production has collapsed in Zimbabwe not because it replaced white
farmers with black farmers, but because 20 years after Independence it
replaced farmers with non-farmers.

Zimbabwe's people and neighbours have all been bearing the consequences.

Any independent impartial court, tribunal or investigator would reach the
same conclusion.

The method and excesses in Zimbabwe land policy, and its exploitation of
ethnicity, violate many international treaties, eg the Convention for the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Those involved in its excesses may be
fortunate that the farmers chose SADC's Tribunal, not UN's CERD, where more
personal consequences [including International Criminal Court prosecutions]
can follow any findings of state racism.

Yesterday the Minister of Justice revealed Zimbabwe has pulled out of the
SADC Tribunal, on the eve of the SADC Summit, claiming now that the Tribunal
does not lawfully exist.

White investors in Zimbabwe's commercial farming had only gone there as
they'd been blocked by him and fellow `new farmers' from all our domestic
courts.

SADC's Treaty created the Tribunal as a key, foundational SADC Institution
in 1992 along with its Summit. It took time to operationalise but that
cannot affect its legality or authority.

The SADC Treaty required a Protocol for the appointments, procedures etc but
specified in Article 16 that its general rules for Protocols would NOT apply
to the Tribunal's Protocol.

Unknown drafters of that Protocol at first in error put in the standard
clause on "coming into force" but this was corrected at a Summit, and the
original Treaty position reaffirmed.

Tribunal Members [including a Zimbabwe judge] were then appointed by the

2005 Summit.

Zimbabwe's representatives repeatedly accepted the Tribunal's authority and
pledged to its judges our government would abide by their rulings. Until
their rulings went against it.

The Minister has personal + family interests, & seems to want now to mislead
others.

After raising his query with SADC Ministers last month, why did he not await
their verdict?

Sadly the few white farmers still farming or in their homes pending any
effort to treat them fairly, or to compensate them, persecuted by government
& suffering from its total failure to protect them, don't have time to wait.
We must urgently seek protection & justice.

We hope Zimbabwe's rejection of a SADC Institution is quickly dealt with at
this Summit; with its government told it cannot withdraw from the SADC
Tribunal without withdrawing from the Treaty entirely; and meantime it is
bound by its agreement and must comply with all Tribunal rulings.

We hope we need look no further for fulfillment of SADC's promise.


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August GNU watch

Click here to read the , a very comprehensive document.


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ZIMBABWE TOGETHER – Sunday 27th September 10.30am-3.00pm


 

It's easy to believe that things will always be this way, and posts like 'People get ready'' paint a nightmare outcome to the country we call Zimbabwe. The recent attacks on Ben Freeth, his family and staff, the tragic murder of Edwin Chingami attending the funeral of his niece, the more than 4000 men, women & children  who lost their lives to cholera over the past year, and so many many more; it is completely right we weep for the destruction caused by the few and suffered by the many.     

 

They said Albania would never be free, it looked impossible but I recall a dear brother who prayed in faith for 30 years for a free Albania, and lived to see his prayers answered. The same was said about Romania, the Berlin Wall. 

 

What we believe, diversity of gifts, political views, culture, our very selves should enrich a nation not divide it. Today, people as they have over the centuries use labels placed on others to justify inhumanity to their fellow man. BUT it does not have to be this way; as a lovely T-shirt I saw at last years ZIMFEST (see below), another Zimbabwe is possible. We are all equally precious to God whoever we are, and all things are possible with God.

Psalm 133v 1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live

together in unity!


Zimbabwe together 27th September 10.30-3pm

We have a visiting speaker just back from Zimbabwe so if you can get to Salisbury why not join me in a time of worship & pray followed by Zim food at Elim Pentecostal Church, Dews Road Salisbury SP2 7SN. If you are planning to stay for food please let me know by 24th September by either phoning 01722 770024 or emailing me with numbers at adriansmale@virginmedia.com.

 

 


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A letter from the diaspora

http://www.cathybuckle.com

3rd September 2009

Dear Friends.
One of the most depressing things about the situation in Zimbabwe at the
moment is the way groups of people who should be working together for the
common good are fragmenting. The students, the teachers and even the trade
unions have split over issues which would seem on the face of it to be
soluble. It's hard to tell from this distance away but the impression gained
from various reports is that the splits are often caused not by issues of
principle but rather by the personalities involved. Jealousy and the
thwarted ambitions of individuals clawing their way up the greasy pole of
power seems to be the order of the day in this 'new' Zimbabwe under the
Inclusive Government. What is lacking - and has been lacking for the past
decade and more under the government of Zanu PF - is a National Vision for
the country. When political allegiance has been the only criteria by which
patriotism and even 'hero' status is judged, it is not surprising that
Zimbabwean society as a whole has become deeply fractured. Add the factor of
downright racism against one highly productive group of people as seen in
Mugabe's disastrous Land Reform and you have a recipe for disaster. Imposing
a Unity Government on top of all these divisions was never likely to produce
a population united by love of country. Instead we have a country where
greed and corruption are the order of the day and the communal values once
espoused by Zimbabweans have almost disappeared. It is every man for himself
now as the struggle for political power and even day-to-day survival
intensifies. With the collapse of the rule of law, the victims have nowhere
to turn for help and the cycle of violence and despair goes on unchecked.
The pictures we have seen this week of the burning homesteads of farmers and
workers demonstrate exactly what happens in a country where the police fail
in their duty to protect the citizens, black and white, of the country.

Meanwhile, Robert Mugabe, the author of all this misery, is away enjoying
the hospitality of his friend Gadaffi in Lybia. In week-long celebrations
for forty years of 'revolutionary' leadership; watched from behind
bullet-proof glass by the likes of Sudan's Al Bashir, Zimbabwe's Robert
Mugabe and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela among other similarly dubious
characters, Gadaffi's troops on the ground and in the air visibly
demonstrated the power of the military might that has ensured Gadaffi's rule
for four decades. Mugabe must hope that his own troops will be similarly
loyal.

Back home, it was Morgan Tsvangirai who reminded Zimbabweans that the
underlying purpose of this political union is the improvement of people's
lives, 'giving the people of Zimbabwe a direction' was how the Prime
Minister expressed it. It sounds like a noble reason to set old enmities
aside: to unite the country in a common goal of doing what is right for all
its citizens. Tsvangirai was asked in an interview how he could bring
himself to 'sup with the devil', knowing what suffering Robert Mugabe and
his henchman had inflicted on Tsvangirai himself and hundreds of his
followers. "What is reconciliation without that?" was Tsvangirai's reply.
"Reconciliation is a measure of tolerance across the very serious political
divide that existed in this country. How can we stand up as leaders and call
for national unity when between us we don't relate to each other?" For me,
there is something deeply flawed in this line of thinking. If the violence
was all in the distant past it might be understandable that Tsvangirai
should set aside crimes committed a long time ago. But the truth is that
Mugabe's army and police and Green Bombers, (his 'new war veterans' as he
once described them) continue even now to inflict savage punishment on
anyone perceived to be enemies. 'Relating to each other' sounds very fine,
discovering that Robert Mugabe is a charming, well-mannered individual does
not, or should not, blind one to the true facts of his history. Robert
Mugabe came to power and has stayed in power through violence, through the
barrel of a gun as Mugabe himself has said on more than one occasion. Morgan
Tsvangirai and hundreds of his supporters have good reason to know that. For
Morgan Tsvangirai now to 'sup with the devil' is in my view nothing more
than political expediency and to claim as he does that it is the beginning
of true reconciliation is grossly misleading.

One day after that interview Morgan Tsvangirai spoke at a Press Conference
that he had himself called. President Zuma had come and gone with little
appreciable change in the situation on the ground. The violent farm
invasions go on, the police continue to fail to in their duty to protect
Zimbabwean citizens, the courts continue to deliver highly partisan
judgements and the Minister of Justice tells the country that they no longer
recognise the authority of the SADC Tribunal. That is hardly surprising when
we consider that it was the SADC Tribunal that had ruled in favour of the
white farmers! Whether it was these developments that influenced Morgan
Tsvangirai's statement at the Press Conference is not clear. "We are not" he
said, " tied up by anything other than the fact that we volunteered to be in
this government and what will stop us from leaving. We have an option of
getting out if we think it's not working.when we say it is irreversible we
are not saying things will not change, we just say this is the only option
that gives direction to the people of Zimbabwe and on that we are very
committed." Whether such commitment is shared by both sides in the Unity
Government and the population at large is the question that only time will
answer. Judging from recent comments by Zanu PF Ministers, it sounds as if
the lifting of sanctions is the only issue they are seriously committed to
and if the MDC can't deliver on that front - and they can't since they were
not the ones who called for sanctions in the first place - Zanu PF's
commitment to Unity will disappear like the mist on an October morning only
to be replaced by the heat of violent retribution against their former
partners. That's the way they work.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.

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