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Zim Online

ZANU PF stalwart commits suicide
Wed 13 April 2005
  HARARE - Ruling ZANU PF party stalwart and veteran nationalist Enos
Chikowore yesterday committed suicide at his Harare home. He was 62.

      There were unconfirmed and conflicting reports last night as to why
Chikowore took his life with some suggesting he took an overdose of unknown
tablets after President Robert Mugabe broke a promise to appoint him to
Parliament and pave way for his return to the Cabinet gravy train.

      But others suggested the veteran of Zimbabwe's anti-colonial struggle
might have killed himself because of pressing personal problems unrelated to
his fading political career.

      The state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings' Newsnet
television reported on its 8 o'clock news bulletin last night that
Chikowore, a former energy minister, had died but did not give the cause of
death as it normally does when reporting deaths of prominent ZANU PF

      Senior ZANU PF officials gathered last night at Chikowore's home in
Harare's Umwinsdale suburb told a ZimOnline correspondent there that he had
requested a meeting with Mugabe sometime last week.

      At the meeting Chikowore, one of the few people in ZANU PF reputed to
have been personally close to Mugabe, is said to have told the President
that he had hit hard times since being forced to resign from Cabinet five
years ago for allegedly mismanaging Zimbabwe's then beginning fuel crisis.

      Mugabe allegedly promised he would do something when he appointed the
20 non-constituency Members of Parliament he is constitutionally entitled to
nominate to Parliament. The President is also said to have hinted he might
give Chikowore, who served in the government for many years at a senior
level, a lesser Cabinet post to ensure he got "a salary, just something to
get by," one of the officials said.

      Chikowore allegedly decided he had had enough when Mugabe omitted him
from the list of people appointed to Parliament. Without a parliamentary
seat, it was virtually impossible for Chikowore to get any job in Cabinet as
only people who hold seats in the legislature must be appointed ministers or
deputy ministers.

      Others added that what appeared to have irked him most was the fact
that Mugabe had left him out although he had rescued other ZANU PF senior
officials such as former parliamentary speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa whose
political careers appeared stuck after losing last month's election.

      "What we hear is that sometime in the afternoon today (Wednesday), he
telephoned one of his sisters or relatives telling them he had had enough of
politics," said one ZANU PF official, who insisted on not being named.

      He added: "It appears after the phone call nothing was heard from him
until he was discovered by another relative lying unconscious in one of the

      The relative reportedly summoned an ambulance to take Chikowore to
hospital. But unfortunately he was pronounced dead on arrival at
Parirenyatwa hospital.

      Chikowore, who during his heyday was well known for his love of
televiosn cameras, delaying officiating at public ceremonies until the
camera crews were in place to cover the event, was unfairly blamed for
mismanaging Zimbabwe's ongoing fuel crisis at its onset in 2000.

      Made the scapegoat, he was forced to unceremoniously quit his energy
ministry post after the country had run dry of diesel and petrol for several
weeks. The fuel shortage was however more because of a shortage of foreign
currency to pay foreign oil suppliers after the International Monetary Fund
had cut balance-of-payments support to Harare in late 1999.

      As secretary for lands in ZANU PF's inner politburo cabinet, Chikowore
stunned delegates during the party's congress last December issuing a frank
report admitting that newly resettled black farmers were failing to maintain
production on former white farms.

      Chikowore's report also exposed that fewer families had been resettled
on former white farmland than the exaggerated 300 000 claimed by the

      He will most likely be declared a national hero according him a state
funeral at the national hero's acre shrine in Harare. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Retribution campaign hits food distribution
Wed 13 April 2005
  HARARE - Government youth militias and self-styled veterans of Zimbabwe's
1970s independence war have taken over control of state food aid in many
parts of the country, denying food to opposition supporters, ZimOnline has

      In yet another clear case of retribution after last month's disputed
poll, the militias and war veterans - blamed by churches and human rights
groups of torturing and murdering opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party supporters - vet food aid beneficiaries preventing suspected MDC
members from getting cheaper-priced maize from the state Grain Marketing
Board (GMB).

      For example, at Watsomba rural business centre in the eastern
Manicaland province, ZimOnline reporters witnessed as war veterans told all
known MDC supporters to leave a queue of people waiting to buy maize saying
they would not be allowed to purchase the staple food because they voted for
the opposition party in the March 31 election.

      "We know all the MDC supporters here so don't bother standing in the
queue because we will flush you out. Some of you are buying ZANU PF cards to
get food but you voted for the MDC. There will be no grain for you," one of
the war veterans said to the horde of hungry villagers who had gathered at
the depot to buy maize.

      A senior official at the depot later explained how the war veterans
and youth militias had taken over distribution of maize soon after last
month's election.

      The official, who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation,
said: "Even though we are the managers, we don't have control over who gets
the grain anymore. These guys (youths and war veterans) run the show and we
are just there for the logistics, not the actual distribution."

      GMB chief executive officer Samuel Muvuti refused to take questions on
the matter when contacted, while Social Welfare Minister Paul Mangwana could
not be reached for comment. But Mangwana has in the past insisted that food
is given to all hungry people regardless of their political affiliation.

      President Robert Mugabe, speaking after his ZANU PF party's
controversial landslide victory in the election, also said the government
would fairly distribute food to all deserving people.

      But villagers from Manicaland and other parts of the country such as
Mashonaland West province and the southern Matabeleland region interviewed
by ZimOnline reporters this week, said they were being prevented from buying
maize from the GMB if suspected of having voted for the MDC.

      "Those being denied food are mostly people who were known to be MDC
supporters or those like myself who were campaigning for MDC candidates in
the last election," a villager from Hurungwe West constituency in
Mashonaland West province said. He did not want his name published for fear
of further reprisals.

      In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second biggest city and the major centre in
Matabeleland, Catholic archbishop Pius Ncube said he has also received
reports from the church community that ruling party cadres had taken over
food distribution from government workers.

      Ncube said: "Starving women with children on the backs came to me
crying because they had been denied food on the basis that they were MDC
supporters. Before the election, it was food for votes and now the same food
is being used as retribution against those who sympathise with the

      "Now it is clear why Mugabe doesn't want food donors here. He wants to
use food to reward his supporters and starve to death opposition members.
Anyone in his right senses would not refuse to have his people fed
especially when he can't feed them himself."

      Mugabe, who repeated soon after his party's election victory that
Zimbabwe has enough resources to ensure all its 12 million people are fed,
told international food relief agencies to take their help elsewhere because
the country had enough food.

      But a subsequent probe by Parliament revealed that claims by Mugabe
and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made that Zimbabwe harvested 2.4 million
tones of maize from the 2003/2004 season were over exaggerated with only
about 600 000 tonnes of the staple in the country by the end of last year
and much more needing to be imported.

      Zimbabwe consumes about 1.8 million tonnes of maize per year.

      Critics say Mugabe banned outside food aid groups to ensure his
government could manipulate food aid to reward its supporters and to punish
those of the opposition by denying them access to food. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

New Speaker extends hand of peace to MDC
Wed 13 April 2005
  HARARE - Pacifist ruling ZANU PF party chairman, John Nkomo, took up the
parliamentary speaker's chair yesterday with a call on the government and
opposition sides to co-operate and focus their energies on national issues.

      Nkomo, backed by powerful former army general Solomon Mujuru and
tipped to take either the vice-presidency or the top job when President
Robert Mugabe and his first Vice-President Joseph Msika step down in 2008,
also vowed to turn Zimbabwe's toothless legislature into a "modern
democratic institution."

      Current second Vice-President Joyce Mujuru, wife to Solomon, is
another key contender to succeed Mugabe.

      "I take over during the most challenging time of turning around the
economy. We will seek to consolidate efforts made to transform the
institution from a colonial to a modern democratic institution," Nkomo said.

      Political analysts say the loss of influence by radicals like former
state propaganda chief, Jonathan Moyo and Justice Minister, Patrick
Chinamasa, to doves like Nkomo and Joyce could pave way for a negotiated
political settlement between the government and the MDC.

      The MDC significantly did not oppose the nomination of Nkomo to the
speaker's chair by ZANU PF and the opposition party's vice-president and
leader in the House, Gibson Sibanda, paid surprisingly glowing tribute to
the ZANU PF chairman on his appointment to head Parliament.

      Nkomo, from the minority Ndebele tribe like the bulk of MDC
parliamentarians and top hierarchy, is also expected by some to use the
tribal link to reach out to the opposition party to bring it more into
co-operation with the government.

      Sibanda said: "I worked with John Nkomo when he was President of the
International Labour Organisation (ILO). I experienced your firmness and
principles during that time and I hope you will use the same to lead this
August House. I know that you are fair-minded and as the MDC, we
congratulate you for being elected speaker of parliament."

      Mugabe hinted soon after his ZANU PF's disputed landslide victory in
the March 31 parliamentary election that his government was prepared to
resume dialogue with the MDC, abandoned in 2002.

      Zimbabwe Council of Churches bishop Sebastian Bakare, who led an
unsuccessful initiative by religious leaders to bring ZANU PF and the MDC
back to the negotiating table, also told ZimOnline this week that religious
leaders had been in touch with the two political parties and would be soon
attempting to revive dialogue between them.

      Political analysts say Mugabe and ZANU PF, now comfortably in control
with a two-thirds majority in Parliament, might be more than ready for
dialogue with its opponent if only to placate key Western nations that have
condemned the party's controversial election victory and looks set to keep
lines of credit and aid locked until there are major concessions by
Harare. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Embattled manufacturers plot way forward
Wed 13 April 2005
  HARARE - Zimbabwean manufacturing firms were last night locked up in a
meeting to discuss viability problems after a government order last week to
reverse price increases to last month's levels.

      The firms, are meeting under the auspices of the Confederation of
Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), the biggest representative body for business and
industry in the country. The meeting comes amid plans by the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority to hike tariffs which will compound further
viability problems for companies.

      "That (price adjustment) is one of the main items under discussions.
That is all I can say at the moment because of the sensitivity of the
issues," CZI president Pattison Sithole told ZimOnline before the meeting.

      Prices shot up by up to 100 percent almost immediately after President
Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party won a controversial landslide victory
in a parliamentary election on March 31.

      Basic commodities also rapidly disappeared from shop shelves as
panicking buyers stocked up in case supplies would totally run out.

      Industry and Trade Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi immediately ordered the
firms to revert to prices which were there during the pre-election period.
Some of the firms have abided by the government order but goods remain
scarce in shops although readily available on the black-market where traders
charge more than thrice what shops charge. - ZimOnline
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The Star

      Downtrodden voters accept their lot
      April 13, 2005

      The recent Zimbabwe elections have dominated the editorials for some
time now, with an emphasis on the glaring irregularities of the electoral
system of that country.

      I accept this as one reason for the surprising landslide victory of a
party that has brought economic chaos to a once prosperous country. However,
I have wondered at the psychological aspect of the result in terms of those
who voted Zanu-PF despite the chaos around them. In some respects this could
be equated to vulnerable and dis-empowered women trapped in an abusive

      The logic is that they should get out of the relationship, but many
choose to stay in spite of the huge personal sacrifice. Perhaps a similar
rationale is at play when people who are essentially vulnerable and abused
by abject poverty vote for continuation of the same.

      Taking this notion further I have observed among rural people where I
work that there is a pervasive acceptance of one's lot in life. I work in a
district where unemployment and poverty are still significant.

      Although there is infrastructure and services, there are severe
shortcomings in the quality and regularity of these services. When I ask
community members what they think of this situation 10 years post-
democracy, the answer is almost standard that they have voted their
political leadership for what it is historically, the prominent
anti-apartheid liberators (including the personality cult of Nelson Mandela)
and have very little expectation for what can be delivered to them as
individuals today or in the future. They accept their lot in life and hope
that they can get by from one month to the next.

      There is very little acknowledgement that the vote has the potential
to change the status quo for the better. One lady even went one step further
and told me that she did not vote for the UDM (even though she is a member
of the Holomisa clan) because Mandela gives her a child support grant from
his own purse which would be stopped if the ANC were voted out of power.

      How can one call this democracy?

      This is simply the age-old acceptance of one's lot in life, ignorance
and vulnerability. I suspect that there is a similar psyche at play in
Zimbabwe and that many more people voted for the Zanu-PF than is suspected.
At least that way they have a marginal chance of scoring the few bags of
maize being handed out to supporters, better than nothing at all.

      Andrew van Rensburg
      Komatipoort, Mpumalanga
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Tech Central Station

      South Zimbabwe?

            By Richard Tren  Published   04/13/2005

      JOHANNESBURG -- The people of Zimbabwe recently voted in a general
election with the result that Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party remains in
power. Most European countries and the United States condemned the election
as illegitimate, un-free and unfair, yet the South African government and
Zimbabwe's other neighbours endorsed the election. South Africa's ringing
endorsement of and loyalty to the Mugabe regime raises a troubling question:
can South Africa go the same way as Zimbabwe?

      The Mugabe Way?

      In 1980 Robert Mugabe was voted in as President when the first
democratic election ended years of minority white rule by Ian Smith's
government. Mugabe turned what was a repressive and racist Rhodesia into a
democratic and freer Zimbabwe. Mugabe oversaw a relatively peaceful Zimbabwe
during his first decade of rule, his government improved healthcare and
education immeasurably, and the economy continued to function.

      But the decade was not peaceful if you were a Matebele, a member of
the major tribal group in the south of the country. There is no love lost
between the Matabele and the Shona, the other major tribe. Mugabe is a
Shona, and shortly after his election, Mugabe sent his troops (trained by
North Koreans) into Matabeleland. The troops killed thousands of Matabele in
an attempt to crush any form of political dissent.

      Soon after Mugabe took power, Britain gave Zimbabwe considerable
funding for land reform in Zimbabwe so that Mugabe's government could return
land to the millions of Zimbabweans dispossessed by Britain's colonial rule.
Instead of rectifying this great wrong, Mugabe increased it, parcelling the
land out to his political allies and parcelling out the land reform funds to
his government ministers.

      Mugabe continued his destruction of property rights over the decades,
culminating ultimately in the chaotic and often violent land grabs from
white farmers beginning in 2000. In destroying one of the most fundamental
institutions of the free society, Mugabe also destroyed the economy.

      Not content with destroying property rights and the economy, Mugabe
also destroyed another fundamental institution of a free society, the rule
of law. Mugabe ignored the high courts, intimidated those judges that passed
judgements unfavourable to the government, and replaced judges with his
yes-men. The Zanu PF led Parliament passed a host of laws outlawing free
speech and freedom of association, and the police have extraordinary powers
to detain people without charge.

      Squandered Moral Capital

      The laws that Mugabe uses to retain power are remarkably similar to
the laws that the Apartheid government used in South Africa in their
attempts to crush political opposition. The African National Congress (ANC),
which is now in power in South Africa, fought a long and hard struggle, with
many sacrifices, to give South Africans the fundamental human rights that
Mugabe has taken away from Zimbabweans. One would have thought, therefore,
that South Africa would defend the institutions of a free society and
condemn Mugabe's actions. Yet President Mbeki and his government lack
principles and moral courage when it comes to Zimbabwe

      The leader of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
observer mission to the recent election, Minister Mlambo-Ncugka, is South
Africa's Minister of Minerals and Energy Affairs. After the election she
declared, "It is SADC's overall view that the elections were conducted in an
open, transparent and professional manner. The electoral authorities of
Zimbabwe displayed not only a professional discharge of duty but also a high
sense of gender equality and youth representation in the electoral process."

      It is a depressing measure of the political climate in South Africa
that one of the government's most senior ministers is so impressed by the
gender and youth sensitivity of Mugabe's government that she can overlook
the, violence, intimidation, repressive laws and horrific human rights
abuses ongoing in that country. Perhaps Mlambo-Ncugka is impressed that
Mugabe's secret police and party thugs torture and rape both men and women
equally. She should be equally heartened then that Mugabe's government also
withholds food and medical services from the young and old alike if they
cannot prove they belong to Zanu PF.

      South Africa's endorsement of the Mugabe regime has eaten away at the
international moral capital the country earned after the 1994 democratic
elections that put Nelson Mandela and his party in power. Is the ANC's
support of the Mugabe regime a sign of things to come in South Africa?

      It is crucial to be reminded of the fact that South Africans today
enjoy more freedoms and democracy than ever before, thanks in large part to
the ANC. We have enjoyed free and fair elections and violent abuses of
government are a thing of the past. Unlike during the period of Apartheid,
people are not arrested without charge, tortured in dank basements and then
made to disappear.

      Worrying Trends

      Yet despite these enormous advances in freedom, the ANC's pro-Mugabe's
stance is disquieting and unfortunately is accompanied by some other
worrying trends. One could argue that the ANC's support for Zimbabwe
demonstrates that, just like the Nationalist Party that created Apartheid,
the ANC does not really respect, nor believe in the institutions of a free

      Last year the ANC made vague, but nonetheless ominous, threats towards
the judiciary, potentially undermining their independence. Although the ANC
has not yet directly attacked the rule of law, the grindingly slow legal
system and an often corrupt police force make for a de facto assault on the
rule of law.

      Although there hasn't been a direct threat to property rights in South
Africa, the government's policy of Black Economic Empowerment forces
companies to hand over equity to black shareholders. Like Mugabe's "land
reforms" in Zimbabwe, this system of "empowerment" is a partial taking that
undermines a key institution and enriches a tiny, politically powerful
elite. It has increased the risk of investing and has probably slowed
economic growth.

      South Africa enjoys a free and vibrant press, even though the state TV
and radio broadcaster shows signs of becoming an ANC mouthpiece, just as it
was a National Party mouthpiece in the past. More worrying is the way the
ANC and in particular President Mbeki make vitriolic, personal attacks on
individuals who criticise the government. Leading businessmen and even
Archbishop Desmond Tutu have been subjected to Mbeki's spitting rebukes. The
result may well be that people self-sensor themselves for fear of being
attacked by the country's most powerful politician.

      Add to these worrying signs the recent comments made by a senior and
influential academic, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba of the University of
KwaZulu Natal. In a recent column ranting against white males, he concluded
that "[the white South African] must soon accept, value and imitate the
things that matter dearly to Africans. The sooner this white male gets out
of his denial mode, the sooner he will receive treatment and proper African

      South Africans, black or white, don't need rehabilitation or
treatment. They need to be able to live peaceful and prosperous lives free
of interference or coercion from government. The ANC government greatly
increased freedoms for most South Africans, but then so did Mugabe's
government when it first came to power.

      There are of course some important differences between South Africa
and Zimbabwe.  As Jonathan Katzenellenbogen, international affairs editor of
South Africa's Business Day newspaper points out "the crucial difference is
that SA has a liberal constitution and a far more active union, business,
and civil society movement than Zimbabwe."

      When it comes to Mbeki's policy of 'quiet diplomacy' on Zimbabwe,
Katzenellenbogen explains that this policy "has to raise questions about the
democratic future in SA and even the Communist party has said as much. By
not criticising Mugabe openly and early, while there were screams from the
west, Mbeki lost the ground on which to do so, as the rhetoric of external
opposition became western and white. As politics in South Africa still has a
large racial dimension it would have been difficult for Mbeki to criticise

      The crucial test going forward will come with future elections in
South Africa. South Africa has had unimpressive per capita economic growth,
unemployment at around 40% and vocal and increasingly critical labour
movement.  This, along with the country's growing HIV/AIDS problem that the
government has done its best to ignore, means that South African voters may
turn away from the ANC. If and when this happens, one hopes the ANC will do
the right thing, and allow South Africans to make free choices.  South
Africa has an awful lot going for it, but the government's disgraceful
behaviour over Zimbabwe is a frightening warning that the hard-won freedoms
that South Africans enjoy may be on the way out.

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New Zimbabwe

Moyo on opposition benches as MPs sworn in

By Stella Mapenzauswa
Last updated: 04/13/2005 08:19:01
ZIMBABWE swore in new members of parliament Tuesday, including 30 unelected
ruling party loyalists that guarantee President Robert Mugabe a crushing
majority following disputed elections last month.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which accuses
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF of rigging the March 31 vote, lodged the first of
what it said would be a series of court challenges to the vote results.

But MDC MPs still took the oath in the new parliament, dispelling
speculation that the party might boycott the legislature to show its

There was a moment of high drama when President Robert Mugabe's former spin
doctor Jonathan Moyo took his seat for the first time on the opposition
benches sandwiched between the leader of the opposition Gibson Sibanda and
the MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube.

Moyo stood as an independent in Tsholotsho constituency in Matabeleland
North. He consequently lost his Cabinet post, and was also stripped of his
Zanu PF membership.

Zanu PF won 78 of the 120 elected seats in the March vote, and is guaranteed
a further 30 under constitutional provisions which allow Mugabe to directly
appoint 20 legislators and draw another 10 from Zimbabwe's traditional
leaders - known as Zanu PF loyalists.

The total puts ZANU-PF well above the two-thirds majority it needs to change
the constitution at will.

Among those appointed to seats were Vice President Joseph Msika, who did not
stand in the election, and outgoing Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa who received
another presidential appointment after posting his second consecutive loss
to an opposition candidate in his district.

The ruling party successfully nominated its national chairman John Nkomo as
new speaker of parliament.

"May I ... appeal for the fullest co-operation of all members of parliament
... Though we belong to different political parties, there is need for us to
be guided by national interests," Nkomo said in his acceptance speech.

The MDC has cited "serious and unaccountable gaps" in vote tallies to back
its accusations, supported by Western powers, that Mugabe's party rigged the
election. ZANU-PF denies cheating and African observers said the poll was
free and fair -- Reuters

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Business Day

MDC to challenge poll in court, perhaps on streets
Jonathan Katzenellenbogen

International Affairs Editor

AS THE main opposition party in Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), took up its 41 seats in parliament yesterday, it detailed its
allegations of a stolen election in what it hinted may be a prelude to a
call for mass action.

MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said in Johannesburg yesterday that while
the party was taking up its seats in parliament, it would consider pursuing
a range actions within the framework of Zimbabwe's constitution.

The MDC has yet to have one of its cases contesting previous elections
heard, but legal spokesman David Coltart said it would soon launch court
challenges against a result for a constituency in each province, to show
"the systematic nature of the fraud".

Pointing to a series of "unexplained discrepancies" in the results, Coltart
said he was disturbed that SA's official observer mission and that from the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) had not responded to the

A nearly 60-page MDC report includes letters outlining complaints of
electoral malpractice to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the
state-owned broadcaster, for what it alleged was unfair treatment of the

The allegations include: denial of access to polling stations for MDC
elections agents; about 10% of voters (133155) were turned away in six of 10
provinces; and counting started late, creating a gap for manipulation.

Yesterday the MDC called for the commission to release immediately the
voters' roll in electronic form, polling station returns and an independent
results audit.

The MDC claims that it was denied access to the data before the election.

It says total voter numbers released by the electoral commission at 7.30pm
on election night do not match the collective count on the days following.
Between the close of polling and the announcement of results over the next
48 hours, a further 250000 votes appeared. The commission has refused to
give total figures for 48 constituencies.

In another violation of Zimbabwe law, the MDC says voting figures were not
released at polling stations. In addition, the ink used to identify people
who had voted had rubbed off easily, enabling people to vote more than once.
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Business Day

Zanu (PF) old guard incapable of novel solutions
Dumisani Muleya

WHILE Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu (PF) mandarins celebrate their disputed triumph
in the recent general election, their Pyrrhic victory has thrown the country's
economic recovery agenda into disarray.

It is now clear to everybody - except perhaps President Robert Mugabe and
his adherents in perpetual denial - that Zimbabwe's structural economic
problems cannot be resolved without fundamental political reforms.

Although in theory the border between politics and economics is open, the
reality is that politics and economics overlap. Often, bad politics and
policies breed economic failure. Politics affects economics and vice-versa.

Zimbabwean leaders are either off message or are deliberately ignoring this
crucial link. That is why Mugabe seems to entertain the delusion that he can
resolve the economic crisis without cleaning up the political mess first.

The political problems in Zimbabwe are clear. The country has a ruling party
suffering from the malaise of a highly repressive former liberation movement
that has failed to renew itself and is now unable to cope with new political
and economic dynamics.

Analysts generally agree Zanu (PF) needs to open up and renew its closed
leadership structure, repackage itself, and catch up with a society that has
moved too far ahead of it.

But the party appears unable to adjust to changing political and
socioeconomic conditions. It has resorted to coercive measures to maintain
its faltering grip on a society rejecting its antiquated philosophy and
discredited ideological dogmas.

Zimbabwe's leadership, policy and institutional failures, as well as shifts
in the global political economy, largely created the current crisis. This
led to the emergence of a new political formation which managed to rope in
most other social forces gathering against the ruling elite.

The socioeconomic conditions and attendant political instability created a
number of key social formations that later coalesced into the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The main labour movement was
instrumental in this and that is why most MDC leaders came from it.

The present political impasse was caused by the three disputed elections
since 2000. While Mugabe still claims the MDC is a front for western powers,
his argument has long lost credibility and no longer sells - even to his
closest allies, including SA.

This means Mugabe must get real and recognise he cannot wish away the MDC
unless he performs an economic miracle to eliminate the conditions in which
it thrives.

Mugabe's argument against the MDC has been riddled with fundamental
contradictions inherently built into it by his antiintellectual attempt to
reason through conclusions. On the one hand, he says the MDC is driven by
protest votes, meaning he appreciates the local environment that created it,
while on the other he claims it is by definition a British-sponsored party.
This leaves a huge credibility gap. But all the same he has used this
reasoning to reject talks on political reforms with the opposition.

Without political consensus, fashioned out of a negotiated political
settlement, economic problems will remain. This is the grim reality Mugabe
is scared of facing. The past week demonstrated that Mugabe and his
government are either unwilling or simply unable to resolve Zimbabwe's

A few days after the election, shortages of basic commodities - including
bread, milk, sugar, and maize meal - resurfaced. The fuel crisis also
returned. Other problems remain and will continue unless there is a dramatic

But Mugabe and Zanu (PF)'s reaction to the situation was, to say the least,
pathetic. Instead of moving with calculated urgency to ease the troubles,
they resorted to populist excuses and threats.

Mugabe's party met last Wednesday and on Sunday, but the economy did not
feature in its proceedings.

Zanu (PF) is preoccupied with pursuits such as piecemeal constitutional

The party old guard is retreating to certainties of the past and digging in,
while reciting slogans and demagoguery as a substitute for sound policy.
This reactionary posturing will not change anything, except for the worse.

Muleya is Business Day's Harare correspondent.
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