Sent: Saturday, August 21, 2004 5:46 PM Subject: Light headed
Family and Friends, I have lost count of the number of meetings, workshops,
summits, conferences and gatherings of African leaders that have taken place
in the last 54 months. As each one has come, and gone, our hopes have
been raised, and then dashed, that just one leader would publicly speak
out about events in Zimbabwe. Each time I have watched TV coverage of
the gatherings and tried to make sense of it from the perspective of
an ordinary person. I have watched the shiny limousines pull up and
the impeccably dressed people emerge. I have looked at Africa's leaders
and even though I know they are Big Men, I also know that they are
ordinary people who have to do exactly the same things as me every day in
order to survive. I have watched the body language as handshakes, kisses
and embraces have passed between leaders. I have listened to the
speeches, looked at the audience reaction and tried to read between the
lines, wondering what really went on behind closed doors.
the TV coverage, there was something different about the SADC Summit which
has just ended in Mauritius. There was the predictable rant at the West and
the predictable silence about the crisis in Zimbabwe but there was also the
distinct impression that things had gone on behind closed doors, the distinct
feeling of democracy being born. The faces of Africa's leaders who sat at the
top table spoke volumes. Most of the faces showed pride, dignity and
achievement but one or two did not. It was a delight to watch gifts being
presented to, and accepted by, the two African leaders who are at the end of
their terms of presidency and will be handing the governance of their
countries on to new blood.
Zimbabwe was one of the 13 African countries
representing 212 million people in the SADC region who unanimously ratified
common electoral principles and guidelines at the Summit in Mauritius. Among
the agreed guidelines are freedom of the press, equal access to the media,
judicial independence, upholding civil and political liberties and
impartial electoral institutions.
Zimbabwe has parliamentary elections
due in just 6 months time and if we are to come remotely near to achieving
even one of the SADC electoral principles our government have got a huge
amount of changes to make. It makes me feel giddy to think that I could
actually wear an opposition T shirt without being stoned. Or to believe that
one of these days I will switch on my TV or radio and hear a member of the
opposition speaking about the state of affairs in Zimbabwe. I can hardly
believe that police permission will not be needed to hold a meeting at which
politics is discussed. I cannot imagine how it will feel to be able to buy,
read or write for a daily independent newspaper again. I find feelings of
hysteria rising within me to think that a judge might uphold my
constitutional rights and that the Zimbabwean police would then enforce the
court's rulings. I think I'll stop here because it all leaves me feeling
very light headed. Until next week, love cathy. Copyright cathy buckle 21
August 2004 http://africantears.netfirms.com My
books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears"
are available outside Africa from: email@example.com
; www.africabookcentre.com ; www.amazon.co.uk ; in Australia and New
; Africa: www.kalahari.net www.exclusivebooks.com
African Union and Nepad should rein in the tyrants By Makau
Last year, amid doom and gloom, Eritreans observed 10 years of their
independent republic, born after the bitter divorce with Ethiopia in 1993.
Although a decade is a fleeting moment in the life of a nation, the future of
Eritrea does not augur well. The problem is all too familiar. After three
decades of a deadly war for independence from Ethiopia, Eritreans now find
themselves in the claws of a maniacal dictator who has dashed their hopes of
What is sad is that Eritrea is bucking the trend of
more open, democratic, and progressive states that are steadily growing in
Over the last decade, we have
witnessed an irreversible, if uneven, movement towards more accountable
governments in many formally one-party or military dictatorships in
Even veiled dictators like President Yoweri Museveni
of Uganda have been subjected to elective politics. At the continental level,
new institutions for regional governance are more openly, even if
only rhetorically, committed to democracy.
continental initiatives bear this out. In June 2002, in Durban, South Africa,
African states formally buried the Organisation of African Unity and
triumphantly inaugurated the African Union, on which all hopes for a
renaissance have been pinned. The other equally interesting initiative is the
New Partnership for Africa's Development, which is supposed to lead to good
governance and economic renewal. The bet by African states is that if you
clean house, more assistance and better terms of trade and investment will be
forthcoming from the West.
But neither the African Union
nor Nepad, touted as the master plan for Africa's rebirth, will deliver the
continent from damnation if leaders like President Isayas Afewerki of Eritrea
continue to be the rule rather than the exception in Africa. Africa's hands
are already full with the negative effects of globalisation. African states
have little choice today in the global market. They have to remove whatever
obstacles exist for development.
But Mr Afewerki, a
freedom-fighter-turned-despot, is not alone in defying popular demands for
democratic reform. Several long time African dictators, such as Presidents
Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Omar Bashir of Sudan, have made a career out of
pillaging their own states. In Rwanda, the post-genocide state is busy
entrenching Tutsi exceptionalism and domination, a basis for a future
genocide. What is shocking is that Mr Afewerki, dubbed in the 1990s by the
Clinton administration as one of a new breed of African leaders, has turned
out to be more Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire and nothing like Nelson Mandela of
Eritrea was much admired both in Africa and the
West after it gained freedom from an oppressive and backward Ethiopian state.
But everything has been downhill ever since. Led by the then popular
Mr Afewerki, Eritreans and their supporters abroad viewed the new state
as tabula rasa on which a utopian democracy would be established, a
shining example to other African states. But in the last six years, Mr
Afewerki has dashed those hopes, instead bucking the democratic trend that
has haltingly swept most of Africa in the last decade.
1997, after Eritreans ratified the country's first democratic constitution,
Mr Afewerki refused to promulgate it. He has rejected free elections, and now
rules by fiat. Since 2001, he has instituted a sweeping crackdown on
democratic reformers and outspoken government critics. He has detained
without trial senior government officials. Afewerki has closed down all
independent media and employed the Judiciary as an instrument
Yet it is Afewerki and his ilk who the
African Union and Nepad must target if the continent is to be pulled back
from the abyss. Unlike the defunct OAU, the African Union promises not to be
a club of dictators.
A new African Army should have the
authority to enter member states to stop genocide, war crimes, and other
gross violations of human rights. These are commitments of enormous
significance because they most probably would have stemmed the Rwandan
genocide of 1994 or helped prevent the catastrophic dismemberment of the
war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.
The African Union
hopes that the democratisation of African states will open the way to
regional economic integration.
That is why member states have
agreed to establish an African Central Bank, a common currency, a Pan-African
Parliament, and a regional security council.
leaders must be careful not to put the cart before the horse. Theories of
regional economic integration presume the existence of viable, legitimate
states. That is why the African Union cannot simply mimic the European Union.
It is absolutely essential that the internal structures of African states be
rewritten. Otherwise, there will not be any political and economic
Both the African Union and Nepad must not be cost
free receptacles, ready to embrace any and all African states. Nepad
requires that member states establish democratic, honest, and accountable
governments to be eligible for participation. The African Union should follow
suit. The peer review system of Nepad - in which African states oversee the
compliance of each other to the tenets of the body - must be extended to the
African Union so that unfaithful member states are excluded. It will
be counterproductive to launch these new bodies, only to allow Afewerki and
his fellow travellers to hijack them.
The African Union
and Nepad will only succeed if the West forgives Africa's crushing debts,
substitutes fair trade and investment for aid, removes domestic subsidies for
agriculture, and gives Africa a larger voice within the World Bank, the
International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade
But defiant and recalcitrant leaders like
Mugabe and Afewerki are first and foremost the responsibility of the African
Union and Nepad, and not the West. In the case of Zimbabwe, for example, the
African Union ought to kick Mugabe out of the club.
African leaders such as President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa should not, as
he did at the Commonwealth, defend the decrepit and totally objectionable
The case of Afewerki is equally blatant. In the past
two years, he has embarked on the construction of a republic of fear, a
police state. All independent media has been vanquished. Political opponents
rot in jail. The judiciary is completely meaningless. Unless something is
done, both the African Union and Nepad will become sad shadows of the
It is true that running a liberation movement is not the
same as ruling a state. The guerrilla freedom fighter must be transformed
into a statesman. This is a difficult transition to make. Just look at the
slow mutation of former freedom fighters or guerrillas like President
Museveni when they capture power. We should appreciate these difficulties.
But we should not use them as an excuse to apologise for dictatorships. The
AU and Nepad must squeeze Afewerki - and hard - if they are to fulfill
Mutua is Professor of Law at the
State University of New York at Buffalo and Chair of the Kenya Human Rights
State buys Prados for defence chiefs By Valentine
. Vehicles cost $450-600 million each THE government has splashed
billions of dollars in taxpayers' money buying Toyota Prados for top Army and
Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) chiefs, The Standard can reveal.
said the more than 40 luxury vehicles were meant for Air Commodores, Army
Brigadiers and other senior officials, in a move widely seen as an attempt to
ensure key defence officials are as comfortable as possible ahead of next
years' parliamentary elections.
Over the past few years President
Mugabe's regime has successfully maintained its tight grip on power in the
face of mounting unrest characterised by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
mass actions, thanks to the unwavering support of the defence
Last year the forces ruthlessly crushed what was dubbed the
"Final Push" by the opposition, supported by some civic society
Sources told The Standard that some of the brand new
vehicles were parked at a garage at Manyame Air Base, waiting to be
distributed to their new AFZ owners on Friday.
Visits by The Standard
to some of Harare's major car dealers in the capital specialising in latest
Toyota makes revealed that the all-terrain vehicles were going for amounts
varying from $450 - $600 million.
Conservative estimates indicate that
the government may have forked about $18 billion at a time when many
Zimbabweans are threatened with starvation.
"It's good deal for our
defence chefs," remarked a source.
Before the latest acquisitions, Air
Commodores were allocated Peugeot 605 models, which they will now to dump in
favour of the Prados.
Lieutenant Colonel Ben Ncube, the Zimbabwe National
Army spokesperson, yesterday confirmed that the Prados had been acquired for
the senior army officers but could not give the exact figure
"It's true that the Prados were bought, but I would not know
the exact number since I am not in the office today. They are going to be
given to brigadier generals as part of their packages and conditions of
"Do you expect to see senior guys like brigadiers moving around
in 323s? They are senior, they deserve cars like that," said Lt. Colonel
He, however, said he thought the figure was much less than 40
Efforts to get a comment from the Air Force of Zimbabwe yesterday
proved fruitless, but sources at Manyame Air Base confirmed that their bosses
had been issued with top-of-the range vehicles.
"All I can say is that
some of the vehicles are parked in a garage here," said the
Analysts say the vehicles are a latest attempt by Mugabe to keep
the defence chiefs happy and in full support of his government.
government this year also gave generous car loans to traditional chiefs, who
are increasingly becoming a cog in the Zanu PF's rural campaign machinery,
ahead of the general elections scheduled for March next year.
Army commander, Vitalis Zvinavashe, together with other service chiefs, just
before the March 9 - 11 2002 presidential election, made their political
position clear by declaring the service chiefs would not salute anyone who
did not have liberation war credentials.
Mugabe should halt political violence - Arcbishop
Ncube By Foster Dongozi
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe should play a leading
role in stopping the political violence perpetrated by Zanu PF supporters
against their perceived political opponents in Zimbabwe, the Archbishop of
Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, said in Harare yesterday.
He was speaking in an
interview after the installation of the new Harare Archbishop, Robert
President Mugabe and the First Lady, Grace, were
among thousands of Harare residents who thronged the City Sports Centre to
witness the installation of Archbishop Ndlovu.
President Mugabe is a
devout Roman Catholic.
Speaking at the end of the installation, Mugabe
urged the church to engage the government in dialogue, especially on issues
pertaining to human rights and basic freedoms.
He told thousands of
Roman Catholics, who had converged on the City Sports Centre to witness the
installation that he recently sought a meeting with Archbishop Ncube and that
he waited for an hour in vain but the Bulawayo Archbishop did not turn up.
However, Archbishop Ncube fired back, saying he had only been informed of the
proposed meeting when it was too late.
"I had already made prior
arrangements to attend to other issues and I could not just change my plans
Archbishop Ncube said meetings between the president and him
would not solve anything unless the President used his position as Head of
State and First Secretary and President of Zanu PF to end political
"In fact, four Catholic bishops met Mugabe in October last
year, expressing their concern about violence but nothing came out of that
meeting. The problem with Mugabe is that he can be a very charming and sweet
person when you discuss some of these problems and you would think that he
also has similar concerns.
"The problem is that he never seems to tell
his supporters to stop beating up people they think are their rivals and this
means people will continue to be beaten and killed in politically-motivated
The new Archbishop, Robert Christopher Ndlovu, the former
bishop of Hwange was born in Lupane, in 1955 and attended Tshongogwe primary
School. He attended Dete Marist Brothers for his secondary education before
proceeding to study theology and philosophy at Chishawasha
He attained a Masters in Biblical Theology at the Catholic
University in Nairobi, Kenya, before being appointed Archbishop of Harare by
Pope John Paul II on 21 May this year. In his acceptance speech, Archbishop
Ndlovu praised his predecessor, the late Archbishop Patrick
"I feel humbled by the great missionary work done by my
predecessor. I ask for your prayers that God can help us carry the heavy
loads together and that he will guide His people though difficult times,"
said the new Archbishop.
NANGO, lawyers slam NGO's Bill By Valentine
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's increasingly paranoid government
totally ignored contributions from the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
community in the drafting of the repressive NGO bill that was gazetted on
Friday, The Standard has established.
The Bill, which will repeal the
Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Act to establish the NGO Act, bars
organisations from receiving foreign funding or donations to carry out
activities involving governance issues and also provides for the
establishment of a new State-controlled council that will regulate the
conduct of the organisations.
The council, to be called the Non
Governmental Organisations Council will consider and determine every
application for registration, proposed cancellation of NGOs and amendments of
certificates for registration.
If the bill becomes law, the NGO council
"may at anytime cancel any certificate of registration on the grounds that
the organisation has ceased to operate bona fide in furtherance of the
objects for which it is registered."
Analysts say the council will
follow the footsteps of the Media and Information Commission which has
ordered the closure of newspapers such as the The Daily News, The Daily News
on Sunday and The Tribune in Zimbabwe.
Gugulethu Moyo, Media Relations
Adviser on Southern African Issues for the International Bar Association,
said it was starkly obvious that this statute was not designed to create an
"enabling environment", in which civil society can flourish in
"It would appear that the Zimbabwean government has been
emboldened by the effectivesness of similar, draconian legislation such as
AIPPA and POSA in shackling the free will of Zimbabweans.
AIPPA did in the media sector, this legislation grants boundless power to
functionaries of the State to determine which NGOs will continue to operate
in Zimbabwe and on what terms," said Moyo, the former Associated Newspapers
of Zimbabwe (ANZ) company lawyer.
The government claims the Bill follows
concerns that some NGOs, most of which survive on foreign financial
donations, were funding opposition activities to effect regime change in the
The director of National Association of Non-Governmental
Organisations (NANGO), Jonah Mudehwe, said the final bill was "totally the
opposite" of what they had been proposing to government since
The NGOs had proposed a self-regulating bill to monitor their own
activities through an independent council.
"It's actually the complete
opposite of what we proposed to the government and a complete disregard of
the NGOs input. As it is right now, the bill is going to provide serious
hardships to most, if not all, NGOs in this country," he said.
added that NGOs would lobby parliamentarians to reject the bill, which
totally closes operational space particularly to those organisations involved
in governance issues.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights director, Arnold
Tsunga, said some of the definitions in the bill generalise issues making it
very difficult for them to operate.
"The whole bill should be reworded
so that we can accept it. The issue of registration of NGOs is very serious,
apart from that they can be asked to close at any given time.
are so many communities that are benefiting from NGOs and if they are closed
just like that, a number people are going to suffer," said Tsunga, who is of
the opinion the bill has generated panic in the whole NGO sector.
Kagoro of the Crisis Coalition Zimbabwe said the government believes if they
close ranks on NGOs, donor funds would be directed to government's bankrupt
departments. He said this was very unlikely.
BULAWAYO: International charity organisation, Rotary
International, has responded to reports about deaths arising from acute food
shortages in Bulawayo by donating 100 tonnes of maize-meal to over 20
families in the city, The Standard can reveal.
The organisation was
moved by a report of at least 62 more people who died in Bulawayo because of
hunger and decided to assist the less privileged people who were facing
difficult times. The Standard carried the report of the deaths two weeks
Speaking to The Standard shortly after receiving her 20 kg bag
of maize-meal, Pretty Ndimande, a mother of four, said her family survived
by scavenging for food from the Bulawayo city dumpsites.
occasions we have been appealing to the government for food aid but to no
avail. The government says that we are not properly settled in
"Had it not been for the Rotary International, who came with
this maize meal all of our children, whom you found asleep as a result of
hunger would have gone the next few days without proper food," Ndimande
She said two of her children were not going to school while the
other two attend Umguza Primary School.
Several other villagers, who
have resorted to gold panning in order to survive, accused the government of
turning a blind eye to their plight, while channelling a lot of government
resources towards political campaigns.
"I am very thankful about the
donation we received today and I hope other international food donor agencies
will follow suit," Ndimande said.
Some elderly men, who asked to remain
anonymous for fear of being victimised by the government said the donation
came at a time when almost all of their children in the village had pulled
out of school due to a combination of poverty and hunger.
the same function, Rotary International Public Relations Officer, Charles
Chiponda, said his organisation would continue assisting the people with
Hungry Zanu PF youths gatecrash chefs' party By Richard
GWERU - NEARLY 30 hungry Zanu PF youths tried to gate-crash a
lavish Heroes' Day luncheon at the Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) Thornhill
Airbase in Gweru recently. Only swift reaction from the police and the army
saved the day.
A Zanu PF official, who was in charge of the entrance to
the venue and was tasked with verifying the invitations, fled and sought
refuge in a nearby toilet after the marauding youths, resplendent in party
regalia threatened to beat him up.
The police and soldiers moved
in swiftly and dispersed the youths, but not before a nasty verbal
The youths felt discriminated against by their own masters, who
they alleged were favouring top officials of Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC). They vented their frustration by shouting obscenities at the MDC
officials, as well as Midlands provincial administrator, Martin
Rushwaya's office organised the luncheon and compiled the list
of invited guests. He, however, refused to comment on the matter when
After a salvo of obscenities from the youths, one Zanu PF
official asked the police to arrest them. Surprisingly, no action was taken.
The police officers on duty appeared to be waiting for orders from the
police hierarchy, who were "feasting" inside the venue.
Police and the
army have for a long time been accused of treading softly on Zanu PF
supporters who disrupt activities, beating up members of the opposition
party. The youths were also angry that Zanu PF officials left them at Mkoba
Stadium, venue of the celebrations, while they went for the lavish bash at
One of the youths, who said he could be identified
only as Peter of Mkoba, complained: "As youths, we have been used for a long
time by these officials. It's high time they included us on some of these
Two months ago, Zanu PF youths and some elderly people, were
bussed from rural areas to demonstrate against Gweru executive mayor, Sesel
Zvidzai. They later turned violent and destroyed war veterans' offices after
they were denied food, which had been promised in exchange for taking part in
Chombo bid to evict Porta Farm residents hits brick
wall By Valentine Maponga
ATTEMPTS by the Ministry of Local Government
and Public Works and National Housing to evict residents of Porta Farm have
run into a brick wall amid reports that authorities cannot secure a suitable
place for them, The Standard has learnt.
For the better part of last
week, the settlers were waiting anxiously for the soldiers they were told
would ferry them to their new homes on government farms, but nothing
The settlers were given up to August 15 to prepare
themselves for the eviction in order to make way for the construction of a
However, when The Standard visited the farm, about 25
kilometres from Harare along Bulawayo road last week, the residents said they
would not move out until serviced land was secured for
"Yesterday (Wednesday) we went to Caledonia farm, one of the farms
earmarked for us and found that there already were some people staying
there. Furthermore, the farm is not serviced," said Khumbulani Khumalo,
the chairman of the residents' association.
He said they found two
co-operatives already at the farm. One is called Tafara-Mabvuku Housing
Co-operative, and the other one is called Tongoville Housing Co-operative.
They claim farm is theirs.
"The leaders of these co-operatives openly
told us that we were not welcome at the farm," explained
Alarmed by their predicament, the settlers told The Standard
they felt the intentions of the government were not in their best
They said Dr Ignatious Chombo, the Minister of Local
Government, Public Works and National Housing, told them sometime last month
they would be evicted from the farm, despite their objections.
have been victims of these evictions for some time now. At one time we were
staying in Epworth, but we were removed because they said that place was not
suited for residential purposes. But if you go to Epworth today people are
building very nice houses at the same place," Khumalo said.
Kadela, a former employee of the National Railways of Zimbabwe, said the
people had adapted to the situation at the area and were happy with the way
they lived at Porta Farm.
"The majority of the people have been employed
in businesses around Lake Chivero. The unemployed are surviving on fishing,
so moving us will be taking away our livelihood. Our children are going to be
back on the streets again," he said.
The settlers get their income
mainly from fishing in the nearby water reservoir while some sell firewood.
Some of the residents said they previously found part-time work on commercial
farms in the area, but such opportunities had dwindled as a result of the
land redistribution programme, which has seen a new class of "struggling"
farmers taking over the once productive plots.
One of the leaders of
the residents, Wilbert Mushipe, said the authorities were treating them as
"We were shocked by the government's intention to evict us and
build a sewage plant here. We've been here for more that 13 years and we
have invested a lot into our lives here. Now we have a school and an
orphanage centre. What is going to happen to all these developments," said
Mushipe adding that they were working towards having the school
"Our argument is that we cannot move from here into the
wilderness, until and unless the government gives us a credible promise that
we are going to find the relevant infrastructure that we have here," Mushipe
Serbia Chikonhi (72) fears the move might force her two
grandchildren onto the streets after they fail to write their final
examinations in October as a result of being resettled. "My grandchildren
registered to write their examinations here. Where will they write the exams
from if we are moved?" she asked.
Although more than 10 000 families,
The Standard discovered, were calling Porta Farm home, they have remained
officially unrecognised as a community, compounding their
Analysts following the saga closely said they feared that the
decision by government to move the settlers could be politically motivated.
"The move is very tricky. You have to look at where exactly these people are
being moved to. This may be aimed at pampering a certain constituency at the
expense of these people' right to livelihood," said one analyst.
Kagoro of the Crisis Coalition Zimbabwe, said it was important to look at the
history of the people at Porta Farm and how they got there.
was initially meant to be a temporary settlement to accommodate the homeless
people, cleared out of the capital by the image-conscious authorities when
Queen Elizabeth II visited Harare to open the Commonwealth Heads of State and
Government Summit in October 1991.
"This only shows the lack of a proper
policy on poverty alleviation by this regime. These people are victims of the
double standards by our government," Kagoro said.
Efforts to get a
comment from the government last week proved fruitless.
Kombayi becomes MDC spokesman for Midlands By Richard
GWERU - THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has
elected nationalist and former Gweru mayor Patrick Kombayi as the
party's spokesperson for Midlands province.
MDC officials confirmed
that Kombayi, known to have contributed financially towards the liberation
struggle while in Zambia, was elected to the post of Information and
Publicity Secretary at the end of last month.
"Yes, it is true. I can
confirm that Kombayi was elected to the post of Information and Publicity
Secretary for Midlands South province.
"Kombayi will be the voice on all
matters concerning the party in the province. Everyone in the party is happy
with Kombayi's achievements and political involvement," said MDC national
executive member, Bethel Makwembere, who is also the MP for Mkoba
MDC national chairman, Isaac Matongo, and Midlands South
provincial chairperson Lyson Mlambo also confirmed Kombayi's election to the
Kombayi recently accompanied MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai to
Zvishavane, Lower Gweru and Chiwundura where they held District Assembly
meetings with party leadership in those areas.
During last year's
Urban Councils elections, Kombayi campaigned vigorously in all the 17 wards
in the city of Gweru and helped MDC win 16 wards and the mayoral post.
Regional leaders war of Mugabe By Caiphas
WITH calls for democratic governance intensifying across the
continent, African leaders appear to be gradually distancing themselves from
President Robert Mugabe's autocratic rule, which is widely blamed for
burgeoning poverty among Zimbabweans, analysts have said.
the past two months, they said, point to a well-orchestrated strategy by
African leaders, including those from the 14-member Southern African
Development Community (SADC), to isolate the 80-year-old leader now clearly
viewed as a pariah head of State at regional and
This was clearly demonstrated at the
recent African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and last week at
the SADC gathering in Mauritius, where Mugabe was not accorded a platform to
address the regional gathering.
In the past few years, no summit was
complete without Mugabe taking the podium to harangue his favourite
adversaries - Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister and President George W
Bush of the USA. A swashbuckling Mugabe had become the top bill at all
important continental or regional summits where he would launch vitriolic
tirades against the British and the Americans for what he said were attempts
to recolonise Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwean strongman had on his side his
reputation as one of longest surviving founder members of the Frontline
States, credited for fighting against apartheid in South
Another of his his strongest points was his lucid and articulate
arguments, whether for development, reforms at international organisations,
or against remaining pockets of oppression in the world, which enabled him to
hog the limelight.
But reverence for ageing leader is now on the wane
as accusations mount that he is responsible for dragging a once thriving
economy into the quagmire, while he has allowed basic freedoms and human
rights to be trampled upon by members of his government while he looked the
Mugabe, his critics say, is presiding over a country that is
fast degenerating into chaos and disorder, while younger and more energetic
"new kids on the bloc" - the likes of Mauritian Prime Minister Paul Berenger
and South African President Thabo Mbeki are increasingly commanding more
respect among their peers.
Outspoken deputy secretary general of the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), Collin Gwiyo, said African leaders
have started pushing Mugabe, once regarded as the icon of regional stability,
to the periphery as he continues his anachronistic crusade against
"They have been playing to Mugabe's tune for a long time.
Now they want things to work on the ground. They want issues of good
governance, Aids and economic development addressed but it appears Mugabe
lacks the political will," Gwiyo said.
Opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) deputy secretary general, Gift Chimanikire, who
attended the regional summit in Mauritius, said it was clear that SADC
leaders were tired of Mugabe's intransigence.
Sources at the summit said
Botswana, South Africa and Mauritius were the most vocal in exhorting Mugabe
to hold free and fair elections, in accordance with the electoral norms and
guidelines adopted at the summit, so that the results would be accepted by
the majority of contesting parties.
Berenger, the new SADC chairman is
said to have issued a stern warning that free and fair elections needed an
independent electoral commission, access to State media by all contesting
political parties, an unfettered Press and credible observation. These
requirements are contained in a Charter adopted by the SADC leaders at the
end of the Mauritius summit.
Chimanikire said Berenger and Mbeki
complained bitterly about the way their citizens were driven out of the farms
and companies in Zimbabwe. "They said it is black-on-black violence. The
naivety of Mugabe is becoming clear to them and they can no longer take
"This is why countries advocated for a body to police countries that
break the SADC Charter. It is designed to rein in Mugabe," said
On whether Mugabe will implement the SADC Charter, Gwiyo
said: "It will all depend on the main actors in the country. They will have
to put pressure on him."
Media analysts were convinced it is because
Mugabe was denied a platform to address both the AU and SADC summit that
Zimbabwe Television failed to flight the their usual" specials" as is the
norm immediately following such meetings. "What we were only shown were
Mugabe's interview with the national TV," noted one analyst.
screened a summary of the summit only three days after returning
But while pressure appears to be mounting on Mugabe,
there are some African leaders who still support him. Tanzanian President,
Benjamin Mkapa and Namibian head of State, Sam Nujoma remain Mugabe's
staunchest supporters. The two have openly supported Mugabe's land seizures
under the guise of reclaiming land expropriated by former
But while some African leaders openly praise Mugabe's
scorched-earth policies, they have however, maintained cordial relations with
the international community and some have even lured white commercial
farmers, who were dispossessed of their farms under the government's land
reform programme, and allocated them land in their own
"Perhaps they want to sell food to the starving millions in
Zimbabwe after the collapse of agriculture in that country," concluded The
Business Day of South Africa rather cynically.
Chigwedere now turns to 'national dress' By Caiphas
AENEAS Chigwedere, the Minister of Education, Sport and Culture,
who shut down private schools early this year for increasing fees without
his approval is at it again. This time he is reviving an old debate on
the national dress, which was abandoned decades ago.
His critics say
during the time he has presided over the ministry, Chigwedere has
concentrated on trivial issues such as calling for one national school
uniform, change of "colonial" schools to indigenous names and meddling in the
Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) affairs.
The collapse of the
economy has seriously affected the education sector in the country but this
has been compounded by Chigwedere's lack of ideas and misplaced priorities,
some educationists say.
A circular signed by secretary for Education,
Sport and Culture, Dr. Stephen Mahere, says the department of culture in
Chigwedere's ministry is working towards the production of a national dress
by end of this year.
It is already calling on groups or individuals to
come up with possible designs that incorporate the colours of the national
flag as much as possible as well as "features that tend to unite us rather
than divide us".
The designs should cover a wide spectrum of items
including scarves, doeks, wrappers, blouses, shirts, skirts, caps, jackets
The Ministry has set aside $150 million for prizes for
designers and is prepared to double that figure.
parties, groups and individuals should indicate their interest to the
director in charge of culture (Mr L C Bowora) at Ministry Head Office,
Ambassador Building, by 31 August 2004," reads a circular signed by
Former University of Zimbabwe vice-chancellor, Professor Gordon
Chavunduka, said the revival of the debate on the national dress by
Chigwedere was an attempt to divert people's attention from problems in the
"It is irrelevant. Why should people discuss the issue
of national dress. but we remain silent on the collapse of the education
sector. We should find solutions today not tomorrow. People should choose
what they want to put on," Chavunduka said.
He said the debate must
be discontinued and the money should "be used to buy furniture for pupils who
sit on the floor country-wide."
MDC shadow minister of education and
sport, Fidelis Mhashu, said Chigwedere should stop meddling in petty issues
and concentrate on improving the quality of education.
"As Minister of
Education he should concentrate on improving the quality of education .
improving the curriculum. He should introduce and improve the working
conditions of teachers and learning environment of students,"
President Robert Mugabe recently blasted Chigwedere for
concentrating on minor issues instead of tackling matters of national
significance in the education sector.
Addressing delegates at a
luncheon after officially opening the Fifth session of Fifth Parliament,
Mugabe told Chigwedere to be practical in improving Zimbabwe's education
"VaChigwedere, chimbosiyai ZIFA mumbofunga nezvenzira
yatakaisirwa navaNziramasanga). Mr Chigwedere, leave ZIFA alone and think
about implementing (Professor Caiphas) Nziramasanga's recommendations,"
Mugabe was quoted by The Voice, Zanu PF's official mouthpiece.
Nziramasanga Commission of the late 1990s was constituted to look into the
problems affecting education and training in the country and to
make recommendations on the way forward.
Torture, violence likely in 2005 poll - report By Our Own
TORTURE, intimidation, murder and other forms of organised
political violence in Zimbabwe, which characterised previous polls, are
likely to be repeated during the next year's parliamentary elections, a
recent preliminary report by an international human rights organisation,
Redress, has warned.
The report, a preliminary study of trends and
association in the patterns of torture and organised violence in Zimbabwe
carried out during the period between July 2001 and 2003, says there were
indications that the pattern of violence of the 2000 parliamentary and 2002
presidential polls magnitude, could be repeated during next year's general
There is a strong correlation between torture and other
forms of political crimes in the run-up to elections, says the
It adds that a consistent picture of torture and other serious
violations of human rights in the country, during the last four years, are
beginning to emerge.
"There is little sign that the Zimbabwe
Government now intends to create a climate in which free and fair elections
can take place and consequently there is serious concern that patterns will
be repeated in the months leading to the upcoming elections," the report
The report was widely circulated at a conference on initiatives on
electoral reforms in southern Africa organised by the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network (Zesn) and the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA)
at the beginning of this month.
The conference was attended by members
of parliament for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region,
including those from Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic
The latest revelations come at a time the embattled Zanu PF
government is frantically trying to regain acceptance of the international
community by introducing electoral reforms ahead of the 2005 parliamentary
Independent analysts say that the introduction of electoral
reforms by Zanu PF were being undermined by violence and intimidation
perpetrated by war veterans and the youth militia, officially known to
support the ruling party.
According to the report, there were 8 871
reported cases of gross human rights violations between July 2001 and
Of the reported human rights violations, there were 105
cases of murder, 2 572 involved torture, 1 041 unlawful detentions and 32 of
people who disappeared.
'Ethnic cleansing' has killed exports, says CFU By our
THE fall in the country's foreign exchange earnings reflects a
production decline in large-scale commercial agriculture, documents presented
to the recent Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) congress show.
commercial beef herd from the large-scale commercial sector now stands at 10
percent of what it was four years ago.
Raw milk production has
declined by six million litres over the past year, according to the
Efforts taken by Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited, the nation's main
milk purchaser, were largely responsible for arresting the fall in
Coffee production experienced a 50% decline - from 4
000 tonnes to 2 000 tonnes over the past 12 months. Factors responsible for
this are the "relentless interference" on coffee farms in the northern and
eastern areas of the country, coupled with labour shortages during the
weeding and harvesting seasons.
The viability of coffee production at
current interest and exchange rate levels have rendered coffee - along with
other export crops - uneconomic and internationally expensive to
Over the past year tobacco production has declined from 83
million kgs sold last year to an expected 60 million kgs this year, with an
anticipated 47 million kgs next year.
Horticulture declined by a
further 11 % in the current year compared to last year. The exported value
fell from US$118,5 million in 2003 to less than US$105 million in the current
The documents show that at the beginning of 2002 there were
approximately 200 registered flower growers, 150 registered export vegetable
growers, 120 registered citrus growers and 35 registered deciduous fruit
"By December 2003, following on-going disruption to production
activity in horticultural operations, these had beenreduced to 150 flower
growers, 70 vegetable growers, 45 citrus growers and 16 deciduous fruit
growers," says one of the documents.
This, according to the documents,
is before the devastating effects on the viability of export horticulture
caused by radical changes in monetary policy and the effective halving of
exchange rates and consequently, returns to producers.
Tobacco is the
traditional cash cow and the main source of foreign
It will require a secure operating environment to
grow the crop, coupled with an end to production interferences in the
large-scale sector and policy adjustments to encourage production through
both exchange and interest rate incentives.
Factors responsible for
the lower decline in milk production include a review in the price of raw
milk; an increase in food supplies both grazing and stock-feed raw materials,
stock-feed price increments at lower levels and a generally low level of
disruption over the past year.
Barley production by the sector has been
maintained at 50 000 tonnes, while soybean production at 60 000 tonnes is
roughly the same as last year, which was 59 000 tonnes.
production from the sector shows an increase of about 100 000 tonnes, while
wheat is expected to increase by 12 000 tonnes.
Cotton, according to the
documents, is the one commodity where a significant increase in national
production in the current year has been experienced.
"This is nearly
totally from the small-scale sector, as less than 10 large-scale commercial
farmers are engaged in cotton production. Large-scale commercial agriculture
has only accounted for 1 000 tonnes of seed cotton this year," according to
CFU president Doug Taylor-Freeme told delegates to the
congress that the union has attempted to engage the various responsible
authorities "that can make a difference".
"I believe, in the last 12
months my team has laid a foundation to deal with the various categories of
stress that our farmers find themselves in. I wish to ensure the economic
well-being of our members and sincerely want to take away the conflict that
is in agriculture," said Taylor-Freeme.
The large-scale commercial sector
has lost about 3 000 members since 2000 and it is estimated there are now 500
to 1 000 CFU members remaining. But he warned even these were
For example, Karoi had 200 large-scale commercial farmers,
but only 12 remain - a development he referred to as "ethnic cleansing".
This, Taylor-Freeme, said did not bode well for summer plantings.
SOME would like to call them innovative, others: unrepentant law
beakers. But by and large and by whatever means, some Zimbabweans have shown
their resourcefulness in defying government orders for them to survive. The
latest are reports of the rampant emergence of corrupt Money Transfer
Agencies (MTAs), registered or operating illegally.
In a joint swoop,
the central bank and the Zimbabwe Republic Police last week announced that it
had caught some officials of unregistered MTAs illegally trading in foreign
exchange and thereby dampening efforts to cull parallel market
Despite the feisty efforts to bring orderliness in the
financial sector and rein in the illegal foreign exchange market, some
sophisticated Zimbabweans continue to soldier on with their past "business"
conduct of buying and selling hard currency on the streets.
once it is clear that they have failed to register with the central bank,
there was only but one route to continue operating - that is to deal
illegally on foreign currency in Zimbabwe and abroad.
But even those that
are registered continue to defy the law and buy and sell foreign currency
outside the stipulated official rates - the RBZ's auction and "Diaspora"
Documents in the possession of Standard Business show how some of
the registered MTAs are defying the law to stay in "business".
compile two separate reports, one for RBZ officers who make spot checks and
these would show the "correct" transactions done at the stipulated exchange
rates should the officers pounce.
The other reports, which were
discovered during the joint police and RBZ swoop, are kept secretly by the
companies for their own records and clearly show the huge rates they are
offering to Zimbabweans outside the country, and even the locals with a bit
of hard cash.
"It is all about speculative behaviour on the market. The
moment we have deviant behaviour and characters on the market ... it makes it
difficult for policy makers to achieve their goals," says David Mupamhadzi
Trust Holdings' Group Economist.
Dealers blame the unrealistic
official exchange rates for the mushrooming of the illicit trade in hard
currency. They say since the July ban to receive foreign currency remitted
through the "Homelink" facility in its original form, the Zimbabwe dollar has
taken a hard knock on the parallel market.
"You have all the ingredients
of a strong demand and strong supply. When the gap between the parallel
exchange rate and the official exchange rate is big, the risk is worth
taking. So it is the government's fault for allowing the gap to grow big,"
said John Robertson, a Harare-based independent economic
Major currencies are fetching a higher premium on the
parallel market than at the weekly controlled foreign currency auctions, a
Standard Business survey found.
According to other reports, the recent
onslaught on private schools by the Ministry of Education that has made
standards to decline and qualified staff to emigrate, is one of the causes of
the flourishing parallel market.
The market is currently awash with
properties whose previous owners are fleeing Zimbabwe because of the collapse
of the education system and the general decay of the economy.
selling properties in the local currency are snapping up any
available foreign exchange resulting in the Zimbabwe dollar losing out
against the major currencies, said experts.
On the parallel market the
American greenback was last week fetching as much as $7 500; the pound $11
000 while the rand traded at between $1 200 and $1 500.
against an auction rate for the US dollar, for example, of $5 599,91 and a
"Diaspora" rate of $5 600.
"More people are trying to leave the country
because of the attacks on schools. So they don't mind the price dealers
attach to their hard currency," Robertson observed.
After Mauritius, can Zimbabwe now hope? Sundaytalk with
SOUTHERN African leaders adopted a new regional charter of
rules and electoral guidelines for their countries at the just concluded
Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit held in
This has revived optimism and hope in many Zimbabweans who had
despaired of ever having free and fair elections in their
SADC chairman, Mauritian Prime Minister, Paul Berenger,
explained the Charter, saying, "free and fair elections mean not only an
independent electoral commission but also include freedom of assembly and
absence of physical harassment by the police or another entity, freedom of
the Press and access to national radio and television, and external and
credible observation of the whole electoral process".
leader was upbeat about the forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe in the light of
the new charter. He said: With free and fair elections due in Zimbabwe at the
beginning of next year, we can already start preparing for the normalisation
of relations between SADC, the European Union and the US."
Zimbabwe, The Herald, the government-controlled daily, said President Mugabe
hailed the new election guidelines. I am not quite sure what
Without explaining how Zimbabwe was going to implement the
new Charter, as most of us expected, Mugabe went on to say that African
countries should not allow the West to impose electoral systems on
He said Africa should never make former colonial powers, which
denied Africans freedom, to believe that they could dictate the way the
continent should run its affairs.
He went on, in his usual anti-West
style to castigate the Europeans, the Americans and the British for wanting
to dictate to Africa.
President Mugabe also said that the outgoing SADC
chairman, Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa had told him, during a private
meeting prior to the summit, that even when the region had its own electoral
standards, there should never be compulsory intervention in the affairs of
He said President Mkapa had emphasized that when
a SADC country has elections or problems, fellow member-states should observe
the polls or intervene only at the invitation of the concerned
Just prior to the SADC summit Zimbabwe's Zanu PF government had
proposed some electoral reforms and called upon the opposition MDC to join
the government in effecting them through constitutional amendments before
next year's polls.
The government needs four votes from the opposition
to enact the electoral reforms. The MDC refused to support these reforms.
They regard them as insufficient to create a level playing field. David
Coltart, the MDC legal secretary said: "We want constitutional reforms but
this process should not be piecemeal as is being suggested by Zanu PF. We, as
a party, want and will support comprehensive reforms."
In an interview
with the Voice of America's Studio 7 Radio, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of
the opposition MDC welcomed the SADC Charter but said his party would wait to
see how the rules and guidelines would be implemented in Zimbabwe before
giving a definitive answer as to whether his party would contest the next
elections or not.
The man did not sound optimistic at all. I share his
pessimism. In fact, I am actually cynical about the SADC Charter being
enacted in Zimbabwe.
Unlike some Zimbabweans who are desperately grasping
at any straw in the hope of salvation from our political, social and economic
woes, I don't see any light at the end of this particular tunnel,
I tend to believe that some SADC leaders were sincere in their
desire to see the region become truly democratic but others, especially the
Zimbabweans, it was all hot air to pass the time.
Some may accuse me
of being a perennial pessimist, but knowing our president and Zanu PF as I
do, I can only plead guilty to being a perennial realist. Putting the SADC
Charter into effect would spell doom for the ruling party. It can never win a
free and fair election given its dismal record and violent tendencies. And,
Zanu PF is not prepared to commit suicide.
We may just have to wait until
its elderly leadership passes on naturally, one by one, for there to be real
change in Zimbabwe. Or, unless SADC really means business and makes its
Charter mandatory upon all member states. This was actually suggested by
Namibia's Electoral Commissioner, Shafimana Uietele who, speaking at a SADC
conference in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, three weeks ago, said: "There must be
an enforcement mechanism to make sure that member states adhere to SADC norms
and standards. SADC has to adopt a tribunal that will look into any given
member of SADC that would have flouted the norms and standards and bring it
to book. The call for adherence to the SADC norms and standards should no
longer be just lip-service, but should be translated into reality."
far as I know Uietele's recommendation was not taken seriously. The adopted
SADC Charter is not mandatory and, therefore, just lip-service.
to Mugabe and Mkapa, SADC does not even have the mandate to send an observer
team to any member State to observe elections until invited by that
The MDC is correct in refusing to support Zanu PF's deceptive
electoral reforms. That party is not at all sincere. This is clearly seen in
its decision to silence civic society by forbidding
non-governmental organizations from receiving external funds and forcing them
to be registered, if approved by some Zanu PF appointed commission.
the government is really sincere then it should immediately repeal
the nefarious and offensive provisions of AIPPA and POSA, which make
it impossible for any opposition to campaign freely. It should uphold
the Constitution, establish the rule of law and outlaw political intimidation
in any form. It should uphold the independent authority, integrity
and impartiality of the judiciary and restrain the government Press
from portraying the opposition as unpatriotic traitors.
I would like,
in conclusion, to echo the words of South African judge, Justice Johann
Kriegler, ex-chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission of South
Africa, who spoke at the SADC conference on electoral reforms in Victoria
Falls. He said: "Electoral reform is not a matter of changing laws, but a
change in attitude. Without a change of heart, reforms will remain
meaningless. A change of the laws without a change of the mind is deception.
Elections are about credibility, truth, integrity