National Executive met today and deliberated on a number of key issues that
are affecting Zimbabwe. The Executive particularly welcomed the spirit of
the SADC summit in Mauritius last week. The unanimous agreement on a SADC
protocol on regional electoral standards represents a significant step
forward in the enhancement of a solid democratic culture across the region.
This development also signifies the political will that exists
within the SADC to assist the process of African Renaissance.
Executive noted that in Zimbabwe the implementation of the SADC standards
will require major changes to the political environment and legal electoral
Although the Zimbabwe government is a
signatory to the new SADC protocol on elections, the Executive does not
believe that the government acted in good faith and consequently harbours
serious doubts as to the government's commitment to enforcing the electoral
standards contained in the Protocol.
The Executive also
expressed deep concern at the government's unrelenting assault on democratic
rights of the people as illustrated by the gazetting last week of a draft
bill that contains provisions that pose a severe threat to the activities of
civic organisations through which Zimbabweans organise themselves around
issues of concern.
In the light of the continued absence of
any tangible sign that the government is prepared to enforce the SADC
protocol on elections in its broadest sense, and thereby address the MDC's
own minimum standards for elections (that are contained in our `RESTORE'
document), the Executive has decided to suspend participation in all
forms of elections in Zimbabwe.
The MDC will not
participate in elections until the political space has been opened up and a
legal, institutional and administrative framework for elections has been
established that harnesses acceptable levels of transparency and fairness in
the electoral process.
For this to happen the government
needs to combine a comprehensive reform of Zimbabwe's electoral framework
with significant political reforms, in particular the ending of political
violence and the repeal of repressive statutes such as POSA and AIPPA that
place gratuitous curbs on the independent media and citizens' democratic
rights pertaining to freedom of speech, assembly and association.
Harare City Council
The Executive further noted with
dismay the continuous efforts of the Zanu PF government to prevent the
elected Harare Council from carrying out their basic functions. As a result
of this unrelenting political interference with their activities, and the
government's demonstrable contempt for their roles as democratically elected
representatives of the people, the remaining MDC councillors in the city
have this morning decided to resign en masse.
of the Situation of Displaced Farm Workers in Zimbabwe
International August 13, 2004
Track Land Reform Program and politically-motivated intimidation and
harassment have created an internally displaced population of more than
150,000 former farm workers and have also caused thousands of Zimbabweans to
flee their country. The Government of Zimbabwe refuses to acknowledge that
their implementation of the land redistribution program has caused forced
displacement. To further compound the issue, governmental authorities have
increasingly restricted access to farming areas for humanitarian agencies and
independent analysts making it difficult for the displaced and other
vulnerable groups to access humanitarian assistance.
During an assessment
mission to Zimbabwe conducted in June 2004, Refugees International was able
to document incidents of targeted violence against former workers, such as
the destruction of homes and wells, the latter resulting in the deaths of
children due to diarrheal diseases contracted from drinking unclean water. RI
also found displaced populations effectively abandoned due to Government of
Zimabwe prevention of assistance efforts by international agencies and local
Many of the commercial farms that were
marked for acquisition under the Fast Track Land reform were seized
violently. However, not all of the former farm workers have been displaced
due to violent eviction. Displacement is also due to economic conditions on
the former commercial farms.
Within the former farm workers, there are
five groups: · People internally "trapped," who are unable to leave their
farms; · People displaced temporarily to forested or uncultivated areas; ·
Returnees to communal areas; · Peri-urban squatters; · Refugees and
Within these groups, foreign workers are particularly
at risk. In addition, there are other vulnerable groups that are not
necessarily displaced and not specifically former farm workers, but who are
also being denied services and are in need of assistance. These include some
new settlers, orphan-headed households and households without an
A considerable portion of the former farm worker
population is in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Many have little or
no access to food, shelter, medical care, clean water, sanitation services,
and education. While international and national humanitarian agencies are
willing and able to provide assistance, national and local authorities are
actively closing down any avenues of access to this vulnerable population.
The best way to rebuild trust between the government of Zimbabwe and the
humanitarian community is for all actors involved to focus and adhere to
humanitarian principles such as neutrality, impartiality, and
non-discrimination while working in coordination to provide assistance on the
basis of need.
Refugees International recommends
that: The Government of Zimbabwe · Acknowledge that former farm workers
are increasingly vulnerable and take steps to meet their basic needs,
including allowing humanitarian agencies to provide direct assistance to
them. · Form mixed needs assessment teams with local NGOs to conduct visits
and ascertain the exact levels of vulnerability of groups living in the
former commercial farming areas. · Provide access to land to those former
farm workers that, due to unemployment and increasing destitution, are unable
to meet their subsistence needs. · Invest in skills training and education
for those farm workers who have not been retained in the commercial
agriculture sector in order to allow redeployment to other economic
sectors. · Improve living conditions in squatter camps and informal
settlements that host considerable numbers of former farm workers. When
available, land should be allocated to them and basic community services
should be upgraded.
The Government of Zimbabwe and the United
· Jointly undertake a comprehensive vulnerability assessment in
the commercial farming areas, rural communal lands and informal settlement.
Due to the distrust between the Government of Zimbabwe and the United
Nations, it is also recommended that a neutral party agreed upon by both
should be included in the process of forming the assessment teams. ·
Devise and implement a plan of action to strengthen vital community services,
such as health clinics, water points and primary education facilities in
areas affected by incoming groups of former farm workers.
· Devote greater financial resources to the former commercial
farm areas to address humanitarian needs. These resources should be allocated
based exclusively on degree of vulnerability of beneficiaries. Refugees
International conducted an assessment of the situation for internally
displaced former farm workers in Zimbabwe from June 9-19, 2004.
full context of this report is availalbe electronically on request via email
from the JAG Office.
US CALLS FOR NEW "COALITION OF THE WILLING" TO EFFECT CHANGE
IN ZIMBABWE Wed 25 August 2004
JOHANNESBURG - Newly appointed
United States Ambassador to South Africa, Jendayi Frazer, says a "coalition
of the willing" must be built to push for change in Zimbabwe.
Frazer said the quiet diplomacy pursued by South Africa and other African
countries in their relations with the Mugabe government needed a re-look
because there was no evidence that it was working.
States would be prepared to be part of such a "coalition of the willing" if
it was welcomed by other African countries who, she said, must take the lead
on resolving the Zimbabwe crisis. The US could not act on its own, "put the
boot on the ground" and give Mugabe 48 hours to go as requested by
Zimbabweans who frequently stage anti-Mugabe demonstrations in South
"There is clearly a crisis in Zimbabwe and everyone needs
to state that fact," Frazer said at a breakfast meeting with foreign
correspondents in Johannesburg yesterday. "The economy is in free fall. There
is a continuing repressive environment. There needs to be a return to
democracy. Zimbabwe was really one of the stable countries in this
region....It had so much to offer to the region."
admission by regional and other African leaders that there was indeed a
crisis in Zimbabwe that needed resolution was a crucial alternative to quiet
diplomacy, coupled with an open call for public talks between ZANU PF and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Frazer said the
kind of "anti-Western bashing" by some SADC leaders at their summit in
Mauritius last week would hardly help to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis. It
also did not help in meeting the realization that there was indeed a crisis
The US believed that South Africa could play a
positive role in returning Zimbabwe to democracy and that President Thabo
Mbeki's government indeed had the means to do so. "It (South Africa) has the
most leverage probably of any other country in the sub-region and should
therefore take a leadership role."
Frazer said it was
particularly important to have Zimbabwe returned to democracy because the New
Partnership for Africa's Developmen talked about Africa's responsibility for
democratic governance across the continent. "The African Union (AU) and South
Africa have already accepted the responsibility to promote democracy and they
should do so specifically in the case of Zimbabwe."
noted that there was greater repression in Zimbabwe now and the space left
for the opposition to operate had shrunk ahead of elections next year. "So we
have got to re-look at the approach that South Africa is taking in terms of
the quiet diplomacy ....It's not evident that it's working at this
"We have always talked about building coalitions of the
willing and I for one believe that the coalitions of the willing are going to
be the new force in global affairs. If we are welcomed we will certainly be
part of it (the coalition) because we see Zimbabwe as undermining the
entire sub-region.The food crisis that we see and that we are responding to
stems largely from Zimbabwe." ZimOnline
Voter registration continues contrary to agreed SADC
electoral standards Wed 25 August 2004
HARARE - Registrar
General Tobaiwa Mudede has continued registering voters in pro-ruling ZANU PF
party areas almost two months after officially closing down the
Investigations by ZimOnline revealed that officials from
Mudede's department have, since July, quietly scoured the three
Mashonaland provinces, moving from door to door registering new voters for
next year's crucial parliamentary election. Mudede announced in June that he
had closed voter registration carried out since March 2004.
three provinces of Mashonaland East, Central and West are perceived as
strongholds of President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party. Mudede, himself
a known ZANU PF supporter, refused to take questions on the matter when
"Voter registration is always an ongoing process,
especially before an election. The issue of it being done in some places
whilst not being done in others has always come from the opposition and I
have nothing to do with that," he said.
It could not immediately
be established how many new voters Mudede has registered since officially
pronouncing the process closed. But a senior official at Mudede's office, who
did not want to be named for fear of victimisation, said: "By the time we
will be through we will have registered several tens of thousands of new
voters. Our instruction is to get as many people as possible in
Mashonaland to register as voters."
In the March-to-June
registration drive, which was publicised and carried out all over the
country, Mudede also concentrated his officials in Mashonaland where ZANU PF
has traditionally enjoyed most support.
Opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi accused Mudede of
non-transparency in his handling of voter registration. This, he said,
breached the norms and standards for elections agreed to by the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) just two weeks ago.
recently adopted SADC principles on electoral standards make it clear that
the voter registration process has to be transparent. But we continue
receiving reports that Mudede is conducting the process in some areas whilst
leaving out others. This time we will not accept such daylight robbery,"
SADC leaders, meeting in Mauritius earlier this month
for their annual summit, agreed on electoral norms which include setting up
independent commissions to run elections, ensuring transparency in electoral
processes, and upholding the rule of law as well as human and individual
rights in the run-up to and the actual conduct of elections.
South African president Thabo Mbeki told the press after the summit that the
agreed electoral charter was based on the SADC Treaty and that any member
state who violated the treaty could face expulsion from the
President Mugabe has announced his intention to
make changes to Zimbabwe's undemocratic electoral laws in line with SADC
requirements. But human rights groups and the opposition say the proposed
reforms are cosmetic only. They point out that the new Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission to be set up will lack independence as its chairman will be
appointed by the president.
Mudede's voters roll has been cited as
one of the biggest hurdles to truly democratic elections because of its
immense inaccuracies. For example the voters' register to be used in the
March 2005 general election is said to still contain more than 2.4 million
ghost voters, about half of the total five to six million registered voters
in the country. ZimOnline
National youth service trainees recruited for food
distribution Wed 25 August 2004
HARARE - The Grain Marketing
Board has begun what looks like a concerted effort to recruit trainees of the
government's controversial national youth service programme, ZimOnline has
The state-owned GMB is the only company permitted by
law to trade in staple foods such as maize and wheat. The grain utility also
distributes food to the needy on behalf of the government in times of
shortages. With Harare insisting it has sufficient supplies and does not
require assistance from foreign agencies this year, the GMB will be solely in
charge of food aid distribution across Zimbabwe.
Minister Joseph Made, under whose portfolio the GMB falls, could not be
reached for comment. Youth Development Minister, retired army brigadier
Ambrose Mutinhiri, confirmed the recruitment: "The national youth training
certificate is one of those respectable qualifications employers consider,
although it is not government policy to make it compulsory."
Churches, human rights groups, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party and outside observers like the International Parliamentary Union
have accused the national youth service trainees of systematically harassing
and terrorizing the government's political opponents.
at the GMB's branches across the country, who did not want to be named for
fear of victimization, said they had been instructed "from the top" to ensure
all job seekers presented their national service certificate first before
they could be hired.
An official at the GMB's depot in Chegutu town
(about 100 km west of Harare) said, "Yes we were instructed from the top to
recruit a certain percentage from National service every time we recruit
personnel." Close to 60 youths were recruited so far this month, 31 of them
on Monday last week alone.
Another 20 youths were employed last
week by the GMB's depot at Norton, 40 km west of Harare.
officials could not say what duties the youths were hired to perform. But
they said they expected them to help run the government company's food
distribution exercise across the country.
The Zimbabwe government
has in the past been accused of denying food to MDC supporters as punishment
for backing the opposition party. Harare denies the charges. ZimOnline
Businessman James Makamba out of jail Wed 25 Aug
HARARE - High Court Judge Lawrence Kamocha yesterday
ordered businessman and top ruling ZANU PF official James Makamba freed from
jail after quashing five charges of externalising foreign currency against
him. The businessman, who is still to be sentenced on six other charges
of illegally dealing in foreign currency that he has already pleaded guilty
to, was out of jail by last night.
Makamba (51), who has been in
jail for seven months, was arrested for allegedly externalising several
millions of pounds and about US$ 1 million, and illegally buying properties
abroad in contravention of foreign exchange regulations.
However, the state's case gradually collapsed, with prosecutors unable to
produce evidence to sustain their allegations. Eventually Makamba
was convicted on his own plea on six charges of illegally selling US$130 000
to his mobile phone company, Telecel.
Top government and ZANU-PF
officials as well as Makamba's relatives and friends had privately indicated
that although Makamba was guilty of some of the charges he was facing, his
ordeal in jail was because of suspicions by President Robert Mugabe that the
businessman had been having an affair with his wife Grace.
According to the officials, operatives from the Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO), who are seconded to guard Grace, had told
Mugabe about the "unusually frequent and suspicious meetings" between her and
Makamba at private places.
They claimed that Makamba had also
done "himself great harm" by sending flowers and presents to Grace Mugabe
through intermediaries. Some of the flowers were reportedly received on
behalf of the First Lady by the CIO security men. Grace is said to have
explained her meetings with Makamba as business.
It could not be
established by late last night whether the state planned to appeal against
Kamocha's ruling. ZimOnline
VETERAN Zimbabwean politician Eddison Zvobgo, who died on Sunday after a long
illness, left indelible footprints on the local political landscape. A
long-standing rival of President Robert Mugabe in the ruling Zanu
(PF), Zvobgo was described by some as "the president that Zimbabwe never
had", while others said he was a "brilliant political failure".
Zvobgo had an illustrious political and academic career that allowed him to
shape the country's progression from late 1950s until his death
Zvobgo was educated in Zimbabwe, SA and Lesotho, and he
attained his doctorate in law at Harvard University in the US. He used to say
he was more educated than Mugabe who has seven degrees, boasting that he
studied "vertically", while Mugabe studied "horizontally".
graduation ceremony a few years ago he once told students to study hard until
they became like "your teachers, lecturers, headmasters, principals, the
president (Mugabe) and then myself".
Zvobgo was also a veteran
nationalist. He was involved in the liberation struggle against British
colonial rule. While studying he also participated in liberation movements
that preceded formation of the ruling Zanu (PF) in which he was a founder
member in 1963.
Some of the political and legal developments he
initiated after independence in 1980 consolidated democratic institutions in
the country. Zvobgo oversaw the modifications of the country's constitution
and general legislation with mixed fortunes. As minister for nearly 20 years
and Zanu (PF) MP for far longer he restructured the local government system
and greatly improved its operations.
Zvobgo also influenced
changes in the country's jurisprudence by encouraging an incorporation of
good aspects of English law into Zimbabwe's Roman Dutch system. He was also
instrumental in training of judicial officers and government legal
Zvobgo also opposed a raft of repressive laws on the
media and trade unions from being enacted when he was chairman of
parliament's legal committee. In 2002 he described a media law proposed by
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo as "the most calculated and determined
assault on liberties I have seen in years".
In 1993 Zvobgo urged
journalists to read more on different subjects, including "basic science and
economics", saying he had discovered that interviews with them were usually a
"test of endurance" due to their "scandalous ignorance".
Zvobgo tried to make his colleagues in the executive appreciate the concept
of separation of powers, especially with regard to the independence of
parliament and the judiciary. He was at the forefront of forcing Mugabe to
accept the botched constitutional reform exercise
Such was his influence that at one time it
was taken for granted he would be Mugabe's successor. Friends and foes alike
acknowledged his brilliance as a politician and legal luminary, and believed
he could be a leader of substance as president.
were changes Zvobgo influenced that had negative consequences for Zimbabwe.
For instance, he was at the forefront of introducing the executive state
presidency in 1989, which firmed up Mugabe's blossoming tyranny.
Zvobgo stood up to Mugabe on a number of issues, but failed to graduate from
internal protest politics to present himself as an alternative leader to
Mugabe. As a result he disappointed many admirers.
Muleya is Harare
Aug 25 2004 07:44:14:000AM Dumisani Muleya
Business Day 1st Edition
Mark Thatcher arrested in coup probe Wed 25 August, 2004
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South African police have arrested
the son of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on suspicion of
involvement in a coup plot in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, police sources
A spokesman for the FBI-style Scorpions unit said on Wednesday that
"the son of a prominent former British politician" had been arrested after a
search and seizure operation at a Cape Town residence.
said the suspect was Mark Thatcher, now a businessman who maintains a home in
Cape Town. He was expected to appear in court later
Scorpions spokesman Makhonsini Nkosi said the arrest was
part of a probe into what officials say was a plot to topple President
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, sub-Saharan Africa's
third largest oil producer.
"We are investigating him on charges of
contravening the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act. This is in
relation to the possible funding and logistical assistance in relation to the
attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea," Nkosi said.
Commission (embassy) spokesman Nick Sheppard said the embassy was checking
reports of Thatcher's arrest. "If Mr. Thatcher has been arrested we will
offer him the normal consular assistance we offer to any British national who
is arrested in SA," he said.
Two groups of men, including a number of
South Africans, are being tried in courts in Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe
on charges of acting as mercenaries in connection with the
Thatcher moved to Cape Town in 1996 from the United States, where
he was involved in several security-related businesses.
have said that he is close to Simon Mann, the former British special forces
member regarded as the leader of the Zimbabwe group of suspected mercenaries,
who were arrested in March when their plane landed in Harare on what
officials said was a trip to join co-conspirators in Equatorial
HARARE - A Zimbabwe government food-for-work programme is failing to
find any takers because of the little money offered.
programme, government contracts destitute people to perform duties and work
beneficial to their own community in return for money to buy food.
People are paid Z$5 000 a month, which is barely enough to buy two
loaves of low quality bread. A 20 kg pack of the staple maize meal costs
an average Z$20 000. A family of six needs about 40kg of maize meal per
The Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) and the Rural
and District Councils Association have now asked the government to hike
payments to make the programme more attractive. The associations say
municipalities and rural councils are being overburdened by requests for
food assistance which could be reduced if there were enough funds for the
UCAZ vice president Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube said,
"The programme is very noble but people are shunning it. They are saying
that it is not worth participating in even though they have no food."
"On the other hand NGOs have been stopped from feeding people, so at
the end of the day it is the councils that are burdened by requests for
food. But we cannot cope because we are financially handicapped. That is why
we are telling the government to increase the payment and remove the burden
Social Welfare Minister Paul Mangwana, who is responsible for
the programme, could not be reached for comment. ZimOnline
Zimbabwe illegal immigrants fill Botswana graves Thu 26
FRANCISTOWN, Botswana - Authorities in Botswana¹s second
largest city of Francistown say they are burying at least two Zimbabwean
immigrants as paupers every week.
Like most countries in the region
Botswana gives pauper burials to deceased people whose relatives are either
unknown or cannot be found.
Principal Social Welfare Officer in
Francistown, Neo Sekate, told ZimOnline that the city had carried out 84
pauper burials since the beginning of the year, with 71 of the deceased
believed to have been Zimbabweans.
Many Zimbabwean refugees work as
cheap labour on Botswana farms. It is alleged that when they become
seriously ill they are usually dumped by their employers at government
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NGOs dealing with children orphaned by
HIV/AIDS have tended to concentrate on material support, neglecting their
emotional and psychosocial needs.
But a developmental organisation in
the southern region of Zimbabwe is filling that gap by using bush camps to
teach orphans how to cope with their trauma.
Masiye Camp has been
organising bush camps in the Matopos national park, 65km south of Bulawayo,
since 1998. Teaching life skills through bush camps is an African tradition
that is still alive in some societies, but the practice has been remodelled
to address the new stress HIV/AIDS has placed on communities.
2004 UNAIDS global report on the epidemic has estimated that there are about
980,000 AIDS orphans in Zimbabwe. But these figures fail to reveal the
psychological effect on the young people who have nursed and lost their
parents under traumatic circumstances, without receiving any psychological
support from their relatives or communities.
In most cases, the fight
for survival does not even give these children time to mourn their
"Many children we have worked with show psychosomatic disturbances,
depression, very low self-esteem, disturbed social behaviour,
hopelessness and low levels of life skills due to parental death,"
Riego, one of the camp's counsellors, told PlusNews. "This might result
in stunted development of emotional intelligence and life
Every school holiday, Masiye offers eight-day camps for 80
children in four categories: under fives, six- to 11-year-olds, 12- to
16- year-olds and children who head households.
The day is filled with
outdoor activities and talks on issues affecting children and youth,
counsellor-directed education and skills-development. Participants can
choose between play activities - including arts and crafts, canoeing and
challenge courses - as well as team-building exercises, such as tug-of-war
and treasure hunts.
According to the camp organisers, the skills children
are taught can be used in their daily lives. Canoeing, for example, is not
seen as a recreational sport but an exercise in experiencing limits,
dangers, rules and teamwork.
Arts, craft and music courses are aimed
at giving children resources to start income-generating projects after they
return home. Children who head households are also taught teenage parenting
as well as household and business management.
There are 10 youth
leaders at the camp, who are trained by psychologists and counsellors. In
extreme cases, the youth leaders require the support of a child
psychologist, as the children's mental problems can sometimes lead to
aggressive behaviour, drug taking, smoking and stealing.
holiday would most likely be the first time someone was available and
willing to listen to the children's stories, Riego commented.
of these children suffer tremendous trauma and psychosomatic disturbances
due to unresolved emotions. In the camp, they gain trust and learn that they
are not alone in their situation," explained a Masiye Camp official who
asked not to be named.
Allowing the children to grieve is one of the most
important aspects of the camp holiday.
"In their day-to-day lives,
these children don't get the opportunity to speak about their problems. Most
children do not go through a proper bereavement phase - they don't talk
about their loss, and many act as if their parents were still alive," the
Youth leaders regard it as their biggest achievement when
the participants gradually open up and admit to their feelings during
But when the camp is over, reality sets in again. The lack
of community support and their heavy daily responsibilities often leave
the children feeling even more depressed.
The lack of follow-up
services and continuous support has been a weak point in the Masiye
programme, the youth leaders acknowledged.
"The camp must not be a
stand-alone programme. We need to link psychosocial support with community
care programmes. At the moment, the community doesn't comprehend the need
for psychosocial support and children's rights," the official
Propaganda chief Moyo to lose his jobs? Thurs 26 August
HARARE - A top level ZANU PF committee is considering asking
President Robert Mugabe to dismiss his propaganda chief, Jonathan Moyo,
party sources told ZimOnline.
The committee comprising state and party
vice-president Joseph Msika, party chairman John Nkomo and information
secretary Nathan Shamuyarira, was set up earlier this month to probe Moyo's
conduct in government and in the party.
Msika refused to discuss the
issue when contacted for comment, only saying: "There will be procedures to
be followed over that matter and at appropriate stages measures will be
According to the sources, Msika and his colleagues have
already met twice to deliberate on Moyo's fate and would soon be submitting
a recommendation that Moyo be dismissed as government Information
Minister and as ZANU PF's deputy information secretary.
ZANU PF official, who did not want to be named, said: "Moyo's issue was
handled at cabinet level where it was agreed that the guy has caused a lot
of problems. The committee is clear on its mandate, which is to achieve
results before the (ZANU PF) congress in December, and I think it is likely
to recommend that Moyo be stripped of his position both in the party and in
government. He has especially been using his hold on the state media to
attack senior officials and cause chaos and mayhem."
Moyo was handpicked
by Mugabe as member of parliament under a clause in the constitution
allowing the president to nominate 30 people into the 150-member house. He
is widely criticised for effectively using his position as Minister of
Information to compensate for his lack of a personal power base within ZANU
President Robert Mugabe
has strong views on African identity Letter comes from southern Africa,
where author and journalist Hamilton Wende has lived since childhood. He
suggests that recent events in neighbouring Zimbabwe have reignited the
debate about "African identity".
What does it mean to be an African
I've asked myself that many times, both as a journalist and as
someone who came as an immigrant to the continent as a little child with
my mother and brother in the mid-1960s.
For whites, like me, and other
minority groups, the situation in Zimbabwe has raised this question yet
The long years of white colonial rule and the destruction of
traditional identities have distorted the notion of an African self, but
in its search for a new, 21st-Century way of belonging, the continent cannot
afford to ignore the truths of individual lives.
I was in the back of a
pick-up truck driving through the green hills of Rwanda. We were squeezed in
with a Rwandan soldier.
Whenever things go wrong, they get up and
leave. They never stay when things are bad. I don't see how they can say
they belong to Africa if they don't share our hardships.
The soldier, whose name was Jean-Paul, had spent many years in exile in
Tanzania and he spoke excellent English, unlike many Rwandans whose only
international language is French.
Jean-Paul was an intelligent, amusing
man in his early 20s who, to be honest, was undergoing something of an
Here he was, an African with a languorous French name
that rolled off the tongue like crisp Chardonnay, but who missed all the
Anglophile aspects of his life in Tanzania.
He was particularly
sorry not to be able to listen to Bob Dylan - an unusual choice of rock star
for an African soldier, but then Jean- Paul, at heart, was a romantic.
At one point on our long, uncomfortable journey he started singing.
I'll always cherish the memory of Jean-Paul in the back of that van
holding his AK-47 upright while he began softly chanting the lyrics to
Blowin' in the Wind.
Years of exile
There was something very
touching in listening to his sad, wistful voice singing Dylan as we wound
our way past African villages dotted on the hillsides and young boys driving
herds of long-horned cattle through the deep, shaded valleys.
Jean-Paul was a Tutsi, who are a minority in Rwanda, and he had lost
many members of his family in the genocide in 1994, in which some
700,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered.
survivors are a constant reminder of the genocide Jean-Paul was deeply
scarred by what had happened to his family, and to his people, but he didn't
want to talk about the genocide much.
He wanted to find some way to look
Rwanda had its problems, but he had come home at last, after
well over a decade living as a refugee, to take his place in the country
and to play his role in making it better.
But his years of exile had
opened his life, and Jean-Paul took a wider view of Africa and of its place
in the world.
He was fascinated by questions of identity and belonging
on the continent.
"What do you think about
these Indians who live in Africa?" he asked me.
"They have their
place like everyone else," I told him.
"But," he replied. "Whenever
things go wrong, they get up and leave. They never stay when things are bad.
"I don't see how they can say they belong to Africa if they don't
share our hardships."
He had a point, of course, and I knew that one
might level the same accusation at many white Africans, including those from
"That's true," I told him. "But don't you think it's also up
to Africa to create societies where they feel they can belong?"
Jean-Paul was silent for a long time.
He held onto the barrel of
his rifle, steadying it against the movement of the van as it drove down the
steep, winding road.
In the end, he looked at me.
said. "You're right. That is what we in Africa have to do."
That conversation cuts right the heart of how Africa is to
define itself in the future.
The grandiose illusions of the European
empires have faded so often into a morass of shattered roads, ill-defended
border posts and armed rebels roaming its famine-struck villages at will.
The nation-state has collapsed in much of the continent, leaving
many Africans trapped between a colonial past that ruled over the
destiny of their parents and a future of dictatorships over which they
have no control.
Like elsewhere in the world, identity in Africa is no
longer a simple matter of tribe or of nation.
Tens of thousands
perished in the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict But, as I have learned living here
and working as a journalist, all too often, old tribal or ethnic prejudices
do define the way people see themselves and their neighbours.
years ago war erupted between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
It started with a
border skirmish and rapidly escalated into full- scale trench warfare with
jet planes, tanks and tens of thousands of troops launching frontal attacks
from both sides.
The conflict was a terrible tragedy.
had once been ruled by Ethiopia.
The present governments
in both countries had fought side by side to liberate both Eritreans and
Ethiopians from the oppressive rule of Mengistu Haile Mariam.
only a few years after the end of their joint liberation struggle, the two
peoples had descended into open warfare.
What made it even worse is that
many southern Eritreans and northern Ethiopians are from the same ethnic
group, the Tigreans.
They speak the same language, and follow the same
religion as Ethiopian Orthodox Christians.
Most of the fighting was
concentrated about 100km south-east of the capital, Asmara, around the
border town of Zalambessa.
When our news team arrived at the front line
we saw soldiers in vehicles smeared with mud for camouflage.
were parked along the sides of the road. There were no farmers. The fields
The people here are Tigreans - after the battle, they
buried the dead Ethiopians who were Tigreans, but those two, they come from
the south of Ethiopia
Eritrean translator The Eritrean forces
had just taken the area.
On the road, a darkened shed had been converted
into a hospital.
Wounded soldiers lay in rows on the floor.
Fresh blood seeped through their bandages.
The silence of fear
and pain filled the shadows.
The town was nestled in a rocky valley.
White-washed houses stood in neat rows. The spire of a church and
the minaret of a mosque gleamed in the sunlight.
ammunition boxes, and spent cartridges were scattered along the main street.
Behind a row of stone houses, we found a rocky outcrop where
Ethiopian troops had made a last stand.
The shattered rock gleamed
white where mortar shells had exploded. Streaks of blood were hard and dry
in the baking sun.
Across a patch of waste ground lay the abandoned
corpse of an Ethiopian soldier.
In the shade of a bombed-out house
across the street was another body. It seemed strange that two bodies had
been left behind to rot.
I asked our Eritrean translator about it. He
shook his head angrily.
"The people here are Tigreans. After the battle,
they buried the dead Ethiopians who were Tigreans, but those two, they come
from the south of Ethiopia.
"The Tigreans call them 'blacks' - they
won't touch them!"
Africa is not uniquely prone to
racial or tribal hatreds: one has only to look at the Balkans, the Middle
East, Afghanistan or Northern Ireland to know that such a view is
It was much worse for the black people who lived on the
farm - they lost everything
Elizabeth, white farmer But it is
true that the collapse of much of Africa is about a lack of vision, an
inability of so many leaders to forge a new identity out of the ruins of the
They have failed to create societies where their citizens
of all races and tribes feel they can safely belong.
And Zimbabwe is
one of the saddest examples of this. A once prosperous, stable country is
now teetering on the brink of disaster.
In South Africa where I
live, some weeks ago I talked to a white Zimbabwean whose farm had been
taken away by President Robert Mugabe.
Her name was Elizabeth. She
is in her 60s and most her life had been spent in Zimbabwe.
she and her husband left the old Rhodesia in the 1970s and returned to live
in a black-ruled Zimbabwe in 1980 at the end of the bitter bush war that had
been fought against white rule.
Faith in Africa
It was an act of
faith in Africa and Africans that many of her white countrymen were unable
Elizabeth was saddened, and deeply hurt by what had happened to
her and to Zimbabwe in the last few years; but she refused to give in to
"We had good years," she said simply. "That's what I
have to remember. And now they are over."
"But," she added. "It was
much worse for the black people who lived on the farm. They lost everything.
"We gave them what we could, but in the end they had to leave. They
have no jobs now, no way of earning a living."
Some 3,000 white
Zimbabwean farmers have lost their land
"They're the ones who are going
to suffer the most. We are lucky, we could come down to South Africa, but
they've got nowhere to go."
Robert Mugabe has ruled his country like so
many other African despots, where loyalty to tribe and race or clan is
synonymous with citizenship.
But in the beginning ther
When he came to power in 1980, after leading the war
to end white minority rule, he took the podium at the independence
celebrations and spoke of a new vision for Zimbabwe.
He talked of a
country where black and white and Shona and Matabele might live together in
Zimbabwe was to be a model for Africa, and
for the world.
But within months of becoming president, he betrayed this
He launched a brutal, but secretive, campaign called the
"Gukuruhundi" - or "the wind that blows away the chaff".
He loosed his
predominantly Shona 5th Brigade on the people of Matabeleland.
swept through the villages of southern Zimbabwe, torturing, raping and
Some 10,000 people were killed, buried in unmarked graves or
thrown down mine shafts.
The opposition complain of widespread
It was a campaign that people like the Rwandan Tutsi
soldier Jean- Paul would recognise.
At the heart of the killing lay a
twisted notion of identity.
Matabeles were considered to be "dissidents"
- an alleged danger to the unity of the nation, and hence impure
Their existence jeopardised the power base of Robert
Mugabe, so thousands were killed.
Today, anyone - Matabele, white or
Shona - who threatens him risks imprisonment, torture, even death.
asked Elizabeth something that Jean-Paul might have asked: Would she go back
"It's too late for us," she told me. "We'll be too old to go
back. There's no future for us there anymore."
Progress of change
Despite everything, though, she had refused to give up her faith in
"You must understand," she said. "How much good is happening
"Good?" I asked, more than a little surprised.
"Everywhere you go in Zimbabwe people will come up to you and say
quietly 'We don't agree with the government. We don't think it's whites
who are destroying the country.'
"When you consider the history of
Zimbabwe, that means a lot.
"Something new is happening there.
"People are learning for the first time to really look beyond race,
and to see themselves as Zimbabweans instead."
have suffered far more under Robert Mugabe than whites, but, despite
everything, the vast majority of them have refused to give in to the rage
that follows in the wake of despair.
In the trips I have made
to Zimbabwe in recent years, I have found that this sense of wanting to
create a new nation and a new identity has been a powerful unifying force
among ordinary people - black and white.
The road ahead is not easy.
Things will get worse in Zimbabwe; there is no solution in sight. It
would be naive to say there were.
But there can be no doubt that a
new vision for Zimbabwe is growing in the silence that his police and army
impose on its citizens.
Life there is filled with hardships, but somehow
it still goes on.
Slowly power and its illusions are slipping away from
The country may yet fulfil the promise that was betrayed
All across Africa, people like Elizabeth,
Jean-Paul and myself are watching, and hoping.
Hamilton Wende is
a freelance writer and television producer. He is a regular contributor to
From Our Own Correspondent on Radio 4 on the BBC.
His articles have
appeared in many international and South African newspapers and magazines.
MDC Harare councillors resign, threat of poll
ZIMBABWEANS vote in parliamentary elections in March next
By Staff Reporter Last updated: 08/25/2004 23:52:46 THE
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change said Wednesday that it was
resigning ALL its Harare councillors with immediate effect and will boycott
all future elections until Zimbabwe's government reforms unfair electoral
laws, ends political violence and repeals repressive media and security
The decision by the party's national executive committee comes
ahead of key parliamentary elections in March.
Mugabe, who has lead the troubled southern African country since
independence from Britain in 1980, is seeking to consolidate his hold on
power after narrowly winning re-election in a 2002 vote that independent
observers said was marred by intimidation and vote rigging.
government promised a number of electoral reforms in June which it said
would bring Zimbabwe in line with regional standards, but the opposition
dismissed them as "cosmetic.''
The opposition wants the government to
observe electoral guidelines established by the 14-member Southern African
"Until there are tangible signs the government is
prepared to enforce the SADC protocols on elections, the national executive
has today decided to suspend participation in all forms of elections in
Zimbabwe,'' opposition spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said in a
The MDC also said it was withdrawing ALL its Harare
councillors following "continuous efforts of the Zanu PF government to
prevent the elected Harare Council from carrying out its basic
"As a result of this unrelenting political interference with
their activities, and the government's demonstrable contempt for their
roles as democratically elected representatives of the people, the
remaining MDC councillors in the city have this morning decided to
resign en marse," Nyathi said.
Staff Reporter Last updated: 08/25/2004 19:16:41 IN what could be a
manifestation of the back-stabbing taking place within party officials ahead
of the Zanu PF primary elections, a Bulawayo magistrate has acquitted
Bulawayo's acting provincial Administrator, Edson Mbedzi of several
Mbedzi was arrested last month and detained for 14
days at Bulawayo Central Police station on allegations that he improperly
and corruptly allocated himself land without following laid down
government procedures when he was still the District Administrator for
However Mbedzi's defence dismissed the allegations saying its
client was a victim of trumped up charges and the political machinations of
Home Affairs Minister, Kembo Mohadi.
The defence team said Mohadi
wanted to eliminate Mbedzi from standing against him in the Zanu PF primary
elections in Beitbridge.
Mbedzi has made his intentions to contest the
Beitbridge primaries elections open and has challenged incumbent MP Mohadi
for the sole ticket to represent the border town
Further allegations against Mbedzi were that he stole 30
head of cattle valued at $ 30 million belonging to former white commercial
farmer, Stephen Martin Grobler, when he was still the DA for
However last Friday Bulawayo provincial magistrate,
Caesar Rukobo, dismissed the charges. He said the evidence presented in the
case was inconclusive and further said there was no prima facie case
The court also noted that there was suspiciously no
complainant in the case as the matter was referred to Bulawayo from
police headquaters in Harare.
Under cross examination the
investigating officer, Detective Inspector Elphias Nhire confirmed that the
investigation and the subsequent arrest of Mbedzi was done following an
'order from the top.'
The state in its outline alleged that Mbedzi
using his position as the DA for Beitbridge and chairman of the Land
Committee for Beitbridge allocated himself Bar G Ranch in Beitbridge in 2002
and forced the eviction of 22 beneficiaries in the farm.
allegations by the state are that Mbedzi looted and stole property on the
farm that included three water pumps, workshop tools and 24 rolls of barbed
wire all worth $ 24 million.
However during the court hearing on Friday
documentary evidence was produced and indicated that Mbedzi had followed
procedures when he relocated to Bar G Ranch while property he is alleged to
have stolen is safely locked up at the farm storeroom.
signed by the Provincial Chief Lands Officer, a U Gwate, and dated 10
October 2002 also confirmed that Mbedzi was officially allocated the farm in
On allegations that Mbedzi stole 30 head of cattle, it was
proved in court that the said cattle were still on the farm and were not
The court was also told that the investigating
officer in the case Nhire never went to the farm to conduct investigations
but was basing his facts on 'hear say'.
Nhire confirmed in court that
he never visited the scene but was merely told of the allegations.
the race to the Zanu PF primaries hots up, politicians in the party
have embarked on a massive smear campaign to discredit
Mohadi is alleged to have used his position as the Minister of
Home Affairs, the ministry under whose jurisdiction the police fall, to
settle a score with Mbedzi.
New Zimbabwe.com this week established
that the police have dispatched Detective Inspector Nhire to Beitbridge
to gather new facts against Mbedzi.
Reporter Last updated: 08/26/2004 03:11:05 AROUND 2 000 ecstatic
Zimbabweans rolled out a red carpet welcome to swimmer Kirsty Coventry, the
country's first-ever triple Olympic medal winner.
Coventry won gold,
silver and bronze in swimming at the Olympics in Athens, and has been hailed
at home as a heroine and inspiration to this southern African nation's 12
Hundreds of people waved flags or held placards, one of
which read: "Welcome home our princess of sport".
"This is awesome!"
the 20-year-old Coventry said to the crowd through a public address system
after her arrival home from Greece. "I want to thank you all so much for
'Welcome home our princess of sport' The turn out of
fans, mostly black Zimbabweans, temporarily dispelled racial overtones
inherent in Zimbabwe today, where whites get a bad press in the state media
for their perceived support of opponents to president Robert Mugabe's
Shortly after her arrival, Coventry addressed a press
conference flanked by the chairman of the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee, Paul
Chingoka, and education minister Aeneas Chigwedere, who said the young
white woman was an ambassador of the country and would be given a diplomatic
"I am here to welcome back home one of the greatest
ambassadors of Zimbabwe," said Chigwedere.
He said the swimmer would
meet the 80-year-old head of state at a reception at his official residence
in Harare later Wednesday.
Coventry, who wore her three medals, said she
was proud to have represented her country at the Olympic Games. She said
there were still more goals to achieve, and she was looking ahead to 2008.
"My race strategies I need to improve on, so I can go faster; I have
the medals, but I don't have the world records yet," she said.
all your shouts about Coventry's STUNNING success: CLICK HERE "Hopefully in
the next couple of years to come that'll be my goal, to get much faster, and
compete against the best people in the sport, stay humble and keep loving
Coventry won a gold medal for the women's 200m backstroke, a
silver for 100m backstroke and the 200m individual medley bronze medal.
Her victories have pushed swimming to the forefront of national
attention here after it had long been considered an elitist, and mainly
Among the many people who were at the airport to welcome
her home were children from Coventry's former preparatory school dressed in
their red school blazers.
"I just wanted to get a glimpse of her, she
really made us proud," said one man outside the airport terminal as he
hoisted his twin daughters alternately on to his shoulders to see above the
crowds that pressed around the young swimmer.
Coventry, who leaves
the country again Saturday for the United States, where she is studying at
Auburn University, Atlanta, left the airport in a top-of-the-range Mercedes
Benz provided for her use while in the country.
By Sports Reporter
Last updated: 08/25/2004 09:53:36 WE asked our readers what they thought
would be the most fitting honour for Kirsty after her dazzling Olympics
performance where she scooped broze, silver and a gold medal.....and most of
you said she should be given a FARM! The irony was not lost, scores of white
commercial farmers have been displaced by President Robert Mugabe under
a controversial land resettlement scheme.
Below are some of your comments
which New Zimbabwe.com will be forwarding to Kirsty:
minister of sports or simply give her a farm," Michael Chirawu, Nottingham,
"Kirsty, you have done our country proud!!! The only way to honour
this young, patriotic lady is by naming a Swimming Academy after her.
Keep the spirit," Tivy, Harare
"Let them show by action that they are
really proud of her. I believe the farms are still there if they are not
greedy!! Thanks to Kirsty," McDee, Cape Town
"That was awesome, now
run for the President of Zimbabwe and see how much we love you.You can
rewrite another piece of History gal," Munya Maumbe, Lansing, MI,
"First I am so proud to be Zimbabwean at this moment after Kirsty's
triumph at the Olympics. That girl is a treasure and of course a
blessing to us Zimbabweans, who are continuously regarded in bad light
these days," Proud Zimuto
"Bob we need people who are capable of
producing results like KIRSTY not War Vets who destroy with the help of your
ministers, e.g Moyo, Chigwedere," Thomas Dube
"Name a street after
her in Harare and Bulawayo," Nkosana Mkandla, Michigan, USA
be the most fitting honour Zimbabwe can give to Coventry? Send your comments
to firstname.lastname@example.org (Please
state your full name and where you are writing from) "Like any other
Zimbabwean she is "proud " to be Zimbabwean. Only misguided few think of
farms and other material earthly things. If she is Zimbabwean she will soon
be blessed in a different way like being invited to play in the first
Zimbabwean film or any other befiting positions. She is not a farmer, she is
an athlete. She can be given freedom to all swimming pools thats befitting
of her medal. You have done us great honour! You are a champion. You are
"I am so moved and happy because of Kirsty's
achievement and the way she has proudly represented Zimbabwe despite the
challenges the country is currently going through. I believe that she is was
not representing politics but true patriotism, so please lets not spoil
this glorious moment for anybody who is Zimbabwean at heart, whether at
home or abroad by insisting on mentioning the names and activities of
persons raping and killing the country. Thank you Kirsty this moment is
yours and Congratulations girl," Florence Msipa, UK
Kirsty," Selina Ruguva
"I believe there is no better way of honouring
Kirsty than for the stubborn government to acknowledge that white or black,
Zimbabweans have a lot to learn from each other. I am talking of uncle Bob
calling for a press conference and maybe even invite the BBC and CNN and
declare an end of hostilities against the minority whites. Just as we (the
black majority) had a lot to learn from the white farmers if we had
distributed the properly, there is also a lot to learn from such rare talent
like Kirsty. However, as we all know our leaders, it's just a matter of time
before Kirsty is labelled another rebel, mark my words. Just take a look at
the ongoing cricket saga. These guys who are today calling the players all
sorts of names are the very same guys who were once singing and dancing on
the cricket team's success during the good days. This is why I don't
think giving her a farm will work. It will be just a matter of time
before they violently take it back. I doubt very much that Kirsty will
even be for that idea. Well done girl," Walter P, Auckland, New
"Why not reward Kirsty for her three Olympic
medals by giving her a farm?," Stefan Dyk, British Columbia,
"Well done Kirsty.That's a talent that God gave you and i trully
appreciate what you did for yourself and secondly to the nation.
Zimbabwe shines today because you polished. Nevertheles, swimming is a
professional sport that should never be taken or abused by meagre sensed
individuals posing on a political forum. WELL DONE Kirsty," Kudzanai K,
"You are our Zimbabwean gem Kirsty.The best honour for you and
the people of Zimbabwe would be for the Mugabe regime to withdraw the
two draconian legislations infringing on the operations of the press so
that the Daily News can write true facts about your performance at the
Olympics and one on NGOs so that you can assist one charitable organization
with your well deserved foreign currency," Geoffrey Ndibali, Montreal,
"Land," Fortunate Bango
"Mugabe should just shut up because
he has nothing to cheer about! Coventry's victory is for Zimbabwe and as far
as l know, Mugabe does not like Zimbabwe. To honour this gallant daughter of
Zimbabwe, all roads named after Robert Mugabe should be changed to Kirsty
Coventry....how about that?," Costa Mavhima, Bulawayo
"Good job girl.
Let's name the Chitungwiza Swimming pool after her. Apa ndopanorohwa maoka.
Keep the flag flying," Isaac Nyamanza, USA
"I am happy and ashamed at the
same time coz one day we are castigating the white person and the next day
we applaud as the same white person does us proud" Ken Ruwona, Mt
Pleasant, Harare "I watched the heroica of Kirsty Coventry from start to
finish and I must say that I was greatly moved. The most fitting honour for
Kirsty, I got it right, is for her country to turn around again, that
is: for Mugabe to recognize the wishes of the people and free them from
bondage. As a black Zimbabwean living abroad, at times I must admit, have
almost renounced my Zimbabwean citizenship in embarassment, but after seeing
Kirsty, I am happy again to be Zimbambwean. I therefore appeal to Mugabe to
issue Kirsty with a diplomatic passport and give back her parents' farm,"
Canaan Ncube, Italy
"She deserves to be put in the sports hall of
"True Zimbabwean spirit showing no colour.....Good for you and
Nation. Give her a farm in Mazoe," Mbiri Cardozo, Harare
two farms and a new public swimming pool named in her honour would be a
fitting tribute. She chose to represent Zimbabwe when she could have easily
moved to any other country like most Kenyans and Ethiopians on feeble
grounds of not being supported at home," The Chatimbas, UK
the invincible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible, well done
girl. At least we all felt like Zimbabweans for the first time in years,"
"Ini ndiri pano paNewZealand ndinoti mwanasikana uyu
ngaapuhwe PURAZI risina intafiyerensi from ovets," Criss Zimuto, New
"Coventry ngaapuwe munda," L Mangwanda, UK
please help me answer these questions: a) So a white Zimbabwean is only
accepted as Zimbabwean when he/she excels in sport, or does something extra
ordinary? b) So there really exist WHITE Zimbabweans? I have heard a lot of
talk from our beloved politicians saying that there were no white
Zimbabweans, the reason why white Zimbabwean farmers have been and are
still being chased away. I will be grateful if I could receive an answer to
these questions," Albert Zamu Maputo, Mozambique
"Here back home we
are very proud of you Kirsty. She should get the freedom of the two cities ,
street named after her or even kutomurongera the KIRSTY GALA .Everywhere
here at our usual social places naya yegold yanetsa vanhu vari kufara," B.M
"In moments like this when all seems to be dark, we need
heroes to rise. Rise Kirsty rise, and keep on rising like a star that you
are. What a conqueror you are. What a conqueror. Zimbabwe honours you
child. No honour in Zimbabwe is fitting for this warrrior princess. We
are forever greatful," Edson Mukundwi, Sheffield, England
"Let me join
every other Zimbabwean in congratulating you, girl. We all watched with our
hearts and prayers with you. Every stride you made was cheered as though we
were right by the pool side and you could hear our shouts. At the end of the
day you have chosen to ignore the troubles in our land and done what you do
best. You displayed a maturity beyond your age against opponents with the
facilities and stability in their nations that you know are non- existent
back home. I think it is not for people to say who has the right to praise
you or what you should get in return but it is up to you to say why you did
it, how you did it, what you want in exchange or who you dedicate it to. I
know now that whatever you say about all this will be said with the wisdom
and maturity far beyond your age. If ever there was a selfless person in our
country, you have outshone them. My shining star," Ashley Millin, UNITED
"I am happy and ashamed at the same time coz one day we are
castigating the white person and the next day we applaud as the same
white person does us proud as a nation.as an apology and vote of thanks
to her the least we can do for her is to redistribute land to her-it`s the
least we can do,and give back herparents` farm to them too!!!!land is all we
have," Ken Ruwona, Mt Pleasant, Harare
"You go girl !!! Kirsty Conventry
you have made us so proud and you have shown people that zimbabwe is for all
races. Streets or buldings should be named after you girl because you
deserve it. Thanks," Ruth Tedd and family, UK
"If we all stop
criticising each other for a moment, we will or should realise that there is
not a single Zimbawean who is not proud of Kirsty. For the first time since
haven knows when, we all agree on something. And maybe we should take a leaf
from her book. Because inspite of all the problems, be they racial,
political or what ever one chooses to brand them, with her talent and skill
she could have changed her citizenship because I'm sure even from past
performances in for example the Commonwealth Games plenty of western nations
were and are willing to snatch her up, but no!!!!!!!! she's chosen to
represent her beloved Zimbabwe. How many us can proudly stand up and say
we are Zimbabwean today especially those of us in the UK????Very few. So
Kirsty has not only excelled as a sports person but she is one of the few
true Zimbabweans left, an endangered species or a Pangolin remember how we
used to celebrate when one was found wondering around. Give her a Diplomatic
Passport, name the Aquatic complex after her and if she wants put her in
charge of sports! Well done Kirsty!!!," Talent N, UK
Coventry you made us proud .You are special.May GOD BLESS YOU.Thank you,"
"Well done young lady you have something wonderful.
Zvinonyadzisa Mugabe kusimudzirwa flag ne murungu waarikudzinga. KIRSTY YOU
MUST GET A FARM," M Cheuka, London, UK
"A1, A2 and A3 (not the
writing pads) but farms, by the way is there A4!?," Cloudios Takawira,
"I was filled with partriotism to see one of our country girls
against all odds do us proud . The biased commentator qoute "Zimbabwe my
goodness of all the countries -swimming pool!" the implication was we do not
have swimming pools for practice - what of the gold on the Queen`s crown ?
Give her Kintyre farm," Fellex Maurayi, Liberton, Edinburgh,
"Well done girl. Let us unite and call the the swimming pool in
Chitungwiza Kirsty Coventry swimming Pool," Shane White, New
"A perfect example of a competent and patriotic Zimbabwean.We got
so many of such Zimbabweans, even in Agriculture Mr President," Gorejena
C Kupenya, UK
What will be the most fitting honour Zimbabwe can give to
Coventry? Send your comments to email@example.com (Please state your
full name and where you are writing from) "Kirsty, we are all proud of
you. You go girl! I salute you with all humility. God bless you, and keep
your inner spirit motivated the way you are from the outside! You have made
every Zimbabwean proud, black or white. Be blessed, and it is a joy to send
you my congratulatory message Kristy! You are positive, you are a jewel,
and I admire your talent! Keep up the good work. You have shown that the
Woman of Zimbabwe can do it, the daughter of Zimbabwe can do it, and the
Child of God can do it, whether born in the North Pole or South Pole.
Kristy, good job. You make all of us want to come back home today, not
tomorrow! We love you Kristy, and congratulations to your dad, and
congratulations to your mum, congratulations to your sisters and brothers,
congratulations to your coach, congratulations to your religious leader, and
hey, congratualtions to ALL Zimbabweans. ngazana/chimhandara/senorita
Kristy/madame' Kristy/girl friend "We Love You, We Love You!"
Congratulations to thy dearself Kristie. Tatenda/Thanks," Mercy
Tsiwo-Chigubu in Georgia, USA
"Give her a farm," Edward
"The young girl deserves a farm to herself and family. This is
the only other tool that Mugabe can use to prove that he is not the
racist we see him to be. I know of no better way to thank her," Mduduzi
KaTauzen Gumbo, Alberta
"LAND -PURAZI," - Simba
"Redistribute land for Coventry," Wilberforce Majaji
deserves to be given the freedom of the city of Harare and the road to the
National Sports Stadium should be named after her. Chitungwiza Aquatic
Centre should also be named after her. Mugabe must not get milage out of her
achievement. Well done Coventry," Takudzwa Mutepfa
"Kirsty we love
You!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, we have been hearing about the golden girls of
Hockey at the year which i was Born 1980, but now we will be talking about a
Golden Girl 24 years after those girls. All I can say to Kirsty is 'girl you
have done us PROUD regardless of what we are facing today, you are aware of
what Imean. We have got somthing to smile aboout. KIRSTY, KIRSTY, YOU HAVE
HAVE DONE PROUD NDINODA KUSHAMULA NEWE POSE PAURI!!!!!!!!!," Gift
"Give her the freedom of the cities of Harare and Bulawayo. Or
have street names on her behalf in these two cities," Godwill
"Hi Kirsty, well done gorgeous we all love you as a people and a
nation. You are a pure hero and a warrior. Tears of joy ran down my
cheeks when i watched you clinch that medal..oh what a talent..Zimbabwe
loves you and will always do.," Madzibaba Tyrage, Canterbury UK
done girlfriend . May the good Lord bless you," Sharon Mukombwe
us proud girl, go Zim go!!. from all of us here in Canada. Lowly rated Zim,
is for awhile ahead of Canada in medals collection. Thank you Zim girl. Hey,
we still on the map," Stanley Chivizhe
"I hope her parents havana
kutorerwa farm. Nick Price once did this only to find back home his farm had
been taken away.Otherwise well done girl," Njuma, USA
little girl. Zvinonyadzisa seyi Bob kusimudzirwa mureza ne murungu waari
kudzinga munyika," Tsitsi, UK
"Well God has shown to Mugabe that the
promotion of the country does not lie in the black skin. Sure murungu
osimudza here mureza. I think she deserves a place in the Ministry of Sport,
she deserves to be the ambassador for sport," Denford Muzanenhamo,
"Kirsty has done the nation proud and she deserves all the praise
she is getting and this feat has fittingly come after 24yrs this is the
best thing that has happened to Zim ever since 1980 and i think she deserves
a special medal or token of honour to be presented to her on behalf of the
whole country and even a diplomatic passport like Mutola has recieved from
her country.whatever she gets this is a true HEROINE in every sense of the
word.Well done kirsty thank-you and we love you" Ernest Jackson,
"Mugabe and Made should Give her Munda wekurima with farm
inputs (SEED, Fertilizers, Tractors etc plus a hefty loan from The Land
Bank (Agribank) (interest free) also Mugabe should remove one guy from
the list for an honorary doctorate from the University of Zimbabwe and give
it to Kirsty (immediately). Well done Kirsty, you did our country proud,"
Taurai M. Mutanda, South Africa
"I think Zimbabwe MUST do the
following for our dear Kirsty Coventry: Give her a handsome amount in $ US,
Re-name the Aquatic complex in Chitungwiza after her, Undertake to foot the
bill for ALL of her study and boarding expenses wherever she may be. Well
done girl," Chenjerai Mutumbi, Hungary
"Kirsty should be treated like
any other Zimbabwean and as such no special treatment should be prefered to
her.She has shown patriotism in her national duty and will always be
remembered for her excellent contribution.Zimbabwe inyika yemunhu wese ane
mvumo yekugaramo muchena kana mupfumbu naizvozvo uyu mwana igamba redu
mukutuwina," Andrew Koundo, Botswana
"Whats the highest possible
honour zimbawe has to offer ?? I guess if she was British then she will be a
dame . Well done Kirsty, you are such a star," Desmond Maruziva,
"No doubt about it, she deserves honor, praise and support for such
a sterling job. We are a proud nation because of her stunning heroics,
what more can you ask for! Come on Zimbabwe lets be real!! All 3 medals
Zimbabwe has so far are from her alone, come on Zimbabwe give praise were
its due!! Name some streets in Harare and Bulawayo in her honor, and give
her the freedom of these cities, and most importantly if Mugabe and
Zimbabweans are real -GIVE HER A FARM!!," Sherlock Sipho Mafu, North
"Well.............the girl has done us proud....she is the
greatest.........the best gift we can give her is a farm.........mupei
minda miviri............one for farming and another wokuzadza nemaswimming
pool chete chete ........swimming academy ka!!!!!!!!!!," Murehwa
"Kirsty deserves to be awarded the keys to the city of Harare and
the city of Bulawayo. She has won the right to be free in all of
Zimbabwe and there is no better way to show our appreciation than to
give her freedom in our major cities. Naming a couple of streets and
major buildings after her wouldn't hurt. Of cause establishing an
Olympic drive to get lots of Zimbabweans to future Olympics with her as
the major driver would be very noble. What an amazing achievement for her
and the country. Congtratulations!!!," Cato D
Amhlophe ntombi emhlophe.
You are a true star and a pillar of strength kithi sonke abosendo lwe
ZIMBABWE. Uliqhawekazi njalo uyisibonelo kubontanga. WENZE OKWEHLULA
ABANENGI," Oka Siziba, UK
"I wish to suggest that Kirsty Coventry be
given a Benz Kompressor in honour of her clinching 3 medals at the
Olympics.her performance just deserves it. Pleased," Tongai
"She deserves to lead the nation in sports....
POWERFULL!!!!!!!!," Bernard Chiduku, Botswana
"I am a Zimbabwean
living abroad and was really touched by the performance of this sensational
girl Kirsty Coventry. I am rather buffled by Mugabe's comments that she is a
real ambassador for the country given his skewed belief that whites are not
Zimbabweans. The most fitting gift for Kirsty Coventry is the kicking out of
Robert Mugabe and his geriatricks and chalatans from office in the next
elections, so that Kirsty and all other sportspersons compete in such
tournaments in honour," Black Zimbabwean
"I'm proud to be
Zimbabwean,thanks Kristy u put Zimbabwe in the spotlight for something good
for a change! woo! what a feat! we r truly proud of u,u should get a farm
for that surely,where you can come and unwind whenever you go to Zim,"
Masimba Murisa, Toronto
"Iyi ndiyo spirit ye Zimbabwe. We are fighters
whether we are black or white . My tears are nearly dropping because of the
love I have for you Kirsty. This girl MUST be given a farm , Ivhu
chairo.Congratulations, She deserves it," Exaviour Samuriwo, Sydney,
"Usiphakamisile dadewethu. Siyabonga kakhulu. Sonke
siyaziqhenya ngawe. Ingathi iNkosi ingakubusisa okuphindwe kanenginengi.
Well we should give her Inhlonipho lamasimu," Fundisani Mangena
done mwana wevhu.You are white and still proud to be Zimbabwean and in fact
you have made all the Zimbabweans proud.Thanks a lot, dedicate your GOLD
MEDAL to Mugabe and tell him to bring peace into the country," Bob C
Bingepinge, Montreal, Canada
"I am surprised that the government is so
happy that this white girl has done our country proud whilst at the same
time the ruling party is in the process of chasing away whites and closing
down private schools saying that they symbolize colonialism. Why play double
standards ? Coventry is a product of the Dominican Convent. I wonder why
we dont have the patriotic products form the Border Gezi training institute
competing in Athens. Food for thought," Chenharo Masimba Dehwa,
"VaChigwedere mainyarira pai kudai makaenda. VaMugabe
hamusi kunyara here kuona Zimbabwe ichisimudzirwa mureza nehama yaTony
Blair....ko Jonathan Moyo......zvakaoma...Kirsty you are a star...well well
done.. Chipi, Pittsburgh, USA
"Well done a patriot zimbabwean with a
true and heroic heart of Zimbabwe at heart. Our hearts are with you in this
moment of joy and pride," Ryan Mutsvene
"Well Kirsty, you have shown
the President that Zimbabwe is full of talent. Hope the President won't
meddle with the swimming team like what they did with cricket," Arfan
"The young girl must get a farm. Designate one from Aka Prof
Mafikizolo Nyamhanza and resistribute to the young girl," Rodger
"Change chitungwiza aquatic centre,name it to kirsty coventry
aquatic centre," Robert Martin, Mufakose
"Munda ku mhandara
anoshandika naye. Ngaachishanda naVaChigwedere mukusimudzira sport munyika,"
"I think this is an eye opener to you all that it is wrong
chasing our born and bred lovely white Zimbabweans from our country, be
they racist or not we still love them because in this world there is no
place where racism does not exist but we all have to maintain love and at
the end we all will get there. If Coventry was racist she wouldnt have
represented Zimbabwe but she is a daughter of the soil that's why she is
ours. Bob you better change your way of doing things. We love you Kirsty
putting us on the mark and we will give your name to Chitungiza Aquatic
Center for sure," Nhopiyataidza, Canada
"You go girl, congratulations.
You have given us memories to wash away our miseries and sorrows and have
hope in life. Thank you," Thabiso Gama, Toronto, Canada
Kirsty for not only winning those medals but for having the courage to
represent your country espeacially during this very diificult time of
political tension. The last gold medal was won 1980 when Mugabe came into
power and now 24 years later Kirsty has won another one as Mugabe is about
to leave, how ironic," Fadziso Maenzanise, UK
"Well done Kirsty we
are really proud of you, you must get a farm from Mugabe, keep it up,"
Tadiwa Cheuka, London, UK
"GIVE HER A FARM INSTEAD OF GIVING THE OLD
MADALAZ. MUNDA NDIZVO," CJ
"How else could you award her? My familly came
up with the farm idea when she grabbed the second medal. So that is what she
should get. If her parents had a farm of theirs seized it should be returned
without fail," Thoko, Bolton, England
"Makorokoto.You go Girl,You
made us proud to be zimbabweans. VaMugabe you must: Give mwana uyu a red
carpet welcome upon her return home.(hero's welcome ine madzimai enyu
emusangano), rename the Chitungwiza swimming complex in her honour, rename a
few streets after her, give her a farm (PURAZI) rake risina ma war vets.
Hamunyare kusimudzirwa mureza wenyika nemurungu wamurikudzinga
muniyika," J Ndlovu, Ohio, USA
"WELL DONE KIRSTY !!!!!!!!!!!
WANYADZISA BOB. MUGABE GIVE HER A DIPLOMATIC PASSPORT, SHE IS A TRUE
AMBASSADOR KWETE ZVAANA CHINAMASA. THANKS AGAIN WELL DONE," Shapilo Chid,
"Let us stand up to the champion. Komwana waani iyeye? Whose
daughter is she? Uyu ngatimupei Zim 1," Method Matete, Africa
Zimbabwe puts aside racial tensions to give hero's
HARARE, Zimbabwe -
Zimbabwe put aside an official hate campaign against the nation's tiny white
community Wednesday and hailed its triple-medal-winning Olympic swimmer
Kirsty Coventry as "a national treasure."
Coventry, who is white and
trains at Auburn University, won gold, silver and bronze medals in swimming
events at the Athens Games.
Tribal dancers, beating drums and gyrating in
mesh skirts and animal skins, greeted the swimmer at the main Harare
Airport, along with hundreds of chanting fans waving banners describing her
as "Our Golden Girl, Our Heroine."
"We never expected this," said
Coventry's coach, Peter Dalzell. "The welcome has been somewhat
Paul Chingoka, head of the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee,
spoke of "tears of joy" when the Zimbabwe anthem was played and the
national flag was raised three times.
"Never before has Zimbabwe been
in such a situation," he said. "Kirsty is our national treasure. I don't
have enough words to say about her. We just went berserk - we went
Coventry, 20, who has been studying in the United States for
three years, spoke in a distinctive American accent.
"I am so full of
pride and feel honored so many people have come out to see me," she said. "I
am very excited to be given a chance to come home and share it with everyone
The Zimbabwe Olympic Committee said Coventry had been scheduled to
fly directly to the United States from Athens but quickly agreed to a
stopover in Harare.
The country's diminishing 30,000-strong white
community has been the target of vitriolic political attacks by President
Robert Mugabe and ruling party officials.
Whites are repeatedly
accused of supporting and bankrolling opposition to Mugabe and have been
threatened with arrest and deportation.
Coventry herself, speaking in
Athens, referred only briefly to her homeland's political and economic
turmoil, saying she hoped conditions would soon improve.
THE Beira-Mutare-Harare oil pipeline is now fully
operational after being under-utilised for two years, a development that is
expected to result in the reduction of import costs, the oil industry said
The pipeline has been under-utilised because of financial
constrains although it is a far cheaper way of transporting fuel compared to
The Petrol Marketers' Association of Zimbabwe,
the oil dealers' representative body, said it was now close to achieving its
intended target, the acquisition of foreign currency from the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe auction system to import bulk fuel on behalf of the oil
"The industry should soon be in a position to utilise the
pipeline fully. This will ultimately be of great benefit not only to the oil
industry, but also to the man in the street," the industry said.
to a variety of reasons, insufficient fuel was being piped and road
transport became the only alternative."
The pipeline, it said, had in the
past proved viable when large volumes of fuel were transported.
supplies have remained steady during the past week with no shortages of
leaded petrol, unleaded petrol or diesel being reported.
RURAL district councils (RDCs) have been ordered to put a
stop to the wanton destruction of forests by newly resettled farmers and to
take planning as a serious instrument that should inform the development
The Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National
Housing, Cde Ignatius Chombo, made the remarks when he officially closed the
first biennial conference of the Association of Rural District Councils
of Zimbabwe in Nyanga on Friday.
His comments come in the wake of serious
depletion of forests and indiscriminate burning of velds by new farmers,
most of whom do so as a quick and easy way to earn a living.
farmers, it has been discovered, lack an appreciation of the importance of
forests and the wildlife that is subsequently destroyed by the veld
"Government is worried by the uncontrolled felling of trees and
veld fires. This situation cannot be allowed to go on unchecked as it
would appear the land reform programme has brought in its wake a serious
deforestation predicament," he said.
Cde Chombo said neatly stacked lots
of firewood being sold by new farmers are now a common sight along the
He said it was disturbing that rural district
councils were ignoring the destruction of the forests.
regard, colleagues, I am directing all rural district councils in no
uncertain terms to ensure that this nefarious practice stops
"I also request esteemed provincial Governors and Resident
Ministers to assist in putting paid to this aberration," he said.
Chombo said RDCs should reposition themselves to play a more pivotal and
robust role in land administration and at the same time ensuring that sound
natural resource management practices are totally ingrained in sub-council
development structures and the communities.
He said because of the
huge constraints affecting service delivery, Government was actively
considering that land tax should accrue to RDCs as a way of boosting the
revenue base of local authorities.
Cde Chombo said RDCs, as
sub-structures of central Government, should work to achieve Government
"Decentralised governance does not imply absolute autonomy, but
load- sharing between spheres of governance, for our perception of
decentralised governance is informed by our conviction that spheres, and
not tiers, of governance that are closest to the communities, are in a
better position to decode and encode signals arising from desires and
aspirations of our communities," he said.
He urged RDCs to ensure that
communal areas are decongested through proper planning.
senior Government officials, including Vice-President Joseph Msika, attended
"Some of us knew that the real reason he did not
attend the burial was because he had fallen out of favour with Zvobgo and
the hatred extended to the wife, even in death"
The Politburo of
the ruling Zanu PF has declared that veteran nationalist Eddison Zvobgo, who
died over the weekend be buried at the National Heroes Acre. President
Robert Mugabe delivered a moving condolence message on Monday when he
visited the late nationalist's home in Harare to pay his last respects.
However, some relatives of the late legal expert said that Mugabe had not
forgiven the late firebrand politician for publicly criticising some of his
policies and challenging his continued rule. The relatives said yesterday
that Zvobgo had become isolated from Mugabe because of the critical
comments he made about government policies. The relationship between the
two former wartime allies worsened when Zvobgo openly declared his
presidential ambitions, sources said. Mugabe, the sources said, also
believed that Zvobgo was behind the call made in parliament by Dzikamai
Mavhaire calling on him to step down. Mavhaire and Zvobgo were close
"Mugabe's feelings towards Zvobgo were a mixture of fear and
hatred. He feared that Zvobgo was scheming against him and he never forgave
him for that. The President did not even visit Zvobgo during all his
illness, even when it became clear that Zvobgo's sickness was worsening.
But Zvobgo was not surprised because he knew Mugabe's feelings towards him.
Mugabe is the kind of person who doesn't forgive or forget easily," said a
senior ruling party official who did not want to be named. Zvobgo, a
Harvard-trained lawyer and founder member of Zanu PF died on Sunday in
Harare after a long illness. Mugabe and Zvobgo were close allies during and
after Zimbabwe's liberation war. Zvobgo played a prominent role during the
liberation struggle and was a crucial player at the Lancaster House
constitutional talks in London in 1979. After independence, he
masterminded the executive presidency that Mugabe enjoys now. But the
two erstwhile allies later fell out of favour after Zvobgo became
increasingly critical of Mugabe's rule. This resulted in Mugabe dropping
Zvobgo from his cabinet and the politburo, Zanu PF's supreme policy
At the time of his death, Zvobgo was facing a party
disciplinary hearing for allegedly campaigning for the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) and de-campaigning Mugabe ahead of the 2002
presidential elections. Zvobgo openly criticised the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order
and Security Act (POSA) as draconian. The laws, which have been used to
close down newspapers and ban opposition meetings during the last three
years, have formed the backbone of Mugabe's grip on power. It was not
possible to get a comment from the President's office yesterday. But sources
said Mugabe's hatred of Zvobgo was also underlined by the 80-year-old
leader's failure to attend the burial of Zvobgo's wife, Julia in February.
Julia was the third heroine after Sally Mugabe and Joanna Nkomo to be buried
at the national shrine. Mugabe failed to attend the burial claiming that
he was suffering from minor chest pains. Yet he had attended his birthday
bash only a day before Julia Zvobgo's burial. "Some of us knew that the real
reason he did not attend the burial was because he had fallen out of favour
with Zvobgo and the hatred extended to the wife, even in death. He has
attended all burials at Heroes Acre if he is in the country but Amai
Zvobgo's became an exception," said the ruling party official.