By Tichaona Sibanda
25 August 2008
The national chairman of the MDC-Tsvangirai, Lovemore Moyo, was on Monday
elected the new speaker of parliament, making him the first non-Zanu PF
speaker since Independence. Moyo is a 43 year-old former liberation war hero
and his landmark victory gives the MDC control of one of the most powerful
posts in the country. As MP for Matobo in Matabeleland South, Moyo took 110
votes against 98 for Paul Themba Nyathi, the only other candidate, who was
fielded by the Mutambara MDC.
Zanu-PF did not put up it's own candidate and backed Nyathi. When it was
announced that Moyo had won after secret balloting, it sparked joyful scenes
among MDC MPs in parliament, who sang and cheered 'Zanu is rotten.' Party
leader Morgan Tsvangirai phoned Moyo upon hearing news of his election to
congratulate him, according to his spokesman George Sibotshiwe.
In his acceptance speech the new speaker said parliament would 'cease to be
a rubber stamping house. It'll ensure that progressive laws are passed.'
Parliamentary business had started in the morning with the swearing-in
ceremony of the legislators. MDC members sat on the side usually occupied by
ZANU-PF, heckling members of the party by shouting: 'You sit on that side.
You are now in the opposition.'
MDC MP for Mbare in Harare, Piniel Denga, told Newsreel ZANU-PF legislators
looked subdued and were in a sombre mood.
'It was clear to them power was slowly shifting because few of them spoke,
most looked down and many were pale-faced,' Denga said. There are strong
suspicions that four ZANU-PF MPs voted for Moyo in the secret ballot. MDC
Tsvangirai has 100 MPs, 99 were present for the vote. Zanu-PF has 99,
Mutambara's faction has 10 seats and there is one independent.
An MDC insider told Newsreel that voting went according to plan as they
expected five MPs from ZANU-PF to vote for them. The insider said votes from
the Mutambara camp were assured late last week following a 'constructive
meeting' they held with the respective MPs from the Matebeleland region.
'We were assured of the 7 votes from the Mutambara faction, but we also knew
we would not have support from three of their MPs,' said the insider. The
voting pattern reveals growing divisions in the Mutambara camp, after their
MPs dumped their party candidate Nyathi to vote for Moyo.
Earlier the MDC's position had looked precarious when two of its MPs were
detained by police on arrival at parliament, in what the party described as
'ZANU-PF's sinister agenda' to rig the parliamentary vote in it's favour.
The two - Shuwa Mudiwa, MP for Mutare West and Eliah Jembere, MP for
Epworth - were later released, but only one returned to vote.
Moyo's election strengthens Tsvangirai's hand in stalled negotiations with
Robert Mugabe on the formation of a government of national unity.
He is one of the negotiators at the power-sharing talks between ZANU-PF and
the two MDC's. The married father of three was born on 29th January 1965 in
Muthe village, Matobo
His political activism dates back to 1977 when he joined the liberation
struggle under ZAPU's military wing and was based in Zambia. He joined the
MDC at its formation in 1999 and was elected MP for Matobo in 2000 and
re-elected in 2005. He won again during the harmonized elections held in
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe suffered a major blow to his attempts to
hold on to power when an MP from Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic
Change was elected as speaker of parliament.
By Sebastien Berger, Southern Africa Correspondent and Peta Thornycroft in
Last Updated: 6:58PM BST 25 Aug 2008
In a stunning upset Lovemore Moyo, chairman of Mr Tsvangirai's MDC faction,
defeated Paul Themba Nyathi, of the smaller MDC grouping led by Arthur
Mutambara, by 110 votes to 98.
Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party did not put up a candidate itself, instead
ordering its newly sworn-in MPs to support the Mutambara faction's man. Mr
Mugabe will undoubtedly have been infuriated by the result.
The indications are that Mr Mugabe had been hoping to engineer a deal with
Mr Mutambara's faction to exclude Mr Tsvangirai from a government of
national unity, and that enough of its MPs would support the government in
parliament to enable it to function.
As of yesterday, those plans are in ruins. In Zimbabwean politics the
speakership is a powerful role, with the ability to determine parliament's
agenda, and the octogenarian leader now faces the prospect of having to deal
with a lower house fully controlled by his opponents if he decides to
abandon the deadlocked negotiations being brokered by the South African
president Thabo Mbeki and form a government of his own.
"Whatever game plan Mugabe had has been complicated and this greatly
diminishes his capacity to form a cabinet and govern," said Eldred
Masunungure, professor of politics at the University of Zimbabwe. "Mugabe is
seriously weakened and he and Zanu-PF will have to take the negotiations
David Coltart, a lawyer and senator for Mr Mutambara's MDC, added: "This is
highly significant because it means Zanu-PF have lost the legislative
control of parliament. It shows there is a determination throughout the
opposition that there should not be any two-party arrangement with Zanu-PF
and it will force president Mbeki to take Morgan Tsvangirai's concerns more
The house of assembly, which is reminiscent of the House of Commons with its
wood panelling and green leather benches, was standing-room- only for the
vote, despite two MDC MPs being arrested before they could be sworn in - the
opposition has raised fears that Zanu-PF will try to circumvent its majority
by detaining its legislators.
In the parliamentary poll earlier this year, Mr Tsvangirai's MDC took 100
seats, Mr Mutambara's 10, and Zanu-PF 99, with one independent.
It was the first time Zanu-PF had lost its majority since independence in
Initially the MDC's MPs sat down on the government benches yesterday,
shouting at Zanu-PF representatives: "You sit on that side. You are now in
the opposition." They sang and cheered when Mr Moyo's victory was announced,
hoisting him on to their shoulders.
Zanu-PF was forced to put a brave face on events. The hardline rural housing
minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, a key player in the Gukurahundi massacres of
the 1980s and long seen as a potential successor to Mr Mugabe, congratulated
"Mr Speaker, Sir," he said. "This is a truly historic event and I would
like, on behalf of the president, our party and this side of this august
House, to congratulate you." But in the internecine world of Zimbabwean
politics, the result may actually work in Mr Mnangagwa's favour, by
potentially hastening Mr Mugabe's departure.
The vote for speaker is held by secret ballot, so it is impossible to
determine exactly what went wrong for Mr Mugabe. But it is understood that
eight of Mr Mutambara's MPs rebelled to back Mr Moyo against their own
candidate, as did four members of Zanu-PF.
It is a clear indication of divisions within Zanu-PF. As it happens, Mr
Moyo's mother-in-law Sithembiso Nyoni is a former minister and a senior
member of Mr Mugabe's party, and is understood to have been campaigning
quietly for her relative.
Mon 25 Aug 2008, 17:19 GMT
HARARE, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition MDC said on Monday it
might attend Robert Mugabe's opening of parliament on Tuesday but did not
recognise him as the country's president.
MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti said the party may take part in the
opening out of respect for the new speaker, one of its members, but that
"must not be construed as recognition of Mugabe."
August 25 2008 at 04:29PM
By Nelson Banya
Harare - Police in Zimbabwe arrested two opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) MPs in parliament on Monday and the party responded
by saying it would stop the election of the parliamentary speaker.
Power-sharing talks between Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and Morgan
Tsvangirai's MDC are deadlocked about what the opposition says is the
veteran Zimbabwean leader's refusal to give up executive power.
The MDC also said President Robert Mugabe's appointment of three
non-constituency parliamentarians were a threat to the talks which began a
"Clearly they have chosen the path of arrogance, unilateralism that's
a serious blow to confidence building in the talks," said Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) spokesperson Nelson Chamisa.
The MDC said its two MPs were arrested as they entered the
parliamentary building and police also attempted to arrest another MDC MP
but he was rescued by other parliamentarians.
MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said the opposition party will prevent
the election of a parliamentary speaker to be held later on Monday.
"We are not going to allow the election to go ahead without our
members, even a single one. We will not allow them to rig this process,"
There was no immediate comment from police on the arrests. Soon after
the March elections, police announced a manhunt for several MDC politicians
over charges of murder, rape and electoral violence.
Parliament began swearing in MPs, including those of the MDC, in
groups of 10 despite the arrests of the two opposition lawmakers, a Reuters
Opposition and ruling party MPs exchanged light-hearted exchanges and
taunts across the floor in front of a packed public gallery.
Mugabe appointed three members of parliament's upper house, the
Senate, and eight provincial governors, state media said.
Mugabe intends to officially open parliament on Tuesday despite
protests by Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) that this would scuttle negotiations on forming a unity government to
end the current political impasse.
Tsvangirai maintains that a power-sharing agreement is being held up
by Mugabe's refusal to give up executive powers. Mugabe says Tsvangirai
wants to strip him of all authority.
The MDC won 100 seats in March elections and Zanu-PF 99, a breakaway
MDC faction has 10 seats and there is one independent seat.
Whoever the breakaway MDC faction of Arthur Mutambara sides with gets
an effective majority in the legislative chamber.
Western countries, key to the funding that Zimbabwe needs to emerge
from economic collapse, have said they would only recognise a government led
Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a first round presidential vote in March
but without an absolute majority. Mugabe won a run-off election in June
which was boycotted by Tsvangirai over political violence which he said
killed over 120 MDC supporters.
Mugabe has often accused Tsvangirai of being a puppet of the United
States and former colonial power Britain and ignoring Western sanctions he
blames for Zimbabwe's economic decline.
Both Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the MDC under intense pressure from within
Africa and around the world to reach an agreement that will pave the way for
rebuilding Zimbabwe's devastated economy.
Zimbabwe's inflation rate rocketed to about 11-million percent in June
and chronic food, fuel and foreign currency shortages are worsening.
Aug 25, 2008, 11:24 GMT
Harare - Zimbabwe's parliament was sworn in Monday five months after it was
elected, in a ceremony marred by a police crackdown on the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change.
Police detained two members of parliament from the MDC when they arrived at
parliament to be sworn into their posts, the party said in a statement.
Shua Mudiwa, MP for Mutare West, was later released and returned to
parliament ahead of a tense vote for speaker, but Eliah Jembere, MP for
Epworth, who was apparently one of seven MDC MPs on a police 'wanted' list
was still in detention.
The MDC had expressed fears the state might move to arrest some of its MPs
to shrink its numbers ahead of the vote.
'Clearly the sinister agenda of this regime is to tilt the balance of
numbers in their favour during the voting for the speaker of parliament,'
the party said.
Mudiwa and Jembere had been among the nearly 10 MDC MPs detained, and later
released, in recent months as part of what the MDC says is an attempt by
President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF to overturn its defeat in parliamentary
elections in March.
On Tuesday Mugabe will convene parliament despite warnings from the MDC that
to do so will kill talks between Zanu-PF and two MDC factions - the majority
one led by Tsvangirai and a breakaway faction led by Arthur Mutambara.
Those talks are currently deadlocked over how Mugabe and Tsvangirai would
share power if, as proposed, Mugabe remains president and Tsvangirai becomes
prime minister in a Kenya-style deal aimed at ending months of political
Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara had agreed at the outset of their
negotiations in July not to convene parliament or form a government, 'save
But Mugabe later got the nod to forge ahead from Zimbabwe's neighbours in
the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC).
After being sworn in, the MPs' first act is to choose a speaker. Zanu-PF has
not fielded a candidate, fuelling suspicions it may support Mutambara's
choice of speaker in return for a promise to work with Zanu-PF in
Tsvangirai's MDC has 100 MPs, Zanu-PF has 99, and there is one independent.
Mutambara's faction holds the balance of power with 10 seats.
Talks between the three parties mediated by South African President Thabo
Mbeki stalled earlier this month over what role Tsvangirai and Mugabe would
have in the unity government, with each insisting on having the lion's share
The MDC is calling for Tsvangirai to have complete control of government.
Zanu-PF insists that Mugabe remain executive president.
Mon 25 Aug 2008, 13:13 GMT
HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party has won
the election for presidency of the Zimbabwean upper house of parliament, the
Senate, a parliamentary official said on Monday.
Clerk of parliament Austin Zvoma said ZANU-PF candidate Edna Madzongwe
received 58 votes against 28 votes cast for a candidate from opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change.
By Alex Bell
25 August 2008
A leaked, confidential document, has exposed the Southern African
Development Community's support for Robert Mugabe as Zimbabwe's leader,
after it revealed that SADC leaders sanctioned an agreement that would see
Mugabe remain as head of State and of the government.
Zimbabwe's political rivals left the SADC summit in South Africa a week ago
with the regional leaders, led by South African President Thabo Mbeki,
calling for all "outstanding agreements" to be signed to pave the way for a
new government in Zimbabwe.
With MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai refusing to sign the deal, SADC's call has
sparked widespread speculation that it was backing a deal that supported
Mugabe. The regional body's failure to pressure a signature out of
Tsvangirai reportedly led to Mugabe being given the green light to convene
parliament. SADC's blessing, which allows Mugabe to preside over the opening
of parliament on Tuesday, ran contrary to the spirit and letter of the
Memorandum of Understanding signed by the negotiating parties. The
speculation surrounding SADC's preferred leader has since been justified
with the leaked document exposing that a deal would be fully in Mugabe's
According to The Zimbabwe Standard, who reported on "leaked documents" and
"information gathered from various sources", the unsuccessful deal would
have entrenched Mugabe's grip on power. The documents reportedly show that
Mugabe would remain as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and head of
government, as well as head of state.
The Standard reported that top among Tsvangirai's worries was paragraph 2 of
the document titled Role of the Prime Minister. While the paragraph
stipulated that the prime minister would carry the responsibility to oversee
the formulation of policies by the Cabinet, it also spelt out that
Tsvangirai would not be the man in charge - he would only be "a Member of
the Cabinet and its Deputy Chairperson". This arrangement left Mugabe, in
accordance with the Zimbabwe constitution, as the head of Cabinet. To make
matters worse for Tsvangirai, who had insisted that he heads the cabinet,
according to paragraph 11 he would "report regularly to the president".
Tsvangirai is said to have strongly disagreed with this provision that would
have left him "without adequate authority to engineer economic recovery and
overcome repression". The Standard said Tsvangirai would find himself
undermined if his authority is not spelt out, because if things go wrong he
would be blamed.
Meanwhile, the president, according to sources quoted by The Standard, would
retain broad powers to declare a state of emergency, declare war or make
peace and to grant amnesty. Mugabe would also retain control of the Joint
Operations Command (JOC) which would remain in place, save for a change in
Human rights activist Elinor Sisulu told Newsreel on Monday that such a deal
is "scandalous and cynical" and SADC's support of it is "a serious threat to
the region". She said it is obvious that SADC is putting pressure on
Tsvangirai because he will be a "conduit" for foreign investment. She added
SADC is again setting the wrong precedent and that regional security now
hangs in the balance, because of SADC's support of Mugabe.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Monday, 25 August 2008
By Monkagedi Gaotlhobogwe
The Delegation of the European Commission to Botswana and SADC has condemned
the decision by Robert Mugabe to convene the Zimbabwean Parliament tomorrow.
The delegation said in Gaborone that opening Parliament, when talks between
ZANU-PF and MDC are stalled, will not solve anything. "Everything right now
depends on whether Morgan Tsvangirai is happy with the deal. It is better
not to have a deal than a bad deal. The European Union supports Tsvangirai
in this matter. Our understanding is that the MDC will attend the official
opening only, and will boycott the rest," Phillip Mahieu, the political
advisor in the French embassy in Gaborone said on Saturday. France currently
holds the rotating presidency of the European Commission. "In my view, the
facilitator of the talks (South African President, Thabo Mbeki) should step
back, as he is now the chairman of SADC. He should delegate negotiations to
a wider mandate. He cannot be the chairperson of SADC and the facilitator at
the same time... that will be the logical thing to do. That is my point of
view," Mahieu said.
Botswana Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phandu Skelemani, expressed misgivings
about the opening of the Zimbabwean Parliament. "We are at a loss as to what
good the Parliament will do to serve the people of Zimbabwe. We don't
necessarily have problems with the Zimbabwean Parliament. It was properly
elected. However, if it starts work, as a legislative body led by a
president then we have a problem there, because their electoral process
failed to produce a president. They do not have a president. I'm yet to read
their constitution and understand it, but the opening of Parliament will
also be followed by cabinet appointments, which is done by a president,"
Meanwhile the Chinese embassy in Gaborone, whose head is also China's
representative to SADC, refused to comment on the Zimbabwean issue. "China
doesn't prefer any party politics. All that we are hoping is that whatever
conclusion is reached, it should be for the good of the people," Chinese
embassy's political attachZ Zhijang Zhou said yesterday. "I don't have a lot
to say on internal affairs of a sovereign state. We just hope the talks will
be concluded in a good way... we support mediation efforts by President
Mbeki, and we hope it will be a great success," he said. He added that he
cannot determine whether Tsvangirai is right in insisting that Parliament
must not be convened before the talks are concluded.
August 25, 2008
Statement by Nelson Chamisa, Member of Parliament and Secretary for
Information and Publicity of the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai
THE will of the people of Zimbabwe who voted for change on 29 March today
reverberated in Parliament when elected 110 MPs from across the political
divide voted for MDC national chairman, Lovemore Moyo, as the Speaker of the
7th Parliament of Zimbabwe.
This historic occasion has taken five months to fulfil; with at least 200
Zimbabweans having lost their lives due to political violence while
thousands were brutalised or had their homes burnt.
Hon Moyo won against Paul Themba Nyathi, who polled 98 votes. Nyathi's
candidature was co-sponsored by the unholy alliance of Zanu-PF and Mr
Welshman Ncube, Mr Arthur Mutambara and Jonathan Moyo who tried in vain to
subvert the will of the people.
The MDC extends its profound gratitude all the MPs who voted for Hon Moyo,
including those from Zanu PF and from the other MDC who saw it worthwhile to
reinforce the will of the people as expressed on 29 March. They showed their
strength and desire to be true ambassadors of the people of Zimbabwe. There
is no doubt that the people of Zimbabwe have expressed themselves through
their elected representatives.
Some MPs braved arrest, intimidation and violence to come to Parliament to
give meaning to the people's wishes and aspirations as expressed on 29
March. Parliament has now become a true deliberative platform; the bastion
of real democracy. Today's voting pattern is a harbinger of good things to
come. With unity of purpose, the seventh Parliament will become a vehicle of
bringing change and a new culture in the way the people's affairs are
Today's election shows that the nation is guaranteed of robust debate and a
new era in which Parliament will cease to be a rubber-stamp of the whims of
the executive but becomes a true deliberative platform of the people's
History has been made. The onus is now on Parliament to deal with the people's
affairs taking into cognisance their basic needs for food, jobs, transport,
better health care and education.
We believe that the MPs will come up with a legislative agenda that
addresses the people's needs.
God is on our side. The people are on our side. History is on our side. The
people shall govern.
Mon 25 Aug 2008, 13:03 GMT
Aug 25 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition party on Monday won the vote
for parliament speaker, dealing a blow to President Robert Mugabe in a
post-election power struggle.
The Movement for Democratic Change's Lovemore Moyo, 43, takes one of the
most powerful positions in Zimbabwean politics.
Here are some details about Moyo:
* He was national chairman of the Movement for Democratic Change and won 110
votes in the 210-member assembly, beating a candidate from a breakaway
* Moyo was born in 1965. At the age of 12, he left the rural district of
Matobo in Matabeleland for Zambia to help liberate Rhodesia from white
* He stayed in Zambia for several years and whilst there, received military
training for one of the liberation movements, ZAPU. The group was led by
Joshua Nkomo, a rival of Mugabe.
* Moyo became a legislator for Matobo North, in a stronghold of the
opposition, in 2000.
* During election campaigning in June, Moyo was detained by police with MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai for several hours.
Mon 25 Aug 2008, 13:48 GMT
Aug 25 (Reuters) - Lovemore Moyo of Zimbabwe's main opposition party won the
vote for parliament speaker on Monday with 110 votes, dealing a blow to
President Robert Mugabe in a post-election power struggle.
In Zimbabwe's upper house, Edna Madzongwe, a candidate of President Robert
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party, won the election for presidency of the
Mugabe intends to officially open parliament on Tuesday despite protests by
Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that
this would scuttle negotiations on forming a unity government to end the
current political impasse.
Here are some details about Zimbabwe's parliament.
A BICAMERAL CHAMBER:
* Zimbabwe's parliament is bicameral, consisting of a Senate or upper house,
and a House of Assembly, or lower house.
* Senate - There are 93 seats, 60 elected by popular vote for a five-year
term, 10 provincial governors nominated by the president, 16 traditional
chiefs elected by the council of chiefs, two held by the president and
deputy president of the council of chiefs, and five appointed by the
president. * House of Assembly - the lower house is made up of 210 members,
increased from 150 last March.
* Lovemore Moyo was elected on Monday as Speaker of the lower house, a
senior position in Zimbabwe's political hierarchy. He succeeded John Nkomo.
The speaker will be a powerful figure in Zimbabwe's new hung parliament. He
is likely to take charge of controversial debates if there is no
power-sharing deal. The speaker can also act as president in the absence of
the vice president or Senate president.
* The Cabinet is appointed by the president and responsible to the House of
* Neither of the two major parties holds a parliamentary majority --
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC holds 100 seats in the lower
house, against the ruling ZANU-PF's 99.
* The breakaway MDC has 10 seats and there is one Independent seat. Whoever
the breakaway MDC sides with gets an effective majority in the legislative
* The Senate results after the 2008 elections showed contested seats split
30-30 between the combined opposition and the ruling party. Control of the
Senate will depend on the president, with powers to directly appoint 15
members and strongly influence who gets other positions.
* Mugabe's aides say the government must continue functioning, but the
formation of a new cabinet could scupper or delay further talks with the
* Tsvangirai said that Mugabe's intention to open parliament was a
"repudiation" of a Memorandum of Understanding on the basis for talks to end
a political deadlock that followed disputed June elections.
* Tsvangirai confirmed that the talks were deadlocked over the roles of
president and prime minister in a new government. Mugabe is expected to
remain as president but, backed by security chiefs, he is reluctant to cede
By Violet Gonda
25 August 2008
For the last 28 years Robert Mugabe has had total power in parliament, but
his power base has for the first time in Zimbabwe's history come under
threat after the main MDC party won the influential position of Speaker of
Parliament on Monday.
For years this position has not been significant because of ZANU PF's total
control but it has become a powerful position, now there is a viable
"opposition" in parliament.
Last week the Southern African Development Community recommended the
reconvening of parliament after the talks by the Zimbabwean political rivals
reached a deadlock. This development ignited debate on its implications for
the unresolved talks. While the mediator, South African President Thabo
Mbeki, had indicated that the talks would resume soon, he possibly wanted to
use the parliamentary elections to put pressure on Morgan Tsvangirai to
append his signature to the agreement. But the MDC's winning of the
Speakership bolsters Tsvangirai's position and negotiating platform, and
reaffirms his victory on 29 March.
The MDC national chairperson, Lovemore Moyo, won 110 seats, while the other
candidate received 98. ZANU PF did not field a candidate preferring to
support Paul Temba Nyathi from the Mutambara MDC, but the majority of the
MPs from the smaller faction rebelled against their own party and voted for
the main MDC Tsvangirai formation. The fielding of separate candidates by
the MDC factions also shows that the coalition between the two formations
It's reported the vote, which was conducted in secret, led to four ZANU PF
MPs also breaking rank to support Lovemore Moyo.
The Speaker confirmed on SW Radio Africa that he received votes from ZANU PF
and the other MDC. He said this goes to show that some MPs are willing to
put aside their differences and work together in parliament for the good of
the nation. Nomalanga Khumalo, the Umzingwane MP for the Mutambara MDC was
nominated Deputy Speaker.
In his acceptance speech Moyo said parliament will "cease to be a rubber
stamping house. It'll ensure that progressive laws are passed."
What are the implications now for the democratic struggle in Zimbabwe?
Commentators say the Speaker can block the convening of Parliament, which is
scheduled to be opened by Mugabe on Tuesday, a ceremony the MDC has
threatened to boycott.
Glen Mpani, the Regional Co-ordinator at the Centre for the Study of
Violence and Reconciliation in Cape Town, said the agenda for what happens
in Parliament is now in the hands of the Speaker and that, in theory, the
new Speaker can block any directives from the Executive until the talks
between the political rivals are complete, or the issue of Mugabe's
legitimacy has been solved.
The commentator went on to say the victory of the MDC Tsvangirai today
brings new impetus to the current negotiations between the two MDCs and ZANU
PF. He added: "The result is an indictment of the leadership of Arthur
Mutambara and Welshman Ncube. Mbeki as the mediator needs to question this
formation's significance in the negotiations in the face of outright
rebellion from its members. They have displayed high moral fortitude in the
face of immense pressure from their leadership and ZANU PF."
Meanwhile, ZANU PF could only find consolation in the smaller senate prize.
Edna Madzongwe from Zanu PF was on Monday elected the President of the
country's upper house of parliament, the Senate. Parliamentary clerk Austin
Zvoma announced that Madzongwe received 58 votes while the other candidate
Gibson Sibanda received 28. Sibanda was supported by both MDC formations.
However critics say the MDC Speakership and the ZANU PF control of the
Senate will pose a problem, as bills tabled in parliament will still have to
go through the ZANU PF dominated Senate, as Mugabe has the powers to
directly appoint non constituency Senators.
On Sunday, Mugabe appointed governors to eight of the country's 10
provinces, as well as three non-constituency senators ahead of the
parliamentary swearing-in ceremony. This was a clear sign that Mugabe is
desperate to form a government without the MDC, in clear violation of the
Memorandum of Understanding signed by all parties.
The Herald reported that Vice President Joseph Msika, former Justice, Legal
and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa, and former Speaker of
Parliament John Landa Nkomo, were appointed as non-constituency senators.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Mon 25 Aug 2008, 14:45 GMT
Aug 25 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party won the vote for parliament speaker on Monday, dealing a blow to
President Robert Mugabe in a post-election power struggle.
But Zimbabwe's balance of power remains delicate.
Here are some questions and answers on Zimbabwe's political uncertainty.
WHAT IS THE BALANCE OF POWER?
ZANU-PF won a later vote for the presidency of the upper house of
parliament, the Senate -- where it has a majority -- meaning it can block
legislation passed by parliament.
The MDC, with support from MPs of a breakaway faction, can pass some bills
in the lower house but these can be blocked in the Senate.
HOW WILL THE MDC BENEFIT?
The election of the MDC's Lovemore Moyo to Speaker of the Lower House of
Assembly -- one of the most post powerful positions in Zimbabwean
politics -- will strengthen party leader Morgan Tsvangirai's position in
deadlocked power-sharing talks.
WHAT'S MUGABE'S NEXT MOVE
Mugabe is due to open parliament on Tuesday, and is expected to name a new
cabinet this week although he may leave some slots -- already agreed with
the opposition -- for both Tsvangirai and the breakaway MDC faction led by
WHERE DO POWER-SHARING TALKS STAND?
Analysts say Mugabe is unlikely to give in to Tsvangirai's demands for more
executive powers but officials from both sides are expected to resume
efforts to break the stalemate this week.
CAN REGIONAL POWERS SECURE A BREAKTHROUGH?
South African President Thabo Mbeki, the main mediators in the Zimbabwe
talks, and some other regional leaders are expected to press on with
behind-the-scenes talks aimed at reaching a settlement.
Analysts say most of the them blame Tsvangirai for the deadlock, easing
pressure on Mugabe.
WHAT CARDS DOES TSVANGIRAI HAVE?
Although regional leaders are leaning on Tsvangirai to do a deal, Western
powers have made clear they want him to have a strong executive role in a
Any attempt to form a government without him could lack widespread
recognition and fail to win the funding needed to revive the crippled
HOW INFLUENTIAL IS MUTAMBARA?
Mutambara has emerged as a possible kingmaker.
Mugabe's party lost control of parliament in March elections for the first
time since independence from Britain, gaining 99 seats, but Tsvangirai's
party only got 100 seats so does not have an absolute majority either.
That leaves control in the hands of Mutambara's breakaway wing of the MDC,
which has 10 seats. There is one independent.
But Mutambara faces dissent in his own MDC breakaway faction.
A silent revolt by MPs representing the faction -- who are believed to have
voted for Tsvangirai's candidate for speaker in a secret ballot -- has
undermined and could scuttle ZANU-PF plans for cooperation or a
power-sharing deal with Mutambara's group.
Mugabe "digging in"
The convening of parliament and the appointments are a breach of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the ZANU-PF and the two factions of the MDC in July to pave the way for talks to resolve the political impasse, said Lovemore Madhuku, chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), an NGO lobbying for a new, people-driven constitution.
The MOU stipulated that none of the parties could make unilateral decisions before a deal for an inclusive government was announced, but talks being mediated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) representative, South African President Thabo Mbeki, have been deadlocked over how power should be shared between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
Mugabe's ZANU-PF backed a candidate from the smaller faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-M) to be the speaker of parliament, against the candidate proposed by main faction, MDC-T, led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
In a surprise result, Lovemore Moyo, chairman of the Tsvangirai-led MDC, became the first opposition speaker since the country's independence in 1980.
I foresee a situation in which industry will grind
to a complete halt in the next six months, thousands of people will join
millions of other Zimbabweans who are living outside the country as economic
refugees, and there will be more political tension
"It should be borne in mind that the MOU is a political document, not a legally binding one, and ZANU-PF could feel at liberty to put it aside," Madhuku commented.
"As it is, it is likely that Mugabe will go ahead and announce a full cabinet, considering that he has already taken the first step by announcing provincial resident ministers [governors], and that could make the signing of a deal impossible," he added.
Mugabe lost the general elections on 29 March, and won the presidential run-off on 27 June as the sole candidate after MDC leader Tsvangirai withdrew because his supporters were being violently attacked.
Chris Mhike, a legal expert and political commentator, told IRIN that indications on the ground were that Mugabe was digging in and going for broke.
"The voting trends for the speaker's post indicate a purely party political agenda and not a national agenda," he said. "The fact that Mugabe appointed governors only from his party is another indication that the talks are in trouble."
Brian Raftopolous, a Zimbabwean academic and analyst, said Mbeki could call for a resumption of talks soon, as it seemed that Mugabe "will not give any ground. He [Mugabe] has forced the MDC MPs [members of parliament] to be sworn in, and that will see the impasse continue."
Zimbabwe's economic crisis is set to worsen, Innocent Makwiramiti, a Harare-based economic analyst, told IRIN. Almost everything is in short supply and annual inflation has risen above 11 million percent.
"Hopes of an economic turnaround were pinned on a successful political deal. Given the direction in which things are moving, the economic crisis will worsen," Makwiramiti commented.
"I foresee a situation in which industry will grind to a complete halt in the next six months, thousands of people will join millions of other Zimbabweans who are living outside the country as economic refugees, and there will be more political tension."
Signs of political tension have resurfaced, after a lull in the political violence that erupted following the March elections. Police briefly detained two members of parliament from the Tsvangirai-led MDC on 25 August.
The police also reported two bombings in the capital, Harare: in the first incident, earlier in August, several offices at Harare central police station were blown up; the second damaged a railway track 30km west of the city on 21 August.
Police commissioner general Augustine Chihuri recently admitted that they had not been able to establish who was behind the bombings, but hinted that disgruntled officers could be behind the police station incident.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
25 August 2008, 14:58 GMT + 2
THE arrest of two Zimbabwean MPs - both later released - as they entered
parliament to be sworn in is about as blatant a slap in the face for
democracy as one could conjure.
But Robert Mugabe has been conjuring slaps in the face for democracy for
decades, so it was all in a day's work for the ageing autocrat.
What is now clear is that Mugabe has decided that he will hold onto power
until the grave.
In recent negotiations, he was offered a graceful exit which included the
rather generous offer that he continue as a ceremonial head of state.
For an 84-year-old man who polled fewer votes than his opponent in the March
elections, this was surely an offer he could not refuse.
But refuse he did, insisting that he retain full executive powers, a
negotiation position so patently unreachable that the talks have collapsed.
That was Mugabe's plan. He has strung South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki
along for more than a decade. What's another year or two of subterfuge?
Mbeki, on the cusp of a diplomatic breakthrough that would have finally
offered his rapidly melting legacy some respite, must be furious.
Even he must surely see that he has been manipulated and made to look rather
silly by Mugabe?
The fact that Mugabe now intends to ramrod his continued dictatorship
through parliament should come as no surprise.
He is counting on the prevarication of Mbeki, who has been exceedingly
accommodating in the past.
He is hoping that Mbeki will more or less ignore the latest shenanigans and
claim that talks will continue.
Mbeki must not fulfill this expectation.
His reputation is hanging by the thinnest thread. If he indulges the
delusions of Mugabe one more time, that thread will break and he will lose
what little face he has left.
Africa News, Netherlands
Posted on Monday 25 August 2008 - 11:17
Munyaradzi Mugadza, AfricaNews reporter in Harare, Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe was at his game again on Sunday when he appointed
eight resident ministers and governors ahead of the parliamentary swearing
in ceremony on Monday despite the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding
Zanu PF chief negotiator and loosing candidate in the March 29 harmonised
election, Patrick Chinamasa bounced back as non-constituency senator
together with former Speaker of Parliament John Nkomo and vice president
Mugabe also retained a number of loosing candidates in the March elections
to boost his support in the lower and upper houses. Former minister of
Education and Culture and newly elected headman for a Wedza Village, Aneas
Chigwedere takes over from Ray Kaukonde as provincial governor for
Mashonaland East Province.
Former Bindura mayor, Advocate Martin Dinha replaces Zanu PF politburo
member, Ephraim Masawi as Resident Minister for Mashonaland Central
Christopher Mushohwe, the former Minister of Transport and Communications,
is now the Resident Minister and Governor for Manicaland Province,
succeeding Tinaye Chigudu.
The new Resident Minister and Governor for Mashonaland West Province is
Faber Chidarikire, who takes over the reins from Nelson Samkange, the House
of Assembly Member-elect for Zvimba West.
Angeline Masuku (Matabeleland South), Thokozile Mathuthu (Matabeleland
North), Cain Mathema (Bulawayo Metropolitan) and Ishemunyoro David
Karimanzira (Harare Metropolitan) retained their posts.
However, resident ministers and governors for Midlands and Masvingo
provinces are yet to be appointed.
On the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in July, the three
parties involved in the negotiation process agreed that Parliament should
not be convened while the appointment of ministers was to be shelved until
the power sharing negotiations are concluded.
But Mugabe with the help of the SADC leaders resolved that Parliament
should be convened whilst talks continue to enable the newly elected
legislators execute their duties.
This is not the first time that Mugabe has neglected his negotiating
partners. During the brokered talks between Zanu PF and the opposition MDC,
Mugabe announced the election date without the consent of other negotiating
Meanwhile the power sharing talks currently between the two parties have
collapsed after Zanu PF's decision making body the Politburo resolved that
no more powers should be ceded to Morgan Tsvangirai despite his reluctance
to endorse the power sharing deal.
The talks were adjourned ahead of the SADC heads of state summit in South
Africa because they were arguments as to who would appoint cabinet
ministers, prime minister or the president and before the issue was
finalized, Mugabe rushed and appointed his loyalists and losers in the just
From The Cape Times (SA), 25 August
Kids have a pretty foolproof method of ensuring the cake is divided equally;
one cuts and the other chooses. Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai tried that method last weekend. President
Thabo Mbeki, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and other leaders of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) offered him the prime
ministership in a new "power-sharing" government in which Mugabe would
remain president. Tsvangirai didn't think this new prime minister was being
given any real executive powers. So he said to them: "Ok, why don't you, Mr
Mugabe, become prime minister and I will become president?" Mugabe, Mbeki
and the rest all declined. Not surprisingly, when you examine the deal on
the table. On the face of it, it looks alright. It divides cabinet positions
among the parties fairly equally, though Mugabe's Zanu PF gets a few more
than Tsvangirai's MDC (MDC-T) even though MDC-T has one more seat in
Parliament. But when you add the few that would go to Arthur Mutambara's
smaller MDC (MDC-M), the MDCs together would have a majority. One of the
documents accompanying the deal says the executive authority of the
"inclusive government" would reside in the president and the prime minister,
and would give cabinet the principal responsibility for formulating and
implementing policy. The prime minister would oversee the formulation of
policies by the cabinet.
So far, so good. Then the catch: Tsvangirai would only be deputy chair of
cabinet, while Mugabe would remain in the chair. That would effectively
leave Mugabe in charge of government and negate MDC-T's proposal, to share
power by leaving the president in charge of the state - the army, foreign
relations etc - while putting the prime minister in charge of government.
Apart from leaving Mugabe in charge of government, Mbeki seems deliberately
to have given the Mutambara MDC - which he reputedly favours - the balance
of power in cabinet. But with the coalition between the two MDCs apparently
crumbling, this distribution of ministries could leave Zanu PF with an
effective majority in cabinet too - though presumably MDC-M would not agree
to anything nasty. With Mugabe chairing cabinet, it is not clear whether
this potentially pivotal role by MDC-M would count for much.
For rejecting the deal, Tsvangirai has been accused - by MDC-M and
presumably also the South African government and most other governments in
SADC - of demanding power transfer to himself rather than power-sharing.
However, Marinus Wiechers, former professor of constitutional law at Unisa
and veteran of South Africa's own negotiations for a new constitution,
believes that Tsvangirai was right to reject the Mbeki-SADC offer because it
is not a real power-sharing deal. "It's just jostling for positions - the
really operative side is not addressed." He says that despite the attempt to
dish out ministerships and deputy ministerships fairly equally, the clincher
is that Mugabe retains the chair of cabinet, which could prove decisive
(there is no suggestion in the deal that cabinet will decide issues by
voting - the implication, at least, is that decisions would be made by
consensus). Wiechers dubs the deal an "incestuous merging" of presidential
and prime ministerial systems. Wiechers says there is no other
conflict-resolution mechanism in the deal, which becomes, therefore, a
"recipe for disaster" - in the form of inevitable deadlock. Wiechers
suggests that SADC should take a leaf out of the international community's
handling of the Kosovo crisis by creating a superior SADC body standing
above all the Zimbabwean parties to arbitrate the deadlocks which he
believes must inevitably arise from the power-sharing deal.
NELSON BANYA | HARARE, ZIMBABWE - Aug 25 2008 10:59
Zimbabwe's opposition MDC warned on Monday that President Robert Mugabe's
appointment of parliamentarians were a threat to power-sharing talks after
it said police had arrested two of its members in parliament.
"Clearly they have chosen the path of arrogance, unilateralism that's a
serious blow to confidence building in the talks," said Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) spokesperson Nelson Chamisa.
Power-sharing talks between Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai's
MDC are stuck by what the opposition says is the veteran Zimbabwean leader's
refusal to give up executive power.
The MDC said the two MPs were arrested as they entered the parliamentary
building and police also attempted to arrest another MDC MP but he was
rescued by other parliamentarians.
There was no immediate comment from the police on the arrests. Soon after
the March elections, police announced a manhunt for several MDC politicians
over charges of murder, rape and electoral violence.
Parliament began swearing in MPs, including those of the MDC, in groups of
10 despite the arrests of the two opposition lawmakers.
Talks in danger
Opposition and ruling party MPs exchanged light-hearted exchanges and taunts
across the floor in front of a packed public gallery.
Mugabe appointed three non-constituency members of Parliament's upper house,
the Senate, and eight provincial governors, state media said.
Mugabe intends to officially open Parliament on Tuesday despite protests by
Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC that this would scuttle negotiations on forming a
unity government to end the current political impasse.
Tsvangirai maintains that a power-sharing agreement is being held up by
Mugabe's refusal to give up executive powers. Mugabe says Tsvangirai wants
to strip him of all authority.
The MDC won 100 seats in March elections and Zanu-PF 99, a breakaway MDC
faction has 10 seats and there is one independent seat.
Whoever the breakaway MDC faction of Arthur Mutambara sides with gets an
effective majority in the legislative chamber.
Western countries, key to the funding that Zimbabwe needs to emerge from
economic collapse, have said they would only recognise a government led by
Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a first round presidential vote in March but
without an absolute majority. Mugabe won a run-off election in June which
was boycotted by Tsvangirai over political violence which he said killed
over 120 MDC supporters.
Mugabe has often accused Tsvangirai of being a puppet of the United States
and former colonial power Britain and ignoring Western sanctions he blames
for Zimbabwe's economic decline.
Both Zanu-PF and the MDC are under intense pressure from within Africa and
around the world to reach an agreement that will pave the way for rebuilding
Zimbabwe's devastated economy.
Zimbabwe's inflation rate rocketed to over 11-million percent in June and
chronic food, fuel and foreign currency shortages are worsening. - Reuters
By Alex Bell
25 August 2008
Stockpiles of food desperately needed by a starving nation is beginning to
rot in warehouses, as the Zimbabwean government ban on food aid remains
firmly in place.
The ban was announced during the run up to the election run-off in June,
after 'Welfare' Minister Nicholas Goche accused aid groups of supporting the
MDC's campaign during the first round of elections in March. A partial
lifting of the ban was announced later, but only for groups providing
assistance to people living with HIV/AIDS.
The Memorandum of Understanding signed between ZANU PF and the MDC last
month called for the lifting of all restrictions on the work of aid groups.
A subsequent joint statement condemning violence also called for all
humanitarian assistance to be allowed into the country and for aid to reach
thousands of victims of political violence.
But despite the statements and agreements, aid agencies have remained barred
from operating in Zimbabwe, leaving millions of Zimbabweans, with no other
resources, to face the reality of starvation.
In rural areas of Mashonaland East and Manicaland maize supplies have dried
up and households that previously produced maize on their homestead plots
have been hit by poor harvests, made worse by the lack of fertiliser. At the
same time, the Zimbabwe Crop and Food Security Assessment report says the
number of people in need could rise to five million by January because of
the poor crop projections. Meanwhile in comparatively wealthy areas such
Harare, food is becoming increasingly scarce, and because of a severe
currency shortage, people cannot buy basic food to survive.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Lord, give us a vision for our country.
May it be a land of justice and peace,
Where people do not take unfair advantage of each other;
Where all have sufficient and poverty and evil will have no place to fester;
Where seeking to serve others means more than honour and success,
Where order does not rest on force;
Where faith, hope and love flourish,
And all work for the will of God.
By Ephraim Nsingo
HARARE, Aug 25 (IPS) - There was jubilation at Gokwe Centre in Zimbabwe's
Midlands province when the Herald newspaper published a story headlined
"Deal Sealed" on August 13 -- a clear indication of the hopes Zimbabweans
have pinned on the deadlocked talks over power-sharing between ZANU-PF and
the two MDC formations.
Bus operators at the terminus in front of Rujeko Supermarket at the centre
announced they had reduced the fare from Gokwe to Harare from Z$300 to $250
(roughly US$4 at the prevailing parallel market on that day).
Fares to Kadoma, Kwekwe, Gweru, Nkayi and Binga were also reduced
significantly. But a few hours later, when it turned out that no deal had
been signed, the operators reverted to the older price. The following
morning, the fares had doubled. A week later, the fare to Harare was Z$1000.
Noel Hove, who was among travellers waiting for transport to Burure, close
to 100 kilometres to the North, summed it up when he said: "Does this mean
we have to wait a bit longer before we get out of this? How do they expect
us to survive? As you can see, we only get power at night, and our cellphone
network is always down," asked Hove.
At this time of the year, Gokwe Centre is usually among the busiest rural
service centres as cotton farmers come to cash their cheques. However, this
year there is a conspicuous decline in activity. Not much cotton was
harvested because of floods that hit most parts of the district early this
year. A prolonged dry spell worsened the situation.
"People have no money. Cotton is our major cash cow, but this year, things
did not work well. It's now affecting even other businesses. For example,
fruit and vegetable vendors are forced to sell their stuff at uneconomic
prices because very few people can afford the high prices being charged
elsewhere. People just do not have money," noted Hove.
Clarence Ndlovu, from Chitekete, further north in the district, says he has
been camping at Gokwe Centre after failing to withdraw enough money from the
bank. Members of the public and corporates are allowed to withdraw only
Z$300 daily. The money is however not enough to cover long distance
"I came here last week to withdraw some money from the bank. I realised the
first withdrawal was not enough for bus fare, so I decided to hang around
for a few days to make a few more withdrawals. It appears all the money will
be finished on transport, as fares have gone up before I finished
withdrawing. I won't be able to buy any groceries," said Ndlovu.
Some villagers are substituting small livestock like chickens and guinea
fowls for cash. For a trip that costs Z$500, villagers now pay with two
guinea fowl or three hens.
"Before the elections, we were told that we would get food aid. We are now
being told the organisations that were supposed to give us food have been
told to wait, pending the finalisation of some issues. The BACOSSI (Basic
Commodities Supply Side Intervention) we got from government is now
finished," said Maritha Shoko, also from Chitekete.
In June, the government suspended the work of all private humanitarian
organisations, accusing them of meddling in the country's internal affairs.
Through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), the government then introduced
BACOSSI to cushion ordinary Zimbabweans from hyperinflation by offering them
groceries at subsidised prices. Under the programme, the RBZ provides
grocery hampers to rural and high-density urban households at highly
There are however concerns from some civic organisations that most of the
goods do not reach the intended beneficiaries. Instead, they are diverted to
the parallel market by government officials and the same people who are
implementing the programme.
Unlike NGOs that distributed supplies from international donors, BACOSSI is
funded solely by the RBZ. Due to declined agricultural productivity over the
last few years, most of the foodstuffs have to be imported, and paid for in
foreign currency. This has plunged the future of the programme into
Living with the perpetrators
As the villagers await the outcome of the talks, there is another source of
tension: the co-existence among victims of violence and the perpetrators.
"When these talks started, we were told that we were now supposed to
reconcile with the people who were harassing us in the run up to the
presidential run-off. Some of them have sought forgiveness, but others are
remorseless. For example, I know a boy who stays three homesteads away from
mine who led militias to burn down my hut on 27 May.
"I have met him many times, but he hasn't bothered even to greet me," said
Mbuya Lilian Marufu, from Chief Njelele. She was beaten up and had her
property burnt for her alleged support for the opposition.
The pastor of a protestant church at Gokwe Centre, who spoke on condition
that he not be named, told IPS that over the last few weeks, he has been
holding a series of reconciliation and forgiveness sessions with villagers.
"Generally, there has been a significant decrease in violent activity. There
are still some pockets of violence here and there, but the situation is much
calmer now," said the pastor.
He said his church was listed among those viewed as enemies of the state in
the run up to the second round of the presidential elections.
"Together with other pastors, we've been holding community outreaches
preaching the gospel of forgiveness and reconciliation, as prescribed in the
scriptures. In some cases, the message appears to be falling on deaf ears,
as the people now hate each other with a passion. But there are many
instances where we have made great strides, bringing rivals to the same
table and having them share a meal."
While many ordinary people pin their hopes on the talks, a leading political
analyst, Professor Eldred Masunungure, has warned that the talks may fail to
solve the crisis.
"The deal is not sustainable and it is not going to solve the crisis the
country is experiencing. At least it provides a starting point for a
settlement, but it's certainly not the solution," said Masunungure.
Another professor, Jonathan Moyo -- a former University of Zimbabwe
political science lecturer, who is now the independent Member of Parliament
for Tsholotsho North -- said the crisis would "not be resolved overnight".
"The first 100 days after the implementation of the deal are likely to be
the most challenging. It's not about the signing of a document, it's about
the implementation," said Moyo.
a Vision from the European Commission
Xavier Marchal, Ambassador,
Head of Delegation of the European Commission in Zimbabwe
Chiredzi, 22 August 2008
It is particularly important for me to be here on the occasion of the inception seminar of this innovative programme, the PARSEL
Politically, it would have been best if the context would be of a new Zimbabwe, led by a legitimate Government representing the will of Zimbabweans, and endorsed by the European Union.
Indeed, without such an environment, what you plan to do, in spite of your efforts, will unfortunately remain limited in scope.
Technically, the programme is about Food Security. It is in line with current restrictive EU policy towards Zimbabwe. It connects poverty eradication to holistic management of natural resources. Rural communities will become stakeholders in and beneficiaries of Conservancies. It brings all stakeholders as Partners to optimizing land use: rural communities and traditional authorities, Parks, local and public authorities, the private sector, the civil society, the scientific community, implementing institutions. I will call them the "Secret Seven".
This is an approach in which complementarities are transformed into opportunities, a test for comprehensive sustainable development. Context permitting, your programme could then become a catalyst for action at wider level.
Assets of and Vision for the South East Low Veld
Having just spent an inspiring week deep into the Gonaredzou, the place for elephants, let me focus on how this could be done in the South East Low Veld.
Talks around a wood fire with seasoned Low Velders, each of them cumulating massive knowledge and experience, under an immaculate blanket of stars, greatly helped me to develop a Vision for comprehensive development of this magnificent part of Zimbabwe.
A Vision in which Food Security rhymes with biodiversity, with Sugar Industry, with Public-Private complementarity, with connectivity and interdependency and, necessarily, with democracy.
The South East Low Veld can achieve its full potential, by building up effective complementarities between its four assets: location, pristine natural environment, huge agricultural potential, human resources. I will call them the "Big Four".
Conservation as a land use option to the benefit of local people is a key principle of the recently established Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, the world’s biggest animal Kingdom, and it’s associated Transfrontier Conservation Area. Each of the participating countries, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, brings in uniqueness into mutually reinforcing complementarities.
In this endeavour, Zimbabwe offers a unique patchwork of natural environment, composed of a major national park, the Gonaredzou, surrounded by top end private conservancies. And also a very well located airport. There is extreme diversity and potential here, and Zimbabwe has always been at the forefront in term of best management practices. It is here, in the South East Low Veld, that traditional extensive cattle ranching was replaced by wildlife management and exploitation as a better socio-economic development option.
The combination of climatic, geographic, and soil factors, enhanced by innovative hydro-engineering man made work, have turned the South East Low Veld into a world class sugar production area. Here best yields can be achieved at lowest costs.
Most importantly, the South East Low Veld is endowed with a population, the Machangana, who have learned to forge survival alliances with their environment. Years before the nationwide “Campfire” programme was launched, they were already engaged in sustainable management of their natural resources. Conservation as a land use option is a key principle for them.
Current situation and what the Commission can offer
But today, this huge potential of four interdependent assets, is not realized. Men have settled illegally in conservancies, while vast irrigation projects are abandoned. Private entities are constantly threatened. Tourists are gone, and so are crucial investments. Poaching is rampant. Communities have been abandoned, or forced into political submission. "Campfire" is dormant or deviated from its real goals. Foot and Mouth Disease is prevalent. The Sugar Industry is in critical stage. Farms are invaded and sugar growers expelled. There is a breakdown of the Rule of Law.
In short, the four formidable assets of the South East Low Veld are in conflict, instead of being in symbiosis.
But this can be changed. The South East Low Veld can become a jewel of and a key development engine for Zimbabwe.
The European Commission could significantly contribute to that goal, if and when the European Union has normalized its relationship with Zimbabwe, on the basis of clear principles, and following a genuine and legitimate Political Agreement.
Significant current or new resources could be made available, from different origins in term of budget, brought together in a formidable "critical mass" of coordinated support.
In 2007, we made funds (15 million euros nationwide) available to improve Food security in Zimbabwe through Non Governmental Organisations. We welcomed projects which would establish a link with the management of natural resources. The PARSEL programme was proposed and accepted, and I would like to warmly recognise here its key Partners: CIRAD as applicant, WWF-SARPO, Save Valley Trust and Malilangwe Trust. PARSEL is paving the way for a Vision as outlined above.
We are now launching a new food security initiative (9.5 million euros nationwide). We have decided to go further towards including environment as a basis for food security, and it will be mandatory to do so for a proposal to be eligible. A significant part of this fund could benefit to the South East Low Veld. This is in addition to an additional amount of 16 million euros earmarked for programmes to support Food security throughout the country, including of course the Low Veld.
Zimbabwe could take full advantage of an EC funded Sugar Adaptation Strategy, aimed at bringing back her Sugar Industry from abyss to world class level again. The amount possible for this could reach 45 million euros over six years. An initial amount of 2.7 million euros is being considered for preparatory measures and studies, including funding related to environment. We could for example support moving settlers from a Conservancy to an abandoned irrigation scheme.
Part of the funds of a vast (total nationwide is 20 million euros) EC funded Stabex programme, implemented through the main Agricultural Unions, the CFU, the ZFU, and the ZCFU, could also be allocated to the South East Low Veld. The same applies for a 6 million euros project aimed at supporting small scale irrigation.
We could also integrate what we do in health, and basic education, to better serve our Vision for the South East Low Veld.
Then, there is the 10th European Development Fund, of which one of the two focal sectors is focused on land, agriculture, food security, and environment. The amount to be dedicated to this would be around 50 million euros nationwide.
Finally, the South East Low Veld could also benefit from significant resources from a major new initiative of the Commission, aimed at helping farmers of Africa to tackle high food prices, access farming inputs such as seeds and fertilizers, and boost output.
Let me conclude with three points.
First. The Constitution of one of the Conservancy of the South East Low Veld outlines one of its objectives as follows, and I quote: “to promote the development of a programme to enhance communication with neighboring communities and to stimulate the economic and social advancement of such communities through durable linkages with the Conservancy’s wildlife industry”. This is evidently the way to go.
Second. I would like to make a very strong appeal to all Zimbabweans, that they should make full use of these real possibilities offered by all stakeholders directly concerned to properly manage theirs assets, for the benefit of all. The objective is clearly to achieve sustainable management of natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations. My call covers of course the urgent need for a fair and legitimate agreement between political forces, indispensable to take Zimbabwe on the path of recovery.
Third. I am tabling a concrete offer: that as soon as the context permits, the European Commission funds a one day high level strategic meeting, bringing together all stakeholders of the South East Low Veld to further reflect on how to implement the Vision I have outlined, and to take concrete steps towards its implementation. I hope that this can be done very soon.
 Partnership in Conservation and Development