The Age, Australia
February 20, 2006 - 11:34AM
President Robert Mugabe has charged that the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) had turned into a "political monster", used by former colonial power
Britain to accomplish a regime change in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe, who spoke in a 90-minute interview on state television two days
ahead of his 82nd birthday, said his government had seen through Britain's
scheme and cleared its major debt arrears to the IMF.
"The IMF is an international organisation but the British wanted to use the
fact of our owing the IMF to bring about the change of the regime here,
squeeze us economically, so politically," Mugabe said.
"It's only in regard to Zimbabwe that the IMF became this political monster.
The IMF now must turn into a political instrument that can bring about
transformation that they (the British) are after."
Zimbabwe last week averted possible expulsion from the Fund by clearing its
major debt arrears.
The IMF however made no reference to Zimbabwe's hopes of fresh loans
although a mission that visited Harare last month said the institution was
ready to help if Mugabe's government implemented comprehensive reforms.
The southern African country is battling a deepening economic crisis which
critics blame on Mugabe and which has driven inflation to the highest level
in the world, according to IMF data.
Mugabe, in power since independence in 1980, said Zimbabwe has used its
resources to settle the IMF arrears although it had an option to source the
money from outside.
Zimbabwe was last year reported to be in talks with big neighbour South
Africa over a loan to help clear the IMF debt and secure agriculture inputs.
The talks were never concluded.
"We also realised that they wanted to use our neighbours, that's why we
decided to pay the money ... we didn't go out to ask for it, we could have
done that," Mugabe said.
He added that Zimbabwe would soon clear the remaining debt to get the IMF
off its back.
A six-year recession marked by shortages of foreign currency, fuel, food and
an unemployment rate of over 70 per cent has impoverished many Zimbabweans.
Mugabe, who denies mismanaging the economy, said his government would print
money to shore up the economy, echoing sentiments by central bank governor
Gideon Gono who said the bank had printed money to buy foreign currency to
pay the IMF.
© 2006 AAP
Sun Feb 19, 2006 11:24 PM GMT
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe on Sunday branded African leaders
cowards for not standing up to Western powers over Zimbabwe, and said
outsiders must not interfere as there was no crisis requiring intervention.
Critics accuse Mugabe, who turns 82 on Tuesday, of plunging the southern
African state which he has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980
into a severe political and economic crisis in the last six years with a
raft of controversial policies.
In a 90-minute interview with Zimbabwe state television to mark his
birthday, Mugabe portrayed himself as a brave and principled African
nationalist and his opponents as either imperialists or political stooges.
Mugabe said his government would print money to help it ride over its
economic problems -- including food, fuel and foreign currency shortages and
the world's highest inflation rate, which he blames on Western sanctions and
Mugabe, who last week suggested he was ready to repair strained relations
with Britain which he regularly accuses of seeking to recolonise Zimbabwe,
again said his country's major problems were largely caused by London.
"Our erstwhile former colonisers still wants to govern us by remote
control," he said repeating charges denied by Britain that it is sponsoring
Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Asked whether he felt lonely in his fight against Western critics and
whether countries and organisations which have tried to intervene in
Zimbabwe's crisis were justified, Mugabe said:
"I don't feel lonely. There are others who think as I do, whose ideals I
share. But what one notices is lack of courage... a kind of surrender to
European authority, I suppose it's because of poverty."
Mugabe said although African states had declared Zimbabwe's disputed
elections in the last five years legitimate, they had generally shied away
from taking on Western powers, including Britain and the United States who
maintain the polls were rigged.
"None of them will stand up and say to them 'go to hell'.
"We shrink in asserting our rights. We need much more courage in the African
Union," he said.
The veteran African leader said Zimbabwe had a democratic system but his
Western opponents wanted a "puppet" opposition MDC in power.
In what appeared like an direct message to African countries, including
South Africa, which has been quietly trying to broker a political settlement
between the MDC and his ZANU-PF party, Mugabe said there was no room for any
foreign intervention in Zimbabwe's affairs.
"As for outsiders they should keep away," he said.
"We have entertained them because we did not want to offend, some of them
are our friends but really there have nothing to intervene here about,
nothing at all. We have a democratic environment, a democratic
constitution," Mugabe said, raising the tempo of his voice.
Mugabe said Zimbabwe's economic crisis required unorthodox solutions,
including printing money despite galloping inflation, which the
International Monetary Fund says at 613 percent is the highest in the world.
"Those who say printing money will cause inflation are suggesting that you
just fold your hands and say 'aah, let the situation continue and let the
"The Good Lord up there has given you a brain and the brain must function,
not in a stereotyped manner but in a flexible manner ... so I will print
money today so that people can survive," he added.
Monday, February 20 2006 @ 12:05 AM GMT
Contributed by: correspondent
In a clear case of increasing desperation, President Robert
Mugabe yesterday pleaded with British premier Tony Blair to open up vistas
of cooperation with his crisis torn country. This is the second time in a
week that Mugabe has extended an olive branch to the British premier to mend
their relations that went frosty in 1999 following Mugabe's widely condemned
land reform programme.
Speaking in an interview broadcast on national television
yesterday, Mugabe said he was willing to repair relations with his British
counterpart. "Tony Blair must talk to us," Mugabe pleaded. "But each time he
sees me, uyo otiza (he runs away)." He said he was fed up with the frosty
relations with Blair. Just last week, Mugabe urged the new UK ambassador to
help repair relations between the countries. The relationship has been
frosty since 2000, when London criticised poll fraud and human rights
Since then, Mugabe has never missed an opportunity to criticise
Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government. But now, Mugabe has adopted a
conciliatory tone, telling the new ambassador that he wants help in building
what he called "formidable bridges". In the interview yesterday, Mugabe
admitted that sanctions were hurting the economy badly. "We need to
normalise our relations," Mugabe said. He said South African president Thabo
Mbeki had told him that Blair had admitted that he was wrong on Zimbabwe.
"Both Blair and Bush are telling lies," Mugabe said. "To them lying does not
touch their minds. To us if you lie like that about a country it must hurt
your heart. But we are saying lets work towards normalising our relations.
The current state of affairs is unsustainable."
Resorting to the now familiar denunciations, Mugabe said: "As
long a my people say I am right that is what I listen to," he said. "Those
who say I am wrong, I am a dictator, if you look at them, Britain, America,
they never supported us from day one of independence and during the
struggle." Mugabe said he was willing to cooperate with Blair as long as he
was open to him. Mugabe said the European Union sanctions on Zimbabwe were
also hurting Britain, because most foreign firms in Zimbabwe were
Mugabe turns 82 next week, and has been in power since
independence in 1980. His critics blame him for ruining Zimbabwe's economy
with his controversial land reform programme. Food, fuel and foreign
currency are all in desperately short supply, and last month inflation
topped 600%. But Mugabe openly declared that he was not willing to
relinquish power anytime soon, warning "overambitious" officials in his
ruling Zanu PF party to stop holding clandstine meetings to discuss his
succession. "When the moment comes they will be able to do it (campaign),"
he said. "There are people vying for power. They must not become divisive
and overambitious, holding secret meetings and denouncing others. I want to
believe there are cadres who can lead but they are still developing," Mugabe
said. Mugabe last week told a press briefing that he was willing to serve a
sixth term if his ruling Zanu PF party asked him to.
Monday, February 20 2006 @ 12:04 AM GMT
Contributed by: correspondent
Three weeks ago, a soldier presented himself at the Zimbabwe
Human Rights Association (Zimrights) office in Harare, asking to meet with
its head, Arnold Tsunga. When told he was not in the office, the soldier
explained that a hit squad of the Military Intelligence Corps was monitoring
Tsunga's movements and had received an order to kill him. The soldier
claimed that he had come to warn Tsunga of the danger. But the Southern
Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) believes the soldier himself was sent to
kill Tsunga. The latest human rights body to come under siege by President
Robert Mugabe's regime is the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), of
which Tsunga is also head and which was blacklisted in December at the
ruling party Zanu-PF congress.
The SALC has begun distributing an alert urging concerned
individuals and organisations to write protest letters to the Zimbabwe
government urging it to desist from its harassment of the ZLHR.It also urges
similar protests to be sent to Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
urging South Africa to intervene and ask for the protection of human rights
defenders in Zimbabwe. The SALC chronicles a number of incidents in which
the ZLHR has come
under attack from the Zimbabwe government.
The ZLHR was behind the representations which resulted in a
December resolution condemning human rights abuses in Zimbabwe by the
African Commission on Human and People's Rights. This has infuriated the
Zimbabwe government. SALC director, Nicole Fritz, said there was growing
fear that with a weakened political opposition and an effectively silenced
media, the Zimbabwean government now viewed its most vocal, dangerous
individuals and groups such as the ZLHR and Tsunga. "It is
especially worrying that human rights lawyers are being targeted, as they
are now often the last and only protection available to human rights
defenders," said Fritz.
Tsunga has received numerous death threats while the ZLHR
offices have been placed under military surveillance. Its lawyers are
arrested and threatened with arrest for defending human rights activists,
according to the SALC. The ZLHR has long been recognised and acclaimed
internationally for its courageous opposition to the Zimbabwean government's
repressive measures. Of late, the ZLHR has sought to challenge the state's
unlawful evictions campaign and its increasing clamp-down on media freedom
and civil society organisations.
The SALC said events over recent weeks suggested that the ZLHR
faced even greater, more extensive threat. Irene Petras, programmes
co-ordinator of the ZLHR, said fewer Zimbabwean lawyers were willing to take
up the cases of human rights defenders for fear of state harassment. "Given
this shortage, the ZLHR must take on an increasing number of these cases and
so is increasingly the target of the state's attentions," she said. The SALC
said Tsunga appeared to be at particularly grave risk. A few weeks ago, in
the early hours of 21 January 2006, two police officers and one soldier
forcibly entered Tsunga's home. Not finding Tsunga at home, the officers
took his housekeepers to the police station. The police would not release
the workers until Tsunga presented himself for questioning and arrest - an
increasingly common feature of the Zimbabwe policing system, known as ransom
While in custody for four days, the three workers were severely
beaten and one suffered a perforated eardrum as a result, the SALC said.
When Tsunga reported to the police station, he and five others were
charged with operating a broadcasting service in Zimbabwe
illegally, a charge the SALC dismissed as spurious. Soon thereafter, on 26
January 2006, a soldier presented himself at the Zimrights office, asking to
meet with Tsunga. Tsunga was not in the office. The SALC said the soldier
explained that a hit squad of the Military Intelligence Corps was monitoring
Tsunga's movements and had received an order to kill him. The soldier
claimed that he had come to see Tsunga to warn him of the danger. It is
possible that this soldier intended to kill Tsunga, according to the SALC.
ZLHR lawyer, Tafadzwa Mugabe, representing Tsunga and the other
trustees charged, found himself threatened with arrest for
obstructing the course of justice. On Wednesday he was arrested and detained
in Harare for coming to the assistance of his clients, 192 women and five
infants arrested for participating in the annual Valentine's Day march
organised by Women of Zimbabwe Arise. A further 181 were arrested in
Monday, February 20 2006 @ 12:03 AM GMT
Contributed by: correspondent
Self-exiled tycoon Mutumwa Mawere, whose vast business
interests, held mainly under SMM Holdings, were expropriated by the state in
controversial circumstances, has turned the heat on his tormentors and last
week wrote the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe's murky role in the takeover plot. Mawere caused no little bother
in Harare when he wrote the IMF last year claiming that part of the surprise
US$120 million payment Zimbabwe made to the IMF was taken from earnings made
by his expropriated firms.
This week Parmanathan Muriemuthu, a director at SMMH, wrote to
the IMF and appended various documents chronicling key events and providing
detailed information on how the state, through its appointed administrator
at SMM, Afaras Gwaradzimba, had wrongly taken over Mawere's businesses under
the guise that they were indebted to the state. "I am bringing this matter
to you and your colleagues in the hope that you can situate the state of the
rule of law in Zimbabwe and the disrespect of property rights that now seems
to characterise the government of Zimbabwe's actions. I have brought this
matter to the attention of President Robert Mugabe in the hope that he was
not involved in this corruption to no avail.
"I trust that this correspondence will go a long way to
confirming our position that the funds used to pay your organisation are
directly connected to the actions of the RBZ governor," Mariemuthu wrote in
a letter dated February 13 2006 and addressed to IMF managing director
Rodrigo de Rato. Mariemuthu also reveals that Mawere will soon visit
Washington DC to meet with some IMF directors. Zimbabwe, whose position in
the IMF is due for review after the Fund began motions for its compulsory
expulsion over a year ago, can scarecely ignore Mawere's latest move.
Although authorities in Harare scoffed at the businessman's
initial contact with the IMF over the source of funds paid to reduce
Zimbabwe's arrears, the issue has refused to go away and formed the basis of
much of the discussions when a staff delegation from the IMF visited the
country last month. The IMF, which has long criticised Zimbabwe's disregard
for property rights following the violent seizures of farms belonging to
whites since 2000, is also likely to take interest in how the government
took over Mawere's vast assets in the country.
Meanwhile, government institutions, which provided the state
with the pretext under which it took over Mawere's firms, have failed to
prove that the loans extended to the firms were delinquent, necessitating
the precipitous action taken to 'reconstruct' the firms. This coincides with
the demand, by the civil division in the attorney general's office, that the
government proves how Mawere's firms ended up being indebted to the state.
ZESA Holdings executive chairman, Sydney Gata, when prodded to reveal how
the power utility got to be owed about $8.24 billion (7 percent of total
alleged debt) and if there was any correspondence between ZESA and SMM to
that effect, stated categorically that "no correspondence was exchanged
between ZESA and SMM with regards to outstanding bills between June 2005 to
date as SMM timously honoured its bill payments."
Gata also stated that in any case, ZESA would disconnect
defaulting customers, although big organisations, such as SMM, enjoyed the
benefit of negotiations on how to expunge the debt. "The Electricity Acts do
not expressly provide for the state to collect debts on behalf of ZESA
Holdings and its subsidiaries which are bodies corporate empowered to
perform all acts that bodies corporate may by law perform," Gata said,
blowing the state's claim, that it was recovering funds from SMM on behalf
of ZESA and other quasi-state bodies, out of the water.
Addressing the same questions on behalf of the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe, the central bank's legal counsel Fortune Chasi reveals that SMM
got a total of $66 billion in Productive Sector Facility funding, but was
availed a total of almost $1 trillion up to the end of January 2006.
"Subsequent disbursements have since been made on a regular basis in line
with instructions from the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe received
through the Financial Intelligence Inspectorate and Evaluation and Security
Division, bringing the total principal disbursements to the company as at 26
January 2006 to $976 329 350 878.33 as per the attached schedule," Chasi
wrote. A close look at the schedule of PSF disbursements to SMM, with dates
ranging from 29 January 2004 and 14 October 2004, shows that only $20
billion was due when the government took its drastic action on SMM.
By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 02/20/2006 11:24:17
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe appeared to rule out hand picking his successor
Sunday, instead suggesting that the matter should be put to vote within his
ruling Zanu PF party.
Mugabe was speaking in a pre-recorded interview to mark his 82nd birthday
broadcast on Zimbabwe's state television Sunday night. He is 82 on Tuesday.
The Zimbabwean leader who married his secretary, Grace, and has three
children has recently stated that he wants to retire to write his memoirs
and read books.
"I think when the moment has come they will be able to do it (elect a new
leader). You will always get this vying for power. They should go about it
the right way," said Mugabe, Zimbabwe's sole ruler since independence from
Britain in 1980.
He added: "There is time to campaign, but campaign at the right time and not
become divisive and over-ambitious, with secret meetings taking place and
denouncing and denigrating others and so on.
"Sure, we will always rely on the leadership that is elected at congress and
not from clandestine meetings - they will never win, never."
Mugabe said he was keen to protect his legacy, and hoped that leaders could
come from within his Zanu PF party to enforce his policies.
"Yes, I want to believe there are enough cadres, some are still developing.
I am sure there will be those in the future who will be prepared to uphold
our sovereignty and die for the defence or our country."
Mugabe's term expires in just over 24 months, and his legal team have been
trying to come up with a smooth exit plan for Mugabe.
One of the options, according to Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, would
be to postpone the presidential elections from 2008 to 2010, and have a
President elected by parliament in the two years.
The other alternative would be to bring forward the parliamentary elections
from 2010 to 2008 so that they are held concurrently with the presidential
Alternatively, said Chinamasa, the harmonisation of presidential and
parliamentary elections could be done in 2015, meaning that the President
elected in 2008 will serve for seven years.
By Kuthula Matshazi
Last updated: 02/20/2006 06:44:03
THERE has been some tendency to deny or trivialise the marginalisation of
the people in Matabeleland when the issue is discussed.
Carefully crafted ideological arguments have been deployed to shoot down the
plight of a people who are suffering in their home country. Some have said
that it is not the Matabeleland people only who are suffering this
marginalisation; other provinces and districts are marginalised too.
Sure, but they have the right to speak out about their own circumstances and
get recourse. It should not be wrong for the Matabeleland people to express
their marginalisation just because they are supposedly not the only people
in the predicament.
Dr. Alex Magaisa writes in this forum questioning the reality of
marginalisation in Matabeleland. He seems to believe that we, as
Matabeleland people do not clearly understand the extent of our
marginalisation problem because our deep emotional involvement blurs it.
In defending his position, he first wants to problematise the socially
constructed concept of Ndebele and Shona implying that it is not clear-cut
on how we can define or distinguish the two groups. But we have our commonly
agreed to cultural codes of representations within a social context that
give us common language to define what becomes Shona or Ndebele. But to
undercut this argument, Magaisa would suggest that what if an individual,
with his rights chooses not to be bound by these codes of representations?
Granted, but the individual gets his rights from and also practices them in
a group. So if they cannot subscribe to these codes then they might as well
exercise their rights outside of the group because they would infringe upon
the rights of other individuals who subscribe to the group notion.
This long philosophical point is made in an attempt to disarm the group, in
this case the Ndebeles from claiming their identity as a group, but as
disparate individuals who are in a competitive market place where
socio-economic chances are not rewarded as a group but individuals. That
could be true, but in the case of Matabeleland it is not true.
In Matabeleland the social, political and economical institutions deny
rewards to a disproportionate number of individuals. On the contrary, these
institutions have disproportionately favoured many people from outside of
the region. For instance, right from public service workers and private
sector employment, tertiary education to ownership of businesses there is a
disproportionate representation of people from outside Matabeleland
province. Magaisa doubts this and calls for research. Others simply dismiss
it as politics or tribalism. It is still strange that there are some people
who still deny the fact despite so many studies carried out by various
Matabeleland groups on the wide extent of the problem. This trend has also
been widely communicated to the central government and other stakeholders
and yet we still get people who still deny the extent of the problem.
Just to illustrate the extent of the problem. Shona has become a language
for business transaction in Matabeleland even among our old parents who do
not understand it. People who indicate that they cannot speak Ndebele man
most offices. This scenario does not exist in Mashonaland. Let's for once
suspend our bias and ask ourselves why such a skewed pattern exist? Of
course, Ndebeles are said to be only about a fifth relative to the rest of
Zimbabwe but why is it that in proportion terms they are underrepresented in
decision making positions, tertiary education and business ownership in
their home province - except only in unemployment and poverty?
When I accompanied my mother to Bulawayo's 8th Avenue Jewel Bank in November
to sort out her bank account, we were made to speak in Shona. When I told
the particular manager that my mother could not speak Shona, he changed to a
mixture of English and Shona! This is not to undercut the importance of us
to be able to speak both Shona and Ndebele since they are the national
languages but it is a problem when one assumes more importance than the
other. Unwittingly, it has drawn consciousness to a policy that is being
It is also a problem when people from other regions are brought in to
disproportionately take away employment, education and business ownership
and/or opportunities. As a result many of our sons and daughters fail to
have opportunities within their province. These opportunities are almost
non-existent for them in other provinces. Should the people of Matabeleland
keep quite so that we project a country at peace with its citizens?
It is futile to theorise or try to ignore the reality. Yes, we could keep
quite, as we have continued over the years but abantu bayakhala madoda! And
that is why we shall always see the current trend where the people of
Matabeleland do not want to identify themselves with Zimbabwe. Without
seeming to promote secessionism - what is in for them? The issue of
marginalisation would persist unresolved as long as Zimbabweans deny its
existent or extent and instead choose to bury it.
Matshazi -- a recipient of the Millennium Excellence Awards Scholarship for
academic excellence and effective leadership -- is a journalist currently
studying Communication and International Development Studies at York
University, Toronto. Feedback: email@example.com
One of our supporters, Tsungi, has just lost her mother and this sad news
rather overshadowed our day. She was the seventh of her family to die in
the present crisis. We may be far away but the reality of Zimbabwe is
always with us. How many more must die before the situation is resolved?
Our petition signed by passers-by calls on the UN Security Council to
We were pleased to have the Reverend Dr. Martine Stemerick with us. She was
grieving the death of Sheba Dube Phiri of Bulawayo who worked tirelessly for
orphans and widows in Zimbabwe. Martine had worked very closely with her.
Sheba died very suddenly of what Martine believes was exhaustion. Martine
came at noon to support a special demonstration for WOZA and stayed on for
the Vigil. We are always behind WOZA and it was good to see some old
friends from the early days of the Vigil.
But best of all was to have four ladies from Liverpool. That's a long way
away: the bus must take three or four hours in each direction. So here's to
the Zimbabwe Beatles: Sarah, Chiecko, Fungai and Palma - always something
good out of Liverpool. And also out of Tunbridge Wells from where Francesca
and her group brought a new supply of wristbands "Make Mugabe History".
They reported back on their church service for Zimbabwe last week which
attracted a bumper congregation.
For the first Saturday in ages we had rain but our green tarpaulin kept us
dry. It was quite a sight - so many people huddled together and singing to
the sound of drums.
FOR THE RECORD: 77 attended the Vigil today.
FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 20th February, 7.30 pm, Zimbabwe Forum, Upstairs at
the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street, London WC2 (cross the Strand
from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John Adam Street, turn
right and you will see the pub). This week's Forum will discuss the Court
of Appeal Hearing scheduled for 6th - 8th March. This appeal will give a
ruling which is important to all current Zimbabwean asylum seekers. The
Refugee Council has suggested a demo outside the court to show support for
the Zimbabwean appellants and publicise the plight of Zimbabwean asylum
seekers. This will be followed by brainstorming on long term planning for
the Forum: speakers, topics etc.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
This Day, Nigeria
From Yinka Kolawole in Ilorin, 02.19.2006
Harvest of grains commenced over the weekend at the Zimbabwean pionered
commercial farms in Shonga, Edu Local Government Area of Kwara State with
the harvest of 80,000 bags of 50 Kg maize.
Speaking to newsmen that were conducted round the farm site by the Special
Assistant to the Governor on Media and Communication, Alhaji Abdulraheem
Nurudeen Imaam, the senior commercial farmer Mr, Dian Swart said as the
grains are ready for the market, the farmers are warming up to start another
planting which is expected to yield 500,000 bags of maize this year.
Swart stressed that over 8 tons of Soya Beans have also been harvested,
adding that higher tonnage is expected in the coming planting season.
He emphassied that maize would be stored and released to the market at an
appropriate time, adding that commercial farmer are looking at selling it
between N45,000-N50,000 per ton.
Speaking further on other areas like vegetable, the commercial farmer noted
that 3 hectres of tomatoes was planted and each is expected to yield 70
Meanwhile, ThisDay checks at the farm revealed that most of the harvesting
were done mainly by the local people and supported by commercial farmers'
Official of the Oyo State government sighted at the farm site, Mr Remi
Olajide who claimed to be Special Adiver to Oyo State government on projects
said the state is fully ready to tap from Bukola's farming experience.
He pointed out that the experience was very encouraging and advised that
it should be taken over by all levels of government.
Mr Olajide stressed that the government of Oyo State would soon
commence her own commercial farming saying that the Kwara commercial farming
has recorded a huge success.
By Dr Alex Magaisa
Last updated: 02/20/2006 06:43:59
THE news of Professor Arthur G O Mutambara's return to take an active
leadership role in the MDC and on the Zimbabwe political landscape generally
has generated a lot of interest and speculation in various circles.
That is hardly surprising given the profile of the man and his history in
the critical and opposition movement in Zimbabwe. Mutambara already has a
place in the history of post-independent Zimbabwe - having participated as
President of the University of Zimbabwe Students' Union at the germination
stage of the opposition movement in the late 1980s.
Alongside cadres at the university and the likes of Tsvangirai at the ZCTU,
Mutambara led the initial critical challenges against the regime at a time
when Zanu PF was intent on establishing a one-party state. But then
Mutambara seemed to have disappeared from the political scene, having gone
on to pursue higher education in which he has emerged with sound
achievements and impeccable credentials.
It was in recognition of his academic prowess and potential as a future
leader that he earned the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford
University. In that respect he is in rarified company as many world leaders
past and present have followed a similar route. Here is a man who had been
exceptional in and out of the lecture room, so he pursued the academic dream
and in the process, has earned key skills beyond the laboratory which can
now be fully deployed for Zimbabwe's cause.
More significantly, Mutambara's entry brings a new, welcome impetus in the
opposition movement and governance of the country in general. For months now
the opposition movement has appeared to lose force and focus. They appeared
to get tired and die of thirst as the palm trees appeared on the horizon.
The movement has needed fresh impetus; something of a renewal in order to
pursue the much-needed change. People appeared to be disillusioned by the
repeated failures to achieve political power and consequent squabbling in
the opposition party. They were withdrawing into their shells, away from
The interest generated by news of Mutambara's entry suggests that there is a
good chance people who were otherwise turning away could be brought back
into the fold. There was a tendency, which is evidenced by some critical
voices against Mutambara, to denigrate new players in the party, to call
them disparagingly as Mafikizolo, regardless of the fresh ideas and impetus
they could give to the party. The incorporation of Mutambara shows a certain
level of maturity and tact that a few months ago may have been missing. Now
people in and out of the country with an interest t play leading roles, can
look with confidence at the avenues that are available. Mutambara's entry
pens that route, which can only be good for Zimbabwe seeing the talent that
But therein lies a big challenge for Mutambara - there are very high
expectations and in some cases doubt among the people The people who know
Mutambara and those who have heard of his exploits have grand expectactions.
The people who are out there are wondering whether he can speak their
language, whether he can provide the voice. Who is he? He has been away,
does he understand our problems? These are inevitable questions he will be
facing in the next few days and weeks. Mutambara has the task of ensuring
that he strikes a chord with the people. In order to survive in the desert,
you have to understand the language of the desert. If you fail that test,
the desert will bury you. Mutambara needs to speak the language of the
people and that requires an understanding of the circumstances of the people
at this stage. But we must trust Mutambara's judgment - and hope that he is
bright enough to do the right thing. We can only hope that when he first
speaks, he does so in a language that people identify with and in a manner
that demonstrates that despite his physical absence he has not forgotten the
language of the suffering in his homeland.
In any event, the view that he has been outside and therefore incapable of
understanding and dealing with the political challenges is weak because it
ignores the social, intellectual and political capital that he has gained
during that time. As those in the Diaspora may testify, observing and
participating from outside will have given him a chance to reflect on the
challenges and learn from others how to deal with the problems. Mutambara
will have networked and interacted at high levels, all of which will be
immensely helpful to the country in time to come. Additionally, evidence
suggests that contrary to the perception among some, Mutambara has been a
key participant in business and politics in Zimbabwe albeit at levels less
prominent to the common observer. From time to time he addressed the
Zimbabwean business community and interacted with the civil society
movement. This may not have exposed him to the general public over the
years, but it shows that he is well in touch with the issues in Zimbabwe and
would not have accepted this challenge if he did not.
The greatest thing is that for this is one of the very few cases in our
history when someone is prepared to place on the line a lucrative and
controversy-free career that has been carefully cultivated and put his
reputation and impeccable credentials on the line. It is evident that
Mutambara is a learned man and can pursue a rich and rewarding life without
politics. Mutambara could have joined politics at the height of his public
profile in the late 80s and early 1990s, when the Zimbabwe Unity Movement
(ZUM) was in vogue. But Mutambara was no opportunist. Instead he probably
realized that his time had not yet arrived and that he could make a better
leader with more experience and having learnt the ways of the world. He
wanted to chew first, before swallowing. He has had time to chew and
understood the language of the world. He is back and the best Zimbabwe can
do is give the man a chance. At a time when allegations of tribalism are
ripping life out of opposition politics, here is a man whose impeccable
credentials speak louder than his tribal origins or any other index.
Finally, Mutambara will have known that he joins any opposition movement
that is severely divided. There are some who will question his choice of
faction. That is all very well. It seems however that if he can make
overtures and manage to bring the warring parties together, it may be for
the good of the country in the long run. He knows Tsvangirai well - having
worked with him during his time in student politics. He knows others too,
like Chamisa. It is possible that there is mutual respect between him and
leading members of both factions, and perhaps admiration. Nothing can take
away the part played by Tsvangirai, Ncube et al in the current struggle.
Some have faltered but their place in the history of the movement remains.
Mutambara will know only too well that each faction has its sympathisers and
that there is probably more merit in drawing synergies between the two
rather than ignore the political reality on the ground. If he can pull it
off, all the better for Zimbabwe. No doubt there are great challenges -
living up to the high expectations of his supporters and observers and also
convincing the doubters that he is the real deal. But whatever the case,
there is enough to show that exciting times lie ahead.
Dr Magaisa is a lawyer and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org