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Arthur Mutambara: From high robotics to high politics in Zimbabwe

Zim Online

Fri 24 February 2006

      By Eldred Masunungure, chairman of political and administrative
studies department at the University of Zimbabwe

      HARARE - Arthur Mutambara's entry into Zimbabwe's politics has
generated a lot of interest and indeed anxiety and even panic amongst all
political gladiators - ruling and aspiring - and has excited many

      I would say both the anxiety and the excitement are warranted. A lot
of heated discussion has followed though one would conclude that there has
been more heat than light.

      Some comments are in praise and celebration of his entry into the
cauldron of Zimbabwe politics while other remarks have been in condemnation
or have exuded wonderment and nervousness.

      It appears his rather sudden and certainly spectacular elevation to
one of the pinnacles of opposition politics will have or is expected to have
a dramatic impact on national politics. Zimbabwean politics in the last six
years has always been fast paced but Mutambara seems to have injected our
politics with a new vigour and increased its tempo.

      He undoubtedly adds a new dimension and configuration not only to
opposition politics but indeed to Zanu PF politics, with particular regard
to the fractious succession issue within the ruling party.

      But what is the likely impact of Mutambara's 'intrusion' into Zimbabwe
politics, especially at this stage in its evolution? Why the excitement and
apprehension about his decision to enter the political fray? What are his

      Arthur Mutambara the Student Leader

      Arthur Mutambara may be a man of many faces but his two most prominent
faces are those of a student leader and an outstanding and gifted academic.
Even his worst detractors have failed to fault and deface his intellectual

      He is a fountain of intellectual excellence. It is the other face that
appears to give some of Zimbabwe's political gladiators some sleepless

      Mutambara's background is anchored in student politics where he was
affectively known as "AGO", the acronym of his three first names. In fact,
he was one of the pioneers of radical resistance politics at the University
of Zimbabwe (UZ) and indeed at the country's tertiary institutions.

      He and his colleagues in the then Student Representative Council (SRC)
transformed the texture and fabric of student politics for a whole political
generation. This is why his impact is likely to be very extensive for many
graduates of UZ and other institutions of higher learning would readily
'recognise' Arthur 'AGO' Mutambara and look back with  considerable
nostalgia at a fearless, articulate and charismatic leader of the student

      On September 29, 1988 and as Secretary-General of the then Student
Representative Council (SRC), he and his colleagues in the SRC organised the
first post-independence student demonstration against the government.

      Cleverly, the SRC separated the government from the President and
articulately argued that their demonstration was in full support of the
President's campaign against corruption by state and party elites and in
blatant violation of the ruling party's Leadership Code.

      The police banned the demonstration but the students defied the order
and the police violently suppressed the twin demonstrations at the UZ and
the Harare Polytechnic College.

      The then Home Affairs minister Moven Mahachi alleged that the UZ was a
hotbed of opposition politics, and of forces of destabilisation and

      From the "Great Anti-Corruption demonstration", as some students
affectionately labelled the day, police heightened their interest in student
politics generally and UZ student politics in particular and habitually
'visited' the UZ campus to routinely bar planned student meetings on grounds
of them being 'political'.

      From there on, the police-student relationship became very tense and
pregnant with distrust. There also developed a frosty and difficult
relationship between students and the government to a point where in August
1989, the late Joshua Nkomo concluded, after a stormy meeting with students
in early August 1989, that "the best thing is to close the university and
ask you [students] to apply."

      A year after the anti-corruption demonstration, students again
organised a Gala in celebration of the first anniversary of the 'September
'88 Revolution'. The police again entered the UZ campus and forcefully
blocked the celebration, blockaded the campus and tear gassed the student
residences the whole night of 29 September 1989.

      On 2 October 1989, Arthur Mutambara, now the SRC president, issued a
statement condemning the police action as a violation of students'
"legitimate inalienable democratic rights" and he labelled the police action
as "state terrorism at its worst."

      Thereafter, the events developed very fast starting with the arrest of
Mutambara and his secretary-general and cascading into violent student
boycott of classes and the closure of the UZ for the first time since
independence. More students were subsequently arrested and charged for
publishing and possessing a subversive document.

      It may be noted that the then secretary-general of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), Morgan Tsvangirai, released a press
statement in support of the students and condemning the state's

      The state in turn reacted by promptly arresting and detaining
Tsvangirai for a month under the colonial Emergency Powers Act. Both
President Mugabe and his party condemned the students with the Zanu PF Youth
League condemning the "lawless reactionary elements" who were "misguided by
enemies of our revolution."

      When the students applied for bail, the Minister of Home Affairs went
to the extent of issuing a certificate barring the granting of bail, a move
that is normally done when state security is at stake. They were only
granted bail after the High Court nullified the ministerial certificate.

      Thereafter, AGO's political immersion is less visible but nonetheless
he left an indelible mark on student politics in Zimbabwe. In a way then,
his recent expressed interest in active politics constitutes a re-entry into
politics in the country but at a much higher level where he, ultimately,
will be gladiating for the highest political office in the land.

      He has entered the realm of high mass politics. In so doing, he has
caused some political tremors.

      Mutambara's Political Tremors

      Public opinion is deeply split as to the impact that Mutambara will
have on various levels of politics: e.g. his impact on the two rival MDC
camps; on ruling Zanu PF politics; and on national politics generally.

      Mutambara's Impact on the Gibson Sibanda MDC faction:

      For most people it came as a big shock that Mutambara's  re-entry in
politics came via one of the factions of the Movement for Democratic Change.

      Many celebrated his entry into politics but condemned the fact that he
did so on the side of the Sibanda faction rather than the Tsvangirai
faction. This perspective draws parallels with Jonathan Moyo's entry into
active Zimbabwe politics on the side of the ruling Zanu PF rather than the
then fledgling MDC.

      The bottom line in Mutambara's case is that he joined opposition
politics and irrespective of whichever faction he joined, it was going to
have reverberations inside and outside that faction.

      Before Mutambara entered the fray in the Sibanda faction, there
appeared to be a triangular fight for the presidency of  that faction. This
involved secretary-general Professor Welshman Ncube, his deputy Gift
Chimanikire and Acting  President Gibson Sibanda.

      All were keen - with varying degrees of enthusiasm and candidness - to
capture the top prize. Of the three, Ncube and  Sibanda share the affinity
of being Ndebele and as much as some people may want to discount the ethnic
variable, the brutal reality is that ethnicity is a salient factor in
Zimbabwe politics and will be so for a long time into the future.

      So, in this triad, Chimanikire was the odd man out but he projected
the Shona face of the faction. As the Shona are the majority group in the
country, Chimanikire saw himself as the obvious and only viable candidate
for the presidential throne.

      But there is also the other dimension. In terms of working experience
and backgrounds, Chimanikire and Sibanda share the same bed for both
sharpened their political skills as trade unionists. These two therefore see
'eye-to-eye' in terms of the operative framework of politics.

      Professor Ncube joined politics from an intellectual background and
appears more comfortable among fellow academics. To this extent, Ncube was
the odd man out and probably felt like a fish out of water. He would
obviously  find common ground with Mutambara, a professor of robotics.

      To Ncube then, Mutambara would have the gravitational pull of the
Shona tag of Chimanikire plus the gravitational pull of his solid
intellectual background. It was therefore unsurprising that Ncube roosted
for Mutambara when it became clear to him that Chimanikire was handicapped
by his modest education in the same way as Morgan Tsvangirai.

      Both Ncube and Sibanda must have realised as well that in Zimbabwe
politics, and given the grip of ethnic consciousness, a Ndebele would have a
very faint chance of making it to State House.

      Both therefore deferred to Mutambara who has Chimanikire's strength of
being Shona without the educational handicap. Both Ncube and Sibanda also
deferred to an 'outsider' untainted by the struggles-within-the-struggle of
opposition politics.

      Predictably, Chimanikire felt offended and slighted and is waving the
Mafikizolo (late comer) card against Mutambara and is not prepared to "step
down for an expatriate who does not know the price of bread here."

      The Mafizolo denigration would not stick as Mutambara can easily
counter this by pointing out that he started the struggle when Robert Mugabe
was much stronger than he is now. So, daggers are already drawn within the
top four of  this faction (the forth gladiator being treasurer

      Obviously Ncube and his camp have done their homework in terms of
lobbying for the ex-student leader and all indications are that in a
straight fight between Chimanikire and Mutambara, the former is likely to
suffer a heavy if not humiliating defeat.

      Thereafter, and depending on how he takes his embarrassing loss after
being "in the trenches in the MDC's formative  years" - as The Herald
(22/02/06) helpfully put it in defence of Chimanikire and in a vicious
assault on Mutambara - it is not unthinkable that he will join the world of
political oblivion.

      Chimanikire needs to realise and accept that not all battles (in and
outside politics) are fought and won in one day and that sometimes it is
better to be patient than engage in careless fights.

      The entry of Mutambara in Zimbabwe politics on the Sibanda faction of
the MDC would obviously strengthen that faction against the Tsvangirai camp.
As things presently stand, the Tsvangirai wing seems to have the numbers as
its anti-senate stance resonated well with the opposition forces.

      The entry of Mutambara may very well tilt the pendulum in favour of
the Sibanda camp provided the latter do their homework with vigour. How
would such a scenario arise?

      Mutambara would deliver votes from several constituencies: the
intelligentsia who are sceptical of Tsvangirai's modest education and who
doubt the latter's capacity to grasp modern and complex global issues and
articulate them to a global audience.

      The youth element - and these constitute a large block of potential
voters of the Zimbabwean population - would also find common affinity with
Mutambara, so would students at tertiary institutions.

      Ex-students of the 'AGO' generation would be similarly enticed as they
reminiscent on the heady days of radical student politics. He would also
likely deliver the Manyika vote and support base. These support bases would
be combined with the Ndebele bloc for a concerted effort to State House.

      The Mutambara factor in the Tsvangirai camp: Mutambara's entry into
MDC politics on the side of the Ncube/Sibanda camp will cause ripple effects
within the opposite and rival Tsvangirai camp.

      Some observers even fault Mutambara for joining the 'wrong' camp and
even speculate that in a straight fight between the two gladiators,
Tsvangirai would bite the dust. It must be acknowledged that Morgan
Tsvangirai is rather careless and sometimes speaks with an unguarded tongue
and also occasionally leaps before he looks.

      In terms of image, stature, eloquence and charisma, Mutambara would
outwit Tsvangirai. It is highly unlikely though, that the Mutambara factor
would prompt a leadership question and leadership change in the Tsvangirai

      What this dynamic would mean on the ground is that a Mutambara-led MDC
and a Tsvangirai-led one would most likely share the Harare vote. However,
the split allegiances of the formerly impregnable MDC fortress could divide
the opposition vote to the obvious advantage and delight of the ruling

      Mutambara could also capture much of his Manicaland home province,
especially the southern part of the province from Mutare down to Chipinge.
Given that the Matabeleland region is most probably going to remain solidly
behind wherever Ncube and Sibanda are, Tsvangirai would have a very hard
time penetrating this southern part of the country.

      His support is likely going to be anchored in the lumpen proletariat
in urban areas for this class has nothing to lose but  its chains.

      The Mutambara factor in Zanu-PF:

      There is little doubt that Mutambara's entry into the country's
politics has unsettled  the ruling Zanu PF party and its government. If
there was any doubt about this, a cursory reading of the state media,
especially The Herald of 22 February 2006, would dispel any lingering

      The state-aligned daily came out unequivocally in sympathy of
Chimanikire, describing him as "the long suffering deputy secretary general"
while literally condemning Mutambara for daring to snatch the presidency of
the MDC.

      He was dismissed as "a rank outsider" whose story "reads like the
portrait of a hooligan."

      The newspaper article, entitled "Is Mutambara his own man?" attempts a
character demolition and demonisation job of  Mutambara while doing a
beautification job of his presidential rival.

      It is patently obvious that the article was the voice of the political
establishment and its tenor betrayed the panic in the ruling party.

      But in launching such a vitriolic and unprovoked attack on one of the
two candidates it by default gave Mutambara a martyr status while
simultaneously delivering the kiss of death to Chimanikire. In short, the
party-state is taking AGO seriously. And indeed, the ruling party should
take him seriously. Why?

      Those who see Mutambara as a formidable presidential candidate are
already beginning to question the capacity and intellectual stamina of
Zanu-PF's presidential hopeful, the ruling party and state Vice-President
Joice Teurai Ropa  Mujuru, to stand 'toe-to-toe' against the intellectual

      They are therefore beginning to 'hunt' for an AGO within the ruling
party and again Simba Makoni's name is now  repeatedly popping up. It must
be noted however, that all these permutations will ultimately and decisively
depend on  the framework of Zimbabwe politics in the next few years.

      There is mounting evidence that the ruling party and the state want to
shed the "jambanja" (violent suppression of Mugabe critics) image of
politics which assisted Zanu PF to salvage political victory from the jaws
of defeat in three successive elections, notably in the June  2000
parliamentary and the March 2002 presidential elections.

      There was visibly less 'jambanjaism' in the run-up to the March 2005
elections and in the post-election period. In fact,  after the March 2005
election, jambanja politics was superseded by Operation Murambatsvina.

      The next momentous development was the turbulence in the opposition
MDC culminating in the inevitable split that will  be concretised at the two
forthcoming congresses of the two polarised and apparently irreconcilable

      The Herald article referred to above gave credence to the abandonment
or at least intended rejection of jambanja  politics in favour of its more
civilised and conventional forms.

      After accusing Mutambara of introducing hooliganism into student
politics, the author chided the presidential hopeful:  "Now if this is the
base [i.e. hooliganism] that Mutambara hopes to build on, then he needs to
be reminded that national  politics is a world apart from student politics,
and Zimbabwe has since moved beyond politics of confrontation ."

      The politics of confrontation referred to is the politics of jambanja.
Without resort to jambanja politics, Mutambara would  present a real threat
to Vice-President Mujuru in a presidential fight.

      The ruling party already appears jittery at the entry of Mutambara in
national politics. He already has solid credentials as  a mobiliser and
organiser during his student politics. He injected student politics with a
dynamism and radical militancy  that had been characteristic of black
student politics during the illegal Ian Smith regime. He has the charisma,
the  energy and stature and indeed the 'struggle history' behind him.

      Vice-President Mujuru would continue to mobilise and deliver the women
vote and to this extent this support base is  likely to remain intact.
Another anchor is the war vet one and of course the Zezuru -sub-ethnic group
of the Shona.

      The challenge to Zanu-PF, therefore, it to think about the
unthinkable, that is, to look for a more energetic, intellectually agile and
charismatic person who has credentials above and beyond those of the
liberation struggle.

      The jambanja ideology and way of doing things has lost steam and is
unlikely to sell with the masses, especially when  they see that the
jambanja-led fast track land reform programme has not yet yielded the
promised rich harvests.

      So, Zanu-PF needs someone who can articulate and debate issues
toe-to-toe with Mutambara, and someone as  equally charming. The jambanja
era is most likely dead and buried and there is need to do things

      Zanu-PF needs an 'AGO' within its ranks and as presidential candidate.
This is the most challenging fallout within Zanu  PF of Mutambara's entry
into national politics.

      Even more devastating a scenario for the ruling party is the prospect
of the two rival factions re-unifying. Unification of  the two MDC factions,
though distant and improbable, is not impossible.

      Mutambara raised the prospect of this when he was quoted in The Herald
of 21 February 2006 saying: "As the party goes towards two separate
congresses, the infusion of new leadership, untainted by current
disagreements, is  imperative to facilitate the reunification process. It is
in this context that I define the framework of my entry into  Zimbabwean

      The combination of Mutambara and Tsvangirai would be an even bigger
threat than the united old MDC. The two  leaders have different but strong
and complimentary support bases. In that combination, opposition politics
would have  been rejuvenated and re-energised. That would completely change
the political landscape of the country.

      Whatever the case and final outcome of struggles for power within the
Ncube/Sibanda MDC faction, opposition and  indeed national politics will
never be the same again with the entry of Professor Arthur 'AGO' Mutambara
into the ring.  However, only time will deliver the final verdict on the
above scenarios.

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Bodyguard accused of indecently assaulting Mugabe's wife wins back his job

Zim Online

Fri 24 February 2006

      HARARE - Top policeman Winston Changara, demoted last year as the
chief bodyguard to President Robert Mugabe after the President's wife
accused him of indecently assaulting her, was this week reinstated to his
job, ZimOnline has established.

      Changara was about six months ago demoted from his job as head of the
police's close protection unit and number one bodyguard to Mugabe after the
First Lady, Grace, told her husband that the trusted police guard had made
advances on her and also indecently assaulted her.

      He was also stripped of his rank of assistant police commissioner and
banished to the "commissioner's pool," a dreaded internal facility to punish
and frustrate errant senior officers.

      But authoritative sources yesterday said a police committee set up to
probe the charges against Changara - who the sources said had always
insisted Grace wanted him fired to block him from exposing her alleged
extramarital affairs - had found him not guilty of any wrong doing and had
recommended his reinstatement.

      "They submitted their findings to the Commissioner (of Police
Augustine Chihuri) on Monday 6 February, stating that they did not find him
guilty of any wrongdoing," said a senior officer based at police
headquarters in Harare.

      The police probe team was headed by Deputy Police Commissioner Barbra
Mandizha who is in charge of human resources in the law enforcement agency.

      Our source, whom we cannot name because he is not allowed to divulge
such information to the Press, added: "Changara told Mandizha's committee
that if it was true that he indecently assaulted Grace, then he should be
arrested and tried for the crime .. he also met Chihuri and told him that he
was tired of being victimised for knowing too much about the First Lady."

      Grace, a feisty and attractive woman who is 40 years younger than her
82-year old husband, has always been the subject of intense speculation that
she sees other men, especially top businessmen and politicians linked to
Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party.

      She has never publicly responded to such reports.

      Contacted for comment yesterday, Changara would not open up, only
confirming that he was back in his former job and referred further questions
to Chihuri.

      "I cannot comment much on that matter (his demotion and
reinstatement), talk to the Commissioner himself. Of course I am back in my
office right now," he said.

      Chihuri's spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed that Changara was
reinstated to his job but said neither himself nor the Police Commissioner
was prepared to speak about the matter, adding that the presidential guard
was senior enough to speak for himself.

      "He (Changara) is back in office and if you want more information, you
should rather phone him. He will speak for himself, he is a senior officer,"
said Bvudzijena.

      Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, under whose portfolio the police
falls, however denied that Changara had in the first place been demoted or
that he was subsequently victimised in the police commissioner's pool.

      Mohadi said: "What I know is that Changara was not feeling well and
nothing more. He recently underwent an operation in South Africa.
Unfortunately, I cannot tell you what he was suffering from .. I know
nothing about this victimisation you are talking about."

      But another senior police officer, who is close to Changara, said the
presidential guardsman was so humiliated by the punishment he endured in the
commissioner's pool that he was considering quitting the police force

      "He will resign soon . . . he always talks of the victimisation. The
whole thing is affecting him mentally and he now spends most of his time in
his office when he used to socialise a lot and liked fishing," said the
officer, who also did not want to be named.

      An officer placed in the commissioner's pool is immediately stripped
of benefits such as the privilege to have a police vehicle for personal use,
telephones or even an office. The disgraced senior officers are also made to
perform menial tasks such as cleaning toilets and often under the
supervision of junior officers. - ZimOnline

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61 more women arrested for protesting against Mugabe feast

Zim Online

Fri 24 February 2006

      HARARE - Another 61 women were yesterday arrested by police in Harare
for protesting against plans by President Robert Mugabe to hold a lavish
party tomorrow to celebrate his 82nd birthday.

      The women, all members of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
civic alliance, were by late last night still detained at the notorious
Harare Central police station with their lawyer indicating they may have to
spend the night there.

      Their arrest came barely 12 hours after the release from police cells
of 43 women who were arrested earlier this week, again for protesting
against plans by the veteran President to throw a lavish birthday party in
the midst of abject poverty across the country.

      The women's lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, said his clients were being held
in overcrowded and stinking cells.

      "They are in police custody and no formalities have been done yet by
the police so I am waiting for that. But time is running out. The arrested
are complaining of crowded and stinking cells," said Muchadehama.

      The lawyer said the police had indicated they would charge the women
with hold a public demonstration with first seeking clearance from the
police as is required under the government's Public Order and Security Act

      Harare police spokesman Loveless Rupere said besides possibly
contravening the draconian POSA, the women were also arrested for blocking
traffic during their march. The police official could not say when the women
were likely to be released or brought to court for trial.

      POSA prohibits Zimbabweans from holding political meetings or public
demonstrations without first seeking clearance from the police.

      The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, the
NCA and other civic groups say the police use the law to block protests they
deem as anti-government.

      NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku last night said his group does not
recognise POSA because the Act was undemocratic and said members of the NCA
had a genuine reason to demonstrate because taxpayers' money could not be
used to fund Mugabe's birthday party.

      "We made it clear long back that POSA is not a democratic law and we
will never recognise it,"said Madhuku. "We have a genuine reason to
demonstrate. How can taxpayers' money be used to sponsor the birthday party
of Mugabe?"

      Although Mugabe's birthday is not a formal state occasion, it has
however attained such status over the years, with both the government and
the veteran President's ruling ZANU PF party active in organising the annual

      Mugabe, the only ruler Zimbabweans have ever known since independence
from Britain 25 years ago, is accused by the MDC and Western governments of
running down the country's once vibrant economy through repression and wrong
policies such as his controversial farm seizures.

      He denies the charge insisting Zimbabwe's unprecedented economic
crisis is because of sabotage by Western governments opposed to his seizure
of land from whites for redistribution to landless blacks. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe ranked among worst countries for foreign investors

Zim Online

Fri 24 February 2006

      BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe, in its sixth year of a bitter economic recession,
has been ranked among the 10 worst places for business in a survey by the
influential United States of America-based Forbes magazine.

      The highly regarded Forbes survey, conducted every year since 2003,
seeks to assess risks in different countries around the world and help
investors make informed decisions on where to place new investments or
expand existing ones.

      Other countries lumped together with Zimbabwe as hostile destinations
for business are Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Cote d'Ivoire, Haiti,
Congo and Liberia, with Belarus being rated the most inhospitable country
for foreign investors.

      Armenia was ranked the best country for investors with Moldova and the
former Soviet Republic of Georgia being second and third respectively.

      The survey was done for Forbes by two leading consulting firms IJet
Intelligent Risk Systems and Control Risks London. The two firms assessed
threats of terrorism, crime levels in the country, the political situation
and effectiveness of power institutions.

      Zimbabwe, once one of Africa's best prospects for economic success, is
grappling a serious economic crisis after President Robert Mugabe seized
white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.

      The farm seizures destabilised the mainstay agriculture sector,
knocking down food production by about 60 percent to leave the once food
self-sufficient country dependent on food handouts form international

      The economic crisis, described by the World Bank as unprecedented for
a country not at war, has also manifested  itself through high inflation of
more than 600 percent and shortages of electricity, fuel, essential medical
drugs and just about every basic survival commodity.

      Western governments and the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change party blame Mugabe for ruining the Zimbabwe's economy. He denies the
charge and instead claims Western sanctions against his government are to
blame for Zimbabwe's economic problems. - ZimOnline

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Is Mutambara his own man? - Herald "comment"

From: David Coltart
Sent: Thursday, February 23, 2006 4:57 PM
Subject: Is Mutambara his own man? - Herald "comment"


Dear Friends,


This is an interesting piece because although it is typical of the Herald in some ways (gratuitously offensive) it does set out many of the facts and Zvayi must know that Mutambara’s CV will impress even Zanu PF supporters. We are so fixated by the intra MDC squabble that we lose sight of the fact that Zanu has to question why it is that such an illustrious son of Zimbabwe has chosen to come back to oppose the regime. Can they point to any relatively young leaders coming through their ranks with similar credentials? Saviour Kasukuwere perhaps???!!! Give me a break! In other words all those of us opposed to the regime, whatever other views we may have, should rejoice in this development. Here we have a bright young leader who is prepared to give up the lure of a great job/business in a thriving economy to come back to Zimbabwe, at its time of greatest need, to put his shoulder to the wheel. Oh that more people in the Diaspora would demonstrate a similar commitment to our nation!  It is high time we began refocusing on where the real problem lies in Zimbabwe and what needs to be done about it. There may not be many other Rhodes scholars out there but my goodness there are many talented Zimbabweans, both within the country and beyond her borders, who have not heeded the call to do all in their power to bring tyranny to an end. Now is the time for us all to recall John Kennedy’s words delivered on the 20 January 1961:


“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world; ask not what others (the West or anyone else or any other country or power for that matter – my words - Kennedy referred obviously to ‘America’) will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man”.


Best wishes,






Wednesday, February 22, 2006



 Opinion & Analysis










Is Mutambara his own man?

By Caesar Zvayi

IT is four days to the second or is it first congress of the MDC faction led by party vice-president, Gibson Sibanda; and as anticipated, the drama has already unfolded with the fractious MDC’s amoeba legacy manifesting itself again.

Two of the faction’s top-four leaders expressed interest in the post of party president; Gift Chimanikire (deputy secretary general) and Gibson Sibanda (vice-president and current acting president).

But what surprised many was the entry of a rank outsider; the 39-year-old former University of Zimbabwe student leader, Professor Arthur Mutambara. A man who has not even lived, let alone worked in Zimbabwe over the past 15 years and who was not in the trenches in the MDC’s formative years. The party’s South African branch even disowned him saying he was not even an active member.

Also astounding was secretary general, Professor Welshman Ncube’s admission that any card-carrying member of the MDC can contest for the party presidency. By this proviso, if someone were to buy the MDC card today, they could stroll to the congress in Bulawayo and fight it out with founder members like the long-suffering deputy secretary general.

Chimanikire felt rightly used by his Matabeleland colleagues who made him believe the top-job was his simply by virtue of being the Shona-face among a band, the Tsvangirai-group derisively dubbed "three Ndebeles and a white rebel."

But who is Mutambara, and why did Ncube, Sibanda and Dulini-Ncube risk the fragile unity in their faction by bringing him in? Was it their decision — if not — who was behind it?

From his resume, Mutambara is more of an academic than a politician.Born on May 25 1966, the man who is director of payments at the Standard Bank in Johannesburg has an impressive resume.

Granted he has an illustrious academic career that culminated in his attainment of a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Robotics and Mechanotronics, becoming the first Zimbabwean to achieve that feat.

He was again one of the first two Zimbabweans to win the Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford University in the UK in December 1990 eventually ending up on the selection committee which was always reserved for whites.

Mutambara scored another first by being the first Zimbabwean to work at the nerve centre of American intelligence and technology, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from 1996.

He served as a visiting research fellow at NASA (JPL), in Pasadena, California in 1996; and then as a visiting research scientist at NASA John Glenn Research Centre in Cleveland, Ohio a year later.

Mutambara has managed NASA grants in various capacities since then and has been a member of the US National Science Foundation and the Robotics Review Panel Committee since 1996.

Most importantly, Mutambara is a permanent resident of the United States as he holds a Green card; thus he may become the second Zimbabwean politician, after former finance minister Chris Kuruneri, to have permanent residence in two diametrically opposed countries.

This close association with one of the centres of American espionage raises questions about Mutambara’s entry into national politics, especially at a time US-Zimbabwe relations are at an all time low and when the later has clearly declared its intentions to unconstitutionally unseat the Government in Harare. Two years ago, Mutambara was quoted as saying he had no interest in national politics, he may have to tell the nation what made him change his mind.

Is he his own man?

That aside, his candidature is a serious indictment of the leadership in the Sibanda-led faction. Here are people who, for the past six years, claimed that they had what it takes to lead Zimbabwe but who could not find a leader from among themselves when push came to shove.

They had to look outside to rope in someone who was not even in the trenches during the formative stages of their party. Someone who is clearly out of touch with existential realities in Zimbabwe. Politics by its nature presupposes gradual development; if the top-four in the Sibanda-led faction failed to develop over the past six years what guarantee is there that they will ever develop?

A lot has been said about Mutambara’s leadership qualities based on his days in the UZ Student Representative Council (SRC). However, after perusing reports of his exploits, one is persuaded to believe the late MDC Spokesman, Learnmore Judah Jongwe’s constant refrain that, "Mutambara’s only claim to fame as a student leader was that he was arrested and detained by police."

His story reads like the portrait of a hooligan.

His assumption of the SRC presidency marked the turning point from the progressive activism that had been nurtured by the likes of Rt. Brig Felix Muchemwa and the late national hero, Witness Mangwende, that had student leaders as partners in national development.

Mutambara introduced hooliganism and the perception that a good student leader is he who opposed and called the State names.

Why would one reach this conclusion?

Mutambara hails from none other than Mutambara Village well-known as a stronghold of Bishop Abel Muzorewa’s UANC party that sacrificed the liberation struggle in order to rule for less than a year.

He enrolled at the UZ in 1987, after a successful stint at Hartzell High School, to read for a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.

He was elected president of the UZ SRC on August 15 1989, having served as secretary general to the SRC executive that was led by Edgar Mbwembwe the previous year. Soon after his election, relations between students and the Government soured amid allegations of anti-government activities by the students. Mutambara claimed that the university and the students’ union were autonomous institutions.

"Since the union was established by an Act of Parliament, it is autonomous and exists outside Government and university authority," Mutambara was quoted as saying (The Herald August 25, 1989.)

Two months later, the University of Zimbabwe was closed indefinitely on October 4 1989, after Mutambara incited students to demonstrate leading to the destruction of offices and vice-chancellor Professor Walter Kamba’s Mercedes Benz car. The vice-chancellor’s car was only saved from being burnt by police intervention, though all its windows and lights were smashed.

This is the legacy Mutambara left on campus, which is why a bar in the SU building — October 4 — was named to mark the violent demonstrations.

Prior to the unrest, Mutambara’s office had issued a series of inflammatory publications that were secretly distributed to students on October 2.

One document titled, "In Defence of Academic Freedom" claimed that the Zimbabwe Government was worse than the De Klerk regime in apartheid South Africa.

Mutambara’s argument was that the University of Zimbabwe, whose Chancellor was ironically Cde Mugabe, had to be autonomous.

He was quoted as saying Cde Mugabe’s influence ended at Churchill Avenue, the southern border of the campus, saying Emergency Powers Regulations could not be allowed to operate on campus.

But Professor Kamba differed saying, "Though the university could have academic freedom and autonomy, it still had to operate within the laws of the country because it was set up by an Act of Parliament, which could either be repealed or amended. The institution is an integral part of society."

After the riots, Mutambara, his secretary general, Enock Chikweche (Munyaradzi Gwisai) and the then Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general, Morgan Tsvangirai were detained under the Emergency Powers (Maintenance of Law and Order) Regulations.

This was the first time the State had taken such drastic action against students who, since independence, had maintained a policy of dialogue.

The politicisation of the student movement was evident in the way Mutambara’s SRC joined the bandwagon to demonise the outcome of the 1990 presidential and parliamentary elections, which, ironically were endorsed by their partners in the ZCTU.

The SRC, which represented aspiring workers, surprisingly also wanted to be at the forefront of May Day celebrations along with the ZCTU but was barred by the Government from doing so.

Mutambara began calling himself "the executive president of the SRC" inviting attacks from the Political Science Students Association that, on May 30 that year, accused him of dictatorial behaviour.

There certainly appears to be nothing progressive in Mutambara’s tenure, the only notable thing was that it was the watershed of student activism, which has never been the same again.

Now if this is the base that Mutambara hopes to build on, then he needs to be reminded that national politics is a world apart from student politics, and Zimbabwe has since moved beyond politics of confrontation, which is why Tsvangirai is singing the blues today.

But if as he said in his statement, "as Zimbabwean citizens, it is part of our civic duty and obligation to develop political and economic solutions to the country’s current problems," then he is welcome to national politics.

If he wins the MDC presidency on Sunday, many wait to see if he will live up to that statement.

Curriculum Vitae


Standard Bank

5 Simmonds Street, Johannesburg, SA

cell: (+27)-83-287-9091 Office: (+27)-11-631-1146


A Standard Bank Director with responsibilities in 17 African countries. A Research Scientist and Professor of Robotics and Mechatronics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and NASA, with business experience and skills as a Management Consultant with McKinsey & Company. High technology expert and leader, global strategy specialist, and an entrepreneur who advises senior managers and business leaders of top U.S. companies. Community leader, public intellectual, and activist who is extensively involved in socio-economic issues in both the U.S. and Africa


STANDARD BANK, JOHANNESBURG SA, 2002-Present: Director, Stanbic Africa (Payments) Developing and executing an Electronic Payments strategy in seventeen African countries


Management Consultant. Provide strategic advice to senior managers and business leaders of top USA companies

Industry Sectors: High Technology, Telecommunications, Automotive Assembly, Electrical Power/Natural Gas, Manufacturing, Financial Institutions, and Pharmaceutical and Medical Products.

Functional Expertise: Technology Management, Corporate Strategy, Global Strategy, Corporate Finance, Post-Merger Management, Business Building, and Operations Strategy and Effectiveness


• Telecom company (Fortune 100) Corporate strategy, Growth study; impact: 20% increase in revenues

• Hi-Tech company (Fortune 500) M&A/ Change of Ownership; impact: smooth and effective transition

• Insurance company (Fortune 100) Corporate strategy-Business unit strategy: 25% increase in new business

• Banking and Securities (Fortune 100) Global strategy-business unit strategy: creation of new products

• Hi-Tech company (Fortune 500) operations and marketing: 30% increase in sales

• Chicago Public School Systems, review of teaching effectiveness

• Internal knowledge management: The value proposition for global outsourcing of call centers

• Chicago Public School Systems, review of teaching and learning effectiveness (work in progress)

• Sustainable Profitable Growth (insurance practice): designed innovative risk management products

• Business Building (High Tech): Developed a complete semester set of lectures for Kellogg Business School


Advanced engineering research, publication of books and journal papers, taught undergraduates and graduates in the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department. Assistant Professor, 1999-2001

Established and supervised teaching and research activities in the fields of sensor fusion, and robotics.

• Managed graduate controls and mechatronics laboratories, including budgets, grant proposals and hiring

• Taught undergraduate classes in feedback control systems, and computer system architecture.

• Taught graduate classes in nonlinear control systems, and advanced robotics.

• Presented graduate research seminars in multisensor fusion and decentralised estimation and control.

• Chaired and participated in academic committees.

Visiting Research Scientist, 1999-2001

Carried out research activities, wrote research proposals, managed research grants in the fields of decentralised estimation, multisensor fusion, and modular robotics.

• Managed a $500,000 NASA research grant, and a $200,000 NSF grant

• Research into wheeled mobile robots, decentralized communication in scalable flight formation.

• Research into mechatronic design methodology, and modular robots.

• Supervised Masters and PhD research students in the areas of decentralised estimation and sensor fusion.

Author, 1999-2001. Wrote sixteen refereed journal papers in the areas of Decentralised Estimation, Distributed Control, Sensor Fusion, Modular Robotics, and Mechatronics. Authored three Electrical Engineering books that are widely used in Engineering Graduate Schools, including MIT:

•Decentralised Estimation and Control for Multisensor Systems, February 1998

•Design and Analysis of Control Systems, June 1999

•Mechatronics and Robotics: Design and Applications, December 2001


Advanced robotics research, seminar series, and NASA/ARL research grant proposal with the CMU Robotics Institute.

Visiting Research Scientist, 1998

Carried out research activities, wrote research proposals, managed research grants in field robotics, multisensor fusion, and modular robotics.

• Managed a $200,000 NASA/ARL research grant

• Research into experimental unmanned vehicles (XUV), their communication and supervised autonomy.

• Research into mechatronic design methodology, and modular robots.

• Supervised Masters and PhD research students in the areas of wheeled mobile robotics.



Teaching undergraduates and graduates, engineering research activities, research publication in the Mechanical Department.

Assistant Professor, 1995-1997. Established and supervised teaching and research activities in control systems, mechatronics and robotics.

• Managed a $400,000 NASA research grant, and a $200,000 NSF grant

• Taught undergraduate classes in feedback control systems, and introduction to robotics and echatronics.

• Taught graduate classes in nonlinear control systems, and advanced robotics.

• Presented graduate research seminars in multisensor fusion and decentralized estimation and control.

• Supervised undergraduate and graduate controls and mechatronics laboratories.

• Chaired and participated in academic committees.

• Research into wheeled mobile robots, decentralised communication in scalable flight formation.

• Research into mechatronic design methodology, and modular robots.

• Supervised Masters and PhD research students in the areas of decentralised estimation and sensor fusion.


Rhodes Scholarship, Recipient, Zimbabwe (1991). Selection committee member: Florida (2000), Illinois (2001-02)

Fulbright Fellowship, Awarded, 1991

Public Lectures, Numerous (socio-economic) presentations in the US, Zimbabwe, and South Africa (1995-2001)

Africa Technology and Science Strategy (ATSS), Founder and President

Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), Elected Member, 1994

Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE), Elected Member, 1995

British Computer Society (BCS), Elected Member, 1996

National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Student advisor, FAMU-FSU 1996-7

US National Science Foundation, and the Robotics Review Panel Committee member, 1996-2002



Mini-Master of Business Administration (MMBA), March 2001, Corporate Finance, Strategy, and Microeconomics


Doctor of Philosophy, March 1995, Robotics and Mechatronics

Master of Science, October 1992, Electrical Engineering/Computer Engineering


Bachelor of Science (Honours), December 1990, Electrical and Electronic Engineering

VISA STATUS: Zimbabwean citizen with U.S. permanent residence (Green card).

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Quake's trail of terror

From The Star (SA), 23 February

By Sapa-AP and Lee Rondganger

A powerful earthquake struck Mozambique early this morning, shaking
buildings and forcing people from hundreds of kilometres around to dash into
the streets for safety. Buildings swayed and doors shook across the country,
as far as towns bordering South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, but there was
no immediate word of injuries. The US Geological Survey said the magnitude
7,5 quake's epicentre was 225km southwest of Mozambique's main port of
Beira. It struck at 12.40am South African time, and was felt as far away as
Johannesburg, Durban and Harare. A magnitude of 7 is considered a major
earthquake capable of widespread and heavy damage. Elias Daudi, Mozambique's
national director of energy, said on state radio today that authorities
still had no information on casualties or the extent of the damage. He also
urged people not to return to their buildings because of possible
aftershocks. At least five aftershocks were immediately recorded and more
were expected in the coming days because of the quake's size, said Rafael
Abreu, of the USGS.

The temblor occurred near the southern end of the East African rift system,
a seismically active zone. Since 1900, the largest quake measured on the
rift system had a magnitude of 7,6, according to the USGS website.
Mozambican state radio said the quake had been centred near Espungabera, a
small farming town in a remote and sparsely populated area near the border
with Zimbabwe. The quake shook buildings and sent frightened people into the
streets in Mutare and Masvingo, two Zimbabwean cities about 160km from the
epicentre. There were no reports of damage in Zimbabwe. The quake was also
felt more than 1 000km away in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, and
jolted people out of their beds in the capital, Harare, where panic-stricken
apartment dwellers ran into the streets.

In Beira, a hotel manager said mainly South African tourists had run
terrified from their rooms when the building began moving. Tivoli Hotel
manager Johana Neves said: "It felt like the building was going to fall down
and it went on for a long time, the trembling. It felt like you were in a
boat, it was shaking everything yet, it's strange, nothing is broken, even
the windows." She said panicked guests had returned to their rooms. But
Antonio Dinis, who also works at the hotel, said the streets were full of
people afraid to go back home or sleep. In Maputo, hundreds of people also
fled their homes for the street, as they did in Chimoyo, some 480km from
Beira near the border with Zimbabwe, and Tete, neighbouring Zambia and
Malawi, the Mozambique radio station said. Storms and flooding killed at
least 13 people this month in Mozambique, where the United Nations warned
that natural disasters, food shortages and high Aids rates were threatening
the nation's chances of throwing off the shackles of a long civil war.
Mozambique, one of the world's poorest countries, suffers from frequent
flooding. In 2000 and 2001, floods killed more than 800 people, left
hundreds of thousands homeless and severely damaged roads and bridges.

The quake was shallow, which increases the potential for damage, said Dale
Grant, a geophysicist with the USGS National Earthquake Information Centre
in Golden, Colorado. "It was felt very widely in the epicentral area, though
it's not a very heavily populated area," Grant said. "There is certain to be
damage, but so far, we've had absolutely no word of damage." In
Johannesburg, panicked residents kept emergency workers busy last night as
tremors from the quake were felt as far south as Turffontein. Malcolm
Midgley, spokesperson for the Johannesburg Emergency Services, said they had
responded to calls from Illovo, the Johannesburg CBD and Turffontein. "We
initially got a call that a building had collapsed in the CBD but when we
got there we just found people standing around. They were a bit shaken up by
the whole experience," he said. Midgley said people had felt the building
shake during the tremors, which reverberated through parts of Johannesburg.

"We need to respond to any reports from the citizens of the city and a big
part of what we did last night was to reassure them that everything was
alright. After the reported tremors, we had a look at the buildings and
found that there was no structural damage. Nobody was injured either,"
Midgley said. A South African living in Maputo, Phillip Bouwen, told 702
Eyewitness News that he lived in the tallest building in that city, and had
rushed to the window when he felt the quake. "I was just hanging out of the
window waiting for the tsunami," he said. "The building was swaying . it was
like being on a boat, things were falling off the shelves," he added. In
Durban, Gauteng resident Ebrahim Docrat was evacuated from his beachfront
hotel room when the quake struck. He said everybody had been woken and told
to take the emergency exit to the front of the hotel. A Queenswood,
Pretoria, resident said he had woken up when his bed had started swaying
from side to side.

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Survey shows Mugabe's rise and fall

Sunday Times, SA

Thursday February 23, 2006 07:12 - (SA)

By Donwald Pressly

A new survey shows that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe enjoys the trust
of only 19% of urban dwellers in his country and just 37% in rural areas -
or just 31% overall.

It also finds that after government newspapers and the electoral commission,
the president and his ruling Zanu-PF were the least trusted public
institutions in the country.

An Afrobarometer survey - carried out randomly among 1,096 respondents who
were nationally representative and a purposeful sub-sample of 104
respondents comprising victims of the government's operation
Murambatsvina/Restore Order - states: "The general picture portrayed is that
of low trust in the president by the urban community."

The survey - conducted between October 9 and 26 last year - however, shows a
rise in support for Mugabe in 2004 from pitiful levels in 1999.

The survey prepared by Eldred Masunungure, Anyway Ndapwadza, Noma Sibanda
and Naume Choguya shows that trust in the public face of Zimbabwe - the
president - dropped 15 percentage points from nearly half or 47% of all
survey respondents in 2004 to less than a third - 31% in 2005.

This - they say - must be read in conjunction with his job approval rating
which dropped from a respectable 58% in 2004 - which was described as "a
dramatic recovery" from a low of only 21% in 1999 - to only 26% in 2005, a
32 percentage point drop in approval rating.

In 1999 the survey showed that 17% in urban areas trusted the president
while 21% in rural areas trusted him - either a lot of somewhat.

In 2004 these figures jumped to 45% in urban areas and 58% in rural areas.
However, these figures dropped to 19% and 37% respectively in 2005.

The survey ascribes the rise in 2004 to the land reform programme - which
saw white commercial farms being redistributed - but the drop in trust to
the operation Murambatsvina/Restore order - which saw informal businesses
and housing devastated by the police.

Significantly trust in public institutions was topped by the courts of law
with 53% of respondents saying they trusted the courts.

This was followed by the military with 50%.

Opposition political parties received a 47% approval rating while
independent newspapers gained 44%.

Independent broadcasting services notched up 41%, the police just 39%,
parliament just 35%, local councils 33%, government broadcasting services
33%, the president and the ruling party just 31%, the Electoral Commission
29% and government newspapers just 28%.

The survey report - issued by Idasa in South Africa - noted that except for
the judiciary and the military, none of the institutions surveyed attracted
the trust of even half of the adult populace.

I-Net Bridge

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Bob's birthday

Business Day


IF EVER evidence was needed of the damage caused by leaders staying in power
for too long, it was Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's recent birthday

The interview, which Mugabe gave to state television to mark his 82nd
birthday, showed just how tenuous is the president's grasp on the reality of
his country's situation.

He argues, for example, that Zimbabwe's economic crisis (it was one of only
three African countries whose economies actually contracted last year) is
the result of bad weather conditions and sanctions. His solution is to
continue printing money at a terrifying pace, which he argues will alleviate
any socioeconomic hardships that Zimbabweans are facing. And he says this,
presumably, in the knowledge that Zimbabwe already has the highest inflation
rate in the world.

Mugabe had a go at his usual targets - homosexuals, US President George Bush
and British Prime Minister Tony Blair - and he added a few new ones.
Labelling African leaders cowards for not telling western leaders "to go to
hell" when they complained about his disputed re-election victory in 2002,
he told President Thabo Mbeki and other leaders to keep out of Zimbabwe's
internal affairs.

Mugabe's comments highlight just how difficult, if not impossible, it has
been for Mbeki and other African leaders to facilitate change in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe has reigned supreme for 22 years, and has absolutely no intention of
courting outside assistance. Each attempt to help resolve the political
crisis has been halted as soon as it reached Mugabe's door. The most recent
was by Mbeki, who helped negotiate a deal whereby the ruling Zanu (PF) and
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change wrote a draft constitution
that could have helped resolve the country's crisis. Mugabe killed the

SA did, and still does, have other options. It is quite clear that quiet
diplomacy, or any other form of intervention, will not succeed while Mugabe
remains in power. Given its influence in the Southern African Development
Community and the African Union, there is an opening for SA to call urgently
and repeatedly for these bodies to condemn Mugabe's dictatorial tactics and
the country's human rights abuses.

But there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. Mugabe repeated in the
interview that he planned to step down at the end of his current term, in
2008. But two years is a long time for a country in dire economic straits.
Continental, and world, pressure must continue.

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Peri-urban farms to be sub-divided

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

From Paidamoyo Muzulu in Chinhoyi
issue date :2006-Feb-23

THE government is working on a project to demarcate gazetted peri-urban
farms into small plots to be parcelled out to underprivileged urbanites for
agricultural purposes.
Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement Minister, Didymus Mutasa, this week told
a meeting on problems related to the on going land reform programme that he
would soon discuss the finer details of the ambitious project with
provincial governors and local government authorities.
"Farms that have been gazetted as peri-urban land should benefit the poor.
The land should be given to those who reside in the urban areas.  Let the
vendors and other less fortunate people get small pieces of land to
supplement their income," said Mutasa, who is also the Minister of State for
National Security.
The Zanu PF secretary for administration said he had suggested that the
plots be two hectares in size and that beneficiaries would be allowed to
build houses on the land to ease accommodation problems in urban areas.
"If for instance the beneficiaries are allocated two hectares of land each,
they can settle on the plots and lessen the accommodation burden in towns.
It would also create green belts around urban areas," Mutasa explained.
He said the project would lessen poverty in towns.
Zimbabwe embarked on land reforms in February 2000 to correct 100 years of
historical imbalances brought about by colonialism, where five percent of
whites owned over 90 percent of arable land, while the majority
blacks were cramped on the remainder.
Under the agrarian reform programme, 140 698 people benefited under the
rural decongestion exercise (A1 model) and 14 856 more under the commercial
farming scheme.

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Mugabe turns birthday into state occasion

MDC Press

23 February 2006

In typical medieval fashion, Robert Mugabe at the weekend will once again
turn his birthday into a grand state occasion with lavish feasting and hype
while the nation is in the middle of starvation.

The MDC notes with concern the mobilizing of the nation state towards
celebrating the birthday of a tyrant, with massive media hype as if 21
February is a national holiday. It is criminal for Mugabe and Zanu PF to
continue to abuse the nation by harping about Mugabe's birthday while real
issues are tucked at the back seat of national attention and debate.

The real story of Zimbabwe is not the birthday of an 82-year old, but the
massive starvation in our communities, the corruption in Zanu PF that has
ground the economy to a halt and the collapsing education and health

The real story of Zimbabwe is the debilitating political and economic
crisis, which has turned Zimbabwe into a pariah state shunned by all and
sundry in the community of nations. Mugabe is betraying the young generation
by mobilizing the whole nation for a private annual ritual, which is nothing
but another milestone in his many years of tyranny.

If Zanu PF were to turn their frenzy and effort in organizing Mugabe's
birthday into a concerted effort to solve our problems, Zimbabwe would be a
different nation by tomorrow.

Zimbabweans demand an immediate end to the continued exploitation of the
young generation through a patronage system such as the 21st February
movement. Turning a personal birthday into a dubious movement is part of an
out-dated personality cult system normally associated with dictators..

The MDC condemns the turning of Mugabe's private function into a national
holiday. Mugabe's 82nd-birthday celebration should be a quiet affair that
should provide him with a perfect window to reflect on the damage he has
caused to the nation.

The MDC believes in the clear distinction between party and state occasions.
Zanu PF wants to blur the area between party and government business and
make this a fertile ground for looting and corruption..

The people demand an end to the personality cult surrounding Mugabe.

Meanwhile, the MDC national council met in Harare and reviewed the progress
made in the party's preparation for the March congress. Council debated
proposals from all the party organs on policy, the Constitution and state of
the party institutionally.

The council noted with dismay the decision by the state to release the party's
parliamentary allocation to a group of rebels, led by suspended Secretary
General Welshman Ncube. In the council's view, the decision was deliberate.
It was a decision meant to bolster the programme of the rebels to disrupt
normal MDC activity and to support their cause.

The management of the assets of the party, including financial support from
Parliament, shall be settled at our March congress. No individual or group
of individuals shall meddle with the property and assets of the people.

The council noted the attempt by the suspended MDC rebels to meet on
Saturday in Bulawayo at which they plan to come up with names of individuals
purporting to be legitimate office holders for the MDC.

The Bulawayo meeting is being facilitated and supported by Zanu PF. Several
vehicles and buses have been lined up to pick up Zanu PF officials and youth
militia from various parts of the country to attend this meeting.

But all this will not extinguish the flame of change that is engulfing the
nation ahead of the MDC congress in March. Zimbabweans are ready for a new
beginning and a new Zimbabwe.

Nelson Chamisa, MP
Secretary for Information and Publicity


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China pledges more aid to Zimbabwe

Xinhua 2006-02-23 20:58:56

          HARARE, Feb. 23 (Xinhuanet) -- China will continue to give
material and financial aid to Zimbabwe to further strengthen existing
bilateral relations, said Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Zhang Xianyi
Thursday at the handover ceremony of 3,000 metric tons of maize donated by
China to Zimbabwe.

          He said China was aware of the severe food shortages the country
was facing due to persistent droughts that have dogged theregion in recent
years and would continue to render assistance in dealing with the problem.

          "The People's Republic of China cherish the traditional friendship
with Zimbabwe, which dates back to the pre-independenceera, and shall assist
to the best of our ability," said Xianyi.

          The Chinese ambassador said it was not the first time that his
government had helped Zimbabwe, adding that they donated two passenger
aircraft to the country, in addition to one the government had purchased.

          "Only one month ago, on behalf of the Chinese government I handed
over an MA 60 passenger aircraft to the government," he said.

          Speaking at the same function, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture,
Sylvester Nguni, paid tribute to the Chinese government, saying it was not
the first time that they had made such a gesture as they donated 4,500
metric tons of maize in 2003.

          He said the donation had come at a critical moment when the
agricultural sector was facing some challenges of implementing programs to
improve its performance so as to realize the gains of the land reform

          Finance Deputy Minister David Chapfika signed the handover
document on behalf of the government while Xianyi signed for his country.

          Grain Marketing Board (GMB) Acting Chief Executive officer Samuel
Muvhuti said the gesture of goodwill shown by China would go a long way in
helping GMB in its mandate to feed the nation andmeet consumer needs.

          He said they would start soon to distribute the maize to their
various depots around the country to ensure food security in Zimbabwe.

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'Western journalists distorting news in Zim'


          February 23 2006 at 03:37PM

      Harare - Zimbabwe's private press needs "urgent reform" because
Western-sponsored journalists are distorting the true Zimbabwean story, the
country's justice minister was quoted as saying on Thursday.

      Patrick Chinamasa told security officers from the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) meeting in Harare on Wednesday that "enemies of
the state" were using the private press to Zimbabwe's disadvantage.

      "The current media set-up requires reforms as it permits enemies of
the state to mislead the public to the detriment of the country's
interests," state radio reported him as saying.

      President Robert Mugabe's government says it is the target of a
hostile Western media campaign and has long been at loggerheads with the
private media here.

       Under tough media laws introduced in 2002, four private newspapers
have been closed down and dozens of journalists - both local and foreign -

      According to the official Herald newspaper on Thursday, Chinamasa said
Zimbabwe's story "was being told by Western journalists or Western-sponsored
local journalists and personnel and naturally it was distorted and

      He complained that minority voices were being given undue prominence
in the private press, the Herald said.

      "Thus the media needs urgent reform in order to inculcate shared
values," Chinamasa was quoted as saying.

      Zimbabwe has three independent weekly newspapers: the Financial
Gazette, the Zimbabwe Independent and the Standard.

      The Daily Mirror is also privately-owned, but is closely linked to the
ruling party. - Sapa-dpa

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Zimbabwe opposition seen headed for a split


      Thu Feb 23, 2006 2:43 PM GMT

By Stella Mapenzauswa

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition looked headed for a permanent
split as one faction readied a meeting on Friday that could formalise
divisions in a party long seen as the most potent political threat to
President Robert Mugabe.

Formed in 1999, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) divided into two
hostile camps last year amid disagreements over how to take on Mugabe's
ruling ZANU-PF, which has run Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

Both groups are set to hold separate congresses to choose new leaders, the
first on Saturday in the southern city of Bulawayo by a faction lead by MDC
Vice President Gibson Sibanda and Secretary-General Welshman Ncube.

Longtime MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who came close to unseating Mugabe in
presidential elections in 2002, has rejected the challenge to his
leadership -- leaving analysts to predict a formal split between the two
groups and a severely weakened opposition in the crisis-hit country.

"Any group of people can meet as they wish but their meeting will not be an
MDC congress," Tsvangirai spokesman William Bango told Reuters on Thursday.
"Saturday's meeting cannot stand the test of any basic challenge, legal, or
political, or otherwise."

Tsvangirai, who continues to lead a faction of MDC loyalists, ran into
trouble last year when he ordered the party to boycott elections for a new
Senate which he said was simply a fig-leaf for extending Mugabe's control
over the country.

The dissident group argued that the MDC should contest the polls to allow
voters a choice.

Ncube told Reuters in an interview last month his group would not reconcile
with Tsvangirai, branding him a dictator who sought to overrule internal
democratic processes.


The MDC's bickering has been played out in private and state media, the
latter gleefully recounting the woes of a party Mugabe has branded a puppet
of former colonial power Britain.

Analysts say that while Tsvangirai is likely to emerge intact as the main
challenger to Mugabe, the dispute has damaged the party and leaves
Zimbabwe's opposition movement weaker.

"Whichever faction prevails, I think it is a lose-lose situation and it
makes the future bleaker for those that want to see a new political
dispensation in Zimbabwe," said political analyst Eldred Masunungure of the
University of Zimbabwe.

The MDC's problems play out against a backdrop of deepening gloom in
Zimbabwe, which has suffered through five years of economic crisis sparked
by Mugabe's controversial move to seize white-owned farms to give to
landless blacks.

The country, once the breadbasket of Southern Africa, now has frequent food
and fuel shortages, rapidly rising unemployment and the highest inflation
rate in the world.

While the leadership battle has already fractured the MDC's support base,
there already appeared to be secondary struggles within the dissident
faction due to meet this weekend.

Local media has reported friction over the planned endorsement of South
African-based former militant student leader Arthur Mutambara as new party
president, a move seen by some as overlooking more deserving candidates who
have suffered Zimbabwe's political crisis firsthand.

In a statement indirectly acknowledging the tensions, Ncube urged members of
his faction to "remain patient and calm and await the determination of who
will be the president of the party by congress".

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Another University planning to strip Mugabe of honorary degree

      By Violet Gonda
      23 February 2006

      Jack Wilson the President of the University of Massachusetts in
Boston, USA has said he will consider revoking an honorary doctorate awarded
to Robert Mugabe in 1986. Journalist Geoff Hill said this was discussed
during a press conference on Wednesday at the home of Nelson Mandela when
the board of directors from the American university were conferring a
similar honorary degree on the former South African President.

      Two other Universities, Edinburgh and Michigan have said they are
looking at the process of stripping Mugabe of their own honorary degrees
because of his bad human rights record in recent years.

      Hill, who posed the question about Mugabe's honorary degree during the
press conference, said Wilson was very responsive and said that he would
lead the process and initiate an enquiry as soon as he got back to Boston.

      Mugabe has earned 6 degrees and has been awarded at least 4 honorary
doctorates from the University's of Michigan, Massachusetts, Edinburgh and
Zimbabwe. He famously quipped that he has also a degree in violence.

      Geoff Hill said although Mugabe might respond to this latest news by
making his usual attack on the West, "this sends a very important message to
leaders around the world, certainly in Africa, that these things are not a
one way street."

       At his speech on Wednesday, Wilson paid tribute to President Mandela's
"lifelong commitment to freedom," saying he had come to South Africa to
honour one of his personal heroes.

      "Nelson Mandela is a hero to all people who value freedom, dignity and
justice," he said.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Mutambara can fight Mugabe at two levels

New Zimbabwe

By Conrad Nyamutata
Last updated: 02/23/2006 16:20:00
THE euphoria surrounding Arthur Mutambara's entry into the political ring
begs for some analysis. A highly educated man, Mutambara joins Zimbabwean
politics at a time when the opposition is in total disarray. At a time of
acrimony and bitter division.

It is this aspect, perhaps, which spoils his emergence into the political
arena. I say this because Mutambara has been forced to take a side with one
of the MDC factions. It means, at the point of entry, he will obviously not
enjoy the support of supporters loyal to Morgan Tsvangirai.

Sadly, all this is happening when, more than ever, we need a united
opposition in Zimbabwe. But then Mutambara has the right to choose his
Does he hold the hope of a nation seeking salvation?

Up until he issued his terse statement, I was beginning to be uncomfortable
about the whole outpouring of adulation from several quarters. The source of
my discomfort is that, by mere coincidence, Mutambara waltzed onto the scene
at a time when a poignant example of personality cultism was so brutally
evident. That is, Mugabe and the national celebration of his birthday. Such
events place undue emphasis on the person. I believe the personality cultism
is a bane of our politics, and a cancer we ought to root out.

I felt we were, and prematurely so, getting orgasmic about Mutambara without
having heard about his vision and values. He had been away for a long time,
and at least, we needed to know his leadership style, his vision and so on.
The bits we know were about his exploits as a student leader, and of course,
his resume. But we needed to know about the potential of a national leader.
His vision of future for our country, how he would address the crippling
crisis and so on. Then, we would have had genuine cause for a frenzy.

My hero, Nelson Mandela, quickly comes to mind. Until he had outlined his
post-prison vision, we all had reason to be sceptical. Or we should. And
when he eventually espoused the vision of unity - a rainbow nation- for
South Africa, the whole world stood up in collective adulation. It is the
reason he is revered to this day.

Ironically, it is the same way Mugabe became the darling of the
international community; he sold the policy of reconciliation. He was adored
for the "let-bygones-be-bygones" refrain. Only that he did not live up to

Indeed, struggles should be followed by a vision of nation-building. It is
the reason why the fascination, or worse still, the fanaticism, around
Mutambara is worrisome insofar as it is premature. We seemed to be going
agog when Mutambara had not even said a word. Neither has he been elected to
the leadership of the MDC faction.

For that reason I found the frenetic response at the mention of his name
only rather misplaced. I thought the Messiah - albeit a silent one - had
eventually come to guarantee our salvation.

As I said I later drew a measure of comfort when he issued a curt statement
about his vision for the future. I say a 'measure' because I believe in
giving people the benefit of the doubt, not total loyalty the moment they
open their mouth.

Mutambara sounded not to want to nurture division, which is important. He
appeared to articulate sensible national values and a vision shared by the
generality of Zimbabweans. That he is desirous to see the reunification of
democratic forces made me think he probably knew what Zimbabwe needed most
at the moment. I thought he might, after all, be having his finger on the

As many have already stated, divisions among the democratic forces only
serve to prolong Mugabe's misrule and our suffering as nation. At a time of
the worst crisis in our time, it is a crying shame that things have fallen
apart so badly within the opposition camp. It is undeniable that a strong
opposition is critical at this point in time.

If Mutambara does become leader of the faction, it remains to be seen if he
can mend the acrimonious rift. But it appears to me personal egos have been
so inflated, it is more of hope than expectation that such repair can be
achieved. As Brian Kagoro suggested a while ago, we need the leadership of
the MDC to set aside their egos and talk. The national interest should
supersede the personal egos.

But let us take a brief look at the frenzy around Prof Mutambara. I must
admit that it is easy to understand the hullabaloo generated by this former
student leader. First, he is a consummate intellectual, and secondly he has
a background of 'jambanja'. And a history of leading it too.

Therein lies his appeal in particular within the middle class, working
class, student population and urban areas at large. I deliberately avoided
using the term "mass appeal" because Mutambara would still have to endear
himself with the rural populace, among whom his name and robotics are hardly
But within his captive audience, Mutambara encompasses two elements - high
intellect and the capability for jambanja. Many of reasonable intellectual
capacity among us are, therefore, understandably thrilled at the leadership
of one from the intelligentsia. I shall not regurgitate his impressive CV
here. Even The Herald reproduced it in full!

Secondly, his appeal is based on his 'fights' with the regime while at the
University of Zimbabwe (UZ). We all know that anyone who can stand up to a
bully earns plaudits for heroism. Mutambara is 'schooled' in jambanja, which
I will loosely translate as violent confrontation.

The history of post-independent Zimbabwe cannot be told without the role
played by students at the UZ. It is fair to say that, until university
students during Mutambara's era introduced the nation to violent
confrontation against state organs, we were as good as sitting ducks at the
mercy of an all powerful regime.

When Mutambara and Co were proving a pain in the wrong place for the Mugabe
regime, they were enjoying the silent acclaim of nation beginning to suffer
the consequences of acute and very poor governance. They braved teargas, the
police and CIO at the campus. We counted on them, students.
For once, we learnt that Mugabe could be confronted head on. We learnt we
could call him names and mock him too. But more importantly, we learnt we
could challenge injustice. In that respect, the UZ became a citadel of the
struggle against repression.

Again it is only fair to say, in that respect, the students opened a new
frontier in the struggle for democracy. That culture of confrontation spread
throughout the student population in the country, civic society and the

Jambanja came to characterise phases of our democratic struggle later on, as
evidenced by the ZCTU and MDC-induced mass protests.

Of course, Mugabe descended on us/them with the agility of a leopard and the
force of a hammer. It is during this era that Mutambara was conspicuously
absent, amassing degrees abroad.

Comparatively, Mugabe, with his war credentials, is highly educated too. It
has not stopped him unleashing his dogs of war on his opponents with
carefree abandon. On the other hand, Mutambara, now a renowned professor,
has a history of facing up to such kind of repression; meeting fire with

While Tsvangirai, had surrounded himself with a motley crew of learned
persons, he has always been associated with the jambanja side of things
only. He has never been regarded as an intellectual himself.

The new entrant, Mutambara, appears to possess both the intellect and
capacity for jambanja. For that reason, he is seen as a person who can fight
Robert Mugabe, and Zanu PF, at those two levels. In my view, it is the
reason he has captured the imagination of a desperate nation.

Nyamutata is former chief reporter of the banned Daily News and writes from
Leicester, England. He can be contacted on:

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Ministry probes Chipinge council

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

From Netsai Kembo in Mutare
issue date :2006-Feb-23

THE Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development has
launched an investigation into the operations of Chipinge Town Council amid
allegations of corruption and maladministration.

Sources told this newspaper that local government minister Ignatius Chombo
last week appointed a three-member committee led by Manicaland Provincial
Administrator, Fungai Mbetsa, to probe the council.
The investigation, sources said, was prompted by an anonymous letter to the
ministry chronicling alleged corruption and mismanagement.
Chipinge Town Council chairman, Mathias Gurai, confirmed the ministry's
move, but declined to shed light on the matter.
"It's true that we are under investigations on a number of allegations, but
I am not at liberty to disclose details," Gurai said. "I am also under probe
and I shouldn't sound as if I am trying to influence the investigations."
Sources said the team would investigate allegations that some councillors
were abusing their positions to acquire stands, which they later sold at
exorbitant prices.
It would also probe allegations that the council recently abused interest
from a $5 billion water reticulation upgrading project loan and bought a
truck without the blessings of the ministry.
One of the sources said: "Since the election into office in mid 2003 some
councillors have acquired as many as eight residential stands each.
"Also disturbing is the fact that some people  are  operating as if they are
full time council employees and are claiming allowances of up to $270 000 a
The council has eight councillors.

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Huge response to appeal to help restore women's dignity

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

HARARE, 23 Feb 2006 (IRIN) - A staggering response by ordinary South
Africans to an appeal for sanitary pads for Zimbabwean women, hit by
shortages and rocketing prices, has floored activists.

"The appeal was made by South African 5FM radio at the beginning of the
year. When we went to collect the pads this week - we found every empty
corner and space in their studio was crammed with sanitary pad packets with
little notes from families, mothers and even school girls," said an
emotional Lucia Matabenga, the first vice-president of the Zimbabwe Congress
of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

"We found notes which said this was an attempt to 'restore the dignity of
Zimbabwean women - we are with you'. We are grateful, we are really
grateful," she added.

A packet of 10 sanitary pads costs US $10 in Zimbabwe, where the average
salary ranges between $50 to $100 a month. "As the pads are beyond the reach
of ordinary Zimbabweans, women are using unhygienic materials like old rags
and even newspapers which will have long-term effects on their reproductive
health, particularly of Zimbabwean girls," said Matabenga.

"It is inhuman," said feminist Isabella Matambanadzo. "The pieces of cloth
women are forced to use who cannot afford the sanitary pads is an affront to
their dignity.

"The country is also experiencing water shortages - so they have a problem
cleaning [the cloth] or even disposing of it, particularly when at work."

On Thursday, ZCTU officials collected 19 mt of sanitary pads, part of which
had also been donated by the multinational Johnson and Johnson, from the
Congress of South African Trade Unions' (COSATU) headquarters in
Johannesburg. COSATU and other agencies are going to organise the
transportation of the sanitary pads to Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean authorities are considering waiving duties on the consignment,
said ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibebe.

The imposition of duties had stalled an earlier initiative called "Dignify a
Sister" to bring in sanitary products by activist organisation, Women of
Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA). "We found ourselves trying to raise funds for the
duties - which really defeated the purpose of our objective," said Jenni
William, WOZA's national coordinator.

"The irony is that women farmers produce the country's cotton," noted

Zimbabwe is in the throes of a severe economic crisis as a result of
recurring poor harvests and the government's fast-track land redistribution
programme, which disrupted agricultural production and slashed export
earnings. The government blames unofficial sanctions by western nations for
the country's economic woes.

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Zimbabwe deploys security agents to quell students riots

      February 23, 2006, 6 hours, 28 minutes and 29 seconds ago.

      By ANDnetwork .com

      Johannesburg (AND) The government has deployed state security agents,
heavily armed anti-riot police at universities and tertiary institutions in
response to student demonstrations that have rocked the country from last

      The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) is leading protests
against the 1000 % increase intuition fees resulting in some faculties
rising to $90million up from $3 million a semester.The militant stance has
seen the students' body close down government universities and tertiary
institutionscountrywide in protests to the new tuition fees

       ZINASU secretary general, Promise Nkhwananzi, said thedeployment of
the police would not cow them to abandon the demonstrations.

      "We will remain resolute and the protests will soonspill into society.
We are prepared to make this country ungovernable....the sooner the fees
they arereviewed the better.The student movement is prepared and geared to
fight the government," Mkhwananzi told AND Authorities at university and
tertiary institutionssay the police are defending public property.  NUST
Director of Information and Publicity, Felix Moyo said: "We have a duty to
take measures that we feel would properly protect public property...".
National University of Science and Technology Students (NUST) in Bulawayo
last Tuesday destroyed property worth several billions of dollars in
demonstrations.  Twenty-two of the students were arrested and charged for
public violence when they appeared in court.On Tuesday, 15 Masvingo
Polytechnic students were arrested but later released for taking part in
demonstrations. Students at government institutions have also boycotted
lessons in response to the ZINASU calls to lodge all forms of resistance
against the new fees. Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ)
secretary general, Raymond Majongwe said they are fully behind the protests
saying, "Labour, lecturersand other bodies need to fight with the students
to force the government to review the fees".Christian Alliance convener,
Bishop Levee Kadenge called on the government to engage in talks to solve
the crises. "...We call upon the government to embrace a new culture of
listening to the students...," said Bishop Kadenge.

       A.N.D. could not obtain a comment from Ministry of Higher and
Tertiary Education officials and the police at the time of going to press.

      By Magugu Nyathi  AND Johannesburg

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