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SADC says Zimbabwe impasse over - MDC calls claims "malicious"

Africa News
Jan 27, 2009, 4:06 GMT

   Pretoria/Brussels - Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) on Tuesday blasted as 'malicious' assurances given by southern African
leaders at the end of a 12-hour summit that the party had agreed to join
President Robert Mugabe in a power-sharing government.

   'It's completely malicious,' a spokesman for MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa after South African President Kgalema
Motlanthe told reporters that Zimbabwe's four-month-long political impasse
had been resolved.

   'There was no agreement. We will only form a government subject to the
resolution of all of our demands,' Joseph Mungwari said.

   After 12 hours of talks between nine heads of state and government from
the 15-nation Southern African Development Community, SADC executive
secretary Tomaz Salamao, reading from a communique, said: 'the prime
minister (Tsvangirai) and the deputy prime ministers shall be sworn in by 11
February 2009.'

   The swearing in of ministers from Mugabe's Zanu-PF and two factions of
the MDC would take place two days later, ending the process of the formation
of the inclusive government, according to SADC.

   Remaining sticking points in the implementation of September's
power-sharing accord, which sees Mugabe remain president, would be dealt
with afterwards, SADC said.

   When asked whether the MDC had agreed, South African President Kgalema
Motlanthe said: 'Yes, of course they will ensure that the amendment 19 (that
makes Tsvangirai prime minister) is enacted and will present themselves on
the said date for the swearing-in ceremony.'

   Motlanthe also maintained that the MDC had given in to a SADC proposal
that it share control of the home affairs ministry with Mugabe's Zanu-PF.

   'All the parties accepted that position of SADC,' he said. The MDC was
not immediately available for comment on the claim but in a statement
circulated after the end of the summit the party listed the allocation of
ministries as a key sticking point at the outset of the talks and said the
summit fell 'far short of our expectations.'

   The party has also been demanding that dozens of its members that were
arbitrarily detained or disappeared by state forces in recent months be
released before it joins Mugabe in power.

   Monday's extraordinary SADC summit on Zimbabwe was the grouping's third
such summit on the country's situation in under a year.

   Before the talks got underway, the European Union slapped added sanctions
on Mugabe allies and allied companies over the regime's 'ongoing failure to
address the most basic economic and social needs of its people' and 'the
ongoing violations of human rights.'

   The MDC has gone cold on the prospect of sharing power with Mugabe
because of Mugabe's insistence on retaining the most important portfolios,
bar finance, for his Zanu-PF.

   Ahead of Monday's talks, a Zimbabwe government spokesman reiterated
Mugabe's threat to form a government without the MDC if it did not play

   The effects of Zimbabwe's economic meltdown are starting to be felt
throughout the region.

   At least 33 people have died of cholera in South Africa in recent months
as sick, hungry Zimbabweans stream across the border. Zimbabwe's own death
toll is close to 3,000 since August, when the outbreak began in crowded
townships and half the population of around 11 million requires food aid.

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Regional leaders want new Zimbabwe govt by mid February

by Charlotte Plantive - 47 mins ago

PRETORIA (AFP) - Southern African leaders on Tuesday gave President Robert
Mugabe and rival Morgan Tsvangirai until mid-February to form a unity
government after marathon talks to break Zimbabwe's political deadlock.
The emergency summit decided that Tsvangirai should be sworn in by February
11 to rule Zimbabwe alongside Mugabe, said Southern African Development
Community (SADC) executive secretary Tomaz Salomao.

The swearing in of cabinet ministers two days later would "conclude the
process of the formation of the inclusive government", Salomao added,
reading a statement of resolutions after 14 hours of talks.

The 15-member SADC bloc, of which 84-year-old Mugabe is also a member, met
after negotiations last week in Harare failed despite the increasing urgency
of a cholera epidemic that has killed nearly 2,800 people.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed a deal last September to form a new government
but the pact has floundered over disputes on key posts.

But South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, who chairs the SADC bloc, was
confident of breakthrough in the four month stand-off after the summit
delegates set the deadline.

"Yes, of course," he told reporters Tuesday morning when asked if the
Zimbabwe parties had agreed to join the unity government.

"They will present themselves on the set date for the swearing in and then
proceed to form the government," he said.

The unresolved power-sharing issues sank talks in Harare last week, with
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF on Monday threatening to go ahead with a new
government if the fresh efforts failed to end the dispute.

Negotiators from both parties will now meet immediately to consider a
national security council bill submitted by Tsvangirai's party, as well as a
formula for the distribution of provincial governors, SADC resolved.

However, the bloc again resolved that the contentious home affairs ministry
should be co-shared -- a proposal previously rejected by the MDC -- and
reviewed six months after the new government was inaugurated.

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said the resolutions were
less than what the party had hoped for and that the party would later define
its position.

"Quite clearly, the conclusions reached as reflected in the communique fall
far short of our expectations," the party said in a statement.

"It is important that finality be brought to this issue and therefore our
national council will meet this weekend to define the party position."

Mugabe faced increasing international pressure Monday with fresh European
Union sanctions on his rule, and calls from US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton for regional leaders to do more.

"Clinton is very focused on this issue. She's very concerned about it,"
spokesman Robert Wood told reporters in Washington.

"Certainly the membership of SADC can do more," Wood said of the SADC bloc,
which is chaired by heavyweight South Africa.

"We encourage South Africa to do as much as it can to try to put pressure on
Mugabe to do the right thing. But to date, Mugabe hasn't seemed to have any
interest whatsoever in bringing about an end to the crisis in this country,"
he said.

March's first round presidential election, in which Tsvangirai placed first
but did not win an outright majority, was followed by a brutal wave of
political violence.

Tsvangirai pulled out of the run-off, citing violence against his
supporters, leaving Mugabe to declare a one-sided victory in June.

Since then Zimbabwe has plunged deeper into ecomomic crisis with massive
unemployment and crippling hyper-inflation, and half the population
dependent on food aid.

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Zimbabwe opposition disappointed with summit

Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:10am GMT

By Stella Mapenzauswa and MacDonald Dzirutwe

PRETORIA, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Regional leaders decided at a summit on Tuesday
that Zimbabwe should form a unity government but the opposition said it was
disappointed with the outcome of the meeting.

The 15-nation SADC grouping said after the meeting in South Africa -- its
fifth attempt to secure a deal on forming a unity government -- it had
agreed that opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai should be sworn in as
prime minister by Feb. 11.

All parties agreed control of Zimbabwe's hotly disputed Home Affairs
Ministry, which has been a major obstacle to a final agreement, should be
divided between President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the MDC for six
months, said South African President Kgalema Motlanthe.

"All the parties expressed confidence in the process and committed to
implementing the agreement," Motlanthe, current SADC chair, told a news

But the MDC quickly issued a statement after the SADC communique was read
out making clear its disappointment, raising the possibility that deadlock
would drag on as Zimbabweans face growing economic hardship.


The MDC said "quite clearly the conclusions reached as reflected in the
communique fall far short of our expectations".

The MDC said its national council would meet this weekend to define its
position on the summit.

Signature of the power-sharing deal in September was seen as a chance to
prevent an economic collapse that would add to the strain on neighbours
already hosting millions of Zimbabweans who fled in search of work and, more
recently, to escape a cholera epidemic.

"The ministers and deputy ministers shall be sworn in on 13 February 2009,
which will conclude the process of the formation of the inclusive
government," said the SADC communique.

Allocation of ministries would be reviewed six months after the inauguration
of the government, it added.

Western leaders want Mugabe to step down and a democratic government to
embrace economic reforms before billions of dollars in aid is offered, but
Mugabe has refused.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is "very concerned" by Mugabe's
refusal to reach a deal and wants South Africa, which has the most regional
economic and diplomatic clout, to put more pressure on him, the State
Department said on Monday.

In Brussels, the European Union stepped up pressure on him by adding 27
individuals and 36 firms to a sanctions list, EU officials said on Monday.

Mugabe, in power since 1980, and his ZANU-PF party have urged the opposition
to join a unity government but say they will not hesitate to form one
without them.

Zimbabwe's rival parties have been locked in a dispute over control of key
ministries while prices double every day and cholera has killed nearly 2,900
people since August.

Zimbabweans want a new leadership to tackle severe food and fuel shortages
and a financial meltdown that has rendered the local currency virtually
worthless. (Additional reporting by Ingrid Melander in Brussels; Writing by
Michael Georgy; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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Zimbabwe parties 'agree timeline'

Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Robert Mugabe, right, walks behind Kgalema Motlanthe before the talks in Pretoria, South Africa, 26 January 2009
Motlanthe said Mugabe and the MDC had agreed a power-sharing timeline

Zimbabwe's rival factions are committed to a power-sharing deal, South African President Kgalema Motlanthe has said.

Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had agreed to form a unity government next month, he said.

But the MDC said the conclusions of the summit chaired by Mr Motlanthe fell short of its expectations.

President Robert Mugabe reached a deal with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai last September but they could not agree who should control key government posts.

Zimbabwe is in a state of economic and social collapse, and a cholera epidemic has killed nearly 3,000 people.

'Far short'

After 14 hours of negotiations, leaders from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) issued a statement early on Tuesday saying the MDC had agreed to a timeline towards forming a unity government.

According to the timeline, a constitutional amendment would be passed to create the post of prime minister on 5 February, with Mr Tsvangirai being sworn in six days later.

Five million people - almost half population - need food aid
Central bank introduced Z$100tr note, worth about US$30 (£20)
Unemployment more than 80%
Nearly 3,000 people dead in cholera outbreak

"All the parties expressed confidence in the process and committed to implementing the agreement," said Mr Motlanthe.

But an MDC statement said the party had not agreed to the deal, and although it stopped short of rejecting the summit's conclusions outright, it said the summit resolutions "fell far short" of what the party had hoped for.

"Quite clearly, the conclusions reached as reflected in the [SADC statement] fall far short of our expectations," said the MDC

It added that the party's national council would meet this weekend to define its position.

Earlier on Monday, seven people were taken to hospital when police fired rubber bullets at several hundred people demonstrating outside the talks in Pretoria.

It was the fourth such meeting since the inconclusive elections last March.

Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai failed to resolve their differences during a meeting in Harare last week.

One analyst says those talks collapsed in "real acrimony".

The main issue of contention is over who controls key ministries and other top public posts.

President Mugabe has said he will not compromise any further and there have been reports he may ask SADC for the legitimacy to form a new government without the MDC opposition.

SADC looks powerless and has shown no willingness to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe, says the BBC's Peter Biles in Pretoria.

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Zimbabwe Lawyers’ submission to SADC Summit - ZLHR


ZLHR LogoWhen SADC was established, Member States unanimously agreed and undertook to guarantee observance of democratic rights and to uphold human rights and the rule of law, and refrain from taking measures that would likely jeopardize sustenance of these principles.

SADC Leaders stood by on 15 September 2008 in Zimbabwe where parties to the Global Political Agreement (GPA):

1. Acknowledged their duty in Article XI to “respect and uphold the Constitution and other laws of the land” and to “adhere to the principles of the Rule of Law“;

2. In Article XIII agreed that “State organs and institutions do not belong to any political party and should be impartial in the discharge of their duty“; and

3. Agreed in Article XVIII to “renounce and desist from the promotion and use of violence, under whatever name called, as a means of attaining political ends” and to “work together to ensure the security of all persons“.

Our SADC Leaders have a responsibility to respect, promote, protect and fulfil these obligations under the Treaty and to ensure that these (and all other) provisions of the GPA are not breached by any party.

Instead, this is what Zimbabweans have been subjected to:

Enforced Disappearances/Abductions

Since 30 October 2008 the state, through its law enforcement and security institutions and agents, has committed with impunity the violent international crime of enforced disappearance (abduction) of prominent human rights defenders and legitimate Movement for Democratic Change political activists.

In proceedings before the High Court of Zimbabwe (ref: Jestina Mungarewa Mukoko v. The Commissioner-General of Police and Others HC 7169/08), the purported Minister of State Security in the President’s Office, Didymus Mutasa, confirmed under oath that the abductions were carried out by state security agents.

The role of the state security agents, both Central Intelligence agents and high-ranking members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, was also formally confirmed on court record by a representative of the Attorney-General, Florence Ziyambi, in the Magistrates’ Court in criminal proceedings against the victims of the enforced disappearance.

Under international law, the crime of enforced disappearance has no justification, even where the defence of national security and public order is raised. This has been agreed by Member States of the United Nations, of which all SADC states are a part.

Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment

The victims of abductions, during their time of incommunicado detention, were subjected to such treatment, again with impunity. Their personal testimonies and medical confirmation of their physical and psychological injuries is on record and has not been denied by agents of the state or their legal representatives.

  • A 72-year-old male abductee was ordered to undress and parade stark naked in front of women abductees, with the perpetrators mocking his physical make up.
  • Most abductees were severely assaulted under their feet for prolonged periods in attempts to extract information and confessions from them. At least one abductee is now suffering renal (kidney) failure as a result.
  • A number of abductees were made to sit in scalding hot water in bathtubs, and later had ice-cold water poured on them, into the undergarments, and in their detention cells.
  • A male abductee was laid on railway tracks whilst a train was approaching and told to say his last prayers, as he was about to die.
  • Some abductees were injected with an unknown liquid during their detention and interrogation.
  • Mock drowning (the practice of “water-boarding”) was used in attempts to extract information and confessions.
  • A two-year-old child was beaten with a fan belt in order to force his mother to provide information and confessions.
  • Abductees were subjected to intentional near-starvation. Most were only provided with a 2-litre bottle of water for breakfast and lunch, and a small plate of maize-porridge/sadza for dinner – some for a period of over 50 days, leading some to lose almost one-third of their body weight during detention.
  • All abductees were videotaped and made to make false confessions on such tapes, without explanation and under threat of death or further bodily harm.

Other Violations of Fundamental Rights and Destruction of the Rule of Law

The manner in which these abductees have been, and continue to be treated, has grave and severe implications not only on their own rights, but the Rule of Law. State actors (the Police, the state security apparatus, and the Attorney-General) continue to defy court orders that have been issued by the Magistrates’ Court, the High Court and the Supreme Court in an attempt to restore and protect the basic rights of the detained abductees.

Examples include:

1. Fidelis Chiramba and Others v. The Minister of Home Affairs & Others (HC 6420/08) where the High Court declared the abduction and secret detention of several of the abductees unlawful and ordered their release. Despite this, they remain incarcerated on trumped-up charges more than 2 months after the Order was made.

2. Kenneth Simon Marimba v. The Commissioner-General of Police & Others (HC 6905/08) where the High Court order the police to investigate the abduction of Jestina Mukoko and prosecute the perpetrators.

3. Killiana Takawira and Tsitsi Gonzo v. The Commissioner-General of Police & Others;

Andrison Shadreck Manyere v. The Minister of Home Affairs and Others (HC 7127/08); Chris Garutsa v. The Commissioner-General of Police & Others; Enita Zinyemba v. The Minister of Home Affairs and Another (HC 7128/08): In all 3 cited cases, the police were ordered to do all things necessary to determine the whereabouts of the abducted people and investigate their abductions; to date, however, all the victims remain incarcerated on trumped-up charges whilst their abductors are roaming free.

4. Jestina Mukoko and 31 Others v. The Commissioner General of Police and Another (HC 7166/08) where an Order was granted for the police to release the abducted people who were now in their custody in defiance of previous orders by the High Court. All people covered by this order remain incarcerated to date.

5. Jestina Mukoko v. The Commissioner-General of Police & Others (HC 7169/08) where a High Court order that Mukoko be taken to a private hospital for treatment continues to be defied.

6. Jestina Mukoko v. The Commissioner-General of Police & Others (SC 293/08) where the Order of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court that Mukoko be immediately taken for medical treatment at a private hospital continues to be defied.

7. State v. Tawanda Bvumo; State v. Pascal Gonzo where an Order of the Magistrates’ Court for the immediate release of the two abductees was defied and they continue to remain in custody almost one month after the order was made.

8. State v. Chris Dhlamini & Others where, in bail applications, a High Court judge ordered that all the abductees in detention should immediately be taken for medical treatment and that the state should not interfere with such treatment. To date, this has not been done, and none of the abductees have been properly medically examined or treated by a doctor and in a facility of their choice.

9. Lloyd Tarumbwa & 11 Others v. The Minister of State Security & Others (HC 23/09) where the Minister and other state agents have failed or refused, despite order of the High Court, to produce all the missing abductees or release them.

To date, not a single individual perpetrator of such heinous international crimes has been investigated, let alone held to account.

Instead, the state is alleging that these victims are dangerous bandits, saboteurs, insurgents and terrorists. The evidence they provide is what was extracted through torture methods such as those described above, and the video performances they were forced to give after they were abducted, kept in incommunicado detention and tortured to extract false confessions.

State institutions and their agents have become the biggest danger to the Zimbabwean people, together with the failure of SADC leaders to recognize the deterioration of the situation and take firm action against the offenders, who continue to violate SADC principles and the GPA with impunity.

You have one final chance to do the right thing.

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'Stop talking and help Zim now'

26/01/2009 22:39  - (SA)

Pretoria - Politicians must stop talking and get down to the business of
improving the lives of the people of Zimbabwe, President Kgalema Motlanthe
told the SADC's extraordinary summit in Pretoria on Monday.

In an audio clip which was made available to the media, Motlanthe told a
closed meeting that Zimbabwe, which was once the region's bread basket, had
been reduced to a food importer.

"We cannot continue talking and talking and talking without concretely
proceeding to the implementation stage," Motlanthe said referring to the
deadlocked power-sharing talks.

"I trust that our discourse today will successfully and decisively resolve
the political impasse. I trust that we will not fail them," said Motlanthe.

Photographers who were allowed into the closed meeting for a few minutes
told other journalists afterwards that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
had been in a joking and jovial mood.

The one-day summit was announced last week after power-sharing talks between
the country's three political leaders were deadlocked again in Harare.

Monday's talks took place as the European Union slapped fresh sanctions on
Mugabe's rule in Zimbabwe, which is battling a cholera epidemic that has
killed nearly 2 800 people and infected more than 50 000.

Zimbabwe has drifted deeper into crisis since the disputed March 2008
elections, with hyperinflation, massive unemployment, food shortages and an
outbreak of cholera.


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Widespread Uncertainty As Zimbabwe Schools Prepare to Reopen


      By Jonga Kandemiiri
      26 January 2009

As Zimbabwean students and parents prepared Monday for what they hoped would
be the start of a new school term on Tuesday, teachers were threatening not
to go back to work until unless they were paid in hard currency.
Many parents were unsure whether schools would be opening on Tuesday as the
government earlier announced, or whether the start of the new term was being
put off until Feb. 17 as some news outlets have reported without official

Some schools have applied to the government for permission to charge fees in
hard currency, but the cabinet has not decided whether to allow this.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe General Secretary Raymond Majongwe
told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that teachers
will only go back to work when the government agrees to a base salary of
US2,200 a month.

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Harare teacher: 'I can't afford to work'
Tuesday, 27 January 2009

A tomato vendor in Harare in 2008

A 40-year-old Zimbabwean primary school teacher in a high-density area of the capital, Harare, tells the BBC News website why he is not reporting for duty at the start of the new academic year - which has already been delayed by two weeks.

It's not possible for us to go back to work. A week ago we got paid and the amount we found in our accounts was 30 trillion Zimbabwe dollars for the month.

On that day it was equivalent to US$3 (£2.15), but three days later, because of inflation, it was worth only US$1 (71p) - and you can't really do anything with a dollar.

I survive like the rest of the Zimbabweans survive - vending

My colleagues who travel to work need US$2 a day, as a one-way journey costs the equivalent of US$1.

Actually, none of the teachers left at my school have reported to work since 2 September, when we resolved we had to be paid an amount that was reasonable.

We are on strike, although it's more that we don't have the capacity to go to work without money for transport and proper food.

Sadly, the more than 1,000 children at the school stopped turning up at the beginning of October after they realised the teachers were not coming back.

I survive like the rest of the Zimbabweans survive - vending. We sell anything we can lay our hands on.

School children in Harare buying refreshments from a vendor (November 2004)

I go into town and buy a 20kg bag of maize meal, which costs about US$7.

Then I come back to the high-density area and repack it into between 12 and 15 packs and resell them for US$1 because many families can only afford enough to cook one meal.

That's how I'm making a living now.

I've got a young brother who has a better-paying job; in fact he gets part of his salary in foreign currency - so sometimes he's the one who gives me some groceries.


Sometimes parents are also willing to pay for tuition for their children. I charge about US$3 a head for this - at the moment I have about three kids whom I teach so that's about US$9 a week.

It is true to say some female teachers have really turned wild
Since last year, I have also been teaching my two children - who are of primary-school age.

My wife was retrenched from a catering company, so to make money now she prepares food at home and then goes into town and sells the lunches to clients.

Some of my colleagues do cross-border trading; they go into South Africa, they buy some goods and bring them back home and resell them.

Others have totally gone to South Africa and they are doing different kinds of jobs there.

One teacher is selling newspapers in Johannesburg; one is working in a restaurant in Cape Town and the third one is just doing some clerical work for a company in Cape Town.

I wanted to leave too when the crisis here started around the year 2000.

But after some of my friends had left, I realised they couldn't make a decent living - 200 to 300 rand (US$20-US$30; £14-£21) a month for selling papers is inadequate to provide for a family.

Classroom vandalised

It is true to say some female teachers have really turned wild.

Children picking up maize spilt from a truck (December 2004)
School attendance fell to 20% by the end of last year
They go into town dressed up and in the evenings in the night clubs look for rich clients - probably the money-changers, who can afford to buy their bodies.

It's really happening.

I first got a second job around 2002 when our incomes became inadequate - then I started to give extra lessons after school.

Then around 2007 it got really bad. We were involved in a lot of strikes and that's when I decided to start the vending, taking the odd day off to trade until stopping completely in September.

When I started work in 1991, we could afford most of the things on a teacher's salary.

The number of children in the class has remained almost the same, but what has changed in the 17 years is that classroom materials are no longer being provided and the equipment has become dilapidated.

For example, I went to my school last week to check on how things were and one of the auxiliary staff was telling me that one of the classrooms had been broken into.

Some furniture was stolen and the stationery as well.

Total collapse

Under normal circumstances, the school is supposed to employ 31 teachers, but due to migration, we were down to 21 in September and of them only about 14 were qualified teachers.

People in Zimbabwe buying goods from street vendors
I miss teaching very much because it is my calling
I have been informed by one of the parents who is on my school's committee that they are contemplating raising foreign currency so that teachers can be paid from the parents' pockets.

But I don't see how that can be practised because most of the parents are poor.

Unless something is done in terms of the political settlement - if the political leaders agreed and then things stabilised and there was a common focus - I don't see how these things can be solved.

The school system is in total collapse and in order for things to work again probably a unity government is needed so that things can be put in place.

I miss teaching very much because it is my calling. I miss that feeling of pride I feel when students do well in life.

Also I like sports very much and I used to go with children for sports and basketball. I'm no longer involved in that and that too I miss very much.

It is very depressing indeed.

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Magistrate rejects attempts to block torture probe

by Wayne Mafaro Tuesday 27 January 2009

HARARE - A Zimbabwean magistrate rejected attempts by the government to
block an investigation into allegations that state agents tortured a
journalist and six opposition activists, ordering police to submit a report
on the probe next month.

Magistrate Gloria Takundwa dismissed an affidavit filed by State Security
Minister Didymus Mutasa seeking to block the torture investigation as
misplaced and said the police should continue with the investigation and
report to court on February 9.

"I find the minister's affidavit misplaced. He was supposed to wait for an
investigation into the allegations before filing this affidavit," said

Freelance journalist Shadreck Manyere and the opposition MDC party activists
were last year abducted by state agents held incommunicado for weeks during
which they say they were severely tortured in a bid to force them to confess
to plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe's government.

The seven are part of more than 30 civic and opposition activists including
leading human rights defender Jestina Mukoko accused of plotting to
overthrow Mugabe. They all deny the charge while several of the activists
say they were brutally assaulted and tortured by police, army and secret
service agents.

In the affidavit dismissed by the court, Mutasa claimed that the activists
were raising allegations of torture only to distract the state from
prosecuting them for banditry. He added that in any event ordering a probe
into the torture allegations would compromise state security.

Torture and other forms of inhuman punishment are illegal in Zimbabwe.
However human rights groups say illegal use of torture by state security
forces is on the rise as the government battles to keep public discontent in
check amid a deteriorating economic meltdown, hunger and poverty. -

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Zimbabwean economy's dollarisation a quick fix to crisis: analysts

by Godfrey Marawanyika - 2 hrs 23 mins ago

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe has become a de facto dollar state as its tottering
economy battles chronic hyper-inflation that has eroded the local currency,
but analysts say that the dollarisation is merely a quick fix.

Most monetary transactions in Zimbabwe are now conducted in US dollars,
British pounds, South African rand and Botswana pulas since businesses were
licenced by the central bank to trade in foreign currency some four months

A passport now costs 670 US dollars (516 euros), state-run newspapers are
sold for a dollar, telephone calls are billed at 0.29 cents a minute, and
transport operators charge one dollar per trip.

But Professor Anthony Hawkins, an economics lecturer at the University of
Zimbabwe, said that although the dollarisation was a logical move, it will
not end the country's woes.

"This is an exercise which does not solve anything, now everyone has to be
paid in foreign currency. Not everyone has foreign currency. The only
solution to the country's crisis is a political one," he told AFP.

In a bid to discourage payments in local currency, the national carrier Air
Zimbabwe charges 19 quintillion Zimbabwean dollars for a return flight from
Harare to Bulawayo. The same trip costs 215 dollars.

The country's world record hyperinflationary environment has led the central
bank to slash 13 zeros from the local unit over the past three years in a
bid to make the currency more manageable.

Earlier this month, the bank indicated it would introduce a 100 trillion
dollar note, in its latest attempt to keep pace with conditions that has
left its once-vibrant economy in tatters.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions acting secretary general Gideon Shoko told
AFP that since most goods and services are now being charged in foreign
currency, workers must also be paid in hard currency.

"Everyone is charging in foreign currency, even vegetables vendors are
selling their goods in foreign currency," Shoko said.

However, most employees were not going to work as they could not afford the
transport fees, he said, raising questions of where ordinary Zimbabweans
still being paid in local money were to source hard currency.

Banks are now competing for clients to open foreign currency accounts, but
despite the proliferation of the US dollar, consumers are short-changed at
stores as shops do not have small coins in stock.

Independent Harare based economist, Charles Tichaona said the dollarisation
of the economy was only good for the short term.

"The local unit has lost attributes of being a currency as evidenced by the
fact that almost every corner of the country is now trading foreign
currency," he said.

The economy has shrunk by nearly 40 percent over the past six years, with
the last official inflation estimate of 231 million percent in July believed
to be many times higher.

Adding to the Zimbabwe's problems are consecutive years of drought.

Zimbabwe's economic crisis has also worsened under a protracted political
deadlock between President Robert Mugabe and rival Morgan Tsvangirai.

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Carter: Dump Thabo Mbeki as Zimbabwe mediator

Associated Press
2009-01-27 06:19 AM

      Thabo Mbeki has been useless as a political mediator in the long and
violent political crisis in Zimbabwe and should step down so someone else
can tell dictator Robert Mugabe to give up his rule, former President Jimmy
Carter said Monday.
      Mbeki, the former South African president, has acted as a go-between
on behalf of the Southern African Development Community, an alliance of
southern African nations, and pursued a policy of quiet diplomacy. Mbeki
argues confronting Mugabe could backfire.

      Carter was curtly dismissive of Mbeki's activity in an interview with
The Associated Press, saying he was too timid.

      "I think he's (Mbeki's) always been in bed with Mugabe pretty much,
and pretty timid about contradicting his old friend, who was one of the
first revolutionary freedom fighters who was successful in southern Africa,"
Carter said.

      Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since the country won independence from
Britain in 1980.

      Carter disagreed with the idea that peaceful means have been exhausted
in Zimbabwe and a forceful overthrow of Mugabe is need. South Africa's
Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu has pushed that concept for several months.

      "I don't know how a force could operate in Zimbabwe without causing
the death of a lot of very innocent people," Carter said, while conceding
"Tutu knows a lot more about it than I do."

      Carter said a peaceful solution would require Zimbabwe's southern
African neighbors, "particularly South Africa, saying 'Mugabe, you've got to
step down.'" He said they should also demand "sharing authority and
political power equitably with the other leaders who were actually elected
last March."

      Zimbabwe has been virtually without a government since the March
presidential election in which opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the
most votes. Tsvangirai pulled out of a subsequent runoff against Mugabe
because of brutal attacks on opposition supporters.

      Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed in September to form a coalition
government but have failed to agree on how to share Cabinet seats and
political power.

      The political stalemate has distracted leaders from a growing economic
and humanitarian crisis, with millions of Zimbabweans dependent on
international aid groups for food and medical care and a cholera epidemic
killing nearly 3,000 people and spreading to neighboring countries.

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'No one wants to be a prostitute but we have no choice'

January 27, 2009

Jonathan Clayton in Livingstone, Zambia
It is not quite what Joanna had in mind when she graduated as a primary
school teacher five years ago.

Instead of teaching Zimbabwean children basic skills she finds herself
hanging out at the dimly lit entrance to a rundown block of flats - one of
dozens of young professional Zimbabwean women who slip across the country's
border to work for a few days or weeks as prostitutes.

"We just come over for a little time. I need something, anything to take
back that side," she says in a whisper, gesturing in the direction of the
nearby Zimbabwean border. "I stay for ten days and then go home for a week
or two before coming back."

It is late, dark and dangerous in the side streets and alleyways of
Livingstone, a small town better known for its location on the Zambian side
of the world famous Victoria Falls.

The "clients" from a nearby dingy bar can be drunk and violent.

"Sometimes they try not to pay ... at times, the police chase us away and
the local girls fight us too. No one wants to do this work, but we have no
choice, it is so bad there now," she said.

"As soon as there is peace back home I will not come here again."

Joanna, a 27-year-old mother of two, stopped teaching in 2007. The world's
highest inflation rate had rendered her small but once respectable salary of
1.2 million Zimbabwean dollars useless.

"It costs 9 billion just to buy bread, but now they even want US dollars or
rand for everything. How are we to get them? My young sister is looking
after my children - it pains me to see them crying, they are so hungry," she

She is far from alone in her predicament.

A report published by Save the Children yesterday to coincide with the start
of the new school year said thousands of children and teachers were unlikely
to return to school when term began again formally.

The report said that many teachers were being forced to scrape together
enough to survive rather than returning to their schools. This, combined
with the country's food crisis, was likely to deprive about 4.5 million
school-age pupils of their education.

Zimbabwe's education system, once one of the best in Africa, has
disintegrated over the past year. Towards the end of 2007, 85 per cent of
children were still at school but by the end of last year it fell to 20 per
cent and is now expected to fall much lower.

Education, once President Mugabe's most treasured policy, is not the only
sector in ruins.

Joanna's friends include women who ran small businesses, traders,
accountants, former secretaries and PAs, even a policewoman - all of whom
have been driven to cross the border and ply the world's oldest trade in the
most humiliating of circumstances.

These women tell their friends and family back in Zimbabwe that they are
making money by buying and selling cheap clothes and other items. "I told
them the first time I had sold my mobile phone to buy this and that and get
started ... There is nothing there and we have no choice. The only good
thing is that we stick together and help each other. This is not the only
place I go, I have been to Botswana and Mozambique too," said Laetitia, a
29-year-old friend from the same area of Zimbabwe.

The women face many hazards. Most have been harassed and even deported. The
locals charge above the going rate for rooms and food and evict them quickly
or report them to the authorities if they fall behind.

They all blame the Zimbabwean leader, President Mugabe, for their
predicament. They speak his name with bitterness, but few have any hope that
things will change in the short term.

"By the time this is all over, it will be too late for us ... our lives have
gone. Our children may see better days, but not us. I can't believe when I
think back to how I dreamed my life would be," said Laetitia.

"When I was at school I dreamt I would become a doctor. Now look at what we
do." Her friends nodded in agreement.

It is estimated that more than four million Zimbabweans have fled food
shortages and 80 per cent unemployment to neighbouring countries. In recent
months the exodus has turned into a flood as the political crisis has
deepened. A cholera epidemic has killed nearly 3,000 people as untreated
sewage flows into water supplies. About five million people who remain in
the country are dependent on food aid.

"Mugabe believes he has the title deeds to our country. By the time it is
all over I believe I will no longer be around. I just live from day to day
now, it is useless to look further ahead than that. When I remember my
school and the children, I can't believe what I am doing. It was another
world," Joanna said quietly, a small tear trickling down her cheek.

Misery toll

30,000 Zimbabwean teachers dropped out of the education system last year

10,000 of these former teachers are now living in South Africa

10 loaves of bread cost more than the monthly salary of the average teacher

50,000 confirmed cases of cholera in Zimbabwe

2,872 confirmed dead from cholera

Sources: World Health Organisation; Save the Children;

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EU sanctions crackdown adds UK companies to Zimbabwe blacklist
January 27, 2009

How The Times revealed the story

A Berkshire-based businessman and a number of his companies that operate out of Britain are today expected to be added to the European Union blacklist aimed at those said to be keeping Robert Mugabe in power in Zimbabwe.

John Bredenkamp, 68, a Zimbabwean entrepreneur given indefinite leave to remain in Britain, is set to receive personal sanctions from Brussels only weeks after The Times highlighted that he was free to operate despite being put on a US blacklist in November.

A number of companies owned or controlled by Mr Bredenkamp will have their assets frozen from 9am after EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels agreed to step up measures against bodies associated with the Mugabe regime, adding European-based companies for the first time.

According to EU sources, all 18 of the European company names to be added are based on British territory, including the tax havens of Jersey, the Isle of Man and the British Virgin Islands.

The Times understands that they include most of the companies already banned from operating in the US by America's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), a list that features 20 companies linked to Mr Bredenkamp.

According to the US Treasury Department, Mr Bredenkamp is “a well-known Mugabe insider involved in various business activities, including tobacco trading, grey-market arms trading and trafficking, equity investments, oil distribution, tourism, sports management, and diamond extraction”.

Asked why someone allegedly linked to the Mugabe regime had been free to conduct his businesses from Britain, David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, said: “We have been at the forefront of taking forward the sanctions regime. Many of the companies that are listed actually belong to one person or are actually one company, so one has to be careful before one makes allegations. We have been absolutely determined for the European Union to apply additional pressure and that is what we are extending. The important point is, we are determined not to forget about the plight of the Zimbabwean people, which is real and getting worse day by day.”

A British government spokeswoman added that sanctions could only be effective at EU level and insisted that the Government had moved fast to follow up on the US sanctions announced in November.

Mr Bredenkamp has appealed against the US sanctions and his spokesman yesterday dismissed the claim that he was a crony of Mr Mugabe.

His spokesman said: “How come he has had his Zimbabwean passport confiscated by the Zimbabweans and was slung in jail for a few days? He has an emergency travel document that enables him to go to South Africa for medical treatment because he had a quadruple bypass a few years back. It is very difficult to see how that equates with being a crony of Mr Mugabe and Zanu (PF) [Mr Mugabe's ruling party].” He added: “A number of the companies were dormant and have not been trading for several years. Masters International, a sports management business, has not been trading for ages.

“The point is, they are not big companies. You have all the other multi-national companies in Zimbabwe which are still trading there on a fairly major scale. Mr Bredenkamp's leisure company is a broken-down golf course in Harare — you would not put a sheep on the fairway at the moment.

“The idea that Mr Bredenkamp has got a major business in Zimbabwe which is funding and supporting Mr Mugabe is wrong.”

Mr Bredenkamp is expected to be joined on the EU list of personal sanctions by Muller Conrad Rautenbach (aka Billy Rautenbach), a Zimbabwean businessman “with close ties to the regime”, according to the US Treasury. It added that he “provided logistical support” for mining projects that “benefit a small number of corrupt senior officials”.

The personal sanctions are likely to impose travel restrictions on the individuals living in the EU, so that they would be blocked from moving around Europe and travelling outside the EU.

In total, 26 people said to be close to the regime or their families will be added to the EU travel-ban list, bringing the number to 203. The number of companies whose assets in Europe will be frozen will increase from four to 40.

Companies owned or controlled by Mr Bredenkamp on the US Treasury list that are expected to be added to the EU sanctions list include: Alpha International (Private) Ltd; Breco (Asia Pacific) Ltd, Breco (UK) Ltd, Corybantes Ltd; Echo Delta Holdings Ltd; Masters Int Ltd; Piedmont (UK) Ltd; Raceview Enterprises; Scottlee Holdings (Pvt) Ltd; Scottlee Resorts; Timpani Ltd, and Tremalt Ltd.

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Bill Watch 3 of 25th January 2009 [SADC Summit on Zimbabwe]


[25th January 2009]

The House of Assembly adjourned until 29 January

The Senate resumes on 27 January

Budget Presentation due in House of Assembly on 29 January

No statutory instruments were gazetted last week

SADC Extraordinary SummitPretoria 26 January

On the eve of the Summit, ZANU-PF and MDC-T seem no closer to reaching agreement on the formation of the Inclusive Government than they were after the failure of last Monday's talks in Harare mediated by Presidents Motlanthe [South Africa]  and Guebuza [Mozambique].  This summit is likely to be attended by more heads of state than the last summit on Zimbabwe, which was largely attended by foreign ministers and which ended up not so much mediating as dictating a decision.  MDC did not accept this decision and also objected to the fact that while both Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai made representations as principals involved, Mr Mugabe then sat as a Head of State in the Summit’s deliberations. 

Failure of Last Monday’s Meeting in Harare

The opposing positions are captured in the two documents that were brought to the table: 1) the MDC position paper. 2) a SADC Draft Agreement prepared by the two mediating Presidents.  Mr Mugabe was prepared to sign the SADC agreement as it echoed his own position that all outstanding issues should be dealt with after the formation of an inclusive government.  Mr Tsvangirai rejected the SADC draft on the grounds that the MDC-T position, since Mr Mugabe started breaking the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding [MoU] and the Inter-Party Agreement [IPA], has been that outstanding issues must be settled first.  After heated debate, Mr Tsvangirai asked time to consult with his team and returned with a counter draft agreement which Mr Mugabe rejected.  [The two proposals brought to the meeting were sent out with Bill Watch Special of 20 January.  The MDC counter draft agreement is available on request.]

Parties still Diametrically Opposed?

It has been reported that Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai had a private meeting on Thursday.  This has not been officially confirmed, but there has been no indication that the two leaders made any progress towards settling their differences. 

ZANU-PF have said that if the Summit does not bring about an agreement to go ahead with the Inclusive Government, it expects the Summit to give Mr Mugabe the green light to go ahead with the formation of a government outside the framework of the IPA - thereby endorsing the legitimacy of the his presidency. 

Mr Tsvangirai has said that Mr Mugabe has acted in violation of the MoU and IPA by appointing provincial governors, reappointing the Reserve Bank Governor and appointing a new Attorney-General from the ranks of his ZANU(PF) party.  Since October his secret police have arrested nearly 30 MDC and civil society activists, holding them illegally for weeks and torturing many of them.  He refuses to enter an inclusive government until those appointments are rescinded and the detained activists are released.  [Note: the 10 governors are ex officio Senators and give ZANU-PF a majority in the Senate.  That is why the MoU and IPA insisted that no new appointments should be made to his party’s advantage.  The functions of the Ministry of Finance have been usurped by the Governor of the Reserve Bank – so the Ministry of Finance is a lame duck without a fresh appointment re-establishing the proper role of the Reserve Bank.  The new A-G is perceived as politically partisan and persecuting MDC cadres]. 

Patrick Chinamasa, Mugabe's spokesman on the negotiations, said at the weekend ZANU-PF would stick to Monday’s SADC draft agreement and  would not meet any new demands made by the MDC-T.

MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti said in a statement on Saturday that the party was “committed to the ... agreement, subject to the resolution of our demands.”  These still include a more equitable sharing of ministerial portfolios.  He said these demands were 'a logical platform for any government of national unity'.  The MDC were willing to concede the Ministry of Defence to ZANU-PF but are holding out for the Ministry of Home Affairs, under which the police force is administered.  Last week lawyers and human rights organisations were harassed by police and this weekend the police banned an MDC rally.  [Note State Security falls under the President]

ZANU-PF Threat to Form New Government if No Agreement

A ZANU-PF spokesman has said that if there is still no agreement on Monday, Mr Mugabe may request SADC for the legitimacy to form a new government without the MDC opposition.

The issue of legitimacy is important.  Mr Mugabe was declared the winner of the run-off Presidential election in June.  But that win on its own is of questionable value outside Zimbabwe because the election was condemned by both SADC and AU observer missions as not meeting international standards.  This leaves a question mark hanging over the legitimacy of Mr Mugabe's presidency.  Agreed implementation of the IPA would bring with it automatic recognition of Mr Mugabe as President.  But if he forms a new government unilaterally, without the participation of Mr Tsvangirai and the MDC-T, and without AU and SADC endorsement, his international standing would continue to be decidedly insecure.

Pressure Growing for Shift in SADC and SA Stance

At last Monday’s meeting the SADC mediators seemed locked into the position adopted late last year, and reiterated in the draft agreement they tabled at the meeting, that the IPA should be implemented forthwith and that the MDC-T should settle its grievances afterwards.

Pressure in South Africa has led to a massive “Save Zimbabwe Now” Campaign to mobilise SA leaders and civil society to force the SA government to take a more proactive stance.  At the campaign launch Graca Machel said that Mugabe had 'lost completely any kind of legitimacy by turning against the people.”  She said “thousands of lives could have been saved if SADC had not dragged its feet”.  “We stood and waited too long” she said.  “The blood of those dying on a daily basis in Zimbabwe will be laid at the feet of SADC leadership as they are failing to undertake duties they are elected to do”.  

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has issued a strong statement backing the MDC-T’s insistence on proper power sharing and warning SADC leaders that they “must stop treating Mugabe as a legitimate head of state and insist that either any new government reflects the will of the people as expressed on March 29 [elections], or that fresh elections be held, under international supervision.”  ANC President Zuma, who is backed by the trade unions, has recently said that he “could no longer call Mugabe and his party comrades."

SA Newspapers have attacked the stance of South Africa, whose leaders galvanized international support in their own fight against oppression.

Pressures in Zimbabwe – a series of strikes has forced government to agree to pay civil service salaries in US dollars.  Discontent in the armed forces over pay and other conditions is on the increase.

Botswana’s RoleBotswana's President Khama, who has publicly criticised Mr Mugabe for “fraudulently clinging to power”, will be attending this SummitBotswana has said that Harare's accusations that Gaborone is harbouring MDC militants training to overthrow Mugabe's administration are baseless.  It is reported that Botswana has demanded a thorough investigation into the core issues surrounding the political crisis in Zimbabwe ahead of the SADC Summit.  [It is has been rumoured that Mugabe sent Emmerson Mnangagwa, to meet Khama's envoys in a bid to ease tension before today's meeting.]

African Union SummitAddis Ababa: 1 - 3 February

If SADC fails to bring the parties together, it is likely to refer the issue to the imminent AU summit for a final decision.  The AU Ministers start meeting on Monday and the full Summit of Heads of State and Government will run from 1st to 3rd February.  AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping has said African leaders will take definite steps during this meeting to conclusively end the continuing political crisis in Zimbabwe.

The Pre-Summit NGO Forum issued a resolution on human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, recommending that the "African Union formally recognizes that the SADC mediation has failed and that the resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis be done under the direct authority of the AU".[available on request]

Last week in Parliament

The House of Assembly met on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.  The only matters dealt with were three motions already on the agenda:  the state of the economy [an MDC-T motion]; the education crisis [also MDC-T]; and the failure of the Zimbabwe National Water Authority to provide satisfactory water supplies in urban areas [ZANU-PF].  The debates were not concluded.

Still no Committees: No Parliamentary Committees have been constituted.  This means that Parliamentary oversight of Ministries is not being carried out. 

Constitution Amendment 19 Bill not Introduced: The Bill has not been introduced, because of the parties’ continuing failure to reach agreement on the formation of the Inclusive Government.  Its introduction now depends upon the outcome of the Extraordinary SADC Summit.   If the parties reach agreement at the Summit, the IPA will be back on track and the way will be clear for the Bill to be introduced and swiftly passed.  If the Summit refers the matter up the line to the AU Summit in Addis Ababa, the Bill will continue on hold until the outcome of the AU deliberations.  If the result of the Summit/s is the final abandonment of the IPA, the Bill will fall away. 

2009 Budget – 29th January

The Acting Minister of Finance, Mr Chinamasa, will present the Budget for 2009 in the House of Assembly on Thursday 29 January.  This beats by one day the Constitutional deadline for its presentation [Constitution, section 104(1)].  Presentation of the Budget involves the delivery of the Budget Speech and the tabling of the Estimates of Expenditure for 2009 and the Finance Bill [setting out taxation proposals].


In Bill Watch 1/2009 of 10th January we said that Sithembiso Nyoni [Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Development] was one of the Ministers without Parliamentary seats dismissed by Mr. Mugabe at the beginning of the month.  We were wrong.  Mrs Nyoni  is the MP for the Nkayi North House of Assembly constituency and is still the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Development; she is also the Acting Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development.  Our apologies to Ms Nyoni and to our readers.


Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.

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When will enough ever be enough?

January 26, 2009

By Lucas Mbambo

THE real truth about Zimbabwe is that Zimbabweans are just a nation of 15
million cowards and their children.

The fear that grips an average and not so average Zimbabwean is
unbelievable. Any one can do what ever they want with Zimbabweans either
individually or collectively and they will get away with it.

Farms were taken away from both blacks and whites and as a way of self
justification everyone says, "Yes, but land was needed because people were

But people are just crowded as today as they were then but now with the
added burden of hunger and starvation.

Schools will be seized and as Mugabe continues unchallenged even people's
houses will be grabbed and no one will ever say anything. During Operation
Murambatsvina shacks were destroyed but of cause solid houses were destroyed
too. Houses much better and more valuable than my UK house were razed to the
ground and people came out, remarking that they must have been in the wrong.

What's wrong with us Zimbabweans? Now people work and earn Zimdollars, yet
not even a boy selling nyovhi or lude will accept Zimdollars. How do people
survive then?

Even if you converted your money to forex most people earn less than one US
dollar a month. They walk from home to work for miles and miles on empty
tummies yet they still can't be angry.

Honestly what's wrong with Zimbabweans?

When will we ever say, "Enough is enough?"

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And If Obama Doesn't Go After African Tyrants? (Cameroon)

By Canute Tangwa

We would not say he merely blew hot air on January 20. We must look at our
backyard, wrack our brains, examine our consciences and ascertain whether we
said yes, we can or depended on Barack Obama to work miracles for us or
spent precious time blaming our ills on the West.

Indeed, we have acted out the victim for too long and thus played into the
hands of our distasteful, bloodthirsty, visionless leaders and intellectuals
who speak with both sides of their mouth.

We would not equally say Obama dribbled us into believing that he was our
messiah. We must be the architects of our destiny thus, chart our road map,
formulate sustainable and workable strategy and deploy resources to attain
our goals. We must remember that Obama swore to defend over and above all
the American Constitution. In other words, he took an oath to defend
American interests. Our interests are secondary whether they run in step or
out of step with American interests.

And, we would not also blame Obama for our woes because, apparently, we do
not mind our business. Take the case of Darfur and the indictment of
Sudanese President Omar El Beshir for genocide against his own people. No
demonstrations were organised in African cities against Sudanese atrocities
in Darfur. Till date, no African government has recalled its Ambassador to
Khartoum as a sign of protest.

However, when Israel began bombing Gaza, Africans rose up and Mauritania
recalled its Ambassador to Tel Aviv! The African Union President, Jean Ping,
decried the selective nature of international law when quizzed on the
prosecutor (Mr. De Campio) of the International Criminal Tribunal's decision
to issue a warrant of arrest on Beshir! And yet, he is not an advocate of
Nescafé democracy!

However, we are lucky for this that Obama offers hope, vision, conscience
and mental emancipation. When Obama left Harvard, he went back to Chicago to
continue community work! This should set every sub-Saharan African at
whatever level thinking. This is in line with the late celebrated Sri Lankan
journalist, Lasantha Wickramatunge's assertion that "whatever else I must
have been stuck for, I have not been stuck for choice.

But there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and
security. It is the call for conscience".One day shy of being sworn in as
the President of the United States, Obama rolled up his sleeves and together
with his wife did one more community service act! Very few sub-Saharan elite
are willing to soil their hands with backstreet and rural problems.

Everybody wants to be a big man in a plush office. Inevitably, the big man
has been at the root of most African crises. Paradoxically, these African
big men and women identified with Obama by organising fund raising and
setting up Obama fan clubs throughout Africa!

To sub-Saharan African dictators, village tyrants or sit-tight leaders,
Obama was loud and clear: "To those who cling to power through corruption
and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side
of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench
your fist."

To the sub-Saharan African farmer, Obama had these soothing words: "To the
people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms
flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed
hungry minds".

To sceptics, all these sound like the pious preachments of Christ at the
Sermon on the Mount.  However, times are changing, and fast. Obama is
probably the first American president with experience on crisis resolution
in Africa - Kenya. His contribution to the resolution of the Kenyan problem
cannot be minimised.

His stance on Darfur and Zimbabwe is very clear. To paraphrase him, Beshir
and Mugabe are on the wrong side of history. Same too for other sit-tight
dictators who pass for democrats by organising flawed elections.Jeffrey
Bartholet and Daniel Stone in Newsweek of Jan. 17, 2009 aptly described
Obama's crack team as "a team of expatriates".

They state: "It is a common point among Obama's top aides, a surprising
number of whom grew up in other countries - the insight they developed by
seeing America from the outside in".

This is a great departure from previous American administrations
particularly Bush's.  Obama stated on his campaign trail in Iowa in 2007
that: "If you don't understand..cultures, then it is very hard for you to
make good foreign-policy decisions.

The benefit of my life of having lived overseas and travelled I
have a better sense of how they are thinking and what their society is
really like".These say much on how Obama's foreign policy would be run
particularly towards Africa. Pundits expect that African issues should not
be dumped at the State Department but should be treated at the Oval Office.

Agriculture is a thorny issue that the Obama administration has to muster
courage and determination in order to wipe the tears of the African farmer.
Take the case of cotton. The African farmer cannot stand up to his American
counterpart because the cotton sector in America is heavily subsidized; 4
billion US dollars per year.

According to an OXFAM Briefing Note of 2005, "Africa loses on average 441
million US dollars a year because of trade distortions on cotton
markets".However, other areas like on-the-spot transformation of produce,
high yielding seeds, mechanized farming, funding and irrigation and so on
can be explored by African governments together with America in order to
soothe the African farmer pending implementation of World Trade Organisation
resolutions by the United States.

Furthermore, an American Growth Opportunity Act on African Agricultural
products can be examined.

Monday, 26 January 2009

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