|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Throughout the African
safari of President George W Bush last week, tension
mounted over Zimbabwe. Colin Powell, his secretary of state, had been deeply
affected by a meeting with Pius Ncube, the Bishop of Matabeleland, only a
few weeks before. Ncube had told him in terrible detail of the many murders,
rapes and tortures orchestrated by the regime of President Robert Mugabe and
the way in which its opponents were being systematically deprived of food
aid from America and Britain. Powell declared that Mugabe’s time had "come
and gone". The Bush team was also determined to be rid of Charles Taylor,
Liberia’s president, whose atrocities have made him an international pariah.
Taylor appeared to take the hint and indicated his readiness to go, but
Mugabe was spitting defiance. His ruling Zanu PF party labelled Powell an
"Uncle Tom" - a black man servile to whites - and declared that Africa did
not need lectures from the West on how to run its own affairs. "Africa has
come of age. We are not for sale. America’s hegemony has neither space nor
place in Africa," the party said. The greatest obstacle to ousting Mugabe,
Powell knew, was South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki who has extended the
Zimbabwean leader’s credit and diplomatic cover. "I think it is ill-advised
for (Powell) to create the impression that he is directing what South Africa
should do," Mbeki said. However, Bush and Powell had powerful leverage too.
What Mbeki wanted most was Bush’s backing for an American free trade deal
with the five-nation Southern African Customs Union, of which South Africa
is part. America’s trade with South Africa has almost tripled within the
past six years, making it by far the country’s biggest trade partner. For
Mbeki, facing record unemployment and an election next year, Bush’s support
for the deal, now placed before Congress, was vital. Bush had hinted at his
intentions on his first stop in Senegal. At a former slave trading post on
Goree Island he gave a moving account - which stopped just short of
apology - of how millions of slaves were sent to America in atrocious
conditions. He applied the lesson he drew about the inevitable victory of
freedom back to Africa, saying there must be "no future for dictatorship".
As the Bush team travelled on to South Africa, Powell
knew that he had
another problem: Mugabe has an ally deep within the national security
council (NSC), chaired by Condoleezza Rice. Dr Jendayi Frazer, a black
American of radical views, is the NSC’s senior director for African affairs.
As a student at Stanford University - where Rice taught for 20 years -
Frazer was a close friend of Jonathan Moyo, the Zimbabwean minister of
information. Frazer dislikes Walter Kansteiner, the American undersecretary
of state for African affairs, whom she is said to refer to as "that white
boy". Bush flew into Pretoria on Air Force One but a second jumbo jet
carried Powell, Kansteiner and 300 other administration officials and staff.
Powell vowed not to leave South Africa until he had secured change in
Zimbabwe. The Bush team knew it was flying into the lion’s den. Mbeki’s own
African National Congress helped to organise anti-Bush demonstrations in
Cape Town and Johannesburg, handing out posters of Bush as Hitler and one
bearing the slogan, "A village in Texas is missing its idiot". Despite the
friction and the corps of American secret service bodyguards around Bush, he
and Mbeki were determined that all should appear to be sweetness and light.
Mbeki told Bush that South Africa was greatly strengthened by his
friendship. Bush was the perfect guest, praising South Africa as a "force
for stability". He said he regarded Mbeki as "an honest broker" and "the
point man" on Zimbabwe. There was an immediate rush to judgment that Bush
had conceded to Mbeki. Moyo hailed "a loud climb-down by a president all
along misled", while the state-controlled South African broadcaster
signalled a triumph for Mbeki. Hardest of all for Zimbabwe’s opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was to hear Mbeki, standing next to
Bush, insisting that the crisis was on the way to being resolved, with talks
already in progress between Zanu PF and the MDC. This, everyone knew, was an
outright lie. Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, furiously denounced Mbeki’s
"false and mischievous misstatements" as an attempt to "shield Mugabe by
buying him time". Even Zanu PF denied Mbeki’s claim. A Washington source
said later that "neither Powell nor Kansteiner sees Mbeki as an honest
broker over Zimbabwe".
However, concern that the
American president’s contrasting attitude
signalled victory for Frazer in her turf battle against Kansteiner quickly
faded. "Anyone who thinks that way just doesn’t understand how the Bush
White House works," said one staffer. "Bush is a professional nice guy. He
learnt from his father: always be polite. He was always going to slap Mbeki
on the back and tell him he was a swell guy." Realising that embarrassing
Mbeki in front of Bush was not a winning strategy, the MDC quickly switched
its line, congratulating both on finding agreement and looking forward to
talks with Zanu PF. "It’s up to Mbeki now to make a reality out of what he
promised," an MDC official said. The unspoken thought was that Bush’s job
would be to sit on Mbeki to make sure it happened. An unconfirmed report in
the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper yesterday said that Mbeki had indicated
Mugabe would leave office in December during his party’s annual conference,
preparing the way for elections next March.
Bush, meanwhile, had flown off for a six-hour visit to
President Festus Mogae for having "the courage and the resolve to defeat"
Aids with the use of free drugs. Throughout Bush’s trip the talk was of
Aids — "the deadliest enemy Africa has ever faced", as he put it. The
president was also at pains to correct any false impressions that people had
about Zimbabwe, whose problems, he said, were "directly attributable to rank
bad governance". He added: " We will continue to speak out for democracy in
Zimbabwe." On Friday Bush was greeted by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda
and, after just four hours, moved on to Nigeria, Africa’s most populous
country and an important oil supplier to America. Nigeria is the key to the
Liberian crisis. Bush had been asked all week whether he would commit
American troops to a peace-keeping mission in Liberia, and always responded
by saying he would consider it but that Taylor must go. President Olusegun
Obasanjo of Nigeria had already offered Taylor sanctuary. Bush, however,
wanted Nigeria to take the lead role in any peace-keeping mission as well.
With this business apparently concluded he flew home last night. Bush’s
pressure had effectively brought the Taylor regime to an end in the course
of his trip. By journey’s end it was reported that Taylor’s son "Chucky",
who has been accused of multiple human rights abuses, had fled to South
Africa. However, the larger question of regime change in Zimbabwe - and of
whether Mugabe and his equally bloodstained coterie would also try to seek
refuge in South Africa - still hung in the balance.
Outrage over Mugabe job 'mockery'
By Graham Boynton in Johannesburg and Tim Butcher, Africa Correspondent
President Robert Mugabe's regime pulled off an
extraordinary diplomatic coup
yesterday when it was given a senior position within the African Union, the
grouping set up to promote good governance in Africa.
The move was seen as a direct snub to President George W Bush who called for
a "return to democracy in Zimbabwe" during his African tour last week.
It also outraged Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change which
claimed that it was a "betrayal of the people of Zimbabwe" and made a
mockery of the AU's founding commitment to good governance.
The MDC leadership claimed that the AU, founded a year ago, was no better
than its widely discredited predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity.
This was notorious for appointing Idi Amin, the Ugandan dictator, as its
head in the 1970s.
Mr Mugabe is expected to exploit Zimbabwe's appointment as a deputy chairman
of the AU to bolster his claim that he is the victim of a Western conspiracy
The appointment exposed the yawning difference in attitude between Africa
and the West over Zimbabwe.
While America and the European Union have condemned the Mugabe regime's
systematic abuse of the rule of law, African leaders have been more tolerant
if not completely supportive.
Heads of state gathering in Maputo, Mozambique's capital, for the annual AU
summit had signalled their condoning of the Mugabe regime by removing
Zimbabwe from the main agenda of the summit.
Instead it was dominated by calls for America to intervene in Liberia and
for the West to finance an economic package to solve poverty across the
But the rewarding of Zimbabwe with a senior administrative position
overshadowed the summit. "This really is a great betrayal of the people of
Zimbabwe who have suffered so much under Mugabe," said Paul Themba Nyathi,
an MDC spokesman.
"He is going to interpret this as nothing but an endorsement of his
policies. In reality this is nothing but a knee-jerk reaction by other
African leaders unable to commit themselves genuinely to good governance."
The appointment comes at a time of crisis in Zimbabwe. So impoverished is
the state that fuel stocks are all but exhausted and the national carrier
can now barely fly.
Air Zimbabwe does not operate between Bulawayo and Johannesburg, and its few
remaining flights have to refuel in foreign countries.
Senior sources in the aid community say there is a famine that the
government cannot afford to acknowledge because it would be too humiliating
to admit failure.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry in South Africa, which has been criticised in
the West for its "softly softly" approach to Harare, confirmed that Zimbabwe
would hold the deputy chairmanship for the next 12 months. However, a
spokesman said it was "merely procedural".
For the coming year, the Southern Africa Deputy Chairmanship will be held by
Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa before rotating to three other countries
within Southern Africa next year.
Until recently Mr Mugabe held the chairmanship of the powerful defence
committee of SADC, the Southern African Development Community, even though
his troops and security forces were guilty of widespread human rights
President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique said that the summit had focused on
improving economic governance and working to halt regional conflicts and the
spread of Aids.
The summit was surprised by yet another bravura performance from Muammar
Gaddafi of Libya who appears to enjoy being outrageous at such events.
This year he caused consternation by claiming that Aids, malaria and
sleeping sickness were armies ordained by God to protect Africans from white
Last year he toured South Africa and Swaziland handing out large wads of US
dollar bills to bemused villagers.
The AU was meant to mark a clean break from the past, when the OAU
repeatedly failed to stand up to the continent's dictators such as Amin or
to stop atrocities such as the Rwandan genocide.
After 38 years it passed into history last year bankrupt, owed money by 45
of its 53 members and with few better epitaphs than that coined by the
current Ugandan leader, Yoweri Museveni. He described it as a "trade union
Scribes Engage African Leaders At AU Summit
The Times of Zambia (Ndola)
July 11, 2003
Posted to the web July 14, 2003
THERE could not have been a better occasion for journalists to present a
petition to African Heads of State and Governments!
It just had to be the African Union (AU) summit in Maputo, Mozambique which
African journalists took advantage of and presented their petition to
condemn the undermined Press freedom and Freedom of Expression on the
Until now, individual journalists and media
networks and associations
throughout the world have been working together in solidarity, to press on
African leaders to release journalists who have been incarcerated for
carrying out their legitimate duties.
The campaign had been stepped up and had gained momentum towards the days of
the AU summit in Maputo. And so far, the messages being exchanged among the
media practitioners have been loud enough.
Their activities culminated into the presentation of the petition to the
Second African Union meeting on Wednesday (July 9, 2003) through South
African President Thabo Mbeki in his capacity as chair of the AU.
African and international media and freedom of expression organisations,
African and international civil society and human rights organisations,
individual lawyers, journalists, intellectuals, academicians and human
rights campaigners appended their signatures to the petition meant for
African leaders in Maputo.
The same petition was also given to the AU summit host country, President
Joaquim Chissano as the incoming chair of the AU with copies circulated to
governments of member countries.
The journalists associations that include the International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ), have called for African leaders to release all
incarcerated journalists and repeal anti-media and anti-freedom of
The IFJ is the world's largest organisation of journalists, representing
500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries, and promoting international
action to defend Press freedom and social justice through strong, free and
independent trade unions of journalists.
In Africa, the IFJ works with numerous affiliates and through its Media For
Democracy in Africa Programme being administered by the Southern Africa
Journalists Association (Saja).
The global body believes in freedom of political and cultural expression and
defends trade union and other basic human rights; with a goal to improve
conditions for the independence of journalists and high standards of
journalism in the African media.
The scribes have been quite unanimous in the messages to African leaders by
expressing concern over the continued incarceration and harassment of
journalists in the majority of African countries for no other reason than
carrying out their legitimate duties.
Further concerns have been voiced out regarding the persistent violation of
freedom of expression in Africa, which denies Africans the opportunity to
participate in democratic debate towards solving the many problems facing
The multitude of challenges facing Africa includes improving education,
healthcare, HIV/AIDS, agriculture, building centres for scientific and
technological provision of adequate housing, conflict resolution - peace and
But these cannot be met without the active participation of the citizens of
African countries in shaping policy and making decisions in their countries.
Thus, unless their own governments stop denying them the rights necessary to
ensure such participation, their participation in matters of national
development would still remain a pipedream.
These include the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, association and
political participation as well as media freedom to facilitate a free
exchange of information, ideas and opinions.
It has been stated to the African leaders that these rights continue to be
violated by numerous governments in spite of the fact that virtually all
African countries have signed up or ratified the constitutive Act of the
African union, the African Charter on Peoples and Human Rights, the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other similar documents.
May 25, 2003 marked 40 years of the celebration of Africa liberation day and
the formation of the Organisation of African Unity. Similarly, May 26, 2003
marked the second anniversary of the formal establishment of the African
"It saddens us greatly therefore, to note that more media houses have been
shut down, and more journalists have been imprisoned, killed and driven into
exile in the last 40 years of independence of African countries than in the
same period during the anti-colonial struggles that preceded independence.
"With the exception of very few African governments, most have retained
pre-independence anti-media and anti-freedom of expression legislation that
the colonial governments used to legitimise their incarceration of
journalists in that era which remains one of the most shameful for the human
Some have even managed to 'improve' on such repressive legislation," reads
the petition which has also been signed by Saja whose President is the
writer of this article.
It was with great hope and expectation that all Africans and friends of
Africa welcomed the launch of the African Union and looked forward to a new
future based on its constitutive Acts.
However, two years into this bold experiment, no significant progress has
been made. Even worse, two of the first five countries to sign up i.e.
Eritrea and Zimbabwe have been turned into living hells for the media by
"We therefore lend our voice to the numerous calls that have been made by
regional and international organisations to the concerned African leaders to
without delay, release all incarcerated journalists," the petition adds.
The journalists are further demanding the re-opening of all closed media
houses, repealing of anti-media legislation and recognising of the
importance of a free Press, freedom of expression and other associated
rights as vital ingredients necessary to build free, democratic and
"Only when this is done will the Nepad initiative and any future similar
initiatives have any real meaning for the peoples of Africa."
One chilling example of harassment of journalists is that involving Ibrahim
Sega Shaw, editor of the Expo Times in Sierra Leone, who was forced into
exile in February, 1998 having narrowly escaped death at the hands of
government militias and Ecomog soldiers who had just concluded a military
operation to remove the then AFRC junta and return the elected government of
Kabbah to power.
They were eager to settle scores with him for having been among the
newspaper publishers supporting dialogue to resolve the conflict, rather
than the use of force with its attendant consequences on the population.
He sneaked into France in October, 1998 where, with the help of the
Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers, and was recognised by the French
government as a political refugee two months later.
Following the signing of the Lome Peace accord in July 1999, he felt
vindicated and relieved - it had been because of his paper's stance for
constructive dialogue to end the crisis that his life had been threatened
and had been chased into exile.
Such cases and similar many more, some of which have gone unreported, need
to be dealt with decisively and it is the decisions from the AU that would
help sober up issues regarding the harassment and incarceration of
Land: What About Patronage Allocations to Military Brass?
The East African Standard (Nairobi)
July 13, 2003
Posted to the web July 14, 2003
Of all the commissions of inquiry and other forensic probes of former ruling
party Kanu's years of power launched by the Narc Government, the 15-man
commission appointed last week to look into the incendiary issue of
controversial land allocations has the most far-reaching implications.
And it is fraught with all manner of landmine factors. This is one Narc
initiative that has the potential for both the best intentions and the worst
results. As the old saying goes, the road to Hell is paved with good
A probe into past
allocations could lead to unrest such as this demo by
Kayole residents protesting land grabbing.
But a countervailing aphorism warns that nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Indeed, what this latest crusade for better governance amounts to is nothing
less than an investigation - and a holding to account - of the Kenyan
political, and ruling, class.
To view this as entirely an investigation of Kanu's record in power, for the
simple reason that no other political party has ruled in the Independence
era (until Narc), is only one perspective. By the end of the probe, it will
feel like the targeting of an entire socio-economic class regardless of
The land question has always been hugely controversial, indeed explosive, in
modern Kenya. Unless the present probe is handled with the maximum tact and
wisdom - and it is heartening to see that one of its guidelines is the
strict requirement that no hearsay evidence that affects a person's
reputation will be accepted by the commission - tragedy could all too easily
But the truly dangerous thing is that the Kenyan ruling class of the past
100-odd past years has never submitted itself to serious scrutiny, leave
alone meaningful remedial action. What's more, the fact that the only
credentials the Narc regime can show for undertaking this vast task are an
election victory over Kanu is cold comfort indeed.
The commission is widely viewed as being a Government measure to repossess
all grabbed land. In the process, it is expected to expose the Kenyatta and
Moi administrations, but especially the latter, as wanton handlers of State
resources. And it will not matter that the former Presidents had the powers
to allocate land in the manner that they did, just like President Kibaki
does under the present Constitution. What matters to the radical reform
ideologists around the new President and their supporters is that Kenyatta's
and Moi's green-inked signatures will be exposed as having been appended to
"too many" land allocations.
But how many land allocations are "too many"?
The truth of the matter is that controversial land allocations go way back
before both the Kanu administrations and have long been one of the Kenya
Government's pre- and post-Independence principal patronage tools.
In the pre-Independence era, the Senior Chief system throughout the country,
but especially in the Mt Kenya region and other agriculturally rich areas as
far afield as Kisiiland, was tied to large-scale (by African standards under
the colour-bar system) allocations of land to these selected supporters of
Many a Kenyan fortune amassed in the early post-Independence period had as
its basis these allocations made to senior chiefs and their families.
When President Kenyatta was accused by the Kenyan Left, led by the late
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, of having ignored the freedom fighters and instead
formed his Government in league with "sons of chiefs", it was this early
landed gentry that the radicals referred to.
Under the consecutive Kenyatta and Moi regimes, a very large proportion of
allocations of land was made to military brass.
Now the terms of reference spelt out for the land allocation commission
could well mean that the vast majority of allocations to senior Armed Forces
personnel, both living and dead, will be deemed to fall in the "grabbed"
Here President Kibaki, a civilian Head of State, Government and
Commander-in-Chief, is faced with a number of imponderables that ought to be
clarified early in the life of the new commission:
What will he do with regard to the land allocations made over the years to
military brass? If he treats the military differently from other categories
of allottees under the patronage system, there will be a huge hue and cry
among civilians. If he treats the military like civilians in this matter,
there will be fertile grounds for discontent, and therefore the prospect of
destabilization, in the Forces' ranks.
In fact, this matter is so sensitive that if the commission were to go into
camera sessions so as to investigate the allocations to senior members of
the military, past and present, civilian allottees will still cry foul.
Is President Kibaki implying that Armed Forces brass under his watch will no
longer be eligible for land allocations and, or other privileges under the
patronage system? Has he prepared the Armed Forces, psychologically and
ideologically for this radical departure from tradition?
Wouldn't it be far better, and make for much less friction, if the
Government stopped putting the cart before the horse in matters like the
declaration of wealth initiative and now the land allocations commission and
first clarifies its ideological position and underpinnings? If the patronage
system is being dismantled in all its aspects, then the Government should
say so and lead by example.
For instance, all appointments to public office made by this Government
since January need to be vetted (and weeded) for the cronyism factor.
Patronage is rooted in cronyism. And this Government has not passed the
cronyism test, not by a long shot.
The other complications the Kibaki regime will face six months from now as
it weighs and considers the report and recommendations of the land
allocation commission will come from the political sector itself. Just like
the military top brass, top politicians, bureaucrats, ambassadors and all
manner of their hangers-on have been allocated land under the patronage
system over the past four decades.
And this reaches the very top. It is, for instance, inconceivable that
President Kibaki, when he was Finance Minister from 1969-83, straddling both
the Kenyatta and Moi regimes, and Vice-President from 1978-88, was not the
recipient of a patronage allocation of land or two (or more) approved
directly by State House. Similarly, Education Minister George Saitoti, when
he was Finance Minister (1983-92) and twice Vice-President (1988-97,
1999-2002). And so on and so forth throughout the political system.
Will figures like Kibaki and Saitoti lead by example and give up any such
allocations, however much investment they may have sunk into them and
however much they stand to lose, financially, as individuals?
The $64 million question will be: Were there any legitimate allocations of
public land ever made in Kenya before Narc came to power?
A corollary question will be: Are some allocations more licit than others?
The Government should start planning now for the eventuality that there will
be persons or groups of persons who will use the findings and
recommendations of the land allocation commission as a pretext to invade and
occupy legitimate private property.
Indeed, scenes reminiscent of the Zimbabwe reverse land grabs - complete
with massive violence and fatalities - could erupt in the early days of this
commission's report being made public, with unconscionable potential for
mayhem and destabilisation on a national scale. And this could well
transpire even before the Government has acted on the report.
When all these factors are taken into account, it becomes evident that the
Kibaki Administration will be called upon to exercise more tact, discretion
and re-distributive justice than any previous regime in Kenya. This is a
towering order indeed.
'Torturer' safe in UN Kosovo role
Monday July 14, 2003
The UN has refused to arrest a Zimbabwean police officer accused of torture
who is currently working for it in Kosovo as a member of an international
The UN was informed in early June that the alleged torturer, Detective
Inspector Henry Dowa, was working for it in Prizren, Kosovo, but it declined
to take any action, according to documents obtained by the Guardian.
Zimbabwean police thought to have done a good job by the country's
government are often seconded to UN peacekeeping missions, where conditions
are comparatively good and they are paid in dollars.
Mr Dowa has been named by several Zimbabwean torture victims as having
directed and carried out beatings with fists, boots and pickaxe handles, and
as having administered electric shocks to the point of convulsions, at
Harare central police station throughout 2002 and in early 2003.
The charges have been backed up by medical examinations which confirm
injuries consistent with torture.
Redress, an organisation that seeks reparation for torture survivors, had
urged the UN to detain Mr Dowa until he could stand trial under
international law. But the top UN official in Kosovo refused.
"We acknowledge the gravity of the allegations made about the officer,"
wrote Michael Steiner, the UN's special representative in Kosovo, to
"We have with regret concluded that the United Nations interim mission in
Kosovo cannot pursue criminal prosecution of the officer in Kosovo on the
allegations you properly brought to our attention."
"We have to dedicate our scarce resources to pressing and serious cases in
Calling the UN decision "unacceptable", the executive director of Redress,
Frances D'Souza, has appealed to the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, to
have the accused officer arrested and tried.
The controversy highlights the concern of human rights groups that the UN is
not properly vetting police and troops seconded to it.
"We question why the UN is accepting secondments from Zimbabwe, where it is
well documented that torture is endemic," Dr D'Souza said.
Mr Dowa is a well-known figure in Harare where, wearing a traditional
fringed hat made of tree bark, he has been seen commanding police when they
inflicted inappropriate force on peaceful Zimbabweans.
Lawyers working for Redress said the UN had a legal obligation to arrest Mr
Dowa, as it was extremely unlikely that he would face charges laid by the
Mugabe government when he returned to Zimbabwe.
According to sworn testimony from victims, the torturers said they had been
granted special powers by President Mugabe, and they would never be charged.
Africa needs dry matchsticks
July 14, 2003
By Khathu Mamaila
Describing the critical role that leaders play in transformation,
someone said: "You cannot start a fire using a wet match."
The point that was being made is that leaders are not only a catalyst
for change, but without vibrant and visionary leaders, change is not
As I watched the Maputo show, the second summit of the African Union
which ended yesterday, I could not help but
wonder if the current crop of African leaders can walk the talk of
ushering in a new Africa - free of wars, hunger, ignorance, disease,
corruption and other forms of maladministration
With the kind of leaders our continent has had, no wonder it is
in such a mess
When the AU was launched last year, we were promised that it would be
different from its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
But, of course, it is becoming clear that the difference between the two is
in name only.
As the leaders were meeting for the second summit, no less than 10
armed conflicts were being waged in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Burundi, Somalia, Sudan and Liberia, to name a few.
And democracy is still a victim in countries such as Swaziland and
In Zimbabwe, a human tragedy is ticking as hundreds of thousands of
people face serious food shortages. The same can be said about other
countries such as Ethiopia, Malawi and Zambia.
It would be simplistic, even unfair, to blame all the mayhem on the
current leaders. But it would be appropriate to blame them for lack of
innovation to deal with the problems.
Most of the conflicts can be traced to colonialism and the plundering
of the continent's resources by powerful nations that propped up dictators
such as Mobutu Sese Seko in the then Zaire.
The assassination of credible leaders such as Patrice Lumumba of the
Congo and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana contributed to the lack of effective
For almost three decades Sese Seko enjoyed the support of the West.
During his reign, his country was not being developed but the plunder
reached alarming proportions.
The continent was also a battlefield for the cold war between the West
and the communist Eastern bloc. Pawns in this bloody game such as Jonas
Savimbi, the rebel leader in Angola, and Afonso Dhlakama in Mozambique were
used to inflict relentless suffering on their people. The wars in their
countries also reduced a huge surface area into a minefield which cannot be
With the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, this game was no longer
important and Savimbi and Dhlakama were no longer useful. The new language
was: democratise and liberalise your economy.
The exploitation of Africa's resources continued, albeit under
different circumstances. African countries, including
South Africa with its developed industry, still ship out most of their
raw material only to import finished products from the developed world.
The irony is that countries such as Nigeria, which has huge oil
reserves, experience serious fuel shortages. Currently, Nigeria is in
turmoil because of an almost 50% fuel price increase.
As a country, the DRC is potentially the richest on the continent, and
one of the countries in the world endowed with the most minerals, but many
of its people are refugees in other countries because of the unending war.
It is the lack of visionary leadership that keeps the continent
backwards. Other, less fortunate, countries - some of which are small and
have little natural resources, like Japan - have developed themselves. Japan
was flattened in World War 2 but it had something that we are trying to
build - visionary leadership.
Leaders such as President Thabo Mbeki and his Senegalese counterpart
Abdoulaye Wade have a vision of turning the continent around through the New
Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad). For this vision to succeed,
basic requirements such as democracy, good governance, peace and stability
have to be met.
The show in Maputo exposed the rift between these ideals and the
reality on the ground. Only 14 of the 53 countries have ratified the Peace
and Security Council agreed upon at the Durban summit last year. The PSC was
drafted to give the AU powers to intervene in conflicts to restore peace. A
year after the agreement, the majority of countries have simply not signed
to commit themselves to the PSC.
South Africa, which has deployed troops in Burundi to bolster the
peace initiative in that country, would probably have to pay the biggest
amount because the other countries have not kept their part of the deal.
With regard to the possible deployment of US troops in Liberia to
facilitate peace in that west African country, Libya is opposed to an
On the positive side, there are signs of peace returning to Angola.
But we need decisive leadership that will make it impossible for
dictators to walk on the red carpets as legitimate heads of state. Unless we
do that, we will continue to beg others to help us stop fighting each other.
For now, our matchstick appears to be wet. And, as a sage once said,
if we cannot create the future we want, we must endure the future we will
AU's broken promises
July 14, 2003
By the Editor
The African Union, trumpeted as a potent tool for the creation of a
new, prosperous and stable continent, risks rendering itself irrelevant,
much like its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity.
Given the time and effort that President Thabo Mbeki has committed to
this body, this assessment may appear harsh. After all, the organisation was
launched in Durban just a year ago. It is unrealistic to expect an
organisation at its embryonic stage to tackle all the ills besieging Africa.
But how can anyone explain that this august body, with high ambitions
of democratising Africa and restoring the rule of law, can meet for several
days and not discuss the crisis in Zimbabwe?
Even worse, how can the AU elect President Robert Mugabe as its
vice-chairperson representing the Southern African region?
Mugabe has been given the support he desperately needs to shun all
efforts to resolve the problems that have bedevilled his country and turned
millions of his people into beggars.
The AU has failed the propaganda war in marketing the organisation as
a serious body committed to the rebirth of Africa. How does the organisation
hope to convince anybody that it is not merely paying lip-service to its
stated ideal of pursuing democracy?
In his new role, Mugabe would be key to raising funds for the AU. Does
anyone really expect that Mugabe, who is facing travel bans and suspension
by the Commonwealth, to be effective in his role?
As Kofi Annan said in his address to the AU, democracy means more than
the holding of elections; it also means respect for the rule of law by all,
including the government and the party in power.
The sad thing is that the AU's failure to act to prevent the likes of
Zimbabwe from sliding into further chaos will give the West an excuse to
meddle in Africa's affairs once again.
Mixed reaction to Mugabe's new AU post
July 14, 2003
By Makhudu Sefara and Sapa-AFP
Union's new ambassador for Southern Africa is none other
than Robert Mugabe.
The AU summit held in Mozambique at the weekend provided an
opportunity for Africa to show a commitment to its noble ideals.
But it ended on an anticlimax, some observed, with no discussion on
the political situation in strife-torn Zimbabwe.
While some opposition politicians were "galled" by the election of
Mugabe as one of the AU's five vice-chairpersons, others declared themselves
Part of what Mugabe is expected to do is promote the ideals for which
the AU stands and raise funds for some of the AU's projects.
As head of a government teetering on the brink of a precipice, Mugabe
saw his election as an honour for him and a snub to those hostile to him
"who think that Zimbabwe is being isolated".
"There is greater admiration now for Zimbabwe than there ever was, and
we are very happy about that," Mugabe told Zimbabwean state television on
his return on Saturday from Maputo.
Mugabe - slapped with a travel ban and targeted sanctions by the
European Union; a man whose country is suspended from the Commonwealth; and
who is in charge of an economy on a downward spiral - described his election
as a vote of confidence.
But his enthusiasm was not shared by all.
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change spokesperson Paul
Temba Nyathi said the African "union of dictatorships" (the AU) was sending
the wrong signals to Mugabe and "betraying the sentiments of Africans".
The Democratic Alliance spokesperson on Africa, Graham McIntosh,
described Mugabe as a "political thug" not worthy of holding the office to
which he was elected.
"The African Union appears to have a seriously schizophrenic
personality," he said.
"How else can it live with contradictions that are so glaring that
they seriously discredit the organisation's constitution?"
McIntosh said the leadership of President Thabo Mbeki as first AU
chairperson had taken the body some way into the future, but the election of
Mugabe as a regional representative now stood to destroy all the gains made
"The African Union's aims and objectives stand in stark contrast to
clownish statements on Aids and the tsetse fly made by Libyan leader Muammar
Gaddafi, and the election of a political thug like Robert Mugabe as a deputy
chairperson," said McIntosh.
Dr Boy Geldenhuys, the New National Party's spokesperson on foreign
affairs, said the election of Mugabe was a serious setback for the AU's
He said action should be taken against Mugabe in terms of of the AU
Act because his actions were in breach of the AU's principles.
Bheki Khumalo, spokesperson for Mbeki, said there was nothing wrong
with Mugabe being elected to the AU position he now holds.
"He is entitled to be elected to serve his 12-month term. Leaders
rotate positions not only in the AU, but in the European Union as well,"
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said it was wrong to
question the integrity of African leaders who had seen fit to elect Mugabe
to his new position.
Union of despots
appointment of Robert Mugabe to a senior post in the African Union may
look like a snub to President Bush; in reality, though, it is a snub to the
wretched people of Zimbabwe.
The AU seems set to go the way of its predecessor, the Organisation for
African Unity, in becoming a haven for crooks and tyrants. This is partly
because, in common with other international bureaucracies, it is not
answerable to anyone, leaving its members free to arrange things in their
Which is precisely the problem with many of its member states. Governments
that do not have to face elections quickly start running the country for
their own benefit. Zimbabwe is, perhaps, an extreme example, but is hardly
unique: many African states are treated as the personal property of their
Apologists are always ready with their excuses: these countries are
undeveloped, they need more aid, their borders were drawn up arbitrarily by
colonial rulers. And it is true that the West must take some responsibility
for the terms of its hasty disengagement; but, decades after independence,
that excuse is wearing thin.
Mr Mugabe's fellow heads of state are motivated, not by African solidarity,
but by the deeper solidarity that exists among authoritarian rulers. They
resent the West less from lingering anti-colonialism than because liberal
democracies are a living rebuke to Africa's despots and a beacon to her
President Bush told his audience that Africans must solve their own
problems; he looks like having a long wait.
Three poachers killed, one arrested
By Tawanda Kanhema
THE poaching war in Gwaai Conservancy has seen at least four rhinos and 20
painted hunting dogs killed in the past two months, with game scouts
fighting back and killing three poachers and arresting one who surrendered.
The four poachers are suspected to be Zambians.
Painted Dog Conservation Trust project manager Mr Peter Blinston said there
has been an alarming escalation in the level of poaching recently, with two
study packs of painted dogs, comprising about 20 dogs, having been wiped out
in the past week.
"In the past 18 months, we have lost at least 31 dogs in the Gwaai
Conservancy area, which ought to have a dog population of above 60. The
poaching is occurring at a very worrying scale," he said.
Painted hunting dogs or wild dogs are one of Africa’s most endangered
species with a mere 3 000 remaining out of 500 000 in 1900.
Hunters and poachers kill the dog, a prolific hunter, mainly for its heart
and liver, which they believe will enhance their hunting skills.
"We are at such a critical point that in six months there will be nothing,"
zoologist Mr Gregory Rasmussen, who has been working on the conservation
project since 1989, said.
"There is poaching like I have never seen in 13 years. If it continues like
this there will be nothing in the buffer zone."
Police in Gwaai found one of the protective collars put on the dogs at a
farm worker’s house after an anti-poaching team had noticed inconsistencies
in the dogs’ movements and traced radio signals from one of the missing dogs
Animals that survive poachers’ snares are often found with deep cuts on
their necks usually inflicted by the wires used to make the snares.
In some cases elephants have been found with severed trunks.
"If the poaching doesn’t stop then the value of national parks and
subsequently tourism will go down," Mr Rasmussen said.
He noted that poaching has the capability to completely undermine the model
A2 resettlement scheme.
"The A2 scheme had the objective to make people gain value from the
resources but poachers are destroying the wealth," he said.
Reports from other parts of the country also indicate that many other
species have been seriously affected in the past 18 months, including
elephants, giraffe and the endangered black rhinos.
Four rhinos are reported to have been killed in the Sinamatella area in the
Hwange National Park in the past two months, bringing the number of black
rhinos killed since September last year to 11.
"It is a very worrying situation," said the head of the anti-poaching team,
Mr Sikhosana Sibanda.
"If things continue in this way we will be out of the job in three months .
. . there will be no anti-poaching to do."
In 2002 alone, poachers killed about 595 impala, 340 kudu, seven giraffes,
six elephants and one black rhino.
According to estimates by the Zimbabwe Wildlife Producers Association, half
of the country’s wildlife has been killed in the past two years.
Mr Blinston blamed the escalation in the level of poaching on the recent
drought and high levels of unemployment.
"Added to that is the problem of absentee landlords," he said.
Chinese minister visits
CHINESE Assistant Foreign Affairs Minister Cde Lu Guozeng arrived in the
country yesterday for a three-day working visit to strengthen bilateral
relations with Zimbabwe.
During his visit, Cde Guozeng is expected to meet President Mugabe and hand
over US$4,5 million to the Government for use in developmental projects to
Speaking after meeting his Zimbabwean counterpart, Cde Abedinico Ncube
yesterday, the Chinese minister said his country would encourage its
companies to invest in Zimbabwe.
In particular, the Chinese would encourage the setting up of joint ventures
between businesses from the two countries.
There are about 30 Chinese state-owned enterprises operating in Zimbabwe.
The number excludes private businesses.
"The two sides made commitments to help the enterprises to perform better
and to increase profits," he said.
Trade volumes between the two countries increased over the years to US$168
Cde Guozeng is visiting at the invitation of Cde Ncube to enhance diplomatic
and bilateral ties between the two countries.
He said his meeting with Cde Ncube examined a number of issues, among them
the just-ended Africa Union summit in Maputo.
He said the AU summit was a big success.
Cde Guozeng attended the summit as a special envoy of the Chinese
He congratulated President Mugabe for being elected AU vice chairman for
He also briefed Cde Ncube on the forthcoming ministerial China-Africa forum
to be held in December in Ethiopia.
The conference would discuss trade relations between China and the
Let's focus on present oppression
July 14, 2003
I refer to the article "We can do without Rhodes' rands" by Khathu
Mamaila (Opinion and Analysis, July 7).
It is amazing how many people in this country have this giant chip on
their shoulders about the past history, the
latest case now being Cecil John Rhodes.
So Mamaila does not want any money or help coming from the Mandela
Rhodes Foundation, because old Cecil was nasty to his ancestors. Oh please.
Two or three times a week on my way home from work,
I get milk and bread from my local shop. Outside is a black
man with one leg begging for a few rands, and every day I give him
something, without fail.
Can you imagine me saying to him: "Sorry, I would love to
help you, but my ancestors were really nasty to your ancestors a
couple of hundred years ago, so you wouldn't be doing yourself proud by
accepting my dirty money."
If we all thought in that way, many countries would not trade with
each other because of past wars, oppressions, etc.
"History," Mamaila writes "must not be re-engineered to cleanse those
who amassed wealth through brutal oppression of black people."
Well, it seems to be the case right now in Cecil's old country under a
certain Mr Mugabe.
Maybe we should concentrate on present oppression of black people, not
what happened in previous centuries.
'U.S./British hands off Zimbabwe!'
A group of activists held an emergency demonstration in Harlem on June 28 to
demand no U.S. and British intervention in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe,
located in the heart of southern Africa. The protest, seen by hundreds of
Harlem residents, was organized by the December 12 Movement, a long-time
The march began at the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building and
ended up in front of the Mount Olive Baptist Church, where New York City
Council member Charles Barron, Omawale Clay from the D12 Movement, and
Monica Moorehead from the International Action Center spoke at an impromptu
President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair have joined forces to
attempt to illegally oust the president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe. Mugabe
has been supporting a grassroots campaign to restore arable lands, stolen
under colonialism, back to their rightful owners, the Zimbabwean workers and
Reprinted from the July 17, issue of Workers World newspaper
Comment from The Scotsman, 10 July
Why Mugabe's Zimbabwe has avoided economic meltdown - so far
Zimbabwe's economy appeared to defy all predictions by avoiding a
terminal meltdown? There is a serious economic crisis. But as President
George W Bush should find on his visit to southern Africa, its nature is
more complex than the headline information reveals and its political
implications more profound. For the past three years, through suspect
parliamentary and presidential elections, drought, and the removal of 90 per
cent of the commercial farmers from their land, commentators have been
predicting imminent "freefall" collapse of the Zimbabwean economy. There is
enough material around to support the predictions. Inflation is running at
280 per cent and rising. There is a mirror-image collapse of the currency
and 70 per cent unemployment. And there are desperate shortages of fuel and
basic requirements. Some are unavailable at any price. Despite these trends,
reinforced by the five-day stayaway organised in early June by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), an economy of sorts
staggers on well past what most people would have considered the deadline
for meltdown. This is because Zimbabwe really has two economies: a First
World sector and a Third World sector. The First World sector consists (or
consisted) of commercial agriculture and processing, mining, urban retail,
regional-scaled industry, tourism, and a small but quite sophisticated
service segment, including finance and information technology. It is the
First sector that has taken the hammering and understandably caught the
headlines. Out of a total population of 12 million, falling now because of
AIDS and emigration, between one and 1.5 million people worked in or were
dependent on these activities. Individually, white farmers have lost the
most. But hundreds of thousands of urban blacks have no jobs - or have jobs
whose wages cannot keep pace with weekly price increases.
Third World sector absorbs about ten million people, eight million
Shona, the governing party tribe, and two million Ndebele, largely
supporting the MDC. This sector has also suffered from droughts, job losses
in adjacent commercial agriculture, up to 400,000 displaced farm workers,
often originally from Malawi, scavenging for food, increasing cost of
cooking oil and other essentials, higher health and education fees, and the
blight of AIDS-related deaths. Thus, life has got harder. But it has always
been hard and many of these people have only two tenuous links with the
First World. They continue to scratch a living from dry-planting or mostly
communal lands. They owe an allegiance to tribal chiefs, who are looked
after the by the government. The First sector on its old scale needed the
attachment of the Third sector. In the medium term, at least the Third
sector can grind alongside a much reduced First sector, which is why the
final stages of freefall or meltdown have not yet materialised. The money is
in the First sector, the people are in the Third. There are other strands
which marginally ease this dire situation. In the First sector, with three
currency rates - official, so-called "parallel'' and black-market - more
deals are done than are recorded. There are still long queues for petrol.
But with a phone that works and hard currency, it is possible to trace a
Chillingly, the upper echelons of Zanu PF think this two-tier
structure can go on long enough while Zimbabwe, led by a president in his
80th year, converts itself to an agrarian command economy rid of colonial
influences, a kind of African Albania. This is an absurd notion, but it
could happen if the Zanu PF nexus survives two years or so with good rains.
There is little prospect of a Velvet Revolution. The impetus for controlled
change can only come from outside the country. The South African president,
Thabo Mbeki, misleads when he says Zimbabwe must follow the South African
pattern and solve its own problems. This approach would lead actually to an
agrarian peasant state on his border, or a chaotic implosion. It needs the
US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, to lean further on Mbeki, Mbeki to lean
heavily on Robert Mugabe, and the Mugabe regime and the Zanu PF nexus to be
replaced by a popular government freely elected and acceptable to the
international community. If this were to happen, the economy could recover
quite quickly. Neighbouring Mozambique, after years of a debilitating civil
war, is now compounding economic growth at 7 per cent, driven in part by
expatriate Zimbabwean farmers.