The decision of the Senate in the United
States to call the situation in Darfur, genocide, was an important step
towards resolving the situation facing the Sudanese people living in the
southern Sudan. There is little doubt now that the Sudanese government has
armed and equipped the militia that has been terrorizing the people of the
Darfur region. I watched the Secretary General of the United Nations being
interviewed on the same subject and he carefully skirted around the issue -
saying that the form of words used was important but he was very careful not
to use the "G" word. He knows full well that that would have triggered a
response that would have demanded action by the UN to protect the rights of
the Sudanese people.
In Sudan we have a government dominated by a
minority who hold onto power by any and all means available. It is not a
democracy. In Zimbabwe we are governed by a small oligarchy who have been in
power for 24 years and hold onto power by all the means at their disposal.
They have subverted the electoral process so that it has become a farce. We
are no longer a democracy.
In the Sudan the people of Darfur are
terrorized by a militia, which is trained and supported by the Sudanese
government. These have destroyed the homes of the people of Darfur and driven
a million people across the Chad border into the desert where they are
suffering severe physical deprivation. In Zimbabwe the armed forces are used
to train and mobilize a militia that is terrorizing the democratic opponents
of Zanu PF and denying people the right to make a living and to live with
their families through economic depravation. The destruction of the formal
economy is deliberate and designed to undercut the support base for the
opposition. As a result 2,5 million people have been forced into exile as
economic refugees in the past 4 years.
In the Sudan it is estimated
that 300 000 people are under threat from hunger and exposure in the deserts
of central Africa. In Zimbabwe 800 000 people have died from preventable
diseases and Aids and related causes in the past 4 years. Many simply
because they cannot afford the right foods and the hospitals are now simply
death traps for the ill and injured.
The political elite in the Sudan
have lied and made all kinds of statements to deflect international
criticisms. In Zimbabwe the State has engaged in an all out propaganda war to
keep African States on sides and to persuade them that this is a conflict
with the West and not with legitimate internal forces of
In fact what has been going on here in Zimbabwe is a
sophisticated form of genocide. An illegitimate government that has tried to
destroy any internal opposition to its rule by all means available. In the
period 1980 to 1987, the Zapu opposition led by Joshua Nkomo was subjected to
mass killings; starvation and other forms of state sponsored violence. This
savage campaign saw twice as many people killed as in the civil war which
brought independence and majority rule from white settler dominated
government in 1980. This genocidal campaign only came to an end when Zapu
capitulated and entered a "government of national unity" in 1987.
finally, after two decades of mismanagement and corruption, civil society
forces in Zimbabwe decided to again confront Zanu PF on the electoral field,
the State launched an all out attack on the opposition. Mutasa famously made
the statement that "if we are only left with 6 million people at the end of
this exercise, but they support Zanu PF, we will be quite happy". So now,
after 4 years of this all out campaign, Zimbabwe instead of having a
population of 16 million people with an average life expectancy of 60 years
and average literacy of over 95 per cent, has a population of less than 11
million and average life expectancies of under 35 years.
hundreds of thousands of people either die from disease, hunger
or malnutrition or simply pack their few belongings in a bag and flee
the country. The targets have been clear - first it was the commercial
farm community - 2 million people who held the balance of power between the
urban and the rural electoral communities. Now it is the urban educated and
middle class. Like the Kulaks in Russia in the 1930's these classes are
being deliberately eliminated to ensure the continued control of
central government by an aging oligarchy of veterans of the earlier civil
Is it genocide - of course, but by any other name! It is no accident
that the UN has described the situations in the Sudan and Zimbabwe as "the
worst examples of human suffering and depravation in the world
In the Sudan they have chosen to resist the Sudanese government
by force and the SPLA and others have been engaged in a civil war for the
past 30 years. It has not brought change or democracy to that ravaged
country. The AU, the UN and the international community at large now face the
possibility of yet another costly and difficult exercise involving military
and political intervention.
Here we still have the possibility of a
peaceful, democratic and lawful transition of power from one regime to
another - but time is running out. The MDC has committed itself to just such
a process but in order to achieve this outcome it must have help. This is
recognised by the State that has banned all foreign assistance to political
parties and now is attempting to choke off support for civil society NGO's as
well. If help is not forthcoming then there is the very danger that AU and
SADC imposed democratic elections might again be subverted by the inability
of the local opposition and civil society to ensure the process is not again
hijacked by ballot stuffing and other malpractice's.
Am I being
melodramatic? Not at all - we will face an election with over 12 000
balloting stations - at which counting will take place on the night after the
election. To cover this we will have to train and deploy 48 000 monitors on
Friday night - for this we will need 2 400 vehicles - mainly pick ups to
transport people and then support them at their polling stations. This is one
thing for a government and a political party that will use State resources
shamelessly to achieve its ends and has tens of thousands of police and army
personnel to call on - its another matter for the opposition.
and 2002 the MDC was supported by thousands of individuals who used their own
vehicles and by NGO's who trained and supported the people who went out to
man the polling stations. The majority of those people are no longer in the
country. The NGO's will themselves be crippled by the new legislation that is
pending in Parliament.
The AU and the SADC are pressing Mugabe and his
cohorts to conform to the SADC norms for a democratic election. There are
hopeful signs that this might just happen - even though the Mugabe regime
will manipulate the process and delay implementing the required measures
until the last minute. But if we are given the chance to vote on the day,
under reasonable conditions then we must have the resources required to
control the process on the ground. A few well-meaning observers cannot
achieve this. It can only be achieved by the empowerment of the local
population to ensure their votes are recorded and counted properly. I only
hope someone outside there is thinking about this issue right now and will do
something before it is too late.
Archbishop Pius Ncube
speaks slowly and softly, yet this Zimbabwean priest has become the loudest
voice of defiance against the injustices of Robert Mugabe. The Zimbabwean
president's political rivals are harassed, imprisoned and tortured;
independent newspapers have been closed down; the population as a whole is
being cowed by economic collapse and food shortages. But the 57-year-old
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo has become ever more outspoken - not
only in Zimbabwe but, increasingly, abroad. His arrival this week in Britain
- Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler - seems almost calculated to infuriate
President Mugabe, who likes to blame all of his country's woes on Tony Blair
and his cabinet of "gay gangsters". "Mugabe uses this Tony Blair blame game
as an excuse," says Archbishop Ncube. "Tony Blair has not destroyed the
economy of Zimbabwe. It's Robert Mugabe who has destroyed it. He is tricky
and deceitful." But was he not playing into Mugabe's hands by coming to
Britain? "I'm not going to be bullied," replies the archbishop, as we sit in
the garden of his Kensington hotel. "If I stayed away, he would have me where
he wants me. I am free. That freedom is not given to me by Mugabe. He is not
my God. I have one true God."
Dressed simply in a grey suit, a dog
collar, crucifix and large plastic spectacles, Archbishop Ncube looks more
like an unprepossessing village priest than purple-clad prelate. He is,
though, the archetypal turbulent priest. President Mugabe has not yet asked
his barons to get rid of him, but they have tried almost everything short of
killing him. Archbishop Ncube's telephones are tapped, government agents
monitor his every sermon and he has been told he is on a secret police "death
list". The state-controlled press is filled with diatribes and sordid tales
about Archbishop Ncube. Among the accusations are claims that he has raped
nuns, fathered bastard children and indulged in homosexual acts with
prisoners. The latest abuse came earlier this month, after the archbishop
chastised Mugabe during a trip to South Africa. Nathan Shamuyarira, one of
Mugabe's lieutenants, said: "The archbishop is a paid propagandist who works
for the racist imperialist governments to undermine the Zimbabwe government."
Archbishop Ncube carefully reads these words in a newspaper cutting, but
seems untroubled. "Anyone who speaks the truth must be abused and attacked
and denigrated. Let them get on with it." President Mugabe is on record as
describing Archbishop Ncube as "an unholy man". But the archbishop's
international profile is both the cause of the president's fury and a shackle
on his ability to take more drastic action. About a month ago, Mugabe vented
his frustration to a Catholic priest, telling him: "Archbishop Ncube should
take off his priest's robes and become a proper politician. Then I will deal
with him properly."
Pius Ncube was born near Gwanda, in southern
Matabeleland. He was one of four children. He was educated in mission schools
- first by Presbyterians and then Catholics - where he went by the anglicised
name of Alick. He was baptised a Roman Catholic at the age of 14, adopting
the papal name of Pius. At 17, he felt a calling to the priesthood and
trained under an English Jesuit missionary in Salisbury, the Rhodesian
capital that has since been renamed Harare. He studied in Rome during the
early years of Zimbabwe's transition from white minority to independence
under Robert Mugabe. Soon after Fr Pius returned to Bulawayo in 1983,
conflict broke out between the new government and supposed "dissidents" in
Matabeleland. Mugabe despatched his army - particularly the North
Korean-trained Fifth Brigade - to wage a campaign of suppression, known as
the Gukurahundi, meaning the rain that washes away the chaff before the
spring rains. According to researchers, between 2,000 and 8,000 people were
killed in a series of atrocities, at least 10,000 were arrested and 7,000
beaten or tortured. Hundreds of homes were burnt down. The Gukurahundi was Fr
Ncube's first encounter with the brutality that Mugabe was capable of
inflicting on his perceived enemies. "Awful things were being done that the
state media was not reporting. People were buried alive, mothers were raped
in front of their daughters, people were herded into a hut and burnt or shot
if they tried to escape. People were dropped into disused mines. This man is
After years of grooming, Fr Ncube was appointed
archbishop of Bulawayo in 1997 and became freer to speak his mind. The last
straw came in early 2000, when Mugabe ordered the "war veterans" to invade
white-owned farms after his defeat in a constitutional referendum. One of the
provisions of the new constitution was an obligation on Britain to pay
compensation to commercial farmers for land expropriated by the government.
The crisis was presented as an attempt to right the injustice of whites
holding the lion's share of the best land. But for Archbishop Ncube, the land
grab was not an attempt to help the landless, but a move to hold on to power.
The result was that Zimbabwe's agricultural-based economy was shattered.
"They have distributed only two per cent of the land to farmers. A lot has
been given to ministers and Mugabe's friends. There is no honesty," says
Archbishop Ncube. The land invasions were an important tool during the
parliamentary elections in June 2000, and the presidential ballot in March
2002. The war veterans intimidated black farm workers, who were likely to
vote for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, and emasculated the
white farmers, one of the most organised groups in the country.
portraying the crisis as a colonial question, Mugabe stifled any
real criticism from fellow Africans. For Archbishop Ncube, other African
leaders have proved to be "blind". The inaction of President Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa - the one man who might be able to force Mr Mugabe to change -
has been a special "disappointment". Zimbabwean church leaders have proved to
be less than vocal, and some bishops are believed to have taken former
white farms. But Archbishop Ncube takes a charitable view of his fellow
prelates: "They are looking for a more diplomatic way. I have become
more confrontational. They do a lot of things quietly, trying to assist the
sick and poor, assisting development projects." But it is clear that
Archbishop Ncube wishes they took a more public position. "The government has
silenced everybody. They want to give the impression that everything is
normal when, in fact, it is grossly abnormal. They are full of lies and
deceit. To be quiet is a disservice to the people of Zimbabwe and disloyal to
Archbishop Ncube says he is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi,
Nelson Mandela, Bishop Desmond Tutu and Oscar Romero, the El Salvadorian
archbishop who was assassinated by a Right-wing death squad in 1980. Saying
he has a "mission" to speak out against Mugabe, he explains his actions by
quoting a passage from Luke 4:18 in which Jesus, in turn, quotes Isaiah: "The
Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the
gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach
deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at
liberty them that are bruised." Archbishop Ncube is reluctant to speak about
himself, but deals with personal questions as the price to be paid for
publicising his latest project - the launch of the Zimbabwe Defence and Aid
Fund, which aims to fund legal costs of Zimbabweans being prosecuted under
oppressive legislation, provide aid to victims of human rights abuses and
those infected with the HIV virus.
He speaks in a slightly
distracted manner, often sighing, constantly scanning his notes. He clearly
wants to get to his main message about conditions in Zimbabwe, and takes
every opportunity to rattle off facts and figures. He notes that 3.4 million
Zimbabweans are living outside the country; inflation is running at 500 per
cent; unemployment stands at 80 per cent; half the children are suffering
malnutrition; one in four adults are infected with the HIV virus or have
Aids; there have been 300 reported cases of political violence and
intimidation this year alone. The litany goes on and on. At the end of his
notes, I notice the words, written in bold capitals, "policy of starvation".
Archbishop Ncube says between five and eight million Zimbabweans will need
food aid this year, despite the government's claim to have enough food. This,
he maintains, is evidence that President Mugabe will use food shortages as a
political tool to starve opponents into submission. Archbishop Ncube wants
Zimbabweans to stand up to their rulers, saying: "They cannot imprison the
whole country." At the same time, though, he fears that desperation will lead
to another African civil war. "It would be a tragedy if, all of a sudden,
people went violent. Mugabe's last card is to call the army and say: `Shoot
them'. He is a cruel man." I ask the archbishop whether President Mugabe has
retained any of the moral teachings of his Jesuit education. "He knows what
is right and what is wrong," he says. "But for him, power has become a God.
He has become blind to divine principles. He has become a megalomaniac." Is
it not just a matter of a few years before Mugabe, an octogenarian, will be
forced to step down? "I cannot foresee the future," he replies. "Some of
these dictators live long. Look at Pinochet. What I know is that, by the time
Mugabe dies, he will have carried with him tens of thousands of people who
will have died because of his callousness."
Chávez and Mugabe:
Plutarch would not have bothered By Gustavo Coronel, July 25,
2004 Southern Rhodesia was an African jewel when Mugabe took it over
almost 25 years ago. Novelist Doris Lessing tells us in "The Tragedy of
Zimbabwe," (The New York Review of Books, April 10, 2003) that when
independence was reached, blacks "looked forward to a life of plenty and
competence that existed nowhere in Africa. . . . But paradise was to have an
infrastructure, and by now its going, going, almost gone." The man associated
with this calamity, says Lessing, is Robert Mugabe. Although today Mugabe is
widely execrated, adds Lessing, blame started late. The outside world looked
on him with benevolence, although all the early signs of the coming disaster
were there. He surrounded himself with North Korean bodyguards, a gang
of murderers and rapists but people seemed to overlook this. He started,
says Lessing, to say the right things: blacks and whites must work together.
He promised to fight corruption and tried to limit his collaborators to
one property. However, Lessing says, when these collaborators started to
steal, Mugabe did nothing. When Mugabe came to power he had the goodwill of
his people. Even those who did not vote for him were initially prepared
to forget their differences to work together. Lessing says that in all
villages of Zimbabwe the general belief of the people was; "Mugabe will do
this and that." Yet, he preferred to restrict himself to an ever-smaller
circle of cronies. He gave refuge to a hated Ethiopian dictator, Mengitsu
(still there) and became a good friend of the corrupt prime minister of
Malaysia, Mohammed. Although in the 1980's the corrupt Mugabe government sold
the grain given to the country by the United Nations, leftist and
Marxist intellectuals from all over the world defended Mugabe with
The people from Zimbabwe, says Lessing, are too patient
and prefer to joke about their misfortunes and dream about better times. But
they already say that if they can get rid of Mugabe, they will be able to
create a better country. This is difficult to do because, Lessing says:
"Mugabe has created a caste of greedy people like himself" so that, even if
he is ousted, a similar crook will take his place.
promoted racial hate. His anti-white rhetoric is the worst in Africa but the
blacks of Zimbabwe do not hate the whites, in spite of Mugabe's hateful
speech. Mugabe has focused this hate on the white farmers and has promoted a
"land reform" which has ruined the country. But Mugabe himself has made a
fortune. The money he has made has served to buy the loyalty of the army
officers who are the only ones who can oust him.
Lessing, hates Tony Blair and firmly believes that Blair is obsessed about
killing him. In Zimbabwe no one thinks that Blair spends one minute of his
time thinking about Mugabe, but Mugabe is convinced that this is the case.
This is what is known as paranoia.
The so-called land reform has
been equally disastrous for white and black farmers and, as a result, the
people of Zimbabwe are going hungry. Mugabe is rejecting the donation of food
by foreign governments and uses the food available in the country as a
political tool. The government claims to be producing some 2.4 million tons
of grains while the UN estimates the crop in less than one million metric
tons. It is said that Mugabe is importing Chinese farmers to grow food since
the farms taken over by the "reform" are idle because the machinery was not
Only a few days ago Mugabe castigated private
charities, aid organizations and NGO's for "interfering in domestic affairs
of Zimbabwe." He said some of these organizations should be closed down and
their members arrested as traitors. "We cannot allow them to be used as
conduits of foreign interference," he said. He added that no one could give
Zimbabwe lessons on human rights. The law he wants passed is similar to the
law Zimbabwe already passed in 2002 giving the government power to
close independent media. 31 journalists were arrested as the result of
the application of that law. More than 200 people have been killed by
the political violence generated by government gangs and police.
In the financial scene Zimbabwe owes the International Monetary Fund some
$300 million since 2001. The IMF is giving Mugabe still another extension of
six months to see if he pays his debts.
The chronic neglect and
consequent decline of Zimbabwe's health care sector is dramatically
illustrated by the fact that the new ambulances are ox-drawn.
However, in contrast with the miseries described above, Mugabe said last
Tuesday in parliament that "Zimbabwe is undergoing an economic revival." He
arrived in a Rolls Royce, under heavy police and military escort, accompanied
by his young and pretty wife Grace, smartly dressed by a Paris establishment.
He said that land "reform" would continue, that people should be patriotic
and resist foreign interference. In a recent event, the African Union Summit,
UN Secretary general Kofi Annan said that "There is no clearer wisdom than
knowing when to pass the torch to a new generation." Who did he have in
We do not have to be a Plutarch to realize that in Chávez and
Mugabe we are dealing with a clear case of parallel lives. Of course,
Plutarch wrote about distinguished parallel lives, not about the parallel
lives of little men destroying their societies. Anyone who read the summary
of Mugabe's performance, given above, would need no further proof that
Mugabe and Chávez belong in the same category of political leaders. The
parallelism is almost perfect. Chávez has realized that he and Mugabe are
spiritual twins and that led him to invite Mugabe to Venezuela early this
year, when he was served with an exhibition of military brutality by the
Venezuelan National Guard.
In the case of Venezuela and Chávez
we can also talk about "The Venezuelan Tragedy," except that it does not come
after 25 years but after only six years. As in the case of Mugabe, Chávez
also had at the outset a clear majority and strong support, even from those
who did not vote for him. He also promised to fight corruption but he also
gave in to the greed of the military and the gangsters who surround him.
Today, Venezuela is a tragic case of hyper corruption, due to a combination
of high government income and a total lack of ethics and accountability on
the part of public officials. As Mugabe did, Chávez has surrounded himself
with foreign bodyguards, not North Koreans but Cubans. When Chávez started
his presidency all Venezuelans believed that he could be different. But today
he is ruling with his family and a close group of friends, all highly
uncultured. He invited former dictator Perez Jimenez to his inauguration. He
has protected corrupt Aristide. He has made friends with the terrorists and
murderers who make up the Colombian guerrillas. He visited Sadam Hussein in
Iraq. We have a saying in Venezuela: The quality of the traveler is known by
his suitcase. Chávez's suitcase is really pathetic, full of
The people of Venezuela are patient and joke about their
misfortunes, just as in Zimbabwe. We also claim that getting rid of Chávez
will put us, once again, in the path to progress. Chávez has created, as
Mugabe has done, a caste of greedy and corrupt people but he has not had the
time to consolidate this mafia. In fact, this mafia is crumbling down at this
As it has happened with Mugabe, Chávez has found or
has bought a group of leftist, greedy intellectuals that are writing nice
things about him for a fee. As long as the money is coming to these websites
and journalists, they will keep singing his praise.
has done, Chávez has promoted racial hatred. This hate has been directed to
all whites, to the middle class, to the Catholic Church, to the media, to
civil society, to the oligarchs that, according to him, make up the sector of
society to be exterminated. In his pathological hate he sometimes reverses
roles and paints himself as the white hero (Florentino) while describing the
opposition as the black devil. But also as in the case of Mugabe, this
promotion of racial hatred has had very little acceptance among the
Venezuelan people, who has lived in harmony for many years and will continue
to do so, long after Chávez becomes an unpleasant memory.
as Mugabe, is buying the loyalty of a corrupt military group. However, this
is a very shaky arrangement, since there are honest military officers who are
not inclined to be bought while there are many greedy military officers
trying to get into the act. The whole set-up is very fragile and is keeping
Chávez awake at night trying to figure out who is loyal and who will
Chávez (as Mugabe) believes that someone is after him. In
his case the person is Bush. As a result he is obsessed with antagonizing
him. He is paying a lot of money to discredit Bush, except that, if Kerry
wins, he will probably be more anti-Chávez than Bush is.
Venezuelan land reform in Venezuela has proven to be as disastrous as in
Zimbabwe. It has no organization, no technical back up, any system.
By sending his brother to Cuba as Ambassador, instead of running the
reform, Chávez has given up on this farce and has tried to replace it with
social, urban programs, which have become the new way to make new
millionaires among the revolutionaries.
Mugabe claims that food
production is more than twice what it really is. Chávez claims that oil
production is 35% more than it really is. Mugabe imports Chinese farmers and
Chávez imports Cuban "doctors."
Mugabe attacks NGO's. Chávez
attacks NGO's. They both claim that these organizations are traitors to the
fatherland, bla bla bla. Mugabe does not allow food from foreign countries to
enter the country, in order to alleviate the misery of the people of
Zimbabwe. Chávez refused to accept US help to alleviate the plight of the
people of Venezuela when the mudslides of northern Venezuela took place. The
twins show an identical spiritual pettiness.
Chávez passes laws,
which will render democracy impossible, just as Mugabe has done. And, as in
the case of Mugabe, he goes on record to affirm that "everything is fine in
Venezuela, that all is progressing, that Venezuela is
Mugabe and Chávez are two of a kind. They will go on
record as tragic enemies of their countries. Their biographies are not what
Plutarch had in mind, more suitable for Corin Tellado.
Zim pensioners to fight for their money Keith Ross
July 25 2004 at 03:43PM
The plight of thousands of Zimbabwean
pensioners living in South Africa - most of whom have received no pension for
over a year - will be raised by a new body formed to lobby at national and
Many of the pensioners now live off the
charity of family and friends. Most thought they had made adequate provision
for their retirement, until they fell victim to Zimbabwe's economic
The pensioners' case has been fought in the past few
years by the Flame Lily Foundation of South Africa, but its efforts have met
with limited success.
The foundation's honorary national
secretary, John Redfern, said it had become clear that a new body was needed
to give attention to the urgent needs of the pensioners.
estimate there are 13 000 to 15 000 Zimbabwean pensioners living in South
Africa," he said. "Most of them don't like to speak about their situation,
but we know that many are desperate."
Redfern said many of the
pensioners - or their widows - were now in their 70s and too old to find jobs
in South Africa.
He said his organisation had recently decided to
form the Zimbabwean Pensioners Association in a bid to find solutions to the
The association's first priority would be to gather a data
base of all Zimbabwean pensioners living in South Africa.
would also make further approaches to the Zimbabwean government in an effort
to get pension payments resumed.
"We have already asked the South
African government to lend the necessary foreign currency to Zimbabwe, so it
can pay the pensions.
"We will also appeal to an organisation in
the United Kingdom that is helping pensioners in Zimbabwe. We will ask them
to also help Zimbabwean pensioners in South Africa."
said almost without exception there had been no pension pay-outs from
Zimbabwe since last March.
Pay-outs had been blocked by the
Zimbabwean Reserve Bank because of the shortage of foreign
"The first cut in pensions came in January 2001, when the
National Railways of Zimbabwe said they could not pay because they had no
"Later that year the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
issued a directive that forex could be made available only for essential
items. It seems pensions were not regarded as essential."
Redfern said many pensioners had then received "sporadic" payments until
early last year. "It seems there are also administrative problems, besides
the lack of forex. Even pensioners in Zimbabwe are not getting regular
SADC talks at Sun City should show if
SA is backing down on quiet diplomacy
Ministers expected to toughen
development community's stance on Harare
An indication of the extent to which the region has toughened
its stance towards Zimbabwe could emerge from two days of talks between
Southern African Development Community (SADC) ministers of defence and
foreign affairs that begins in Sun City today. In considering a new draft of
tougher SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections, the
ministers could send a message to Zimbabwe that it should ensure free and
fair polls. It would also be a signal to the international community that
SADC is intent on living up to principles it has already adopted. The meeting
of the ministers, under the auspices of the SADC organ on politics, defence,
and security co-operation, is most unlikely to result in public criticism
of Zimbabwe. A former participant in these talks says they "are the
most secretive you will come across." Nevertheless, this former participant
says that Zimbabwe is likely to face private criticism during the Sun
The recommendations of the meetings will feed into
briefing notes for SADC heads of state, who will be holding a summit in
Mauritius next month. Speculation has mounted since a report criticising
Zimbabwe's human rights record was put before, but not considered or adopted
by, African Union (AU) foreign ministers ahead of its recent summit in Addis
Ababa. In what has been viewed as a possible signal of a shift towards a
tougher stance, Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma earlier this month
denied that she had thwarted consideration of the report at the AU meeting.
Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad's meeting this week with South African
Council of Churches general secretary Molefe Tsele, has also been viewed as
an indication of a possible shift. The council has criticised SA's policy
of quiet diplomacy. But Pahad's remarks after the meeting, that Zimbabwe
is indeed working towards free and fair elections, could indicate that no
shift is taking place, at least in SA's public posture.
parliamentary elections scheduled for March next year, Zimbabwe is about to
change its electoral laws to try to persuade the international community that
the process will be both free and fair. The changes include the possible
introduction of transparent ballot boxes and the establishment of an
independent election commission. But the country's main opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change, as well as human rights groups, say that an
electoral bill will severely hamper campaigning by restricting access to the
voters roll. These groups also claim that Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe's government has practised widespread intimidation, particularly with
threats in rural areas to burn down homes if the vote does not go their way
in a constituency, and that it is assured of a wide margin of victory.
Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota, Pahad and his fellow deputy foreign minister
Sue van der Merwe will be attending the Sun City talks. Dlamini-Zuma, who is
currently on official visits to Mali and the Gambia, will not attend.
send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to email@example.com with "For Open Letter
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286 --------------------------------------------------------------------------- THOUGHT
FOR THE DAY
You can make more friends in two months by becoming
interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other
people interested in you. -- Dale
LETTER FORUM Letter 1. Subject: Help!
you would be so kind as to print this " distress letter, " relating to a
vehicle stolen in broad daylight. I have heard it happen to others but until
it actually happens to you it is quite impossible to really appreciate the
depth and feeling of utter sickness quickly followed by intense anger, that
rises in your whole being. It happened like this:
Had the Toyota Land
Cruiser Pick-up (Registration Number 763.556 B) in at Mike Harris Toyota, on
the Lomugundi Road, for a service. Dropped it there on Wednesday 14th July
and went over to collect it on Friday morning 16th July 2004. Drove out of
the Mike Harris workshops and on the way home stopped at the Standard Bank,
Borrowdale so as to draw some cash to fill her up with diesel. So far so
Had parked right under/in front of the tower that holds the
Fawcett Guard, above the guarded car park, behind the " Master Angler. "
Looked up at the guard and waved so that he saw me get out of my vehicle. Was
away some twenty minutes and on my return the Land Cruiser Pick-up was gone!
" I shouted at the guard and he came scurrying down from above. " A black
man with jacket came, he had keys, opened your car door, started it up
and drove away, he had keys, no forced entry or playing with wires, " he
Thereafter I had to go report the loss to
Borrowdale Police, who immediately broadcast the registration number supplied
over their net work, alerted CID and assured me that if it moved out through
any roadblocks (to Zambia or Mocambique!) that day, it would get found. I
have to admit that for once they jumped around at the Borrowdale Police
Station and were extremely quick and efficient. They even phoned me later to
tell me to relax and that they were doing everything possible to recover the
"almost new, 28,500 km. white in colour Land Cruiser pick-up."
Reported the vehicle theft to Kim Colyer, MD at Fawcett's Security, and he
too was very helpful, promising to follow up on the report and also to
broadcast it over their Fawcett Security network. He would also have
a personal word with the Sergeant-in-Charge of that ' stick of men ' at "
Sam Levy's Village, guarded car park. "
I drove some hundred
kilometers around town thereafter, looking out and praying that I would, by
some devine providence, " bump into the vehicle and its new driver. " The
first thing my domestic said to me when I finally arrived home, " it has to
be the guys at the garage that made a spare key while your vehicle was in
those two days for service. " (A fellow had phoned from the garage to say, "
do not come and collect it tomorrow, as we are closed, come on Monday!) I
presumed he had mistaken the next day as being the Saturday, so I went to
collect on Friday anyway. Spoke to the Customer Service Manager (Paul Hagen)
at Mike Harris. He said that they are very aware of the " access to keys ''
and have special procedures whereby only certain people have key access. I
will be taking the ' key issue ' further next week, as the police are also
certain that having keys to the vehicle was suspect. In the meantime, if you
chaps out there (and your kids) could keep your eyes open I would be ever so
grateful if you could spot the all-white Toyota Land Cruiser Pick-up, with
black bull bars, towing triangle thereon, black roll bars and bolts for two
spare wheels placed either side of the main box-body, and slightly to the
rear. On the rear window is written, " Norman's Toyota. " (386, Jan Smuts
The recovery of this vehicle will not find me
backward in coming forward with a substantial reward. Thanks in anticipation
for your help. (a very distraught) Glen
2. Subject Next Time - It Could be You! Pay Attention!
Most of you will have received various warnings of hijacking
methods, please do not ignore them. Read them and take note.
recent one that happened to a friend yesterday at Borrowdale Village: She was
approached by a lady claiming to be from Mozambique, asking for directions to
the Pink House. She claimed not to understand English very well and begged
my friend to take her to the Pink House in return for US$100. Very
tempting. However, my friend declined but the woman was very persistent and
in the end my friend relented and the two of them jumped into her car.
Luckily enough one of the women that work in the kiosk saw this happening and
managed to get the security guard to stop the car, just in time. Following
closely behind were 3 men in a twincab.
This woman has approached 2
people I know of already, one at Arundel Village and now this one, and
goodness knows how many others have fallen for her story or been tempted.
PLEASE ignore this woman and walk away if you can, and make sure you are not
alone when you approach your vehicle to avoid a confrontation with the three
accomplices. People will stop at nothing to get what they want, your life
may be at risk and even the lure of US$100 is not worth it, please be very
aware of your surroundings and take care.
Please forward to as many
people as possible, you may save a friend from a hijacking, or even their
letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions of the
submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice for
JAG Hotlines: (011) 612 595 If you are in trouble or need
advice, (011) 205 374 (011) 863 354 please don't hesitate to contact us
- (011) 431 068 we're here to help! 263
4 799 410 Office Lines
AirZim workers nabbed for human trafficking By our own
.Airline workers helping smuggle fugitives to UK POLICE and secret
security agents based at the Harare International Airport have smashed
an international human trafficking syndicate in which workers at Air
Zimbabwe were smuggling fugitives and asylum seekers onto London bound planes
for huge pay offs, investigations by The Standard have revealed.
workers at the heavily-indebted national airline were recently arrested for
helping the two foreigners get into a plane using forged South African
Investigators say the two foreigners had paid out several
millions of dollars to be shared among members of the syndicate before they
were guaranteed passage through the security check-points at the
Assistant Police Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the
crackdown had resulted in two foreigners being arrested while hiding in an
Air Zimbabwe aircraft bound for the United Kingdom.
"Two people, one
from Pakistan and another from the Democratic Republic of Congo were arrested
on July 4 after they used fake passports to get into the plane with the
assistance of Air Zimbabwe personnel. The Air Zimbabwe workers are now facing
prevention of corruption charges," said Bvudzijena.
Although he did not
provide details, he said the two foreigners had already appeared in court and
pleaded guilty to charges laid against them.
He identified the
Zimbabweans arrested in connection with the syndicate as Lindiwe Mugabe,
Tawanda Shonhiwa and Ephraim Musarurwa.
Workers at the national airline
who spoke to The Standard last week said the human trafficking syndicate had
been going on for several years.
"Zimbabweans and other nationals seeking
asylum in the UK and fugitives running away from law enforcements agents
would contact certain people at Air Zimbabwe for easy passage to the United
"The airline workers also helped their relatives without
passports get free rides on the plane to the UK where they would claim
asylum," said one Air Zimbabwe employee.
The ease with which security
personnel have allowed the scandal to occur under their noses raise questions
about the safety of passengers using the Harare International
In September 2001, terrorists hijacked aircraft to launch terror
attacks against the USA.
Employees at the national airline said
following the arrests, security at the Harare International Airport had been
But the director of Airports and Business Development in the
Civil Aviation Authority, Jerry Ndlovu, said the breaching of the security
wall did not mean that security at the airport was sloppy.
security arms at the airport, including the Central Intelligence Organisation
and police are always on high alert."
The Standard has established that
the two foreigners were on the run from Canadian law enforcement agents in
connection with drug related offences and bribed personnel working at Air
Zimbabwe to facilitate easy entry into the plane.
They flew from
Canada to Johannesburg, South Africa, and hired a vehicle, which they drove
through Beitbridge to Harare.
Sources close to the investigations said
the duo abandoned the vehicle in Harare before contacting a representative of
the syndicate at the national airline.
Global HIV/Aids fund snubs Zimbabwe By Bertha
THE Global Fund has turned down Zimbabwe's HIV/Aids fourth
application for funding, throwing into disarray the country's plans to scale
up Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) to its more than 1,8 million adults and
children living with the HIV/Aids.
The Global fund is an independent
organisation set up to mobilise resources for the fight against malaria,
tuberculosis and HIV/Aids throughout the world.
It consists of
representatives from donor and recipient governments, non-governmental
organisations and the private sector, philanthropic foundations and affected
Sources close to the Fund said Zimbabwe's application for
US$218 million for HIV/Aids intervention programme, had been turned down by
the fund which approved grants to the tune of US$968 million for other
These included Zambia which was granted US$254 million,
Tanzania US$293 m and Kenya which got US$186 m.
Dr David Parirenyatwa,
the Minister of Health and Child Welfare who is also chairman of the Country
Coordinating Mechanism for the Global Fund, confirmed to The Standard that
the country's funding proposal had not been approved.
proposal was turned down and we know it is very political. These are the
sanctions that anti-government organisations and the MDC are calling for and
this has resulted in a humanitarian proposal being turned down.
very angry about it because many people are going to die because of these
heartless people. I don't want to speak any further," said Parirenyatwa , who
sounded dejected, before switching off his phone.
HIV/Aids activists say
the move, which might have come about as a result of the government's
infamous record of lawlessness and repression, is going to set back various
intervention programmes in Zimbabwe unless some donors stepped in to assist
"Zimbabwe is not likely to provide a large scale and
sustained programme of ARV for HIV positive people," said one of the HIV/Aids
activists who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"The government does
not have the capacity to roll out the programme on its own and unless other
major donors come in, it is going to be a major disaster."
the ministry of health and child welfare is administering ARV's from four
major health institutions in the country which are Harare and Parirenyatwa
hospitals in Harare and Mpilo and United Bulawayo hospitals
Government does not have the capacity to introduce the
scheme to other parts of the country.
Owing to a political crisis
spawned by the chaotic land reforms and violence that characterised
elections, numerous donors have either left the country or withdrawn their
funding from various developmental projects in the country in
Zimbabwe is one of the countries that are hardest hit by
HIV/Aids with an estimated adult prevalence rate of 24,6 percent as of
The Global Fund officials could not be reached for comment
at the time of going to press.
Tsvangirai vows MDC will win 2005 elections By our own
BUHERA Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) leader last week said his party would ensure it garners majority
votes in next year's parliamentary election so it does not remain a
'permanent' opposition party.
Speaking before about 5 000 of his
party's supporters in Buhera North, his home area, the opposition leader said
the MDC would want some of the electoral laws reviewed so the goal could be
Tsvangirai said it would be futile for his party to remain
in opposition if it fails to get a majority of the seats next
'We cannot afford to remain an opposition party. It would be like
a still-birth, it's futile. We will have to be a ruling party by way of
having a majority in Parliament,' he said amid wild cheers.
said there was need to have an independent Electoral Supervisory Commission
(ESC) to ensure the goal is achieved.
'As it is, it would be an uphill
task but we will ensure these issues including the partiality of the army and
the police is reviewed before the election,' said Tsvangirai.
people had suffered enough and it was time they reclaimed their freedom and
rights to have a government that is accountable.
Isaac Matombo, the MDC
national chairperson, speaking at the same occasion, urged the party's
supporters to shun violence, but instead woo Zanu PF supporters to their
'What has to happen is for you to educate those in Zanu PF to
abandon their party by telling them about the goodness of being in
'If you do that successfully then we will have matured in our
politics. We cannot afford having people killing each other for disagreeing
on how this country is supposed to be governed, he said.
people to register as voters so they can voice their concern through the
ballot and not through guns, spears and sticks.
'Be assured your vote, as
usual, will be your secret,' he said.
Zanu PF cons farm workers into joining it By Caiphas
THE ruling Zanu PF party has taken its recruitment drive into
commercial farms and resettled areas, where it is deceptively telling farm
workers to join the party's structures or risk being excluded from voting in
next year' s parliamentary election, The Standard has learnt.
said the deception, which is rampant in the Midlands province, has spread to
most resettled areas in Mashonaland West and East provinces.
said Zanu PF is targeting gullible farm workers and people who received land
under the government's controversial resettlement programme, who fear losing
their allocated land.
"I feel this should be exposed because a lot of
people are going to be prejudiced of their right to vote. Apart from that,
the recruitment exercise is intimidatory to the extent that everyone is
joining for fear of victimisation," said a source, who was part of the
recruitment drive in Midlands.
In the past two weeks, Zanu PF youths
visited several farms in Midlands' Patchway Mine area including Odowf Farm,
Tinashe Farm, Grandon Farm, Bineth and Dixie Farm.
They also visited a
small-scale mining area, popularly known as KwaJames, where illegal gold
panners live. Only gold panners who show allegiance to the ruling party are
allowed to go about their business.
Apart from that, residents have also
been forced by the local Zanu PF youth militia to attend political meetings,
particularly on Sundays.
Gift Miti of the General Agricultural Plantation
Workers' Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ) said his organisation had received
reports that some Zanu PF officials were forcing people to join the party but
he was still to carry out independent investigations.
received a number of reports from places such as Gweru and Karoi. Vanhu vari
kuti dziya politics dzadzoka zvakare mumapurazi (People are saying that
yesteryear's politics of brutality has returned to the farms once again). We
gather in some areas workers are being forced to attend political meetings,"
said Miti, who will this week visit the affected areas to institute
By last week, Zanu PF set up 22 branches in
the area between Kadoma town and Patchway Mine and the exercise was still
going on in other farming communities in the district.
"The youths are
moving from one farm to the other telling farm workers that if they do not
join Zanu PF structures they will not vote in next year's parliamentary
elections," said another source.
Opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) elections director, Remus Makuwaza said: "That is expected of
Zanu PF, but we are educating people to inform them of their
He said the MDC was conducting a voter education exercise to
explain to people the proposed electoral reforms and their possible impact on
next year 's elections.
One of the sources said the deceptive
recruitment drive has been going on since July 11, when Zanu PF MP for Kadoma
West, Zacharia Ziyambi, had addressed a political meeting in the
Ziyambi confirmed holding "a stock-taking exercise" meeting two
weeks ago in his constituency but denied forcing people to join Zanu
"It had nothing to do with voting at national level. We were just
taking stock of our members ... to see the number of people we have or
whether they really do exist on the ground. We were looking at our cells and
branches," said Ziyambi, who also denied forcing people to attend Zanu PF
Since last year, Zanu PF political commissar, Elliot Manyika,
has been trotting from province to province overhauling the party's
structures ahead of next year's poll.
No revival in sight, say Zimbabweans By our own
ZIMBABWEANS, reeling from the effects of hyper-inflation and a
crumbling economy, have generally scoffed off at suggestions by President
Robert Mugabe that the country is on the path to an economic
Addressing Parliament last week, Mugabe said Zimbabwe's economy
was on the mend in contrast to remarks from independent economists that the
future remains bleak.
"He might have wanted us to see things
differently but the reality on the ground defeats his statement," said 25
year-old Farai Matamba of Chitungwiza, an unemployed youth.
economy has been on a downward spiral for the last six year because of
corruption, mismanagement and the haphazard land reform programme that
engineered a massive capital flight from the country.
inflation, although stagnating, is currently pegged at 395%, one of the
highest in the world.
Mugabe's optimism is largely banked on measures put
in place by Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono to contain inflation and create
foreign currency reserves.
"Gono has made some differences as he has
stabilised financial instruments and the exchange rate. But it doesn't mean
the economy is being turned around. We are not normalising," observed Godfrey
Kanyenze, an economist with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
According to official statistics, real incomes are lower than
they were in the mid-1990s while unemployment has trebled and is estimated at
80% out of a population of 12 million.
Independent economic analysts
have also brushed off claims by Mugabe that the country would have a bumper
harvest this year.
"Zimbabwe is fast on a de-industrialisation path
defined by factory closures and unemployment," says Daniel Ndlela, an
economic consultant with Zimconsult.
Faced with a crippling shortage
of hard currency, Gono has extended his begging bowl to more than 3,4 million
Zimbabweans scattered all over the world.
Critics of Gono's "Homelink"
programme say many Zimbabweans outside the country were victims of Mugabe's
repression and would therefore be reluctant to try to save his regime by
remitting their savings to the southern African country.
City of Bulawayo is reeling under severe financial problems making
it virtually impossible for the authority to provide essential services to
its over two million residents, The Standard has heard.
Council assistant director for engineering, Simela Dube, said a total of $40
billion was urgently needed to return Bulawayo to its "good old service
He said the funds were needed especially for the
engineering department which is charged with repairing roads, traffic lights,
and the collapsing sewerage system.
"Most of the roads in Bulawayo are
in poor state and council needs $29 billion to resurface them. It also
requires an additional $10 billion to revive the collapsed sewerage system,
among many other projects estimated to cost billions of dollars," said
He said the cash flow problems seriously affecting the council
were threatening engineering department whose operations are critical to
the smooth running of the city.
Bulawayo chamber secretary, Gilbert
Dube, said the council's emergency services had also been severely
compromised by inadequate funding.
"The local authority has been using
vehicles which were donated by the British government in 1999. The Bulawayo
city council has over the years battled to replace these worn out vehicles,"
. But sets up strategies for 2005 election victory PRESIDENT
Robert Mugabe's speech officially opening Parliament last week lacked
concrete solutions for Zimbabwe's political and economic meltdown but
mirrored his party's re-election strategy characterised by growing
intolerance to opposing voices ahead of next year's general elections,
political analysts have said.
The 80-year old leader, determined to win
the 2005 general elections, has intensified his courtship of gullible
sections of society, such as chiefs, youths and lately, political
ex-prisoners, while promising stringent laws to gag dissenting voices, they
In the last parliamentary and presidential polls, Mugabe
extensively sought the services of chiefs, youths and war veterans. In last
Tuesday's speech he also pledged to correct land reform anomalies and to deal
with corruption, known trump cards of his campaign
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred
Masungure, said Mugabe's speech sets the tone and framework for next year's
parliamentary election but lacks "appreciation of the state of affairs in the
He said the 14 Bills that Mugabe said would go through
Parliament were meant to narrow the democratic space for civic society's
participation in governance issues.
The Bills are Non-Governmental
Organisation Bill, the Zimbabwe Political Ex-Prisoners, Political and
Detainees and Restrictees Association Bill, Security and Communication Bill,
Health Services Board Bill, among others.
"They are meant to narrow the
operative space on non-State actors . You see it through the congested
legislated agenda in Mugabe's speech. He is trying to plug any legislative
gaps to ensure political survival," said Masungure.
Some of the laws that
have been passed before, such as the Anti-Corruption Act, have been applied
selectively to settle personal scores, analysts said.
Mugabe used the
same platform to send a warning signal to the NGO community operating in the
country by promising to introduce a new law and create an NGO Council to
replace the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Act, to monitor their
"We can not allow them to be conduits or instruments of
foreign interference in our national affairs," declared Mugabe during his
Over the past few weeks, his ministers have been threatening to
"deal" with NGOs seen to anti-government. Zimbabwe's vibrant civil society
has repeatedly called on Mugabe's government to respect the rule of law
and human rights as well as democratise its structures.
vowed to continue with the national youth service programme, which is
churning out thousands of the notorious youth militia, and which has become
the nucleus of Zanu PF's brutal campaign strategy, despite local and
"Those detractors bent on derailing this
trust are better advised that theirs is a forlorn hope," declared Mugabe,
adding that he would establish a National Youth Council "as the fulcrum for
national youth development activities."
The youth militia maintains
surveillance society, particularly on suspected members of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the only party to mount a credible
challenge to Mugabe's power since Zimbabwe gained independence in
Chairman of the Crisis Coalition Zimbabwe, Brain Kagoro, said
reading Mugabe 's speech one gets the feeling that "Zanu PF has budgeted for
a landslide victory" in next year's elections.
"It (what Mugabe plans
to do) drills a crater in the heart of democracy. It' s very worrying. The
intention of Mugabe's proposed laws and keeping the youth militia is to
manufacture a docile and fearful Zimbabwean electorate," said Kagoro, a
staunch human rights activist.
Former vice-chancellor of the University
of Zimbabwe, Gordon Chavunduka, said the NGO Bill and the "activation" of the
youth programme were worrying.
"These are very worrying developments but
lets wait and see where we are going," said Chavunduka, who said he did not
read much political maneuvering in Mugabe's speech.
The Customary Law
and Local Courts Act will be amended to increase the jurisdiction of
This, Mugabe critics say, is meant to boost the influence of
chiefs ahead of next year's elections. During the Gutu and Lupane
by-elections, prospective voters were forced to queue behind their headmen
and chief, whose allowances were recently increased to $1 million a
Mugabe said his government will table the Zimbabwe Political
Ex-Prisoners, Political Detainees and Restrictees Association Bill to cater
for the welfare of persons imprisoned or restricted during the liberation
war. Analysts have concluded the bill is designed to boost the morale of the
once neglected political detainees so that they can campaign vigorously for
Zanu PF, the ruling party since 1980.
They said Mugabe knows he has
the war veterans on his side and he now wants to broaden his political
support base by enlisting the ex-detainees.
In a summation Mugabe's
speech lacked how his government would deal with the economic crisis that has
condemned the majority of Zimbabweans to a life of near destitution. About 75
percent of Zimbabwe's 12,5 people live below the poverty
However, there were some positive aspects in Mugabe's speech,
some of his critics conceded. Mugabe promised electoral reforms that are in
tandem with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) norms and
standards on elections. "These are some of aspects we should hail," said
But Kagoro was skeptical saying he believes, "It's a
political decoy, he wants to portray to the international community that he
is reforming while on the ground he is promoting political
The President also promised to turn Harare Institute of
Technology into a University as well as introducing a Zimbabwe Qualification
Authority Bill for the establishment of a national qualification
The qualification framework will align all local
qualifications to the SADC regional qualification framework. "Some of these
are just political high-sounding nothings," said one political
Cash crunch derails NRZ operations By our own
BULAWAYO- The cash strapped National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is
failing to service the local goods delivery market as it emerged this week
that the embattled parastatal has only thirteen operational locomotives when
it needs about fifty locomotives to be viable.
Sources in the railway
industry this week said the shortage of locomotives was affecting the NRZ's
cash inflow position, a situation that has resulted in the parastatal failing
to pay its workers on time.
The NRZ is understood to be frantically
gropping for solutions including considering sub-contracting a South African
firm, ahead of another Chinese company, to refurbish the locomotive fleet and
set up a signalling and telecommunications system that is currently
The whole country only has a single functional signalling
and telecommunications system along the Harare-Mutare line while the rest of
the country is serviced by an ancient analogue system that has caused
numerous fatal rail accidents along the busy Bulawayo-Victoria Falls
The NRZ is currently operating below capacity and as a result of
low locomotive volumes, has failed to meet customer demands.
corporate affairs manager, Misheck Matanhire, confirmed the crisis facing the
parastatal but said they were working on a turn around strategy that will
permanently rectify the problem.
"The NRZ, as part of its turn around
strategy, has invited local customers to become partners, by funding the
refurbishment of some of its locomotives and wagons, as a way of trying to
enhance its capacity and improve rail operations in the country,"said
Zim scores a first with ox-drawn ambulances By our own
ZIMBABWE has created its own piece of history by becoming the only
country in the world where expecting mothers are officially transported to
health centres in novel ox-drawn ambulances that can travel, at most, at
about 10km per hour.
Faced with an unprecedented health crisis, the
country has become host to this pilot project, the first of its kind in the
world, where the use of ox-drawn ambulances is being explored by a health
task force made up of UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF and Ministry of Health.
spokesman for UNICEF confirmed that Zimbabwe was the first country in
the world to pilot the introduction of ox-driven ambulances. In
neighbouring Malawi, bicycles are being used to transport pregnant
"This is a pilot project for the ox drawn ambulances which we
hope, if successful, can be shared with other countries, who face similar
problems. "We believe it is a practical way to address the immediate needs in
rural communities to have transport to get their sick and pregnant women to
the hospital," said Shantha Bloemen, a communications officer with
"Of course, ideally we would like everyone to access first class
health facilities and have access to state of the art equipment, but we
realise that this is not about to happen overnight so we must work to
provide practical, affordable and community based interventions that can have
an immediate impact. To wait for an ideal scenario, would cost the lives
of more women."
Bloemen said a number of studies and assessments in
the area of reproductive health had revealed there were different factors
that were preventing women from getting to health facilities to
"The idea of a practical way for transport to be based in the
community led to the idea of exploring the idea of ox drawn ambulances. It
was then discovered that in Hurungwe, a farmer had already developed a
similar idea to ferry his workers to the local health facility.
was a very basic four wheel cart that proved that the idea would be
well accepted by communities, who in this case also proved they could manage
it," she said.
The ambulances cost $28 million each to
"We agree that the ambulances are not going to travel very quickly,
but they will be used by people that have no other choice. The idea is that
they will arrive at the health facility in better condition than if they had
no means of transport except walking or in a wheelbarrow," she said.
Mudzuri calls for UN intervention By our own
ENGINEER Elias Mudzuri, the dismissed Harare Mayor, has taken his
case to the United Nations where he is urging Secretary General Kofi Annan to
set a team of eminent persons to look into the Zimbabwe
Mudzuri - a member of the opposition MDC who has fought a running
battle with the Zanu PF government - was dismissed in April by President
Robert Mugabe for alleged incompetence.
This was after a
commission and a committee instituted to investigate him recommended that he
be fired. It cited numerous allegations of misconduct, gross insubordination,
mismanagement of public finances and city affairs.
Mudzuri is challenging
his dismissal in the courts and cites Local Government Minister Ignatius
Chombo and President Mugabe as respondents.
Last week he met UN officials
on the Africa desk in Washington and petitioned secretary general Annan to
help "bring sanity and prevent agony, persecution and the death of the people
Mudzuri said there was need to investigate human rights
violations, and the state of the rule of law, with special emphasis on the
removal of elected persons and the frequent arrests of those elected persons
such as MPs, councillors and mayors.
"The UN should also look at the
electoral process and ensure that the Zimbabwe electoral system adheres to
basic standards for elections as stipulated by SADC," said
Other issues he raised were the need to disband the militias and
creation of safety nets for people persecuted by the regime.
FOR a country anxious for results rather than rhetoric,
President Mugabe's official opening of the fifth session of the fifth
Parliament of Zimbabwe last Tuesday was yet another squandered opportunity
but one he used, nevertheless, to further his ambition to hang on to power at
As one of our letter writers pointed out elsewhere in this
issue, only God can save us now. There is no light at the end of the tunnel.
Prices keep on rising. Zimbabwe's economic situation is as bad as it gets.
Real wages are dropping all the time. Poverty is rising in both urban and
rural areas. Social conditions are indeed dire. Zimbabweans are generally
existing on the margin of survival.
Against this background,
President Mugabe's anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist rhetoric continues
unabated. What has this rhetoric brought us Mr President? More and more
financial hardships and a sense of hopelessness created by your unworkable
and hollow policies. We wonder if you really know the extent of the misery
that the majority of Zimbabweans are suffering.
The parallel market
has returned with a vengeance putting a damper on whatever efforts the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is trying to achieve. Where are the exports which
can at least strengthen our increasingly useless Zimbabwe dollar? You pointed
out in your speech that brighter prospects for the country's socio-economic
turnaround are on the way - coming from where?
We do not see any evidence
of the much touted revival of our economy - at least not on this planet. All
we see are ordinary Zimbabweans toiling from dawn to dusk but with little to
show for it. Many ordinary Zimbabweans can no longer make ends meet. You are
now surrounded by an increasingly disaffected population Mr
You and your government are unable or perhaps unwilling to
find answers to the country's growing economic problems because of your
insatiable appetite for power. It now appears that in your twilight years,
increasing senility, confusion and absent - mindedness - an inevitable
consequence of old age - has blinded you to the reality of the crisis that is
currently bedeviling most Zimbabweans.
You pontificated in your
speech: "We will take measures to ensure that we move towards full industrial
capacity, by evolving strategies to revive factories and plants that had
either closed down or have been working well below capacity." Really? How
many times have we heard this before? This is the work of someone in the
Ministry of Industry and International Trade merely stringing words together
in his or her office without the slightest clue of what all this
You, together with the Minister of Industry and International
Trade and his officials, know that this is not going to happen. How many
economic blueprints and plans have the Zimbabwean government crafted before
and what has become of them?
Yes, most are gathering dust in various
offices and you know it Mr President. Witness another sunshine story in your
speech, this time on the dire transport situation in the country: "Problems
in the transport sector would be dealt with by refocussing the National
Transport Policy while new strategies were being pursued to speed up ongoing
transport infrastructural development projects." Sounds very familiar does it
not? We remember coming across exactly the same words in 1995 and again in
With the government's confrontational stance vis-à-vis much of
the international community - where will the money and the goodwill come
Forget about the Third World which you are so fond of Mr President.
You know as well as we do that they look to the West for financial support
and assistance. Government ministers and civil servants are just as crazy if
not more so about the greenback and the British pound than ordinary
And these do not come from China or the Far East. They are
firmly rooted in the 'imperialist' countries whether you like it or
So your consistently exhorting the Zimbabwean business sector "to
break the spell cast on them by colonial history, a spell that irrationally
attaches them to the West for investments, imports, exports, loans and even
for best practices" as you said in your speech does not hold
You said there are enormous possibilities for the Zimbabwean
business community presented by the burgeoning Third World economic regions
doing much better than the "declining" West - Are sure of what you are
talking about Mr President? Is this not a crazy thing to say? It is common
knowledge that much of the Third World is desperately short of foreign
exchange. Struggling and emaciated Zimbabwe seeking financial help from an
equally struggling and emaciated Third World - is this not a case of one
patient asking for medication from another patient?
It is now
increasingly evident that the trappings of power and the material comforts
that go with it have completely insulated the President from the reality on
the ground. Ordinary Zimbabweans listening to his speech must have wondered
how the country's economy could possibly be said to be on a revival path when
their daily experiences suggest the complete opposite.
It's all very well
to provide electricity to villagers when they can not afford to pay for it
let alone acquire electric gadgets whose prices are now beyond even the
ordinary workers in the towns and cities. There is certainly no cause for
hope in this kind of situation.
As is the case always, your speech last
Tuesday, opening the last session of the Zimbabwean Parliament before the
2005 general elections has done much to destroy any feelings of optimism
about the future of this country. Very sad indeed!
Ducking, diving and diversionary pursuits overthetop By
THE government of a troubled central African nation has
inexplicably decided to tackle corruption. The move has caused widespread
panic in government circles. This is because corruption in the troubled
central African basket case is confined almost exclusively to. the
While some bankers and businessmen have also been caught in
the net, Over The Top can say confidently that most of them are ranking
members of the only just ruling Zany Party.
Still, the Zany most
equal of all comrades has said that no one will escape the hunt for corrupt
troubled central Africans. No mention was made, though, of where the money
came to build a certain pagoda roofed mansion in the troubled capital's
This may be because some forms of corruption are more
acceptable than others - at least in the troubled central African banana
Critics of the regime told OTT that Zany members with cabinet
positions were held to be "incorruptible."
"If you hold certain ranks
in the Zany Party, your corruption is called business acumen," said a
OTT's attention was drawn to the fact that while
arrests had been made, only junior Zany members and those on the periphery of
the party seemed to have enjoyed the hospitality of police
Meanwhile, one arrestee complained, telling OTT that he was in
fact a senior member of the Zany Party. OTT compromised and agreed that he
could be described as one of the more senior junior members on account of
owning more shoes than Imelda Marcos and more suits than Harrods.
was further agreed that his status might sink further in the rankings if he
doesn't get some of his luxury motor vehicles back from the police.
their part, ordinary troubled central Africans have been wondering why the
most equal of all comrades has taken to arresting his friends.
obvious reason is that everyone else has already been arrested and only his
The other, more worrying reason, is that the most equal
of all comrades is trying to persuade his enemies in the IMF and World Bank
that he runs a tight and spotlessly clean ship.
This is because the
most equal of all comrades hates the IMF but needs them to help him out of
the economic chaos he has created by giving all the farms to members of the
By arresting his friends, the most equal of all comrades
hopes to also persuade his neighbours and other enemies that no one is immune
from his version of good governance.
No one, that is, except cabinet
ministers and relatives with mansions in the troubled capital's leafy
A senior member of the IMF laughed when OTT asked him
whether the international banks were taking the most equal of all comrades
"No," he said, before hanging up the telephone.
members of the amused opposition More Drink Coming Party said they welcomed
"At least members of the Zany Party now know what the inside of
a police cell looks like," said one man who cannot be named because he does
not want to ever see the inside of another troubled central African
"They also know what the food, or lack of food, is like in there,"
said another. "The only difference is that they don't seem to get beaten
or tortured like we do."
The latter point is said to concern the most
equal of all comrades deeply and steps are being taken to rectify the
Gono to tighten monetary policy By Rangarirai
RESERVE Bank Governor Gideon Gono could tighten his monetary policy
this week in reaction to signs of growing speculative pressures on the
economy, economists say.
An RBZ official on Thursday told
StandardBusiness that rising demand for foreign exchange and shares was a
source of increasing worry at the central bank, but was coy about whether
Gono would go for an outright rate hike or find other means of spiking the
swelling asset bubble.
"We have seen demand (for foreign currency)
growing rapidly together with prices on the stock market. This raises
questions as to the source of this demand for speculative assets. My
assessment is the source of this is the sub-inflation interest rates," the
RBZ official, who would not be named, said.
As long as real interest
rates remain negative, the official said, speculators would continue to seek
out arbitrage opportunities, particularly on the foreign currency and stock
markets. RBZ apparently believes stock market profits, combined with cheap
funds from the money market, are being used to fuel parallel market
Money market rates have remained well below 100% for months,
against annual inflation of 395,6%. This has seen capital flying into the
stock market, driving shares to record highs before last week's
Those pushing for a tighter monetary policy say Gono needs to
tighten policy in order to cap increasing speculative activity. Stock prices
have risen over the past four months, curiously in tandem with a steady rise
in demand for foreign currency.
Analysts said if Gono were to lift
rates, he could raise bank statutory reserves, which would have the effect of
pushing up interest rates.
"My guess is he could raise the statutory
reserves for banks, which will draw out liquidity and force players to
compete for the little money that would remain on the market," said Donald
Mandishora, fund manager at Royal.
After holding steady for much of the
year, the Zimbabwe dollar has been falling slowly on the street - a factor
that Gono personally found out in Bulawayo recently.
introduction of the auction system, plus the RBZ's new "Diaspora" rate, the
parallel market has been running again, with the US Greenback fetching $6500
on the streets. Gono's critics say this is a result of a hazy monetary
Demand for hard currency on the foreign currency auction market
has always outstripped supply since the system began in January, but the gap
between supply and demand has expanded rapidly over the past two
Bids in July have so far averaged US$35 million, while demand has
barely reached US$10 million.
Creating a new Zim: lessons from history By Vince
IN our naivety in 1980 we assumed that once and for all the
colonial master's hold on our economy and social life was now history and it
was time to witness the rise and rise of a liberal and democratic social
economy led by the new black generation who had been waiting in the wings for
With an educated populace such as we had in Zimbabwe, our
expectations were that we would inevitably become the 'intellectual' capital
of Southern Africa if not Africa, given what was happening around and that
South Africa would in no way catch up with us. We expected that the economy
would be delivered to us and we would confidently march ahead with the new
government encouraging us on as the new inheritors of our land. How wrong we
Our first mistake I think was that we assumed that Zanu PF our
so called 'liberators' were guided by the very principles which they fought
for but so lack today. We assumed that the party was for the people and that
the agenda had always been to liberate the African not only mentally but
also economically by creating an environment that sought to propel the
African and in our case the black educated Zimbabwean from the bondage
of colonialism to freedom of thought speech association and black
We chided Zambians on their dilapidating
infrastructure and the lack of perceived progress in that country. We viewed
South Africa as a future ally where we would see a partnership with
Zimbabweans mainly providing a skills base in a free South Africa as South
Africa 'caught up'.
In our minds Zanu PF was the 'liberator' whose role
had been fulfilled through sacrifice of all of us and not only those who went
to the bush. Initially, a new economic order that promoted socialism made
sense as we assumed that the new economic policy must have, at its heart, the
interests of the proletariat and down trodden- mainly blacks.
meant that after having 'liberated' us from the colonial master it was then
important to build an inclusive economy whose main focus was the provision of
hitherto inaccessible social services while creating a new black class whose
focus was not the accumulation of private wealth by individuals but rather
the accumulation of wealth by the State on behalf of the black populace the
It made sense having been in an exclusive economy where blacks
were mere spectators or tools used for the accumulation of wealth by whites.
Surely the state was therefore for the people by the people and, therein lay
our first fundamental misjudgment.
We assumed that a capitalist system
would be inadequate to satisfy our appetite for development and self
actualisation and in addition that the new leadership was guided in its
actions to ensure that our lot as black Zimbabweans became better off.
Capitalism was too cruel to the masses as it merely would create a black
capitalist class while not redistributing wealth according to
Whereas, socialism would focus on redistribution of wealth and
allocate scarce resources according to need and not means. It did happen in
the early 80's where we saw access to free education and health as delivery
by the government. Where we saw an increasing number of black graduates
and technicians, gainfully employed. Twenty-four years later we have seen
the opposite happening. We have seen the rise and rise of a black
capitalist class whose behaviour and interests mimic those of our colonial
We have seen the merging of the State and Zanu PF and a central
command directing all social and economic activity to ensure that the party
and the State remain as one. We have seen attempts to create an agrarian
majority who depend on the land for subsistence and a class structure
characterised by two economies, Zanu PF and everyone else.
has claimed sole legitimacy to rule and dictate all spheres of economic and
social life and the former must cower in submission to the capitalist
party-State. We have seen significant migration of skills which were built
through the fiscus in the early years of independence and above all, we have
seen a crumbling social structure and a value system that is based on short
term survival of the self. What went wrong?
The fundamental mistake we
made, as Zimbabweans was to trust that Zanu PF stood for our interests as
blacks and therefore the stronger the party became the more probable our
success would be. We inadvertently endorsed the one party mentality through
our own naivity. We blindly followed and fantasized that as blacks we had
homogenous needs and interests that could best be served by those who
We assumed that we had in our leadership the very values
they fought for- freedom, respect of human dignity. We assumed that the
leadership would surely do its work and leave the future to those of us well
prepared for it. We assumed that the State instruments and the party were
separate entities with different life spans. We did not challenge Zanu PF and
left them to do as they like. We have created our own demons.
result has been that the State, the economy and social freedom have
been usurped from us the majority by the party and instead party capitalism
has been established with the instruments of the State being used by the
party to entrench its own agenda which is that of survival and retention of
power, at any cost.
We have seen the entrenchment of an arrogant class
of politicians whose only relevance is that they contributed to the struggle.
Side by side we have also seen the emergence of a so called 'patriotic' black
capitalist class whose rise is due to party loyalty and who will not dare to
challenge the party, its philosophy and its leadership.
believes it is the only party that is legitimate to lead us into oblivion and
challenging what it stands for and what disaster of an economy it has created
is tantamount to treason and being 'unpatriotic' or being agents of the
British or white farmers.
Our experience should therefore sound warning
bells that an political party must never be allowed to usurp the State and a
strong opposition is always critical to ensure that our freedoms are
protected at all times.
ZBC now only for Zanu PF propaganda Sundaytalk with Pius
AFTER a protracted debate with myself I decided that I would
watch what is now popularly known as Dead BC (Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation) television or ZTV. Actually I think Dead BC is a misnomer. The
State media is very much alive and kicking as the government's propaganda
Mind you I don't watch it in order to be informed, educated or
entertained. As a writer I need to know what is going on so I read and watch
anything that comes my way. Of late I have been watching ZTV in order to try
and fathom the levels of depravity and insanity that our Zanu PF government
has sunk to.
The other day I was watching the news when the
Zimbabwe Supply Authority (ZESA) advert "Zesa yauya nepawa" came on. My seven
year old grand daughter, Tariro, sprang up and started to dance to the tune
which I admit is very catchy. She was imitating the "sendekera'' dancing
which I think is rather lewd.
I didn't stop her for I didn't' want to
spoil her fun and maybe damage her innocence in the process of trying to
explain why that kind of dancing is bad.
Suddenly the lights went out
and we were in complete darkness. "Aaah' said Tariro. "Sei magetsi adzima'',
(Why have the lights gone out?'' I explained to her the concept of
load-shedding. "Saka vanonyepa nhai zvavanoti Zesa yauya nepawa'' she said.
(So they lie when they say Zesa has come with power.)
Now she doesn't
dance when the Zesa advert comes on. She just frowns and says, "Kunyepa chete
uku," (Its all lies).
Isn't it bad that now even children realise that
our government media lies? This affliction does not emanate from the
government media only. The infection came down from the very
Recently I watched our President waxing lyrical and breathing hell
fire and brimstone against the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) dominated
major city councils. He accused them of incompetence and failure. He said
they had allowed the roads to deteriorate to such an extent that even those
named after national heroes have pot holes. This must not be allowed to go
on, he thundered. government was going to take over.
Who does not know
that the rot set in when Zanu PF councillors took over the running of Harare
after independence? Why did government dismiss the Tavengwa Council in Harare
and appoint a committee led by Elijah Chanakira to take over? I seem to
recall that the government accused the Tavengwa' Zanu PF council of
corruption and incompetence.
Harare residents kicked out Zanu PF from
Town House to stop the rot and elected MDC councillors to take over. When the
MDC executive mayor Elias Mudzuri and his energetic council started to clean
up the mess the Zanu PF government became jealous and fearful. Their
corruption and incompetence was being exposed.
It was then that Local
Government Minister Ignatious Chombo embarked on his campaign to harass
Engineer Mudzuri. His council was refused due grant monies or permission to
borrow. When they tried to increase rates government swiftly reversed their
decision. Government departments owed and still owe the council millions, if
not billions of dollars. How was Harare City Council supposed to operate
successfully without money?
Finally, Chombo sacked Mudzuri and suspended
those MDC councilors who refused to kowtow to him and his rejected party.
This was a clear demonstration of Zanu PF's utter disrespect for Harare
residents who had elected them. They had not complained about the performance
of council at all and were, infact, satisfied with the way Mudzuri and his
team were tackling the city's problems.
Now they have elevated the
gaudily dressed and not-so-bright Sekesai Makwavarara to act as mayor, even
though council members had elected Doctor Christopher Mushonga to the
position in accordance with the law.
I have often said that our
government is a totalitarian dictatorship. Dictators are basically cowards
who fear the truth. They hold on to power by using force and lies. This is
why in Zimbabwe only the government can own and operate television and radio
stations. Ordinary citizens are not allowed to own or operate these media
because they tell the people the truth and thus expose the government's
cruelty and lies. Newspapers like The Daily News, The Standard and The
Independent which tell the truth are banned, prosecuted and
Through its controlled media the government wants to control
our lives and minds. As far as they are concerned they are the only ones who
know what is good for Zimbabwe and its people. They are Gods whose will must
not be questioned or challenged. Actually, they are more than God because He
gave people the will to obey him or not to.
The arts have not escaped
the government's attention. Minister of Information and Publicity, Jonathan
Moyo has spent much time working out ways of harnessing the arts especially
music, to propagate Zanu PF's lies. He recently released an album written and
composed by himself. One can rest assured that it will be endlessly played on
ZBC radio during prime time.
He must have learnt well from Joseph Stalin,
the Russian dictator. When Stalin imposed absolute control in Russia, his
doctrine of "socialist realism" reduced all art forms to propaganda media for
the State. Artists whose creativeness was free and unfettered, and reflected
the truth around them, were severely punished as criminal or political
In Zimbabwe music, which does not glorify the State and its
President have little chance of being aired on ZBC. The Shona music guru,
Thomas Mapfumo's incisive music is rarely heard. Infact, it is safe to say
that it is banned. Before Jonathan Moyo creative life was bustling at
Artists searched and experimented freely. Some of the music and
drama productions were excellent others were horrible. It was all in a
free atmosphere. Now there is nothing but depressing mediocrity posing as
art when it is undisguised government propaganda.
The only artists one
hears are such failures who have become Zanu PF boot-lickers like Andy Brown,
Fortunate Matenga, Last Chiangwa and others.
Recently the government's
Censorship Board banned the play, Super Patriots and Morons performed by
Rooftop Productions over concerns that it blasted President Robert Mugabe's
administration. The script shows how the government of a fictitious country
is abusing authority in order to maintain power.
MDC legislator dies - Death increases
pressure on opposition party
Harare - Opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party legislator Ben Tumbare Mutasa died Saturday
morning at Harare's Saint Annes Hospital. Tumbare Mutasa, who was Member of
Parliament (MP) for the peri-urban Seke consituency, was suffering from
pneumonia. The MDC, which now controls 51 seats in Zimbabwe's 150-member
Parliament, confirmed the MP's death in a statement. The opposition party has
lost to the ruling party in five previous by-elections in the last three
years. The MDC stopped President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party from
clinching a vital two-thirds parliamentary majority when it won 57 seats of
the 120 contested seats in the 2000 parliamentary elections. ZANU PF won 62
seats and another minor oppositon party, Zanu Ndonga, won one seat. But
Mugabe's party enjoys control of another 30 seats occupied by
non-constituency MPs handpicked by Mugabe. If Zanu PF wins the latest
by-election which Mugabe is constitutionally obliged to call within 90 days
of Tumbare Mutasa's death, then his party will be left needing only one seat
to achieve a two-thirds majority giving it power to unilaterally change
Zimbabwe's constitution. After failing to win approval for a new
constitution, drafted by Mugabe's handpicked Constitutional Commission in
February 2000, Mugabe's government insists that any changes to Zimbabwe's
flawed constitution must be done by Parliament. Tumbare Mutasa was among
several MDC legislators who had been in and out of prison on several
occasions over a variety of charges. Opposition MPs often accuse the police
of severely assaulting and torturing them while in jail. Police deny the
The notorious property tycoon
Nicholas van Hoogstraten celebrated his legal victory over the family of the
man he was once accused of murdering with a scarcely veiled threat against
the judiciary yesterday. Mr van Hoogstraten, who now lives in Zimbabwe,
warned some of the judges presiding over the criminal and civil cases in
which he has been involved never to set foot in his adopted country. "I hope
one of those bastards sets foot in southern Africa one day - they'll never
see the light of day," he said after overturning a £5 million damages award
against him by the sons of Mohammed Raja, 62, the business associate who was
shot and stabbed to death on the doorstep of his home in Sutton, Surrey, in
1999. The Court of Appeal allowed his appeals against rulings by the High
Court in 2002 that led to the seizure of his assets, sequestration of his
property, and the imposition of more than £1 million in fines for contempt of
court. Mr van Hoogstraten, 59, had been sentenced to ten years in jail
earlier that year for manslaughter, but the conviction was set aside by
appeal judges last year. Mr Raja's family, which had sued him before Mr Raja
was murdered, continued the civil action.
Zimbabwe opposition leader fights on for fair
Sat Jul 24, 8:52 PM ET
HARARE (AFP) -
Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai faces a possible death
sentence but that and severe restrictions on electoral campaigning have not
dampened his hopes for a free and fair poll next year.
biggest political rival to President Robert Mugabe, who came to power more
than two decades ago, Tsvangirai says his opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) will press on for electoral reforms ahead of the elections in
"We want to participate in the elections but we are very
sceptical about putting legitimacy to a process which is flawed. Hence our
demands that the playing field be levelled," he told AFP in an
"Hopefully at the end, when these standards are achieved,
it will give us sufficient confidence to participate."
Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front government has imposed a
slew of laws that may drastically limit the MDC's hopes of being on a par
with the ruling party during the run-up to the elections and on polling
The MDC does not have access to any broadcasting media and the
government has closed down three independent newspapers.
meetings or election rallies can be staged without police permission. Anyone
can be arrested if authorities believe they "threaten state security" and can
be detained for up to 23 days without charges
Tsvangirai, a former secretary general of the
powerful Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, launched the MDC in September
In general elections a year later, the nascent party took
almost half the seats in parliament, posing the first real challenge to
Mugabe's hold on power.
Since then Zimbabwe has spiralled into
political, social and economic chaos, fuelled largely by Mugabe's
controversial land reforms programme and sky-high unemployment and
In 2002, Tsvangirai lost the presidential polls which were
slammed by international rights groups as unfair and is challenging the
outcome in court.
In the meantime, he also faces treason charges
for allegedly plotting to eliminate Mugabe. If convicted, he can be sentenced
The verdict was due to be handed down next week but the
state has postponed it indefinitely without giving a reason.
however remains unfazed.
A relaxed Tsvangirai said: "It's a political
trial and one has to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I'm
anxious, but not scared," and repeated a call for some pre-conditions to be
met before the next elections.
He wants guarantees against voter
intimidation or manipulation of the electoral roll, an independent electoral
commission and access to public media for all.
"There is a lot of
international pressure. Let's hope the next election will be sufficiently
free and fair to produce a legitimate outcome," he
But the going may be tougher.
"I wouldn't be
as optimistic as Mr Tsvangirai. If these laws are not changed, the elections
will never be free and fair," said political analyst John Makumbe from the
University of Zimbabwe.
"An election is a process and it takes months and
months. Whether it's free and fair relates to the whole process of
electioneering, not just the voting day."
Zimbabwe last month
announced plans to change the current electoral system and appoint an
electoral commission "independent of government".
It said it would hold
elections on one day instead of two, would replace wooden ballot boxes with
translucent ones and would do the counting at voting stations.
Mugabe this week pledged electoral reforms to make voting more transparent.
He called for peaceful elections and urged the police to take strong action
against "illegal activities" during campaigning.
"I wish to strongly warn
those who are bent on indulging in violent and any other illegal activities,
with the view of tarnishing the country's image, that the full wrath of the
law will descend upon them," Mugabe said.