Staff Reporter SOME senior ruling ZANU PF party officials
attempted to lure opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leaders to
agree to dialogue and possibly a power-sharing pact between the two parties
while MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was in jail last week. The plan, if it
had succeeded, would have seen Tsvangirai and other MDC hard-liners sidelined
while leaders of the opposition party considered to be moderate would have
been given positions in a government of national unity in exchange for their
backing for constitutional amendments to create an executive prime minister
and a ceremonial president in a power-sharing arrangement.
would also have smoothened President Robert Mugabe’s exit from politics, a
source privy to the clandestine moves said yesterday.
ZANU PF national
chairman John Nkomo refused to take questions on the matter, instead
referring this paper to the ruling party’s spokesman
Shamuyarira could not be reached for comment on
the issue by the time of going to print last night.
secretary-general Welshman Ncube confirmed that there had been moves to push
for dialogue between the country’s two biggest political parties
while Tsvangirai was away in prison but Ncube said his party had
rejected negotiations when its leader was in jail.
Ncube said: “We
were aware of those desperate moves from senior ZANU PF officials to push for
dialogue in the past two weeks. The MDC would not engage in any form of
dialogue while its leadership was incarcerated. Prisoners don’t
“If anybody thought that imprisoning Tsvangirai would soften
the ground to initiate and expedite dialogue then that was misplaced hope.
The jailed cannot negotiate with their jailers.”
released on bail last Friday after spending two weeks in remand prison on
fresh charges of treason for allegedly calling for Mugabe’s unlawful removal
from office. He denies the charge.
Talks between the MDC and ZANU PF to
break Zimbabwe’s political impasse collapsed last year when the ruling party
refused further dialogue unless Tsvangirai withdrew a court application
challenging Mugabe’s re-election in a controversial and violence-marred
presidential ballot last year.
ZANU PF also wants Tsvangirai to recognise
Mugabe as the legitimate leader of Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai and his MDC
have refused to accept Mugabe’s presidency and insist they will not withdraw
their court application challenging his re-election.
sources said rival camps in ZANU PF battling to position themselves to take
over once and if the ageing Mugabe retired had pushed for Tsvangirai’s
detention with the hope of taking advantage of his absence to entice some of
the senior but moderate officials in the MDC into hammering a secret
A former trade unionist-turned-opposition
politician, Tsvangirai is viewed by power brokers in ZANU PF as the stumbling
block to resumption of dialogue that could lead to a power-sharing pact
between ZANU PF and the MDC in which the latter would be a junior
According to the sources, a delegation of church leaders had
intensified moves to initiate dialogue between ZANU PF and the MDC after
allegedly holding a meeting with Nkomo and Shamuyarira.
church delegation had in the past been trying to bring Zimbabwe’s political
leaders to the table and may have sought genuine dialogue between ZANU PF and
the MDC, ruling party officials are said to have attempted to use the
opportunity to clinch a quick deal skewed in ZANU PF’s favour
while Tsvangirai was in detention.
MDC vice-president Gibson Sibanda
directed the churchmen to talk to the opposition party’s national chairman
Isaac Matongo and deputy secretary-general Gift Chimanikire over the
resumption of dialogue.
Matongo is said to have told the clergymen that
the MDC was committed to dialogue but would would not negotiate while
Tsvangirai was behind bars.
Ncube is said to have followed up by writing
to the clergymen the MDC’s refusal to engage ZANU PF in talks while its
leader was not a free man.
Ncube, who himself was also arrested together
with Tsvangirai but was later released, said: “The MDC is ready anytime,
anywhere to engage in an unconditional dialogue to resolve Zimbabwe’s
deepening economic and political crisis.
“Any mediator or emissary is
free to bring ZANU PF to the negotiating table as long as they understand and
are clear that the MDC accepts unconditional dialogue.”
Staff Reporter Justice Susan Mavangira last
week postponed to next month the hearing of an application by the City of
Harare to recover a Nissan Hardbody truck, a cellphone and office keys from
former city public relations manager Leslie Gwindi.
postponement was at the request of Honey and Blanckenberg, the
One of the council’s lawyers Lewis Uriri said the
date of the hearing would be set when Tendai Biti, the lawyer who is supposed
to argue the case on the council’s behalf, returned from a trip outside the
The council filed its application for the recovery of the
property in October last year alleging that Gwindi refused to surrender the
car, cellphone and office keys when he was dismissed last year.
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party-led council last year
summarily dismissed Gwindi saying his appointment by the government-appointed
Elijah Chanakira Commission previously in charge of the city was
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo later ordered
Gwindi’s reinstatement but the council refused. Chombo, who has clashed
publicly several times with Harare Executive Mayor Elias Mudzuri suspended
Chombo accused Mudzuri, who won the Harare mayorship on an MDC
ticket, of among other things failing to implement ministerial orders. The
High Court is still to rule on an application by Chombo to bar Mudzuri from
working as executive mayor of the capital.
THE Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU) last week castigated the government’s alleged repression
against workers in a report to the just ended 91st conference of the
International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva,
ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo told the
conference that the government had gone against the ILO recommendations and
instead embarked “on a path of intimidation, demonisation and crippling of
The trade unionist said workers had been arrested,
beaten and tortured while pro-government and ruling ZANU PF party militias
had created “no-go” areas for the trade union movement.
union leaders, including ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibhebhe, were
late last year arrested for attending a union meeting that the government
considered to be political, Matombo told delegates to the international
labour conference that ended last week.
He said: “These were
arrested while attending a ZCTU strategic meeting in December last year. They
were harassed by the police and detained in filthy cells. They were later
released after intervention by ZCTU lawyers.” Chibhebhe was allegedly beaten
up by the police for organising “illegal” trade union meetings.
Matombo chronicled how government security agents swooped on a union leaders’
meeting, arresting several of them following a mass three-day work boycott
that shut down the country in April this year. The arrested ZCTU officials
and activists were released on bail.
The ZCTU called the three-day
job stayaway to pressure the government to reverse a sharp fuel price hike
imposed by the state to cushion its cash-strapped National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe. The government has refused to bow to the ZCTU’s
Matombo told the ILO that the police had disrupted several
meetings of the ZCTU including international labour days despite orders by
the country’s High Court barring the police from interfering with meetings of
the labour movement.
Under Zimbabwe’s draconian Public Order and
Security Act, Zimbabweans must seek approval from the police before holding
But professional and social groups such as the
ZCTU are not required to apply for permission from the police before
organising meetings of their members.
Matombo said: “Despite a
High Court order barring the police from attending ZCTU meetings, the police
have deliberately ignored the resistance from the ZCTU.
“Unfortunately, even the Ministry of Labour has argued that since the police
are acting under the Public Order and Security Act there is no way that the
ministry can stop them from treating the ZCTU in the manner they are doing.”
Labour Minister July Moyo, who also attended the ILO conference, told the
international labour group that Harare had not addressed concerns raised by
last year by ILO about Zimbabwe’s labour environment in a new Labour
Relations Amendment Act (LRAA) enacted by Parliament in December
Moyo said the government had declined a request last
year by the ILO to send a mission to Zimbabwe because it was already
addressing the concerns of the labour group through the LRAA.
The government official said Harare had benefited from comments
and suggestions made by the ILO Committee of Experts but urged the committee
not to politicise labour discussions on Zimbabwe.
business, represented at the conference by Mike Bimha, said employers felt
the new Labour Act favoured workers more than the old Labour Relations Act
and this was at the expense of potential new investment.
expressed concern over the powers of the minister to set maximum pay
He said that while business appreciated the need to narrow
income disparities, he believed that the market should be the standard upon
which upon which wages and salaries were determined.
SUSPECTED ruling ZANU PF party activists who earlier this
month illegally occupied a Harare brick-making firm, Atlanta Bricks, are
alleged to have looted the company of millions of dollars worth of property
before police intervened this week.
Two people have since
been arrested by police in connection with theft from the company that is
located near the high-density suburb of Dzivaresekwa. The property and goods
stolen from Atlanta included diesel worth about $130 000 on the official
market, equipment and some batteries meant for running the company’s
The group, which was led by a woman known as
Pazvakarambwa who claims to be the war veterans commander for the area,
forcibly occupied Atlanta Bricks during the week-long mass protest called for
by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) at the beginning of
The Zanu PF supporters accused the workers and
management of taking part in the mass protest that the MDC said were meant to
force President Robert Mugabe to resign or negotiate with the opposition
party a solution to Zimbabwe’s deepening crisis. An official at the company
said the group then announced that they had taken over the company and barred
the workers and management from entering the premises.
official said everything at the company was now normal but they were having
operational problems due to vandalism of the property by the group. “Most of
the stolen equipment was necessary for our day-to-day needs and this has
really affected our operations as we have to find new equipment,” the
official said declining to be named for fear of
He said the company had stopped
operations during the mass action week as a result of fuel and cement
shortages. Both fuel and diesel are in short supply. Police refused to
comment on whether the suspects would be brought to court .
Pro-government and ZANU PF party militants have in the past three years
invaded farms and private companies.
people died last week in Chinhoyi town in Mashonaland West province and 500
others had to be treated for severe diarrhoea which health officials said was
caused by contaminated drinking water.
Wenceslas Nyamayaro, the
provincial medical director, said the outbreak of the disease in the farming
town was caused by contamination in the Hunyani River which supplies the
Nyamayaro, who blamed Chinhoyi Town Council for not
sufficiently treating water before pumping it out to homes, told The Daily
News: “There were leakages upstream the Hunyani River, resulting in the water
having a number of bacteria. Our investigations have also shown that the
water in the town had unacceptable low levels of chlorine.
situation saw a stable increase in the number of people, mostly children,
being treated for illnesses related to the diarrhoea.”
He said the
Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and the Chinhoyi Town Council had now
brought the situation under control but he said the monitoring of the quality
of water supplied to residents was continuing to ensure that another outbreak
did not occur.
Chinhoyi town officials also said the diarrhoea
might have been caused by heaps of garbage accumulating in the town because
municipal refuse collection operations had been crippled by the shortage of
diesel affecting the country.
“For the past four weeks, we have
been failing to collect refuse in the residential areas due to the shortage
“And this situation is very unhygienic for the residents
as the garbage is piling up,” the official said.
areas in Zimbabwe have been unable to collect refuse due to the serious
shortage of fuel in the country.
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has
approved the dissolution of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA)
board by the end of this week allegedly for failing to expeditiously
implement the rural electrification programme, it was learnt
Highly placed sources told The Daily News yesterday
that Mugabe had expressed his displeasure at the slow pace with which ZESA
was implementing rural electrification which the 79-year-old leader is
believed to regard as a lucrative vote-catcher for his ruling ZANU
The term of the ZESA board will prematurely expire at the end
of this month after Mugabe sanctioned Energy Minister Amos Midzi to dissolve
it. The board was appointed in August last year and was expected to see
through the privatisation of ZESA.
The ZESA board is chaired by
Sydney Gata, Mugabe’s brother-in-law. It was not immediately clear whether
Gata, who as executive chairman of the state power company ran ZESA, would be
retained in the new set-up.
Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba
could not be reached for comment on the matter yesterday.
confirmed that the ZESA board was being dissolved but would not give the
reasons why the board was being dismissed. He said he would be prepared to
give details on the issue today.
The state-controlled Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation announced yesterday afternoon that the ZESA board
would be dissolved this week and another one appointed soon.
source privy to the goings-on at ZESA yesterday said: “Mugabe thinks that the
ZESA board has to go because he feels it has thoroughly failed. He was
particularly irked by the boardroom squabbles and that the
rural electrification programme had failed to move at a faster
Mugabe used the rural electrification programme as an
election tool last year when he was campaigning for the presidential election
in March and the rural district council elections that were held in September
Gata, who was appointed ZESA board chairman in 2000,
also allegedly told villagers during the same campaigns that they would not
benefit from rural electrification if they voted for opposition Movement
Democratic Change candidates .
Sources indicated that the
squabbles involving Gata and his fellow board members over the hiring of an
Australian consultancy firm to spearhead the privatisation of the power
utility had also infuriated Mugabe.
The board was split after Gata
attempted to seek an exemption from formal tender procedures to appoint
Marketforce Business Solutions, an Australian consultancy firm, to do
consultancy work on the unbundling of ZESA into various business entities
that would report to a holding company.
ZESA workers have also been
pressing for Gata’s removal from ZESA, accusing him of corruption.
Robert Mugabe and his government have invested so much in the army and police
and now the national youth training service and many Zimbabweans would argue
chiefly to protect their stranglehold on power.
deployment of heavily armed soldiers and police supported by modern anti-riot
water tanks and well-drilled youth militias from the national service
programme to crush opposition mass anti-Mugabe protests earlier this month
was instructive of why the government’s security forces have for the last 23
years always received the biggest vote out of the national budget than any
other state department.
Yet despite having at its disposal this
awesome and fiercely loyal military force the government is far from having
peace of mind.
The knowledge that only sheer brute force can keep
it in power appears to have only worsened anxiety and paranoia within the
The storming by armed police last Friday of an innocent
school debating event in Bulawayo is virtually a confession by Mugabe and
his lieutenants that fear of the unknown has turned them into prisoners in
a country that they preside over.
About 40 armed policemen and
Central Intelligence Organisation agents swooped on the Bulawayo Theatre on
Friday morning where some 300 pupils were gathered to discuss HIV/AIDS and
the role of the youths in combating the disease.
children were injured as they scrambled out of the theatre hall to safety as
police officers rounded up some of the organisers of the event.
Far from being the isolated action of an overzealous police commander and his
officers this autocratic and high-handed behaviour by the police and other
state security arms has sadly become routine as Zimbabweans’ freedoms of
assembly and association guaranteed in the country’s Constitution
are trampled upon every day.
Under the government’s repressive
Public Order and Security Act Zimbabweans must seek police approval before
they can hold political meetings.
But how a mere high school
debate meeting becomes a political meeting or worse still becomes a threat to
national security only Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri and his officers
Needless to say that this particular schools debating
competition has since 2000 been held every year in Bulawayo.
with this kind of performance by the police who needs the
British Broadcasting Corporation or America’s Cable News Network to tarnish
Zimbabwe ’s image as claimed by the government?
importantly the unfortunate incident in Bulawayo confirms what many
Zimbabweans now know and that is that: in their hearts of hearts Mugabe and
his ruling ZANU PF party know that their ruinous policies that have brought
this once prosperous country to its knees have lost them popular legitimacy
to rule this country.
Only through the force of arms does the
government continue to hold back rising public anger against it.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum, the biggest coalition of human and civic
rights groups in the country, reports that human rights abuses escalated in
the first six months of this year with state security forces allegedly taking
a leading role in perpetrating human rights violations against Zimbabweans
most of them supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic
But unfortunately for Zimbabwe’s rulers there is a limit to
the extent to which a government, however militarily strong, can control the
lives of its people. As to how long can the guns enforce the uneasy peace and
keep under check swelling public discontent against the government’s rule is
a question for Mugabe and ZANU PF to answer.
We, the lesser
mortals, can only observe that: uneasy lies the head that wears Zimbabwe’s
It’s frightening to know that we live in a country where
eight out of every 10 people we pass on the street are
It’s a nightmare trying to find petrol and most days we
can’t afford to put a decent meal on the table for our families.
Most of us spend our days shrouded in a thick fog of questions which have no
answers and depression so bad that we are a country on the verge of a
national mental breakdown.
Every now and again though, some
hilarity surfaces and if you are in need of cheering up, may I suggest either
ZBC TV or The Herald?
The latest advert being aired on ZBC TV
screams out in huge letters: “Use the LAW to get paid for your
It announces that we, the citizens of Zimbabwe, must
insist on the rule of law to protect our rights and property.
it has been for three years and four months, this advert doesn’t apply to the
likes of 4 000 farmers who had their land, homes, crops, jobs and
infrastructure seized by the government. Neither does this advert apply to
the likes of 300 000 farm workers who lost their homes, jobs and
pensions when they too were evicted from the country’s commercial
Insisting on the rule of law to protect life and property
doesn’t apply either to the thousands of people beaten, tortured,
arrested, tear-gassed and harassed for daring to ask for democratic
governance and observance of human rights.
The real hilarity of
the “use the law” advert, however, must be the fact that just last week a
High Court judge invaded a farm in Banket and took it over.
farm is owned by the man who gave us all bread for breakfast for the last 50
It was beside the point that a court had already ruled that
this same judge was barred from entering the premises of the
The judge waited until the owner was out of the country and
then came in his Mercedes, snatched the keys from a domestic worker and made
up his own laws as he took over.
It seems there is a lot of
truth to the old adage that “possession is nine-tenths of the law”,
especially if you are a High Court judge in Zimbabwe. Frankly, if you don’t
laugh at the latest ZBC advert, that mental breakdown just gets one day
Even more hilarity came last week from ZBC when on the
nightly news bulletin on 17 June, Zimbabweans were told that plans were well
underway for a bumper wheat crop this year.
gentleman being interviewed said that as he spoke, many new farmers were
being given the wheat seed and other inputs necessary for the crop and that
he knew it was a “bit late” but was sure the crop would be an enormous
Already half way through the growing season, surely
planting wheat now is about as nonsensical as pulling up at a petrol station,
handing your keys to the attendant and saying: “Fill it up please.” If you
don’t laugh, you may as well check yourself in at the nearest mental
An article in The Herald of 18 June really gave me a lift
but I must admit that I needed a dictionary and thesaurus at my side to try
and make sense of it.
Apparently it was all about an
“accomplished speculative reporter” from The Daily News who was being accused
of writing an “elaborate and hollow fib”.
In The Herald, a
newspaper which supposedly caters for the masses of Zimbabwe, there were
words and phrases which most of us could never have a hope of understanding,
let alone pronouncing. There was an “ignominy arising”, something else that
was “commonsensical” and talk of “bravado by the quisling”.
must admit to thinking at first that this had something to do with male
libido, but my thoughts were dashed as the report went on to talk about a
“terminally dwindling” and “irrecoverable nadir of despair”.
Everything began to become clear though when I got to the sentence which said
that this was all a matter of “neo-colonial thuggery” and then I realised
that this must be coming from the Ministry of Information.
final sentence of The Herald story really ensured laughter: “The final push,
it would appear, has finally become a pull to fibs and fables of a paper
utterly unreliable on every minor point. That is why nobody believes anything
published by The Daily News these days.”
Until I read that, it had
been a pretty dismal week in Marondera because, you see, there was a big
electrical fire in our telephone exchange which cut us off from the world for
two days and nights. To make things worse, we don’t get The Daily News here
anymore because the youngsters who do their masters’ bidding seize the
papers, tear them up, burn them, or make you eat them.
sure why they bother because as they told us in The Herald, nobody believes a
single word published in The Daily News anymore – that must explain why it’s
been banned from our provincial capital.
Ingutsheni, here I come.
If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.
SOUTH African power company ESKOM will levy the Zimbabwe
Electricity Authority (ZESA) a 12 percent penalty charge every month for
defaults by the cash-strapped Zimbabwean power utility on payments of money
owed to Eskom for previous electricity supplies.
arrears to ESKOM as of last week amounted to US$11 million as the parastatal
battles foreign currency shortages,which has resulted in it defaulting on its
As a result of defaulting by the cash strapped ZESA,
ESKOM has also now demanded that Zimbabwe pays cash in advance for
electricity supplies to continue.
“ESKOM is now charging 12
percent penalty per month for defaulting on payments and now demands advance
payment for their power,” a report of ZESA’ s operational status read in
ZESA, whose electricity arrears to regional power suppliers
amount to US$109.7 million, imports 150 megawatt (MW) of electricity from
ESKOM and has an option to import more if there is higher demand for
But this is on condition that ZESA pays the South African
utility in advance.
The government-run parastatal needs US$5
million every month for debt servicing and has since last month forced
exporters to pay at least 50 percent of their electricity bills in hard
The hard cash payment by exporters has helped ZESA to be
connected again by ESKOM and other regional suppliers like SNEL of the
Democratic Republic of Congo and Electrica Hydro Cahorra Bassa (HCB) of
Mozambique, on a limited scale though.
HCB, which used to supply
400 MW of electricity to Zimbabwe is now only supplying 250 MW to ZESA
because of payment problems by the parastatal.
According to the
report, HCB has given ZESA notice to terminate electricity supplies if the
parastatal does not come up with a credible payment plan.
is still to come up with a plan but the power corporation has however paid up
part of its debt to the Mozambican power company to avoid being completely
switched off. Its unlikely that the Mozambicans would increase their supplies
to Zimbabwe because HCB has already secured alternative markets for its
Another Mozambican-based power utility Electrica De
Mocambique, which is owned by Portuguese investors has also switched off ZESA
for non-payment of arrears which amount to US$5 million.
have given notice to terminate (power) supply contract unless a payment plan
is put in place,” the report said.
“HCB have already secured
alternative markets for the power and have asked ZESA to wheel the
The Zimbabwe government has also been invited to take a 25
percent stake in HCB but will have to raise US$500 million for the
shareholding at a time the country is experiencing its worst foreign currency
crisis since independence.
JOHANNESBURG: The second summit of the African Union is likely
to be marked by political wrangling as the continent's leaders try to reach
agreement on the functioning and final structures of the pan-African
The Second Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union
(AU) - the first was held in South Africa last year - will take place in
Maputo, Mozambique, on July 4-12.
"The focus of this meeting will very
much be on the structures of the AU and getting them to work," says Jakkie
Cilliers, the head of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria,
This is likely to disappoint many people who would like to
see the African Union concentrating on achieving greater and faster success
in ending conflicts, improving governance and kick-starting social and
economic development on the continent.
More than 350 million people -
over 50 per cent of Africa's population - live below the poverty line of one
US dollar a day, according to the World Bank.The situation is more appalling
in strife-torn Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Somalia,
Ethiopia, Sudan and Cote d'Ivoire.
While these concerns will undoubtedly
be raised at the meeting, the election of the AU commission, which will play
a central role in the day-to-day management of the Union, will be one of the
main events of the gathering.
The Maputo summit will elect the
chairperson, the deputy chairperson and appoint eight commissioners. The
commission will prepare strategic plans and studies for the consideration of
the AU executive council.
The finalization of the details of the African
Standby Force (ASF) which will undertake peacekeeping missions on behalf of
the African Union will also be discussed, as will the formation of the
The parliament will act as "an organ to ensure
the full participation of African peoples in governance, development and
economic integration of the continent".
The protocol relating to the
composition, powers, functions and organization of the Pan-African Parliament
has been signed by member states and it is in the process of being
So far, Libya - which has no functioning democracy - and South
Africa have shown interests in hosting the parliament.Another delicate issue
is likely to be the funding of the African Union, which will have to be
supported with contributions from mainly poor African countries, many of
which can hardly afford the expense. African countries are likely to be
expected to contribute to the Union in proportion to their
Member countries owe the pan-African body a staggering $54.5
million. Out of the 53 members of the African Union only nine have reportedly
fully paid their dues.
In the meantime, South African President and AU
chairperson, Thabo Mbeki, who is often accused of spending too much of his
time on the Union and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) -
a programme to kick-start the social and economic development of the
continent - has defended his government's African commitment.
in parliament on June 19, Mbeki said: "We will continue to be preoccupied
with issues that are hundreds of miles away from home. We have no choice in
this matter, unless we decide to extricate ourselves from the process of
globalization, to lose interest in the development of the rest of our
"South Africa is linked to the rest of Africa," he said. "We
are not a small village stuck away in the middle of nowhere, which the world
passes by.""We do not support the notion that our country can develop and
emerge as a winning nation on the basis of its isolation from the rest of the
world," Mbeki warned. "The 'issues that are hundreds of miles away from home'
are very directly relevant to whether we succeed in the effort to
transform ourselves into a winning nation."
"It would be
uncharacteristic of us as a people that are very conscious of the concept of
'Ubuntu' - the oneness of all humanity. At the same time, we can best
contribute to a successful African Renaissance if we succeed and are
succeeding in the task of the reconstruction and development of our
own country," he said.
Mbeki will hand over the chair of the African
Union to President Joaquin Chissano of Mozambique.The African Union has
replaced the Organization of African Union (OAU), which wound up two years
ago.-Dawn/The InterPress News Service.
UNCOWED by two weeks behind bars on a second treason
charge, Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has already warned of
renewed pressure from the streets, amid indications that the opposition
movement is considering new strategies to force President Robert Mugabe from
An assessment of the round of protests and stayaways made by
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a grouping of about 350 civil society
organisations, has warned that "the road to the negotiating table will not be
smooth or easy".
The coalition estimates that the ruling Zanu (PF) party
spent in excess of $2bn in "the largest internal military campaign Zimbabwe
has experienced". It said the MDC had "dangerously oversimplified the
problems in its mass communications" and conceded that the mass
demonstrations were "largely a victim of state repression".
coalition said the opposition would have to put forward more
realistic expectations while continuing to provide hope to the nation.
Although Tsvangirai was given a warning to refrain from calling for Mugabe's
downfall when he was released on bail of Z10m at the weekend, the MDC has
indicated that it will soon embark on another campaign of mass action to
follow-up its five day action earlier this month.
Further mass action
would be a demonstration that the party will not cower after its leader spent
a fortnight in prison trying to get bail after a second set of treason
charges were brought against him.
While the MDC is not saying when it
will launch its follow-up campaign, strikes and demonstrations against Zanu
(PF) rule could embarrass Mugabe if they were to occur the second week of
next month, at the same time as the African Union meeting in
Over the weekend Tsvangirai hit back at SA Defence Minister
Mosiuoa Lekota's statement last week that the party had undermined talks on a
settlement with mass action.
In a statement yesterday the Democratic
Alliance's spokesman on Africa, Graham McIntosh called Lekota "grossly
hypocritical" for criticising the MDC for engaging in mass action." McIntosh
said Lekota had been a prominent member of the United Democratic Front which
used mass action against the apartheid government.
In addition, he
said the African National Congress withdrew from the negotiations in June
1992 to embark on mass action in support its demands
Local supplies of grain to double, says UN
report June 23, 2003
By Nicky Smith
Johannesburg - South Africa had a carry-over stock from last season of about
1.5 million tons, which was expected to grow to 3 million tons by the end of
next year's harvest, according to a report on regional crop expectations
released late last week by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and
Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The general manager of Grain SA,
Steve Shone, said while food aid agencies would prefer to source their grain
from South Africa, they were usually prohibited from doing so.
"I was speaking to the guys at the WFP and they would be much happier buying
from us," Shone said, adding that South African grain was known for its
It was unfortunate that countries usually provided aid on
the condition the recipient only buy from the donor nation
Shone said that South Africa had given R170 million
worth of food aid to Zimbabwe on the condition that the food be bought in
The WFP-FAO report said Zimbabwe would need to import
370 000 tons and Mozambique would be the second-biggest recipient of food aid
over the next year .
Mozambique needs to import 144 000
tons of maize.
Zimbabwe's disastrous land reform programme had cut
the country's production to 10 percent of what it used to
"The major causes of the much-lower-than-normal production
of cereals this year include erratic rainfall, limited availability of seed
and fertiliser, and the newly settled farmers not being able to use all the
land because of a lack of adequate capital and inputs, or collateral to
procure them," the FAO/WFP said.
Namibia will need to import 71
400 tons of maize. South Africa generally supplies yellow maize to Namibia
for cattle feed.
"[In Swaziland] an extremely targeted approach to
food aid is required, focused primarily on mitigating the effect of HIV/Aids
and also including direct support to households unable to access available
food and agricultural inputs."
Window on Africa - Perhaps the antidote for
Afro-pessimism isn't Afro-optimism, but a shot of Afro-realism June
By Peter Fabricius
At the World Economic
Forum Africa Summit last week there was the usual anguished debate about
Afro-pessimism versus Afro-optimism. What emerged was that many Africans seem
to be oscillating between the two in a rather unhealthy way.
African delegate said that Africans swing wildly between self-flagellation
and self-adulation - becoming schizophrenic along the way, another
Yet another said that Africans veered between exaggerating
the sorry lot of the continent in order to persuade the world to help us and
then exaggerating our achievements - to compensate and to reassure ourselves
we are okay.
These confessions were very revealing of Africa's
current psyche. Perhaps a psychologist listening to this dialogue would have
suggested; let's do away both with Afro-pessimism and Afro-optimism and take
a big, healthy dose of Afro-realism.
To confront and objectively
describe your own condition is never easy but it is at least something to
strive for. Psychologically it must surely be better than the roller-coaster
of emotions that the delegates were describing at the forum.
Some observers detected symptoms of this condition in President Mbeki's
closing remarks to the summit, when he put his head on a block and firmly
predicted that peace would break out in the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Burundi, Zimbabwe, Liberia and Sudan within a year.
Mbeki is of
course privy to information that we do not have, and so his predictions carry
a lot more weight than most. But many suspect his predictions were based not
so much on privy information as on a desire to talk up the continent's
position, and in so doing give Afro-optimism a shot in the arm.
The danger is that if in a year's time these predictions do not materialise,
this is going to cause the pendulum to swing wildly back towards
Afro-pessimism. Which will require another dose of Afro-optimism to correct.
And so on.
Apart from the dangers to the health of the collective
African psyche, there are also physical risks to life and limb in making
peace processes hostage to this form of what one could call political
It is well to tackle the conflicts on the continent
with a sense of urgency - but one must also respect the reality on the
ground. For example, South Africa, which is driving the DRC peace process,
has obliged the Ugandan and Rwandan troops occupying the eastern DRC to leave
over the last year in accordance with their signed commitment.
South Africa bundled them out of the DRC to demonstrate progress in the peace
process. And so the Rwandan and Ugandan forces withdrew before any sort of
stabilising force had been inserted to replace them. That created a power
vacuum which has been filled by undisciplined ethnic militias who have been
on an orgy of raping, pillaging and killing worse than we have seen before,
especially in the province of Ituri.
In its optimistic - some might
say, manic - phase, Africa too often sets ambitious targets - and thereby
sets itself up for failure - and a swing back to its depressive phase. This
was apparent at a conference this week organised by the US embassy on
globalisation and its impact on Africa. Three American economists gave
thoughtful and useful presentations on what Africa should do to get the most
out of globalisation. But the almost unanimous response from South African
delegates was to whine about all the global forces conspiring to undermine
Catherine Mann of the Institute for International Economics
presented a very useful paper on how developing countries could harness
information technology for development. It was based on her experiences in 15
developed countries. Mann offered several examples of ingenious ways that
these countries are using IT. But one South African delegate involved in a
$300 million Nepad project to bring computers to 570 000 primary schools
across the continent, was deaf to such inspiration. He could only complain
that global corporations were refusing to provide the fibre-optic cables for
his project at a cheap enough price. "The corporations must come to the
party," he insisted.
One does not compel global corporations to
invest. And to keep bashing your head against a brick wall by demanding
investment in a gigantic project - instead of seeking another route - is to
set yourself up for failure - and another heavy bout of Afro-pessimism.