Friday 08 June 2007
By Patricia Mpofu
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's Cabinet ealier this week endorsed a draft
amendment to the country's Constitution, paving the way for the proposed
Bill to be tabled in Parliament.
The proposed 18th amendment to a much criticized Constitution bequeathed to
Zimbabwe by former colonial power Britain seeks to harmonise elections for
president and Parliament next year, in a plan Mugabe says is meant to save
on administrative costs but which critics say is just a ploy by the
President to cling to power.
The amendment shall also provide for the creation of a statutory human
rights commission to monitor human rights in the crisis-hit southern African
"We have agreed on it. We are pushing it, it is just a matter of time before
it comes to Parliament," said Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Minister of Information
Minister and chief government spokesman.
Ndlovu refused to be drawn further on the matter because Cabinet discussions
and resolutions are confidential.
But sources told ZimOnline there was fierce debate over the amendment
forcing the Cabinet meeting that started in the morning on Tuesday to drag
on until about nine o'clock in the evening.
According to the sources although there was in the end general agreement to
press ahead with the constitutional amendment, Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa was asked to take back the draft amendment for fine tuning before
it could be brought to Parliament.
The constitutional Bill is expected to be tabled in the House in August
where the government will use its absolute control of both chambers of
Parliament to ensure it sails through without hitches or delays.
Zimbabwe presently elects a new Parliament after every five years and
president after six years, a situation the government has argued is too
costly and could be saved by terminating the life of the present Parliament
that was due to expire in 2010 and bring forward parliamentary elections so
they are held jointly with elections for president in 2008.
Mugabe, whose term ends in 2008, had initially proposed that elections be
held in 2010, which would have given him two more years in office without
having to face the electorate. The plan was however rejected by his own
ruling ZANU PF party.
The 83-year old President in power since Zimbabwe's 1980 independence from
Britain has said he will stand for another five-year term next year.
Moves by Mugabe to amend the Constitution appear to render irrelevant
efforts by South African President Thabo Mbeki to mediate in Zimbabwe's
Mbeki was last March asked by Southern African Development Community heads
of state and government to lead efforts to resolve Zimbabwe's eight-year
political and economic crisis by facilitating dialogue between Mugabe's
government and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
The dialogue -- if it takes off - is expected to focus chiefly on
constitutional reforms to harmonise elections, level the playing field and
ensure free and fair polls.
The MDC has particularly opposed plans by the government to want use its
parliamentary majority to make unilateral changes to the Constitution.
Meanwhile South African deputy foreign affairs minister Aziz Pahad has said
it was "vital" to see urgency from all sides in Zimbabwe to get talks
between the parties started.
Aziz would not confirm or deny reports of meetings scheduled to be held in
Pretoria between ZANU PF and the MDC.
"Until there is a decision to officially indicate what meetings are planned
and what meeting have already taken place I would not be able to comment on
any reports that have already appeared," Pahad said on Thursday.
Zimbabwe has since 1999 been grappling with an agonising political and
economic meltdown, critics blame on repression and mismanagement by Mugabe,
a charge the veteran leader denies.
The crisis has seen inflation shooting to more than 3 700 percent while the
southern African country is short of food, essential medicines, fuel,
electricity, hard cash and just about every basic survival
Friday 08 June 2007
By Hendricks Chizhanje
HARARE - Zimbabwe Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo on Thursday said
no one will starve in the southern African country despite a United Nations
report earlier this week that said more than one-third of the 12 million
Zimbabweans would face serious food shortages by early next year.
Gumbo insisted cash-strapped Harare, which has made a contractual
agreement with neighbouring Malawi for the importation of about 400 000
tonnes of maize, has adequately prepared to cover the food deficit.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food
Programme (WFP) said in a report released on Wednesday that crop failure
exacerbated Zimbabwe's economic crisis would leave more than four million
Zimbabweans in need of food aid.
"Why should the people of Zimbabwe starve? We have a (food) deficit
but we have a way of covering that deficit," Gumbo said.
The Agriculture Minister however did not rule out appealing for help
from the international community saying the Harare administration would
decide on whether to make a formal appeal for aid after studying the crop
and food supply assessment report by the UN agencies Mission
"As soon as we sit down as government to see the implications of their
report we will make our position (to appeal or not) known," he said.
Delays in making a formal appeal for relief support by President
Robert Mugabe's government would also hamper efforts by relief agencies to
mobilise food aid and deliver it to hungry Zimbabweans.
An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission was invited by the
government to visit
Zimbabwe from April 25 to May 18 to estimate the 2007 production of
the main cereals and pulse crops, assess the food security situation in the
country and determine the food import requirement, including food assistance
The mission estimates that Zimbabwe would need 352 000 tonnes of
cereals and 90 000 tonnes of other food assistance will be required to avert
Critics blame Zimbabwe 's food crisis directly on Mugabe's haphazard
fast-track land reform exercise that displaced established white commercial
farmers and replaced them with either incompetent or inadequately funded
Food production plunged by about 60 percent as a result while chaos in
the agriculture sector because of farm seizures also hit hard Zimbabwe's
once impressive manufacturing sector that had depended on a robust farming
sector for orders and inputs.
Most of Zimbabwe's firms have since the beginning of farm seizures in
2000 either closed completely or scaled down operations to below 30 percent
of capacity, in a country where unemployment is more than 80 percent.
Friday 08 June 2007
By Hendricks Chizhanje
HARARE - The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) says it has failed
to secure more supplies from neighbouring countries to ease an acute power
shortage that has seen the state firm sometimes limiting electricity to
homes to only four hours a day.
ZESA Holdings chairman Christopher Chetsanga on Wednesday told ZimOnline
that the foreign energy firms were unable to increase exports to Zimbabwe
owing to pressing demand in their own domestic markets.
The cash-strapped ZESA was now looking to increasing generation capacity at
its power stations to make up for the deficit in imports, said Chetsanga.
"There is no change in our position. But we are trying to increase our local
generation capacity. It is only a question of time (before we improve local
generation)," he said, however without explaining how or where ZESA would
find resources to refurbish its archaic power stations or build new ones.
Chetsenga announced last January that regional power firms that have
previously supplied 600 megawatts or about 35 percent of Zimbabwe's total
consumption had only guaranteed 150 megawatts of power to ZESA, but had said
the corporation was negotiating for more supplies.
Southern Africa is facing an energy shortfall that is a result of rising
consumption without corresponding investment in generation capacity.
However, the electricity shortage is more pronounced in Zimbabwe where a
technically insolvent ZESA has failed to undertake projects to expand power
The national power firm is also unable to refurbish ageing power stations
and the transmission grid which - like most major national infrastructure in
Zimbabwe -- are crumbling due to under-funding and downright neglect as the
country grapples a severe economic meltdown described by the World Bank as
the worst in the world outside a war zone.
ZESA, which earlier this week hiked tariffs by 50 percent, is implementing a
tough power rationing regime to save on the little electricity available
while ensuring key sectors of the economy are supplied.
Under the rationing schedule supplies to domestic consumers can be cut for
up to 20 hours a day while power is supplied to industry, mines and farmers
to grow winter wheat.
However, frequent breakdowns at power stations or on the transmission
network means whole cities can sometimes go for several days without
electricity while ZESA scurries around for foreign currency to import spare
parts needed for repairs. --ZimOnline.
US Department of State
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
June 7, 2007
The United States condemns the Government of Zimbabwe's violent suppression
of a peaceful demonstration June 6 in Bulawayo by Women of Zimbabwe Arise!
(WOZA!). Police used batons against some 200 demonstrators, detaining seven
activists, including WOZA! National Coordinator Jenni Williams, the
recipient of Secretary Rice's 2007 International Women of Courage Award for
Africa, and denying them access to their lawyers. In light of recent public
threats by police to harm Ms. Williams, we express concern and hold the
government accountable for her safety.
This latest aggression against civil society, coming on the heels of attacks
this spring against opposition leaders, highlights the need for dialogue
among all stakeholders concerned with halting Zimbabwe's political and
economic crisis. We call on the Government of Zimbabwe to release the
detainees immediately, to allow for their medical treatment, and to grant
access to their lawyers. We again call on the Government of Zimbabwe to
respect the rule of law, including an immediate halt to the violent
suppression of democracy activists, and the rights of all Zimbabweans to
petition their government for change.
Released on June 7, 2007
Thu 7 Jun 2007, 15:19 GMT
HARARE, June 7 (Reuters) - The United States government said on Thursday it
would provide $18 million worth of life-saving anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs
to help Zimbabwe add 40,000 people to its HIV/AIDS treatment programme.
The southern African country is among the worst hit by the epidemic, which
kills more than 3,000 people every week and accounts for 70 percent of
In a joint announcement, U.S. ambassador Christopher Dell and Zimbabwe's
Minister of Health David Parirenyatwa said ARVs worth $15 million would be
made available over three years, while $3 million would be used to acquire
rapid HIV testing kits over the same period.
Parirenyatwa said the additional drugs would increase the total number of
people on the government's ARV scheme from the current 81,000. The
government says at least 340,000 people need ARVs.
Dell said the U.S government had urged other donors to help Zimbabwe's
battle against the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
"This initial programme is for three years and we hope that during that
time, other donors and the Global Fund will be in a position to provide
additional support," Dell said.
Zimbabwe, despite its deep recession, has also become one of the few places
on the continent where the HIV prevalence rate has gone down. It has
declined to 18.1 percent last year from 25 percent six years ago.
However, the southern African country's drive to increase access to ARVs has
been hampered by a severe shortage of foreign currency, itself a sign of an
economic crisis that has pushed inflation past 3,700 percent.
By Tendai Maphosa
07 June 2007
The University of Edinburgh's decision to strip Zimbabwe President Robert
Mugabe of an honorary degree could be followed by other universities. From
London, Tendai Maphosa has more in this report for VOA.
The Senate of the University of Edinburgh made the decision to revoke the
honorary degree conferred on President Robert Mugabe in 1984. The
University had honored Mr. Mugabe on the recommendation of then British
Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington.
The decision to strip Mr. Mugabe of the degree follows a petition by the
Edinburgh University Students Association. University secretary Melvin
Cornish told VOA the students' association based its complaints on the
ongoing human rights abuses Mr. Mugabe is presiding over.
The petition also brought up the issue of the massacres in Zimbabwe's
Matabeleland province, which were happening at the time Mr. Mugabe was
honored. During that period it is alleged that the Zimbabwean army killed
thousands of civilians for allegedly supporting an armed insurgency.
Cornish defended the University's honoring Mr. Mugabe while the massacres
were in progress.
"It is now clear the most awful things were happening in Zimbabwe at that
time and the university understands and acknowledges that," he said. "At
that time in mid 1984 it is as clear to us as it can be that the people then
making the decision were not aware of the sort of things that we now know."
Cornish said that the revocation of Mr. Mugabe's degree is the first in the
institution's 430-year history. He said Mr. Mugabe would be given the right
to appeal the university's decision.
Other universities could follow Edinburgh's action. The University of
Massachusetts and Michigan State University in the United States are also
considering revoking honorary degrees they awarded Mr. Mugabe.
There have also been calls in both houses of the British parliament to strip
Mr. Mugabe of the honorary knighthood bestowed on him in 1994. Foreign
Secretary Margaret Beckett is quoted in the Daily Mail newspaper as having
answered one such call by saying she is more concerned about the welfare of
the people of Zimbabwe than an honor Mr. Mugabe is "not entitled to".
Earlier this year, Zimbabwe government publicity secretary George Charamba
told the state-owned daily newspaper, The Herald, that Mr. Mugabe would not
lose any sleep over threats to strip him of honorary degrees.
Charamba said Mr. Mugabe studied for and has seven degrees and that the
honorary degrees were unsolicited. He added that the Western universities
improved their profile by associating themselves with Mr. Mugabe.
Mail and Guardian
07 June 2007 11:40
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's government on Thursday
dismissed a resolution by the World Association of Newspapers (Wan)
condemning press violations in Zimbabwe and calling for an end to the
arrests and detentions of reporters.
"This is a bogus resolution by a bogus organisation," Mugabe
spokesperson George Charamba said in comments carried by the official Herald
"We give absolutely no regard to that report and dismiss it with
the contempt it deserves," said Charamba, who is also the permanent
secretary in the Information Ministry.
The Wan board this week accused Mugabe's government of violating
journalists' rights by detaining them, assaulting them and stripping them of
licences required to work.
The Wan board called on Mugabe to put an end to the arbitrary
and violent arrest and detention of journalists, and to firmly commit to
uphold international standards of freedom of expression and freedom of the
press, part of the statement read.
Paris-based Wan represents 18 000 publications across five
The call comes barely a month after the International Press
Institute noted that Zimbabwe is probably the most difficult place in the
world to work as a journalist.
The government has launched a renewed clampdown on independent
journalists in recent months.
In April Gift Phiri, Harare correspondent of a London-based
Zimbabwean newspaper, was arrested and tortured by police over two stories
he wrote last year.
Earlier, in March, a local photojournalist and his colleague
were arrested and severely assaulted by police while trying to cover a
thwarted opposition rally.
Several days later, veteran television journalist Edward
Chikombo was abducted by suspected state agents from his Harare home and
later found dead outside the capital.
Tafataona Mahoso, chairperson of the state-appointed Media and
Information Commission (MIC) in charge of licensing journalists, suggested
the slain cameraman was in fact a spy.
He said the former state journalist, who is reported to have
filmed footage of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai after his torture by
police, did not appear on the MICs list of accredited journalists.
"So if he was doing media work he was doing so as a spy using
media equipment, which may explain his case," Mahoso told the Herald. "If he
was abducted and murdered by somebody, it had nothing to do with
The MIC, which Mahoso has chaired since its inception in 2002,
has forced four independent newspapers to close in the past five years,
including the best-selling Daily News.
The commission has also consistently denied press cards to
independent and foreign correspondents.
In its statement on Tuesday, Wan accused the MIC of working with
Mugabe's government to suppress press freedom and to asphyxiate the very
last private media in Zimbabwe. -- Sapa-dpa
Financial Gazette (Harare)
6 June 2007
Posted to the web 7 June 2007
VANHU vatambudzika! My email inbox is flooded. "Kenny, why don't you turn
your pen towards our predicament in Zimbabwe?"
The answer is that I don't see any way out for now. The people's suffering
must continue for another moon. Nothing will come out of the Mbeki talks
Let me use the parable of the dipping tank our beloved Eddie Cross has
already laid before us in his letter of last week. In that scenario, the
cattle herders must master the cattle inside the dipping tank wall, and then
force them to jump into the liquid reservoir. As the cattle swim, the
treated liquid kills off the ticks and leeches that were living off the
cattle hides. These masters are the international community (read European
Union and the US) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
These countries have empowered the South African president to preside over
the Zimbabwe's last dance. Mbeki is totally committed to supporting Mukuru
and his regime. There was a secret protocol among the SADC countries around
the year 2002 when the land invasions in Zimbabwe reached their peak, that
they will do everything in their power to defend an ally (Zimbabwe) against
a western imperialist power.
This onslaught is aimed at keeping a Eurocentric economic hegemony on the
SADC countries through supporting "western interests" in the region. The
western countries used trade unions as Trojan horses to achieve their aims.
Mbeki's role, therefore, was to enforce this Monroe doctrine, and "quiet
diplomacy" was aimed at keeping the enemies of Zimbabwe at bay until they
If necessary, SADC countries were to come to the rescue of a neighbour by
force of arms. My sources say that there are South African advisors in
Zimbabwe even as we speak.
Once there was a South African-Rhodesia axis of evil, the Botha-Smith
hexagon, now there is the Mbeki-Mukuru octagon. It's the same difference,
one was for white power, this one is for black power. Secondly, Angolan
troops have been "exercising" with crack Zimbabwean troops as part of their
training for some time. All this is perfectly legitimate, but Africans are
not sophisticated enough to distinguish between support for the ZANU PF
government and support for Zimbabwe. There was no confirmation of the
presence of Angolan troops at the time of going to press.
Mbeki, SADC and African Union countries are ideologically in sync with what
Mukuru is doing in Zimbabwe. Mukuru has cleverly framed the thesis to say
that his destruction of the economy is part of an exercise to root out
imperialistic economic hegemony and enhance black empowerment. The argument
by the MDC and civic groups that unemployment is 80 percent compared to 20
percent in 1980, that income levels have dropped from U$750 in 1980 to U$250
per annum per person, and that inflation has risen from five percent in 1980
to over 3 000 percent in 2007 and finally, that only 1 000 cronies of the
regime have benefited from the land reforms: all these arguments have not
made an impression yet in the SADC region.
Zimbabweans will understand these economic arguments because they are
wearing the shoes, as it were. European countries understand these arguments
also because they care more about the economy than they do about humans.
Opponents of Mukuru must reformulate this argument in simple terms. How do
you empower a jobless high school graduate, facing an AIDS pandemic and a
reduction of longevity from 56 to 37 years? It is the economy, stupid, not
human rights, stupid!
The international community has set some benchmarks, which must be achieved
before Zimbabwe can receive foreign exchange support. These benchmarks
include free and fair elections, an open market of ideas (read freedom of
the press) and equal playing field for multi-party elections.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice realised that in order for a
democracy to work, it is not these benchmarks, which should be achieved at
the end of the game, but the conditions, a long time before the elections
and to some extent a revolution in culture. We have less than 12 months
before April 2008. The Zimbabwean government is recruiting 50 000 policemen
from the revolutionary cadres. The judiciary knows where their bread is
buttered, as did the Smith judiciary. Do you remember Judge Sir Hugh Beadle
who lost his salary because he was loyal to the crown? The military is part
of ZANU PF as was the Smith military. Do you remember Major General Anderson
who was fired because he refused to salute the trecherous Smith regime? The
more things change, the more they remain the same. Can all these
practicalities be dealt with within 12 months?
Then there is the question of whether the lion will count the votes in
favour of itself as well as those votes cast for its opponent. We know how
the lion counts, one for the lion, one for the rabbit, one for the gazelle
and one for the lion. In that scenario, the lion has 50 percent of the vote,
and the gazelle and the rabbit have each 25 percent. Remember that South
Africa has already said that the elections of 2002 were free and fair. The
hope that Mbeki and SADC will somehow supervise a level playing field is
The idea that the ZANU PF leadership is divided does not fly. If you read
the book Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes, one realises that the sovereign
(Mukuru) cannot contradict himself. Whatever side he is on is the right side
for that day. There are no factions in ZANU PF because the only word that
counts is that of the sovereign. Margaret Dongo said it picturesquely. "All
others are Mukuru's wives."
Zimbabweans are so desperate, they are grasping at straws. The idea that the
general, or his wife, may have a faction is ridiculous. These are straw men
and women. They have no vitae (life giving force) outside the tree (mukuru).
The other false idea is that Mukuru will run for election in 2008 and
reliquish power in favour of somebody else. Politicians are power-hungry.
Even Margaret Thatcher, after 13 years in power, was forced out, so was Tony
Blair. Don't raise your hopes in that direction. Moreover, politicians don't
die in power. It is the loss of power that kills them. What then is to be
done? That is the question.
Harare - Cash-strapped Zimbabwe is to invest $20m on hotels and stadiums to
host teams taking part in the 2010 World Cup finals in neighbouring South
Africa, according to a government document obtained by AFP on Thursday.
A report drawn up by the sports and environment ministries, which has been
adopted by President Robert Mugabe's cabinet, called for a comprehensive
refurbishment programme of hotels which have seen a marked drop in foreign
visitors since the implosion of the economy.
The report put the cost of the recommended refurbishment at around Z$1
trillion, the equivalent of around $20m on the unofficial market.
The report said most hotel rooms were in a state of neglect following the
dive in tourist numbers since 2002 when Zimbabwe was slapped with Western
sanctions after disputed elections.
The cabinet committee recommended the construction of new stadiums,
including one in the resort town of Victoria Falls.
"Mindful of all environmental concerns, it is recommended that a new stadium
be constructed both for 2010 and as a strategy for improving the town's
tourism product and rating," it said.
The report did not say how the government should fund the building campaign.
The Zimbabwean government is currently battling against an inflation rate of
3 714% - the highest in the world.
The 2010 World Cup will be the first time that one of the biggest of all
sporting competitions has been staged in Africa and South Africa is
determined not to allow the situation in Zimbabwe to cast a shadow over the
Reports in South Africa have said that President Thabo Mbeki's Zimbabwean
counterpart Robert Mugabe came under pressure from the government in
Pretoria recently not to proceed with plans to delay the next elections
until World Cup year.
After the recent events in Zimbabwe, which saw opposition leaders beaten up
by the police, and the decision thereafter by the SADC to stand by Zimbabwe,
our editor, Baffour Ankomah, went to interview the president in the eye of
the storm, Robert Mugabe. He was in fine fettle.
Baffour: You had a good SADC conference in Tanzania, didn't you? One British
journalist grudgingly reported that you returned to Harare with a spring in
your step. Was everything hanging on this summit?
President Robert Mugabe: Well, when we went to Dar es Salaam, it was really
to try and explain to our colleagues of SADC the events that happened here
on 11 March, so they could get the clear picture. We also wanted to explain
to them, in a very clear perspective, why the actions here were not to be
seen in isolation but to be read in the context where our erstwhile
enemies - Britain and its allies - were actually orchestrating a situation
which they believed would lead to regime change here.
This is the explanation I gave them, and I knew they would understand it, I
knew that they too had been disturbed by what they had seen on CNN, BBC, Sky
News and other television services. But they are solid, SADC is solid; and
let it not be forgotten that if imperialism and colonialism were ever
solidly fought and defeated, it was here in Southern Africa that the real
fight against imperialism took place.
And so we went to Dar es Salaam not to put up a fight but to explain to my
colleagues the true situation here, and they understood the explanation. In
the circumstances, what they themselves thought was the right thing to do
was to support us because they realized that we were besieged for a long
time. Economic sanctions have been imposed on us and they have undermined
our economy and our efforts to develop. And so, while the world thought Dar
es Salaam would deal us a death blow [laughs sarcastically], it was them who
were dealt a death blow.
Baffour: At the end of the day, the region showed solidarity with Zimbabwe .
Mugabe: [cuts in] . It did, yes.
Baffour: But I would like you to situate the Zimbabwe case in the wider
African context. Why should a Ghanaian or Nigerian or Kenyan or South
African or African American support Zimbabwe? Why should Africa stand with
Mugabe: Well, obviously, our cause is their cause. The success of Zimbabwe
is their success. And we don't live in isolation, we are not an extension of
Europe, we are part of Africa, and so really our stand, as a fight, should
be seen as an African cause, and wherever we have Africans, be they in the
Diaspora or in Senegal or Ghana where we first got our revolutionary drink,
they should be able to understand and appreciate the war we are fighting
here, and when they are disillusioned, it is our duty to remove that
disillusionment and get them back on the right path as our supporters.
Baffour: You are saying that if Africa allows Zimbabwe to go down, no
African country would again be able to pop its head above water. It would be
like when Nkrumah was taken out, the African revolutionary fire was
extinguished, and we lost the momentum for the past 40 years.
Mugabe: Sure, it would affect them too - the whole of Africa. If you want to
read Nkrumah's own principle - Ghana would not regard itself as totally free
and independent unless every inch of Africa was free. So every inch of
Africa matters. If that inch loses its freedom, then the whole African
continent is affected. It's freedom minus. And you don't want anything of
that nature to happen to Africa.
And in Dar es Salaam, President Thabo Mbeki put it very clearly. He said:
"The fight against Zimbabwe is a fight against us all. Today it is Zimbabwe,
tomorrow it will be South Africa, it will be Mozambique, it will be Angola,
it will be any other African country. And any government that is perceived
to be strong, and to be resistant to imperialists, would be made a target
and would be undermined. So let us not allow any point of weakness in the
solidarity of SADC, because that weakness will also be transferred to the
rest of Africa."
Baffour: That was quite heart-warming, wasn't it? But upon seeing the TV
pictures of Morgan Tsvangirai and other MDC leaders beaten up by the police,
many people around the world are asking: "Why is President Mugabe using the
police to beat up his opponents?"
Mugabe: [laughs]. I wasn't there. I didn't even know they had been beaten!
But if a person challenges the police, breaches law and order, and thinks
the police would just look at him and shake hands with him, and say "you've
done a good thing by tossing and pushing us around", well, he is quite
mistaken. The police are there to maintain law and order. And it doesn't
matter who, if you threaten them with force, they will answer back with
force. And the police did their work.
We may regret that in doing their work, they might have exceeded the
punishment they gave them. But these things happen. It happens in war, it
happens everywhere. If you challenge the police, don't think that they are
going to be merciful with you at all. More so, that Tsvangirai's own people
had earlier beaten up some policemen very badly. There was a group of
policemen who were unarmed, and Tsvangirai's people took advantage of their
small number, assailed them, and beat them up very badly. They are now in
hospital and I hope they would recover, and recover fully. So the police had
the grudge also. They are also human beings. Let us always bear that in
mind. If Tsvangirai leaves his home to come and provoke the police because
his counterpart, Arthur Mutambara, had been arrested, and Tsvangirai's
people do not want Mutambara to carry the glory of having been arrested and
imprisoned, with Tsvangirai having gone home and deserted the struggle, to
have that balance of honour and dishonour, and then Tsvangirai wants to
correct that by going to challenge the police, at a police station, what do
you expect the police to do?
If he had stayed at home, the police would never have gone to his home. But
he chose to go to the police station, provoked them, there was a tussle, and
they beat him up. So I am saying he was wrong. He is supposed to be a
leader, aspiring to be president, and he should know how to behave.
Mutambara was not beaten because he knew how to behave. Why should
Tsvangirai alone be beaten, and not Mutambara?
Baffour: Again, many people were shocked to hear you tell the West "go hang"
when they criticized you personally and your government for the police
action against the opposition leaders. What exactly are the British and the
Americans and their Western allies doing to destabilize Zimbabwe to elicit
such a response fro you?
Mugabe: The sanctions. The British - since Tony Blair came to power and
changed the face of the Labour Party completely in regards to relations with
us - have reneged on the understanding and agreement reached at Lancaster
House [in 1979] regarding the land reform programme and the compensation
they agreed to pay to enable us to buy the land from their kith and kin
When Blair's government decided to dishonour it, we said "well, we are also
not bound by the agreement any longer, we are released from it and we should
not pay any compensation to the white farmers because the funds had stopped
flowing from Britain to us. And if we don't get the funds, naturally we don't
have the capacity to compensate the farmers. And the farmers will have to
deal with Britain to compensate them directly.
We will take the land and pay compensation in respect of improvements, and
that is what we have honoured. If they had built a dam, a homestead, done
some fencing, we are prepared to pay compensation for those, but not the
market price of the farm. That's the responsibility of Britain. This is why
Blair is angry. He thought we would tax our poor people here to buy back
their own land, but we were not prepared to do that.
And what did Blair do? He doesn't talk of that. He talks of Zimbabwe that is
breaching the tenets of democracy, human rights, rule of law, and which is a
dictatorship. But he is very much more of a dictator than any dictator I
have read about in modern times in Britain and in Europe. But we always
comply with the law. Since 1980, we have complied with our constitution, and
every five years we go to elections - parliamentary elections, presidential
elections, local government elections - and the ground is open to anyone who
wants to participate in these elections, he or she is free to do so.
But Britain and the United States read a completely different picture.
Election results that are accepted by Africa as valid, they reject. They
reject them because they are at the top of the world.
Baffour: Regarding the Americans, what has changed? I remember you telling
me in our first interview in 2002, that the Americans were quite helpful in
the early days.
Mugabe: [cuts in] .Yes, the [Jimmy] Carter regime.
Baffour: So why are the Americans now funding regime change activities here
to get you out of power? For the first time, they publicly admitted in an
official State Department report released in Washington on 5 April 2007 that
they have been sponsoring regime change in Zimbabwe, by supporting the
opposition, NGOs, the trade unions, the private media, even religious
groups, who are working to discredit your government. So why has there been
Mugabe: This is what America has always been. Yes of course, they gave us
that assistance during Carter's administration, because they didn't want a
failure of our constitutional negotiations which were taking place in
Lancaster House in London in 1979. But as soon as Carter was out and Ronald
Reagan had come in, the funds were stopped, because they said we were
communists. They accused me of being a communist. But they never, never
really approved of a solid African government, a government that stands on
its own. They were behind Nkrumah's fall, and they have been behind the fall
of other governments - in Latin America, everywhere. So we don't trust them.
They just don't want a strong government, a government that lives by the
truth and wants to help its own people, they don't want that.
Baffour: Is that why you told them to go hang when they criticized you for
the police action against the MDC leaders?
Mugabe: Well, if they don't accept the truth, they should go hang, they can
Baffour: Knowing the enemy is half the battle won, they say. You know that
they are sponsoring the opposition, and there has been violence blamed on
the opposition of late. So what is your government doing to control the
opposition violence? I find that on Saturday 14 April, they are calling
another camouflaged "prayer meeting" in Bulawayo, which their own
advertisement calls a "rally". What is the government going to do?
Mugabe: Well, if it is the prayer meeting by a church within the precincts
of a church and they actually pray, we have nothing against it. But if it is
going to be a camouflage of a political meeting, the police are there to
stop it. We will not brook that; definitely we will not brook any
Baffour: Are they not baiting you so that you have another 11 March
Mugabe: Who is baiting us? Of course if they breach the law, the police will
be there. The opposition can do another 11 March incident, certainly if they
do a repeat, and if they dare challenge the police, they will get more
Tsvangirais beaten up.
Baffour: And the international community will criticize you again.
Mugabe: Yes, yes. The same old thing, we will go round and round again. But
as long as we feel we are right, fine. They say might is right, we say right
Baffour: I have always wondered why African countries allow Western
ambassadors the latitude to behave the way they have done in Zimbabwe
recently, when their countries do not allow our ambassadors to dabble in
their internal affairs. Why are we allowing them to behave the way they do
in Africa, especially their recent behaviour here? Why?
Mugabe: Well, we don't allow them but they assume that because they
represent big countries, therefore they have the right to dictate anything
to us, even the right to play the hypocritical game with us. If you look at
the stance they adopted, they were there with Tsvangirai and those they
regarded as victims on Tsvangirai's side, but they were never there with
victims on our side, and that is the people who had been petrol-bombed or
beaten up by MDC thugs who were in hospital. They never visited them.
They took food to Tsvangirai and the others in hospital, the ambassadors
carried the food themselves to Tsvangirai and his people, but they wouldn't
do the same to those injured on our side. So there you are, we don't trust
them. They are just a bunch of hypocrites. It is as if they come from a very
dark continent where hedonism is still the order of the day. They like to
talk of Christianity as having been established in Europe, but they don't
practice it any more.
Baffour: Are there any concrete sanctions that your government could take
against such diplomatic misbehaviour, because I think the Geneva Conventions
do not allow such behaviour by diplomats in the domestic affairs of
countries to which they are accredited.
Mugabe: Well, yes. We have read them the riot act, and if they continue to
do that, we will certainly kick them out of the country. It doesn't matter
who it is. If America wants a man like Christopher Dell [their ambassador]
to remain here, then he's got to behave because we will not brook further
nonsense from him.
Baffour: Everywhere else, when a country is under siege by foreign powers,
as Zimbabwe now is, the opposition closes ranks with the government and
fight the siege together. In Zimbabwe, it is the other way round. Have you
tried to get your opposition to sit down and think this through?
Mugabe: The opposition is an extension of imperialism, they are agents of
imperialism; they are not home-grown opposition people, they were put
together as an opposition package by the British, the three parties in
Britain - the Labour Party, Conservative Party and the Liberal-Democrats -
established the Westminster Foundation Fund, and it was on the strength of
that fund that the MDC was formed. They chose the leaders, and they had to
come from the labour movement. Tsvangirai became the president of the new
movement, and they took Welshman Ncube from the university to become
secretary-general. But now they have split into two, and we think they can
even split into four, and like the amoeba go on multiplying until they come
Baffour: Do you think they are incorrigible because they are agents of
Mugabe: I think the Tsvangirai's side is the one which is just incorrigible,
completely incorrigible. They don't know what politics means really. That in
politics, it is not just the negative and the negative and the negative that
you go by, there must be positive acts, and but no, as far as they are
concerned, would not deal with the government, they would not recognize
President Mugabe and so on. Why have they adopted this negative attitude?
Because that's what their masters tell them to do. That is precisely what
Blair does. He would not talk to me; he would run away from me as if I am a
Baffour: He would not shake your hand.
Mugabe: [Laughs]. He won't shake my hand.
Baffour: But Jack Straw, when he was foreign secretary, once shook your
Mugabe: Well, he shook my hand by mistake and he regretted it. I don't know
how many times he had to wash his hands after that. [Laughs].
Baffour: Coming back to the opposition, the SADC says dialogue is the best
way out. Are both sides ready to give dialogue a serious chance this time
Mugabe: Dialogue with people who wouldn't dialogue? We have been open to
dialogue, in fact, with my permission, the government has been in dialogue
with those in the MDC who, before the split, wanted to have dialogue with
the government, Welshman Ncube and others, and they have been talking about
the way forward, and what they regard on their side as areas of constitution
that need amending. In 2000, we put forward a draft constitution which they
rejected, and now they want that document reinstated, to become the
constitution of the country. And we are saying "no, you rejected it, we put
it to the people and the vote was lost by 1,000. And that's it." Yes,
constitutional amendments can be proposed certainly, because we too would
like to see certain amendments; we want to enhance the composition of our
parliament, we want also to harmonise the holding of presidential and
parliamentary elections, and in the process reduce the presidential term
from six years to five years. And we have agreed that elections must be held
next year, because the current presidential term ends next year. So we will
combine the presidential and parliamentary elections which we used to hold
Baffour: There are reports saying that the MDC is not quite ready for the
elections next year.
Mugabe: Ready or not ready, we will have elections next year. Mind you, it
is the prerogative of the president to call elections any time. But in this
particular case, a presidential election is constitutionally due in March or
soon after March, because the current presidential term ends in March. So we
must go to elections then. If they are not quite ready, well, hard luck.
They must get ready. In politics you must stay ready.
Baffour: What if they come and say, "we are not ready, can we please have
the elections some time after next year?"
Mugabe: So you are not ready and you think in politics we wait for you, to
enable you to take your time? It is when we judge that you are not ready,
and we can take advantage of your unprepared, that we perform best, isn't
it? These are tricks of electioneering and it's done all over. But anyway in
this particular case, they knew that the presidential election was due in
March next year - they have had six years to prepare, surely they must be
able to do something!
Baffour: Now they are talking about a new constitution - their major bone of
contention is a new constitution - and they say you cannot write a new
constitution and get it approved by the people between now and March next
Mugabe: But you can't just conceive a constitution, who are you? The
majority of the people support the ruling party, that's why we are ruling,
and the majority of the people have not demanded a new constitution.
However, the government is prepared to offer amendments if the opposition
want amendments to the constitution. We will discuss them in the context of
what we ourselves are proffering.
Baffour: So you are saying a fresh constitution is out of the question?
Mugabe: Out of the question, certainly! Our current constitution has
undergone various amendments and there is no way a fresh constitution can be
written between now and March. The opposition must have a mandate from the
people for that kind of thing to happen, and they haven't got it. They are a
minority party and they can't call the tune.
Baffour: Did it shock you when you heard Prof. Arthur Mutambara, the leader
of the other MDC faction, say at a press conference in Harare in reaction to
the SADC summit, that (his exact words were) "the transformation of the
police into a criminal, sadistic, brutal force is worse than anything we
ever saw under the [Ian] Smith regime"?
Mugabe: Of course that's rubbish, pure rubbish! The Smith regime killed,
imprisoned, and kidnapped people; they bombed and thousands died. We have
treated them with kid-gloves really. You cannot continue to tease the police
and lure them in the way they have done, and expect them not to take action
against you. They have been very patient, our police, to tell the truth.
They have been very, very patient with them. And so Mutambara's remarks are
quite ill-placed. Of course they are political remarks.
Baffour: Talking about kid-gloves, it is interesting that in Zimbabwe the
more you bring out the kid-gloves, the more international community paints
you as a despot, some have even called you a Hitler.
Mugabe: I was Hitler from even before independence in 1980 because of the
party I belong to. We were fighting the whites and it was not Smith the
Hitler, it was we who were fighting the Hitlerite system who were called
Baffour: Talking about the party you be long to, Zanu PF, in 2002, at our
very first interview, you said if the party found a successor, you would
retire and go and write your books. You have since won one presidential
election and have just been nominated for another one. Does it mean the
party has not yet found a successor? And for how long can you go on?
Mugabe: Well, for as long as I can go and for as long as the party wishes me
to go. That's the combination. And if the party says stand, it means the
party has not found a successor. We will find a successor in due course.
Baffour: We hear stories about divisions in Zanu PF, and about some within
the party having allied themselves with the British and so on. So, what
really is going on in the party?
Mugabe: The party is very united, and you heard voices outside the country,
especially in Britain, talking of a central committee that was going to be
the nemesis of this man, Mugabe. They were going to deal with him. But they
did not deal with me, they dealt with the British.
Baffour: So the stories about the divisions in the party are not true?
Mugabe: Well, you get points of view which may be opposed, and that's what
you get in any political grouping, it happens everywhere. It's a healthy
point of view. But there are no divisions in Zanu PF of the nature that
really worries the party. You may get an individual who deviates here and
there in terms of his outlook because he has become more materialistic. Yes,
you get all that, but these things happen everywhere. But the main body of
the party is very solid.
Baffour: So all these stories about coups and people planning coups are just
Mugabe: Oh come on, we are talking of a country with an army that has
established its name, and not only have we fought against the Rhodesians
here, we have gone to secure the Mozambican issue you remember, we've also
been to various other places, to DRCongo and so on, and two of our
commanders were chosen by the UN to command its forces in Angola. It is a
solid and well trained army, they are very professional. Talking of a coup
is just trying to suggest that they should think of a coup but they will
dismiss it as nonsense and completely unbecoming.
Baffour: The opposition newspapers have been reporting that your "exit plan
strategy" is to increase the seats in parliament, so that after you are
re-elected next year, you will then resign after a few months or so, or at
least within a year, and then use the expanded parliament (which will act as
an electoral college under the new constitutional proposals), to appoint a
successor of your choice. Is that really the game plan?
Mugabe: [Laughs]. No, that's how people make judgments on certain proposals
we've put forward. But we are not looking at things that way. A successor
will come but not as a product of an enhanced parliament. We want to
increase the membership of parliament because we feel that it is long
overdue and some of our constituencies are far too large, especially the
rural ones, they cannot be covered by one person that easily. This is all it
And of course we also feel that time has now come, we are 27 years old as an
independent country, and we have had 150 members in the lower house of
parliament for quite a long period, and since we are looking at putting up a
new parliament house, it should be designed not with 150 in mind but 210.
That's how we are looking at the future.
Baffour: The Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral letter on Easter Sunday
criticizing your government. You are a Catholic yourself, were you in
Mugabe: Well, I was away then. I arrived on Easter Sunday morning.
Baffour: So you didn't hear the criticism leveled against you and your
Mugabe: No, no, not in church. If I had gone to church and the priest had
read that so-called pastoral letter, I would have stood up and said
nonsense. It is not something spiritual, it is not religious, the bishops
have decided to turn political. And once they turn political, we regard them
as no longer being spiritual, and our relations with them would be conducted
as if we are dealing with political entities, and this is quite a dangerous
path they have chosen for themselves.
I am going to talk to some of them. As for Pius Ncube [the archbishop of
Bulawayo], he has long been a lost bishop, he thinks he is close to God,
that's why he says he is praying for me to die. But unfortunately God has
not listened to him for all this duration. I don't know how many times a day
he is saying that prayer: "Please God, take that man Robert Mugabe away from
I have said it once at a Catholic gathering that being a bishop does not
place one next to God, nor does it make one a chosen person for sainthood.
No. A bishop can go to hell while an ordinary person goes to heaven
depending on the character of the person. Well, I don't want to say much
about the bishops now, I will say much when I meet them.
But for our bishops, this is a sad, sad story. The whole of this pastoral
letter is political nonsense. If you read it, there is no reference at all
to what has actually led to our current situation. Yes granted, they refer
to the hardships that our people are going through. Yes, there are
hardships, but tell me even with these hardships we have maintained a solid
educational system, a solid health system, yes there are shortages of drugs,
but we've tried to maintain our population together.
The droughts are not caused by bad governance, it's the mercies of the Good
Lord that we would be lacking in those days of drought. And when we have
droughts, we have never allowed our people to die, never!
We have said the church and state must work hand in hand, but if this is
going to be the partner that the Catholics want us to have, then obviously
they must know that we will reciprocate as politicians.
Baffour: Talking about the droughts reminds me of the economic sanctions
imposed by the West on your country. For a long time, your government played
down the effects of the sanctions. Now the cat is out of the bag. So tell
me, what is the real impact of sanctions on Zimbabwe? There are people out
there who don't believe that there are any sanctions imposed on your
Mugabe: The sanctions have had tremendous impact on us. Mind you when we
took over in 1980, our economy was aligned to the West. And most of the
fertile lands was in the hands of the Europeans as well as the manufacturing
and mining sectors.
We differ with Blair and Blair decides to fight us using political,
diplomatic and economic instruments. He doesn't talk about the difference
between us as being the land issue and the compensation from Britain that
they have dishonoured.
No, he refers to good governance, human rights, rule of law. He then
persuades the members of the European Union to think in the same way. And
they agree, after being persuaded by Britain to do so, to impose sanctions
on Zimbabwe, and they say these are "personal sanctions" targeted at the
This is rubbish. But in the meantime what do they do? They influence other
countries to cut their economic ties with us. In other words, the soft
loans, grants and investments that were coming our way, start decreasing and
in some cases actually petering out.
Then they interfere even with our friends in the East and try to persuade
them to reduce their relations with us. In some cases, they do stupid things
like intercepting ships carrying fuel destined for Zimbabwe. They say "we
will pay you 50% more if you divert this fuel from Zimbabwe and sell it to
us". That has happened, they've done so. They have also approached India,
China and other countries.
Baffour: [cuts in]. These are the British?
Mugabe: The British, they are doing it quietly.
Baffour: And they are the same people who are saying you are a bad manager
of the economy?
Mugabe: Yes, yes! They have done that quietly and they are still doing it.
Apart from that they have imposed a ban on spare parts for us. There are no
spare parts, they say, for our weapons, planes and other machinery that we
had bought from them in the past. And these are spare parts we need for our
industries, factories and mines.
The Americans are even more blatant about the economic sanctions. They
imposed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act which passed into
law in December 2001, which effectively imposed stringent economic sanctions
They then went on to interfere with the international financial
institutions; so that even though we have paid our debts to the IMF, they
still say the IMF should not give us the balance of payment support that we
deserve. And even though we are members of the World Bank, and we have
complied with their rules, they have also imposed sanctions against us.
Then the signals to the rest of the world that Zimbabwe is under sanctions,
that rings bells and countries that would want to invest in Zimbabwe are
being very cautious. They say "ah, we can't go to this country". And we are
being dragged through the mud every day on CNN, BBC, Sky News, and they are
saying to these potential investors, "your investment will not be safe in
Zimbabwe, the British farmers have lost their land, and your investment will
go the same way". Pure rubbish, but these messages ring bells in the minds
of even our friends. And so the sanctions have wreaked quite some havoc on
But when we noticed that this was the situation, we looked at our own
friends in developing world, and we adopted the Look East Policy - we said
"fine, let's deal with the East; we are now happy that we are getting some
investments from there". We have also looked at ourselves and said, "we are
fighting a war, let's use our own resources as judiciously as we can. We
have good agriculture; we may not have good rainy seasons all the time, but
when we have them, let's produce abundantly, and help our farmers". We have
been sustaining our farmers as best we can, especially the small farmer,
with seeds and other inputs. We will continue to do that, and also to our
manufacturing and mining sectors. Fortunately we have natural resources,
lots of minerals in the ground, and we are tapping these resources. Though
we would want to have huge volumes of foreign currency which would enable us
to get back to where we were, but as they drip in, we live from hand to
But the situation is much better. We have organized ourselves, we talk to
various groups in industry, and even to the workers and are trying to get a
social contract in place. We are happy that the majority of the workers do
listen, and do want a social contract. The employers are also willing. So we
are moving forward in this united way. We are working on an economic
turnaround programme, and I think it is working.
Baffour: I was going to ask you about the way forward, but you have covered
the ground with that answer. So let me ask you my last question. What
message do you have for the constituency outside Zimbabwe - the African
diasporic communities around the world who may have become disillusioned
after seeing the TV footage of Morgan Tsvangirai & Co beaten up by the
Mugabe: The message is that when they are affected by events of that nature,
they should always talk to us, and even visit us. If they don't have means,
we will provide the means for them to come and study the situation,
understand it and get to know what really would have happened. If they had
come, I would have taken them to see the victims of Tsvangirai's thugs, what
they did to the police and innocent people who are now in hospital or just
been discharged from hospital. The house they destroyed, the petrol bombs
they have thrown, and the damage they have wreaked by these petrol bombs,
and what the police have since discovered - the arms, the training abroad,
and so on.
All these things are going to be revealed in court. If our friends in the
Diaspora came here, we would expose them to this knowledge, and they would
be able to judge things for themselves. Yes, here and there, they might say,
"oh, the police were guilty of excesses", but I think on the whole the
police acted correctly.
7th Jun 2007 11:28 GMT
By Selbin Kabote
It never rains, but pours for the people of Zimbabwe, as corruption,
political and economic decay continues with no end in sight.
"THEY may bless the rains down in Africa" goes the song by the band Toto.
This nostalgic song has over the years become a tourism continental anthem.
However, Zimbabwe's summer rains no longer bring any joy, but they bring
misery to the homeless people of Porta farm and other areas designated for
the homeless and destitute people in Zimbabwe. Rains which are normally a
symbol of life and hope are ironically now bringing a feeling of gloom and
doom to many Zimbabwean farmers who have no farming equipment and
In my opinion, the poor, as we know, will always be with us - also on a
macro level in terms of the world economy. Zimbabwe has been one of the
poorest countries in the world for a long time now. The country is
regressing, since it is playing no role in the world economy. The country is
also attracting attention on the world stage for some very negative reasons
such as excessive suffering and human rights abuses.
Zimbabwe is now inhibited by some of the poorest people in the world. The
country's former pride as Africa's bread basket has now gone down the
drains. Extreme poverty has turned many Zimbabweans at home into Stone Age
The situation is not very good either for the many Zimbabweans in the
Diaspora. London's Gatwick Airport, where the national airliner lands, has
now been Christened "Gatwick Maenzanise" which translated from the
Zimbabwean Shona language to English means "Gatwick the Equalizer".
The airport is so named because when many Zimbabweans initially arrive at
the airport in most cases, they have to forget about their social status or
profession back home and concentrate on the day to day survival issues in
the United Kingdom.
I know of many people who were Doctors, Engineers, Teachers or Journalists
in Zimbabwe, but on arriving in the UK, they had no choice but to forget
about their professions during the initial years of their life in the
Diaspora, so as to concentrate on their studies.
However, as with all other cases, there are always some exceptions with many
other people on this issue. There are some people who were contracted from
Africa to work in the Medical field, Engineering, Information Technology and
other specialist areas in the UK.
On the other hand, poverty has given birth to endemic corruption in
Zimbabwe. Stories of corruption and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe make
depressing reading and are an embarrassment to President Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa, John Agyekum Kufuor of Ghana and the Senegalese President,
Abdoulaye Wade, who are the architects of the New Partnership for Africa's
As a result of corruption, lack of democracy and the rule of the law in
Zimbabwe, this initiative which was once hailed as the new blue print for
Africa's economic development, is now slowly dying like the post war League
of Nations. NEPAD is now more of a pipe dream or a skeleton with no flesh.
The Zimbabwean political scientist, Dr John Makumbe once told me in an
interview that NEPAD can never succeed in Zimbabwe without regime change.
"It is unlikely that the Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe himself at the
helm of the nation would be willing to eat humble pie or turn over a new
leaf, or plead with the West to give him another chance to come to his aid
in terms of balance of payment support or development assistance", Dr
On the same issue, many international observers now claim that the lack of
assertive action towards Zimbabwe indicates that the African Union and its
economic counterpart, NEPAD, will be unable to amount to anything more than
rhetoric. I agree with the views of the international observers, mainly
because of the Status Quo in Zimbabwe, where despite the humanitarian crisis
and overwhelming pressure in favor of reforms, President Mugabe remains in
power and apparently continues to enjoy the support of influential regional
This issue of power was well highlighted by the Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka
in his latest Memoir - "You must Set Forth at Dawn". In this memoir the
Nigerian born Professor Soyinka notes that according to Yoruba wisdom, as
one approaches elder status, one ceases to indulge in battles. "Some hope!"
comments Wole Soyinka, early in the memoir, however in Zimbabwe, the
opposite is true, despite his advanced age, President Mugabe is not ceasing
to indulge in battles and is also not showing any signs of giving up his
hold on power just yet.
Professor Soyinka sees Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe as "the latest
King Baabu of the African continent" - an allusion to his 2002 play, which
was a satire about a fictional but recognizable tyrannical general called
Recent reports from Zimbabwe say the government is preparing to seize
majority shares in all of Zimbabwe's foreign-owned businesses and mines, in
a move that economists warn would be as damaging as the widespread land
seizures in the country.
Top of the list of companies expected to be targeted are London-listed
mining groups such as Rio Tinto and Anglo American, though recent remarks by
Zimbabwean ministers suggested banks such as Standard Chartered and Barclays
could also be hit.
One minister said "Imperialist companies" would be targeted as they had been
operating with what the president described as a "sinister, regime-change
agenda". The Zimbabwean government has already drafted an amendment to the
Mining Act, which requires all foreign-owned mines to have 51% of their
shares owned by "indigenous" Zimbabweans.
In a move which has all the hallmarks of corruption and nepotism, in both
proposed bills, it is widely understood that the new black Zimbabwean
shareholders would have to be closely tied to President Mugabe's ruling
party, ZANU PF.
Economists warn the actions would severely hurt Zimbabwe's already battered
economy, which is suffering 3, 700% inflation, the world's highest. Zimbabwe's
economy has shrunk by 50% since 1999, an unprecedented contraction in a
country not at war.
According to many business executives, the seizure of majority stakes in
businesses and mines would increase inefficiency, mismanagement and
corruption. Independent analysts say the new moves are simply the latest
example of President Mugabe's plundering of Zimbabwe's economy.
Many gallant fighters died during the armed struggle to liberate Zimbabwe,
yet the rains of poverty and deprivation continue to pour down upon the
majority of Zimbabweans.
At times, I tend to wonder as I question whether there is any truth or
wisdom behind Wilfred Owen's popular war poem "Dulce et Decorum Est pro
patria mori" which translated from Latin to English means "It is Sweet and
right to die for your country". I wonder if these words which were widely
understood and often quoted at the start of the First World War are true, or
whether it is just another old lie. If it is an old lie, then the fallen
heroes of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle must be turning in their graves.
Food for Thought.
The seven members arrested yesterday remain in custody
at Bulawayo Central. Lawyers have been denied access
to their clients this morning and police are refusing
to discuss possible charges or the possibility of
being taken to court. The 11am deadline for court
submissions has passed and therefore the group will
not be taken to court today.
Two of the members in custody were badly beaten during
their arrest and are in a lot of pain. As the lawyer
has been denied access to them, they have not received
any medical treatment. Food has also been denied this
lunchtime, although there were no problems taking in
food at breakfast or dinner last night.
At least 20 members have sought medical attention for
the beatings they received yesterday. Most injuries
involve soft-tissue bruising; no severe injuries have
been reported as yet. Many of these members have
testified that as they were being beaten, police were
telling them that police do not want to arrest WOZA
members any more as they are too troublesome. It is
their intention to 'just beat them'.
More details will be made available as they emerge.
07 June 2007
|Vesta Sithole's book is filled with invective against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe|
In her narrative, Sithole tells how her late husband, Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, created the Zimbabwe African National Union Party (ZANU) in 1963 in opposition to Smith’s administration, but later lost control of it to Robert Mugabe. Her book is largely characterized by rancor for Mugabe – a man she has known for decades since they met in exile in the 1960’s.
“I left my career as a nurse to fight the white supremacists. I was harassed and imprisoned by the Rhodesian forces and later by my own people,” Sithole reflects.
She penned her memoir in her home in Maryland, in the United States, where she now lives in exile – once again, having originally fled Rhodesia in the 1960’s for Tanzania, where she was part of the resistance against white supremacy in her homeland.
“In 1980, we thought that freedom had arrived for all Zimbabweans. But it was Mugabe who ended up persecuting myself and my husband, because he saw as a political threat,” Sithole says.
The Smith administration imprisoned her husband and Mugabe in 1964, and only released them a decade later.
“In my book, I want to tell the world about the thousands of people – including my husband – who fought for freedom for Zimbabwe, but never got any recognition for it. We sacrificed our lives for Zimbabwe – a Zimbabwe that to this day is not free from tyranny. I am not free to return to the Zimbabwe I love. I am regarded by Mugabe as an enemy of the state.”
The love Sithole still has for her husband, who died in 2000, shines through the book. ‘My Life….’ is therefore part political intrigue, part love story, and part lament for the Zimbabwe of today: A country in economic chaos, with the highest inflation rate in the world, mass poverty and the negation of political freedoms that Sithole says she, her husband – and even Mugabe himself – once fought so hard to secure.
“It’s a tragedy,” she says.
Sithole, despite finding herself in exile in America, is in a unique position to comment on Zimbabwe’s past.
In addition to the years she spent in exile helping to accelerate the eventual downfall of the Smith administration, she was present at all the major negotiations between the Rhodesian authorities, the British government and the liberation movements that led to Zimbabwe’s independence.
But her book also describes her impoverished childhood in a township in Rhodesia’s eastern highlands, and her political awakening as a young nurse in Bulawayo, when she began attending meetings held by activists.
After the Rhodesian government banned ZANU, Sithole jumped at the chance to join the movement in exile.
“I left the country in secret. No one knew where I had gone, not even my mother,” she recalls.
In the book, she writes about the “dangerous and uncertain” cross-border journey she was forced to undertake in order to contribute to freedom for her people. A ZANU agent accompanied her on a bus to a post at Rhodesia’s border with Zambia.
“I didn’t know what was going on. I was totally confused. We had no passports. We waited at a fishing village near the border. When night fell, I was taken to the Zambezi River…. Later in the night, we crossed, through little boats. I was scared to death. I couldn’t imagine traveling on that river. I had gone to school, I knew about the Zambezi River. I knew about all the crocodiles and the hippopotamus along that river. It was just frightening!” Sithole exclaims.
“God was with us, and we managed to cross, and as the years would go on I would realize that sometimes it is people you should be afraid of, not animals!” she quips.
Eventually she reached the Zambian capital of Lusaka, where other Zimbabweans were waiting to be transported to guerilla bases in Tanzania.
“We were all packed in like sardines in those trucks. Then we traveled through Zaire. It was such a long journey, the longest and strangest and most painful of my life…. We met different kinds of people. And we didn’t understand any language. For me it was just so strange. I was thinking: If the end comes for me here, no one will ever find my body,” says Sithole.
But the intrepid band of freedom fighters later reached Dar es Salaam.
The book, however, is dominated by reflections on her husband.
“Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole was a freedom fighter, through and through. He believed that people should be free in their homelands, and that no tribe should be made the elite ahead of another.”
Sithole says her husband always seemed a “very soft person” but that when it came to “issues of freedom, he was on the hard line. He is the one who started the armed struggle in our country. He decided to go to China in the early sixties to go and seek weapons of war, for the first time. And he brought those things and he trained young men and women to fight.”
But, according to Sithole, Reverend Ndabaningi always said that the armed struggle against the Smith government had been a “last resort. When it looked like Ian Smith wanted to negotiate, my husband was the first political leader to agree to talks. His philosophy was when two men fight, they must always shake hands afterwards.”
But Robert Mugabe, Sithole claims, was a very different character.
“I met Mugabe in Dar es Salaam for the first time…. The impression has been created that everyone loved Mugabe. But to tell you the truth, many people distrusted him, even back then. He wanted power, and at any cost. He was a ruthless man. He always promoted people from his Shona (ethnic) group ahead of those from the Ndebele group.”
Ironically, says Sithole, it was her husband’s desire to negotiate for peace and to avoid “full on” armed conflict that led to his eventual marginalization.
“(In the late 1970’s), Smith invited him, as ZANU president, to talks. Some people, like Mugabe, then said he was a sell-out when my husband talked with Smith,” she says.
But, as far as Sithole’s concerned, her husband completed “all the groundwork” that laid the foundation for an independent Zimbabwe, by “working with Smith and softening the white hardcore in Rhodesia.”
But, once all the hard work had been done, Mugabe, Sithole claims, “usurped this power from Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole and he became the leader of ZANU and after liberation (in 1980) he was the president. But he (Mugabe) didn’t give full recognition to all those people who fought for freedom. He didn’t praise them, he didn’t say anything (about them); it was just as if there he was; he is the one who did it (all). My late husband was the president of this (ZANU) party also, and when he died Mugabe decided that he was not a hero.”
In her book, Sithole slams Mugabe for excluding some Zimbabwean freedom fighters from the Heroes Acre burial ground in Harare.
“Anyone who has gone against Mugabe in any way, is not buried there. There’s no one who is a trade unionist who is laid there. I just felt it was just unfair for him to do that; I should write something and bring up his (Rev. Sithole’s) name plus names of others who have not been mentioned by Mugabe,” Sithole says.
“I want to show everyone, especially Zimbabweans, that Robert Mugabe was not the only fighter in this war.
All the time Zimbabwean history is skewed to make it as if Mugabe was the only man who fought for freedom from white domination, when this isn’t the case!” she maintains, emphatically.
In the 1980’s, says Sithole, Mugabe immediately began targeting his perceived political enemies. Thousands of Ndebeles were massacred in Matabeleland. She says Reverend Sithole was also “on top of Mugabe’s list” and he was “in and out” of prison.
In the 1990’s, the persecution against her husband escalated. Mugabe jailed him for “instigating treason” – a charge Sithole says was “completely false.”
“A lot of things just happened. The government had decided to take our farm, like the way they are taking the (white-owned) farms now. They started during that time by taking our own farm.”
The Sithole’s fled into exile in the US in 2000, when Reverend Sithole died, “forgotten and empty,” of heart failure.
“He had developed heart problems while in prison in Zimbabwe,” says Sithole.
She fears dying in America, like her husband, never having felt the ground of her homeland under her feet once again.
“I am an old woman now. I want to go back to Zimbabwe, to enjoy that beautiful country. I don’t want to die on foreign soil like my husband. I am praying for a leader who understands the people, and gives them the freedom they deserve. I pray for Zimbabwe to once again prosper. It’s a very rich country. If everybody who is outside in the diaspora goes back, it s going to flourish and bloom. But more than anything, what I want to see in my lifetime is dignity for all Zimbabweans.”
But right now, Sithole says, all she has are her memories, contained in a book that’s she’s “happy” to have written - but still finds insufficient.
“It’s not enough, it’s not enough,” she says. “I want to be a Zimbabwean again.”
June 07, 2007, 19:15
Negotiations between the ruling Zanu PF of Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean
president, and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change have become
imperative. This follows the deteriorating economic and political situation
in that country.
Aziz Pahad, the deputy minister of foreign affairs, says with the elections
scheduled for next year, Zimbabweans have to understand the urgency of
resolving their differences. Pahad was briefing the media on a number of
international issues, which included the situation in the DRC, Sudan and
On Zimbabwe, he said it was now a matter of urgency for Zimbabweans to bring
about peace in that country. According to the UN Food and Agriculture
Organisation and World Food Programme, more than a third of Zimbabweans are
in need of food aid.
The Southern African Development Community tasked President Thabo Mbeki to
facilitate discussions between the ruling party and the opposition. Mbeki is
expected to report back to them at the end of this month.
Meanwhile, Pahad said Joseph Kabila, the president of the DRC, will visit
South Africa next week. He will be accompanied by a high level delegation,
that includes the business community.
07 June 2007
By Munyaradzi Huni
WHEN the then Organisation of African Unity was formed in 1963 in Addis
Ababa, Ethiopia, it had very clear objectives. In its Charter, the OAU
sought to "work for unity and solidarity among African nations; encourage
Africans to plan and act together; defend the sovereignty, independence and
territorial integrity of African states; and get rid of all forms of
The late Ghanaian leader, Kwame Nkrumah, almost lost his voice teaching that
"Africa must unite". Last Friday, the OAU, now called the African Union,
turned 44 years. Judging from its posture at 44, it seems as if Africa
thinks that the fight against imperialism ended with the attainment of
political independence. The solidarity and the vigilance that the continent's
founding fathers used to fight colonialism has disappeared. At times, one is
tempted to think that Africa has given up.
The African Union seems to have been hijacked by the imperialists. The
current AU chairman, President John Kufuor, faces a formidable challenge to
steer the AU back to its founding principles. Clearly, some bodies
affiliated to the AU have been infiltrated. In February this year, I was in
Addis Ababa where I attended the AU Summit and after what I saw there, I
came back home to write a story with a stinging headline that said: "Don't
surrender AU to the dogs". My heart was bleeding as I left Addis Ababa.
It was difficult to understand why the Union had decided to lose both its
"teeth and direction" in Ethiopia, the country where it was formed. While
Sudan was burning, while Somalia was burning and while Zimbabwe is under
siege, the AU came up with decisions and declarations that appeared as if it
had forgotten the reasons why it was formed. Instead of taking firm
decisions to tackle problems in Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe, the Union just
noted "with satisfaction the recent positive development in Somalia", urged
the government of "Sudan and the SPLM (Sudan People's Liberation Army) to do
their utmost to ensure the scrupulous and speedy implementation of the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement".
On Zimbabwe, there was dead silence. If Nkrumah was still alive, would he
let Britain and the US orchestrate an economic war against the people of
Zimbabwe? If Patrice Lumumba was alive would he just keep quiet as the West
demonises President Mugabe? While all these worrying developments were
taking place, Africa chose to give the chairmanship of the AU to President
Kufuor and before the dust had settled, the Ghanaian leader seemed to have
been "pocketed by the imperialists". Maybe the editor of the New African
magazine, Baffour Ankomah, who is also a Ghanaian, can best describe what
has happened to President Kufuor.
Writing in the May 2007 issue of the New African magazine, Ankomah said: "To
the shame of all discerning Ghanaians, our country, the land of Nkrumah, the
torch-bearer of African liberation, our beloved Ghana, is fast becoming the
'weakest link' in the African liberation/solidarity chain."
Ankomah went on to tell the story of a Ghanaian he had met in Zimbabwe who
told him that there were some Americans who were claiming that "we have
President Kufuor" in their fight against Zimbabwe. He moaned: "We used to be
the ones that the rest of Africa looked up to. No, the Americans can't have
President Kufuor. He is ours. He belongs to Ghana and Africa. A son of the
I have met Ankomah on many occasions and I know he loves his motherland so
much. Something big would have really gone wrong for him to express such
concern. Has the chairman of the AU been turned into an "American boy?" Has
President Kufuor found the American wine too good to resist? Nkrumah must be
rolling angrily in his grave. Fortunately, the Ghanaian Foreign Minister, Mr
Nana Akufo-Addo, seems to have seen the light. Speaking to journalists after
his meeting with European Union officials in Belgium recently, Mr Akufo-Addo
said: "We can't have a situation where people pick and choose what Africans
they will deal with if they try to deal with Africa on a continental basis.
It is a summit and if it's a summit, Zimbabwe comes at the level of its
leader or somebody in a representative capacity."
This followed spirited attempts by the United States and the United Kingdom
to have Zimbabwe excluded from the summit that is set for December this
year. Unfortunately, there are not so many Akufo-Addos in Africa and the
imperialists are having a field day. Africa should know that the West will
not easily let go this continent because of its riches. Remember in 1968,
Portugal's Marcelo Caetano said: "Africa is for us a moral justification and
a raison d'etre as a power. Without it we would remain a small nation, with
it we are a great power." While in the past, the imperialists would sit
around the table and "partition Africa" this time those methods can't work
and so they will use covert means to maintain their grip on the continent.
One of the methods is to dangle the carrot in front of gullible Africans so
that they turn against their own people. The other method is to infiltrate
African institutions like the African Union so that they betray the causes
of the organisation. Recently, the Pan African Parliament, though it has no
legislative powers, showed that it had been hijacked by the imperialists
when it passed a resolution to send what it called a fact-finding mission to
Zimbabwe to investigate human rights abuse allegations against the country.
In passing this resolution, the parliament had relied on information
distributed to them by the MDC and the Crisis Coalition, groupings that are
known to be destabilisation projects formed by the imperialists.
Fortunately, sense later prevailed and reports from Midrand, South Africa,
indicate that some members of this parliament said Zimbabwe should be given
a chance to solve its problems without interference from many outsiders. But
the fact that the parliament had passed that resolution is enough testimony
that the institution has either been infiltrated or has willingly lost
direction. For why would the parliament send its mission to Zimbabwe when
Sadc has already made a commitment and initiated a process to assist
Zimbabwe to solve its problems? The parliamentarians turned a blind eye to
the fact that the fight against Zimbabwe by the US and the UK is a fight
against the whole continent.
But speaking in Tanzania, South African President Thabo Mbeki said: "The
fight against Zimbabwe is a fight against us all. Today it is Zimbabwe,
tomorrow it will be South Africa, it will be Mozambique, it will be Angola,
it will be any other African country. "And any government that is perceived
to be strong, and to be resistant to imperialists, would be made a target
and would be undermined. So let us not allow any point of weakness in the
solidarity of Sadc, because that weakness will also be transferred to the
rest of Africa." President Mugabe summed it up well: "The success of
Zimbabwe is Africa's success. So our stand, as a fight, should be seen as an
If only the rest of the leadership in Africa could speak out and act so
firmly against the imperialists. Without sounding like an alarmist, I think
Africa is in big trouble. While in the rest of the world there is a new
breed of leaders who can speak out and defy American orders, in Africa there
is a new breed of leaders who are selling out the continent. In Iran,
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is giving America all sorts of problems
because he will not sell out his country. In Venezuela, President Hugo
Chavez is doing the same. In Africa the new breed of leaders are so afraid
of the US and the UK such that the closest they will get to attacking Mr
George Bush and Mr Tony Blair is to clap hands when the two leaders are
being attacked by President Mugabe. Africa should arise and shine! The
battle has not been lost.
Munyaradzi Huni works as the Political Editor for the state owned Sunday
Nehanda Radio: Zimbabwe's first 24 hour internet radio news channel.
By Obert C. Gutu
Last updated: 06/08/2007 00:21:38
THE Zimbabwean economy is on the verge of total collapse. This economic
malaise has been a direct result of poor governance coupled with massive and
unmitigated corruption in both the public and private sectors particularly
from the late 1990s onwards.
There is a certain school of thought that passionately argues that
Zimbabwe's economic decay is a direct result of the so-called "illegal"
sanctions imposed against the country by the West. This is a simplistic and
escapist explanation for Zimbabwe's virtual economic collapse. It is indeed
a myopic and self- saving type of reasoning, typical of people who are in
denial and who continue to stubbornly bury their heads in the sand in the
vain hope that Zimbabwe's virtual economic collapse will simply be resolved
by the lifting of the so-called "illegal" targeted sanctions.
The economic and socio-political decay in our country is chiefly
attributable to rampant corruption, political repression and poor macro as
well as micro economic governance.
In order to effectively fight the scourge of corruption, Zimbabwe needs a
truly independent, powerful and effective anti-corruption commission. The
anti-corruption commission should therefore not be a mere extension of the
Executive but should act as the rallying point for the fight against
corruption in our country.
Corruption is simply defined as the abuse of an entrusted position for
private gain. Corruption in Zimbabwe is definitely not a monopoly of the
government and the ruling party only. Indeed, there is massive and rampant
corruption in the private sector, civil society organisations,
non-governmental organisations and even in opposition political parties.
Thus, for the fight against corruption to be effective and successful, the
cancer of corruption should be tackled head-on and there should be no sacred
The anti corruption commission in Zimbabwe was introduced through
Constitutional Amendment Act No. 16, promulgated in the year 2000. This
Constitutional Amendment introduced Section 108A to the Constitution of
Zimbabwe. In a nutshell, Section 108A of the Constitution of Zimbabwe
provides that the President shall appoint members of the anti-corruption
The anti-corruption commission shall consist of at least four and not more
than nine members appointed by the President. Personally, I am very
uncomfortable with the sweeping powers given to the President in his role of
appointing members of the anti-corruption commission. The practice in
Zimbabwe is that only persons with either a direct and/or indirect link to
the ruling party will end up being appointed to the anti-corruption
commission and to the boards of parastatals and various other
Inevitably therefore, the anti-corruption commission will be perceived as a
partisan institution which clearly lacks the willpower and/or the moral
authority to effectively monitor and combat corruption; especially
corruption in high government and political circles. Little wonder therefore
that although the anti-corruption commission in Zimbabwe has been in
existence for more than two years, its activities are not visible to the
average person and there is very little, if any, major corruption scandals
that have been publicly unearthed and thereafter prosecuted at the behest of
the anti-corruption commission.
Section 108A of the Constitution of Zimbabwe states that the main function
of the anti-corruption commission shall be to combat corruption, theft,
misappropriation, abuse of power and other improprieties in the conduct of
affairs in both the public and private sectors. As I have already indicated,
and with due respect to our anti-corruption commission; it has come out as a
toothless bulldog that has done very little, if anything at all, to combat
corruption in our country.
Corruption is fashionable in today's Zimbabwe. Corruption cuts across the
fabric of society; through the racial, ethnic, religious and even political
divide. Corruption in Zimbabwe has become a monster; a deadly and cancerous
virus threatening to wipe off Zimbabwe from the face of the earth. Unless
something is done to combat corruption in our motherland, every Tom and Dick
in Zimbabwe will be reduced to a corrupt deal maker. Instead of celebrating
success brought about by sheer honest hard work; in Zimbabwe we now have a
country of fly-by-night billionaires who rack in millions every hour without
contributing anything at all to the country's economic sustenance!
Instead of blaming the West, and crying foul about the so-called "illegal"
sanctions, we should take a hard introspective look at ourselves and ask why
seven years after the so-called land reform programme was embarked upon, we
still find ourselves in the humiliating position where we have to import
maize from Malawi and Zambia, of all countries! Isn't this a national
disgrace of unprecedented dimensions?
My argument is that for the anti-corruption commission to be effective its
independence must be guaranteed. This is in tune with international
Even the SADC Protocol on Corruption, signed by Zimbabwe in August 2001,
refers to the setting up of institutions that will fight corruption. It is
universally agreed that an anti-corruption commission should be independent
in order for it to be effective.
To this extent therefore; I have always wondered why in Zimbabwe we have a
government ministry responsible for anti-monopolies and anti-corruption.
What Zimbabwe needs is a truly independent and effective anti-corruption
commission and not a government ministry responsible for fighting
corruption. Surely, you cannot expect a wolf to hunt down fellow wolves. The
public should be involved in the selection of members of the anti-corruption
commission. Nominations should be invited, through Parliament, from the
public stating clear criteria of the qualities required for appointment to
such a commission. Parliament will then peruse and choose a short list of
nominees and this short list will then be taken to the President for
In my humble opinion, appointment to the anti-corruption commission should
be people-driven and people-centred. It should never be by way of being the
President's blue-eyed boy, or being a member of the ruling party. Persons
nominated for appointment to the anti-corruption commission should have
personal integrity and they must also come from organisations that respect,
uphold and enforce accountability and transparency.
Corruption undermines good governance, it distorts public policy and leads
to the misallocation of resources leading to low or slow development and
ultimately hurting those who can least afford it: the poor, marginalised and
In order for it to be effective and independent, our anti-corruption
commission should be given adequate financial resources by the national
fiscus. The anti-corruption commission, besides having the powers of
investigation, should also be given the powers of prosecution. It should not
rely on the Attorney-General because the Attorney-General is part of the
We have all heard about the South East Asian economic resurgence. This is
mainly so because countries in South-East Asia such as Singapore, Hong-Kong,
and Malaysia have managed to demonstrate that strong political will and the
building of correct institutions are essential tools in rooting out
It is not impossible to reduce and even eradicate corruption in both the
public and private sectors in Zimbabwe. Let us save our motherland. Our
country is facing the challenge of specific and pronounced institutional
failure cutting across the whole fabric of our society. Agricultural
production has seriously declined in recent years; the manufacturing sector
is tottering on the verge of collapse; the public health sector is in the
intensive care unit and the education sector has not been spared from this
We should not let our country go to the dogs just like that. The fight
against corruption must be vigorous and multi-faceted. As long as the real
big players in the corruption underworld remain scot-free and untouchable,
the so-called anti-corruption crusade by the government will always remain a
façade; a political smokescreen to hoodwink people into believing that the
government is determined to fight corruption. Of course, of late, small fish
has been fried ruthlessly whilst the real big fish and the Mafioso of
Zimbabwe's corruption underworld remain untouched.
Corruption will drive this country to oblivion unless and until the
government becomes serious in fighting and combating this scourge.
Obert Chaurura Gutu is a Zimbabwean lawyer writing from Harare and he can be
contacted on: email@example.com
Steve Vickers, BBC Focus on Africa
April - June 2007
"You wanna chain me, you wanna contain me
You wanna chop off my head and de-brain me
You want me to develop this "yes Comrade" mentality
All in the name of your supposed unity
Well, listen shamwari, my mind decides to be free
So though you control the police, the army, the TV and most society
You can't control the hearts of humanity
You can't control the desire for equality
Cos you can beat our bodies but our minds will be free
I said you can beat our bodies but our minds will be free
I said you can beat our bodies but our minds will be free"
During a performance at the monthly House of Hunger Poetry Slam in Zimbabwe's
capital, Harare, leading poet Samm Farai Munro, under the stage name Comrade
Fatso, takes a swipe at the elite aligned to the ruling Zanu-PF party in his
"I think it captures the gritty hope that there has to be for those who are
hustling and struggling to get by, "says Comrade Fatso, one of the founders
of the slam. "It's an advisory voice from the streets saying that as the
youth, with 80 per cent unemployment, we will win in the end because we're
in the majority and they are in the minority."
Cutting-edge protest poetry is on the rise in Zimbabwe, despite the
repressive climate. The slam has been running for almost two years at the
Book Café, a hotbed of the arts in Zimbabwe. In a country that has been
increasingly polarized along racial lines, it attracts a multi-racial crowd.
It is clear that the poets have come here to be heard. With stage names like
Police State, Outspoken and Skeletan, some deliver their works with a hip
hop influence, while others stick to their traditional Shona and Ndebele
Victor Mavedzenge, a well-known poet who helped to get the slam off the
ground, says, "My instinctive feeling that there were many brilliant poets
out there is confirmed by the momentum that the poetry slam is gathering two
years after its inception." The event is usually oversubscribed, as budding
poets try to make their mark. About 15 of them take turns to recite their
verse. When Kruus takes the microphone, he laments the ever-increasing
levels of poverty:
"A suitable name for him would be Misery
Suffering to him is like water from the
[Victoria] Falls, always falling constant,"
How long can this persist?"
The slam takes its name from Dambudzo Marechera's classic book The House of
Hunger. Marechera wrote about his painful experience growing up in poverty
in colonial Rhodesia under Ian Smith. But the founders of the poverty slam
have given the title a new resonance, alluding to the whole nation as a
house of hunger, with all but a privileged few feeling the effects of the
country's economic crisis.
With an ironic sense of humour, the event goes out of its way to be
democratic, mindful of the Zanu-PF government's iron grip on power. Judges
are chosen from the crowd, and when they hold up their marks for each
contestant, the audience has a right to veto their decisions by booing and
shouting. "We can amend the constitution and amend your marks," jokes one
spectator. Another warns one of the competition's judges, "We've got a
tradition of dealing with the judiciary in this country, we'll find where
you live and deal with you."
Some poets prefer not to live too close to the edge, coming up with more
general poems. But Comrade Fatso believes that there is no reason for
artists to be timid. "Obviously the regime can't control every single thing
that happens," he says. The slam is a space for rebellious free creation. It
provides a platform where the youth can be openly political and rebellious
without being necessarily connected to any political party."
But some poets, like Kadija Mutekateka, prefer to deal with love:
"I'm hot when I think of kisses sweet
Warm sensual hands stroking me
I burn when I remember the . . . heat
Put two stones together, rub them,
and the flint will cause a flame
It's like that when our bodies meet in . . . heat
I take off my top
It's freezing cold, but I can't stand the . . . heat
Open the windows, give me some air
I can't breathe
The incense is too much,
We have an inferno here."
Kadija has been performing here for a year. "It's been male-dominated, but
there are a lot of female poets coming up now," she says.
Although it is more about taking part than winning, there is a tremendous
response from the crowd when the judges decided that the winner is Shona
poet Mutumwapavi. His title-clinching poem is Kaupenyu Aka (This Life) - a
farcical tragedy illustrating the problem that people face getting health
care. In it, he is taken to hospital after being hit by a car. As he waits
for treatment he overhears a group of nurses talking about how many days are
left before they leave the country to take up jobs elsewhere, while a
government minister is airlifted from the hospital to another country
because there is no medication.
"I want to share the goings-on in this nation with other people who don't
have first-hand information," says Mutumwapavi.
The slam grew out of a dynamic performance poetry venue at the annual Harare
International Festival of the Arts. French artist Pilot le Hot encouraged
local poets to begin a regular event where talent could be developed.
Performance is particularly important in Zimbabwe, as the book industry
struggles with galloping inflation. The chances of a young artist being
published are slim so live events offer the only platform to be heard.
The slam also offers the hope of gaining the international exposure that has
been achieved by some of the country's most prominent poets, like Chirikure
"The fact that it started from an international perspective gives the young
poets a vision that their voice can be heard across the globe," says
Chirikure. "No matter how the nation is deteriorating, there's still a
future for the youth. They grew up in a relatively stable economy, and feel
they have the right to be heard, to call the nation to make a way forward."
Steve Vickers is a BBC African Service correspondent based in Harare
Friday 08 June 2007
By Hendricks Chizhanje and Thabani Mlilo
HARARE - A Zimbabwe magistrate on Thursday ruled that twelve of the thirty
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists who were
languishing in remand prison on charges of masterminding bomb attacks on
state institutions be set free.
Charles Kwaramba, the lawyer representing the MDC activists told this
reporter that Harare magistrate Gloria Takundwa ordered the release of the
twelve after refusing request by the state they remain in prison on remand
"Their continued remand has been refused," said Kwaramba.
However, Kwaramba said out of the twelve only seven including former news
editor of the banned Daily News newspaper, Luke Tamborinyoka, was to be
released on Thursday as the others still faced allegations and other charges
of undergoing training in South Africa which the court had not dealt with.
Police arrested the 30 activists including Glenview Member of Parliament
Paul Madzore in March and accused them of petrol bombing police stations and
offices President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party.
The MDC denies it or its members were behind the bombing of police stations
and says the bomb attacks were orchestrated by state agents in a bid to
justify a crackdown on the resurgent party that has seen scores of its
activists and leaders arrested and jailed over the past three months.
The MDC, which is pushing for constitutional reforms to ensure free and fair
elections next year, poses the most dangerous threat to Mugabe and ZANU PF
party's decades old grip on power. -- ZimOnline.
Friday 08 June 2007
By Justin Muponda
HARARE - Zimbabwe is one of two countries in Africa that experienced
severe poaching between 2003 and 2005, environmental groups said, as the
southern African country battles to protect its wildlife after the invasion
of commercial farms and national parks in 2000 exposed its animals to
Wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC and the World Wide Fund for
Nature said research had shown that poaching in Zimbabwe and the war-ravaged
Democratic Republic of Congo had increased, giving rise in the volume of
rhino horn entering illegal trade from Africa.
In Zimbabwe, poaching accounted for two-thirds of all rhino
mortalities between 2003 and 2005, affecting one in eight animals and some
key populations are in decline.
Both DRC and Zimbabwe have the poorest record for seizing rhino horns
in the illegal trade, with just 13 percent and 8 percent of lost horns
recovered in DRC and Zimbabwe, respectively, between 2000 and 2005.
Conservation groups say the invasion of commercial farms, which also
saw thousands of people settling in state and private game reserves had
exposed the country's endangered species such as rhino and elephants to
poaching by both locals and cross border poachers.
Rhino horns are shipped to illegal markets, mainly in Asia and the
Middle East, where they are used as traditional medicines and to make
traditional dagger handles. East and Southeast Asia and Yemen are important
destinations, and trade appears to be on the increase since 2000.
"The situation in DRC and Zimbabwe is a particular concern," said
Steven Broad, executive director of TRAFFIC. "It tallies with an increase in
the organisation of criminal horn trading networks operating in Africa."
Zimbabwe has started dehorning its entire rhino population as part of
efforts to deter poachers.
Save the Rhino International says the number of the country's rhino
was around 2 000 in 1980 but that rampant poaching during the early years of
independence resulted in the population falling to 370 before rising again
to around 789 now.
The Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has called for better cross-border
collaboration between countries along smuggling routes. Zimbabwe is one of
the countries along the smuggling routes.
"While the overall increase in African rhino populations is
encouraging, better law enforcement and protection measures against poaching
are still needed especially in the DRC and Zimbabwe," said Dr. Sybille
Klenzendorf, director of WWF's Species Program.
Zimbabwe has several large state and private wildlife sanctuaries, but
conservation activists say rhino, elephants and other species are at risk
from trophy hunters and rampant poaching by those who struggling with
poverty. -- ZimOnline
By Jonga Kandemiiri
07 June 2007
Zimbabwe Thursday refused to appear before the standards committee of the
International Labor Organization in Geneva to respond to charges it violated
human rights. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions had successfully sought
to have Harare listed by the committee to put the issue on a conference
Representatives of the Zimbabwean government were scheduled to appear before
the committee on Wednesday but an official delegation led by Labor Minister
Nicholas Goche asked that the appearance be postponed until Thursday.
But on Thursday afternoon as the committee was preparing for the hearing,
the government delegation presented a letter saying it was declining to
appear before the committee on grounds that it did not believe it would
receive a fair hearing.
Reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reached ZCTU
Secretary General Wellington Chibebe who said from Geneva that the decision
might have been made by the Zimbabwean cabinet so evidence would not be
aired in public.
Neither Labor Minister Nicholas Goche nor a spokesman could be reached.
By Blessing Zulu
07 June 2007
One of the two factions of Zimbabwe's splintered opposition Movement for
Democratic Change on Thursday dismissed reports that talks to form a loose
coalition and in time try to reunify the party have collapsed, citing
increasingly close cooperation.
Secretary General Tendai Biti of the MDC faction led by founding president
Morgan Tsvangirai said the two factions have agreed to field a single
candidate in next year's presidential ballot and to present a unified front
to the international community.
The two MDC factions have also closed ranks in the crisis mediation process
being led by South African president Thabo Mbeki at the behest of the
Southern African Development Community, presenting a common position.
But the MDC is under pressure locally and internationally to reunite so as
to maximize its chances of unseating President Robert Mugabe in March 2008.
Biti acknowledged that the two factions have yet to resolve the issue of how
to decide which formation will field candidates in the constituencies to be
contested. Parliament now has 120 elected seats with 30 filled by the
president, but the ruling party has announced its intention to add 60 more
for a total of 210 seats.
Spokesman Gabriel Chaibva of the MDC faction headed by Arthur Mutambara
declined to comment on the status of reunification talks, saying he would
comment only if the rival factions were to achieve a consensus.
Biti told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that talks
are aimed at forging a united front against the factions' common opponent,
Political analyst Glen Mupani of Cape Town University told VOA that there is
a risk that self-interest might get in the way of efforts to restore the
The MDC split in October 2005 over the issue of whether to contest elections
for the restored senate that November, but also due to escalating internal
tensions which saw Tsvangirai break with aides led by then-secretary general
Human rights lawyers have declared that the displacement of people's during
Zimbabwe's 2005 urban clean-up campaign was a crime against humanity akin to
the Asian tsunami.
UN officials estimate 700 000 people lost homes or livelihoods, and 2.4m
suffered related losses in 2005's Operation Murambatsvina, the government's
so-called urban clean-up operation in which homes, shacks and market stalls
"What happened in Zimbabwe was akin in magnitude to the Asian tsunami,"
Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehma said in The Hague.
Malcolm Langford, of the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and
Evictions, said the evictions fitted the ICC's criteria for a crime against
humanity known as forced displacement.
"We believe it is now time for the Security Council to take up this issue
and we are calling on all 15 members ...to put it on the agenda and
officially debate it," Langford said.
The Hague-based ICC cannot independently launch an investigation in Zimbabwe
because the government of Robert Mugabe has not ratified the Rome Convention
that created the court. But it could act if the Security Council were to
refer the case to the court.
Published: 06 June 2007
Steven Price in London
June 7, 2007
Sources close to Zimbabwe Cricket have told Cricinfo that senior board
officials were "taken aback" by the recommendation made by the ICC's cricket
committee that they should continue to be left out of Test cricket and would
be better off playing in the ICC Intercontinental Cup.
Until the cricket committee' s statement, it had been assumed that the
decision when Zimbabwe would resume Tests was entirely down to their own
board. "Before the announcement, ZC had curled into a comfort zone," the
source said. "The initially-penciled return to Tests in November was being
used by the board as a shield against criticism it was running down the
game. Now that an automatic return has been questioned, ZC has been left
"If the team goes on to play in the Intercontinental Cup and four-dayers
against strong A sides, as recommended, it might still be found wanting
thereby pushing a Test return further away."
Although publicly the board has stayed silent, privately officials are
stunned. Lovemore Banda, the media manager, spoke in vague terms to the
Sunday Standard. "When we deliberately withdrew from Test commitments after
assessing our talented but inexperienced national and A sides, we said we
would resume our full participation after playing about 12 three or four-day
first class matches, to give our players enough exposure," he said.
"However, due to scheduling challenges because of the timely availability of
A sides to play against, we are well behind where we wanted to be to resume
play in November this year. We have not given up on that target, and will
continue to assess the situation and evaluate ourselves in conjunction with
The decision on whether the November series at home to West Indies can go
ahead will be taken at the ICC AGM later this month, and board chairman
Peter Chingoka, who is a polished networker, will have to be at his best if
Zimbabwe Cricket is to avoid having the decision taken out of its hands.
Slick operator he may be, but it will be increasingly hard for him to
convince other boards that Zimbabwe are strong enough to avoid humiliation
at Test level. If they back him, then they face having to schedule Tests
against Zimbabwe which few seem keen to do, two or three for political
reasons, the remainder for financial ones.
Furthermore, if the ICC ratifies the cricket committee's decision then it
may will trigger another exodus of players. At the moment the World Cup
squad has only officially lost Anthony Ireland, but it is widely rumoured
that several others are only hanging on to be paid at the end of the month
before they decide whether to call it quits.
Steven Price is a freelance journalist based in Harare
San Francisco Chronicle Could it be that History and her sometimes reluctant handmaiden, Justice, are
finally closing in on Robert Mugabe, ailing
Zimbabwe's controversial, long-ruling strongman-president? Mugabe, the head of the Zanu-PF party, has dominated his
nation's political scene since the formerly white-ruled, British colony of
Southern Rhodesia became independent Zimbabwe in 1980. During his 27-year-long
rule, Mugabe has been "widely accused of [having run] down a once prosperous
economy through controversial policies such as seizing white-owned farms for
blacks, which has decimated commercial agriculture." Today, Zimbabwe boasts the
highest inflation rate in the world: it's currently running at
over 3700 percent, and four out of five Zimbabweans are unemployed and
"struggling to feed their families." (Reuters) Mugabe has blamed his southern-African country's woes and criticism of his
heavy-handed, opposition-silencing actions on Britain and its allies. They have,
he claims, aimed to sabotage Zimbabwe's economy and his regime. The BBC reports that the main challenge to Mugabe's rule
"has come from the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change....The MDC says its members have been killed, tortured and
harassed by Zanu-PF supporters." In response, Mugabe "has accused the [MDC] of
being a tool of Western powers." In Namibia, the daily newspaper the Namibian reports that Britain's Lord David
Triesman, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for African
affairs, has remarked that, with the actions Mugabe has taken that have led to
Zimbabwe's economic and political collapse, he risks ending up like
Liberia's former warlord-turned-president, Charles
Taylor, whose crimes-against-humanity trial began at a special United
Nations-backed court on Monday. Triesman said: "I think Robert Mugabe is
probably at one of those points where dictators have to consider whether if they
press on they don't fall into the category of committing crimes against
humanity on the scale that the law prescribes." British Prime Minister Tony Blair appears to be taking a
softer approach to the Mugabe controversy. In South Africa last week, Blair
"surprised many by voicing support for South African President Thabo
Mbeki's efforts to mediate a solution to Zimbabwe's political and
economic crisis through 'quiet diplomacy'" instead of issuing a "strong[ly]
worded rebuke to the Mugabe regime." Meanwhile, the Namibian notes, "Britain has been frustrated by the
inertia of Zimbabwe's neighbors, as the country has slid into a six-year
political, civil and economic crisis, but has not wanted to take a lead in
tackling the problems, saying it wanted to avoid being seen as the 'old colonial
master.'" In an effort to improve its image, Mugabe's regime "has blown over $1 million
on a propaganda campaign." Aimed at "foreign audiences who have...been shocked
by images of bruised opposition leaders after they were brutally assaulted in
police custody," the campaign was launched with a special supplement totaling
more than 70 pages that appeared in the London-based magazine New
African. The Zimbabwe Independent, a Zimbabwean business newspaper
that dares to question the Mugabe regime, reports that it paid in precious hard
currency for the publication of the public-relations supplement, and that the
"revelation" of the big expense "comes at a time when the country's
foreign-currency coffers have all but run dry, with [the] government failing to
procure fuel, food, electricity or medicines for the poor." The Zimbabwe Independent quotes an African commentator
who specializes in mass media; he observed: "Mugabe is now desperate to convince
his African colleagues that he is the victim....No African newspaper or
broadcaster can take his 'I'm the victim' mantra when they see images of
opposition supporters who have been tortured or assaulted in detention. He has
no one to turn to." Now, for what it's worth, Edinburgh University, in Scotland,
has stripped Mugabe of an honorary degree it awarded him in 1984 for his
"services to education in Africa." That's because, after pressure from students
and Scottish lawmakers, the university's senate - its governing body - examined
previously unavailable evidence showing that Mugabe was responsible for a
massacre of 20,000 Zimbabwean civilians in the early 1980s. They had been
"accused of harboring rebels of the minority Ndebele tribe
loyal to former opposition leader Joshua Nkomo." The Zimbabwean
army soldiers who reportedly slaughtered their countrymen were members of
Mugabe's own majority Shona tribe. A spokesman in Britain for
the Movement for Democratic Change, the Zimbabwean opposition party, said: "When
[Mugabe] was given this degree, the West thought he was a saint, but all the
time his people knew he was a monster, a tyrant and a killer." (News24.com, South Africa) In the U.S., the University of Massachusetts and
Michigan State University are reportedly considering revoking
honorary degrees that they also awarded Mugabe in the past. (Guardian, U.K.) Anticipating Edinburgh University's revoking of his academic honor, several
weeks ago Mugabe's spokesman said his boss would not be "losing sleep" over the
action. The Zimbabwean politician's aide said: "It is not like the president
suffers a crisis of achievement....If anything, those Western universities
improved their international profile by associating themselves with the
president." (Guardian, U.K.) June 07 2007 at 08:40 AM
Could it be that History and her sometimes reluctant handmaiden, Justice, are finally closing in on Robert Mugabe, ailing Zimbabwe's controversial, long-ruling strongman-president?
Mugabe, the head of the Zanu-PF party, has dominated his nation's political scene since the formerly white-ruled, British colony of Southern Rhodesia became independent Zimbabwe in 1980. During his 27-year-long rule, Mugabe has been "widely accused of [having run] down a once prosperous economy through controversial policies such as seizing white-owned farms for blacks, which has decimated commercial agriculture." Today, Zimbabwe boasts the highest inflation rate in the world: it's currently running at over 3700 percent, and four out of five Zimbabweans are unemployed and "struggling to feed their families." (Reuters)
Mugabe has blamed his southern-African country's woes and criticism of his heavy-handed, opposition-silencing actions on Britain and its allies. They have, he claims, aimed to sabotage Zimbabwe's economy and his regime. The BBC reports that the main challenge to Mugabe's rule "has come from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change....The MDC says its members have been killed, tortured and harassed by Zanu-PF supporters." In response, Mugabe "has accused the [MDC] of being a tool of Western powers."
In Namibia, the daily newspaper the Namibian reports that Britain's Lord David Triesman, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for African affairs, has remarked that, with the actions Mugabe has taken that have led to Zimbabwe's economic and political collapse, he risks ending up like Liberia's former warlord-turned-president, Charles Taylor, whose crimes-against-humanity trial began at a special United Nations-backed court on Monday. Triesman said: "I think Robert Mugabe is probably at one of those points where dictators have to consider whether if they press on they don't fall into the category of committing crimes against humanity on the scale that the law prescribes."
British Prime Minister Tony Blair appears to be taking a softer approach to the Mugabe controversy. In South Africa last week, Blair "surprised many by voicing support for South African President Thabo Mbeki's efforts to mediate a solution to Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis through 'quiet diplomacy'" instead of issuing a "strong[ly] worded rebuke to the Mugabe regime." Meanwhile, the Namibian notes, "Britain has been frustrated by the inertia of Zimbabwe's neighbors, as the country has slid into a six-year political, civil and economic crisis, but has not wanted to take a lead in tackling the problems, saying it wanted to avoid being seen as the 'old colonial master.'"
In an effort to improve its image, Mugabe's regime "has blown over $1 million on a propaganda campaign." Aimed at "foreign audiences who have...been shocked by images of bruised opposition leaders after they were brutally assaulted in police custody," the campaign was launched with a special supplement totaling more than 70 pages that appeared in the London-based magazine New African. The Zimbabwe Independent, a Zimbabwean business newspaper that dares to question the Mugabe regime, reports that it paid in precious hard currency for the publication of the public-relations supplement, and that the "revelation" of the big expense "comes at a time when the country's foreign-currency coffers have all but run dry, with [the] government failing to procure fuel, food, electricity or medicines for the poor."
The Zimbabwe Independent quotes an African commentator who specializes in mass media; he observed: "Mugabe is now desperate to convince his African colleagues that he is the victim....No African newspaper or broadcaster can take his 'I'm the victim' mantra when they see images of opposition supporters who have been tortured or assaulted in detention. He has no one to turn to."
Now, for what it's worth, Edinburgh University, in Scotland, has stripped Mugabe of an honorary degree it awarded him in 1984 for his "services to education in Africa." That's because, after pressure from students and Scottish lawmakers, the university's senate - its governing body - examined previously unavailable evidence showing that Mugabe was responsible for a massacre of 20,000 Zimbabwean civilians in the early 1980s. They had been "accused of harboring rebels of the minority Ndebele tribe loyal to former opposition leader Joshua Nkomo." The Zimbabwean army soldiers who reportedly slaughtered their countrymen were members of Mugabe's own majority Shona tribe. A spokesman in Britain for the Movement for Democratic Change, the Zimbabwean opposition party, said: "When [Mugabe] was given this degree, the West thought he was a saint, but all the time his people knew he was a monster, a tyrant and a killer." (News24.com, South Africa)
In the U.S., the University of Massachusetts and Michigan State University are reportedly considering revoking honorary degrees that they also awarded Mugabe in the past. (Guardian, U.K.)
Anticipating Edinburgh University's revoking of his academic honor, several weeks ago Mugabe's spokesman said his boss would not be "losing sleep" over the action. The Zimbabwean politician's aide said: "It is not like the president suffers a crisis of achievement....If anything, those Western universities improved their international profile by associating themselves with the president." (Guardian, U.K.)
June 07 2007 at 08:40 AM|
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
7 June 2007
Posted to the web 7 June 2007
Namibian ex-combatants on Monday began a demonstration demanding
compensation for taking part in the country's liberation struggle.
They want to be paid compensation of N$500 000 per person or N$32 000 for
each of the years they spent in the bush fighting.
The demonstrators are demanding compensation and demobilisation payments
which they say were promised to them during the 1989 repatriation process
under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The ex-freedom fighters are still camped out at the premises in their bid to
demand for their compensation despite being dispersed by police on Tuesday.
At a brief Press conference in Windhoek yesterday, the police said that only
pepper spray was used on the demonstrators, and not teargas, when the
demonstrators refused to disperse.
Police Deputy Inspector-General of Operations Tuweefeni M'Lukeni yesterday
said the next directive to the Namibian police on the demonstrating
ex-combatants would come from Prime Minister Nahas Angula, as he was briefed
yesterday about the latest turn of events.
"Pepper spray was used, and not teargas. There were no rubber bullets or
beating up of the people. It is only in violent situations where we use
teargas and batons," explained M'Lukeni, adding that only four pepper spray
canisters were used during Monday night's incident.
Furthermore, it was reported that the police were instructed to use "minimum
force" to disperse the ex-Plan fighters camped outside TeleCentre after
marching from Katutura.
Although the police force members were fitted with batons, the regional
police commander did not order them to use batons on the crowd.
"We gave them enough time to demonstrate that day and waited for them to
disperse on their own. We engaged the leaders of the ex-combatants to
encourage them to tell their people to go, but the leaders ignored the
instruction," said M'Lukeni, adding that the order to take action by
removing the demonstrators with minimum force came from the police chief,
Inspector-General Sebastian Ndeitunga.
Besides denying the fact that teargas was not used, he added that the
Special Reserve Force members were instructed to use "minimum force" to
remove the people from what is reported to be government property.
"It is illegal for them to camp there because they did not get permission
from the owner. That is property owned by the government, and the police are
the custodians of that area. It is not municipal land, so we are assigned to
protect government properties," said police.
In actual fact, M'Lukeni stressed that unlike teargas, pepper spray was not
harmful at all and could be used by the Special Reserve Force tasked to
disperse a crowd.
"It is not harmful and it was only used to disperse the demonstrators, and
the police are properly trained how to use it," he reiterated.
Pepper spray, also known as OC spray (from "Oleoresin Capsicum"), OC gas,
capsicum spray (or oleoresin capsicum) is a lachrymatory agent -- a chemical
compound that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain, and even temporary
blindness -- that is used in riot-control, crowd-control and personal
self-defence, including defence against dogs and bears. It is a non-lethal
By Carole Gombakomba
07 June 2007
Though presidential and parliamentary elections loom large in Zimbabwe with
ballots set for March 2008, neither faction of the main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change is contesting a by-election Saturday in Zaka East,
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network issued a preliminary report Thursday
on the election which noted the absence of a properly constituted nomination
Opposition officials say such irregularities are part of the reason why they
will boycott the by-election despite the potential benefits of a dry run for
March 2008, but also note that the seat will be up for grabs again in just
another nine months.
Securing a level playing field for the 2008 elections is one of the main
demands of the opposition in crisis talks being mediated by South African
President Thabo Mbeki.
The election will fill the seat vacated by the late Tinos Rusere of the
ruling ZANU-PF party, elected in 2005. Candidates from ZANU-PF, the United
People's Party, and the obscure Zimbabwe People's Democratic Party are
seeking the seat.
Elections Director Ian Makone of the MDC faction led by party founder Morgan
Tsvangirai told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that the conditions in Zaka East are not conducive to a free and fair
National Director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava of the Zimbabwe Election Support
Network said that while the main opposition party is absent from the field,
the participation of smaller parties will legitimize the vote despite
sub-standard electoral conditions.
Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to
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please don't hesitate to contact us - we're here to help!
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Letter 1 - George Hess
RE: PROJECT MANAGER FOR ECO-TOURISM PROJECT IN TANZANIA
We would like to thank you for that Job Advertisement you have been kind
enough to host on our behalf on your JAG-Webpage. With some 60 applicants
the response has been tremendous and we are just about to interview the half
a dozen or so candidates that have made it to our short list.
It is amazing to see the high calibre farmers that are still around in
Zimbabwe. At the same time we are astonished about the great number of those
who have left Zimbabwe years ago and have put their roots in faraway and
seemingly save heavens like New Zealand, Australia, UK , SA etc and now
are bending over backwards to come back to an Africa! Having myself spent
my whole working life in different African Countries (including Rhodesia!)
these emigrees wanting to come back have my fullest sympathy and
understanding and I hope that as many of them as possible will succeed. We
will be passing the dossiers of those we could not engage to other
interested parties and are hopeful to assist one or the other farmer in this
Thanking you once again for your extremely successful assistance.
Letter 2 - Nathalie Kirk
RE: Open Letter Forum No. 486
What a surprise another ex farmer living in Australia who wont sign his name
to his letter.
Who is wearing the yellow feather?
Letter 3 - Mark Letcher
Firstly I would like to thank you all at Jag for the continued good work
that you are doing. Secondly for keeping information coming-it is always
good to get updates.
Thirdly, does anyone know of Richard Winkfields email address. I would like
to contact him to do with some cattle information. If anyone could help
could they please reply to my address email@example.com
Mareeba, North Queensland, Australia
Letter 4 - J.Colborne
I noted with enthusiasm Eddie's little note that a rancher had to shoot a
Brahman that could not be brought into the handling facilities. What a
simple answer to the problem that he portrays in his diptank scenario, but
who is the "owner" that will make the decision, figuratively or otherwise
and how many "escapes" are necessary to prompt that decision?
Eddie should also be familiar with the fact that when one animal breaks
out, there is always a rush of other like-minded animals in the herd through
the breach and therefore it is imperative to stop any of them escaping. The
recently delayed process suggests to me that the bull has already escaped
again and half the herd has gone with him, so if the the "owner" is truly
motivated to "dip" these animals, he better improve the pen and start again,
or change his tactics. Some options would be to leave the bull outside and
continue the beneficial process of "dipping" the rest of the herd without
him or instead of treating this mob as "tame", he should consider treating
them like "feral" cattle and drive them into a boma. I think it would be
easier to leave the troublesome bull outside where he can no longer
influence the others inside! Of course there are endless possible scenarios.
Is Eddie ready to flee for having provoked the above thoughts?
Letter 5 - Mr. I want to vote
I find it frustrating that the press and reports keep trying to blame the
food shortages on drought. I agree that the southern part of the country did
not receive good rainfall but may I remind us of a few scenarios in the
fairly recent past.
We had severe drought in 1992 and 1994, remember them. The one year in
Mashonaland east we got about 7 inches for the whole season and other areas
had even less. Now these droughts were close to each other and we did run
short of food but we were able to purchase from abroad ;even if it was
yellow maize most of us we went to bed with full stomachs. Why we could do
this? It is simple...we had COMMERCIAL FARMING to kickstart when the next
rainy season started and a stronger economy to ride out the drought. How
can selective sanctions which only consist of travel bans and freezing some
assests abroad of a few Govt ministers; bring an eden like Zimbabwe which is
rich in minerals, has the ability of a diverse agriculture base and lots of
tourist attractions; bring the country to its knees? I have said it time and
again if the Govt blames these punitive sanctions on the downfall then who
does Zimbabwe belong to.... the people or a handful of corrupt ministers?
(the latter i think)
I hope these talks that are supposedly going on in SA include those of us in
dispora to vote because Zanu-PF have us to thank; for all the remittances
that are being sent back to try keep families alive. It was okay for them
to come to UK and beg us for our money to be sent there.. so let us vote we
are Zimbabweans! If Zanu-PFare so confident that it is not their fault that
Zimbabwe has gone to the dogs then what have they got to hide and why
prevent us from voting???
>From Mr I want to vote!!!!
Letter 6 - John Tolmay
I receive the jag report from my family in Zimbabwe and like so many people
outside the loop I sit in anticipation of seeing justice done. It is always
interesting how people here perceive the goings on in Zimbabwe despite the
number of Americans who even know where Africa is is minuscule, to say
nothing of Zimbabwe!
I had an interesting little episode here in Montana last year. I was with a
group of people in a bar and I was being quizzed as usual about Africa and
the issue of the theft of farms, homes and possessions by the Government of
Zimbabwe came up. One of the group was an Indian of the Crow Tribe (he is a
great guy and works hard and then he goes "walk about" for a while which is
fine I guess, he comes back to sabensa when the money dries up!) The main
inquisitor was a very "knowledgeable" woman who knows all about "Africa."
She said that we deserved to have our land taken because we had taken it
from the local community. I asked her if she had a home here in Montana to
which she replied in the affirmative I then asked her for her address which
she gave me, somewhat perplexed I suppose. I wrote it down and then turned
to Mike the Crow Indian and gave him the piece of paper with the address on
it and invited him to go and help himself it was after all owned by the
"People of the Crow" according to her own assessment of Zimbabwe. There was
a general hush and then the rest of the group including Donnie cracked up
laughing. She dried up like a Kalahari salt pan.
What happened here in the USA in regard to the American Indian makes what
happened in Africa pale into insignificance. Read "I Will Meet You at
Wounded Knee." Hang in there, we wait in anticipation and pray that the
Taylor trial gives the venerable Robert something to ponder on!
Sincerely John Tolmay.
All 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
Please send any job opportunities for publication in this newsletter to:
Job Opportunities; firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
(Ad inserted 3 May 2007)
Contracts in the DRC
Wanted: for six month renewable contracts in the DRC, three Zimbabwean farm
managers. One with experience in orchard and plantation crops especially
citrus and bananas, the second with experience in row cropping: potatoes,
maize/soya, wheat and barley and the third with experience in dairy
production. Formal agricultural qualifications an advantage but not a
Fluency in Swahili preferable but not essential.
(Ad inserted 17th May 2007)
ORIGNATOR/GRAPHIC DESIGNER WANTED
IDEAL PERSON NEEDS TO BE FULLY COMPUTER LITERATE (CORRELL DRAW EXPERIENCE
ESSENTIAL) METHODICAL, PATIENT AND TECHNICALLY MINDED. TO RUN A NEW DIGITAL
PLEASE RESPOND WITH CV AND REFERENCES TO:
firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 04 485695/6 attention Brigit."
(Ad inserted 17th May 2007)
Gardener OR houseworker required. Someone who is clean, and hardworking.
Preferably employer recommended or contactable references. Please phone
011-614-233 or email : email@example.com
(Ad inserted 17th May 2007)
Looking for Investors:
Looking for serious investors that want to get involved in the Floricultural
industry of Zimbabwe. Need secure land close to Harare and access to
finance. Technical expertise, markets and highly skilled human resources
For serious enquires please contact me on: 011 630 696,
0912 782 782, 480 160, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Ad inserted 17th May 2007)
Looking for an experienced husband and wife team to cook and housekeep.
Excellent staff accommodation is available on the property. A very
competitive remuneration package, with benefits, proportionate with
experience and qualifications is offered by way of negotiation with
successful applicants. Traceable references are essential.
Apply on 091 2 238 204
(Ad inserted 24 May 2007)
Doctor's secretary required, preferably coming from Mount Pleasant, Emerald
Hill, Avonlea, Avondale, Alexandria Park area. Mornings only 8:30 - 1 pm -
5 days per week.
Work load is not heavy. Nursing experience is not required. Any one
interested should be mature and able to handle files, correspondence and
simple book keeping.
References are essential.
Contact Clare Peech at email@example.com
(Ad inserted 24 May 2007)
OXFORD IT is looking for cvs. Please send your cv as soon as possible if
you wish to be considered for the positions.
MANUAL/HANDS ON POSITIONS
These positions will go very quickly so please do not delay in sending your
cv. The positions are offering very good benefits and locations.
Mechanics (Automotive and Mechanical/Industrial), Construction Workers,
Waste Disposal Workers etc
Mining Engineers, Drillers, Crane/Forklift Operators, Truck Drivers
Workshop Managers, Driver/Messengers, Dispatch Supervisors
Finance (especially Bookeepers)
IBM Service Consultants
Developers, Network Engineers, Technicians, ISP Engineers
Positions we have on our books at the moment are:
Manual/Hands On personnel
And various others....
Please email you cv to the below email address or contact the General
Manager for more information. If you have a cv which does not fit into the
above descriptions, please send it on. We deal with all types of
recruitment now, so delay in sending your cv might result in your missing
out on the right job.
Miss Sarah Vale
Oxford IT Recruitment
Agriculture House, c/o CFU Building, Cnr Adylinn Road/Marlborough Drive,
Tel: + 263 4 309274 (Direct)
Tel: + 263 4 309855-60 (Ext 23)
Cell: + 263 11 231 917 (Office Hours Only)
Fax: + 263 4 309351
(Ad inserted 24 May 2007)
Partner in Tanzania
Needed an Agricultural Partner to establish plantations in Tanzania to grow
the following crops; rise, maize, beans, vegetables, cotton, wheat and many
Tel. +255 754262486
(Ad inserted 24 May 2007)
Looking for a cook
Cook wanted with a Zambian passport or can get a Zambian passport for Zim
couple living in Lusaka Zambia, must be able to cook every thing from
pancakes to pies breakfast, lunch and dinner, please phone Pam on this no
+0966291818 or email Tony at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Ad inserted 24 May 2007)
I am looking for an excellent cleaner who not only cleans my home but also
takes pride and can clean his own quarters regularly. A good salary is
offered to the right person. Please phone 011-614-233.
(Ad inserted 31 May 2007)
Oxford IT is looking for Lab Technicians with experience in testing
Jet/Diesel and MOGAS. This is a new position which has just come in; there
will be extensive travel; excellent pay and exposure to International
Please email your cv as soon as possible to the below email address as this
position is only open for a couple more days, the cut off is early next
Miss Sarah Vale
Oxford IT Recruitment
(Recruitment Specialists in IT and General Recruitment)
Agriculture House, 1 Adylinn Road, Off Marlborough Drive, Marlborough,
Tel: + 263 4 309274 (Direct)
Tel: + 263 4 309855-60 (Ext. 23)
Fax: + 263 4 309351
Cell: + 263 11 231 917 (Office Hours Only)
(Ad inserted 31 May 2007)
Oxford IT has a number of new positions that have come up in the
Aviation/Fuel Industry. We are looking for Ground Crew/Load
· Extensive travel
· Excellent pay
· Exposure to International Organisations.
This has been advertised in the paper, so many cvs have already been
received. The turnaround time is very short, please act fast and email your
cv to email@example.com or call Sarah Vale on 309274 or 309855-60 (Ext.
We are also looking for cvs in: -
· Camp Services
· Water/waste/sewage/power generation
(Ad inserted 7 June 2007)
Furniture Factory Manager
Beira, Mozambique - based
A furniture factory making a range of hardwood furniture is looking for a
This person will be responsible for:
Management of the machine shop and assembly line of a hardwood furniture
Implementation of the process of continuous improvement within the factory.
Production scheduling of orders and management of all raw materials and
Operations and the maintenance of the equipment.
Quality management and control.
The candidate should have experience with working with large teams of semi
and unskilled workers. Be adaptable and creative, working in sometimes
difficult conditions without technical support. The ability to make critical
decisions, at times with little information, to anticipate problems and plan
for them. The flexibility to develop creative, practical and realistic
solutions in based on an understanding of the limitations of the local
Experience in production and manufacture in the timber industry preferred,
though relevant non-timber production experience in developing countries
also an advantage.
The candidate should be prepared to reside full time in Mozambique full
time. Fully legal residence and work permits will be provided.
Package in US$.
Portuguese not essential at the start but the successful candidate would
have to learn to communicate in the language.
Basic computer literacy an advantage.
CV's will be accepted until the end of June 2007, and the candidate will be
expected on I August 2007. Included in your CV or on the covering letter
please advise what package you will be expecting.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or fax +258 23 30 21 61 for an application
For additional company information see www.dalmann.com
(Ad inserted 7 June 2007)
Preferably married but without children. Traceable references required.
Accommodation on site.
Contact G. Dartnall - 302702.
(Ad inserted 7 June 2007)
VACANCY - ESTATE MANAGER
Applications are invited for the position of Estate Manager at St George's
Applicants should have mechanical experience sufficient for the maintaining
of vehicles, borehole pumps, estate machinery and the general supervision of
the on-site workshop and stores department.
Other duties include the maintenance of school buildings and staff
residential accommodation, the care and development of grounds and gardens
as well as the correct utilization of the irrigation and water management
Applicants should have good man management skills; the ability to understand
and converse in both languages will be an advantage as would basic computer
A good salary is offered, commensurate with experience, as well as other
benefits including housing on campus.
Interested candidates should forward CV's and contactable references to the
Headmaster's Secretary on
email@example.com or Fax CV's to Harare 797648.
Closing date for applications will be the 30th June and we regret that only
short-listed candidates will receive a response.
(Ad inserted 17th May 2007)
Employment Sought - Secretarial
I am a mature Lady looking for Secretarial / Administration/ Reception with
20 years of experience. Computer literate, good communication skills with
all segmentas of Zimbabwe society.
I will consider full or part time engagement in any field
Please contact me on 331116 ( Home) 011 732 497 Cell or e-mail me at:
(Ad inserted 17th May 2007)
Seeking Challenging Management Position:
I am looking for a good management position where by I can grow with the
business; I have mainly been involved in Rose exports for the past 15 years
on large scale farms in Zimbabwe. Although this is my main line of
expertise, I interested in any other industry that is looking for strong
management, an energetic, ambitious, honest and strong willed person to join
Please contact me, Wayne Seiler on the following details if you are
interested and I will forward you my CV, 011 630 696, 0912 782 782, 480
160, firstname.lastname@example.org . Skype name : Wayne Seiler
(Ad inserted 7 June 2007)
Outsource your payrolls. For confidential payrolls produced on FDS system.
Accounting services offered to Final accounts
Contact : Jenny at email@example.com or 011400754.
(Ad inserted 7 June 2007)
I am a mature man looking for Secretarial / Administration/ Reception with
10 years of experience.
Computer literate, good communication skills with
all segments of Zimbabwe and foreign societies. Hard working. I will
consider full or part time engagement in any field. Well travelled having
worked in almost every sector in the industries.
Please contact me on 492 590 (Work) 0912339 438 Cell or e-mail me at:
Tendai Karinda Mr.
For the latest listings of accommodation available for farmers, contact
firstname.lastname@example.org (updated 7 June 2007)