Nation News, Barbados
Published on: 3/22/07.
EVEN FROM THIS DISTANCE, the situation in Zimbabwe is nauseating and is an
affront to right-thinking people and to the democratic traditions which we
in the Commonwealth and the Americas have become accustomed.
Even anti-colonial apologists should hang their heads in shame at this
assault by police officers on members of the Zimbabwe opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) - headed by Morgan Tsvangirai.
Recently, armed Zimbabwe riot police sealed off a stadium to block an
opposition "prayer meeting" that officials had banned, calling it a
political protest against President Robert Mugabe. A brutal assault was then
inflicted on opposition members and it continues unabated.
Authorities had declared the "prayer meeting" to be in breach of a
three-month ban on political demonstrations. Riot and paramilitary police
reinforcements had sealed off approaches to the stadium and fired tear gas
to disperse the gathering.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of its worst economic crisis in decades, with
inflation now above 1700 per cent, unemployment
of close to 80 per cent with persistent shortages of food, fuel and foreign
Mugabe, 83, in power since independence in 1980, dismisses the MDC as a
puppet of Zimbabwe's former colonial master Britain, which he says oppose
him for seizing white-owned commercial farms to give to Blacks.
Political tensions have increased in recent months following moves by Mugabe
to extend his tenure by two additional years to 2010, a proposal that
political analysts say has caused divisions even within his ruling Zanu-PF
Mugabe played a significant role in the anti-colonial struggles in then
Rhodesia but his historic contribution is in danger
of being tainted as his government turns its venom against Blacks.
For all intents and purposes, Mugabe has outlived his usefulness as his
government continues to trample on the rights of Zimbabweans. That these
atrocities have met with studied silence from his former comrade-in-arms in
Africa is very distressing.
Zambia recently broke the regional silence over the deteriorating political
conditions in Zimbabwe, telling its counterparts in the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) to stop pretending "all is well in Zimbabwe".
Zimbabweans, who are already escaping into South Africa in droves, are now
also flowing into Zambia seeking food.
SADC states must take the bull by the horns and persuade Mugabe that
dialogue is the best recipe for sustainable peace and democracy.
Unfortunately, South Africa is the only country with the clout to apply some
pressure but it has remained silent.
We understand the need for loyalty from erstwhile friends and
comrades-in-arms but a time comes when silence is betrayal. Zimbabweans may
feel that time has long gone despite recent muted comments from the United
States and European Union.
Thursday March 22, 2007
What more do we need to witness before the African Union or the UN tell the
Zimbabwean government "enough is enough" (South Africa under fire for
failure to act in Mugabe crisis, March 21)? Recently we have seen some
devastating atrocities, including the beating of the leader of the
opposition, the killing of a political activist and then his body being
snatched to prevent a public funeral.
International condemnation has freely flowed, but little action has
followed. Although the African Union has called for human rights "to be
respected" in Zimbabwe, this is far too weak a response.
Accountability for human rights violations is central to the African Union's
own Constitutive Act, and that body needs to show that it has the political
will to hold the government of Zimbabwe to account for these atrocities.
Otherwise, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the AU after all
may not be entirely different from the defunct, state-centred Organisation
of African Unity.
Programme director, Amnesty International Africa
The events in Zimbabwe are only the latest in a series of tragedies that
have dogged African peoples in Uganda, Somalia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the
DRC, Sudan and the Ivory Coast since independence. In that time, they have
been ruled by their presidents, who double as the supreme institution,
controlling the army, police, parliament, the judiciary, state intelligence
organisations and the civil service. Without independent state institutions,
not even the Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will ever
establish sustainable good governance, the independence of the judiciary,
the rule of law and the protection of fundamental human rights.
A classic example is Uganda where Lieutenant General Museveni came to power
in 1986, promising that his revolution was a fundamental change. But 21
years on, Uganda has made 180-degree turn. In the past two years, Museveni
has amended the constitution, virtually making him a life president;
arrested his most credible opponent Dr Kizza Besigye three months before the
elections; and conducted the first multi-party elections in 26 years under
one-party rule. Sadly, British, Commonwealth and other world leaders have
been deafly silent about the deteriorating situation in Uganda. Instead,
they have decided to reward Museveni holding the 2007 Commonwealth heads of
government meeting in Uganda this November.
Museveni, like Mugabe and most African leaders, have blamed British
colonialism for their failures. Somehow, they miss the point that Malaysia,
Singapore and South Korea were also colonies but are now peaceful and
booming economically. The only difference is that the latter have
independent state institutions while the former do not.
Uganda Forum for Democratic Change
What tends to be forgotten is that Robert Mugabe is not solely responsible
for the precarious state in which Zimbabwe finds itself. The seeds of the
present debacle were sown more than a quarter of a century ago, at the
pre-independence 1979 Lancaster House agreement.
Prominent in that agreement is the fact that 20 parliamentary seats were to
be automatically reserved for the minority white settler community. Second,
the agreement stipulated that no land reform issues were allowed to be
discussed for the following 10 years.
This meant that, from the very beginning, the authority of the new
government was undermined. There was a barely disguised demonisation
campaign by the white settlers - remnants of and supporters of the white
separatist Ian Smith regime - of Mugabe and all he stood for. Those critics
nostalgically harking back to the halcyon days of "benign white rule" ought
to remember that elementary freedom was regained at independence.
There are scores of countries with bad or worse governments than that of
Zimbabwe. We hardly hear anything about these, as compared to the flood of
news stories from Zimbabwe. What is at work here is a singling out of
22 March 2007
THE African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights has called on Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe to uphold the law and "desist from wanton arrest and
torture of journalists".
This came after a complaint from the Media Institute of Southern Africa that
two journalists, Tsvangirai Mukwazhi and Tendai Musiyu, were "severely
assaulted by the police" after their arrest while covering the heated
protests which saw opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan
Tsvangirai arrested last week.
"Of great concern was that Mukwazhi's whereabouts remained unknown until his
appearance in court on March 13 as the police withheld information about his
whereabouts to his lawyers, who were denied access to the detained
journalists," the complaint said. "The two journalists were subsequently
taken to hospital for treatment following the assaults."
Rapporteur on freedom of expression at the commission, Pansy Tlakula, sent
an urgent letter of appeal to Mugabe regarding the deteriorating situation
of freedom of expression in Zimbabwe. "I actually met Tsvangirai Mukwazhi
during my visit and I saw with my own eyes the serious injuries he sustained
on his back during the beating by the police. His car, equipment and laptop
were also confiscated," she said.
To date, the two journalists have not been formally charged despite having
spent 48 hours in police custody.
She called on Mugabe to "respect the rights enshrined in the African Charter
on Human and Peoples' Rights", to which Zimbabwe is a party state. Attacks
on media in Africa prompted the commission to pass a resolution on freedom
of expression in November against such acts.
She said that cases in point included Gambia, Zimbabwe and Eritrea.
On Tuesday, the head of the Catholic church in Zimbabwe, Archbishop Pius
Ncube, criticised the South African government for failing to rein in
"They are in the best position to put pressure on Zimbabwe, to call for
sanctions, if necessary. They could force Mugabe to change but they have
been watching this thing. It's now the eighth year it has been
deteriorating," he said
22 March 2007
JUST when you think the African National Congress (ANC) cannot get worse, it
sinks to new depths of depravity.
Two seemingly dispa-
rate, yet connected headlines in Tuesday's Business Day signal the signs of
the times: Echo of Burma as SA blocks UN on Mugabe, and, Red faces over
Russia's $2bn deal with ANC arm.
One concerns SA's consistent failure to condemn Zimbabwe for its flagrant
abuses of human rights, so soon after the Burma debacle at the United
Nations (UN) Security Council. Support for Robert Mugabe has more to do with
SA's solidarity with a former liberation leader than its so-called
noninterference stance on sovereignty. No matter how dictatorial its rule,
Zanu (PF) knows it can rely on SA for support because its identity as a
former liberation movement seals its survival regardless of the atrocities
it perpetrates against its own people.
Equally, its support for communist China on Burma is in line with a foreign
policy that has consistently supported pariah states such as Libya and Iran
against countries that value human rights, good governance and democracy. It
finds it so easy to condemn Israel on the grounds of human rights and
self-determination, invoking similarities with the apartheid state, but when
it comes to Zimbabwe and Burma, its forked-tongue agenda becomes
And that brings me to the second related concern: the ANC's cozying up to
Russia by using diplomatic relations to secure deals that will benefit and
secure its future as a political party. With their and our oligarchs in hot
pursuit of an alleged $2bn investment in a mineral fertiliser plant that
will benefit the ruling party via Chancellor House, alleged to be a funding
front for the organisation, it seems that with the ANC these days, anything
Just as the ANC depended on financial support from international donors,
including pariah states, to fund its liberation movement, so it continues
today to depend on funding for its political campaigns without any regard
for how dubious the sources. Too lazy and inept to generate funding from its
dwindling membership base, it nurtures relations with dictators who can be
relied upon in a time of need.
With more than 10-million people not voting in the last election, and a
succession battle threatening to destabilise the once-almighty juggernaut,
securing millions from whomever it takes has become central to the ANC's
plan to rule indefinitely.
That brings me to a related issue - the ANC's growing inability to drive the
very institutions designed by them since 1994 to promote skills training,
social development, poverty eradication, equality and human rights.
Currently under review by Parliament, a premature prognosis of most of the
chapter 9 institutions and other statutory bodies is that they should either
be radically transformed or abolished.
In similar vein, the sector education and training authorities (Setas) have
become a great source of annoyance to employers asked to pay a monthly levy
from their meager resources to the labour department to promote skills
development. It is unacceptable, as has been reported in the media, that 22
out 23 Setas have invested our money, R3,8bn of it, in various types of
accounts, when they should be educating and training people for jobs. If, as
Democratic Alliance spokesman, Mark Lowe said, "the Setas have degenerated
into patronage-dispensing amateur investment vehicles rather than the
drivers of a skills revolution", Parliament or the public protector should
review them as a matter of urgency.
Skills development is not the preserve of government. For that we have
technikons, colleges and universities. It therefore comes as no surprise to
read constant reports of how the Setas have sunk into mediocrity and
corruption. Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana has acknowledged that
certain individual Setas are dysfunctional but will not take responsibility
for the fact that the system overall has failed.
Most recently, the transport Seta was discovered to have invested R246m of
its funds in the Fidentia group, which was placed under curatorship last
month and its CEO detained. The mining qualifications Seta at the start of
2002 allocated R26,5m of its funds to establish a bursary scheme for
university and technikon students. By this month, only 135 students had
benefited. The police, private services and correctional services Seta has
been investigated by the Scorpions for financial mismanagement, and has had
"significant control deficiencies" in awarding tenders and fired its
previous CEO for unprofessional behaviour.
In the secondary agriculture Seta the auditor-general reported in 2003 that
he had detected a trail of irregularities, including the awarding of a R1,3m
contract to a company in which the then CEO held shares. Also, contracts
were awarded to other companies in which board members had direct interests.
The construction education Seta was found by the auditor-general to be
"technically bankrupt" in 2005-2006 and investigations are taking place into
the probable payment of monies for "ghost learners" and for payments for
full courses that were taught in an abbreviated form.
The first CEO and chief financial officer of the forest industries Seta were
tried and jailed for 20 years for corruption and fraud amounting to more
than R3m, even though it is claimed the money was subsequently recovered.
The manufacturing, engineering and related services Seta was found by the
auditor-general to have violated procurement procedures, employment
procedures and corporate governance structures, with irregularities
involving up to R5m of its expenditure.
Employers should consider a class action against the labour department to
terminate the payment of levies to training authorities, which are supposed
to train and help others but instead are racked by incompetence, mediocrity
Kadalie is a human rights activist based in Cape Town.
22 March 2007
THE recent arrest of leaders of both factions of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), the National Constitutional Assembly and the Zimbabwean
Congress of Trade Unions is another in a series of miscalculations on the
part of the Zimbabwean government. The violent crackdown on peaceful
protests, in the name of protecting law and order, is indicative of a panic
on the part of the government. But the sad incident is also an opportunity
for all stakeholders - internal and external - to find new ways of solving
Zimbabwe's problems. The heavy-handed response to the opposition and
disgruntled elements of civil society will further isolate the country and
government in the region and elsewhere.
Zimbabwe is sinking and is taking with it the region, which has consistently
urged the government and opposition forces to seek and find ways to begin an
internal political process for the region to support. The intransigence of
the Harare government in response to this advice and criticism from the
African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC),
particularly in the past four years, will ultimately hurt the Zanu (PF)'s
own cause. Clearly, the arguments of the political opposition and organised
civil society are vindicated by the actions of Zimbabwean police last
weekend. The brutality makes the statement that the MDC has failed to drive
home in the region and the international community - that the government has
turned into a self-destructing monster that is acting against its own
Until the past two years, the use of brute force has often been left in the
hands of government's proxy forces, such as the war veterans and youth
groups. The ruling party has also used its parliamentary majority and
special presidential privileges to introduce laws that restrict freedom and
rights, while harassment by secret services has been alleged frequently.
But by populating state institutions with members of the security forces,
the state demonstrates a growing reliance on the hard power of security
rather than the soft power of persuasion to maintain itself. The use of
brute police force is a dangerous phase in the creeping securitisation of
politics and economics in Zimbabwe. Zanu (PF) was treated with some respect
for as long as it used the soft power of the ballot to outsmart the
opposition and remain in power. But state repression is changing all this.
Certainly, the failure of state prosecutors to turn up at court on Wednesday
last to lay formal charges against those arrested cast a shadow of doubt
over the state case and, therefore, its judgment last weekend. It says the
incident was not a matter of ordinary police officers over-reacting, but was
part of a broad state strategy for self-preservation. A formal indictment of
those arrested would have demonstrated the incident was intended purely to
uphold the law. Clearly, the government has to realise that, in many ways,
it is its own actions that are deepening the crisis. This will give the
party a paradoxical legacy of having won independence for the country and
then doing everything in the book to undo the achievement 20 years later.
It is true that the government is not the only factor in the current crisis.
The lukewarm response by the British to law reform and the intransigent
attitude of the commercial farmers and land owners contributed immensely to
frustration within the ruling party, hard-pressed to deliver on its
liberation struggle promise to return the land to the people. The
high-handed response of the west, led by Britain, to the onset of the
crisis, primarily to secure white minority interests in the country and
without consultation with the region, simply complicated the situation at a
time that President Robert Mugabe was said to be ready to retire. This
allowed Mugabe to climb on the anti-west and anticolonial bandwagon and to
outride the embryonic opposition and push the region, which is ruled by
former liberation movements, into an awkward position.
The chairman of the AU, Ghanaian President John Kufuor, is reported as
having expressed the organisation's dismay at the worsening situation in
Zimbabwe. He suggested that the AU expected the government to act with great
caution and prevent any further deterioration of the situation. He went
further, making the point that many critics of the AU and the SADC fail to
recognise, which is that the AU, SADC and African countries' criticisms and
suggestions in private have been met with disdain and suspicion from Harare
and seen as part of a donor agenda.
This suggests that, like megaphone diplomacy or the naming and shaming
favoured by the west, the constructive engagement approach by African
countries is failing to break the siege mentality in Harare.
So what are the alternatives?
Frankly, a combination of internal and external initiatives is the best
concoction for ailing Zimbabwe. The South African experience teaches us that
without a strong coalescence of internal stakeholders, with a strong
vanguard movement to lead this internal upsurge, external initiatives will
have a negligible effect on the need for change in Harare. The opposition
and civil society could use the recent incident to repair relations between
MDC factions and make bold moves to weld the more experienced Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions, the National Constitutional Assembly and other
patriotic progressive elements in Zimbabwe into a united force.
The movement would have to expand its appeal beyond the urban and peri-urban
constituency by mobilising in the rural areas, equally hurt by the economic
and political crises. Its agenda will have to be about Zimbabwe's citizens,
rather than external interests. It will need to be about handing the state
power and economy back to the people. Simultaneously, this movement will
have to work tirelessly and cleverly to build international solidarity, not
just among the former colonial powers, as has been the case with the main
MDC faction in the past, but more importantly in Africa and the region.
This movement could take advantage of uneasiness within the AU and SADC to
strategically turn solidarity into real political leverage. A manifesto of
political and economic goals could be a useful tool for indicating to
sceptics that the movement is not about regime change per se, but
fundamental political and economic change to advance the Chimurenga achieved
It is on that basis that SADC, the AU and United Nations-led international
efforts could have the desired effect. There would be an authentic and
united internal movement of Zimbabwean people to support, rather than a weak
political party with unclear political goals, too close to western powers
and too hostile to regional powers.
The emergence of the mass democratic movement led by the United Democratic
Front in SA emboldened the Frontline States to switch to a robust response
to apartheid and enhance their support for the African National Congress.
The same could happen as regional players identify specific opportunities to
assist internally designed change. They would urge both sides towards an
all-inclusive national dialogue and assist in correcting the economic
problems. They would also encourage renewal within the ruling party.
Mugabe would bow out having led the country to the Third Chimurenga, aimed
at deepening democracy and rejuvenating the economy with international and
Zondi is Africa analyst at the Institute for Global Dialogue.
22 March 2007
THERE are those who say that SA's response to the crisis in Zimbabwe has
been weasel-like and cowardly. That isn't correct. Time and again, SA has
shown itself prepared to stand up and be counted. SA's first response to the
most recent events, courtesy of foreign affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa,
was that Zimbabweans should solve their own problems. That was certainly
hard to understand given that leaders of Zimbabwe's political opposition and
civil society had been savagely beaten and effectively incapacitated for
daring only to assemble and demonstrate solidarity. But an illogical
response isn't suggestive of cowardice.
Next, Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad urged the Zimbabwean government to
respect the rule of law and the rights of all Zimbabweans, but emphasised
that only dialogue among the main political protagonists would bring about a
lasting solution to the crisis. As this was the strongest statement yet
issued by a South African official in respect of Zimbabwe, it seemed
churlish to observe that the Zimbabwean government had long since abandoned
any pretence of observing the rule of law or to note that the emphasis on
dialogue struck a slightly odd note. After all, Morgan Tsvangirai had been
so severely beaten, he was initially able to speak only with the greatest of
But what really defeats any accusation of cowardice is the fact that SA has
repeatedly been prepared to act. It has taken a very public stand on several
occasions in previous years in order to defeat resolutions placed before the
United Nations (UN) Human Rights Commission and the general assembly that
would have condemned or expressed concern at the human rights violations
taking place in Zimbabwe.
Now, in response to a request for a security council briefing on the
situation in Zimbabwe, SA's ambassador to the UN and current president of
the council, Dumisani Kumalo, opines that it isn't a matter threatening
international peace and security and that to bring it before the council
would be surprising.
Yet despite Kumalo's apparent conviction, the belief that the Zimbabwean
situation is not a threat to international peace and so cannot trigger
security council action, is misplaced. Previous security council resolutions
repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to intervene in circumstances of
systematic human rights violation, even where such violations were confined
to one country. That willingness to act is heightened in situations of
massive refugee outflows, providing the potential for regional instability.
The security council noted in respect of its resolution on Haiti that "the
persistence of this situation contributes to a climate of fear of
persecution and economic dislocation which could increase the number of
Haitians seeking refuge in neighbouring member states". But it would
probably make little difference to SA's representatives to observe that the
situation in Zimbabwe is comparable or to note that the regional refugee
outflow from Zimbabwe exceeds that from Liberia or Sierra Leone, both of
which were determined to be threats to international peace.
That is because there are few forums in which precedent and principle are
more easily trumped by politics than in the security council and South
African representatives at the UN have already shown themselves prepared to
disregard precedent - as evidenced by their recent vote on a proposed
security council resolution on Burma.
For reasons that we must suppose are politic, but remain unarticulated, SA's
representatives chose to exhaust political capital, to use their
international standing - quite immaterially, since their vote made no
difference in the light of Russia's and China's veto - in order to be seen
to be defeating the resolution on Burma. This, when held with SA's record of
voting on Zimbabwe in the UN, must make all those concerned for the
restoration of democracy in Zimbabwe deeply anxious.
It places us in the absurd position where we must hope not so much that SA
acts, but that it does not act - that it not defeat any resolution placed
before the security council. In effect, we must hope that the worst
criticisms of SA's stance on Zimbabwe, that it is cowardly, prove true.
Better that SA not stand and be counted, that it adopt a position unlikely
to create controversy, than that it act to protect the Zimbabwean government
Otherwise, how ironic that on Human Rights Day yesterday, when we recalled
that "SA belongs to all who live in it, black and white", we effectively
say: "But Zimbabwe belongs only to its ruthless, kleptocratic government."
Fritz is the director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre.
22 March 2007
GOVERNMENT's failure to take a clear enough stand against heightened tyranny
in Zimbabwe is not an aberration. It illustrates a pattern in our foreign
policy: that, whatever our goals in the world may be, supporting democracy
elsewhere is not one of them. We have repeatedly ignored Zimbabwe's desire
for democracy - we are, it is reported, planning to do what we can to see to
it that the United Nations Security Council does not discuss its government's
latest abuses. We have used our seat on the security council to oppose
criticism of Burma's military junta, which jailed the winner of an election
and represses all opposition. And in the Middle East, we try to "help"
Palestinian leadership to accept the decree of the major powers that
democracy is not something to which Palestinians are entitled. Elsewhere,
our role is far more benign. In the rest of Africa, we work to end conflict
in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Côte d'Ivoire and promote
growth and development. We have also tried to help end the conflict in
But, as important as some of these initiatives are, none seek specifically
to promote democracy - we seek to settle conflicts or promote growth, not to
ensure everyone has a vote of equal value and the right to take part in
politics. At times, as in the Congo, democracy turns out to be a byproduct
of our efforts. But it is not their focus: supporting democracy does not
feature as one of the foreign affairs department's "strategic objectives"
listed on its website.
To some, this is a puzzle. Why would a government that owes its existence to
a fight for democracy not support it energetically abroad? The answer, some
argue, is that an idealistic post-apartheid government set out to bring
democracy to the rest of the continent, only to find this more difficult
than it thought as enraged autocrats fought back. And so, we are told, it
took to passing off democracy promotion as conflict resolution and
But this does not explain why foreign policy often showed little interest in
democracy in the early, supposedly idealistic, days of our freedom - then
Indonesian dictator Suharto was, for example, welcomed here on a state
visit. Or why, after our makers of foreign policy were meant to have sobered
up, the government showed flashes of democratic enthusiasm - in the late
1990s, then deputy president Thabo Mbeki warned other African leaders that
coups and rigged elections would make Africa seem ridiculous abroad.
The more accurate explanation is that democracy promotion has never been a
core focus of our foreign policy; it has been at best a by-product, to be
endorsed if it serves other goals .
Nor is there a contradiction between this approach and the battle against
apartheid. The anti-apartheid "struggle" was essentially a battle against
racism. Democracy was a happy by-product, which the post-1994 government has
largely protected. But it was a means to an end - freeing black people from
subordination - not an end in itself.
And so it is with our foreign policy. Its prime focus is to defeat bigotry
by showing that SA in particular, and Africa in general, can become
successful, growing, modern societies. If democracy helps to do that, it is
an asset. If it does not, it is not essential.
One consequence is that immediate economic benefits are given priority over
support for democracy in Burma and Palestine. And, while the desire to prove
bigots wrong can lead to support for democracy, as in Congo, it can also
produce defensiveness, when an African government is attacked by western
In Zimbabwe, because white bigots use the Mugabe government as a stick with
which to beat black aspirations, the response is not to try to fix the
problem but to close ranks behind those who cause it.
Ironically, this makes it harder for us to promote our economic interests or
win world respect for Africa.
One of our key international assets is the respect our journey to democracy
won us. A foreign policy that aims to maximise our advantage would build on
that by projecting us as a consistent and principled force for democracy -
in places where the major powers support it and those in which they do not.
The more we appear expedient, the more we lose that crucial advantage. The
more we are principled, the more we gain.
Supporting democracy beyond our borders is not a luxury that hampers our
chances of getting on in the world - it is a necessity that is in our
national interest. The sooner we support democracy on the continent and in
the world to the limits of our ability, the better for us as well as for
those elsewhere who seek freedom.
Friedman is a research associate at the Institute for Democracy in SA, and
is visiting professor of politics at Rhodes University.
22 March 2007
Plea ratchets up pressure on SA to abandon 'quiet diplomacy'
ZAMBIA has become the first African country to openly call for a new
approach to be taken on Zimbabwe, with President Levy Mwanawasa and former
president Kenneth Kaunda separately urging African leaders to intervene in
the embattled country.
Their comments, by far the strongest to date by African leaders on Zimbabwe's
crisis, are likely to place SA under greater pressure to change its policy
of quiet diplomacy. This was echoed by local political parties and trade
unions across the spectrum yesterday during rallies to celebrate Human
The recent violence in Zimbabwe has been condemned across the globe and
countries have been calling on African states, in particular SA, to help end
the crackdown on Zim- babwe's political opposition. US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice raised the matter with South African Foreign Affairs
Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma during a telephone call last week.
But the South African government seemed to be sticking to its guns, with
government spokesman Themba Maseko indicating there would be no change in
approach. Although Maseko said the recent beatings of members of Zimbabwe's
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were "unacceptable", he said
SA was still trying to get the Zimbabwean government and the MDC to the
Mwanawasa said yesterday the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
had failed to make progress in talks with Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe. "Quiet diplomacy has failed to help solve the political chaos and
economic meltdown in Zimbabwe," Mwanawasa said during a five-day state visit
"As I speak right now, one SADC country has sunk into such economic
difficulties that it may be likened to a sinking Titanic whose passengers
are jumping off in a bid to save their lives."
Zambian government newspapers said Mwanawasa had suggested SADC would soon
take a stand on Zimbabwe. The regional grouping is due to meet in Tanzania
next week to discuss the situation.
Kaunda, historically an ally of Mugabe, urged African leaders to appoint a
committee of eminent people to mediate Zimbabwe's worsening political
Kaunda told state-run radio the issue needed to be resolved urgently.
In SA, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South
African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said it was a shame that while SA was
celebrating Human Rights Day yesterday, the citizens of neighbouring
Zimbabwe were being subjected to all kinds of human rights abuses.
Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon said SA was using bureaucratic excuses
to shield tyrants and despots from international scrutiny.
"It speaks volumes that the government could not even bring itself to
condemn last week's arrest and torture of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai," he
Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder said SA's behaviour concerning
Zimbabwe was "sad" considering all the work President Thabo Mbeki had done
to improve the image of Africa.
Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille said that as South Africans
celebrated Human Rights Day, they needed to think of Zimbabweans being
"subjected to the kind of tyranny reminiscent of the apartheid regime and
its security apparatus".
Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said the union federation's campaign for
human rights and democracy in Zimbabwe needed to be intensified. The union
dedicated the day to members of Zimbabwe's Congress of Trade Unions, members
of which would be risking their lives on April 3-4 when they took part in a
South African organisations were also planning events in solidarity with the
Zimbabweans, he said. With Sapa
22 March 2007
IT STRIKES me that one of the really tragic things about Zimbabwe is the
absence of a strong, autonomous civil, cultural and intellectual society
that could anticipate the tragicomedy of Robert Mugabe. Mugabe is proof yet
again that, left to their own devices, politic-ians often turn out to be
their people's worst enemies.
Most likely Zimbabwe's civic and intellectual leaders could not resist
prostrating themselves to "the ruler". One need only read Ngugi wa Thiongo'o's
novel, the Wizard of the Crow, for a dramatisation of the tragedy that
follows when societies mortgage their futures to one individual. However,
the oft-expressed disappointment with Mugabe reveals more about our tendency
to put too much stock in leaders than the failure of those leaders to live
up to our expectations.
Pity the country that leaves its fate to politicians, because invariably
such a country is left to clean up after the mess created by those very same
politicians. It seems important, therefore, that a country should create as
many autonomous intellectual spaces as possible in anticipation of the worst
possible political fallout.
Nothing can be more anticipatory of such outcomes than the existence of a
critical consciousness among the citizenry - a state of alertness that makes
it possible for people to speak out at the slightest indication of
authoritarian megalomania. The level of such consciousness is almost
impossible to measure, save to say that we must instinctively speak out
against political hubris, and that instinct must come as naturally to us as
it must to those who come after us.
I have often wondered what gives President Thabo Mbeki special access to the
experience of racism - access those of us who lived under the apartheid
regime all those dark years somehow seem never to have had. Race has such a
privileged space in the president's thinking that no ordinary personal
experience has any autonomy. The irony of this apparent radicalism is that
black experience is always explained in terms of white experience. In this
over-racialised framework, HIV/AIDS does not have any autonomy - it is white
people who see black people as "germ carriers".
In the same way, corruption does not have any autonomy - it is a figment of
white people's imagination. Crime does not have any autonomy - it is white
people fixated on black people as the "swart gevaar".
There are two ways to interpret our president's approach to race. We can say
either he is consistent in his articulation of the racial foundations of
every social problem, or that he has simply run out of ideas. Having come
aground, he finds himself imprisoned in his own framework and is thus left
only to regurgitating the same racial mantra over and over again. If the
latter explanation is true, then the next two years of his presidency are
going to be pretty long indeed. But a proud and alert people ought to be
able to generate ideas about racism outside this over-racialised framework.
To be sure, this country is still full of racists. I meet them every day. I
am, however, less sure if it is the role of a country's president to issue
generalised harangues about white people on that supposition. A president
who fights those battles for us risks incapacitating us and, even more
ominously, leaves us entirely dependent on his judgment. The citizens must
take the fight against racism on its own merits to our civic, intellectual
and cultural spaces - backed always by the force of law. We must talk about
it, we must write about it, and we must use our constitution to fight it.
Our firmness and resolve in fighting racism must be matched only by a
willingness to love and accept those we seek to change.
And this is where the role of head of state needs to be different from what
we have seen from Mbeki. Symbolically, the president stands as the
representative of everyone, including the sections of the population he
finds disagreeable. He must find it within his heart to love them and even
accept their integrity. Substantively, he must use the bully pulpit of his
presidency to point to the need to fight racism. However, that is quite
different from a dependence on race as a political crutch for every policy
It is all of our civic and intellectual responsibilities to develop a
critical consciousness that enables us to distinguish between the abstract
jargon of power and people's everyday experiences. The president may have no
real experience of this, but race was the farthest thing from my mind when I
Dr Mangcu is executive chairman of the Platform for Public Deliberation, and
a visiting scholar at the Public Intellectual Life Project at Wits
University. He is also a nonresident WEB Du Bois Fellow at Harvard
TRUST schools have won their legal battle against the Ministry of Education,
Sport and Culture over the baseline for fee increases and the method of
calculating fees for the third term of last year and the first term of this
They have also had two interim orders confirmed. These barred the ministry
from closing schools or having school authorities arrested until all other
legal remedies are exhausted, declared void maximum fees set by the
ministry, and barred the ministry from confiscating any fee in excess of
what it laid down as the correct fee.
The legal interpretation of the fees section of the Act and the confirmation
of the interim orders were given in a ruling yesterday by Justice Samuel
Kudya in the High Court after he heard arguments from the schools and the
ministry last week.
The Association of Trust Schools, Arundel, Ariel and Chisipite Junior
Schools Trusts were listed as applicants while the Minister of Education,
Sport and Culture, Cde Aeneas Chigwedere, and the ministry's secretary Dr
Stephen Mahere were cited as respondents in the consolidated cases.
The amended Education Act, which came into effect during the second term of
last year, allows for automatic approval of fee increases so long as these
do not exceed the percentage increase in the consumer price index for the
But a dispute arose between the ministry and the trust schools over several
points, the most critical being ascertaining which term's fees were the
baseline between the fees set by the High Court in February 2005 or the
second term fees of 2006.
The second main point of interpretation was how the consumer price index
would be applied, the ministry contending that day fees could only be
increased by 40 percent of the increase in the CPI while the schools said
all fees could be increased by the full CPI percentage.
After examining the fees section in the original Act and in the amended Act,
Justice Kudya concluded that the arguments presented by the Association of
Trust Schools were correct.
Fees and levies could only be set, under the old Act, by the ministry at the
time when a school was registered or when a registered school wanted to
impose a new fee or levy, rather than just increase the old fee.
Increases of existing fees were legal under the unamended Act so long as
they fell below a maximum percentage increase set by the ministry. Since no
such percentage had been set for the first two terms of last year, the
schools were not obliged to seek permission to raise fees and all fees
charged for these first two terms were, thus, legal.
Because these fees, and especially the fees for the second term of last
year, were legal, the judge ruled that the baseline for applying the CPI
percentage rise was the second term of last year, not the February 2005 fee
set by the courts as the ministry contended.
On the ministry's argument that day schools should increase fees at 40
percent of the rate of boarding schools, effectively at 40 percent of the
CPI rise, the judge noted: "This was a fallacious suggestion which was
sensibly abandoned in argument."
There was further argument over sub-clauses that, so the judge ruled,
applied only to schools that offered both day places and boarding places.
The amended Act states that day fees cannot exceed 40 percent of the
boarding fees if meals are provided or 30 percent if meals are not provided
to day pupils, although the school can make an application to the ministry's
permanent secretary to have this varied.
Justice Kudya noted that the secretary, when considering such an
application, had to apply the four criteria laid down and had to give the
affected schools the right of a hearing before rejecting any applications.
The judge did refuse to grant the trust schools' application to have this
percentage provision set aside pending the finalisation of a court appeal on
their validity since this would go beyond what could be granted in
He also noted that there was no evidence that any school had applied for a
variation, and in the absence of an application and rejection he could not
make any order.
The legal row started in November last year when the Government set maximum
fees and levies for private schools for this term.
The schools were told they risked forfeiture to the State of any extra money
charged, while school authorities would be jailed for periods not exceeding
six months if they flouted the directive.
Justice Kudya confirmed the interim order that declared the set fees void
since the minister had no authority under the Act to set fees for existing
He also ordered that any fees in excess of a legal maximum, found by
calculation, had to be credited to the parent or other fee payer and could
not be forfeited to the State.
In his lengthy judgment, Justice Kudya set the guidelines which should be
followed when increasing fees in accordance with the law.
The baseline was the second term of last year when the amendments came into
The percentages that could be applied were the percentage rises in the CPI
for the second term of last year when calculating the third term fee, and
the then the CPI rise for that term when working out the first term fee of
All agreed that the CPI rose 142,65 percent in the second term last year and
159,55 percent in the third term.
The schools had applied, as required, for the fees so the secretary had to
first calculate the third term 2006 fee before applying that term's CPI rise
to calculate the first term 2007 fee for each school. The percentage rises
for each term were those all agreed were the CPI figures.
The court also prohibited the Secretary for Education from limiting any
increase for day schools to a percentage of CPI's increase, among others.
The secretary also had to check, where a school offered both day and
boarding places, whether the day fees did not exceed the laid-down
The secretary had 10 days to process applications and schools could collect
the decision from his office.
If any application was rejected, the secretary had 48 hours after notifying
the school to provide written reasons for his rejection.
Justice Kudya said the court order would remain in force pending any appeal
and until set aside by a competent court and would not be suspended merely
by noting an appeal.
The ministry was ordered to pay the costs of the Association of Trust
Mrs Sheila Jarvis of Atherstone and Cook represented the schools, while Mr
Clement Muchenga, assisted by Mrs Virginia Mabhiza of the Civil Division of
the Attorney General's Office, appeared for the minister and the secretary
22 March 2007
CAPE TOWN - In perhaps its strongest statement on Zimbabwe since the crisis
escalated recently, chief government spokesman Themba Maseko said the
beatings of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leaders were "unacceptable"
but indicated that there would be no change in government's approach.
Government has come under increasing criticism for failing to condemn the
violence and for opposing a briefing to the United Nations Security Council
on the Zimbabwe crisis for technical reasons.
However, government has revealed that behind the scenes it is trying to get
the Zimbabwean government and the opposition MDC to the negotiating table.
It said it believed that only dialogue could solve the crisis north of the
Limpopo and that it must involve all stakeholders in Zimbabwe.
The statement after Tuesday's cabinet meeting was still low key and failed
to condemn outright the violence perpetrated by government agencies against
opposition activists in the MDC.
Government reiterated the foreign affairs ministry's stance that it would
not condone violence, but Maseko expressed only extreme concern after a
second round of attacks on the MDC.
Maseko said at the conclusion of the cabinet meeting that there had been a
great deal of condemnation of President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu (PF)
government, but "none of it had worked".
He was responding to a question when asked why SA's approach had not worked.
He said "the beatings are unacceptable" but insisted that government
believed that the best way to go was to pour all efforts into finding a
peaceful solution through "quiet diplomacy".
"Our view is that an extensive amount of energy and effort must be spent on
getting them all around the table," he said.
Government had been interacting with other leaders in the region with a view
to getting some movement in Zimbabwe.
He said government had also been involved in attempts to get the
protagonists in Zimbabwe around the table, "but it is important to
understand that we cannot drag them to the table".
He said SA had used the same quiet diplomacy successfully in other African
interventions. Therefore, government still felt that it could work in
"Only dialogue among the main political protagonists can help bring about a
lasting solution to the political and economic challenges facing Zimbabwe."
Maseko said government was ready to provide whatever assistance was required
in bringing about a peaceful and lasting solution to Zimbabwe.
He said that if the requests for assistance came from either the Zimbabwe
government or the opposition, SA would respond in the same way as it would
to any request from the Southern African Development Community or the
The Indian Catholic
KONIGSTEIN (CNA): Father Joaquín Alliende, the international
ecclesiastical assistant of Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need
(ACN), is asking all Catholic faithful to pray for Zimbabwe after receiving
a message from a priest in the country.
"We recommend the Zimbabwean people to the Sacred Heart of the Lord, so that
they will recognise the fruit of the Resurrection," Fr. Alliende said.
ACN received a message from a Zimbabwean priest, who asked to remain
anonymous but requested a call for prayers be issued. "The political
situation in Zimbabwe is reaching a boiling point," the African priest
"You may have seen the scenes of brutality against the leader and members of
the only viable opposition party in the international media in recent days.
For us who are on the ground, the brutality caused by a government which
claims to be serving the interests of the people of Zimbabwe makes us very
ashamed before the global family."
"In this age and time," he continued, "nobody would have expected such
barbarism in a country which claims to be a democratic nation but this is
the true reality in our sad and beloved country, Zimbabwe."
"Like before, I am kindly asking for your prayers," the priest said.
"Actually, Zimbabwe needs your prayers more than ever before; for the people
are experiencing a multitude of problems ranging from high inflation,
unemployment, food shortages, and political violence."
The priest said that although times are extremely tough, "we are beginning
to see some light at the end of the tunnel." He said that the recent show of
violence against the people of Zimbabwe is actually a sign that things may
soon change. "The bankrupt regime has run out of ideas, money, and political
credibility. Hence, the only weapon left it is to use force against its own
Ex-minister tipped to take over from Mutsvangwa in China
FORMER Public Service and National Housing Minister Frederick Shava is
tipped to take over as Zimbabwe's ambassador to China from Chris Mutsvangwa,
who had an inglorious exit from the vast Asian state, one of the few nations
that still back Harare's controversial policies.
Highly placed sources said Shava, the ruling party's director, sidelined in
1987 after being caught in what came to be known as the 'Willowgate scandal'
but whose star started shining again in the mid-1990s, had been given the
thumbs up by influential ZANU PF bigwigs.
"It is just a matter of time before an appropriate announcement is made,"
said a party insider.
If appointed, Shava will have the unenviable task of transforming
China-Zimbabwe relations from political rhetoric into commercial ties
beneficial to both countries.
Ranked one of the world's fastest growing economies, China has signed a
number of MoUs (Memorandum of Understanding) with state-owned enterprises in
Zimbabwe and has supplied Zimbabwe with buses, civilian and military
But not much has come out of China's friendship despite it being touted as
one of Zimbabwe's biggest trading partners.
Zimbabwe's exclusion from President Hu Jintao's itinerary during his recent
visit to eight African states including South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia
in January this year has been taken to mean that China's patience with
Zimbabwe could be wearing thin because of Harare's failure to translate
political rhetoric into action.
Jintao's visit was aimed at enhancing existing ties and expanding China's
influence across the continent.
President Robert Mugabe has adopted a "Look East" policy after being
ostracised by the West over alleged human rights abuses. The Zimbabwean
leader has however scoffed at the allegations, saying his government is
being vilified for addressing historical imbalances by parcelling out land
from the minority whites to landless blacks.
In contrast, while China is experiencing a major boom, Zimbabwe has been
ranked as one of the world's fastest shrinking economies with unemployment
standing at above 80 percent and inflation at 1 729 percent.
Shava fell from grace after he was convicted for his involvement in the
Willowgate scandal in which five senior government ministers were forced to
resign for using their privileged positions to buy new cars from Willowvale
Mazda Motor Industries at a fixed price without paying sales tax.
The vehicles were then sold well above the maximum price allowed by the
In 1987, President Mugabe pardoned Shava and after spending some years in
the political wilderness, the former Public Service Minister bounced back at
the ZANU PF headquarters.
Shava, who chaired Zidco Holdings from 1980 to 1998, is currently embroiled
in a bitter legal tussle with Patrick Kombayi, a senior Movement for
Democratic Change official. Kombayi successfully obtained writs of execution
against Shava and Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Rural Housing Minister, for
allegedly making false claims about the Gweru-based businessman regarding
his role during the liberation struggle.
Shava alleged in a book written by Midlands State University vice-chancellor
Professor Ngwabi Bhebe on the late vice-president Simon Muzenda entitled
Simon Muzenda and The Struggle for the Liberation of Zimbabwe that Kombayi
was part of a clique in 1977 and 1978 together with Henry Hamadziripi and
others that plotted to derail the liberation struggle.
KEY economic partners yesterday converged in Vumba to lay the foundation for
the proposed social contract, which was supposed to come into effect at the
beginning of this month.
Government and business sources said the International Labour Organisation
and the United Nations Development Programme were facilitating the meeting
whose goal is to educate business, government and labour on the meaning of a
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche is leading
the government delegation at the talks, which are also being attended by the
Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe, the Confederation of Zimbabwe
Industries and the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, representing
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions is representing labour.
The social contract, the main thrust of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor
Gideon Gono's monetary policy statement presented in January, is premised on
the need to attain mutual understanding on prices, wages and productivity
among government, business and labour.
Under the proposed social contract, Gono proposed the freezing of prices and
wages from March.
The government hopes a freeze could help arrest soaring inflation, the
highest in the world at about 1 730 percent.
Labour and business leaders recently began talks with government under the
auspices of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum.
But economic critics doubt the government's commitment to economic and
political reform considering its recent crackdown on the opposition and on
Civil discontent is rising in the country over the deepening economic crisis
that has triggered a series of strikes as workers battle with rising prices
of basic commodities, which are becoming unaffordable for many.
Political analysts warn that the aggravating economic crisis could spark
anti-government street protests.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
Police detain URL boss over cooking oil price
POLICE this week briefly detained United Refineries Limited (URL) managing
director Busisa Moyo for allegedly flouting price controls, in the latest
incident in the government's ongoing blitz on industry.
Police officers from the Licence Inspectorate and Price Control Unit
arrested Moyo on Monday morning before setting him free later in the day,
for allegedly hiking the retail price of cooking oil without government
Moyo confirmed his arrest and said police interrogated him for increasing
the retail price of cooking oil.
Earlier this year, Moyo appeared in court to answer charges of flouting
price controls. He was, however, freed after the court ruled that the
charges preferred against him by the police were not in order.
"They are pressing fresh charges for increasing the price of cooking oil
without the (Industry and Trade) Minister's approval," Moyo said.
Trade and commerce laws compel manufacturers of selected basic commodities
to first seek government approval before increasing prices. But most
manufacturers have ignored the directive because of government delays in
authorising the proposed price increases, which leave manufacturers at the
mercy of rising production costs.
A 750 ml of cooking oil retails for $10 000, double the controlled price of
Moyo joins the growing list of executives who in recent months have found
themselves on the wrong side of the law for flouting price control
Last month the government arrested Mike Manga and Ian Kind, executives of
Zimbabwe's largest milling companies, after they circumvented government
approval to increase the retail price of bakers' flour.
URL, 71 percent of whose production consists of edible oils and the
remainder of detergents, is 20 percent controlled by industrial conglomerate
TA Holdings, which has been weighing options to disinvest from the company.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Reporter
THE standoff between the government and the baking sector has started taking
its toll amid indications that some of the major industry players are
winding down their operations.
Superbake, one of the country's largest bakers, yesterday announced that it
had closed half of its bakeries and laid off about 1 500 workers as the
impasse over the pricing of bread claimed its first casualty.
National Bakers Association (NBA) acting chairman, Vincent Mangoma,
yesterday warned of a total collapse of the industry if the government
continues to ignore submissions made by the sector.
"Bakers are closed, they are not manufacturing bread. There is no way we can
remain in business under these current circumstances," Mangoma said.
The bread industry had pinned its hopes on Tuesday's Cabinet meeting but, as
it turned out, the issue was not discussed.
Sources said the government had chosen to seek further verification on the
various costings submitted by the baking industry, through the Ministry of
Industry and International Trade before it could reach a position.
A standard loaf of bread has a gazetted retail price of $825, which equates
to nearly one-fifth of the commuter fare to Harare's medium-density suburb
of Msasa Park.
To stop the bleeding, bakers are pushing for a price rise under $4 000 per
standard loaf but the government is said to be putting a lid on the
suggested increase for fear of fuelling political tensions following last
Superbake, a subsidiary of Harambe Holdings, yesterday said the
government-imposed prices had failed to offset production costs that are
increasing on a daily basis due to underlying inflationary pressures.
"Diesel prices have shot up: diesel now takes up 60 percent of the cost of a
loaf, much more than the main ingredient: wheat flour with packaging, which
used to be three percent is now taking up between 16 and 18 percent of the
cost due to foreign exchange factors," said a spokesperson for Superbake.
"The high input costs and delays in determining the price of bread mean that
the bread industry sinks further into debt on a daily basis," added the
Superbake, which also operates as Mitchells and Downings, said its business
had been profitable up to the end of 2006, as it received subsidised fuel.
But this concession was removed, leaving the company exposed to a 1 800
percent rise in the cost of flour, sharp fuel price increases and a static
Nkululeko Sibanda Staff Reporter
ZANU PF, desperately trying to end divisions within its ranks, has been
further split by the police beatings of opposition leaders that have
intensified world condemnation of the ruling party and government while
galvanising the opposition.
The clearest sign that those in ZANU PF were no longer seeing eye-to-eye was
the disapproval voiced by the parliamentary committee on transport and
communications over the beating last Sunday of Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) legislator Nelson Chamisa, a member of the committee.
Leo Mugabe, President Robert Mugabe's nephew, chairs the committee.
Reports that a senior ZANU PF politburo member (name supplied) had visited
Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, in hospital have fuelled suspicion within
The committee, dominated by ZANU PF Members of Parliament, said "a full
investigation is in order as Chamisa was on national duty" when he was
Chamisa was on his way to attend a joint European Union-African Caribbean
and Pacific states parliamentary sitting in Brussels.
Highly placed sources said despite the public posturing by the government
that the police acted in defence of the country's independence, divisions
had emerged within the fractious party over the police brutality.
Said a ZANU PF politburo member: "The top brass and the entire leadership of
the party is seriously divided over the issue. While some are on the
President's side on this, there are some who believe that actions such as
those evidenced in the past two months are unwarranted and should be stopped
so as to avoid unnecessary brushes with the international community."
At least 50 political activists who were arrested while preparing to attend
a prayer meeting in Highfield were treated for serious injuries sustained
while they were in police custody.
The sources said a camp that supports President Mugabe's tough stance
maintains that the opposition figures should be subjected to "serious
bashing" should they defy the police ban on political rallies again.
However, another camp is understood to insist that the beatings were
excessive and had further isolated ZANU PF from its remaining foreign allies
and Zimbabwean voters.
A central committee report prepared ahead of ZANU PF's people's conference
last year called for renewed efforts to mend strained relations with the
Some sections of the party are said to believe that the latest beatings have
jeopardized ZANU PF's chances of making new friends.
But State Security Minister, Didymus Mutasa who doubles up as the ZANU PF
secretary for administration, this week denied that the police brutality had
caused divisions, saying the ruling party was still united against
Said Mutasa: "Members are of the view that there is need to defend our
policies as we have done before, even in the face of the rising pressure
from the international community. We will continue to defend the party's
position because we believe it's the right thing to do."
John Nkomo, the ZANU PF national chairman, referred all questions to the
party's spokesperson, Nathan Shamuyarira. He said the information and
publicity department of the party was best placed to handle such matters.
"I cannot comment on such matters. This is Shamuyarira's portfolio. Talk to
him, he will give you a comment," said Nkomo on Tuesday.
Shamuyarira yesterday scoffed at suggestions that the police's handling of
the political activists had split the party, saying the divisions only
existed in the eyes of the media.
A defiant President Mugabe told Western critics of his government's policies
to "go hang", in remarks that gratified hardliners in his party, but alarmed
its less radical members.
Sharp divisions, linked to the succession issue are ravaging the ruling
party as aspiring ZANU PF bigwigs jostle to position themselves ahead of
President Mugabe's retirement. The rift worsened in 2004, ahead of the
party's December congress, following intense jockeying for the vacant
vice-president's post, which was eventually filled by Joice Mujuru.
Mujuru's husband, retired army general Solomon Mujuru, is said to head one
of the three factions, while Emmerson Mnangagwa, the ZANU PF secretary for
legal affairs leads another faction. The third faction is linked to
President Mugabe's "loyalists".
President Mugabe had initially hinted at retiring at the expiry of his
current term but the veteran politician seems to have had a change of heart.
In a recent interview, the Zimbabwean leader, who turned 83 last month, said
he is prepared to stand for another term if it is the people's wish.
Meanwhile, a top official of the African Union's rights agency has written
to President Mugabe to protest over what she described as the deteriorating
human rights situation in Zimbabwe.
At the same time, South Africa's ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mlungisi Makhalima,
has become the latest high profile diplomat to hold talks with opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, officials said.
Pansy Tlakula, the South African-based commissioner for the African
Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) and Special Rapporteur on
the Freedom of Expression, protesting the arrest of three journalists
covering recent protests, asked President Mugabe to ensure Zimbabwe abided
by the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, to which the country is
"I actually met (photographer) Tsvangirai Mukwazhi during my visit and I saw
with my own eyes the serious injuries he sustained on his back during a
beating by the police. Not only was he in pain but he was also traumatised
by the experience. His eyes were full of tears as he narrated to me the
incidents of March 11. His car, equipment and laptop were confiscated by the
police," Tlakula said.
Tlakula, a South African, was also briefed on the torture of Tsvangirai and
at least 49 other opposition leaders.
According to sources, Tlakula was "shocked" by the graphic accounts given by
the opposition leaders, and said she would brief both President Thabo Mbeki
and ACHPR chairman Alpha Oumar Konare.
"She promised to meet President Mbeki and then Konare," said a source that
met Tlakula. "She asked Tsvangirai to write a personal account of what
transpired while in police custody."
She heard from opposition leaders how suspected military officers had
brutalised them in police cells. "She saw for herself riot police beating up
people in Glen View at the funeral wake of the late Gift Tandare".
Tlakula later met heads of organisations campaigning for free expression,
where she was told how government was using tough security and media laws to
stifle citizens' rights to free expression and assembly.
Tendai Biti, secretary general of Tsvangirai's faction of the MDC, confirmed
that SA envoy Makhalima visited Tsvangirai.
"He (Tsvangirai) met the South African ambassador, Professor Makhalima, on
Monday, and they discussed a wide range of issues, including the torture we
suffered under the police."
Visiting Tsvangirai has earned Western diplomats a sharp rebuke from the
Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi on Monday threatened to
expel Western diplomats for what he said was their support for the
But concern has been raised even by Zimbabwe's erstwhile African allies. AU
chairman John Kufuor termed the beatings "embarrassing", while Konare has
demanded a full probe into claims of torture.
Tanzania, which chairs the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
troika on defence and security - the other members are Namibia and Lesotho -
announced last week that a meeting on Zimbabwe has been scheduled for this
weekend in Dar es Salaam.
The announcement followed an urgent visit to Harare last Thursday by
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete to express regional concern over the
treatment of the opposition leaders. After five hours of talks however, a
defiant President Mugabe emerged to tell his critics to "go hang".
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
ZAMBIA will not export any more grain to Zimbabwe as it looks to avoid
shortages in its own market after floods hit parts of the country, The
Financial Gazette can reveal.
The ban on grain exports leaves Zimbabwe with no choice but to import from
either South Africa or Malawi, which recently lifted a ban on the export of
maize and is projected to record a maize surplus.
Failing that, the country would have to source grain at very high cost from
countries as far as Brazil, which according to the United Nations Food and
Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will also have surpluses.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Zimbabwe is
projected to harvest 850 000 metric tonnes of maize and will have to close
the gap through imports or food aid.
The government has so far imported 400 000 tonnes of maize to cover the
deficit. It needs 1,8 million tonnes to meet national requirements.
Ben Kapita, Zambia's Agriculture Minister, said on Tuesday his country
anticipates food shortages resulting from the floods that hit most parts of
the country hence the decision to rescind exports of surplus grain.
He however, said millers and grain traders had been allowed to clear
outstanding maize contracts and no new maize exports would be allowed
Zambia's Food Reserve Agency, a statutory body with the mandate to purchase
maize and other cereals for the national reserve, currently has 150 000
tonnes of maize.
An estimated 421 000 tonnes of maize is still with the farmers.
Zimbabwe, which is in the throes of a decade-long economic recession, has
declared 2007 a drought year after writing off half the country's crop.
Ever since the emotive land reforms of 2000, the country has struggled to
feed its 13 million people owing to a combination of the drought,
disturbances on most commercial farms and the shortages of inputs among
FAO has already written off Zimbabwe's crop harvest for 2007 saying the
country will once again face a serious grain deficit as a result of
shortages of critical agricultural inputs, which were in short supply or
were high priced during the just ended agricultural season.
Already the United Nations has launched a US$215 million humanitarian appeal
of which US$62 million will go towards food aid requirements.
THE government's tourism marketing body, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority
(ZTA), has conceded that last week's political events have cast a new shadow
over already dim prospects of a revival in the country's tourism industry.
ZTA chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke, said government attacks on the
opposition, which have grabbed world headlines, were a setback to the
marketing of Zimbabwe as a secure tourist destination.
"The political events of the past week have a negative effect on Zimbabwe as
a tourist destination. The issue of destination image is one that we dealt
with extensively in the now much talked about National Tourism Development
and Marketing Strategy," said Kaseke yesterday.
"We believe we worked out a diagnosis of ourselves as a tourist destination
and the strategies and programmes we developed were meant to redress the
negative image that Zimbabwe has in our major source markets."
Events of the past week have hogged major international news channels.
Pictures of bludgeoned Movement for Democratic Change leaders accompany most
of the reports.
But Kaseke still holds hope for a recovery. He said: "This is not a case of
one step forward and two steps backwards, no never. It is a case of ten
steps forward and one step backwards. We will recover the one step back we
encountered as a result of the setback when we make another ten steps
forward. Our strategic intent is to regain and increase the country's market
share in the traditional markets whilst aggressively penetrating the new
"Temporary setbacks such as the political events of last week were factored
during the strategy formulation stage. Our focus until December 2007 is to
redress the negative image and from January 2008 to December 2010 we will be
concentrating on building a positive image."
According to Kaseke, "when events such as those of the past week occur we
should move rapidly to restore normal conditions".
Synodia Bhasera and Christella Langton
ZIMBABWE will lose over US$15 million each year for the next 20 years if a
proposed ban on ivory trade succeeds, parks officials say.
Kenya and Mali have proposed a trade ban in raw or manufactured ivory in
Zimbabwe, arguing that allowing any further trade in ivory would spur
According to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, if the
proposal succeeds, the lucrative trophy hunting business would be badly
"We have opposed the proposal considering how much we are going to lose.
Already we have lost much through research and travel. A single (hunted)
elephant gives us about US$30 000. Imagine how much the authority is likely
to lose if the proposal succeeds," said Morris Mutsambiwa, the authority's
Kenya and Mali will present their proposals on the ban at this year's
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and
Flora (CITES) meeting, which is to be held in the Netherlands in June.
Zimbabwe is currently battling an overpopulation of elephant, with the
estimated annual population growth rate of 5 percent. Parks fears that the
animals would pose a further threat to the environment and human life if
hunting is banned. A survey conducted by the World Wide Fund for Nature
showed that Zimbabwe's elephant population stands at more than 100 000,
against a carrying capacity of 47 000. Hwange National Park alone has an
elephant population of 45 000.
The authority has set up a national technical committee comprising experts
from the public and private sector to produce a document on elephant
management and sustainability, which would be used to counter the ban
"We are preparing documents that will answer issues raised as justification
for the proposal. We will have meetings with Namibia, South Africa and
Botswana to discuss strategies. We will then move into SADC (the Southern
African Development Community) to form a common position," Mutsambiwa said.
CITES banned international commercial trade in ivory in 1989 but in 1997,
after recognising that some southern African elephant populations were
healthy and well managed, permitted Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe to make a
one-time sale of ivory to Japan.
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
IT is not only opposition politicians that are nursing aches and pains after
a week of unrest. Business, especially tourism, has taken major knocks after
images of badly injured opposition activists were beamed to the world over
the past week.
The Zimbabwe dollar lost a quarter of its value in the week up to last
Friday, while the few tour operators still getting some business reported
The tourism industry, which has so far suffered the brunt of the poor
publicity because of state repression, has reported that tourism arrivals
dropped sharply as bookings were cancelled. One official said the intensity
of the media coverage of the beatings of opposition leaders had created the
impression of a country at war, scaring away any would-be tourists.
"We are receiving reports from our prime tourist areas that business has
been reacting to the events of the past three days. I am told by some
operators in Victoria Falls that bookings, especially from Europe, have been
cancelled or put on hold as a result of the events of the past week," said
an executive with a listed hotels group.
Francis Mazani, Victoria Falls manager for Avis Car Hire, said: "Business
has slumped. We were already being affected by fuel shortages, and now these
events will affect our businesses even more. We are now seeing only
businesspeople and the maintenance people from Hwange Power Station."
The president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), Callisto
Jokonya, also added his voice to growing concerns from business players over
the impact events of the past week will have on business.
"The civil unrest of the past few weeks will add further pressure on our
economy. We hope there will be a resolution to the problems as soon as
possible because, certainly, it's a threat to the economy," Jokonya told
media and analysts at an earnings briefing for a bank.
Analysts said if unrest escalated into full scale, violent street protests
as feared, insurance companies would bear the brunt, as claims would soar.
Insurance companies have come off a difficult year in which massive fire
claims were brought by Zimasco, Red Star and Sable Chemicals.
Riots in January 1998 - in which property was either looted or damaged - saw
massive insurance payouts. This forced a number of insurance companies to
review their policies on "political risk", and forced retailers to spend
fortunes on fortifying their facades and increasing overall security.
Another effect of the current standoff between opposition and government
would be to throw talks over a possible social contract, already in doubt,
into further jeopardy. The country's labour unions are planning a two-day
national strike next month, which would further heighten tensions.
Personal Glimpses with Mavis Makuni
ZIMBABWE'S police chiefs never have never missed a chance to pat themselves
on the back for the alleged professionalism of the country's law enforcers
both at home and when they are invited to participate in international
In recent months, Zimbabwean police contingents have participated in
peacekeeping missions in East Timor, Liberia, Sudan and Kosovo. Upon
departure for or arrival back from these assignments, the nation has been
told of their dedication and ability to execute their duties professionally.
When a squad of 20 police officers left to join a United Nations
peacekeeping mission in Sudan last month, Acting Police Commissioner Godwin
Matanga said, "Our officers have stood shoulder to shoulder with officers
from other police organisations and have proved to be of high professional
pedigree as they have managed to land leadership roles in various mission
He believed it was because of their efficient and effective contribution
that Zimbabwean police had made a significant contribution in rebuilding
police services in various parts of the world that had experienced
protracted wars and civil unrest.
On another occasion when yet another team was leaving to join a UN
peacekeeping mission, Matanga was more fulsome in his praise of the police
force saying, "Without doubt, it is a clear indication that we are and have
always discharged our duties professionally and in accordance with
international police standards, for had it not been for that, the United
Nations would not have invited us to provide personnel for peacekeeping
duties." In November last year, when 31 officers left for a UN peacekeeping
mission in East Timor, Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri said the fact
that the world body asked Zimbabwe to send contingents to such initiatives
was "clear testimony" of the professionalism of the force. "Let me hasten to
remind you that the organisation and the country is happy that our
participation has never been through canvassing, but is through our
dedicated professionalism that we have always exhibited locally and
Following the events of the past week when the world has been confronted
with gruelling images of brutalised leaders of the opposition and the
National Constitutional Assembly, it is hard to believe that the
organisation that provides police officers who are supposedly paragons of
professional integrity and efficiency during international missions is the
same one accused of perpetrating these horrors at home.
It is difficult to see how anyone can regard the local police force as being
the "envy of many" as a state-controlled paper once declared in a headline,
when they seem incapable of performing the most basic and routine of
duties - effecting an arrest without resorting to force. The much touted and
impeccable record Zimbabwean police are supposed to have established on the
international scene presents a dichotomy that perhaps only the father of
psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, could explain.
As far the ordinary person can deduce, the police seem to be suffering from
a complex of some sort that makes them believe that their own compatriots
are less worthy of the professional and humane treatment they accord
citizens of other countries during international assignments. Their double
standards are, in the words of one psychologist akin to "the hired killer
who, after dispassionately shooting someone in a dark parking lot, goes
home, kisses his wife and children, telephones his mother to find out
whether her arthritis is any better and then sits down with a beer to watch
the late show."
This sort of hypocrisy is not different from that exhibited by some heads of
state who pose on the international scene as champions of justice and fair
play for the people of Africa while subjecting their own people to brutal
and tyrannical governance. Charity should begin at home.
About six months ago when leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
were assaulted while they were in police custody, the explanation given by
the law enforcers was that this had happened because the unionists had
resisted arrest. Following the vicious beatings perpetrated against Movement
for Democratic Change leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, National Constitutional
Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku and scores of opposition activists, it is
being claimed once again that this occurred because these people resisted
arrest. But the police have never told the nation exactly what the victims
of their brutality did to "resist arrest" considering that in both the
instances cited above, they were battered when they were already in police
custody. But even supposing, for argument's sake, that anyone would be
foolhardy enough to try to take to his or her heels, are we being told that
a single detainee could elude the armies of police details normally assigned
to arrest opposition activists.
It does not make sense for the police to tell the nation that bashing people
repeatedly with blunt objects until they are bloody and swollen is easier
and more professional than simply placing handcuffs on their wrists as
required by Zimbabwean and international law. Since this is preposterous, it
is safe to conclude that "resisting arrest" is an encoded phrase for
something the police are hiding from the nation although it is obvious to
all and sundry. The police are not doing themselves any favours by
portraying themselves to the world and the people of Zimbabwe who pay the
taxes that finance their
operations and livelihoods as backward predators preying on the very people
they are supposed to protect.
As American Supreme Court judge, Justice Felix Frankfurter once observed,
"The history of liberty has largely been the history of observance of
procedural safeguards" whose purpose is not to "convenience the guilty but
to protect the innocent".
The police in Zimbabwe have to consistently stick to professional ethics and
procedures so that they can assure all Zimbabweans of their basic human
rights - freedom of expression, association, assembly and freedom from
In a chapter titled EQUALITY UNDER THE LAW the authors of a book on
government have this to say: "Certain liberties are essential to the
operation of democratic government. But these liberties are not merely means
of attaining self-government, they are ends in themselves. They do not exist
to protect the government, the government exists to protect them."
Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent
After almost a decade of foot-dragging, subterfuge, complicity and outright
refusal to confront the issue, the African Union (AU) and the Southern
Africa Development Community (SADC) seem at last to be sitting up and taking
notice of the problems in Zimbabwe.
Over the past week, when tensions have escalated in Zimbabwe following the
arrest and battering of opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur
Mutambara of the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change and the
chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, Lovemore Madhuku along
with scores of opposition activists, the AU has stirred from its slumber of
misplaced solidarity. First to speak out was AU chairman, Ghanaian president
John Kufuor, who was on a state visit to Britain when the story of the
police brutality against opposition politicians hit world headlines.
Kufuor said African leaders were "embarrassed" by the situation in Zimbabwe
and suggested for the first time that they could do more to help. "The
African Union is very uncomfortable. The situation in your country is very
embarrassing", Kufuor told a Zimbabwean questioner during a visit to Catham
House in London. After being heckled by Zimbabweans enraged by the failure
of African leaders to take a firm stand on the crisis in Zimbabwe, the
Ghanaian leader conceded that more could be done.
"I think we should all assume that all these institutions, the African
Union, mean well. Perhaps we have not exhausted the means to give us a
handle on the situation so we can help Zimbabwe return to normality." The
Ghanaian president's statement that the AU is serious about helping to
resolve the Zimbabwean crisis is almost revolutionary considering that so
far African institutions have seemed to be hamstrung by the old Organisation
of African Unity (OAU) principle of "non-interference in the internal
affairs of members states."
Kufuor's sentiments on the escalating crisis in Zimbabwe were echoed by the
chairman of the AU Commission, Alpha Konare, who has called for the
observance of human rights in Zimbabwe. In a press statement at the weekend,
Konare said he had followed recent developments in Zimbabwe with great
concern. He stressed "the need for the scrupulous respect for human rights
and democratic principles in Zimbabwe."
The AU's new stance is a far cry from the nonchalance it has been accused of
exhibiting over the years when it has appeared to collude with President
Robert Mugabe's government to keep discussion of the Zimbabwean issue off
the continental body's agenda. Numerous attempts by Zimbabwean civic groups
and media representatives to appeal to the African Commission on Human and
Peoples Rights have all been in vain as one reason or another has always
been given for not taking up the issues raised.
The AU has in the past been accused of letting the Zimbabwean government off
the hook too easily when it has offered implausible reasons for its failure
to submit reports on the human rights situation within the country. The
regional body, SADC has similarly been accused of duplicity although this
perception could now change following the hurried visit of Tanzanian
President, Jakaya Kikwete to Zimbabwe last week. The Tanzanian leader is the
chairman of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security. His country
chairs the SADC troika on Zimbabwe whose other members are Lesotho and
Namibia. This grouping is scheduled to meet in Dar es Salaam this weekend to
discuss the Zimbabwean problem.
The strongest straws in the wind to show that things were changing, however
came from the land of "quiet diplomacy" where President Thabo Mbeki's
Cabinet issued a statement saying it was "extremely" concerned over the
unfolding violence and "the reported abuse of human rights" in Zimbabwe. "We
are extremely concerned particularly about the violence that is unfolding in
Zimbabwe. The need for dialogue is absolutely essential because we believe
that violence from any quarter is not a viable solution to the problems that
are experienced in Zimbabwe."
South Africa's head of government communications, Themba Maseko said Mbeki's
government continued to work with all stakeholders through the AU and SADC
to get all concerned parties in Zimbabwe to the negotiating table. The South
African government did not share the view that the time for dialogue had
passed but believed it was more imperative than ever before for Zimbabweans
to discuss their problems now. "We need to continue extensive interaction
between our government and the government of Zimbabwe", Maseko said.
Until he threw in the towel towards the end of last year, Mbeki was SADC's
troubleshooter on Zimbabwe. His "quiet diplomacy" approach however meant
that throughout the four years he acted as peace broker, the South African
leader remained tight- lipped and never once spoke out on the disturbances
in Zimbabwe as his Cabinet has now done. He claimed that if he had
confronted President Mugabe over alleged human rights abuses the Zimbabwean
leader would have told him "to go to hell".
-email feedback to:
A STITCH in time saves nine or rather an ounce of prevention is worth a
pound of cure, so they say.
While the application of these time-honoured English idioms that are as old
as Methuselah (the Hebrew patriarch who was supposed to have lived for 969
years) is as wide as the Amazon - there could not be a better way of drawing
lessons from them than to look closely at the costly impasse between tobacco
farmers and the state.
The flue-cured tobacco-selling season - initially pencilled to open on March
14 - has been indefinitely postponed after farmers dug in their heels
protesting the unviable exchange rate and deafening silence from the
government over an eagerly awaited support price used in the past to shield
the struggling tobacco farmer from rampant cost escalations.
For the umpteenth time the nation, which had hoped to harvest a bit of the
scarce foreign exchange to assuage the pandemonium in the currency markets,
has been caught with its pants down and yet the writing has been on the wall
Over and over again, around this time of the year, tobacco farmers have
voiced the same concern of poor prices that do not correspond with the heavy
investment sunk into the production of the golden leaf. But alas, the
agriculture ministry has been found wanting for reasons best known to
officials at Ngungunyana Building, the ministry's headquarters.
While some of the demands put forward by the embattled tobacco farmers might
appear outrageous given the fact that a good number of them got input
assistance from the state granary, the Grain Marketing Board, and land and
tillage facilities from the government, surely an exchange rate of $250 that
has held since July last year against the greenback is just not viable if
the country is serious about encouraging tobacco production.
From being one of the top four tobacco exporters in the world, alongside
China, Brazil and the United States, the country's tobacco crop has
plummeted from a peak of 220 million kg in 1998 to about 50 million kg in
the last season.
If anyone doubted it, this is a monumental failure by any standards. It is
proves that someone, somewhere is definitely sleeping behind the wheel, to
borrow from central bank boss Gideon Gono, who has popularised the cliché.
While it remains to be seen how the government will deal with this one, it
is however, clear that the farmers are in two minds. On one hand, some are
clamouring for a price of US$4 per kg at an exchange rate of $500 to the US
dollar, up from US$1.99 last year at a rate of $105 while others prefer a
price commensurate with parallel market rates now in excess of $14 000 to
Whichever way the officials decide to take, the outcome has to be one where
the farmer gets a decent return to enable him/her to continue producing
while at the same time containing the ripple effects on the tottering
It all boils down to planning at the end of the day.
Planning is the fundamental principle of good management, more so for public
institutions. Sun Tzu, the late Chinese author, whose oldest military
treatise in the world, The Art of War, has had immense influence on
corporate and political leaders alike, summed it all up when he wrote:
"Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be
fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to
battle will arrive exhausted." In other words, failing to plan is planning
What confuses the mind is that each year we have to wait for the tobacco
selling season to begin in order to discuss the exchange rate when it is
already too late. Plans should not be cast in stone, they should be reviewed
constantly in line with changing market conditions. The same goes for price
reviews, which should be an ongoing exercise, particularly in light of the
four-digit inflationary environment epitomising the Zimbabwean economy.
Surely, with the rate at which prices are going up i.e. labour, water,
electricity, chemicals and transport, it would be suicidal for the farmer to
accept the July price eight months down the line unless there is a huge
subsidy accompanying it. And yet subsidising a commercial enterprise like
farming would be tantamount to stretching the taxpayer's thinning patience
beyond the limits.
Not only has the farmer to contend with soaring production costs. Threats of
confiscation of farms from "unproductive farmers" and concerns over security
of tenure are still very much alive.
Without a viable price, no sane farmer is prepared to toil for peanuts. In
the end, government's arrogance will only serve to drive the farmer out of
production of controlled crops, migrating into more profitable ones that may
not necessarily add value to the economy.
Farming is serious business. It goes without saying therefore, that without
proper planning, the country will swing at a terrific Olympic pace while
breaking the wrong records altogether. As business mogul Warren Buffet said:
"Preparation is everything. Noah did not start building the ark when it was
Matters Legal with Vote Muza
Since our 27th Independence anniversary is nigh, I believe it is high time
we all made an honest reflection of our past, so that as a nation we may
identify the blunders, or the pitfalls that have led to the tragedy that
Zimbabwe is today.
In doing so, we need to first ask ourselves whether the troubles that
Zimbabwe has been going through in the preceding years, that have manifested
themselves in our imploding economy, the brutalisation of opposition, civic
and general members of the public by state security agencies is what our
true heroes sacrificed their lives for during the struggle for independence?
I have no doubt in my mind that the many souls who shed their blood for the
sake of our freedom, and some who are still alive today, never envisaged a
Zimbabwe that would be pervaded by lawlessness, impunity, violence, poverty,
corruption, and international isolation - a result of an irresponsible and
desperate political leadership.
So far, and against the wishes of many, who include the international
community that had placed a lot of hope in seeing Zimbabwe develop into a
model African democratic state, the story of our country has been a sad one.
Our fairly long period of independence has been littered with sad episodes
of suffering and examples that easily stand out among many others, are the
Gukurahundi massacres, Operation Murambatsvina, and the current economic
implosion that we are experiencing that has turned a majority of citizens
In all this malaise, the state has been fingered as responsible for people's
suffering, all this confirming even to any doubting Thomases that the goals
that we collectively set to achieve at Independence have eluded us and
instead, selfish, sectarian political agendas have become the priority of
those we entrusted with power. So far, the curse that has befallen Zimbabwe
is that of having a ruling aristocracy that has lost the plot. A ruling
class that has shed all semblance of democracy to embrace, perpetuate and
glorify all forms of brutalisation of citizens as exemplified by the ongoing
orgy of state violence against unarmed opposition leaders, civic leaders and
innocent members of the public.
It is not difficult to acknowledge that our independence has lately been
heavily tainted by a culture of lawlessness. A culture that has been
initiated and abated by senior state officials whose tomfoolery cause them
to ignore the reality that no progress can ever be achieved in a climate of
unbridled anarchy similar to the one our leaders are presiding over. It does
not require the Biblical wisdom of Solomon to realise that our hopeless
economic and political failures are a result of unwise populist policies
that have in the past caused many nations to fail.
Since independence, lawlessness has been the key driving force of the ruling
party and its government, and despite repeated advice from concerned
citizens and friends from the international community, the thrills of power
have caused our leaders to abandon national interests in pursuit of
dangerously selfish agendas.
Ultimately, it is easy to locate our biggest independence letdown within
this regrettable culture of state impunity. This is not to forget a host of
other administrative deficiencies that have caused the myriad problems that
are presently besetting us.
Government's contempt of the Constitution has not only been alarming, but
unprecedented even if one were to draw comparisons with what transpired
during Rhodesia. At least Rhodesia would arrest and try political activists
compared to the present numerous extra-legal measures that are being adopted
by government to deal with rising public anger. The savage attacks on
opposition members, the contemptuous treatment of our unassertive judiciary,
and a host of other incidences of state impunity during the Hondo Yeminda
era gives credence to the argument that Zimbabwe is now a fully-fledged
dictatorship. The world over, dictatorships have been known to thrive on
repression, corruption, populism and political arrogance; factors that have
gradually and systematically taken centre stage in our governance.
Not only as a lawyer, but also as a human being with a sense of justice and
a great love for peace, I experience great agony to watch helplessly my
beloved country descending into anarchy at the hands of a few, if not a
single individual keen to perpetuate a legacy of wholesale failure.
I believe that the time has come for all patriotic Zimbabweans without
regard to political affiliation to acknowledge that state orchestrated
lawlessness and violence are two evils that need to be stopped now. As our
27th independence celebrations approach, we need to accept that if no urgent
steps are taken to initiate mutual national dialogue to redirect our course,
we shall owe posterity an explanation.
We will have to tell future generations why, despite all our apparent
wisdom, education, sophistication and religiousness, we allowed too much
power to be concentrated in one fallible human being, knowing that power,
being like opium can be so addictive and destructive?
The horrible brutalisation of legitimate members of the opposition at the
hands of Zimbabwe Republic Police, a spectacle that shocked the world, is
further proof that the rule of law has since left the intensive care unit
and is now six feet under. What we are witnessing presently is absolute
anarchy by any definition. Why, despite the existence of a constitution are
extra legal measures being taken by state security agents to dispense
'justice'? And why are senior government officials publicly supporting this
deplorable constitutional subversion? Is it all because of power obsession
and the privileges of being part of the political bandwagon? What has
happened to the principles of altruism that should guide us as human beings?
Indeed, I am left in no doubt that power is a dangerous corruptor of the
It would appear that the action of government in which violence has become a
recognised tool of suppressing the public's legitimate expression of disgust
over its hopeless failures, is one sure way of alienating the citizens from
those in power. It further polarises the nation at a time when any
responsible, patriotic leader should be pursuing policies that foster
national unity for the sake of kick-starting our overdue economic revival.
Having taken this brief reflection on our past since 1980, I am left to
believe that our independence in its current form is just but a shameful
façade, an empty token that has solely benefited the politically privileged
and their cronies.
C/o Gutu and Chikowero
National Agenda with Bornwell Chakaodza
Will he get to 2008 given pressure that is mounting both internally and
THE consequences may be significant. Its conduct cannot be other than
I am referring here not only to the exceptionally brutal if not barbaric
attack on the leaders of opposition political parties and their torture
while in detention eleven days ago but also to the way President Robert
Mugabe shot himself in the foot on all fronts by his over-reaction to the
international condemnation and indignation over the brutal assault of
political activists by the Zimbabwean police.
Yes, President Mugabe's "Go Hang" speech and his reading the riot act to
Western ambassadors for their alleged interference in Zimbabwe's internal
affaires are indeed tell tale signs of a regime in deep trouble.
I hold no candle myself for some of these Western governments as they have
in the past supported and propped up undemocratic and unsavoury regimes in
Africa - purely for their own selfish interests. But in our situation at the
present moment, for the government of Zimbabwe to say what they said was, in
terms of foreign relations, an extraordinarily inept and naïve thing to do,
even for a government not known for its delicacy of diplomacy.
It is bravado to no purpose on the part of President Mugabe. Moreso given
the desperate situation in which the majority of Zimbabweans find themselves
Zimbabwe is now in a state of economic collapse. The situation is spinning
out of control and the international community cannot rightly stand by and
watch a once proud and successful country go over the cliff
On top of all this, a humanitarian catastrophe is looming in the light of
2007 being declared a drought year by government, not only as a result of
poor and erratic rains across the country but also bad policies and the
unending disruptions and invasions on the farms.
There are maize shortages in both South Africa and Zambia - our traditional
suppliers. Even if maize was plentiful in these countries, where will the
money to import it come from given the economic crisis that shows no signs
of abetting here? A very gloomy prognosis indeed! Zimbabwe is indeed in a
real bind here.
It is not only the West, which is gravely concerned about our situation
here. President Mugabe's bedrock of support in Africa in general and SADC in
particular is turning against him now, thanks to a recent campaign of
political repression, which resulted in the injuries of MDC leaders and
activists, which were truly awful.
Opinion of African leaders across the continent is now shifting away from
ZANU PF and in favour of the majority of Zimbabweans. However slight, this
is a welcome development, which has long been overdue.
Ghanaian President and African Union chairman John Kufuor is on record as
having said last week that the situation in Zimbabwe is embarrassing to the
continent. "We want accountable government", Kufuor bluntly said.
Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa echoed the same sentiments when he said:
"Recent political developments in Zimbabwe are of great concern to us" while
the South African Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said "South Africa
urges the Zimbabwean government to ensure that the rule of law including
respect for human rights for all Zimbabweans and leaders of various parties
In a rare and unusual step of censuring a fellow UN member state, the UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said the attacks on opposition political
leaders "violate the basic democratic rights of citizens to engage in
peaceful assembly ".
Taken together, positions across the world are clearly hardening.
Certainly, the language is changing as amply demonstrated by President
Kufuor and others. The emperor is now being stripped of his clothes. More
and more leaders worldwide are abandoning the softly-softly approach to
human rights violations in Zimbabwe that we had become accustomed to.
Images and pictures of a battered Morgan Tsvangirai and other opposition
leaders shown on television around the world have clearly galvanised
international opinion. President Mugabe and the ruling ZANU PF may want to
continually ignore international condemnations but for how long? Is killing
and beating up legitimate opposition leaders sustainable?
ZANU PF is clearly losing the propaganda war. We live in a world in which
issues of good governance, rule of law, freedom of expression and freedom of
association and assembly have become global standards by which all
governments, and I mean all governments, are judged by the extent to which
they adhere to these universal values. There is nothing Western or African
about the universality of these attributes. It is in this regard that the
Zimbabwean authorities should seriously think again on their ham-fisted
Nothing will be achieved by police brutality. It is one thing to detain for
whatever reason a legitimate opposition political leader within the
framework of the law. It is quite another to mercilessly beat him up for no
reason other than to want him dead - kafira mberi in Shona. The wave of
repression that was recently unleashed by the Zimbabwean authorities is
choking and appalling to say the least.
Men and women of goodwill in ZANU PF must of necessity stand up and say
enough is enough. The repression that is being carried out in their names is
frankly unacceptable. The pictures of Nelson Chamisa bursting into tears on
his hospital bed and Tsvangirai, Madhuku, Sekai Holland and Grace Kwinjeh
battered, dazed and writhing in pain for merely engaging in a peaceful
protest must make anyone pause and ask why they are so intent on inflicting
such damage on fellow Zimbabweans.
A country grappling with a myriad of other problems does not need these
kinds of brutal actions to muddy the already troubled waters.
We want all of us to live in peace. Creating solutions to our problems is
what we need from ZANU PF and President Mugabe and not the language of war.
The mayhem that we are seeing at the moment is practically damaging
everything in this country, be it tourism or investment - you name it and it
is being destroyed.
I do think it is in the interest of ZANU PF to concentrate on weapons of
mass salvation and not on weapons of mass destruction. Surely, the sight and
sound of suffering of most people in this country must move any ZANU PF
leader to precisely do this.
However, much as he dislikes it, President Mugabe must face reality that is
staring him right in the face. The reality is that the President is facing
an increasingly hostile world, both internally and externally. There are
decided limits to his ambition of wanting to stand again in the 2008 general
elections. God forbid! And these limits are again both internal (the people
of Zimbabwe) and external (involving quite literally the whole of the
international community, Africa included).
It is not too late to go the way of Nelson Mandela, Mr President. I mean
here the passing of the torch, the passing of the baton well before 2008.
My final point to President Mugabe on this very issue is that the greatest
force in life is goodwill, not a brutal police force. You had that goodwill
once upon a time. Please show it again for the sake of our Zimbabwe.
No-Holds-Barred With Caio Megale
Roots of economic deterioration lie in fiscal policy
UNTIL the mid-90s, Zimbabwe exhibited some of the best economic and social
indicators in Africa. The gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate averaged
a remarkable four percent per year between 1980 and 1995.
However, a combination of extreme populist policies adopted since 1996
changed the success story. Nominal GDP fell from US$70 billion to US$3.5
billion, and the annual inflation rate has risen to over 1700 percent.
The roots of economic deterioration in Zimbabwe lie in fiscal policy. The
increase of five percent GDP (or US$3.5 billion) in spending on the war
veterans in 1996, and the involvement in the Congo civil war two years later
led to an imbalance in public funds, leading to increased money supply
growth and inflation.
The situation took a turn for the worse in 2000, when government implemented
its chaotic land reform that redistributed 80 percent of the commercial
farms in the country within less than four years.
Government argued that productive land had been stolen by the whites during
the years of colonisation. As the land re-distribution proceeded, however,
production on the farms fell dramatically.
Making the situation even more critical, the government did not guarantee
ownership rights to the new land occupiers, practically reducing investment
incentives to zero.
The decline in agricultural output led to food shortages and a chronic
mismatch in the balance of payments. As the government refused to decontrol
prices of fundamental products such as fuel, fertilisers and foreign
currency exchange rate, these products disappeared from the official
In turn, parallel markets rose. It is estimated, for example, that 90
percent of all currency transactions in the country are now carried out
through the black market. The government's aggressive subsidy schemes
further increased the budget deficit, fuelling more printing of money and
What lessons can Latin America draw from the Zimbabwean experience? In
general, our macroeconomic indicators and our recent history are far removed
from the economic reality of Zimbabwe. However, populism is still rife in
our region, exposing the current stable situation to significant risk.
Bolivia expropriated its gas production plants, provoking the collapse of
production of its major source of growth. Chances of new private investments
in that country have fallen because of the lack of property right guarantees
In Argentina, the government implemented an aggressive price control policy
to manage inflation, while increasing fiscal expenditure through subsidies.
The new leader of the continent is populist dictator Hugo Chávez, who, not
by chance, is cut from the same cloth as Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.
Even in Brazil, where economic practices by the Lula government are
pro-market, we must be alert to signs of populist signals, especially where
fiscal policies are concerned. Many Brazilians still have an aid mentality
toward government expenditure, not realising that the size of the state
brings major distortions - to begin with a tax burden of almost 40 percent
of the GDP - which hinder growth. This is the sole reason why Brazil's GDP
is growing at a low average rate of three percent while the average for
other developing countries is over six percent.
Similar to Zimbabwe, Brazil is also grappling with the issue of agrarian
reform and respect for property rights. More equitable redistribution of
land is justified, but it should be implemented in a way that does not
compromise productive capacity. Effecting agrarian reform in an abrupt
manner without guarantees for adequate compensation for the land owners and
without offering minimal title to the new occupants brings with it
undesirable economic and social consequences.
Where fiscal issues are concerned, Brazil is far from the extreme situation
of Zimbabwe, but Zimbabwe's experience should make us rethink collusion with
abuses provoked by movements such as "Sem Terra" ("Landless") in Brazil.
The Brazilian experience has a lot to teach Zimbabweans - they, in fact,
show keen interest in our stabilisation programmes and in the establishment
of the Real. At the same time, however, Zimbabwe can also provide us with a
valuable lesson on how populist and radical actions can jeopardise an
economic success built up over decades.
(Translated and adapted from an article that appeared in the December 19,
2006 issue of Valor Economico)
lDr Caio Megale is a partner at Mauá Investments and a Professor of
Economics at IBMEC in São Paulo, Brazil. Megale visited Harare last October
and presented a paper on "Brazil's experience in taming inflation"at the
"Just Business" forum hosted by the American Business Association of