The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Mugabe can no longer bank on Africa

Zim Online

Monday 26 March 2007

By Justin Muponda

HARARE - Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic crisis has started to
ruffle leaders in the region and in Africa and analysts said cracks were
emerging on their solidarity with President Robert Mugabe, who has been
criticised over a violent crackdown on the opposition.

Mugabe, a veteran of the country's 1970s liberation struggle, has enjoyed
sweeping support on the continent for his anti-Western stance but increasing
turmoil at home which threatens regional stability is worrying African
leaders.

Zimbabwe has fallen from a model African economy to a country battling an
economic crisis highlighted by the world's highest inflation rate of 1 730
percent, unemployment of more than 80 percent and shortages of foreign
currency, food and fuel.

"There is growing unease about the Zimbabwe situation, in fact I could say
many African leaders are embarrassed by Mugabe's politics," John Makumbe, a
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer said.

"He can no longer count on full support from his colleagues in Africa,"
added Makumbe, who is a strong critic of Mugabe's rule.

Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 and critics say his
policies, especially the seizing of white commercial farms to give to
blacks, has not only strangled commercial agriculture, but has escalated the
economic crisis.

A cunning political fox who has outmaneuvered opponents in the past, Mugabe
is under increasing pressure over the economic crisis, which has increased
tensions and the spectre of political unrest.

Police early this month brutally stopped an opposition prayer rally in
Harare's Highfield township, fearing it could be a springboard for protests
to topple Mugabe from power.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and several opposition and civic group leaders were wounded and
taken to hospital after they were allegedly tortured by police in custody.

The incident sparked international outrage with the United States and
Britain calling for more sanctions against Harare while some African leaders
for the first time criticised Mugabe's conduct.

African Union (AU) president John Kuffor, AU chairman Alpha Konare, Zambian
President Levy Mwanawasa all spoke out against the Zimbabwe government's
heavy-handed tactics against opponents while others who have stood by Mugabe
have quietly expressed frustration with the turn of events in the southern
African country.

The government has also threatened a crackdown on Western journalists it
accuses of being part of a propaganda crusade against Mugabe's rule.

"Zimbabwe's problems have not only caused apprehension among Western
countries but I believe, and this is my take on this, that there is growing
frustration within Africa, which has (in the past) shielded Mugabe from the
West," Eldred Masunungure, a leading political commentator said.

"So it is probable and very likely that in future that solidarity they have
accorded Mugabe will break but I do not think to such an extent that he will
be totally isolated. He will feel the pressure," Masunungure added.

Divisions within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) were
brought to the fore last Friday when a planned meeting of its organ on
security and defence was cancelled without explanation.

The meeting was scheduled for the weekend but SADC diplomats in Harare
suggested there was no consensus on how to tackle Mugabe, with others adding
the region is "uneasy over Zimbabwe".

"We are doing what we can but it might not be at the pace which we would
have liked," said a senior diplomat, who spoke on condition he was not
named. "But what we are against is for the West to prescribe how we should
confront the Zimbabwe problem, it will not work like that."

South Africa, which the West has put pressure to use its influence to tackle
its northern neighbour, has continued with its much criticised quiet
diplomacy in the face of the worsening Zimbabwe crisis.

Zimbabwe Vice President Joice Mujuru was in South Africa at the weekend for
talks with her counterpart Phumzile Mlambo-Nqcuka. No details of the meeting
between Mujuru and Mlambo-Nqcuka were available but some media speculated
their discussions centered on the deteriorating crisis in Zimbabwe.

"I think there will be more and more leaders speaking out on Zimbabwe as the
magnitude of our crisis continue to be felt," said Makumbe.

Millions of Zimbabweans have in the past seven years fled the country from
the political and economic chaos and analysts saw a new wave of people
leaving the country for better-paying jobs abroad. - ZimOnline


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Bland silence as Zimbabwe bleeds

The East African
†March 26, 2006

THE UNFOLDING TRAGEDY IN ZIMBABWE is the shame of the continent. Once one of
the most prosperous countries in Southern Africa, the country is now fast
joining the ranks of failed African states.

Predictably, most African democracies have opted to turn a blind eye to the
meltdown in Zimbabwe. The likes of Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and
Botswana, which are slowly building traditions of democracy and good
governance, and which could offer continental leadership on the unfolding
humanitarian and economic crisis in Zimbabwe, continue to maintain a
studious silence, even as evidence mounts that President Robert Mugabe's
government is out of control.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe crisis is reinforcing the old stereotype of the
continent being the domain of bloodthirsty dictators and tyrants. That
perception has recently been given credence by films such as Blood Diamonds
and The Last King of Scotland, which depict African leaders as gluttonous,
murderous buffoons.

Africa's leaders must tell Mugabe that the game is over. Zimbabwe has bled
too long, and Africa is tired of carrying its shame.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Africa must unite against Mugabe

The East African
†March 26, 2006

When Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka was in Kenya last December, he castigated
President Robert Mugabe for running down Zimbabwe, turning it from a
continental powerhouse into a basket case.

The Zimbabwean situation is deteriorating by the day. A prayer day organised
by Save Zimbabwe Campaign on March 11 turned chaotic when police descended
on everybody with assault rifles, causing injuries and deaths.

Movement for Democratic Change activist Gift Tandare was shot dead. The
police extended their barbarism to his funeral, dispersing peaceful
mourners. They shot and wounded two opposition activists.

Later, detectives raided the headquarters of Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions and assaulted four workers.

On Saturday March 17 two opposition members were intercepted at Harare
Airport on their way to South Africa to seek medical treatment.

MDC Member of Parliament Nelson Chamisa was beaten and left for dead.

A few days earlier, MDC head Morgan Tsvangirai had been clobbered brutally
by police when he went to show solidarity with arrested MDC supporters.

On a recent visit to Harare, I could not tune my radio to the British
Broadcasting Corporation. I was incessantly fed with propaganda from the
state controlled media.

At a reception at the University of Zimbabwe, I could not buy a round of
drinks for my intellectual soul mates lest I be forced to carry cash in a
wheelbarrow. Fuel is a rarity. Foreign currency is even rarer.

I support the views of South Africa's anti-apartheid hero, Desmond Tutu, who
recently said that all African leaders should hang their heads in shame for
allowing Comrade Bob to happen.

Southern African leaders and the African Union have been particularly inert,
resisting all calls to engage the Zimbabwean leader.

For Africa to prove that the continent has made progress in the democratic
lane, its leaders must unite against Mugabe. Only then will the destruction
of Zimbabwe be stopped.

Ezra Kiambukuta
Kenya Human Rights
Commission
Nairobi


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Quo vadis Zimbabwe?

Mail and Guardian

††††† Trevor Ncube: COMMENT

††††† 25 March 2007 11:59

††††††††††† With horror, we have looked at Zimbabwe and seen the whiplashes
of a panicking regime. But now what? Now what, after the welts are healing
and the worst of the blood has been staunched?

††††††††††† Examination will show us that to chronicle this as the work of a
desperate regime is inaccurate. It is the deliberate strategy of President
Robert Mugabe, whose bid to extend his rule until 2010 has failed.

††††††††††† He therefore believes violence might secure him extended
political tenure.

††††††††††† As Zimbabweans who believe in our country, we must begin to plot
a way forward that is not dependent on Mugabe, Zanu-PF or even the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The best way forward will
be to begin assembling the building blocks of a negotiated settlement that
will result in a new rights-based constitution.

††††††††††† Here's why.

††††††††††† Mugabe has no intention of stepping down any time soon, for a
number of reasons. His own explanation is that Zanu-PF is currently divided
over the succession issue and needs him to face the opposition. This is a
crisis of his own making for he has not put a succession plan in place or
created an environment in his own party that would allow for the emergence
of a new leader.

††††††††††† He also fears prosecution for human rights abuses perpetrated
against innocent Zimbabweans since independence in 1980. These include the
Matabeleland massacres, the violent land invasions that saw hundreds of
white commercial farmers and opposition activists killed and the
Murambatsvina atrocity, which the United Nations report recommended should
be referred to The Hague. And he continues to add to these crimes with the
current round of violent attacks on opposition activists.

††††††††††† Playing on Mugabe's mind must be the arrest of former Liberian
leader Charles Taylor on war crimes charges, the prosecution of Slobodan
Milosevic for human rights abuses and the recent events in Iraq. Thus, the
main reason for staying in office is not because he has a vision of a better
Zimbabwe under his leadership, but because the office offers him protection
from prosecution for human rights abuses. For the sake of progress,
Zimbabweans may have to consider guaranteeing him immunity under certain
conditions.

††††††††††† Zimbabweans have already suffered long enough and there is no
price too high to pay for peace. They will have to choose between continued
violence and pardoning Mugabe if he leaves office now. This demands
political maturity and the international community will have no alternative
but to take its cue from Zimbabweans. Should this immunity be extended to
all his close associates? This could be worth considering in exchange for
full disclosures of all documented human rights abuses.

††††††††††† It is important to realise that unless this is done Mugabe is
prepared to use violence against all Zimbabweans calling for change to a
more democratic dispensation. Zimbabweans must pay the ransom so that they
are freed from Mugabe's violent clutches. People desperately need a chance
to live and dream again and only Mugabe, and those whose fortunes are wedded
to his, stand in the way of this. Mugabe has nothing to lose and is prepared
to take the country down with him, but he must not be allowed to succeed in
this evil scheme.

††††††††††† With Mugabe gone, we could contemplate the future and its
challenges. As part of the transition to a new Zimbabwe we will have to draw
a line in the sand and ensure that we don't allow another Mugabe to emerge
from our midst. An all-party negotiated constitution on the South African
model, which is rights-based, would be a necessary foundation stone for a
new Zimbabwe.

††††††††††† It is instructive that violence, as a political tool, has worked
perfectly for Mugabe so far. The current round of violence is partly
intended to divert attention away from calls within Zanu-PF for him to step
down. Mugabe has orchestrated the violence against the weak and divided MDC
as a way of focusing his divided party on an outside enemy. Mugabe hopes
that the factions in his party will buy this ruse, rally to his call to
eliminate an ineffectual opposition and help him purchase a few more years
in office. The violence is also intended to send a clear message to those
within his party who are opposed to him. The message is that they too could
come to suffer at the hands of his band of hired thugs.

††††††††††† It appears that, for the moment, the two factions opposed to
Mugabe are not taken in by his diversionary tactics. They have woken up to
the fact that he is using them to achieve his personal goals. They are
realising that there is no national purpose to be served by Mugabe's selfish
political survival project. Indeed, his indication last week that he wants
to run in 2008 is another tactic meant to force his enemies within Zanu-PF
to fall in line and campaign for him under the threat that if he loses, so
will the party.

††††††††††† He is using the epoch to cement the image of himself as
synonymous with the ruling party when power groupings had begun to imagine a
Zanu-PF without him. In this regard, calls by Tony Blair this week for more
political sanctions play into Mugabe's hands and force his protagonists in
the party into an uncomfortable corner with him.

††††††††††† Two powerful factions within the ruling party want Mugabe out of
office. These factions take credit for defeating Mugabe's 2010 project. The
more powerful of the two is led by retired general Solomon Mujuru, whose
wife, Joyce, is one of Mugabe's vice-presidents. A year ago, this faction
was on the ascendancy, but has clearly fallen out of favour, as evidenced by
Mugabe's attack on the Mujurus' ambitions.

††††††††††† The flavour of the moment is the Emmerson Mnangagwa-led faction,
which suffered a major reversal of fortunes following the Tsolotsho incident
in 2004. Now Mugabe, as part of a divide and rule tactic, is making this
faction believe it is his preferred heir. It would be political folly for
the Mnangagwa camp to derive a false sense of comfort from Mugabe's
political embrace. He will dump them as soon as they become a real threat
and once he is secure again. Make no mistake, politics in Zimbabwe is about
Mugabe and nothing else.

††††††††††† And Mugabe has his own faction fighting for his survival, in the
top echelons of the army, the police and the intelligence services. It must
be noted, however, that there are deep divisions within the middle and lower
ranks of the uniformed forces which mirror the three factions in the party.

††††††††††† Two things are instructive as Zimbabweans ponder the way
forward. The first of these is that the defeat of Mugabe's 2010 project was
delivered by forces for change within Zanu-PF and had little to do with
pressure from the opposition or the international community. Secondly, the
weakness of the opposition MDC, unfortunate as it is, removed an outside
threat for Zanu-PF, focusing the party on internal dynamics and causing deep
divisions and the realisation that Mugabe is the problem. This points to the
fact that Zanu-PF's internal dynamics might be key in finding a way out of
Zimbabwe's crisis and that the MDC might not be the place to look for
relief. While this is an unpopular view it is a pragmatic one, informed by
the current weakness of the MDC and the potential offered by reformers in
the ruling party.

††††††††††† Equally important is the evidence that Zimbabwe's problems are
far bigger than Zanu-PF and the MDC put together. We need to disabuse
ourselves of the notion that talks between the MDC and Zanu-PF will solve
Zimbabwe's problems. A durable solution requires getting a broad section of
Zimbabweans talking to each other about their problems and structuring the
future together. This is clearly not a winner-takes-all strategy, but a
process of negotiating how Zimbabwe's future is going to be ordered. For
this project to have wider purchase, trade unions, the churches, business
and all other civil society players will have to be involved.

††††††††††† What Zimbabwe needs from the region and the international
community is an honest broker who commands respect from all players.
Zimbabweans have become so polarised that it would be difficult to find
anybody internally to play this role. First, there must be an
acknowledgement that we need to talk to each other, followed by agreement on
the issues to talk about. We need to tear up the Lancaster House
constitution and start afresh, fashioning a progressive rights-based
founding law.

††††††††††† We would then need to agree on an electoral law and the rules of
engagement and invite the international community to help run a democratic
election whose outcome would form an important bedrock for the future. We
would need to put in place a process to rebuild key national institutions
such as Parliament, the army, the police force and intelligence.

††††††††††† Our people must realise that they have the power to elect and
that they have the power to recall.

††††††††††† Our recent past tells us that we have lost our humanity and
respect for each other, and we need to define who we are. Our national
psyche has been poisoned by Zanu-PF discourse and we need to cleanse it, and
rebase our norms and values. We need to confront the ghosts of our recent
past and decide how we deal with them in a fair and just manner so that they
don't revisit us in the future. We are where we are largely because we
failed to deal with troubling issues relating to our war of liberation which
have all come back to haunt us.

††††††††††† Talk of peace, justice and reconciliation will find few takers
among the hardliners in the opposition and the ruling party. But we should
refuse to have extremists on both sides dictating a narrow political agenda
to the nation. Zimbabweans have been brutalised and dehumanised, and need
political maturity, not grandstanding from their leaders. Indeed,
Zimbabweans desperately need a visionary leadership.

††††††††††† This all-inclusive political approach takes cognisance of the
fact that while the MDC has played a significant role in confronting Mugabe's
dictatorial regime, it is far from ready to govern. On the other hand, while
Zanu-PF is largely responsible for our current predicament, there are some
good people in the ruling party who are prepared to play a role in
fashioning a new Zimbabwe. However, apart from simply wanting to dislodge
Mugabe and grab power, none of the Zanu-PF factions has shown it has a plan
for the country and that it can be trusted to govern on its own. Thus a new
Zimbabwe will have to be the outcome of a collective and consultative
national effort.

††††††††††† Brutus in Julius Caesar offers us a way forward: "There is a
tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.
Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it
serves or lose our ventures."

††††††††††† Indeed, we face a choice between violent and peaceful change and
we need to make the right choice for the future of our country.

††††††††††† Trevor Ncube is chief executive and publisher of M&G Media and
publisher and executive chairperson of the Zimbabwe Independent and the
Standard


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

ZANU-PF Officials And MDC leadership Seek Talks To Diffuse Crisis

VOA

††††† By Douglas Mpuga
††††† Washington, DC
††††† 24 March 2007

In Zimbabwe, president Robert Mugabe's government has been on a collision
course with the country's leading opposition group, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC). But now leading members of the ruling ZANU-PF party
and the opposition are reportedly figuring out an end to the Mugabe era.
There are reports of secret meetings between some senior officials of
ZANU-PF and the leadership of MDC.

Prof. Eliphas Mukonoweshuro is MDC's secretary of international affairs. He
told VOA reporter Douglas Mpuga in a telephone interview that although he
could not confirm the meetings, contacts have been made to resolve the
crisis in Zimbabwe through dialogue.

†"I can not confirm that there has been formal contacts between the
leadership of MDC and ZANU-PF. However the position of MDC has always been
that Zimbabweans must sit around a table and craft out a common future for
themselves. 'To that extent there has been informal contacts and we hope in
the days, weeks, or months to come there will be formal talks", he said.

Mr. Mukonoweshuro explained that the talks would be aimed at preparing the
ground for crafting the framework that would lead to a new political
dispensation.

He said, "It is a two-way process," referring to the informal talks.† "These
informal talks are initiated by either ZANU-PF individuals or MDC
individuals but I want to emphasize that we are still at the informal stage
and no formal talks have actually taken place yet."

Mukonoweshuro added, "talks have been the position of MDC since the year
2000; that in order to ensure a soft landing for this country from the
current crisis there is no way out except for Zimbabweans to sit together
and throw their ideas in the 'melting pot' and try to distill a way forward
for the country."

†He emphasized that in the talks power sharing would be a secondary issue.
"What is at stake at the moment is the crafting of a new†† political
dispensation and the only way to do that is through a new constitution that
is owned by all the people of Zimbabwe".

†Mr. Mukonoweshuro said what is required is an electoral terrain that would
be free and fair. "The goal is one in which fundamental democratic reforms
have to be carried out if the outcome of every electoral contest is to be
regarded as a legitimate one." He said it is the position of MDC that it
would be pointless to go to any election under the present circumstances.

Last week Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and nearly 50 others were
arrested and then allegedly beaten by police. The incident sparked
international outcry.

Zimbabwe's leader has come under increasing international criticism for his
handling of the economy and for stifling internal opposition.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mutambara MDC Press Statement


24 March 2007

MDC Rejects ZANU-PF Divide and Rule Tactics

The MDC unequivocally rejects with total contempt attempts by the rogue
regime of Robert Mugabe to divide the democratic forces in the opposition.
Today the 24th of March 2007, the government announced through its media
mouthpieces that it had allowed the MDC to proceed to hold a rally in St
Mary's Chitungwiza., barely three days after it had formally written to the
MDC and advised that it would not sanction such a rally. It is very clear to
us in the MDC that the tainted olive branch being proffered by the
dysfunctional Mugabe regime is no more than sugar coated poison aimed at
dividing an opposition that is united to ensure that the regime will never
have another moment of peace until it is driven out.

The Government of Robert Mugabe has no iota of a moral right or authority to
decide on who should or should not hold a rally. As a Party, we do not
believe that our survival or our political fortunes depend on holding
rallies sanctioned by anyone, ZANU-PF for that matter. We reject in the
strongest of terms any attempt at such a suggestion. It should be clear to
Robert Mugabe and his surrogates that selective application of the law will
never have any takers in the democratic movement. If ZANU-PF, which has no
moral authority to do so denies Morgan Tsvangirai the right to hold a rally-
Arthur Mutambara will never accept to proceed with such a rally. Equally so,
if Arthur Mutambara is denied the right to hold a rally- then Morgan
Tsvangirai should never agree to accept the dishonest gestures of ZANU-PF.
Mugabe should know in very clear and uncertain terms that any injury
inflicted on one democratic force is a clear assault on all forces.

The seriousness of ZANU-PF in allowing our rally to proceed at the eleventh
hour is criminal and typical of a regime bent on fermenting disunity among
Zimbabweans. If at all ZANU-PF was serious, it should have given the people
of Zimbabwe and Chitungwiza in particular a public apology. From the time
that we announced that we would hold a rally in Chitungwiza, the amount of
abuse that has been visited upon our supporters is horrific. The Member of
Parliament for St Mary's home was ransacked and he was hounded into hiding
as if he is a common criminal, several party supporters were assaulted
brutalized and arrested, as late as this afternoon.

The evil nature of ZANU-PF and their total disdain for the opposition is
typified in this weak willed attempt at giving civil liberties. Robert
Mugabe can keep his benevolence, until the day that he publicly and with a
great show of contrition apologizes for the deaths of Gift Tandare and Itai
Manyeruke. There must be public display of remorse for the brutal assaults
on all opposition leaders over the last two weeks. We thank Mugabe for
nothing and never shall we beg him for anything. People of Zimbabwe will
reclaim their rights, by any means necessary.

The principle of the MDC Defiance Campaign is not that we will only
participate in rallies that have been outlawed by ZANU-PF but rather it is a
rejection of ZANU-PF machinations in all their forms. We do not depend on
ZANU-PF whims to grant the people their right to exercise their inalienable
rights. We therefore choose to defy the half hearted and evil gesture of
ZANU-PF of purportedly allowing us to hold a rally in St Mary's while
denying everyone else the same right. Let it be clear to Mugabe today that
no genuine democratic force will pander to the illusionary whims of ZANU-PF
and agree to crumbs of justice unwillingly dropped from his ivory tower,

The MDC demands that ZANU-PF unconditionally and without any shadow of
selective application of laws and rights, immediately return to all citizens
of Zimbabwe their right to freedom of Assembly and Association that it has
criminally usurped. ZANU-PF should further apologise to the Zimbabwean
people for its crimes against humanity and forthwith restore all civil
liberties unconditionally.

The MDC Defiance campaign will continue unabated. It will not be railroaded
by such feeble and distasteful fantasies by ZANU-PF of a divided opposition
grateful to receive mercies from an illegitimate regime. We will not allow
ZANU-PF to set the agenda in Zimbabwe. We will not allow ZANU-PF to divide
and rule the opposition.

Consequently, the MDC will not participate in a ZANU-PF sanctioned rally in
Chitungwiza on the 25th of March 2007.

It is defiance or death, and we choose to defy and confront.

Hon P. Misihairabwi-Mushonga

MDC Deputy Secretary General

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Germany urges more pressure on Sudan and Zimbabwe

Reuters

Sun Mar 25, 2007 3:13PM BST
By Ingrid Melander

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany joined British and U.S. calls on Sunday for more
international pressure on Sudan and Zimbabwe, possibly including sanctions,
but genocide survivors and human rights activists demanded action, not talk.

"On a day such as today, we think of the people in Zimbabwe and Darfur. The
suffering there is unbearable," Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a speech at
a summit in Berlin celebrating the European Union's 50th anniversary.

She said the EU was calling on Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to
allow U.N. peacekeepers into the country and comply with U.N. resolutions.

"We must look at stronger sanctions," Merkel, whose country holds the
rotating presidency of the European Union, told an audience of EU leaders,
referring to both countries.

Irish rocker and Africa activist Bob Geldof told reporters in Berlin: "I am
glad that Chancellor Merkel mentioned sanctions but frankly ... just do it."

Speaking in Berlin's Jewish Museum with survivors of wars and genocides,
Geldof said EU leaders should ban Sudan's leaders from travelling to the EU,
freeze their assets, and bar exports of luxury goods to Khartoum, before
tougher U.N. sanctions.

"NEVER AGAIN"

Khartoum has come under fresh pressure from Western powers to ease the
suffering in war-torn Darfur.

Experts estimate 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million driven from
their homes after rebels rose up in 2003, accusing the central government of
neglecting the vast, impoverished region.

"Every time a genocide happens, leaders all over Europe, America, Britain,
everywhere, they say never again. But these are empty words," Ishag Mekki, a
Sudanese who lost family in the Darfur conflict, told the news conference.

"In reality it's happening and happening."

Mekki and survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda and war in
Bosnia, called for immediate EU sanctions on Khartoum, saying that was the
way for Europe to live up to the values it was celebrating on its
anniversary.

Ten European intellectuals including Guenter Grass, Umberto Eco and Bernard
Henri-Levy also called on Saturday for tough sanctions, accusing EU leaders
of cowardice and dithering.

Britain wants the EU to back targeted U.N. sanctions against the Sudanese
government over a conflict which has caused one of the world's worst
humanitarian crises.

Washington calls the violence genocide and blames Khartoum for backing
militias blamed for many of the worst atrocities.

Sudan again denied on Saturday that genocide was taking place and lambasted
Britain and the United States for seeking sanctions, saying if diplomacy
broke down Sudan could end up like Somalia, in anarchy since a 1991 coup
ended central rule.

Britain and the United States have also led international condemnation of
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe over a new crackdown on political
opponents, threatening more economic sanctions on Mugabe and his government.

Mugabe vowed on Friday to survive any Western attempt to dislodge him from
power.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Embarrassed Mugabe bows to internal pressure

IOL

††††††††† March 25 2007 at 04:11PM

††††† By Fanuel Jongwe

††††† Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has urged his supporters
to gear up for presidential polls next year, conceding an embarrassing
defeat over plans to extend his rule to 2010, analysts said.

††††† "I think the view I am getting is that 2008 is preferable," the New
Ziana news agency quoted the veteran leader as telling his party's women's
league in Harare on Friday.

††††† "If we are going to have an election, we must start organising and
mobilising support now."

††††††††††† 'Standing on shaky ground'
††††† Analysts said that by agreeing to elections next year, Mugabe has
bowed to opposition from cadres in his Zimbabwe African National Union -
Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) who are opposed to plans to give the him another
two-year mandate.

††††† "For the past 27 years, Mugabe always had his way but this time he has
admitted defeat from within his party," political commentator Bill Saidi
said.

††††† "He is now standing on shaky ground and may not be as confident as he
was when he went into the presidential elections in 2002."

††††† The 83-year-old who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 from
Britain indicated he would step down at the end of his current term next
year.

††††† But he made an about face last year, insisting that he would stay put
if his party was in danger of falling apart. His supporters also proposed
extending his term by two years in 2008 to allow concurrent presidential and
parliamentary polls.

††††††††††† Private talks in SA
††††† While the Zanu-PF central committee meets in Harare on Wednesday to
decide on the proposals, Mugabe appears to have already given in to factions
opposed to the extension of his rule.

††††† "Now we are tending towards an election next year rather than an
election in 2010," Mugabe was quoted as saying by the Windhoek-based
Southern Times newspaper two weeks ago.

††††† "That's what I am getting from quite a good many top leaders."

††††† Masvingo State University analyst Takavafira Zhou said that although
Mugabe appeared to have suffered a setback, he still represented a potent
political force.

††††† "This is an embarrassment for Mugabe, having to give in to opposition
from within the ranks of his own party," he said.

††††† "But while this is an embarrassing defeat for Mugabe, the opposition
should remain sceptical rather than become complacent.

††††† "Even though he has suffered defeat by his own people, Mugabe can
still win presidential elections next year.

††††† "He realises if we hold elections in 2008, unless we change the
constitution to facilitate the holding of free and fair elections and the
electoral laws amended and the voters' rolls updated to ensure there is no
rigging, the chances for him to win by rigging are very high."

††††† Zhou said the main feeling in Zanu-PF was that Mugabe should step down
in 2008.

††††† Mugabe has lashed out on several occasions at senior officials of his
party who were jostling to succeed him. He has repeatedly said there is no
vacancy for the presidency.

††††† When Joyce Mujuru was elevated to vice-president in December 2004,
Mugabe appeared to have anointed her as his successor, saying she was
"destined for higher office".

††††† But relations with Mujuru appear to have significantly cooled, and she
was noticeably absent from Mugabe's birthday celebrations last month.

††††† She was reported last week to have made a secret visit to neighbouring
South Africa where she held private talks with her counterpart, Phumzile
Mlambo-Ngcuka. - Sapa-AFP


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Evil steals the beauty of a shattered land

The Australian

Martin Fletcher, Harare
March 26, 2007
TEKSURE and Silibaziso Gumbo weep as they tell their story from the safety
of a walled church compound in the township of Mbare, in southern Harare.
Their house was torn down when President Robert Mugabe launched Operation
Murambatsvina (Drive Out Trash) in 2005 to raze slum areas that were
opposition strongholds. Mr Mugabe then banned street vendors, destroying
Teksure's livelihood.
He no longer dares to sell groundnuts because, like his six-year-old
daughter, Sarudzai, he has AIDS and cannot run from the police.

The family lives in a tiny shelter fashioned from plastic and corrugated
iron, and lacking any sanitation, on a patch of wasteland. Sarudzai
desperately needs sustenance but her parents can give her little more than a
daily bowl of sadza - the maize-meal porridge on which millions of people in
this desperate nation now survive.

They have tried traditional African medicines without success. They have
taken her to the hospital five times, but are turned away for lack of money.
They went to the social welfare office, but it had no paper to type up a
hospital referral.

"Obviously she will die. It's heartbreaking. It's so painful," says Teksure.

Despite her suffering, this tragic little girl turns and waves goodbye to us
as she leaves.

Sarudzai's fate mirrors that of her country. The beauty of both has been
corrupted by something evil. In Zimbabwe's case that evil takes the form of
an octogenarian with outsized glasses who has destroyed a country that was
once the envy of Africa. At first sight, Harare still appears a modern,
prosperous city. Potholes are appearing in the roads, verges are uncut and
some traffic lights no longer work, but lush suburbs of affluent-looking
homes radiate out from the city centre's shimmering high-rise office blocks
and there are expensive cars on its broad avenues.

It is an illusion. Zimbabwe is like a tree whose trunk has been hollowed out
by termites, leaving only a shell.

The world's highest inflation rate - officially 1700 per cent but actually
higher - has rendered the currency, salaries and pensions almost worthless.
In the mid-1970s, pound stg. 1 bought approximately one Zimbabwean dollar:
On Friday it was buying 38,000 - or 38million had Mr Mugabe not recently
lopped three noughts off; pound stg. 100 gets you a wad of notes the size of
a small brick.

There are new 4WDs and Mercedes on the roads only because saving is
pointless: you invest in anything that holds its value, so even cars have
become a form of currency.

The economy is shrinking faster than any on the planet. Life expectancy has
fallen one year for each year since independence in 1980 and is now the
lowest in the world at 37. More than a fifth of the population has left the
country - a rate of exodus that exceeds Iraq's. Eighty per cent are
unemployed, meaning more Zimbabweans now have jobs abroad than at home.
There are reckoned to be 4000 more deaths than births each week.

The grim statistics roll on. Agricultural production has halved since Mr
Mugabe's thugs began seizing white farms in 2000. Commercial production of
maize has fallen from 810,000 tonnes to barely 200,000. More than 350,000
black agricultural workers have lost their jobs.

Industry is operating at 28 per cent of its capacity. Hunger stalks the
country. More than four-fifths of Zimbabweans live on less than pound stg. 1
a day and two fifths are suffering from malnutrition. Many survive only on
remittances from relatives abroad. These amount to up to pound stg.
50million ($122million) a month, but unfortunately they help the Government
as well by damping down popular anger and providing hard currency.

AIDS is rampant. The official rate is about 20 per cent, but a senior doctor
in Bulawayo, the second city, said it was 80 per cent in some rural areas
and 90 per cent in some military barracks.

The disease kills 3500 a week. A quarter of Zimbabwe's children - more than
a million - are AIDS orphans.

The human suffering behind those figures is everywhere apparent: in the
gaunt faces, in the rows of freshly dug graves in the Luvere cemetery in
Bulawayo, in the pathetic piles of produce women hawk beside the highways,
in the lines of people walking or hitch-hiking into cities because bus fares
now exceed their wages. Some work for food or fuel, not money.

Paupers' burials in mass graves are becoming increasingly common. In Mbare,
a broken young man named Leroy Manyonda told us how he could not afford to
bury his wife when she died of meningitis, so he fled with his two-year-old
daughter.

They lived on the streets until his daughter died of dysentery. He buried
her in woodland by night.

Oskar Wermter, a German Jesuit priest in Harare, says the destitute are
taking dying relatives to hospitals under false names and failing to collect
bodies from mortuaries. That is remarkable because "in traditional African
culture, not to bury your relatives properly is monstrous and exposes you to
enormous danger because the unburied person becomes an avenging spirit".

Also in Mbare, Agnes James, 38, told us how she lost her house in Operation
Murambatsvina and her husband died of tuberculosis. She now sells her body
for $Z10,000 (73 cents) a time to feed her two children. Many clients refuse
to wear condoms. Some do not pay. She is ashamed, and terrified of AIDS, but
says: "There is nothing I can do."

A pretty 16-year-old orphan named Tatenda Banda said she was selling herself
to six men a day for the same price.

Just when we thought we could find nothing worse, we were taken to a vast,
stinking rubbish dump outside Bulawayo where hundreds of people scavenge for
food and rags. They live in makeshift shelters in the surrounding bush and
get water from a stream.

John Ncube, 55, is one of the skeletal inhabitants of that hellish,
fly-infested place. He is raising four children in a shelter made from
asbestos sheets recovered from the dump.

He scours the dump for bottles, which he sells for $Z100 - a fraction of a
penny. He finds a bottle every couple of days. His best find, he told us,
was the filthy, ragged T-shirt he was wearing.

It is not only black Zimbabweans who are suffering. Whites without access to
foreign currency are also being reduced to poverty.

One afternoon a 14-year-old girl named Kristy and her 11-year-old brother,
Ray, walked up the drive of our Harare guesthouse. They were begging. Their
family had been thrown out of their flatbecause they could not afford the
rent.

The Times


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Despot dresses his thugs as police

The Australian

Gavin du Venage, Harare
March 26, 2007
ZIMBABWE President Robert Mugabe no longer trusts his police force and now
relies on his poorly trained but vicious party militia to keep a growing
opposition movement in check.
The violent repression of a protest march earlier this month and the savage
beating of Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change,
by men in police uniforms appeared to implicate the country's police force.
Now many think it was ruling party militants, using requisitioned police
outfits, who were responsible for the dozens of injured, and the death of a
family man shot while demonstrating against Mr Mugabe's rule.

"It's not the police carrying out these attacks. People were beaten up by
war veterans and members of the youth brigade, who were in police uniforms,"
says John Makumbe, political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe
in Harare.

The implication, he says, is that open violence against government critics
is going to become increasingly common. It also reveals the growing
isolation of Mr Mugabe, a president who can no longer depend on his police
force to keep him in power.

"This was uncharacteristic of the police. It was the act of an untrained
militia, who were reckless and could have killed many people," says Mr
Makumbe.

This is not to say that up to now police have not enforced the increasingly
oppressive laws of Mr Mugabe's Government. Yet, generally the police avoided
outright violence, partly because the force's members were drawn from the
same communities they would have to confront.

Senior police officials were usually careful in public statements to align
the force with the law, rather than the Government. Rarely did the police
force arbitrarily react with violence against Zimbabwean citizens.

As a result, people here still generally respect the police, and Zimbabwe is
one of the most law-abiding countries in the region. One of the factors
given for Zimbabweans' failure to organise the kind of mass action that
helped undo the apartheid government in neighbouring South Africa is that
people here have a tendency to respect authority.

The force has participated in international peacekeeping missions, usually
with distinction.

In Harare, uniformed police officers can be seen waiting in line with
civilians outside an auto teller or bread shop, without trying to force
their way to the head of the queue.

Zimbabwe is also one of the few countries in Africa whose police do not
usually carry guns.

"It is hard to believe that the same organisation that provides police
officers who are supposedly the paragons of professional integrity and
efficiency during international missions, is the same one accused of
perpetrating these horrors at home," wrote a columnist in the latest edition
of the independent Financial Gazette.

When a broad group of opposition organisations agreed to hold a mass
demonstration a few weeks ago the Government probably feared that police
officers might have stepped aside rather than confront the protesters.

"Mugabe always does this when he is desperate. In 2000, he ordered war
veterans and other rogue elements to invade white farms because he feared he
might lose an election," says MDC spokesman William Bango.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Police report five injured in gasoline bomb attack on train in Zimbabwe

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: March 24, 2007

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Police in Zimbabwe were put on high alert after a
passenger train was petrol bombed and a tear gas canister was thrown aboard,
injuring five people, the state Sunday Mail reported.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said about 750 passengers were at risk in
the attack on the outskirts of Harare as the train headed on its nightly
service to the western provincial capital of Bulawayo on Friday.

The attack was believed to have been politically motivated. The five
passengers taken to the hospital were injured as they stampeded to escape
from burning gasoline that railroad staff later extinguished, Bvudzijena
said.

The train continued its journey to Bulawayo with armed police riding
shotgun.

"Our alertness has been reinforced by this incident. We are also revising
the protection of the public as they move from one point to another," he
said.

It was the third gasoline bomb attack reported by police in the past month
of escalating political violence - and the second in which police alleged
tear gas was used. Police have blamed all three attacks on suspected
opposition activists.
Three police officers were reported by police to have been injured in an
attack on a police station in western Harare a week earlier.

The Sunday Mail, a government mouthpiece, said Bvudzijena warned that
perpetrators risked being shot as authorities cracked down on politically
instigated lawlessness.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change has denied any involvement.

Zimbabwe has come in for international condemnation for attacks on
activists, including MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who was badly beaten
after his arrest March 11 when police crushed a prayer meeting the
government banned, calling it an illegal political protest. Several other
leaders were also hospitalized.

President Robert Mugabe on Friday blamed the opposition for the recent
violence and dismissed claims that his rule was approaching an end.

He said a continued campaign of defiance or protests by opponents and civic
and church groups would be met "very vigorously" by security forces.

"We hope they have learned a lesson. If they have not, then they will get
similar treatment," he said.

Zimbabwe's ruling party leaders are scheduled next week to consider
abandoning widely criticized proposals to delay presidential elections until
2010, the state media reported Saturday. Mugabe had previously suggested
delaying the 2008 presidential elections to coincide with the 2010
parliamentary elections, which would effectively have extended his
presidential term by two years unchallenged. Even ruling party members
questioned the delay.

But the state Herald newspaper and the state broadcaster reported Saturday
Mugabe had told a meeting of the ruling ZANU-PF's Women's League there was
growing consensus in the party to hold both elections next year, and the
issue would be discussed at a meeting of the central committee.

"I think the view is that 2008 is preferable. Some of our lawyers are saying
this will not give problems," Mugabe was quoted as saying, in an apparent
concession to party members. "If we are going to have an election (next
year), we must start organizing and mobilizing support now, now, now."

The opposition holds 41 seats in the 150-seat parliament, where Mugabe
appoints 30 of the lawmakers.

The central committee meeting could be a key test of the support for Mugabe
amid growing signs of rifts within his party.

Rival factions supporting the former parliamentary speaker Emmerson
Mnangagwa or Vice President Joyce Muguru, whose husband is a powerful
ex-army commander, are confident they can prevent another Mugabe term,
according to University of Zimbabwe political analyst John Makumbe.

Muguru met with South Africa's Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ncguka at a
Johannesburg hotel on Friday, according to footage screened by South African
television. South Africa is spearheading the region's diplomatic efforts to
find a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis. It was unclear whether Mugabe was
aware of the meeting, which was described by the South African Foreign
Ministry as private.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabweans dodge crocs, thugs for S.African dream

Reuters

Sun 25 Mar 2007, 10:48 GMT

By Rebecca Harrison

BEIT BRIDGE BORDER (Reuters) - Editor Mafema peers over the bridge linking
Zimbabwe to South Africa, points to a gap in the barbed wire fence and plots
his escape.

"I tried it last week -- over the river and through the fence. I dodged the
crocodiles and police, but they arrested me at a roadblock," the 27-year-old
Zimbabwean said, loitering in the no-man's land at the border with South
Africa.

"I'll keep trying until I get there. I have no choice."

Like thousands of other Zimbabweans, Mafema dreams of sneaking into South
Africa and earning money to send home, where his family is struggling to
survive an economic meltdown.

"If I could just get a job that pays a few rand, it would be worth a fortune
when I convert it back to Zim dollars," he said, gazing wistfully at the
immigration control just metres away.

Zimbabweans are battling the world's fastest shrinking economy outside a war
zone. Inflation has topped 1,700 percent, 80 percent of the population is
jobless and food shortages are rampant, forcing thousands to flee in search
of a better life.

The exodus began in 2000 and accelerated in 2002 as Zimbabwe's economic and
political crisis deepened.

Today some 2 million Zimbabweans live in South Africa, according to media
reports, with many more in Britain and Botswana, although no one at the
immigration service could be reached to confirm the figure, despite repeated
calls.

Zimbabweans jokingly call Johannesburg "Harare South", in reference to their
country's capital, while London is "Harare North".

The flood of migrants into South Africa is expected to rise after brutal
beatings of opposition leaders in Zimbabwe this month stoked political
unrest.

Analysts say the growing crisis threatens economy stability in the region
and the exodus from Zimbabwe is worrying South Africa, which has maintained
a policy of quiet diplomacy concerning its neighbour.

THUGS AND CROCODILES

Every night thousands like Mafema risk crocodiles and thieves to get into
South Africa. They swim across the Limpopo river, scramble through holes in
the fence and use their final few pennies to pay drivers for the trip to the
nearest town.

Those with no money walk the 520 km (323 miles) to Johannesburg, where the
lucky ones find jobs as gardeners or construction workers.

Many are caught. Police and army trucks crammed with Zimbabweans, some of
them children and all of them exhausted and crumpled after a night in the
bush, rumble across the Beit Bridge border every morning.

South Africa has deported about 20,000 Zimbabweans a month this year --†
almost double the monthly average in 2006 -- according to aid group
International Organisation for Migration.

"The numbers have been rising every day since December with as many as 1,600
people being deported some days," IOM's chief of mission in Zimbabwe,
Mohammed Abdikar, told Reuters.

Dickson Samson, 24, snuck through the fence two years ago after six failed
attempts, and managed to find work on a game farm not far from the border.
He makes 50 rand a day -- about half as much as his South African
colleagues.

"My boss says I'm not from here so why should he pay me much?" he said with
a shrug. "It's tough but people are starving back home. At least I have a
job."

Many from Zimbabwe's middle class have also left the country in search of
work.

Even menial jobs abroad pay better than a professional salary at home and it
is not uncommon to meet trained accountants peddling goods on the streets of
Johannesburg.

David Kudzai, 36, once worked as a senior manager on a large farm in
Zimbabwe. Now he lives in the South African border town Musina and earns a
living shuttling groceries across the border.

"I get more in one day doing this than I would working for two months at
home," he said as he packed boxes of cooking oil into his truck. "I was a
manager before. There is so much talent and education going to waste in our
country."


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Stop secrecy on Zim, DA urges government

IOL

††††††††† March 25 2007 at 04:27PM

††††† The Democratic Alliance on Sunday urged the South African government
to disclose what it had told Zimbabwean leaders in recent talks.

††††† "It would be far more reassuring if our country was advised what our
representatives told their Zimbabwean counterparts," said the party's
spokesperson on foreign affairs Douglas Gibson.

††††† He said it was "encouraging" that President Thabo Mbeki and Deputy
President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka had been in contact with Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe and Vice-President Joyce Mujuru.

††††† While only Zimbabweans could solve their problems, the "quiet
diplomacy" pursued by South Africa and other countries was not helping as
Mugabe considered this "silent acquiescence", said Gibson. - Sapa


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

'ANC following in Zanu-PF's footsteps'

IOL

††††††††† Christelle Terreblanche
††††††††† March 25 2007 at 03:14PM

††††† Blade Nzimande, the SA Communist Party leader, has warned that the ANC
government may be falling into the same trap as its Zimbabwean counterparts.

††††† Nzimande on Saturday said the SACP should carefully scrutinise its own
alliance partner for signs of similarity between the ANC and the Zimbabwean
ruling party, Zanu-PF, which has come under renewed international
condemnation for its recent repression of opposition and civil society.

††††† Nzimande coined the phrase "govermentalisation of the national
liberation struggle" to warn against the dangers of Zanu-PF's and President
Robert Mugabe's hold on power.

††††† He said these dangers included "parasitism" and the "use of state
power to access resources".

††††† "If we begin to see these features, we must begin to worry and to
challenge them," he said of the ANC government, which his party also
criticised for the centralisation of power in the hands of Mbeki.

††††† Nzimande made the warning when he opened the first round of SACP
provincial congresses in Cape Town ahead of the party's 12th national
congress in July. The Gauteng congress also got under way late on Saturday.

††††† One of the key issues for discussion is whether the party should
contest elections on its own, in light of its view that it is being
sidelined by the government in important decisions that affect the poor, its
core constituency.

††††† In a clear sign that the jury was still out on that issue, Nzimande
also told the 50-odd delegates gathered in Cape Town that they should
discuss the reconfiguration of the alliance to give the SACP's socialist
orientation more influence, rather than just opt for separate elections.

††††† "We have correctly condemned the latest round of repression in
Zimbabwe and we are expressing our solidarity in many ways with the ordinary
workers and the poor. But it is not enough to condemn. I think it is
important as communists that we really study closely what is happening in
Zimbabwe, because if we don't do that, we may find features in our own
situation that are pointing to a similar development," he said.

††††† In a Human Rights Day message earlier in the week, the SACP said its
condemnation of Mugabe's government was based on a view that a former
liberation movement "that begins to turn repressive organs of a state on its
own constituency, was a movement in severe distress".

††††† Nzimande challenged the congress delegates to be active in ANC
branches and not to "whinge". He also threw down the gauntlet to those who
were suggesting that Cosatu and the SACP should leave the ANC if they were
unhappy.

††††† "We are not going anywhere. If they are tired of us, they must in fact
leave the ANC. Not us!"

††††† This article was originally published on page 2 of Sunday Independent
on March 25, 2007


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Lecturer's call to pray for Zimbabwe's future

Dorset Daily Echo

By Ceri Rees
A ZIMBABWEAN lecturer based in Bournemouth has appealed to Christians in
Dorset and Zimbabwe to pray for his countrymen following the violent
obstruction of opposition members in Harare.

Dr Venancio Tauringana, who sold his flat in Zimbabwe so he could further
his education in the UK, moved to Glasgow in 1990 before winning a
scholarship to Edinburgh University.

Now a senior lecturer in accountancy and finance at Bournemouth University,
he has had to look on as the international news relays pictures of battered
Movement for Democratic Change leaders Morgan Tsvingirai and Nelson Chamisa.

advertisement

As the life expectancy for women reached an all-time low of 34 and more than
20 per cent of the population are said to be living with Aids - a situation
exacerbated by hyper-inflation and a lack of political diplomacy on the part
of Robert Mugabe - some Zimbabweans believe it is only the financial support
trickling in to the country from its foreign exiles that keeps it from
collapsing.

Mr Tauringana, who comes from a small village 300km south of Harare, sends
money home to his mother and family every month.

He said: "At one point in 1995 my wife and I were going to go back to
Zimbabwe because we felt guilty but everyone over there said: No, you must
stay because you can help us more from over there.' "My mother said: Thank
God for you because there are people dying around us everyday in our village
and you are helping to keep us alive.' "We can solve our economic problems
with political stability but the last resort left, it seems, to unite
Zimbabweans is prayer.

"If people are not even allowed to pray there is something wrong with the
country.

"I am surprised that the Archbishop of Canterbury has not spoken out because
it involves peaceful people going about their business. This was not a
political rally we are talking about.

"There seems to be no consensus internationally on what should be done. In
my opinion the opposition and church leaders in Zimbabwe have shown bravery
in the face of the injustice.

"This is not a political statement. My concern as a Zimbabwean citizen is
about human rights.

"All I can do for my part is to plead with all residents of the beautiful
county of Dorset to pray for my Zimbabwe."


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The Food Situation In Zimbabwe 2007

The Zimbabwean

Press Statement
26 March 2007

The Food Situation In Zimbabwe 2007

I normally give a crop forecast every year sometime in February. This year,
I decided that since there was now a new minister of Agriculture, Hon Rugare
Gumbo, I would give him time to settle down and see if he will perpetuate
the annual deliberate misinformation that became the modus operandi of Hon
Made since 2000. Dr Made misled this country annually, with the approval of
the President. I say the president approved because his inefficiency is
legendary. Many newspapers called for his dismissal over the years but no
action taken.

Minister Gumbo at least has told the nation some truth but not the whole
truth. He has admitted and declared this year a disaster. This is the first
time since 2000 that government has admitted that there will be no food and
he did so early enough in the season. I praise him for that.

Maybe I should deal with the current season first before I look into the
meat of the problems; not challenges. For those who have not read my
previous articles on maize in particular, I would like to mention that the
first source of food shortage is the supply of seed. Seed farmers, who the
government had said should be spared under the now infamous land reform, had
their farms nevertheless taken. New farmers were recruited to produce seed.
Because of inexperience, their yields were just around two tonnes per hacter
instead of the average five tonnes.† A lot of the new farmers have stopped
seed production for various reasons including viability, labour etc. I know
several farmers who have abandoned seed production.

Shortage of seed will be with us for a long time.

It will be remembered that in June last year, some obscure South African
company was given US$45million to supply compound D fertilizer. That amount
of money, given to the local manufacturers, would provide sufficient
fertilizers for this country for a year. So we have the perennial shortage.
Then of course there are fuel and draught power shortages. These essentials
were so expensive that many farmers only put to the ground enough for their
own consumption.

The sum total of all this is that even without drought, there was still
going to be a shortage of food. I estimate that the maize produced this year
will be around 700 000t. This is because the only provinces where there is
some meaningful maize are parts of Mashonalnd West and Central.

What happened to the 1 800 000t of maize proudly announced in May last year
by Dr. Made and repeated even after harvest by GMB? GMB continue to mislead
this nation by saying that because their year ends in March, maize continues
to be delivered up to end of March each year when they know that for all
intents and purposes, deliveries are over by end of October. This is where
Minister Gumbo has failed. Zimbabweans deserve to be told the truth at least
for once. We know that the silos are empty. It is not your fault Honourable
Minister, you inherited empty silos; why not say so and you start with a
clean balance sheet, albeit with zero stocks?

The government has disclosed that they are currently importing 400 000t of
maize. Last season, the GMB bought 500 000t. We know that the silos are
empty. The national requirement is 2 000 000t of maize. The production will
be 700 000t. This gives a shortfall of 1 300 000t.† There is no foreign
currency to import maize of this magnitude. Mr. Gumbo has the audacity to
tell the nation that they will not seek assistance from any body as they
have the ability to feed the nation.

Where is this ability?† The country is completely grounded because there is
no fuel. There is no foreign currency to import power.† Hwange is unable to
operate. Bulawayo has run out of water. Harare residents are drinking
untreated water because amongst other problems, there is no foreign currency
to import chemicals. I could go on† and on.

But what does Mr. Gumbo say? People in many parts of the country are
starving right now. Children are going to school without food, yet the
government does not want assistance. What is more shameful, people dying of
hunger or asking for assistance?

Oh! By the way, there will be combined elections next year, presidential and
parliamentary. This obviously requires that the people are properly
conditioned starting now. By March next year, the food shortage and
starvation will be at its worst. That is when these sham elections will be
held. How appropriate.

While the Bible says that we must pray for those who rule over us, it was
never the intention to pray for an evil government. Proverbs 29 vs. 2 says
"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the
wicked beareth rule, the people mourn".

I appeal to the Donors who have saved the people from death over the past 7
years to come forward and save the lives of many innocent people from
certain death at the hands of this uncaring government.

Renson Gasela
Secretary for Lands and Agriculture

MDC

26th March, 2007


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Plea from a young Zimbabwean

Bulawayo Morning Mirror 232

Dear World,

I am a 16 year old person living in Zimbabwe. I think the time has come for
a more direct
appeal, and so I am writing to you, the world.

Maybe, just maybe, there might be someone out there who can help us...

It's tough here now. The inflation rate is so high that if you don't change
money within 6
hours you could get half the amount of foreign currency that you would have
originally
received.

We're starving now; people die around us. In the last year alone at least
ten people
associated personally with my family have died despite the fact that they
were only
middle-aged. Other people don't make it to middle age. They don't even make
it past
childhood.

Our once-proud nation is on it's knees. We flee or die. This beautiful,
bountiful once-rich
land has become a living hell. We have dealt with it until now; we have made
a plan. That
was the Zimbabwean motto: "MAKE A PLAN".
But now we can't make a plan. We're too tired, too broken, too bankrupt. We
can't afford
life, and life does not cost much, not really. We cannot afford to eat, we
cannot afford to
drink, and we cannot afford to make mistakes, because if we do we die. We
don't have the
capital to support ourselves, and those few who do, have to deal with the
horror of
watching their friends and family fall into absolute poverty as they cannot
afford to help
them.

Here is a poem I wrote on the January 2nd, 2007:

"NEW YEAR"

The rising sun finds us in yet another year,
And we look back over every disappointment,
Every bitter failure,
Every salty tear.

The future sits golden before us,
But we are afraid to hope or care.
We've been beaten down too many times before
And life holds no promises there.

At this very same instant every year
We glimpse the rainbow of hope above the street,
But every one of us nurses the very same fear
And faith lies dying at our feet.

Many men have perished,
Claimed by starvation, disease or another's hand.
A nation knocked down to its knees
Now desperately struggles to stand.

Perhaps this year will be different,
Perhaps a hero will come.
But deep down we know
That this cannot be so,
For if it were it would have been done.

There is no light to splice the darkness,
No dawn to dispel the night,
No one to see our struggle,
No one to pity us in our plight.

Who in this world will save us?
Who in this world will come?
Where will next year find us?
If God's will be truly done?

I think that this poem sums it all up. That's life in Zimbabwe. We're sick
of struggling; sick
of fighting. We're waiting desperately for a great hand to pick us up out of
the dirt because
at the moment we are outnumbered by Fate herself, and so we close our eyes
and pray. We
have fought for too long, and have been brought to breaking point. We simply
stand,
heads down, and bear it. Our spirit has gone; we are defeated. After a
valiant struggle of
over fifteen years, we have been broken. There is no will left, no spirit.
Like a horse that
has been beaten until it cannot fight anymore; we are the same, and, like
that horse, we
stand dusty, scarred and alone, with dried blood on our sides and lash marks
along our
flanks. Our ribs too stand out; our hide is also dull. Our eyes are glazed,
our throats are
parched, and our knees struggle to support us so that we stand with splayed
legs to bear
the brunt of the next beating, too dejected even to whimper...

This is my plea. The thought of picking ourselves up again is sickening; one
can only take
so many blows before oblivion is reached, and we are teetering on the rim of
the
bottomless void. One more push will be the end of us all...
There must be someone out there who can do something. There must be someone
out
there who cares! We are a destroyed nation, and the world sits back and
watches,
pretending they cannot hear our cries. I appeal to you all...

HELP US!

A 16 YEAR OLD ZIMBABWEAN......


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 24th March 2007



It was a relief to find Zimbabwe House still intact when we arrived at the
Vigil. Although it is now reportedly owned by the Libyan government, we have
grown rather fond of the place since the Vigil started four and a half years
ago.† And we know what a difficult week it has had.† On Wednesday a dozen or
so Zimbabweans staged a sit-in: staff fled in panic though the demonstrators
only wanted to present a petition to the Ambassador.† When they refused to
leave they were arrested but thankfully were released at the end of the day
without charge.† At the same time a demonstration was held by our supporters
Free-Zim Youth outside the nearby South African High Commission demanding an
end to Mbeki's support of Mugabe. We have not been impressed by the comments
this week of the South African High Commissioner, Lindiwe Mabuza, that South
Africa is not guilty of inaction. No doubt a noisy supporter of the
Anti-Apartheid Movement herself, she said "Noisy posturing has not and will
not work".† We will make it work.

Zimbabweans in the UK have decided enough is enough. Everyone is appalled at
the reports of torture and random brutality and are taking matters into
their own hands.† The MDC in the UK are summoning supporters to North
Terrace, Trafalgar Square, at 10 am on Wednesday for a protest.† Details
will be given at the time.† On Thursday, Free-Zim Youth are to lobby the
Angolan embassy following (unconfirmed) reports that it is to send
paramilitary police to beef up Mugabe's security forces (meet Baker Street
tube station at 14.00).† The following Wednesday, 4th April, from 12 - 2 pm
ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa, the successor to the Anti-apartheid
Movement) with the support of the British Trades Union Congress are to stage
a demonstration outside the† embassy† in solidarity with the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions who have called a general strike for† 3rd and 4th
April.

The Zimbabwe situation continues to get wide media coverage in the UK and
this was reflected in the support the Vigil received from passers-by. It is
heartening to see how many people have taken our cause to their hearts,
though our faithful East European returned again to say how much he supports
Mugabe!† If we weren't tolerant Zimbabweans he would have been lynched by
now.† It was a good omen that on the first day of the Belfast Vigil we had
supporters from Ireland joining us in London.

Vigil supporters will be sorry to hear that Jenatry (Chihota) has been hurt
in a car accident.† He has always been an inspiration with his dancing and
singing and we pray for his speedy recovery.

Next week, by general consensus, we are going to pull out all stops at the
Vigil in support of the brave activists at home facing such appalling
dangers.† We know from phone contacts as well as news reports that many
people are being sought out from their homes and beaten up for their
political beliefs.† This is what we hope to bring out more clearly to the
British public - the deliberate attempt to crush any dissent.

It's ironic that when the newspaper the Zimbabwean is doing so well in
Zimbabwe the Vigil is having problems with the UK distribution system. The
paper has become such a valuable resource. This is what the publishers
report "We managed to truck 30 000 copies into Zimbabwe this week - they
were sold out in 45 minutes!! It took 30 hours to get them there from Joburg
including a night at the border. People just desperate - and here our
distributors are chucking away thousands unsold every week".† If anyone can
offer a way forward in the UK, such as newsagents where there are large
concentrations of Zimbabweans, please contact the Zimbabwean
(www.thezimbabwean.co.uk) or the Vigil.† We understand that the more copies
that can be sold here, the more copies can be trucked into Zimbabwe for
people starved of information.

For this week's Vigil pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/

FOR THE RECORD: 72 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:
-†††††††† Monday, 26th March, 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum.
Speakers: Tendai Mutyambizi and Margaret Musemwa of Communities Point will
talk about a project which focuses on women and confidence building. The
main focus is women who were victims of sexual abuse in their countries of
origin and the barriers they face when they claim asylum in the UK. Upstairs
at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street, London WC2 (cross the
Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John Adam Street,
turn right and you will see the pub.
-†††††††† Wednesday, 28th March, 10 am - join the MDC UK on the North
Terrace, Trafalgar Square.† Details of action to be announced then.
-†††††††† Thursday, 29th March, 2 pm - join Free-Zim Youth to lobby the
Angolan government following reports that it is to send para-military police
to beef up Mugabe's security forces (meet Baker Street tube station).
-†††††††† Saturday, 31st March, 2 - 6 pm - Special Vigil outside the
Zimbabwe Embassy, London, in solidarity with victims of political violence
in Zimbabwe.
-†††††††† Saturday, 31st March - 11 am - 3 pm. The Bristol Vigil meets under
the covered way, just near the Watershed, Canon's Road, Harbourside.
-†††††††† Wednesday, 4th April, 12 - 2 pm - join ACTSA and the Trades Union
Congress for a demonstration outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in solidarity with
the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions who have called a general strike for
3rd and 4th April.
-†††††††† Saturday, 18th April, 2 - 5 pm - the second Belfast Vigil (to mark
Zimbabwean Independence Day) outside the gates of City Hall.

Vigil co-ordinator

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Why we fled Mugabe's rule - couple

Swindon Advertiser

A SWINDON couple have been holding their breath as the ageing Robert Mugabe
continues to tighten his grip on Zimbabwe, the country he has ruled with a
relentless iron rod for 27 years.

They shuddered as they read headlines about beatings inflicted on Morgan
Tsvangirai, Sekai Holland, Nelson Chamisa and other leading members of the
country's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change.

It's nearly five years since Patrick and Pammy Mallon of Ruskin Avenue,
Upper Stratton, decided that they could no longer live under the rule of the
83-year-old dictator and his Zanu PF party.

They left behind their home, two companies they had set up, friends from
both black and white communities, their car, most of their possessions,
their savings and the pension pot that Patrick, once regarded as Zimbabwe's
top metallurgist, had been building up for more than 30 years.

They arrived in the UK with Pammy's ailing 80-year-old mother, their sons
Sean and Craig, about 20 small boxes containing a few clothes, some
household linen and other personal items, and £2,500.

With soaring inflation and restrictions on changing money, that was all the
cash they could bring out with them.

"We had been lucky enough to be millionaires, in terms of Zimbabwe dollars.
I had worked hard for it and we had saved," said Patrick, who is now 66.
"We had to tell the bank we were coming to Britain on holiday. If they had
known we were leaving, my account would have been frozen and we would have
left with nothing."

His account in Harare has now been closed and he has no idea if there is
money in it, even though his monthly pension payments should still be
credited to it.

"However, the worst thing was not being able to bring our two dogs and our
cat with us," said 56-year-old Pammy.

Patrick admits he cried like a baby when they were put to sleep.

They rent their house from a cousin of their son Craig's girlfriend.

"Our landlord has been terrific," said Pammy.

But apart from that their arrival in Britain has not meant good times and
security.

Initially Patrick, who is now a British citizen, was entitled to no benefits
in this country.

And in spite of his college qualifications and his experience as a
metallurgist, gold mine plant manager and environmental rehabilitation
expert, he received only negative responses to a lengthy stream of job
applications.

"Often he didn't get a reply," said Pammy.

So he signed up with several temp agencies in Swindon. And since then he has
packed vegetables, stuffed letters and catalogues into envelopes ready for
mailing, and worked briefly as a storeman for an electrical company.

He has even picked up litter at Swindon Council's refuse tip.

Patrick is currently unemployed and hoping for another temporary job. They
are living on £114 a week.

"We cope by being very thrifty," said Pammy, who isn't in good health. "We
don't drink and never eat out or have takeaways.

"The heating is off during the day, no matter how cold it is. Our only
luxury is cigarettes.

"I have seen my brilliant, proud, hardworking husband, a former manager and
consultant, literally staggering from fatigue at times," said Pammy. "But he
has refused to get despondent. There has never been a twitch of self pity.

"His philosophy has been, when you're sitting in the gutter the only way out
is up - even when the pavement seems to be as far away as the stars."

It is the philosophy of a couple who, as much any white farmer who has been
thrown off his land and any MDC protester who has been beaten up, are
victims of Robert Mugabe's despotic rule.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe's increasingly desperate endgame

The East African
†March 26, 2006

††††††††††† SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

††††††††††† A NEW STUDY OF THE SITUATION IN Zimbabwe by the International
Crisis Group (ICG) says that only a mediation initiative led by the Southern
Africa Development Community (SADC) is capable of midwifing an exit deal for
President Robert Mugabe on the expiry of his term in 2008.

††††††††††† According to the report, SADC will need to mediate between the
ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) and the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on a power sharing transitional
government to oversee development of a new constitution, repeal of
repressive laws and the holding of internationally supervised elections in
2010.

††††††††††† A political and economic crisis that has reached its seventh
year is pushing Zimbabwe towards total collapse. The world's fastest
shrinking peacetime economy has left the country teetering on the brink.

††††††††††† The combination of that meltdown rampant corruption, a
deteriorating humanitarian situation, deepening poverty, political paralysis
and repression mirrors the situation in Congo during the last days of Mobutu's
rule.

††††††††††† In defiance of the growing domestic outcry for a radical change
in leadership and new policies to return credible democracy and prosperity,
Mugabe seems determined to change the constitution to extend his rule. For
Zimbabwe to begin to recover, however, he must step down in 2008, when his
term ends, and the opposing parties must negotiate a political transition
leading to a new constitution and viable, democratic institutions. Domestic
and international actors must act now if Zimbabwe is not to become a failed
state.

††††††††††† Although Mugabe remains in a fairly strong position to choose
the time and manner of his departure, growing economic and political
pressures could hasten him into retirement.

††††††††††† Loyalists are pushing for a two-year extension of his term, so
that the presidential elections scheduled for 2008 are be held in 2010, the
same as the parliamentary elections.

††††††††††† However, powerful members of his ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) party opposed this at the December
2006 party conference. If central committee does not approve it in March,
options will emerge for a negotiated transition.

††††††††††† According the Crisis Group, there are four principal reasons for
some cautious optimism over Zimbabwe's future.

††††††††††† First, the rebellion among Zanu-PF officials who are unhappy
about the economy and Mugabe's manoeuvring that has prevented them from
planning for a transition. Zanu-PF has broken up into factions, which could
prove dangerous for the president. A number of officials want him to leave
in 2008 so a more moderate wing of the party can take over the government
and re-engage with the West to rebuild the economy.

††††††††††† Second, the ICG say that discussions with the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zanu-PF and diplomats indicate wide
support for a plan centred on a transitional government taking power in 2008
to develop a new constitution and hold free and fair elections.

††††††††††† THIRD IS THE RESURGENCE of the apolitical opposition. The MDC
shows signs of recovering from its paralysis. The still divided party as
well as civil society organisations are jointly committing to strategic
non-violence aimed at pressing the government to negotiate establishment of
a transitional government.

††††††††††† The MDC lacks the organisation and resources to march on Harare,
but it is the potential beneficiary in any elections of the economic
discontent and Zanu-PF divisions. So, it is prepared to negotiate an end to
the crisis, accept a power-sharing agreement and support constitutional
reforms - if Zanu-PF delivers Mugabe's exit.

††††††††††† The fourth factor is a growing regional fatigue. South Africa
and other SADC nations are increasingl tired of the effect of the crisis on
the region and want to mediate. While they are not likely to condemn
President Mugabe publicly, they could orchestrate a retirement package for
him and facilitate resumption of foreign aid if democratic reforms are
implemented.

††††††††††† Still, the most significant factor is the internal rebellion
going on within Zanu-PF.

†††††††††††† Mugabe's bid to extend his term until 2010 suffered a major
setback when the December 2006 Zanu-PF annual conference in Goromonzi failed
to adopt the resolution required for harmonising the presidential and
parliamentary elections.

††††††††††† The key obstacle was the threat of some influential members to
rebel, as a result of which the security agencies advised Mugabe to abandon
the effort at the conference.

††††††††††† The issue was referred back to the party's provincial structures
for further consultations and then to the central committee for a decision.

††††††††††† Provincial opinion is vital, since all those who sit on the
provincial leadership councils are central committee members.

††††††††††† No resolution sponsored by Mugabe had ever before failed, and
this exacerbated Zanu-PF's recent split into three camps. The one led by
retired Army General Solomon "Rex" Mujuru (Vice President Joyce Mujuru's
husband) is leading the campaign to force Mugabe into retirement when his
term expires in 2008.

††††††††††† Although senior army, police, and intelligence officials - the
"securocrats" - attempted to mobilise support for the proposal,
representatives from Mashonaland East, Mujuru's home province and Zanu-PF's
strongest base - the opposition not having won a seat in an election there
in the past seven years - stood firm against it. Representatives of other
provinces, impressed by the resistance from the party's stronghold, began to
revise positions, disregarding the securocrats.

††††††††††† Representatives from Midlands, the home of another presidential
aspirant, Emmerson Mnangagwa, dropped their support and said they were for
harmonisation of elections but not extending Mugabe's term, which then had
the backing of only eight of the 10 provincial delegations. A Cabinet
minister aligned with the Mujuru camp told Crisis Group, "If President
Mugabe can convince us on what two extra years of his rule will do for the
well being of the economy and renewal of Zanu-PF, we are ready to support
him all the way. In the absence of any strong compelling reason to extend
his term, the country should move on under a new leader. We need to change
course. We need a new man. People are suffering."

††††††††††† Zanu-PF officials say Mujuru's argument resonates with other key
party leaders, though many are afraid to openly denounce Mugabe's proposal.

††††††††††† At a politburo meeting on the eve of the conference, Mujuru
denounced the plan to extend Mugabe's term, arguing the party had never
officially discussed it. Mujuru has used politburo meetings to attack Mugabe's
bid openly and rally support for his campaign to make him retire in 2008.

††††††††††† In a move widely seen as part of the strategy to increase
pressure on Mugabe before the conference, a key member of the Mujuru camp -
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa - submitted his resignation on December 19,
saying he could not work with Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, Mugabe's
ally and personal banker.

††††††††††† Mugabe told him to "rethink" his request. If he had accepted the
resignation, all ministers from the Mujuru camp - half the Cabinet,
including health, education, defence and youth - planned to leave in
solidarity, thus crippling the administration.

††††††††††† On February 6, Mugabe finally dropped Murerwa in a mini
reshuffle. Party insiders say Mujuru has been pushing for Mugabe's
retirement in favour of the party's deputy secretary for economic affairs,
Simba Makoni, since the 2001 Zanu-PF conference in Victoria Falls, but has
been unable to find a critical mass of support until now.

††††††††††† The upshot of all this is that Zanu-PF is now divided into three
distinct factions. President Mugabe still controls the loyalist bloc, which
includes senior party leaders such as State Security Minister Didymus
Mutasa, Gono and senior military officials. The opposition groupings, led by
Mujuru and Mnangagwa, want Mugabe out in 2008 so they can lead a more
moderate party that can maintain political control while re-engaging with
the West.

††††††††††† The Mujuru camp, galvanised by its success in forcing Mugabe to
pull back in Goromonzi, went on a countrywide outreach programme, meeting
with Zanu-PF leaders in the provinces and campaigning against an extension
of the president's term.

††††††††††† EMISSARIES FROM THE MU-juru and Mnangagwa camps have been
holding exploratory talks about a common position ahead of the central
committee debate in March and considering possible power-sharing
arrangements in the post-Mugabe era.

††††††††††† In an effort to keep their options open and in anticipation of
the harmonisation resolution reaching parliament, both factions have been
reaching out to explore co-operation with the MDC.

††††††††††† The Mujuru faction is the more powerful challenge for the Mugabe
loyalists. Mujuru, one of the wealthiest politicians in Zimbabwe - with
business interests in mining, agriculture and safari operations - is
powerful and well-respected in both the party and the military and
intelligence services. Although he has never expressed a desire to become
president, his faction openly demands that Mugabe retire in 2008.

††††††††††† It has made inroads in the business sector and wants to craft a
moderate Zanu-PF that can work with the West and rebuild the economy to save
their collapsing commercial empires.

††††††††††† A senior Zanu-PF politburo member from Mujuru's camp said, "We
need to look at the interests of the party, meaning what measures should we
take to ensure that Zanu-PF as a party remains in power. One of those
measures is clearly to have a new leader and to begin to make moves to
engage with the international community."

††††††††††† The plan is first to secure Mugabe's retirement, then form a
transitional government with Joyce Mujuru as interim president and negotiate
with the MDC on a new constitution and elections.

††††††††††† Speaker of Parliament John Nkomo might become interim vice
president, with a technocrat such as former finance minister Simba Makoni in
the new position of interim prime minister.

††††††††††† Such an arrangement would give the Mujuru faction two years of
incumbency, virtually assuring Joyce Mujuru of the party's 2010 presidential
nomination and giving her a large advantage over opposition candidates.

††††††††††† Persuading the US and European Union to ease their targeted
sanctions against senior Zanu-PF and government figures could be delegated
to Makoni, a former finance minister long viewed as a leader who could be a
palatable interlocutor for the West and restore the economy.

††††††††††† Though linked to the Mujuru camp and acceptable to the Mnangagwa
camp as a possible compromise candidate, Makoni does not have much
grassroots support. He has distanced himself from the factional fights in
the party leadership and is considered untainted by the corruption scandals
around other presidential aspirants.

††††††††††† However, Mugabe, who may only be persuaded to hand over power if
he has absolute assurances from the next leader that he and his assets will
be protected and he will not be prosecuted for actions while in office, is
unlikely to trust guarantees from Makoni.

††††††††††† After the failed Tsholotsho rebellion in 2004, when it was
unable to install the former speaker of parliament as vice president against
Mugabe's will, the president has been hostile to the Mnangagwa faction.

††††††††††† Mugabe does not trust Mnangagwa but has used him more recently
to help combat the greater threat from the Mujuru camp. His faction lacks
the support of a senior figure of Solomon Mujuru's stature to fight party
battles behind closed doors.

††††††††††† However, Mnangagwa is popular within the party, controls some
Zanu-PF parliamentarians and has considerable influence within the state
security and intelligence organisations.

††††††††††† While Mnangagwa initially supported extending Mugabe's term to
2010 in order to blunt Joyce Mujuru's ascendancy, he has reversed his
position in the hope of striking a power-sharing agreement with the Mujuru
faction for the post-Mugabe era. He is keeping his options open, however, by
not foreclosing an eventual compromise with Mugabe.

††††††††††† HE IS ALSO PREPARED TO be the kingmaker if the contest
ultimately becomes a straight struggle between the Mujuru and Mugabe
factions for the presidency and control of Zanu-PF.

††††††††††† What Mnangagwa really wants is an open contest within the party
for control. He believes he can win an internal vote for the presidential
nomination if Mugabe's loyalists refrain from manipulating the process.
Mnangagwa came close to securing the vice presidency during the Tsholotsho
meeting despite Mugabe's objections, and he retains core support. Many in
the party prefer him to Joyce Mujuru due to the battles he has fought within
it, his personal resolve and his influence within the military.

††††††††††† If Mugabe continues as president until 2010, Mnangagwa would not
object to Gono taking a greater role in government, possibly as prime
minister. His rise would hurt Makoni and so make it harder for the Mujuru
faction to take power. Mnangagwa would bet that Gono would be too weak to
keep control once Mugabe was gone.

††††††††††† As a result of the challenges within the party, Mugabe has
recently placed his trust in the security apparatus, whose leaders are now
responsible for arranging his dignified exit and securing his interests.
Fearing possible sabotage in the execution and delivery of tasks, he has
also directed that his military allies sit in committees that supervise
Cabinet ministers and senior government officials.

††††††††††† The loyalists include high party leaders such as State Security
Minister and Administration Secretary Didymus Mutasa, Secretary for the
Commissariat Elliot Manyika and key state officials such as Reserve Bank
Governor Gono, Defence Forces Commander Constantine Chiwenga and Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO) Director General Happyton Bonyongwe.

††††††††††† However, the Mujuru bloc also has top security allies, including
Air Force Commander Perence Shiri and Police Commissioner Chihuri. Mnangagwa's
bloc is supported by Army Commander Phillip Sibanda and Deputy Director
General of the CIO Maynard Muzariri.

††††††††††† FOLLOWING THE GOROMONZI conference, Mugabe moved to consolidate
his power base around the securocrats. He strengthened a parallel,
militarised framework that extends down to the grassroots level to oversee
traditional Zanu-PF and local government structures whose loyalties are in
question.

††††††††††† The Joint Operation Command (JOC), manned by senior military
officers, now presides over day-to-day government, oversees policy
formulation and implementation and supervises Cabinet ministers.

††††††††††† Members of the youth militia and war veterans who have been
allocated land in the former white commercial farming areas are under the
defence ministry, forming Mugabe's foot soldiers in the provinces and
campaigning for extension of his term. Mugabe has also started to strike
back at the Mujuru faction, labelling it power-hungry and guilty of
undermining his leadership by questioning his contribution during the
independence struggle.

††††††††††† But control of the military and security apparatus has become
the new battle ground, as the senior figures in these services align
themselves with one of the camps vying for power.

††††††††††† If Mugabe chooses to stay until 2010, he is likely to appoint
Gono prime minister. This would meet heavy resistance from party stalwarts
who view Gono as a newcomer, even compared with Makoni, who was a minister
in the first post-independence Cabinet.

††††††††††† But Mugabe knows he is loyal, probably his most reliable
successor in terms of assuring his personal and financial security. Although
not popular in the party, he is said to have embarrassing information on the
illegal financial activities of much of the leadership. He demonstrated his
power when he launched the monetary reform in 2006 with little consultation,
perhaps partly to test his strength while still under Mugabe's protection,
but in doing so he angered many leaders whose personal fortunes were
negatively affected.

††††††††††† The MDC was badly but not irreparably damaged when it split into
two factions in October 2005, one loyal to Morgan Tsvangirai, the party
president, the other led by the secretary general, Welshman Ncube. Today,
there is a recognition that a joint strategy is required to re-energise the
party.

††††††††††† Arthur Mutambara, president of the breakaway faction, said,
"There is no alternative to all democratic forces working together to bring
about democratic change."

††††††††††† The party would greatly benefit from reconciliation. Its
domestic and international image has dipped since the split. Western
diplomats in Harare and senior officials in South Africa have asked why they
should support inter-party talks if the MDC cannot agree on a platform or a
negotiating team.

††††††††††† Zanu-PF has said the same. Failure to reconcile could kill any
potential deal with ruling party moderates.

††††††††††† The next election may be the last chance for current MDC
leaders. Tsvangirai's term as party president expires in 2010. Despite
success in founding and sustaining an opposition party under a dictatorial
government, party leaders failed to provide meaningful resistance after the
internationally condemned elections of 2002 and 2005, and they had no
effective response to Operation Murambatsvina and the subsequent
humanitarian disaster.

††††††††††† Defeating Mugabe's plan to extend his term to 2010 and setting
the groundwork for free elections would redeem the opposition. Failure would
bring with it a harsh judgment of history.

††††††††††† The realisation by the MDC factions that they are weaker as
separate parties has fuelled a flurry of negotiations aimed at bridging
personal differences among the leaders. Committees of senior figures have
been set up to discuss the modalities of reunification.

††††††††††† The Mutambara faction privately seethes about Tsvangirai and his
management style, though Mutambara himself is careful to avoid public
criticism. Similarly, the Tsvangirai faction harbours deep distrust of
Ncube.

††††††††††† A key Tsvangirai adviser said, "The party did not split. The
leadership of the party split."

††††††††††† According to top officials, the Mutambara faction is primarily
focused on building a constituency in Matebeleland, all but conceding
Mashonaland to Tsvangirai. Its main strategy is to prevent either Zanu-PF or
Tsvangirai from winning without its support.

††††††††††† "It is important for the other side [the Tsvangirai faction] to
learn they can't win", said Ncube. "They thought they could destroy us in
six months. They failed".

††††††††††† Both factions did poorly in the Rural District Council (RDC)
elections of October 28, 2006, winning a combined 89 of 1,340 seats, divided
almost evenly between them.

††††††††††† In areas where at least two parties contested the election, the
MDC won 81 of 849 seats. Although the rural areas are not traditional MDC
strongholds, the Mutambara faction had hoped for a better showing in
Matebeleland, where it did gain one more contested seat than the Tsvangirai
faction.

††††††††††† The elections happened at a time when the MDC factions were
preoccupied with their internal struggle, and if anything, the elections
brought home the weakness of a divided party.

††††††††††† An official from the Mutambara faction admitted to Crisis Group
that building local structures in Matabeleland will not restore democracy.
The Tsvangirai faction should also recognise that reconciliation is in its
best interests.

††††††††††† Tsvangirai's faction demonstrated its strength in Mashonaland
but has failed to make inroads in Matabeleland, leaving it with limited
capacity to neutralise Zanu-PF's traditional rural support.

††††††††††† Personal friction remains the key obstacle to reunification.
Mutambara officials express more anger against Tsvangirai than against the
government. "It is the person of Morgan Tsvangirai who is the problem. If
Morgan is out of the picture, there isn't anything preventing the factions
from coming together," Ncube said.

††††††††††† HOWEVER, EVEN NCUBE, who has the most to lose by reunification,
noted, "In politics, anything is possible. You can't rule out the
reunification of the MDC or an alliance." While Tsvangirai officials say
little about opposite numbers even in private, they claim reunification
would not be a problem if Ncube was out of the equation.

††††††††††† Both sets of leaders have recently indicated they can at least
still work together towards the common objectives of restoring democracy and
ending Mugabe's rule. "We want unity of purpose, not just unity for the sake
of it," Tsvangirai said.

††††††††††† Efforts have been made to resolve differences. Allegations of
intra-party violence drove a deep wedge between the factions in October
2005. Tensions heightened over the beating of Trudy Stevenson, a
parliamentarian from the Mutambara faction, and several others in July 2006.

††††††††††† The Tsvangirai faction appointed a commission, primarily of
human-rights attorneys, to investigate. The report exonerated Tsvangirai of
direct involvement, but admonished him and other senior leaders for not
doing enough to crack down on violent elements.

††††††††††† While the report also implicated the CIO, Tsvangirai promised to
weed out any element within his faction involved in the violence. Both sides
suspect the original split was exacerbated by CIO infiltrators. Cases of
mismanagement have surfaced since the split. A private audit done by the
party revealed that corruption and pervasive lack of accountability had
emptied the treasury well before the split.

††††††††††† Relations improved when both presidents and secretaries general
signed a code of conduct in August 2006, which outlined how the factions
should interact in and out of parliament.

††††††††††† Sticking points remain though. The Mutambara faction alleges
their rivals circumvented party decision-making bodies. The complaint
centres on the "kitchen cabinet" of unofficial advisers, which they believe
Tsvangirai set up to bypass the national executive, on which his critics had
a majority.

††††††††††† RECENTLY, HOWEVER, MUtambara acknowledged that the president of
a party should feel free to have outside advisers, as long as elected organs
were not circumvented. What is still both necessary and compelling, however,
is a strategic alliance not only between the two factions but also involving
like-minded organisations. A co-ordinating body may be required to help
arrive at common positions and strategies.

††††††††††† If the MDC commits to a unified strategy for confronting the
government, each faction can play a key role.

††††††††††† Over the past year, the Tsvangirai faction has focused on
building relationships with civil-society organisations and churches and
exploring strategic non-violent action, mainly through the Save Zimbabwe
Campaign, in which the Mutambara faction is also represented and with which
it hopes to pressure the government into negotiations around a transitional
government, a new constitution, and free and fair elections.

††††††††††† The Mutambara faction has focused on building local structures,
primarily in Matabeleland, and preparing to confront the ruling party in
elections. Ultimately, both approaches are necessary for restoring
democracy, but it remains to be seen if the factions will support each other's
tactics.

††††††††††† So far, most leaders are saying the right things. David Coltart,
the Mutambara faction's secretary for legal and parliamentary affairs,
explained, "While elections are an important form of struggle, they are not
the only form. We will defeat this regime through a multipronged approach."

††††††††††† Secretary general Tendai Biti of the Tsvangirai faction agreed
the party should support all positive efforts at opposing the government
instead of trying to identify a single method. "If both factions are serious
about this, their strengths could complement each other. They need to find
ways to coexist under the same MDC banner and a strategy with which to
mobilise their respective supporters and strengthen their credibility. The
overall objectives should be to establish democratic, collegial and
transparent procedures within party structures, choose common presidential,
parliamentary and local candidates and negotiate a mutually satisfactory
mixed leadership."

††††††††††† The MDC factions, civil society organisations (CSOs) and
churches came together in August 2006 under the Save Zimbabwe Campaign to
use strategic non-violent action against plans to postpone the presidential
election.

††††††††††† The campaign is aimed at rallying all democratic forces and
opposition parties to push for both presidential and parliamentary elections
to be held in 2008. The key points of the platform are negotiations with the
government to end the crisis, a transitional government, a new constitution
and free and fair elections.

††††††††††† Both MDC factions and most CSOs have concluded that a return of
democracy requires more direct action. "Without pressure on this regime,
Mugabe won't give in," said a senior civil society leader.

††††††††††† But the Save Zimbabwe Campaign may not necessarily succeed where
others have failed. Dire economic problems have become synonymous with
Mugabe's rule, and the campaign's message resonates also with supporters of
the two Zanu-PF camps that are pushing for Mugabe's retirement.

††††††††††† HOWEVER THE LARGELY passive national reaction to the declining
humanitarian and economic situation to date indicates that most citizens,
especially those in urban areas where opposition support is the strongest,
are in survival mode and may not have an appetite for revolution.

††††††††††† A civil society leader said, "They will not raise their heads
until they have an accountable leadership that will lead them." The MDC
split has hurt the party's credibility and cast doubts on its organisational
capacity.

††††††††††† Orchestrating mass civil unrest is also a risky business. The
government has a rapid reaction security force of at least 3,000, not
counting regular police and military recruits. In addition, little progress
has been made to attract civil servants or soldiers to the opposition.

††††††††††† Momentum, however, is shifting towards support for strategic
non-violent action, and the government is taking notice. Aspects of the Save
Zimbabwe Campaign have already begun. Key CSOs are starting to carry out
periodic protests. The ZCTU, NCA, Women of Zimbabwe Arise and the Zimbabwe
National Students Union have held regular street protests.

††††††††††† The NCA has begun to distribute flyers asserting "we will vote
in 2008 under a new constitution."

††††††††††† Tsvangirai's attempt to launch his presidential campaign on
February 17 as part of a wider strategy to pressure Zanu-PF to abandon the
2010 project was foiled by police, as was a parallel event planned by the
Mutambara faction's Defiance Campaign.

††††††††††† "The government's reaction to the ZCTU protest is an indication
of the concern at the strength of that momentum," said an official of a
foreign development organisation with close ties to CSOs.

††††††††††† In the past, civil society has been good at forming coalitions
that did little more than deliberate. Now the coalitions seem interested in
street actions.

††††††††††† Similar efforts at bringing the MDC and CSOs together have
failed but all seem eager to learn from their mistakes. "This time around,
it won't fail," says Tsvangirai faction vice president Thoko Khupe.

††††††††††† A civil society leader knowledgeable in the Save Zimbabwe
Campaign's origins said leaders of the ZCTU and NCA, two of the largest
CSOs, met with Tsvangirai and Mutambara, who agreed to abandon piecemeal
action in favour of a united effort.

††††††††††† The next five months will determine whether Mugabe gets his
party's endorsement to extend his term to 2010 or Zanu-PF chooses a new
candidate and lays the groundwork for presidential elections in March 2008
as scheduled.

††††††††††† The Zanu-PF central committee is to decide the election
harmonisation issue on March 28. If it endorses an extension of Mugabe's
term, the matter will go to parliament, which convenes in July, to consider
the necessary constitutional amendment, which would require a two-thirds
majority (100 of 150) to pass. The two MDC factions would need the votes of
10 Zanu-PF parliamentarians to block it.

††††††††††† The same arithmetic would apply if Mugabe were to seek a
constitutional amendment to retain a portion of his power after retirement
or to stage-manage the transition via a non-executive president and a prime
minister. If Zanu-PF decides to stay with the 2008 election, it will have to
decide within this half year whether Mugabe is to be its candidate or
whether to convene a special congress to elect a new leader.

††††††††††† Mugabe has said that the present term will be his last, but has
also indicated that he will not leave if his party is in a shambles. If the
constitution is not altered, his only choices are to stand for another
six-year term in 2008 or select a successor to run in his place.

††††††††††† The latter is highly unlikely, as it would mean giving up power
without guarantees of personal or financial security. Zanu-PF considers the
divided MDC a weak opponent, and Mugabe may be tempted to run again.However,
foreign investment will not return and targeted sanctions will not be lifted
until major policy changes - all but impossible with Mugabe in power - are
made.

††††††††††† Some Zanu-PF officials want a constitutional amendment that
would create the posts of non-executive president and prime minister. This
might be the best answer for the party if it cannot settle on a single
candidate to succeed Mugabe and cannot push him out.

††††††††††† CREATING A POST OF PRIME Minister might allow the party to
install a technocrat as a way of signalling to the West a new start and the
desire to attract foreign investment, while allowing a leader with broad
support within the party to serve as president, with power to dismiss the
prime minister but not control the day-to-day running of the country.

††††††††††† There is a great risk for Zanu-PF that if it does nothing, the
83-year-old Mugabe is likely to stand again, extending the crisis and
further delaying a succession decision.

††††††††††† The several camps have kept quiet publicly, each hoping Mugabe
will favour it for succession, while simultaneously working within the party
to make sure he retires in 2008. If Mugabe runs again, or attempts to impose
a life presidency, discontent within Zanu-PF will reach dangerous levels,
perhaps sufficient to launch a serious effort to topple him.

††††††††††† While the Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions are locked in a bitter
battle over party supremacy, they could achieve many of their goals by
striking a power-sharing compromise.

††††††††††† Emissaries are exploring this in advance of the central
committee meeting. The plan pushed by the Mujuru faction, dubbed the Maputo
Pact, would make Mnangagwa vice president in return for his support against
Mugabe's constitutional amendment. If the factions stand together, they
could easily block that proposal at party level.

††††††††††† Recent elections have been marked by violence, intimidation and
rigging. Without the full backing of his party, Mugabe might not be able to
rely on these methods, and the way could be opened for other Zanu-PF leaders
to challenge him at the polls or even for victory for a unified MDC.

††††††††††† The Mnangagwa and Mujuru factions largely agree on policy. Both
want to preserve their business interests, which requires better governance,
engagement with the West and attracting foreign investment. They differ only
on who should lead the government. The Maputo Pact could be a first step
toward an alliance of convenience.

††††††††††† Elements within Zanu-PF and the MDC have also discussed a
possible agreement on the way forward. Top officials in the Mujuru and
Mnangagwa camps separately told Crisis Group of their willingness to
negotiate with the MDC on a new constitution, a two-year transitional
government starting in 2008 and subsequent elections.

††††††††††† This is essentially the "roadmap" the MDC has been asking for.
Tsvangirai faction secretary general Biti said, "I genuinely believe that
Zanu-PF is ready for dialogue." The parties came very close to agreeing on a
new constitution in 2004 during secret South African-brokered negotiations,
which broke down over whether the constitution would take effect in 2008 or
2010. That issue is now less of a stumbling block.

††††††††††† Zanu-PF rebels seem the more willing to strike a deal. The
October 2005 split badly weakened the MDC's image. Key Zanu-PF leaders no
longer consider it the threat it appeared to be when it spearheaded the
defeat of a constitutional referendum in 2000 and made strong showings in
presidential and parliamentary polls that year and again in 2002.

††††††††††† If Zanu-PF agrees to a transitional arrangement, it would get
the benefit of greater international legitimacy without necessarily
conceding much. The overtures should, therefore, be viewed with caution, as
a ploy by which the ruling party hopes in essence to maintain the status quo
minus Mugabe.

††††††††††† They may also reflect a realisation that Zanu-PF stands little
chance of winning an election under current economic conditions. Its leaders
know they need at least two years after Mugabe's departure to benefit from
any economic stabilisation and to regain popularity among the rural masses,
while blaming the suffering on Mugabe.

††††††††††† If there is no agreement between the Zanu-PF factions, Mujuru
might work out a deal with the MDC alone to defeat the constitutional
amendment in parliament. The MDC would need to accept Joyce Mujuru as
interim president, probably in return for the vice presidency and
opportunities for some power sharing. This might be tempting, as it would
mean a negotiated settlement and an opportunity to work with more moderate
members of Zanu-PF. Private discussions between the MDC and all factions are
ongoing. Leaders say they are optimistic that policy differences between the
parties are minimal.

††††††††††† A SENIOR ZANU-PF POLITB-uro member from the Mujuru camp said,
"We have no problems working with them [the MDC]. What they have as their
roadmap is an agenda that the transitional president can implement in two
years. In any case, we have an almost agreed constitution; so we share with
them their way forward."

††††††††††† The Mnangagwa faction of Zanu-PF, which has made informal
approaches to the Mutambara faction of the MDC for a possible coalition in
the post-Mugabe era, may take a similar approach.

††††††††††† One of its senior politburo members said, "We may differ on how
we should approach some of the things but their roadmap is in sync with
[the] transitional mechanism that should lead to elections. Obviously the
old constitution has to be revisited."

††††††††††† But economic recovery and a return to democracy may require
something more radical than an alliance of convenience between a Zanu-PF
faction and an opposition splinter group, whether Tsvangirai's or Mutambara's.

††††††††††† Mugabe and some civil society leaders have promoted church
mediation as a way out of the crisis. Three groups - the Zimbabwe Council of
Churches (ZCC), the Catholic Bishops Conference and the Ecumenical
Fellowship - seek to work with the president directly on a solution to the
problems faced by average citizens. Mugabe seized on talks with church
leaders as a way to give the impression he was open to engaging with
opposition voices.

††††††††††† Church leaders involved in the initiative have also painted it
as a way for Mugabe to engage with the opposition. However, almost none of
the major opposition groups were consulted beforehand, including the MDC,
the Christian Alliance, the NCA, the Crisis Coalition, the ZCTU, the
Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU), or the National Pastors'
Conference. These accuse the ZCC and others of backing down from past
criticism now that they have held talks with Mugabe. After meeting Mugabe in
June, some ZCC members appeared on television to express support for him.

††††††††††† The church leaders presented a "National Vision Document" -
widely considered a sanitised description of the crisis - to Mugabe in
October 2006. Jesuit priests pointed out that reference in the final version
to "oppressive laws" was altered to "contentious laws." A passage arguing
that the ruling party had a "tendency to label anyone who criticises the
dominant view as an enemy" was deleted, and there was no reference to
electoral violence.

††††††††††† The crisis cannot be resolved without talks between the MDC and
ZANU-PF supported by major civil society groups. The church initiative lacks
that support. Unless it becomes a more inclusive effort, it should not get
international backing. Mugabe buys too much time with initiatives that only
give an impression of progress.102

Back to the Top
Back to Index