28 March 2007, 06:41 GMT 07:41 UK
Southern African leaders are gathering in Tanzania for two days of
emergency talks over the crisis in Zimbabwe.
The country's president, Robert Mugabe, will attend the meeting,
called by the Southern African Development Community.
BBC correspondents say support for Mr Mugabe in the region is waning,
after opposition politicians were beaten up while in custody earlier this
The Zimbabwean leader is expected to blame tensions in his country on
an opposition campaign of violence.
African leaders have been reluctant to criticise Mr Mugabe in public.
They see him as a hero of the fight against colonial rule.
But the BBC's Peter Greste, in the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam,
says in private the leaders will give Mr Mugabe a frosty reception.
Our correspondent says South African leader Thabo Mbeki in particular
is likely to put pressure on Mr Mugabe.
South Africa is already taking many refugees from Zimbabwe, and Mr
Mbeki will be aware that a complete collapse there would severely affect his
own country, our correspondent says.
The leaders are expected to tell Mr Mugabe, who has governed Zimbabwe
since its independence in 1980, that he should stand down when his term in
office ends next year.
Zimbabweans are grappling with the world's highest inflation - 1,700%
a year - while unemployment and poverty are widespread.
Critics blame the economic meltdown on Mr Mugabe's seizure of
white-owned farms, while he says he is the victim of a Western plot.
The conference in Dar es Salaam, hosted by Tanzanian President Jakaya
Kikwete, will also focus on the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Recent fighting between the army and militias in DR Congo has left at
least 150 people dead.
28 March 2007
ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe will attend an extraordinary Southern
African Development Community (SADC) summit today where leaders are expected
to put Zimbabwe's deteriorating political situation in the spotlight.
The meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, today and tomorrow, is expected to
focus on mounting political unrest in the country amid an economic meltdown
increas- ingly affecting neighbouring states.
Mugabe was expected to brief his SADC counterparts on the situation in his
country, the state-run Herald newspaper said yesterday. Observers in Harare
say he may be grilled on police brutality against opposition Movement for
Democratic Change leaders and supporters two weeks ago. The state-sanctioned
attacks prompted condemnation from the United Nations, the US, the European
Union and the Commonwealth, with Australia the most vocal. At the time, only
one SADC leader, Zambia's President Levy Mwanawasa, spoke out. The regional
bloc came under fire for its perceived silence on the Zimbabwe crisis.
Nearly a week later Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete met Mugabe in Harare.
Mugabe and state media have accused the MDC of fomenting violence in the
country, a charge the opposition party denies. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
said the SADC should seize this opportunity to tackle the issue decisively.
The summit will be held "to discuss the political and security situation of
the region", said an SADC statement. Kikwete will chair the meeting, which
President Thabo Mbeki will attend.
Renewed Democratic Republic of Congo fighting is also on the SADC. With
28 March 2007
AS AFRICAN leaders of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community
(SADC) sit down in Dar es Salaam today and tomorrow, they will be confronted
for the first time as a group with a problem they have studiously avoided
for years - the crisis in Zimbabwe. While President Levy Mwanawasa of
Zambia - which, like SA, has felt the strain caused by hungry and
disaffected Zimbabweans fleeing its political repression, chronic shortages
of supplies, poverty, joblessness and astronomical inflation - has indicated
a desire to discuss the problem, the rest have tut-tutted and looked away.
Mwanawasa followed his foreign minister's comment that the situation was too
serious to stay silent by saying he hoped the SADC would develop a common
stance on the crisis in the coming days.
One wonders how his resolve will stand up in the face of the optimism of
Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete, who said his five-hour talks with
Mugabe had been a "great success" and that the two had "agreed on the way
forward, but it is between me and Mugabe" and "we should be given time".
Kikwete declared this as he and Mugabe emerged from a meeting where Kikwete
had told the Zimbabwean leader that on his latest visit to Europe,
"developments in Zimbabwe dominated most of the meetings between me and the
European leaders". An angry Mugabe brushed aside western condemnation and
said that his critics could "go hang".
It is also to be questioned how far Mwanawasa will get with the development
of a common stance which goes beyond "staying silent", in the face of
President Thabo Mbeki's "quiet diplomacy".
Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad has been sharply critical of the South
African media, which have almost single-mindedly condemned the assault and
torture of Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his supporters
in the Movement for Democratic Change. Pahad told the media there was "some
credence" in reports that "outside forces" were attempting to effect regime
change in Harare. He accused SA's media of bias, of being "too
sensationalist" in their reporting on Zimbabwe and of devoting "massive
coverage" to the viewpoints of western governments.
A statement that goes beyond "staying silent" is unlikely to come from the
SADC if Mbeki maintains SA's view as expressed by Pahad - as he is almost
certain to - that the current crisis in Zimbabwe could have been averted if
Europe, the US and SA had adopted a common approach to the country's
"The doors would not have been closed" and dialogue with the government of
Mugabe could have continued, Pahad said. He was responding to criticism at
home and abroad over SA's failure to condemn Mugabe's crackdown on the
political opposition. "It is not our intention to make militant statements
to make us feel good and satisfy governments outside the continent. Only
constructive dialogue between the various political parties in Zimbabwe
could resolve the current impasse," he said.
Also, SA is unlikely to go along with any action that can be construed as
critical of Zimbabwe after it used its position on the United Nations
Security Council to block a debate on the deteriorating situation in
Zimbabwe on technical grounds.
It is also clear SA will press for no action to be taken that has any
resonance with what it terms the "megaphone diplomacy" of the west or the
sanctions the west has imposed on Mugabe and his fellow leaders. Mbeki will
probably go no further than the South African cabinet did when it "voiced
concern about the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe" and repeated appeals
for Mugabe's government and opposition representatives to start talking to
Malawi has said that it is too early to take a stand on the crisis, while
Botswana, which has also had an influx of refugees, will probably also side
with SA's approach.
So it is almost certain that nothing substantial will come out of the SADC
discussion on Zimbabwe.
It will be an opportunity lost to make a decisive move to bring Mugabe up
short and give support to those in the ruling Zanu (PF) who want to see him
go but who appear to be unable to get their act together.
There is a relatively simple solution, though it goes against everything
Mbeki has been insisting on in SA's relations with Zimbabwe. It is to
roundly condemn the assaults on the opposition and the political repression
in Zimbabwe and point out the damage Mugabe's policies have caused to
Zimbabwe's neighbours, especially in the expenditure of millions of rand by
governments to contain the flood of refugees from across the borders and
repatriate them, apart from the running down of regional trade and commerce.
This should be followed by sanctions that hit Mugabe and his henchmen but
have little effect on the population generally - banning their entry to
other states in the SADC, and campaigning to have the bans extended to the
How long can Mugabe remain in power in the face of the condemnation of his
peers in Africa, where he would be relegated to a lonely hermit with
possible forays to friends in China, which itself might rethink its
relations with Zimbabwe in the face of such rejection? Dissidents in Zanu
(PF) would be given a powerful weapon to use against Mugabe and demand his
There are some who think proposals such as these can end Zimbabwe's headlong
dive into further disaster. They are straightforward, relatively easy to
implement, but from SA's point of view - in the same way as the treatment of
HIV/AIDS was initially - unthinkable.
Louw is editor and publisher of the weekly current affairs newsletter
Southern Africa Report.
· Sacked minister says coup is likely if leader won't quit
· African summit 'timed to force resignation in 2008'
Andrew Meldrum in Johannesburg
Wednesday March 28, 2007
Robert Mugabe's time as Zimbabwe's ruler is drawing to a close and his last
days in office could be "nasty, short and brutish", his former right-hand
man, Jonathan Moyo, told the Guardian yesterday.
He said Mr Mugabe would face a "very high threat of a palace coup" if he
refused to retire voluntarily. "Compelling forces are gathering against
Mugabe's continued rule," said the independent MP who broke with the
president two years ago.
Mr Mugabe confronts neighbouring leaders today at a summit of the 14-nation
Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
The body announced the "extraordinary summit" only on Monday and southern
African leaders have scrambled to change schedules to consider Zimbabwe's
"Neighbouring leaders and factions within Zanu-PF agree that Mugabe has
become a liability," said Mr Moyo, the former information minister.
"They are pressing Mr Mugabe to retire when his current term expires in
2008. Mr Mugabe does not want to accept that, but even a master politician
has a limited number of tricks in his hat and Mugabe is running out of ploys
that he can use. No one will buy his anti-western, anti-imperialist rhetoric
"The timing of this summit is very smart. It has thrown a spanner in the
works of Mugabe's orchestrated campaign to run for another presidential
term. I see South Africa's hand behind this move," said Mr Moyo.
He added that Mr Mugabe was planning to steamroller his party to endorse him
for another presidential term at Zanu-PF's central committee meeting on
Friday, but neighbouring leaders had upset his plan.
"I have been to these SADC summits and I know that behind closed doors the
leaders are brutally frank. They will remind Mugabe that he told them he
would retire at the end of this term in 2008. They will tell him he must do
that," said Mr Moyo.
Namibia and Angola have been Mr Mugabe's strongest supporters within the
SADC, but Mr Moyo said they had been persuaded by South Africa and Zambia to
stop protecting the Zimbabwean leader. "The statement issued at the close of
the summit will not strongly condemn Mugabe, that is not the way SADC works.
But I am certain that in the meeting the leaders will have told him in no
uncertain terms that he must retire," Mr Moyo said. "They will tell Mugabe
that his rule in Zimbabwe is dragging down the whole southern African
region. They will say Zimbabwe's economic collapse is negatively affecting
all neighbouring countries."
There are two factions in Zanu-PF opposed to Mr Mugabe, led by the
vice-president, Joice Mujuru, and the housing minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
"These factions have already blocked Mugabe's plan to extend his term by two
years until 2010. Now they will oppose Mugabe's plan to run for another
presidential term," said Mr Moyo. "The region, public opinion and the
majority of leaders in Zanu-PF agree on one thing, Mugabe is the problem.
"They know that as long as Mugabe is the leader, things will get worse in
Mr Moyo said Mr Mugabe was likely to fight to stay in power. "That will be
futile and dangerous for Robert Mugabe. The forces are gathering against
him. His back is against the wall. He relies on the police and army ... But
the rank and file no longer support Mugabe and even the majority of the top
officers are no longer loyal. That spells trouble for Mugabe. I believe we
are witnessing Mugabe's last days in power."
Jonathan Moyo, 50, has been a controversial figure in Zimbabwe for more than
15 years. As a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, he
was one of the fiercest critics of Robert Mugabe, writing a book about how
the 1995 election was rigged. In 2000, he made an about turn and worked with
Mr Mugabe as minister of information. But in late 2004 Mr Moyo fell out of
favour with Mr Mugabe when he was seen as challenging the appointment of
Joice Mujuru as vice-president.
By Our Special Correspondent in Harare
Published: 28 March 2007
They wore no uniforms. There were six or seven of them that grabbed Jonathan
and pushed him face down on to the back of the pick-up. Some beat him with
guns, others with iron bars. Others still, stamped on his shoulders and
Jonathan is one of scores of Zimbabwe's opposition activists who have been
targeted by "hit squads", militia loyal to President Robert Mugabe, who are
making a brutal last stand that could see his iron grip on power in Zimbabwe
loosened for the first time in 27 years.
Every night in the impoverished townships these armed gangs hunt
door-to-door for anyone connected to the opposition Movement for Democratic
"They didn't ask anything," says Jonathan. "They just said you are MDC and
we are going to beat you until you die."
The last thing he remembers before losing consciousness was being marked.
"I don't know what it was. It was made of wood. But they said they were
going to mark me so I would be easier to identify next time."
His mark is a circle of skin the size of a coin gouged from his forehead
above the right eye. The rest of his body is an orgy of bruising, with deep
welts the shape of rifle butts.
More than 100 documented hit squad attacks have taken place in Harare alone
in the past two weeks, as the Mugabe regime seeks to terrorise the
Speaking to a packed church yesterday at the highly charged memorial service
for one of the activists murdered during the recent crackdown, student
leader Prosper Mkwananzi voiced the growing anger of a country in crisis:
"If they make a peaceful revolution impossible they are making a violent
revolution inevitable," he told a roaring crowd.
The security forces had originally tried to prevent a funeral for Gift
Tandare, who was shot dead by police at a peaceful prayer meeting. Secret
police stole his body from a morgue and forced the dead man's father to
witness an impromptu rural burial. After several attempts to ban it,
yesterday's service took the form of an opposition rally.
Civil society leader Lovemore Madhuku, one of the regime's staunchest
critics, nursing a broken arm from police beatings, led the calls for
change. "Some of you may not recognise victory when it comes. Today is
victory. They said they would break this memorial. They steal a body...
Fine, you've done that but we still go ahead. Mugabe has given up."
The final word went to Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC, pictures of
whose graphic head wounds put Zimbabwe's plight back in the international
"Oppression is oppression whether it's by a white government or a black
government. Independence alone isn't freedom," he said.
As soon as the service was over another opposition leader, Last Maenghama,
was abducted close to the church. He was severely beaten and later dumped by
plainclothes assailants on farmland 40 miles outside Harare.
Speaking at his home in the suburb of Avondale Mr Tsvangirai told The
Independent that these desperate acts by the state showed his country has
reached a watershed and that the Mugabe era is coming to a close.
"Mugabe has reached a dead end within his own party. He is paralysed. He is
not able to unite his own party. The opposition in the meantime has a new
spirit and people are looking to the MDC for change. These two forces have
never before presented themselves at the same time."
Mr Mugabe could face a palace coup as soon as today, when a meeting of the
ruling Zanu-PF party's politburo must decide whether to back the 83-year-old
as their candidate for next year's presidential election. Senior figures
from within the party led by former army chief Solomon Mujuru are expected
to challenge Mr Mugabe as economic collapse, sanctions and international
isolation threaten both their business interests and political base. Western
diplomats and regional governments are working towards a deal that would see
an interim government replace the Mugabe regime, with a senior Zanu-PF
figure taking on the presidency. That deal would pave the way to the lifting
of sanctions and an aid package to relieve economic meltdown and impending
One senior diplomat said that there was growing anticipation in the capital
that the ageing dictator's time may be up thanks to the divisions in his own
"Wednesday is D-day," she said, referring to the politburo meeting.
Mr Mugabe has to travel on Friday to a meeting of the Southern African
Development Community, in Tanzania where he is expected to come under fierce
pressure to accept an exit package that guarantees him immunity from
prosecution and a sizeable pension in addition to his vast holdings in
Zimbabwe and abroad.
Mr Tsvangirai denied reports that he was already in talks with the Mujuru
faction, but said that an interim solution, as long as it was followed by
constitutional reform and free and fair elections, could work.
"We can do business with the Mujuru faction as long as they are willing to
begin a negotiated settlement."
However, the opposition itself is still deeply split and there is simmering
mistrust of the motives of Western diplomats.
Arthur Mutambara, the leader of one MDC faction, said that swapping one
Zanu-PF dictator for another will not bring an end to the crisis. "These
Western governments become very opportunistic. Sometimes they just want to
get out. They must think about a sustainable result in the long term."
Both MDC factions have sought to heal the rift in the past fortnight and
agree a common campaign of civil disobedience but Mr Mutambara, who has
himself been arrested and harassed, said that it was too early to talk of
victory or tipping points.
"The thing about Mugabe is that he is an irrational player. There is an
implosion within his own party and he's running out of options. But he is
impossible to predict."
With the press and television under tight state control, rumours circulated
by mobile phone text message substitute real news. One day people insist
that Mugabe has summoned 3,000 crack troops known as "black ninjas" from
Angola; the next day, he has placed Solomon Mujuru under house arrest; no
one knows what is true.
Jenni Williams, leader of the women's rights group Woza, said that the
state-sponsored violence was making grassroots mobilisation harder than
ever. "There is a climate of fear and it is huge at the moment," she said.
In a country of informants no one talks freely and with all public
gatherings banned there has been little sign of the predicted mass street
protests. The fear of what the former school teacher and guerrilla leader
will do next stalks the whole country.
MACDONALD DZIRUTWE AND JANE FIELDS IN HARARE
ZIMBABWE'S president, Robert Mugabe, will attend a regional meeting in
Tanzania this week, as pressure mounts on African leaders to tackle his
Mr Mugabe, who has faced renewed western-led criticism after a crackdown on
opposition leaders, will brief leaders from the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) at the special summit, the official Herald newspaper said.
Regional leaders called the SADC meeting to discuss the political crisis in
Zimbabwe which analysts say threatens to destabilise the region as millions
flee food shortages, 1,700 per cent inflation and 80 per cent unemployment.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), and other party supporters were arrested and beaten after
attempting to attend a banned prayer meeting this month.
The crackdown raised tensions in the southern African nation, where critics
frequently accuse Mr Mugabe, 83, of political abuses and disastrous economic
The government blames the MDC and official media has highlighted what it
says are a series of MDC attacks.
The Herald said discussion at the SADC meeting will focus on "the campaign
by the MDC to unleash violence as part of its western-backed efforts for
illegal regime change in Zimbabwe."
The meeting, scheduled for today and Thursday in Tanzania's capital, Dar es
Salaam, is expected to draw 14 heads of state including those from South
Africa, Namibia and Botswana, according to Tanzanian officials.
Mr Mugabe, the country's sole ruler since it evolved out of white-ruled
Rhodesia in 1980, claims the MDC is receiving funding from his western foes
to topple him from power. The MDC has denied the charges.
Southern African countries have remained largely quiet on the Zimbabwean
crisis, but Levy Mwanawasa , the Zambian president, last week broke ranks,
calling the country a "sinking Titanic".
South Africa's deputy foreign affairs minister, Aziz Pahad, said yesterday
that his country would work to effect change in Zimbabwe but repeated it
would not pursue the tougher route of sanctions pursued by the West.
"Zimbabwe and South Africa's economies are very intertwined ... So we would
suffer the most if we are not able to find a solution in the Zimbabwean
situation," he told reporters.
. Suspected state agents abducted Last Maengehama, the MDC's deputy
secretary for local government, in a wealthy Harare suburb yesterday.
28th Mar 2007 02:50 GMT
By Liberty Mupakati, Leeds, UK
I am one of the millions of Zimbabweans who find themselves out of their
dear motherland due to the repressive and despotic government of Robert
Mugabe. I have decided to join the growing tide of people who are directing
their fury at South Africa, a regional powerhouse that appears to be
exacerbating the suffering of Zimbabweans by its policy of hearing no evil,
seeing no evil and saying no evil.
The attitude adopted by the Mbeki-led South African government leaves a
particularly bad taste in the mouths of most people the world over, as South
Africa's independence came about as a result of collective sacrifices by
By virtue of its geographical location, independent Zimbabwe played a key
role in the attaining of that independence.
This close geographical location also meant that it provided sanctuary and
refuge to some of the prominent people who are now in government, and
conversely put ordinary Zimbabwean men and women's lives in danger from the
apartheid government that was pursuing them.
A case in point is the 1988 bombing that killed one man in Bulawayo in an
attack that was orchestrated by Kit Bawden.
The reluctance of Mbeki to adopt a more direct and robust approach in the
implosion that is currently happening in Zimbabwe, can be attributed to the
economic benefits that are being derived by South African companies from
their investments in Zimbabwe. It is undeniably true that the South African
economy has benefited immensely from the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy.
Prior to the Mugabe madness of the late 1990s, Zimbabwe could compete
favourably with South Africa in the SADC region, as a possible destination
for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI); its demise has meant that South Africa
is the preferred destination of FDI as Zimbabwe cannot compete anymore.
Witness, how, despite his own country's secure property rights, Mbeki has
done nothing to deter Mugabe from pressing the self destructive button of
not respecting property rights, which has resulted in not only a flight of
capital, but a dearth of FDI as investors are not guaranteed the safety of
Like Barclays Bank, which continued to do business with apartheid South
Africa, the South African government has demonstrated that it panders to the
whims of big business by continuing to turn a blind eye to the unravelling
situation in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe, in its present state, is ripe for picking
by South African companies that the ANC led government depend on for
financial support to prolong its stay in power.
Since the crisis started in Zimbabwe in 1999, there are many Zimbabwean
companies that have been taken over by South African ones and if the trend
continues there would not be any companies left in Zimbabwe by 2010 to talk
about. They would all be South African owned. South Africa has benefited
more than any other country in the world by the implosion of the Zimbabwean
economy, as it has been able to recruit Zimbabwe's best skilled workforce
and bought her companies at bargain prices with huge returns. Just like it
did in associating with apartheid South Africa, Barclays Bank has continued
to show its disdain for human rights in its pursuit for super profits. A
recent NGO report stated that the bank is providing the much-needed lines of
credit to the beleaguered regime which have stopped it from crumbling to its
If the truth be told, the South African government has aided and abetted the
suffering of millions of Zimbabweans through its disgraceful policy of
"Quiet Diplomacy". Like Winston Churchill's much maligned, "Appeasement
Policy" in the run up to the 2nd World War, this policy is doing nothing to
stop Mugabe from perpetrating heinous crimes against his own people, who
have suffered ignominiously throughout his reign.
If anything, the "quiet diplomacy" policy has spurred him to be more daring
in his assault on pro-democracy activists. Mugabe's brutality has escalated
once he realised that there was noone in South Africa willing to rebuke him.
There is a strong case for comparing Mugabe to Hitler, given that both
benefited and felt buoyed by the inability of those with the power to stop
their excesses. Previously Mugabe has been quite comfortable to compare
himself to Hitler.
One would almost forgive Mbeki for doing nothing, as he probably looks at
Mugabe as a hero, a blind camaraderie born through the suffering that these
liberation fathers suffered in their fight to bring about independence.
Zimbabweans wonder why esteemed liberation icons such as Nelson Mandela have
maintained a deathly silence on the Zimbabwean crisis.
It is a given in African culture that it is wrong to criticise elders, and
Mbeki might have an uneasy feeling in endeavouring to bring Mugabe to
account for his actions, seeing as Mugabe is old enough to be his father.
This cannot be the case with Mandela as he is closer in age to Mugabe.
One can not help but wonder why this icon of resistance and revered father
figure of African Nationalism is maintaining an astonishing silence about
the goings-on in Zimbabwe? I remember my fascination with Madiba,
specifically his celebrated defence statement during the Rivonia Trial in
April 1964 which goes thus:
"..Political division, based on colour, is entirely artificial and, when it
disappears, so will the domination of one colour group by another...This
then is what the ANC is fighting. Their struggle is a truly national one. It
is a struggle of the African people, inspired by their own suffering and
their own experience...During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this
struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and
I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a
democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony
and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to
achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die..."
There is a strong case for an analogy between what Mandela and others were
fighting for in South Africa then, and what the Zimbabweans, through the
Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai, and other civic
organisations, are fighting for now.
There is a school of thought that Mandela is keeping quiet about the
Zimbabwean issue because he is afraid of undermining Mbeki's stated position
on Zimbabwe. This should be dismissed with the contempt that it deserves, as
there are ample precedents that he has set, notably his openness about
HIV/AIDS as opposed to Mbeki's prevarication on this deadly disease. We all
know what Mbeki's position was or at least that of his government, in so far
as the HIV/AIDS pandemic is concerned.
What the MDC and other civic organisations are merely doing is fight against
black domination which has resulted in the subjugation of an entire
population by an out of touch elite; a tired and clueless elite that is
still in control of the wagons of state by virtue of only having fought the
As has been ably espoused by others in various fora, it is wrong for a black
led government to trample on the rights of its citizens, just as it was
wrong for the colonial governments to do the same to black people. It is
equally wrong that the majority of African governments in general, and the
South African government in particular, to expect Zimbabweans to be grateful
to Robert Mugabe and his cronies for having brought us independence.
This presupposes that we owe him a living for having been part of the
liberation struggle, as if they alone were the only participants in a war,
whose scars still afflict not only the war veterans, but our fathers,
mothers and grandparents who inhabit the grotesquely neglected communal
areas of Chiredzi, Honde Valley, Chipinge, Gokwe, Nkayi, Lupane, and Dande
amongst others. This should not come as a surprise as the liberation war has
been nationalised by this rogue regime and made to appear as if it was only
a Zanu (PF) event. Rather it was a national effort that consumed many lives,
regardless of their ethnicity and political affiliations. It is now apparent
that these liberation war fathers with the tacit approval of the Mbeki led
government have arrogated to themselves the powers to decide what rights
Zimbabweans can and can not enjoy.
It is sad that all the ideals of the liberation war are now being trampled
on by the very people who sold them to us. We were made to believe that
these rights were inalienable and sacrosanct. Even sadder is the idea that
they could, through their surrogates, freely campaign for the NO Vote during
the 1972 Pearce Commission during Ian Smith's rule, yet today they can not
even allow people to congregate for a Prayer Meeting. Is it not ironic that
they are resorting to using the same laws that Smith used to suppress the
rising tide of nationalism against their own people for survival?
Liberty Mupakati can be contacted on email@example.com.
The Netherlands and Zimbabwe are engaged in a diplomatic row following the
Zimbabwean government's refusal to allow The Hague's special human rights
ambassador entry to the country, Dutch daily Trouw reported Tuesday.
Dutch ambassador Piet de Klerk intends to visit Zimbabwe to discuss alleged
human rights infringements.
Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen will make a protest Tuesday to a
member of Zimbabwe's diplomatic service in The Hague, the report said.
Verhagen has made human rights one of the priorities of Dutch foreign policy
since the new government was sworn in last month.
He said earlier this month that the Netherlands would look more carefully
than ever at the records of recipient countries when providing development
Scoop, New Zealand
Wednesday, 28 March 2007, 12:22 pm
Meditations - From Martin LeFevre in California
The Problem of Mugabe
There is a squabble between the West and southern Africa on how to deal with
the sclerotic tyrant Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe has become a touchstone of the
differences, and indifferences, shared by the EU, US, and AU regarding the
people of Africa. It also provides a painful case in point in the difficulty
of dealing with evil.
The tangled history of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe encompasses African nations'
struggles for independence from colonial rule; the proxy wars between the US
and the USSR; and decades of blatant corruption in many African countries.
Mugabe is one of the last in a long line of African president's-for -life,
so-called leaders who keep beating the drum of colonialism, while continuing
to abuse, enchain, and impoverish African people.
Things turned really nasty with when Mugabe instituted Operation
Murambatsvina ("Drive out the trash") in 2005, a hideously callous policy of
razing slum areas across Zimbabwe, without providing any alternative for the
impoverished people who inhabited the slums. This crime against humanity,
which turns on its head Jesus' teaching to care for the poor (Mugabe is a
Roman Catholic), has extremely adversely affected the lives of millions of
Ten years ago, female life expectancy in Zimbabwe was 63; it is 34 today,
giving Zimbabweans the shortest lifespan in the world. Inflation is about
1700%, and unemployment is over 80%, making the purchase of food and other
essentials of life a daily nightmare for the Zimbabwean people.
Since forcibly expelling white landowners, who, as a carryover of
colonialism, continued to own a sizable proportion of the prime land in the
country, Mugabe has found another scapegoat for his problems-homosexuals.
The authorities have carried out bribery, detention, beatings, and even
rapes against gays in Zimbabwe.
So far, the EU, led by Britain, has conducted a half-hearted and
hypocritical sloganeering campaign against Mugabe and his ruling party,
Zanu-PF. It is half-hearted because there is no real attempt to bring the
egregious human rights abuses in Zimbabwe before the Security Council. It is
hypocritical because neither Britain nor the United States have one ounce of
moral authority left in the world after their unprovoked invasion of Iraq.
Even so, the "softly, softly" approach by the Southern African Development
Community (SADC), led by Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, is absurdly
inadequate. And when Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said that his recent
talks with Mugabe were a "great success," and that "we have agreed on the
way forward, but it is between me and Mugabe," one could almost hear Julius
Nyerere turning over in his grave.
Back when Idi Amin was committing similar atrocities against the Ugandan
people, Nyerere, unwilling to wait for the 'international community' to act,
sent Tanzanian troops in to rid the region, and the world, of that tyrant.
Though such a course of action is neither possible nor proper now, that
doesn't mean the SADC leaders should get in bed with the likes of Mugabe,
under the illusion that they can slowly wean him from evil.
The devil and his conduits are nothing if not cunning, and know how to use
truths, and half-truths, to keep themselves in power. The word colonialism,
as Mugabe and others use it in the 21st century, is code for racism; and
racism, although different than in the blatant old days, is alive and well
in the world. So, to that extent the octogenarian ogre Mugabe is right when
he rails against Britain and the United States for hypocrisy.
In terms of disease, poverty, and neglect, Africans suffer more than any
people on the planet. People of color are still subconsciously thought of as
less important. Undercurrents of superiority and inferiority infuse
international politics, and they converge on the continent of humankind's
origins. And Robert Mugabe is a master of exploiting the resentments of
Is Mugabe an 'African problem,' or does he pose the ultimate challenge to
human society-that of evil in power? Certainly at one level the question
comes down to racial undercurrents in human history. But at another level,
much more relevant to a dark age plunging toward an increasingly dark
future, it is a question for humanity itself.
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and
political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin
America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.
• Interview: US Ambassador Christopher Dell
• Interview Part 2: Coltart, Tsunga and Majongwe
• Interview Part 1: Coltart, Majongwe and Tsunga
• Interview Part 2: Margaret Dongo
• Interview Part 1: Margaret Dongo
• Interview Part 2: Morgan Tsvangirai
• Interview Part 1: Morgan Tsvangirai
• Interview Part 4: Prof Moyo and Thornycroft
• Interview Part 3: Prof Moyo and Thornycroft
• Interview Part 2: Prof Moyo and Thornycroft
• Interview Part 1: Prof Moyo, Prof Raftopoulos and Thornycroft
• Interview Part 3: Masamvu and Prof Mukasa
• Interviewe Part 2: Masamvu and Prof Mukasa
• Interview Part 1: Masamvu and Prof Mukasa
• Interview: Muleya on Ziscogate
• Interview: Archbishop Pius Ncube
• Part 2: Bishops on Zimbabwe We Want
• Part 1: Bishops on The Zimbabwe We Want
• Interview: Thabitha Khumalo
• Interview Part 3: Kagoro and George Ayittey
• Interview Part 2: Kagoro and George Ayittey
• Interview Part 1: Kagoro and George Ayittey
• Interview Part 2: Eric Bloch
• Interview Part 1: Eric Bloch
• Interview Part 6: Madhuku, Prof Ncube and Biti
• Interview Part 5: Madhuku, Prof Ncube and Biti
• Interview Part 4: Madhuku, Prof Ncube and Biti
• Interview Part 3: Madhuku, Ncube and Biti
• Interview Part 2: Madhuku, Ncube, Biti
• Interview Part 1: Madhuku, Ncube and Biti
• Interview Part 3: Raftopoulos, Moyo and Robertson
• Interview Part 2: Moyo, Raftopoulos and Robertson
• Interview Part 1: Moyo, Raftopoulos and Robertson
Violet Gonda: We welcome on the programme Hot Seat, Dr George Ayittey who is a prominent Ghanaian economist and president of the Free Africa Foundation in Washington DC, he’s also a Professor at American University and an associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
From South Africa we welcome Dr Sehlare Makgetlaneng, the Head of Southern Africa and SADC programme at the Africa Institute of South Africa in Pretoria; he’s also a member of the African National Congress. Ralph Black is the MDC Deputy Chief Representative for the Tsvangirai MDC in the United States of America. Welcome on the Programme Hot Seat.
Dr Ayittey: Thank you for having us
Dr Makgetlaneng: Thank you very much for having me.
Violet: Now the focus of the programme today is on African perception of the Zimbabwe situation and many believe that the crisis in Zimbabwe has been largely ignored by African states. Dr Makgetlaneng, why is Africa turning its back on Zimbabwe?
Dr Makgetlaneng: Africa is not turning its back on Zimbabwe. Leaders of Southern Africa have been addressing themselves to the Zimbabwean situation and South Africa has played a leading role on this issue. It has emphasised the point that the resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis is the national task of Zimbabweans, that those who are not Zimbabweans, their task, as far as the Zimbabwean situation is concerned, is to support the efforts of the Zimbabwean people in their efforts to resolve their national problems or crisis. And, I think this is a valid point because it is the Zimbabweans who have to provide the external actors with a platform for them to contribute towards the resolution of the Zimbabwean situation.
Violet: Dr Ayittey?
Dr Ayittey: Well you know I think I deplore the role that African leaders have so far played, have displayed on the crisis in Zimbabwe. Look, when South Africa, when the blacks in South Africa were struggling against Apartheid, I don’t think that anybody said that was an internal problem for the South Africans to resolve. I think all of us on the African continent mobilised to help the blacks in South Africa in their struggle for one man one vote and also to free themselves from Apartheid oppression. We Africans have a problem. And that problem is that when your neighbour is suffering, you go to his particular need and to help him.
As a matter of fact, the current Chairman of the AU Commission, the former President of Mali, Alpha Konare says that he’s fed up with this policy of non-interference. Now what he wants is non-indifference. Look, when one African country blows up it sends repercussions through the neighbouring countries. We’ve seen this happen in many, many, many countries from Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, Zaire-Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone. We can’t just sit there and pretend that the situation in Zimbabwe is for the Zimbabweans to resolve. Obviously given all these years, they haven’t resolved the crisis and therefore it is our business,OK, not to be indifferent anymore.
Violet: And Ralph Black, has there been a failure by African leaders in your view?
Ralph Black: Yes, sure. I think there has been a failure. I think the South African position of quiet diplomacy has been non productive at all. Part of Robert Mugabe’s power or what has given his tenure substance or what has perpetuated his tenure in office has been the solidarity expressed by African leaders and the questionable motive of the South African government in dealing with the crisis. I think more could have been done earlier to bring the crisis to resolution but the indifferent response from the South African government and from African governments at large has been ‘let the Zimbabwean people find the solution for themselves’.
It’s like asking a cancer patient to heal them self when they need help from a Dr. Clearly the Zimbabwean people haven’t been able to impress upon Robert Mugabe by peaceful means that he needs to leave power or open the democratic space; they have made several appeals to African governments not only to condemn him publicly first, in the first place, but to speak to him privately regarding his policies, and there has been an air of indifference. And I support Professor Ayittey’s position that there needs to be a transition from non interference to non-indifference. We must act to save other nations of Africa to pull themselves out of the doldrums.
Violet: And Dr Makgetlaneng you said earlier that the South Africa has been playing a leading role, now many Zimbabweans…(interrupted)
Dr Makgetlaneng: I think they are missing the point, you know, the Zimbabwean problems are first and foremost an internal problem. It has regional, continental and international dimensions but you know but the point is simple; that it is the national responsibility of the people of Zimbabwe to organise themselves first, to have a dialogue and to propose a programme of action to impact upon the Zimbabweans in the resolution of the problems in Zimbabwe, and, given the level of their efforts to resolve their problems
Violet: But how are Zimbabweans who have nothing right now, nothing going for them going to be able to do this?
Dr Sehlare Makgetlaneng: No, no, no I think if we focus on the external actors including African leaders, we are missing the point. They have a role to play to contribute towards the resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis, but the primary task is that of people of Zimbabwe. Let us take the South African case, brutal measures were visited upon South Africans in their attempts to resolve their problems but it did not prevent the South Africans from embarking upon a programme of action to solve their national problems, and the level of their efforts determined the efforts of the internal, external actors in supporting their case. I think we have to address ourselves to the nature of the programme of action impact upon Zimbabweans. This is the key issue, no one is going to resolve Zimbabwean problems except Zimbabweans.
Dr Ayittey: Well sir, with all due respect, I think what you’re saying is theoretical. Theoretical in the sense that all of us have reasons… (interrupted)
Dr Makgetlaneng: You mean, you mean South African leaders are…
Violet: Dr Makgetlaneng let Dr Ayittey just say his comment and then we’ll come back to you
Dr Ayittey: We all agree that just like South Africa, the problem in Zimbabwe is an internal problem and it is up to the Zimbabwean people to resolve it. But, there aren’t any mechanisms for the people to resolve this. There aren’t any mechanisms. You know, you wrote in your paper that its up to the Zimbabwean people to pressure their government but Mugabe has blocked all these channels where the people can exert you know pressure.
In the case of South Africa, the vehicle which was used, a Forum was created where a Convention for a Democratic South Africa was created where all identifiable stakeholders in South Africa met and debated a new established in Zimbabwe. If Mugabe wouldn’t do it why wouldn’t the neighbouring leaders or the International Community put pressure on Zimbabwe or on Mugabe to set up this particular forum?
Violet: You know, what Dr Makgetlaneng is saying, his views, sadly, mirror those from many other African states, that the problem in Zimbabwe is an internal problem and nothing to do with the rest of Africa, now what precisely…
Dr Makgetlaneng: It has though, it has…
Violet: Can I just finish? Now, what precisely can Zimbabweans do without assistance from the outside world when they have a government that rigs elections, that terrorises the Opposition? Ralph Black?
Ralph Black: I think Violet, I think the perception that we need to do more must be interrogated; we must discuss this. But when you witness what has happened in the last three weeks. The President of the Opposition is beaten and bones broken and right now a lot of the Opposition leadership is in South Africa receiving medical treatment. What are the South Africans seeking to see given the fact that as the MDC we have committed to a non-violent approach to resolving this crisis? The only other option would be to resort to violence, something that would inevitably impact on the region. And I would like to meet the previous point made, that during the South African crisis the solidarity shown by the Zimbabwean government for an internal issue within South Africa helped to resolve that crisis. So perhaps we are misunderstanding what the South Africans would proscribe to the Zimbabwean situation.
Violet: And going back to Dr Makgetlaneng, you know, some say there is too much terror on the ground in Zimbabwe and they say that there is no way that elections, or free and fair elections can be held next year under the present conditions. So, how important is the rest of Africa in helping this crisis along?
Dr Makgetlaneng: You know, no one is denying the brutal viciousness upon Zimbabweans who are against the State and Government in Zimbabwe. But, the point is that if all avenues for change have been closed in Zimbabwe, obviously even violent means must be used against the oppressive regime in that country and the use of any means necessary against the regime will impel the outside world to act against that regime including in support of the people of Zimbabwe. I think we have, I don’t deny the fact that you have quite a number of African leaders who are oppressive and one of the key reasons why they don’t criticise their fellow African leaders is because of the form of their political governance. But, if you are convinced, as the people of the country that the outside world is not supporting you, what must you do to solve your national problems? Because, it is up to Zimbabweans who have to impel the outside world to act against the Government in Zimbabwe. I don’t see any alternatives; the primary responsibility must be shouldered by Zimbabweans.
Dr Ayittey: But Sir, Sir…
Dr Makgetlaneng: The external actors will follow.
Dr Ayittey: Sir
Dr Makgetlaneng: I mean in the case of South Africans, the South Africans were faced with this problem. Initially there was no support to the liberation struggle in Southern Africa, but upon the South Africans taking measures against the regime, the outside world were forced to support the South Africans.
Dr Ayittey: Sir may I…
Violet: Dr Ayittey?
Dr. Ayittey: Ok, what channels are open to the Zimbabwean people right now?
Dr Makgetlaneng: I’m not Zimbabwean! Zimbabweans must find their own means to solve their problems and the support …
Dr Ayittey: Well, if they cannot demonstrate on the streets, they cannot write any..., they cannot criticise Mugabe because to criticise Mugabe it’s a felony.
Dr Makgetlaneng: You are saying there’s no alternative. The alternative must be provided by African leaders?
Dr Ayittey: We’re not saying that the alternative must be provided by African leaders. We are trying to indicate to you that all the channels are blocked, OK? And the people of Zimbabwe are totally helpless, OK? And we should not abandon them just as we did not abandon the blacks in South Africa.
Dr Makgetlaneng: No-one is saying we must abandon Zimbabweans.
Violet: Dr Makgetlaneng many Zimbabweans say Mbeki has betrayed the people of Zimbabwe and that South Africans have everything in their power to bring Mugabe and his henchmen down by whatever means it takes, including embargoes on fuel …
Dr Sehlare Makgetlaneng: No, no, no
Violet: …and power. Do you agree with this?
Dr Makgetlaneng: No, no, no President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa has not betrayed Zimbabweans. The President has said over and over again that the people of any country must organise themselves first, must see to it that they have a dialogue among themselves first to solve, in their efforts to solve their national problems....people of other countries will support their efforts. That is what the President of South Africa has said.
Ralph Black: Yes but…
Dr. Makgetlaneng: No one has betrayed the people of Zimbabwe
Violet: Ralph Black?
Dr George Ayittey: That was South Africa’s own history and the history of struggle against Apartheid. And you know the ANC was very, very critical when President Ronald Reagan said he was engaging constructive engagement with the Apartheid regime, everybody was against that. So why is President Thabo Mbeki telling us that he is pursuing quite diplomacy when that quiet diplomacy according to the Zambian President has not produced any results?
Violet: And Ralph Black how do Zimbabweans get to the round table to negotiate when you have someone like Robert Mugabe who refuses to sit with the Opposition?
Dr. Makgetlaneng: But let me…
Violet: Can we just hear from Ralph Black?
Ralph Black: What is critical is that some form of mechanism, an indigenous mechanism, I think that’s Professor Ayittey’s expression, an institution needs to be established where the stakeholders come together and discuss the crisis. However, in the case of Zimbabwe, ZANU PF is not pre-disposed to that kind of situation. They haven’t first recognised that there’s a crisis and they continue to tell the great white lie that it’s the West and the imperialists who are causing the crisis in the country.
And so, that mechanism, when all avenues are shut, how does that mechanism become effective? And I think the first step is that mediation will be ineffective as long as Robert Mugabe is in power. Once he leaves power mediation perhaps may have a chance and the discussion within the country may have a chance. So I believe that this is the direction that we need to go. I believe that the Zimbabwean people must have a solution. I believe that the Zimbabwean people do have a solution if given the chance to express their views without fear for their lives. And again, re-taking the same point, mediation in the absence of Robert Mugabe is essential.
Violet: Now Dr Ayittey you said that there's a need for Zimbabwe to form its own indigenous institution. Can you tell us how such a vehicle is established especially in a country where the regime blocks plans to sit with other stakeholders?
Dr. Ayittey: Well the plan is when there's a crisis in an African village the chief will convene a village meeting and put the issue before the people. The people will debate it until they come to a consensus. Once they come to a consensus everybody in the village including the chief is required to abide by it. That's the way we solve our problems in Africa. This indigenous African political institution was revived in the early 1990s into a sovereign national conference. That's what Benin did to move its country to craft a new political democratic dispensation for Benin in 1990. Exactly the same vehicle was used in the Cape Verde islands, exactly the same thing in Zambia and Malawi. Exactly the same thing in South Africa.
In South Africa it was the CODESA – the Convention for a Democratic South Africa. Back in 1991 there were 228 delegates representing all walks of South African society. They deliberated for about a month, they set up an interim constitution, set up an interim government and set a date for March 1994 for elections which President Nelson Mandela won. It is exactly the same vehicle and it's an African solution, it's not imposed by the West, that we should use to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe, Sudan, Congo, Uganda, Chad, Cameroon. The solution is right there, it's just that it is the intransigence of the ruling regime. Look, if Zimbabwe doesn't resolve its problem peacefully the country will blow up. We've seen Somalia blow up, Rwanda blow up, Liberia blow up. Why don't we learn from our own stupid mistakes in Africa for a change?
Violet: And so what measures can the region take if this so called sovereign national conference is not organised?
Dr. Ayittey: Well right now the whole international community is divided in terms of what to do about Zimbabwe. Some people are calling for more sanctions, some people are calling for a blockade, some people are calling, look, we know what a vehicle is and our role is to project this and to sell this to everybody, that all of us must recognise that there is an African solution to this and that's what all of us must rally and campaign for.
Violet: Now there are others who say that the African Union has rejected calls to put pressure on the Zimbabwe Government because they don't believe it's Mugabe's fault but the West. Now Dr Makgetlaneng do you think that Mugabe seems to be remaining in power because of his anti-imperialist rhetoric?
Dr. Makgetlaneng: No I don't agree, I think immediately the Zimbabwean situation has had a decisive impact on other countries in the region, some leaders of the region will criticize the Zimbabwe government openly and in public and they will devise a measure to respond to the situation, immediately the Zimbabwe crisis does directly impact on their national situation. But I think one of the key reasons why the government of Zimbabwe has not seen a need to have a serious dialogue with the opposition and the civil society, may be because of limitations of the opposition. I think that is the issue which should be addressed. Robert Mugabe's an old person and very soon he will leave power. And you will have a new leader in Zimbabwe.
And I am of the view that it is as if the solution to the Zimbabwe crisis will come from the ruling party itself. I don't understand really why the leadership of the ruling party has not in public criticised Robert Mugabe but I think that immediately their interests are threatened by Robert Mugabe they will devise a means to remove President Mugabe from power as the leader of the ruling party and as the leader of the country. And as such I think there is a need to move the debate beyond the individual Mugabe, and I think it is not only Robert Mugabe who has to shoulder their responsibility despite the fact that he is the President of the country. But the leadership of the organisation ...
Dr. Ayittey: If I may jump in. Look the crisis has degenerated to such an extent that not Mugabe alone or ZANU-PF alone can solve it. No one single party of individual can resolve it.
Dr. Makgetlaneng: I'm not saying that ... But I think I joined this debate with an open mind but I'm disappointed that we are moving in cycles. I am not a Zimbabwean and I'm contributing in the debate not only theoretically but practically to help contribute towards the solution of the problem in Zimbabwe. It is not only the people of Zimbabwe who are facing a serious problem. You have been having elections in Zimbabwe, despite the fact that their results have been disputed by people and organisations in Zimbabwe and internationally. In other countries you have not been having elections. You have ... (interrupted)
Dr. George Ayittey: We're looking for practical solutions, OK. What we are saying, somebody like me, I'm not a Zimbabwean but somebody like me what I am saying is that look you can't reinvent the wheel. What you are going through in Zimbabwe, and with all due respect I'll say to pay attention to what happened elsewhere in Africa. We've gone through exactly the same similar experiences elsewhere in Africa. Look at West Africa: Liberia Sierra Leone, Ghana, Ivory Coast. Togo.
We've gone through the same experiences where we've had one dictator there who is recalcitrant, unwilling to change, who when the people are fed up with them what happened? These countries blew up. We've had so many civil wars in Africa. Why don't you tell the people of Zimbabwe or people in Southern Africa to learn from our experiences? Why should you repeat our mistakes in Zimbabwe and then cause the death and destruction of so many. Liberia is blown up, Somalia, Rwanda, all because of the adamant refusal of one head of state to relinquish or share political power. Can't we learn from this?
Violet: Ralph Black?
Ralph Black: I think there's a previous statement by my South African cousin there, has shown a lack of understanding of ZANU-PF. When you say that ZANU-PF fails to speak to the opposition because of limitations within the opposition you also would then suggest that the National Party failed, didn't want to talk to the ANC because of the limitations of the ANC ...
Dr. Sehlare Makgetlaneng: No no no ...
Violet: Let him finish.
Dr. Makgetlaneng: Let us not engage in such a kind of debate ...
Violet: Dr Makgetlaneng let him just finish and then you'll come in
Ralph Black: I think what you need to understand is the mindset of ZANU-PF. Robert Mugabe is intransigent, he is stubborn, he is an old man that has had social and psychological problem, and this comes from people who work with him, in the ministry and in cabinet. ZANU-PF wants to hold onto power regardless of what it means, because they feel that they are entitled to be in power by virtue of liberating the country. They haven't progressed. Therefore to suggest that limitations in the opposition, or that the opposition is also partly to blame for the situation, are unfair.
Dr. Makgetlaneng: I am not saying the opposition has to be blamed for the situation. I am saying that the limitations of the opposition should be taken into account because people are opposed to the issue that Zimbabweans must be led by the opposition to resolve the national crisis in Zimbabwe given that the resolution of the problem is the national responsibility of the Zimbabweans. The rest of the world will support…
Dr Ayittey: Who says people are opposed to the opposition solving the issue? Who said the people are opposed. Look you are distracting the issue. The basic bottom line is that it’s the people of Zimbabwe who have to determine for themselves who will rule them. Even if the people of Zimbabwe want to choose a goat, let them choose a goat. It’s not for you to tell them that a goat is not good for you – as if you are sort of pre-judging them. Look, they are smart enough to know who should rule them but you see the point is that you have divided attention to the weaknesses of the opposition and leaving the real issues. The real issue is the right of the people of Zimbabwe to choose who should rule them.
Ralph Black: That is correct
Dr Ayittey: That is what should be on the table not the weakness of the opposition.
Dr. Makgetlaneng: No, No, No, No, my, my, my, you know, you know, I don’t know what are you coming from! My position that the Zimbabweans have a national responsibility to solve their problems. By that I mean they have a right to choose who should lead them. I don’t understand what are you trying to say?
Dr Ayittey: So why are you bringing in the weaknesses of the opposition? For what?
Dr. Makgetlaneng: We have to bring it when we discuss the Zimbabwe situation. We have to bring it!
Dr Ayittey: If the people want to decide…
Dr. Makgetlaneng: No, No, No look in the South Africa case we address ourselves to our own weaknesses. We address ourselves to the weaknesses of the liberation movement African National Congress, South African Communist Party and so on. Even right now we are still address ourselves to the weaknesses of the ruling party and I am a member of the African National Congress. Why do you have a problem with the idea that we have to address the weaknesses of the opposition?
Because you are skirting the main issues. The most important thing is the right
of the people to choose their own leaders…(interrupted)
Violet: Dr. Makgetlaneng let him finish.
Dr. Makgetlaneng: No, No, No, No the problem is I don’t understand why he is saying certain things he is saying. We must address ourselves to the weaknesses within the MDC!! It is that organisation that is characterised by profound weaknesses.
Violet: But do you agree…
Dr Ayittey: Wait a minute
Dr. Makgetlaneng: And one of the key reasons, one of the key reasons, may you listen. It is not only African leaders but the people, particularly in Southern Africa, they found it difficult to support MDC! Because the MDC aligned itself with West!
Dr Ayittey: Fine! Fine Fine! That is your opinion.
Violet: Ok, hold on, hold on, hold on. Dr Makgetlaneng & Dr Ayittey can you hold on a sec! Let Ralph Black who is a representative of the MDC answer to that. Let’s hear your thoughts on this.
Ralph Black: I think Doc – My South African cousin, your involvement with the ANC has predisposed you to an attitude towards the MDC that is false. You have bought Mugabe’s lie. That we are taking instructions from the west.
Dr Makgetlaneng: No, no, no
Black: Hold on, give me a chance. You have bought that line. Mugabe has consistently associated the MDC with the West when that, in his own view, he understands it is nothing but just propaganda. The crisis in Zimbabwe is a direct result of Robert Mugabe’s failure to rule. It has nothing to do with the West seeking to install a puppet government. The land issue, the starvation in the country is a direct result of Robert Mugabe’s blotched land redistribution programme. The economy is a direct result of Mugabe’s failure to run the economy. The MDC was born of a challenge by Robert Mugabe do the then trade unionists to join the political fray if they felt they could do better than him. So your understanding is limited, your understanding of the Zimbabwe crisis is limited by the fact that … (interrupted)
Dr Makgetlaneng: No, No, No, No…
Violet: Wait, wait Dr Makgetlaneng.
Dr Makgetlaneng: No, No, No, No.
Violet: Let him finish…let him finish and we will come back to you
Ralph Black: You need to understand it from us. I think you need to understand it from the MDC’s perspective. South Africa has bought the great lie! That the West and the imperialists want a puppet government in Zimbabwe. That is a lie. The crisis in Zimbabwe has nothing to do with the West. We do not see white people being beaten. We have not seen white people starving. We have not seen our journalists getting chased out of the country. We have not seen a mass of white people leave the country in greater numbers than the black people fleeing their own government. So I believe that until South Africa and the African region learn by their mistakes and accept that Mugabe has lied to us, has misled you. The problem in Zimbabwe is misrule!
Dr Makgetlaneng: I think I must speak to the producer.
Violet: Okay I will come back to you but let’s hear from Dr Ayittey first. Now some of Dr Makgetlaneng’s comments reflect concerns from some Africans, that the civil society and opposition in Zimbabwe seem not to understand or respect liberation movement legacies. Do you agree with this Dr Ayittey?
Dr Ayittey: The MDC has its weaknesses so does the Mugabe regime. Look we can spend all night talking about the weaknesses of the Mugabe regime, the corruption that is there. The brutalities of the regime. It is not going to move the country forward. What we are looking for are practical solutions to solve the crisis. Right now we don’t have anything on the table to resolve the crisis. Mugabe is simply intransigent and if we move this way the country could blow up. Look we have seen this happening in so many other countries and if that country blows up South Africa will be held responsible for shaking its responsibilities, …(interrupted)
Dr Makgetlaneng: No, No, No No.
Dr Ayittey: …abandoning the people of Zimbabwe, which will be a shame!
Dr Makgetlaneng: No, No, No. I don’t understand. South Africa is not the continent. If there has to be a regime change in Zimbabwe it will be because of the people of Zimbabwe. It will not be because of the people of South Africa.
Dr Ayittey: It will be because of the people. Look, back in the 19 … (interrupted)
Dr Makgetlaneng: It is the reality, you can’t run away from that reality…
Dr Ayittey: Excuse me let me finish. Back in the 1960s wasn’t Robert Mugabe in Ghana? Wasn’t Kwame Nkrumah giving him training? Even when he left Ghana didn’t he marry a Ghanaian wife? Ghana, we paid particular attention. We helped the liberation struggles in various African countries.
Dr Makgetlaneng: No, No, No, look I really have problems with you because you are making statements which don’t make sense. There are quite a number of MDC supporters in South Africa BUT so what?
Violet: But Dr… (interrupted).
Dr Makgetlaneng: There are so many people from the continent who are in South Africa– so what!?
Violet: But Dr Makgetlaneng you asked for the producer just now, and I am the producer of this programme.
Dr Makgetlaneng: Yes.
Violet: And I think in a way with all due respect, you need to be tolerant of other people’s views. When you speak people don’t interrupt you and you need to understand and accept that you have different view points.
Dr Makgetlaneng: No, No, No. No the problem is that you give them more time.
Violet: No, No, No.
Dr Makgetlaneng: Let me be simple. It is not the task of South Africa to solve Zimbabwe’s problems. The task of South Africa is to support the people of Zimbabwe to solve their problems.
Violet: No one has asked South Africa to solve people’s problems. What people are actually asking is if South Africa does not want to work hand in hand with other African states – they should butt out instead of blocking progress that other African countries want to do in Zimbabwe. This is precisely… (interrupted)
Dr Makgetlaneng: Which African countries? Which African countries?
Violet: I can give you an example … (interrupted)
Dr Makgetlaneng: Which programme of action has been blocked by South Africa?
Ralph Black: I think my South African friend needs to recognise that the South African government in the opinion of progressive forces has been disingenuous in dealing with the crisis. I think it’s an excuse. A disgraceful excuse to say that the Zimbabwean people must solve their own problems but when they come to ask you to mediate, you tell them go back and solve your problems when there is no avenue to resolve those problems in Zimbabwe. South Africa has thrown obstacles in dealing with the crisis at the United Nations.
It has thrown obstacles at the African Union. In fact South Africa and China have been the two nations that have blocked any action against Zimbabwe on the international forum. Action that would have helped resolve the crisis earlier. So it is, I am at pains to understand how it is that South Africans are failing to understand in resolving the crisis we need your support. We are asking you not only to condemn this brutal regime publicly but to seek to privately pressure it. We haven’t seen that.
Violet: I am afraid we have come to the end of our programme but before we go I will just get final words from the three of you. I will start with Dr Makgetlaneng.
Dr Makgetlaneng: My position is that there is a structural need for the people of Zimbabwe regardless of their differences to find a means to have a dialogue among themselves first, and to exploit any available opportunity in Zimbabwe, regardless of the brutality of the situation. For it will be their programme of action which will determine the programme of action of external actors. It’s not the task of South Africa to solve problems in Zimbabwe. Its task is to contribute towards the solution of the problems in any country including Zimbabwe by supporting the people of the country. It is high time that we address ourselves to limitations problems faced by opposition political parties and civil society organisations in Zimbabwe because in the final analysis the resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis is the national task of the people of Zimbabwe. This is my position.
Violet: Dr Ayittey?
Dr Ayittey: I will follow on his logic. It’s not the task of South Africa or any other African country to resolve the crisis in Darfur in Sudan. Nor is it the task of any other African country to solve the crisis in Somalia, Congo, Ivory Coast, Chad and the other African crisis like in Zimbabwe. Now it seems that we haven’t learnt anything at all in our post colonial period and this is what makes Africa such a disgrace because the leadership have failed the people of Africa.
Violet: Ralph Black?
Ralph Black: I think that as a Zimbabwean, I think we are fully aware of our challenges, our limitations. We also have honest debate amongst ourselves regarding those limitations. But I do believe there is a responsibility, if we are to learn from our past, if we are to move from disgrace to grace that we must learn from our history that Africa requires principles and benevolent leadership and it’s not going to come if we continue to foster the seeds of indifference to crisis around the continent. So I believe there is a need for an indigenous political institution – an African institution – to deal with the crisis in Zimbabwe.
There is also a need for a singular plan of action by the region to give Mugabe no option but to talk to the opposition and civil society and there is no excuse why that shouldn’t be done except that birds of a feather flock together, perhaps the African leaders don’t want to condemn Mugabe because they themselves foster the ambitions of Robert Mugabe himself. So I believe that the crisis will be resolved. We pray peacefully and I hope again we can have another discussion with the gentlemen on line when things are different in Zimbabwe.
Violet Gonda: Dr. George Ayittey, Dr. Sehlare Makgetlaneng and Ralph Black thank you for participating on the programme Hot Seat
Audio interview can be heard on SW Radio Africa’s Hot Seat programme. Comments and feedback can be emailed to email@example.com
New York, March 27, 2007
Two journalists with Zimbabwe's state broadcaster
have been criminally charged in connection with footage of diamond
trafficking in the eastern Manicaland province, according to Media Institute
of Southern Africa (MISA) and news reports.
Andrew Neshamba, Manicaland bureau chief for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation (ZBC), was arrested on February 9 and charged with "criminal
abuse of duty as a public officer" and released on bail the same day,
defense lawyer Victor Mazengero told CPJ. The charges carry a prison term of
up to 15 years and a "level 13" fine, according to CPJ research. Fines vary
due to Zimbabwe's rocketing inflation, but level 13 is the second highest
category of fines under Zimbabwean law, according to veteran lawyer Stanford
Police allege that Neshamba appeared as translator in video footage
produced by Peter Moyo, a journalist with South Africa's private E.tv
channel, which depicted unregulated diamond mining in the area, according to
local sources. Moyo was later convicted of practicing journalism without
accreditation and fined under Zimbabwe's draconian Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act, according to CPJ research.
ZBC cameraman William Gumbo was also charged with abuse of duty, allegedly
for assisting Moyo. Gumbo has gone into hiding, according to local
journalists. Both ZBC journalists were suspended without pay and stripped of
their media accreditation, according to local media reports. Neshamba, who
has not entered a plea, is due in court again on May 14, Mazengero said.
"We condemn these criminal charges against Andrew Neshamba and William
Gumbo," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "These charges are an
obvious attempt by the authorities to prevent coverage of a matter of public
interest. They should be dropped."
Authorities have maintained a heavy police presence in Manicaland after
the discovery of diamonds there last summer, according to international news
reports and local sources. The government is seeking to regulate the diamond
World Alliance of Reformed Churches calls on the African Union to step in,
as the economic, political and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe continues to
by Maria Mackay
Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2007, 6:51 (BST)
The head of the World Council of Reformed Churches (WARC) has expressed
"grave concern" over the economic, political and humanitarian crisis
unravelling in Zimbabwe.
In a March 27 letter to the Chairman of the African Union (AU) and President
of Ghana, John Agyekum Kufuor, WARC General Secretary Setri Nyomi urged the
AU to intervene in the troubled country.
"It is our hope that through your leadership the African Union will exert
influence on the Zimbabwean government to turn away from injustice and to
seek the return of good governance where all enjoy justice and freedom," he
WARC has previously expressed concerne over the lack of freedom of
expression in Zimbabwe, as well as the intimidation of voices of dissent and
the deteriorating economic situation which has led to the increased
suffering and impoverishment for many in the country. Events over the last
two weeks have "heightened our concern", said Nyomi.
He went on to criticise the surge in violence and intimidation lately, which
includes the arrest and beating of opposition party leaders from the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The MDC was meeting to pray for a
solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Leaders of the Student Christian Movement in Zimbabwe, including its vice
chairperson, Lawrence Mashungu, were also arrested earlier in the month.
"The use of violence by government and security forces is unacceptable under
any circumstances. It is especially disturbing when it is used against
people simply wanting to pray for a better country or when they simply wish
to express themselves," Nyomi said.
In a letter to WARC member churches in Africa sent last week, Nyomi asked
for prayers for the people of Zimbabwe and urged national leaders across
Africa to take notice of recent developments.
In a separate media statement also issued last week, Nyomi added, "We are
very concerned about what is happening in Zimbabwe at this time, including
the arrest of leaders of the Student Christian Movement.
"The arrest and intimidation of people in any country, for simply speaking
out in the face of the suffering of their people is truly reprehensible. We
call on the Zimbabwe government to return to the principles of good
governance which will enhance the welfare and freedom of all the people of