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Zim 'runs out of cash'


    November 13 2008 at 02:52PM

Harare - A month after he suspended the payment system, Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono has decided to permit bank transfers to
ease demand for cash, state media reported on Thursday.

Zimbabwe is experiencing an acute shortage of cash, among other basics,
including food and fuel. The situation has forced people to resort to use
plastic money for transactions.

Foreign currency dealers use bank transfers to trade near- worthless
Zimbabwe dollars for hard currency, because they cannot obtain enough cash
for cash transactions.

Gono told the state-controlled daily The Herald his suspension of bank
transfers in October was prompted by the "widespread abuse by a breed of
selfish and unrelenting money launderers and speculators."

Gono attributes the cash shortages on "high levels of indiscipline in the
economy" and again blamed Western sanctions for Zimbabwe's economic

Analysts rubbish that theory, pointing out that the European Union and
United States sanctions target only President Robert Mugabe and his senior
officials and cronies, through asset freezes and travel bans, and not the
general population. - Sapa-dpa

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Zimbabwe hyperinflation 'will set world record within six weeks'
Inflation levels in Zimbabwe are running at 13.2 billion per cent a month and could reach an all-time world record within weeks.
Zimbabwe inflation - Zimbabwe hyperinflation 'will set world record within six weeks'
Supermarkets in Harare are accepting only US dollars and South African rands, leaving those Zimbabweans without access to foreign currency in dire straits Photo: EPA

The latest figures put the country's annual rate at 516 quintillion per cent – 516 followed by 18 zeros – overtaking Yugoslavia in 1994 and putting it behind only Hungary in 1946.

With goods unavailable and official statistics widely distrusted, the Cato Institute in Washington calculated the figures based on exchange rate movements and market data.

In post Second World War Hungary monthly inflation reached 12,950,000,000,000,000 per cent, with prices doubling every 15.6 hours – Zimbabwean prices are currently doubling every 1.3 days.

The most famous hyperinflation, Weimar Germany in 1923, is in a distant fourth place, at 29,525 per cent a month with prices doubling every 3.7 days.

Prof Steve Hanke said: "They still have a way to go to catch Hungary, but they are getting there. This is conjecture, but if they keep going at this pace, they have a shot at it within a month or maybe a month-and-a-half at the outside."

For ordinary Zimbabweans, the consequences are appalling and they must spend money as soon as they get it before it loses its value.

But the dysfunctional economy means that goods are in desperately short supply, and they must spend hours foraging to find things to buy.

There comes a point, though, where the inflation rate makes little practical difference.

"The economy just stops functioning or slows down very much," said Prof Hanke. "A lot of barter takes place. Money is not used as much or if it is, it's all foreign exchange." Supermarkets in Harare are accepting only US dollars and South African rands, leaving those Zimbabweans without access to foreign currency in dire straits.

The latest official figure for inflation in Zimbabwe – dating back to July – is 231 million per cent a year. Robert Mugabe's government blames foreign sanctions for the economic turmoil.

Prof Hanke said the only way to stop the rise was to abolish the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe – which is a key tool of the regime.

"At the end of the day, people will just refuse to use the money. It will be just worthless and the Reserve Bank will be useless too. The only way you can change expectations about inflation in hyper-inflating countries is completely get rid of the old system."

Announcing a range of measures this week, that only tinker with symptoms of the problem, Gideon Gono, the governor of the reserve bank, blamed a “breed of selfish and unrelenting money launderers and speculators” for the crisis.

“The nation has to appreciate the magnitude of the 'sanctions’ and the mightiness of the enemies who are at play in order to understand that we are at war,” he said.

For years, analysts and opposition politicians have predicted that the economy would prove to be Mr Mugabe's downfall, but Prof Hanke, who is professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University, said that Slobodan Milosevic survived for almost eight years in Yugoslavia after hyperinflation peaked.

"The idea hyperinflation is going to blow Mugabe out of there isn't based on historical experience.

"Milosevic and Mugabe are similar in more ways than one: the restrictions on liberty of all sorts; Milosevic carrying on just like Mugabe that it was the foreign sanctions that were ruining the economy. It's very similar."


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MDC set for crucial party meeting Friday

By Tichaona Sibanda
13 November 2008

All is set for Friday's national executive and national council meeting of
the MDC in Harare, in what has been described as 'the most important and
crucial' gathering of the party's top bodies since its formation nine years

Analysts predict it is almost certain that the two bodies will endorse the
position expressed by the negotiating team and party leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, after the SADC summit in Johannesburg on Sunday.

Tsvangirai, after consultations with his negotiating team Tendai Biti and
Elton Mangoma, had rejected SADC's ruling that ZANU PF and the MDC should
share the leadership of the Home Affairs ministry. The MDC leader said he
was 'shocked and saddened' by the SADC decision, charging that the summit
had missed a great opportunity to bring an end to the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Cape Town based political analyst Glen Mpani told Newsreel the two top
bodies of the MDC were likely to back Tsvangirai's position, that they
cannot enter into a government where they would be treated as juniors.

'I don't see them supporting any other view than the one already suggested
by their leader, that they reject the co-sharing of the Home Affairs
ministry,' Mpani said.

The MDC has insisted it wants an equitable and fair inclusive government,
that is able to deliver on the immediate and long term legitimate demands of
the people of Zimbabwe. It views the unilateral grab of powerful ministries
by Robert Mugabe as showing his complete lack of sincerity in the
power-sharing deal. An advisor for the MDC told us the deal should be about
the will of the people of Zimbabwe, as made clear on 29th March. He said
they were disappointed by SADC's ruling, but still respected the regional

'We respect African institutions and we hope that they will realise that the
people of Zimbabwe have made it clear that they want a truly equitable and
fair, all inclusive government - and Home Affairs is the bare minimum and
non-negotiable,' the advisor said.

On the way forward, the MDC believes that the current talks are now 'a

'We can't continue to raise people's hopes on these talks, we have to be
honest and inform them that these talks are dead -- the people must then
tell the leadership on how best to proceed. We have to confront the
challenges head-on,' the MDC advisor added.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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US doctors shocked at state of Zim health system

ANGUS SHAW | HARARE, ZIMBABWE - Nov 13 2008 17:39

An American medical team's plans to help scores of children in Zimbabwe have
been hindered by a health system nearly shut down by economic crisis, an
organiser said on Thursday.

Health services across Zimbabwe are collapsing along with the rest of the
economy. The medical team had hoped to perform reconstructive surgery on 85
children with facial disfigurements. In the end, it was
only able to do 42.

Jennifer Trubenbach, executive director of Operation of Hope, a Longview,
Washington, medical charity, first set up operations in the sprawling, 1
200-bed public Harare Central Hospital. The charity, on
its fourth visit to Zimbabwe, also works in Asia, China and Latin America.

Because it is an emergency centre, Harare Central has been spared daily
water and power failures. But conditions had deteriorated sharply since the
group's last visit, in April, Trubenbach said.

Remnants of the staff were doing their best to keep the buildings clean.
Most wards were empty, the reception areas deserted. Window panes were
broken; anthills of earth grew through a cracked floor, and sparrows flew
along the corridors, darting into offices and a nurses station.

"I have never seen anything like this," Trubenbach said.

Trubenbach's group brought some specialised supplies, but had to search for
medication from private pharmacies across Harare.

Zimbabweans face chronic shortages of food, drugs, fuel, spare parts, most
basic goods and local currency.

The doctors later moved to a private hospital because it more resources,
such as drugs and equipment.

Five Operation of Hope surgeons on the two-week visit scheduled 85 free
operations for children brought in by parents from across the nation. They
began examining patients a week ago and were performing surgeries on Monday.

Phylis Gwari (33) brought her infant son Jason, suffering from a mouth and
throat deformity, from Zvishavane, 360km south of Harare. The trek took them
nearly two days -- the first four hours on foot through the sweltering bush
to the nearest bus stop.

After surgery, the child will be able to swallow and speak normally.

"I am so happy," Gwari said.

In the United States, the operation would have cost at least $35 000.

But Trubenbach said on Thursday the move to the private facility had
interrupted the surgery schedules and meant the doctors were only able to
perform 42 operations. The group will leave Zimbabwe on Friday.

Trubenbach said the line of children and parents waiting for operations had
been overwhelming. Those turned away will be given priority on the surgeons'
next visit, in about six months.

When Operation of Hope packs up to go home, the local nurses and support
staff it brought in to help will disperse, too. In a country with the
world's highest inflation, a nurse's monthly salary is scarcely enough to
buy a loaf of bread.

"We'll be back," Trubenbach said. "It's sad, but we have found that
Zimbabweans have a kind of inner strength about them." - Sapa-AP

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Starving Zimbabweans raid food lorries

Starving Zimbabweans have stormed lorries carrying food across the border
with South Africa.

By Peta Thornycroft in Johannesburg
Last Updated: 7:16PM GMT 13 Nov 2008

Ten 30-tonne vehicles carrying private imports of the staple maize meal at
the Zimbabwean side of the Beit Bridge border post were besieged by hundreds
of Zimbabweans desperate for something to eat. Witnesses said that the crowd
ripped the stolen bags open to stuff the uncooked cereal into their mouths.

"I have never seen anything like this in my life," said a rancher from
southern Zimbabwe. "I couldn't imagine in my wildest dreams I would ever see
Zimbabweans so hungry.

"Piles of bags of maize meal were on both sides of the road and people from
all over the district came streaming in and I saw some breaking open the
bags and eating it raw.

"Then it started to rain so it will go rotten, but people will eat it
anyway. The world must know people are starving here."

More than five million Zimbabweans, almost half the population, are expected
to need food aid by the end of the year, but the World Food Programme said
this week that it was having to cut the rations it distributes because of a
lack of funding.

There is an unprecedented shortage of locally grown and imported food in
Zimbabwe, which was a regional breadbasket until President Robert Mugabe
began seizing white-owned farms eight years ago.

A businessman in eastern Zimbabwe said: "There is not a grain of maize meal
around here. I had to rush to Mozambique earlier this week to get some for
my workers or they will starve. There is a huge tragedy going on in this

The Commercial Farmers' Union, which has the most accurate crop forecasts
available, said the present summer season in Zimbabwe will be the worst
ever. Trevor Grai, the CFU president, said that he is "extremely worried"
about food production.

"There isn't enough seed nor fertiliser and it is going to be the worst
season ever for food production."

Cereal imports are controlled by the state's Grain Marketing Board, and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change has tried to import food for
hungry supporters several times but has had its grain confiscated or refused

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Violence returns as talks flounder

You have been warned
HARARE, 13 November 2008 (IRIN) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government is launching another wave of attacks against the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), a spokesman for the opposition party told IRIN, after a much vaunted power-sharing deal appeared to be on the verge of collapse.

The 15 September deal, brokered by former South African president Thabo Mbeki, never really made it out of the starting blocks, as Mugabe maintained his stance that MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was "a stooge of the West" and refused to concede any of Zimbabwe's security ministries to opposition control.

The wrangling over the implementation of the power-sharing deal - specifically over the home affairs ministry, which controls the police - continued against an upsurge in political violence.

Zimbabwe's Lawyers for Human Rights reported recently that in September, the month the deal was signed, there were 1,300 cases of political violence against opposition groupings, a 39 percent rise from August. The acts of political violence included the destruction of property, rape and killings.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told IRIN that ZANU-PF militias, in collaboration with state security operatives, were re-establishing torture camps and using them as a base for their attacks on MDC supporters. "ZANU-PF is behaving like a party that has declared war on the people," he said.

Torture camps were allegedly set up in the wake of Mugabe's defeat in the general election on 29 March, when Tsvangirai won 47.9 percent of the vote, but fell short of the 50 percent plus one ballot required for a first-round win of the presidency. Mugabe got 43.2 percent of the vote, which also saw ZANU-PF lose control of parliament for the first time since independence from Britain in 1980.

High levels of political violence made Tsvangirai decide to withdraw from the presidential run-off, which Mugabe subsequently won as the sole candidate, but the poll was condemned both internationally and regionally as unfair and unfree.

Torture camps return

Chamisa said, "On October 27, more than 30 MDC supporters were brutally attacked at a settlement called Epworth, east of [the capital] Harare, and several were hospitalised after sustaining serious injuries. Several torture camps have been set up throughout the country, where known or suspected MDC supporters are tortured by ZANU-PF militia," he said.

''Many rural districts are under the control of colonels or lieutenant-colonels, who are running the local governments and are responsible for food and seed distribution, and there is no way soldiers can work with MDC officials''
"On 30 October, state security agents in Mashonaland West Province raided the homes of the MDC leadership in Banket [about 100km northwest of Harare] and arrested nine MDC officials. The officials have not been brought before the courts," Chamisa said, adding that ZANU-PF militia were preventing MDC councillors from carrying out their duties throughout the country.

An officer in the Zimbabwe National Army, who declined to be identified, told IRIN that since the March elections senior army officials had been deployed to rural districts, where they had virtually taken charge of all operations previously handled by local government officials.

"Many rural districts are under the control of colonels or lieutenant-colonels, who are running the local governments and are responsible for food and seed distribution, and there is no way soldiers can work together with MDC officials," he said.

In October the commander of Zimbabwe's defence forces, General Constantine Chiwenga, assisted by senior military officials, was given the responsibility of identifying the beneficiaries of agricultural inputs, such as maize seed and fertiliser. There have been allegations that the distribution of agricultural inputs is dependent on loyalty to ZANU-PF.

At an extraordinary summit by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the regional body, in Johannesburg on 9 November, SADC decided the MDC and ZANU-PF should share the home affairs ministry, and therefore control of the police force, although ZANU-PF has maintained sole control of the army and intelligence services. The MDC rejected the SADC proposal.

State media demonise Tsvangirai

"There is a very slim chance the AU [African Union] can overturn the SADC decision. SADC, as far as it is concerned, has finalised the matter. Unfortunately, Tsvangirai has no option but to play along because if he refuses to join the government, he risks being seen as another Jonas Savimbi in the making and life will be very hard for him."

In recent weeks Zimbabwe's state-controlled media have cast Tsvangirai in the same mould as former Angolan rebel leader Savimbi, whose alliance with apartheid South Africa made him one of the most abhorred figures of his generation in Africa, and has also made comparisons of Tsvangirai as Zimbabwe's Laurent Nkunda, a rebel leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Botswana, the region's fiercest Mugabe critic, is being accused of providing training camps for MDC militias to destabilise Zimbabwe, which already has an annual inflation rate in the hundreds of millions of percent, and where nearly half the population will have to rely on food assistance in the first quarter of 2009.

The Botswana government denies the allegation.

In a recent article in the opinion pages of the state-controlled daily newspaper, The Herald, assistant editor Caesar Zvayi alleged: "The militias are supposed to embark on acts of banditry to force the state to respond militarily, after which the lionesses in Washington and London would rush to defend their cubs, claiming Zimbabwe threatens regional peace and security.

"From there, he [Tsvangirai] will claim the AU has failed and should refer the matter to the UN, where he hopes his handlers [Britain and the US] would call the shots to effect the illegal regime change they failed to achieve over the last eight years."

Zvayi, who was deported from Botswana earlier this year after being placed on European Union's "smart sanctions" list, warned in the article that "Tsvangirai would do well to learn from the fate that befell Jonas Savimbi after he withdrew from the presidential run-off that pitted him against the incumbent president, José Eduardo dos Santos, in 1992."

Savimbi was killed in 2002 during a skirmish with Angolan soldiers. "History, they say, repeats itself," Zvayi said. "Morgan [Tsvangirai] should be wary of the curse of history."


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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MDC members feared dead

From Radio VOP, 13 November

Harare - The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it fears
for the lives of 12 of its members arrested two weeks ago as their
whereabouts remain unknown after the police failed to bring them to court
despite a High Court order issued on Tuesday. The 12 were arrested in
pre-dawn raids at their homes in Banket, Chinhoyi but the party, its lawyers
and relatives have been denied access to them. The people who arrested them
looted property and party regalia during the raid. "The continued violence
against MDC members is testimony that the leopard has not changed its spots.
The regime has begun a systematic crackdown on the largest party in the
country as it tries in vain to solidify trumped-up charges of banditry and
terrorism against MDC supporters," said the MDC in a statement. Over 250 MDC
activists have been brutally murdered by suspected Zanu PF militia and State
security agents since March election in which MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
defeated President Robert Mugabe. Among the 12 detained MDC activists is
Concilia Chinanzvavana, the Women's Assembly provincial chairperson for
Mashonaland West and her husband, Emmanuel Chinanzvavana. Concilia was the
MDC parliamentary candidate for Zvimba South constituency during the
harmonised elections held in March while her husband is an elected
councillor in Banket.

"We believe that Zanu PF must begin to show respect for human life. Since
1980, Zanu PF has not shown any respect for the sanctity of human life and
the rule of law. The unlawful arrests, detentions and abductions of MDC
supporters should cease as a matter of urgency. We are comforted by the fact
that the people of Zimbabwe will win their battle against tyranny," said the
MDC. High Court Judge Justice Charles Hungwe ruled that the detained be
brought to court at or before 4 MP on Tuesday, but the police did not comply
with the order. Justice Hungwe also ruled that the police should allow the
detained people access to their lawyers, their relatives and should receive
medical treatment at medical facilities of their choice. However, the High
Court also ordered that the continued detention of the 12 was "unlawful" as
it was beyond the Statutory 96 hour period. It also ordered the respondents
in the case, Minister of Home Affairs, Kembo Mohadi, Commissioner General of
the Police, Augustine Chihuri, the Officer Commanding Homicide, Chief
Superintendent Crispen Makedenge and Detective Constable Muuya to abide by
the ruling.

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Legal hurdles to delay new Zimbabwe cabinet

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Legal hurdles are expected to derail attempts by
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to form a unity government, nearly a week
after regional leaders ordered the country's feuding political rivals to
compromise over their differences, observers said here on Thursday.

A summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) held in South
Africa on November 9 gave Mugabe the green light to form an all-inclusive
government comprising his ZANU PF party and the two factions of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

It also ordered the co-chairing of the contentious ministry of home affairs
between ZANU PF and the main MDC faction of Morgan Tsvangirai.

The Tsvangirai-led MDC rejected both SADC resolutions and has refused to
participate in Mugabe's new government.

Observers said despite the rhetoric and a state propaganda onslaught, the
84-year-old Zimbabwean leader could not afford to go it alone without the
participation of Tsvangirai's party.

"The first hurdle for ZANU PF is that they realise they will need the
support of Tsvangirai for there to be a unity government as envisaged by

"For starters, they will need the MDC's backing before pushing through
Constitutional Amendment Number 19, which will form the basis of the unity
government," said a University of Zimbabwe political analyst.

Constitutional Amendment Number 19 is part of a number of items agreed to by
Mugabe and Tsvangirai when they signed a power-sharing agreement in

The agreement, facilitated by former South African president Thabo Mbeki,
sought to create the new positions of prime minister and his two deputies.

"The only government that Mugabe can form right now is one outside of the
power-sharing arrangement agreed two months ago, which is not what SADC and
the rest of Africa are looking forward to," the analyst said.

Tsvangirai wants the dispute over the allocation of cabinet posts referred
to the African Union.

The dispute led to Thursday's postponement to next year of the 13th summit
of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the second
time the summit has been postponed following a similar move in May.

Zimbabwe is expected to take over the COMESA chair from Kenya during the

  JN/nm/APA 2008-11-13

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Human rights group condemns gift giving

Thursday, 13 November 2008 14:37
HARARE - This week international human rights group, Human Rights
Watch stated its protest and grave concerns about President Mugabe's
systematic attempts to undermine the independence of the judiciary by
providing judges with "gifts."

In August Mugabe presented senior judges of the High court and Labour
court with new generators, 32-inch plasma television sets, satellite dishes
and mercedes-Benz E280 luxury cars as well as utility vehicles including
Toyota and Isuzu trucks.

"There is an established pattern of such "gifts," which are obviously
intended to ensure the loyalty of pro-Zanu (PF) judges or win over those who
seek to maintain their impartiality," Human Rights Watch said in its latest
report titled 'our hands Are Tied - Erosion of the Rule of Law in Zimbabwe.'
"The RBZ itself is a potential litigant," said leading lawyer Harrison
Nkomo. "It may find itself before the same judges who are recipients of its

Beatrice Mtetwa, president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ)
explained that while the country's Bar Association supports proper
remuneration for judges, "remuneration by the Reserve Bank compromises the
administration of justice."

RBZ governor Gideon Gono has rejected criticism on the gifts saying
the RBZ Act legally authorizes the central bank to assist government
Master of the High Court Charles Nyatanga claimed that the RBZ was
merely "[giving] judges essential tools to necessitate them to work

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Courts close while MP's are turned away from hotels

Water and Money crisis hit Zimbabwe hard

Thursday 13 November 2008, by Bruce Sibanda

On Wednesday it was the same story- no water. It is not clear when hearing
would resume but prisoners would be the hardest hit.

A visit to the court Wednesday confirmed there was little activity and many
courtrooms were closed.

Harare has not had adequate supplies of clean water for months, forcing
people to seek out shallow wells and rivers for water to drink, wash and
cook. The situation has prompted an outbreak of cholera that has claimed
over 120 lives since September, according to a doctors' group.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) non-governmental organization
condemned the de facto closure of the High Court. "That such a court as a
vehicle for protecting human rights should be closed due to lack of water is
a serious undermining of equal protection of the law to litigants,
detainees, and even convicted prisoners whose matters are on appeal from
lower courts," the organization said.

Also on Tuesday, the precarious water situation in Harare forced the
adjournment of Parliament to the 16th December. It had only resumed sitting
that day. Parliamentary business came to a halt a few hours after the
legislators had resumed sitting.

Cash-strapped Parliament

The House of Assembly had originally been forced to adjourn on the 23rd of
October to 11th November because of lack of funds from government, after
reports claimed that MPs based outside Harare were being turned away from
hotels in the capital as there was no money to pay their bills.

There was very little business in parliament on Tuesday, except debate on
the presidential speech. There were no new motions introduced. The impasse
over the formation of an inclusive government has also delayed the
introduction of constitutional amendment number 19.

The constitutional amendment - which has yet to be formally put on the
agenda - is supposed to be rushed through to create the post of Prime
Minister that Morgan Tsvangirai has been allocated under the power sharing
deal, along with other posts and changes.

Bad governance, plus chronic economic mismanagement and corruption, has
meant that government has done nothing to maintain the water system.

Water has become the most sought-after natural resource in the country and
chronic shortages affects over 60 percent of the country's population.
Millions of people do not have access to clean drinking water or adequate
sanitation facilities and open sewers are a fact of life in most high
density suburbs.

Harare is now a risk city to visit.

Some hotels are also showing signs of experiencing water problems. Bathing
water is being rationed to only 20 litres per room per day.

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Zimbabwe MPs being humiliated

Thursday, 13 November 2008 12:49

Parliamentarians who reside out of Harare were reportedly humiliated this
week owing to failure by the government to pay for their accommodations and
living expenses.
 In an interview on Wednesday, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bulilima
East constituency, Norman Mpofu said he was evicted from a city hotel after
the government failed to foot the foreign currency pegged bill.

"It was embarrassing we went through a gruelling period. We travelled all
the way from Bulawayo - after struggling to secure accomodation in Bulawayo.

 The situation was the same in Harare - until one worker from parliament had
to literally go down on his knees begging the manager of a certain hotel to
accommodate us just for that night and as I speak we have been evicted, I am
trying to find my way back to Bulawayo," he said.

To make matters worse the parliamentarians were informed that the sessions
had been suspended owing to lack of water supplies at Parliament.

"This summarises the situation in Harare, everywhere people are dying, and
Parliament being part of Harare is also affected by the problems that are
generally found in Harare.

The telephones are not working, the workers are disgruntled and not willing
to work  - it is really embarrassing, disheartening, discouraging - you feel
that something has to be done and someone has to find an answer for

"It is so unfortunate that the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)
has recommended a solution that will not help this country in any way, it is
so unfortunate - it's embarrassing to say the least," said Mpofu.

Mpofu said the despondency had now filtered down to all the government

"Honestly speaking you do not expect someone to discharge his duties if one
is living under such conditions. You don't get respect and people will not
even have confidence in your work if you are performing your duties under
the given circumstances. And this you realise filters down to all other

"Government workers and private company workers are no longer discharging
their duties well and this is compromising the quality of work produced by
Zimbabwean workers," said Mpofu. VOP

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Hot Seat tanscript: Brian Kagoro says deal might be biggest hoax Zimbabwean politics has ever endured

SW Radio Africa Hot Seat Transcript

Hot Seat interview: journalist Violet Gonda speaks with lawyer Brian Kagoro

Broadcast: 07 November 2008

Violet Gonda: My guest on the programme Hot Seat is political commentator Brian Kagoro. Hi Brian.  

Brian Kagoro: Hi Violet how are you?

Gonda: I am fine thanks. Zimbabweans have become impatient over the delay in the talks and there are mixed reactions about what people want to see happen. There are some who say the power sharing agreement is a step towards stabilising food security and a step towards

Dr Alex Magaisa

stopping the complete destruction of the economy, but others say the deal is becoming irrelevant and it is not possible to build trust between the rival parties. In your view what is good for Zimbabwe now?

Kagoro: Well what would be best for Zimbabwe is for Zimbabwe to go through an internationally mediated, supervised election to exclude violence and Zimbabweans choose leaders of their choice. That would be the ideal. The deal on the table does not adequately address the human rights question. It has no clear process for addressing the economic question and in particular the endemic poverty and impoverishment of our people; the high unemployment rates, as well as the market distortions. It also doesn’t have any clear agenda for dealing with long term issues such as national justice questions, truth and justice issues.

So in a sense I am not sure that this deal in its present formulation will achieve much more than a ceasefire. And it’s not really a ceasefire because much of the violence was targeted at one party by the other so it will simply allow those who have benefitted from the status quo to continue benefitting without the fear that they might face prosecution or some other form of justice.

Gonda: You said the ideal would be to have an internationally supervised election. Do you think Mugabe will agree to something like this and also what can practically happen?

Kagoro: I think several global factors makes certain things possible. The one is the global economic downturn which means even countries like South Africa will experience some shrinkage in the economy. It means countries like Botswana , Mozambique , Zambia and Malawi as well as the European, American and Australian destinations where Zimbabweans have found solace will now experience shrinkage or are already experiencing shrinkage. And so there will be no new safe havens and the levels of tolerance and patience that were previously shown to Mugabe and the regime in Harare will decline. I think that countries are going to be more inward looking, more self serving especially those that have stood as allies of Mugabe.

But also I think options for Zimbabweans who could go out of the country as economic and political refugees are going to shrink even further, so there is going to be a lot less patience. I don’t think we should focus more on whether or not Mugabe will agree or not. I don’t think he has any particular choice at the moment. I don’t think that his African colleagues within SADC and the African Union broadly are going to be tolerating a lot his gamesmanship that we have seen.

Gonda: What about the historic election victory of Barack Obama as America ’s first black President. Obviously he has so many problems to deal with in his country and the rest of the world but what sort of implication would an Obama presidency have on a country like Zimbabwe ?

Kagoro: I think it recreates hope that has long been lost in electoral democracy, liberal democracy. Liberal democracy of course does not always result in economic redistribution. So in a sense I think what the Obama victory does is the symbolism and creates the impression that you don’t necessarily have to have war credentials to run a country, because America like Zimbabwe had been fixated with this war veteran issue.

Secondly, Obama is fairly young and so it begins to push parameters of the need for the youth of the continent and of Zimbabwe to enter politics and play a critical determinant role.

And the third issue of course is that there will be a renewed focus on the end to tyranny, despotism, dictatorship and human rights violations and many are going to find themselves pretty lonely if they do not comply with these increasing global expectations. And we don’t just see it as an Obama victory we see it in its symbolic form as a history being made for the entire black race.

So one can celebrate the Obama victory – be cautious of the limitations of structural economic change. But structural economic change has often relied and dependent on the energising of a people and creating the impression that their potential can be tapped towards a positive end. Presently the potential of Zimbabweans has been dissipated and the positive energy required to recreate a country – a country’s vision and a country’s impetus towards its self development has been squandered by cheap politics and sometimes just bad management, corruption and brutality

Gonda: Do you see him implementing the same policies as President Bush where Zimbabwe is concerned - you know the sanctions or do you see him intensifying the diplomatic effort with the African Union or SADC to apply more pressure on the regime?

Kagoro: I think that the dilemma of America politics is Obama only assumes real after the 20 th of January in 2009 and American policy shifts rather slowly – I think this is the burden of their democratic system. So there is unlikely to be a shift in the Bush policies at least in the immediate sense. But Obama as an individual has shown a disposition towards diplomatic engagement, subtle forms of pressure and also the ability to give due recognition to bodies such as the African Union and other actors who could actually bring about positive processes that might facilitate change in Zimbabwe.

I am opposed personally to foreign intervention of the Bush type but because of the dilemma within Zimbabwe that is why I have insisted that the African Union must act decisively - must take both a moral and legal position on whether or not the June election was legal. If it was an illegal election according to their standards then they must declare that there is no duly elected government in Zimbabwe . The premise for negotiations then becomes the election in which no candidate got the required 51% and then the only logical, legal conclusion would require a re-run. And the context of the June election tells us that such a re-run must be closely monitored and internationally supervised to avoid the will of the electorate being usurped or undermined through violence and thuggery.

Gonda: But Brian do you realisticallythink that SADC or the African Union can do more than what it is doing right now because critics say these two bodies don’t have the guts to confront Robert Mugabe and didn’t even have the guts to confront him on his appalling human rights and democratic record?

Kagoro: I think that diplomacy by its very nature is a limiting but also an empowering fact. The laws that govern relations between nations have two sets; the one that insists on non intervention in the internal affairs of a sovereign country. The second one is the agreed principle of the responsibility to protect – that suggests that humanitarian reasons and human rights reasons merit the limitation of sovereignty to a certain extent. The rules under which you actually get to limit such sovereignty are cumbersome and almost impossible to operate. So the seeming inaction of SADC is basically accepted amongst Heads of State, that you don’t speak to each other or shout at each other in the public sphere – that you’d rather express discontent, disappointment, and disapproval within the appropriate forum.

So SADC’s seeming inertia in dealing with the Zimbabwean issue could be understood both in the historical context but also I think we must pay due credence to the fact that SADC has made some moves rather belatedly by sending an observer team that actually said no conditions existed for the holding of free and fair elections and also that some within the SADC leadership have broken rank with this straight jacket of silence and begun to call for fundamental paradigm shift and change of practise and behaviour in Zimbabwe.

So I am hopeful and I think like all Africans should be that several changes on the continent point to the fact that if leaders do not intervene we will have para state groups that are not always constructive intervening and this is why I think SADC understands the precarious nature of the Zimbabwe situation.

Gonda: And Brian let’s look at the current problem. The political parties are fighting over the allocation of cabinet posts. Now obviously there has to be more to just agreeing to the sharing of ministries – there is the larger question of the performance of the ministries and the question of democratisation. In your view is there capacity and political will?

 Kagoro: To perform, I think the Zimbabwean parliament has a lot of capable people both with economic expertise, expertise in finance, expertise in law, political science. The expertise is not an issue but… (interrupted)

Gonda: But is there political will to implement the policies that will reverse the economic tide?

Kagoro: I think it’s much more than implementing the policies. Is there political will to include all shade of Zimbabwean political and civic opinion in constructing the policies because the implementation of policies alone will not turn things around unless there is ownership?

I don’t think political will exists. Political parties have functioned like a secret society.  The negotiations are transacted like a big secret on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe who are kept away from the secret. So it would be a surprise of sorts. There is also the issue of a bellicose state.

31 ministries is too much for a struggling economy and the apportionment of those ministries seems to be done purely on the basis of patronage and political consideration with no sensitivity whatsoever to the economic plight that Zimbabweans are facing.

There is another factor Violet - the quibbling over Home Affairs. Everyone understands its significance, all rigging happens through the Ministry of Home Affairs, rigging happens through the registration of births and deaths, Ministry of Home Affairs is also responsible for the deployment of the police, investigating offences, undermining or facilitating the course of justice etc etc.

Zimbabwe ’s real problem at the moment is a structural economic recovery question. There has been very little focus on the economic ministries. First we know that the extractive sector which is mining and other forms of extractors is the only one in this global downturn that is likely to earn any form of descent revenue. There has been very little discussion about making it transparent, making sure it’s in hands that are capable to turn around and realise value for the nation and not for individuals.

Secondly, it’s the tourism sector. There is rapid recovery that is needed in that sector and there is no discussion at all in the tourism sector.

Thirdly there is the agricultural sector. I think agriculture will go back to ZANU PF with undertakings in the agreement that there will be no revision both of the appropriation and everybody accepts that land that was taken from commercial white farmers – for purpose of redistribution – should not be returned necessarily. But the issue of who got the land seems to me to be a contradiction; I have been assured by some that there is a land audit somewhere but it seems the agreement itself has a contradiction.

Therefore the construction of the ministry, where you have located the ministry shows you what progress you will make in the short run.

So if you take away the social services sector - which is education, health and co, these might depend on donor aid, these might get some injection of donor aid. So these will just be looking at whether the people that are there are competent. But the economic ministries – because Zimbabwe needs to again create employment, again to be able to raise domestic revenue – it seems to me very little attention is being paid to this because for the average Zimbabwean on the streets yes they don’t want the police to beat them, they don’t want people to abduct them and be killed but there is a genuine concern about employment, about livelihood and I am not hearing that debate and that’s why I am worried that this deal, this settlement might turnout to be the biggest hoax Zimbabwean politics has ever endured.

It might actually turnout to be a darker moment in our history than anything else we have ever experienced because citizens have invested hope in a lasting peace which they will not get because of the feuding, the suspicions. Citizens have invested hope in an economic turnaround which might not happen because everybody will be lining their pockets, government is so shoddily structured that it is unable to deliver. Citizens have invested hope in recreating value for themselves and this might not happen because the economy is not opening up. The policy space is not opening up.

Gonda : Just to add to what you are saying - do you see an interparty government being able to avoid the pitfalls of the ZANU PF regime where authority aggregated around the ministers themselves and not around the policies of the ministries?

Kagoro: Yes, the biggest case is the Kenyan example. The dynamism of the individual, the powers of the individual - individualism becomes a critical sector because of the precarious foundations of the government.

Secondly, the question of authority is so diffuse in this new arrangement; We have the Prime Minister, you have the President and their numerous Deputies and Ministers of course who have to take orders from these five individuals without any clinical sense of line management. But also with a worrying sense of competition - not of a healthy nature, but competition around political party silos as opposed to reaching across the divide and trying to build consensus. That means power will become increasingly personalised unless if we put in constitutional safe guards.

And presently the articulation of Constitutional Amendment No.19 will not discourage the personalisation of power. And its concentration, again in a few hands, will recreate a new dictatorship albeit decentralised dictatorship where it has polycentric power nods - some with the Prime Ministers some with the President. These silos of power will actually come to compete. Like they say Violet when elephants make love the grass suffers, when elephants fight the grass suffers, what matters is not whether they are fighting or making love but the size of the elephant and the size of the elephant we are creating with this new cabinet and its structure is likely to hurt the grass.

Gonda: And you know Morgan Tsvangirai’s rallies across the country, we have seen thousands of people attending these rallies. Are they really a report back meeting or a negotiating strategy to show strength because some say the contestation between the political parties is now more about who has a larger fan base? What are your thoughts on this?

Kagoro: Firstly let me commend whoever has been holding rallies particularly my friend Mr Tsvangirai - it’s useful that there be some semblance of reporting back to the people. But let’s demystify that. Reporting back to the people is not the same as consulting people and hearing their views because at a rally it’s not possible to hear the views of the people because it’s not structured in a consultative manner. It’s structured in a manner of sharing information. So it’s inadequate for purposes of generally hearing what the people have to say, what they are apprehensive about, what they do not want, what they would like to see. So what is needed is a structured process of consulting the people in organised formations of civil society, faith based institutions and labour and other formations.

Clearly rallies are also a negotiating strategy and there is political merit in shoring up your numbers, showing you have the numbers behind you - after all these are politicians. But beyond the politricks there is a need to look at the fundamental question of genuine consultation and genuine engagement. I think that ZANU needs to do it, MDC needs to do it. This consultation goes beyond their structures by the way, it goes beyond their formal party structures, to include others because the combined regime that is being proposed in the new deal will be a regime - whether it be for 18 months, 2 years or more – that will have oversight and leadership of all Zimbabweans and if it is to do so it must have the consent and consensus of all Zimbabweans. You can not arrive at consent and consensus without consultation otherwise it will be a Johannesburg import imposed by Thabo Mbeki.

Gonda: Since the deal was signed the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe has reached alarming proportions with the Zimbabwe dollar crushing spectacularly and shops no longer accepting payment in local currency. But those who suffer are mostly the ordinary people who have no access to the much needed foreign currency. What about the security forces, what will happen if the army and police demand payment in foreign currency?

Kagoro : It will dramatise the extent of crisis in the states and of the state because the battle in the present negotiations between the MDC and ZANU is to control the organs of state. So if the government is unable to meet that demand it will alienate itself from those sections of the military because what we are dealing with is the personal political economy of each soldier. I don’t think there would be an insurrection - the Zimbabwe military does not have a history of mutiny, not of the nature that we are talking about.

What we are likely to see is that the conduct where soldiers could be whipped into line to vote for particular individuals will quickly lose sway and if there is an election anytime soon and there is level of economic discontent and despondency is that the economy will vote against the incumbent. That you will have a politicisation of the military - not in the partisan way that we have see ZANU try to use power in government to politicise the military, but the military will of itself - by military individuals/soldiers, be politicised and take an interest in the goings on around themselves. They will begin to align with and be one with the rest of the suffering people as they themselves will be suffering. And there are not enough wars where you can deploy them to go and earn forex, even the Congo one is likely to be resolved at least through this mediation that’s going on.

And it’s not just the military Violet. It is the other arms of State such as the justice delivery system, the judges and magistrates and others who have been so central in the despotism that we have seen in our country. It will be the Central Intelligence organisations and other arms of government who have stood as allies and proxies and surrogates of oppressive forces within the Zimbabwean political class. You will see them now beginning to turn their attention, turning their allegiances towards pro-change politics, pro change agendas and pro change formations. We are likely to see a split occurring within the ruling party. There are already factions but we are likely to see a split because what has kept the ruling party intact is not only its the ability to oil actors within the party, but the ability to keep surveillance, supervision and some form of fear of God within those who serve it in the public sector and those who are members with official status in the party. But you know when you have those actors that are able to keep surveillance and supervisions and also instill fear of God in party faithfuls also becoming despondent and then the centre will not be able to hold and things will begin to fall apart.

Gonda: As you mentioned at the beginning of the interview not only do we have a political crisis but we have a financial, humanitarian and human rights crisis but what does this mean for economic recovery will this be resolved by a political deal?

Kagoro: No, the political deal is really not the conduit for this. The political crisis arises out of a lack of consensus and consent of the governed to be governed by those who are governing them. A political deal does not address the consent and consensus issue. It imposes a form leadership upon a people and it structures in a very narrow sense the selection process of leadership. It takes it out of the democratic domain into a very private domain were the leaders’ preferences determine what happens.

Secondly, a political deal itself makes you negotiate based on the lowest common denominator as opposed to a people’s aspirations. In terms of economic recovery for example we know that following the same economic policies and models adopted by ZANU PF and sometimes imposed by international financial institutions that say ‘deregulate everything, private everything’ will not result in any fundamental change because it’s a deal of political parties. It’s not opening the question of economic democratisation to a discussion by the broad mass of Zimbabweans but also to a discussion by a broader array of Zimbabwean experts. It’s based on who is invited to the table.

Thirdly a political deal does not address in any significant way how to deal with non performing sectors of the economy of the state or of government. It doesn’t address the ethical questions around corruption, pillaging of the state. You know it’s a deal that you will stay together till death do you part. It’s a deal that says ‘I know you are a thief, I know you are a murderer, I know that you are all these other things, I know you have violated human rights, you violated law but for the purposes of making peace we will hug you even if you are a python.’

And of course we tend to forget Violet that hugging a python for the purposes of making peace is foolishness. Firstly a python is a constrictor. So it may appear non poisonous in the moment but a python does not kill by virtue of spreading venom, it wraps itself around you, crushes you and swallows you. So a deal designed to appease political power interests is unlikely to deal with the fundamental questions of structural transformation in the economy, the revolutionary transformation of the state and its role and its relationship with the citizens and citizen groups.

A political deal often results in the privatisation of the state. It is simply increasing the number of shareholders from ZANU PF private limited liability company; it will now include other shareholders - minority shareholders from the two MDCs.

So I don’t think Zimbabweans must celebrate this particular deal except for those who want us to celebrate the symbolism that some of our friends - and these are my very good friends - will now instead of being called stooges of the West they will be called Prime Minster, Deputy Prime Ministers or something else. And if those names and new titles, new houses, cars and body guards are what we have spent all these years fighting for since the inception of the NCA and even before when pro-democracy politics started then we have been nothing but foolish men and women.

But I believe we have been fighting for much more, much more than for our friends to be called big names and to appear and live big lives. We have been fighting that there be a common standard of decency of rights for the average person - that there be freedom in our liberated country. That every Zimbabwean must have the confidence of knowing that their own government will not terrorise them. That every Zimbabwean who wants to apply their entrepreneurial skills can do so without fear that they would be discriminated against because of the ethnic group they belong to, because of their height, their complexion or any other discriminatory consideration. We are fighting for a truly inclusive, democratic and accountable society and government and for me this deal doesn’t give me this.

Gonda: Brain there are those who say Morgan Tsvangirai should pull out of the talks as he can be swallowed up by this ‘python’ do you agree with this?

Kagoro : Firstly I think that he has gone too far to quit (laughs). If I had had the opportunity to give advice before, I would have said there is nothing to lose being in or out because the people of Zimbabwe know what you stand for and what you represent. Will he be swallowed by this? It depends on the speed with which he is able to manoeuvre politically. I have seen him manoeuvre several times and I think he is fairly gifted. But I think that this time the odds and the real likelihood of him being lumped together with his oppressors as failure, is very high. So if he really wants to survive the dirt that comes with associating with his oppressors he will have to have his policies clear. He will have to have his strategy and agenda of consulting the widest possible spectrum of Zimbabwean political and civic opinion clear. He needs to assemble a team around himself - not just friends and sycophants but a team of some of our most gifted people in economics, finance, development and other sectors. He has a lot of loyal friends like ourselves but he needs people who have competencies that we have not seen coming to the fore up to this moment within the MDC .

He needs to deal with not just the loyalty question; he also needs to deal with the efficiency and effectiveness questions. So there are three things to attend to: Dealing with resisting being swallowed, keeping the identity of a liberator instead of becoming part of the oppressive machinery and keeping the vision of a truly democratic Zimbabwe and from a mandate to govern based on a truly democratic election in which he wins the 51%; and keeping the logic and the reasoning that if our economy doesn’t turn around our democracy will never revive.

Gonda: Brian Kagoro thank you very much.

Kagoro: You are welcome Violet.

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COMESA summit postponed again

By Alex Bell
13 November 2008

Less than two months after the Common Market for East and Southern Africa
(COMESA) awarded Zimbabwe a second chance to hold the regional bloc's 13th
summit - the government this week announced the event has been postponed
until next year.

The summit had originally been set to take place in May, but was called off
after state-sponsored violence swept through the country in the wake of
Robert Mugabe's election loss to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the March
polls. In postponing the summit at the peak of the political violence,
COMESA said it was doing so to give Zimbabwe time to 'conclude its electoral

Last month, in what appeared to be a hasty show of confidence in the country
as a result of the signing of the now redundant power sharing deal, COMESA
announced the summit was going ahead in November. But on Wednesday the
Minister of Industry and International Trade, Obert Mpofu, said in the
statement that the event has again been postponed - this time until the New

The announcement has fueled speculation that the country, in the midst of a
devastating humanitarian and economic crisis, cannot afford to host the
event. But Minister Mpofu has insisted the postponement has nothing to do
with finances but is rather to allow for progress on the planned merger of
COMESA with two other regional groupings, the five-member East African
Community (EAC) and the 15-member Southern African Development Community

"Of immediate priority is the harmonisation of the common external tariffs
of COMESA and the EAC," Mpofu said in a statement this week.

The summit, where Zimbabwe is due to take over the rotating chairmanship of
the body from Kenya is now expected to be held in the first six months of
2009. But with the complete collapse of the country's economy, as well as no
end in sight to the political crisis, it would appear more likely that the
event will be moved to a different host country.

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Soldiers assault state radio DJ for wearing camouflage

By Lance Guma
13 November 2008

Tafadzwa Sikwila, a DJ employed by ZBC's Power FM Radio, sustained serious
head injuries after being brutally assaulted by four Zimbabwe National Army
soldiers in Gweru on 25th October. According to reports which only surfaced
this week the soldiers accused him of wearing replica military camouflage
trousers, without permission (under Zimbabwe's obscure defence Act,
civilians are prohibited from wearing camouflage). After assaulting Sikwila
they threw him into an army truck that drove towards Zvishavane. The popular
disc jockey, known as DJ Squila, sustained the head injuries after the
soldiers then threw him off the moving vehicle.

A good samaritan passing by picked up Sikwila and rushed him to Gweru
Central Hospital. He was treated for internal head bleeding and other
injuries. Police have confirmed the incident. In a stinging attack the Media
Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) criticized the law and the abduction of
Sikwila. 'Where such prohibitions are existent, as is the case in Zimbabwe,
they do not stipulate that a citizen found in violation of these must be
tortured or abducted.'.

Meanwhile the failure of the SADC summit to bridge the divide between the
MDC and ZANU PF is fuelling tensions across the country. Opposition
activists accuse ZANU PF of turning to its 'default language of violence'
and say they are now being attacked randomly. With the Mugabe regime already
trying to draw comparisons between Tsvangirai and the late Angolan rebel
leader Jonas Savimbi, signs are ominous that a fully fledged crackdown is
being planned against the opposition. Worrying for the MDC is the fact that
12 activists arrested in Banket at the end of October are still missing, 2
weeks later. Police have ignored a High Court order issued Tuesday demanding
that the abducted people be brought to court.
The MDC issued a statement saying, 'the continued violence against MDC
members is testimony that the leopard has not changed its spots. The regime
has begun a systematic crackdown on the largest party in the country as it
tries in vain to solidify trumped-up charges of banditry and terrorism
against MDC supporters.'
This week also saw police brutally putting down countrywide NCA protests and
the arrest of over 100 activists. On Thursday the NCA reported that one of
the female activists detained and, 'who was three months pregnant,
miscarried after a particularly brutal attack by officers at Mutare Central
Police Station.  Many NCA members remain in police custody, while others
have been released on bail or after being forced to pay fines.' The
crackdown coincided with a Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights report saying
state sponsored violence is on the increase. The rights body said more than
1,300 cases of political violence were recorded in September alone, an
increase of 39 percent from August.

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Not enough cash for ARVs or food

Photo: IRIN
Zimbabweans queue to access their accounts
HARARE, 13 November 2008 (PlusNews) - George Mumba, 24, an accountant in Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, is among the thousands of people whose situation has been drastically affected by hyperinflation, because customers cannot withdraw enough cash from the bank to buy what they need.

Almost every day, Mumba, who is HIV-positive, and has been placed on indefinite sick leave by his employer, makes the roughly six-kilometre trip from the middle-income suburb of Hatfield to the city centre, where he joins hundreds other people jostling to withdraw the maximum Z$500,000 — worth less than US$2 — from his bank. Last week the maximum amount an individual could withdraw was only Z$50,000 or US20 cents. A month's supply of ARVs can cost up to Z$20 million (US $50).

"When the maximum withdrawal limit was $50,000 I stopped coming to the bank because that was the amount that I needed to travel into the city centre," he told IRIN/PlusNews.

"I am on a cocktail of antiretroviral [ARV] drugs that should be taken after eating. However, I am sometimes forced to take my medication on an empty stomach because I would have failed to withdraw enough money for food. The little that I sometimes manage to keep spare is spent on food items that are hardly nutritional, and I guess that is the reason why my condition keeps on deteriorating."

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has introduced a system that allows patients to apply to their banks for bigger amounts of cash to buy medication. Some patients have benefited from the scheme, but Mumba complains that the application takes long to be processed and, when approved, the banks give them the money in small amounts.

He has "enough money in the bank to buy medication for six months, but it is painful that I am slowly degenerating simply because I cannot take out as much of it as I need".

Tonderai Chiduku, advocacy coordinator for the Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS, pointed out that "Nutrition is central to the longevity of the life of a person living with HIV and AIDS and even if one might have all the drugs needed, it would be difficult to keep in good shape."

Taking drugs on an empty stomach because one could not afford food caused side effects that might lead to patients defaulting on ARV treatment, he warned.

Chiduku, who is HIV positive, said cash shortages were forcing patients to buy drugs on an "ad hoc" basis, mostly in small quantities, "but that creates further problems because the quantities might not be the prescribed ones, and our members ... tend to develop virulent strains of HIV".

The inflation rate, officially estimated at 231 million percent, made the situation worse for people living with the virus because "Prices are changing on a daily basis, and that further reduces the ability to buy drugs and food."

Read more
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Although antiretrovirals are available free of charge on the government's treatment programme, medication for opportunistic infections is harder to come by.

Tabeth Maruziva, 36, who is also HIV positive, has had cotrimoxazole, an antibiotic drug that helps keep opportunistic infections at bay, prescribed for her by a doctor. But she finds it difficult to buy the medication as well as food because most of the suppliers are charging for the drug in foreign currency.

When the antibiotic is available in local currency, she has to visit the bank for two days to get enough money to buy it, but the amount she can withdraw leaves her with nothing for transport, food or anything else after she has bought the medicine.

To buy foreign currency on the black market, she first has to get enough local currency. "That means a double burden. I hardly have the energy to stand in a bank queue and even when I get the cash, it is not enough to buy the foreign currency, for which I am forced to hunt at the risk of being arrested by the police," she said.

A single mother with three children to care for, Maruziva suspects she contracted HIV when she was a sex worker. She is now often bedridden and cannot work.

It is the second month since cotrimoxazole was prescribed to her that she has been unable to buy it; in desperation she has resorted to untested traditional herbs that she has been told will have antiretroviral effects.

Martha Tholanah, the Zimbabwe AIDS Network's humanitarian programme officer for people living with HIV, said patients in the countryside were in a worse situation than those living in towns and cities.

"People living with HIV in rural areas find it extremely difficult to raise the transport fare to travel to the nearest bank to withdraw cash," she told IRIN/PlusNews. "The transport itself is unreliable and at times non-existent, meaning that patients are forced to forego treatment." 


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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Zimbabwe's Bank Queues a Way of Life


By Peta Thornycroft
13 November 2008

Across Zimbabwe, day and night, ordinary people are queuing at banks to get
their money. Peta Thornycroft reports people are limited to draw the
equivalent of the cost of one small loaf of bread a day.

A group of about 30 people were beaten Wednesday by riot police outside the
central post office in Harare. One of the victims, a former long-serving
soldier now working as a street vendor, said the police angrily told people
not to stand in groups in the city.

He said his former colleagues with 10 years service in the Zimbabwe National
Army do not earn enough to even buy a small tube of toothpaste a month. He
said senior members of the army, from the rank of brigadier and above, are
now paid in foreign currency and do not have to queue each day to withdraw
their salaries.

There have been several incidents of violence in long queues outside
commercial banks around the country in recent weeks.

Most employed people spend at least part of each day in a queue to withdraw
their salaries, bit by bit, as central bank governor Gideon Gono limits how
much people and companies can take from their accounts each day.

A hungry pregnant woman in a bank queue in Harare's fourth street says she
goes to the queue early, without breakfast, and is there all day. She is
never sure how much money will be in her bank.

"Since I am a civil servant, now we are not even aware of actual salaries,
because they are putting it in halves. Ah! I think Gono has mismanaged the
financial sector and I would think it would be better if they would put
someone else," she said.

A father of two employed in the private sector says his family is hungry
every day and he often remains in the queue throughout the night because,
rather than walk home in the dark carrying money.

"I used to sleep here because it is dangerous for myself," he said. "If you
can withdraw 50 million per month, it would be better for us to survive. It
is difficult, very difficult. If our government could solve this problem of
money it will be better."

Harare economist John Robertson says the ruling ZANU-PF elite have discarded
the Zimbabwe dollar.

"The elite, I believe, have already found the Zimbabwe dollar inadequate and
have already moved to foreign currency. So the government gives the
privilege to the senior people in the form of foreign currency, but they are
not admitting it, because they are not the ones standing in bank queues.
They have found another means around the problem," said Robertson.

Robertson says the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe obtains foreign currency it
needs by raiding exporter's bank accounts.

"So, it would seem the government is tapping into all the foreign currency
exporter industries, mainly the mining sector, and agriculture is still
exporting cotton and tobacco, but much smaller quantities than previously,"
he said.

Gono said Wednesday he would substantially increase the Z$10,000 companies
may withdraw daily and believed the bank queues would end soon.

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Teachers Not Paid For Invigilating Grade Seven Papers

HARARE, November 13 2008 - Teachers are accusing the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) of reneging on its promise to pay them public examinations
invigilating allowances for overseeing the writing of Grade Seven

The teachers had been promised a cash incentive of Zd1, 5 million for
each examination paper invigilated after they threatened to boycott the

But RadioVOP has since established that the teachers were yet to be
paid almost a week after the examinations were written.

Angry teachers said they regretted accepting the Central Bank's offer,
with the Education ministry indicating that it was yet to receive the
allowances from the central bank.

A Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) official from
Bulawayo, Themba Sithole, said teachers had been hoodwinked into overseeing
the writing of the examinations by the RBZ. No comment could be obtained
from the Central Bank on the matter.

However Sithole said the RBZ move would result in teachers boycotting
the marking exercise, a situation that is set to affect Grade Seven
students, as they need the results to proceed to secondary School in 2009.

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Oxfam humanitarian co-ordinator warns of Zimbabwean crisis

By Ian MacDonald
Last Friday, Mia Vukojevic, humanitarian co-ordinator for Oxfam, held a
discussion at Memorial to talk about her work in the Republic of Zimbabwe
and around the globe.

Over finger foods and apple juice, students joined in on a discussion of the
position of non-government organizations and the role they play in the

Unlike development, which is based on creating sustainable solutions to
long-term problems, humanitarian work focuses on immediate life and death
situations that require fast solutions.

As Oxfam's humanitarian co-ordinator since 2004, Vukojevic's job has brought
her all over the world. In her talk at Memorial, she focused on her work in
Zimbabwe and the current issues the country faces.

She says that with such a large population - about 13-million - the country's
infrastructure problems and human rights issues have the potential for

"It has an inflation of 1-million percentile points," she said.

"A loaf of bread was $3-trillion and that has doubled, tripled, every week."

She says that half the population lives off of food aid, blaming the
shortage partly on weather and partly on poor government management.

Vukojevic also points to infrastructure management as a result of water
shortages throughout the country. Water gathering is left to women who have
to walk 10 to 12 hours a day to meet their needs.

"The effect on people's lives is unbelievable, it means they have no time to
do anything else."

"A person shouldn't have to walk more than 500 metres for water."

Pumps were put in place 20 years ago, but their lack of upkeep means they
have gone into disrepair. Working with Zimbabweans, Oxfam has been repairing
the pumps to try and bring accessible H2O to the citizens.

She also cites a lack of skilled workers as a problem in keeping
infrastructure at working levels.

Trained professionals leave the country to earn higher wages elsewhere, many
times sending the money back to their families.

"People with skills are leaving the country so they can survive," she said.

One of the greatest challenges of her position, she says, is bringing
attention to global issues. She calls on everyone to keep their eyes open to
could-be crisis situations, and to do all they can to help.

"It is important to pay attention to disasters not in the media. People
still suffer if it doesn't make the news."

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MPs go hungry and High Court shuts downs because of water crisis

By Tichaona Sibanda
13 November 2008

The country's dire economic crisis has hit two main centres of power this
week, as Parliament and the High Court were forced to suspend business
because of water shortages.

In another glaring display of just how bad things are, hungry MPs based
outside Harare had to be fed by a donor agency in the capital on Tuesday
afternoon because Parliament is broke and cannot pay for their meals.

MDC MP for Bulawayo South Eddie Cross could not help but laugh when he
detailed how they ended up having lunch donated by an aid agency.
MPs usually eat at the hotels they are booked into, but hotels have been
refusing to accommodate them because of huge, unpaid, parliamentary bills.

Sam Sipepa Nkomo, the MDC MP for Lobengula, confirmed party MPs from outside
Harare ended up having lunch provided by 'a good Samaritan.'

'Yes it's true, I had the lunch myself and this tells you all about the
state of the country where MPs end up sourcing for food from strangers,'
Nkomo said.

The MPs ended up in this dilemma after they had exhausted all their cash in
paying for their own hotel accommodation and being unable to withdraw enough
cash from banks.

And across the street from Parliament, the High Court was deserted after the
building was shut down on Tuesday due to lack of water. It's suspected that
water supplies to the building may have been cut due to unpaid bills. A
report published by a news website said several lawyers intending to file
court papers were surprised to find the gates locked.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) castigated the authorities for
their approach to the situation at the High Court.

In a statement the ZLHR said the fact that such a court, a vehicle for
protecting human rights, is closed due to lack of water seriously undermines
equal protection to litigants, detainees, and even convicted prisoners whose
matters are on appeal from lower courts.

'ZLHR calls upon the Ministry of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and
relevant authorities to ensure that the High Court of Zimbabwe, and indeed
all courts in Zimbabwe, are given all the necessary tools and essentials to
enable them to function properly, timeously and effectively in exercising
their judicial authority,' the statement added.
The water situation in Harare had also forced the adjournment of Parliament
on Tuesday, until the 16th December.
Parliamentary business came to a halt just a few hours after the legislators
resumed sitting.

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Reserve bank reinstates electronic transfers

By Violet Gonda
13 November 2008

Every day Zimbabweans are waking up to more confusion, as the economy goes
into complete meltdown. But businesses and customers were given some sort of
relief when the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe announced it was reinstating
electronic transfers on Thursday.

The central bank said it has restored the facility conditionally, and it was
dependent on the behaviour of the banks.  The RBZ said it had removed the
electronic transfer system because of allegedly criminal behaviour amongst
the banks and customers.

However economist John Robertson said it's believed that this was not the
main reason the facility was removed by the RBZ, but that it was caused by
something that the central bank is not admitting to 'which might have been a
software licensing agreement that they had failed to pay for.'

Although he said the re-instatement of the system will make transactions for
banks, businesses and customers easier, he says it was a big mistake to
remove the use of the RTGS in the first place.

Robertson said: "The situation itself was very damaged and in easing the
situation they have actually fixed nothing.  The country still remains very,
very severely under pressure from the massive scarcity of not only foreign
currency, but also local currency."

The highly respected Cato institute has said that as of 7th November,
Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate was 516 Quintillion percent.

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MDC-M to Shun Unity Government

HARARE, November 13 2008 - The Mutambara led Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) formation has said it will not be part of a unity government
formed under the current agreement.

In an interview with RadioVOP, the deputy spokesperson in the
Mutambara led MDC faction, Renson Gasela, said his formation had not yet
received any invitation to submit names of potential cabinet ministers.

"But even if we do receive any such invitation we will not submit
names because the global agreement does not provide for an inclusive
government... if any party among the three is not for the idea - then it is
not an inclusive government and therefore we can not participate in that
government unless all three parties are involved," he said.

Gasela said his faction was not the one gunning for the Home Affairs
ministry and it was therefore not up to the faction to make a decision on
behalf of another party.

"What we had recommended to SADC was that the Home Affairs ministry be
given to Tsvangirai and they ruled otherwise and we are disappointed that
they ruled otherwise. But because we went to SADC for arbitration we now
have to abide by its decision even though that decision is not in conformity
with what we had recommended. We are not agreeing with Zanu PF ...we are
conforming to the decision of SADC.

"Unfortunately what it means is that the people of Zimbabwe are going
to continue suffering because the situation will deteriorate further and
further - which is something we hoped would be resolved. We also hope that
sense will prevail among the three parties and some accomodation will be
arrived at in spite of this impasse," said Gasela.

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Fired Journos Seek Court Protection

HARARE, November 13 2008 - Lawyers representing seven Zimbabwean
journalists fired by the government owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings
(ZBH) in June this year for allegely failing to ensure the victory of
President Robert Mugabe and the ruling Zanu (PF) party in the March
Harmonised elections have filed an urgent application in the High Court
seeking to have their continued victimisation permanently stopped.

The ZBH, the country's sole radio and television station kicked out
the seven, including its long serving news editor, Patrice Makova, four
senior reporters and two executive producers accusing them of having been
sympathetic to or giving media space to opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai
and his Movement for Democratic Change.

The ZBH head of human resources, Bernania Shumba sent the journalists
on forced leave accusing them of having "acted in a manner inconsistent with
your contract". Their lawyers, Matsikidze and Partenrs, however,
successfully contested the suspension in the labour court which ordered
their immediate reinstatement.

Although ZBH complied, the State broadcaster barred the journalists
entry into Pockets Hill but continued paying their salaries until October
this year after informing them that management had decided to retrench them.

The State broadcaster offered the workers retrenchment packages
averaging Zd 300 000 or less than USD1 (one dollar), which they have turned
down and are seeking their reinstatement as ordered by the labour court.

The journalists told RadioVOP they had done nothing wrong during the
elections as all they did was to comply with instructions and orders issued
by the then ZBC Chief Executive, Henry Muradzikwa, to abide by the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) guidelines on reporting elections.

The SADC guidelines require journalists covering elections to give
equal, unbiased and fair coverage to all contesting political parties.

Muradzikwa, a former State newspaper and news agency Editor in Chief
and University of Zimbabwe media studies lecturer, was himself the first to
get the chop after President Mugabe and Zanu (PF) lost the March election,
despite his well known implecable connections to the big wigs in the ruling

The descent on and apparent clean up of the State media is said to be
the instruction of President Mugabe's trusted spokesman and government's
chief spin doctor, George Charamba, who himself is said to be venting his
anger at the State media after he received a bashing from Zanu (PF) bigwigs
who accuse him of having not done enough to ensure the party's victory in
the March elections.

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Let Zanu go it alone

Thursday, 13 November 2008 13:11
Without pre-empting the MDC Council meeting decisions on Friday, it
just strikes me that either something is very wrong with the reports from
the Cabinet composition negotiations or the nation has been taken for a ride
by SADC in order to achieve a predicted end result that is destined to be
either a Government of National Unity (GNU) or not and whether the people of
Zimbabwe like it or not.

We are made to believe that the MDC strongly believed that the SADC
Sandton Meeting had presented them with an opportunity for a full review of
previous discussions and negotiations by the 15 SADC leaders, but as it has
now been reported, the full SADC only went on to adopt the SADC Troika on
Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation's Harare report despite the
presentations made by the three Political parties. This is where one smells
a rat especially when the SADC "directives" are specific in that
implementation of the GNU must be made immediately. To this end, we need to
review the current stage of the GNU negotiations against the African Union
Resolutions of 1 July 2008. However, before getting to the review of the
actual Summit Resolutions, the following reproduced three "quotes" from
various publications seek to enlighten on the views of various parties
regarding a GNU at the time this option was adopted.

1.    Tsvangirai's MDC dismissed a South African press report that
regional mediator President Thabo Mbeki was close to brokering a deal
for Mugabe and Tsvangirai to negotiate a unity government. "It is all
speculation, there is nothing like that. There's no imminent deal, no
negotiations. There cannot be a deal to which we are not party," said MDC
spokesman Nelson Chamisa.

2.    Mugabe's spokesman told reporters in the Egyptian city of Sharm
el-Sheik that Zimbabwe would not adopt the "Kenyan way" of negotiating
a power-sharing agreement. "Kenya is Kenya. Zimbabwe is Zimbabwe," said
George Charamba, Mugabe's spokesman. As for Western critics, Mr. Charamba
they could "go hang a thousand times.

3.    "A Government of National Unity at this stage is a nonstarter,"
Maroleng. Unless there is a complete restructuring of the
Constitution, a change in the executive powers of the presidency, any
power-sharing deal at this point would tilt the advantage, permanently, in
the favour of Mugabe.
"It's placing icing over a rotten core. It would look nice, but
underneath, it would still be rotten," says Chris Maroleng, a Security
Analyst at the Institute for Security Studies in Tshwane, South Africa.

Since these were the views pertaining at the time the African Unity
(AU) resolutions were made, one wonders why a transitional government
arrangement was not considered instead.

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Zimbabwe: what's to be done?


Last updated: 11/14/2008 17:30:55
THE reaction of most Zimbabweans in the aftermath of the SADC Summit held in
Sandton, South Africa last Sunday, is that of great disappointment.

The reaction carries an apoplectic tone, targeted at the SADC Heads of
State, whom they consider to have, once again, handled their old comrade,
President Mugabe with velvet gloves whilst giving Morgan Tsvangirai the
sledgehammer treatment.

Echoes from the Past

The quandary of Zimbabweans can be summed up in one question: 'What's to be
done?' It carries an uncanny echo to a question in similar terms made famous
by Russian revolutionary leader Vladmir Lenin. A paper he wrote in the first
couple of years of the last century carried the title, 'What is to be done?'

Faced with the challenges of the time, Lenin advocated the creation of a
revolutionary vanguard party for the purpose of directing the activities and
efforts of the working class, whom he regarded as the key to change. But he
was not satisfied that the working class could do more to secure the
revolutionary change that was needed without some direction.

Thus he wanted a revolutionary party to direct what he called a "scientific"
socialist revolution. That was how Lenin saw things at the time and in 1917,
during the famous October Revolution, the party he led, the Bolsheviks,
seized power, and with that, Russian society and much of the world around it
would be transformed for generations.

Zimbabwe stands at the precipice. No-one can predict what the future holds
after the recent failure of the SADC Summit. It is not surprising that
Zimbabweans are asking a similar question: What's to be done?

But Zimbabwe does not seem to have a Lenin to give strategic direction in
response. Not that it needs a 'socialist revolution' - only that it yearns
for some strategic direction on escaping the harsh circumstances engulfing

Moans and Groans

Instead the routine is familiar. Moan and complain about SADC's apparent
impotence. Plead for the African Union to intervene, even when they know in
the deepest parts of their hearts that nothing will be yielded from that
ostentatious body.

When that fails, plead to the United Nations for intervention. And what if
that fails too? Ordinary people do not have answers; their leaders do not
seem to have answers too. There appears to be a deficit in strategic

But the easiest thing is for us Zimbabweans to vent our collective fury at
SADC. But that's because we made the initial error of believing that SADC
could actually walk on water, this, notwithstanding the litany of failures
on Zimbabwe.

Consider this: If after a contentious election, in the midst of obscene acts
of violence, during a suspiciously extended period of announcing election
results, when its own code on conducting elections was subjected to willful
violation, SADC failed to act, what surely is to be expected from this body?

We have characterised before in these pages, the behaviour of SADC leaders
as being akin to the Mafia. Mugabe, the Godfather, simply went to his
colleagues and told them that he has a stone in his shoe.

His brothers have told him that they cannot remove the stone but they will
try their best to place it in a position where it does not hurt him most.
Morgan Tsvangirai is that stone.

So last Sunday, they came up with a recommendation which would have ensured
that the stone would be accommodated in Mugabe's shoe, without hurting him

Noises on the Wrong Platform

A few countries, such as Botswana, have made commendable noises of
disapproval. But even here, the tendency is often to exaggerate the effect
of the words emanating from Gaborone, whilst overlooking its deeds which
differ little from its SADC counterparts.

It is one thing to make noises in the media but quite a different matter to
speak and act decisively in the available forum such as the SADC platform.
President Khama, Zanu PF's most vocal critic in the region, chose to stay
away from Sandton. Surely, Tsvangirai must wonder, where are friends when
you need them most?

President Khama probably had good reason for not attending or he simply didn't
want to be part of the charade. But, surely, in that case, why even bother
to send a representative and not only that, but a representative does not
even register dissent and appends his name to the Communique?

The trouble is no matter how loud they are, and regardless of the popular a
reception they get, such noises will in time become little more than
posturing. We have seen it all before and it has done nothing to help the
cause of change in Zimbabwe.

The AU Cul-de-sac

It seems logical, having exhausted the SADC route, to go to the AU. But
there is little hope there, too. It is unlikely they will take a position
that contradicts SADC's stance. The continent is awash with conflicts in
places like Somalia, Sudan, the DRC and our good AU has little to show for
its efforts. It will be yet more trips, yet more disputes over passports,
more per diems for traveling parties and lots more communiqués but nothing
of real substance.

Admittedly, I have advocated in these pages for the MDC to learn the
language of African politics. It was more in hope than expectation that
there would be some sane heads out there that could share positive words and
cajole their old comrade into accepting change. But if there is any lesson
that has been learned from this experience, it is that the language is one
of oppression and manipulation. It is a language that requires major changes
of its own and the MDC ought to be part of that change.

But I cannot see the AU convening a Summit to decide the allocation of
cabinet portfolios, let alone effectively resolve Zimbabwe's problems.
Perhaps in asking for mediation on the allocation of cabinet portfolios, our
politicians are showing a level of immaturity unbefitting persons who should
be entrusted with power? Perhaps they are asking too much?

Keeping Them in the Dark

The one disconcerting thing about the whole scenario is that politicians on
all sides have conspired to keep ordinary people in the dark. For my part, I
suspect very strongly that there is more to the dispute than we are being
told by our politicians. The Home Affairs ministry and, indeed, the whole
cabinet portfolio issue is a front for a much bigger dispute.

It does seem to me that, to apply an old proverb, MDC yakayeuka bako
yaniwa - that is, they discovered, in the aftermath of signing the Global
Political Agreement that they should not have agreed in the first place. But
it was late in the day. If this is the case, the MDC must say so and let the
public know why they cannot enter the GNU on the basis of this agreement.

A Sense of Realism

But in trying to answer the question of 'what's to be done' in the
circumstances, it probably makes sense to have a sense of realism. No-one
seriously doubts that Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC got the public vote of
confidence ahead of Mugabe and Zanu PF in the March elections.

Likewise, no-one seriously contests the view that the election did not
deliver change and that the MDC failed to take over the reins of power. In
the circumstances, the MDC had at least two viable options: either to lead a
popular revolt in order to assert their position and prevent Zanu PF from
holding on to power or to negotiate with Zanu PF in order to share power.

Of these two, only one - the popular revolt was likely to deliver total
change if it was successful. The other, and let it be very clear -
negotiation - was never going to deliver total change. It was always going
to be a compromise. It was never going to produce a revolutionary outcome.

The point, therefore, is the need for a sober assessment of what is a
realistic outcome as opposed to the ideal one because the latter was never
and will never be achieved through negotiation.

Consult the Public

The important thing is to keep the eye on the ball, that is, the people that
politicians purport to serve. Perhaps they ought to ask the question: If the
deal were presented to the public, together with alternatives, if any are
available, what would they say?

If there are alternatives, in answering the question, 'what's to be done'
why not present them to the people so that they can make informed decisions.
They are desperate to know that if this present deal is unacceptable, how
else can the acceptable be achieved?

For my part, there is no escaping the question, because this is the
conundrum uppermost in ordinary people's minds, 'What's to be done?' The
leadership, as did Lenin during his time, have a responsibility to provide
some strategic direction. It is in times such as these that bold and
decisive leadership is needed most.

Alex Magaisa is based at Kent Law School, The University of Kent. He can be
contacted at

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Tsvangirai must never give up

13 November 2008

Robert Mugabe must be smiling . First he loses an election but refuses to
release the results. The victor is then prevailed upon to compromise and
enters into a power-sharing deal which affords an executive position to
himself and the right to appoint the majority of cabinet ministers.

True to form, Mugabe reneges on the deal, seeks to appoint the majority of
ministers and insists that the key ministries are allocated to his

The victor is then prevailed on to compromise further and share a key
ministry. Knowing this will render him ineffectual he refuses and is
promptly accused by all concerned of being a spoiler who is pursuing his
personal interests ahead of the people of his country.

What a turnaround - it is as though every concession is regarded as a new
starting point for further negotiation and compromise!

In truth, does Morgan Tsvangirai have much of a choice?

The Zimbabwean tax base has been destroyed along with the economy. Zimbabwe
has hyperinflation because the only way for the government to pay its bills
is to print money. Restoring the economy will take time so the only way out
is for some external agency (the World Bank, donor countries, etc) to fund
the government of Zimbabwe until it can restore its tax base.

Clearly, the chance of accessing meaningful financial support is precisely
zero while Mugabe is in control so Tsvangirai makes himself party to certain
failure by compromising.

The practical reality is that Tsvangirai cannot really afford to accept any
arrangement which involves any impediment to international support.

Given the state of the global economy right now, even the token involvement
of Mugabe would be latched on to as an excuse to remain uninvolved.

If Tsvangirai knows what's good for him (and, incidentally, the people of
Zimbabwe) he will not compromise.

Dale Lippstreu
Hout Bay

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Africa Fails Zimbabwe: Another Burden for Obama


By Sir Ronald Sanders

A former Caribbean Head of Government, who should know, told me a few months
ago that the only way Robert Mugabe is leaving Zimbabwe is "feet first". In
other words, Mugabe will die before relinquishing power in Zimbabwe.

As conditions in Zimbabwe rapidly deteriorate, I have been reminded of that
former Caribbean leader's words. Zimbabwe is already a fully failed state;
life itself has become a daily lottery for the majority of its people who
are being starved or brutalised. It is obvious to all that Mugabe should
hand over power to Morgan Tsvangirai who, by all objective accounts, won the
March 29th elections. Yet, Mugabe, with the help of the leaders of his
military, holds on to power with a vise-like grip.

Mugabe's regime has used the vilest tactics to punish people, particularly
women, who have supported Tsvangari's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
AIDS-Free World, an advocacy group founded by Canada's former United Nations
Ambassador, Stephen Lewis, has collected testimony from women who survived
organised gang rapes by members of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party after he lost the
March elections. The women give horrific accounts of multiple rapes and
brutal beating by gangs who openly identified themselves with the ZANU-PF.
The group reports that "many of the women still have unhealed wounds five
months later, since Zimbabwe's medical system has entirely ceased to
function, and all need HIV tests."

It has to be recalled that Zimbabwe was once a flourishing country that not
only fed itself but exported food to many neighbouring African states and
other commodities to the world. Today, 5 million of the 9 million people who
remain there are dependent on food aid. Almost four million Zimbabweans have
fled into neighbouring states, particularly South Africa where they eke out
a living and where there have been incidents of beatings by South Africans
who regard them as a threat to jobs.

Inflation in Zimbabwe is currently running at 230 million percent. It is a
figure that defies comprehension. A good indicator of what that means is
that, if inflation in any Caribbean country rises over 10 percent, everyone
would be mortified about the cost of living.

In the year running up to the March elections and since then, the former
President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, has tried unsuccessfully to broker a
power-sharing deal between Mugabe and Tsvangirai. His attempts have been a
miserable failure.

Tsvangirai's MDC party understood that a power-sharing deal, heralded in
September with much fanfare, meant "striking a fair balance of power of all
ministries in the unity government and sharing diplomatic appointments and
assigning key government posts". But, Mugabe kept control over both the
military forces and the police, and when a meeting of key leaders in
Southern Africa was called in October to try to resolve the issues,
Tsvangirai could not attend because the Mugabe regime refused to issue him a

As conditions worsened in Zimbabwe, the leaders of the Southern African
Development Committee (SADC) held an emergency meeting on November 9th to
address the issue. Again, it was a spectacular failure. Only 5 of the 15
Presidents turned-up. They listened to presentations by Mugabe, Tsvangirai
and Arthur Mutambara, the leader of an MDC splinter group, and then asked
them to recuse themselves from the meeting. Tsvangirai and Mutambara left,
but Mugabe flatly refused to leave the room. He, therefore, participated in
a decision that materially affected him.

The decision, when it came, was a complete nonsense. It insisted that a
power-sharing government should start to function immediately and that the
Ministry of Home Affairs should have two ministers, one appointed by Mugabe
and the other by Tsvangirai.

So it seems the SADC mountain went forth and produced a mouse, and it wasn't
even a mouse that pretended to roar. No riot act was read to Mugabe, no
threats of sanctions were made, no declaration was uttered that his regime
would be isolated by SADC if he did not comply with a supervised
power-sharing arrangement. All that SADC succeeded in doing is continuing
Mugabe's misrule and the further worsening of life for all Zimbabweans.
Naturally, Tsvangirai has rejected the decision altogether.

So with an abdication of its responsibility to the people of Zimbabwe, SADC
has left Zimbabwe to its own fate. It is a fate that can only bring more
starvation, more refugees, a worsening of the economy and, sadly, more
brutality against the Zimbabwean people and more bloodshed.

Thus far, the developed nations of the world have left intervention in
Zimbabwe to the Southern African countries and particularly South Africa for
fear that Mugabe would accuse them of racism. Mugabe has ranted and raved at
the British government in particular, and at other governments including the
United States accusing them of punishing him over seizure of lands owned by
white farmers. But, of course, Mugabe's reign of terror is now directed at
the black Zimbabwean people. What is happening there is naked abuse of power
and the most awful brutalisation of native people.

SADC - and all of Africa - can not assail the world's developed nations if
their governments decide that intervention in Zimbabwe is now essential to
stop a humanitarian crisis of major proportions. SADC leaders had a great
chance to show that Africa could manage its own crises firmly and
successfully. They blew it.

Fortunately, once Barack Obama assumes the Presidency of the United States
of America, if the US government decides to join with others, through the UN
Security Council, to free Zimbabweans of Mugabe's dictatorship, the
accusation of racism would be a hollow cry.

The Caribbean should hope that Obama will give Zimbabwe early attention. For
not only will his attention bring relief to millions of Africans, it will
also help to ensure that a major portion of aid money, which the Caribbean
would welcome, does not have to be diverted to rebuilding Zimbabwe after
Mugabe's spree of destruction.

* * *

The writer is a business consultant and former Caribbean diplomat.

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The Zimbabwean Tragedy

Trinidad and Tobago

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
November 12, 2008

The continuing suffering of the Zimbabwean people must bring tears to the
eyes of any humanitarian. For those of us who prayed and propagandize for
the overthrow of Ian Smith of Southern Rhodesia, the ascendency of Robert
Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo was god send. It was a beautiful sight. But, alas,
our dreams were crushed to the ground and the resultant pain and suffering
that we see in Zimbabwe does not do our hearts well. As we look at Zimbabwe
today, we see a man who has lost his conscience and every sense of decency
and hence the continuing impasse in his country.

A few says ago Zimbabwe's neighbors failed to break that impasse which
prompted opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to appeal to the African Union
to be more vigorous in his assistance of his country. After 12 hours of
meetings, the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) failed
to prod President Robert Mugabe into a compromise with Tsvangirai.

The bone of contention is the Ministry of Home Affairs ministry. SADC had
proposed that there be two ministers of home affairs: one from Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and another from Mugabe's ZANU. The
SADC recommended that Tsvangirai and Mugabe should appoint their own
separate police ministers to the Ministry of Home Affairs. President Kgalema
Motlanthe, president of South Africa called it "an historic power-sharing
agreement as the only way to extricate Zimbabwe from her socio-economic
challenges" but Tsvangiria was unrelenting in his opposition to such a
formula. He saw such a compromise as unworkable. He pointed out: "This issue
of co-sharing does not work. We have said so ourselves, we have rejected it,
and that's the position."

Sean Jacobs of the London Guardian puts the issue well. He says, "One of the
morals I draw from Zimbabwe is how long it took for Zimbabweans to demand
accountability from their leadership. For almost 20 years Zimbabweans were
held captive by a nationalist project that became more and more bankrupt and
incompatible with democracy." He says further, quoting Jonathan Faull, a
researcher at the Institute for Democracy in Cape Town (he is now at Harvard
University) that "the impulse for accountability, disdain for unaccountable
leadership.and the demands for participatory government, accessible
institutions, and an emphatic political leadership are some of the core
components of this tradition."

Zimbabwe is facing severe food shortages and rampant inflation. According to
the United Nations, one third of Zimbabweans are now hungry and in need of
food aid, a million children have lost one or both parents. About 140,000
persons died of AIDS last year. According to the World Health Organization
there are 2.7 million cases of malaria among Zimbabwe's 12 million people.
More than 80 per cent of the population is living on less than 1 pound or
1.50 (US) dollars a day and nearly half is chronically malnourished.

Zimbabweans are experiencing "a widespread shortage of meat, milk and other
basic commodities as a result of the collapse of the agricultural sector.
The country is dependent on food handouts and malnutrition is on the rise"
(Zimbabwe Standard, Nov. 5). The employment rate is 80 per cent.

Meanwhile, HIV/AIDS activists accused Gideon Gono, governor of the Central
Bank of Zimbabwe, of diverting US$7,29 million dollars meant for disease
control in the country. It is reported that Gono gave the countries' judges
new vehicles, satellite dishes and televisions and allocated 79 vehicles for
the Information Ministry. He announced 3,000 tractors, 105 combine
harvesters, and 100,000 plows for the country's farm mechanization program.
Much of that money might have come from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS,
Tuberculosis and Malaria. The information minister said that the reserve
Bank had been getting foreign currency for imports of food and medicine.

The annual inflation rate is 230 million percent, something I cannot
imagine. Professor Steve Hanke, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute in the
US, said that Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate "had soared to 2.79
quintillion percent, a World record in many respects. A quintillion is a
figure with 18 zeroes and is a rug above a quadrillion" (Zimbabwe Standard,
November 8, 2008). Roeland Monasch, Unicef's acting representative in
Zimbabwe says that the number of Zimbabwean dollars required to buy a single
American dollar rose from 3 million on October 23 to 1 billion the next day,
and then to 40 billion on Wednesday and 1.1. trillion on Saturday according
to the New York Times (November 3).

Things are deteriorating rapidly, that is, if they could really get worse.
The longer the leaders take to agree on a power-sharing arrangement the more
Zimbabweans continue to suffer. Things are even worse at the level of
medical treatment. Meanwhile Botswana's President Ian Khama suggested that
the only way out of the current deadlock was internationally supervised
elections. President Mugabe called such a suggestion "extreme provocation"
and said that Khama had "no right under international law as an individual
or as a country to interfere in our domestic affairs." On Saturday last
(November 8), the Zimbabwe Standard noted: "The government has a
well-documented history of being devious. It has no intention of setting up
an all-inclusive government and its conduct so far suggests it would rather
set up a Zanu-PF government, totally disregarding the wishes of the people
as expressed in the March 29 parliamentary and presidential elections."

No one really knows how things will turn out except to say the longer these
conditions last, the worse it would be for Zimbabweans. Last week MDC said
that Mr. Mugabe's party had unleashed "a new orgy of brutality and assaults
across the whole country." In his turn, President Mugabe accused Botswana of
interfering in its affairs (Zimbabwe Standard). As it stands somebody has to
intervene either through moral suasion or force. One would hope that the
former prevails. The latter only perpetuates the violence that has come to
characterize the country. I really hope that President Mugabe acts in a
patriotic manner and offers Tsvangirai and the MDC an honorably way out of
this quagmire of death and destruction.

Professor Cudjoe's email address is

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No more kid gloves for Mugabe

Published on: 11/13/08.

THE SITUATION in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate to the extent that about
one-half of the population is now on food relief in order to survive. Unless
international help is given quickly, starvation looms.

On September 15, Mugabe and his rival Morgan Tsvangirai, who is Prime
Minister-designate and leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
signed the unity government deal to avert civil war.

It was a humiliating moment for Mugabe to make such a deal in the presence
of other eminent African leaders. As it turned out, it seems that he was
probably bluffing even as he groped for a safety valve that would help ease
the pressure on himself.

The agreement that would have seen Tsvangirai as the prime minister hit the
brick wall when Mugabe opted to give key cabinet positions to members of his
Zanu-PF party. The MDC leader accused Mugabe of unwillingness to compromise
and live up to his end of the bargain.

Leaders of 15 African States recently met under the aegis of Southern
African Development Community in Johannesburg to try to unlock the
power-sharing impasse in Zimbabwe.

This meeting came just hours after the leader of South Africa's African
National Congress, Jacob Zuma, who is expected to become president after
elections next year, proposed "the use of force to disentangle the

This is a strong statement with which we wholeheartedly agree as it is time
a spade is called a spade, however undiplomatically. It also indicated that
Zuma would take a much more aggressive stance against President Robert
Mugabe than his predecessor Thabo Mbeki.

It is no secret that South Africa has borne the brunt of the three million
refugees fleeing Zimbabwe, while Mugabe presides over the world's worst case
of hyperinflation and accuses anyone who comments on his economic carnage of
interfering in his country's internal affairs.

It is a sad moment for Africa as Mugabe plays a hopeless game of ping-pong
over who will take which seats, and in Rwanda and Sudan, it is another
sordid exodus of hapless human beings as ragtag militias kill innocent
civilians with relative impunity.

It is a most agonising moment for a country that has not had a full and
functional government since the sham elections in March which from all
reports was won by the MDC and Tsvangirai, who boycotted the rerun.

It is clear that Mugabe has no intention of compromising and reluctantly we
have to agree with Zuma that the time for talking has come to an end and
some means have to be found to remove Mugabe, who has outlived his

It is time African leaders stop handling him with kid gloves in the pretext
of non-interference in the internal affairs of another state. Pressure must
be intensified, otherwise they will be seen as accomplices in the

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Mugabe's great betrayal

By Paul Hopkins
Thursday, 13 November 2008

On the day after he came to power in April 1980, Robert Mugabe summoned his
old adversary Ian Smith, the former minority white ruler of the breakaway
colony of Rhodesia, to his office.

'Good old Smithy', as he was affectionately called by his privileged white
supporters, was greeted with a warm handshake and a broad smile. The
cordiality uneased him somewhat: after all, Mugabe had promised his
liberated people he would publicly hang Smith in Harare's Union Square.

Instead Mugabe told Smith that he was conscious of what he had inherited
from his old adversaries - a jewel of a country, with superb infrastructure,
and an efficient modern economy.

And he promised to keep it that way. If Ian Smith had ever doubted the
wisdom of unilaterally breaking away from Britain, almost 20 years earlier,
it was that day. He told his wife Janet over dinner that evening, that
perhaps he had been wrong all along about a black government being incapable
of running his beloved Rhodesia. That maybe, just maybe, the Jesuit-educated
Robert Gabriel Mugabe was capable of 'responsible government'.

As he wrote, in his autobiography: 'Here was this chap and he was speaking
like a sophisticated, balanced, sensible man. And I thought: if he practises
what he preaches, then it will be fine. And it was fine ? for five or six
|months ... '

But, as we now know, Mugabe was not, is not, the sophisticated, balanced,
sensible chap Ian Smith had briefly hoped for.

During the first majority election in 1980, Mugabe's lieutenants were out in
the rural areas beating just about anybody who campaigned in what he
regarded as his territory.

Even as he was seeing Ian Smith out of government buildings that day in
April 1980, Mugabe was plotting the destruction of another group of
political enemies - the Matabele people in southern Zimbabwe, those who held
allegiance to his former Patriotic Front comrade-in-arms Joshua Nkomo.

Up to 20,000 people were annihilated by Mugabe's Korean-trained special
forces, in a campaign of torture and murder - bodies tossed down disused
mine shafts and hacked to pieces in dip-tanks - that has yet to be fully

And it has been excruciatingly downhill ever since. Mugabe has shown himself
to be the type of African leader that 'good old Smithy' had long campaigned
against throughout the years of Unilateral Declaration of Independence.

Yet Robert Mugabe was wined and dined by Western leaders and honoured and
conferred with numerous doctorates. The UN awarded him for the country's
food production while New African, the UK-based magazine, voted him Best
African in 1990.

The fact is that Mugabe then was more useful to the West clean than exposed
as a tyrant. There was the Cold War, which had to be won at all cost, and,
with the Soviets and the Chinese looking increasingly to Africa, it made
sense to keep the Zimbabwean leader onside - and ignore that he had dirtied
his book.

Today, the Cold War over, the world still stands largely idly by as Mugabe
shows himself to be the embodiment of corrupt, violent, amoral African
dictatorship, just like Idi Amin who scorched Uganda or Mobutu Sese Seko
whose regime in Zaire was brutal and dysfunctional. Whatever the wrongs of
minority rule - and its immoral consequences - the former Zimbabwe/Rhodesia
was a hugely successful emerging African country despite economic sanctions
imposed against it, because it dared to go it alone. And, although the
minority whites were its main beneficiaries, there was increasing prosperity
among the black population under Smith's rule.

Blacks had better access to housing, health and education. And they seldom,
if ever, went hungry - unlike today where the UN food agency announced
yesterday that emergency food for four million Zimbabweans on the brink of
starvation could run out entirely by January. Today also, civil liberties
and political freedom, as assessed by the Freedom House organisation, have
gone well below those recorded in the 1970s under white minority rule.

When I went there in 1977 as a young journalist to cover the last three
years of the 'Bush War', that eventually ended with Robert Mugabe rolling
down Salisbury's main street in his armoured tank, I fell in love with what
was a paradise of sorts. Geographically, it is one of the most beautiful
countries on earth. And it is sad to think it could still be the
'breadbasket' of southern Africa, were it not for the twisted thinking of
Robert Mugabe.

Renewed talks aimed a brokering a deal between Mugabe and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) this week are faltering. Zimbabwe is a
failed state with a non-functioning economy, a once-flourishing agricultural
sector in tatters and a people on the verge of starvation, on a scale that
some aid observers claim this week could match the harrowing experiences of
Ethiopia or the Sudan. Life expectancy, according to the UN development
programme index, is now one of the lowest in the world.

At independence, 6,000 white commercial farmers owned 39% of the land. By
1990 only 8% of this commercial land was owned by blacks, most of them
Mugabe's political cronies. Today, little has changed. The land lies idle,
untoiled. The supermarket shelves are empty, the people are hungry. The
£20bn made available by Britain to compensate white farmers has mysteriously
vanished - probably into one of Mugabe's foreign bank accounts.

So much for liberation.

The first 20 years of Mugabe's reign saw a slow decline, so slow the rest of
the world, keen to keep this 'chappie' onside, hardly noticed what was
happening - and those who did chose, as they still do, to ignore it. The
calamitous collapse of what was once the jewel of southern Africa has been
achieved, sadly, in little under a decade. A remarkable feat for Robert
Mugabe and his 'war vets', considering it took more than a century for Ian
Smith's forefathers to carve a modern, functioning society out of the raw
African bushveld.

In his autobiography, Smith, who died a year ago this month aged 88, talked
about the loneliness of having to go it alone, to break from the former
colonial power because he, unlike Britain, did not believe the majority
blacks were yet ready to be the architects of their own destiny. Not ready
to be blown along, unaided and alone, by Harold Macmillan's Wind of Change.

He believed, to his last breath, that 'fair-minded' whites had been betrayed
by just about everybody he could think of - the Tories, Labour, the
Afrikaaners, the Organisation of African Unity, the UN.

No surprise then, that he called his biography The Great Betrayal.

Any potential peace deal this week centres on the key sticking point of
control of the home affairs ministry, which is responsible for the police.

"We are expecting the equitable distribution of key ministries," MDC
spokesman Nelson Chamisa said. "The people are suffering and we should start
acting to make sure we alleviate the problems facing the people."

Some would argue that the situation is beyond repair, as long as Mugabe is
intent on hanging on to power at all costs

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The see-no-evil foreign policy

Nov 13th 2008 | JOHANNESBURG
From The Economist print edition

Why post-apartheid South Africa, once a shining beacon of human rights, is cosying up to nasty regimes around the world


ANOTHER African summit, another disappointment. Any hope that the change of leadership in South Africa might bring change across the border in Zimbabwe has proved in vain. The new president, Kgalema Motlanthe, may sound tougher than his ever-appeasing predecessor, Thabo Mbeki. But he seems no more willing to turn the screws on his errant northern neighbour, Robert Mugabe.

Regional leaders meeting on November 9th all but kowtowed to Mr Mugabe over the terms of September’s power-sharing deal with the opposition. This was intended to arrest the country’s political and economic collapse but has foundered, particularly over who should run the interior ministry, and by extension the police. Morgan Tsvangirai, who won more votes than Mr Mugabe in the presidential poll in March, says his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) should be in charge, given that the ruling ZANU-PF controls the army and intelligence organs.

Mr Tsvangirai has good reason to be wary. Human-rights groups report that Mr Mugabe’s henchmen are still persecuting MDC supporters (pictured above); and riot policemen have been back on the streets to break up anti-government protests. Yet leaders of the Southern African Development Community (see map) say the interior ministry should be shared—an unworkable proposal rejected by Mr Tsvangirai. Mr Mugabe seems ready to appoint a cabinet regardless.

The MDC, long critical of Mr Mbeki’s mediation, has been calling for others to step in. It is not alone. South Africa’s handling of the Zimbabwean crisis has drawn sharp criticism from many corners. Indeed, among the international human-rights fraternity, post-apartheid South Africa—the democratic, multicultural “rainbow nation” forged by Nelson Mandela—is once again regarded as something of a pariah. Its gentle treatment of Mr Mugabe, once justified by fear of instability on South Africa’s borders, has become part of a wider pattern of alignment with some of the world’s least savoury regimes.

In the UN Security Council, South Africa has voted against imposing sanctions not only on Zimbabwe but also on Myanmar’s military junta (after last year’s crackdown on peaceful protesters) and Iran (for violating nuclear safeguards). It is now leading efforts to suspend the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s president, for alleged genocide in Darfur.

Its record in the UN Human Rights Council is no better. It has voted to stop monitoring human rights in Uzbekistan, despite widespread torture there, and in Iran, where executions, including those of juvenile offenders, have soared. “Never in my wildest dreams did I believe South Africa would play such a negative role,” says Steve Crawshaw of Human Rights Watch, an international monitoring group.

Shortly before taking over as South Africa’s first democratically elected president in 1994, Mr Mandela vowed that “human rights will be the light that guides our foreign affairs.” After decades of isolation under an apartheid government, Africa’s richest country would return to the world stage as a “beacon of hope” for the oppressed. And it all seemed to begin so well. At home, the new government brought in one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, prohibiting every kind of discrimination and guaranteeing not only the classic civil liberties but also a right to adequate housing, reproductive health care and even to “have the environment protected”. The death penalty was abolished; the abandonment of nuclear weapons confirmed.

Abroad, South Africa launched itself as one of the region’s leading peacemakers, mediating in conflicts across Africa and sending troops into Darfur, Burundi, the Central African Republic and Congo. It was also the leading light behind the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, with an African peer-review system to promote democracy and good governance. Along with Brazil, China, India and Mexico, South Africa is now one of five emerging countries regularly invited to meetings of the G8, the group of the world’s richest states. And whenever reform of the UN Security Council comes up, its name is always among those mooted for a possible new permanent seat.

But in recent years, Mr Mandela’s promised beacon has begun to look decidedly dim. Since 2006, when South Africa secured a (non-permanent) seat on the Security Council for the first time, it has been chumming up with China, Russia and other authoritarian regimes to water down or block virtually every resolution touching on human rights. It argues that the Security Council (dominated by the five veto-wielding permanent members) should not concern itself with such issues, leaving them to the Human Rights Council (on which developing countries have a controlling majority). But that body has proved as ineffectual as its predecessor, stifling—with South Africa’s help—criticism of the world’s worst tyrants.

Why has democratic South Africa done so much to squander its once acclaimed moral leadership? In truth, the ruling African National Congress has always been cosy with some dictators, such as Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi and Cuba’s Fidel Castro, even under Mr Mandela—largely out of gratitude for past help during the struggle against white rule.

Another reason for its actions can be found in Mr Mandela’s experience in 1995, when he found little support in Africa for action against Nigeria’s former military junta. A bigger reason lies in South Africa’s ambivalent sense of identity, with one foot in the rich world, where its main economic interests continue to lie, and the other in the poor one, with which many of its people identify. Even after the end of white rule, some of South Africa’s neighbours regard it as something of a Trojan horse for the West. Hence its desire constantly to affirm its African credentials while playing down any hegemonic ambitions.

South Africa has never sought to define itself as a great force for good in the world, says Aziz Pahad, deputy foreign minister until his resignation in September. Like almost every other country, its foreign policy is based not on morality but primarily on its own national interest. And that, says Mr Pahad, lies in creating a new and more equitable world order.

Thus South Africa’s earlier talk about setting Africa’s house in order has given way to pushing for more representation of poorer countries in multilateral institutions such as the UN Security Council, the IMF and the World Bank. South Africa’s ambition to gain a greater voice means making common cause not just with its African neighbours but also with the rest of the poor world, democratic or not.

Many South Africans say that rich countries’ strictures on democracy and human rights will carry little moral force until poorer countries have a bigger say in running the affairs of the world. Not all agree. Turning a blind eye to oppression abroad is “a betrayal of our own noble past”, argues Desmond Tutu, a Nobel peace-prize winner and a hero of the struggle against white rule. “If others had used the arguments we are using today when we asked them for their support against apartheid we might still have been unfree,” he says.

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