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Tsvangirai will not attend regional summit


Mon 20 Oct 2008, 8:19 GMT

By Muchena Zigomo

MBABANE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai will
not attend a regional summit on Zimbabwe's political crisis, a party
spokesman said, throwing the mediation process into disarray.

"He is not going. He was denied a passport," Movement for Democratic Change
spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Reuters.

The meeting of the heads of state of Angola, Swaziland and Mozambique -- who
form the security committee of the Southern African Development Community -- 
is aimed at trying to help Zimbabwe's political rivals break a deadlock in
negotiations on forming a cabinet.

An MDC official said Tsvangirai was given an emergency travel document on
Sunday valid only for Swaziland and not for South Africa which he needs to
pass through.

"There is no way you can expect him to be in Swaziland when they are making
it difficult for him," the MDC official said.

There were signs of failure before the summit kicked off.

The MDC said on Monday events in the past 24 hours had made it extremely
difficult to believe in the current mediation process to end a deadlock in
negotiations on forming a cabinet.

"There have been developments in the past 24 hours that make it incredibly
difficult for the MDC to have confidence in the current mediation process.
Their faith and hope in the current mediation process and its ability to
deliver a solution to the people of Zimbabwe is now called into question,"
the MDC said in a statement.

Tsvangirai said on Sunday that he believed the parties would finalise a
power-sharing deal at the meeting.

A power-sharing agreement, mediated by former South African president Thabo
Mbeki, may be Zimbabwe's best hope for rescuing an economy where fuel and
food are scarce and inflation stands at 231 million percent.

(Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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SADC Summit: Mbeki to table report on Zimbabwe


October 20, 2008, 09:45

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki is expected to give the SADC
Heads of State attending the meeting of the Organ Troika in Swaziland a
progress report regarding the ongoing power sharing talks in Zimbabwe.

Mbeki spent almost the whole of last week in Zimbabwe trying to broker
another deal regarding the control of some key ministries.

President Kgalema Motlanthe and his Mozambique counterpart Armando Guebuza
are expected to be part of the meeting to be chaired by the Chairperson of
the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation - King Mswati

Though Zimbabwean politics are expected to take centre stage, the ongoing
violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo will also be discussed. DRC
leader Joseph Kabila is one of the leaders expected to attend this morning's

Former Botswana President Sir Ketumile Masire has arrived in the tiny
kingdom as per King Mswati III's invitation. SADC Heads of State are
optimistic that by the end of the meeting today, a solution will have been
found to end the costly political talks in Zimbabwe and the violence in the

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Summit seeks breakthrough in Zimbabwe talks


Mon Oct 20, 2008 5:36am BST

By Muchena Zigomo

MBABANE (Reuters) - Southern African leaders representing the regional
grouping SADC hold a summit in Swaziland on Monday to try to help Zimbabwe's
rival parties break a deadlock in negotiations on forming a cabinet.

MDC opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Sunday that he believed the
parties would finalise a power-sharing deal at the meeting of the heads of
state of Angola, Mozambique and Swaziland, who form SADC's security

A power-sharing agreement, mediated by former South African president Thabo
Mbeki, may be Zimbabwe's best hope for rescuing an economy where fuel and
food are scarce and inflation stands at 231 million percent.

Tsvangirai seems confident of a breakthrough, telling supporters at a rally
in the Zimbabwean town of Masvingo on Sunday that the power-sharing pact
will be sealed at the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) talks in
Swaziland's capital Mbabane.

"This time we won't fail," said the MDC leader, who threatened to pull out
of talks a week ago after President Robert Mugabe allocated powerful
ministries such as defence, finance and home affairs to his ruling ZANU-PF

Hours earlier, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesman Nelson Chamisa
said the parties were "miles behind" in implementing the agreement.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, head of the smaller MDC faction,
are expected to join the SADC troika in Swaziland.

President Kgalema Motlanthe of economic powerhouse South Africa, the current
chair of SADC, will lead a delegation to the meeting, the Foreign Ministry

In remarks published in a state-run newspaper on Sunday, ZANU-PF's chief
negotiator, Patrick Chinamasa, played down the issue of cabinet post

He insisted that the party would not bow to any pressure from SADC, which
has become increasingly frustrated by Zimbabwe's political turmoil.

Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in a March 29 presidential election but with too few
votes to avoid a June run-off, which was won by Mugabe unopposed after
Tsvangirai pulled out, citing violence and intimidation against his

(Writing by Michael Georgy)

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Why sharing is safest bet for Zimbabwe generals

20 October 2008

Nicole Fritz

ZIMBABWE's military chiefs are reported to fear prosecution under the
power-sharing agreement. These fears are said to have prompted Mugabe's
announcement that Zanu (PF) would assume control of all key ministries in
the new government, in turn prompting Morgan Tsvangirai's announcement that
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will play no part in such an

It seems Mugabe is inclined to placate his chiefs and lose the deal.

But he and the generals have got it wrong. Noncompliance with the agreement
through the continued retention of power, entailing continued illegitimacy
in the eyes of the world, is no way to rule out prosecutions.

By retaining power in the same old way, military chiefs may avoid
prosecution at home but the threat only becomes that much more magnified
outside Zimbabwe.

A refusal to relinquish power and honour the agreement will foreclose on the
stabilisation that power-sharing can bring, sending the economy into further
free-fall and making travel an even greater necessity - to obtain basic
commodities and healthcare, among other things.

And like Gen Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator, arrested in a
London hospital by British police for crimes committed in Chile, Gen
Constantine Chiwenga, the head of Zimbabwe's defence force, may find that a
routine scan at a Johannesburg clinic leads to a more extended and
unpleasant stay than he could ever have imagined.

Under universal jurisdiction, those responsible for the most egregious
crimes - such as crimes against humanity - can be prosecuted and punished
wherever they are found, even if those crimes happened far outside the
arresting state's territory.

Although universal jurisdiction is still treated with some circumspection in
a number of countries, that caution is likely to be put aside when the
international community is forced to witness the defeat of the power-sharing
agreement by the very actors who are most responsible for the atrocities in
Zimbabwe .

Nor can prosecutions before the International Criminal Court (ICC) be

Although Zimbabwe is not party to the ICC, and Zimbabwe's generals face no
immediate indictment, the ICC may yet have a role to play - as recent
developments in Sudan make clear.

Like Zimbabwe, Sudan is not party to the ICC, but ICC prosecutor Luis
Moreno-Ocampo now seeks an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar

He can do this because the United Nations (UN) Security Council, through a
resolution, referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC.

Recently, a security council resolution sought to have Zimbabwe declared a
"threat to international peace".

Although it did not seek to refer the situation in Zimbabwe to the ICC, had
the resolution passed, it would have meant the first step in that direction.
But the resolution was ultimately defeated, primarily because negotiations
for a power-sharing agreement in Zimbabwe were continuing.

A clear indication that those negotiations have failed, such as the negation
of the agreement, as signalled by Zanu (PF)'s unilateral actions, can only
prompt renewed efforts at having the security council take up this matter.

The irony in the military chiefs' concern that the power-sharing agreement
exposes them to prosecution is that the agreement may be their very best
guarantee against exactly that fate.

Tsvangirai has time and again emphasised that Zanu (PF) officials need not
be fearful of prosecutions under a new government.

For making these statements, Tsvangirai has incurred much opposition, and is
likely to incur more.

Human rights advocates will argue that international law demands
prosecutions for crimes such as those committed in Zimbabwe - crimes against
humanity. Far more distressing will be the arguments of those victims who
insist they're entitled to see justice done.

And a new Zimbabwean government would be well advised to ensure that some
form of justice is offered - at the very least in the form of
acknowledgement of the crimes committed and compensation for those who were

But if Tsvangirai, MDC office bearers and organisers - many of whom have
been among those most brutally targeted - can collectively agree that
prosecutions are to be passed up to secure a power-sharing arrangement, it
is difficult to imagine that the rest of the world would not pay heed and

And if they won't defer . the power-sharing agreement still represents the
best hope of an improved economy, which will mean the military chiefs
probably won't need to travel.

Fritz is a visiting associate professor at Fordham Law School's Leitner

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MDC played right into Zanu-PF trap

October 19, 2008

By Sibangani Sibanda

MBEKI, the mediator is back in town. The parties, having signed an unclear
agreement, are failing to agree on the allocation of cabinet posts. Perhaps,
with hindsight, the opposition parties will see that they played right into
the trap set by Zanu-PF and manage to salvage a fully inclusive government
in this latest round of Mbeki mediated talks.

I am not holding my breath.

Meanwhile, the country continues on its downward slide and Gideon Gono
continues to impose his "economic policies" on a helpless Zimbabwean public.
The "real cash" that he introduced in August has run out and he has reverted
to printing money, in higher and higher denominations. The coins, that so
many scoured rubbish tips for, not so long ago have reverted to their
worthless status and gone out of circulation in less than two months! There
has to be a record in there somewhere.

Then came the news that our rate of inflation was, in July 2008, 231 million
per cent! Given that prices have escalated at an even faster rate since the
removal of the thirteen zeroes in August, the current rate must be into a
billion per cent! At 231 000 000, mathematicians tell us that we are looking
at more than 7 percent per second!

In other countries, people have rioted for an annual inflation rate of 7
percent. In Zimbabwe, we shrug our shoulders, hurl a few silent expletives
at our government, then look for ways to survive. We truly took to heart the
encouragement in song from Zanu-PF. The song, "Rambai Makashinga" (Remain
strong, whatever happens) was played so often on our airwaves that we must
have, subliminally, internalized it and made it our personal motto.

It struck me that I may owe our Reserve Bank Governor an apology. When he
keeps doing the same thing - printing money until the zeroes are too much to
handle, then lopping some off, then printing more money until the zeroes are
too much to handle... - he is not mad as I suggested earlier. He does not
expect different results. He expects exactly the results that he gets, but
is not worried because he can do it and there are no repercussions!

And as an added bonus, he gets extremely wealthy because he controls many of
the government's hair-brained schemes that are supposed to bring the economy
back on track. That the schemes show no signs of turning the economy seems
not to matter to Gono and his bosses. He must keep on keeping on, as the
expression goes.

It is the rest of us who are mad. We do the same thing over and over again.
We just watch. We watch our politicians repeat policies that have failed
abysmally elsewhere, we watch them as they erode our livelihood with crazily
high taxes, we watched as corruption destroyed our health and education
sectors. We watched everything that could go wrong in our country do so.
Each time, we expected the results to be different!

This year, our country faces food shortages that are unprecedented in living
memory. In many parts of the country, people are living on a fruit that I
still find difficult to eat (although this may change soon). It is a fruit
that is normally consumed largely by donkeys, baboons and monkeys. Yet, in
many parts of the country, people are getting up at dawn to gather this
fruit in. Latecomers get nothing and have to wait for the next morning. Its
skin and its flesh are consumed, then its stone is cracked open to reveal a
nut, which is also consumed. There has even been an innovation where it is
used in the baking of "Bread" as sugar - there is a faint hint of sweetness
in it.

The hacha (in Shona) or umkhuna (in Sindebele) may save a few lives this
year, while it lasts.

But those who work on the farm of a certain senior army officer's wife in
Domboshava, just North of Harare have no such luck. The said army officer's
wife, well known for confronting opposition politicians in wholesale outlets
in Harare, apparently prevents her workers collecting the life-saving fruit
because there will be nothing left for her monkeys and baboons to eat! So
serious is she in protecting her primates that she threatens to shoot anyone
who does not comply - these reports have not been independently confirmed,
but they make good and not-so-implausible reading.

The rainy season is almost upon us. It normally gives fresh hope that, if
the rains are good, there will be a good harvest and famine will end. This
year, there is no such hope. There is no seed, no fertilizer and very little
diesel fuel, which the government is selling to farmers at twenty Zimbabwe
dollars (Z$ 20.00) per litre - a loaf of bread costs thirty thousand! Who
knows when the hunger that we face will end?

The Mbeki circus, in the meantime, goes on at The Rainbow Towers. Many
Zimbabweans are more worried about their next meal than what presidential
spokesman George Charamba has to say about the talks. It is above most
people's heads and I must admit that at this stage, it is above my head.

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Power-sharing between Mugabe and Tsvangirai may have been just eyewash


Gulf News
Published: October 20, 2008, 00:12

With the handshakes over and promises being made and broken, it is business
as usual for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe: sucking the nation dry of
resources and pride.

The marriage of power-sharing between President Robert Mugabe and opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai could be a short but eventful union. Or perhaps it
is just eyewash and not an alliance at all. With inflation hitting a record
231 million per cent Mugabe has continued to stall and even renege on
certain elements of the power-sharing deal.

One would assume that perhaps the president's intentions are not honest to
begin with. By awarding himself the key posts in the government, including
the military and police force (the perpetrators of human rights abuse), the
path is clear for Mugabe to drain his nation. The time has come for
Tsvangirai to walk away from the man who deliberately wrecked the country he
once fought to create.

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Zimbabwe Rivals to Discuss Dispute

Published: October 19, 2008
JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, and the opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai are to meet in Swaziland on Monday with other
southern African leaders seeking to break a deadlock over power-sharing in a
jointly run government.

Mr. Mugabe has unilaterally claimed almost all the most powerful ministries
in the government, a move that Mr. Tsvangirai rejected as a power grab.
Thabo Mbeki, the former president of South Africa and the regional mediator
in the Zimbabwe crisis, spent four days last week overseeing negotiations in
Harare, Zimbabwe's capital. He had brokered the power-sharing deal, but
failed to end the impasse.

At rallies over the weekend, Mr. Tsvangirai told his supporters that Mr.
Mugabe was unbending, and described the talks as a "dialogue of the dead,"
Reuters reported. Mr. Tsvangirai and his party, the Movement for Democratic
Change, asked for the intervention of the Southern African Development
Community, a 14-nation bloc. Leaders from the group are to meet with him and
Mr. Mugabe on Monday.

But one of Mr. Mugabe's negotiators, Patrick Chinamasa, sought to play down
how much influence the regional group had on the process. "They can't impose
anything on us, especially on such a small matter as the allocation of
ministries," he was quoted as saying in a state-owned newspaper, The Sunday

An editorial in the paper acknowledged that the government was in a state of
paralysis, with health and educational services in severe decline as "most
civil servants are now loitering like sheep without shepherds."

Zimbabwe's economy is in a shambles, with annual inflation at a staggering
231 million percent.

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Zimbabwe's Economic Crisis Worsens

This Day, Nigeria

.Beleaguered country to boost tourism, says VP Mujuru
From Nseobong Okon-Ekong in Zimbabwe, 10.20.2008

As parties in the Zimbabwean power sharing deal reconvene for another round
of talks in Swaziland today, long and winding queues of helpless Zimbabweans
trying to draw cash from the banks is one of the apparent and undeniable
evidence of the depth that the country's economy has fallen.
Thousands of Zimbabweans can be seen waiting for long hours at the banks in
the country's major cities of Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls, often
going home disappointed, for monies they can't get.
Last week, the government issued a new 50,000 Zimbabwean dollar bill as the
highest denomination. However, the currency is only a statement of
independence, as the country's Reserve Bank last month unwittingly stated
that the currency might not be worth more than a piece of paper, by
authorising use of foreign currencies as legal tender.
Shop owners and other suppliers of goods and services openly reject the
Zimbabwean dollar in preference for the US dollar, the Euro, the British
pound and the South African rand along with currencies from the neighbouring
countries of Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi.
At the unofficial black market exchange rate, which many Zimbabweans and
foreigners find accessible, one US dollar is exchanged for various sums
ranging between 18,000 and 21,000 Zimbabwean dollars.
An average journalist in Zimbabwe earns a monthly salary of 60,000
Zimbabwean dollars, the equivalent of about US$3.
 Speaking when she opened the first edition of the country's
Sanganai/Hanganani World Travel and Tourism Africa Fair in Bulawayo at the
weekend, Vice-President (Mrs.) Joice Mujuru said Zimbabwe would now depend
on the tourism industry to reverse some of her economic set-back.
She said the image marketing strategies underpinned and anchored by the
perception management programme were working well for the country.
Her optimism and invitation to foreigners may be challenged by the lingering
political problem, which has impacted negatively on the economy and by
extension the tourism industry. Many countries in the West have issued
travel advisory against Zimbabwe. Financial instruments such as the Western
Union Money Transfer, Travellers' cheque employed in the tourism industry do
not work in Zimbabwe and indigenes leaving the country cannot go out with
more than US$100.

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Zimbabwean rights lawyers win award

by Hendricks Chizhanje Monday 20 October 2008

HARARE - A Zimbabwean lawyers' organisation has won this year's John
Humphrey Freedom Award for its courageous efforts and commitment to the
strengthening and promotion of human rights and democratic development in

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), which was nominated for the award
by the Canadian Embassy in Harare, came first in an impressive field of 97
candidates to claim the award sponsored by the International Centre for
Human Rights and Democratic Development, commonly known as Rights &

The Canadian-based Rights & Democracy heaped praise on ZLHR for playing a
leading role in the promotion and protection of human rights across Zimbabwe
since its founding 12 years ago.

"Guided by a professional commitment to the rule of law and Zimbabwe's
international human rights obligations, ZLHR provides essential services
ranging from legal support for victims of state-endorsed persecution to
public education and human rights training for activists and civil society
organisations working at the community level," Rights & Democracy said in a

"Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights provides a vital democratic lifeline for
those who would otherwise have no recourse against state-sponsored abuses
and persecution," said Janice Stein, chairperson of Rights & Democracy's
Board of Directors

"Its determined, non-violent struggle against impunity and repression
reminds us that, in the end, tyranny is no match for human dignity and the
rule of law," she added.

ZLHR executive director Irene Petras paid tribute to the tenacity of the
project's lawyers and underscored that charges brought against most human
rights defenders had been dropped in most cases.

"Prosecution is used as a tool of persecution," said Petras.

For over 10 years ZLHR has worked tirelessly and fearlessly to advance
democratic principles, taking up the dangerous task of providing legal
representation to persecuted human rights and democracy defenders.

The annual award, established in 1992 to honour an organisation or
individual for exceptional commitment to the promotion of international
human rights and democratic development, is named in honour of John Peters
Humphrey, the McGill University law professor who prepared the first draft
of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The winner receives a US$30 000 grant and a speaking tour of Canadian cities
to help increase awareness of the recipient's human rights work.

The award ceremony is held every year on December 10, coinciding with the
anniversary date of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights. - ZimOnline

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George Charamba abandoning Zanu-PF

October 20, 2008

By Geoffrey Nyarota

THE secret is out at last - President Robert Mugabe's press secretary,
George Charamba is definitely the not-so mysterious Herald columnist,
Nathaniel Manheru.

Manheru has over the years incurred the wrath of many as he has lashed out,
at and occasionally defamed, those he perceives to be opponents of Zanu-PF
and the Mugabe regime.

As he finally emerged from hiding behind a false name, Charamba wandered
from his well-beaten path of self-ingratiation. He broke ranks with many in
the Zanu-PF leadership, accusing them, to the astonishment of many used to
his worship of them, of being responsible virtually for having caused all of
Zimbabwe's many ills.

Meanwhile he congratulated himself for penning a column that "is so
diligently read in many circles, Zanu-PF included.

"Some want me lynched; others want me roasted from the temple downwards; all
are united and unanimous that my sharp and in their view, poisoned pen
certainly invites and deserves deep grief which, sooner, must visit my
little person as a matter of retributive justice and expiation."

With those words the secret was revealed. Charamba has for long been linked
to the spineless Manheru, whose poisoned pen has attacked all and sundry
with the Charamba conveniently hiding behind a false name. Many of Manheru's
victims have, indeed, expressed the wish that Charamba be lynched. Manheru's
strange utterances in Saturday's column can only be deliberate or unwitting
confirmation that Charamba is, indeed, Manheru.

Charamba first provided an official clue to his link with Manheru when he
furiously lambasted valiant SW Radio Africa journalist Violet Gonda live on
radio as well as an Australian journalist not long afterwards in a tone and
using terminology that left few Charamba watchers in any doubt that he and
Manheru were, in fact, one and the same person.

"I also must confess that in my other moments of reckless pride, this
reflection gives me quite a handful of pleasure," Charamba intones.

It is amazing Charamba finds it difficult to understand that so many read
his abhorrent outbursts. There is hardly much else to read in Zimbabwe after
Charamba and his previous boss, Jonathan Moyo - the original Nathaniel
Manheru - ingeniously halted publication of the rival Daily News, leaving
The Herald and The Chronicle, two sides of the same coin, free to publish
without challenge or competition.

In reality, the powerful or important people, whose ire Charamba
congratulates himself for regularly raising over the past five years, have
nothing else to read on a daily basis, including on Saturday when his column
appears. This arrangement also cunningly ensures that Charamba can defame or
upset, as he prefers to call it, without challenge.

There is no other forum on a daily basis where his victims can seek recourse
as they seek to respond to or challenge him. So Charamba is well protected
from challenge. The other newspapers in existence in Zimbabwe, have
different circulation patterns, are expensive and have much smaller print
runs than The Herald. To make matters worse, they are published only once a
week. In any case, their editors remain ever mindful of the fate of
newspapers that dared to lock horns with Charamba and Jonathan Moyo to their
utter undoing.

Of course, if The Herald had real competition, its editor would refuse to
Charamba's his long-winded articles for simple reasons of survival.

Getting carried away on Saturday, Charamba made mockery of his bosses, the
Zanu-PF politicians.

"You meet some politician from the ruling party," Charamba intimated, "and
the question you can expect is: 'So what's happening?' Or its variant: 'So
where are we?' Frankly, the question is as obscene as two dogs behaving
badly where there are people."

Rather obscene imagery for one to invoke in reference to one's own
paymasters. Let us hold our collective breath.

But perhaps Charamba forgets that it is Zanu-PF that insisted that the
negotiations over the future of Zimbabwe in secret. Little did Mugabe
realise that his own cohorts would be denied access to vital information
about the negotiations.

It is more than likely that Charamba himself did not receive regular
briefings from Patrick Chinamasa or Nicholas Goche from Pretoria. I never
saw a picture of him standing among negotiators at the Rainbow Towers.

It is hitting below the belt in those circumstances to accuse Zanu-PF
politicians of "being unable to understand the agenda and line of the day".

"The question suggests perplexity, real deep befuddlement quite unseemly of
gods," Charamba pronounces.

Charamba is clearly now attempting to distance himself from the gods he has
served with fawning loyalty over the years in order to ingratiate himself
with the MDC. Even he must realise there is change in the air, despite his
dismissive attitude towards the MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai, in paticular.

"The so-called political negotiations for an inclusive Government have
sanctified the AWOL (Away Without Official Leave) of ruling party members,"
Charamba postulates. "Except for President Mugabe, Mnangagwa, Goche,
Chinamasa and one or two others, everyone else in the ruling party feels
excused from history, even feeling righteous about it."

"Where you had men and women who would have found ample space in 31 cabinet
posts, you now have a multitude jostling for a mere 15 posts.

"Or simply abandoning all hope for any useful role outside of a ministerial

Charamba has this uncanny ability to hit the nail right on the head while
trying cynically to make a point to the contrary. For example, he suggests
of Zanu-PF ministers that perhaps they see no role for themselves to play in
Zimbabwe outside ministerial office. This is true. The late Enos Chikowore
provides posthumous testimony to how Zanu-PF ministers have no role to play
once outside their powerful offices. May his soul rest in peace.

To help him understand this phenomenon Charamba should read the latest
contribution by writer Chenjerai Hove to the Zimbabwean political debate as
posted on this website today.

What role, for example, can Didymus Mutasa play outside the office of
minister? How about Emmerson Mnangagwa and Patrick Chinamasa today, even if
they are qualified lawyers? What self-sustaining role can Sidney Sekeramayi
play in Harare today? Does David Parirenyatwa still possess the potential to
fill a doctor's surgery with ailing patients? What useful role can Kembo
Mohadi and Nicholas Goche play outside the office of a minister? What useful
role has Simba Makoni play since he was ejected from ministerial office that
many years ago? Today he desperately clings to politics when politics
rejects him?  What role did Edgar Tekere play outside a ministerial one
almost three decades ago? What role would Joseph Msika, the late Simon
Muzenda, Joice Mujuru play outside the office of Vice President?

Former Nigerian Finance and Foreign Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is now the
World Bank's managing director after leaving her country. Not much can be
said about former Zimbabwean ministers apart from a few.

Once he fell out with Zanu-PF after the Willowgate Scandal former Education
Minister, Dzingai Mutumbuka, did not hang around to grovel. He left the
country and is doing well also with the World Bank in Washington. Nkosana
Moyo, likewise, quickly became disenchanted with the Mugabe regime and left
the country. He is taking good care of himself with a private equity
investor in emerging markets which is based in London. Former Information
Deputy Minister, Naomi Nhiwatiwa, is one of the very few who survived after
parting ways with Mugabe.

Fear of having to stand on their own feet is the very reason why our
politicians strive to hang onto office, even after they have been defeated
at the polls.

Charamba pretends to be surprised that the Zanu-PF politicians have all gone
silent, with the notable exception of a few.

But this is not the first time they have gone underground, as it were. Back
in 2000, in between the referendum and the June 25 parliamentary elections,
they all fell silent, including Mnangagwa, Goche and Chinamasa. Mugabe was
totally isolated as his cohorts read the writing that was clearly written on
the wall. They did not want to make wrong pronouncements as the moves as the
Zanu-PF edifice was collapsing around them.

It is into the vacuum created by the ominous silence of the Zanu-PF
leadership that Jonathan Moyo strode with majestic arrogance, Charamba on
leash like a vicious Rotweiller. Charamba has behaved like Mugabe's rabid
dog since then.

Charamba accuses the politicians of falling silent. He fails to appreciate
that it is he who lulls them into a false sense of security through his
endless assurances of Zanu-PF's total invincibility.

He devoted he rest of Saturday's column to the usual gross misinformation
that has transformed both the original and the current Nathaniel Manheru
into some of the most despised Zimbabweans living.

Charamba accuses the MDC of the very traits that have lost Zanu-PF so much
support from the people of Zimbabwe that the party knows it cannot win a
free and fair election.

Charamba totally ignores the fact that out of a total of 5 934 768
registered voters only 2 514 750 or 42.37 cast their vote on June 27. Apart
from that, while Charamba may celebrate the so-called landslide victory that
he helped the President to secure unchallenged it should be food for though
that 233 000 voters defied Zanu-PF's elaborate machinery to cast their
ballot for Tsvangirai who had withdrawn from the race.

If Charamba kept his finger on the pulse of national political sentiment he
would know that a variation of this very question has now become a
pre-occupation of national discourse since July.

"Why, if President Robert Mugabe won a landslide victory on June 27, does he
waste time negotiating with politicians who withdrew from the presidential
election, in the case of Morgan Tsvangirai, or never participated in the
presidential election, in the first place, as is the case with Arthur

They wonder why the President of Zimbabwe does not simply go ahead and
establish a government without Tsvangirai.

As for Charamba's cynical "Hande kuminda" mantra, he needs to know that more
is required to cultivate a fine crop of maize than "the skies (that) have
grown darker, rumbling with the pregnancy of eager rains, and thus the
tantalising promise of plenty to this our very hungry nation."

His gods may indeed be powerful but they have no control, whatsoever, over
the amount of rain that we are blessed with in any season. They are totally
responsible, however, for the quantity of maize seed or fertilizer available
to peasant and other farmers for the season.

Zanu-PF has failed dismally in that department over the years.

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Is Charamba finally spilling the beans?

October 19, 2008

By Masiiwa Ragies Gunda

As a politically conscious Zimbabwean I have been following the political
situation in Zimbabwe with keen interest.

I should begin by thanking all the Zimbabweans who went out in their
millions to cast their vote in the March 29 election, which saw the former
opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change transformed into the
majority party in the House of Assembly.

For once, I almost thought Zimbabwe had matured into a democracy but it did
not take long before the ugly side of politics was unleashed on the people
leading to the locally and internationally condemned "sham election" of June
27. The violence that was unleashed certainly may not be compared to what
Ndebeles suffered during the Gukurahundi era but then, it is wrong to
compare the two. As human beings, one life should be too much to be
terminated for political gain. In that regard, the violence was rightly
cited as the major reason for Tsvangirai's decision to pull out of that June
27 election. This piece seeks to highlight some lessons that I have taken
from George Charamba, the spokesperson of Robert Mugabe on the situation in
Zimbabwe before and after June 27.

Charamba and Patrick Chinamasa, the (former) Minister of Justice and
Parliamentary Affairs, who was made Zanu-PF's Chairman of the Committee on
media etc in the run -up to the June 27 fiasco led the onslaught in painting
the MDC led by Tsvangirai as the major sponsors of political violence. Their
words were supported by the number of dockets that the police opened against
MDC members and supporters pertaining to the violence that had gripped the

Zanu-PF was painted by these two and their cronies as the victim of this
violence and Robert Mugabe including Grace also joined this band-wagon and
threatened to deal with Tsvangirai as the chief sponsor of the violence.
This was in disregard of the information that was coming from many of the
violence ridden areas where the victims talked of being brutalised by known
Zanu-PF activists and army personnel sometimes in the presence of police
details who went on to arrest the victims of the violence.

There has been a lot of information posted on the internet pertaining to the
identities of these people who brutalised Zimbabweans for exercising their
democratic right to choose leaders who should govern them. The state media,
chiefly The Herald and The Sunday Mail played a starring role in demonising
the MDC and in particular Morgan Tsvangirai while declaring Mugabe and
Zanu-PF the saints of Zimbabwean politics. However, in doing this Charamba
has been an interesting figure and I would want to draw the attention of
fellow Zimbabweans to some of the points that have made Charamba an
interesting figure.

First, Charamba in his column soon after the March 29 election argued that
some people were pushing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) "to publish
the wrong results". This was in connection with the presidential election.
Interestingly, Zanu-PF and the government had told people that nobody had
heard the results and everybody including Mugabe was waiting patiently for
ZEC to announce the results. The question, therefore, to Charamba is, what
wrong results was ZEC being forced to release? A follow-up question is who
declared these results to be wrong? On the basis of Charamba's wise words, I
am of the opinion that Morgan Tsvangirai won the absolute majority needed to
transfer power from Mugabe and this is the result that Charamba called

It therefore took ZANU-PF five weeks to correct this wrong result. I find it
disturbing that most media outlets have continued to report that Tsvangirai
did not win the necessary majority, which is against the wise words of
Charamba. What is clear is that the first tallies of the election results
showed that Tsvangirai had won outright and this should have been
communicated to Mugabe and Charamba got wind of it and as erratic as he is,
could not keep the secret. We just did not listen carefully to what Charamba
was saying.

Second, Charamba recently wrote again in his column and an article which was
widely circulated among internet sites that "the MDC was demanding
ministries which betray a retributive agenda". This is an interesting
statement coming from a man who has spent the last four or so months,
painting Zanu-PF as an angel. For starters, "retribution" is equivalent to
revenge. Why would Zanu-PF be so worried of revenge when as they have always
said, they are clean and innocent from the violence that engulfed Zimbabwe
post-March election?

Once again Charamba seems to be confirming what most Zimbabweans already
know, that the violence that was visited upon the people was sanctioned by
Zanu-PF and if the MDC is going to control the Home Affairs (police) and
Justice ministries, some very senior members of the previous government who
orchestrated the violence would be arrested and tried for crimes against
humanity and the willful destruction of property that characterised the
post-March election. In that regard, it makes sense for Charamba the chief
propagandist of that era to be worried.

It appears, therefore, that Charamba is calling on Mugabe to refuse to cede
control of these ministries because that may mean the end of most of the top
people in his party who led the violent campaign. According to Charamba
therefore, Zanu-PF is guilty of mass murder of opposition members and
activists and most (if not all) of the violence that was witnessed in

These are just two lessons drawn from the wise words of Charamba. It pays to
listen to his vitriol because in it he is shedding light on the real issues
that as Zimbabweans we would want to see revisited with justice
administered. The bottom line is that Charamba admitted that Morgan
Tsvangirai won the March 29 election and the result was wrong according to
Zanu-PF, hence it took five weeks to correct the result. Further, Charamba
makes it clear that Zanu-PF was responsible for the violence and is actually
afraid that MDC would want to see justice done to that unwarranted suffering
that was visited upon the people.

That is the sole reason why Zanu-PF, according to Charamba, should retain
control of security ministries and the justice ministry. For Charamba to
then try and say, what ministry each party controls is non-essential is to
contradict himself, hence my conclusion that he is an erratic individual.
Most importantly however, if one reads between the lines, Charamba is the
best source of the truth about the goings on in Zimbabwe.

He has been spilling the beans and we are listening and will certainly make
use of his wise words.

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