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Summit on Zimbabwe crisis postponed


Mon 20 Oct 2008, 18:28 GMT

By Muchena Zigomo

MBABANE (Reuters) - An emergency summit to try to end a deadlock in the
formation of a unity government in Zimbabwe has been postponed until Oct.
27, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said on Monday.

The 15-nation regional body announced the delay in a statement in Swaziland,
which was to host the meeting between Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe,
leaders of the opposition MDC and representatives from South Africa and
three other nations.

The summit was postponed after Morgan Tsvangirai, the head of the MDC,
refused to attend, citing the Zimbabwe government's failure to provide him
with a new passport. Tsvangirai is unable to travel on his old passport
because all the pages are full.

"(MDC) President Tsvangirai was supposed to attend, but due to some
technical problems he could not attend," Swaziland King Mswati III told
reporters in Mbabane. "That is why the meeting is being postponed."

The summit will move to Harare, said Mswati, who had offered to send a
private jet to Zimbabwe earlier on Monday to fetch Tsvangirai. The MDC
leader spurned the offer and demanded that he be issued a new passport
before making the trip.

The diplomatic snag followed weeks of fruitless negotiations over the
allocation of cabinet positions in a unity government, which was agreed
between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the leader of a breakaway MDC faction last

Tsvangirai, who would become prime minister under the deal, has accused
Mugabe's ZANU-PF of trying to grab the most important ministries and
relogating the MDC to the role of junior partner in the government.

The talks, which are taking place under SADC mediation, are seen as critical
to any effort to solve Zimbabwe's deep economic crisis. The country's
inflation rate has hit 231 million percent and it suffers widespread
shortages of food, fuel and currency.

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Zimbabwe opposition members boycott power-sharing summit

Zimbabwe's opposition sent a pointed message to President Robert Mugabe by
choosing to boycott a southern African summit designed to rescue the country's
power-sharing agreement.

By Peta Thornycroft in Harare and Sebastien Berger in Johannesburg
Last Updated: 8:15PM BST 20 Oct 2008

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change and
Zimbabwe's prime minister designate, could not attend the gathering in
Swaziland because the regime has declined to give him a full passport.

His colleagues decided to stay away in protest. "We can't travel to
Swaziland without our principal," said Tendai Biti, the MDC's chief

King Mswati of Swaziland, the meeting's host, offered to send a private jet
to collect Mr Tsvangirai, but the suggestion was rejected.

The move came as Mr Mugabe faced rare criticism from one of his African
neighbours. The government of President Ian Khama of Botswana, one of Africa's
few vocal critics of Zimbabwe's regime, blamed Mr Mugabe for the collapse of
talks on forming a new cabinet. "This failure, which is a result of one
party seeking to dominate power, cannot be allowed to go unchallenged," read
a statement released by Botswana's foreign ministry.

Denying Mr Tsvangirai travel documents was "totally unacceptable and an
indication of bad faith", the statement continued. Botswana then became only
the second African country to call for the re-run of this year's
presidential election, which handed Mr Mugabe victory after a campaign
costing hundreds of lives.

"The only way forward is a re-run of the presidential election under
international supervision in order to avoid a repetition of the violence and
political intimidation," said the statement. Mr Khama has recommended this
course in letters to the presidents of South Africa and Tanzania and the
United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon.

Botswana's announcement showed that diplomatic pressure on Mr Mugabe is

Mr Biti denounced the ruling Zanu-PF party and called for an emergency
summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the main
regional body. "There's no reality check on the part of Zanu-PF, there's no
readiness on the part of Zanu-PF to engage in a co-operative government with
Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC," he said.

"It's time that a full extraordinary summit of SADC is reconvened not only
to look at outstanding issues, but to say to President Mugabe 'enough is

Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal was signed amid huge optimism five weeks ago.
But the parties have failed to agree on a new cabinet. Mr Mugabe has
unilaterally declared that all key posts, including the home affairs
ministry, bringing with it the control of the police, will go to Zanu-PF.

Mr Biti insisted that it had not been a mistake for the MDC to sign the
agreement without first settling the division of ministries. But the reality
is that Mr Mugabe appears determined to hold power for as long as he can -
and SADC has never imposed significant pressure on him in the past.

Even if it were to follow Botswana's lead and do so now, he is likely to
resist to the last. The lengths to which the regime will go became clear
yesterday when the Electoral Commission confirmed that the body of one of
his officials had been recovered, four months after he disappeared.

Ignatius Mushangwe was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in June. His
strangled and partially burned body was recovered in Norton, outside Harare.
Mr Mushangwe is believed to have leaked information to the opposition and
the media about ballot-rigging.

Mr Justice George Chiweshe, the chairman of Electoral Commission - who was
appointed by Mr Mugabe - declined to go into details, but confirmed the
death. "The matter is in police hands," he said.

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Mutambara walks out of SADC meeting


October 20, 2008, 18:15

Leader of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
faction, Professor Arthur Mutambara, has walked out of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) Troika meeting that is currently underway in

Mutambara says the meeting is illegitimate without the presence of MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Earlier, Mutambara said the SADC Heads of State in
attendance assured him that a jet would be sent to Zimbabwe to fetch
Tsvangirai. Mutambara says unless Tsvangirai takes part in the meeting, the
whole exercise will be futile.

Meanwhile, Tsvangirai has refused an offer from Swaziland's king to fly him
to a regional summit aimed at breaking an impasse in power-sharing talks, an
opposition official said today.

"I've just spoken with him. He told King Mswati not to send the plane. He is
not coming," Roy Bennett, an official with Tsvangirai's MDC, said.

Tsvangirai's MDC said he had not been granted travel papers to attend the
SADC security committee meeting in Mbabane, which was called after weeks of
fruitless negotiations over the allocation of cabinet positions. -
Additional reporting by Reuters

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Statement issued by Arthur Mutambara

10.00 Monday 20th October 2008

"I have just been advised that Morgan Tsvangirai will not be attending the
meeting of the SADC Troika because he has not been issued with a passport.
If this report is true I wish to make the following statement.

In terms of the agreement reached on the 15 September 2008 Morgan Tsvangirai
is to become Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. For the past two months Morgan
Tsvangirai has been denied a passport. In the context of the agreement what
sort of goodwill is that?á I have raised this matter with President Mbeki
and Mugabe.á We should never allow trivial matters such as this to affect
the national interest. SADC has an opportunity to help Zimbabweans solve
their national crisis by standing up to Mugabe's unacceptable behaviour in
this regard.

In light of the report I have received this morning I have demanded through
President Mbeki that the Troika meeting be cancelled.á There can be no
discussion of any value without Morgan Tsvangirai's presence.

In the past few weeks I have ended up being a mediator-trying to do what I
can to ensure that a credible deal be arrived at, specifically by ensuring
that the MDC T obtains control of the Finance and Home Affairs Ministries.
The most important thing is that we should all have a common vision for
Zimbabwe.á Pragmatism and flexibility should force the three leaders to come
up with an acceptable agreement.

I stress that there needs to be a tripartite agreement.á As a political
party we are not beholden either to Morgan Tsvangirai or Robert Mugabe-we
are beholden to the suffering masses of Zimbabwe.á Just as we are opposed to
any unilateral decision by Robert Mugabe so we will also oppose any activity
by Morgan Tsvangirai to hold the nation to ransom.á There is absolutely no
alternative to the tripartite agreement which must be concluded urgently.

If Robert Mugabe goes ahead unilaterally to form a government, the party
that I lead will have no part of it. If Robert Mugabe unilaterally forms a
government we will denounce and call for the global isolation of any such
criminal and illegitimate government."

Professor Arthur Mutambara

Johannesburg Airport


Monday 20th October 2008

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Tsvangirai snubs Mswati's chartered flight

October 20, 2008

By Our Correpondent

HARARE - MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said he will not board a private
charter plane scheduled at the behest of King Mswati III to fly in and pick
him up in Harare after government denied him a new passport.

Tsvangirai was issued with an emergency single-entry travel document (ETD)
around 5 pm on Sunday, authorising travel to Mbabane, Swaziland. The ETD did
not list South Africa, where the MDC leader was due to connect to Mbabane
through Johannesburg.

Tsvangirai was due to attend an emergency regional summit of the SADC troika
on Politics, Defence and Security summoned to break a weeks-long stalemate
over the division of cabinet posts among the contesting political parties.

Tsvangirai indicated he was not travelling to Mbabane saying the refusal by
the Mugabe government to issue him with a new passport smacked of bad faith
on the part of Mugabe and contempt for Tsvangirai, the
Prime-Minister-designate of Zimbabwe.

MDC secretary general Tendai Biti, Tsvangirai's lead negotiator, who is
already in South Africa, said he could not proceed to Swaziland in the
absence of his leader.

He said: "We would like to apologise to King Mswati for this but the real
apology should come from Mr Mugabe who is imprisoning our president in
Zimbabwe. We want an extraordinary summit we can say, 'Enough is enough, you
cannot continue to abuse the people of Zimbabwe.'"

Tsvangirai has repeatedly asked a new passport after his old one expired
early this year. He has instead been repeatedly issued with an ETD on an ad
hoc basis. This stand off reveals the antagonism between the two leading
political protagonists in Zimbabwe despite the power-sharing deal.

At a feedback rally in Masvingo yesterday, Tsvangirai protested against the
refusal by government to issue him with a new passport, stating he did not
understand how the power-sharing agreement would work when Mugabe did not
even trust him with his own passport.

Senior MDC officials said Monday afternoon that Tsvangirai was not going to
the emergency summit even if King Mswati's private charter plane flew in.

In the meantime a host of leaders were waiting for him, including King
Mswati, Armando Guebuza of Mozambique and the Foreign Minister of Angola.
President Mugabe and his team of negotiators together with leader of the
breakaway MDC faction, Prof Arthur Mutambara were already in Swaziland.

Tsvangirai's spokesman George Sibotshiwe told The Zimbabwe Times that King
Mswati III's offer to dispatch a plane to fetch Tsvangirai has been turned
down by the MDC leader.

"He is not getting into the plane until he gets his passport," Sibotshiwe

Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba is quoted in the Swaziland news wires as
saying Tsvangirai could not be issued with a new passport because of
sanctions imposed on the Mugabe regime.

"We are waiting for him and we think he will come. He was just playing hard
to get," Charamba told a news conference in Mbabane. "He has been given an
emergency travel document because Zimbabwe is running out of paper for
passports . because of sanctions."

The Zimbabwe Times heard that the Registrar General, Tobaiwa Mudede had been
instructed to immediately process Tsvangirai's passport. Monday's meeting
was expected to hear a report by Mbeki who was expected to report back on
his failed mediation last week.

A diplomatic source said: "It will be up to SADC to decide what happens
next. But concerted pressure needs to be exerted on the Mugabe regime."

Mutambara is also quoted in the Swaziland news wires saying the refusal by
government to give Tsvangirai his passport violated his human rights.

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Botswana reacts strongly to Tsvangirai's lack of passport

By Tichaona Sibanda
20 October 2008

Botswana on Monday became the first country in the SADC region to publicly
denounce Robert Mugabe's regime for refusing to provide MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai with a passport.
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Phandu Sekelemane, said if the problems of
resolving the crisis persist, Botswana held the view that the only way
forward is a re-run of the presidential elections under international

Sekelemane described the failure to grant Tsvangirai a new passport as
'unfortunate, totally unacceptable and an indication of bad faith.'
Tsvangirai is forced to seek emergency travel documents each time he
travels, and only got his latest ETD on Sunday evening, just as Mugabe was
leaving on a chartered flight to Swaziland. The MDC claim Tsvangirai's
passport was processed long ago but is being held by officials from Mugabe's
office to block him from traveling.

'Botswana is of the view that should the present deadlock continue without
resolution, the only viable solution to the political impasse is for the
people of Zimbabwe to decide who their leaders should be,' Sekelemane said.

He said further deterioration of the political and economic situation in
Zimbabwe was threatening regional peace, stability and economic development
and can only increase the current suffering of the people in the country.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Mutambara wants global isolation of the regime if Zimbabwean government is not inclusive

By Violet Gonda
20 October 2008

An emergency meeting of the SADC Troika on Security, to discuss the
unfolding crisis in Zimbabwe, was jeopardised on Monday when one of the main
leaders Morgan Tsvangirai failed to travel to the summit because he is still
being denied a passport by the Mugabe regime. The other principals, Robert
Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara, were able to travel to Swaziland. Tsvangirai
was only given a three day Emergency Travel Document for Swaziland on Sunday

In a sign showing a total lack of seriousness and sincerity, Mugabe's
spokesperson George Charamba said Tsvangirai had been given an emergency
travel document because "Zimbabwe is running out of paper for passports ...
because of sanctions."

Arthur Mutambara, the leader of the other MDC formation, blasted the regime
saying denying Tsvangirai a passport was a complete violation of his rights
and showed "a total disregard and disrespect for the dialogue process."

He said it is a travesty of justice that the person who is going to be Prime
Minister of Zimbabwe continues to be denied a passport.

Mutambara refused to attend the talks at the summit saying there will be no
Troika in Swaziland without Tsvangirai. He told SW Radio Africa: "I have
told Swaziland, the King and the Heads of government who are here that there
will be no Troika, the meeting won't start, there will be no discussion and
no debates on Zimbabwe without Mr Tsvangirai."

"We are saying that SADC must not be complicit in this criminal conduct on
the part of ZANU PF."

The regional body had called an emergency meeting to try and break a
stalemate between the Zimbabwean principals over the control of ministerial
posts in a power sharing government, which hit a serious snag when Mugabe
unilaterally gazetted a cabinet list, giving his party all the key

Mutambara said his party will only accept a tripartite agreement and warned:
"If Mugabe is under any illusion that he can unilaterally declare a
government, my party will not be involved in that government. We will
condemn and denounce that government and more importantly we will call for
international and global isolation of the regime."

He said Swazi's King Mswati III was going to send his personal jet to Harare
to collect the MDC leader, "and they will make sure that Tsvangirai gets his

The outspoken leader said: "We will not accept any nonsense about an ETD.
No, no, no an ETD is an insult to Mr Tsvangirai. He must get a full passport
before we can have any discourse."

Mutambara also slammed ex-South African President Thabo Mbeki for failing to
reign-in Mugabe over the passport issue. He said: "I told Mugabe personally
to stop being frivolous and trivial. I told Mugabe not to allow trivial
matters like a passport to affect our national agenda, our national
interest. I told him in a bilateral (meeting). We also discussed this matter
with Mbeki, Tsvangirai and myself - the four of us, and we were given a
commitment. Mbeki is aware of this problem and for Mbeki not to sit on
Mugabe on this matter is unacceptable."

He said Mugabe's response was some "nonsensical issues around logistics."

Meanwhile some MDC sources have said pressure on Mugabe is what is needed,
rather than just sending a jet. An official added: 'A jet is more expensive
than getting a passport." The MDC is also now calling for an extraordinary
SADC summit which will involve the participation of all Heads of States in
Southern Africa.

It is widely believed the latest incident has been a major embarrassment for


SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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SADC : Mugabe government illegitimate but not that illegitimate

The Southern African Development Community has acknowledged in a legal
document that it widely felt concerns that Robert Mugabe should not be
recognised as Zimbabwe's head of state are "legitimate".

Monday 20 October 2008, by Bruce Sibanda

Despite this, SADC has rejected a demand that it should refuse to allow
Mugabe and his government to participate in SADC activities, as
representatives of Zimbabwe.

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

Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, head of the smaller MDC
faction, are expected to join the SADC troika in Swaziland. Thabo Mbeki will
present a report of his facilitation to the SADC leaders before Mugabe,
Tsvangirai and Mutambara present their positions, leading to efforts to find
a compromise.

The SADC document is a direct response to an urgent application brought by
the Zimbabwe Exile Forum (ZEF) last week , asking the SADC Tribunal in
Windhoek not to invite Mugabe and his government be barred from
participating in future SADC activities.

The ZEF said Mugabe should be barred because he had not been legitimately

It noted that Mugabe had come second to Movement for Democratic Change
leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the March 29 presidential election and that the
re-run election on June 27 had not taken place within 21 days of the first
election, as was required by law.

The ZEF said even SADC's own election-monitoring mission had decreed that
the violence-marred environment prevailing in the June 27 elections - which
forced Tsvangirai to withdraw - had "impinged on the credibility of the
electoral process. The election results did not represent the will of the
people of Zimbabwe".

The ZEF said Mugabe had not been properly elected, was not the legitimate
head of state of Zimbabwe and should not represent the country at SADC.

In its response, delivered to the SADC Tribunal, the SADC secretariat said
the ZEF's concern that Mugabe be barred from the summit "because he had not
been elected into office through a credible process" was "legitimate".

But it was also true that SADC had launched a process to resolve the
conflict over the elections - under former president Thabo Mbeki - and that
this had led to a power-sharing agreement signed by all the Zimbabwe parties
on September 15.

So the SADC Tribunal should reject the ZEF's application, SADC said.

Priti Patel, acting director of the South Africa-based Southern African
Litigation Centre, said "SADC should be applauded for acknowledging that
concerns regarding its recognition of Mugabe as head of state were

"But SADC's response so far has been woefully inadequate in ensuring a
peaceful, democratic transition in Zimbabwe."

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US threatens new sanctions on Zimbabwe's Mugabe


Mon 20 Oct 2008, 17:22 GMT

By Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON, Oct 20 (Reuters) - The United States threatened on Monday to
impose new sanctions against Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe if he
reneges on a power-sharing deal with the country's opposition.

A robust U.S. sanctions package is already in place against Mugabe, but
State Department spokesman Robert Wood said more punitive measures were
possible if Mugabe did not negotiate "in good faith" with opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai.

"Should Mugabe renege on this power-sharing agreement, the United States is
prepared to impose additional sanctions," he told reporters but declined to
provide details of what kind of measures were being planned.

Immediately before a Sept. 15 power-sharing deal was signed, the United
States had a new package of sanctions in the works, targeting individuals
and entities linked to Mugabe, a senior U.S. official told Reuters last

The European Union has also threatened to step up sanctions on Zimbabwe
unless Mugabe adheres to the terms of the Sept. 15 power-sharing accord.

Current U.S. sanctions target Mugabe and other members of his government
deemed to "undermine democratic" institutions in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe, who has governed Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980,
has appealed to Western powers to lift sanctions he says have ruined his

But Western powers insist it is Mugabe's rule that has led to economic ruin
in the southern Africa country once considered the breadbasket of the

U.S. officials say Mugabe is being obstructive in the negotiations.

Tsvangirai's party also says Zimbabwe's government has refused to grant him
the correct travel papers to attend a regional summit in Swaziland aimed at
resolving the impasse over allocating cabinet posts, the key sticking point
in current talks. Zimbabwe's government denies this.

"We have been encouraging the parties to try and reach an agreement on the
allocation of cabinet positions, reflecting the September 15 agreement as
well as the will of the Zimbabwean people," said Wood.

Wood said the United States was closely following events in Zimbabwe but
that former South African President Thabo Mbeki was taking the lead in
trying to broker a deal and there were no plans to send any senior U.S.
officials to help.

South African politician Jacob Zuma, who is likely to be the next president
of South Africa following the 2009 election, is due to meet U.S. Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday in Washington.

Wood said Zimbabwe was always an "important topic of discussion" in any
meeting with South Africa's leaders. Zuma became president of the ruling
African National Congress in December. (Editing by Jackie Frank)

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'Key ministries' myth divorced from people's plight

By Joram Nyathi
Last updated: 10/21/2008 14:24:14
WHEN the political deal to resolve Zimbabwe's crisis was signed on September
15, I said nothing spectacular could come out of desperate people; such
people are incapable of acts of greatness.

Add to this intra-party fighting for portfolios and inter-party mistrust and
you will understand the stalemate over "key" ministries.

The debate on the issue is confused. When at first MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai refused to sign the deal, he was hailed as a hero. We were told
without his signature, there was no deal because there would be no foreign

A month after he signed, there is no money and the tune has changed to
infantile retreat: he shouldn't have signed the deal before the ministries
were allocated. (It is as if people are still nursing a hangover from
boycott politics).

Foreign money will be long in coming. Those who had pledged rescue packages
are keen to show it is they who hold the key. They have an excuse for not
releasing it by pretending nothing has happened since 1998 although Zanu PF
and the MDC have agreed land reform is irreversible

Add to this disconnect the creeping recession after the Wall Street
bloodbath and the rest of Europe and you know we are alone for the long

In declaring a deadlock over the sharing of portfolios last week, Tsvangirai
said there was no agreement on any ministry. He denied President Mugabe's
view that the dispute was over two "key" ministries of finance and home
affairs. Previously the list included foreign affairs, information, local
government and defence.

My idea is that the strategic nature of a ministry and the resources
allocated to it should be determined based on national development goals
such as better health, food, education, housing, sanitation and clean water
for the people!

Having thus reasoned, and convinced the MDC wanted to improve people's
welfare, I thought they would focus first on social ministries where need is
greatest. Isn't that where all the maladies are most manifest?

Does alleviating people's misery depend on a party's ability to arrest, to
declare war and peace, to set up diplomatic missions abroad and to spread

What could be more exciting for a new minister than getting the agriculture
portfolio where all the machinery has already been provided? What could be
more uplifting than to see that sector turned around over the next two
seasons and ensure Zimbabwe is able to feed itself, export maize, cotton and
tobacco once again?

Local government is not about Ignatious Chombo imposing unelected Zanu PF
councillors on local authorities. It is about service delivery. People want
clinics, houses, market stalls, lighting, water and safe roads and clean
cities. A political party with people-centred policies would die to expose
Zanu PF's incompetence by restoring the beauty of our towns.

Who is better placed to win votes in the next elections than the man who
turns around the collapsing health sector? The infrastructure hasn't
completely collapsed in most hospitals. With resources, we don't need
miracle workers to get things working again. The same can be said of
education which has been hard hit by the depletion of resources and the
brain drain. What is needed are packages of incentives to woo back our
teachers, lecturers, doctors, nurses and engineers.

Take rural housing and social amenities. Isn't that a windfall for any
political party? That is where 75% of the population lives. Who would lose a
national election again after building one's political base there providing
desperately needed low-cost housing, toilets, boreholes, accommodation for
teachers, the police, chiefs and headmen? Who would lose a vote with women
and the youth on his side given that the combined groups constitute the
majority of voters in any national election?

My observations are based on the understanding that ministries propose the
budgets they want, lobby fellow MPs and get the resources they need. In our
situation where Zanu PF and the MDC share MPs almost 50-50, I don't see how
a ministry's request can be blocked on the basis of which party holds it and
how controlling the army or police can resolve that.

I chose the social ministries believing that our political leaders are
acting in good faith and in the best interest of the people; and also that
political power derives from the people through performance, not from the
barrel of the gun. For if real power can be contemplated only within the
oppressive state institutions set up in the Rhodesian era, what transition
is there to talk about?

The myth of "key" ministries is interesting. First, it is completely
divorced from the people's plight, hence the lack of urgency among the
principals. It puts the spotlight on their mutual mistrust, which has
coalesced into paralysing paranoia. Each suspects the other is plotting an
ambush for it around the corner.

Second, it is based on a debatable postulate that a ministry is strategic
per se outside an exigency which necessitates the mobilisation and
deployment of national resources through its structures, such as war, famine
or disease outbreak. Beside health and police, there is no indispensable
ministry. Why in a democracy should one government ministry be special to
any political party beside bargaining for individual-specific posts?

Third, nothing suggests that either Zanu PF or the MDC wants defence or home
affairs portfolios for anything other than as instruments of coercion. They
seem to have endorsed Mugabe's belief that not only should you use force if
necessary to get into power but that the gun must be "its security
officer -- its guarantor".

The tussle is as if Tsvangirai as prime minister will be in charge of only
MDC ministers operating outside cabinet consensus. A deal between two or
more people can only be as bad or good as the desires of those who sign and
implement it. Until the principals put people at the centre, there will be
no end to areas of discord and Thabo Mbeki is no magician to cure the mutual
suspicion between them.

Joram Nyathi is the deputy editor of the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper.
E-mail him at

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AU, SADC not proponents of democracy and human rights

When the AU was formed in 2002 as a successor of the OAU, one of its main
objectives was to achieve peace and security in Africa and to promote
democratic institutions, good governance and human rights. It was also going
to promote and defend common African positions on issues of interest to the
continent and its peoples.

The Zimbabwe crisis is just the latest indication of why we must place no
confidence in the ability of either the AU or its young brother SADC to
handle regional problems as well as sail this continent onto the path of
development. Their inaction on Zimbabwe is shocking and appalling to say the
least and it smacks of both lack of will and incompetence.

Mugabe derives his spunk from the indifference and silent support of his
peers. Ejecting him from the AU and verbally condemning his actions would
probably have made some difference in his behavior or at least lessened his
confidence. But only a few leaders like the late Zambian president Levy
Mwanawasa, Botswana's new President, Seretse Khama Ian Khama and lately,
Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga have dared to be vocal about Mugabe's
self-imposed government and have even called for his and Zimbabwe's
suspension from the AU. The rest of the whiteheads especially in SADC have
been inexplicably maintaining what Odinga calls a "diabolical conspiracy of
silence bound by personal misdeeds and complicity in refusing to condemn
their neighbors," especially Mugabe. The same culture of impunity is what
nurtured the excesses of the continent's infamous dictators like Mobutu Sese
Seko of the DRC and Uganda's heartless Idi Amin under the banner of
predecessor OAU's founding principle of respect for national sovereignty.

In trying to understand why the AU and the SADC are toothless bulldogs
barking endlessly from the periphery, Odinga postulates that African leaders
are an old dictators' club that have an inherent fear of criticizing each
other. This is because, as Mugabe so rightly put it at the Sharm el Shaik,
Egypt AU summit, they too have skeletons rattling in their closets.

It is thus not surprising that the AU has failed to put the people of
Zimbabwe first and to stand up for democracy. In an ironic joint statement,
the AU/SADC pledged "As guarantors of the implementation of the agreement,
both AU and SADC will spare no effort in supporting its full and effective
implementation." What have these two organs done in the face of Mugabe's
latest unilateral declaration of cabinet? Again, as was the case in Kenya,
the party that should have rightly taken over power is being forced by
regional pressure to concede to an increasingly unworkable compromise deal
and endless mediation processes by an inefficient go-between who insists on
a concept of quiet diplomacy that only he understands. Recently, in response
to a legal application filed against it by the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum two
months ago, SADC has for the first time acknowledged that Mugabe should not
be recognized as a legitimate head of state. But the organization rejected
the demand to refuse to allow Mugabe and his government to participate in
future SADC activities. Its excuse was that former South African President
Thabo Mbeki, the SADC appointed mediator, was able to facilitate a power
sharing deal to end Zimbabwe's political crisis.

What 'African' common position are the AU/SADC defending when they fail to
condemn errant dictators who hold whole starving nations to ransom in order
to protect selfish interests?

In its thirty-nine year history, the OAU could only be judged as an abysmal
failure. It failed to challenge any major dictator on the continent and
stood idle while civil wars, ethnic conflicts, poverty and disease ravaged
ordinary Africans. Its only success was in preserving the notion of
sovereign borders in Africa. Wole Soyinka once described it as a
"collaborative club of perpetual self-preservation." The AU is the new OAU
under a different name: its membership is the same and there are no new
institutions to suggest that it will be any more effective or less selfish
than its predecessor.

As a pan-African organization, the AU must be willing to stand up to African
dictators and military rulers that have been the real causes of bloodshed
and poverty on the continent. So far the AU has failed in this mission:
Mugabe is still a revered charter member of the AU and it has failed to
recognize Morgan Tsvangirai as the country's rightful elected leader. If we
start to question the complacency of the AU, we start to ask, why was it
tolerable that a tyrant lost an election, imprisoned, killed and molested
those who dared oppose him, then proceeded to reelect himself to the
presidium, and no action was taken?

The AU has failed the people of Zimbabwe by its unwillingness to deal
effectively with the political crisis that was single-handedly constructed
by one dictator. For months they have insisted on mediation and dialogue
when decisive action has been called for. The AU has failed too often or
remained inert when it should have acted, and its internal procedures are
often agonizingly inadequate for the challenges it faces in problem
countries. For far too long, and with immensely destructive consequences,
the AU has downplayed the dimensions of crises in various African countries
and the urgency of large-scale humanitarian intervention. This is
particularly true of the situation in Africa's largest country, Sudan with
the longstanding and ongoing conflict in Darfur that stretches as far back
as 2003. Look also how dictators recently bulldozed their way into
leadership in Kenya.

The AU has only been good at issuing statements. The AU's fine words at the
moment are little consolation to Zimbabwe's hungry, oppressed people. Once
more, like its predecessor, the AU is set to fail the people of Africa.

This entry was posted on October 20th, 2008 at 1:02 pm by Natasha Msonza

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Fire accident cripples Zimbabwe's Internet traffic

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Telecommunication traffic into and out of Zimbabwe,
including Internet access, has been affected following fire that gutted a
telephone exchange in Harare, APA learnt here Monday.

The fire extensively damaged the exchange in central Harare, switching off
some telephone users with numbers from the station.

The damage has also crippled Internet traffic for subscribers using the
state-owned service provider, ComOne.

The affected subscribers have not had Internet access since last week when
the damage occurred.

Officials at ComOne's parent company, TelOne, suspected that the fire was
caused by defective temperature regulation at the exchange.

á JN/nm/APA 2008-10-20

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Travel and tourism fair hit by poor turnout

20th Oct 2008 16:56 GMT

By Ian Nhuka

BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's biggest travel and tourism showcase,
Sanganai/Hlanganani Travel and Tourism Africa Fair ended here Sunday but was
marred by a poor turnout of foreign buyers and the public.

It opened Wednesday at the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre here.

Although entry was free for the final three days of the showcase, a few
hundred people turned out. Vice-President, Joice Mujuru, officially opening
the show Friday afternoon in the open air Main Arena, addressed a sparse
crowd that sat on the western section of the ground.

Out of the 400 international buyers that the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority
(ZTA) had invited, only 208 showed up.

Even the closing musical concert featuring a seemingly impressive line-up of
sungura musician, Tongai Moyo, performer Sandra Ndebele and Ringo Madlingozi
did not entice people.

Choosing the arena, the size of a football pitch, the ZTA expected a huge
crowd, but got less than it had bargained form.

Despite the apparent poor turnout, ZTA chief executive officer Sunday told a
press conference that the show had been a "great success."

"The fair was a success," he proclaimed, "and is likely to contribute 174
000 visitors to the country, starting from this month to next year Sanganai.
This therefore means the fair will earn the country between US$130 million
and US$140 million within the same period. This is undoubtedly a huge
success as we even got more than what we had bargained for."

He said 619 exhibitors took part, an improvement from last year's 130.

Despite the apparent snub by some 200 buyers who had been invited, Kaseke
said the fact that 77 foreign buyers turned up uninvited shows that the fair
is popular.

"Out of the 400 invited buyers, 208 turned up, with an extra 77 we had not
invited," he said.

"This shows that people now have a certain perception about our country and
they know that Zimbabwe is a peaceful nation."

The poor turnout could be a mirror image of the state of affairs in the
tourism sector that has been crippled by declining arrivals from Europe,
America and other Western source markets.

But the poor public attendance did not elude Kaseke though.

He said: "We, however, have to improve in terms of public attendance, the
turnout of people was visible low and I think as the tourism industry we
have to strongly address that issue. Next time we want the attendance of the
public to be very massive as they give their support to the hospitality

The tourism show was held here for the first time after its re-branding this

Since 1982 until last year, it was held in Harare and was called Zimbabwe
International Travel Expo.

But this year, ZTA decided to hold it at a bigger venue, the Zimbabwe
International Exhibition Centre, where the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair
is held.

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Arts Festival in Zimbabwe Hailed as Feast of Entertainment


By Netsai Mlilo
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
20 October 2008

The Zimbabwean town of Bulawayo recently finished hosting the 4th edition of
Intwasa Arts Festival. During the 5-day event, local and international
playwrights, actors, dancers, painters, poets and musicians exchanged ideas
and showcased their different talents. Voice of America English to Africa
Service reporter Netsai Mlilo says Bulawayo residents and artists were
treated to a feast of entertainment.

Several authors, including renowned historian Pathisa Nyathi, launched their
latest books. Others exhibited paintings and sculptures while poets read
their compositions at "slam poetry" or free verse sessions judged by the
audience. Local and international theater groups staged plays tackling a
broad range of subjects.á Aside from showcasing their works, this year's
Intwasa offered artists a chance to sharpen their skills.

Renowned American playwright, Leslie Lee, was one of several international
artists who attended the festival. Lee conducted a 2-week workshop for local
playwrights and actors. He said interacting with local artists gave him an
idea of the extent of the country's artistic talent: "There are stories to
tell here and I find that there is such a goldmine here for talent, for
expression, there are voices here that should be heard not only here in this
country but also throughout the world. Intwasa really is doing the right
thing in showcasing this talent here so you all here have something to be
proud of."

American actress Heather Massies co-hosted a workshop with Lee. She focused
on imparting acting skills to actors. Massie said she enjoyed conducting the
session and looks forward to coming back to conduct further training events,
"Zimbabwe is a wonderful place.á It's been an honor to work with the artists
here. They have so much to give and are making beautiful art here. Not just
the writers but also the visual artists, the literary artists, the dance,
the music it's so full of life."

Freelance actor, Gift Chakuvinga, participated in a writers' workshop. He
enjoyed combing through different scripts and acting out lines from a
variety of plays:

"It's been quite a challenge playing all these different characters from
different plays.á All these plays were worlds apart, so in a way it's
something which has really groomed me as an actor to be able to adapt very
quickly to different situations, different scenes and different writers'
stories. Every writer has his own way and his own way of presenting on stage
so it's something which has given me a lot of experience in terms of

Chakuvinga, who's also attended all 4 Intwasa festivals, says he's delighted
at the pace at which the annual event is growing:

"Intwasa, I think it's growing in leaps and bounds every year. It's been
running, I mean this is the fourth year and I think it's been bigger than
the rest of the years when it started. So I think I can say well done to the
organizers and everyone who was involved in making this festival a success."

Meanwhile the countdown to the next Intwasa Festival has already begun.
Organizers and artists say they hope next year they won't have to grapple
with cash shortages caused by the country's economic crisis.

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Cholera Outbreak Threatens to Become Endemic

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

20 October 2008
Posted to the web 20 October 2008


A cholera outbreak that has bridged Zimbabwe's dry season is proving
difficult to contain and has spread from the cities to rural areas.

There are fears that the onset of the rainy season could make the waterborne
disease endemic if the authorities fail to address the water and sanitation
crisis plaguing the county.

Cholera is an intestinal infection causing acute diarrhoea and vomiting and,
if left untreated, can cause death from dehydration within 24 hours. It is
easily treatable with rehydration salts.

An anthrax outbreak has also been reported in Hurungwe, a rural area in
Mashonaland West Province, about 300km north of the capital, Harare, "where
10 cases have been reported, but no deaths as yet. WHO [World Health
Organisation] is still investigating", the UN said in a recent situation
report on cholera and anthrax.

Anthrax is caused by the bacterium, Bacillus anthracis, and mostly affects
wild animals and domesticated cattle, although it can be transferred to
humans through inhalation of the bacteria's spores from a live or infected
dead animal, blood contact if the skin is broken, or by eating the
undercooked meat of a diseased animal. Anthrax is curable if diagnosed

120 deaths

The UN noted that "a cholera outbreak has been a cause of concern in
Zimbabwe since February 2008 ... so far 120 deaths have been recorded
cumulatively, with the highest percentage found in Mashonaland Central"
Province in the country's north.

The collapse of health and municipal services is seen as the cause for the
spread of the disease, with local authorities failing to provide potable
water, rubbish collection and adequate sanitation, forcing people to dig
shallow wells to obtain household and drinking water in areas where sewerage
spills into streets because of poor, or non-existent, maintenance regimes.

The state-owned Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) has pumped raw
sewerage into Lake Chivero, one of the reservoirs providing Harare with
water; residents with access to piped water often have to contend with a
smelly greenish discharge from their taps.

The UN noted in its report that Zimbabwe was battling three cholera
outbreaks in different locations. Chitungwiza, a dormitory town 35km
southeast of Harare, had recorded 144 cholera cases and 15 deaths up to 13
October. UNICEF has been trucking in 30,000 litres of water daily and
providing hygiene education.

In Mola, in the western district of Kariba, there were 22 cases with one
fatality as of 7 October, and "probably more cases within the community,
unrecognised", the UN report said.

Chinhoyi, in Mashonaland West Province, had recorded 6 deaths by 13 October,
and WHO reported another 15 cases the following day, but "many more are
assumed to be in the community, and paediatric cases are being admitted to
the hospital."

Recurring disease

A cholera outbreak on 31 August in Harare affected the townships of Mbare,
Kuwadzana, Highfields, Chikurubi and Mbvuku, in which 19 cases and one death
were recorded. The last case was reported on 24 September.

Nevertheless, even where the cholera outbreaks have been brought under
control, the UN report warns: "These locations remain potentially risk
areas, considering cholera [is a] recurring trend."

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) said in a statement that
Zimbabwe's political deadlock between President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and
Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change was having a direct
impact on the provision of services.

"The water woes that have seen many Harare residents losing their lives to
cholera outbreaks are a result of the ruthless decision to hand over the
administration of water and sewer services to ZINWA," the statement said.

"CHRA urges the powers that be to stop burying their heads in the sand and
attend to the governance stalemate as a matter of urgency."

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

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The rich get richer

Over the weekend I waltzed into some of Gono's FOLIWARS (Foreign Exchange
Licensed Warehouses and Retail Shops) at Fife Avenue. It was a sight I had
not seen for close to a year. Shelves were overflowing with goods. Cooking
oil sat gracefully among other basic commodities that have been scarce and
the shops were brimming with cheery shoppers. There was also the
unmistakable smell of freshly baked confectionery wafting in the air from
laden breadbaskets, an unusual occurrence. All looked rosy until I reached
the back of one supermarket where there were lots of empty or near empty
shelves. This was the Zimbabwean dollar section and it hardly had any basic
commodities one needs to purchase for a household. There was a lot of
cleaning things, overpriced chocolates and kapenta, all locally
manufactured. One of the conditions for operating a FOLIWAR is to sell all
locally manufactured goods in Zimbabwean dollars. This in principle is meant
to cushion 'vulnerable' members of society to enable them to access basic

Already one particular supermarket at this shopping center was flouting the
regulations. Mazoe orange crush, famously manufactured in Zimbabwe and
widely exported to neighboring countries, was being sold for US$2,50.

FOLIWARS have achieved the desired effect, i.e ostensibly to help improve
availability of goods on the market. However, there are some flaws in this
latest policy that have seen the central bank once again fail to protect the

It seems most retailers suffer from the overcharging syndrome. Used to
working with billions and trillions, they are overcharging the goods being
sold in US dollars. Most of them are too expensive even by American
standards. You find something you'd expect to cost less than a dollar pegged
at thrice the price simply because the price looks or sounds too little,
even if it is not in exchange rate terms.

The NIPC Chairman, Mr Goodwills Masimirembwa attempted to excuse this
problem saying that unlike other countries, Zimbabwe is not manufacturing
the goods hence it is inevitable for them to be more expensive, especially
when transport costs and other mark-ups have been factored in. True, but how
does he explain the locally manufactured orange crush being sold in US

On the other hand, under Gono's system, some goods will perpetually be in
short supply as there will be no incentive for people to make them available
for purchase in the increasingly depreciating Zimbabwean dollar. Artificial
shortages will continue, while the locally manufactured goods will be widely
available on the black-market for purchase in the Rand or USD. It will also
mean FOLIWARS will shun local goods in favor of imports in order to get
around the regulations of charging in Zimbabwean dollars. This probably
explains why the Zimbabwean dollar sections of most supermarkets have next
to nothing on the shelves. The few goods found on these shelves are
obviously at the RTGS cost, despite the fact that Gono scrapped that system.
Else, how is it possible to explain a piece of chocolate that costs half a
million revalued Zimbabwean dollars?

The empty Zim dollar shelves will mean that the street corner vegetable
vendor or the grandmother from Dotito who has never seen the US dollar in
her entire life will continue to struggle to purchase basic goods available
on the black-market at prohibitive costs in Zimbabwean dollars.

Then there is the issue of change. If there is anyone paying a higher price
for this dollarization, it is the tellers operating the forex tills in the
supermarkets. Somebody purchases a product for $4,75. They demand their 25
cents change, even if they themselves have never seen what 25US cents look
like. As a result the teller embarks on the grueling task of haggling with
the customer. Often, the customer settles for a compromise seeing them
either leave their change behind or purchasing something else they didn't
even want. As a result the 'forex' queues, though short take longer to move
as the tellers haggle over change with each customer for at least five
minutes. Most rude customers do not spare a thought for the poor exhausted
teller who is underpaid in Zim dollars anyway. At the end of the day one
wonders, why don't they just round of the prices? I mean, if customers are
still going to leave their few precious cents, why not save everyone the
hassle? Obviously retailers have ways of reaching a final price for a
product, but the mere fact that they are now charging in USD reflects an
abnormal situation, they may as well employ the Mickey Mouse economics we
are used to and just round off prices of goods. Some FOLIWARS have resorted
to putting up notices informing customers that they can only purchase goods
for $50 and above. Unfair but it works.

Another thing is that the forex craze has silently sanctioned the use of
foreign currency in many quarters of the economy. Landlords are now
unashamedly and openly demanding rentals in forex, and those who initially
did not charge their tenants as such have joined the bandwagon.
Dollarization has set a bad precedent and everyone will soon be demanding
payment in that form in whatever transaction.

At the advent of the FOLIWARS, the RBZ governor was widely criticized and in
several places, calls were made that civil servants must therefore be
remunerated in foreign currency. Most were sure the policy would not be
sustainable, given that most people do not earn their salaries in forex.
However, despite earlier skepticism, 'forex shops' like Shoppa Stoppa are
suddenly attracting so many customers that by 6pm, long queues are still
outside their walls. It is surprising how a lot of ordinary folk actually
possess US dollars. As much as one US dollar is not little money in exchange
rate terms, many shoppers are hoarding whatever goods they can lay their
hands on. The panic buyer mentality has not dissipated a bit even with the
reassurance that products are bound to be widely available now that a more
stable currency is in use.

It will be a long time yet before Zimbabweans have faith in this economy and
its ability to meet the entire consumer's needs.

This entry was posted on October 20th, 2008 at 12:14 pm by Natasha Msonza

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Absent government puts burden of care on youth

Photo: Eva-Lotta Jansson/IRIN
Young people are now left to care for their parents
HARARE, 20 October 2008 (PlusNews) - For almost six months now, John Mberi*, 14, from the high-density suburb of Mufakose in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, has been taking care of his sick mother, Fortunate, who returned home from neighbouring South Africa very ill.

The community attributed Fortunate's condition to food poisoning while awaiting deportation in the infamous Lindela repatriation camp in South Africa, but close family members knew that Fortunate was HIV positive.

Taking care of his ailing mother has been very difficult for John, and he often misses school when her condition is worse. On days like this he has to wash, cook, clean and bathe his mother in bed using a bucket of water.

"On her return from South Africa, my mother sent me to her only surviving brother, who lives in rural Mutoko [about 200km outside Harare]. He refused to come, saying we should relocate to the rural areas, but we had no money to hire a vehicle to ferry our things," John told IRIN/PlusNews.

To ensure the family's survival, he now sells roasted and salted groundnuts at a nearby bar after school. Occasionally the family gets help from the local United Methodist Church.

"Sometimes we can't afford the medicines that are prescribed at the local clinic. The drugs are cheap at the clinic but they normally don't have them in stock, so they tell us to go and buy on our own. My mother worries a lot but I have told her not to, because I will take care of her."

Palliative care still not widely understood

It was World Hospice and Palliative Care Day on 11 October but AIDS activists said in Zimbabwe there was little to celebrate.

John's situation is becoming increasingly common. As the HIV/AIDS pandemic takes it toll, many young people are carrying the responsibility of caring of sick members of the family, but are often unable to give them proper and adequate care.

Activists argue that the responsibility of caring for those with long-term or life-limiting illnesses lies with the government, not young people like John.

According to the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of Zimbabwe (HOSPAZ), palliative care is defined as the management of the many physical, psychosocial, spiritual and emotional needs of people with progressive life-limiting illnesses; it is not about "helping someone die" but about "helping someone live as comfortably as possible with their illness".

Read more
á"At the end the patient dies, and I am left feeling affected"
áCare-givers also need shoulder to lean on
áNGOs struggle to feed the hungry
áUnderpaid and undervalued - caregivers go hungry
áThe challenge of stigma
Rachel Zimunya from HOSPAZ said palliative care was still not widely understood or implemented, and not standardised although Zimbabwe was one of the first countries in Africa to embrace the hospice and palliative care concept.

"Everyone living with a life-limiting illness has the right to quality hospice and palliative care to enable them to live with dignity and without undue pain or distress," she said on the Partners Zimbabwe website to raise awareness of the day.

"Lack of access to pain and symptom relief can prevent people living with HIV and AIDS, who may be experiencing painful and unpleasant side effects from antiretroviral (ARV) treatments, from adhering to ARVs, with the result that their life expectancy is curtailed. This breaches the right to life."

Tinashe Mundawarara, Programme Manager of the HIV/AIDS Human Rights and Law Project at Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), told IRIN/PlusNews: "The current health system in Zimbabwe, which is a narrative of strikes, stock-outs, expired drugs and a malfunctioning public health framework, is a cause of consternation rather than celebration. More so, there is no patient care and support system that includes the family in the hospitals."

He said there was an urgent need for reforming the laws on public health, educating people, and putting in place palliative care programmes in all hospitals as a matter of policy.

"People living with HIV/AIDS need to speak with one voice on the advocacy issues of access to treatment, drugs and care. Treatment, care and support are the hallmarks of palliative care."

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

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The cry of the Matebele

I sing the song of the Matebele,
I sing the song of the tortured, butchered, marginalised and ostracized,
I sing the song of the hopeless,
It is the cry of the downtrodden, weary, and abused,
It is the voice of the Ndebele people.

My muffled voice wails from the deep dungeons of the Great Shangani River
where my king's story ends.
Deep in the dungeons, I cry for recognition and inclusion yet no one seems
to take notice.
Every time I make an attempt to claim my position, to claim recognition and
identity I am labelled a tribalist and a sell-out.
Every time this happens I am drawn back to self pity and self hatred.

My pain has been worsened by the Son of Bona
The Son of Bona tortured, brutalised and killed my clansmen simply because
they were Ndebele.
Since then he never looked back.
He has made sure that my people are marginalised and peripherised.
Now he has made it worse by refusing to let go the reigns of leadership.
My cry is now so deep such that its tears can fill an ocean.
It is this deep because I see myself and my clansmen buried in poverty and
swallowed by doldrums of history.

My cry has grown to be a cry of the people of Zimbabwe.
This is because the bitterness is no longer the Ndebele one only but a
bitterness of everyone in Zimbabwe.
Son of Bona, you have destroyed our beautiful land, you have destroyed our
pride as a nation.

I cry for the departure of the Son of Bona.
Son of Bona, Zimbabwe has had enough of you.
Son of the Bona, you cannot offer us anything that we can believe in.
Give others a chance to lead; Zimbabwe is for all of us.
Farewell, Son of Bona, Zimbabwe will be a better nation without you.

This entry was posted on October 20th, 2008 at 1:08 pm by Fungisai Sithole

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Zimbabwe activists beaten, arrested and detained

20 October 2008

The leaders of one of Zimbabwe's main activist movements have been remanded
in custody by the courts in Bulawayo since Friday 17 June. Jenni Williams
and Magodonga Mahlangu, leaders of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), were
arrested on Thursday in Bulawayo after leading a peaceful protest of about
200 activists demanding immediate access to food aid in Zimbabwe.

Police used excessive force to break up the protest. Magodonga Mahlangu was
beaten by police during her arrest and is reported to be in pain.

Nine activists were initially arrested, including Jenni Williams and
Magodonga Mahlangu; seven activists were released on the same day.

Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were held at Bulawayo Central police
station over night and taken to court on Friday morning. They were denied
bail. They will be held in remand prison until Tuesday, when they are set to
come to court again.

They have been charged under Section 37 1(a) of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act for "disturbing the peace, security or order
of the public".

Amnesty International has urged the Zimbabwean authorities to release Jenni
Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, immediately and unconditionally, as they
have been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to
freedom of association and assembly. The organisation also expressed fears
about the women's safety while in remand prison, considering the long
history of ill-treatment of human rights defenders while in custody in

"Amnesty International considers Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu to be
prisoners of conscience," said Erwin van der Borght, Director of the Africa
Programme. "Their arrest is part of the government of Zimbabwe's clampdown
on human rights defenders who are campaigning to highlight the suffering of
the people of Zimbabwe."

Jenni Williams and Magadonga Mahlangu were last arrested in May 2008, and
spent 37 days in remand prison.

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Harare Botanic Gardens

Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 1:41 AM

Greetings to you all.

We go for a walk, most evenings, around the botanic gardens here in Harare. A few months ago we noticed that there was some discreet tree felling going on but it was quite sporadic. Most of the trees that were chopped down then, only one or two a month, were quite small and not terribly noticeable. Well that has changed.

This evening we noticed that over thirty trees had been “harvested” and many of them were large mature indigenous ones. Several, about eight, had been removed from the “rain forest” area. Several in the area along the Sandringham Drive fence line. A few in the area bordering the Borrowdale Road and inside the natural forest near the National Parks offices.

Around the old , now dried up, duck pond a number of smaller trees have been taken.

My advice to those of you who enjoy the Botanic Garden is get along there now as it looks as if there is a definite program to allow people with connections to harvest the forest for firewood. We noticed , for example, that the employees compound was well stocked with a lot of “green” chopped timber. We also noticed a few people sitting along the inside of the fence along 5th street quite near dusk.

It is a shame that such a valuable public amenity should be so ravaged but I suppose it is just a symptom of the times we live in and the absence of any real áadministrative authority any longer.

Pip pip. á

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Comment from a correspondent

Harare City Council rates.

On the 14th of October 2008 residents of Houghton Park received final
notices from Welcash Debt collectors. In my case the letter stated that the
City of Harare had made efforts to get the overdue payment without any
success. The debt collector gave me 48hrs from the date of the letter (dated
15 October 2008) to pay up the amount owed to the City of Harare (ZWD
40000.00) plus a transfer fee of ZWD 50million as well as an administration
fee of ZWD50million. On the 15th of October I then received the bill from
the City of Harare with the $40000.00 bill that they have made frantic
efforts to collect without success.

With the scenario where it costs $15000.00 for one to commute to the CBD
only to get a maximum of $50000.00 from the bank while the majority of
employees are earning not more than $90000.00 per month, one would find it
hard to afford to go and have "talks" with the debt collectors.

After missing the 48hr deadline I was slapped with a final urgent warning to
pay the amount due plus an additional and not explained penalty of

As it stands I risk losing property for failing to pay a $40000.00 bill that
came after being served with a final notice without being served with any
prior notice. Due to the prevailing inflational environment, the City of
Harare has found it difficult to send upto date invoices for services that
they are not rendering to residents. Now that it has become costly for the
City of Harare to print and dispatch invoices residents are being told that
it is their duty to enquire the value of the bill every month and make the
necessary payment. To make matters worse the local offices always do not
have upto date information. One has to go to ZINWA, City of Harare and ZESA
CBD offices to get upto date information of their respective bills.

Now is a good time for one to turn to God looking for miracles... money from
heaven maybe... as most of us have nowhere to turn to.



From another correspondent...

Wellcash is a scam.
I know of no one who has received a "final demand" from them who had
received a prior notice.
Most of the people who receive demands from Wellcash pay their rates
Wellcash's threat to attach people's property is a method of extortion.
For your property to be attached it first requires a summons from the
Messenger of Court, and you can
then appear in court to defend yourself.

This has been going on for too long, and there's evidently a
relationship between Wellcash and certain people at the City Council.

Affected people should contact the Mayor of Harare, Mr Muchadeyi
Masunda, e-mail <> and get an end put to
this once and for all.

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Brazil Joins The Fray

Monday, 20 October 2008 13:21

BRAZILIAN President Lula da Silva has dispatched his foreign minister
Celso Amorim to Harare in a bid to break the deadlock on the distribution of
ministries between President Robert Mugabe and main opposition leader Morgan

The move comes after four consecutive days of negotiations which have
failed to crack the impasse on cabinet portfolios.
Amorim was expected in Harare yesterday to hold talks with Mugabe. He
was also going to meet Tsvangirai, and the other MDC leader Arthur
Mutambara. The Brazilian embassy yesterday confirmed Amorim's visit.
Sources said this followed a request by mediator, former South African
president Thabo Mbeki, who is close to Brazil's da Silva to help out in the
talks. Brazil is an emerging power in South-South geopolitics.
Brazil is becoming influential in dialogue between South America and
developed countries, especially the United States. It played an important
role in negotiations in internal conflicts in Venezuela and Colombia.
Brazil, a huge agricultural economy, is also expected to assist
Zimbabwe in reviving its ruined agriculture. South Africa is also trying to
do so. Sceptical Western countries and donors have said they would adopt a
wait-and-see approach.
Amorim will today hold a press conference at the Rainbow Towers Hotel
to brief journalists on the matter.
The talks, aimed at sharing key ministries which Mugabe allocated to
his party last week, continued in circles in Harare yesterday with Zanu PF
giving indications it might cede finance to the opposition MDC but certainly
nothing else.
The convoluted negotiations have put a damper on last month's
hard-to-pin-down power-sharing agreement which gives Mugabe and Zanu PF 15
ministries, Tsvangirai and his party 13 and Mutambara and his group three.
Issues at the centre of the current dispute include:
*ááá Ministries, especially finance and home affairs;

*áá Provincial governors, ambassadors and other envoys;
*ááá Ministry permanent secretaries and principal directors;
*ááá Senior civil servants and top government officials; and
*ááá Loopholes in the agreement and 19th amendment to the
Besides the ministries and governors, the other issues are not part of
the latest round of talks and according to sources in both Zanu PF and the
MDC they would be dealt with later.
Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara were at the time of going to press
yesterday still locked in negotiations, but informed sources said since
Tuesday Mugabe had been clinging to what he gazetted last week. He was only
prepared let go of finance, which he left unallocated last week.
As reported in the Zimbabwe Independent three weeks ago, Zanu PF had
resolved to hold all principal ministries except finance for strategic
reasons. They want the MDC to mobilise funds and resources for social and
economic reconstruction.
While Mugabe is prepared to discuss only finance and home affairs, the
MDC says there are now important 10 ministries in dispute.
Diplomats say they are sceptical about the viability of the agreement
that leaves Mugabe in charge as head of state and government. Zanu PF held a
secret emergency politburo meeting on Wednesday morning to discuss the
situation and resolved not to yield.
Sources said Mugabe is under pressure from his army of disgruntled
outgoing ministers and senior party officials to adopt an unyielding
position to ensure they remain part of the patronage network.
Out of about 64 ministers, deputy ministers and provincial governors
who are also resident ministers, Zanu PF is at most likely to retain only 28
if it gives five governors' posts to the MDC factions.
Sources said Mugabe is refusing to relinquish home affairs - which is
also at the centre of discussions - after seizing all other crucial
ministries including defence, justice, foreign affairs, local government,
information and mines.
It is said Mugabe offered finance on condition that the MDC agrees
with his wresting of other ministries. Sources said he also offered home
affairs under pressure on condition it would be rotational after every six
months or have co-ministers.
Mugabe reportedly proposed that if the rotational system was
unacceptable, there should be two home affairs ministers - one from MDC and
the other from Zanu PF.
Departments that fall under the ministry such as the Registrar's
Office,á Immigration and Police would be shared equally between the parties.
Zanu PF has also been trying to come up with a rotational system on
the finance portfolio or appointing two deputies to accommodate the three
parties to the agreement in one ministry.
Sources said Zanu PF fears that if the MDC gets finance and operates
it unchecked, it would deny Mugabe and his party state funds they need to
avoid collapse. They also fear, it is said, the MDC might institute what
they call a "forensic audit" to find out if government funds have been
On home affairs, it is understood Mugabe and his party fear the MDC
could use the ministry to arrest their officials and supporters for various
crimes ranging from corruption to political violence.
Mugabe has also ensured that State Security is no longer a ministry
but a department in his office, retaining all instruments of coercion in his
bid to maintain his iron grip on power. The EU on Monday condemned Mugabe's
"unilateral decision" to form a new cabinet and threatened fresh sanctions
unless he respects the power-sharing deal.
EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg slammed what they called
"the unilateral decision to form a new government which has not been agreed
by all parties".

They said they were "ready to consider additional measures" if the
deal continues to be blocked.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband described Mugabe's measure as
an "attempted power grab".
New French ambassador Laurent Contini, who presented his credentials
to Mugabe on Thursday, urged parties to conclude the talks urgently.

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Mugabe Told Not To Yield To MDC

Monday, 20 October 2008 12:41
FORMER PF Zapu senior members have told President Robert Mugabe not to
cede the three governors' posts in Matabeleland to either of the two
formations of the MDC under the power-sharing deal signed last month.

Sources said the ex-PF Zapu leaders also want their former members in
the diplomatic service in various countries worldwide to be retained.
The move by ex-Zapu leaders came in the wake of pressure from the
Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC for Mugabe to distribute the country's 10
provincial governors' posts among the parties to the unity-government deal.
Tsvangirai also wants the restructuring of the diplomatic service, as he
intends his party and the smaller faction of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara
to appoint ambassadors from within their ranks.
The sources said former senior members of PF Zapu have been holding
meetings with a view to pulling out of the 1987 Unity Accord with Zanu PF if
Mugabe ignores their concerns.
"The consensus among ex-PF Zapu members is that whatever Mugabe agrees
with the two MDC formations should not affect the Unity Accord of 1987," one
of the sources said. "Everyone is agreed that there was no consultation
between Mugabe and us on the deal and as far as we are concerned the 1987
Unity Accord is still unchanged."
Sources close to the negotiations between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and
Mutambara on the formation of a unity government said the Zanu PF leader was
adamant that he would not cede the home affairs ministry because it was a
preserve of ex-PF Zapu members.
"If Mugabe gives in to the MDC and allocates them the home affairs
ministry he would have compromised the Unity Accord," another source said.
Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu this week said he was not aware
of the manoeuvres by his colleagues to leave Zanu PF, but confirmed that the
1987 Unity Accord was discussed with Mugabe.
"The issue of the Unity Accord is not for debate in the talks and it
will remain as it is," Ndlovu said.á "That is why Vice-President Joseph
Msika was retained as vice-president in the current deal. We have pushed for
it (Unity Accord) to be respected and everybody is happy."
Ndlovu, however, could not be drawn to discuss cabinet posts reserved
for the former PF Zapu leaders.
"The Unity Accord is not for debate. President Mugabe assured us that
the current negotiations with the opposition will not compromise the unity
accord and the MDC did not contest that," he added.

By Loughty Dube

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Analysts Predict Final Deal By Year-end

Monday, 20 October 2008 12:38
A FINAL power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and the two
formations of the MDC is expected to be concluded by year-end amid reports
that the political protagonists are far from resolving contentious issues.

Sources in Zanu PF and the MDC said the agreement signed last month
may be finalised by the end of December given the rate at which the
negotiations to constitute a unity government have been proceeding.
The deal ran into serious problems a few days after it was inked when
Mugabe and the leaders of the two MDC formations, Morgan Tsvangirai and
Arthur Mutambara, hit deadlock on the distribution of the 31 cabinet
portfolios among their parties. Under the deal, Mugabe should have 15
ministries, Tsvangirai 13 and Mutambara 3.
The tension heightened last Friday when Mugabe parcelled out the
ministries despite having met Tsvangirai and Mutambara earlier that day and
having agreed to recall the pact broker, former South African President
Thabo Mbeki, to Harare to try to unlock the logjam.
The Tsvangirai-led MDC accused Mugabe of retaining key ministries -
defence, home affairs, foreign affairs, local government, justice, and
information - which they said was tantamount to "power-grabbing" instead of
Mbeki flew into Harare on Monday and last night was still trying to
resolve the crisis. But sources said even if the deadlock is unlocked, there
were more problems on the road ahead.
Chief among the obstacles, the sources said, would be the drafting,
gazetting and debating of Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No19 that will
operationalise the unity deal.
The amendment would create the office of the prime minister and deputy
prime ministers and would expand the numbers of MPs in both the House of
Assembly and the Senate.
"Details of the constitutional amendment should come from the three
parties," one of the sources said. "The input into the amendment will be
contentious and there is a likelihood of another stalemate."
The source said the MDC-Tsvangirai would fight for a constitutional
provision stating that Mugabe would make key appointments only after
agreeing with the prime minister.
Tsvangirai would be the prime minister in the unity government.
The MDC wants the word "consult" in the agreement referring to Mugabe
to be replaced with "agreeing".
The sources said Zanu PF would fight "tooth and nail" to block the MDC
from curtailing Mugabe's power.
The two MDC formations, the sources added, would also fight to have a
constitutional provision empowering them to be involved in appointing key
permanent secretaries, ambassadors, heads of parastatals and government
If the parties agree, Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No19 will be
gazetted in terms of the law.
After being gazetted, the constitutional amendment should be debated
publicly for at least 30 days before it is tabled, debated and passed by
both the House of Assembly and the Senate. Mugabe would then sign it into
"Given the process the amendment has to go through, the final
conclusion of the unity deal should be by the end of December," another
source said. "The parties are yet to meet to deliberate on the details of
the amendment yet we are already moving towards the end of October. There is
need for at least two months from the day of gazetting and passing into
The sources said apart from the constitutional amendment, Zanu PF and
the two MDC formations were yet to negotiate on the 10 provincial governors'
posts Mugabe's party wanted to cling on to.
The Zanu PF central committee on September 17, two days after the
power-sharing deal was signed, resolved that the 10 provincial governors
appointed by Mugabe on August 29 should remain in office.
The central committee agreed that the issue of governors was not
contained in the pact signed by the three parties
But the MDC has since said the governors' posts should be distributed
among the parties in line with the outcome of the March 29 elections.
Last week, Tsvangirai said: "We have not yet deliberated on the
outstanding issue of the allocation of governors. This issue remains
outstanding considering that as negotiating parties we agreed that the
allocation of governors must be in the spirit of the result of the election
on March 29."
The sources said in this week's round of negotiations with Mbeki in
the chair, the MDC did not raise the issue of the governors, but left it for
another day.
Zanu PF and the MDC would also haggle on the proposal by Mugabe's
party to scrap a clause in the unity government barring by-elections for 12
The parties agreed on the clause after considering the divisiveness
and confrontational nature of elections and also out of the need to allow
the deal to take root.
The clause read: "Cognisant of the need to give our people some
breathing space and a healing period, the parties hereby agree that for a
period of 12 months from the date of signing of this agreement, should any
electoral vacancy arise in respect of a local authority or parliamentary
seat, for whatever reason, only the party holding that seat prior to the
vacancy occurring shall be entitled to nominate and field a candidate to
fill the seat subject to that party complying with the rules governing its
internal democracy."
Soon after Zanu PF resolved to have by-elections, the party tasked its
commissariat department to prepare for by-elections in
Chegutu, Matobo South and Guruve North.

By Constantine Chimakure

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Eric Bloch: Control Freaks Fuel Inflation

Monday, 20 October 2008 11:26
LAST week, after an inordinately prolonged delay, the Central
Statistical Office (CSO) released Consumer Price Index (CPI) and inflation
data, although only for July 2008.

At one time such data was forthcoming withiná two weeks of month-end,
when it was still meaningful and of value to the private sector, but for
most of the last year either the data has been wholly withheld, or has been
released very, very belatedly, when its impact and usefulness would be of
negligible extent.
áThis tardy issuance of key economic facts has generally not been the
fault of CSO, but of government, which has recurrently barred or hindered
release for fear of popular reaction being very negatively focused upon
government and its abysmal failure to ensure a virile, viable economy.
Not only is the extraordinary belated issuance of CPIá andá inflation
data highly prejudicial to effective private sector economic strategisation
and formulation of operating policies but, once the data is eventually
forthcoming, its veracity is necessarily and inevitably in doubt.
In part, that doubt is fuelled by the delays that have occurred, for
such delays unavoidably stimulate cynicism and scepticism as to the
credibility of the released information, with pronounced suspicions that
government has motivated "doctoring" of the data in order to minimise
negative assessment of governmental policies and actions.
Yet a further reason for the private sector, and others,á to be unable
to view the alleged CPI and Inflation statisticsá with any substantive
credibility is the awareness that the data is compiled having regard to
"controlled" prices as foolishly, ineffectively and destructively prescribed
by the National Incomes and Prices Commission (NIPC), instead of the actual
prices payable by the population. The hard fact is that virtually no goods
are available for purchase in the formal sector, save and except from
foreign-currency licensed shops (FOLIWARS) and from others unlawfully
selling only against foreign currency payments.
Thus, almost all the public's purchasing of goods is either within the
black market, where controlled prices are not applied, or is funded in
foreign currency, which currency is generally sourced at gargantuan premiums
within the "alternative", unofficial money markets.
Hence, the real cost of goods is usually in a range of anything
between 5 and 20 times the controlled prices, but the CSO uses the
controlled prices to compute CPI and, therefrom, to determine inflation
rates. Even in instances where goods are availableá at the prices prescribed
by NIPC, fewá can purchase them at these prices, for almost all traders
demand payment in cash, and will only accept cheque payments if they
incorporate a massive premium (usually in the range ofá 400%á to 1 000%).
But most of the population cannot access a sufficiency of cash to fund
their basic, essential purchases, let alone anything else and therefore,
although most reluctantly, many do pay the extortionate premiums demanded
for acceptance of cheques. (of course, with inflation soaring upwards daily,
and it taking up to five to seven days for cheque clearances to be effected,
it is unsurprising that there is a great reticence to accept cheques, unless
they incorporate a substantive compensation for the inflation that will
occur between date of acceptance and date of payment).
The magnitude of inflation is further very intensively magnified by
the immensely pronounced scarcity of foreign currency, which has enabled
illegal trafficking in foreign exchange to thrive. The Reserve Bank,
supportedá by the National Economic Conduct Inspectorateá (NECI), the
Zimbabwe Republicá Police (ZRP), the NIPC,á and others, have vigorously
sought to curb such foreign currency trading, primarily by resorting to
ever-greater regulation and control and also by constant threats,
fulminations and sabre-rattling against those engaged in such trading.
áBut both the controls, and the menaces and declarations of "big
ástick" actions, have not only failed to curb the unofficial foreign
currency markets, but have driven the exchange rates within these markets
ever higher.
Whilst there are innumerable causes of Zimbabwe's horrendous
inflation, including grossly excessive governmental spending and
consequentialá past exceedingly great printing of money, in recent times the
most substantiveá cause of Zimbabwe's gargantuan inflation has been the
impact of alternative market currency exchangeá rates upon cost of imports
and production, and upon the populace's accessing of foreign currency in
order to obtain goods absolutely basic and essential to its needs, not
otherwise available (including maize meal, flour, sugar, milk, cooking oil,
salt, bread, candles, petroleum products, and much else).
Admittedly, yet another major cause of Zimbabwean inflation is the
catastrophic decline in productivity, with the manufacturing sector
operating at one-fifth of its output levels of 6 years ago, and with
agricultural production having decreased by approximatelyá two-thirds from
past attained levels. And the greatest causes of the decrease in
productivity are again the massively great controls which government seeks
to wield and exert upon all facets of the economy. If government were
willing to privatise parastatals, the infrastructural collapse would be
halted and reversed, to the benefit of national productivity. If government
would remodel its land reform, tenure and redistribution programme, instead
of seeking total control of land, agriculture could be progressively
restored to former levels of glory.
Thus, clearly and not credibly contestable, government's control-freak
approach is the principal cause of the most pronounced hyperinflation
prevailing anywhere in the world, and the third highest level of
hyperinflation in recorded history (and still rising!). According to CSO,
year-on-year inflation to July, 2008 was 231 162 000%, whilst inflation for
the month of July was stated to be 2 600, 2%. In reality, the year-on-year
inflation probably exceeded 400 million%, and the month-on-month inflation
for July will undoubtedly have been in excess of 3 000%.
Agonisingly worse is that inflation in August and September, 2008, and
continuing into October, was indisputably even higher, and it is probable
that by the end of the present month, annualised inflation will exceed one
billion%. Even worse is that there can be no expectation of change, and a
curb to inflation, until a genuinely unified government is operational,
sound international relations are restored and yieldá significantá foreign
currencyá inflows, economic deregulation is aggressively pursued (including
the burial of NIPC, and the cessation of cash withdrawal limits), and
genuine efforts are made to restoreá productivity. Until all that happens,
the governmental control freaks will continue to fuel inflation, destroying
the remnants of the economy, and condemning Zimbabweans to ever greater

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Muckraker: What First Lady?

Monday, 20 October 2008 11:22
GRACE Mugabe has reassured the nation that she will remain First Lady
under the power-sharing agreement.
"Some people are taking advantage of the fact that you have limited
access to the media and you are not following political developments," she
told Bindura residents.
"President Mugabe remains Head of State and Government and I will
remain the First Lady while the two Vice-Presidents will remain office
This is an interesting spin. First of all, who has taken advantage of
gullible folk to spread the word that President Mugabe remains the absolute
ruler under the power-sharing deal? There has been no suggestion that he is
sharing anything in the columns of the state press.
Instead it is being said that he is accommodating other parties from
the same generosity of spirit that led him to include whites in 1980 and
Zapu in 1987. There is no hint that he is having to accommodate the MDC
because his party lost the March general election at the same time that he
lost the presidential poll.
The government media has invented the fiction that Zanu PF won "the
popular vote".
Whatever is meant by that construction, Zanu PF lost a majority of the
seats which is how we determine which party gets to form the next
And we were interested to hear that "Amai" Grace Mugabe gets to stay
on as First Lady in terms of the agreement.
We are not aware of any clause in the agreement referring to her
status. The term "First Lady" has no constitutional basis. It is borrowed
from the United States. Grace Mugabe is very simply the wife of the
president. She has no other claim to fame except as a serial shopper.
She should stop promoting herself as some sort of saviour who will
defend the "gains" of land reform.
How can she talk about the gains of land reform when the Americans and
the EU are having to feed Zimbabwe's starving masses because her husband has
made such a mess of the economy?

As for the two vice-presidents, we don't recall them being mentioned
once in the various speeches made on September 15. And not much has been
said about them since. Hence the necessity for a cheesy front-page picture
in the Herald to remind us of their existence.
But how do we explain Grace Mugabe's shrill intervention in a field
that doesn't really concern her?
ááWell, it could have something to do with Oppah Rushesha's demise.
Grace could have her eye on the leadership of the Women's League. And Joice
Mujuru could be the agent of her ambitions. Watch this space as the terrible
two criss-cross the country handing out other people's largesse.

It is said the farming implements, food hampers and tonnes of maize
donated under Operation Gutsaruzhinji were sourced through the Reserve Bank.
A picture in the Sunday Mail showed both donors and recipients dressed in
Zanu PF attire.
ááIn other words public funds were used for party-political purposes.
áAnd isn't it shocking that politicians like Mujuru can go around
pretending that Zimbabwe's problems are the product of sanctions and that in
the March election voters didn't understand "the developments that were
taking place in our country"?
In other words, Zanu PF lost because voters didn't understand the
Rule No 1 Amai Mujuru: Don't insult the voters.
"The hardships that the country is experiencing are a result of
sanctions," she proclaimed. "As leaders we should be careful that our
politics do not hurt the people we lead."
Has she told her politburo colleagues this?

One reason we believe the public press should be kept out of Zanu PF's
grasping clutches is to prevent distortions of the sort we witnessed on
Tuesday where the Herald's features and political editor claimed that Kenya's
President Mwai Kibaki entered into a power-sharing agreement with Raila
Odinga "following widespread post-election violence believed to have been
ignited by the opposition."
Not difficult to see what is going on here. But the truth is more
Post-election violence was sparked in Kenya because a younger
generation of Kenyans felt they had been deprived of the opportunity for
change by an ageing president who tolerated corruption and whose party used
a suborned electoral commission to procure his return to office after an
election the opposition manifestly won.
This is clear to everybody except the Herald's political editor!
As for the Herald's attempt to persuade us that "Tsvangirai got more
than Kenya's Odinga" in the September 15 agreement, a closer look suggests
the two parties got about the same division of power. Whatever the case,
Kibaki has been largely silent since Odinga's appointment and the Kenyan
prime minister seems to be playing the leading role in speaking for his
country on a range of issues including Zimbabwe.
Perhaps we should revisit the Kenyan power-sharing deal to see how the
allocation of important ministries to Kibaki's party has not prevented
Odinga from occupying the political high ground.

One area which the MDC has sacrificed to Zanu PF without realising
their mistake is Media, Information and Publicity. Zanu PF are already using
this portfolio to mislead the public about the September 15 agreement and
prevent a diversity of views to be expressed about the way forward.
This is unacceptable. Zanu PF is demanding that the MDC help them in
their agenda of closing down externally-based radio stations while
continuing to spew partisan propaganda from the state-owned media at home
and preventing newspapers such as the Daily News from reopening. The only
voice heard on radio stations across the land is Mugabe's.
Last weekend the Sunday News published an editorial in which it quoted
the Information ministry's permanent secretary George Charamba's remarks
criticising the MDC for three fulsome paragraphs and then added "We could
not agree more."
As if they would be allowed to do anything other than agree more!
This is obsequiousness at its worst. These flaws need to be brought to
the attention of Zimbabweans in all walks of life before Zanu PF claims it
enjoys a media mandate. And the MDC needs to be more forthright in backing
media reform. As it stands, the absence of a free media will vitiate
whatever agreement is reached as ruling party propagandists continue to
resist change.

Muckraker was interested to read that a driver in the Ministry of
Information and a salesman had appeared in court on allegations of stealing
five brand new government trucks. The two committed the offence in league
with the ministry's acting director (finance and human resources) who has
since fled the country, it is alleged.
The vehicles had been allocated by the Reserve Bank and were part of a
batch of 79.
Charamba was quoted as saying the ministry was committed to keeping
the public informed about any new developments in the case.
Muckraker has two questions: What does Gideon Gono think he is doing
allocating 79 vehicles to a ministry which is little more than a party
mouthpiece? And if the ministry is so committed to disclosure regarding the
thefts why didn't somebody spot the disappearance of the two vehicles when
the thefts spanned the period February to September?
Muckraker raised the issue of government vehicles being abused by
drivers and relatives of ministers in this column a few weeks ago.

On Tuesday the Herald reported police had launched a manhunt for
Andrew Mutinhiri, son of Youth Development and Employment Creation minister
Rtd Brigadier Ambrose Mutinhiri. He is wanted for allegedly diverting 10
tonnes of maize acquired from the GMB to buy a car.
This follows a crackdown on corrupt GMB officials.
So what do we have here? A parastatal widely seen, like other
parastatals, to be a form of sheltered employment for those with
ruling-party connections? And a minister's son who is clearly a beneficiary
of his family connections. The local GMB manager has been arrested in
connection with this case.
The father occupied one of the finest farms in the country, a wine
estate in Marondera, during the land invasions but then relinquished it to
his wife, Tracy, who is also a politician, when he moved onto another farm.
Tracy and young Andrew failed to make a going business of what is a very
specialised field of agriculture. Which is probably why Andrew's business
interests took him into new fields of endeavour. He is the director of a
milling company in Mahusekwa, we are told.
We are reading nearly every week of the delinquent progeny of chefs,
but why is all this only coming out now? Are we missing something here?
Surely Zanu PF can't reinvent itself as a clean party, if that is the
improbable intention.

ZTA CEO Karikoga Kaseke is a typical parastatal boss, repeating Zanu
PF mantras about why Zimbabwe is currently isolated and using his clout to
secure perks that other guests have to pay for.
He appears to have taken exception to comments in the column a couple
of weeks ago regarding the Sanganai expo which he arbitrarily moved to
Bulawayo when the city's accommodation capacity couldn't cope. As a result
punters stayed in Harare where there was surplus space and were flown to
Bulawayo every day for the expo.
Our Bulawayo staff contacted us on Wednesday to say that our
newspapers had been refused accreditation to cover the expo.
There was no explanation for this counter-productive behaviour other
than to learn that Kaseke had given the instruction.
He subsequently relented and admitted the reporters.
The episode however simple illustrates our point that over-mighty
parastatal apparatchiks need a paradigm shift that removes them from the
ruling party's obsession with message-control and educates them in
elementary media relations.

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Editor's Memo: Facing Hard Truths

Monday, 20 October 2008 10:49
Every well-meaning and realistic person who genuinely wants an urgent,
sustainable political solution to the current Zimbabwe crisis supports the
current talks.

A workable power-sharing agreement could pave the way for
reconstruction to ensure social and economic recovery.

However, these talks reflect our political underdevelopment as a
society - its lack of developed institutions, values and attitudes that form
the political power system. It also reflects the convolution of the current

Let's face the hard truths to find our way out.

Given the current situation in which successive elections since 2000
have failed to resolve the crisis, talks appear to be the best way out. They
seem to be the most useful tool, although limited in many ways.

The biggest problem is that in the final analysis talks may help to
rescue President Robert Mugabe or force the MDC into a negotiated surrender.
Otherwise, they have to be pursued to the limit because there are no other

Generally speaking, negotiations may not be an option at all. Firmly
entrenched dictators who feel secure in their positions may refuse to
negotiate with the opposition. Or, when negotiations have been initiated and
they recover, they may then refuse to be cooperative. This is what Mugabe is

Yet at the same time an all-out political fight between Zanu PF and
MDC would inevitably lead us into civil strife. The conditions for that
already exist. Any explosive event would ignite the situation.

This further illustrates why talks must be pursued to the end.
However, this is not to say the MDC must accept a raw deal. It must push the
frontiers. Mugabe and Zanu PF are hard-nosed, but they must be forced to
adjust to the political landscape after March 29.

The assumption underlying this is Mugabe at some level wants the talks
and can work with the MDC. If he is just driven by narrow self-interest,
deceit and cynicism, as some of his critics say, then talks will lead us

Understandably, reacting to recent brutalities, torture,
disappearances, and killings, some people say confronting Mugabe head-on is
the only way out. They say talks are a waste of time. Mugabe personifies the
crisis and cannot be part of the solution, they argue. They also say Mugabe
still thinks at the very same warped level at which he created the crisis
and cannot pull us out of the woods unless he adopts a paradigm shift.

Others put it simply: As long as Mugabe is in charge nothing will
change, except for the worse. They say the solution is for the MDC to pull
out of the deal and continue the war of attrition with Mugabe until he quits
by himself or is forced to go.

The method suggested is mass action and civil disobedience because,
the argument goes, Mugabe has no political legitimacy because he lost the
substantially free and fair March 29 election, only to storm back into
office through a brutal campaign of violence.

The assumption informing this proposition is that the MDC in its
current structure and form is able to mount an open campaign of defiance
against Mugabe.

Whatever the merits of the confrontational option, however, one point
is clear. By resorting to antagonistic engagement, the MDC would have chosen
the very type of terrain and struggle in which Zanu PF would almost always
have an upper hand. Zanu PF still has all the instruments of coercion at its

The MDC's choice to engage the regime, especially after the March
elections in which Mugabe and Zanu PF were defeated was a good decision as
the situation appeared ripe for the picking. The only problem was the MDC
gave away too much too soon in the negotiations and now is being forced to
surrender all key ministries, except perhaps finance.

This deal is very bad, whichever way you look at it, but there is no
better option at the moment.

Some amazingly na´ve MDC officials and their supporters still claim up
to now the agreement is a good deal. They don't get it. They still deny it
leaves Mugabe firmly in charge. They argue illogically that Mugabe is head
of state but not head of government because the agreement does not state it
in writing.

But it is clear to everybody who is straight-thinking that Mugabe is
the head of state and government. His role as head of state is clearly
outlined. He is also head of government simply because he chairs cabinet.

Let's go back to the basics. According to the Oxford Concise
Dictionary of Politics, covering political institutions, philosophies,
concepts, leaders and thinkers and renowned as one of the most up-to-date,
cabinet means "regular meetings of ministers - chaired by a head of
government - with authority to make policies and decisions on behalf of

This may be a bitter pill to swallow to some, but that's the hard

Instead of being in denial, MDC functionaries and their strategists
need to remember that in such a conflict characterised by political
defiance, things are constantly changing in the field of struggle with
continuing interplay of moves, countermoves and manoeuvres. Nothing is

Power relationships, both absolute and relative, are subject to
constant and sometimes rapid changes.

In the absence of an alternative, the MDC should try to capitalise on
this deal. Flawed as it is, it provides significant openings for them. It
must also ensure that if the ancien regime continues to resist change, the
world will quickly know of it.

By Dumisani Muleya

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Comment: Still In Denial

Monday, 20 October 2008 10:39
AS negotiations for an inclusive national government lurch inexorably
towards some sort of conclusion, it is clear the outcome is likely to be
fatally flawed.

The whole purpose of an agreement is to give effect to the clearly
expressed national wish for change. That desire is not reflected in either
the ministerial composition or attitude of the erstwhile ruling party. The
dead wood can be seen floating on the surface of the new government.

President Mugabe doesn't recognise the significance of his defeat in
March, or if he does, seeks to wish it away. His followers are evidently of
the view that the people made a mistake and require reeducation.

The beating they got at the hands of Zanu PF militias ahead of the
June run-off was an introductory course. Since then Mugabe has been steadily
clawing back power.

Vice-President Joice Mujuru made the party's attitude clear in Mazowe
last week when she told Bindura voters that "many of you were not aware of
and did not understand the developments that were taking place in our

These were caused by sanctions, she claimed.

In other words, the electorate was mistaken in believing bad policy
decisions had led to food shortages, price distortions, and hardship. These
were externally-induced, she would have us believe.

This is the sort of breathtaking dishonesty politicians get away with
when there is inadequate media scrutiny. As Grace Mugabe pointed out at the
same event in Mazowe: "Some people are taking advantage of the fact that you
have limited access to the media."

Those "taking advantage" of a captive crowd included herself and
Mujuru. Their audience was clearly not getting an accurate or honest picture
of the national malaise from either woman handing out the elements of
persuasion in the form of farm implements and hampers!

A media deficit where one party gets to abuse the state media for
partisan publicity is dangerous to the health of any society.

Mugabe -- husband and wife -- will go on telling audiences that all
their problems are the responsibility of Britain and the US so they don't
have to be accountable for their own home-made disasters.

So we will have a government where the majority of ministers, blindly
following their leader, are in denial about their unpopularity, and a former
opposition which will be thwarted at every turn in its efforts to engineer
recovery. It will not be a power-sharing agreement because Zanu PF will
exercise all the important levers of power and above all the instruments of

Even a cursory reading of the state media suggests its editors are
happy to be used by officials in the President's Office to spin the view
that Zanu PF did not really lose the March election and that all our
problems are the fault of Western interventionists. The MDC's Ministry of
Economic Planning and Investment Promotion will thus be dead on arrival as
nobody in the West will want to assist a recidivist regime that declines to
acknowledge where it went wrong.

Mugabe has been slow to realise that what is required is change. The
people voted for change and haven't got it. That change -- economic
reconstruction and international rehabilitation -- can only be effected if
Mugabe and his ministers are prevented from thwarting their MDC colleagues
in policy implementation. But every indication is that they propose to do
just that.

For instance, Zanu PF demands that what it calls "pirate" radio
stations are closed. But it continues to abuse ZBC for its own partisan
purposes and blocks the return of dozens of journalists evicted from the
country over the past eight years for telling inconvenient truths.

At the same time it refuses to allow the Daily News and other banned
papers from operating.

Another significant indication of its insincerity is refusing Morgan
Tsvangirai a passport and persisting with a pernicious prosecution of Arthur
Mutambara and the Standard newspaper for criticising the state and the
judiciary during the election campaign.

This is obviously not a foundation on which any national government
can be built.

So whatever the outcome of the negotiations that President Mbeki has
been presiding over this week, our hopes for change depend upon a
recalcitrant regime wedded to power and unprepared to concede anything more
than an illusion of partnership.

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