Thu 25 Sep 2008, 16:09 GMT
HARARE, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's central bank licensed 600 shops on
Thursday to sell goods in foreign currency as it battles a flourishing black
market trade and scarce supplies of basic commodities.
This is the latest in a series of central bank policies meant to ease the
effects of a devastating economic crisis but analysts say will do little to
alleviate the plight of millions of Zimbabweans in the absence of radical
political and economic reforms.
The southern African country is struggling with the world's highest rate of
inflation, at above 11 million percent, as well as shortages of food, fuel
and foreign currency.
Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono said allowing motorists to buy fuel and
some shops to charge in foreign currency would stop thousands of Zimbabweans
from going shopping in neighbouring countries and revive struggling
"A total of 600 applications have been successfully vetted," said Gono
during a ceremony to hand over the licences.
Gono said the Zimbabwe dollar remained the official currency and that basic
commodities like maize-meal, sugar, cooking oil, school uniforms and
medicines would be sold in local currency unless there was proof they had
The most used foreign currencies in Zimbabwe are the South African rand and
the U.S. dollar.
Basic goods are scarce in Zimbabwe and when they become available they are
sold at high prices. Consumers pay less when using cash, which is in short
supply, while those using electronic transfers and cheques can pay up to ten
One U.S. dollar fetches Z$100 at the bank, Z$1,000 on the black market when
using cash, and Z$120,000 when paid for via an electronic transfer.
The central bank has repeatedly re-denominated the Zimbabwe dollar to try
keep up with inflation. In its latest move it lopped off 10 zeros on Aug. 1
to help bring relief to consumers forced to carry large bags of money to buy
Analysts do not anticipate an economic rebound until a post-election crisis
is resolved. President Robert Mugabe and opposition MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing deal but remain deadlocked over the
allocation of ministries.
Local manufacturers would be allowed to sell to the licensed shops in
foreign currency. Zimbabweans and foreigners would be able to run the
Gono removed foreign currency restrictions for individuals, saying this was
meant to allow them to use their foreign currency to buy from the shops.
Previously individuals were allowed to withdraw a maximum of U.S. $1,000
from their accounts upon producing proof of travel. They will now be able to
withdraw any amount.
The central bank governor said from next Monday the daily Zimbabwe dollar
withdrawal limit would be hiked from 1,000 to 20,000. Thousands of desperate
Zimbabweans were enduring long hours queuing to withdraw their money from
(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Ron Askew)
Thu Sep 25, 10:47 AM ET
GENEVA (AFP) - The World Wildlife Fund on Thursday criticised the release of
four poachers who admitted to killing 18 rhinos in Zimbabwe, saying such lax
law enforcement is unravelling conservation progress.
"The lack of enforcement and increased poaching pressure in Zimbabwe now
threaten to reverse the excellent trends in rhino populations of recent
years," said Susan Lieberman, director of WWF's species programme.
Rhino poaching is growing throughout Zimbabwe, with around 70 rhinos killed
since 2000 in the Lowveld Conservancies -- where most of the nation's rhinos
are found, WWF said.
In 2008 alone, about 20 rhinos were shot in the Lowveld, while "prior to
2000, for a period of seven years, there was no rhino poaching wahtsoever,"
said Raoul du Toit, Lowveld rhino conservation project manager.
WWF said poachers are killing rhinos in snares and shooting them for their
While some poachers from neighbouring Zambia have been arrested and
convicted, no Zimbabwean poacher has been convicted.
"The few Zimbabwean poachers arrested, have subsequently been released on
bail, and then absconded or have evaded prosecution in the courts," WWF
In the case of the four Zimbabweans who admitted to killing 18 rhinos, they
were "granted bail, freed and immediately absconded."
Zimbabwe is home to 300 white rhinos and 500 black rhinos, which are more
endangered. Worldwide, there are currently around 14,500 white rhinos and
nearly 4,000 black rhinos, added WWF.
HARARE, September 25 2008 - State security agents and former
liberation heroes have launched fresh farm invasions and are dispossessing
the few remaining white commercial farmers in Zimbabwe.
"Things have progressively gotten worse. There are lots of new offer
letters being given out and lots of new invasions. Houses are being broken
into by new settlers. The worst affected areas are Manicaland, Masvingo and
Mashonaland East, West and Central," said Commmercial Farmers Union (CFU)
President, Trevor Gifford.
The CFU, the main representative body for white farmers, told this
reporter Wednesday that state security agents and war veterans had embarked
on these fresh farm seizures.
Gifford said although the farmers' body had made police reports in
some instances the police were refusing to act and arresting the culprits.
Less than 600 out of 4 500 large-scale white commercial farmers remain
in Zimbabwe after the controversial 2 000 land invasions.
ZANU PF leader Robert Mugabe and opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai last week signed a power sharing
agreement to form a coalition government. Under the power share agreement
the two leaders including Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a breakaway
faction of the MDC agreed to work together for the restoration of full
productivity on all agricultural land. However, the fresh farm seizures
appear to be against the spirit of the agreement.
The southern African country that was once a regional breadbasket has
largely survived on food handouts from international relief agencies for the
past nine years.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and
Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the United Nations (UN)'s food security
agencies about 3,8 million people are in urgent need of food aid and the
figure will rise to 5,1 million in the first quarter of 2009.
Thu 25 Sep 2008, 15:38 GMT
By Emma Batha
LONDON, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Children in Zimbabwe are eating rats and
inedible roots riddled with toxic parasites to stave off hunger because of
chronic food shortages, an aid agency said on Thursday.
Save the Children said the most vulnerable faced starvation unless they get
food aid in the next couple of weeks.
"The rising malnutrition and the rise in diseases are going to mean that
children will die and we have to act very fast," said Sarah Jacobs, a
spokeswoman for the relief group.
The United Nations had said previously that more than 5 million people in
Zimbabwe would need food aid by early next year after a poor harvest
compounded by economic turmoil.
Jacobs said many people in the Zambezi Valley, the poorest and driest area,
were now surviving on a vile-tasting, fibrous root called makuri.
"It's got no nutritional value whatsoever. It tastes disgusting and it also
has a parasite which attaches to it which is toxic," said Jacobs, who has
just returned from the region.
"This is all they have to eat. You see babies eating it and toddlers eating
it, and it's not digestible. It creates terrible stomach pains."
People were eating anything to survive, she said. She had come across one
child who had died after eating a poisonous root and young children eating
tiny rats they caught in their huts.
Save the Children and other agencies are resuming work after Zimbabwe's
government lifted a ban on their operations at the end of August.
President Robert Mugabe imposed the ban before a run-off presidential
election in June, accusing the agencies of supporting the opposition. But
Save the Children said in reality many agencies had not been able to work in
the field since the first election round in March.
The agency, which has launched a 5 million pound ($9.2 million) appeal for
emergency operations in Zimbabwe, said the situation had got much worse in
the past few months and that rampant inflation meant even people with jobs
would need food aid.
"People's ways of coping have been completely exhausted. People are saying
they're scared they're going to die within weeks if food doesn't come,"
"We really are playing catch up. It's a huge humanitarian job now and there
has to be much more money than there has ever been before."
Jacobs said many children had diarrhoea after eating makuri, which was
particularly dangerous in a situation where there was no proper clean water
The lack of nutrition had also weakened people's immune systems and left
them vulnerable to illness just before the rainy season when cases of
malaria and cholera increase.
There have already been suspected cases of cholera even though the disease
does not usually appear until the rains arrive in October.
Save the Children said proper nutrition was particularly vital for those
with HIV/AIDS, which effects one in five adults in Zimbabwe.
The food crisis has also caused many children to drop out of school either
because they could not afford to go, needed to work or look for food, or
because their teachers could not afford the journey to work. (Editing by
Angus MacSwan) (For more news and information on humanitarian issues visit
Photo: UNICEF Zimbabwe
Attendance is down in
"We have received, with concern, continuing reports that some children [in Zimbabwe] are not going to school because there are no teachers," said Roland Monash, deputy representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). UNICEF keeps 150,000 Zimbabwean children at school by paying their fees.
"There is need to do an assessment of the situation as soon as possible with our partners in the NGO sector and the government, so that we have an understanding of the situation," he added.
Many teachers have left the profession for better paying jobs in neighbouring countries, and the remaining few have been on strike since 2 September, demanding a pay hike, said Raymond Majongwe, secretary-general of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ).
"Teachers cannot afford to go to work because of poor salaries ... We now have a strange situation where professionals who are in the teaching field are doing menial work in Zimbabwe and within the region," he said. "The few teachers who continue to teach are unqualified relief workers, who are being paid with groceries."
Teachers cannot afford to go to work
because of poor salaries ... We now have a strange situation where professionals
who are in the teaching field are doing menial work in Zimbabwe and within the
The headmaster of a school in Mabelreign, a suburb of the capital, Harare, has asked children to return to school after two weeks; at another school, IRIN found children had been told to spend the day in the playground.
"Out of a staff complement of 30 teachers, there are only five who are reporting for duty, but not doing any work," a teacher at one the schools in Harare told IRIN. "The rest have either left the country or cannot be bothered to report for duty because of the paltry salaries that we are getting."
Orirando Manwere, a parent, told IRIN that at one of the schools, children writing exams had been asked to contribute cash to enable teachers to afford transport to come to school to invigilate. "The teachers expect to get money from parents, but parents also don't have money."
Zimbabwe is experiencing a shortage of paper currency, and people are only allowed to withdraw Z$1,000 a day - enough to buy a loaf of bread or a one-way bus ticket to town.
PTUZ's Majongwe said exams should be called off. "We are the teachers and we know what has been going on: there was no teaching and no learning. We would rather delay in coming up with a good complete product [children properly equipped to sit the exams] than produce a half-baked product."
Violet Gonda’s guest is civic leader Dr. Lovemore Madhuku. She discusses his reservations on the power sharing agreement. This is followed by an interview with one of the negotiators, Priscilla Misihairabwi- Mushonga.
Broadcast: 19 September 2008
If they pull out they will have to raise other issues about Mugabe other than
his legitimacy, which they can still do.
|One of the negotiators Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga from the Mutambara MDC also talked to Violet Gonda last Friday about the state of negotiations over the allocation of the 31 Cabinet ministries:|
Priscilla: (Since the matter was referred to the negotiators by the principals) there have not been any formal meetings of all the negotiators but there were consultations taking place between political parties. As you may know, the Principals sat on Thursday last week from about 11AM to 3PM and had agreed on some of the ministerial positions in terms of where they would go, save for about four of those, which I am not at liberty to say right now because this was a discussion between the Principals.
The Principals then asked that the discussions be sent to the negotiators because I think in their wisdom the Principals thought it may be best to bring back the negotiators who obviously have had a longer time together and may be able to reach some form of compromise. If the consultations between negotiators wielded nothing, then perhaps the issue would then be sent back to the Principals.
It is our belief, some of us, that at the stage that we are at some of the negotiators may actually have personal interests themselves in particular portfolios. Or other members in the leadership may begin to have certain interests in particular portfolios and it may not be the best way of doing it because people may not necessarily be now negotiating on a matter of principle but from a position of self interest, which had been our earlier position.
The reason why we as negotiators had not allocated the different ministries to political parties at the beginning was that we felt that the only people who could do so without having direct self interests would be the Principals.
As you may know, when we were sitting down to look at the powers of the Principals we did not ask the Principals to do it because we knew it would be probably difficult for a particular individual, a Principal, to negotiate his own power. So we did that for them and it made it a lot easier and I think it may have to be referred back to the Principals, who in this case as you may know the world over would have the authority to look at what ministries and to appoint who becomes the minister in a cabinet that is inclusive.
Violet: You said as far as you knew there were four remaining ministries that were still a problem. But I spoke with Nelson Chamisa, the MDC -Tsvangirai spokesman, and he said there were more than four (key ministries). The list that he gave us came up to about 10 ministries. Do you know anything about that?
Priscilla: Well I wouldn’t know. I am only speaking to you on the basis of the briefing that we got from our Principal. The briefing that we got from our Principal was that there had been agreement on many of the other ministries except for the four key ministries, which as I said it will not be right for me to divulge at this particular point in time. But that was the briefing that we got. I would not want to comment on Chamisa’s position because I don’t know where that briefing was coming from; I can only speak from the briefing that we got from our Principal.
Violet: So with the consultations, you didn’t meet as the six negotiators from the three different parties? You were talking separately, informal consultations?
Priscilla: Yes they were still informal consultations so that people will see where the differences were and what we needed to do to be able to bridge the gap. But if Chamisa has made an announcement that there has been a breakdown, then it may mean that is the position that is coming from the Tsvangirai grouping... that information had not been relayed to us.
Violet: So what do you think happens next? What happens now?
Priscilla: Like I said I still think there may still be consultations between the negotiators. I don’t believe people have reached a stage where even at the level of negotiators that they will throw in the towel. I still think there may be room for some conversations that will take place between the negotiators. But in the event that the negotiators themselves fail to reach any compromise, like I said before, the only place in which the final decision will take will be with the Principals.
You will remember that even with the last negotiation – when we were still negotiating the global agreement – by the time we finished as negotiators we had not agreed. We then sent those things that we had not agreed including those we had agreed to the Principals and the Principals made the final call. So the same thing will have to happen in this instance. The final call will still have to be made by the Principals.
It is still a process that we knew had to take place. People signed the general global agreement. We had a list of the ministries, we have agreed on those ministries to say they will be 31. We will still adhere to the different numbers/ allocations that we said each political party will have.
The only bone of contention right now is the issue of which of those 15 goes to Zanu PF, which of the 13 goes to the MDC -Tsvangirai and which of the three will go to the MDC that is led by Mutambara.
In the event that people have gone into this inclusive government and one party is unhappy, it can pull out any time. That is the position that is there.
But some of us who know the investment that has gone into this process do not believe that the whole thing will fold on the basis of ministerial positions. In fact we anticipated that there would be hard negotiations that will take place in terms of portfolios and I think that is what we currently are involved in.
Violet: Now critics of the deal say that is what should have been done first. That there should never have been a signing of a power sharing agreement before finalising the issue of distributing government posts. What can you say about that?
Pricilla: It’s a chicken and egg situation. Some of us believe that what we have right now is a basis for a good deal. I think what we have at the moment is something that can take the people of Zimbabwe from where they have been, what we have right now has gotten Zimbabweans and other people that want to support it to re-engage.
What we are now doing is the tail end of the process. Of course it is an integral part of that power sharing because you cannot have a power sharing arrangement which does not indicate who takes what cabinet position and the importance of that cabinet position. But we still strongly feel that the process that was taken in terms of this negotiation was the proper process.
You know this is what happened in Kenya . Kenya signed the deal, the framework was there and they then went into the cabinet discussions and it took close to two months. We are hoping that it won’t take that long because the people of Zimbabwe want a relief as soon as possible. I think it is in the nature of negotiations. I don’t think people should be too pessimistic.
In fact, some of us would have been very worried if you had just sat around in one day and immediately agreed. I think it is important that people spend time, that people negotiate and I think that people understand what power sharing means in terms of the cabinet positions and what goes to where.
These are the people that will be at the centre of delivery and cabinet is at the centre of this power sharing and I think we need to give it a little bit of time. Not too much time but a little bit of time and I think it is too early for people to begin to sing the doomsday in this process. Not as yet.
Feedback can be emailed to email@example.com
September 25, 2008 | By Staff |
BULAWAYO- The Reserve Bank (RBZ) Building in Bulawayo was on Wednesday
stoned and damaged by some residents who were angered by their failure to
access cash from banks.
The building, situated in the city centre, was damaged after scores of
people attacked it with stones and an assortment of missiles, chanting
anti-RBZ Governor, Gideon Gono, slogans.
Some were also shouting obscenities at the central bank governor while
others took a swipe at the government.
The bone of contention was that people were no longer able to access their
salaries from banks with the withdrawal limit still a paltry ZW$1 000, which
is not enough to buy a softdrink.
Only last week, people also broke the glass door of Beverley Building
Society in the city after they were told that the bank had run out of cash.
"This is not good because we go to work everyday but Gono does not want with
our money. This must be a message to him and his friends," said one of the
The central bank has come under fire for the shortage of cash after a German
company stopped supplying the country with paper to print money, resulting
in the central bank introducing a new currency as well as coins a couple of
However the move did not help as inflation, beleived to be above 22 million
percent, the highest in the world continues to increase. Gono said in the
past, he was limiting the withdrawal amount in order to curtail black market
activities as well as inflation.
By Jon Williams
Published: September 25 2008 20:17 | Last updated: September 25 2008 20:17
The former Soviet leader Leonard Brezhnev is reported to have said: "The
trouble with free elections is you never know who is going to win." When it
comes to Zimbabwe, that saying explains a lot.
While the recent agreement between President Robert Mugabe and the leader of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, may prove
to be a political breakthrough, for the international media it is already a
In a country where foreign press and broadcasters are not only unwelcome,
but actively prohibited, there were some surprise guests at the party in
Harare. As Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai put their signatures to the deal,
spectators included Orla Guerin, the BBC's Africa correspondent. Ms Guerin
managed to report from inside the ceremony, even though the BBC and other
media remain banned in Zimbabwe. In spite of reaching agreement with the
opposition, the government has made it clear that reporting restrictions
Zimbabwe is not alone in not welcoming international media. Following
Cyclone Nargis in March, the Burmese authorities diverted considerable
resources from the rescue operation to pursue journalists who were trying to
tell the world about the devastation and the authorities' response. While
there are some small signs of change in North Korea, Pyongyang has long
blocked access to foreign media. China's steps to prevent scrutiny following
the protests in Tibet earlier this year have been well documented.
However, the Zimbabwe government reserves a particular hostility for foreign
journalists. Following the elections of March 29, the New York Times'
Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent Barry Bearak was arrested along with
two British journalists, Jonathan Clayton from The Times and Stephan Bevan
who had been working for the Sunday Telegraph. Writing after his release,
Clayton described in vivid terms how he had been blindfolded and handcuffed,
deprived of sleep and water, and beaten across the feet and head.
There is history behind what might generously be described as a
"complicated" relationship between the BBC and the authorities in Harare.
In July 2001, the government took offence at the BBC's reporting of the
government's policy of land "redistribution". Correspondent Rageh Omagh and
his team were expelled and the BBC's accreditation suspended. In an ironic
twist, the man who banned the BBC was not Robert Mugabe but his information
minister at the time, Jonathan Moyo. Today he is an opponent of Mr Mugabe,
elected as a member of parliament in March's controversial election, and now
a regular contributor to BBC programmes. Zimbabwe is that sort of place.
Whatever the difficulties of reporting from Zimbabwe, it is not about the
bravado of journalists. The safest - and simplest - solution for the western
media would be to ignore the story, or to report it from London or
Johannesburg. But international news organisations have become increasingly
sophisticated at managing operations in places like Zimbabwe - learning
lessons from deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. While in Kabul or Baghdad
the risk comes from insurgents, in Zimbabwe it comes from the state. It is
one thing to try to manage the threat from individuals - you can travel in
armoured cars, you can wear helmets and body armour. It is quite another to
try to deal with a threat that comes from the army and police.
Nevertheless, whether in Kabul or Harare, the principle is the same; one can
never eliminate risk, only manage it to what is believed to be an acceptable
level. With each deployment into Zimbabwe, the BBC has learnt more about how
to operate there. From 2001, when the BBC was expelled from Harare, we had
made fewer than half a dozen trips to Zimbabwe by the beginning of this
year. In those circumstances, editorial judgments begin to suffer in a
vacuum of information. During the first seven months of 2008, the BBC made
more trips to Zimbabwe than during the previous seven years. With each
visit, we have learnt more about what is going on, and become increasingly
ambitious in our coverage.
Inevitably, any journalist would rather not have to operate clandestinely,
in Harare or anywhere else. BBC reporters travelling to Harare have to
conceal their true identity. News organisations live or die on the trust of
their audiences, so the need to lie to secure access is "uncomfortable" at
best, and the decision to deceive requires authorisation at the highest
level in the BBC. We need to demonstrate that to do so is in the audience
interest, not just of interest to the audience.
It remains to be seen whether the deal signed between Robert Mugabe and
Morgan Tsvangirai will deliver a brighter future. The agreement negotiated
by Thabo Mbeki, the former South African president, stresses the importance
of a free and fair local press but makes no mention of the international
media. However, whatever happens, things are unlikely to be the same again.
The BBC looks forward to the day when it can return to reporting from inside
Zimbabwe legally - the country continues to be one of the key international
stories. Until then, we, and the rest of the foreign media, will continue to
try to report from inside Zimbabwe, ban or no ban. We owe the dozens of
brave Zimbabweans, who risk their lives to help us tell the world what is
going on, nothing less.
The writer is head of global news gathering at the BBC
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Although Zimbabwe's political rivals in mid-September signed a historic agreement to share power, they have yet to agree on the allocation of key ministerial portfolios such as those of defense, finance, and information. At the core of the political agreement lies the priority to turn around the national economy, which not surprisingly, is also the issue that is of greatest concern to Zimbabweans.
When asked in 2008 about the most important issue the government should address in the next 12 months, 76% of Zimbabweans mention economic matters: economy (39%), poverty (15%), inflation (15%), job creation (4%), and unemployment (3%). In a country plagued by eight-digit inflation, high unemployment, and severe food and gas shortages, such public focus on the economy is not surprising and reflects the harsh realities on the ground.
In addition to stabilizing the economy, the political agreement, under which Robert Mugabe (the long-time leader of the ruling party, Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front [ZANU-PF]) remains president and Morgan Tsvangirai, (the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change) becomes prime minister, also recognizes the need to respect differences of political opinion. Here, the poll findings show the daunting task ahead as 85% Zimbabweans say "most" or "many" people are afraid to express their political views. Across sub-Saharan Africa, a median of 55% of respondents say "most" or "many" people in their countries are afraid to openly express their political views, 24% say "some" people are afraid, and 11% say no one is afraid.
In addition to allowing free political activity in Zimbabwe, the power-sharing agreement also focuses on the issue of ensuring individuals' security by renouncing and desisting "from the promotion and use of violence, under whatever name called, as a means of attaining political ends." This is noteworthy as historically, the armed forces and the police have played a key role in quelling any opposition to ZANU-PF and keeping the ruling party in power.
Gallup Poll findings show that similar percentages of Zimbabweans express confidence in the military and the police. In 2008, 33% of those surveyed say they have confidence in their local police force and 38% say they have confidence in their military. Additionally, the police and military elicit far less confidence in 2008 than in 2006 with confidence in each institution declining nearly 20 percentage points in the eyes of the Zimbabwean public. As points of comparison, the median scores on these confidence measures across 32 sub-Saharan Africa countries surveyed in 2006, 2007, and 2008 were 59% and 69%, respectively.
The power-sharing agreement also promises a freer press under this new, multiparty political system, "recognizing the importance of the right to freedom of expression." But here again, the Gallup Poll underscores how much effort will be necessary to build public trust in Zimbabwe's media. In 2008, just 22% of those surveyed say they have confidence in the quality and integrity of the media compared with a median score in sub-Saharan Africa of 55%.
In light of the dire economic conditions that have afflicted the country for many years, it comes as no surprise that three-quarters of Zimbabweans name economic issues as the most pressing matters for the government to deal with in the next few months. Other Gallup Poll findings regarding confidence in key institutions such as the military, the police, and the media, combined with a climate of political fear that still pervades the country emphasize the tremendous challenges for the future government, after it is actually formed.
Results are based on face-to-face interviews with at least 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, in Zimbabwe in March 2008. The sub-Saharan African median scores are based on national samples, in most countries, of at least 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in 2007, in Angola (urban areas only), Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad (excludes eastern region), Democratic Republic of the Congo (urban areas only), Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan (excludes Darfur and parts of the South, around Juba and Nimule), Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
By Violet Gonda
25 September 2008
As Zimbabweans and the rest of the world wait anxiously for the new
government to begin, calls are being made for the authorities to prioritise
the issue of human rights. The latest call comes from Canada's International
Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (Rights & Democracy)
saying the power sharing agreement must be accompanied by concrete measures
to ensure human rights are respected and past abuses are investigated and
Rights & Democracy said: "Establishing a trusting, working relationship
between President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and the Movement for
Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai will not come easy, a fact made
worse by years of state-sponsored violence and intimidation."
The call comes at a time when human rights violations continue in Zimbabwe.
Just this past weekend the MDC reported that 25 of its supporters were
arrested in Manicaland for allegedly celebrating the signing of the power
sharing deal, barely a week after the deal was signed.
The recent election period was marred by violence that left hundreds dead
and tens of thousands displaced. Many rights groups have called for
reparations for victims of violence, and the prosecution of the
perpetrators, but that is an issue that has not been covered in the
agreement by the rival parties.
Razmik Panossian, Program Director at Rights & Democracy, told Newsreel that
there will be no long term stability if issues of justice are not addressed.
"Rebuilding Zimbabwe's shattered economy is clearly important, but true
peace and lasting unity will only be achieved once past human rights abuses
are fully addressed. In addition, the new government must re-establish the
credibility of the democratic process as soon as possible."
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tichaona Sibanda
25 September 2008
Robert Mugabe on Wednesday said he was willing to share power with Morgan
Tsvangirai but dismissed the MDC as a creation of Britain's three major
parties. He also said he is determined to remain president despite what he
said were efforts by Britain and the United States to oust him.
'They are waiting for a day when this man, this evil man, called Robert
Mugabe is no longer in control," he said. "And I don't know when that day is
None of which bodes well for the future of the power sharing agreement,
signed in Harare two weeks ago, in which Tsvangirai will join the inclusive
government as Prime Minister. The MDC leader will head a council of
ministers responsible for government policies which reports to a cabinet
headed by Mugabe.
Speaking in New York on the eve of his address to the United Nations General
Assembly, Mugabe dismissed reports that the power-sharing deal could fall
apart 'because I don't know of any hitch.' Press reports quote him saying he
hoped the agreement will lead the West to ease 'sanctions' which he
continued to blame for devastating the country's economy.
But critics say Mugabe's land policies have turned what was the breadbasket
of southern Africa into a country facing mass shortages. Analysts point out
that corruption and maladministration have also been responsible for
bringing the country to its knees.
Commenting for the first about the stalemate over the distribution of
cabinet posts, Mugabe said the only outstanding issue was deciding on four
of the 31 Cabinet posts. 'Every one of us is actually positive about the
agreement, or the need to cement the agreement and make it work. I don't see
any reason why we can't work together as Zimbabweans,' Mugabe said.
Political analyst Isaac Dziya said Mugabe needs to know that his
anti-western rhetoric has to stop for the agreement to work. Dziya gave an
example of a statement Mugabe made in New York on Wednesday, where he said
Zimbabwe can return to its former economic status 'only if the West can
leave us alone.'
'We hope and pray he will not be ranting and raving as usual at the UN. He
should stop blaming the West for his mistakes and show some civility. We are
a nation in desperate need of aid and Mugabe should use that platform to
make peace with the West and not antagonize them,' Dziya said.
It has become the norm for the ZANU PF leader to use the UN platform to
launch blistering attacks on British and American leaders, once going as far
as calling President George W. Bush and former British premier Tony Blair
Relations between the United States, Britain, and Mugabe have soured in
recent years, with the Bush administration accusing him of human rights
abuses and election rigging.
The British government slapped a travel ban on Mugabe after accusations of
vote rigging in parliamentary elections in 2000 and in the presidential
re-election two years later. But he is allowed to visit most European
capitals and New York to attend UN sponsored events.
Dziya said the political landscape in Zimbabwe has changed and so Mugabe has
to 'capitulate and become humble' for the good of the nation.'If he goes
into his freedom fighter mode and starts calling western leaders names, we
would be in trouble as a nation. He (Mugabe) has to remember the west might
not need him but he needs the west to revive the country's economy.'
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
September 25, 2008
By Tendai Tumbutshena
THE time may soon come when all have to agree that the so-called
power-sharing agreement signed in Harare on September 15, 2008 should be
discarded as a worthless charade.
At the signing ceremony the omens were not good. With the eyes of the world
watching, Robert Mugabe missed a golden opportunity to deliver a speech that
would convince skeptics about his commitment to the agreement. It was the
occasion to give real hope to Zimbabweans that indeed the country was on the
verge of a new era founded on civilized principles and values. Instead the
world was subjected to yet another rambling diatribe against imaginary foes.
An act of exorcism is required to free Mugabe from the British and American
demons that possess him.
Two weeks after the signing, nothing has been done to implement the
agreement. If Mugabe was serious, Parliament would have been convened
immediately to pass constitutional amendments necessary for the formation of
the new government. Besides the exigencies of the agreement, the appalling
conditions under which people live make it a matter of life and death for
politicians to move with speed. Instead Mugabe's chief henchman on these
matters, Patrick Chinamasa, said with characteristic insolence that
Parliament would only be convened on October 14 - four weeks after the
signing of the agreement. Inexplicably in the many months negotiators spent
in South Africa the issue of allocation of cabinet portfolios did not go
beyond numbers. As a potential deal-breaker it was logical to have this
issue agreed on as part of the deal. Given Mugabe's behaviour after
September 15 it is tempting to conclude that this was deliberately done to
leave an issue outstanding that could wreck the agreement.
It was imperative that the agreement be implemented with speed to show
commitment to it by all parties. Within a week, Parliament should have been
convened, constitutional amendments passed and cabinet sworn in. The work to
improve the economy and peoples' lives should have begun as a matter of
urgency. Mugabe had other ideas. He would not yield an inch in talks to
parcel out ministries. His priority was to go to New York for the annual UN
General Assembly jamboree. Normally he uses this gathering as a platform to
enhance his credentials as champion of Third World issues- a hero of the
anti-imperialism struggle. This time it was to reaffirm his position as
president of Zimbabwe. Having been conferred legitimacy by the agreement he
had to flaunt it in New York. For the next five years no one can take the
presidency from him thanks to the generosity of the MDC. The opposition
party gave him what he could not get through a free and fair election.
The implementation of the agreement will now be done on his own terms. He
will decide which ministries the MDC gets. He will determine the tempo of
the implementation of the agreement. He will decide when to return from
overseas. He will decide when the new cabinet will be constituted and sworn
in. If the MDC does not like any of this, the door marked 'exit' is clearly
visible. He will frustrate and humiliate them in the hope that they will
quit and leave him with the whole pie to share with his restless
Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesman, recently complained about the hate speech
in the state-controlled media which he said was against the spirit of the
agreement. He lamented: "We note with dismay that the state-controlled media
continues with its use of hate speech and propaganda which flies in the face
of the spirit of national engagement and the political settlement signed in
Harare last week.'' What spirit is Chamisa talking about? What George
Charamba writes in The Herald is not an aberration. It accurately reflects
the thinking and intentions of his master Mugabe. The Zanu-PF leader has
made no effort to hide his disdain for the agreement and the MDC. He allowed
ZBC to air remarks he made to Central Committee members that the agreement
was a humiliation for Zanu-PF. He made it clear that he only signed because
even Africa found it difficult to recognize the June 27 presidential
run-off. Clearly what Mugabe wanted from the talks was not a genuine
agreement to move the country forward. He wanted the talks to yield the
presidency and legitimacy to him. The MDC duly obliged. With both firmly in
his pocket, the agreement, if it goes ahead, will now have to serve his
It is safe to assume that if a breakthrough is achieved on the allocation of
ministries, the MDC would have yet again climbed down. Mugabe does not want
his capacity to use state organs for violence or to subvert the justice
system to be diminished. The ministries of defence, home affairs, state
security and justice are Zanu-PF property. It is instructive to note that
those ministries that deliver services with a direct impact on peoples'
lives are of little concern to Mugabe. The MDC can have the education,
health, water and similar portfolios. Good luck to them. Given the shambolic
state of the economy such ministries are unlikely to deliver decent
services. The MDC will carry the political cost of failure.
The political demise of Thabo Mbeki in South Africa could not have come at a
better time for Mugabe. The South African leader is a staunch supporter of
Mugabe who used his role of mediator to deliver a deal that secured power
for the Zanu-PF leader. Mugabe no longer needs Mbeki . He has outlived his
usefulness. With Mbeki no longer a factor, Mugabe can either manipulate or
sabotage the agreement without the concern of embarrassing his ally. As far
as the SADC and AU are concerned the Zimbabwe issue has been resolved. It is
now up to Zimbabweans to implement the agreement. If it fails, life goes on.
Zimbabweans should not labour under the illusion that African leaders and
institutions will ensure that Mugabe sticks to the letter and spirit of the
agreement. That will simply not happen.
The MDC signed a bad agreement and will have to live with it. They lacked
the strategic nous to strike a better deal. There is no point running to
African capitals complaining about Mugabe's lack of good faith. It is a
given that he has none. They should either accept their inferior position in
government or quit. Mbeki is mortally wounded and cannot assist. The MDC are
left on their own to deal with the consequences of their folly.