Friday, April 27, 2007

Cuban doctors arrive in Zim

Good for the people of Zimbabwe...wonder how many will disappear and end up in Miami?

Mugabe's critical collegues

First he had to silence Central Bank Governor Gomo...

His recent public pronouncements have reeked of heresy. To businessmen, to students, he talked of government corruption, incompetence and laziness. And as for the Mugabe gospel that Zimbabwe's appalling troubles can all be blamed on Tony Blair and the West - that, he said, was rubbish....

Number two on the list of government figures needing correction was Attorney General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele. Gula-Ndebele has certainly made a grave error. He has attempted to prosecute a case of fraud involving Reward Marufu, who, as the brother of our First Lady, Grace Mugabe, is of course above the law.

Briefly: Marufu received his reward some years ago when he claimed US$70,000 from the War Victims Compensation Fund on the grounds that he was 100 per cent disabled, even though he was about as disabled as the average gazelle....

Monday, April 23, 2007

Women protesters mistreated

Zimbabwe women's group: protesters stripped and jailed naked at 17:44 on April 22, 2007, EST.

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Women arrested at a protest organized by a pro-democracy group were stripped of their clothes and jailed naked for hours, the group said Sunday, accusing police of violating Zimbabwe's traditional moral values.

Eighty-two members of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise group were arrested in the city of Bulawayo at the protest Thursday against power outages. Police said it was an illegal political demonstration.

Of those, 18 were stripped and jailed "the whole day in a state of undress," the group said Sunday.

"When two members of a support team attempted to bring food, they too were arrested," it said. The group were mostly mothers, who in the past have also clanged empty pots and pans on the streets to protest food shortages and sometimes hand out roses to make a political point.

The group said one 18-year-old supporter was beaten across the kidneys by police who later drove her into the bush, a common scare tactic, according to women's group leader, Jenni Williams....

Sunday, April 22, 2007

ZIm education

....Several of Zimbabwe's cash-strapped public schools have requested pupils to bring furniture from home. The education system is struggling under the weight of the country's seven-year-long political crisis.

Zimbabwe's school system was one of the best on the African continent after the country gained independence in 1980. Previously the government provided furniture and other necessities.

Government provision has faltered and the authorities have imposed a ceiling on fees to prevent schools from raising money to cover the cost of chairs and desks.

Blackstone Primary School, a "whites-only" school before independence, is regarded as one of the top primary schools in the country. At first, it was one of the many schools that benefited from the strides the government made after independence in building new schools, libraries and providing learning materials.

But the school has lost its glitter after years of underfunding. Like all government schools, it lacks everything from textbooks to toilet paper. Infrastructure at schools is in a state of total dilapidation.

The Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe, one of two teachers' representative bodies in the country, said the fact that authorities require parents to provide chairs is testimony to the state of decay in most public schools. "It shows the extent of the chaos in the education sector," stated a representative.

Teachers have also been adversely affected. High levels of stress due to low wages are driving scores of them from the profession. Those that remain are spending their time selling sweets and other goods to supplement their meagre salaries instead of concentrating on their core business of teaching.

Zimbabwean teachers on average earn between Z$400 000 and Z$800 000 (between about R11 000 and R23 000). According to the government's Central Statistics Office, an average family of five people requires about Z$900 000 per month (or R25 000) for basic goods and services.

Farai Mpofu, a parent, believes it will be a "miracle" if Zimbabwe attains universal primary education by 2015, as per the United Nations's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

"Education in Zimbabwe is in a bad state. The standards have deteriorated alarmingly compared to 10 years ago. Because of the harsh economic environment, teachers are now selling sweets and knitting jerseys," said Mpofu.

"The education sector is losing highly qualified teachers to neighbouring countries. Kids at public schools are left with teachers who have no interest at all in the job because of low salaries," according to Mpofu.

'Near zero'
Alice Muchine, a primary-school teacher, described the state of primary education as "near zero". "It is all zero here. We have no resources. We want textbooks to help the children during reading time. We have no charts of instruction, or chalk, or syllabuses. We have nothing.

"Most of the parents can no longer pay fees for the kids. The Beam scheme only pays for the fees and not for books for the kids," said Muchine. The Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) is need-based financial aid awarded by the government to orphans. It is limited to school fees and caters for 10 pupils per school....

Bush admin starts new approach for food aid


It was here in Kansas City, at the 2005 food aid conference, that the Bush administration pushed for a fundamental change in food aid that would have diminished profits to domestic agribusiness and shipping companies. It proposed allowing a quarter of the Food for Peace budget to be used to buy food in poor countries near hunger crises, rather than buying only American-grown food that had to be shipped across oceans.

And Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns spoke at the conference on Wednesday to again make the administration’s case for the same idea, contending that such a policy would speed delivery, improve efficiency and save many lives.

Congress in each of the past two years killed the proposal, which was opposed by agribusiness and shipping interests who stood to lose business, even as it won support from liberal Democrats like Representatives Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon — generally not a subset of lawmakers found in the president’s corner.

But there are signs that the frozen politics of the issue are beginning to thaw, especially as evidence of flaws in the current aid system mounts.

A Government Accountability Office report released on the eve of this conference described in stark detail a system rife with inefficiencies: the amount of food shipped over the past five years has fallen by half as shipping and other logistical costs have soared. Only a little more than a third of federal food aid spending actually buys food. The United States feeds about 70 million people a year now instead of the more than 100 million it fed five years ago.

And experts worry that the food aid budget will feed even fewer of the world’s 850 million hungry people as soaring demand for corn to make ethanol drives up the cost of that staple, a mainstay of food aid programs.

This year, some farm state lawmakers are for the first time considering backing a pilot program to test buying food overseas....

Some researchers and advocates say it is time to rethink the American approach to fighting world hunger.

“Are we committed to eradicating hunger because it’s feasible, not terribly expensive and our moral obligation as the richest society in human history?” asked Christopher B. Barrett, a Cornell University economist and the co-author of “Food Aid After Fifty Years.” “Or are we just trying to placate a few agribusiness, shipping and NGO constituencies with a handout?” referring to nongovernmental organizations.

But some in Congress, as well as lobbyists for interest groups that benefit from food aid, warn that untying aid from requirements that the food be grown in America and mostly shipped on American-flagged vessels would shatter the political coalition that has sustained the program for decades and made the United States the world’s largest food aid donor. They also warn that cash sent to poor countries can be misused or stolen, and that a mismanaged program to buy food in poor countries could drive up food prices...

Clock ticking on SA mediation

The clock is ticking for Pretoria, whose mediation in Zimbabwe's political crisis is off to a sluggish start as looming elections leave little time to bring about results, according to analysts.

International hopes are pinned on President Thabo Mbeki's ability to initiate talks between President Robert Mugabe's ruling party and an opposition that he has set about brutally crushing over recent weeks.

However, with Mbeki's limited mandate to go where he and others have failed before, less than a year until Zimbabwe is expected to hold its elections and Mugabe as bullish as ever, many expect the process to be a lacklustre effort.

According to political analyst Moeletsi Mbeki South Africa's much-criticised policy of quiet diplomacy was a "do-nothing scenario".

"The government's response, I think, is to be seen to be trying to do something, but there is no threat to its own interest which makes it want to make a serious investment to bringing about change in Zimbabwe," said Mbeki of the South African Institute of International Affairs.

Two past mediation efforts, by president Mbeki and former Mozambican counterpart Joaquim Chissano, ended in stalemate, and yet again Mugabe seems unwilling and Mbeki unable to force the opposing sides to solve their problems.

When asked whether time was running out for South Africa, an expert in regional politics at Pretoria's University of South Africa, said: "Most certainly, they have got the mandate and they will try their best, but the prospects of success are unlikely."....

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mugabe's death list

A new hit list of 300 opposition leaders and activists has been drawn up by President Mugabe's strongmen. The 300 are marked down for arrest, beatings and torture, with the top ten targeted for assassination.

The list, which I have seen, comes with a memo suggesting the killings should take place either during street protests or fake robberies and road accidents.

It is topped by Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), although interestingly an earlier version (right) did not include him. Also in the top ten are MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo Pius Ncube, trade union leader Wellington Chibhebhe, and Tsvangirai's deputy Thokozani Khuphe....

The memo states: "The top 10 are very dangerous individuals who should be attacked by unknown assailants in public places or their homes. They can also be shot by riot police during public upheavals that they always want to create."

To efficiently target people on the list, assistant police commissioner Mabunda will lead a team keeping activists under 24-hour surveillance.

State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa denied the list exists, saying it was the invention of opposition activists. "They are lying with your help," he told a reporter.....

Anglican bishops support Mugabe

HARARE, Zimbabwe – African Anglican bishops have issued a message to Zimbabweans that was broadly supportive of the government, sharply contrasting with an earlier call from Catholic leaders for President Robert Mugabe to step down.

An Anglican pastoral letter released to coincide with this week's independence celebrations acknowledged Zimbabwe's economic crisis “rendered the ordinary Zimbabwean unable to make ends meet.”

The 14 Anglican bishops blamed the worsening plight of poor Zimbabweans largely on Western economic sanctions.

“So-called targeted sanctions aimed at the leadership of the country have affected the poor Zimbabweans who have borne the brunt of sanctions,” the bishops said after a meeting of the central African Episcopal Synod.

Western governments dispute that claim, arguing targeted sanctions on Zimbabwean assets abroad and travel restrictions only affect rulers and policymakers....

Investment and foreign loans to Zimbabwe have dried up in six years of political and economic turmoil following the often-violent seizures of thousands of white-owned farms that began in 2000....

Mbeki celebrates failure


But negotiations succeed because all parties are committed, are willing to give up something and take their national obligations with sincerity. So far we have only heard demands from the MDC. They are prepared for talks if Zanu PF delivers Mugabe; they want power sharing and are ready to grant Mugabe immunity for past crimes. Most important, they want a new constitution.

I ask myself today how it was possible for those bishops to have their reputations sullied by their closeness to Mugabe more than his cabinet ministers and other architects of government policies with whom the MDC now seeks to cut political deals. I thought the fight was more against an evil system than an individual? Will sadistic state agents who torture and beat up opposition supporters transform into angels over night just because Mugabe is gone and there is a new face at State House?

Curiously, nobody has solicited Zanu PF’s views on the Sadc initiative and Mbeki’s role as the peace broker. It is portrayed as the vanquished part and must surrender everything.

This to me is to approach the negotiation process in utter bad faith and there can be nothing better assured to fail. Mbeki could soon get frustrated if this is the environment in which he is expected to help. He will decide his time is being wasted and let Zimbabweans stew in their own juice.

Mugabe is not averse to that turn of events. He is remorseless and has become an implacable enemy. Some more bloodshed for him is a little balm to cool his path as the action enters the catastrophe. His fear is most likely that the MDC will act rationally and deny him a final demonstration of what he is capable of doing, if only to spite Tony Blair and George Bush. He already relishes the fact that he will outlive them in office.

As for the MDC, the truth of its situation is more sobering than the surrealistic interpretations about the improved stature of its leaders following the brutal police beatings of March 11.

In the international community, the injuries to opposition leaders and their supporters had no more than a Sharpville effect, emphasising at once Mugabe’s tyranny and the utter vulnerability of those fighting it. It provoked the usual condemnation and Mugabe told his critics to "go hang". He has innoculated himself against so-called international opinion.

Locally, what the beatings did was to temporarily relieve the MDC of the paralysing catatonia caused by the October 2005 rupture. There has been visible activity although there are no obvious indications of a meeting of minds in the leadership which Mbeki is demanding.

Mbeki must realise he is dealing with an opposition which overrates its bargaining power and an intransigent, arrogant old man who cannot contemplate life outside State House and sees next year’s election as his final showdown with the forces of imperialism. Failure by faction leaders in his party to openly challenge him only reinforces this belief in his indispensability.

In the end Mbeki’s success or failure rests on Zimbabwe’s political leaders putting the national interest before personal egos. There can be no outright winner as a party or at the personal level. It is Zimbabweans who must succeed or fail. Mbeki comes merely to facilitate a process and an outcome which ultimately must reflect the wishes of the people of Zimbabwe. Anything else is a foreign impost with no legitimacy, and Mbeki is alive to that fact....

Friday, April 20, 2007

WOZA leaders on the run while 83 activists arrested in Bulawayo

At least 83 activists were arrested in Bulawayo on Thursday when the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise and Men of Zimbabwe Arise held sit-ins in eight local offices of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority. At the time of broadcast WOZA leaders Jennie Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were in a car chase with law and order police who wanted to arrest them.

Speaking on the phone Mahlangu said they were trying to deliver food to some of the activists who are detained at Harare Central Police Station when the police cornered them. She said: “They (police) said we should follow them into the Central. They are now chasing us because we drove away from them and we are on the run. As I speak now you can hear the car. They are behind us.”

As if it was from a scene from a movie, Williams could be heard screaming and shouting at someone in the background while Mahlangu hurriedly explained: “She is driving and I am talking to you although I am supposed to be the navigator! I am supposed to see what is happening behind that’s why I was trying not to talk to you but you insisted. So we might be arrested while talking to you.”

She added: “We don’t know where we are headed but we are getting the hell out of here. We are trying to lose these guys.”

Mahlangu alleged police Officers George Ngwenya and Tshuma from Bulawayo Law and Order Section were behind this vicious campaign.

WOZA reports that at least 9 of the 83 members arrested and taken to Tshabalala police station were brutalised. They are all still in police custody. Some of those arrested are being held at Bulawayo Central and Luveve Police Stations...

Reclaiming the legacy of the Liberation war

"... No single individual delivered us from bondage. It was a collective effort. Across the length and breath of this country and in neighbouring countries such as Zambia , Mozambique and Tanzania , our sons and daughters came together, with a single purpose- to free Zimbabwe . For the record; Yes, Robert Mugabe was part of the liberation war effort. He was involved in the nationalist struggle. However, in that war he was a spineless coward who could not even fire a pistol. To this day he does not even know how to return a soldier’s salute. Those who fought in that war can attest to this characterization. He was the lucky coward of the liberation war.

As matter of principle we have no problem with spineless wimps, neither do we fault lucky cowards. What becomes problematic is when such shameless morons then appropriate the entire liberation war legacy as theirs, to the exclusion of those who actually fought in that struggle. That is what offends us as Zimbabweans. We take strong exception to that. We fought for our country as a people and freed ourselves as a united collective. We want to put it on record today, on our Independence Day, that the people of Zimbabwe do not owe Robert Mugabe anything. We owe ourselves as a people. We were masters of our own destiny.

Furthermore, let us reflect on the basis and foundation of the liberation struggle. The war of liberation was an all-inclusive, anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist protracted armed struggle. The principles and values of that struggle included democracy, freedom, liberty, equality, universal suffrage, justice, equity, socio-economic justice, and prosperity. When we look at the state of our nation today, the question is: Have we achieved these aspirations? The unequivocal response is NO. ...

Maybe because of the marxist groups who terrorized innocent people were allowed to run the government, instead of marginalizing them.
That is the dirty lesson of all "liberation wars".

Zimbabwe is at the crossroads where to advance forward requires nation builders, visionaries, statesmen and stateswomen; those skilled in the art of crafting states. Statecraft speaks to the expertise and wisdom in the effective management of public affairs. We refer here to leaders in the genre of Lee Quan Yew of Singapore, Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, Indira Gandhi of India, Angela Merkel of Germany, Ernesto Che Guevara in Cuba, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. These were (are) men and women of immense talent, resolve, vision, and strategy. More importantly they were (are) masters of the art of execution and implementation.

Nation builders are able to unite and mobilize people for a national cause. They channel national energy and synergy towards the growth and development of a country. Unfortunately, Robert Mugabe does not belong to this group of nation builders. Great and significant leaders go beyond the limited scope of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that ends with self-actualization. They thrive to self-transcend, go beyond self and leave a legacy. Presumably, Mugabe’s favorite political text is that classic by Machiavelli, The Prince, where it is argued that the prince (leader) must pursue, obtain, and maintain power at any cost. However, Machiavelli also wrote a second book; The Discourses, where it is explained that the prince (leader) must also care about his legacy and judgment by history. This means the prince (leader) must be a state crafter. I guess our learned President has not read this insightful text, or if he did come across it, he never understood its import. What a shame.

The skills required for nation building are very different from those required to fight colonialism and imperialism. A new generation of leaders is required to take our country to the next level. The time has come to pass the baton from liberation struggle leaders to globalization savvy nation builders. The issues of technocratic capacity and technical solutions have never been more critical. Zimbabwe needs accomplished business practitioners, business thought leaders, management and economic thinkers, financial engineers, public policy thinkers, master entrepreneurs, technologists and scientists to drive our economy. Zimbabwe must become a globally competitive economy that rivals such nations like Singapore , Malaysia and Japan . We need creative dreamers and parallel thinkers who do not fear globalization, but rather thrive on chaos and uncertainty. Only freedom can allow our citizens to attain their full potential and take our nation forward.

Opposition leaders call for Mugabe to leave

Daniel Moyo | 16 Apr 2007
World Politics Watch Exclusive

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe -- At a meeting held in a Catholic church here Saturday, dissident and Christian leaders from Zimbabwe and around Africa called for the removal of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's 83-year-old president, and urged the country's people to unite and fight for their rights.

The prayer meeting was organized by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, a coalition of churches, students, labor groups and opposition political parties that is fighting for democracy in Zimbabwe....

Saturday's prayer meeting, which was attended by more than 1,000 people, including opposition politicians , civic leaders and clergymen from Malawi and South Africa, went ahead without any incident despite earlier fears that police would disrupt proceedings.

At the meeting, Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube accused Mugabe of lacking sympathy for suffering Zimbabweans, saying he should be peacefully removed from power.

"This leadership has lost its focus and every aspect of the economy has gone down due to a lack of care by the leadership," said Ncube. "The bread and butter issues that they were elected for have also deteriorated. The health system and education sector have all also declined due to mismanagement of the country by the ruling elite. As churches, we should all unite and remove these unjust leaders from further ruining our country." ...

Speaker after speaker, including the MDC's Thokozani Khupe, ZAPU-FP leader Paul Siwela and other civic leaders, took a swipe at Mugabe for bringing down the country's once strong economy through mismanagement and corruption.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tide of Zimbabwe refugees flows


The growing tide of refugees – and particularly torture victims like Ms. Magwegwe – raises uncomfortable questions for a South African government that came to power in the name of human rights but that has refused to criticize its hard-line neighbor, led by President Robert Mugabe. But as South African President Thabo Mbeki takes criticism for his "quiet diplomacy," hopes are being raised that Zimbabwe's government may finally be ready to talk with the opposition and that Mr. Mbeki's bid to mediate a political solution between Mr. Mugabe and the opposition will bear fruit.

"The South African government recognizes that the flood of refugees along their quite open border will occur, unless there is a political solution inside Zimbabwe," says Chris Maroleng, an expert on Zimbabwe for the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria (now known as Tshwane.) "But the problem for South Africa is that if they make provisions to allow Zimbabwe refugees in, they have to make a statement of why they are doing that, to criticize the Mugabe regime." That, he says, would scuttle Mbeki's chances of negotiating a settlement between the government and the opposition.

"The problem with the South African government is that it cannot effectively communicate their policy," says Mr. Maroleng. "It always ends up looking like the ... government supports Mugabe."...

Sikhumbuzo Ndiweni, a retired Zimbabwe Defense forces lieutenant colonel and political analyst, says that the Western countries have unintentionally made the human rights situation worse in Zimbabwe by harping on the need for Mugabe to step aside.

"There's no road map," he complains. "You expect Mbeki to say, 'I support you,' but they have no idea how to achieve the new dispensation. If you don't have a road map, and if you haven't helped the opposition come up with a strategy over the long term, then five weeks later, there will be a coup, and the ruling party will all come back again."

Yet rights activists inside Zimbabwe and outside have kept up the drumbeat, calling on the world to keep up pressure on the Mugabe regime to step aside.

In their Easter joint statement, the Roman Catholic bishops of Zimbabwe wrote, "Many people in Zimbabwe are angry, and their anger is now erupting into open revolt in one township after another.... In order to avoid further bloodshed and avert a mass uprising, the nation needs a new people-driven constitution that will guide a democratic leadership chosen in free and fair elections."

But for many Zimbabwean political activists, the only solution has been to flee...

Why some people support Mugabe

...It is true that there is chaos in Zimbabwe but what is never mentioned is how officials are benefiting from the chaos.

Mugabe’s rule has been manna from heaven for his officials, those in the security services and those reporters and editors of state newspapers that is Herald, Chronicle, Sundaymail, Sunday news and ZBC both radio and TV. ...

As we speak the Zimbabwean dollar is trading at $16000 to the US$. This is in the ‘unofficial’ markets. In the official market however the US$ is selling at 1US$ for Z$250.

Only very powerful connected people have access to this source of foreign currency. That is why Harare is awash with the latest vehicle models despite the fact that hospitals have no drugs.

Using their power officials are making a killing by re trading their US$ in the black market. That explains why Zimbabwean ministers are able to buy seaside mansions, send their kids to the best schools abroad despite the economic problems....

African prisons

Book to bring attention to the sad state of African prisons, including HIV in prisoners.


Mugabe ban to stop food aid

  • April 19, 2007

ZIMBABWE has cancelled the licences of all aid groups, accusing them of working with the opposition to oust President Robert Mugabe, sparking fears the ban could cut food supplies to hundreds of thousands of people in the nation dependent on handouts.

Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said that all non-governmental organisations had been deregistered and would have to reapply for permits, reports said yesterday.

Dr Ndlovu said the authorities wanted to identify groups working with "agents of imperialism" to overthrow Mr Mugabe, who is facing growing resistance from Zimbabweans impoverished by his 27-year stranglehold on power, The Times reported.

"Pro-opposition and Western organisations masquerading as relief agencies continue to mushroom, and the Government has annulled the registration of all NGOs in order to screen out agents of imperialism from organisations working to uplift the wellbeing of the poor," Dr Ndlovu said.

The news shocked the local NGO community, stoking fears that the ban could stop desperately needed food aid reaching the country, the newspaper said. More than 1000 aid groups operate in Zimbabwe.

Six years of poor harvests after Mr Mugabe began his chaotic program of white land seizures in 2000 have left hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans dependent on handouts, mainly from foreign-funded NGOs. Last month alone, 1.5 million Zimbabweans were given food aid by the UN World Food Program, which uses local NGOs to distribute supplies.

Analysts told the paper the cancellation of NGO licences was linked to the hasty rescheduling of parliamentary and presidential elections to early next year....

With the elections coming the Mugabe Government has to stop NGOs from distributing food. Then it can use food as a political weapon to garner support," Dr Makumbe said.

Lovemore Madhuku, a prominent rights campaigner and chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, said of the NGO ban: "It's obvious. It's to intimidate the population.".....

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Zim doctors concerned over police assaults

... Harare/Johannesburg- An independent doctors' group in Zimbabwe expressed deep concern Monday over the growing number of people admitted to hospital with injuries allegedly inflicted by the police and state agents. "We have witnessed an increase in the number of persons presenting with injuries reportedly sustained from assault and torture inflicted during the course of arrest, during raids on the victims' homes and while in police custody," said the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR).

The association said in a statement it was deeply concerned at the level of force being used in the arrest of opposition and civic rights activists since the start of a crackdown on March 11.

Six people had received gunshot wounds, including activist Gift Tandare who was shot dead by police on March 11, it said.

Forty-nine people had required hospitalization for injuries sustained at the hands of police over the past month, while 175 others had been taken to hospital and discharged, the group added.

More than 180 of the victims had received moderate to severe soft tissue injuries, the doctors said.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai was among dozens of activists arrested and severely assaulted by police on March 11 as they tried to hold a prayer rally in Harare's Highfield district.

The authorities in Zimbabwe have continued to arrest opposition officials and activists including MDC MP Paul Madzore and national executive committee member Ian Makone....

In one incident condemned by ZADHR eight opposition activists were dragged back to police cells from a Harare hospital where the court had ordered them to seek treatment for injuries inflicted by the police.

Zim economic crisis spoils freedom day party

"....Mugabe, 83, was cheered by about 30,000 supporters of his ruling ZANU-PF party at the birthday bash held at a stadium outside Harare, with an airforce fly-by and military marches underscoring the might of his government....

"Our birthright, Our Sovereignty" read one placard waved at the rally, while others denounced Mugabe's Western critics and pledged to unswerving loyalty to the 83-year-old leader.

Critics accuse Mugabe, Zimbabwe's sole ruler since independence from Britain in 1980, of plunging the southern African state into crisis through policies such as the seizure of white-owned farms to resettle blacks.

But Mugabe says the disaster -- which has left the country with the highest inflation rate in the world and a rapidly shrinking economy -- is a result of economic sanctions imposed by the West.

On Tuesday, Mugabe said he had beaten off an attempt by "evildoers" to unseat him and urged people to be patient as his government battled the economic crisis....

Zim celebrates 25 years of independence

Zimbabwe marks the 27th anniversary of its independence from Britain today.

President Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, is expected to deliver a speech in the capital Harare, while smaller gatherings will be held at provincial towns across the country.

Reports say the celebrations will be muted due to ongoing political tension and an economic meltdown which has seen an unemployment rate of 80% with inflation nearing 2,000%....

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bishop says he has prophetic role

Zimbabwean Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube says he accepts that his opposition to Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe may cost him his life.

"The church has a prophetic role to speak the truth when no-one else dares to," the Archbishop of Bulawayo told the UK's Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Meanwhile, a crackdown on aid groups suspected of opposing the president has begun, state media reports.

All non-governmental organisations must now reapply for their licences....

Information Sikhanyiso Ndlovu ordered the NGO crackdown as some organisations were using relief activities as a cover for an opposition-led campaign to overthrow the government.

"Pro-opposition and Western organisations masquerading as relief agencies continue to mushroom," state radio quoted him as saying.

"The government has annulled the registration of all NGOs in order to screen out agents of imperialism from organisations working to uplift the wellbeing of the poor."

Last month, a prayer meeting in the capital, Harare, attended by opposition leaders and activists was broken up by police, leaving two people dead.

Scores of activists, including Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, were arrested and assaulted in police custody.

Archbishop Ncube also accused other African leaders of failing to exert pressure on Mr Mugabe to relinquish power.

Southern African leaders have appointed South Africa President Thabo Mbeki to mediate between Mr Mugabe and the MDC party.

Over Easter, the country's bishops warned of a mass uprising unless free elections are held, in a letter pinned up in churches.

Podcast on Zimbabwe

87 Podcast Asks The World What It Will Do About Mugabe #87 · 24.05 MB

I accidentally stumbled onto the podcast because I thought "shire" was something about Tolkien...and kept it because like Jon Stewart or Imus or even Ann Coulter, it made me laugh...a bit Islamophobic however so be warned...

Interview with Morgan Tsvangirai

".......I ask him how he has coped. He smiles. "I have been living with this kind of stress for nine years. You learn to be resilient. My wife Susan has been with me all the way, she has been my strength."

He changes the subject, reluctant to talk about personal matters. During the past two months, he tells me, a total of 600 MDC activists have been abducted, beaten and tortured

by President Mugabe's hit squads. "There is now a total onslaught against the entire leadership, including the middle and lower ranks of the party. Everyone associated with the MDC has been declared a legitimate target."

Tsvangirai dismisses with contempt Mugabe's allegations that the MDC is responsible for recent bombings. It is a familiar Mugabe trick, he says, to invent reasons to arrest people.

In 1981, he recalls, Zanu-PF planted arms on the marginalised Ndebele tribe, and this was used to justify the infamous Gukurahundi massacre in which thousands died.

He's equally sombre when considering what happens next in Zimbabwe. I ask him if he thinks South Africa's "quiet diplomacy" policy will succeed? "I am not a disciple of quiet diplomacy, but I wish Thabo Mbeki all the best in trying to negotiate a solution to the crisis."

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Invest in the Zim stockmarket

....".... With inflation at nearly 1800%, unemployment at 80%, and GDP having been slashed in half over the years, a thriving Zim stock market seems, well, impossible. But the 12,000% year-over-year increase is well over the rate of inflation, so people are obviously getting rich and keeping their money safe . The Institute explains that the Austrian Business Cycle Theory has something to do with it.
The ZSE is growing some three times faster than consumer prices. This relative outperformance versus general prices is a result of stocks being a chief entry point for the flood of newly created money. Keep Zimbabwean dollars in your pocket, and they've already lost a chunk of their value by the next day. Putting money in the bank, where rates are pithy, is not much better. Investing in government bonds is the equivalent of financial suicide. Converting wealth into foreign currency is difficult; hard currency is scarce, and strict rules limit exchangeability. As for capital improvements, there is little incentive on the part of companies to invest in their already-losing enterprises since economic prospects look so bleak. Very few havens exist for people to hide their wealth from the evils created by Mugabe's policies. Like compressed air looking for an exit, money is pouring into shares of ZSE-listed firms like banker Old Mutual, hotel group Meikles Africa, and mobile phone firm Econet Wireless. It is the only place to go. Thus the 12,000% year over year increase in the Zimbabwe Industrials.
Though the government print more and more money and distributes it into the system via financial institutions such as banks, they are opting to put it into stocks rather than hold onto it. One day can cause its value to collapse, but the stock market is driven by demand. Therefore, all of the rich people, government officials, and banks are putting their money into stocks so that it doesn't lose value. Demand is high, so the price is too.

The everyday people of Zimbabwe don't see any benefit to this, though. Their masters may not see it for much longer either. Stock prices on the index are obviously inflated and unsustainable. It's only a matter of time before it comes crashing down, taking down many in its spiral.

Iran funds Mugabe's propaganda radio station

Robert Mugabe has been actively pursuing a policy of friendship and co-operation with Iran, claiming that the two countries share a common ideology of standing up to Western hegemony. Now it looks like it's paid off, with the news that Iran has agreed to finance the establishment of a new radio station in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo.

Iran, which has previously donated funds to refurbish the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation's television and radio stations, will provide a total of US$39.6m for the new station. The money will be spent on re-equipping an old Bulawayo studio providing new digital technology, and sending instructors to train local technicians.

The deal was signed in Harare last Friday,...

The News 24/7 programmes, headed up by veteran broadcaster Happison Muchechetere, will be designed to offset the critical broadcasts beamed into the country from anti-Mugabe stations abroad, such as SWW from Britain and Studio 7, which is part of Voice of America.

The station is unlikely to carry commercial advertisements. In the current economic crisis, with inflation running at 1,700 per cent and unemployment at 80 per cent, no-one can afford to advertise.

Rights groups track assults on Zim

".....The human-rights advocate, who is not an opposition-party member, estimated that the documented attacks could represent as little as one-fifth of all beatings, because many victims were afraid to report them.

"It's very structured," said the advocate, who declined to be named for fear of retaliation. "They know exactly what they're doing and who they're going after. People are told not to seek medical treatment. They don't come to us and tell what happened, because they're simply terrified."

On Friday the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights issued its own statement on the attacks, saying it had documented 48 hospitalizations and more than 175 lesser medical treatments for assaults in the past month alone. The association is nonpartisan and does not attempt to identify the political affiliations of the victims.

The chairman, of the group Dr. Douglas Gwatidzo, said in an interview Friday that the attacks seemed to have peaked in late March, but that they had continued steadily, albeit at a lesser rate, since then.

"It's a continuous level of attacks, without an increase or decrease," he said. "We see maybe three or four a day coming into hospital. But that's not a reflection of what's happening on the ground."

600 arrested, abducted, tortured

NCREASING political violence across the country over the past few weeks has seen over 600 opposition leaders and supporters arrested, abducted, tortured or even killed.

Security agencies who have been at the forefront of the mayhem have defended their actions, arguing that they were thwarting plans to overthrow a legitimate government. Police have also accused the opposition of masterminding a spate of petrol bombings around the country.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change this week blamed security agencies it said had been turned into vigilante groups, abducting people, often during the night, torturing and then killing them.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told journalists yesterday that since February, over 600 people had been abducted and tortured by hit squads, comprising the police, the CIO, and the militias.

"Since February 16, 2007, over 600 people have bee abducted and tortured," Tsvangirai said. "Of these, at least 150 activists and leaders at various levels have sustained death threatening injuries at the ruthless arm of the increasingly partial security apparatus of the state."

"It saddens me to note that some people are being denied bail by the increasingly complicit judiciary and a bench stuffed with subjects who have benefited from the pat...ronage system of land reform and inputs generated by the government," he said.

Tsvangirai distanced his party from the spate of petrol bombings, calling the claims "hysterical shrills of false allegations".

Ten MDC activists including Ian Makone and Luke Tamborinyoka arrested last week for masterminding petrol bombings are still in custody.

His comments come as the police crackdown continues. On Wednesday police arrested two national executive members of the Tsvangirai faction and an unconfirmed number of activists in Bulawayo on allegations that they plotted to derail a local passenger train last month.

Obama sponsoring Zimbabwe resolution in US Senate

On March 26, the House of Representatives introduced House Concurrent Resolution 100 and on March 29, the Senate introduced the same document as Senate Resolution 25.

The resolution begins with the following words: "Condemning the recent violent actions of the Government of Zimbabwe against peaceful opposition activists and members of civil society."

In the Senate, the document was presented by presidential hopeful and Illinois Senator Barack Obama, while in Congress it was tabled by Congressman Tom Lantos of California, who is the current chairman on House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Obama had five co-sponsors in the Senate, most notably Senator John Kerry; and on the Congress side, Lantos had 31 co-sponsors, including seven members of the Congressional Black Caucus: Donald Payne, the chair of the CBC’s Africa Brain Trust, Diane Watson, Barbara Lee, Bobby Rush, Diane Watson, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Chaka Fattah.

That doesn't mean the newspaper likes their hero being slammed by a bunch of left wing anti Bush Democrats.

While a strong argument can be made that Zimbabweans are arguably the most politically astute Africans on the continent, which means they understand how their own brothers and sisters in such significant positions would help George W. Bush accomplish his misplaced mission to effect illegal regime change in Zimbabwe, this does not mean they will accept it lying down.

Will Africa pay for European "green" Policies?

Right now the European "greens" are condemning those who fly to far off vacation spots...
the result could be devestating to Africa's newly growing tourist industry.

And then it gets worse.

...other African success stories are threatened by this new "stay local" trend. During the last decade, African agricultural products are increasingly admitted into the protectionist European market, even when also produced in Europe. This includes beef from Namibia and Botswana, fresh flowers, fruit and vegetables from Kenya and even processed food products from South Africa and Ghana.

None of the few African countries that have managed to enter European markets with agricultural products that compete with local producers have had an easy path reaching their position. Food quality and hygiene standards in Europe are extremely rigid and to a large degree designed to exclude foreign competition. To be able to reach sceptical European consumers, African producers mostly also have been obliged to follow strict environmental and social guidelines.

Also, African food products for years had to fight against false prototypes promoted by seemingly well-meaning anti-globalisation activists that to a great degree were funded by local farmer organisations. Development specialists - who do not get much air-time in European media - had to explain on and on again that European consumers were not "stealing food from starving Africans" when buying their products, but that these imports indeed would promote wealth and empowerment in rural Africa.

But in country after country, also these hard-bought gains are now under attack. Britain is the country where consumers so far have had the strongest focus on how far the food basket has travelled before reaching supermarkets. "Fresh vegetables from Africa" have for several years been one of the main focuses of environmental and anti-globalisation activists. They have even produced research claiming that the further foods have travelled, "the more their vitamin and mineral content deteriorates."

Already in 2003, airlifted baby carrots and garden peas from South Africa were highlighted in energy budgets of imported foods. For carrots, "it will have taken 68 calories of energy in the form of fuel to air freight each calorie of carrot energy," while "fresh peas require approximately two and half times the energy to produce, package and distribute as those sourced locally," the British daily 'Guardian' reported. South African wine, which is mostly shipped, however was praised for its "tiny" CO2 emissions. Of all the African products scrutinised, only wine is not produced Britain.

Years of campaigning against African agricultural products in the UK - whose funding has yet to be revealed - has already left its mark on British consumers. The easy-selling "fact" that locally produced vegetables, meat, flowers and fruits are more environmentally fit than African imports has made many consumers look for "low emission products".

That this trend is significant was demonstrated by a surprise marketing campaign by Britain's largest supermarket chain, Tesco, in February 2007. The retailer was to introduce "carbon counting" labelling to let
High quality lamb processed for the Norwegian market in Mariental, Namibia

High quality lamb processed for the Norwegian market in Mariental, Namibia:
«Who would start counting CO2 emissions on Europe's food exports?»

© Ulvar Arnkv√¶rn/Norwatch/afrol News
consumers see for themselves how far their food basket had travelled and how much CO2 emissions had been needed.

Tesco is one of the main channels for Kenyan products to European consumers - indeed half of Kenya's agricultural exports go to Britain. Naturally, the surprise marketing stunt caused frustrations at the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK), which had not been consulted on the move. While Tesco promised to keep on importing Kenyan products, "carbon counting" labels on these goods from 2008 will tell a one-sided story to British consumers. ...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Mbeki might help he can hold the world cup

President Thabo Mbeki is under pressure from South Africa’s 2010 World Cup organising committee to find a lasting solution to the Zimbabwe crisis, or risk seeing his country lose the right to host the biggest football tournament.

Already a number of European countries have raised their concerns at sending their teams to a country whose neighbour is involved in gross human rights abuses. Amid the spiralling brutality, violence, rapes and destruction of property belonging to the opposition, there are reports that the Southern African Development Community are also pushing Mbeki to force Robert Mugabe to stop his ‘dirty war’ on innocent Zimbabweans. Sources on Thursday said Mbeki is expected to travel soon to Harare for talks with Mugabe and opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.

Reports from Johannesburg said there have been a flurry of discussions over the phone between other SADC leaders and Mbeki, urging him to act fast on Zimbabwe to ensure the whole region benefits from South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 World Cup. This follows a statement Thursday by the chief executive of the 2010 organising committee that South Africa is seeking a change in World Cup rules to allow visiting teams to be based in neighbouring countries during the finals in three years’ time.....

Church leaders questioned about prayer meeting

Two church leaders from the Christian Alliance were questioned by police on Thursday in connection with a prayer meeting that is scheduled for Bulawayo on Saturday. This will be the second time in just over a month that the group, under the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, will attempt to hold a prayer meeting. Useni Sibanda, the National Coordinator of the Alliance said: “As I speak to you right now, two of our leaders have been called in by police for questioning and that is Pastor Ray Motsi and Pastor Patson Nheta because the Christian Alliance is the one that is coordinating the meeting.”

He said the police also threatened the priest in charge of St Patrick’s Catholic Church, the venue of the meeting, and ordered him to call off the meeting. But the group said the prayer meeting would go ahead despite the harassment by the police.

This Catholic Church is in the diocese of the outspoken cleric Archbishop Pius Ncube, who is expected to lead the sermon. Speakers will also include opposition leaders: Morgan Tsvangirai & Arthur Mutambara, National Constitutional Assembly Chairperson, Dr Lovemore Madhuku; Zimbabwe National Students Union President Promise Mkwananzi; the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and several Bishops from South Africa who are coming in solidarity.

The regime has been using its muscle, through draconian security laws like the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), to clampdown on pro-democracy groups. When asked if the Church had notified the police Pastor Sibanda responded by saying: “There is no law in Zimbabwe which requires us to do that because literally this is a religious meeting convened by bonafied religious organisations. There is no need for us to ask for police permission to do that.”
Last month armed riot police blocked a similar meeting in Harare and severely assaulted political and civic leaders. The Save Zimbabwe Campaign is a coalition of pro-democracy groups - including political parties, students, civic society and Churches.
Pastor Sibanda said this time they had decided to hold the prayer meeting in a Church to avoid a repeat of what happened on March 11th....

He said they want people to come and pray for an end to the crisis and the suffering of the people in Zimbabwe. The Church is increasingly speaking out against the injustices in Zimbabwe. Just last week, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference wrote a highly critical message on the crisis in Zimbabwe, in a pastoral letter for Easter. ...

Neither capitalism or socialism

The Catholic idea is that things should be small farmers and small businesses and local businesses should be supported instead of government socialism or multinational globalists. It sounds nice, but whether or not it would work is another thing. I place it here as a way to balance earlier discussions of China, globalism, etc.

In the Middle Ages those quintessential Catholic institutions, the craft guilds, very often limited the amount of property each owner/worker could have (for example, by limiting the number of his employees), precisely in the interest of preventing anyone from expanding his own workshop so much that he was likely to drive others out of business. For if private property has a purpose and end, as Aristotle and St. Thomas would insist, it surely is to allow a man to make a decent living for himself and his family by serving society. But one living, not two or three. If my business supports myself and my family, then what right do I have to expand that business so as to deprive others of the means of supporting themselves and their families? For the medievals saw those in the same line of work, not as rivals or competitors, but as brothers, brothers engaged in the very important work of providing the public with a needed good or service. And as brothers they joined together into guilds, engaged priests to pray for their dead, supported their widows and orphans with insurance funds, and generally looked after one another. Who would not admit that this conception of economic activity is more akin to the Catholic faith than the dog eat dog ethic of capitalism?

I realize that much of what I say here must sound strange to many readers. Most Americans are acquainted only with capitalism and socialism. But a little knowledge of Catholic economic history and of traditional Catholic economic thought will be enough to convince any fair minded reader that there is an entire world out there of genuine Catholic thought on this subject nearly unknown in the United States. And if the current "science" of economics contradicts this thought, then ask yourself, what authority does that "science" have? It arose from the deistic philosophy of the so-called Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, and it is curious that some Catholics, while condemning (rightly) the philosophy of that unfortunate century, warmly embrace its economic theories, not realizing that those economic theories arise from the same poisoned well as Voltaire and the Encyclopedists. But it is not too late to remake our thinking after the very pattern of Jesus Christ and his Church--if we are willing to banish from our lives the idols that are worshipped in our own country and embark on the fascinating journey of discovering Catholic economic thinking. n

Zim mining sector faces collapse

Zimbabwe mining sector faces collapse

Friday 13 April 2007

By Edith Kaseke

HARARE – The mining industry in Zimbabwe could collapse under the weight of heavy debts and an unsustainable exchange rate, ironically at a time when world metal prices are booming, which would be another blow to the foreign currency starved country, the Chamber of Mines said.

The mining sector is the biggest foreign currency earner in a country battling its worst ever economic crisis and its collapse could bring more misery to the majority who are squeezed by the world’s highest inflation rate of nearly 2 000 percent, unemployment above 80 percent and shortages of hard cash and food.

With the agriculture sector in turmoil, mainly as a result of President Robert Mugabe’s government’s seizures of farms from whites, mining had become the largest employer and earned more than half of the country’s foreign currency.

The Chamber of Mines said an official rate of $250 which miners are paid for a third of their earnings was unviable as this could not meet their Zimbabwe dollar costs, noting that for example suppliers of goods and services were pricing at black market rates.

The United Stated dollar is trading around $17 000 at the black market.

Miners are forced to liquidate nearly 33 percent of their forex receipts at the central bank at the official rate.

"The official exchange rate of US$1:Z$250 continues to cause viability challenges," the chamber said on Thursday.

"The shortage of foreign currency for suppliers of goods and services to the mineral sector is impacting on the determination of prices. It is no secret that in the absence of foreign currency on the official market, the parallel market is the only other source," it added.

According to the Chamber of Mines, gold producers were hit by payment delays by the central bank, adding that at the beginning of this month, most producers had not been paid for gold delivered in January.

Gold producers account for 52 percent of total mineral production and a third of gross domestic product.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Terror campaign moves to Bulawayo

11 April 2007

The campaign of terror that the state is accused of employing mainly in Harare has now apparently moved to the second largest city of Bulawayo. This follows revelations that the Joint Operations Command comprising all the security services has directed the crackdown be implemented countrywide. According to Nelson Chamisa a spokesman for the Tsvangirai MDC, over 4 activists were abducted on Tuesday in Bulawayo. National executive member Sikululekile Nkala and Themba Nyathi from the Tsvangirai MDC were moved to Harare, arriving there in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Nkala is being held at Harare Central while Nyathi is at Matapi police station in Mbare.

Speaking to Newsreel from Bulawayo, Sam Sipepa Nkomo a senior official in the party, said they are surprised as to why the two have been transferred to Harare. He says Nkala especially ‘is a little young girl still in school.’ Nkomo says most MDC officials are now in hiding following reports that state security agents are raiding homes in the city and looking for opposition activists. The environment in Bulawayo has been relatively calm but all that has changed this week. Its now reported several people have been picked up and taken to Harare in a truck.

In Harare Godfrey Koster, a Youth Coordinator in the MDC, and Darlington Madzonga, a personal assistant to Chamisa, were abducted at gunpoint from Karigamombe Centre. The two had visited the offices of the Students Solidarity Trust at Construction House on personal business. It’s reported that when they came out of the building their car had been clamped by the Municipal traffic police. On going to the municipal offices at Trafalgar Court to pay the fine two unidentified man produced a gun and bundled them into a waiting vehicle.,,,

Since Wednesday last week over 19 activists were arrested in Harare alone....

In related stories, 7 student leaders were abducted for protesting against a decision to deny them food by Masvingo State University authorities. 5 of the students have been released but the Student Representative Council president Witlow Mugwiji and Secretary General Edson Hlatswayo's whereabouts are still unknown.

University bombed

I received a call around 1.30am last Wednesday from friends who are studying and staying on campus at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ). “Please can you come and get us, we are stranded in Borrowdale. The university has been bombed,” so they said....

There was very little traffic on my way to Sam Levy’s Village in Borrowdale where I was picking up my friends. As I approached the Village, there were a number of young men strolling around and I suspect they were also coming from UZ where they had run away from the ‘dreaded riot police’ who were said to have been called onto the campus.

I picked up four of my friends packing my Beetle tight and I made my way back home. As I tried to ask what happened there were a lot of theories which I just could not lace together.

The following morning, I took them back to UZ to see for myself what happened the previous night. A building which was once a dining hall was in ashes. The room had collapsed and all I could see were metal frames of desks and chairs that were being stored in this building that is less than 20 meters from one of the ladies hostels.

According to The Herald newspaper, there has been a spate of ‘terror bombings’. If this building was indeed bombed, it would the 11th one. And if it was a bomb whoever made it must have been knowing what they were doing....

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Zim: From fairy tale to nightmare

....One didn’t need to be a grown up back then to understand what was at stake; white supremacist rule (hiding behind Muzorewa’s black face) vs. black majority rule represented by Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe. How we envied Zimbabwe when the Lancaster talks ended with an agreement for new internationally supervised elections! This was a time when Cameroon was solidly under the control of a dictator called Ahmadou Ahidjo; an era of rule by terror which a generation of Cameroonians cannot begin to relate to and even occasionally romanticize – the result of a quarter of a century of misrule by Ahidjo's successor Paul Biya…......

But that euphoria did not last long and the honeymoon was soon over. In 1982 the affable Joshua Nkomo was accused for attempting to overthrow Mugabe's regime. Mugabe then unleashed a six-year reign of terror in Nkomo's native Matabeleland where, according to some estimates, the North-Korean trained Fifth Brigade allegedly killed about 40,000 people – nearly twice the number who died during the war of liberation. Mugabe called the campaign “Operation Gukuruhundi”, meaning "the wind that sweeps away the chaff". Zimbabwe had lost its luster. And suddenly, Paul Biya's Cameroon felt a million times safer … and freer!!!

But the worse was yet to come with the bungled land distribution campaign and Mugabe’s maniacal obsession with hanging to power whatever the cost. Whatever one’s take on the historical legitimacy (or lack thereof) of the land distribution campaign, it is now evident that this was a fly-by-night operation whose implementation was driven primarily by cynical political and populist motives. This was not a carefully planned program aimed at rectifying the errors of the past and at jump-starting the Zimbabwean economy. The end result is there for all to see. As Zimbabwean Bishops lament in a recent pastoral letter:

"Following a radical land reform programme seven years ago, many people are today going to bed hungry and wake up to a day without work. Hundreds of companies were forced to close. Over 80 per cent of the people of Zimbabwe are without employment. Scores risk their lives week after week in search of work in neighbouring countries. Inflation has soared to over 1,600 per cent, and continues to rise, daily. It is the highest in the world and has made the life of ordinary Zimbabweans unbearable…"

The downhill slide would continue with the mass eviction of “illegal dwellers” across the country in the infamous “operation Murambatsvina” (get rid of the filth) of 2005. The operation, which had strong political and partisan undertones, only worsened the socio-economic situation in the country. According a United Nations fact finding mission:

"It estimated that some 700,000 people in cities across the country have lost either their homes, their source of livelihood or both. Indirectly, a further 2.4 million people have been affected in varying degrees. Hundreds of thousands of women, men and children were made homeless, without access to food, water and sanitation, or health care. Education for thousands of school age children has been disrupted. Many of the sick, including those with HIV and AIDS, no longer have access to care. The vast majority of those directly and indirectly affected are the poor and disadvantaged segments of the population. They are, today, deeper in poverty, deprivation and destitution, and have been rendered more vulnerable."

In recent months, Mugabe has upped the ante on political repression and recklessness as he uses every bloody trick in the book hang on to power in perpetuity; the hounding, jailing, torture and even murder of anyone who is rightly or wrongly considered an enemy of the regime is now a national hobby.

Today, Zimbabwe is a shadow of its old self, a fairytale transformed into a gory nightmare right before our eyes. That rainbow nation where black and white were supposed to live happily ever after, where political opponents were supposed to carry on with the business of nation building without fear or repression, is now a distant and even laughable dream. Zimbabwe has gone full circle, right back to the worst days of good old Rhodesia as the Bishops point out in their letter:

"None of the unjust and oppressive security laws of the Rhodesian State have been repealed; in fact, they have been reinforced by even more repressive legislation… in particular. It almost appears as though someone sat down with the Declaration of Human Rights and deliberately scrubbed out each in turn. [S]oon after Independence, the power and wealth of the tiny white Rhodesian elite was appropriated by an equally exclusive black elite, some of whom have governed the country for the past 27 years through political patronage. Black Zimbabweans today fight for the same basic rights they fought for during the liberation struggle. It is the same conflict between those who possess power and wealth in abundance, and those who do not; between those who are determined to maintain their privileges of power and wealth at any cost, even at the cost of bloodshed, and those who demand their democratic rights and a share in the fruits of independence...."......

Mugabe: from socialism to tyranny

Mugabe uses State machinery especially his brutal police force, to systematically thwart any form of protests or complaints. It is on record that journalists working for the Opposition have been jailed and media houses attacked, whenever they portray his government negatively. Mugabe always claims the Opposition members seek sympathy from the West, when they are featured in the media talking about their woes.

Some Africans support President Mugabe for having “chased away” white landowners in Zimbabwe, in the early 2000s. They also see him as the only African hero who hurls insults to political leaders of the West and condemns imperialism. However, others feel that African leaders should denounce Mugabe’s actions. South Africa’s position of “quiet diplomacy” (read non-interference), has not helped either. It is felt that being an economic and political powerhouse in southern Africa, South Africa should step in and actively criticize Mugabe.

Corruption, greed and opulence

In 2003, Mugabe commissioned the building of his ‘retirement’ home at the cost of 72 million South African rand (almost 10 million dollars), while the country’s inflation was at 399.5% and fuel prices had increased by 500%. On August 31, 2003, the South African Sunday Times newspaper analyzed the country’s crisis, predicting that inflation would soon hit 1000%. By March 2007 it was 1700%, the highest in the world. By 2003 Mugabe had earned less than 1 million dollars during his 23 years of leadership. People therefore questioned how he had acquired millions of dollars to build his new 25-bedroom home. It is not certain he will retire; he plans to remain in power. The Sunday Times added that Mugabe’s (current) second wife had earlier built herself a mansion with money set aside to assist poorly paid civil servants. After a lot of criticism, the property was sold to the Libyan Embassy in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe the perpetrator

In the 1980s, Mugabe ordered the massacre of the minority Matabele people in his country, which cost around 20,000 lives. He was then a darling of the West and the British (Tory government) even sold him weapons. This terror was not widely publicized because it was insignificant to his successes, which had impressed the West. After all, the massacre was on the blacks and not whites.

In the 1990s, Mugabe, just like some of his African dictators, felt the multiparty political heat which swept across Africa. He has since used all available means to thwart it. He has repeatedly used State machinery to rig the elections and remain in power. His misrule has earned him a travel ban to the West and economic sanctions. Currently, thousands of Zimbabweans suffer from malnutrition and lack of basic health provisions, among others.

In 2005, Mugabe launched the controversial anti-human program called “Operation Restore Order”, to demolish informal settlements (slums) in urban areas, in order to improve security. This exercise left thousands of poor people homeless and jobless. Some might have died from lack of access to medication; one child was crashed to death by a bulldozer. The United Nations made a comprehensive report about this and estimated that 2.4 million had been affected. It is instrumental to note that slum dwellers comprise the majority of opposition voters; they pose a threat to Mugabe’s regime. Zimbabwe is heading for a second liberation, with or without Dictator Mugabe.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Zim bishops warning

Roman Catholic bishops marked Easter Sunday with an unprecedented message to President Robert Mugabe to end oppression and leave office through democratic reform or face a mass revolt.

"The confrontation in our country has now reached a flashpoint," said the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference in a pastoral message pinned up at churches throughout the country.

"As the suffering population becomes more insistent, generating more and more pressure through boycotts, strikes, demonstrations and uprisings, the state responds with ever harsher oppression through arrests, detentions, banning orders, beatings and torture," the nine bishops said.

The majority of Zimbabwe's Christians - including Mugabe - are Roman Catholics. Several thousand worshippers who packed the cathedral in Harare - clustered around the notice boards to read the message after morning Mass on Sunday.

Although the Catholic bishops - especially Pius Ncube, the archbishop of the second city of Bulawayo, have criticized the government in the past, the tone of this year's pastoral message was the most strident since independence from Britain in 1980.

In his traditional Easter address from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI singled out Zimbabwe among other troubled countries.

"Zimbabwe is in the grip of a grievous crisis," he said.

The letter, entitled "God Hears the Cries of the Oppressed," likened human and democratic rights abuses under Mugabe to the oppression of biblical pharaohs and Egyptian slave masters.

"Oppression is sin and cannot be compromised with," it said....


The article goes on to say the Bishops are using the example of the Philippines "people power" revolution, where Cardinal Sin and a million Catholics overthrew the Marcos government peacefully.

However, Filipinos had a different history

One: Filipinos have a indentification with Christ crucified, and the willingness to die for their faith and for freedom. Few people except Pinoys remember that 600 000 Filipinos died trying to stop the US from taking over from the Spanish in 1899. Zim has a history of the Ndebele and Mashona uniting to revolt against the early white settlers, and then later their own revolution that put in Mugabe.

Two: Ninoy Acquino was jailed, and then released, but returned even though he knew he might be killed. Much of his "spiritual" power was like Mandella, his transformation in jail from a playboy to a leader. Tsvangarai's beating makes him a possible leader in this way.

Three: There were free elections where Filipinos were willing to vote against Marcos, and those counting the votes got word out they were threatened when they counted these votes. Unlike Zim, there was no famine allowing the government to threaten stopping food aid if they voted wrong.

Four: The Army backed Cory when she was elected. The "EDSA" revolution was when a million mostly Catholic Filipinos came out singing hymns led by Cardinal Sin and a statue of the Virgin of Fatima. Why "EDSA" (a major street)? Because General Ramos (a protestant) decided to back Cory, and Marcos, who lost control of his Manila based Army, brought in soldiers from his own province up north. These soldiers could not arrest Ramos because they would not kill peaceful civilians blocking their way (and the legend is that the Virgin Mary appeared to them and instructed them "do not hurt my children" so they didn't shoot).

Now, most of those involved were Christian (Catholics in the demonstration, Protestants in the Army, and members of an indigenous Catholic breakaway church that backed Marcox).

One could see the Army or Police breaking away to help the peaceful demonstrators, but the presence of youth gangs and rumors of drug induced violence (and I suspect witchcraft induced drug violence) is a wild card. I suspect much of the fear of Mugabe is due to witchcraft, but that is rarely spoken about by Zimbabwean opposition leaders, who rightly know that such claims would be seen as fantasy in the Western press.

Five: In the Philippines, Marcos was a good friend of then President Reagan. Marcos expected Reagan to continue his backing in the election because of his history of Anti communism. However, when a democratic alternative presented itself with Cory and mass demonstrations, Reagan pulled the plug on Marcos, and he had to leave.

Again, in Zimbabwe, the "kingmaker" will not have to be Mbeki of South Africa. Without backing of Mbeki, no "perople power" revolution will succeed.

Harare sets up new radio station

Zimbabwe is setting up a new radio station to counter what it calls Western propaganda against President Robert Mugabe.

"We are under siege and being bombarded by the Western media broadcasting to our people," Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said.

The short wave station will become the fifth state-run radio station in the state and will cost Z$8.9bn ($39.6m).

The station is being partly funded by the Iranian government.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Zim refugees in Namibia

WINDHOEK – Some 2 000km away from home, 27-year Cuthbert Ngoro is busy trying to rebuild his shattered life, selling almost anything to survive.

At this busy street corner in Windhoek, Namibia, Ngoro is selling cellphone recharge vouchers, and anything else that he lays his hands on for survival.

Ngoro, a qualified teacher, is among millions of Zimbabweans who have been forced to flee their country’s unprecedented economic meltdown that has seen 80 percent of the working population without jobs.

“I am better off here than I was in Zimbabwe. I can make more than N$100 a day (about Z$150 000), which is way more than what I used to get in my country as a teacher.

“When I left Zimbabwe last year, I was earning Z$120 000 a month," he says with a wide grin.

A few kilometers away, Kudzai, a gorgeous lady in her late twenties who refused to give her full name, says she was a registered nurse in Zimbabwe.

She too left home and is part of a group of Zimbabwean women selling sex behind the famous Kalahari Sands Hotel and Casino in the heart of Windhoek.

“It’s a tough job,” she says with a straight face.

“But it is nothing compared to the suffering I went through in Zimbabwe. At least I can afford to send money home and look after my two children in Harare,” she told ZimOnline.

“Sometimes the police lock us up but they release us the next day and we will be back on the streets. Sometimes we have to bribe our way out of police stations,” she says.

Ngoro and Kudzai are among thousands of mostly highly educated and qualified Zimbabweans who are living in the Namibian capital engaged in petty trading or doing menial jobs for survival. ....

At least three million Zimbabweans or a quarter of the country’s 12 million people live in exile after fleeing an economic crisis described by the World Bank as the worst in the world outside a war zone.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

UN: stop being bad or we'll send you an angry letter

hilip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, issued the statement that follows today. Mr. Alston is an independent expert appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council

"The Zimbabwe Government must immediately halt its use of lethal force against unarmed political activists", according to a United Nations human rights expert.

Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said that such a practice represented a clear violation of international human rights law. "The Government is, in effect, instructing its forces to shoot innocent people, in complete disregard for the right to life. In particular, such an approach reflects no attempt to balance the rights to political participation and to freedom of expression and association with any legitimate notion of the need to maintain public order", he said.

The Special Rapporteur noted that the killing of Gift Tandare, the shooting of Nickson Magondo and Naison Mashambanhaka at point blank range and the deaths of 8-10 persons at Harare hospitals from injuries consistent with being beaten by state security agents with blunt instruments are particularly troubling. Full, independent investigations must be undertaken as soon as possible.

Surveying the relevant international legal standards, he concluded that military and police officers may use lethal force only when doing so is strictly necessary for self-defence or the defence of another's life. Governments that order their forces to shoot are violating international human rights law.

"Under international law, widespread or systematic attacks against the civilian population are crimes against humanity", Mr. Alston added. 'Members of the police and military who comply with orders to gun down demonstrators will eventually be held to account".

Abductions? Who bothers to worry about abductions?

Police assault residents in Glen View and Budiriro
Riot police who had been patrolling the streets of the high-density areas of Budiriro and Glen View Wednesday attacked local residents as the 2nd day of the ZCTU strike came to a close. Residents said police accusing them of piling up rocks to block minibuses from taking workers to their jobs. It is not clear if any arrests were made or if residents were injured. Both areas were reported to be tense Thursday.

Tortured journalist Phiri released but hospitalised
Gift Phiri , the journalist from The Zimbabwean newspaper who was abducted near his home in Harare last Sunday was finally released on bail on Thursday. His wife said that he was badly beaten and has been hospitalised. Human rights groups are concerned about the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe where opposition activists and journalists are increasingly being brutalized.

Majongwe fights his way to freedom after abduction at gunpoint
Raymond Majongwe, Secretary General of the Progressive Teachers Union, wrestled his way to freedom after being abducted by suspected state agents on Tuesday. Jacob Rukweza, the Harare Province chairperson of the PTUZ, said Majongwe decided he would rather die with one of his kidnappers than be bullied.

Civic leader concerned over lack of consultation over crisis
NCA Chairperson Dr Lovemore Madhuku has expressed concern that civic society is not being consulted on initiatives taking place to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis. At the disappointing SADC meeting in Tanzania last week South African President Mbeki was appointed to help negotiations between the ruling party and the opposition & on Wednesday his government representatives met the Secretary Generals of the two MDC factions.
Mugabe to increase his powers by expanding parliament & senate
A new set of constitutional changes to be tabled in parliament soon will give power to the legislature to elect a successor, in the event that a sitting president dies in office or resigns before the completion of a current term.
Twelve opposition activists released on bail
The High Court and magistrates courts released a total of 12 opposition activists on bail on Thursday. Defence lawyer Alec Muchadehama told Newsreel, the courts basically released the political lightweights in the case.
Free hit counters
Free hit counters