Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Early poll riles opposition

From AlJazeerah:

Robert Mugabe, the president who will be running for a sixth term in March, has been accused of rigging previous elections and using tough security laws to keep his opponents under control.

"The challenge is to continue pressing the Mugabe
regime ... to adopt a new constitution"

Lovemore Madhuku, constitutional lawyer
A statement in his name on Friday said: "Now therefore under and by virtue of the powers vested in the president as aforesaid, I do by this proclamation dissolve parliament with effect from midnight the 28 March 2008."

Lovemore Madhuku, a constitutional lawyer leading a pressure group pushing for a new constitution, told the Reuters news agency that the election date came as no surprise.

"It was always clear the elections would be held in March," he said.

"The challenge is to continue pressing the Mugabe regime - which, because of the twisted electoral environment, will still be there in the post-election period - to adopt a new constitution."

The parliamentary and presidential elections will take place against the backdrop of Zimbabwe's ongoing economic crisis. The annual rate of inflation is officially running at nearly 8,000 per cent, but many economists believe that the figure is closer to 50,000 per cent.

Unemployment is around 80 per cent and basic foodstuffs, such as cooking oil and sugar, are now a scarce commodity.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Will Kenya be the next Zimbabwe?

It is sad to watch Kenya descend into tribal war.

Essentially it is about one man of one tribe stealing an election…which of course will allow him to distribute all the perks of the government jobs to those of his tribes, not the other tribes.

If you know your US history, this is why Garfield was assasinated, and the civil service examination started for hiring.

But the opposition had in place his people to kill the others, encouraging hatred like “they stole our land” in the poor, who don’t know better.

What’s missing in this and other tribal conflicts is the understanding of tribal ties, and the problem that socialism with it’s bureaurocracy of big government (that mimics the big brother will care for you ideas of tribal government)…actually encourages corruption and keeping out “The Other”.

The answer is found in Kenya’s growing middle class, and thriving economy.

James Shikwati compares the tribal violence to a Godzilla egg, where the monster of tribalism which was thought dead years ago suddenly reappears…From his editorial in the African Executive:

What started as a legitimate quest to ensure fairness in the just concluded presidential elections in Kenya has unleashed a brutal Godzilla… Managers are forced to use ethnicity to assign duties. Sales and Marketing teams are being recalled and redeployed to areas they can be safe – tribal homes! While some of us have been working hard to build a United Africa; a few people seem hell-bend to reintroduce ethnic kingdoms and destroy Kenya….Listening to Radio FM stations; one is left wondering whether they are keen on expunging the word justice from the dictionary. If Kenyan FM stations are not offering sedatives to burry the problem under the carpet; they are busy inciting ethnicity….How can Kenyans heal when every other day, the two political warring factions drive nails deep into the wounds they unleashed upon the nation on December 30 2007?

They are the hope of the future. but ignored by the west who prefers to see Africans as a poor person needing their help, or as ignorant.

Alas, when the Pope moans about globalism, he isn’t helping the matter: he’s stuck in the middle ages (which is why Calvin and Luther were the ones who made Europe modern….and why the growing Protestant middle class may break the cycle of helpless poverty in Latin America and the Philippines…maybe the Pope needs to talk to Michael Novak…).

Alas, mouthing words of peace may not be the answer:

With their heads in the sand, the middle class - if not urging for prayer for peace, concerts for peace, they are fundraising to erect billboards for peace at every residential area entrance! Nairobi hinterland is burning; tribal passions are being whipped up by the day. The middle class is busy checking in the dictionary for high sounding moralistic words while privately urging on their fellows to protect the supremacy of their tribes.

The Godzilla and its eggs must be destroyed, they must not hatch! It’s not going to be easy, but each one of us must re-examine our sense of humanity and the future of the Kenyan republic. Brutish force without power will not bring peace in Kenya, neither will power without legal force.

Ah, but that is the paradox. who will keep this peace? Who will encourage nationhood? For if Socialism encourages voting by tribal blocks to keep the power (and jobs and money) for your own tribe, so too “democracy” in such countries ends up as one tribe, one party, not parties according to philosophy but according to blood.

Kenya is starting to have tribal war, but it can be stopped. But what is needed is the growing middle class to take over the government. If this happens, Kenya could copy the successes of the Asian tigers.

Because the dirty little secret about Africa is that when governments remain in the corrupt tribal mold, their talent (like talent here in the Philippines) often prefer to move overseas where they can use their talent to be prosperous.

The Irony of a Zuma Presidency

From the African executive:

Jacob Zuma, South Africa's new cantankerous African National Congress (ANC) president has a political destiny already sealed with fate. Lending any credence to the fact that his electoral victory will emit 'shock waves' in and beyond South Africa is a convulsive misinterpretation of the political game plan in the ANC. A Zuma victory that reflects a figure beyond 0.001 on the African political Richter scale relegates that gadget to the Museum of Calibrated Instruments. Not least because 21st century politics is immune to socialist rhetoric, but that South Africans are wise enough to know that sacrificing hard-won regional and continental dominance on the altar of simplistic populism come 2009 will be suicidal.

James Shikwati (Director, Inter Region Economic Network) believes that he and his fellow tribesman are of Zulu ancestry, this puts him in the tribal lineage of Tshaka Zulu, Gatsha Buthelezi and Jacob Zuma. James’ assertion is founded on knowledge that Tshaka's military authoritarian antics conceived Umfencane, a large-scale migration of the Zulu.

What we know is that Chief Gatsha Buthelezi tried to impose the political influence of the Zulu on contemporary South Africa through his Inkatha Movement, but his effort was met with dismal failure....

For South Africa, the phenomenon of a new national president emerging out of an ANC political process is nothing strange, after all it is the party that produced great characters like Albert Sisulu, Oliver Thambo and of course, global icon Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. But to say that Jacob Zuma will substitute a 'great name' in the person of Thabo Mbeki would be an illusion....

There is a catch to this irony however. If, according to the ANC constitution, Polokwane 2008 has 'produced a future president' in Zuma, South Africans, technically, must ready themselves for a populist Zulu cadre as national leader.

If Zuma survives, South Africans will find themselves head on with fate - a president with a 'criminal' history, but then, will all the members of the Africa Union that are 'clean' please raise their right hands!

We poor Zimbabweans would be caught between a rock and a hard place. Mark Gevisser's biography: Thabo Mbeki, The Dream Deferred reveals that Mbeki has a favour to return to habitual autocrat Robert Mugabe. The ruling party ZANUpf had 'bad' relations with ANC during both countries' liberation struggles, not least because of ideological differences, but that Oliver Thambo simply preferred the friendship of the more aristocratic Joshua Nkomo, Mugabe's fierce and credible political rival. After Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, ANC's Umkhonto weSizwe, whose fighters had been on duty with Nkomo's ZIPRA cadres in Rhodesia, needed a military rearguard in Zimbabwe, so Mbeki was assigned the delicate task of negotiating for this critical passage with Mugabe.

For Zimbabweans who have been clamouring for South Africa to take 'drastic' action as a catalyst for rapid political change, Mbeki's inevitable departure is a blessing in disguise, because Zuma not only has strong Umkhonto weSizwe tendencies, but his Zulu ancestry tallies with the late Joshua Nkomo 's Matebele lineage. Mind you, Zimbabweans have all the reasons to be more optimistic about Zuma's 'hard-line approach' on Mugabe because the latter is not only accused of having massacred twenty thousand Zuma's 'Zulu descendants' in Matebeleland, but also that ZANUpf resents strategic alliances between COSATU - Zuma's key ally - and MDC, Mugabe's arch enemy. However, were Zuma's brand of populist politics to destroy the South African economy, three million Zimbabwean economic exiles, who to date sustain Harare's fragile economy, would be 'dead and buried'. But for Africa, it is another feather in the cap of leaders who have blood, semen and funny money on their hands. Do the SADC and AU really care?

By Rejoice Ngwenya

Friday, January 25, 2008

Concern about new Zim Constitution

From Africa Path:

Over the weekend close to a hundred youths from Zimbabwe gathered in Johannesburg under an initiative of the National Constitutional Assembly- Zimbabwe to dialogue on the constitutional crisis which has over the past three major elections resulted in contested legitimacy.
Youths meeting under their umbrella body of the Zimbabwe Youth Network at the Holy Trinity unanimously agreed that as the youths of Zimbabwe they would not participate in any flawed process which analysts say this might see a low vote turnout....
Asked about whether they were behind the Thabo Mbeki led mediations they responded that there was much faith in SADC mediations though doubts existed over agreements and contents of deliberations....

Leading human rights defender and Director of the Diaspora Dialogue Immanuel Hlabangani said youths were an important component never to be taken for granted in any state and encouraged the youths of Zimbabwe to continue making noise and dialogue with government for a lasting solution.....

The Zimbabwe Youth Network is among others demanding a new constitution before election in which all people participate in, a diaspora vote and postponement of elections to allow reforms to take root...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Protesters teargassed in Harare

from the BBC

Zimbabwean police have fired tear gas at hundreds of opposition protesters on the streets of the capital, Harare, after a court banned a protest march.

The judge ruled an opposition stadium rally could go ahead but agreed with police warnings that a march would present a threat to public security.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was detained for five hours then released ahead of the planned demonstrations.

He later accused the authorities of treating him like a "common criminal".

Mr Tsvangirai, who was arrested at his home in Harare early on Wednesday morning, addressed supporters at the rally site, Glamis Stadium, in the west of the capital.


He told a crowd: "If this is the reaction of this dictatorship, then the elections are a farce."

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is demanding a new constitution before presidential and parliamentary polls that President Robert Mugabe said would be held in March.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Zimbabwe bans protest march

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has vowed to ignore police warnings and go ahead with a protest rally against Robert Mugabe, the country's president.

The opposition protest planned for Wednesday has been banned by the police.

Tendai Biti, MDC secretary general, on Monday said: "We are proceeding with the march ... we're marching because our people are suffering ... there's no water, no electricity."

"The government is totally bereft and bankrupt of any capacity to govern this country. This government has failed."..

Monday, January 21, 2008

Power outage all over Zimbabwe


Electricity has been restored to parts of Zimbabwe after a major blackout on Saturday night, reports say.

The blackout affected the capital, Harare, as well as the city of Bulawayo, and smaller towns including Mutare, Victoria Falls and Kariba.

Mains water pressure dropped, mobile phone connections were erratic and newspapers were not published.....

Zimbabwe imports much of its electricity from neighbouring countries, but as the economic crisis has worsened, there's been a shortage of foreign currency with which to pay for supplies.



We have reports of a country wide power black out across Zimbabwe. As from 5:30pm Saturday there has been no electricity. There are rumors that this could be related to the failed talks process with Thabo Mbeki. At the time being it is not possible to contact anyone in ZImbabwe on the telephone, either mobiles or land lines.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Could this man beat Mugabe?

From the First Post:

.....Mugabe's Zanu-PF power base has split, allowing the formation of a newly-constituted Patriotic Front party.

The man earmarked to be the next President is Simba Makoni, a charismatic candidate who was briefly finance minister and who is popular inside Zanu-PF and with the general public. Makoni was identified on Monday by the BBC News as a potential threat to Mugabe; but reporter John Simpson failed to reveal that Makoni represents a new party.....

Simba Makoni, the one-time finance minister, has split the Zanu-PF party, says Moses Moyo

I'm not up to date on politics, so go to the article for details.

Mbeki tries mediation

from the BBC:

Mr Mbeki is meeting President Robert Mugabe and officials from his Zanu-PF party, as well as opposition leaders.

He has been trying to mediate between the two sides to end Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis and pave the way for free and fair elections.

The signals from South Africa suggest a breakthrough in the negotiations over Zimbabwe's future may not be far off....On Wednesday, South Africa's deputy foreign minister, Aziz Pahad, said it looked as if all substantial issues had been resolved....

But there have been sticking points, not least over the timing of presidential and parliamentary elections.

Kenya's tribal problems

Much of the news about Kenya's post election riots emphasize the violence.
Frontline explains the problems.

Most Kenyans are not tribal fundamentalists, as they have been portrayed in foreign media coverage of the ethnic violence that broke out after the December 27th presidential election. Since independence from Britain in 1963, Kenyans from different tribes have lived together in peace. Intercultural marriages and relationships, once taboo in many tribes, have become increasingly common. In Kenyan cities, people do not live in segregated neighborhoods. Most people in Kenya respect each other. There are no groups anywhere in Kenya publicly claiming tribal supremacy.

During election years, politicians work night and day to make sure that Kenyans replace their religious faith and political beliefs with tribal extremism.

What Kenya does suffer from are some politicians who use the poor for political gain, including the two men on top of the current political gridlock. Raila Odinga, a Luo and the man who says the presidency was stolen from him, is a loudmouth tribalist not afraid to utter ethnically divisive remarks to advance his career. The other, a Kikuyu, Mwai Kibaki, the man who is said to have rigged his victory to a second term as president, is a soft-spoken tribal chieftain, but who is just as lethal.

The seasonality of ethnic violence in Kenya is evidence that politicians have a lot to do with it. During election years, they work night and day to make sure that Kenyans replace their religious faith and political beliefs with tribal extremism. This helps them disguise their ineffectiveness by blaming the tribe that holds the presidency. Before Kibaki came to power in 2002, the scapegoat was then president Daniel Arap Moi's tribe, the Kalenjin, to whom he gave top jobs when he succeeded Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's first president.

Sadly, the disenfranchised, especially those living in rural areas and slums, do not have access to information that would contradict their leaders. For example, one of the reasons Kenyans were so disgusted by the last Parliament was the fact that the members gave themselves enormous raises and allowances that made them among the highest paid in the world, while the wages of the poor remained unchanged. A majority of MPs from all tribes, including Odinga, voted for the salary increases and Kibaki approved them. Yet when the 2007 election year came, Odinga led a countrywide crusade against the Kikuyu, calling them "the enemy" and accusing them of enriching themselves...

(go to link for complete story)
(headsup from baldilocks)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mbeki says end of Zim crisis is in sight

From BusinessDay (Joburg)

PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki has expressed confidence that a resolution to the Zimbabwe crisis will come to light within the next few days, says visiting Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern....

Ahern said the president had given him a detailed account on the progress of the talks between Zimbabwe's government and factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

"The president explained to us that he is within days ... of the final aspects of this. He is, I think, obviously working extremely hard on it, and is hopeful. He gave me what he believes are the sticking points, and his determination to try to work those through," said Ahern, whose two-day working visit to SA ended yesterday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Shortages as Zim Schools open

From the AP:

Margaret Boora, a single mother, said she couldn't raise the $200 for fees, exercise books and a uniform for her daughter's first term at high school. She earns $15 a month as an office janitor, a typical wage for unskilled workers.

"I don't know what to do. It is not possible for me to find the money," she said. A blazer and a hat with a school badge alone were priced at $72, nearly five times her monthly take-home pay. There are no cheaper schools within walking distance in her area and bus fares cost more than $1 a day.

Parents at one store in downtown Harare were told school shoes were out of stock. But black market dealers were offering them for 80 million Zimbabwe dollars — about $40 at the dominant illegal exchange rate — at a street market in the western township of Mbare....

Boora said her daughter would stay away from school unless dress regulations were relaxed. School authorities said they were awaiting instructions from the Education Ministry.....

Monday, January 14, 2008

Harare water crisis

From Zim Independent:

Kanengoni stays in an area in the suburb commonly known as Kugarika Kushinga Housing Cooperative near the country's largest cement manufacturing company, Circle Cement. The area has gone for more than 10 months without tap water thanks to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa)'s operational deficiencies and incompetence.

Water cuts in some parts of Mabvuku and Tafara have become a way of life since Zinwa took over the supply of potable water in the capital and is affecting close to 50 000 residents.

The problem has forced residents to resort to fetching water from unprotected wells, exposing the people to waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera. The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare recently said at least 10 people from Mabvuku and Tafara had died from diarrhoea last month. The deaths were attributed to water cuts....

there were 400 diarrhoea cases reported in Mabvuku and Tafara and called on Zinwa and the Harare City Council to normalise the supply of portable water.

The council has since pledged to sink 14 boreholes in the two suburbs to ease the water shortages. But residents say nothing has happened since the high-profile ministerial visit last week.

Despite the inability by Zinwa to supply water, especially to the people of Kugarika Kushinga Housing Cooperative, the residents continue to receive monthly bills from the authority...

Note: One self dug shallow well is $350, a borehole deep well about 6000 dollars.

We are building greenhouses for off season vegetable growing, the initial project is three sites, and each site has a borehole, which our gov't is paying for...the entire project grant was 6500 dollars US..

to put it into perspective, Singer Madonna spends ten thousand a month on specialized water to drink.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Zimbabwe: MDC Lines Up 300 Rallies

From All Africa/Zim Independent:

THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led faction of the MDC will this weekend embark on a number of rallies dubbed the New Zimbabwe Campaign in a bid to force government to introduce a new constitution and guarantee free and fair harmonised elections this year.

Nelson Chamisa, the party's spokesperson, said the MDC had lined up 300 rallies in the rural areas this month to press, among other things, for the implementation of "agreements" signed between the MDC and Zanu PF at the Sadc-mediated talks.

Chamisa said the MDC would push for the reconstitution of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to undertake a transparent and all-inclusive voter registration and delimitation exercise....

The party would also demand that all Zimbabweans in the diaspora should vote.

"In the event that a new, credible voters roll cannot be put in place ahead of the poll, the MDC wants every eligible Zimbabwean to be allowed to cast their vote upon producing their national identity card as happened in the 1980 elections," Chamisa said.

He said the MDC is demanding free and fair elections that represent the legitimate will of the people of Zimbabwe on who should govern them. ...

Monday, January 07, 2008

Villagers trade in Rand

From Zim standard

Villagers in most parts of Matabeleland are selling their livestock in South African Rand, citing the volatility of the Zimbabwean dollar whose value continues to tumble against major currencies.

The government already levies "luxury imports" in foreign currency but has rejected suggestions to adopt the more stable Rand to shore up the economy, in free-fall for the past 10 years.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono, has warned against the widespread use of scarce foreign currency in the trade of local goods and services, which he says is illegal.

But villagers complain their savings are quickly eroded by rampaging inflation, now estimated at over 15 000%.

Their fears have been compounded by the month-long cash crisis during which the RBZ banned the use of $200 000 bearer cheques, which it said were being kept out of the system by so-called cash barons.

The ban was later reversed after the shortages worsened. Cattle for slaughter fetch anything above R3 000 or $600 million on the black market while goats were selling for R500 or $100 million during the festive season.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Talks on brink of collapse

From Zim independent

THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led faction of the MDC this week said the Sadc-initiated talks with Zanu PF were on the brink of collapse as the ruling party was backtracking on a transitional constitution and the date for this year's harmonised presidential, legislative and council elections....

The MDC, the sources said, wanted elections moved from March to June this year to allow the agreement to take root, but Zanu PF insists the polls should take place as scheduled.

"The pace at which the transitional constitution was to be implemented determines the election date," Tsvangirai said. "If we are serious about Zimbabwe's future and an election whose process and result are endorsed by all political players and the people of Zimbabwe, then we have to follow the right protocols and procedures."

He said the transitional constitution already agreed to was essential in helping Zimbabwe set up requisite infrastructure for a sound electoral management system, codes for good governance and a human rights regimen between now and the election date.

These, the former trade unionist said, were key factors necessary to spur confidence, redirect the people towards a solution, regenerate hope and to rally the nation to unite in handling sensitive national crisis.

"As things stand today, Mugabe and Zanu PF are merely stringing along with us, when on the ground they are already moving ahead with their plan -- selectively picking up points of agreement and shoving them onto Zimbabwe in a piecemeal manner to present a picture of reform, at home and in Sadc," Tsvangirai claimed....

Christianity in the Kenyan crisis

NCatholic reporter John Allen discusses the failure of Christian leaders to defuse the post election crisis in Kenya.


In this crisis, however, some Christian leaders appear to have inadvertently exacerbated divisions. In perhaps the most prominent example, Njue has twice expressed opposition to the Kenyan concept of Majimbo, referring to a sort of federalist politics in which the country's regions would gain power at the expense of the central government. Majimbo has been the rallying cry of Odinga's opposition movement, and in the context of Dec. 27 national elections Njue's statement was read as an indirect endorsement of Kubaki, a Catholic. (Odinga describes himself as an Anglican, though some allege he's not exactly practicing.)

--CNS/Paul Haring
Cardinal John Njue of Nairobi

Njue's intent, backed by the majority of the bishops' conference, clearly was to defend national unity. Here's how he explained it in a late October press conference in Nairobi:

"What the country needs now is to be a united nation, and for Kenyans to have a sense of belonging," Njue said. "As the Catholic church, we do not support any particular party, but we have to go by those principles we see are valid for the wellbeing of the nation. We think it would be disastrous if we were to move in that direction. I think we need to help our people mature and to get that spirit of unity."

Njue is not the only Christian leader to express reservations about Majimbo. The Rev. Wellington Mutiso, chair of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, also opposes it, saying "The unitary system is best, because as Kenyans we have a major problem with ethnicity, as we are so tribal."

Yet Njue's statements in particular, perhaps because of his cachet of being a new cardinal, seem to have fed ethnic tension. One Protestant leader close to the Orange Democratic Movement called Njue "a mouthpiece of Kikuyu tribes in the Catholic church in Kenya," and a leading Kenyan columnist referred to the statements as a major "goof." (For the record, Njue is not a Kikuyu, but a member of the small Embu tribe.) At least one brother Catholic bishop distanced himself from Njue; Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth of Kisumu said Njue's position was not binding on Catholics, noting that it had not been expressed in a pastoral letter. (Here, too, some sense the tug of tribalism. Kisumu is overwhelmingly Luo, and a strong base of support for Odinga.)

Perceptions of a partisan stand have been exacerbated by the fact that Odinga signed a "memorandum of understanding" with a Muslim association, creating fears of religious division on top of existing tribal fractures. The Kenyan bishops issued a critical statement about the deal from Rome during their mid-November ad limina visit to the pope, warning that "granting special religious favors during campaign time is wrong."

However justified these interventions have been, the plain political fact is that in a truly free and fair election, Odinga would almost certainly have prevailed, and Njue and the Catholic bishops are now perceived by many of his supporters as part of the opposition. Their challenge thus is to project a model of civic-mindedness, open to all parties and concerned for the common good....

China sends food aid to Zim

from BBC

China is sending 5,000 metric tons of food aid to Zimbabwe, official media reports, to help the African nation cope with dire food shortages.
China's deputy ambassador to Zimbabwe made the announcement, adding that the two countries wanted to increase trade to $500m (£253m) in 2008.
More than 3m Zimbabweans, 25% of the population, depend on UN food aid.
An official crop assessment after last year's harvest in May estimated the country had about a 1m ton shortfall.
The UN World Food Programme said last year that a poor harvest and the country's worsening economic situation meant hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans were running out of food.
It said the crisis was set to peak between November and March.

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