Thursday, February 28, 2008

South Africa Internet

Nothing to do with Zim or the election, but I know that no country in the future will make it unless there is an internet for everyone.

From Project 2010 website:

Walter Wafula & Elias Biryabarema

The project is expected to be complete before 2010


AFRICA's dream to have faster and cheaper internet connections like the West is now closer to reality.

This follows the approval of the Kigali Protocol on policy and regulatory framework for development of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, Nepad's Information and Communication Technology Broadband Infrastructure Network (NBIN), by Malawi last week.

Malawi thus became the seventh country to ratify the protocol. Ratification by seven countries was the majority needed to bring the protocol into force. Other countries that have already ratified the protocol are: Lesotho, Mauritius, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
Broadband is a high-capacity internet line that transmits data, voice and video at great speeds. ....

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

MDC election tactics questioned

From IWPR:

In the wake of failed talks between the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, and the ruling ZANU-PF, the former has been criticised for expending so much energy on attempts to delay national elections until political reforms are in place.

At a February 21 press conference in Johannesburg, both factions of the MDC made it clear the mediation process, led by South African president Thabo Mbeki on behalf of the Southern African Development Community, SADC, had died a death because of the Zimbabwean government’s preemptive move to call elections before measures to ensure they were free and fair could be put in place.

One commentator based at the University of Zimbabwe said the opposition needed to get into gear and prepare for the elections.

“The best they can do for themselves is to mount a vigorous campaign for their supporters to vote,” said the analyst, who did not want to be named. He said it would be “suicidal” for the MDC to contemplate a boycott this late in the day, pointed out that “there are already other smaller parties and individuals ready to take the MDC’s place”.

Another political analyst said the MDC should be focusing on the electoral process and specifically the “command centre” in charge of running the ballot.

“This is where the results will be decided,” he said. “The MDC is wasting time focusing on dates and talks which have already failed. The voting will be done in Zimbabwe and that is where rigging will take place if the opposition loses its focus.”

The two MDC factions had, he said, “weakened their position and squandered public sympathy by failing to unite to fight a single common enemy”.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Is the Ark of the Covenant in Zim?

Peter Davies on the latest "rumor" about the Ark...

The hero who claims to have found the Ark is a lecturer in Hebrew at the University of London, one Tudor Parfitt. His search took him “from Zimbabwe to Papua New Guinea, Israel, Egypt, and Ethiopia via the dusty Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford” (Daily Mail). His search began in a cave in the Dumghe Mountain, which is the spiritual home of the Lemba people. (The Lemba people are known as the “Jews of Africa” and live among the indigenous African tribes of Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa. They avoid intermarrying, are proud of their Jewish origins and live according to ancient Jewish lore. They also refer to themselves as the “children of Abraham” and are thought to have left Israel over 2,700 years ago – they have DNA that is remarkably similar to other Jewish groups.)

Twenty years after he began his odyssey, Parfitt learned that some of the Bulawayo Museum’s collection had been moved to the Victoria Museum in Harare, Zimbabwe and he went there in March 2007. What Parfitt saw when he got there convinced him that he’d found the Ark; “I felt a shiver down my spine. Without a doubt this was the Von Sicard ngoma. ... He took a sample of the wood for carbon dating, but was disappointed to learn that it “only” dated from around 1350AD. Bearing in mind that the original Ark – wood covered with gold – was unlikely to have survived for over 3,000 years, he believes this 700 year old “Ark” in Zimbabwe is “the last thing on Earth in direct descent from the Ark of the Covenant.” Tudor Parfitt has written a book of his adventures: The Lost Ark of the Covenant.

Global Zim forum press release

from an email

RE: Forthcoming Zimbabwean Elections on 29th March
The Global Zimbabwe Forum would like to express its dire concern at the current state of the preparations for the forthcoming harmonized elections that are due to be held in Zimbabwe on 29th March 2008.
We would like as Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, to state in no uncertain terms our unequivocal stance on the following issues:
  1. The outcome of the forthcoming elections will be highly compromised by the fact that over three million eligible voters who are now living outside Zimbabwe will be excluded from participating in the process. We believe that the exclusion of the Diaspora vote is a fundamental flow that brings the credibility of the elections into question.
  1. We also note with concern the rather inconclusive nature of the SADC mediation process that was being led by President Thabo Mbeki. Should Zimbabweans expected more from this rather protracted process.
  1. We further call upon SADC and Africa in general to ensure that the elections are held in accordance with the expectations of the SADC Protocol on Elections that was adopted in Mauritius in August 2004.
  1. We urge all the interested political parties and independent candidates in the forthcoming elections to promote a spirit of peaceful election campaign process. Political violence must be condemned unconditionally.
  1. We endorse current efforts to mobilize some Zimbabweans in the Diaspora especially those living in the SADC region to return home and vote in the forthcoming elections.
  1. While we respect the individual members’ preferences of candidates of their own, we do not endorse any candidates in the elections since we are a politically non-partisan organization but urge the Zimbabwean electorate to vote for a candidate who will seek to promote the democratic ideals of Zimbabwe especially the interests of the diverse Diaspora community.
  1. We urge all Zimbabweans at home to go turn out in their numbers on 29th March and fully exercise their right to elect the leaders of their own choice.
Issued in Johannesburg on Monday 25th February 2008 by
Mr. Daniel Molokele
Telephone: +27729474815
Ms. Grace Kwinjeh
Telephone: +27794344508
Mr. Mandla-akhe Dube
Vice Chairperson
Telephone: +6421348288
Mr. Canaan Mhlanga
North America Region
Telephone: +7782373072
Mr. Simbarashe Chirimubwe
Rest of Africa Region
Telephone: +267-71910712
Mr. Promise Mkwananzi
Europe Region
Telephone: +31612697629
Mr. Luke Zunga
South Africa Region
Telephone: +27835281561
Prof. Stan Mukasa
North America Region
Telephone: +724 467 0001

Mr. Daniel Molokele
South Africa
Cell. +27 72 947 4815

Friday, February 22, 2008

Mugabe's birthday party

From SWRadioafrica:

reports inflation 100 000 percent...but that Mugabe is having a big birthday party.

state radio announced that the fundraising committee for his celebratory bash had raised over Z$3 trillion. While most Zimbabweans cannot afford to pay for transport to go to work, the man responsible for this economic disaster will be feted at a lavish affair in Beitbridge on Saturday.

This clearly shows the attitude of those in power in Zimbabwe today towards ordinary people. It was Mugabe who once said; “….let them eat potatoes.”

Harare based journalist Jan Raath said even in Zimbabwe dollars, three trillion is a lot of money. He explained that there is no accountability in the fundraising process for Mugabe’s birthday. State radio only mentioned that donations had come from some business people in the country.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Trade unionist kidnapped

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has been informed that a number of activits from the Progressive Teachers Union (PTUZ), including general secretary, Raymond Majogwe were abducted this morning by Zanu PF youths and were reportedly taken to the party offices along fouth street were they are being tortured. Reports we are getting is that some of them may have been beaten seriously. All their telephones have been taken away from them.
The PTUZ, an affiliate of the ZCTU, was distributing flyers on the State of the education system in Zimbabwe and were demanding that authorities act on the collapse of the education system.
At the time of this writing, lawyers are trying to have access to them
Khumbulani Ndlovu (Ms)
Information Officer
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
P.O Box 3549
Harare, Zimbabwe

voting blindly is not an option

From Kubatana net


This tired election - so dishonestly called the 2008 ‘harmonised’ elections - is suddenly the source of great interest and speculation. Just 4 weeks ago it was a dead in the water, one horse race. Mugabe versus the masses. Results already printed, factotums paid in advance for services to be rendered.

Apathy looked likely to be the real winner and then along came Simba. And suddenly everyone in the cities wanted to be registered to vote.

What makes Simba Makoni such an obvious choice for the urban voter? The easy answer is this: he’s neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai. Fine, it’s clear then who he isn’t - but isn’t it time we voted FOR something rather than against something?....

Zim election gets dirty

Peter Davies on BNN:

February 18th, 2008 by Peter Davies
According to Zimbabwe Today, a memo leaked from Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation puts “all national and provincial security operatives…” on “condition red.”: ”Be advised to temporarily suspend all minor operations in your provinces for RDWK ahead.” (I just love the acronym RDWK, which apparently means “real dirty work”…) It also instructs all operatives to: “…Employ all RDWK strategies without restraint. Mobilise street kids in urban areas, hire them, then plant them at all Makoni’s rallies to cause violence. The police will be on hand to arrest rioters. Those arrested will be detained in jails until after the elections.” .....

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Difficult choices

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

via allAfrica:

After noting Kenya's post election violence, they write:
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has long complained about the unfairness of the political contest, from restrictions on campaigning to access to the media. Since the 2000 election when the MDC first emerged, election observers have routinely condemned the organisation of the ballot and the environment of intimidation.

A new element, likely to make next month's election even edgier, is the decision by Zimbabwe's former finance minister, Simba Makoni, to challenge President Robert Mugabe, 83, as an independent candidate. This has heightened tensions in ZANU-PF, where a post-Mugabe succession debate has been simmering.

"The most vicious violence could be the fights among former ZANU-PF allies, who have been split into two factions: those supporting Makoni and those supporting Mugabe," political commentator Paddington Japajapa told IRIN.

Kenyan violence stopping Uganda imports

Nothing to do with Zim, but a reminder of the interconnectedness of Africa...

From the World Politics Review:

But with 90 percent of Uganda's imports coming through Kenya's Mombasa port, maintaining this growth and stability is becoming increasingly difficult. For about a month now, three of the furniture company's containers, carrying furnishings made in places like Dubai and Malaysia, have been stuck at the port. "Some of these goods have been bought on borrowed money and we haven't even received them," says Kyazza, shaking her head. "Time is of the essence."

Kenya's political violence -- which has killed about 1,000 people since late December's rigged elections -- is distressing economies throughout East Africa, and threatening to take a swipe at neighboring GDPs if the instability continues into the next few months.

"All of the landlocked countries in East Africa have been greatly affected by this," says Abebe Selassie, the International Monetary Fund's representative in Uganda, which serves as gateway to Kenya for Rwanda and Burundi. While Selassie notes that it will take three to four months for the extent of the damage to reveal itself in GDP and inflation numbers, already in Uganda fuel prices have increased, the flow of trucks bringing consumer goods and manufacturing inputs from Kenya has reduced to a trickle and exporters are wringing their hands as their stockpiles grow. (Despite the devastating impact Kenya's violence is having on his country's economy, Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni, is currently the only world leader publicly supporting Mwai Kibaki's rule.) ..

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Zim not ready for elections

From the VOA

In Zimbabwe, the main Roman Catholic human rights body has added its voice to calls by some ordinary Zimbabweans that the country is not ready to hold credible elections next month. The human rights body says conditions in the country are not conducive to make the election acceptable locally and internationally. But supporters of incumbent President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party say the country is ready to conduct the March elections in a transparent manner. ....

He, however, expressed optimism the opposition MDC would win next month’s elections.

“We believe in the strength of numbers that support the Movement for Democratic Change. We believe that our strength of numbers would create such a deluge that even Mr. Mugabe’s rigging mechanism might not be able to nullify the people’s voice,” he said.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mbeki does it again to Zim says Leon


In his State of the Nation address on Friday, President Thabo Mbeki repeated an all too familiar pattern of legitimising Zimbabwean elections before they have even taken place, said the DA's spokesperson for foreign affairs, Tony Leon, on Sunday.

In a statement, Leon said: "On no fewer than three previous occasions, the president has gone out of his way to ensure that elections in Zimbabwe, which were an affront to even the most basic of democratic norms and standards, were declared free and fair.

"Thus, far from practising quiet diplomacy, he has been actively complicit in the imposition of a tyranny

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Zimbabwe Diaspora Protest Vote

Calling ALL the Zimbabweans in Diaspora

Join the PROTEST for the right to vote in the elections

Zimbabwe Diaspora Vote Protest

No Diaspora Vote, No Free, Fair or Credible Elections in Zimbabwe

Washington DC February 21 - 22

21 February

10 - 12 p.m. Roundtable on Zimbabwe

Venue : TBA

Contact persons: Ralph Black and Handel Mlilo

7 p.m. – 10 p.m. Zimbabwe consultation and social

Venue : TBA

Contact persons:

22 February --

9. 30 a.m. Arrival at Lafayette Park 1608 H St NW, Washington DC

10:30 a.m. March from Lafayette Park

11:30. Arrive at Zimbabwe Embassy.1608 New Hampshire Ave Washington,

Moment of reflection for victims of politically motivated violence

Demonstration. Speakers:

Ralph Black

Handel Mlilo

Ruzvidzo Zvidzair

Nassar Rusike

Alyce Murambiwa

HANDING PETITION: protest organizers to present petition to Ambassador or his staff.

DIASPORA VOTE. Diaspora will cast votes in a ballot.

News conference : Media will be invited to ask questions.

3 p.m. Gathering at a venue to be announced for the termination of the protest

Contact persons

Canaan Mhlanga 604 461 3072
Zvidzayi Ruzvidzo
614 622 0427
Stanford G. Mukasa 724 467 0001
Handel Mlilo 240 505 0179

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Zim's crosseyed election

From Kumbatana blog:

they ask if this will leech votes away from the opposition, leading to Mugabe's triumph

Mugabe expels party challenger

From AlJazeerah

Zimbabwe's ruling party has formally expelled a former ally of Robert Mugabe for deciding to run against the president in next month's elections, a Zanu-PF official has said.

Simba Makoni, a former finance minister and a senior member of the Zanu-PF, has been branded a traitor by veterans of the country's liberation war after he entered the race on Tuesday, in the first major challenge to Mugabe from within the ruling party in 20 years.

Makoni will run against Mugabe as an independent in the presidential election....

It's getting difficult to keep kids in school

From African Path:

Once Africa's best, Zimbabwe's educational system is now in crisis. Tens of thousands of teachers in state schools are constantly on a 'go-slow' action demanding a wage hike. There is an exodus of teachers to better paying jobs outside the country. The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) -- one of two teachers' representative bodies -- estimates that more than 15,000 teachers left the teaching profession in 2006.

Those who stay behind spend most of the time moonlighting. Even head- teachers at private schools -- where quality of education is better -- are demanding bribes of up to 200 South African rands or 50 U.S. dollars in hard currency to enroll children.

"I had to pay money in foreign currency to secure a place for my daughter at a private school in Harare," Mufundisi told IPS.

A teacher at a rural Zimbabwe school who spoke to IPS on condition of anonymity said, "I am quitting and going to South Africa. I have sold so many text books from my department library to supplement my meagre salary, I have to make a move before I am caught."

President Robert Mugabe's investment in education after Zimbabwe's independence in 1980 has generally been seen as the highlight of his increasingly autocratic 27-year rule, although he inherited most of the infrastructure from the former white colonial government.

PTUZ estimates that between four and five children share a textbook. There are often four children to one desk in the poorly equipped classrooms.

Students are fainting in class from hunger. Girls are missing school during the menstrual cycle because they cannot afford to buy sanitary pads. School dropout rates have shot up. Children are quitting school to supplement family incomes as vendors, commuter omnibus conductors, even sex workers.

A price-freeze ordered by the government in June last year left store shelves bare of most basic commodities, but the freeze was eased in phases to restore the viability of producers and businesses. However, supplies of goods have remained erratic.

Some Zimbabwean residential schools -- hit by severe food shortages -- were reported to be insisting that students bring their own supplies, according to Zimbabwean private media. The PTUZ said several boarding schools had cut short the last term of 2007 after running out of food....

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Simba Makoni joins presidential race

from swradioafrica
05 February 2008

Former finance minister Simba Makoni has made a spectacular u-turn by announcing he will contest the presidential elections in 52 days time....
The more optimistic analysts are pointing to the support Makoni seems to enjoy from retired general Solomon Mujuru and other senior, but retired, army generals. The view is that he might attract the support of the army and disgruntled Zanu PF members who will throw their weight behind him. Geoff Hill, a journalist and author of the book, ‘What happens After Mugabe,’ believes Makoni is more of a problem for Mugabe than Tsvangirai. Hill says Makoni will probably get support from Zanu PF supporters unhappy with Mugabe, while MDC members are unlikely to defect to him. He says the failure of the MDC to unite had given Makoni the encouragement to stand.

Makoni shot to prominence after heading the Southern African Development Community for almost 9 years as Executive Secretary. He served as the country’s deputy minister for Agriculture at independence in 1980, led the government owned Zimpapers group in 1994, before becoming finance minister in 2000. He resigned the post over policy differences with Mugabe...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Mugabe to grab 1500 farms from black owners

Zim daily reports:

HARARE - In a rare acceptance of failure the Zimbabwean Government is set to repossess over 1500 unproductive farms around the country after it emerged that the country was not likely to receive the bumper harvest as expected....

The situation has been brought about by the insistence of senior government officials who have been accusing Mutasa of dishing out farms undeserving people,” said the source.

The 2007/2008 farming season has been hailed as the “mother” of all seasons with the government promising a starving nation of a bumper harvest.

Mugabe’s regime has since failed to mobilise enough resources to ensure a bumper harvest and the latest move is seen as a preemptive tactic to be used as a scapegoat for failure.

“Most of these farmers were given land with the promise of assistance by government but that has not been the case. Inputs were slow in reaching the intended beneficiaries with some never getting their hands on the so-called assistance because of corruption.

Those who did get assistance like subsidised fuel are being accused of selling it on the thriving black market,” said the source.

Scarce inputs have been a major hindrance during this farming season with necessities such as fertiliser only available on the black market. Corruption has also plagued Operation Maguta through which government wanted to prop up an ailing agricultural sector....

With the farming season drawing to a close and an election looming government has already set the wheels in motion for yet another propaganda campaign. The regime’s spin doctors are already lamenting the incessant rains as cause for a poor harvest...

Opposition splits, probably will ensure Mugabe Victory

The International Herald Trib has a long report about the opposition party to Mugabe splitting between factions, meaning the united party behind Mugabe will probably win.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The ghosts of Matabeleland

Another story from IWPR:

Zimbabwean leaders still refuse to talk about the mass killings designed to destroy support for President Robert Mugabe’s political opponents.

By Yamikani Mwando in Bulawayo (AR No. 153, 30-Jan-08)

Almost a quarter of a century on, the ghost of Gukurahundi continues to stalk Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland region.

Gukurahundi – a Shona term meaning “the rain that washes away the chaff” – was a military crackdown in rural Matabeleland and the Midlands in the early Eighties in which an estimated 20,000 people were killed, most of them civilians.

Pressure groups in Zimbabwe continue to campaign to persuade President Robert Mugabe’s administration to finally make public what happened during the offensive, which they say amounted to a government-sponsored genocide....

In 1983-84, Mugabe, then prime minister of the newly-independent Zimbabwe, dispatched the Fifth Brigade - an elite unit trained by the North Koreans - to the Midlands and Matabeleland to quash what he said were insurgents bent on overthrowing him. He accused Joshua Nkomo, his main political rival at the time and leader of the ZAPU party, of supporting the insurgents and vowed to crush those he termed “dissidents”.

The ensuing offensive left unarmed villagers at the mercy of the military. Survivors said the killings were systematic and targeted ZAPU officials and also leading community figures such as teachers, nurses and village headmen. Many of the dead were buried in unmarked graves or thrown down disused mines....

Mobile phone traffic congesting airways

From IWPR:

Mobile phones, introduced a decade ago, have also been affected. As the main means of communication following the collapse of other systems, the cellular network is now under such strain that doing business by phone can be a maddening experience.

The government-owned TelOne, which runs the landline network, has virtually collapsed and cannot repair existing lines, let alone install new ones. The telephone wires are continually vandalised by unemployed youths, who steal the metal to sell on to unscrupulous dealers.

In the absence of working landlines, Zimbabweans have switched en masse to mobile technology. Because the government controls the amount networks are allowed to charge per minute, the rates have been kept phenomenally low and many poorer members of society can now just about afford mobiles.

As a result, Zimbabweans have become one of the most talkative nations in the world, with usage levels that defy the logic of rising poverty levels in both rural and urban areas....

Overuse of the networks has become a major headache for businesses. An industry expert who did not want to be named said the congestion problem had arisen because of the government’s price cap, imposed despite evidence from all over the world that such policies do not work.

“The real cause of network congestion is not lack of capacity per se,” said the expert. “What we have is overuse of the networks because the rates charged are simply too low....
Added to this were the frequent power cuts that increase the burden on the transmission stations still in operation, he said....

Econet is the largest operator with nearly a million subscribers on contracts or using its popular two prepaid card brands, Libertie and Buddie. It is followed by the state-controlled NetOne with some 350,000 subscribers and then Telecel International with about 200,000.

The companies do not have the foreign currency they need to import equipment to expand their coverage or to print new SIM cards. The only foreign currency widely available comes from the illegal black market where one US dollar now sells for five million ZWD...

The congestion is exacerbated by the presence of millions of Zimbabweans abroad, either in South Africa and other regional states or in places like Britain and Australia. According to independent estimates, the diaspora accounts for between a quarter and a third of Zimbabwe’s total population of close to 12 million.
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