Monday, June 30, 2008

Washington Post says: Zimbabwe, who cares?

The Washington Post "POST GLOBAL" link is usually full of left wing cliches.

But when it comes to Zim, they prefer to tell people in zimbabwe to "lay back, close your eyes, and think of England"....
as the saying goes.

My stomach is already turning over, but if you can stand it, I've included links:

(again, sorry for the lack of posts: internet problems due to a typhoon).


Charles "Mase" Onyango-Obbo a Ugandan author, journalist, former editor of The Monitor and political commentator of issues in East Africa and the African Great Lakes region. He writes a column, Ear To The Ground in The Monitor, and a second column in the regional weekly, The EastAfrican. He is currently managing editor in charge of media convergence at the Nation Media Group in Kenya. Born in the town of Mbale in eastern Uganda, Onyango-Obbo studied at Makerere University in Kampala, and the American University in Cairo where he obtained a Masters degree in journalism. In 1991, he was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. On May 1999, during the Second Congo War, Onyango-Obbo and other editors of The Monitor – Wafula Ogutu and David Ouma Balikowa – were arrested and charged with "sedition" and "publication of false news"´, following the publication of a photograph of a naked woman being sexually abused by men in military uniform. Ugandan officials insisted that the assailants might be soldiers from Congo or Zimbabwe (who where also involved in the Congo war), and could not possibly be Ugandan soldiers as the photo caption claimed. Onyango-Obbo and the other editors were acquitted on March 6, 2001.

To Save Zimbabwe, Do Nothing

The best way to save Zimbabwe is to let matters get worse.

Charles Onyango-Obbo, Kampala, Uganda | 53 COMMENTS
Jun 27, 2008 at 11:21 AM

Hold South Africa Responsible for Zimbabwe's Mess

Njoroge Wachai, Kenya | 23 COMMENTS
William M. Gumede is Associate Editor at Africa Confidential. He is Research Fellow at the School of Public and Development Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He recently released the bestselling book Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC.

A Way Forward for Zimbabwe

William M. Gumede, South Africa | 11 COMMENTS
Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar is the Consulting Editor of The Economic Times, India's largest financial daily. He writes a popular weekly column, titled Swaminomics in the Times of India. He spends roughly half the year in New Delhi and half in Washington D.C., where he is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and an occasional consultant to the World Bank. He has been the editor of India's two main financial dailies, The Economic Times (1992-94) and Financial Express (1988-90). He was also the India Correspondent of the British weekly, The Economist, for most of two decades between 1976 and 1998.

No Moral Ground to Oust Mugabe Alone

Swaminathan A. Aiyar, New Delhi, India | 127 COMMENTS
Ali Ettefagh

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Boycott world cup games

NYTimes editorial asks the world to boycott South Africa's hosting of the world cup...

Rev. Hove's petition has been on line for awhile...and the site had someone later post a similar petition...

have you signed it (look to the right side of the blog)

But of course, no one will notice.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Zim opposition leader in Dutch Embassy

from the LATIMES

HARARE, ZIMBABWE -- Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai sought refuge in the Dutch Embassy here just hours after he pulled out of the presidential runoff election scheduled for Friday, citing rising violence by supporters of longtime President Robert Mugabe.

Despite the opposition's withdrawal, the Zimbabwe ruling party's crackdown continued unabated Monday, with 60 opposition activists arrested by riot police in a lunchtime raid at the opposition headquarters. Curfews and door-to-door searches also continued in suburbs of Harare, the capital.

Many of those arrested at the Movement for Democratic Change headquarters had been injured in recent outbreaks of political violence and were sleeping at the office for their safety. More than 80 activists with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change were admitted to clinics in Harare on Sunday, severely beaten by ruling ZANU-PF party operatives when they tried to attend a rally.

In New York, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to condemn the violence and intimidation by Zimbabwe's government and said that "a free and fair election" is impossible at this point.

Nevertheless, Zimbabwe's U.N. ambassador, Boniface Chidyausiku, said after the session that the runoff would proceed as planned and that the Security Council had no business meddling in his country's elections.

Blanket of fear covers Zimbabwe:

.....But the biggest change is the almost tangible sense of fear.

It infects everybody, from Tsvangirai, who cited the rising political violence in explaining his announcement, to one of his brawny supporters.

"These people don't scare me," the activist said with a grimace. "But this time, they've got me spooked."

Two months ago, people sported opposition T-shirts, their cars were covered with posters expressing their anti-President Robert Mugabe views. Now they wear ruling party bandannas and T-shirts (though many privately say it's no more than an insurance policy against violence.)

The hunger for change that spread across the country like a wind blowing everything before it has now shifted. The new wind has the population terrified.

Armed Mugabe supporters chant the slogan "Win or war" while launching attacks on known opposition activists.

Human rights groups say at least 86 have been killed and 3,000 injured. In private clinics around Harare, the capital, dozens of people such as James, a 60-year-old from rural Karoi, are recovering from horrific injuries.....

Monday, June 23, 2008

SWRAfrica interview with Rev Hove

wma file link

Zim opposition pulls out of election

from the CSMonitor:

Harare, Zimbabwe - Political commentators and ordinary Zimbabweans applauded Sunday's announcemnet by opposition Movement for Democratic Change that it would pull out of Friday's election runoff, saying the decision will save many lives....

Given the substantial level of violence used by both government forces and pro-government militias – including attacks on opposition protesters trying to hold a rally in the capital Sunday – pulling out of the election was a logical decision, says University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure....

"In my view it is the right decision because the so-called election had ceased to be an election at all," he says. "So the MDC is right to abandon the election. They valued lives more than power.",,,,


another editorial here:LINK

essentially spouts nonsense...if everyone was sweet and nice, we'd all get along...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Tsvangarai pulls out of run off vote


HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew on Sunday from the June 27 presidential run-off election, citing political violence and an unfair poll that would favour President Robert Mugabe.

"We in the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) have resolved that we will no longer participate in this violent, illegitimate sham of an election process," he told reporters in Harare, before urging the United Nations and African Union to intervene to prevent a "genocide".

sorry for no posts

typhoon passing by has messed up the internet...which has been shaky for the last two weeks due to monsoon thunder storms...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

observers slashed

from swradioafrica

The independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network says out of 8,800 local monitors accredited to cover the March 29 poll, only 500 have been approved to monitor the June 27 presidential run-off. The deliberate cutback in numbers has heightened fears that Mugabe’s regime is planning to rig the upcoming election. ZESN submitted the names of 23 000 monitors to the Ministry of Justice but were told the presence of observers, ‘disrupts the smooth flow of voting.’ In an interview with the UK Financial Times, Noel Kututwa, ZESN board chairperson said, ‘the idea is to make it impossible to do what we did (in the first round). It will be very difficult but not impossible.’

After the first round vote ZESN director Rindai Chipfunde was arrested by police as she arrived at Harare International Airport from abroad. Police claimed they wanted to question her about the elections results collated by her group. Since then several ZESN observers have been brutally murdered, attacked and tortured. Various countries, including Tanzania, Swaziland and Angola have come out to declare that the elections will never be free and fair. Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe, representing the 3 countries, said some of the observers in the country had seen two people shot dead in front of them. ‘We have told the Government of Zimbabwe to stop the violence,’ he said. ...

State agents hunting down MDC agents in rural areas

from swradioafrica

We have received disturbing reports from activists and MDC supporters who were hounded out of their rural homelands and are living a life of hide and seek, pursued by ZANU-PF agents. One activist who fled from his rural home and is in hiding said state agents are referring to the campaign as “Operation Tsuro ne gwenzi”, meaning hunt both the targets and those who shelter them. He said that he has not slept in the same house twice in the last few weeks and has to leave very early in the morning. Otherwise those who provided shelter will be victimized....

In the Mbare high-density area of Harare, the notorius Chipangano gang has been terrorising innocent civilians....

The MDC activists from rural areas are fleeing to nearby towns where they find it easier to hide in the crowded high-density areas. But now state agents are victimizing their families and hunting them down in Harare, Bulawayo and other urban areas....

Friday, June 20, 2008

Mugabe the Obscene

AustinBay at Strategypage:

"Frankly obscene," Australia's foreign minister said.

Australia's Stephen Smith was referring to Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe's appearance at a U.N. food conference earlier this month.

Yes, a dictator who uses starvation to scatter and kill his own people making an appearance at an international conference devoted to raising food and feeding the hungry is an obscenity -- though I add, without cynicism, that the situation isn't all that unusual. Petty tyrants, terrorist enablers and tribal killers cluster about the wine and cheese smorgasbords of international community fetes and summits...

Mugabe, a classic Marxist rebel leader, plays this game ( i.e. blame America/blame imperialism for everything) quite well. Toppling Southern Rhodesia's white dictatorship made him a cult hero. The left-leaning internationalists gave Mugabe's mass murder in Zimbabwe's Matebele land a pass. That brutal campaign of the early 1980s, conducted against his former anti-colonial allies, included imported North Korean mercenary-advisers.

But his obscenities are catching up with him.

His greatest obscenity is his war on his own impoverished nation. Mugabe's tyranny has savaged Zimbabwe, making the country yet another tragic example of a nation brutalized by its own government. Zimbabwe is blessed with rich farmland and ought to be an agricultural breadbasket. It was, until Mugabe's "land redistribution" and "farm policies" turned it into a starving basket case....(relates how Mugabe destroyed the country)...

(Mugabe lost his local support and lost the election)...

Mugabe has manufactured a run-off election, scheduled for June 27, pitting him against Tsvangirai. The "war veterans" are out with their clubs and knives. The MDC claims at least 40 of its supporters have been killed since March 29. Moreover, they allege that Mugabe is plotting to assassinate Tsvangirai. Mugabe's police have repeatedly detained and harassed Tsvangirai.

Nobel Prize winner former Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa has called for international peacekeepers.... This week, Mugabe said he will ignore the election results. .... The real disappointment is South Africa President Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki was supposed to help "mediate" Zimbabwe's political crisis, but his mediation has been a biased farce in favor of Mugabe.

Why? "Old radical solidarity" is one possible reason. Mbeki's memories of anti-colonial struggle produce a soft spot for Mugabe. Pray that it's blarney, but this kind of embedded, selfish bitterness from the political past does scar the present and damage the future. True or not, Mugabe continues to kill and steal, with obscene impunity.

Activist's bodies found

from the BBC:

The bodies of four opposition activists have been found near the Zimbabwe capital, after being abducted, the Movement for Democratic Change says....

The body of Harare's recently elected opposition mayor's wife has also reportedly been found, badly burnt...

SADC observers had witnessed people being shot dead and were now questioning the value of their presence in Zimbabwe, Mr Membe told the BBC.

His comments are the latest in a growing chorus of opinion from across Africa that the elections now appear to be fatally flawed, says the BBC's Peter Greste in Johannesburg.

A senior Western diplomat in the region has said: "The atmosphere remains violent and tense. It [the violence] is not abating and is spreading to areas to where it has not spread before, including the high density urban suburbs of Harare.

"It is time to move on from calling it a campaign of violence. This is now terror, plain and simple."...

Monday, June 16, 2008

road to ruin

Business Day Joburg via AllAfrica:


My concern with this pillorying of Mbeki, rather, is that it may mask laziness in our national reflections on Zimbabwe and what SA should do. I am struck by the poverty of analysis in our reflections on Zimbabwe. Commentators such as Christopher Hitchens have avoided the fundamental issues, offering instead vague unsubstantiated speculation on why Mugabe behaves the way he does.

Others, mainly South African academics and journalists, have preferred to turn their attention to Mbeki, mocking his appeasement of Mugabe and describing it as a national humiliation. But none of this analysis has offered a realistic alternative to Mbeki's strategy.....

Authoritarian leaders, especially wily ones such as Mugabe, can delay their departure for years, with devastating consequences for their country. Remember Sani Abacha, who not only delayed Nigeria's democratisation, but also killed many activists, citizens and leaders before his own death from a sudden heart attack?

How, then, can SA assist in getting rid of Mugabe? Four very different strategies have been proposed by various stakeholders. The most outlandish has been the suggestion SA should consider invading Zimbabwe, preferably in partnership with the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The problem with this strategy is obvious. It assumes SA is militarily much stronger than Zimbabwe. But many military observers would contest this, suggesting that the South African military is too ill-prepared to undertake such a daunting mission....


you get the idea... this bozo is crying little weak South Africa is helpless, so stop picking on Mbeki.

But actually, why not invade?

Actually, it didn't take a lot of Tanzanian troops to overthrow Idi Amin...because like most dicator's bullies, these "veterans" are used to pushing around unarmed farmers...even those who worked as "peacekeepers" in Central Africa rarely fought a real soldier.

And if South Africa no longer has any soldiers, then shame on them...they used to have the best Army in Africa.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

NGO crackdown threatens millions

from IWPR:

Zimbabwe’s public service minister Nicholas Goche ordered all NGOs to suspend their field operations on June 5, accusing them of violating certain conditions, yet giving no further explanation.

The directive has been slammed by human rights groups, who say that humanitarian aid for the most poor and vulnerable in society will now be severely restricted.

The relief provided by such groups had been keeping many Zimbabweans alive, since the government’s so-called land reform policies of eight years ago left the former breadbasket of Africa a non-productive wreck.

A crackdown on aid agencies first began after Mugabe’s popularity began to dwindle as a result of the skewed economic policies which pushed the country into recession.

In the volatile area of Matabeleland, a province in western Zimbabwe and an opposition stronghold, all aid agencies were purged after war veterans accused them of working with the MDC to destabilise the country.

When he first came to came to power after Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980, Mugabe pledged to work with the many aid agencies which gravitated to Zimbabwe, anxious to assist what was then seen as Africa’s most promising democracy.

The then prime minister identified NGOs as crucial partners in developing and bettering the lives of both urban and rural communities.

A Time magazine story dated September 8, 1980, entitled Mugabe Pleads for Aid, reports that he called for international assistance to help rehabilitate the country, which was suffering the ravages of years of war.

Mugabe received international praise for his impressive strides towards making food, health and education available to all. The rallying cry then was “Food for all by the year 2000, health for all by the year 2000”, and much of this was to be realised through strategic partnerships the government entered into with NGOs.

But Mugabe has over the years fallen out with his development partners, often accusing them of trying to work against him. He now insists despite all evidence to the contrary that the country has sufficient resources.

Addressing the recent United Nations Food Summit in Rome, Mugabe blamed the country’s food woes on a hostile bid by NGOs working with his arch-enemies, the UK and America, to effect what the Southern African strongman terms “illegal regime change”.

The situation in the country continues to deteriorate, making the ban on humanitarian assistance particularly tragic.

Mugabe: If I lose the poll we will go to war

from the UKGuardian:

A defiant President Robert Mugabe yesterday vowed he would 'go to war' if he lost the presidential run-off due to take place in less than two weeks.

Describing the opposition as 'traitors', he claimed Zimbabwe would never 'be lost' again.

.. "as long as I am alive and those who fought for the country are alive,' he said. 'We are prepared to fight for our country and to go to war for it.'

The threat was seen as an angry response to the pressure mounting on the government from other African leaders over the regime's harassment of the MDC leadership and supporters in the run up to the 27 June election.

Yesterday, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested again and held for three hours as he tried to campaign in the countryside. There was also a stand-off between lawyers and police in Harare's high court before Tsvangirai's deputy, Tendai Biti, finally appeared before a judge.


With the MDC leadership under constant harassment, voters being beaten and killed and what amounts to a curfew in some MDC rural strongholds, the likelihood of the 27 June run-off taking place in any meaningful way seems remote.

Even if the 9,231 polling stations open, there is a shortage of officers prepared to risk monitoring them. The number of international observers the government intends to let in remains unclear. Although the first of the 400 monitors for the Southern African Development Community have arrived, they have yet to be accredited by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, whose own status is weakening - a memo from police chief Faustino Mazango, leaked to the Zimbabwean Independent newspaper, ordered his officers to take charge of the 'whole voting process'. Police had been, he said, 'too docile' during the March poll.

Rini Chipfunde, director of the leading independent monitoring group, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, said the authorities were creating an environment in which only police, soldiers and ruling party officials would be present at polling stations in rural areas. 'People will be too terrified to vote,' she said. 'Others may be bussed in by the ruling party to cast their ballots under the watchful eye of police officers.'

Sources across Zimbabwe have reported an increasing number of roadblocks manned by militias and war veterans, effectively cutting people off and creating a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

James McGee, US ambassador in Harare, said 30,000 potential MDC voters had fled their constituencies. Mugabe has already ordered charities to stop work, leaving millions struggling to find food in the collapsed economy.

Friday, June 13, 2008

US asks UN Security council to act on Zim

from Reuters

HARARE, June 13 (Reuters) - The United States called for urgent U.N. Security Council talks on Zimbabwe because it said President Robert Mugabe had ignored international calls to end political violence ahead of a presidential election run-off.

Zimbabwean police arrested opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai twice on Thursday, making a total of four times in about a week. Tsvangirai's spokesman said the arrests were part of a harassment campaign in the run-up to the June 27 election.

Tendai Biti, secretary general of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was also arrested and would face a treason charge that could carry the death penalty, police said.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, accompanying President George W. Bush on a visit to Rome, criticised the "continued use of state-sponsored violence in Zimbabwe and the regime's actions, including unwarranted arrests of opposition figures".

"We believe the time has come for the United Nations Security Council to take up immediately the issue to prevent further deterioration of the region's humanitarian and security situation," Perino told reporters on Thursday.

A group of prominent African leaders joined the international chorus for an end to political violence in Zimbabwe, once a regional bread basket but now in economic meltdown.

The left hates the US and especially Bush for removing a murderous dictator in Iraq; as a result, they have spent the last seven years demonizing both, making it impossible for the US or the UK to intervene elsewhere.

And don't tell me "Bush Lied"....until you can tell me where all the nerve gas that Human rights watch and other human rights sites said wasn't destroyed.

But because the elites don't want a strong US, they have eliminated the ability of democracies to intervene against nations that kill their own people, from Zimbabwe to Burma (where US ships with relief supplies and helicopters to land them remained offshore sitting while people died).

And the result is that everything will be left to South Africa, where Mbeki ignores the murders, or to the UN, who is essentially a "paper tiger", won't do a damn thing.

But of course, the left will simply find a way to blame Bush for this too...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Abductions in Gutu

from an email

A group of ZANU PF youths, militia and war vets went on a rampage in Gutu South yesterday in the Makore Village near Gutu Turn-off along the Mutare Road yesterday – 8 June 2008 around 1000hrs in the morning.

The Zanu PF thugs abducted villagers and took away men notably the following:

1) John Murena – a well known businessman

2) Machingambi –

3) Cletos Mundanga – A Villager

4) Llyod Mundanga – MDC Activist

As of today 9 June 2008 – they had not returned home. This place is not far away from Nelson Chamisa’s home where ZANU PF thugs went on a rampage a week ago beating villagers including an 84 year old.

The above might go un-recorded since this is in the remote rural areas.

It hasn't begun, but Mugabe is Winning

from Zimbabwe today/First Post:

Those who fear for the survival of democracy in Zimbabwe will be gratified to know that Mugabe's Zanu-PF are so keen on the process of one-man, one-vote, they've started already. Yesterday thousands of police and associated uniformed thugs voted in the run-off presidential election set for June 27. And, amazingly, they all voted for Robert Mugabe....

The tone of this "vote" was set previously by Assistant Police Commissioner Nyakutsika, who told his men: "You will all do as you are told. Zanu-PF is the only party allowed to rule this country. We cannot surrender to puppets like Tsvangirai. We fought the whites, and we do not want them back here again."....

Just to boost figures, some civilians have also been appointed temporary police officers in order to cast their votes correctly. And similar procedures are said to be occurring within the army and other militia....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

the reign of thuggery

from the ny review of books.


But it is one of the hallmarks of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe that periods of relative calm and normality can be suddenly, even viciously upended. For days, the opposition—and the press—had been lulled into a sense of security. Mugabe's secret police were still on the payroll, but it was as if they had received orders not to intervene in the democratic process, but had been ordered, perhaps, simply to observe. Then, as has happened so often in the past, the atmosphere palpably changed. I flew out of Zimbabwe, via the southern city of Bulawayo, on April 3, after it became clear that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, clearly under pressure from the ZANU-PF, was determined to drag out the vote counting for weeks. As I waited at Bulawayo's tiny terminal for a flight to Johannesburg, I was approached by an old friend, David Coltart, an opposition leader and one of two white members of Zimbabwe's Parliament, who whispered a warning that it was premature to drop my guard. "This place is crawling with CIO agents," he said. Coltart, who was on his way to deliver a lecture at Oxford University, added: "You can't feel entirely safe until you're on the plane—in the air."

That same afternoon, Mugabe reasserted control and the crackdown on the opposition began. Police raided Haven House, the MDC's dilapidated headquarters in downtown Harare, as well as MDC suites at the Meikles, seizing documents, and arresting and beating up opposition members. At the same time, dozens of riot police and CIO agents surrounded the York Lodge, which I had checked out of only the day before. Two correspondents, The New York Times's Barry Bearak and the Sunday Telegraph contributor Stephen Bevan, with whom I had shared a car for the past week, were arrested on charges of "committing journalism," interrogated, and imprisoned for four days. Tsvangirai, who had emerged from his safe house on April 2 to all but proclaim an MDC victory, was gone again. And hundreds of so-called War Veterans were mobilized by Mugabe and came out in full force in the streets of several cities.

Since then, the ruling party's tactics have taken an increasingly vicious turn. According to the Movement for Democratic Change, forty-three supporters have been murdered and hundreds injured in the past six weeks. Thousands have been forced to flee their homes in a drive reminiscent of Operation Murambatsvina, Mugabe's 2005 "slum clearance" campaign that destroyed the homes and livelihoods of 700,000 people, almost all of them MDC supporters. A report by the US State Department Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor stated:

Soldiers, police, war veterans and youth militia loyal to the ruling party have been deployed in rural areas throughout Zimbabwe to systematically intimidate voters through killings, beatings, looting of property, burning of homes and public humiliation.
On the evening of May 5, ruling-party thugs descended on three villages in Mashonaland Central province, a former Mugabe stronghold that had turned decisively against the dictator on March 29. Repeating a pattern that has been seen throughout rural Zimbabwe, villagers were summoned to a "reeducation meeting," where they were forced to denounce the MDC and pledge their allegiance to the ZANU-PF. Then names were called, and those singled out were hustled into the darkness. "Next we heard the whips and screams," a witness named Bernard Pungwe said, describing a night-long rampage that left six MDC supporters dead and dozens injured.....

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

the need for good seed

from the African Executive

Despite strong growth in the private seed sector in East and Southern Africa over the last decade, most of the regions millions of small holder farmers still lack easy access to affordable , quality seed of maize, the number one food staple. In 2006 – 2007 cropping season, registered companies produced the bulk of just over 100,000 tons of improved maize seed that were marketed in the region, enough to sow 35% of the regions maize lands.

The farmers who don’t purchase fresh seeds are therefore using unimproved home saved seed and losing out on potential yield. Since the start of this century, efforts have been put in place to harmonize seed policies and laws in Eastern, Southern and West Africa. The core objective of this initiative was to improve access to seed by smallholder farmers because the seed industry in Eastern and Central Africa was facing many different standards and regulations in each country which translated into high transaction costs.

The high cost coupled with relatively low effective demand made the sector unattractive to investment to either local or international seed companies. Harmonization of seed policies and regulations among the countries of the region was expected to help establish a common market with an effective demand large enough to induce needed investment and create the competition required to establish sustainable and efficient seed industry in the three sub-regions. The harmonization initiative addressed 5 specific areas where constraints existed: Variety evaluation, release and registration; Seed certification; Phytosanitary regulations; Plant variety protection and Import export regulations.

Progress has been made to harmonize seed standards and regulations at different levels in the three sub-regions but implementations of agreements have been very slow by the policy organs. Seed associations in the region have been generally weak in advocating for and overseeing implementations. Instead adoption rate of improved seed is low with numerous factors limiting seed market development

1) Unavailable /inadequate extension service and production risks. The smallholder farmer category has limited production skills in high input farming. Even when productivity-enhancing inputs are availed to them, they cannot realize their full production potential unless extension service is provided which is unavailable in most of rural Africa or where available they are inadequate since extension agents/workers are too few to match the number of dispersed small farmers. This leads to very low adoption rate of seed based technologies that in turn hampers seed market development...

(clipped a long discussion of lack of microfinance for small farmers to borrow to purchase seed and fertilizer)...

Supporting investment in research in food crops, high value crops and research that increases value addition in primary commodities exported from Africa. Financial and non financial institutions should encourage innovation and support programs that develop the capacity of women to engage in the agricultural entrepreneurial process.

outthinking ZANU PF

Mutambara at African Executive

read the whole thing at above post:


In the history of every nation there comes a time when a generation has a unique opportunity to break with the past and define a new direction. Such a momentous occasion currently presents itself in our country. We need to seize the time and deliver change. This requires putting national interest before partisan, sectoral and personal interests. It demands that we apply our minds and outthink the regime. What Mugabe has lost in the electoral battle, he cannot legitimately regain in any election remotely described as free and fair. He is fatally and mortally wounded. The veil of invincibility has been pierced. On the 29th of March 2008 the people voted for change, and that democratic choice must be defended. Our independence will be meaningless without the sanctity and integrity of the one person one vote principle. Those that rule our country must do so with the consent of the governed.

If a run-off or re-run is illegally imposed upon us, the first order of business is challenging and exposing the illegitimacy of the basis of that proposition. More than ever, it becomes imperative for all the progressive and democratic forces in the country to close ranks in pursuit of the collective national interest. We must seek to establish a peaceful and secure environment for those illegitimate polls. In addition to observation SADC, the AU and the international community must be allowed to supervise these particular elections; before, during and after the voting process. The mandate of the external players must include the verification and announcement of the results. Yes, the regime has behaved worse than East Timor. We now need international supervision. Consequently, the notion of regional sovereignty and the doctrine of international responsibility to protect must now take precedence over Mugabe's narrow definition of national sovereignty. We have lost the right to manage our affairs alone internally. We need help.

However, Zimbabwean citizens will be the key drivers of this revolution. The power is in our hands. Let us stand up and be masters of our destiny. On this occasion of our Independence Day, let us rededicate ourselves to meaningful and total political and economic independence. The people should govern. The people must prosper.

We shall overcome.

Independence message by Arthur G.O. Mutambara, MDC co-President.

From bad to worse

Globe and Mail (Canada):


In the course of the past week, opposition presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai was twice detained by police for hours while campaigning. Nine supporters sheltering in a rural party office were attacked last Wednesday by a militia, shot at and set on fire; at least three were killed. The party's rallies in several of the most hotly contested areas were banned, and Mr. Tsvangirai is likewise banned from all broadcast media, which are state-controlled.

On Thursday, the government accused aid agencies that provide food and health care of covertly assisting the opposition, and indefinitely barred the groups from operating. It was one more harsh reminder to the populace of the power of President Robert Mugabe's state, which is now run by a shadowy military clique called the Joint Operations Command.

On Sunday, party workers putting up MDC posters on electricity poles in the city of Bulawayo were attacked by police; it was reported that one man's legs were broken with a baseball bat. Mr. Tsvangirai's armoured campaign car was impounded by police last week - and now, the party says, a candidate for Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF is brazenly using it....and it gets worse...

Yesterday, the government announced that it would keep anyone arrested for election-related violence in jail without bail until after the vote:.....the government insists the MDC is to blame for "inciting" most of the violence, and so the move is widely seen in Zimbabwe as a convenient way to jail any MDC organizers who aren't already injured or in hiding.....

That, of course, is the critical question for the MDC: How can Mr. Tsvangirai hope to win an election when his supporters have been relentlessly terrorized since the first poll?

The MDC is, in essence, trapped, with no choice but to contest the election regardless of how many barriers the government throws up, otherwise Mr. Mugabe will simply declare himself president again....

podcasts of the week

swradioAfrica has podcasts HERE:

Monday, June 09, 2008

Grace shops while Zim burns

Robert Mugabe is now 88. He continues to spout nonsense and everyone was surprised when he went to the Rome conference on Food last week.

His wife, however, is only 44. If Robert goes, so might his money. So while Mugabe was busy spouting conspiracy theories on the world stage, his wife Grace, copying our own Imelda Marcos, went on a shopping spree. I guess she just had to have a couple more pairs of expensive shoes.

Photo by AP.

Hmm...she needs to learn some makeup tips from Imelda, an ex beauty queen, but never mind.

Since the long delayed vote count that managed to find a recount was needed, we see the repeat of the "food for votes" and generalized intimidation of rural voters similar to earlier elections. But this time, the level of intimdation is worse than before.

Human Rights Watch has issued a report "Bullets for Each of you" reporting the high level of voter intimidation by threats, attacks and even murder. Much of the violence is in Central Zimbabwe, in areas that previously had been strongholds for Mugabe's ZANU PF party, but whose votes had switched in the last election......

go to link for the rest of my essay.



Business people and politicians addressing the 18th World Economic Forum on Africa said while the potential for increased food production in Africa was enormous, farmers lacked information, technology and investment.

"We have neglected agriculture for many many years and we have taken for granted that low food prices are here to stay," said Thorleif Enger, chief executive of Norwegian fertiliser company Yara International.

Improving access to seed and fertiliser for small-scale farmers in Africa was a vital component, participants said.

"We know that this is a very effective way to increase food production," said Enger.

Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika said Wednesday that "the world food shortage should be solved here in Africa".....

Obiageli Ezekweseli, vice president of the Africa region for the World Bank, said the continent currently had the lowest yields in the world, as its mostly subsistence farmers struggled to get market access.

Gareth Ackerman, chairman of Pick n Pay holdings, a major South African supermarket chain, said shortening the supply line and providing small farmers with infrastructure and the capability to access markets was key.

No havest, no NGO food either...

from the UKTelegraph

Hours after Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe told foreign charities to stop distributing food, the United States warned that Zimbabwe faced its worst ever harvest.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, an American government agency, said the crop of maize - the country's main staple - was the smallest on record, 60 per cent lower than normal.....

"Unless imports and international assistance are made available, households in urban areas and the more deficit rural districts in the south and west will face severe food access problems beginning in June," said the network....

June should be the height of the harvest, but this winter it is a time of despair. In urban areas no maize meal is available in supermarkets.

Well-placed political sources say Mr Mugabe's decision to bar foreign aid agencies was taken to help him fight the June 27 presidential election run-off against Morgan Tsvangirai, who leads the Movement for Democratic Change.

Political donors have given Mr Mugabe's party the Zanu PF maize to splurge on voters in the run up to the poll as a crude form of bribery.

"There will be masses of food in the next three weeks and for the month after the election which will be distributed by the Zanu PF government," said a former government member.

"They don't want the aid agencies doing it. They want to be the benefactors."...

Army coup in Zim?

UK Times reports:

The campaign of terror sweeping Zimbabwe is being directly organised by a junta that took over the running of the country after Robert Mugabe’s shock election defeat in March.

Details of the organised violence are contained in a report released today by Human Rights Watch, corroborated by senior Western diplomats who describe the situation in Zimbabwe as a “military coup by stealth”.....

The report said that the scale of the attacks exceeds anything seen previously during Zimbabwe’s long history of electoral violence, and that for the first time militias are being armed with weapons such as AK47s, hand-guns and rifles. They have also used military transportation and even attacked from military bases.

A senior Western diplomat traced the military takeover to the days after the March 29 election, when a stunned Mr Mugabe was preparing to stand down before the generals moved in. “The generals didn’t let him go,” the diplomat said. “Afraid that Mr Mugabe’s departure would expose them to prosecution, they struck a deal guaranteeing his reelection....

Saturday, June 07, 2008

South Africa: We're number one again

from strategy page:

June 6, 2008: With things quieting down in Iraq (U.S. casualties hit an all-time low in May, 2008), South Africa has regained its position as the most violent country on the planet, with a murder rate of 65 per 100,000 population. The death rate is also high in some other African countries (like Sudan, Somalia and Congo), but those placed don't keep records as effectively as South Africa.

Vote for me or starve

From ABC news (US)

Millions rely on food aid in Zimbabwe, but yesterday the regime ordered that foreign aid organizations cease operations. The Zimbabwean government's own food aid programs are now the only source of sustenance for much of the population.

McGee told reporters during a videoconference from the capital, Harare, this morning that his embassy has solid evidence that in order to receive food aid from the government, Zimbabweans must first show their party registration cards.

If they have a card from Mugabe's ruling party they can have access to food, but if they only have opposition cards they must turn over their national identification cards in order to receive the food they need.

The government holds onto the cards until after the June 27 election, McGee says — meaning opposition party members will not be able to identify themselves when they go to vote.

Vote for me or starve

From ABC news (US)

Millions rely on food aid in Zimbabwe, but yesterday the regime ordered that foreign aid organizations cease operations. The Zimbabwean government's own food aid programs are now the only source of sustenance for much of the population.

McGee told reporters during a videoconference from the capital, Harare, this morning that his embassy has solid evidence that in order to receive food aid from the government, Zimbabweans must first show their party registration cards.

If they have a card from Mugabe's ruling party they can have access to food, but if they only have opposition cards they must turn over their national identification cards in order to receive the food they need.

The government holds onto the cards until after the June 27 election, McGee says — meaning opposition party members will not be able to identify themselves when they go to vote.

Friday, June 06, 2008

US, UK diplomats attacked by state agents

from SWRadioAfrica:

Another diplomatic incident has been reported in Zimbabwe, this time in the town of Bindura. According to Mark Weinberg, an official at the American Embassy in Harare, a convoy of American and British diplomats on a fact finding trip to Bindura on Thursday were stopped by a gang of state agents that included police, intelligence agents and war veterans. They were told to go to the local police station, but they refused.

Weinberg said the diplomatic delegation went on its way but were followed. They were stopped at a roadblock by the same gang, who this time had their guns drawn and pointed at the diplomats....

According to a BBC report, there were 10 US embassy officials and 4 officials from the UK High Commission on the trip. The US Ambassador James McGee was not involved in the incident, but he is quoted as saying that a Zimbabwean driver working with a US embassy security official was beaten up by the group. The war vets stole a camera and a satellite telephone.

McGee said the incident was ‘extremely serious and a violation of all diplomatic protocols’. He warned that the American government would raise it at the very highest levels with the Zimbabwean authorities....

Zim suspends aid operations

from the BBC

Zimbabwe's government has indefinitely suspended all field work by aid groups and non-governmental organisations. ...

The suspension of all field operations by private voluntary organisations (PVOs) and NGOs comes nearly a week after President Robert Mugabe banned some aid agencies from Zimbabwe.

Care International, a UK-based organisation, was forbidden to work after being accused of campaigning for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ahead of the presidential run-off on 27 June. Care has strenuously denied the accusation.

Other aid agencies have said they have had to curtail what they do, particularly in opposition strongholds.

Some aid workers believe the government fears they might witness intimidation of opposition supporters, the BBC's Caroline Hawley in Johannesburg, South Africa, reports....

Tsvangirai released after Mbeki call

from AFP:

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) — Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was freed from police detention after a phone appeal by South African President Thabo Mbeki to the Harare government, Mbeki's spokesman said Thursday....

The phone conversation with unnamed representatives of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government came shortly after Tsvangirai was held at a police roadblock on Wednesday lunchtime. Tsvangirai was released later in the evening...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Zim releases opposition leader

from msnbc

HARARE, Zimbabwe - Police released the Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai after more than nine hours in detention Wednesday amid ominous signs that the government is tightening its grip on the country before this month's presidential runoff.

Tsvangirai spokesman George Sibotshiwe said Tsvangirai was released after being charged for a public order offence "on a spurious charge of attracting a large number of people," his party, the Movement for Democratic Change, said in a statement.

He had to sign an official police caution before he was released along with a group of about 14 party officials from a police station in Lupane, north of the city of Bulawayo. One of his security vehicles was seized.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Protests in Rome

from AFP

ROME (AFP) — The presence of Zimbabwean and Iranian presidents Robert Mugabe and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a UN food summit here sparked international condemnation and protests in Italy on Monday.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith called Mugabe's presence in Rome "obscene". Britain also criticised Mugabe's rare foray out of Zimbabwe where he is fighting for his political future in an election runoff.

"This is the person who has presided over the starvation of his people. This is the person who has used food aid in a politically motivated way," Smith said.

"So Robert Mugabe turning up to a conference dealing with food security or food issues is, in my view, frankly obscene," added the Australian minister, who is also to attend the Food and Agriculture Organization summit.

In London, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's spokesman said: "We think it's particularly unfortunate that (Mugabe) has decided to attend this meeting given what he has done in relation to contributing to difficulties on food supply in Zimbabwe."

There were also protests in Italy by activists, leftist politicians and Jewish groups against Mugabe and Ahmadinejad.

"It is in no way legitimate for the people of Zimbabwe to be represented by a head of state who has been disowned by the international community and who is unwanted by his own people," Sergio Marelli, Italian host of a forum on food sovereignty coinciding with the summit, told AFP.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Tsavangerai flawed leader

NYTimes reports:

....Mr. Tsvangirai, whose thrashing made him an international symbol of resistance to Mr. Mugabe’s repressive rule, returned to Zimbabwe on Saturday for a showdown with his nemesis in a June 27 runoff after six weeks of self-imposed exile. He bested Mr. Mugabe in a March 29 election, then fled the country in the middle of the night on April 8 after his staff said it got word of a plot to kill him.

Mr. Tsvangirai is a flawed leader who has sometimes been naïve and too conciliatory, according to critics and allies alike. And yet, many of them say, he has endured....

In recent weeks, he has come under increasing criticism for staying out of the country while his supporters have been attacked, tortured and even killed in a sweeping state-sponsored campaign to intimidate all who dare challenge Mr. Mugabe’s re-election. William McGee, the American ambassador in Harare, said there was evidence that an assassination plot was threatened, but he said he believed that it was disinformation meant to keep Mr. Tsvangirai from returning home....

Ah, but we pinoys remember Ninoy shrugging off an assasination threat....

“He’s been imprisoned, humiliated and accused of being a puppet of the West,” said George Bizos, a South African lawyer who represented Nelson Mandela in the apartheid era and was Mr. Tsvangirai’s advocate during his treason trial in 2004. “But I believe he is a Zimbabwean patriot in touch with the vast majority of his people. He has shown he has stamina.”

The son of a bricklayer and the eldest of nine children, Mr. Tsvangirai, 56, never went to college and labored in the nickel mines before rising through the ranks of the union movement. He faces a very different opponent in Mr. Mugabe, 84, a university-educated teacher who became the hero of his country’s liberation from white rule and its first and only president since independence in 1980.

Mr. Mugabe contemptuously mocks Mr. Tsvangirai for not having joined the guerrilla struggle in his youth, and the state-owned newspaper — a mouthpiece for the governing party — recently belittled him as a coward and Western stooge with “a big black nose” and “chubby and pimply cheeks.”

BUT Mr. Tsvangirai (pronounced CHANG-guh-rye) can rightfully claim to be the first politician to win more votes than Mr. Mugabe at the polls — and have it officially recognized. On Thursday, he toured refugee camps here in southern Africa’s economic capital where his countrymen — some of the millions who have fled their nation’s imploding economy — have been subjected to xenophobic attacks in impoverished townships....

Monday, June 02, 2008

Mugabe in Rome for Food Summit

from the BBC

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is reported to have arrived in Rome to attend a UN food summit.

State television said Mr Mugabe was accompanied by his wife and senior government officials on the trip.

It is Mr Mugabe's first visit to Europe since the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won a majority in parliamentary elections in March.

Mr Mugabe and his ministers are usually subject to a European Union travel ban - but he is able to attend UN forums.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) summit starts on Tuesday and reports say Mr Mugabe is expected to stay in Italy until Friday.

Mr Mugabe caused a stir at a similar summit in Rome in 2005 when he denounced the then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W Bush.

He described them as "unholy men" at the meeting in Rome - to the applause of some delegates. ,,,

post election violence

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