Saturday, August 30, 2008

Zim lifts ban on food aid

From the Age (Australia)


Zimbabwe's government has finally yielded to major pressure and announced it is lifting a three-month ban on the distribution of food aid in the hunger-stricken country as power-sharing talks resumed in South Africa.

A bulletin quoted a statement from the welfare ministry as saying the government had "with immediate effect lifted the suspension of operations of private voluntary organisations and non-governmental organisations".

These included those involved in "humanitarian food assistance, relief, recovery and development, childcare and protection and the rights of people with disabilities".

Friday, August 29, 2008

Zim police disrupt meeting

from SWRadioafrica

... Early this week several MDC MPs were arrested, and on Thursday heavily armed riot police disrupted a meeting of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition at a hotel in Harare.

The Coalition’s information officer Tabani Moyo told Newsreel the police claimed the meeting held at Cresta Lodge was illegal. Moyo said this was an Annual General Meeting, an internal gathering of the civic group that did not need police clearance. Some invited members of the diplomatic community were present at the AGM, which had gathered to elect a new board when the riot police stormed the venue...

Meanwhile Elinor Sisulu, a spokesperson of the group said in a statement: “They are being very rough, and unreasonable. They are threatening us with arrest and saying that our gathering is illegal.”

She added that the attack on civil society violated the terms of the MoU, which clearly states there should be an environment that allows social welfare organisations to operate without intimidation.

Nothing will stop Mugabe from forming a new government

from Zim on line

A senior Zimbabwe official said on Thursday that nothing would stop President Robert Mugabe from appointing a new government while on the same day police broke up an NGO meeting, as Mugabe adopts an increasingly belligerent stance in the face of stalled power-sharing talks with the opposition....

Mugabe had delayed appointing Cabinet or convening Parliament to give chance to power-sharing talks. But the 84-year old leader convened Parliament this week and was quoted by state media as having said he would go ahead and appoint a new Cabinet without the MDC which he said was unwilling to join.

Matonga told the media: "Nothing is going to stop us from forming a new government. We need to move forward, we need to make sure that Zimbabwe regains its status, we need to work on the economy. People are suffering."

The deputy information minister, who dismissed the MDC as “not serious at all”, claimed Mugabe was given permission by Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders to form a government after Tsvangirai refused to sign a power-sharing deal that was endorsed by the bloc’s leaders at a summit in South Africa....

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

MP's arrested

from Radio Netherlands

In Zimbabwe, there have been further arrests of MPs belonging to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. A total of five MPs have now been arrested, one yesterday and the rest today....


more from SWRadioAfrica:

Police raid MDC hotel as harassment and arrests continue

By Lance Guma
26 August 2008

A total of 3 MDC MP’s were arrested Tuesday at parliament bringing to 5 the number arrested over trumped up ‘public violence charges’ since Monday. Broadwin Nyaude (Bindura South), Mathias Mlambo (Chipinge East) and Pearson Mungofa (Highfield East) were all arrested on the day MDC MP’s heckled Robert Mugabe during his speech at the official opening of parliament. Previously on Monday Shuwa Mudiwa the MP for Mutare West and Eliah Jembere from Epworth were arrested before they were sworn into parliament. The MDC accused ZANU PF of trying to reduce their numbers in parliament before a crucial vote to elect the speaker of parliament. Lovemore Moyo from the Tsvangirai MDC still managed to win the election, in spite of the arrests.


Armed police raided Harare’s Quality International Hotel around 4 am Tuesday claiming they were looking for MDC MP’s on a wanted list for ‘public violence’ charges. The hotel had been booked by several MDC MP’s who had come to be sworn into parliament on Monday. Chipinge East legislator Mathias Mlambo was one of those targeted. He was in the room with his wife when police threatened to break down the door to his hotel room. Mlambo dared police to go ahead and break it down, but the police withdrew. They arrested him later in the day. Police claim Mlambo beat up a war veteran in Chipinge during the March election campaign, a charge highly unlikely given the state sponsored violence that rocked the area.

A report on the Zimbabwe Times website says police demanded the guest register from the hotel at gunpoint. ‘Terrified reception staff handed over the list and the officers frisked the entire hotel staff.’

Mugabe taunted in Parliament

from the BBC

.....But what must have staggered Mr Mugabe was that the MDC MPs remained seated....

Half way through his speech, in which he praised South African President Thabo Mbeki for facilitating dialogue with the MDC and attacked rampant inflation, murmurs of discontent began to surface.

These jeers grew louder, leaving Zanu-PF MPs stunned.

"You killed people, we know that," a yell came from the MDC backbench.

'You are murderers'

In a crowd of more 200 legislators, it was hard to pinpoint the culprit.

"Yes, you are murderers," another echoed, in Shona.

Mr Mugabe then touched on the subject of sanctions.

"Surely sanctions cannot be good for any Zimbabwean and we have abundant evidence of their ravaging impact. We cannot condone such blatant spiteful injury," he said.

But the MDC struck again.

MPs arrive for the opening of parliament in Harare, 26 August 2008
MDC supporters were in combative form throughout the proceedings

"Zanu-PF is rotting," the legislators chanted for a good three minutes....

"We are together in the struggle, no amount of beatings and killings will deter us," they sang.

At some point Mr Mugabe raised his head, face shaken, and then proceeded with his speech.....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Man Made famine looming in Zimbabwe

from BloggerNews:

.....But apparantly, the mere threat of violence was not enough to ensure the correct vote: Mugabe also banned the distribution of food aid by NGO’s in early June.

This was a twofold threat: One, it meant that after a poor harvest, villagers would know that if they didn’t vote correctly, no food aid would be coming to keep them alive, and two: It meant that there were fewer outsiders to report on atrocities.

The dirty little secret about missionaries and NGO’s is that they write about what they see. Mugabe is trying to intimidate his population, and keep it a secret. That is why he bans outside reporters from entering the country, and why letters and emails are assumed by locals to be monitored.

So since June, NGO’s have been banned from giving out food aid. After the farce election, and the South African mediated talks to try to get a coalition government, Mugabe agreed to stop the suspension of the NGO’s. This did not happen, although in early August a small amount of food was allowed to be distributed to HIV patients. But if things don’t change, Zimbabwe, which once exported food and with irrigation and modern tecniques could be the breadbasket of Africa, will become a state with massive starvation. From the report by the Crisis in Zimbabwe coalition:

“The suspension of humanitarian operations is estimated to have put the lives of more than 1.5 million marginalised Zimbabweans at risk already,” said the report. “Without the immediate resumption of food aid across the country, widespread hunger and worsening malnutrition are unavoidable.”
It noted that the two main international food agencies, the World Food Programme and the Food and Agricultural Organisation, estimate that 2.04 million Zimbabweans in rural and urban areas do not have enough food now. By January, the organisations say that 5.1 million will be at risk of starvation – about 45% of the population.
“The government has always maintained a stranglehold on food distribution with a view to ensuring that those receiving the food associate this generosity with the government, rather than the donors,” the report noted.


Millions starve as food aid begins to rot

from SWRadioAfrica:

The Memorandum of Understanding signed between ZANU PF and the MDC last month called for the lifting of all restrictions on the work of aid groups. A subsequent joint statement condemning violence also called for all humanitarian assistance to be allowed into the country and for aid to reach thousands of victims of political violence.

But despite the statements and agreements, aid agencies have remained barred from operating in Zimbabwe, leaving millions of Zimbabweans, with no other resources, to face the reality of starvation..... At the same time, the Zimbabwe Crop and Food Security Assessment report says the number of people in need could rise to five million by January because of the poor crop projections. Meanwhile in comparatively wealthy areas such Harare, food is becoming increasingly scarce, and because of a severe currency shortage, people cannot buy basic food to survive.

MP's detained as Zim parliament starts

from AFP:

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) — The opposition Movement for Democratic Change won a vote for the speaker of the Zimbabwe parliament on Monday, hours after two of its lawmakers were detained by police.

The two members of parliament were detained in the parliament building just before the secret ballot for speaker, which was won by Lovemore Moyo of main MDC leader's Morgan Tsvangirai's camp who got 110 votes of 208 cast.

The MDC had said the detention of its members of parliament was a manoeuvre to influence the vote for a speaker in what was the first meeting of parliament since March elections.


"Relations between Mutambara and Mugabe have been good lately...It's not inconceivable that the two agreed to work together in an attempt to retain control of parliament," said Caromba.

While the MDC control of parliament was unlikely to exert much influence on government policy, the ruling party had been "clearly desperate" in resorting to arrests, Caromba added.

"The fact that the MDC won despite these tactics is certainly an important psychological victory for them and a big blow for Mugabe."

How does the Legislature work in Zim?

From Reuters:

Here are some details about Zimbabwe's parliament.


* Zimbabwe's parliament is bicameral, consisting of a Senate or upper house, and a House of Assembly, or lower house.

* Senate - There are 93 seats, 60 elected by popular vote for a five-year term, 10 provincial governors nominated by the president, 16 traditional chiefs elected by the council of chiefs, two held by the president and deputy president of the council of chiefs, and five appointed by the president. * House of Assembly - the lower house is made up of 210 members, increased from 150 last March.

* Lovemore Moyo was elected on Monday as Speaker of the lower house, a senior position in Zimbabwe's political hierarchy. He succeeded John Nkomo. The speaker will be a powerful figure in Zimbabwe's new hung parliament. He is likely to take charge of controversial debates if there is no power-sharing deal. The speaker can also act as president in the absence of the vice president or Senate president.

* The Cabinet is appointed by the president and responsible to the House of Assembly.


* Neither of the two major parties holds a parliamentary majority -- opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC holds 100 seats in the lower house, against the ruling ZANU-PF's 99.

* The breakaway MDC has 10 seats and there is one Independent seat. Whoever the breakaway MDC sides with gets an effective majority in the legislative chamber.

* The Senate results after the 2008 elections showed contested seats split 30-30 between the combined opposition and the ruling party. Control of the Senate will depend on the president, with powers to directly appoint 15 members and strongly influence who gets other positions.

MDC man the new speaker

from the Times:

MOVEMENT For Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai reasserted his popularity in Zimbabwe yesterday when his party won a fiercely contested vote to determine the Speaker of parliament — only hours after two MPs were detained by the police....

Lovemore Moyo, the MDC’s national chair , was elected Speaker of Zimbabwe’s seventh parliament after a secret ballot in which 208 MPs voted.

Moyo secured 110 votes, while his adversary, Paul Themba Nyathi of the breakaway MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara, could only garner 98. President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF chose not to field a candidate, supporting Nyathi instead.

But yesterday Mutambara became irrelevant when MPs voted with their conscience and not along party lines.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mugabe rival fear talk collapse

from the BBC...

So far, Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change and Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party have failed to reach a deal to resolve Zimbabwe's post-election crisis.

Leaders from the Southern African Development Community failed to help them end a deadlock at their summit in Johannesburg over the weekend.

'Theory and practice'

"If President Mugabe proceeds to convene parliament, appoint a new cabinet, it means that... he may have abandoned the basis for the talks," Mr Tsvangirai said in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

It managed to allay some of our fears, but strengthened some of our positions
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai

Kenyan lessons for Zimbabwe crisis

He said that talks mediator South African President Thabo Mbeki would have to deal with any violation of the negotiations' Memorandum of Understanding. ...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A dangerous clash in Zim talks

from Time Magazine

Power-sharing talks in Zimbabwe are on the verge of a complete breakdown, according to sources inside the negotiations, with President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai unable to agree on who should wield greater power in a unity government. Underlining how the mood between the two sides has soured, one general in Zimbabwe's army reiterated a threat to defend Mugabe's regime "even if it means going to war," adding that Tsvangirai would be arrested if talks fail. And that would not appear to be an idle threat: the opposition leader, who won more votes than Mugabe during the first presidential ballot on March 29 (he withdrew from the subsequent runoff in the face of a campaign of violence against his supporters), was briefly detained by Zimbabwean security forces last week......

What is the power of a signiture?

from the Herald...

The govt run propaganda machine is in a snit because Tsvangirai won't sign a paper letting Mugabe win and the opposition will get nothing...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Zimbabwe's art of stone

from the CSMonitor


Although communication with Zimbabwe is difficult, it's clear that some of the nation's 1,800 to 3,000 sculptors have scattered to other countries, says Ponter, a northern California art dealer who grew up in Zimbabwe.


Shona art is unusual in a number of ways. For one, it's all crafted out of stone and almost entirely formed without the use of power tools, Ponter says. Instead, the stone carvers rely on hand tools and sandpaper. They create the smooth, colorful, and glossy surfaces of the sculptures by heating the stone's surface and then applying a substance such as beeswax.

The use of stone itself is unique in Africa, although it has a history in Zimbabwe. Ancient peoples in the Zimbabwe region of Africa worked with stone as early as the 13th and 14th centuries, creating the magnificent stone structures of the Great Zimbabwe complex that gave the country its name.

Finally, Shona art serves no special purpose, unlike much of African art – such as masks – which is used in spiritual ceremonies. The Shona artists "carve for the sheer joy of it," says Ponter's wife, Laura. The Shona sculptures are often abstract and stylized; they are so contemporary that they're frequently displayed in modern-art museums.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Power sharing deal held up by Mugabe

from SWRadioAfrica

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said ‘a few issues’ are still holding back the signing of a power-sharing deal with ZANU-PF, according to sources in his party.
The major sticking points are Mugabe’s insistence on retaining control of government, while only allowing Tsvangirai to preside over some ministries.
Tsvangirai told the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security that they also differ with Mugabe on the duration of any power-sharing government, its framework and constitution.

According to documents seen by Newsreel, the MDC’s position on a new government of national unity envisages a short transition period of up to 30 months, ending with an election under a new democratic constitution.

It’s believed Zanu-PF want such an arrangement to last five years. The MDC in their position paper said they have compromised and proposed a five year period, subject to either party reserving it’s right to terminate the transitional agreement after the new constitutional making process, by giving three months notice.

The MDC envisage that a constitutional process would be completed within 18 months and that the effect of a ‘termination’ would trigger a harmonised election. All parties have agreed to a new constitution and they signed and initialled an agreement to this, in Kariba in September last year...

Zim exiles on warpath against Mugabe


THE Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) has lodged an urgent application with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal in Windhoek to declare President Robert Mugabe's government illegal and force regional leaders to stop inviting him to their meetings.

Norman Tjombe of the Legal Assistance Centre confirmed that the papers were served on several individuals as well as the tribunal's head office in Windhoek and that they were awaiting a date for the hearing.

"We have made a host of demands including that the elections be declared unconstitutional," Tjombe said.

Mugabe attended a weekend SADC summit in South Africa despite the application and a boycott of the meeting by Botswana President Seretse Khama Ian Khama.

Khama refused to attend the summit because his government does not recognise Mugabe's re-election.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mbeki press Tsvangirai to accept fake compromise

from the AFP: Shades of the Nkomo fraud are now proposed by Mbeki

South African President Thabo "Mbeki turns up the heat on Tsvangirai", said The Times in a headline, adding: "Zim opposition given ultimatum: sign deal or let parliament decide."

Leaders from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) held a weekend summit in Johannesburg and called for the convening of the parliament after the March 29 poll, in which Mugabe's ZANU-PF party suffered a historic defeat.

"The threat by SADC leaders to take the matter to parliament could therefore be seen as a way of exerting pressure on Tsvangirai to sign," The Times said.

"The move could also boost Mugabe", said the Business Day newspaper which noted that the "parliament had not been sworn in largely because the presidency was being disputed."

Mugabe's ZANU-PF and a smaller faction of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara would have a parliamentary majority if they combined forces. Mutambara last week concluded an informal understanding with the regime.

The Star voiced fears that convening parliament could "scupper the dialogue" between Tsvangirai and Mugabe following the veteran president's controversial re-election in June in a run-off boycotted by the opposition leader.

A South African official close to the power-sharing negotiations has said difficult issues included whether Mugabe would retain the right to hire and fire ministers and how long a transitional government would remain in place.

The opposition MDC wants a clause stating that if one of the parties pulls out of the unity government, elections would be held within 90 days, according to the official.
The Star said convening parliament would mean that "Mugabe would immediately have to appoint a new cabinet. Doing this before negotiations are completed would entail Tsvangirai being excluded from a new government."...

Zim opposition insists on real power

from the NYTimes

"....Mr. Mugabe, whose re-election in a June runoff after 28 years in power was widely seen as a sham, took his place this morning on a dais crowded with other heads of state, but he did not receive his usual adulatory welcome. Dignitaries from across the region were silent, even somber, as the presidents strode into the hall.

Mr. Mbeki told the assembled leaders that he is trying to engineer a final agreement this weekend. And the pressure on him to deliver a deal is evident. Just outside the convention hall where the Southern African Development Community had gathered, there was a raucous anti-Mugabe demonstration of trade unionists allied with Mr. Mbeki’s own governing party.

But Mr. Tsvangirai, seen by some African leaders and Western diplomats as having the only legitimate claim on the presidency after besting Mr. Mugabe in a credible March election, said the most basic issue of how he and Mr. Mugabe would share power remains unsettled.

George Charamba, Mr. Mugabe’s press secretary, said in an interview Thursday that in any power-sharing government Mr. Mugabe would remain as head of the government and in charge of the cabinet — conditions Mr. Tsvangirai said were untenable.

Mr. Tsvangirai said it was acceptable to him if Mr. Mugabe retained the title of president with a role in overseeing the government. And Mr. Tsvangirai is willing to split the cabinet posts between his and the governing party. But all the cabinet ministers would need to report to him, he said. Only a coherent governing structure would enable Zimbabwe to attract the aid from international donors that is essential to rebuilding Zimbabwe’s shattered economy, he said.

“Who is in charge of the cabinet?” Mr. Tsvangirai asked. “To whom do all these ministers report? Can you dismiss them if they breach? It’s fundamental.”....

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Scandal in Africa

The NYReview of Books

.... Mugabe and the cabal that supports him have seemed to enjoy flaunting their contempt for democracy and their easy embrace of violence.

That cabal is led by hard-line members of the Zimbabwean military and a handful of cabinet officials who served alongside Mugabe in the independence war of the 1970s. They include the commander in chief of Zimbabwe's armed forces, General Constantine Chiwenga, and Emerson Mnangagwa, an heir apparent to Mugabe who, as minister of national security in 1983, allegedly oversaw the massacre of thousands of political opponents in Matabeleland. "He is a man with the capacity to be more vicious than Mugabe," I was told by University of Zimbabwe political analyst John Makumbe.

Mnangagwa was one of the principal orchestrators of the campaign of violence and intimidation against the opposition launched in April—known as CIBD, or Coercion, Intimidation, Beating, and Displacement. (According to recent reports, over a hundred opposition supporters have been killed and more than 200,000 displaced.) And Mugabe, after initially conceding defeat in private and considering resignation or negotiation, quickly embraced the hard-liners' position. "We are not going to give up our country because of a mere X," Mugabe declared in the midst of his bloody campaign last month, rejecting any pretense of a legitimate election. "How can a ballpoint pen fight with a gun?"...

go to link for full article..

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mugabe aims for staying in power with rumor of breakaway talks

from the UKGuardian

.....Senior ruling Zanu-PF party officials said on Tuesday that Mutambara had reached agreement with Mugabe on the shape of a new administration. South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, who was mediating the negotiations, confirmed that the two men did agree the division of powers in the next government, to be led by Mugabe.

But Mutambara, who heads a splinter group from Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, said that did not mean he is prepared to serve in a new administration while there is still no deal between the two principal players. The talks broke up after Tsvangirai refused to drop his demand that Mugabe relinquish power and become a ceremonial president.,,,

Tsvangirai's aides treated with suspicion Mutambara's claim not to have done a deal with Mugabe, noting that the opposition faction leader had shifted his position considerably in recent days and was praised by Zimbabwe's president in a speech earlier this week.....

Remember Nkomo

BBC: Nkomo's ghost haunts talks

....The talks are haunted by the spirit of the late Joshua Nkomo, whose fate stands as a warning to anyone trying to strike a deal with President Robert Mugabe.

Joshua Nkomo was, broadly, Mr Mugabe's contemporary, and a Zimbabwean liberation leader of impeccable credentials.

In 1980, at independence, he emerged as an alternative leader to Mr Mugabe.

His support base was in Matabeleland in the south and west of the country.

Ruthless campaign

Mr Mugabe fought him for five years.

He destroyed him in two ways. First he sent into Matabeleland the ruthless, North Korea-trained Fifth brigade.

Thousands of Mr Nkomo's supporters were murdered and their bodies dumped in mass graves in a two-year operation known as Gukurahundi.

Mr Mugabe used what, on the face of it, was sold to the world as a power-sharing agreement to consolidate his own one party state

Then - and this was a master stroke - Mr Mugabe reached an agreement with Mr Nkomo: a power-sharing agreement.

Mr Nkomo was brought into the government as vice-president.

Officially, the two political parties merged to form Zanu-PF, but in reality Mr Mugabe's party swallowed Mr Nkomo's Zapu party whole.

Mr Nkomo was neutralised, destroyed.

Mr Mugabe used what, on the face of it, was sold to the world as a power-sharing agreement to consolidate his own one-party state....

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More information on Professor Mutambara

SWRadioAfrica via All Africa:

The credibility of Arthur Mutambara's role in the power-sharing talks is being questioned, as the leader of the second MDC faction taking part in the talks appears to be aligning himself closely with Robert Mugabe.

The latest sign of Mutambara's suspected cross-allegiance came after he launched a scathing attack on the West in his Heroes Day message on Monday. The message, titled "Exalting the Heroic Revolution" spends pages criticising the West in a truly Mugabe-like style. In the message, Mutambara first recognises the significant role the West will play in Zimbabwe's future by saying: "We appreciate the moral, diplomatic and material support our democratic forces and organizations have received from Western institutions and governments."


But the message then continues with Mutambara saying, "we take exception to the irritating ignorance, political insensitivity, double standards, and patronizing arrogance that characterize Western diplomacy". Mutambara's message also takes aim at the Western criticism of the ongoing politically motivated violence in the country, labeling it "moralising nonsense". He also lashed out at Western governments, saying they have "undermined our legitimacy, strengthened our opponents, removed our moral authority, and ruined our effectiveness and standing among Africans".

Summary: He is kissing the A@@@ of Mugabe to get power...he plans to take his faction of the MDC and join it with in the future, he might be able to take over.

One is reminded of the Chinese proverb that the trouble with riding a tiger is not getting on but getting off...

Mutambara: Biography

from New

He's a brilliant computer engineer who hasn't been in Zim for ten years.

Zim talks in deadlock as Mugabe refuses to cede power

from the UKGuardian:

Summary: Mbeki's sweet talk no good since Mugabe refuses to let any power sharing. However, by using Mutambara as a patsy, he will pretend he now has a "coalition" government and hopes foreigners will think it's a real deal and start investing again.

Traitor signs "side deal" with Mugabe

from the NYTimes

JOHANNESBURG — News agencies reported Tuesday that Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a breakaway faction of Zimbabwe’s opposition party, had signed a deal with President Robert Mugabe to form a unity government after months of turmoil and political instability in the country.

The reports, citing an unidentified senior official in Mr. Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF, said that Mr. Mutambara and Mr. Mugabe had sidelined the country’s main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, by reaching the deal without him or his dominant wing of the opposition party.

Mr. Mutambara could not be reached to confirm or deny the report.

But David Coltart, a senator from the breakaway faction, said that if Mr. Mutambara had made such a side deal — and he had no confirmation that he had — it would have been without a mandate from the faction’s national executive and was highly unlikely to be supported by the faction’s 10 members of Parliament or six senators....

African stories

BBC has plays (streaming media) by African writers.

Number two play is about Zimbabwe:

Second prize winner: A Home for Tai by Tawanda Mutero Kanengoni (Zimbabwe)
Director: Alice Muthengi

Taipanei, a young Zimbabwean woman who has failed to fall pregnant a year after her marriage comes under pressure from her in-laws and her husband disappointed that she has not conceived. The mounting social and family pressure eventually leads her to seek help from a traditional healer who gives her roots to use. Her joy in getting pregnant soon turns to tragedy as the medicine man's concoction almost costs her life. She loses her baby but her own life is saved by a most unlikely hero and the process she learns a valuable lesson.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Zim swimmer breaks record

from the BBC:

Zimbabwean swimmer Kirsty Coventry broke the world record for the women's 100m backstroke in her semi-final swim at the Water Cube in Beijing.....

Why pulling out of AFrica is business suicide

from the African executive

"...One of the many reports about sanctions pointed out that Brown did not directly order British firms to withdraw operations from Zimbabwe. ... Asking British firms to stop doing business with or pull out of Zimbabwe will have negative consequences for those companies as well as effects on Zimbabwe’s economy. It is sometimes portrayed as if the continuation of those companies’ business in Zimbabwe is out of the kindness of their hearts, a sort of favor to poor helpless Zimbabwe, and that they would actually be relieved to leave such a poorly performing economy.

The truth is even if their operations are barely ticking along now, many of these companies have substantial long-term investments that they risk being expropriated by the Mugabe government should they pull out. Mugabe has on several occasions mentioned his willingness to do just that if ‘provoked’ enough. It is true that there is no reason to believe the government would run those mines and other investments any better or profitably than the companies themselves, especially without access to the kind of international money required for capital-intensive things like mining. But at that stage the considerations would mostly be hot-headed political ones, as we saw with farm take-overs, not necessarily cool-headed economic ones...."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Zimbabwe fades away

From StrategyPage:

August 8., 2008: President Robert Mugabe succeeded in driving his main political opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, from the presidential election, with Tsnvagirai quitting just before the June 27 run-off date. Now Mugabe is once again in control. He is nominally president, but the trail of electoral thuggery and murder has left Mugabe with no political cover.

This is an affliction of many post-colonial nations. How do the old revolutionaries and their cadres go? Must the nations wait for them to die? Must they launch bloody rebellions? With the democratic path thwarted, Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic Change decided the price in innocent blood would be too steep.....

The title refers to an old song; Old Soldiers never die, they just fade away...and in this case the pun is that it is the country, not the old soldier, that is fading away...

Scottish government pensions prop up Mugabe

from Scotland on Sunday:

THE Scottish Parliament pension fund is helping to prop up the regime of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.
More than £18m has been invested on behalf of MSPs, hundreds of thousands of which has gone into firms which have already been criticised for their close links to the failed African state. The companies involved include Anglo-American, the mining giant which is investing $400m (£208m) to develop a platinum mine in Zimbabwe....

But figures released by the Scottish Parliament show that MSPs have invested more than £100,000 in Anglo-American via the pension fund. There are also substantial investments in other companies heavily involved in the country, including Standard Chartered bank, Rio Tinto, Barclays and Royal Dutch Shell. On the back of these and other investments, the MSPs' fund grew by £700,000 last year.....

The MSPs' scheme requires them to pay in 6% of their £54,000 salary each year. In return they get back a generous one-50th of their final salary for each year at Holyrood....

Along with Anglo-American, Barclays has attracted the greatest controversy for its Zimbabwean operations. It owns two-thirds of Barclays Bank Zimbabwe, and contributes to a government loan scheme that is thought to have lent money to at least five ministers for farm improvements. Standard Chartered operates in a similar manner. Rio Tinto, another mining giant, has a diamond mine at Murowa...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mbeki arrives in Harare for talks

from the BBC

South African President Thabo Mbeki has arrived in Harare for talks with his Zimbabwean counterpart, Robert Mugabe, and the opposition's Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mr Mbeki has been mediating between the two sides which have been holding talks in South Africa for more than a week.

Despite a news blackout imposed on the discussions, reports suggest a power-sharing deal may be close.

Zimbabwean government spokesman George Charamba said a "milestone" had been reached but did not elaborate.

He told state media that Mr Mbeki was "going to meet the principals, basically to update them on the progress so far and to consult on how to take the dialogue forward....South African mediators say that talks are aimed at creating some form of coalition but there is disagreement over who would lead a unity government and over Mr Mugabe's exact role.

Mr Mbeki is expected to return to South Africa on Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

African Embassy bombing anniversary

Baldilocks remembers:

Ten years ago today--using the time-tested truck-bomb method--Islamists blew up the American embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The toll: in Nairobi 213 dead—of that number 12 were American; in Dar es Salaam 11 dead—all Africans—and 85 wounded.

From the Kenya attack, over 4500 were wounded, 150 were blinded.....

just a reminder that there are people out there worse than the green bombers...who plant actual bombs that have no aim except to terrorize people for no reason.

Nine MDC MP's gone missing

from african politics portal

Nine MDC MPs have gone into hiding claiming that their lives were in danger from state security agents, Zanu PF militia and war veterans, says Zimbabwe Independent. An MDC representative declared that the party knows nothing about the location of the nine MPs and are worried that some of the ZANU PF war veterans might have been successful in annihilating them....

Friday, August 08, 2008

An open letter to Zimabweans from President Tsvangarai

From African Path

By Morgan Tsvangirai

Open Letter from the President of the Movement for Democratic Change, Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai, on the Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding

July 22, 2008

My fellow Zimbabweans,

Yesterday I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mr. Robert Mugabe and Prof. Arthur Mutambara. This document commits our three parties to a framework of negotiations that will take place over the next two weeks.

I know that in signing this Memorandum of Understanding, I represent the hopes and aspirations of millions of Zimbabweans to end this crisis as soon as possible. Honest, hardworking Zimbabweans who want nothing more than a life that offers peace, security, economic opportunity, democracy and social and personal development. This is a responsibility that the Movement for Democratic Change and I take with the utmost seriousness.

This Memorandum offers the most tangible opportunity in the past ten years to improve the lives of our fellow citizens. But, our signatures alone do not guarantee that we will be able to make the most of this opportunity. Our signatures on this document must be accompanied by acknowledging some very basic truths:

We are Zimbabweans who want only what is best for our country and our citizens. Our shared goal is best achieved in a climate of tolerance and stability, not divisiveness and anger. We believe that wanting a more democratic future or expressing an alternate political opinion should be viewed as a right and not as a declaration of war. No one has a monopoly on patriotism.

We believe that the will of the people is the fundamental basis on which to ground our negotiations.

We acknowledge that these negotiations can only proceed and succeed if the rule of law is restored, if people are able to go about their business in safety, if the public media refrain from using hate speech to polarize the community, if the persecution of MDC MPs, members and supporters ceases, and if humanitarian organizations are allowed once again to provide aid to the millions of Zimbabweans in need of assistance.

For my part, I call on all Zimbabweans who believe in the ideals of democracy as espoused by the MDC, to continue to abide by the rule of law, to live in a spirit of tolerance and inclusiveness in the knowledge that if we work together in this spirit, a better future lies ahead and justice will prevail.

Yesterday, we committed ourselves to a process that presents the framework in which we can strive to find a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis. This is just the first step on a journey whose duration and success is dependent on the sincerity and good faith of all parties involved.

In the spirit of a shared vision to heal our nation, I call upon my fellow signatories to join me in putting aside our differences and acknowledging that we have a responsibility to the people of Zimbabwe to show true leadership and to find agreement that will bring an end to the violence, polarisation, poverty and fear in which we have all been living for too long. Our fellow countrymen and women look to us to find common ground that will allow us, as a nation, to chart a democratic path forward.

We must acknowledge that the outcome of these negotiations will not be acceptable until it has been endorsed by Zimbabwean civil society, the trade unions and the people themselves. We are not here to form an elitist pact, but rather to represent the hopes and aspirations of each citizen and every stakeholder. This is my commitment to our partners who have struggled with us for a more democratic form of government.

To the people of Zimbabwe I say, have courage, be strong, better days lie ahead.

The heart of the entire world is broken by what has happened in our country, and your bravery is praised among all peoples everywhere. The world stands ready to join us in rebuilding our nation and restoring what has been lost, once our peace and freedom are re-established.

May God bless Zimbabwe.

Morgan Tsvangirai

President MDC


Sorry I was so late in posting problems and internet outages during the last two weeks.

Mugabe reports deal news "nonsense"

from AFP news

HARARE (AFP) — Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's spokesman Thursday called reports of a deal in power-sharing talks "nonsense", but both he and South Africa said negotiations over the country's crisis were advancing....

A South African newspaper reported on Wednesday that Mugabe would have amnesty from prosecution and a ceremonial role in government under what it called a draft settlement to resolve the crisis.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Tsvangirai would run Zimbabwe as executive prime minister under the plan, The Star reported, saying it had obtained a copy of the draft.

The paper also reported that Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, leader of a smaller faction of the MDC, would hold a meeting in Harare later Thursday.

Mutambara spokesman Edwin Mushoriwa told AFP the three would meet soon, but likely not Thursday.

Officials from the main MDC faction refused comment on Thursday....

No Olympics for Mugabe

From Business Day (SA)

SYDNEY — Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will not attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics because he was told by China’s Communist Party to stay away, the Sydney Morning Herald daily reported yesterday.

Citing sources, the paper said that “high-powered lobbying from political leaders who will be attending the ceremony prompted the highest levels of the Chinese government to convince him not to attend”.

According to the report, Mugabe arrived in Hong Kong and was then told he would not be welcome in Beijing for Friday’s opening ceremony.

The new Zim currency: Petrol coupons

From Zimbabwe Today:

They are using petrol coupons and bartering things instead of using money...

"...Leading auctioneers Hammer and Tongues are putting cars and other valuable goods up for knock-down sale. And the official currency for the event is the petrol coupon....

But that auction is not the only aspect of life in Zimbabwe which is being run on the barter system..

Workers in private businesses and state departments are also being paid, at least in part, in essential food stuffs, while in their dealings with the public many companies are accepting monetary payment only in US dollars - a practice that remains illegal.

Private schools, currently sending out invoices to parents, are quoting their fees in petrol coupons. One school I know of is asking for petrol coupons to the value of a hundred litres per term. These the school authorities will exchange for hard currency on the black market.

For a while, then, the petrol coupon may seem to be helping stabilise commercial life here. But not for long. Already the value of a coupon is beginning to soar...."

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Zim faces food supply disaster

From ABC (Australia)

Almost half of Zimbabwe's population could face severe food shortages by the beginning of next year.

The warning comes from the International Red Cross which has launched an emergency appeal.

Zimbabwe's economic collapse, combined with drought and crop failures, have left two million people short of food.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is warning that figure could rise to five million by January next year.

It's launched a $26 million appeal to try to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe from unfolding.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's ruling and opposition parties have united in calling for an end to the political violence which is tearing the country apart.....

China pumps money into Zim

From Africa's path Cheetah Index:

from SA news24;

Credit - Zimbabwe Stock Exchange
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange

FIN 24 writes, "China has further strengthened its ties with Zimbabwe after Chinese mining giant China Jiangxi Corporation for International and Technical Cooperation (CJIC) announced plans to form a joint venture company with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) to mine chrome in Zimbabwe.

According to a report carried by The Zimbabwe Guardian on Wednesday, CJIC has agreed to bankroll the development of two chrome mines.

The mines are reportedly being developed at claims - one in the Midlands and the other in Zambezi Valley - both owned by ZMDC."...(link has the rest of the story)

Mbeki flies to Zim to push talks

from the Globe and Mail (Canada)

— South African President Thabo Mbeki is set to fly to Harare today in an effort to push Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai into a deal to end the country's crippling political crisis.

He will endeavour to get the sworn enemies to agree on a deal to share power - no small task, given the chasm between the 84-year-old who has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence and says he will never leave office, and his harshest critic, who says he will accept only a deal in which he and his party take power.

On July 21, the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding that gave them two weeks to hammer out a political transition. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Tsvangirai and Mr. Mugabe held their first acknowledged meeting, sharing a brief meal.

Teams from both sides began negotiations in the South African capital, Tshwane (formerly Pretoria), but the talks broke down July 29 on the crucial issue of who will, in fact, hold power. The government apparently proposed that Mr. Mugabe remain the president with all the powers he has now, with Mr. Tsvangirai given the role of third vice-president....

In those first negotiations, it soon became apparent, according to people close to the talks, that those delegated to speak for the Movement for Democratic Change and ZANU-PF could handle the basic constitutional issues but were not empowered to make real decisions about power. And so it falls to Mr. Mbeki to try to bridge a vast and hostile distance - which can really only have one outcome, putting Mr. Tsvangirai in power, an outcome all of Zimbabwe's current powerbrokers are determined to keep from happening.

Mr. Mbeki himself brings limited powers of persuasion to the deal. He and Mr. Tsvangirai openly despise and mistrust each other, the international community believes he has little credibility as a mediator, and his own party dismisses him as a failure. But Mr. Mbeki takes over as head of SADC, the regional power bloc, next week, and he appears determined not to step into that office with the festering and divisive sore of Zimbabwe still open.

The proposal from SADC, reportedly, is that Mr. Mugabe remain a largely titular and ceremonial president, while Mr. Tsvangirai takes the position of prime minister, which the country currently does not have, with executive powers. There is a suggestion that control of the government's 23 ministries be divided between the parties.

But two senior ZANU-PF members who are very close to Mr. Mugabe, and who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Globe and Mail that he has no intention of relinquishing power.

"The feeling in our party is that we are the ruling party and therefore we must maintain some power, I mean real power," said a senior member of cabinet who co-ordinated the government activities around the election. "Anything that attempts to strip us of this power is not acceptable. ... ZANU-PF is not going to accept crumbs, and that is a fact."...

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Zim's Olympic hopefuls

from Sports Illustrated

Ngoni Makusha's story is not one of political violence, sham elections and seven figure inflation rates. His is one of a freshman who jumped farther than any one else at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships this year. Neither is the story of swimmer Kirsty Coventry, who earlier this year swam the 200-meter backstroke faster than anyone ever has.

But Makusha and Coventry are both Olympians from Zimbabwe...

"I would hate for Ngoni to win the gold medal and have everyone ask him about how bad the political situation can be," says Ken Harnden, a former Zimbabwean Olympian and one of Makusha's coaches at Florida State. "But you can't escape the headlines."....

Only a country since 1980, Zimbabwe has won just four Olympic medals.....

Makusha and Coventry come from vastly different worlds within Zimbabwe's highly stratified society. Coventry's family employed servants, a common practice among Zimbabwe's elite, and had a pool in their backyard that got Kirsty hooked on the sport after a dislocated knee forced her out of field hockey, tennis and track at age 14. Makusha came from a rural village where running water is a luxury. Kids walk miles to school each day and often live on one square meal a day.

"Just the fact that he graduated from high school should be considered more impressive than his jumping 27 feet," says Harnden, who claims conditions have barely improved in the 20 years since he left Zimbabwe to run track at North Carolina. "When you're just trying to survive everyday, how long could you keep telling yourself , 'I'm going to be the best long jumper in the world'?"

But the travails of being an athlete in Zimbabwe transcend social boundaries. When then-Auburn swimming coach Kim Brackin went to Harare for a winter recruiting trip in 2000, Coventry could only swim a 100 IM for the coach before hopping out of the water blue in the face. None of Zimbabwe's pools are heated, and the country has no indoor pools. Coventry often had to take months off in the winter, while top swimmers trained year round.

"We never had lane lines [in Zimbabwe], it was just find a spot and go," says Coventry, who was recruited by numerous schools in the SEC, where many of Southern Africa's top swimmers end up. "Now it's like, 'How could I train without lane lines?'"

The country also has just one rubber track, with athletes like Makusha training on dirt and grass instead. Makusha had less than a year of actual coaching when he arrived in Tallahassee. ...

Explosion rocks police station in Harare

from Reuters

HARARE, Aug 2 (Reuters) - An explosion rocked the main police station in Zimbabwe's capital Harare on Saturday, but there was no immediate word of any injuries.

"They (the bomb squad) are investigating. The office where the explosion occurred was not manned and so far there is no indication that anyone was injured," a police official at the scene, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

He could not say what had caused the explosion. Police sealed off the area....

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Tapestries of hope

LINK is to my article on BNN about Betty Makoni

Betty Maknoi cited by Amnestly International

from Amnesty International site:

Makoni's work has attracted financial support and recognition from international foundations and organizations. She won the 2007 World Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child, was featured in last year's book Women Who Light the Dark (PowerHouse Books), and a prize has been established in her name to honor others fighting sexual violence. She believes empowerment through education helps girls resist early marriage and sexual exploitation - for example, when poor girls are offered money in exchange for sexual favors.

Makoni has established three "safe homes" to shelter girls who were abused or raped. She and her team have rescued and sheltered 25,000 girls, providing counseling, schooling and rehabilitation in the homes.

Makoni's drive to help girls succeed and escape victimhood is rooted in personal experience. With little support from family or her community, she was determined to get an education and covered her own mandatory school fees by selling fruits and vegetables.

Through determination and the strength of her ability, Makoni forged ahead with her education (in Zimbabwe, 20 percent of girls do not even go to school), obtaining her B.A. with special honors at the University of Zimbabwe. After college, she started teaching in an elementary school in the Harare suburb of Chitungwiza.

Makoni has publicly exposed alleged sexual crimes by powerful men, including by officials in President Robert Mugabe's government.

Speaking out against such well-connected abusers takes enormous courage in a country where sexual predators are so often shielded from repercussions for their crimes. Despite the support Makoni has garnered from some government officials, local councils and tribal leaders, her work puts her at considerable risk for retaliation. She has been repeatedly threatened, detained, and arrested. Her home has been broken into in an attempt to frighten her and her family....

The Dignity of Silence

from the African Executive:

...The people of Zimbabwe are very clever, patient people - probably the cleverest and best educated people on the continent. Wait and see how they take off when the deal is done and they put all their energies into re-building their country. I can bet you the experts and commentators who say things now without foresight, hindsight and indeed eyesight, will tell you when that time comes that they always knew Zimbabweans could do it themselves. And there is always someone ready to pay these experts for their expertise on Zimbabwe. No wonder since these experts exude the friendliness of the salesmen con-artists...
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