Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Peaceful protesters remain jailed in Zimbabwe

from BNN:

Two women arrested during a peaceful protest by WOZA in Bulawayo on October 16 remain jailed. Their bail hearing, which was scheduled on October 24, was postponed. The reason? The judge was “forced to attend a workshop” and couldn’t be there. The substitute judge wasn’t around either, so as a result the two women, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, will remain for a few more days in a lice filled, crowded prison where decent food and sanitation is lacking.
WOZA is a well known group in Zimbabwe, founded in 2003, but doesn’t get into the foreign newspapers much. The initials stand for “Women of Zimbabwe Arise”, and most of their protests have to do with civil rights and protesting for things like food and shelter rather than for one political faction or another.
The South African Mail and Guardian newspaper describes them this way:
…(WOZA) is famed for its “ambush” protests outside government buildings and for handing out roses to the targets of their protests. Williams has been arrested more than 30 times in the past five years for her activism.
The KubatanaBlog describes the peaceful protest:
On arrival at the Government Complex, the group of approximately 200 sat down outside the gates whilst a delegation of four elderly women went in to request that the Regional Department Heads of all the service departments come out and address the crowd on what is being done to alleviate the humanitarian crisis facing the country.
The group sat peacefully waiting to be addressed for 45 minutes before five riot police approached the group. Two leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, were arrested and taken to Drill Hall, which is across the road from Mhlahlandlela. The rest of the group were forcibly dispersed by being beaten with baton sticks. At least one member is receiving medical attention for the beating she received. Williams and Mahlangu were later taken to Bulawayo Central Police Station, where they are currently being held.,,,
In the meanwhile, members are Parliament are not being paid, nor are the hotels and restaurants getting reimbursed for their expenses. As a result, the new sesssion of Parliament, that includes a large opposition segment, has been suspended for lack of funds.
To make things worse, a gold mine near Kadoma has been shut down for not paying it’s electric bill, and there are reports of cholera in the Harare area.
But Mugabe continues to hold onto power. The latest attempt to settle the “agreement” is being held in Swaziland, with nearby governments pressuring Mugabe to give in and share power as per the agreement. Most people think that the sticking point is that the Army and police, who were behind much of the pre election violence, are worried about being prosecuted or losing their power (the Army essentially took over the government from Mugabe earlier this year, according to some rumors, and he remains only a token head of government).
However, the US did approve for HIV/TB/Malaria aid to be delivered to Zimbabwe, in the hopes to keep people alive. The UN also has approved of 300 million British pounds for food aid. The bad news is that the money will be shunted via the government banking system, allowing diversion/delay of funding and the use of the “offficial” exchange rate for worthless Zimdollars, if the donors aren’t careful.
Five million people are expected to suffer from hunger in the near future: Right now, it is planting season, but people lack fertilizer and seed, and many of the strongest have fled for jobs in South Africa or other neighboring countries, leaving the sick and elderly to farm in many areas.
So unless things change, things are going from bad to worse to worse.
Letters to release the WOZA activists can be sent to:The Attorney-GeneralOffice of the Attorney GeneralP. Bag 7714CausewayHarare ZimbabweFax: 011 263 4 777 049
COPIES TO:Her Excellency Florence Zano CHIDEYAAmbassador for Zimbabwe332 Somerset Street WestOttawa, Ontario K2P 0J9Fax: (613) 563-8269Email:


Sunday, October 26, 2008

WOZA activists remain in jail

from SWRadioAfrica

Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, the leaders of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), will spend yet another weekend in prison after the magistrate who was due to rule on the pair’s bail application on Friday delayed her judgement to attend a workshop.

The two activists were arrested in Bulawayo during a WOZA demonstration, protesting the extreme hardships, including the critical food shortages, being suffered by Zimbabweans. More than 200 activists converged at a government complex demanding to be heard by the heads of service delivery, about what is being done to address the humanitarian crisis affecting millions of Zimbabweans. However riot police used force to disperse the peaceful protesters and some women were arrested before the demonstration even began. They were later released. But Williams and Mahlangu, who are being charged under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly disturbing the peace, still remain in custody after they were denied bail last Friday.

Magistrate Charity Maphosa was due to rule on the pair’s bail application this Friday after reserving judgement on the matter on Tuesday. But on arriving at court their defence lawyer, Kossam Ncube, was informed that Magistrate Maphosa was not available because she was ‘forced’ to attend a workshop, and that another magistrate would deliver her verdict. Instead Magistrate Sophie Matimba delayed the ruling until Monday at 11.15am....

Gold mine can't pay electric bill, shuts down

from the Zimbabwe Mail

Harare - A Zimbabwean gold mine was this week forced to shut down after failing to settle an electricity bill with the country's state power company, threatening the jobs of 600 workers, an industry official said on Friday...

Gold accounts for a third of export earnings in Zimbabwe's battered economy, but the industry has been hampered by frequent power cuts, shortages of foreign currency and workers and delays in payment by the central bank.

Golden Valley, a medium-sized mine located in Kadoma, 150km west of the capital Harare, closed this week after failing to settle its debt with state-owned electricity firm ZESA Holdings, an official with the Chamber of Mines said.

No money for congressmen

from SWRadioAFrica

Parliament has been forced to adjourn until 11th November because of lack of funds from government, amid reports that MPs based outside Harare were this week being turned away from hotels.

The delay in forming an inclusive government means one of the top institutions in the country is now ‘broke’ and cannot sustain it’s operations.

MDC MP for Mbare Piniel Denga told Newsreel that most of their legislators from outside the capital ended up paying for their own accomodation after most hotels refused to take them in.

‘We have designated hotels used by parliamentarians but they are now owed a lot of money by parliament and were refusing to accommodate them,’ Denga said....

Mugabe’s deliberate delaying tactics in the power sharing talks have created this very convenient situation for Zanu PF who, for the first time, no longer have a majority in parliament. ...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Will aid money get stolen?


actually headline is:
Zimbabwe: Corruption fears over £300m UN aid

Zimbabwe is set to receive almost $500 million (£307 million) of aid for its health system, with the money going through President Robert Mugabe's Reserve Bank, raising fears that his regime will benefit. ....

But Zimbabwean law states that all foreign exchange must be deposited with the Reserve Bank. Gideon Gono, its governor and one of Mr Mugabe’s closest allies, routinely delays releasing any funds.

The Reserve Bank held on to $600,000 for one aid programme for several months. A senior official with one donor organisation in Harare said that some funds had actually gone missing after arriving at the Reserve Bank.

“The next round of money is desperately needed in Zimbabwe, but no one will feel good about any going into the RBZ [Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe],” he said.

Dr Greg Powell, a human rights campaigner in Harare, said that large sums of donor money in foreign currency had been taken from the accounts of local aid agencies during this year’s bitterly contested presidential election, which is yet to be resolved as Mr Mugabe clings to power. “During the election period, foreign money from a number of NGOs [non-governmental organisations] disappeared from their bank accounts,” he said.

“They were told they could be paid out at the official rate of exchange in Zimbabwe dollars - at a very low rate of exchange at that time, or that they will get it back some time in the future.”,.....

Mugabe will cling to power

from the UKTelegraph

....But the diplomat judged that Mr Mugabe had enough resources to keep his regime afloat. "There's still enough in the country in terms of minerals, remittances and printing money to keep this regime in office, in power, for the foreseeable future," he said.

"There's still enough meat on the carcass of Zimbabwe for this regime to survive and not to be threatened. He doesn't need as many people as you think."

In order to stay in power, Mr Mugabe must maintain the levers of repression, notably the army. On paper, Zimbabwe has 40,000 troops, but some 25,000 are engaged in nothing more than growing food for themselves.

The diplomat, speaking anonymously, assessed that two brigades deployed in urban areas, supported by a few other military units and some sections of the police, would be enough to deal with any unrest and keep Mr Mugabe in office.

"Most of the police already don't get paid. He needs 15,000 to 20,0000 to keep him in power and there's enough meat on the carcass to do that."

The only prospects for change were "either some kind of internal event, either military or political" – neither of which appeared likely - or "effective external intervention", said the diplomat....

Reach out to Zimbabwe's Generals

from the CSMonitor:

although a secular paper, the Christian Science Monitor is partially funded by a church. This editorial points out that yes, atrocities happened, but repentence and reconcilliation might be the answer.

Zimbabwe's political power-sharing deal – the hope of that tattered country – is on the verge of collapse. Big-man leader Robert Mugabe has grabbed the mightiest ministries for himself, handing paltry leftovers to the opposition. But the problem is not that Mr. Mugabe won't share. It's that his top generals fear what will happen to them if he does.

The fear is typical of perpetrators of violence and suppression whose influence is coming to an end. In Africa, it gripped military and political leaders in Rwanda, Burundi, and Liberia, to name a few countries once cleaved by civil war and atrocities.

It didn't come to civil war in Zimbabwe, which not long ago was a prosperous nation, and now suffers searing inflation, joblessness, and hunger. But its citizens well remember the burned homes, beatings, rapes, and killings by President Mugabe's security forces in the run-up to last June's presidential election.

Had the campaign been fair and safe, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), would have likely ousted Mugabe, ...

In the near term, Tsvangirai should build bridges to the military leaders and try to establish some level of trust. This is how, for instance, Burundi has been able to move forward since signing a peace accord in 2000 (an accord that also did not guarantee immunity).

In the longer term, Zimbabwe needs to find a balance between justice and mercy. It has a model in South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated apartheid's human rights violations, sought reparation for victims, and weighed amnesty....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Zim neighbors urged to "knock sense" into Mugabe

from the UK Financial times

Zimbabwe's neighbours must "knock some sense" into Robert Mugabe, the opposition said yesterday, after Morgan Tsvangirai, its leader, boycotted talks on forming a power-sharing government.

Mr Tsvangirai refused to travel to Swaziland for a meeting with four regional leaders and the Zimbabwe president after he was denied a passport. The temporary document he was granted would have obliged the prime minister-designate to spend the night sleeping rough at Johannesburg airport in South Africa.....Political paralysis has gripped Zimbabwe since Mr Tsvangirai won a victory over Mr Mugabe in March's first-round election. Central to the deadlock was the struggle for the home affairs ministry portfolio, people familiar with the talks said. That ministry would run the police - accused by the -opposition of being the regime's main instrument of repression.

Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change also insists that Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party relinquish the finance ministry, which has overseen the economy's collapse. Some 5m people are on the brink of starvation, according to the United Nations.

James McGee, the US ambassador to Harare, said Mr Mugabe's party was -trying to cling to ministries to prevent "potential prosecutions of Zanu-PF officials for corruption".

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hunger stalks as leaders bicker

From Zim on line

....Many young Zimbabweans have responded to their country’s crisis by fleeing abroad where conditions of living are better. The exiles have become a vital lifeline for family and relatives back home by regularly sending food packs and cash to those left behind.

But very few families here at Dongamuzi have had the luck to have a child living and working abroad.

With no food in the shops and nothing coming from the government’s bankrupt Grain Marketing Board (GMB) or from international relief agencies – as yet – the majority of villagers are simply surviving on wild fruits and whatever little else they can lay their hands on....

But I would say when one side is playing games with powersharing, and refusing to share power, the word "bickering" doesn't apply....stonewalling by Mugabe would be a better description...

Zim education system collapses

from IRIN via ZimbabweMail

...."When Zimbabwe attained its independence 28 years ago, the new government inherited an education infrastructure that had been ravaged by war and it was almost like starting afresh, but children managed to attend classes, teachers taught, and examinations were written. Virtually all that has stopped," he said.

Zimbabwe's economic slide began in earnest in 2000 and the country is now battling an official annual inflation rate of 231 million percent and unemployment of more than 80 percent, with the prospect that more than 5 million people - nearly half the population - will need food assistance in the first quarter of 2009, according to the UN.

Education policies adopted by the government after 1980 boosted the sector, giving Zimbabwe a literacy rate of more than 96 percent - one of the continent's highest. "In retrospect, nothing that has been happening over the years comes near the crisis that we face this year," Majongwe said.

Soon after independence from Britain, President Robert Mugabe's government adopted a variety of strategies to boost education, which received one of the biggest allocations in the budget. The number of schools increased, improving accessibility even in hard-to-reach areas; working conditions for teachers were improved and specialist teachers were sent to other countries for training.

Now the education system, once so highly regarded, has disintegrated, with an estimated 45,000 teachers leaving the profession since 2004.

"There was no learning that took place this year, which opened with teachers embarking on industrial action because of poor salaries. The situation was made worse by the fact that the majority of teachers did not turn up, having elected to look for greener pastures in other countries," Majongwe said.

The first term in 2008, which usually runs from January to April, ended in March because general elections were held that month. Widespread post-election violence prevented schools from opening, and the ruling ZANU-PF party's youth militias targeted teachers; school buildings were often used as bases for Mugabe supporters.

Children spent most of the second term without learning, Majongwe said, because of politically motivated violence, a shortage of teachers and strike action. No meaningful learning is currently taking place, as pupils have to pay teachers to give them private lessons; those who cannot afford to pay are left out.

"Normally, at this time of the year, schools would be busy with examinations ... but it would be grossly unfair to conduct them, given that there was hardly any learning. Examinations should just be cancelled this year," Majongwe said.

He said a PTUZ survey found there were only 23 days of normal learning this year, and projected a pass rate of about 3 percent if examinations were held. "That would affect our rating internationally, because no country takes seriously the products of a country with such a pass rate."...

Tsvangirai flexes muscles

from AFP:

JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai flexed his political muscle in shunning a regional summit on Monday, but the move could backfire if he is seen as a spoiler, analysts say.

Talks to break a five-week deadlock on a unity government for the economically shattered state were postponed after Tsvangirai refused to meet rival President Robert Mugabe and four other regional leaders in Swaziland.

His Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) pulled out the meeting after Tsvangirai got his emergency travel papers late on Sunday, calling the delay an "insult" to the man designated prime minister in the unity accord.

Analysts say the boycott was a show of power and frustration from the former trade union leader who has not been granted a normal passport for nearly a year, and is only able to leave Zimbabwe on documents valid for a single trip....

Tsvangirai's refusal to attend Monday's Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting without his passport was a departure from his usual acceptance of the regional body's role, said Dirk Kotze of the University of South Africa.

"I think it's an early indication that he's started to lose patience with SADC," he said.

"It's (also) a clear indication that the basis of trust, confidence in the peace-process itself, is absent," Kotze added.

However, a snub against the regional body which brokered the power-sharing agreement through Mbeki on September 15 after a drawn out stand-off could come back to haunt the MDC later, analysts say.

"It would be a dangerous mistake for him to be labelled as a spoiler by both SADC and the AU (African Union) ... but at the same time he is sending a clear message that he should be taken seriously in these negotiations," said Eldred Masungure, a lecture of political science at the University of Zimbabwe....

MDC seeks new election if talks fail

from Zimbabwemail

HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition party said on Tuesday that only fresh elections would resolve a dispute over who controls key cabinet posts, a make-or-break issue under a power-sharing pact signed with President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, have clashed over control of ministries and weeks of face-to-face talks have failed to break the deadlock.

The political impasse has raised fears that last month's power-sharing deal may collapse and plunge Zimbabwe's economy deeper into crisis.

"The preferred trajectory is to conclude the negotiations, but in the absence of the ideal, Zimbabweans have no other way out but to decide who should have power through an election which is credible," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said.

Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in a presidential election on March 29 but with too few votes to avoid a June run-off, which was won by Mugabe unopposed after Tsvangirai pulled out, saying his supporters had been subjected to violence and intimidation....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Zim Generals fears block agreement

from the nYTimes

JOHANNESBURG — Zimbabwe’s military commanders have pressed President Robert Mugabe to shield them from prosecution for the violent crackdown on his political foes this year, senior government officials say, and his response is threatening to derail a power-sharing deal that was supposed to halt the country’s dizzying downward economic spiral. ...

Mr. Mugabe, 84, signed an agreement on Sept. 15 to share power with the political opposition, after an election season in which more than 100 opposition supporters were killed and thousands were beaten — a campaign of violence that senior officials in Mr. Mugabe’s party said was organized by the military.

A collapse of the deal would probably intensify Zimbabwe’s status as an international pariah, deepen hunger and poverty, and set off a fresh exodus of refugees to neighboring countries. Yet since the agreement was signed, the country’s three senior military commanders have worried about their fate under a unity government that includes the main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, as prime minister — a man they deeply distrust, who was himself viciously beaten by the police last year — three officials close to Mr. Mugabe said in recent interviews....

At a minimum, opposition officials say, the party’s rank and file want a police force that will protect them from abuse — and many also want justice for the wrongs done to them.

the future of Zimbabwe

From AustinBay's Arena center, a good summary of Zimbabwe in flash form...

a bit out of date (from June)...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Children fleeing starvation for jobs and food in SA

from SWradioafrica

In a new trend that speaks volumes about the humanitarian crisis on the ground in Zimbabwe, hungry children are joining the flood of exiles crossing the border into neighbouring South Africa, to escape certain starvation at home....

Bishop Paul Veryn, whose Central Methodist church in Johannesburg provides shelter and food to homeless immigrants, told Newsreel on Thursday that the church had seen an increase in the number of children of school going age arriving from Zimbabwe to seek shelter, after making the journey into South Africa on their own.

“Presently, my church is taking care of 150 children from Zimbabwe, who came to Johannesburg on their own and now attend our school,” the Bishop said.

Adult male Zimbabweans have over the years often traveled to South Africa in search of employment on the country’s sprawling farms, mines and factories, in order to support families back home. But the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy, as well as the recent upsurge in political violence, has seen this trend change with whole families leaving their homes for the relative security of South Africa.

But Veryn said it appeared the trend has now changed again, with young school children also joining the exodus. “This week alone, my church received 30 children escaping from abject poverty in Zimbabwe,” said Veryn. The Bishop explained the children are all deeply traumatised, as many were orphaned by the political violence that rocked the country this year. He also said some of the children left their homes “because they feel they are a burden to their families,” and added it is “devastating that these little children have to make this decision.”

Woza women beaten

from SWRadioAfrica

On Thursday Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, the leaders of the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), were arrested during a demonstration protesting the deteriorating situation and hardships being suffered, while the political impasse continues. Some people were allegedly beaten when the riot police used force to disperse the peaceful protesters.

Group spokesperson Annie Sibanda said several women went to the police station in Bulawayo to hand themselves in, in solidarity with their leaders, but were turned away. ...
(all but one were later released)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Botswana risks diplomatic ties

from Kenya's daily Nation

The deadlock in the Zimbabwe power-sharing deal is threatening to revive the messy diplomatic confrontation between Zimbabwe and its diamond-rich neighbour, Botswana.

After leading the onslaught against the ZANU-PF government of President Robert Mugabe, Botswana has once again become the first southern African country to speak about the current crisis in Zimbabwe caused by the deadlock over sharing cabinet posts. ...

Last Friday, Botswana president Ian Khama fired a thinly veiled broadside at ZANU-PF for causing the current impasse in Zimbabwe.


Before Mbeki brokered a power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe, Botswana tough stance against the regime was becoming a messy diplomatic headache that threatened to suck in other countries in the region....

MDC asks for investigation of election violence

from SWRadioAfrica:

The MDC MP for Lobengula, Sam Sipepa Nkomo, has called on parliament to investigate the political violence which rocked the country before and after elections this year. Speaking on Tuesday during the first session of parliament, the MDC Home Affairs Secretary argued that national healing could only be achieved through a full disclosure of what happened. More than 130 MDC activists lost their lives during a deadly campaign of violence that was spearheaded by members of the security services in the notorious Joint Operations Command. Tens of thousands of supporters were brutalized and displaced....

ZANU PF’s response was predictable, with Mt Darwin South MP Savior Kasukuwere claiming, ‘It will help no one to start to open old wounds. Let’s put the past behind us and move the country ahead.’ Kasukuwere as deputy youth minister was nicknamed ‘Paraquat’ for encouraging party youths to rub the poisonous herbicide onto the torture wounds of MDC activists. This meant that it was almost impossible for the wounds to ever heal and caused enormous suffering and a number of deaths. The issue of prosecution for those who committed human rights abuses is thought to be at the core of ZANU PF’s reluctance to concede any security and justice ministries to the MDC....

Alleged political arson

from the VOA.

Officials of the Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe's eastern Manicaland province have accused militia loyal to the former ruling ZANU-PF party of burning the home of the party's provincial treasurer in Makoni South district last weekend.

The officials of the MDC formation led by prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai said the arson followed a rally in the area which was attended by more than 2,000 people.

They said party treasurer Laina Mutape spent four months in hiding in Mozambique after fleeing the political violence that seared the province during the approach to the June 27 presidential run-off election, only to resurface in late September after the signature of a power-sharing agreement between ZANU-PF and the two MDC formations.

The MDC officials said that after her return she was summoned by a village headman named Razemba who wanted to fine her for belonging to the opposition, but she refused..

Again, not press neutrality has popped up again...the actual headline reads:
Despite Power-Sharing Process, Political Arson Alleged In Zimbabwe Province

the English phrase to describe this type of cluenessless is "speak no evil see no evil hear no evil"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Robert Mugabe grabs key Zimbabwe Cabinet posts

from LA Times

Essentially the same story as yesterday, with headline corrected (See below).

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA -- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has defied a fragile power-sharing deal with the opposition, giving all key Cabinet posts, including the crucial security ministries, to his own party.

The power grab took Zimbabwe by surprise Saturday, less than a month after the deal was signed. Opposition spokesman Nelson Chamisa, whose Movement for Democratic Change has said ruling party control of the police would be a deal-breaker, called it "a giant act of madness which puts the whole deal into jeopardy."

The move meant that the 84-year-old Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party would retain their iron grip on the country after 28 years in power. It follows reports that top security chiefs told Mugabe in a recent meeting not to give control of the army, intelligence or police to the opposition.

"The Herald-published list of ministries is a product of unilateral, contemptuous and outrageous machinations by ZANU-PF," Chamisa said.

The power-sharing deal has been in trouble almost since the ink dried Sept. 15, underscoring the opposition's tactical error in failing to insist that control of the security ministries be part of the accord.

ZANU-PF took 14 ministries, including defense, justice, information, foreign affairs and the powerful local government ministry. It also took mines -- the key to the remaining sources of wealth in Zimbabwe, mainly diamonds and platinum -- and land. Two opposition parties were given 16 minor posts, such as parliamentary and constitutional affairs, sport, labor, arts and culture and education....

Sunday, October 12, 2008

LATimes articles on Zim, SA

Sides in Zim see Mbeki help

why not? He did such a great job in the past

Zuma still a mystery

They are afraid of him...which means either he is scary and will become a genocidal dictator like Mugabe, or maybe it's just racism...

Key Cabinet posts go to Mugabe's party

No, the posts don't "go to" his party, he stole them clear and easy, because nobody cares if he breaks the agreement, and Mbeki will stop UK intervention.

Global turmoil threaten SA attempt to make a black middle class.

No, they've had years to do so. a couple months of financial tumoil isn't the problem...the cure is education in capitalism, and to copy the Asian tiger nations. But Mbeki's and the ANC are socialist, and Zuma worrys the elite, and scared rich bigshots don't invest in countries that might just up and "nationalize" aka steal their huge investments....

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mugabe usurps cabinet posts

from AlJezeerah

Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, has begun allocating key ministries to his own party members in defiance of a power-sharing deal, reports say....

Under the agreement brokered by Mbeki, Mugabe remains the president while Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of MDC, takes the new post of prime minister.

But efforts to form the government have bogged down over disputes about who will control the most important ministries, such as defence, home affairs and finance.

According to reports Mugabe has unilaterally allocated Zanu-PF the ministries of defence, home affairs and finance....

Friday, October 10, 2008

Does the press give Mugabe a pass?

In the US, the media is pro Senator Obama. I oppose Obama because of his radical pro abortion stance (that includes not giving medical care to babies born alive after abortion) and because he will probably reverse the Bush administration's refusal to pressure Catholic and Muslim governments to legalize abortion (something that the Clinton administration did actively...and it is a big issue here in the Philippines).

But now there is a pattern to give Mugabe a similar pass on his actions.

From BNN:

One does of course understand that no reporters are allowed into Zimbabwe, making actual reporting difficult.

But that doesn’t excuse the AP from their admiring reporting on Mugabe.

Analysis: Zimbabwe’s Mugabe confident on Cabinet

Yup. Not stubbornly refusing to cooperate with the agreement: he is confident!

It’s a waiting game, and no one is better at outlasting his competition than Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.

Again, the language is that of admiration: “better at outlasting competition”, as if this was a game and this was a winning tactic, so let’s all cheer.

Of course, those of us familiar with Zimbabwean history know that a similar game was played with Joshua Nkomo, who joined a unity government and then found himself and his party merely shams, without power at all. This is what the “waiting game” is about: waiting for outsiders to start pressuring the opposition, or for more opposition leaders to accept gifts bribes or threats and back the government.

The destruction of the economy, the murder of political rivals, and the starvation of the population? Go down toward the bottom of the page, and all described in politically correct non judgemental language.

For decades, Mugabe has consistently shown that he is more interested in power than the fate of his people. In contrast, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change is pained by the delays in instituting reforms that could help Zimbabwe’s hungry masses.

Ah yes. But he’s confident.

Mugabe has even more leverage because he has never been afraid to use violence against his rivals. His police, soldiers and party militants drove opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai out of the June presidential runoff with attacks on opposition supporters….

Since (the South African mediated agreement to share power) the two have been unable to agree on how to share the Cabinet, with Tsvangirai accusing Mugabe of trying to hold on to the most powerful posts.

No, you write that as if Tsvangirai’s accusations were just a political opinion. It’s not an opinion, it’s a fac.

Mugabe lied when he signed the agreement: He had no intention to let the powerful posts be appointed by the opposition, as agreed to. And what posts are they? The important ones: the ones that allow Mugabe to terrorize his people into fleeing, dying, or keeping quiet. The Army, the Police, and the Government youth gangs AKA the Green Bombers.

From Bloomberg:

Oct. 7 (Bloomberg) — Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s talks with the opposition over the formation of a unity government are deadlocked over control of the ministries in charge of the police, military and judiciary, officials from both parties said.

Mugabe is resisting handing over control of the 22,000- strong police force and the army’s 35,000 troops to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai…Military generals, senior police officers and intelligence officials fear that if the ruling party loses control of the ministries and command over the armed forces they may be prosecuted for human rights crimes either at home or abroad, the officials said.

That part about “human rights crimes…abroad” means the 10,000 troops that Mugabe sent to help President Kabila of the Congo as “peacekeepers”in the late 1990’s.

These troops, and the huge amount of money spent to keep them there, was on reason for the economic problems starting in Zimbabwe; and the original farm seizures of the early 2000’s, that wrecked the vibrant agricultural economy (whose exports kept foreign currency coming in) was done in the name of these troops, although most of the farms were merely given to Mugabe’s cronies and the troops used to terrorize the population.

The point that is missing in all these stories is that they assume Mugabe and his thugs are men of good will, and that negotiations will work. President Mbeki of South Africa is the biggest hypocrite in this playacting, because he knows damn well that all of his actions to “settle things peacefully” was more about preventing the UN or the UK from intervening than it was about Mugabe.

My criticisms of the press is that too many press agencies are reporting all this as if we had civilized people of good will unable to agree on a political problem. Just peruse the headlines in the Google news section:

Unity talks at risk of collapse, says Mugabe party
International Herald Tribune, France - 16 hours ago

Zimbabwe ruling party says MDC jeopardising talks
Reuters South Africa, South Africa - 15 hours ago

Zimbabwean Parties Still Arguing Over Cabinet Posts
Voice of America - 14 hours ago

Zimbabwe rivals still deadlocked over power-sharing: opposition
AFP - 12 hours ago

Zimbabwe ruling party says MDC prejudicing talks
Reuters South Africa, South Africa - 21 hours ago

No, no judgementalism allowed.

But there might be a method behind Mugabe’s madness. He has outlasted the threat of Tony Brown, and will outlast the threat of Bush/McCain’s idea of a League of Democracies that would enable real intervention to prevent genocide.

Those “pacifists” who still live their “Glory Days” of opposing the Viet Nam war try to place all wars into their template of anti Americanism.

Yet dozens of wars have been stopped not by “peacekeepers”, but by aggressive intervention: From the Philippines to Malaysia to Bosnia.

It was the US Marines who finally settled down the Liberian civil war until they could be replaced with UN Peacekeepers, and it was the UK Army who settled down the civil war in Sierra Leone,

Yet, Mugabe watches the pro Obama CNN, and knows he has little to worry about should Obama become president. Obama will work with the international order, and the “liberation” leaders of South Africa will continue to defend him via diplomacy from outside intervention, and of course China is likely to veto any attempt by the UN to intervene.

Besides, if this essay on the Pro Obama Huffington Post is an indication, a President Obama would refrain from helping the starving in Zimbabwe under the excuse that more people are dying of the Congo, so since no one is stopping that (despite lots of ineffectual UN Peacekeepers) why worry about Zimbabwe?

Ummm…maybe because it was African leaders like President Mugabe who helped the Congo get into that mess? And maybe because the UK, with it’s colonial policies, started the mess, so should help clean it up?

Ironically, in the Congo, it is China who will probably end up settling the mess, by building infrastructure and sending in security guards to keep their people safe, so as to get a profit from the local mines. The presence of Chinese soldiers/security guards in Zimbabwe is also documented: not helping Mugabe as much as working as private contractors to protect their own investments.

So my take is that Mugabe is playing a waiting game, until the US and maybe the UK change leaders to those more committed to “international cooperation”. This will allow Mugabe to get away with his gamble, while the people of Zimbabwe starve and everyone with an education moves elsewhere to find jobs.

The real danger will occur when Mugabe dies. Will there be a civil war or major power struggle? And if so, who will be willing to intervene?

No School in Zimbabwe

from the Australian

THE class of 2008 will not receive an education.

Since the school year began in January, Zimbabwe's 4.5million pupils have had a total of 23 uninterrupted classroom days, teaching unions say -- a sorry state for a country that once had the highest standard of education in Africa.

President Robert Mugabe became an African hero of rare distinction when he carried out a big expansion of the education system in the early years of his rule. But, as with most of the country's infrastructure, that system is now collapsing.

The national high school leaving pass rate in the mid-1990s was 72 per cent. Last year, it crashed to 11 per cent. Many schools recorded zero passes....

In January, teachers went on a prolonged strike over their salaries. In April, Mr Mugabe's ZANU-PF party accused them of supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change during the March elections and blamed them for the President's first-round defeat.

Six teachers were murdered and thousands were assaulted by ZANU-PF militia in the violence that marred the second-round presidential election on June 27.

Schools were looted and turned into torture centres. Teachers disappeared. Many are still unable to return for fear of being disciplined.

Now the coup de grace to the education system is being delivered by hyperinflation. Teachers had their salaries doubled last week to the equivalent of $14.50 a month -- barely enough for bus fares and bread for four days.

The handful of private and state schools where parents can pay large supplements to teachers' salaries are the only ones operating. In most schools where teachers do turn up, pupil attendance is dwindling.

"We come to school and we entertain the kids until 10am, then we send them home," said Amos Musoni, from Sengwe Primary School in the south of the country.

"There were 10 teachers last week, out of 32. They are there because they have no money to leave. We don't even have chalk, or red pens, never mind books."...

Monday, October 06, 2008

Inflation is up

from the Harare tribune:

This new metric is derived from market-based price data and is presented in the accompanying table for the January 2007 to present period. As of 26 September 2008, Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate was 531 billion percent.

Bleeding sickness outbreak in South Africa

From Reuters SA

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 6 (Reuters) - South African health authorities are on high alert after three people died in hospital from an unknown, infectious disease similar to hemorrhagic fever, health officials said. A fourth person, a cleaner, had also died but it was not clear whether that case was related to the others who all died at the Morningside Clinic in Johannesburg, the hospital's spokeswoman Melinda Pelser said on Monday. There are several strains of hemorrhagic fever, including Ebola and Marburg, which have killed hundreds of people in outbreaks in Africa. The diseases cause bleeding from multiple sites and can have very high death rates. The South African Health Department issued an alert over the weekend after the deaths but Morningside spokeswoman Pelser said tests for existing strains of hemorrhagic fever were negative. Pelser said hospital officials were investigating an unknown flu-like disease which caused external and internal bleeding. It spreads through bodily fluids but there are no signs it is airborne.

Tsvangirai suggested for Nobel Prize

from reuters SA

summary: Bets are that a Chinese dissadent will win, but some suggest Tsvangirai deserves a prize.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Mbeki to continue helping with negotiations

from Reuters SA


"Mr. Mbeki's facilitation efforts in Zimbabwe have proven his dispassionate vision for a lasting political solution to the challenges facing Zimbabwe," new South African President Kgalema Motlanthe said in a statement.

"Accordingly, our government has full confidence in Mr. Mbeki's ability to build on the historic successes already made in the power sharing negotiations under his mediation."

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change initially criticised Mbeki as being too soft on Mugabe, but it now supports him continuing his 18-month mediation under a mandate from the 15-nation Southern African Development Community.


ZANU-PF, which lost control of parliament in a March election and entered the talks reluctantly, said it did not see any immediate need for mediation over the dispute on cabinet posts.

"I don't think that the issue of allocation of ministries is a matter that can be referred to the facilitator (Mbeki)," Patrick Chinamasa, chief ZANU-PF negotiator at the talks, was quoted as saying in the state-run Chronicle newspaper.

"We cannot, at the slightest difference in opinion, call outsiders to mediate. If there is thinking on such kind of an approach, it has to stop in the interest of harmonisation of relations," Chinamasa said.....

The opposition accuses Mugabe's party of trying to assign the opposition a junior role in government.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Zim deadlock isn't broken

From the NYTimes

...The party spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, said Mr. Tsvangirai and Mr. Mugabe met for about an hour but remained far apart after the president suggested that the Movement would be a junior government partner with minor ministries. “He wants to grab all the resource ministries like Finance, Home Affairs, Information, Justice, and make the M.D.C. a peripheral player,” Mr. Chamisa said. There was no immediate comment from Mr. Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF....
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