Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Blogosphere abuzz

Exactly two weeks into Mugabe & Co's Operation "Murambatsvina" (cleanup), the blogosphere is aflame numerous positings on Zimbabwe. Here's a summary of some of the things I've come accross on different blogs:

Publius pundit, puts the latest developments in Zim in light of the elections held two months ago. Publius pundit points to ZANU-PF's impending constitutional ammendments to bolster his charge that peace during the elections was a necessary charade by Mugabe to secure the two-thirds majority in parliament making Zimbabwe his "fiefdom."

Registan makes reference to a post here. Meanwhile gateway pundit sparks controversy by using Zimbabwe to poke at Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. A good discussion about the depths of Zimbabwe's crisis and the way forward for our embattled nation follows in the commments of the post.

Light seeking light chronicles the crisis leading up to this point.

Global voices makes reference to the post on Those who dare. Those who dare is intrigued by the rising dominance of the Chinese in the vacuum left by the western businesses in Zimbabwe and other developing countries.

This raises an interesting question; what do we make of increasing Chinese businesses and philosophies that are now proliferating many developing countries. This is particularly important for those interested in democracy because the Chinese (with their communisim) bring a viable alternative philosophy to countries in which capitalism is failing because of pro-democracy actions by governments of the west.

That's what I can recall from the day's reading. Good to see that at least a few others are keeping an eye together with me on what's going on Zim.

Please add to this in the comments section if I missed a blog. I also want encourage bloggers on Zimbabwe to "tag" your articles to make it easier to find your valuable info.

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  • Life in Harare

    Here are excerpts from a conversation I just had with a friend that lives and works in Harare. He rents a house in Greendale (a middle class suburb on the eastside of the city) with five peers and works for a very large insurence concern in a north Harare suburb:
    “Instead of asking me how I am making it you should ask me if I’m making it at all.

    After last year, I thought I’d seen the worst of life in Zimbabwe. I didn’t think things could get any worse. At least then I could afford to live month. But somehow things are much worse. I don’t know if I’m going to make it.

    Here’s how my day goes, I wake up three hours before I have to be at work to get to the bus stop early. The fuel crisis is crippling the public transportation system. There’s just no telling what time you’ll be on a kombi (minibus) on the way work. A one way trip now costs ZW5,000. I take two kombis to get to work so it’s ZW$10,000 to work and another $10,000 at the end of the day. I get off work at 4:30 but I don’t get home till about 10:30 at night. Everywhere you look there are long winding lines for transport in town.

    Going to the supermarket to pick up groceries is even more depressing than the transport situation. The low quality bread we have here if you can find it costs $4,500 and only lasts a single person two days. Half a liter of milk (about 17 fl.oz) $7,500; beef $48,000 a pound; and whole chicken $80,000.

    Last week my landlord gave us a new lease which doubled the rent we pay. Rent jumped from 3 million to 6.5 million. I will end up paying 1.3 million for my share of the rent. They also changed the terms of our lease so they will now be able to revise our rent quarterly. There’s just no way I can afford to pay this, my take home salary is only 1.5 million.

    The most depressing part is that that my employer doesn’t seem to care at all about the price increases we continue to face. Our salaries have not yet been revised in over year. Our union is engaged in a protracted struggle with the company over raises that were due to us last October. I’m being paid at rates adjusted before last year’s inflationary surge. They just went to arbitration, I don’t what the outcome is going to be.

    Sometimes I have thoughts about not going to work anymore and just staying at home. Life would be a more affordable that way. Only in Zimbabwe do you lose money when going to work. The thing that keeps me going to work is fear of life without a job because there is no welfare program in Zimbabwe.

    I’m only surviving by grace. You know what they mean when they say “hand to mouth?” That’s exactly what my life is like. I don’t know if I’m going to make it especially now that they are clamping down on the informal traders, whose wares sometimes are priced such that I can afford them. Life in Harare is just horrible I tell you, it is just unbearable now.”

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  • Dear Mr. President: Clean up then what?

    For the past two weeks, the main story out of Zimbabwe's has been that of the government's cruel assault on informals. Since you're so zealous about protecting the wellbeing of your citizens, what I want to know Mr. President is now what?

    What is your government going to do to provide for all these people whose means of income you've now plugged. The country already had a staggering 80% unemployment , and the economy has alreadybeen shrinking when every other economy in the region has been growing. Instead of protecting the resourceful genius of the Zimbabwean people, you've invited your Chinese friends and they have overrun our markets with their cheap wares.

    What happened to the goals of that led to the creation of the Small Enterprise Development Corperation? You have no welfare net to help people get back on their feet. What do you want the ordinary Zimbabwe to tell his children tonight when gets home with nothing to eat because there's no food on shelves of OK and TM supermarkets?

    You've said "inflation is Zimbabwe's enemy number one," what have you done policywise to allow Gideon Gono, the reserve bank govenor, lattitude to curb growth of money supply? Might I remind you that it is your decision to print out money to pay "war vets" and your spending spree in the DRC (which has yielded nothing) that increased speculative money that put inflationary pressures on the economy in the run up to black Friday in 1999.

    If you think by forcing the "legal" market on the people it will magically whip itself into shape, you are mistaken. Even there on the formal market, prices are increasing. Price increases will accelerate inflation Mr. President. The informals provide the most efficient pricing structure in our country Mr. President. By frustrating the efforts of our innovators (the informals) to keep the prices of essentials reachable you're not helping the inflation problem.

    Food, water, employment, and now our patience are running out. Now what Mr. President.
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  • Saturday, May 28, 2005

    Situation worsens in Zim

    Threats of live ammunition and the involvment of Zimbabwe's brutal army have been issued to anyone that opposes the government's "clean up" operations. This while it is still unclear whether this latest campaign of violence is in retribution for the MDC's urban sweep in the March Polls, or from the need to minimize the informal market's threat to the government's "look east" and foreign exhange policies.

    Instead of their misguided efforts at protecting what has become a mercantilist economy from the informals, the government should embrace the informal market and it's creative resourcefulness to drag the economy out of the doldrums. This happened in Peru as Hernando De Soto chronicles in this book, a must read for anyone interested in development economics.

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  • Friday, May 27, 2005

    "Mugabe unwell"

    Newzimbabwe.com has a story claiming Zimbabwean President, 81 year old Robert Mugabe is enduring cardiac complications. The report which cites today's Zimbabwe Independent, claims the ageing leader's motorcade spent two hours parked outside Harare's Avenues Clinic, Zimbabwe's premiere hospital.

    (For some reason, I could not get to the Zim Independent site, could this be a case of Chinese style censorship? If you're tech savvy please take a look and let me know). Rumors have it that the Zimbabwe government has procured sophisticated web monitering and airwave jamming equipment from their Chinese friends.

    Mugabe, who's had two of his deputies and numerous close confidantes succumb to old age and a plethora of ailments keeps a tight seal on any information about his health. The secrecy surrounding the health of members of Zimbabwe's government is so tight even at death the standard line is "died after a long illness." Not much information is given during illness. Conditions surrounding the death of Enos Chikowore, a former minister in Mugabe's cabinet still remain murky despite speculations in the independent press that he committed suicide after being ommitted from Mugabe's "development cabinet." Late in 2003, Mugabe is reported to have been flown to South Africa after he had collapsed. The government vehemently denied any reports about his ill health.

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  • Thursday, May 26, 2005

    "Is Zimbabwe's land redistribution equitable?"

    A new acquaintance, Blackambition, asked me this question and because I haven’t addressed it on this blog my (long then short) answer follows;

    “I'm not sure if you addressed this question in another post, but would you mind giving your opinion about whether land redistribution is equitable?

    I'm an outsider looking in so my answer is "yes" but I spoke to a person online who is half-Zimbabwean (sp?) who disagrees.

    What is your take on the issue?”

    Let me begin with this caveat about the question: From my experience, the concern about the “equitability/justifiability” of the land reform in Zimbabwe needs to be addressed on two levels. Most of the controversy you read about the land reform stems from fundamental differences in the perceived sense of the definition of the term “equitable/justifiable.”

    First, is the necessity or imperative spectrum which has to do with deciphering whether or not redistribution was warranted given the context of Zimbabwe’s historical legacy and post-independence prosperity of Zimbabwe’s agri-based economy. This, I believe, is the question most relevant to many in the developing world and those in opposition to American and European unilateral dominance of global affairs. That is the reason why many African leaders continue to stand by Mugabe & Co.

    On this wavelength, it goes without saying that redistribution of land was long overdue. See this for an exhaustive explanation. So, interestingly proponents of the reform program will always cite reasons tied to this understanding of justifiable/equitable.

    The alternative understanding of equitable/justifiable is on the functional or process level. Here, the concern is more about the how of the land (re)acquisition process. This understanding of the term is important to Zimbabweans as we are the first to experience the effects of how the process is going. For this reason, and that they have been able to find faults (and lots of them), opponents of the land redistribution embrace this understanding of how the process has evolved thus far pointing to the many injustices of and resulting from land reform.

    From this perspective, there is no question that land redistribution in Zimbabwe has been largely unfair. My objections stem not from the Eurocentric and anti-black advancement rampant in the Western media’s coverage of Zimbabwe land situation. I object from the perspective a young black landless Zimbabwean whose family has not benefited from land redistribution, but has watched others relentlessly exploit the situation and from the perspective of justice for all.

    According to this newspaper article,
    “Of the 11 million hectares compulsorily acquired by the state, only 6 429 844 hectares have been allocated, leaving government possessed of approximately 4 570 000 hectares of land not redistributed, over and above almost 6 000 000 hectares acquired by government, and not resettled, during the first 15 years of Independence. Between the land previously held by it, and that acquired under the programme (up to the time of compilation of the Land Audit Committee Report and therefore not including the very substantial further lands since designated), government has effectively only allocated about 26% of such land. Clearly, therefore, the predominant motivation of forced land acquisition has been racial victimisation and political machinations, and not genuine empowerment of the population.

    This is further evidenced by the fact that whilst government has, for some time, contended that more than 300 000 have been resettled on the land, the Land Audit Committee established that land had been allocated to only 134 452. Of that number, only 93 800 had taken up their allocation, with almost 41 000 still to do so. Thus, less than 70% have taken up the land allocated to them, and it is well known that many of them have not as yet been able to farm their allocated lands, for they have not had the resources to acquire essential inputs, and promises of provision of those resources have yet to be fulfilled. In addition, most of the inputs do not exist, so even an availability of financial resources will not address the problem.”

    Land redistribution was supposed to be about landless, poverty-stricken peasants in Zimbabwe—it hasn’t been. While several thousands of these landless Zimbabweans did receive land, the real beneficiaries of the land acquisition campaign are government officials and the well connected business elite who used this land grab as an opportunity to selfishly enlarge their largesse and influence in the country. The endless list of ZANU-PF (ruling party) officials who grabbed multiple farms for themselves includes Perence Shiri (airforce chief), Jonathan Moyo (former information minister), Sabina Mugabe (president’s sister), former provincial Governors Eliot Manyika, Obert Mpofu, Peter Chanetsa, Josia Hungwe; newspaper publishers Ibbo Mandaza and Mtumwa Mawere; and Barclays Bank Chief Executive Alex Jongwe among many others. Meanwhile thousands more of Zimbabweans that were employed on numerous farms lost both their jobs.

    Any answer either pro or anti land reform that is not cognizant of these two perceptions of justice is defective and myopic. Unfortunately, the democratic ideologues in the Western media and their opponents who pitch romantic arguments from nationalist/pan-Africanist camp, hide behind this chasm to the detriment of authentic discussion about this crucial step in rectifying one mankind’s most heinous injustice.

    So, my final answer Blackambition is yes and no;)

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  • So you want to learn my language (shona)??

    The BBC has a real cool story about a podcasts of shona lessons. I think this is the first ever blog featuring Shona podcasts. Check it out! There already is a Shona blog here. Here is the wiki entry on my native Shona.

    Pamberi nemutauro wedu! (Forward with our language.)

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  • Wednesday, May 25, 2005

    Africa Day

    May 25 is Africa Day, a public holiday in most African nations in honor of our great continent (this explains why I've been feeling like I shouldn't be at work today;). To commemorate this holiday, here now is Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's Africa Day address to the nation verbatim;

    TODAY, we as Africans celebrate Africa Day and, collectively, we have much to celebrate. The tide of democracy and good governance is spreading across our beloved continent. Peoples’ basic rights and human dignity are being restored.
    This pervasive concept of empowerment at the micro level is an integral part of Africa’s Renewal and is essential if we are to tackle poverty and inequality and meet the targets set out under the Millennium Development Goals.

    The MDC’s vision for Zimbabwe is identical to the broader goals and objectives of the African Renaissance, enunciated under the progressive framework for action created by the AU and NEPAD. We want the people of Zimbabwe to have jobs, to be free from hunger and to have the skills and opportunities to realise their dreams and aspirations. We want for Zimbabwe what Africa’s progressive political leaders want for the continent: plural democracies build on the social democratic principles of solidarity, social justice, freedom and equality.

    These progressive values guided liberation struggles across Africa. Regrettably, as in the case of Zimbabwe, these values have often been viewed in the post-independence era as subordinate to the exclusive forms of nationalism and narrow power interests pursued by ruling elites. The manifestation of such expedient political agendas has been increased poverty and the marginalization and disempowerment of the majority.

    It is the struggle to restore peoples’ dignity and basics rights, and to complete the unfinished business of the liberation struggle, that defines the crisis in Zimbabwe. And this crisis is getting worse.

    The aftermath of the stolen parliamentary elections has been characterised by a campaign of violent retribution against those suspected of voting for the MDC. The arrest in Harare of over 10,000 street traders over the past few days, and the destruction of market stalls and tuckshops, represents a central plank of this retribution campaign.

    The Government’s claim that such action is in the public interest is disingenuous. Street vendors are not sabotaging the economy; it is the government which is sabotaging the economy through mismanagement and corruption. Teachers, doctors, nurses, factory workers and people from all walks of life have been forced into becoming street vendors as it has become the only means of survival. They are the victims and yet are now being punished for trying to feed their families and for being suspected of having the temerity to express their own political preferences.
    A government that destroys the properties of people who are trying to make an honest living, is evil. It is people insensitive. Millions of Zimbabweans have been made poor and jobless by this regime. The people have sought ways to provide for their families. Not only have flea-markets and tuck shops been destroyed, the people’s belongings have been stolen by the government.

    The government did not even have the heart to give people a notice period to salvage their belongings; it ploughed through their properties and looted their goods. That is unforgivable.

    The MDC is fighting for these, and the millions of other oppressed and victimized people in Zimbabwe. We are continuing to mobilise the people around our peaceful agenda for change. Our policies, as the turnout at our elections rallies demonstrated, inspires the people with hope for the future.

    We have entered a new phase in the struggle for change in Zimbabwe. This is the social democratic struggle that will take many forms. That phase calls for the participation of all the people of Zimbabwe, in the same way that all national effort was mobilized for the liberation struggle. As a collective we will overcome this evil oppression.

    Change, while it may not occur in the short-term, is inevitable and the MDC is making good progress towards leading the people of Zimbabwe to achieve this goal. -Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC President

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  • More on BIPAs and BIT's

    I almost missed this but I think it's important. In response to speculations of impending lawsuits from evicted farmers, the Zim government is reported to have started delisting farms belonging to citizens from countries with which Zimbabwe signed Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT's). Said treaties contain proctection clauses for foreign investments known as Bi-lateral Investment Protection Agreements (BIPAs).

    "Delisting" is the antonym for "enlisting," which in Zimbabwe refers to the government's notice of intention to annex a farm for the redistribution program.

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  • Tuesday, May 24, 2005

    Economics and Politics in Zimbabwe: Zim government logic--and why it is convoluted.

    Michael Wines of the New York Times takes a different but certainly worthwhile view of last weekend's events in Zimbabwe's cities. When I reported on the chaos, my take was that, "The government thinks they can will a cheaper cost of living into being by beating out the black market, but they can't" This from their long running trend of pegging "official" commodity and foreign exchange prices well below real market values.

    At such prices, they--the government cannot afford to procure any imports so they "deregulated" key industries. They set up the foreign currency acquisition auction system where companies that import essential commodities were to source forex to pay for such imports as oil, mechanical parts e.t.c The auction rate for the greenback; an undervalued 1:ZW$6,200 when the parallel market rate eclipsed US$1:ZW$20,000.

    There's incentive right there for people/businesses to turn the cheap--auction earned forex-- into fortunes on the black market, and they did. And at those rates, there's no one to shore up foreign currency for the auction system not even Mugabe's beloved Chinese. Somehow, it all finds its way onto the lucrative black market. Finding ways to channel foreign currency to this defunct auction system has become the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank govenor's holy grail. See this.

    Worse still, this attempted scapegoat use of the market did not address real problem; i.e. the global market does not offer any goods or services for the pittance Mugaber & Co. wanted to sell the products for on the Zim market. If the government could not source fuel and other essentials for sale at the ridiculously low prices they wanted to provide them to their beloved Zimbabwean, how were private companies with little or no global clout meant to do this?

    Rather than solve the problem, ZANU-PF is committed to making this sham of a sytem work. So they sent their police dogs on rampage over the weekend. It might slow down the black market, it won't kill the black market though.

    Even worse is the fact that most of the so called "companies" the government has granted access to the limited funds on the auction floor are owned by Mugabe's ZANU cronies. Much of the decay has come from within.

    Is there a solution this connudrum? The solution is fairly simple as current govenor Gideon Gono, and former finance minister Simba Makoni, have tried to convince Mugabe & Co; allow market forces to set the prices. Mugabe will have none of this. The reason: allowing real prices on the market would invalidate the government's charade that they are the source of cheap bounty which, by the way is the only reason why they remain popular to with non tax paying rural Zimbabweans. So macroeconomic policymakers in Zimbabwe find themselves in limbo.

    How all this will culminate is yet to be seen. One things for sure the charade is over. Zimbabwe today looks a lot like Europe in 1847.

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  • Monday, May 23, 2005

    Reality Check

    As they are now faced with the daunting reality of Zimbabwe's grim state, Mugabe & Co are deeply immersed in a failing contest to maintain their unraveling charade.

    Zimbabwean police went on rampage last weekend arresting up to 10,000 people for activities allegedly detrimental to the economy a.k.a. engaging in gainful activity. The government thinks they can will a cheaper cost of living into being by beating out the black market. This won't work. Economics is a game of understanding incentives and managing how people respond to them not a game of "if you dare do this, I'll hurt you so bad." They don't seem to get this though.

    Meanwhile Mugabe has been forced to rescind boisterous remarks he made alluding to Zimbabwe's ability to feed herself. Last week they finally devalued the Zim dollar, but it's not enough. And they are even rethinking media legislation!

    All these are desperate efforts by a failing regime that's destined to oblivion. It's only a matter of time before the situation implodes and they give up.

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  • Cleric clinches award

    Outspoken Mugabe critic and Bulawayo based Roman Catholic archbishop Pius Ncube who's been the brunt of many Mugabe jokes including the infamous "Your name Pius means good but the lies you tell are far from that," received the Robert Burns International Humanitarian Awarad last Friday.

    Here now is the full text of his acceptance speech:

    I was surprised to be nominated for this award because I did not expect anyone to know me in Scotland. I stand here today feeling very happy to receive this beautiful Robert Burns International Humanitarian Award. I feel I am undeserving and unworthy of this great honour.

    I say I am undeserving because the cause for justice, rule of law, the respect for human rights, and decent living, have not been realised yet in Zimbabwe.
    The President of Zimbabwe is also called Robert, like the celebrated Scottish Poet Robert Burns – yet he is lacking in compassion and feeling for others, unlike the poet, who was a compassionate and considerate man.

    Of 53 countries in Africa, Zimbabwe had the second best economy to South Africa. Since 5 years ago our State President Robert Mugabe has become authoritarian. He lawlessly grabbed 2000 commercial farms in order to destroy the newly formed opposition party – the Movement for Democratic Change – which was a challenge to him, and to strengthen his political position, thereby destroying the economy of the country.

    Of the 12 million people in Zimbabwe, 5.5 million are now in need of food aid. Many spend 4 days without food, thousands of babies and young children have died of malnutrition each year, because those who possess the farms do not know any farming. The inflation rate is 400% per annum. Unemployment is over 80%, industry closes down, 2 million Zimbabweans are infected with AIDS and do not get any proper treatment because our hospitals have no medicines and the doctors and nurses have left the country in big numbers.

    It is known that 3.4 million Zimbabweans have left the country. Mugabe has rigged 3 elections to his advantage since the year 2000. He has banned 4 newspapers and all media is reduced to propaganda. The people are hounded by state intelligence and police and the President uses torture to intimidate the people and keep them afraid.
    "It saddens me that Britain, since September last year, has embarked on forced repatriation of Zimbabweans asylum seekers. Some are handcuffed, jailed and badly treated here in Britain

    It also saddens me that the British Government since September last year has embarked on forced repatriation of Zimbabweans who are asylum seekers. They fled from harassment, torture, and a threat to their lives and they will be made to suffer when they are returned. Some Zimbabweans are handcuffed, jailed and badly treated here in Britain. And as Great Britain is a highly respected country in the world, I am afraid that this attitude will be followed in other wealthier Commonwealth countries, as happened with the imposition of the visa on Zimbabweans in November 2002. I plead that you be patient with Zimbabweans till the situation normalises.

    The little I know about the celebrated Scottish Poet, Robert Burns, shows that he had a hard life and understood the lot of the common man. He wrote the poem: ‘A Man’s a man for a’ that’ to portray the dignity of the common man. He calls on human beings to be brothers and sisters and to support one another through respect, love and service. There is no greater message in all the world than that.
    In receiving this award, I do it on behalf of many others who work for peace in Zimbabwe. I also receive it on behalf of the suffering people of Zimbabwe.
    Finally, I thank Lord David Steel and the Award Panel for electing me to receive this Award. I have discovered that Scotland is a beautiful place with warm-hearted lovely people. I receive this award on behalf of those who suffer from repression in Zimbabwe. I thank you all.

    Congratulations Bishop!

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  • Sunday, May 22, 2005

    SA's poll verdict, "Use indelible ink more economically."

    I kid you not, the above quote is one of two recommendations to Zimbabwe by the ANC dominated South African observor mission to the March parliamentary polls. The other recommendation was to reduce the number of would be voters turned away on election day. Read this.

    Really? What about addressing the real cause why so many people were denied their right to vote such as the fact that ZANU-PF intentionally changed constituency boundaries weeks before the election?

    Is this really how dumbed down South African politics have become? "Use indelible ink more economically," are you kidding me? This is supposed to be just reason for spending South African tax dollars, "indelible ink." How about all this?

    In other news there now is speculation Mugabe will continue filling key government post with his relative. Next in line is the Police Commissionar post which becomes vacant in September. This can't be too far fetched as you'll recall Mugabe has ensured his sister Sabhina and her two sons are in parliament and have cabinet posts too.

    While The Horrid, and it's Sunday sister are gloating over succesful police raids on blackmarket activity, ZW News illustrates just how desperate people in Zim are. As long as there's an opportunity for profiteering "outside the glass jar," to borrow the expression from Hernando de Soto, the black market will always exist. The perfect anecdote; "laissez faire" governance, allow the invisible hand to determine the course of things in Zimbabwe. The writing is on the wall, as long the government continues to mandate superficial price levels, the market (black or legal) which must function per the dictates of supply and demand will continue to confound their efforts. The easiest way to swim is with the tide, not against it. Wise up.

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  • Thursday, May 19, 2005

    On the positive

    The Zim government was in the mood to show off they can function under a different modus operandi than has earned them their reputation as a lying and manipulating government today.

    The top boss himself led the way with a couple of turnaround announcements. Yessir, President Mugabe (for he deserves that title when he acts like this) first Said bill sets out to seriously curtail operations of charity organizations in Zim many of them Christian barring them from receiving foreign funding.

    Not to be outdone was the embattled governor of Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono in his monetary policty announcement. Admitting that his adjustment policies for the economy are failing, Gono rescinded his predictions that the economy would grow by between 3-3.5% this year, and that the country is going to meet the target inflation of between 30 and 35% by year end. Inflation will be betweent 50 and 70 %, and growth betwenn 2 and 2.5% by the year's he said. He also harkened the calls of economists and business people alike, devaluing the dollar by 33%.

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  • Monday, May 16, 2005

    Happy Monday!

    I apologize for the brief hiatus, life on the personal front was much too momentous this past weekend. We'll leave it at that. I'm back in business today!

    We start off the week with this; why is it so hard for the Zim government to let go of the "Zim 62?" The crime they committed was attempt to smuggle firearms into the country, not kill the pope. I don't get why their arrest and trial have received so much attention.

    There's speculation that Mugabe's intelligence supremo, Didymus Mutasa is now the heir-apparent. This after Mutasa just had his cabinet portfolio expanded to include the lands ministry. (Link coming soon).

    More soon.

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  • Thursday, May 12, 2005

    Land seizures go to arbitration

    Farmers who lost their property and infrastruture to Zimbabwe's controversial fast track land reform program are taking their case to international arbitration. This from (warning: graphic images) The Zimbabwean. Wilf Mbanga, The Zimbabwean's editor, writes that the farmers are taking the action because Zimbabwe signed the Bilateral Investment Treaty which mandated going to arbitration to solve disputes with some of the countries like the Netherlands.

    I however think the seasoned writer let's his emotions get the better of him when he extrapolates the Zimbabwe crisis to equal a failure of NEPAD when he writes:

    "The action is also likely to damage NEPAD severely. The expropriation of over US$4 billion in assets in Zimbabwe, without any action being taken by the international community - and without any condemnation from other African governments – is not going to encourage investment in Africa."

    As South Africa's foreign minister said today in the UAE;

    " Why should Africa suffer collective punishment, even if there were problems in Zimbabwe. Does all of the EU suffer because of problems in Northern Ireland? Zimbabwe is correcting an historic injustice. We may not agree with the methods but we agree with the correction of an injustice."

    In other news, it emerged today that the Zim government cannot find a roof to put over their heads while they work. This has to be another first: a cabinet that's too big for the available cabinet offices! The irony of it is that Mugabe has dubbed this his "development cabinet." I'm sure his ministers will feel the obligation to "develop" the country in a very real way.

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  • Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    The role of religion in development

    Here's an article from South Africa's Mail & Guardian by Madeleine Bunting about the importance of religion in development projects in Africa. I'm posting it in it's entirety as part of my long answer to Robert Mayer's challenge a couple months ago for me highlight other issues of relevance in quest for an end to the Zimbabwean crisis and also as a result of my interest in development.

    "A recent survey found that 31% of British people thought Easter was sponsored by Cadbury’s, while 48% had no idea what the religious festival was about. The survey adds to evidence of how Britain has been de-Christianised in the past 50 years.

    What’s interesting is how peculiar this phenomenon is in a global context. As Europeans become increasingly wedded to their faithlessness, the rest of the world has experienced an astonishing increase in religiosity.

    Nowhere is this more true than in Africa. Christianity and Islam are expanding dramatically as they gather new converts, while traditional religions are experiencing a renaissance.

    The astonishing growth of Pentecostal churches throughout Africa is being driven by United States evangelical missionaries and their wallets. Meanwhile, the Saudis and Kuwaitis are pouring huge sums into Africa’s Muslim communities. Known Saudi aid transfers to the continent amount to $1-billion a year, which is not far from the British level of aid. Yet this is rarely acknowledged in the West.

    Some of the most arresting sections of the report by Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa deal with religion. It argues that nationalism in Africa is exhausted, and that politicians and state structures have lost almost all credibility or legitimacy. Into this vacuum has stepped religion.

    This analysis in the report is largely Bob Geldof’s doing. Without grasping the significance of faith in Africa, he argues, we can’t begin to find development strategies that are going to work.

    Geldof’s position draws heavily on the work of a couple of development thinkers and his travels in Africa. “The spiritual is to be negotiated on a daily basis,’’ he told me.

    Christianity and Islam have three strengths over the nation state in Africa. The first is trust. Whereas politicians are synonymous with corruption, faith organisations are trusted; they can gather tithes and build institutions, investing for the benefit of the community. Whether it is mosques in Sierra Leone or churches in Nigeria, they have succeeded where the state has failed.

    The second strength is that faith organisations deliver the goods — they account for 50% of all health and education in sub-Saharan Africa. They are far more effective than any state in reaching the most destitute. In rapidly urbanising Africa, faith organisations are sometimes the only functioning form of institution and of social capital — which explains something of the appeal of the Pentecostalist churches mushrooming in shanty towns. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Catholic Church even runs the only semblance of a national postal service.

    Third, and crucially, Christianity and Islam offer what Ian Linden described in his paper for Geldof as “a language for change and redress’’.

    The issue in Africa often is how to mobilise people to demand and achieve change, and faiths provide the ideology and legitimisation for change in a way that politics no longer can.

    The million-dollar question is whether the changes championed by faiths coincide with Western development priorities. Often they do. For example, faith groups have a track record of conflict resolution in troubled regions. Or take another example: the Pentecostalist message of fidelity and no pre-marital sex could be a tool in the battle against HIV/Aids.

    But Linden has concerns on one key issue — how to increase the autonomy of women, which is vital to the achievement of a wide range of development goals such as infant mortality. The faiths, which all promote male authority, are so much “part of the problem, they can’t be part of the solution’’, he says.

    Geldof has blown open a much-needed debate: economists and politicians have dominated the agenda of African development for half a century, and look where it’s got us. Economic growth is not just about technical knowledge, but also about human behaviour — and that is rooted in beliefs such as what constitutes progress and development. [emphasis is mine] Indeed, what is wealth? These questions are spiritual as much as material in Africa; if Britain appreciated more of the African understandings of these concepts, it might learn as much from Africa as Africa is expected to learn from the West." — © Guardian Newspapers 2005

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  • Tuesday, May 10, 2005

    Another saga to watch.

    When Jonathan Moyo was expelled from Mugabe's government after choosing to stand as an independent in the March parliamentaries, Zimbos applauded his move as a direct affront to Mugabe's despotic dominance of Zimbabwe's politics. Many forgave transgressions from his days in government as evinced by his subsequent election victory which sent him back to parliament; this time as the country's sole independent legislator.

    However, his former colleagues in ZANU-PF have not forgotten that they have a score to settle with him. Since the "will of the people" did not effect retributive justice on their behalf (in the form of a loss in Tsholotsho), Mugabe's henchman have now taken to ensuring that the academician cum political opportunist will get his due. They are now waging their war against the former minister in the courts. It is reported that deputy ministers Andrew Langa and Abednico Ncube will testify that Moyo invited them to discuss a plot to "restructure" ZANU-PF's leadership in response to a defamation lawsuit Moyo brought against John Nkomo (ZANU chairman) and Dumiso Dabengwa (Mugabe confidante) before he left government.

    The impact of these testimonies on the trial is uncertain as it is common knowledge that Mugabe has encouraged people to discuss the "succesion question." Moyo, who has since been stripped of his diplomatic passport, has yet to announce if he carry on with the lawsuit. Mugabe has promised to "demolish" Moyo. Just where this war will go remains a mystery.

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  • Upcoming feature

    Beginning early next week Zimpundit will feature the personal diary of a close friend in Zimbabwe for two weeks. Be on the look out for the ultimate insider perspective on politics, mundane living, religion etc.

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  • Infuriating

    This makes me really mad. These cheap vagabonds are the ones responsible for granting entry to the rogue elements that are exploiting the good nature and pure ambition of Zimbabwean people.

    Women's rights activist Janah Ncube sheds light on how far we have yet to go in making our liberation a reality for all Zimbabweans in this piece.

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  • Monday, May 09, 2005

    Resolution competitions

    I think this is a really cool idea. If a bunch of Zimbo "boozers" can get over their political differences why can't the rest of us who are interested in the wellbeing of the country come together for the sake of resolving the crisis?

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  • Saturday, May 07, 2005

    The other view

    If you're looking for a robust (and somewhat alternative) view of land controversy in Zimbabwe, read this exhaustive summary of the road leading to the present day crisis.

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  • Minister without constituency

    More controversy continues to dog Mugabe's ZANU-PF and government in the aftermath of their March election "victory." In the latest development, the aging leader finds himself at odds with his own words after his Small and Medium Enterprises Development minister, Sithembiso Nyoni, is still without a constituency to represent in parliament. Zimbabwe's constitution states that every minister and deputy minister must hold a seat in parliament within three months of their appointment to the cabinet. Mugabe, who touted this rule strongly during his campaign along with his inititiave to ensure that women represented ZANU in a third of all the seats, now has to conjure up a seat for Nyoni, a woman.

    Reeling from criticism about the enormous size of his "development cabinet," and the controversial death of a former confidante. This is proving to be no easy task as he used all of his parliamentary appointments for people he has given cabinet or gubernatorial positions. The only option he seems to have is that of imposing Nyoni, who lost to the MDC's David Coltart in Bulawayo South, on the people of the Mashonaland East constituency of Mudzi East. The Mudzi seat is available for by-election after Ray Kaukonde who won the seat in the parliamentaries was appointed Mashonaland East governor and handed one of Mugabe's 30 appointmented seats.

    ZANU-PF's Mashonaland East provincial leadership isn't helping the situation either by unequivocally declaring that they want a native to the province to contest the vacant seat. So Mugabe is backed into tight spot between the constitution and his own followers in the party, or so it seems.

    I wonder what trick Mugabe will pull out to quel this crisis. A constitutional amendment in the making?...We'll watch this one closely;)

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  • Friday, May 06, 2005

    On Democracy

    Found this interesting (and certainly relevant to the Zimbabwean crisis) quote from Vladimir Putin of Russia in an exclusive by Matt Drudge,
    "Democracy cannot be exported to some other place. [Democracy] must be a product of internal domestic development in a society," says the Russian president.

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  • Thursday, May 05, 2005

    Great article

    Chido Makunike makes great observations about the reality of the Zim crisis in this article. For months I've been at pains to draw more attention to this side of the story. It's good to finally have a press officianado playing the same note.

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  • Wednesday, May 04, 2005

    The World's First Capital City without a Council

    Harare voters who spurned the advances of ZANU-PF in the March elections are set to be subjugated to the party they refuted. ZANU-PF is clandestinely planning to obliterate the capital city's council replacing it with several "strategic business units" which are meant to "streamline the costs of running the city. See this. There's no doubt about who will benefit both financially and politically from these structures.

    Zimbabwe is set to become the first country in the world with a capital city without a city council.

    After reports that Zimbabwe's largest milling company National Foods, has closed down some of it's milling plants and is only operating at 5% of capacity in the ones that are open , the government has announced it will treble it's buying price for maize ($2.2 million/metric tonne up from 750K), but then sell it to millers for a paltry $600,000/tonne.

    How can a government presiding over the country's worst economic crisis afford this or perform such gravity defining antics you ask?

    They do it by by doing the same thing they did in 1998 when they doled out millions to "war veterans" as "gratuity" for their role in liberating the country, or by employing the same economics that have ensured that rentals in Harare's epicenter are less than half the going market rates. Simply put, they just print the money to make up the difference. This, dear reader, is economics ZANU-PF style.

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  • BBC at it again!

    Kenyan pundit, one of my favorite daily reads, exposes the BBC's decrepit morals in this post. Could it it be that this is just another piece of shoddy journalism? I think not. It's just another display of the patent falsehoods peddled by the BBC, they have done it before and I called them on it.

    Read the Biased BBC blog, it follows all the inconsistencies the BBC haplessly foists on it's audience.

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  • Daily News on its way back!

    The Daily News, Zimbabwe's largest daily which endured two bombings, numerous raids by the overzealous police, and finally succumbed to the avalanche of repression brought by Zimbabwe's new draconian laws is on its way back! This report carries the good news.

    The Daily News, currently exclusively available online, filed this report on World Press Freedom day which I forgot to mention was yesterday.

    Zimbabwe is ranked as one of the "World's Worst Places to Be a Journalist," by the Committe to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

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  • Tuesday, May 03, 2005

    Zim government to curb brain drain

    There has been a flurry of reports on Zimbabwe, all of which appear highly speculative and come with very little substantiation.

    Yesterday it appeared the main headline out of the southern african country was that government intends to stop the brain drain by bonding nationals that graduate from the country's tertiary institutes. It has since emerged that Mugabe is plotting to force feed a "national orientation and ideology" program to all students in all primary through tertiary institutes.

    Meanwhile, the government is now expected to back down from its harsh stance on donor agencies and false claims that the country has enough food. Zimonline published a report in which they claim ZANU-PF is extending the arm of reconciliation to farmers both in Zimbababwe and those that were displaced. Wishful thinking.

    I got to thinking it must take a bunch of really messed up leaders to plunge a nation into such deep chaos, that one doesn't get an idea of what exactly is going on in the country by reading the headlines. What do you know? NewZimbabwe has reports of an adultreous minister, and
    a dying vice president. Then there's this from SW Radio Africa:
    "An embarrassing incident that shows just how opposition supporters are being denied food at every turn and how the country remains lawless has been reported by our contacts in Chinhoyi.Believe it or not, in full view of a crowd celebrating Independence Day in Chinhoyi, former mayor and now Chinhoyi MP Faber Chidarikire allegedly hit a counsellor on the jaw then kicked him because he was taking meat that he had not been given! The counsellor, named Muriravanhu from ward 6, publicly threatened to report the incident to the police, and Chidarikire is said to have given him money to keep quiet.The incident may be very funny on the surface, but when you start asking questions about the meat, where it had come from, and who was supposed to get some, the words poaching and discrimination become part of the picture. As Mike Mutasa reports from Chinhoyi, the meat was most likely game that had been killed illegally, and only card carrying ZANU-PF members were invited to come enjoy it while everyone else went hungry."

    Zimbabwe's leadership is truly unravelling.

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  • Monday, May 02, 2005

    May Day in Zimbabwe; most people still have no Say

    Even on a global holiday as innocous as May day, you can count on Zimbabwe's thugs to provide much drama and entertainment. This past weekend's installment comes from yet another witless foray into the spotlight by Joseph Chinotimba.

    Joseph Chinotimba, the notorious opportunist infamous for leading farm invasions in Zim over five years ago was back in the news again over the weekend. This guy is the paragon of the workings of ZANU-PF's cronysm. A former driver and guard for the Harare City Council, he was let go (by an MDC dominated council) after he spent a year AWOL disrupting farming operations across the country. Comrade Jo bounced back at the behest of local government minister Ignatious Chombo's meddling of the affairs of Harare City Council early in 2001.

    Once back, his masters over in the government saw to it that this restive figures' destructive propensities were apportioned to their advantage. Chinotimba, whose credentials are suspect emerged as the deputy chair of the Zimbabwe Federatioin of Trade Unions (ZFTU). ZFTU was created by ZANU to rival the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), which birthed the MDC.

    After a walloping defeat in ZANU's primaries prior to the parliamentary elections, Chinotimba has been keeping a low profile.

    After the ZCTU staged succesful May day celebrations earlier in the weekend, Chinotimba's ZFTU had their May day bash on May 2. In a ploy to induce the public to turnout for his charade, Chinotimba called officials at the Premier Soccer League (Zimbabwe's most popular league), demanding to have popular Harare side, Dynamos play in a match at his bash. When PSL officials refused to budge, a fuming Chinotimba threatened to bring down the wreath of the politicians he knows upon the officials.

    Then there's this. Isn't what Museveni is saying sound eerily familiar?

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