Sunday, July 31, 2005

Minister holds post in breach of constitution

Immediately after ZANU-PF's controverstial win in the March parliamentary elections Mugabe expediently made his cabinet appointments. In doing so he made several rash decisions which have haunted him since. One of the hottest issues for the beleagured leader has been that of the legitimacy of his lone none-parliamentary minister, Sithembiso Ndlovhu. Zimbabwean law prohibits anyone who isn't elected or appointed to parliament to hold a ministerial post.

I mentioned this in this post right after cabinet was appointed:

"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."
For Sithembiso Nyoni, the three month grace period has now lapsed. Cabinet was sworn in on April 15, so since the clock struck midnight on July 15, she holds her post in breach of the constitution.

The only thing we know is htat the illegitimate minister's name is not listed on any of the government's official documents. From the Standard,
"Up to now, Nyoni has not set foot in Parliamentary chambers. Her name and ministry do not appear in the official parliamentary publication, the Hansard. Only that of her deputy minister, Kenneth Mutiwekuziva, the Member of Parliament for Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe is listed.

Nyoni could have either gotten into parliament through a by-election or if Mugabe had asked one of the appointed MPs to resign. Another avenue would have been if Zanu PF had fast-tracked the re-introduction of the senate where a number of party officials who did not win parliamentary elections are expected to find sanctuary."
The constitutional ammendment that would reintroduce senate is stuck in the draft phase. It will most likely be another 90 days before anything is heard about that.

This legal dilemma awaits Mugabe when he returns from his conquest of the east.

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  • Friday, July 29, 2005

    ZW$ further devalued on Harare's streets

    Exactly a week after Zimbabwe's central bank governor, Gideon Gono devalued the local currency by 40%, the black market has increased the exchange rate to up to ZW$36,000 per US$1. The official exchange rate is floating at around US$1 to ZW$17,600

    In my response to the monetary policy statement I wrote, "Sadly, the changes this latest review in monetary policy bring are not enough to turn around the suffering of many Zimbabweans." The reform aren't hardly enough. If they want forex inflows to improve on the formal market, they must offer incentives for people to leave the black market for the formal market. The biggest incentive would off course be better value for peoples foreig currency, but they don't want to do that.

    They've tried enforcing harsh laws in a bid to force people to trade their currency on the formal market, but when the government itself is voilating other laws, no one will adhere to such ad hoc measures. They've also tried to "destroy" the informal market during the morbid cleanup operation. As reality would have it, the market isn't in infrastructe alone, the market resides in peoples' minds. As long as people have needs and there's scarcity, people will gravitate towards the fairest market they can find. In Zimbabwe it is the "black" market right now.

    Whether the central bank will get that basic tenant of economics is a toss up. In the meantime, they will have to continue chasing the wind if they think their half way measures will do for them.

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  • The Herald contradicts self on UN report

    Zimbabwe's staple daily, the state run Herald cannot decide what it's masters in the government have settled about the UN report on the cleanup operation.

    First there was this article titled "UN report on clean-up biased, says Government." Then on Monday the 25th, the paper carried this article which including this assesment of the report by the Zimbabwean government, "Harare has since dismissed the report as biased." At this point they are pretty much towing the party of line and condemnig the report right?

    Surprisingly on the 27th the same paper in this article titled, "Gvt hasn’t condemned UN report — Matonga," quotes the deputy information minister refuting the idea that they had dismissed the report.

    But then come Friday the 29th, the same paper, describing the closed door discussion of the Zimbabwe report by the UN Security Council, drop that prejudiced one liner again,
    "His [Zimbabwe's UN representative] presentation followed that of UN special envoy Mrs Tibaijuka, who apprised the Security Council of her two-week visit to Zimbabwe. She presented her report — which the Government has since dismissed as biased — during an information session." (Emphasis added)
    Contradicting itself like this doesn't endear the Herald to anyone.

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  • Thursday, July 28, 2005

    Moyo reveals the real character behind the Herald's notorious columnist

    An otherwise long and distressful week for Zimbabwe, has had one fascinating development that signifies the tough time ahead for ZANU-PF. Jonathan Moyo, the ex-minister, in his long article on the "third way" exposed a pivotal detail of the inner workings of Zimbabwe's state controlled Herald.

    During his years in cabinet a dubious columnist, Nathaniel Manheru, mysteriously appeared writing columns that chided independent journalists and picked on critics of the media laws and initiatives of the information office of the government. Many people suspected that Jonathan Moyo was Nathaniel owing to the virulent language used in columns which seemed blatantly incongruous with other writings in the Herald. And since Moyo had hijacked other functions at the state papers and broadcaster including those of editor and news director, it made sense to assume he had usurped the role of columnist too.

    It turns out Moyo was not the only government personality hiding behind the fictional Manheru.

    Reading Moyo's garrulous entry about the third way/force it struck me that he outed Mugabe's increasingly loathsome spokesman, Goerge Charamba, as the author of the column when the former addressed this threat by latter in a recent Nathaniel Manheru column;

    "As for the book he[Moyo] promises the world, not a few will be keen to remind him that the late Zvobgo[deceased former Mugabe ally who threatened to write a tell all book too] had long confided in the system that he was working on a book entitled 'The Fall of a Dictator'. That makes 2000 to 2005 research years, does it not, professor? Hark, who murmurs about the Official Secrets Act and gaping Chikurubi[Zimbabwe's notorious maximum secutrity prison]?"
    Moyo, in his third way article vollied this response,

    "George Charamba, Robert Mugabe's irresponsible and reckless wordsmith, who regularly violates his civil service oath and obligations by writing the Nathaniel Manheru column in the Herald, can go to hell if he thinks I am concerned about his threat that the book I am writing will send me to Chikurubi. Nothing will stop me from telling the truth as I know and experienced it."
    Thus, Charamba was exposed.

    So far only the Financial Gazette has given the story national prominence in this article. They highlight another interesting twist to the saga,
    "Moyo's revelation, made in a lengthy article on a possible "Third Way" carried by the NewZimbabwe online news service, also raises questions as to whether Herald editor Pikirayi Deketeke perjured himself when he claimed to be the author of the Manheru column during a High Court hearing last year.

    Deketeke's claim, made under oath, sought to deflect legal action against Moyo, who was being sued for defamation by the ANZ. Last July, High Court judge Yunus Omerjee ordered Moyo to pay $2.5 million and Zimbabwe Newspapers - publisher of the Herald - to pay $5 million in defamation charges."
    There will be a lot of insider information on ZANU-PF splashed across the front pages of Zimbabwe's papers in the days ahead. More and more party cadres are getting fed up with how things are going with Mugabe's party. Pearson Mbalekwa who recently quit is another potential source of incriminating evidence.

    The Fincial Gazette also has this article highlights new divisions within ZANU-PF due to Tibaijuka's report.

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  • Wednesday, July 27, 2005

    One trip, one new title, and two huge concessions; Mugabe Chinese endeavor pays off.

    For Mugabe it's success. For us the ordinary Zimbabweans, the question is how much longer will the world continue to abet our suffering by propping up this cruel regime.

    A week which promised hope to us, has turned out to be just another dissappointment for us. I was hoping both China and South Africa would realize the folly of lending to Zimbabwe, we can't pay them back. I was hoping Mbeki would say no and the Chinese would say the same thing too.

    To my dismay, South Africa will (with the blessing of Paul Wolfowitz) give Zimbabwe the money we asked for. And China, not to be outdone in bestowing favor on Mugabe, will construct a hydroelectric dam in Zimbabwe, give more aid and gave Mugabe a honorary proffersorship at their foreign affairs university. Sad.

    My hopes are crushed.

    There is absolutely no fuel in the country. Food is scarce if you can afford it. As winter rages on, people displaced by the cleanup operation were given three asbestos sheets and four gum poles. Try to put a roof over a family of four kids and two parents with that. That is the extent of the famed reconstruction phase of the cleanup operation.

    Life is tougher than many people can bear. When will our blood, sweat and tear suffice your concern?

    I'm not asking for anything from the world. In fact we want nothing from the world. I just want the world to stop aiding and abetting Mugabe & Co. If we nip it in the bud now, then maybe we can avert another Rwanda, Congo, Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone etc. Enough people have been raped, beaten, impoverished, and killed already.

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  • A third force?

    Jonathan Moyo has been roundly castigated for his attempts to hijack the third force in diaspora discussion the world over.

    Read some of the feedback here.

    Listen to Harvard scholar Geoff Nyarota, and Human Rights lawyer Daniel Molokela discuss the third force idea on SW Radio's Hot Seat (WMA)

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  • Tuesday, July 26, 2005

    Crusading Moyo hijacks the "Third force"

    Jonathan Moyo, the ascerbic spinmaster, once described by Mugabe has harboring "vaulting ambitions," and infamous for crafting Zimbabwe's harsh media laws has officially hijacked the intellectual bandwagon for a new political party in Zimbabwe. Moyo, who has been threatening to author a tell-all book from his five year stint in both government and ZANU-PF published this long diatribe voicing his support for the idea. He even has a name in mind for the new party, the United People's Movement. Speculation of Moyo's involvement with the "Third Force" began shortly after his Tsholothso victory in March, but he remained mum that is, until now.

    First articulated by Trevor Ncube (the publisher of Zimbabwe's Standard and Independent),
    "As currently constituted and led, both Zanu PF and the MDC don’t have what it takes to extricate Zimbabwe from its present quagmire. Were anything to happen to Mugabe now with the infighting in Zanu PF I fear instability that would be harmful to the nation in the long-term.

    The possibility of a third way is something worth contemplating, but time and effort required to put this together could make it a long-term project. I truly believe that if he set his mind to it Mugabe could undo some of the damage he has inflicted on Zimbabwe and lay the foundation for a stable political dispensation that would deliver economic development and growth."

    and Geoff Nyarota (former editor of The Daily News ),

    "THE proposal last week by the publisher of the Zimbabwe Independent for the emergence of a third political force in Zimbabwe made interesting reading. This is, however, not the first time Trevor Ncube has articulated this suggestion. So that he does not remain a voice in the wilderness, while his enunciation of this noble idea is reduced to an annual ritual, I rise in Ncube’s support."

    The "Third Force" idea argues for the need of a third major political party in Zimbabwe on the basis of the failure by both MDC and ZANU-PF to convert the nation's political aspirations.

    This idea has steadily gathered momentum since the elecions. The resignation of Pearson Mbalekwa (former ZANU-PF MP and intelligence operative over the cleanup operation), violent rifts in both MDC and ZANU-PF, and recent speculation of Welshman Ncube's (MDC secretary general) resignation have all crystallized the notion.

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  • Zimbabwe's script for a mastercard commercial.

    Today's Herald is gloating over a visit by diplomats to Whitecliffe Farm were they toured close to five hundred new houses as the government intensifies it's post cleanup PR.

    Still, the gaping wounds from the inhumane operation are too vast to gloss over with a few hundred two-roomed houses which are built on the very same land that people homes and livelihoods were destroyed just over a month ago.

    The price of one cruel operation: 300,000 homeless and six dead. Cost of hoodwinking 18 diplomats into thinking your government is great: 480 houses. The tragic irony of it all: priceless.

    There are some things that Mugabe can't buy(pass). For everything else there's mastercard. Mastercard accepted everywhere even where democracy isn't.

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  • Monday, July 25, 2005

    Wide Angle focuses on Zimabwean border jumpers

    Controversial anchor, Bill Moyers highlights the plight of Zimbabwean border jumpers into Botswana on Tuesday on his program, Wide Angle during primetime. Check your local listings.

    Visit the show's site here to read the synopsis.

    Also, check out this exhausitive timeline for the historical context of the crisis.

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  • Politics not perspective; Zim government's response to the UN report

    The UN report on Zimbabwe conjured up a great deal of emotions and responses over the weekend, but it doesn't do much more than that.

    There's more good news for Mugabe & Co in the report than there is for the MDC and critics of the cleanup. Mugabe can rejoice in that the report endorses his pursuits as noble i.e. trying to clean up the cities, which it adds, is vital to the development agenda. The report falls just short of presenting Mugabe with a medal of honor for hitherto mantaining cities with the lowest slum prevalence. But the report is lacking on a tangible basis for the illegality of the operation, another thing Mugabe can rejoice over.

    For the MDC (which not only volunteered information and legal expertese to Tibiajuka's mission, but extended open arms to the report) and critics of the operation, the report hardly offers any respite. Tibaijuka's service to this side of the divide only goes so far as to put the UN's official stamp on their estimates of the number of people affected by the cleanup, it and encouraging international involvement in the humanitarian (not political) crisis in Zimbabwe. The report does not condemn ZANU-PF for the operation sharply enough to condone their cause. The report conspicuously avoids aligning itself to the clarion calls of the opposition and human rights activist i.e. finding Mugabe & Co. incorrigably corrupt to warrant regime change. A true disservice to a worthy cause if there ever was one.

    There are only two positives, if any at all, from this report; the best thing the report does is present a fairly thorough contextual appraisal of the situation on the ground in Zimbabwe without which an authentic (and unprejudiced) exploration of options is possible. The report can also be applauded for encouraging action to avert the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.

    Apparently appeased by "warmth and hospitality" of Mugabe & Co., Tibaijuka and her clan drew up a report which is neutral at best. The report languidly slaps the Mugabe regime on the hand for violating a handful of human rights, and chides them for the suffering endured by the "evictees." Meanwhile it absolves the Zimbabwean government of any legal violations and even discourages pursuit of the culpability of the Mugabe regime as a whole for this operation.

    "The outcome of the legal analysis was complex. But concluded that with available evidence it would be difficult to sustain that crimes against humanity were committed." p.65
    Regardless of its' infirmities, the report has become a matter of controversy. As soon as the UN report was made public late last week, many deluded responses were proffered from numerous quarters. Each of these reviews either praised or damned the report depending on which side of the political divide the responders are sympathetic to, regardless of whether these demagogues had read the report or not.

    I'll address the vampant criticism of the report which emanated from the ZANU-PF government first.

    Early Saturday morning The Herald carried a report in which Mugabe's foreign affairs minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi zealously misfired thus;

    "The report demonstrates hostility to the operation through visual aids like the pictures that depict the City of Harare from colonial times up to the clean-up conducted under the operation.

    It deliberately leaves out pictures of Harare after the operation because such pictures of Harare after the operation would show massive construction going on under Operation Garikai/Hlallani Kuhle and consequent sanity, which now prevails, countrywide."
    Massive construction going on? Where, and how? Even I am ashamed to refer to the two roomed houses the government is building as a "construction" initiative.

    Then he went on to drop this gem,

    "Before the evictions were carried out, occupants were given the choice to voluntarily take down their illegal structures."
    But what about this from the report;

    "The testimonies provided to the mission suggest that this did not happen in many cases. In some cases, as little as a few hours notice was given, leaving people unable to take action and resulting in the destruction of property as houses were demolished116. Some evictees had to leave their property behind because there was no room in the trucks used to transport them to transit camps.117 What was not collected was set on fire by the police in many cases." p.58
    For his part, Mugabe, who did not read the report, feeling obliged to respond unwittingly echoed his party line that the report was biased. Monday's Herald has a long article which extensively quotes presidential spokesman George Charamba:

    "He (President) said the successor programme to the clean-up exercise, Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle, has been receiving attention while Mrs Tibaijuka’s report does not refer to it," said Cde Charamba.

    Cde Mugabe indicated to Mr Annan that his envoy had also gone out of her terms of reference by encouraging dialogue between the Government and civil society when, in actual effect, she meant dialogue between Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC.

    "The President reminded Mr Annan of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s comments when Mrs Tibaijuka was appointed special envoy," said Cde Charamba.

    Mr Blair said he hoped Mrs Tibaijuka — who is in the British prime minister’s Commission for Africa — would produce a "good" report which London and its Western allies could use against Zimbabwe at the UN Security Council for alleged human rights violation."
    No mention of Operation Garikai? Excuse me Mr. President. I think not; Operation Garikai is mentioned a whopping 25 times in the report, including this explanation of why it's not going to work;

    "The Government of Zimbabwe was not able to produce any written documentation showing that the Operation was planned. This means that evictions took place before alternatives could be provided, thereby violating human rights and several provisions of national and international law.

    The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Zimbabwe is a party, clearly states that a government cannot forcibly evict people without having made alternative plans to house them." p.74
    The restoration operation is not going to work because it was not planned for before hand!

    And that, dear reader, is the illustrative anatomy of how politics is clouding perspective in Zimbabwe.

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  • Friday, July 22, 2005

    UN Report out

    Here's the link to the 100 page report (1.63MB PDF file) compiled by the UN envoy to Zimbabwe.

    I'm reading the report and will make post my response and excerpts later on.

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  • Koffi Annan responds

    Here are the comments from the UN Secretary General after he reviewed the report on Zimbabwe from Anna Kajumulo Tibauka.
    "I have received the report of my Special Envoy on Human Settlement Issues in Zimbabwe, Mrs. Anna K. Tibaijuka, based on her recent visit to the country. I wish to congratulate her on this exhaustive report, and also to thank the Government of Zimbabwe for the full cooperation she received.

    It is a profoundly distressing report, which confirms that “Operation Murambatsvina” has done a catastrophic injustice to as many as 700,000 of Zimbabwe’s poorest citizens, through indiscriminate actions, carried out with disquieting indifference to human suffering. I call on the Government to stop these forced evictions and demolitions immediately, and to ensure that those who orchestrated this ill-advised policy are held fully accountable for their actions.

    Criticism, while fully justified, is not enough. We have a duty to help those in need. In keeping with the recommendations of my envoy, the United Nations will urgently seek agreement with the Government of Zimbabwe to mobilize immediate humanitarian assistance on the scale that is required to avert further suffering. I urge the international community to respond generously to this call. For its part, the Government must recognize the virtual state of emergency that now exists, allow unhindered access for humanitarian operations, and create conditions for sustainable relief and reconstruction.

    Once the most acute human needs are addressed, the United Nations will play its part, and give whatever help it can, in implementing the report’s other recommendations. Among these is the call for dialogue between the Government of Zimbabwe, domestic constituencies and the international community with a view to working together to address Zimbabwe’s serious social, economic and political problems."

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  • Report leaked

    The UN report on the cleanup operation was apparently leaked to AP last night. A report by NICK WADHAMS chronicles the following excerpts from the report scheduled to be made public later on today;

    "While purporting to target illegal dwellings and structures and to clamp down on alleged illicit activities, (the operation) was carried out in an indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with indifference to human suffering,"

    "Even if motivated by a desire to ensure a semblance of order in the chaotic manifestations of rapid urbanization and rising poverty characteristic of African cities, nonetheless Operation Restore Order turned out to be a disastrous venture,"

    "The humanitarian consequences of Operation Restore Order are enormous,"

    "They had elderly folk, and they were piling them onto vehicles; they were frog-marching children ... who had been asleep, and Bulawayo is very cold at the moment."

    The report was given to the Zimbabwean government on Wednesday. They've had 48 hours to respond publicly to it before the UN makes it public but in classic ZANU-PF style, Zimbabwe's permanent represtantive to the UN brazenly dismissed the 48 hour deadline as useless.

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  • Opening up

    Forced by a collapsiing economy and a crippling shortage of fuel, Zimbabwe like it's idealogical mentor China, yesterday devalued it's currency against the US$ by 40%. The greenback will now pick up 17,500ZW$ as opposed to the previous 10,000ZW$. Yet the Zimbabwean currency remains hugely overvalued. One can still get up 27,000ZW$ on Harare's streets. The only good news in the policy for me was that growth of money supply shrunk over the last quarter.

    You can read highlights of the monetary policy review here.

    Sadly, the changes this latest review in monetary policy bring are not enough to turn around the suffering of many Zimbabweans. At this new exchange rate for example, our exports are still relatively more expensive than those from other countries in the region on the global market. So I predict that big manufacturing contracts will continue to be sent elsewhere. I'm not sure if the investor market will decipher the same outlook on this though. We could potentially end up with a situation where, after this policy review, our exports are not competitive, and because of that investment in industry could further plummet. All that to say this; it would behoof Zimbabwe's macro-policy makers to loosen monetary policy even further because we cannot afford anymore investment flight.

    Further, because they've waited so long to implement such changes, inflation is going to surge in the next few weeks as the consumer market recalibrates itself to the latest changes. As result of this, Gono's dream of bringing year on year inflation down to double digits by year's end will essentially elude him. I've already seen predictions that inflation will climb as high as 400%. Gono hopes to bring inflation down to about the 80% level.

    If you looked at the policy hightlights, you'd have noticed an increase in interest rates which should encourage savings, which in turn will spur on investment correct? Anywhere else but in Zimbabwe this would happen. With inflation currently hovering around 170%, and predictions that it is going up, there are no incentives to save because value of you money is eroded (by inflation) at a higher rate than the rate of interest.

    Another thing the Reserver Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor introduced is the idea of allowing imports by offshore holders of foreign currency in on a "don't ask, don't tell" basis. The idea behind is to induce repatriation of the value of foreign currency that has left the country in a bid to first salvage anything the country can in terms of all the money that has trickled out of it's forex reserves over the years. Secondly the entry of more goods onto Zimbabwe's domestic markets would ease shortages which are rife in sector of the economy. This scenario will not play out as such with as high import tarriffs the country has. So even that is going to be futile and that money that has been externalized from the economy will remain outside the country.

    Describing the cleanup in its early days, I wrote;
    "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."
    This monetary policy review spearheads what I hope be a series of improvements in policy that will allow more Zimbabweans access to the goods and services we so desperately need on the market place. Kudos to central bank governor Gideon Gono for working hard to get to this point.

    The UN will make public the report compiled by their special envoy who spent two weeks in Zimbabwe evaluating the damage done by the cleanup. I will be back then with my response.

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  • Thursday, July 21, 2005

    Governance in Zimbabwe: Ashamed to admit wrongdoing and apologizing? Invoke an operation

    Yes, it is now officially throwback week here.

    Remember reading this on here a few weeks ago?
    "THE Zimbabwean government’s clean-up operation code-named "Operation Murambatsvina or Cleanup" is over claims the Sunday Mail, a pro-government weekly. In it’s place a new wave of initiatives among them, "Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle," which literally means live comfortably, Operation “Pfekazvaikanaka or dress properly” are sweeping across the country, and "Svikaizvakana or arrive properly".

    Under operation garikai or live well, the government claims it will construct houses, micro, small and medium business facilities across the country by the end of August."
    Turns out that the Mugabe & Co. are just too lofty to apologize, they'd rather invoke another operation to correct their mistakes. This from their very own Herald,
    "HUNDREDS of families who were taken to Caledonia Transit Camp at the height of the clean-up operation yesterday returned to their housing stands in Hatcliffe, but the Government reiterated that there was no policy shift over the operation.

    There was jubilation and ululation at Caledonia Transit Camp as the families were yesterday informed by Government officials that they would be returned to their stands in Hatcliffe.

    The decision for the families to return to Hatcliffe is part of the implementation of the Government National Housing Delivery Programme, now code-named Operation Garikai/ Hlalani Kuhle.

    There are at least 3 100 surveyed housing stands in the section of Hatcliffe where the families had been removed.

    He said the families were advised to build temporary structures that would not interfere with the servicing of the stands." (Emphasis is mine)
    So after enduring such horrors as this, this, and this, it turns out many--most of these families were not in violation of the law. Yet no apology is due, just another operation.

    Couldn't they have done their "vetting" of who was legal and who wasn't without destroying all these people had and their livelihoods? If this really was a well thought out process, could these lives not have been spared?

    Or is it that this government erred and just won't apologize because it's better than that?

    This kind of GBO (governnance by operation) is assuredly of sunset quality, to borrow two of Jonathan Moyo's coinages.

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  • Wednesday, July 20, 2005

    Mbeki's Zimbabwean dilemma

    After years of balking and stalling behind the facade of "quiet diplomacy" Mbeki must now make a tough decision regarding Zimbabwe at home in South Africa, putting the spotlight full beam on his credibility. This as Zimbabwe's unashamed government once again pulled out the begging bowl and are taking it to the doors of those nations that have propped them up one more time.

    Zimbabwe's president, Mugabe will be in China shortly looking for another aid package. His female deputy, Joyce Mujuru, has been dispensed to Iran on a similar mission. Meanwhile several ministers and the governor of the our central bank are in South Africa with a big request; US$1 billion in credit. From Zimonline,
    "Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono last Friday met his South African Reserve Bank counterpart, Tito Mboweni, in Pretoria to hammer out details of a possible US$1 billion rescue package for Zimbabwe.

    Mugabe and his government urgently need hard cash to import food, fuel and electricity and avert a total collapse of Zimbabwe that has in the past six years, miraculously survived crisis after crisis.

    A meeting between South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and her Zimbabwean counterpart, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, that had been scheduled for yesterday as a follow up on Gono and Mboweni’s talks was postponed because Dlamini-Zuma is away.

    According to sources, Gono assured Mboweni that Harare would among other things reconsider its clean-up exercise as well as repressive media laws, all issues that have drawn criticism from major Western governments and rights groups."
    This boils down to a tough cost benefit equation for South Africa. They obviously can't afford to fund the full amount Zimbabwe is requesting, and we know they want to help their comrades north of the Limpopo. However, giving Zimbabwe money will signify to the rest of the developed world that not only does Mbeki support Mugabe, but that he believes in the latter's self destructive actions. This would clarify where Mbeki's real alliances are especially given he sent a lot of mixed messages on Zimbabwe and that already doing some of the same things Mugabe has done. Essentially Mbeki's global credibility will take a huge blow if lends any help to Zimbabwe.

    Internally, the situation is no better. Within the ANC, the old conservative, those of the same ilk as Nelson Mandela, only want freedom and justice in Zimbabwe. This view will be magnified this week as the world turns to South Africa to celebrate Mandela's birthday. Bill Clinton is down there right now and NPR's Market Place did a special report on the probability of the South African loan yesterday.

    Then there's the neo-conservatives in ANC who are in control of the party. This is the group that subtly supports Zimbabwe, they probally want more done in South Africa to reverse the vices of apartheid (including but not limited to as in Zimbawe, land redistribution etc.). Outside of that are the people largely represented by COSATU, South Africa's congress of trade unions. This group, which forms the core of Mbeki's support base, has alligned itself to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union's which ironically is the base of the MDC's support base. So Mbeki, will by the action he takes on this latest request from Zimbabwe, inevitably send vital signals about the kind of leader he is.

    Mr. Mbeki owing to your inaction over Zimbabwe through the years, the gods have elected to punish by your own choice. You see on this one, you're damned if do and damned if you don't.

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  • Why Koffi Annan's study of Kajumulo's report is only academic

    Sometime over the next few days, Koffi Annan the UN secretary general, will study the report compiled by his special envoy to Zimbabwe on the urban removals according to this press release. This study is only academic.

    Even though he might be appalled by the status quo in my Southern African nation, Annan is powerless to get the UN into action over Zimbabwe. Mugabe is, I'm afraid to say, better connected than Annan. The secretary general can't even get Zimbabwe, a country he'll now have documented evidence of rights abuse on, out of the 15 member human rights commission at he UN.

    And Monomotapa House (home of Mugabe's offices) knows it. Just last Monday the Herald gloated over the failure by the UK to get a resolution passed in the security council on Zimbabwe's rights abuse record thus;
    "Zimbabwe continues to receive the support of the international community at United Nations Security Council meetings despite attempts by Britain to get Harare to be on the agenda of the world body’s crucial organ on the basis of alleged human rights violations.

    At last week’s Security Council public discussion on the role of the UN organ in humanitarian crises, Britain once again tried unsuccessfully to have Harare labelled as a case of concern over humanitarian issues.

    As in the past, London did not mention Zimbabwe directly in the discussion but used Canada to call on the Security Council to put Zimbabwe under surveillance for alleged human rights abuses.

    Canada cited the clean-up operation that the Government embarked on to rid urban areas of illegal structures and criminal activities.

    Britain has used the strategy of not attacking Zimbabwe directly at UN Security Council meetings but uses other Western countries to condemn Harare because it fears it would be dismissed as dragging a bilateral dispute with Harare onto the international forum."
    But writing on the same incident, SW Radio Africa's Tererai Karimakwenda said,
    "In a move that surprised no other countries on the United Nations Security Council, nations that are friendly with Robert Mugabe again blocked discussion of his human rights abuses during a public debate last week. The state controlled Herald newspaper gloated on Monday, claiming Zimbabwe continues to receive the support of the international community at United Nations Security Council meetings. The Herald said it was Britain that attempted to get Harare on the agenda, even though it was Canada that cited the recent clean-up operation as an example of a crisis created by a government's own policies against its people.

    In the debate, Canada's permanent representative to The United Nations said "It is also important to acknowledge that humanitarian crises are not solely the result of armed conflict. There are also those prompted by the misguided and malevolent policies of governments towards their own populations." In this regard, Zimbabwe's controversial cleanup operation was an appropriate example, especially given that the UN had found it necessary to send a special envoy into the country to investigate.

    But The Herald chose to ignore this important point, focusing instead on how the usual suspects - India, China and Venezuela - rejected Canada's position. Helmoed Romer Heit Man, the South Africa correspondent for Jane's Defence Weekly said what happened last week is nothing new to the Security Council. It goes back to the Korean conflict and how the Soviet Union used its powers in that situation. Romer Heit Man said proposed changes by secretary general Kofi Annan might limit the usual suspects from blocking important issues, but they probably won't work as no country with veto powers will be prepared to give them up."
    Where does this leave us? Well, let's see. The UN remains an academic institution that has fatally aborted on it's mission to protect and advance civilization across the world. As for Zimbabwe's leaders; you just gave Condi Rice the justification for lumping alongside the "outposts of tyranny" by touting the fact that you associate yourself with leaders of this ilk.

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  • Tuesday, July 19, 2005

    The new conspiracy theory; "MDC anti-feminist"

    Seems this week is all about throwing back to posts I wrotelast week.

    Last week, I mentioned that some critics had dismissed Tsvangirai's reshuffling of the MDC shadow cabinet as both evidence of his obsession with power and a trifling. I substantiated that part of my claim with a link to this article on NewZimbabwe and quoted an excerpt from the article.

    Now Tawanda Hove from the same site has diagnosed the MDC with an incidence of chauvenist patriachal politics of the same ilk that many believe ZANU-PF has been fraught with;
    "This recent political act, deliberately executed, intended in its purpose, has got me and others asking whether feminism’s fantasy with the MDC is over? The reshuffle that has just been completed by the MDC President is a clear message to radical feminists in Zimbabwe; it is that they must accept that ‘in this part of the world it is a man’s world’, it has displayed what ‘we’ have always feared most, that the MDC and especially the ‘aristocrats’ at the top are still male chauvinists who still regard women leadership in the most lowest of grading. The MDC President’s actions have come at a time in which across the African continent women activists have even abandoned the 30% ‘quota’, they are now demanding to have a 50% representation of women and this is crucial because the social structure of patriarchy cannot be challenged unless those sites of power (social/political/economic/religious) begin to reflect the demography of our populations."
    The basis of this charge is the exclusion of Priscilla Misihairabwi from the shadow government prompting me to wonder whether that is enough evidence of the MDC's men favoring (especially when other women are still left in cabinet e.g. Trudy Stevenson).

    I'm not dismissing the case, I'm just wondering if it is premature yet to conclude that "feminism's fantasy with the MDC is over."

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  • Monday, July 18, 2005

    From the United Network of Detained Zimbabweans in UK

    Zimbabwean hunger strikers appeal for solidarity

    We are appealing for your support for the 140 Zimbabweans who have been held in detention centres across the country and, in particular, the 115 who have been on hunger strike since 22nd June in protest against their planned deportation to Zimbabwe. All of the detainees and hunger strikers are black Zimbabweans. Four hunger strikers have become so seriously ill through lack of food that they have been removed to hospital.

    All of the hunger strikers are opponents of the Mugabe regime. The danger of imprisonment, beatings, rape and torture for anyone who has sought asylum in the UK is well documented and hunger strikers would rather face death than return. The Home Office say there is no evidence of “systematic abuse” in Zimbabwe, but there is no free press operating and foreign journalists are banned who can verify the reports of deportees being sent to Goromonzi prison from which accounts of torture are emerging. The Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, has warned Tony Blair Zimbabweans face ‘certain death’ if returned.

    The situation is especially dangerous at present and makes any kind of safety or life impossible on return. Operation “clear out trash” has made over one million homeless, and involved mass arrests and imprisonment on compulsory work farms - yet the Home Office continues to attempt deportations. We believe that the basic right to seek asylum from persecution needs to be upheld and that the hunger strikers need your solidarity and support. Among the detainees are teachers, an airline pilot, a Cambridge PhD student and an international footballer. All of them could contribute and enrich UK society if allowed to remain here in safety.

    Noble Sibanda, the hunger strike spokesperson, says “these people will die if they’re sent back to lawless Zimbabwe. We have several stories of returnees who have disappeared or are being interrogated in prison and are accused of being British mercenaries. The British government should listen to the EU, which has called for the suspension of all removals at the present time. If Tony Blair really cares about Africa and Africans he should stop deporting Zimbabweans now. All we are asking for is the basic right to seek asylum”.

    The hunger strikes are temporarily suspended as they have won a high court hearing on 4th August. But we will continue to strike until death after that date.

    What you can do to help:

    The campaign urgently needs funds. Make cheques payable to: The Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers (Please include a covering note indicating that the donation is for the United Network of Detained Zimbabweans. Cheques should be sent to the postal address given below)

     Twin your union branch, faith group or community group with a detainee. Contact the campaign to get the details of one of the hunger strikers you can support with letters etc

     Come to the ‘Solidarity Gathering’ at the High Court (Strand, London) hearing on the morning of 4th August. Supporters will be undertaking a hunger strike from Wednesday 3rd August outside the High Court. Contact the campaign for details.

     Attend the campaign press conference on Thursday 21 August in Committee Room 8 of the House of Commons, 6.00-8.00pm


    Isaiah Bizabani, Edward Kambarami and Noble Sibanda (UNDZ Coordinators)
    Phone: (44)07904132448; 07865072926; or 07910974647
    Post: United Network of Detained Zimbabweans c/o Committee to Defend
    Asylum Seekers, BCM Box 4289, London, WC1X 3XX

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  • Farmers urged not return

    Early last week I reported that the Zim government is clandestinely inviting white commercial farmers back to their land;
    "It's true. Zimbabwe's government, which violently seized land from its commercial farmers in a frenzied desperation for platform, has been quietly making concessions with its former commercial farmers asking them to return to their old properties.

    Reid Estate about 15 kilometres north of Bindura (the provincial capital of Mashonaland Central Province) is being returned to it's white owner. The estate, which at it's peak in the 90's exported it's produce to Europe, was recently offered back to the Reid family who are well liked in the Bindura community. Before they returned, the Reids however demanded that their farm be cleaned up and asked for restitution for their developments which had been destroyed by the "vets."

    This despite persitent external showings by Mugabe & Co. to the contrary.

    Now Justice for Agriculture (JAG) a farmer's rights group that grew out of the Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe has come out swinging urging its members not return to their farms. This from Zimonline;

    "A lobby group for Zimbabwe’s evicted white farmers has called on the farmers to ignore government calls to return to the land until there is rule of law, an independent judiciary and firm guarantees property rights will be respected.

    In a warning to farmers at the weekend, the Justice for Agriculture Trust (JAG) said the 99-year leases that the government is promising as a guarantee of tenure to white farmers who agree to resume farming was not enough security against future eviction."
    What I'm wondering about is why group has waited to be reactive instead being proactive. We all saw this coming.

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  • Friday, July 15, 2005

    Poor legal structures the reason behind Africa's economic stagnation; Zimbabwe's fuel crisis a case in point

    Geldoff's globally famous Live8 concerts have been the occasion of contempt and infamy among many in the African blogosphere over the last few weeks. African bloggers and western economic think tanks have roundly condemned both the concerts and the G8's new financial concessions for the embattled continent as both misdirected and insufficient.

    Due to the time constraint I was unable to cast myself into the lively discussion that has been going on in blogosphere for a few weeks now. The developing fuel crisis in Zimbabwe today however lends itself useful for the illustration of my convictions about economic development in Africa and in the other places around the globe where it is so badly needed.

    William Easterly in his 2001 book The Quest for Growth, like many of the blogs, disscusses panacea that we know have failed. He covers many big ticket items like population growth, education, savings and investment, and debt relief. Easterly details examples where these factors are present and have either contributed to growth or have hindered it. After a very meticulously examining many factors, Easterly concludes that it is the incentives that are most important in order to precipitate growth. Leaders must figure out ways to line up the incentives so that people are drawn to the idea of growth. A fair conclusion but hardly a full one.

    While I'm still in the "plug the books" mode, let me just mention another valuable read from an esteemed development economist that might be worth reading if you're interested. Joseph Stiglitz, the 2003 Nobel Prize laureate in economics, has a book entitled Globalization and Its Discontents. Bluntly put, this book is a well researched “poop on the Bretton Woods institutions” party. Stiglitz begins by explaining how globalization has necessitated global institutes that look out for the wellbeing of the entire global community. As such he says, such institutions cannot be dominated by the interests of only one side of the table, dialogue must be fair and fairly representative of the world.

    His main argument is that the IMF foists wrong policies on the rest world while it protects the interests of its major constituency (i.e. the US Treasury). Among his many disagreements with the IMF is the institution’s resiliency in trumping radical establishment of the free markets above all else. Stiglitz is a proponent of the gradual introduction capitalism because, “Capitalism requires a transformation of society.” It’s more than just having the right institutions and infrastructure, the whole structure of society endures critical change when capitalism comes about. Another of his discontents with the IMF in addition to the idea that they constantly seem to be pushing the wrong policies, is the lack of parity and transparency on the IMF’s part. In negotiations with countries seeking help, the IMF dictates requirements instead of listening. Stiglitz also notes that at the same time the IMF advocates for transparency from governments it helps, it is not a very transparent entity itself.

    Now to the fuel crisis in Zimbabwe. For the past five years Zimbabwe has been laboring under an acute shortage of fuel owing mainly to corruption (in the state fuel procurement entity), a grossly weakened currency, and rising oil prices on the global market.

    Since the market place is supposed to match people with wants and providers of good/services, let's take a look at the state of the Zimbabwean fuel market and see if we can find the chink in the chain is.

    The National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM), a parastatal, is the country's official oil provider. The arrangement is supposed to work as follows (it's not working); NOCZIM finds oil and pays for it on the global market. They import it and sell it to petrol companies in Zimbabwe. Well and dandy except when the country's currency devalues up by up to 90% in ten years and the government's (READ:NOCZIM's) foreign currency reserves dry up. So NOCZIM has no BP-buying power as it were. Add to that the fact that the government has fixed the exchange rate at levels that morbidly overvalue the local currency. So for a while NOCZIM has been importing oil at loss.

    After NOCZIM failed to meet the demand in the country government has been toying with the idea of deregulating the oil industry by allowing independent firms to source their own fuel and set their own prices. Laissez faire like it is supposed to work. But then this would mean foregoing fuel tax which the NOCZIM arrangement allowed them to levy easily. The government doesn't like that. The Financial Gazette Chronicles just how deep the controversy runs in this article;

    "Technically, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) put together by industry players for purposes of importing fuel might have to be disbanded should these proposals sail through.
    It is the dismantling of the SPV and the prospect of the proliferation of several Direct Fuel Importers (DFI) that has split the Cabinet right through the middle as others members fear chaos might reign supreme in the pricing and distribution of the product.
    The central bank, thrust at the centre of current efforts to turnaround the waning economic fortunes, has already suggested the whittling down of players in the industry from the estimated 200 companies to around 20 because of the rampant externalisation of foreign currency.
    "Nyambuya is basically saying anyone with access to foreign currency, be it a Zimbabwean in the diaspora or an exporter, should source fuel and no questions should be asked about the source of funds," said a source.
    Nyambuya, who refused to comment yesterday, preferring the questions to be put in writing, is also against the grilling of DFIs at the hands of customs officials who require them to prove their sources of funding.
    Sources said the energy minister is also pushing for substantial cuts in taxes levied on fuel at the ports of entry such as the NOCZIM levy, customs duty and fees paid to clearing agents to make the product more affordable.
    His critics however, said such concessions would rob the fiscus of the much-needed revenue and slow down the anti-corruption crusade launched by the government last year and has seen the arrest of several high-ranking government and ZANU PF officials including former Finance Minister Christopher Kuruneri.
    Nyambuya's proposals are viewed as too radical and some of his peers prefer the smoothening up of the SPV."

    So theyhave laws barring unregistered people/companies from sourcing fuel for the country. Effectively, this means that potential suppliers, many of them Zimbabwean in the diaspora, have been shut out of the fuel procurement process. The problem here is that there government has barriers in effect stopping the so called "informals" from entering the market place. Like I said in the title of this post Zimbabwe's fuel crisis is just a case in point. You can extrapolate the same dynamic into other markets, commodities and countries. It's basically the same thing, the government and mercanilists, ironically fight against the informals claiming informals hinder development yet efficiency and creative genuis reside in the endeavors of the informal market.

    Enter Hernando De Soto the Peruvian economist whose lifelong research and work chronicle this strange phenomenon. His research substantiates the case against developing countries shunning the informal market to their own undoing as the informal market has solutions for many of the problems where the formal market is failing. Check out his two books, The Other Path and The Mystery of Capital.

    The root of the problem is in the laws of the land. It's not enough to clamor for the protection of property rights; we need to hold our governments responsible for crafting laws that are accomodative of everyone and laws that make the formal market place easily accessible to all people. How do informals do that? They operate in their own market (which formals and the governmnent call "black) which has laws that are reasonable and negotiable by the informals. Don't worry Zimbabwe, the "black" market will be back. You can't destroy it by demoliting infrustructure, it is precipitated in the mind that's where it resides.

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  • Behind the quiet diplomacy; Mbeki a Mugabe protege

    South Africa government is fast becoming a psuedo-Zimbabwe transitioning it's leadership of the country to GBO-governance by operation. They too are now in the business of urban removals;
    "Eighteen-year-old Thomas Khosasi ran up 14 flights of stairs to find his blind sister, Theresa, who had been caught up in the mass eviction of a block of flats in Bree Street, central Johannesburg, on Thursday.

    He was terrified that as about 700 people were evicted from Bree Chambers, pronounced unsafe by the Johannesburg City Council, his sister would get lost and be unable to find her way out.

    By 1.20pm, about 600 "Red Ants" -- the nickname for the men in red overalls contracted by the municipality to conduct evictions -- had worked their way to the eighth floor of the 16-storey former office block, which had been illegally occupied.

    Khosasi, a vendor by profession, had been living with three people in one tiny room for the past three months."
    Sound familiar? That's because the scenario is familiar; it's murambatsvina all over again. Distgustingly, South Africa one of the world's emergent economies does not have the decency to house it's eviction victims just like the the callous Zimbabwean government.

    A few days ago I pointed how much else Mbeki has in common with Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. Apparently, that bond only gets thicker as time passes.

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  • Thursday, July 14, 2005

    Information minister: "There is no political impasse"

    Zimbabwe's information minister, Tichaona Jokonya emphasized that there not going to be any talks between ZANU-PF and the MDC saying, "Talk about what?" Listen to the interview here.

    While this is hardly surprising, this latest episode in Zimbabwean politics beefs up an already healthy dossier of symptoms of a failing party in the MDC and it has all happened in the space of a week. The week started off with MDC's own Bennett blasting party leaders for corruption. Tuesday we realized that it was MDC, not ZANU-PF that viewed the talks as a political lifeline. Wednesday Tsvangirai abolished his shadow cabinet altogether. But even then it is apparent this was just another balancing act to ensure he remains in power.
    "If the reshuffle was designed to end the well documented rifts at the top of the MDC leadership, the outcome would appear to be the opposite.

    How, for instance, is Moses Mzila Ndlovu's elevation to foreign affairs spokesman at the expense of Priscilla Misihairabwi likely to heal the divisions within the MDC?

    Mzila Ndlovu is a brute and a thug who physically attacked one of Tsvangirai's advisers last year, directly leading to his removal from the same position. So what has changed?

    While reshuffles are not isolated to the MDC only, Tsvangirai's obsession with shadow cabinets and positional politics exposes him to criticism. If the suggestion that Mzila's return is because he has President Thabo Mbeki's ear is true, then one has to wonder whether Tsvangirai is in charge at all."
    As if this isn't enough, MDC is also embroiled in another controversy with regards to Thabo Mbeki's stance on Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai is sure that Thabo Mbeki has decided to take an active role as opposed to his quiet diplomacy. Tsvangirai was saying,
    "I think what President Mbeki can do, and which he assured me he is going to do, is to change tack, to change strategy around how to influence the course of events in Zimbabwe," Morgan Tsvangirai said.

    He is going to find new strategies. He recognises that the quiet diplomacy has not produced the requisite result and therefore he cannot continue to operate in the same manner he has been operating for the last three years,"
    Mbeki's office office meanwhile denied claims that they were changing their position on Zimbabwe,
    "We have never classified our diplomacy as quiet or loud or whatever.

    I don't know what Mr Tsvangirai is talking about. The president does not know the meaning of the word 'quiet diplomacy.' We have been arguing consistently that Zimbabweans themselves must deal with the challenges they face."
    MDC is sitting on very thin ground at the moment.

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  • Wednesday, July 13, 2005

    Two men who've been through it all

    NPR's Banning Eyre filed an excellent piece on two of Zimbabwe's musical maestro Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi and Thomas "Mukanya" Mapfumo.

    Check the story out and listen to samples from the latest albums from both men here.

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  • Inside Zimbabwe: Bob sweettalking farmers

    It's true. Zimbabwe's government, which violently seized land from its commercial farmers in a frenzied desperation for platform, has been quietly making concessions with its former commercial farmers asking them to return to their old properties.

    Reid Estate about 15 kilometres north of Bindura (the provincial capital of Mashonaland Central Province) is being returned to it's white owner. The estate, which at it's peak in the 90's exported it's produce to Europe, was recently offered back to the Reid family who are well liked in the Bindura community. Before they returned, the Reids however demanded that their farm be cleaned up and asked for restitution for their developments which had been destroyed by the "vets."

    Off course this means that the people who were led by ZANU-PF to give up their original homes for the farms or "minda mirefu" (long fields) now find themselves homeless. Many in Zimbabwe anticipate that thousands of (farm) invading families will be swept out from commercial farms under the guise of the Tsunami (cleanup operation). Where they will go is still a mystery.

    I cannot confirm what kind of concessions they got from the government, but I know it is widely believed that operations at Reid Estate will be reverting to normal soon.

    Mugabe's inhumane cleanup operation continues to plunge deeper into chaos as the government is running out funds and ideas for dealing with the newly displaced victims of it's cleanup. Sokwanele on Monday noted that government officials at Porta Farm (a squatter holding camp) told people who sought refuge there that it was full and they need to go elsewhere.
    "People that have been moved from Porta farm and taken to Caledonia farm, have been told they can go back to Porta because Caledonia is overcrowded! The remaining Porta people are being asked by Police where they want to go to because Caledonia is full."
    Even worse is that the police are now arbitrarily repatriating people to the rural areas. My impeccable sources report that the police are sending people back to whatever rural district their national identity card was registered with. Every Zimbabwean over the age of 16 is supposed to carry a government issued ID card. The ID card has details about what district it was issued in. The district number is what the police are using to send people back to the remote parts of the country. The problem with this is that many thousand of people registered their identities in districts which are not where they are from. There were either working on a farm or visiting relatives and when the mobile registration units passed by, they registered themselves.

    So people are now being sent back "home," except that for many this is not where home is.
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  • Monday, July 11, 2005

    "Only in parliament," says Mugabe

    Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president who doesn't take kindly to public affronts of his stature had to respond to rumours making rounds on the web that he'd been coerced to talk with his oppostion by the AU. Tuesday that that response came in an article in the government's mouthpiece The Herald.

    Said Mugabe spokesman, George Charamba,
    "We went to an election, the MDC was rewarded what the voter thinks it deserves - namely 41 seats - that earned it a place in parliament and within which any contact envisaged with the ruling party will take place. We are convinced this is sufficient contact."
    I think ZANU-PF got more than they deserved by some unscrupulous means.

    Fax them.

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  • Mugabe, Tsvangirai to end stalemate

    After last week's AU summit in Libya Southern African is rife with rumors that Zimbabwean strongman, Robert Mugabe is headed to the negotiating table with his arch rival Morgan Tsvangirai something he's said he woudn't do. What's even more interesting is that this unexpected change of stance by Mugabe is attributed to Olesegun Obasanjo the Nigerian leader who failed to broker talks between the two earlier. The headlines claim that Mugabe has been "forced" into the talks.

    Zimonline, the authoritative Zimbabwean news source picked up on the story over the weekend;
    "Embattled President Robert Mugabe has agreed to talks with opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to find a solution to Zimbabwe’s fast deteriorating crisis.

    Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, behind the renewed effort to pull Zimbabwe back from the brink of economic and social disaster, last week told British legislators that talks between Mugabe and Tsvangirai could be held in Zimbabwe or South Africa."

    Whether the talks will be held at all remains to be seen.

    Meanwhile an article in the Sunday Mirror suggests that the reason for Mbeki's reluctance on Zimbabwe is the fact that he has so much in common with his northern colleague. Pointing to the fact that both leaders face considerable "succession disputes" in their countries, the articlee points out that both leaders have recently appointed women to be vice presidents a new trend in Africa. The question both Mbeki and Mugabe have to answer, according to the article, is whether they will follow the "Nelson Mandela way."
    "On the other hand, the “Nelson Mandela way”, differed from trends in the region (where incumbent leaders tried to extend their terms in office), when independent SA’s first president chose to serve just one term (1994-1999). However, he also set a precedent of handpicking a successor – Mbeki. Malawi’s Muluzi repeated the same in favour of Mutharika, Zambia’s Chiluba chose Mwanawasa and Namibia’s Nujoma did the same with Pohamba.

    The question now is whether presidents Mugabe and Mbeki will resist the temptation to follow in those footsteps? Interestingly, at the inauguration of the hand-picked Mbeki, Mugabe told the South African media that while he appreciated what Mandela had done, “in Zimbabwe we believe leaders should come from the people.” Today, president Mbeki is saying exactly that. “The ‘Tsholotsho Declaration’ in Zanu PF has implications similar to the ‘Jacob Zuma saga’ in the ANC."
    All the people want, what we really really want is freedom, justice, and prosperity for all.

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  • Bennett; "MDC's a dud."

    Roy Bennett, the former MDC parliamentarian who was just released from prison confirms from within what many (including yours truly) have long concluded about MDC: it's a dead party walking. Speaking in an interview in South Africa where he is receiving treatment for a plethora of infections contracted during his incarceration, Bennett said MDC had be "hijacked by opportunists." South Africa's Business Day has the article in which Bennett also charges that some of his MDC collegues have gone bad.

    You can read what I wrote about the problems of the MDC here.

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  • Friday, July 08, 2005

    Unheard of Murambatsvina Leniency for Sam Levy

    Zimbabwe's continued criminalization of poverty continues unabated in Operation Murambatsvina. The insanity scaled to new heights Thursday when the Harare Municipality unilaterally decided to void all land sales made since 1998. By that, unverified numbers of law abiding Harare citizens were made homeless. This announcement from the Herald,

    "HARARE City Council has rescinded all land sale agreements made between 1998 and this year and is now reselling the land at market rates to the same buyers, where necessary.

    The prices charged in many of the agreements were a small fraction of pertaining market rates and usually well below the then cost of servicing the land.

    The price reviews follow the cancellation and invalidation of various sale agreements entered from 1998 with churches, individuals and housing co-operatives.

    Town clerk Mr Nomutsa Chideya yesterday confirmed the new development, but would not be drawn into commenting much about the issue.

    "Some of the stands were not developed, but some already had buildings erected on them," he said, without elaborating further.

    One such example is a piece of land sold for $189 000 in 1998 which has since been resold at $98,8 million.

    "That the previous decision of council recorded under item 26 of the finance committee minutes dated 10 November 1998 to sell Stand 11331 Budiriro to Seventh Day Adventist Church at a price of $189 000 be and hereby rescinded."

    I'm guessing that many if not all those affected by this price adjusting will not be able to afford living in the very homes they built. By the way, since when could a seller obliterate a legally binding contract entered into up to seven years ago?

    I'm not surprised though. Before any of this ever happened, I predicted things would go down just like this. Remember this;

    "The story, which chronicles impending rental increases in Harare, reveals how ZANU-PF's anti-market antics have kept them in power. Mugabe & Co. have placated the anger of the masses by effectively imposing price ceilings on a majority of the basic commodities including in rentals. As the story reports, at today's official exchange rates, there are people that are renting full housesfor a lot less than $1 a month and there's businesses occupying premium space in the city center for under $500! But that's just government controlled properties, rentals in the parallel market a lot closer to reality. Outrageous.

    Don't hasten to pitch the, "it's the MDC controlled municipality that is mucking things up," fit just yet. Recall the numerous forays into local government affairs by the state culminating in the introduction and imposition of governors for the "metro provinces" of Harare and Bulawayo. ZANU is fully and undeniably culpable.

    But as that prolific writer Chinua Achebe titled his most popular book, "Things Fall Apart." It's all beginning to unravel for ZANU in Zimbabwe. The curtain of reality is fast coming down on their charade as providers and patron saints of the public."
    Meanwhile Mugabe was defiantly telling journalists in Libya that his cleanup operation had not made anyone homeless.

    But not everyone affected by the cleanup has met the savage wrath of the operation. Controversial businessman and ZANU-PF backer, Sam Levy's business park in Borrowdale is still intact even though it was built without council approval. Again I already posted on this,

    "BUSINESS tycoon Sam Levy's lavish Borrowdale office block built in the late 1990s without council approval still stands today but the same cannot be said of illegal structures in Harare's densely-populated residential areas - razed to the ground in the past two weeks.
    Levy, who in October 2000 escaped with a $200 fine for importing 50 motorcycles inscribed "Police" without authority, had the knack for putting up illegal structures at his plush Sam Levy Village under the nose of partisan municipal authorities."
    But city officials still want negotiate with Levy. Said Leslie Gwindi, Harare City Council's normally combative spokesperson;

    "We are going to discuss the issue with him very soon. We are working towards regularising every structure and Sam Levy's building is no exception. It will be dealt with in the same manner that we dealt with other illegal structures."

    No, Sam Levy's village will not suffer the same fate endured by thousands of illegal structures during the cleanup operation. It's standing, many poor people's homes and places of business are not. Sam Levy is too well connected to ZANU-PF what ensures protection for all his endeavors.

    Does this enrage you enough to do something?

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  • Thursday, July 07, 2005

    Life in Harare

    Harare acquaintance and fellow blogger manulite writes from the eye of Zimbabwe's Tsunami (that's what name we've coined the cleanup operation) about his last two days. This is life in Harare;
    "Yesterday I caught a cold and today I woke up with a cramp; it isn't very comfortable sleeping at a friend's couch with one blanket in this cold winter. Of course you might already be asking why I'm sleeping on a couch, well, the thing is, this is not my house and it is crowded as it is. So maybe again you ask why I'm not sleeping in my own house? Good Question!

    See my cottage was demolished by Operation Murambatsvina (Operation 'we don't want dirt')on Thursday last week, so I had to move in with a friend since I had nowhere else to go. At least I didn't have to do the urban-to-rural migration that most peeps who have been hit by the tsunami (which is what we now call the Operation Murambatsvina these days). Not that its a major benefit that I'm still living in the 'bright lights'. Only the day before yesterday we had no electricity at night, I don't know whether this is one of those rationing cut-offs or someone at the power company forgot to put the switch to 'ON' before knocking off from work.

    Anyways, that day, the day of the powercut day, I had to buy bread (or at least I wanted to), I rushed out to the nearest tuckshop by the corner, which was.... you guessed it, tsunamised ! So there was no way in Zim I could get bread there, so I put my tail between my legs and went back home to hope that ZESA would just come back before I sleep so I can eat something warm. And so the story goes, I slept, with no power and no food in my stomach.

    That's then. Today I woke up with a cramp, you see I'm still trying to master the art of sleeping on the couch in someone else's house. These days I have cancelled breakfast, because the typical breakfast that I can afford: Three slices of bread with two cups of very sweet tea and occasional fried egg; has become impossible to prepare. The last time I saw sugar it was being sold from the back of TM supermarket with a long queue winding to the front of the shop. Cooking oil is rare. I have seen some brands that look like imported stuff going at unearthly prices which are quite out of reach. The only bread that you get these days has a name like 'Super white' or 'Special Milk bread' and also going at not so humanly prices. So there goes my breakfast.

    So after bathing I had to rush to the bus stop. I have, by the way, parked my Mazda 323 1999 model in a fuel queue at Wedzera Filling Station in Samora Machel. Its been 7 days now with the tank dry and no supply of fuel. I got to the bus stop at 6:30am, I needed to be at work by 8. I was lucky to get a gonyeti (a haulage truck) that was coming into town. The other day my trousers got hooked on some metal and got torn I had to go back home and change.

    On the way to work we were talking about the tsunami (our Murambatsvina), how this clean-up should have been done, how some police were being beaten by zvitokoroshi (goblins of some sort) in some of the shacks they were destroying. Which, I was being told, is the reason why they no longer destroy anything but want you to demolish your own stuff.

    When I got to the office I tried to call my pal, but I'm on this cellphone network that has recently 'successfully upgraded their systems to give better service', so what happens is I have to try 10 times before I get through. Of late it has been behaving strange, when I do get through, the other person could not hear me at all even though I could hear them clear.

    But anyway, I called him to find out if he had had any breakthrough with getting fuel, I needed about 5 litres to move my Mazda 323 from that filling station to another one that has been pouring at night. He told me that for some ZW$ x00,000.00/per litre I could get something on the other market they usually called 'black'. I had no option so I said OK, but hopefully I will have it tomorrow.

    I also tried to look for accommodation, its not safe anymore to rent a cottage at some dude's place cause you don't know when tsunami will strike. Flats in the Avenues have reviewed prices drastically so I wont be able to afford it there.

    So now as I'm sitted here writing this, I'm thinking about the 3-5 combi's that will take me home. Well, small combi's are being banned so it'll be even more tricky. But I'm not complaining, this is life. This is the new way we are living it down here in our lovely Zimbabwe."
    Does this make you want to fax Mugabe?

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  • Furious Faxes

    Want something else to help express your disgust at the situation in Zimbabwe? A smart New Zealander, Kevin Reilly, suggests you send a fax to Mugabe's Office. It's cheap, it's fast, and you know they'll get it. What they'll do with the fax isn't as important as the fact that youv'e done something.

    You can compose your own fax or we can mutually work on one. If you have an idea about what we should include, leave it in the comments. Once we have enough ideas I'll put together the fax and post it.

    Mugabe's fax number is: 263.4.703858

    By the way, did anyone else call Ambassador Mubako over this? You still can call him at 1.202.332.7100
    If you called and got a response, let me know what you were told.

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  • "Show me the homeless," Mugabe challenges

    Desperate and distanced Zimbabwean leader, Robert Mugabe, exposed how out of touch he is with what's going on in the country he claims to lead.

    Responding to journalists questions in Sirta, Libya, where he is attending an AU meeting, the ageing leader denied that his infamous cleanup had made anyone homeless,
    "There is no demolition campaign. It's a clean-up operation and that's what all countries do," adding,"Where are they [the homeless]? We don't know about those. It's just nonsense."
    Where are the homeless? If Operation Murambatsvina targeted both illegal markets and homes as you've conceded, where did the people who lived in those homes go? Have you been to Caledonia Farm from where that Patricia Walsh sent us harrowing descriptions of wanton hunger, sickness and death? What about Porter farm, how many years ago Mr. President did you allow it to be set up as holding camp when the problem of street people bothered you? May I remind you that all those people that you and you government have been referring to "squatters" throughout the years, are homeless. What about this?

    You can't let you deputy information minister challenge Tony Blair to come to Zimbabwe when you yourself haven't to the Zimbabwe that most of your citizens live in.

    I digress. I set out to show you how out of touch Mugabe is. Don't mistake the tone in his quote to smack of denial; it's much worse, this is evidence of ignorance. In the same way he can claim Zimbabwe doesn't need food aid , the Zimbabwe he's in doesn't have any homeless. Yet this is the man to whom our entire nation looks for leadership.

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  • Wednesday, July 06, 2005

    AU in a bind

    After refusing to condemn Mugabe over his cruel cleanup operation (which, by the way is still going on unabated), the African Union decided to send an envoy to Harare to asses the situation. Strange but true. I'm sure a lot of it had to do with the arrival of one Anna Kajumulo Tibiajuka at the behest of another African, Koffi Annan.

    Our African brothers decided their venerable AU could not be diplomatically outdone on their continent by the UN hence the emissary who arrived Saturday in Harare, unanounced. The only problem is that they forgot to notify Brother Bob across the Limpopo and south of the Zambezi.

    Now Harare officials who've grown too accustomed to affronting any foreign forays in the domestic affairs of Zimbabwe, are refusing to grant the AU emmisary clearance to investigate the situation calling his arrival "uncouth." They are also demanding his withdrawal until his visit is channeled according to proper diplomatic protocol.

    The question I must ask is who's worse off here; the regime that quilty of purging it's cities or the union that pays lip service to a cause until push comes to shove or, in this case, the UN sends a fact finding mission?

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  • "Mugabe a dictator" says Putin

    Turning against his country's one time protege, Russian premier Vladimir Putin called Mugabe a dictator. Speaking in Kazakhstan en route to the G8 summit in Scotland, Putin said the developed world should not be afraid to halt aid to corrupt African regimes,
    "We should not be afraid to stop aid to dictators, like Zimbabwe's Mugabe."
    Zimonline has the story.

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  • Sunday, July 03, 2005

    Zimpundit Interview

    "Tom Paine" who's been putting together a fabulous weekly blog news round up at interviewed the Zimbabwean Pundit recently. If you're eager to know more about me, listen to the podcast that features the interview. My interview comes towards the end of the podcast, but the whole thing is fascinating and informative. I'm sure you'll enjoy all of it.

    This icon will take you to the podcast summary. To hear the audio click the icon like this at the end of the summary.

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  • More from Roy Bennett

    South Africa's Sunday Independent carried an article written by Roy Bennett, the former opposition legislator released from Zimbabwean prison last week. Read it here

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  • Honorable MP

    Former CIO operative and ZANU-PF central committee member, Pearson Mbalekwa quit over what he calls the "callous and unhumane" cleanup operation. This from The Standard;
    " Mbalekwa, a former Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operative, said he "dropped" his resignation letter in Zanu PF national chairman, John Nkomo's office on Friday morning.
    "I resigned on Friday, I left the letter in the Zanu PF national chairman's office," said Mbalekwa, whose resignation and boldness has stunned politicians, even in Zanu PF itself.

    However, Nkomo said he had not seen Mbalekwa's resignation letter because he was not in the office on Friday.

    "I can't say anything at the moment because I have not seen his resignation letter. I don't know whether he resigned," Nkomo said.

    However, sources close to the ruling party confirmed that Mbalekwa had tendered his resignation.

    In an interview with The Standard on Friday Mbalekwa said his resignation was in protest against the "inhumane and callous manner" in which Mugabe's government conducted the so-called "clean-up" operation."

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  • Friday, July 01, 2005

    Ambassador defends cleanup

    Zimbabwe's infamous cleanup was featured on yesterday's edition of the radio and TV show Democracy Now! Zimbabwe's ambassador to the US, Dr. Simbi Mubako joined hosts Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez by phone from Washington D.C., and Wellington Chibebe, the Secretary General of Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union chimed in from Harare.

    Watch the video here, listen to the audio stream, or download the mp3 file here.

    By the way, if anyone wants to call Simbi Mubako to tell him what you think about his thoughts on the cleanup you can reach him at 202.332.7100

    Here is the rush transcript:
    "AMY GOODMAN: On June 9, President Mugabe defended the campaign in an address to Parliament, citing the regulation of small-medium enterprises, or SMEs, as a major aim.

    PRESIDENT ROBERT MUGABE: The current chaotic state of affairs, where SMEs operated outside the regulatory framework and in undesignated and crime-ridden areas, could not be countenanced for much longer. In tandem with the ongoing cleanup campaign the government is in the process of reorganizing the sectors operations, a process which will include the provision of essential and dignified infrastructure, vendor marts, technical and management skills training and clustering the enterprises in designated areas.

    AMY GOODMAN: President Mugabe speak earlier this month. Both the African Union and South Africa President Thabo Mbeki have refused to condemn what they call Zimbabwe's internal affairs, which has provoked sharp criticism from Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Britain, as well as international human rights groups. A U.N. envoy met with President Mugabe yesterday during a visit to assess the results of the campaign. The U.N. envoy, Anna Tibaijuka, reported having a (quote) “constructive discussion” with Mugabe. Also this week, state doctors went on strike to protest low pay, and the government announced it would raise medical fees and triple the price of gasoline to bail the country out of economic crisis.

    We're going to start with the Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the United States, Simbi Veke Mubako. Also on the line with us from Washington, Bill Fletcher, President of TransAfrica. And we'll go to Harare, as well. Ambassador, can you talk about what is happening now in Zimbabwe and what this campaign that has been so criticized by many is about?

    SIMBI VEKE MUBAKO: Well, the campaign is slum clearance, basically. It's getting rid of slums, which have mushroomed around our big cities, and illegal trading, which had also mushroomed throughout our big cities. And the result of all of those illegal structures has been an increase in crime, an increase in disease, because this place is unsanitary, and economic dislocation related to those structures. So, because of that, the government planned to remove them and then replace them with better housing and better trading facilities.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: But, Mr. Ambassador, in a slum clearance program, normally, in most countries, there's at least some kind of effort to build new housing first before you move the people out. Where would they stay in the meantime while you are building, supposedly, the new housing for the residents of these slums?

    SIMBI VEKE MUBAKO: Well, that's the ideal situation, but it's not possible in every case. In fact, it has never been done in any slum clearance that I have heard about. There's been slum clearance in the north of England. There's been slum clearance in Nigeria. There's been slum clearance operations in many other African countries. You can’t hope to have built all of the houses and allow crime and unhygienic conditions to continue in the meantime, to be perpetuating illegality, in any case.

    AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to the ambassador from Zimbabwe to the United States, Ambassador Simbi Veke Mubako. Also Bill Fletcher of TransAfrica is on the line. And in Harare, we have just been joined by Wellington Chibebe, the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. Can you share your perspective on this issue right now, Wellington Chibebe?

    WELLINGTON CHIBEBE: Well, thank you for the time. I'm glad that you also brought in the ambassador to Washington, and he is attempting to justify the cruel exercise taking place here at home. But he, unfortunately, is speaking from Washington, is speaking on the situation which is happening here in Zimbabwe, and I know Ambassador Mubako very well. We come from the same area, and I understand he comes from a very humble background, like myself. And for one to speak eloquently the way he is doing, justifying the cruelties being visited upon our people by the government, is unfortunate.

    The fact of the matter is that -- or that Zimbabwe is faced with a situation whereby 85% of this population, the active labor market, are unemployed. And to this end, you can visually or automatically see and translate what that would mean to the population. And therefore, this is the situation here, and these are the people who are now making a living out of the informal economy, and mind you, we together with the government were at the International Labor Conference in 2002 and approved that the informal economy needs to be assisted, and we will actually be working on a program which would assist in poverty alleviation. But what has just happened through this government program is actually going to worsen that position. It's actually going to perpetuate the poverty instead of alleviating poverty.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: Wellington Chibebe, you have visited some of the camps where those who have had their homes bulldozed have been forced into. Could you talk about conditions there and the latest events in recent days there?

    WELLINGTON CHIBEBE: Yes. I have had the courage to visit some of the camps, although the camps are heavily guarded by plain-clothed security personnel who do not allow the occupants of these camps to talk to what they term “strangers.” The situation is pathetic, to say the least. What is said or what is portrayed on television to give an impression that these people are staying in nice tents or are given adequate medication is not true. It's unfortunate that the powers that be would want to play around with people's brains and play football with the victims of disaster.

    I was at Caledonia farm, which is holding camp about 20K to the east of Harare. This camp reminds me of the situation of the liberation struggle when people were shoved into protected villages around Chiweshe and some parts of MashEast. We are being reminded of that situation by our own government. And the sanitary conditions there are poor. The food -- the government, initially, they did not allow any government – any non-governmental organizations or humanitarian organization to go with any assistance until or unless one gets approval from government. And we consider this as being untoward and inhuman.

    AMY GOODMAN: We are listening to Wellington Chibebe, the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions in Harare. Ambassador Simbi Veke Mubako is on the line with us, the Zimbabwean ambassador to the United States. Ambassador, your response to these descriptions.

    SIMBI VEKE MUBAKO: Well, there’s really nothing which Mr. Chibebe has said which contradicts what I have been saying. The truth of the matter is that the conditions in which these people have been living were intolerable in any case. Neither Mr. Chibebe or me or any of the people that clamor, the British government and so on, would like to live in those conditions. So those conditions had to be terminated, and we are trying to build new conditions. So, you know, that's the long and short of the matter.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: We're also joined on the phone by Bill Fletcher of TransAfrica. Bill Fletcher, you have been long active in this country in building support for the liberation movements in Africa, and like many of us in the progressive movement, you in the past have supported the efforts of the Zimbabwean African National Union and Robert Mugabe. Your view of what's going on now, and all of us, obviously, are skeptical when we hear pronouncements from the British government or the United States about what is going on in Zimbabwe, but your perspective on what's going on there?

    BILL FLETCHER: Well, thank you. Thank you very much, Juan and Amy. I think we have to be clear that neither Blair nor Bush have the moral authority to criticize what's going on in Zimbabwe. So, we should just shove that aside and just look at the concrete situation. I think that the -- what the ambassador was saying, unfortunately, just does not pass the straight face test. You cannot explain how somewhere between 200,000 and 1.5 million people in a four-week period would be removed from their homes without other adequate housing for them in the middle of winter? I mean, can you imagine in the United States if we bulldozed Harlem in January and said, we're going to -- we're eventually going to set up homes? I mean, there is something problematic in this, and it's for this reason that many people, many deep and intense friends of Zimbabwe, are saying something is fundamentally wrong with the way that this is being approached. And it raises all sorts of questions about what the motivations are.

    AMY GOODMAN: The numbers again that you just cited, Bill Fletcher.

    BILL FLETCHER: 200,000 to 1.5 million. The United Nations says that it's somewhere in that range over four weeks. I mean, it’s --

    AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask this, Ambassador Veke Mubako, is this your understanding? 200,000 to 1.5 million?

    SIMBI VEKE MUBAKO: No. Those figures -- those figures are suspect. They are wild figures. We don't have 1.5 – I mean, in the whole population of Harare is about 1.5 million. You would have been emptying the whole population of Harare. If it were anything like that figure were being removed. The majority of the people in Harare are still housed in Harare, and they have got good housing. It's just the camps which were mushrooming around the cities that are affected.

    AMY GOODMAN: Wellington Chibebe.

    SIMBI VEKE MUBAKO: The figures are wild. You know, why not ask the government to give you the right figures?

    AMY GOODMAN: Wellington Chibebe, your response. Also, we're talking about removal. We also have been hearing reports of deaths. Wellington Chibebe, you're in Harare. Your response?

    WELLINGTON CHIBEBE: Yes. It's unfortunate that the ambassador would want to duck out, as it were. He knows pretty well that Harare’s population is not 1.5. Assuming that he was in Harare maybe two weeks ago, that’s too conservative a figure. And also the fact of the matter is that these people were not being removed from camps. Let me emphasize. These people were removed from places like Gumbare, places like Makokoba, Glenview, well-established high-density residential areas. The so-called camps you would want to amplify on are maybe to some extent Redcliff extension and the Whitecliff Farm and maybe in the Bulawayo around Kilani.

    But all having been said and done, it must be put on record that these camps were as a result of the green light coming from government, and we have got evidence of government officials, ministers officiating at these camps, legitimizing the camps and giving hope to these people that this will be a new home. And as I speak I have got the high court judgment, which was handed down last year in respect to Porter Farm, just 40 Ks out of Harare, where the high court ruled that the government was not supposed to evict, demolish these structures until and unless they find alternative accommodations for these people. But yesterday, but one, bulldozers were sent to Porter Farm, and they razed everything down, despite the fact that the lawyer representing these people was there present waving the high court judgment, and police were saying they don't -- they are not run by the courts. And what law or what rule of law or what criminality is the matter they are talking about when the government is not respecting its own laws, when it's treating its own citizens? That's hypocrisy.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: Ambassador Veke Mubako, what about that issue at the high court rule that the government could not raze those homes in Porter Farm without first providing residences?

    SIMBI VEKE MUBAKO: Well, I'm not talking individual cases, because the individual cases have got to be followed up by the lawyers concerned. And if it's a matter which the high court is faced with, it, you know, it has got to be decided on its facts. But the general picture --

    JUAN GONZALEZ: But once the homes are demolished, it's moot what happens in the court, isn't it?

    SIMBI VEKE MUBAKO: No, well, if the homes are demolished illegally, there will be compensation paid, but that's -- it's not decided yet that the homes have been decided illegally. In fact, in most cases, the structures were illegal [inaudible] in any case, because the structures which may have grown up in the townships, which Mr. Chibebe has been mentioning, I feel, then and others, would have been those additions which were done without planning -- without planning permission. They have been such structures even in the low density areas, and I know of high government supporters themselves were caught up in this, were keeping goats, chickens and other things, animals behind their houses.

    Now, all of this is, in fact, illegal. And there's no way any government can permit this to go on. It doesn't matter how it started. Even if at one time it was -- you know, it was -- it seemed to be [inaudible] on, it was illegal. And it's time to put a stop to it. In fact, it was a mistake to allow these informal structures -- it's not just the housing. It's informal trading structures, [inaudible], for example, which mushroomed and was allowed to go on for a long time. And when [inaudible] in the middle of town, and all of those things are illegal, and many people have been pointing out, including myself, that this should never be allowed, and now some of us are very pleased that government has at long last decided to put an end to it.

    And the way it was done is, of course, important. One should not say that you should go on in indiscriminately routing out people. People should not be wrapped up. And anyone who is injured or affected deserves compensation. And -- but you cannot expect that in a big operation such as this one that there would be no accidents, and to talk of two people who are -- who have accidentally been killed in an operation which -- which you say involves 300,000 people, is trying to -- just to sensationalize misfortune.

    AMY GOODMAN: Wellington Chibebe, your response in Harare to the Zimbabwean ambassador to the United States about the -- is your number the same as the ambassador's? Two deaths?

    WELLINGTON CHIBEBE: My heart bleeds.

    SIMBI VEKE MUBAKO: I have not said there have been two deaths. [inaudible].

    WELLINGTON CHIBEBE: My heart bleeds when a person of the ambassador, who has got a legal background to that effect, in the high respected legal person in Zimbabwe would do just dismiss what is happening in Zimbabwe for political mileage. It's unfortunate for any person, a government representative for that matter, where one who have lost a soul or a relative, for the official to say that such people would be compensated. Because having grown up in the rural areas myself I have never seen where a death has been compensated by bringing up or bringing back a life. And the figures being stated by the ambassador are not true. As we speak we have got information that there have been four deaths today at Porter Farms. In Glenview, they -- it is said that there are four deaths again. Those two deaths he is talking about, about the kids who were reported in the [inaudible] were defaced to death, but the deaths are continuing through the demolition accident, as you say, through exposure to harsh weather conditions, because we are in winter. If you raze down a home and you put people’s belongings on the tarmac and all that the neighbors not for accommodate the victims simply because by accommodating the victims, you will be actually defying government program. This is the cruelty at its worst, and I never expected this to come out of a liberation-led government, who liberated us from the jaws of slavery, taking us 20 years after independence, taking us back to the same situation we were, and that the [inaudible], it's shocking to get that from the ambassador.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: Bill Fletcher, yeah, I'd like to bring in Bill Fletcher here. Obviously, within the progressive movement in the United States, the debate continues on this issue: What should be the position of the progressive movement in this country vis-a-vis what’s going on in Zimbabwe currently; your thoughts?

    BILL FLETCHER: Well, you know, I think that many of us lived through -- in the United States, lived through the 1950s, ‘60s urban renewal, which many of us called negro removal, and even in those circumstances when our homes were knocked down, people would get some degree of notice. But it destroyed entire communities. We're looking at a situation, and the ambassador and I can go on and on until the cows come home in terms of the actual numbers of people, but something -- it just simply doesn't make sense that in a four-week period by his own admission, hundreds of thousands of people would have their homes knocked down. And yes, yes, there's issues of crime, but the reality, as Mr. Chibebe was pointing out, is that Zimbabwe is locked in a major economic crisis right now where people are attempting to survive using a variety of different means. To now determine, ‘oops, we got a problem, we are going to knock down the homes of hundreds of thousands of people,’ it simply doesn't make sense. And it seems to me that it's important for people who are friends of Zimbabwe, as opposed to people like Bush and Blair, to express our deep concern to the government of Zimbabwe that this is something that further isolates Zimbabwe at precisely the moment that there are vultures out there that wish to come down and strike the country.

    AMY GOODMAN: Ambassador Simbi Veke Mubako, you have the last word.

    SIMBI VEKE MUBAKO: Yes, well, I appreciate Bill Fletcher's concern, but, you see, the concern of our friends here tend to be just verbal. If there really – anyone was really concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe would now be asking what can we do to help. I don't hear that coming from any of our friends, including Bush and Blair. It is -- they sing the same song. They should be asking what can we do to help. And already there are organizations which are helping, which are helping with tents, with blankets, with food and so on. Many organizations are doing that. They're working together with the government to assist the people in this transitional period.

    AMY GOODMAN: On that note, we're going to have to leave it there, and I want to thank you all very much for being with us. Ambassador Simbi Veke Mubako, speaking to us from Washington, he is the Zimbabwean ambassador to the United States; Bill Fletcher, President of TransAfrica; and Wellington Chibebe, Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, speaking to us from Harare, for this unprecedented conversation. Thank you for joining us. We'll continue to follow this story."
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