Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Mugabe's totalitarian dream goes global

Zimbabwe's parliament passed the constitutional amendment bill as expected yesterday afternoon. In a matter of hours, when Mugabe signs his assent making the bill law, Zimbabweans will not be allowed to travel freely if they are deemed a "threat to national security." We also won't be able to own the country's best land nor seek legal recourse to fight the government's annexation of said land. Effectively, government will assume control of 100% of the lives of Zimbos within the country.

But this is nothing new to the people of Zimbabwe; life and all it entailments have always been the domain of the party. They control what people can hear and see in the media. They control what people need to learn and what knowledge is. They control the market forces and hence the prices of exchange of all goods. The state controls free speech. They control what one can wear and where one can live. They also have a monopoly on the "undisclosed illness" diagnosis for those among them who succumb to death. In sum, there is no aspect of life in Zimbabwe protected from the controlling hands of ZANU-PF.

Now after years defining and redifining the art of controlling a nation, Zimbabwe's determined despot is going global with his totalitarian dream. According the latest ammendment if your travels abroad don't tow the party line, you don't deserve to travel. And if the Zimbabwe government seized your land illegally (over the last five years) and you thought you could take them to task at a world court or so, Mugabe now has the domestic immunity disabling any litigation on the land issue.

Did you also notice that this amendment bill passed during the presence of an IMF team in the country to make final assesments in the run up to an almost certain expulsion of Zimbabwe and during the collapse of yet another "look east" credit facility? It is no coincidence. Robert Mugabe has totalitarian dreams for the rest of the world too (including you). Here's how it's going to be from now on; the only way to help Zimbabwe and to be her friend is according to Great Uncle Bob's plan. Nothing else. Any alternative thinking however robust and just, is nothing short of sheer madness which off course is impermissible in Zimbabwe. Thus we'll move forward.

Or not.

Maybe it's all just a dream and one that is about to turn nightmarish at that for Uncle Bob. At second glance every aspect of the 17th amendment bill furthers the cause of those who want to move beyond a Zimbabwe dominated by one party and one man.

First there's the senate. It looks like a good way to filter out the contributions of the MDC in parliament right? Maybe. This might prove problematic for ZANU-PF on two fronts. First, is the issue of elections. They are gambling that the people will choose them at the polls. That gamble depends on the fallacy that ZANU-PF has endeared themselves to the people since the March elections. Nothing could be further from the truth. So a rather nasty suprise by way of an election defeat is quite tenable. If nothing else, the senate elections will give MDC's hitherto unknown candidates national prominence that will both galvanize the party as a legitimate opposition and advance the MDC's cause on the nation's political agenda.

Second, lets assume ZANU-PF wins all 50 contested senate seats (which is highly unlikely). This would place another 50 ZANU-PF bigwigs in the (tax sponsored) gravy train immune from the harsh realities of life without the national fiscus to dip from. There's potential for internal strife in the party not only over who gets to stand in the elections, but also when those left out realize that they have no other route to power and money. Remember how bitter the battle for the vice presidency raged within the party just a few months ago? With potentially 50 coveted spots things could get really ugly in ZANU-PF.

The second goal of the amendment is to impose ZANU-PF's retialiatory minded sanctions on the MDC vis a vis travel controls. Speaking immediately after parliament passed the amendment bill Patrick Chinamasa the just-ice minister explained the travel curbs thus, "It is not patriotic for any Zimbabwean to campaign for military intervention in Zimbabwe or to campaign for sanctions." This was clearly a thinly veiled reference to Morgan Tsvangirai the MDC's leader who's been several consultative trips around the world.

Ironically, this is just what the MDC needs to help them focus their energies on the only people that can put an end to this madness; the Zimbabwean public. For months I've said the only way for the MDC to remain valid is for them to embrace and amplify the the demands of the laity. Morgan Tsvangirai in a recent awakening began a nationwide series of rallies aimed at reengaging the public. He has realized that the Zimbabwe's emanciapation will only come from within. So ZANU-PF's "targeted sanctions" will only help the MDC achieve it's target.

Finally is land ownership issue. A few days ago I opined that abolishing land ownership is the greatest vice of these amendments. I was right, but my thinking was incomplete. I overlooked the fact that the demise of the market place will precipitate a decline in revenue inflows to state coffers, and ultimately to corrupt officials' pockets. Fewer business means fewer tax sources and much fewer tax dollars. The only people ZANU-PF will hurt more than the overtaxed Zimbabweans are themselves.

Maybe the 17th amendment to Zimbabwe's constitution wasn't such a bad idea after all Uncle Bob!

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  • Tuesday, August 30, 2005

    D-day for civil rights

    Today is the day the ZANU-PF initiated constitutional amendments are set to pass through parliament.

    There hasn't been official word yet, it won't be much. ZANU-PF has the numbers in the august. I'll keep you posted.

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  • Friday, August 26, 2005

    Death (of a nation) by constitution

    The draft version of a bill purporting to amend Zimbabwe's constitution was introduced in parliament this week largely unnoticed in MSM the world over. Sadly for those of us for whom the Zimbabwean crisis is an inescapable reality, the proposed 17th amendment is going to effectively eradicate property rights,cinch off the last outlets our beleagured populace had left to mitigate the harsh circumstances at home and expose the national fiscus to further ZANU-PF looting by reintroducing senate.

    The most talked about piece of the amendment--the reintroduction of the senate--has far less ominous consequences for much of the country than the other two changes the ammendment proposes. Off course the reintroduction of the senate, abolished in 1989 by the same people, is just a means to ameliorate the suffering of ZANU-PF bigwigs left exposed to the harsh realities of life outsed of parliament and government (like the ordinary people). Despite a bloated cabinet, special commissions, parliamentary appointments etc., Mugabe was still unable to guarantee the opulent lifestyles that had become mundane to his cronies in his party. Senate will allow them a sanctuary to escape the toughness of life in Zimbabwe complete with all the tax funded perks, power and publicity.

    While there will be elections, there are guarantees that the plebiscite will only be academic. The 65 member senate will feature five elected representatives from each of Zimbabwe's ten political provinces. Mugabe will handpick the remaining 15 members from among the chiefs and "special interest groups."

    "After internal party primary elections to select suitable candidates, a total of 50 senators are to be elected, leaving the remaining 15 nonpolitical members to be appointed by the state president from special interest groups, such as members of the council of chiefs, women and representatives from the agricultural and business sectors. Candidates younger than 40 years of age will not be eligible for senate positions."
    See this.

    There are longstanding rumors that the traditional chiefs electoral college has 10 guaranteed seats. Traditional chiefs are not elected and are firmly pro ZANU-PF. This means ZANU-PF will go on the senate campaign trail with a quarter of the seats in pocket. Add to that intimidation and numerous allegations of rigging from over the years, then you'll see what I meant when I said the elections will be academic at best.

    While the senate (re)invoking piece of the amendment is targeted to empower an elite minority, revoking property rights and enabling goverment to restrict the movement of it's citizens strips the majority of two of the most fundamental powers in any functional society.

    Rescinding private property rights kills the economy. Let me explain why recantation of private land holdings is a death warrant for capitalist (or any for that matter) economic development in Zimbabwe. If you've been reading me for any length of time, you're well aware of my deep reverence for Hernando De Soto a Peruvian giant in the world of development economics. De Soto says, "Capital is not the accumilated stock of assets, but the potential it holds to deploy new is the great wheel of circulation but is not capital because value cannot consist in those metal [and paper] pieces" (The mystery of capital) The very underpinnings of the capitalist system reside not in money or the property, but in the ability of those things to generate productivity. De Soto adds, "Capital is born by representing in writing--in a title, a security, a contract, and in other such records." He calls this the "fungibility of assets. " Without this ability to spawn off more production (fungibility) property is dead and so too is the economy.

    When there is no private ownwership of property (as the government is proposing to do), land holders have--at best-- constrained incentive to be creative and unleash the productive potential of the land they hold. The disincentive: that the lend will revert back to the state when the lease expires. Likewise, lenders are less willing to fund development because the land has little to no value as it cannot be sold off. Even if lenders are compelled by some statutory involvement by government (which I suspect will happen,) the value of the funds they are willing to shore up is grossly reduced and undermined by the fact that property isn't fungible. That is the fundamental reason why rescinding property rights is a mistake. Just in case you're reading this and have a huge cavity between your eyes, this clearly has nothing to do with selling out or handing the land back to the colonialists.

    Jonathan Moyo, former information minister turned independent parliamentarian captures this argument in his own garrulous way,
    "The constitutional Bill provides for selective nationalization of the best and most of the agricultural land. This means that Zimbabwe will henceforth have three competing land tenure systems: (a) statehold, (b) freehold and (c) leasehold. Whereas land leased under a freehold system has a market or economic value; land leased under statehold has no market or economic value and thus cannot be used for trading purposes as an economic asset. Having economically valueless land all over the place will not bring any finality to land reform.

    Statehold does not empower the people but empowers only a clique, the ruling clique that is, which calls itself “the State”. This is a serious problem especially in times such as the present moment when the nation is divided and polarized and where the levels of public mistrust of the government are very high to a point where the State is synonymous with a tiny group of individuals driven by all manner of political, social and economic prejudices.

    The presumption that land leased under statehold can empower anyone leasing it is a legal and economic fallacy. In fact, there can be no empowerment without ownership. The people who had their land stolen during colonialism want their land back; they want to own and they are entitled to its ownership and they must therefore be given title deeds without being forced to lease their land from a small and corruption prone clique that defines itself as “the State”. Because the State is always a contested terrain, empowering the State is not the same as empowering the people.

    Thus, the Constitutional Bill’s proposed statehold will render land valueless and this will undermine economic confidence and economic production and mess up property rights and asset development in an economy where the majority was long dispossessed of its assets.
    The amendment also seeks to empower government to curb free movement of Zibmabweans. While they long siezed this right within the country, we have continued to enjoy the ability to travel abroad at will. Now that too is threatened. The official reason given is to stop the movements of Zimbweans whose activities might pose a threat to national interest. What national interest? Understaffed schools and hospitals because proffesionals have fled the country for employers that can actually afford to pay them? Or is it the national interest of keeping a story of one of world's worst tragedies from being retold on the global front?

    What this ammendment means is that as the economy continues to fail citizens will be entrapped within the oppressive walls of a collapsing tyranny. In essence, millions of ordinary Zimbos have to endure the brunt of burden brought upon them by an elitist leadership that is in constant flight from that very same reality.

    But there's hope. That hope comes from within the people themselves.

    How much more can they take from us. How much longer will the charade hold together? It's falling part and this is just how desperate they are to hold things together.

    Nature allows for only two reactions to threats on the wellbeing of all of its constituents humans included; fight or flight. Zimbabwean people are no exception to this rule. They've boxed us in eliminating flight, the only option we have is to fight off the adversity creeping up on us from every direction.

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  • Thursday, August 25, 2005

    Has Tsvangirai seen the light?

    Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC president is reportedly returning to the masses. The Fingaz reports that he is going around the country engaging the public in consultations on the way forward.

    "AFTER three futile attempts to dislodge the ruling party from power, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai has resolved to go back to the people to brainstorm for ideas to end the stalemate between his party and ZANU PF.

    MDC insiders said Tsvangirai had launched a series of rallies countrywide to consult party supporters after President Robert Mugabe snubbed talks on Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.
    Cracks have reportedly been widening within the MDC after the March 31 parliamentary elections as frustrations heightened over the six-year-old party's failure to end ZANU PF's 25-year grip on power.
    The MDC tried to use the ballot box to gain ground but failed amid an outcry over vote rigging, intimidation and an uneven electoral playing field."

    This is exactly what democracy is about; empowering and enabling society to have voice and be abel exert that voice as it relates to governence and slef determination.

    The MDC has been criticized for riding on the desperation of the people to gain political solvency and then turning around and neglecting the people's cries once they gained acces to parliament in 1999. From the get go I said that the MDC needed to make engaging and consulting the Zimbabwean people priority numero uno; before seeking parliamentary equality with ZANU-PF, before seeking the help of people outside the country, and before undoing the injustice at the ballot box. Months ago I wrote,
    "Somehow, after the MDC debuted as a political party, Tsvangirai's leadership began to distance itself from the realities and hardships faced by the proletariat. [regime] Change became his party's clarion call. As early as the run up to the 2002 presidential elections, MDC began to emphasize the need for regime change louder than they articulated wishes of the masses.

    But these continued cries for change didn't alleviate the pinch of an economy imploding under high inflation and unemployment as well as the detrimental effects of AIDS. Those were and remain the immediate concerns of the public in Zimbabwe.As long as ordinary Zimbabweans don't hear the MDC championing their cause, for food security, employment and sustained economic growth, MDC can rest assured all the sympathies for them will come from a small minority.

    And that spells doom for them unless they change the mainstay of their platform and it's not too late to do that yet."

    See this too.

    I hope Tsvangirai has seen the light.

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  • Wednesday, August 24, 2005

    The (re)colonization of Zimbabwe

    Ever wonder why the Chinese have taken such a liking Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and his party? I have an idea. Let me tell you; the Chinese have stumbled on that nugget of wisdom dictates that colonialism is a failure proof way to economic success.

    Let me explain. It hadn't dawned on our Asian brotherhood until recently that the key to much of the so called developed world's economic prosperity lies in the barbaric horrors of colonizing other people not just in free market policies. So the Chinese are taking the same shameful route taken by the avaricious giants of Europe's decrepid history.

    Just like Lobengula did, Mugabe is signing the country away for some immediate and temporal pleasure. That is what ZANU-PF is about working only for the hear and now (and messing that up too) because they've realised that their prominence in Zimbabwe is now a thing in posterity. Their selling the country out.

    This from a report on Zimbabwe's sole broadcast signal carrier's desperate appeal to parliament for funding;
    "MOST radio and television transmitters in the country have outlived their lifespan and spirited efforts to refurbish them are being hampered by inadequate financial resources, Transmedia (Private) Limited chief executive Mr Alfred Mandere said yesterday.

    Mr Mandere told members of the Parliamentary portfolio committee on Transport and Communication that there was an urgent need to refurbish the transmission network.

    He was presenting oral evidence on Transmedia, the country’s sole signal-carrying company in transmission networks, before the committee.

    "Nearly all our equipment is now beyond its useful life and we are even surprised that the people (broadcasters) are still on air because the situation is bad," Mr Mandere said.

    This, he said, was being compounded by the lack of foreign currency to purchase spare parts for the transmission network.

    Mr Mandere said a Chinese mining company had shown interest in assisting Transmedia’s expansion programme with a loan facility of US$40 million in exchange for a mining concession." [emphasis added]
    That is how the ZANU-PF government are doing it. This is their MO and to this we owe our demise.

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  • Tuesday, August 23, 2005

    Census numbers out

    In Zimbabwe 2002 was a year overshadowed by the presidential elections but another monumental undertaking was going on which we heard very little about. The 2002 census was also going on but was pushed to the backburners because of the election controversies.

    After three years those census figures are out and off course the Herald has interesting spin on the figures. This from an op-ed in yesterday's edition of the paper.
    "People immediately latched onto the "missing millions" and assumed 2 million, or even 3 million, Zimbabweans were living outside the country. It can now be seen that the bulk of the "missing millions" are missing because they were never born. There are a significant number of Zimbabweans abroad, but 300 000 must be the maximum estimate, not the 10-fold myth."
    Yet this article in the very same paper says;
    "In its national report of the 2002 census published on Friday, the Central Statistical Office found the population of Zimbabwe on census day was 11 631 657 people, very close to the initial figure of 11 634 663 published in December 2002.

    The rate of natural increase in the year before census day in August 2002 was 1,3 percent.

    This rate excludes the effects of migration, in or out of Zimbabwe, and is based purely on the difference between crude birth rates and death rates."

    Clearly someone isn't reading their own propaganda. The census clearly avoided the effects of immigration. To go ahead and postulate that declining birthrates are the reason for the slowdown in population growth not emigration is a non sequitor.

    I think the commentator would have better used his lies fabricating a reason for the delay in releasing the census figures.

    I'm glad the Herald's putting out their contradictions in the open for all their hijacked readers to notice.

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  • Monday, August 22, 2005

    A.I. releases damning video

    A video secretly recorded in Zimbabwe proving that the cleanup operation was released on Saturday making headlines. The video, which proves that the government has not made good on any of its' trumped up promises to bring respite to the victims of Operation Murambatsvina, shows people at the makeshift holding camp at Hopely farm on the outskirts of Harare. The video was released by Amnesty International in a move certain to raise a rucus in government ranks this week. Gateway Pundit has more on the video.

    Meanwhile Mediagate, the saga alleging Zimbabwe's intelligence bought controlling stakes in three independent newspapers continues to snowball. The Financial Gazette's former editor in chief Francis Mdlongwa joined the fray in defense of his name this weekend lashing out at the Independent (which broke the story) and Trevor Ncube it's South African based publisher in this statement. Dumisani Muleya, the Independent's reporter who broke the story, published a second article in the series in Friday's edition of the paper. In the article he responds to the rebuttles put out by Ibbo Mandaza (Mirror Publisher) and Sunseely Chamunorwa (Fingaz Editor in Chief). Muleya noted that neither Mandaza nor Chamunorwa denied that they might be cotrolled by the CIO. Chamunorwa's feeble response failed to name the real owners of the paper and all Mandaza could say was that he could not say that his organization has not been infiltrated.

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  • Friday, August 19, 2005

    Letter from Zimbabwe: Eddie Cross

    Here's a letter from Eddie Cross, top political and economic advisor to Morgan Tsvangirai the MDC leader

    The Implosion Begins.

    In 1997 the Zimbabwe economy was reasonably stable – showed real growth rates on average of about 5 per cent per annum and a healthy balance of payments situation. Exchange rates were about 12 to 1 against the US dollar and there was only a limited parallel market for foreign exchange.

    Then came the fateful decisions to enter the war in the Congo on the side of Kabila (Senior) and his Tutsi allies and the decision to pay the veterans of the Zimbabwe civil war some US$350 million in unbudgeted reparations. Together these two decisions began the tumble from the heights held in 1997.

    Since then the economy has shrunk by over 50 per cent, exports by two thirds and living standards have retreated to levels last seen in the mid fifties – half a century ago. Life expectancies have declined from a high of 59 years on average in 1990, to less than 34 years today. No other country in recent history has seen such a collapse in its economic fortunes in peacetime.

    But despite the collapse, Zimbabwe has looked remarkably “normal”. Traffic has filled our streets, our supermarkets have been reasonably stocked and most goods available – albeit at rather high prices. Life went on, people tightened their belts and made do with less, rallied round to help those less fortunate and to the outsider, things did not look so bad. In fact visitors from war torn parts of the continent repeatedly said that we looked much better to them after the mayhem of the Sudan, Somalia and the Congo. Not much comfort in the comparison, but it is true – we looked better.

    It is only when you get under the surface here that the real cost of the past 7 years of economic regression really shows. And to get the facts is not easy. Take a photo of a queue for bread, or sugar, or maize meal or fuel and you will find yourself in detention and your equipment confiscated. Make a statement you cannot substantiate and you will find yourself in Court and facing a heavy fine or imprisonment. Hard facts from reliable sources are impossible to come by and official government statistics tell you only what they want you to know.

    But the real situation – human and economic is not hard to see. Cities surrounded by sprawling cemeteries, millions in flight from economic depravation and moving to anywhere where life is a little bit better. Statistics on child and maternal mortality that make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. The aching poverty that is evident everywhere – people in rags, the sense of despondency and the almost total absence of hope and vision.

    Three weeks ago President Mbeki of South Africa moved to prop up the Zimbabwe regime and to try and prevent any further collapse. He warned as he did so that if South Africa did not help, that there was a very real threat that Zimbabwe would collapse to the detriment of the entire region. Those of us who live here ask ourselves how much more of this punishment can we take? We as a nation have “turned the other cheek” for so long – how much longer can we put up with this state of affairs?

    Well we may be about to find out. On Friday last week, Mugabe rejected the South African offer of emergency funding – because it was conditional. He knows full well that any concessions to South Africa will signal the end of Zanu PF and the end of his own presidency and probably his own flight into exile for the rest of his life. He never was going to give in easily or to rational argument – he is not that sort of a character.

    I told a South African journalist who was stunned by this rejection that South Africa had to understand what they were up against and that if they wanted to get the attention of Mr. Mugabe, they would have to hit him hard with a big stick!

    And so the threatened implosion of the Zimbabwe economy begins. You cannot buy fuel for local currency anywhere; most basic necessities are in short supply. Our money, already virtually worthless, has halved in value in one month. Inflation in July was 47 per cent – month on month – over 2000 per cent per annum. Exchange rates in parallel markets have collapsed by at least 50 per cent in the past few weeks.

    People cannot handle such conditions anymore – it is now beyond the capacity of our hard pressed community and businesses. In a statement last week, instead of addressing the fundamental problems in the economy, the Minister of Finance simply made things worse. He raised tax rates dramatically – we were already among the most highly taxed people on earth, he widened the net of those items we can now buy and trade freely to include wheat and maize in a desperate attempt to plug holes in the market place – this will simply increase demand for foreign exchange on the parallel market and drive up costs for everything else. In a vain attempt to halt inflation he placed a ceiling on wage increments of 120 per cent per annum – an impossible limit to maintain in our hyper inflationary environment.

    At the same time the Minister continued to spout the fiction that the Zimbabwean economy is on the mend and that there will be growth in 2005. That is just a sick joke. By my calculations every sector of the economy is in retreat – agriculture, mining, industry, tourism. None show any signs of recovery, in fact conditions are now much worse than they were this time last year and I project even worse production data for agriculture even if we have a good or above average wet season.

    Mugabe has in the past fortnight rejected offers of assistance from South Africa, rejected the UN report on operation “Murambatsvina” which they now euphemistically call “Operation Restore Order”. He has rejected the AU initiative to kick-start the process of national reconciliation and recovery and he has firmly ruled out any talks with the Movement for Democratic Change.

    Quite frankly I am delighted with this hard line position. Our worst nightmare would be Mugabe working with Mbeki instead of against him in the resolution of our crisis. At least with the hard line position being taken by the Zimbabwe regime we can decide our future on the basis of principle rather than compromise. When the time comes, we can toss out the entire structures of Zanu PF, start afresh and purge our society of all those who have been responsible for our sad situation. In the meantime hold onto your life jacket – the next few months are going to be very tough.

    Eddie Cross
    Bulawayo, 19th August 2005

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  • Thursday, August 18, 2005

    What's up with the aid hold up?

    South African clergy visited Zimbabwe over a month ago on a mission to asses the extent of suffering visited on the Zimbabwean people by their government. These men of the cloth left their norhtern neighbors faces aghast with the suffering they had seen. Upon their return to South Africa, these men did the only thing common sense dictated to them; collect food and other necessites to send to their Christian brethren north of the Limpopo.

    A full three weeks later that aid, 37 tons of food and blankets, which they collected and put on trucks to ship to Harare has still not arrived. It has been stuck for two weeks at Beitbridge border post while story after story purporting to explain why the aid hasn't arrived yet has been broken in many of Zimbabwe's papers.

    Just what is happening to the aid, why won't they let it in? Are they prohibiting it from entering the country as displayed on many headlines? Who is to blame for this inhumane decision to postpone the suffering already displayed Zimbabweans?

    In my opinion, both the state and the donor agencies are to blame for this. The crux of this delay is about a duty free clearence certificate which the government is empowered by law to issue. Without it, the donations will be levied duty at Zimbabwe's exorbitant important rates.

    Word on the street is that the government was angered by the South African bishop's mission to asses the damage of the cleanup operation so this is there way of retaliating. Typical of their cowardly malice, instead of coming out in the open and flatly denying organizers the certificate, the government has given these benevolent souls the run both in Harare and in Beitbridge in between the two. All of a sudden no one in government is responsible for issueing the duty free clearence certificates yet there's an established criteria for how it's to be done. Social Welfare minister Nicholas Goche denying his role in the hold up, "I am not responsible. Why do you think it is me?" According to the Fingaz, agriculture minister Joseph Made whose
    help the donors have sought is also reported missing in action. He apparently is in Botswana with the president at the SADC meeting. Will the real Zim government please standup, please standup?

    All this begs this question of the organizations involved in bringing the aid in; why not go it alone? Why not just bear down and raise money to pay of the duty and get on with the task of helping the people?

    Bootlicking the government is not the only way of getting things done in our country. This instance would be a prime time to circumvert government and their unjust laws. In his Letter from a Birminham Prison, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, "One has a moral responsiblity to disobey unjust laws."

    I vote to forget the government, pay the duty (government will still broke) and get on with helping the suffering people.

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  • Media saga: Fignaz fights back

    The editor in chief at the Financial Gazette has responded to allegations in last Friday's edition of the Independent that his paper is firmly in the grip of the CIO. I don't want to paraphrase so read the response here.

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  • Wednesday, August 17, 2005

    Taxes, inflation up

    Zimbabwe's year on year inflation climbed to 254.8 % in July according to Zimonline. Contrary to assertions by Gideon Gono the central bank govenor that he expected it down around 80% by year's end, inflation has continued on an upward spiral up from 127% in March. Zimbabwe's inflation plateaued at 622% last year. This has prompted the country's beleagured finance minister Herbert Murerwa to tighten the screws on Zimbabwe's economy in a desperate bid stave off total collapse of the economy.

    Inflation has come unfettered after months of crippling shortages of fuel, electricity and food. The shortages were compounded by the government's cleanup operation which saw the destruction of the informal trade in Zimbabwe's urban centers.

    Off course the chief culprit responsible for inflation is unbridled money supply growth which simply means the government is printing paper with no value and putting it out there as legal tender or money. Why would the government do such a thing? It's called deficit financing. When government's overspend and their creditworth is nil (meaning they can't borrow), they print paper money to pay for their extravagant spending. This is exactly what the Zimbabwean government has been doing hence the inflation.

    In a supplementary budget and mid termpolicy review statement issued yesterday, Murerwa announced a string of new measures to compliment Gono's monetary side efforts at stemming money supply growth and speculative activity. While there are no new increases to Pay As You Earn (P.A.Y.E) the government's income tax program, the minister rejected appeals by the public for a real upwards revision of the tax free bracket only granting a token adjustment of ZW$500,000 to set it at ZW$1.5 million up from ZW$1 million. P.A.Y.E funds 45% of the government's revenue inflows which is why he left it untouched.

    The bevy of new taxes and fees Zimbabwe's longsuffering public must now cope with include;

    • a 2.5% increase in VAT (Value Added Tax) to 17.5%
    • a new carrying-capacity based taxes on commuter transporters and taxis
    • a presemputive tax of 5% of the gross value of minerals and precious materials on all mining operations
    • a new toll fee (unexplained but Zimbabwe currently has no toll gates)
    • a witholding tax of 10% on marketable securities
    • a ZW$1,500 increase in the stamp duty for check processing

    All this boils down to this one thing: life in Zimbabwe is going to be much more expensive than it has been in the past and the public is bearing the brunt of the burden. Naturally, these new measures came with no apology from government for failed policies. This lame article in the Herald casually quips that the new taxes are necessitated, "by the current drought and its attendant challenges." What do they think we are stupid or something? Don't they realize that we've been here through the umpteen policy pronouncements they've made over the last few years?

    Token promises of reduced government spending predicated upon postponing all new projects indefinitely. Murerwa announced that ministerial budgetory allocation had been reduced by the tune of 3 trillion Zim dollars, but we all know they overspend by twice that amount come year's end. How about doing something definitive like say reducing the size of cabinet. Zimbabwe's unproportionally large cabinet is bloated and this was brought up months ago;

    "The new cabinet – dubbed the ‘Development Cabinet’ – has 31 ministries; eight more than the last cabinet, despite protestations from critics who felt Zimbabwe could not sustain such a large number of portfolios. On top of this figure are the ten governors and resident ministers and 19 deputy ministers.

    Budgetary concerns have been behind the criticism of a burgeoning cabinet."
    Murerwa also reviewed his GDP growth expectations from around 3.5% to under 2%.

    All is not well in Zimbabwe.

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  • Tuesday, August 16, 2005

    Bennett: MDC should quit parliament

    Former MDC parliamentarian Roy Bennett, on a whirlwind tour of the world after eight months behind bars has called for his party to boycott parliament--for good.

    Speaking at Zimvigil's "Que for Freedom" at the Zimbabwean embassy in London on Saturday, Bennett said MDC's presence in parliament gave tacit credilibility to the rigged parliamentary elections. Bennett and his wife are in London were they have made several solidarity appearances with Zimbabwean's facing deportation.

    He is not the first voice to call for the MDC to abstein from parliament. Human rights lawyer, activist, and former student leader Daniel Molokela has long mantained that he refused to join the MDC because they wanted to go to parliament.

    Opponents of the MDC's involvement in any government process insist that ZANU-PF will never listen to the opposition as they rule. They say the MDC's focus on creating political space for their own agenda in a system dominated by ZANU-PF has detracted from the MDC's ability to focus on engaging the public in their quest for democracy.

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  • Intelligence buys independent media--with tax dollars

    In news that has sent shockwaves through the Zimbabwean media, the Independent reported on Friday that Zimbabwe's intelligence, the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) has been silently effecting a coup on independent newspapers in the country. The expose describes an elaborate scheme in which the intelligencia has seized controlling stakes in three of Zimbabwe's independent labes; The Financial Gazette, The Daily Mirror, and the Sunday Mirror.

    The covert operation that could only be funded from the government's fiscus, has seen the CIO assume operating costs for the Mirror labels and stage a boardroom coup at at the Financial Gazette. They reportedyly attempted to take over the Tribune stable as well.

    The article alleges that the operation was hashed to secure government control of the independent newspapers because the popularity of their state's propaganda machinery has sagged behind for years owing to poor journalism and a lack of fundinding.
    "Sources said the CIO grand plan was to buy into as many private papers as possible to win the hearts and minds of an increasingly sceptical population amid deteriorating social and economic conditions."
    The Daily News, which was forced down by the government, was Zimbabwe's most popular daily after eclipsing the Herald's circulation figures in a few months of its' launch.

    On Monday, reported that the governments security department was all huffed up over the article and called emergency meetings to deal with the developing scandal.

    Ibbo Mandaza and Kindness Paradza publishers of the Mirror and Tribune papers both refuted claims that they knew of a CIO takeover in their papers. Both however said they could not deny that CIO could have placed some its operatives within their organization.

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  • Monday, August 15, 2005

    Committe to Portect Bloggers article

    You might have noticed that Monday's post was rather short. I was working on an article for the Committe to Protect Bloggers.

    You can read the article here.

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  • A weekend of victories

    The MDC's Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube retained his mayoral post in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo over the weekend. In an election marked by low voter turnout, Ncube polled 29,575 votes outclassing ZANU-PF's Dickson Abu Basutu who only garnered 5,509 votes. Only 10.1% of Bulawayo's registered voters turned out for the election, signalling people's loss of confidence in politics. The outcome of the election was good news for the MDC who lost the March parliamentaries and have been rocked by infighting.

    On the sports front,Zimbabwe's national soccer team the warriors gave the nation a reason to smile when they beat Zambia 1-0 to clinch the COSAFA Castle Cup in South Africa. The country's streets were abuzz with jubilation after much needed victory on Monday morning. Last week, the Zimbabwe's cricket team slumped to their worst defeat in test cricket when they lost to New Zealand by an innings and 294 runs.

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  • Friday, August 12, 2005

    Isn't it ironic?

    Mugabe's unsolicited hate filled rants came full circle on Monday when he blasted Mbeki for insisting that he talk with Tsvangirai the opposition leader.

    His early mantra was that he hated the British, Blair in particular and wouldn't talk to them.

    Then he wouldn't talk to Tsvangirai--a Zimbabwean!

    He snubbed Mbeki and Obasanjo's mediatory efforts.

    Now he wants to talk to Blair.

    So the great African uncle who spews forth virulent nationalist sentiments in all his speeches, won't indulge Africans and his fellow countrymen, he only wants to engage the white man whom he's made out to be the worst kind of evil in Zimbabwe. Go figure.

    The Independent's anonymous satirist, Muckraker elaborates this case well,
    " What do you call a man who wants to speak to foreigners but will not speak to his fellow Africans? Muckraker reckons he is a hypocrite suffering from an acute inferiority complex. That's a terrible situation for a nation to find itself in, particularly where the person so afflicted is the leader of that country.

    President Mugabe has ruled out talks between Zanu PF and the opposition MDC. He has also refused to meet MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai because instead he wants to meet British prime minister Tony Blair. His excuse is that Tsvangirai is Blair's puppet.

    If this kind of reasoning had been used by a white man he would have been labelled a racist of the worst type. He would have been pilloried for looking down upon Africans. Mugabe can't be accused of being a racist in this case, but there is clearly a pining to meet his master at 10 Downing Street. He told his supporters at Heroes' Acre on Monday that he wanted to speak to Blair, although he didn't say what about.

    “When will they (MDC) learn that power to rule Zimbabwe comes from the people of Zimbabwe?” asked Mugabe. So what does he want from Blair?

    Well it does appear that the sense of isolation is getting more unbearable as problems in the country mount. A dream meeting with Blair is seen as the first tentative step towards rehabilitation."

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  • Nyoni dropped, finally

    The minister, who up until recenly was an illegal minister (see this and this), is no longer a minister. She is now just a consultant to the government pending reappointment to cabinet after the senate comes into effect. Did I mention that she's a consultant in charge of what would have been her ministry with all ministerial benefits. So really she's a minister without being a minister.

    Apparently Mugabe took time to rectify the Sithembiso Nyoni's situation in between his anti-MDC, anti-Mbeki, anti-African, and anti-Blair rants since his return from China. The Financial Gazette has filed a full report on the situation here.

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  • Thursday, August 11, 2005

    Let the jostling begin

    Since last weeks murmurings about the draft bill on the constitutional ammendment that will reinvoke senate, there has been a lot of excitement and restlessness in ZANU-PF. Hundreds of Mugabe's ZANU-PF cadres that were left out of parliamentary and gubenitorial feasts have already begun wrangling among themselves.

    The craziest development thus far is the death by poisoning of one Rosemary Chitura a popular ZANU-PF member in the Mashonaland Central Province. She reportedly died after eating poisoned food at the celebrations for Mazowe West parliamentarian Sabina Zinyemba. The Daily Mirror reports that,
    "AS the race for elected seats in the proposed Senate gather momentum, a Zanu PF aspiring candidate in Mashonaland Central, Rosemary Chitura was poisoned and later died.
    Chitura, who was also the chief nursing services officer for Premier Services Medical Investments, a subsidiary of Premier Medical Aid Society, was poisoned on July 23 while celebrating the victory of Mazowe West Zanu PF legislator Sabina Zinyemba.
    According to impeccable sources who had sight of the post mortem result, Chitura died after eating food laced with poison.
    “A post mortem that was handed over to the police and Zanu PF’s national political commissar (Elliot) Manyika revealed that Chitura was poisoned. Manyika was concerned by the outcome of the post mortem. Manyika attended the burial,” the source said adding the act could have been politically motivated."
    Senate elections (if there will be any) are at least a year away. After the draft bill passes, it will have to be ammended before it is debatable in parliament. Even if ZANU-PF rams it through that august house and Mugabe signs it into law right away, several other pieces of legislation (senatorial constituency demarcations, relationship with rest of government, modalities etc.) have yet to be written. After all that, primary elections will have to be held and THEN candidates will be nominated to stand for senate.

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  • Wednesday, August 10, 2005

    Dissecting the Zim loan prospect in SA by Wayne Wides

    Curious why there seems to be no consensus among South African citizens about whether their government should release a loan to Zimbabwe, I asked South African blogger Wayne Wides of about this. Here is his insightful response on a tricky situation - one that involves race and ultimately fear, a situation that makes people tread very warily with what they say.

    A lot of conservative black South Africans for example see what is happening to Zimbabwe rather as a case of repeat British imperialism, and regard Mugabe as being in the forefront of the resistance to this. The view is slowly changing but it's not uncommon to find those who shout their support for Mugabe. I'd say the ANC Youth League and Daily Sun editor Jon Qwelane fall into that category but that's why Mugabe continues with the rhetoric about imperialism and counter-revolutionaries - he knows that he's appealing not just to local but also South African groups fears of the return of the imperialists.

    The more liberal and left wing black South Africans are more up to speed on the issue and relate to ordinary Zimbabweans plight. They're more predisposed to opposing Mugabe as a result and include the like of Cosatu.

    White South Africans are heavily opposed to Mugabe but admittedly for sometimes vastly different reasons. The camp Laurence and I fall into opposes him for his destructive rule and violations of rights. However a great deal of white South Africans oppose him for what he did to the white farmers and fear that that will also happen to them. I'd say this group falls into the Democratic Alliance class.

    A third group are opposed to him for more racist sentiments. That's the Freedom Front+ supporter type of thinking and/or far right groups like the AWB. They mostly see the white farmers being expelled and use it to whip up their brand of sentiment and extremism.

    The last white group in turn actually causes a lot of black South Africans to instinctively support Mugabe ithout knowing all the facts on the ground. They see those who they know are indeed racist and decrying him with racist overtures as intent on repeating the old themes of Apartheid and therefore side with Mugabe as the lesser of two evils. That's their fearful reaction - they see it as necessary to stop that thought. I think Abiola picked this up a while back - if the racists shut up then a lot of moderate blacks would actually turn against Mugabe because of the absence of the fear the former inspires.

    The second white group is admittedly more driven by fear of what will happen to them. They worry a great deal over whether Mbeki looks at them in the same way that Mugabe did to whites and does to the opposition in Zimbabwe. So it's partly a principled but also partly another fear driven response.

    I'd say coloured and indians don't like Mugabe in general either for some similar reasons of fear but also rinciple. The ANC technocrats themselves (Mbeki, Dlamini-Zuma) seem to have a very strange mix of reasons. In one way Mbeki does see Mugabe as an ally from the days of the struggle against Apartheid and in terms of the third world versus the first world, and as a result grants him the benefit of the doubt. However this also
    conflicts with Mbeki's African Renaissance concept. I don't think Mbeki fully accepts yet that he can't have both Mugabe and the African Renaissance but he seems to be trying for that. There are however slight signs even he's becoming exasperated by Mugabe's behaviour lately.

    Copyright Wayne Wides 2005. Used with permission.

    You can reach Wayne at

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  • Monday, August 08, 2005

    Life on Harare's streets

    While Zimbabwean officials continue to blow hot air, life on Harare’s streets is dire. Here’s the latest picture of what it looks to be in Zimbabwe, trying to survive in right now.

    There is nothing that money can buy in Zimbabwe. People have nothing-nothing. People are suffering and they are hungry. The prices of food and everything have gone up threefold since fuel price increases were effected but our salaries have not been reviewed.

    Here are some of the prices:

    -Bread; $12,000

    -Meat (two pounds); $110,000

    -Cormeal (staple food); $100,000

    -Commute (one way); $8,000-15,000

    The transport situation has eased a bit since they announced that people can buy fuel in foreign currency.

    Then there’s petrol situation. The official price of a liter of petrol is $10,000. However, the blackmarket (which is really the only place you can buy it) is selling it for around $60,000/liter

    Foreign currency isn’t any different either. Since the government officially declared that people can pay for fuel with hard currency, the parallel market has surged. People will happily pay $42,000 for the greenback and $8,000 for the rand.

    The middle man are the catalysts of the fuel crisis. Fuel laundering is rampant in Harare. They go to people who want fuel and complete the transactions on the spot since they fear arrest. There is no fuel at the gas stations because the middlemen are intercepting it before it gets there and selling it for a huge markup.

    Last week there was no electricity. Industries didn’t have electricity for a couple of days last week and some residential didn’t have it for the whole week. You can imagine getting home after work and finding that there is no electricity. To worsen the situation, due to water rationing some neighborhoods didn’t have water too. Some people didn’t have both water and electricity when they got home for much of last week.

    These are the times we live in.

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  • Friday, August 05, 2005

    "Zimbabwe's media no fourth estate"--Mahoso

    Zimbabwe's reviled media henchman Tafataona Mahoso, speaking in an interview with the Herald said local media cannot, by virtue of it's founding principles, have the nation's goals and principles at heart. Therefore the media is no fourth estate in Zimbabwe. Does this explain why he has closed down four of Zimbabwe's independent papers all of which were founded and funded locally? Here's the excerpt.

    "The media is a critical institution in society, which is why some have called it the fourth estate. Do you feel the Zimbabwe media can be described as the fourth estate?

    No! Because of the origins of journalism in the first place. Media operators say that they are there to promote accountability, democracy, transparency, human rights and so forth, so we asked the question during the Media Ethics Committee: Where did journalism come from as an aspect of communication? Journalism started as part and parcel of the machinery of foreign intervention, and I always refer to the example of Henry Morton Stanley, who came to Africa assigned by the New York Herald Tribune in 1869, what was he looking for? He was looking for the North Atlantic agenda in Africa, he was not looking for Africans and he is not known for writing a story about what Africans were doing or saying, he is known for recognising a white man in Africa - "Dr David Livingstone, I presume?"

    We are saying therefore, when did journalism drop this agenda and start becoming a fourth estate, and we say that the part of the media which represents the majority interests in Zimbabwe came from exile during the Rhodesian days, it came from Mozambique, from Zambia, to the extent that the Director General of the Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation in 1976 told an American Editor, "the reason why Africans are not allowed anywhere near a microphone is that they when an African gets a microphone he stirs up violence against the whiteman". So when we saw Sida and Norad, coming back in the 1990s wanting to reinvent that minority media to make it mainstream again, we found we did not have a fourth estate. We have a struggle between the external foreign voice embedded among us, and the African voice which has come from exile and is establishing itself and has not yet fully overcome the obstacles created by the minority media, and one reason is that Zimbabwe is a neighbour to a country where the minority voice is still mainstream - South Africa. That is why a hangman judge, Hillary Squires of the UDI and Apartheid era is being celebrated in the South African media as a man who is fighting corruption, when in actual fact the fact that Squires is a judge is in itself a manifestation of white racism as a form of corruption. If we were living in an uncorrupted world, Squires would be on trial at a war tribunal for the crimes against humanity in Rhodesia. So it is not yet a fourth estate, it is struggling to be."
    Off course some from the mainstream media had to respond to this highsounding gibberish. The Independent's Muckraker responded thus:
    "DID you know that when Henry Morton Stanley came to Africa in 1869, he was not looking for Dr Livingstone as we all used to think? He was looking for the “North Atlantic agenda” in Africa.

    This fascinating revelation came from an otherwise unenlightening interview last Saturday between Caesar Zvayi and Media and Information Commission chair Tafataona Mahoso in a vacant lot that used to be occupied by the late unlamented Nathaniel Manheru.

    Mahoso complains about the “external foreign voice embedded among us and the African voice which has come from exile and is establishing itself and has not yet fully overcome the obstacles created by the minority media . . .”

    In other words, the state, which controls 90% of the media and has a monopoly of the airwaves, still hasn't managed after 25 years of Stalinist controls to convince the populace of the authenticity of its voice or the credibility of its views. So other voices must be silenced while Mahoso and his state-pensioners turn up the volume of their tinny instruments!

    Mahoso thinks judges that expose post-liberation corruption should be brought before a war crimes tribunal. As Anna Tibaijuka came close to recommending the same sort of thing for those who have recently inflicted such suffering upon Zimbabwe's urban populace, the note of panic in Mahoso's voice was understandable."
    Off course Mahoso is stuck in a precolonial rut. Is the state's media which he fervently supports representativie of the "majority?" Are the patent and shameless lies and anti-opposition vitriol littered across the pages of the Herald supposed to be the "real African voice?"

    To his credit, his fundamentalist nationalism does beg the question, "Who is telling Africa's story and to whom are representing it?"

    Your thoughts?

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  • Tales of a faltering nation state

    I was reading the Independent this morning when I came across this succint appraisal of Mugabe's begging bowl escapedes and decided I'd share it with you.
    "MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was in South Africa last week to discuss new trade deals and enhance investment between the two countries while President Mugabe took his begging bowl to China.

    Badawi and President Thabo Mbeki agreed to set up a joint Malaysia-South Africa Trade and Investment Committee to follow up on agreements and ensure that impediments to trade are removed. From China, we had vague mention of trade deals being struck between Harare and Beijing. The Chinese will be active in the refurbishment of Hwange Power Station and coal-mining. But apart from a handful of computers and US$6 million in food aid, President Mugabe returned largely empty-handed. While China has pledged to prevent UN Security Council censure over Operation Murambatsvina, the British accomplished their primary mission in having Anna Tibaijuka's report tabled for discussion.

    It is not surprising that on his return from China, Mugabe spoke more fervently about solidarity and the veto and not about trade. That is because his diplomacy revolves around his ego. It is a parochial mindset that our true allies are only those who praise our every obtuse move. Badawi's visit to South Africa last week was important because it reminded us of opportunities we have lost in the so-called “Look East” policy.

    Badawi's predecessor, Mahathir Mohammad, a leader of similar demagogic inclinations, found time to stroke Mugabe's ego. Zimbabwe's salvation, we were told by our local media, lay in Kuala Lumpur. Bilateral investment agreements were inked in for agriculture, information technology, air travel, tourism and energy. We were told that the Malaysians were expected to fund the construction of the water pipeline from the Zambezi River to Bulawayo and that a Malaysian company, YTL, would take ownership of Hwange Power Station.

    Enter Badawi who evidently does not possess the same fawning zeal as Mahathir when dealing with Mugabe, and Malaysia has suddenly disappeared from the lips of Mugabe and his ministers. Nothing has come out of the myriad deals with Malaysia. Badawi has been careful not to open up on Harare but he has not been complimentary either. In South Africa last week he said he was “concerned about the developments in Zimbabwe”.

    Nothing tangible has come out of Malaysia because relations between the two countries were never built on a strong business platform involving the private sector. It was a political partnership — “South-South” Mugabe said in regard to Hwange — whose lifeblood was the camaraderie of Mugabe and Mahathir. Zimbabweans have nothing to show for that relationship today but Mugabe did get some timber for his private mansion in Helensvale.

    We have not forgotten the hype around Muammar Gaddafi's messianic persona when he was singing Mugabe's praises. We were told Libya would invest in Zimbabwe. Fuel problems were “now a thing of the past”. Gaddafi entered Harare in the longest motorcade ever seen after crossing Chirundu bridge on foot from Zambia. This grandeur never translated into anything tangible because the Libyan leader preferred to do business with the West. At the African Union Summit in Libya last month, he was praising Mugabe's arch-enemy British prime minister Tony Blair while telling African leaders “to stop begging”. Nobody was left in any doubt about who he was referring to. He is no longer an ally.

    We have not of late heard nothing either from Mugabe's other friend Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. He is yet to bring in fuel the government promised us two years ago. Iran is currently playing ball but for how long?

    Mugabe's differences with Blair have also moulded national policy. We should all abhor him because Mugabe hates him. Similarly we should all learn to speak Mandarin because Mugabe has embraced China as his true friend — for the time being. But history should warn Zimbabweans that these friendships are not cast in stone. A change of leadership as was the case with Malaysia, or a change of policy as was the case with Libya, could see Mugabe groping around for new allies and new panaceas.

    In fact there is no strong commercial bond in the deals that have been agreed between Mugabe and China. Local business leaders who should be helping to drive business linkages between the two countries have been left out. They do not have ownership of the process and it is only a matter of time before the cookie starts to crumble again.

    Zimbabwe will not reap any meaningful benefits as long as Mugabe yearns for friends who praise him and declares his critics enemies. That has killed direct foreign investment from countries that have been branded enemies and scared off tourists.
    Foreign direct investment declined by 95 % from US$98 million in 1995 to US$4,5 million in 2003. Portfolio investment also shrunk by 83% from US$64 million in 1995 to US$10,8 million in 2003. Grants contracted by 78% from US$167 million in 1995 to only US$36,1 million in the same period.

    China today is operating in the global village where business sense takes primacy over solidarity slogans. It is 26 years since Deng Xiaoping opened up China to precisely those reforms Mugabe eschews. Zimbabwe is a risky investment destination because of Mugabe's posturing and Chinese companies know it. They tend to ask around before opening their wallets.

    The fist-waving scenes at Harare International Airport on Sunday had about them the whiff of a revolution gone stale. The Chinese will have been the first to spot that!"

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  • Thursday, August 04, 2005

    Tsvangirai insists on talks

    As the country grinds to an absolute halt, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition in Zimbabwe is intent of having dialogue with ZANU-PF outside of parliament. Since Monday when treason charges against Tsvangirai were dropped, local media have been reporting on numerous attempts by the opposition leader to get to the dialogue table with his nemesis in government. From the Daily Mirror:
    "MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is reportedly intensifying efforts to meet President Robert Mugabe to find lasting solutions to the political and socio-economic woes bedevilling the country through courting ruling party bigwigs to arrange for a possible meeting with the Head of State.
    Impeccable Zanu PF sources claimed that about three to four weeks ago, Tsvangirai made attempts to meet President Mugabe using prominent people within Zanu PF’s inner circles.
    “We have heard that Tsvangirai is making efforts through our senior party officials to speak to President Mugabe,” Zanu PF insiders said.
    “However, we don’t think at this point in time he will succeed, because the focus has changed from talks to the issue of the Constitution.”
    Speaking to journalists at his Strathaven home in Harare on whether he had indeed made overtures to see the Head of State, Tsvangirai said he had been doing so for the past five years, but would not be drawn to elaborate on the latest moves."

    The Financial Gazette is saying the same thing in this article,
    "MOVEMENT for Democratic Change (MDC) president Morgan Tsvangirai has accused President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF of persisting with an "ostrich mentality" in refusing to embrace international mediation efforts to end the country's ruinous political stalemate.

    "This ostrich mentality must end," said Tsvangirai. "Mugabe is running out of time and I hope my protagonists in ZANU PF are aware of the precipice.
    "The burden has shifted to Africa to solve the crisis in Zimbabwe. Resorting to hard-line positions and populist posturing denies Zimbabweans the golden chance to capture their experiences for translation into shared ideas, shared knowledge and national unity," said the MDC leader.
    Tsvangirai said given Zimbabwe's pariah status in global politics, the MDC fully understood President Mugabe's growing frustration with "a tired political defence mechanism, which has begun to give in to reason, international exhaustion and fatigue."
    "Taking potshots at the United Nations, the AU, the European Union and other goodwill institutions for suggesting corrective action to raise the international profile of Zimbabwe is a futile exercise that is loathed by the people of Zimbabwe and shall get us nowhere.
    "Given the seriousness of our plight, let us avoid embarrassing ourselves by attacking and trading off sanity and international advice for short-term political expedience," he added."
    The MDC having failed to engage the public enough to achieve their goal (regime change) which is different from the desires of ordinary citizens, must now be content to play second fiddle to ZANU-PF with hope to engage them. The MDC desperately needs to interact with someone if the validity of their role on the nations political agenda is to remain viable.

    This will not work Mugabe has already said he does not want to negotiate with the MDC. Unless something drastically changes, the MDC have isolated themselves such neither their anatagonist's government nor the suffering Zimbabweans need them anymore. Their lofty goals for regime change, without meeting addressing the concerns of the poor, have andwill continue to amount to naught.

    The MDC could change that if they authentically rendered themselves at the service of the Zimbabwean people.

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  • US Treasury specifies Zimbabwean interests

    The Treasury has just released a list of 25 farms and a business that have been designated under express orders from the president for ties to the Mugabe regime. Here's the list:






    COLD COMFORT FARM TRUST CO-OPERATIVE, 7 Cowie Road, Tynwald, Harare, Zimbabwe; P.O. Box 6996, Harare, [ZIMBABWE]

    CORBURN 13 FARM, Chegutu, [ZIMBABWE]


    EIRIN FARM, Marondera, [ZIMBABWE]

    EYRIE FARM, Mashvingo, [ZIMBABWE]




    LOCHINVAR FARM, Mashvingo, Zimbabwe [ZIMBABWE]




    NDLOVU MOTORWAYS, c/o Sam Nujoma Street/Livingston Avenue, Harare, [ZIMBABWE]


    PIMENTO FARM, Mashonaland, [ZIMBABWE]





    ULVA FARM, Marondera, [ZIMBABWE]


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  • Wednesday, August 03, 2005


    Zimbabwe's premiere book show, the Zimbabwe International Book Fair opened Monday and runs through Saturday. Good right? Not really.

    Somehow Mugabe & Co. find ways of raining on the most innocuous of parades.

    Zim customs officials are holding up boxes of Section Eight, a book by Chris Gande a Washington based Zimbabwean journalist on suspicions that it may be "subversive". Gande, who now works for VOA news, worked for the hated (by Mugabe) Daily News before moving to DC.

    The novel, traces the relationship between a ministers son and his girlfriend, the daughter of a commercial farmer who's farm is about to be seized.

    According to this report, the book was shipped from Washington on July 7 meant to arrive in Harare on the July 10 weeks before this weeks book fair. It seems they'll only release copies at the earliest on Saturday. Meanwhile the book is already selling elsewhere, just not the country the story is set in.

    If Mugabe & Co. can't stop you, pick up your copy of the book here.

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  • Funny

    The Zim government have dropped treason charges against Morgan Tsvagnirai the leader of the MDC. Oh well.

    It's not as dramatic for me because it had to happen, they had no case. The basis of this case, was less firm than the previous case(remember the Ari Ben Menashe case). In that case, the state's prosecution's case rested on a grainy video recorded at the offices of notorius businessman Ari Ben Menashe in Canada. If they did have a case against him, people shouldn't be jubilant because the case was withdrawn before plea. In Zimbabwe as in many places around the world, this means they could resume the charges at any point. But we all know they won't because they never had a case.

    Anyway, the story was a peach for the Herald (read Horrid) to spin something pro-ZANU and anti MDC, but they tried. I'll give you Tsvangirai's press statement from immediately after the hearing verbatim, then I'll give you the Horrid's spin on it and let you enjoy that.

    This is how they do it in Zimbabwe.
    "AS YOU are all aware, the regime has dropped treason charges against me arising from the mass action, which took place in June 2003. This was the third treason charge leveled against me by Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF.

    I wish to thank my lawyers, my family, the party and all Zimbabweans for their support during the period of relentless persecution by the regime.

    You will recall, I spent two and half years of daily vilification and state demonisation during the Ben Menashe case. That case, as you know, was thrown out just as the one put before me while I was the secretary general of the ZCTU.

    Let me say that this is a worthless attempt to divert attention from the issues confronting our nation. The sooner Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF realize this, the better for all of us.

    We are a home grown political party, working for Zimbabweans and engaged in a genuine form of political competition for power with Zanu PF. We have a right to political space in order to promote our political activities without hindrance.

    For the record, the MDC has never sought to partner Zanu PF in government. We have made the point abundantly clear that we seek no such partnership, not another so-called Unity Accord nor the kind of co-operation that leads to demise any political party in Zimbabwe.

    We value the principle and benefits of a multi-party political environment after 25 years of an unhealthy dictatorship that has presided over the collapse of our political, economic and social fabric.

    Against this background, remarks by an irate Robert Mugabe on his arrival from a worthless trip to China indicating his resentment at suggestions for principled dialogue between Zanu PF and the MDC are unfortunate. The benefits of political dialogue need no particular emphasis, given the dire consequences, political polarization and humanitarian emergencies that confront us today.

    To the ruling elite, we make it clear that there is a huge difference between national dialogue and political accommodation. We further make it clear that Parliament has a clear Constitutional mandate to execute its duty. That duty does not include the kind of interaction which our neighbours, the international community, local political parties, civil society and other stakeholders engage in from time to time when a nation faces an emergency and a crisis such as the one created by Zanu PF in Zimbabwe during the past 25 years.

    It is clear that Zimbabwe is now a failed state. The UN recently sent out an envoy to Zimbabwe because our institutions and systems have all crumbled to a point where the state is unable to protect the people. The African Union has appointed former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano as a special envoy to Zimbabwe precisely for the same reason. Zanu PF and Mugabe are running around with a begging bowl to seek some relief. The IMF, the African Development Bank and other creditors are unhappy with the behaviour of this rogue regime. All these august bodies have come to acknowledge that the failed state status of our country. This is the sad reality we have to live with. It is beyond Parliament to tackle, hence the need for an all-inclusive process involving all Zimbabweans.

    As Zimbabweans, we have a duty to enhance the complex political processes essential to collective national activities and accomplishments in order to build a shared future and to spot emerging opportunities for Zimbabwe. Resorting to hard-line positions, populist posturing and open dictatorship denies Zimbabweans a golden chance to capture their experiences for translation into shared ideals, shared knowledge and national unity.

    Given our pariah status, I fully understand Robert Mugabe’s growing frustration with a tired political defense mechanism which has begun to give in to reason, international exhaustion and fatigue.

    The people know that the future lies in a society with adequate food and jobs, a society that works productively with other regional trading blocks in a civilized manner, and society that is sovereign and respects its diversity as a source of strength and progress.

    Zimbabweans desire a day when their nation starts to move in a compelling and productive direction, energizing its citizens, orienting its political culture to universal norms and standards and engaging the abundant national resources at their disposal for their own good.

    Taking pot-shots at the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union and other goodwill institutions for suggesting corrective action to raise the international profile of Zimbabwe is a futile exercise that is loathed by the people of Zimbabwe and shall get us nowhere.

    Given the seriousness of our plight, let us avoid embarrassing ourselves by attacking and trading off sanity and international advice for short term political expediency.

    We shall be taking the people’s wishes to our international partners and the entire international community to nudge them to help us find a lasting solution to our problems. If, as Mugabe says, no other option is available to resolve the crisis, let us hope that he refrains from pushing the people to the wall and force them to try out something else."
    Morgan Tsvangirai--the MDC leader shortly after charges against him were dropped

    Here now is the the Herald's report:
    "THE State yesterday withdrew treason charges against opposition MDC leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai before plea, but will proceed by way of summons once certain issues have been clarified.

    The treason charges stemmed from the demonstrations, dubbed "The Final Push", the opposition party embarked on in 2003 to overthrow President Mugabe and the Government.

    Yesterday, Mr Tsvangirai, who arrived at court in a bullet-proof Isuzu twin-cab vehicle, appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Paradzai Garufu, who announced the withdrawal of the charges.

    Two aides and a chauffeur accompanied the opposition leader to court.

    "The allegations you have been facing in this court have been withdrawn before plea at the instance of the State," Mr Garufu told Mr Tsvangirai.

    Mrs Florence Ziyambi represented the State during the proceedings, while Advocate Eric Matinenga, instructed by Mr Chris Mhike of Atherstone and Cook, represented Mr Tsvangirai.

    In an interview, the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Attorney General’s Office, Mr Joseph Musakwa, said the State was still examining various issues pertaining to the case and may proceed by way of summons.

    "We are still looking into the matter. There are still some outstanding issues and we will proceed by way of summons," Mr Musakwa said.

    Addressing journalists after the hearing, Adv Matinenga hailed the decision by the State.

    "They have withdrawn the charges because he never committed treason and obviously someone has seen sense. No offence had been committed," he said before Mr Tsvangirai was whisked away by his security personnel.

    Mr Tsvangirai later told journalists at his Strathaven home that the charges were never going to stick, saying they were a futile attempt to divert his attention from party issues and to distract the attention of the people from what he called the real issues that were affecting the country.

    He said he had not been perturbed by the charges and had remained focused on the goals and direction that was being pursued by his party.

    The MDC leader, however, admitted that there were problems rocking his party, saying there was need to review some of the tactics it had employed during the past five years.

    Mr Tsvangirai said of late there had been infighting in the MDC, although he was quick to point out that this had arisen because of what he called unruly elements in the party’s youth wing who had gone about beating up some top officials of the party. He said these elements had been dealt with.

    The MDC leader said he had not yet considered suing the State over the latest charges although he was pressing ahead with his intention to sue key State witness, Ari Ben-Menashe, who testified in an earlier treason trial in which Tsvangirai was acquitted.

    He said he was ready to meet President Mugabe, whom he recognised as the President of the country, for the purpose of what he called charting the way forward for the country.

    President Mugabe, however, has ruled out any talks with the opposition leader, saying the MDC was not nationalistic in outlook.

    Cde Mugabe has said any dialogue between Zanu-PF and the MDC should take place in Parliament where both parties are represented.

    The President has also ruled out a government of national unity mooted in some circles.

    Allegations against Mr Tsvangirai arose in June 2003 after the opposition party engaged in countrywide demonstrations, dubbed "The Final Push".

    The demonstrations were meant to overthrow President Mugabe and Government.

    Days before the demonstrations, High Court judge Justice Ben Hlatshwayo issued an order barring Mr Tsvangirai and the MDC from carrying on with the street marches, but they defied the order.

    MDC secretary-general Professor Welshman Ncube went on to describe the order as an illegal ruling which did not exist and encouraged supporters to ignore it, the State alleged.

    As a result of the demonstrations, the State alleged, business was brought to a halt and a lot of property was damaged in the process.

    Some members of the public were also attacked and injured.

    Mr Tsvangirai was out on $10 million bail and as part of his bail conditions had been ordered to surrender title deeds for property worth $100 million."
    The sad part is that due Zimbabwe's repressive media laws, most people in the country heard or read the Herald's account.

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  • Tuesday, August 02, 2005

    New Harare PhotoBlog

    Harare blogger Manulite has set up a blog that will feature pictures taken on his cell phone in Harare. It is here. I also have the link in my siderbar under "Zimbabwean Blogs"

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  • The Pride of Zimbabwe: Activist Women

    It wasn't with a bang but with the clang of their empty pots that the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) arrived on the civic action scene late in 2002. Banging on their empty pots was the theme of their first ever protest signifying what most Zimbabwean women are faced with at home--empty pots and hungry stomachs. This first protest was meant to highlight the plight of the Zimbabwean woman during the prevailing sociopolitical crisis.

    WOZA was founded to give voice to Zimbabwean women but was overcome with that maternal fury that only mothers know because of the state of the nation and consequently their families. Going where many men have been too scared to go, they took to the streets and have remained on the streets voiceing their love for a nation in chaos and families rendered destitute.

    A couple of months later, on Valentines Day in 2003, WOZA women made headlines with their red rose protest. Like in their first action, they brought what is lacking in their homes out into the street. This time it was love. The power of love over love of power was the message.

    And even though they still had love, WOZA women weren't just handing out roses on Valentine's day 2005; they were out on the streets giving what every mother has to give that they hate to give--tough love. Their love for their nation and families propelled them to stage yet another street protest openly denouncing the goverenment--a thing that most people in this repressed country would rather not do. Fifty-three of them were arrested and spent up to three days behind bars. Read more here.

    WOZA a determined albeit small group of women isemerging as the prototype of Zimbabwe civic protest movement. Operating on the non violent principles of Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr., WOZA has taken several of their protests right to the center of Mugabe's repressive storm, Harare. Their greatest feat to date was walking over 400km between Bulawayo and Harare protesting violence and the death of democracy in the country. Off course, the powers that be didn't like this, but while some of their colleagues took care of the legal wrangle 35 WOZA women who were joined by hundreds of other women completed the march in September last year.

    Despite incessant persecution and prosecution by the government, WOZA women refuse to back away from standing for the truth. For the past three years, they have been arrested countless times. Each time, they had some trifling charges brought against them and have paid fines to escape the horrors of Zimbabwe's prisons then have made their way right back onto the streets. Even the states prosecuters are growing weary of challenging them. Amnesty has a dossier of the harassment of WOZA women here.

    On Monday over 400 WOZA women marched with black armbands mourning the abuse of rights by the Mugabe regime. This despite the fact that it has hardly been two weeks since some of their members were acquitted by a judge on charges stemming from a 2002 protest. Read the story here.

    Hell hath no fury like a woman spurned they say. The only thing worse is several thousands of them angered by a brutal regime that is wreaking havoc on their families. Mugabe & Co. are surely learning that lesson.

    WOZA contact info is here

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  • Monday, August 01, 2005

    Letter from Zimbabwe

    Gateway Pundit has a desperate appeal from Zimbabwe in this letter he posted over the weekend. Check out the letter and remember for action go to

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