Thursday, September 29, 2005


by top MDC advisor Eddie Cross

The past few weeks have had a funny feel about them. Nothing you can put your finger on, just a sense that something is about to happen and we do not know quite what. Human senses can be like that. I recall a warm Matabeleland evening on a farm on the edge of the Matopo hills when a group of us were walking back to the farmhouse from a small dam. We had several small dogs with us and there were both adults and children. I had a feeling then that we were being followed. I turned and looked back to see if there was anything - nothing that I could see. But when we finally got to the house, a leopard came out of the grass at the side of the road, picked up one of the dogs and slipped away into the bush. So fast we were left wondering, "Did that really happen?"

Mugabe has just completed one of his forays onto the world stage - first a three-day State visit to Cuba and then his annual holiday in New York courtesy of the UN World Assembly. I am puzzled by the almost total absence of any sort of news about the Cuba visit. I saw a bit of television coverage - no sign of Fidel, just the Cuban Prime Minister looking very uncomfortable at a joint press conference. Silence means either something significant happened, or that nothing happened. I have a feeling that this time it was the latter. Mugabe has no friends left to whom he can turn to
for help.

This was clearly demonstrated in the China/Malaysia visit where he came away empty handed, we learn now that in fact the Chinese leadership told Mugabe that "so long as we are your only friends in the world, we will find it difficult to help you." In other words - "repair your relations with the other major players and then we will help". The Indians were even less accommodating - not willing even to entertain Mugabe and his entourage.

So we have the Mugabe regime about as isolated as any in the world - we do not have a nuclear programme to force others attentions and with which to threaten our region and play the "bad boy or else" game. But translating isolation into a democratic process of political change that will deliver the kind of transformation that we need to save the country is another matter.

As I write the opposition in Myanmar (Burma) is considering what they should do after 17 years of resistance and campaigning for change. Their leadership still under house arrest and a military Junta still in power and enjoying the connivance and support of its neighboring countries like Thailand and Malaysia. Are we destined for a similar fate? Our neighbors tolerating the state of affairs here simply because the effort to effect real change is just too much trouble?

But Mugabe is very vulnerable - he is 83 years old, has not set up a succession plan which might work, his ship is sinking fast - GDP will decline by up to 10 per cent this year - now down by 50 per cent in 7 years, export earnings continue to fall and the final nails are being driven into the coffin of agriculture so that farm output this coming summer will provide only about 20 per cent of our needs. Unless Mugabe is prepared to accept that up to half the population will either die or flee the country, he is simply running out of freeboard and the sea looks very cold and

The issue is what will trigger the required changes? If we look at the power brokers in Zanu PF - Munangagwa and Mujuru (the husband not the wife), they are desperately looking for a way out of this dead end alley. They have canvassed this with the MDC seeking assurances that they cannot expect about the safety of their persons, freedom and assets (ill gotten gains). They have looked long and hard at fighting their way back to the shore - a strategy that requires further manipulation of the constitution to give them more time (extending the term of the President to 2010 or making it possible to appoint a successor for two years until fresh elections are held in 2010).

They are considering who might be in the team at that stage - Simba Makoni as a fresh face with a decent smile as President, Munangagwa as a tough street fighter as Prime Minister (more constitutional gerrymandering). John Nkomo and Mai Mujuru as Vice Presidents to give the team ethnic balance. Their problem is that even while they consider what to do and what staff changes to make in the captains cabin, the boat they are all riding in is actually sinking rather fast. Survival depends on millions of its passengers bailing out - weakening the opposition and reducing the cargo in the hold. Even this may not be enough and unless they can stop the crazy antics of those who are drilling holes in the bottom of the boat - like Chinamasa,
Mutasa and Chombo, this tub is still going to the bottom and then we are all in the drink - whatever our allegiances and position today.

The suggestions that the MDC abandon ship and set up an alternative government in another boat a safe distance away from this sinking ship, is not workable. Talk about us leading a charge on the Bridge and taking control is also not a workable strategy - workable, I said, it may be tempting but in fact in today's environment unlikely to work. So we are left with pressure on those on the Bridge - from those who will be most affected by the final sinking of this particular ship. From those who can offer safety to those who fear the worst from the sea.

The signs are all there that such approaches are taking place - South Africa remains steadfast - "we are here, right next door, you can see us from the Bridge, we can help - but first you must agree to certain conditions". The Captain of this sinking ship may splutter and explode with anger at the stated conditions, but he is no longer in any position to bargain. Even Mr. Anan has offered to come and look at the situation - from the safety of a helicopter - but he too has stated that if we want that to happen then we must concede the conditions the South Africans have laid down. No less.

This morning the BBC covered a story about the UN granting emergency relief worth US$30 million to help the victims of Murambatsvina. While they covered the story they showed footage shot secretly by local volunteers of the conditions in Zimbabwe. The pictures were disturbing to say the least. There is now no doubt that thousands are dying away from the reach of the television cameras, but those on the Bridge know this as do those next door offering help. The question is how much longer before a warning shot is fired across their bow?

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 28th September 2005

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  • Wednesday, September 28, 2005

    On the MDC and cattle; a foray into shona

    In my native shona we have a proverb, "kwadzinorohwa matumbu ndokwadzinomhanyira" lampooning how foolishly cattle always seem to be running themselves towards danger. Cows will defiantly rush to a river/watering hole with little regard for how many of their kin crocodiles have decimated only because they are thirsty.

    I was reminded of this proverb as I looked back on weekend. The Standard last weekend reported that the MDC has decided to field candidates in the now inevitable--greatly loathed senated elections.
    "THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it will take part in the Senate polls due to be held before the end of the year, The Standard can reveal.

    Professor Welshman Ncube, the MDC secretary-general told The Standard that there were differences between circumstances leading to the Senate elections and the 31 March Parliamentary elections.
    "There are fundamental differences between the March Parliamentary elections and the position we are in right now. It is very clear that the national council lifted the suspension on election participation and that position has not changed. The operative resolution of the council is that we are in the elections," Ncube said.

    Ncube dismissed claims of divisions within the opposition party adding that having different views over certain issues does not mean that people are divided.

    "It is very democratic to have differing views so that we debate and try and convince those with contrary views why we think the other view is better and important. Right now we are encouraging the people to go and register," he said.

    By participating in the elections other opposition MPs fear that they might be legitimising the ruling Zanu PF and its policies.

    Paul Themba Nyathi, the MDC spokesperson said: "There are a lot of things that we do that have been misconstrued as legitimising the government, yet it is not true. Anyone is entitled to arrive at his or her conclusion but the ultimate decision on whether the party should participate or not must come from within the party structures."
    As expected, this drew the ire of many within the party. According many within the party, the MDC confirmed they have a foolishness akin to cows by announcing that they are going to contest the senate election which are penned for some time before year's end. Writing for UK based tabloid website, Grace Kwinjeh a reknowed MDC activist laments thus;
    "Zanu PF has made its political agenda for the year 2005 clear. It is an agenda that is solely driven by the party’s quest to restore its political hegemony once again. Thus, taking the country back to the pre 1999 scenario. The March 2005 Parliamentary elections which as predicted were callously rigged was the first step in fulfilling this agenda. Zanu PF secured a two thirds Parliamentary majority.

    In my considered opinion it is demonstrably foolhardy; to defend the MDC’s continued presence in parliament as having anything to do with ‘defending democratic’ space. What democracy ? What space? MDC’s Parliamentary presence only serves to endorse and legitimize an illegitimate regime.

    At face value, it may appear unfair to accuse the MDC of colluding with Zanu PF against the suffering masses, but the political reality is that a dictatorship is a dictatorship, supping with it even in an institution such as parliament makes the MDC guilty by default. Guilty of perpetuating Zanu PF’s evil agenda and its wanton rape of Zimbabwe’s resources. The party is participating in a perceived process of ‘Governance.’ A logical extension of this argument is that even if the MDC legislators never successfully move a motion in parliament the party must still stand satisfied that it is participating in a process of ‘Governance’.

    Again the political reality is that every ‘nay’ that the minority MDC legislators vote as against the majority Zanu PF ‘ayes’, must be accepted as part of a legitimate democratic process. Consequently, the fact that the MDC is fighting a losing battle on the legislative front is crystal clear, even to my inebriated Tsunami survivor uncle in Tsonzo, and does not require neither professorial intellect nor political eloquence.

    The same goes for the ill informed and unpopular constitutional changes. The MDC must stand accused of being a silent and conveniently sleeping partner in Zanu PF’s constitutional venture. Extending this analogy further, one could even risk an argument that applying the principle of collective responsibility, means that as a willing participant in the legislative agenda of the Fifth Parliament of Zimbabwe the MDC can no longer play it safe and plead innocence.

    So when Zanu PF embarks on an unpopular constitutional agenda meant to further entrench its hold onto power with the MDC partaking in that process the MDC is as responsible as Zanu PF for the consequences of such actions. The MDC legislators as at 2000 must be definitively be distinguished from the MDC legislators at 2005. At 2000, the so to speak the fresh faced MDC was a disciple of what some have criticized as the naïve dispossession that the party’s parliamentary presence would as it were ‘bring about change.’ In 2002 the MDC now schooled at the harsh realities of the limitations of the legislature as a tool of change sought to complete the change through the Presidential process. It is now common cause that the limitations of this course of action were subsequently exposed."
    Read the rest here.

    A few weeks ago yours truly debated this very question from a different perspective; that of an engaged observer to this latest episode in the Zimbabwean odyssey. I opined thus;
    "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."
    I have to admit though, the criticism of the MDC for wanting to contest in yet another (rigged) election is warranted. When will they learn that playing politics by ZANU-PF's rule is going to get them nowhere. It is patently clear that ZANU-PF has outmanouvred and out-politicised the MDC in parliament. They are set to continue with more of the same.

    I guess it's true, kwadzinorohwa matumbu ndokwadzinomhanyira.

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  • Friday, September 23, 2005

    Scandal prone ZANU-PF struggles to fend off fate

    ZANU-PF is inept, corrupt, but worst of all full of incorrigible charlatans. And it is all unravelling right before our very own eyes.

    The hottest controversy in the party right now is that of the corruption allegations against (mis)information deputy minister, Bright Matonga. Sensing danger, he proffered this weak statement alleging that unnamed senior politicias in ZANU-PF wanted him done. Lo and behold, the Fingaz explained the deputy minister's sudden jitterness (he's normally boistrous) in this article
    "THE Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) bribery scandal, in which board chairman Charles Nherera is accused of soliciting a US$85 000 bribe from a local bus supplier, has sucked in Vice President Joice Mujuru, Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga.

    According to an audio tape, a copy of which has since been lodged with the police as evidence in the festering graft case, former ZUPCO chief executive officer Matonga benefited from an earlier inducement of US$3 000 per bus, along with Nherera, paid by bus supplier Jayesh Shah of Gift Investments.
    Shah and Nherera, who is also the vice-chancellor of Chinhoyi University, are currently involved in a bitter dispute over the bribery claims. A police probe is underway."
    Yes sir, this is the next juicy scandal. If you don't know, ZUPCO is the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company, a public transit parastatal that Matonga headed up before his appointment to the information ministry. Ironically, the Herald has been awash with stories glorify said Mujuru's anti corruption crusade. This is what they're trying to gloss over.

    The hot one involves Mugabe's meddling press secretary, George Charamba. He is locked in a bitter power struggle with top officials in the information ministry and Lovemore Mataire, the editor of ZANU-PF's The Voice. Mataire has fired off the dirtiest salvo yet in this mudslinging contest. The Independent reports that Mataire revealed that Matonga had recently assaulted his infirm wife,
    "PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba has been accused of wife battering after he allegedly beat his spouse in a domestic row over a missing gun.
    The accusations against Charamba, which have surfaced in the ruling Zanu PF newspaper, The Voice, come against a background of fierce infighting at the Information ministry and between the ministry and the Zanu PF information department.

    Deputy Information minister Bright Matonga said yesterday in the state media he was aware senior ministry officials were plotting his downfall. The infighting reflects factionalism in Zanu PF and wrangling in state departments.

    Charamba, who has reportedly clashed with government colleagues and state media employees, has lately been locked in a war of words with the editor of The Voice, Lovemore Mataire, over an unclear dispute.

    Mataire two weeks ago attacked the author of the Herald's Nathaniel Manheru column saying he was a "British agent" and "saboteur". He said Manheru was a "double agent" and "liar" who gushed "stinking effluent".

    Mataire claimed Manheru - who former Information minister Jonathan Moyo has identified as Charamba - indulged in "spousal abuse and other immoral activities". Charamba had earlier described Mataire as a failed and incompetent editor who makes "spectacular political and editorial goofs".

    Charamba - who is also Information permanent secretary - was said to have assaulted his wife last year on February 24 at their Mandara home after a gun dispute."
    That off course after,
    "Manheru also accused Mataire of hobnobbing with opposition politicians and moonlighting for the Voice of America's Studio 7.

    He said Mataire recently went on a jaunt with a girlfriend and suffered a car crash which cost her an eye and left his marriage "in tatters."
    But that's not all there is beguiling ZANU-PF. The succession battle is back in the mix after Patrick Chinamasa came out and suggested a poll harmonization. The Independent has this interesting take on what is going on the background in ZANU-PF,
    "PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's convoluted succession struggle has taken a new twist with disclosures that a ruling Zanu PF coterie is mulling a novel ethnic balancing act to unravel the tangled leadership crisis.

    Official sources said the dominant Zanu PF faction seen as led by retired army commander Solomon Mujuru has come up with a multi-ethnic plan to unscramble Mugabe's succession logjam in a bid to avert a damaging split in the ruling party.

    Sources said the latest proposal revolves around a delicate quadrilateral plan involving senior Zanu PF officials, Simba Makoni, Joice Mujuru, John Nkomo and Emmerson Mnangagwa.

    The sources said the new plan - which is a reaction to growing internal factionalism and infighting - suggests that Makoni would be the Zanu PF presidential candidate in 2010. If he wins, Mujuru and Nkomo would be his vice-presidents, while Mnangagwa becomes prime minister.

    Although Mugabe is said to be hostile to the idea of Makoni succeeding him, sources said a powerful clique wants to push for this plan because they think he is the only one who could win Zanu PF an election if given adequate initiation.

    Makoni is seen as the only one not tainted."
    Also tainted by scandal are Reserve Bank govenor Gideon Gono in relation to the Kuruneri trial; finance minister Herbert Murerwa in association with the tax commissioner; and off course, there's good old Didymus Mutasa who has been linked to barbaric attacks on few remaining white farmers in Chipinge.

    The question is who is not corrupt in this regime?

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  • Thursday, September 22, 2005

    And who was racist again?

    Marauded FarmerThis is unpardonable.

    It sickens me to the gut that a human being would go out and unleash violence on another man just because of his skin color.

    Look at the that picture.

    What you're seeing is the image of a man attacked and marauded not by another violent species but by his fellow men. It didn't matter to his attackers that this man is a man just like they are. He breaths the same air that they do and endures the heat from the same African sun they labor under. Like his attackers, he is a family man, a father to some, brother to others, a friend and relative to many others too . He has name just like they do, it is Allan Warner. And like many of them he has a boss to answer too just like they do.

    But all that didn't matter last night. Last night he was an enemy, a vulnerable willing, albeit cornered victim. Last night he became an unwelcome foreigner. An effigy of tragedies long endured, and long past. For that the attackers visited a fate on him akin to what they think his kin did to their kin decades ago. All this because he is white.

    You can't own a farm in Zimbabwe if you're white. It doesn't matter that you're producing coffee which generates foreign currency. The little of it that the government so desperately needs. It doesn't matter that that the nation--once known as the "breadbasket of Africa"--is facing another famine and all signs point to the fact that it is man-made. Forget that this is a country whose unemployment rate is hovering at above 80% and that farms offer accessible jobs to the poor rural peasants.

    You can't own a farm if you're white. That's the bottom line.

    Here's what gets me. The reason behind this vapid hatred of the white farming community is that, "their ancestors wouldn't let us own farms either," and "they took the land from us." But like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once asked, "are we any better than they are if we treat them like they've treated us?" If we think they've mistreated us (and they have), don't we face the challenge and responsibility of modeling to them how we are supposed to treat each other? Sinking to the same malevolent attitudes and committing the same heinous deeds doesn't improve the situation. It only recreates the tragedy, and with that human progress is stunted.

    Two wrongs don't make a right.

    Don't worry about me being racist and not wanting blacks to retain what is rightfully theirs. I AM A BLACK ZIMBABWEAN, mwana wevhu chaiye (a real son of the soil). I know this isn't right.

    The perpetrators, whoever the hell they are, wanted to prove something and they did. Now the world knows that they can and will be violent. Yes the world sees that the African can not only match cruelty and brutality that imperialists visited on our ancestors, but we can surpass that and get away with it in the 21st century. And dog on it, the world sees that Africans can be powerful.

    But perhaps the world has also realized some things that the attackers probably didn't count on too. People are looking at that picture and seeing the humaneness of the victims.

    They see that Mr. Warner is a man, just like they are. They realize that he has family, friends and obligations just like they do. Above all, the world knows that Allan Warner and the victims of last night's Chipinge massacres are human. That is something the attackers cannot take away from them whatever power, whatever military might they wield. We are all human, that's the reality hatred can't tamper. And it is that which the world will remember.

    Shame on you debased, vile and heartless brood!

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  • Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    Impending Rage

    The Zimbabwean government faces impending rage ofthe public if they continue with their self-destructive self preservation plans. Or the Zimbabwean public are looking one the worst abuses of power known to mankind right in the eye. Either way, there's an impending rage.

    Just(ice) minister Patrick Chinamasa announced that they might choose to "harmonize" the presidential and parliamentary elections. Speculation is rife amongst government critics suggesting that this announcement could be the beginning of ZANU-PF's unscrupulous intentions for the next elections. The worst fear is that this could mean that Mugabe would stay on until 2010 instead of quiting in 2008 as he iterated and reiterated over the years.

    The Zimbabwean people are fed up with their leader imposed suffering. To say that life in the country has become unbearable is a vast understatement. The worst part about the tragedy is that the country's so called leaders refuse to acknowledge the gravity of the country's economic problems. Did you hear the outrageous comments Mugabe made over the weekend? From the Mail and Guardian;

    "President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press on Friday that his people are "very, very happy", though aid agencies report four million of 11,6-million face famine.

    "You describe it as if we have a whole cemetery," Mugabe said of a reporter's description of the Southern African nation's dire straits, blaming "continuous years of drought".

    The problem is reliance on corn, he said, "but it doesn't mean we haven't other things to eat. We have heaps of potatoes but people are not potato eaters ... they have rice but they're not as attracted [to that]."

    But the cost of potatoes is beyond the pocket of ordinary Zimbabweans."

    He really has no idea of what the oridinary Zimbabwean is facing everyday. And that will be his undoing.

    All it's going to take is someone putting on display the evidence of their callousness to the people's plight. Such is the respression of the people, ZANU-PF has managed to trick the people into believing that it cares about them. All that is going to end soon.

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  • Monday, September 19, 2005

    Bits and Pieces

    Who is Zimbabwe's real leader?

    Is it the man who's making high sounding (empty) anti-unilateral declarations about other nations unilaterlism? Or is it the man the man denying himself the priviledges of his hard earned wealth to walk the ever bleaker road to work in solidarity with his countrymen?

    Is it the man who is left no other option but to hijack an empty UN General Assembly to make his parlous commentary on with world becuase no one will listen to him back at home? Or is Zimbabwe's real leader the man who's making pragmatic decisions about not getting involved in the ill-concieved senate opting to go back to the people to consult them instead of unnecessarily expanding government?

    Zimbabwe certainly has a leader, the question is who's the real leader?

    Washington has announced they are going to ratchet up the "smart sanctions" already in place in response to Uncle Bob's depricating commentary on what he called the "coalition of the evil" in his UN speech. The new expansion will expand the sanctions to affect the families of people already on the sanctions list. New measures will include revoking those people's educational visas.

    It has also emerged that Uncle Bob's bloated entourage was involved in sketching the details of an impending visit to Zimbabwe by Koffi Annan. This surprising since speculation yielded that Mugabe had rescinded his invitation to Koffi Annan sighting the latter's unwelcome intentions to intefere with Zimbabwe internal politics.

    So now we sit and wait, wait to see what this week will bring with it for us in the land where drama isn't drama anymore.

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  • Thursday, September 15, 2005

    Eddie Cross on Zimbabwe's IMF reprieve

    Eddie Cross is a top advisor to Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe's opposition MDC.

    The IMF Decision.

    Last Friday the IMF Board met in Washington DC to decide on the future of the membership of Zimbabwe. We have been a member and a shareholder for manyyears and in fact have had a number of IMF sponsored stabilizationprogrammes during this time. In all its history the IMF has only expelledfrom its ranks one other country and that was in the mid 50's. To getexpulsion through, the Board has to first make the recommendation forexpulsion and then has to secure 85 per cent of its membership votes toendorse the recommendation before expulsion becomes a reality.

    So it's not easy to expel a member - especially if they can rely on a block of States like Africa plus a handful of other maverick countries that will support the retention of Zimbabwe as a member - no matter how delinquent. What are the reasons for the decision of the IMF to consider it's ultimate penalty? The most obvious is the fact that we are not servicing our debt to the Fund. Last week we were in fact some US$300 million in arrears and had only been making token payments for a year or so. But we owe everyone money - PTC owes over US$100 million to its service providers, ZESA owes money to those who supply us with equipment and spare parts and electricity, GMB owes money on food imports, Noczim owes money to oil suppliers across the world.

    We have an official external debt of over US$5 thousand million - none of this is being serviced and no payments have been made to other key multilateral institutions - the World Bank is owed money, the African Development Bank is owed money - perhaps more than the IMF in arrears. So why is the IMF debt so important? The reality is that it is not that important. Paying our arrears to the Fund would not change our status one iota - we could not expect IMF support for any sort of stabilization programme for some considerable time after the issue of the arrears has been dealt with and a workable recovery programme put in place.

    No, the reason why the IMF threat was finally treated with such deference is mainly political. African leaders - struggling with their image abroad and with economic and financial problems at home, did not want to see an African State expelled for misbehavior. South Africa gave impetus to this view when they offered to settle the arrears themselves to avoid our expulsion.

    To some extent the issue is also all about the fact that the Fund is the ultimate Bankers Banker. A decision to expel Zimbabwe would have formally confirmed our status across the world as a pariah State. It would have closed doors to us in virtually every corner of the world when it came to commercial lines of credit and other forms of financial assistance. It would have damaged NEPAD and struck a blow against the reputation of other African States whose position is only marginally better than that of Zimbabwe. Who would be next, many countries would ask?

    In fact the arrears were not the major issue on the IMF agenda in terms of its relationship with Zimbabwe. What was the real issue was quite simply the failure by the Zimbabwe leadership to get to grips with the problems that had resulted in the almost total isolation of the country diplomatically and the near total collapse of the economy. During successive visits to the country, the IMF team has asked local Zimbabweans "how do you carry on under these circumstances?" They looked at the statistics and were astonished that we were still functioning.

    We also wonder how we survive - and obviously this is both an achievement and a failure, because allowing the whole pack of cards to collapse might have brought change sooner than it will do in the near future.

    And so we have the specter of the Zanu PF regime contradicting itself with respect to the IMF issue. One minute they do not matter and can "go to hell". The next we are scouring the country for our last remaining sources of foreign exchange to make a meaningless payment to the Fund which will ensure that we are not expelled but are then left with insufficient resources to import essentials like food.

    Just speculate with me for a moment on what the Fund might demand in a wish list to the Zimbabwe authorities in order to restore our status as a functioning and welcome member of the Fund. My own list would incorporate the following:

    -Zimbabwe must make take steps to end its diplomatic andpolitical isolation and to restore democratic credentials to its government.

    -Zimbabwe must respect the rule of law and theindependence of its Judiciary and it must respect the legal rights of itscitizens and investors.

    -Zimbabwe must restore freedom of the press and liberalizeits electronic media. It must dispose of its controlling shareholding in theZimbabwe Newspapers Group.

    -Zimbabwe must observe all human and political rights asdescribed in the UN Charter and in its supporting agreements to whichZimbabwe is already a signatory.

    - Zimbabwe must adopt, without delay, a comprehensivepackage of macro economic reforms designed to unify both exchange rate andinterest rate regimes, to restore fiscal and monetary stability anddiscipline.

    -Zimbabwe must implement a wide range of reforms designedto strengthen the private sector and the market mechanism.

    -Zimbabwe must give urgent and immediate attention to the humanitarean crisis.

    It is now too late to rescue the 2005/06 agricultural season and we will have to wait another year before meaningful remedial action can be taken in the farm sector.

    The IMF decision keeps the pressure on for reform, it gives South Africa time to exercise its responsibilities in the region and it does not make our situation any worse. I guess that is a lot to achieve under these circumstances. What are the chances of Zimbabwe meeting the IMF on all key issues - zero, under this management. They, like the rest of us will have to wait for management changes before we can expect any changes for the better. Mugabe and his sorry crew only offer more of the same debilitating inertia and Soviet style controls and corruption.

    Eddie Cross
    Bulawayo, 12th September 2005.

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  • Wednesday, September 14, 2005

    The rule of no law

    Tabloid website has an interesting story here.

    The article recounts the details of the incarceration of dozens of police officers for "violating the police act" viz a vis complaining about the economic crisis the country is in.

    For years now, civilians have been wondering just how Zimbabwe's police and military employees could keep up with the government's ironhandedness during their work day and then cope with the economic meltdown at home after hours. Lo and behold, they too are being coerced into the cruelty they pass on to us. What a relief!


    If the people who bear arms and are responsible for enforcing the laws of the land can't lift a tongue narry a finger against this repressive regime, just how are the the unarmed, untrained civilians expected to object to the regime. This story is indicative of the depths of the tyrannical abyss that Zimbabwe has become. Outside of one man, there no other law.

    Meanwhile, just-ice minister Patrick Chinamasa, exhilarated by the passage of the 17 amendment bill, came out swinging and threatened to impose exit visas on all citizens leaving the country. Sad, but true.

    These are the times we live in.

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  • Monday, September 12, 2005

    Super Saturday--Zimbabwean Style

    Zimbabwe is a divided nation. Not only are the people divided over whom to ally with between ZANU or MDC. The country's leaders are anathema to one another. Both within ZANU-PF and between the ruling party and MDC leading figures don't things the same. This past Saturday which will go down in history as Super Saturday not only at the US Open but also in Zimbabwean politics proves just that.

    With inflation climbing to 265% confirming Zimbabwe's economic woes are far from over, leading figures in the dramatic battle for control of that country's economic policy came out swinging on Saturday.

    On Friday, the IMF had voted to stay the expulsion of Zimbabwe for another six months after Gideon Gono's antics which included a huge payment to the institution early last week.

    Predictably, Gono's response to the reprieve was nothing short of a cautioned outlook. Speaking to the Sunday Mail, the reserve bank govenor said,
    "The close range in the voting is indicative of how serious and close the country had gone towards being expelled and how critical it is for Zimbabwe to urgently implement radical policy measures that will stabilise and grow the economy, especially in areas such as agriculture, mining, tourism, manufacturing as well as in the parastatal and local authority fields."
    Unlike Gono, who was in Washington to plead the country's case, Mugabe, welcomed to Cuba with full military honors, stayed to true to form chiding the IMF for being "willed around by the big powers." "We have never been friends of the IMF and in the future we will never be friends of the IMF,” he callously charged. Whether he was only saying this because he had been overcome by the anti-market spirit in Cuba or whether he was just appeasing his hosts is yet to be determined.

    But Mr. President, wasn't it you who was so enamored with the IMF that you led the nation to adopt the two-phase 10 year Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) which you decided not to complete?

    Addressing a rally in Bulawayo, Morgan Tsvangirai decried last week's lumpsome payment to the IMF charging that expulsion could have been averted by accepting the conditional South African loan. The 121 million dollars (payed to the IMF) could have been better used bolstering national food supplies which have been rumored to be so low they'll run out in a matter of weeks.

    Tsvangirai also challenged the people to think about the role they will play in solving Zimbabwe's worst crisis yet,
    "If we continue the way we have been doing these past six years, then people will say we are mad. If we remain quiet we will not get any help and we will continue to suffer.

    Mugabe must be confronted by the power of the people not just the leadership. If you are afraid, Mugabe will remain in power and we will continue to suffer. As a party we can't fail to organise and confront the regime."
    Some level of collegiality between our leaders (especially within ZANU-PF) must exist in order to end the stagnation and decay that has become the Zimbabwean economy. When that will happen, and it if it will happen at all is still to be seen.

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  • Thursday, September 08, 2005

    Word on the Street: Zimbabweans respond to the fuel increases

    Zimbabwean officials have hiked fuel prices by over 100%. This hardly two weeks after the prices of many basic necessities were uppped drastically.

    Yours truly spent the day trolling among our nation's hard hit working class for a response. Here are a couple excerpts, from a man and a woman both of whom work in suburban Harare.

    *Tim* works for a large financial concern in northern Harare;

    zimpundit: What do the fuel increases mean?

    Tim: Much as we might have thought that we were going through a rough patch, it would appear we haven't gone through anything yet. Seeing as the fuel is what drives this economy,this will inevitably be just a terrible chain reaction. We have already started experiencing transport blues again.

    For the last week we have been getting home well after 10 p.m. Combis [commuter omnibuses] have already hiked prices unofficially; we have ben paying about $15k/a trip [most Harare workers have to take two of these each way to and from work]. You can only imagine what will happen now that the fuel has gone up. There stillis a stinging fuel shortage...Food stuffs just officially went up at beggining of this month,so this means there will be another huge surge upwards for basics.

    zimpundit: In your opinion, what are people feeling about these latest developments?

    Tim: You can easily tell by the mood of the general public that the situation appears to have just gone out of hand. I would not be surprised if there are planning some mass demos in the very near future now.

    You know how it is , anything that is done on a public campaign by the opposition is always illegal somehow in the eyes of the government. Not too sure though if the outcome will be good,too many goodie goodie zimbos too mate down here.

    zimpundit: I see, so what does this mean for you? How are you and the family going to make it?

    Tim: This is loads of trouble my friend. I have no idea. All i can do is to try and make sure that I put in as many hours as I can so that at least i can make a some extra money that will sustain us.

    *Susan* is an administrative assistant with a technology firm.

    zimpundit: How have things changed since the recent fuel price increases?

    Susan: Well, I heard that bread's 20k. Transport is now 15k+ a trip. I'll see about other commodities when I'm brave enough to check on what has been happening.

    zimpundit: How are people feeling about all this? At what point does it become too much to tolerate?

    Susan: People are angry but there's nothing they can do about it because they know the military will descend on us like 2 ton bricks.

    zimpundit: But aren't same military people suffering like ordinary poeple?

    Susan: They are suffering but they also have to which is more important which is, where is their bread is buttered. They could be our hope but i guess thy are also afraid of the consequences they would face if they retaliated negatively.

    There you have it straight from the people. Life as it is on Harare's streets.

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  • Wednesday, September 07, 2005

    Letter from Zimbabwe: Eddie Cross

    In this week's letter, Eddie responds to the passage of the amendment bill in parliament

    Overgrown Morons at Work.

    The BBC has a very well developed sense of the bizarre and knows when to use
    a propaganda clip to good effect when it becomes available. They did that
    this week with a short clip from the only State run television channel here
    and the subject was the reaction in Parliament to the success of the vote on
    the 17th constitutional amendment since 1980.

    The clip showed the despair of the MDC opposition to the vote and the
    specter of the Zanu PF Members of Parliament (one third of them unelected
    and appointed by Mugabe for such an event in our sorry history) dancing in
    Parliament and clearly showing their gross indulgence and scant regard for
    the suffering of our people. But the sad thing is that what we were really
    witnessing was a collection of overgrown child morons at work.

    Just look at the childish actions of this collection of clowns in the past

    They create a new Senate which will cost us US$20 million before the end of
    this year in direct and indirect costs at a time when we cannot find the
    money to import food, raw materials, fuel and spare parts. The only function
    of this completely useless institution is to accommodate those who failed in
    their bids to join the gravy train in the last election.

    They gave themselves the right to take away from those who disagree with
    them and who are standing up to them politically, the right to travel. This
    is clearly simply a "tit for tat" measure designed to match the smart
    sanctions imposed on Zanu leadership for gross human and political rights
    violations. The fact that this was yet another violation of our basic rights
    as entrenched in international law made no impression.

    They took away from all of us any remaining security of tenure over assets
    that we have owned, in many cases, all our lives. In one fell swoop they
    destroyed whatever hope they once had of agricultural recovery and spread
    the malaise to every sector of the economy. No mine or industry or even
    urban residential property is now safe. This stupid and childish act (which
    has no legal validity in the long term as others in similar circumstances
    around the globe will testify) has undermined all serious future investment
    and confirmed decisions like that of the huge Anglo American Group, that
    disinvestment is the only sensible strategy while these clowns are in power.

    They declared (and this really takes the cake) that we could not demand
    elections for a new Mayor and Council in crisis riven Harare because they
    were allowed by the law to postpone such an event for three months at a time
    for up to 4 years! So much for democratic rights and the principle objects
    of the liberation struggle that Zanu and others fought for over half a

    When faced with the threat of expulsion from the IMF and the efforts by
    South Africa to get them to start behaving in a mature and rational way to
    end the present crisis, they raided the private bank accounts of local
    business and simply took the money to pay the IMF US$120 million. This, at a
    time when we have no seed or fertilizer for the new season now two months
    away, no fuel, no raw materials, shortages of all basic foods and shortages
    of just about everything else. All that this act of defiance did was to say
    to South Africa - you go jump in the lake. we can still look after
    ourselves! If we needed a clearer example of the rejection of the SA loan
    offer with its political and economic conditions - here it is.

    What did this childish act achieve? Absolutely nothing! It came in a week
    when South Africa cut our phone lines for non payment of accounts and the
    PTC announced it owed other telephone systems over US$100 million in unpaid
    bills. We owe everyone money and our creditors now hold our useless script
    on nearly US$7 billion in foreign debt and Z$16 trillion debts at home -
    rising now at a trillion a week. We even had a plane impounded at Gatwick
    for non-payment of landing fees - and they held passenger luggage as hostage
    until the overdue account was paid. But when it came to rectifying the
    fundamental problems, that underline our economic and political crisis and
    which the IMF and others have been demanding action for years - they did
    virtually nothing.

    So now we sit - passengers at international airports waiting for days for a
    plane to take them home, businessmen waiting for urgently needed imports to
    keep their businesses running, miners to keep their mines open and
    functioning, farmers across the country sitting on their useless assets,
    waiting for fuel and fertilizer and seed to get a crop in the ground this
    season. It town we sit in queues for hours and days for fuel and other
    essentials and when we get them they have doubled or trebled in price.

    The stock market is still frozen in its tracks - trillions of dollars worth
    of "sell" orders, no buyers. The government is losing Z$500 million a day
    while this impasse goes on but still no action, they childishly refuse to
    accept they were wrong and these new regulations will simply destroy what
    was until a few weeks ago one of the few institutions still functioning
    normally. These guys are morons - 25 years of experience in government and
    they are still not learning anything as they go on.

    We have yet to see what the final IMF position will be but I am sure the
    payment of US$120 million will not mean a great deal. In fact the way it was
    done and the total lack of transparency that was involved will not impress
    those stern international bankers! It was probably counterproductive. The
    truth is the IMF does not give a damn about the arrears - it's our policies
    that worry them. They know better than most with their global network of
    offices and people that it is the policy stance of this government (the goon
    show) that has destroyed our economy, halved incomes and life expectancy and
    driven a third of our total population into exile or an early grave.

    If I were on the IMF Board I would send their cheque back to them and tell
    them to go away and not to come back until they were prepared to put their
    house in order. Right now we are in a firestorm of inflation - for the first
    time in our history we are seeing triple digit inflation in one month. The
    good news is that no government in history has survived that sort of storm
    and neither will this one. Then perhaps we can start to get on with
    rebuilding our lives. There is little hope of that while this collection of
    child morons is at work and in control.

    Eddie Cross
    Bulawayo, 3rd September 2005

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  • Tuesday, September 06, 2005

    Finance minister backs free market policies

    I gave myself an extended weekend. Took advantage of the fact that Monday was a a holiday in the USA so I didn't post since most of my readers are in that country. I apologize to the rest of you. On with the progress...

    I highlighted an incongruity in Mugabe's government in my last post of the week,
    "It is clear there is an incongruity in Zimbabwe's leadership. Removed from the unilateralist hulabaloo of the politicians, Zimbabwe's macro policymakers are acting on their acute awareness that the country cannot go it alone. Our economic salvation depends on our ability to salvage our remaining relationships with world business leaders."

    In the piece, I focused on Zimbabwe reserve bank governor's monetary policy antics to save an imploding economy whilte staving off the fascist leanings of his bosses in government.

    It emerged over the weekend that finance minister Herbert Murerwa sees the light too and he's fighting to convince his marxist comrades to let allow market forces to go unfettered. From the Daily Mirror,
    'THE Minister of Finance, Herbert Murerwa, yesterday said the government must dump price controls and allow market forces to determine prices of goods.
    In submissions made before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance, the minister also said price controls were not helpful to the country.
    “We should move away from price controls. They do not help. It is some of these policies that are creating additional distortions… We are in a globalised village. There is no country that tinkers with this kind of thing,” Murerwa said.
    He said the price control of goods such as bread has seen firms facing viability problems and closing shop or in some instances producing the goods, but off-loading them on the black market.
    Murerwa said government, which has tended to control prices once the country plunges into an economic crisis, has decided to set up a pricing commission for monitoring the underlying causes of price hikes.
    The minister added that he concurred with remarks made by committee member and Makokoba MP, Thokozani Khupe of the MDC, that there was a mismatch between people’s salaries and prices.
    The opposition legislator said the standard of living was falling, adding that: “Ninety percent of workers are technically unemployed because their salaries can not last for a week.”'
    The development not only signifies another start in positive economic reform, it evinces the realization by some in ZANU-PF of just how dire their predicament is. Off course, many of them like their leader are still living in the fantasy world where one and one don't add up to two.

    Here's how Chen Chimutengwende the acting minister of (mis)information colored the conditions that have neccesitated the extension of their reconstruction program, Operation Garikai,"
    "The Zimbabwe government has extended the deadline for the completion of its Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle (Stay Well) housing programme to December, due to the slow pace of construction.

    Acting information minister Chen Chimutengwende told IRIN the extension beyond the original 31 August deadline had been necessitated by building delays due to shortages of fuel and construction materials.

    "Government has extended the programme to ensure that all work is done by the end of the year. We cannot fail to meet the new target," said Chimutengwende.

    In July the government announced it had allocated Zim $3 trillion (US $120 million) to the reconstruction programme, the successor to Operation Murambatsvina ('Drive out Filth'), a slum demolition drive the United Nations estimated had affected over 700,000 people.

    In a mid-term policy review statement in August, Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa cut the government's commitment to $1 trillion ($40 million) for housing construction and assisting small- and medium-scale enterprises - half of which would be raised through the financial market.

    But, Chimutengwende insisted, "Enough money has been allocated to keep the programme running, even with problems like the shortage of fuel and building materials."

    Progress has been painfully slow across the country, with reports that only 97 of the 10,000 housing units planned for the Whitecliffe settlement in the capital, Harare, have been built.

    Less than 400 housing units were under construction in the Harare suburb of Hatcliffe, where a total of 15,000 units are planned. In Manicaland province in the east, less than 100 houses have been completed out of the 960 earmarked for the current construction phase."

    He still refuses to grow up and fess up the reality that they have messed up. The facade is falling apart.

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  • Thursday, September 01, 2005

    Trolling different waters

    While Mugabe & Co. consolidated their political gains by bulldozing the constitutional amendments, the country's financial policymakers found a way to dispatch a timely 120 million dollar payment to the IMF earlier this week. The payment reduces Zimbabwe debt to the IMF by over a third to 175 million. Harare has been making quarterly payments of 9 million dollars beginning in 2004 after a five year stalemate brought relations between the country and IMF to a icy standstill.

    This move, meant to stave off certain explusion from the IMF comes as a surprise especially given the fire and brimstone spewing from the aged leader's mouth about where he thinks the IMF should go. Tarry a while, I will explain this incongruity in a little bit.

    First things first. The 120 million dollar question is where did the money came from?

    An elusive Gideon Gono (Zimbabwe Reserve Bank Governor) told the Herald,
    "This payment has been made following a positive response from some of our exporters and holders of free funds in response to some of the turnaround initiatives that the country is implementing, in particular the favourable exchange rate policies which are now tracking inflation developments since the July 21 monetary policy statement."

    Speaking to the Fingaz
    , Gono also said the money was all raised from within the country. He said they had to "starve other sections of the economy" to raise the money for the payments. The goal, he said was to prove to the IMF that Zimbabwe is serious about amending it's fragile relationship with the lender.

    Zimonline speculates that the money was sourced from Mugabe's Chinese friends.
    "Ministry of Finance officials speaking on condition they were not named said the money was provided by China although the official line in Harare was that it was raised locally."
    So the mystery looms.

    Regardless of the source of funding, it is clear there is an incongruity in Zimbabwe's leadership. Removed from the unilateralist hulabaloo of the politicians, Zimbabwe's macro policymakers are acting on their acute awareness that the country cannot go it alone. Our economic salvation depends on our ability to salvage our remaining relationships with world business leaders. Said Gono,
    "To this end, as monetary authorities we have been putting our money where our mouth is in as far as the dignity of our people and the need for us as a country to remain a part of the global village and the international community as represented by the IMF membership."
    Let the talkers talk, Zimbabwe economic fate is in responsible hands (not mouths).

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