Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tell Me What You Think About This

News website has , for the past few months bend engaged in "visiting the sins of the father on the son" with regards to children of ZANU-PF's elite. They have been on a mission to out children of Mugabe's cronies who are living profilgate lifestyles abroad at the behest of the parent's fame and fortune which has (for the most part) been looted from Zimbabwe's tax paying citizens.

This causes me to wonder is it right to pursue these children with intention victimizing for what their parents wrongdoing? Is there justice in that?

I know there's close to a hundred of you that stop by everyday. Lets see if you can defy one way nature of our relationship thus far by making your opinion heard. I would love to hear what you have to say.

Please leave a response.

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  • Monday, November 28, 2005

    Cross Posted at Global Voices

    I do a weekly roundup of blogs over at Global Voices. Here's this week's edition.

    The people of Zimbabwe gave the ruling ZANU-PF and indeed all forms of purposeless politics their boldest affront to date as very few Zimbabweans turned up to vote during the senate elections held over the weekend. At some polling stations, only 6% percent of eligible voters showed indicating the undisputable demise of elections on the national agenda. Explaining the disinterest, This is Zimbabwe writes,
    "Nothing is going to change as a result of having a senate. These elections are not going to improve democracy in Zimbabwe; they won’t fix unemployment; they won’t bring fuel to the country; people won’t suddenly be able to feed their children and afford school fees; the sick are not going to be able to get drugs or treatment in well resourced clinics and employers will still struggle every single day to keep their businesses afloat through hyperinflation and a rapidly collapsing economy."
    Echoing the sentiment, Zimpundit writes,
    "Understand this reader dearest; it is not that we don't care about democracy or having the right politicians in place or any other high sounding question you may want to throw at us. No, our nonchalence is evidence only that we care about other things more than we care about politics and governance. We care more about living to see tomorrow. It is all about survival now. Such is the result of how simple and unsophisticated a society ZANU-PF has made us."
    This is Zimbabwe suprisingly notes that ZANU-PF was still not content with the guarranteed win they had going into the elections. So,
    "They still resorted to their old dirty tricks. For example, someone I know who comes from Intabzinduna north of Bulawayo told me that zanu-pf campaigned for the senate elections using food. They brought in maize and only gave it to those that voted ZANU PF in the last election and they told people that others won’t get until they stop voting MDC!"
    The MDC still swept all five senates seats in Bulawayo.

    Burundi: Agathon Rwasa decries the fact that the UN has offered neither apology nor explanation a week after Agathon Rwasa's chief of staff was found in posession of UN uniforms when he was arrested last week.

    DRC:In an extensive roundup of the stories making headlines in November, Adventures of a Retired Armchair Traveler reports among other things that; UN and Congolese troops destroyed a rebel camp, the search for Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in DRC has intensified, and Hilary Benn the British secretary for development urged the government to pay the army to ensure security.

    Malawi: Geeta lauds the efforts of Dignitas International, a non governmental organization whose innovative cooperation with the ministry of health which impacted the districts in which Dignitas operates.

    Mike of Hacktivate explains how to reverse an ssh connection which among other things allows access to network resources behind a firewall.

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  • Eddie Cross: The Political Crisis in Zimbabwe

    Last week President George Bush widened the net of "smart sanctions" against the principal elements of the Zanu PF administration in Zimbabwe. In so doing he reiterated his view that the crisis in Zimbabwe was no nearer a solution than it had been in 2000. He again alluded to the crisis here as essentially one of political leadership and corruption.

    That this tiny central African state should command such attention when Mr. Bush is dealing with major problems in dozens of other spheres is a testimony to his commitment to see real democracy upheld throughout the world in conjunction with respect for human and political rights.

    But the question remains - what are the origins of this crisis, what is its essential character and how can it be resolved? It's origins lie in the very foundations of our political establishment. The white settlers who controlled the country until 1980 did not do a great deal to prepare the black majority for power. They repressed the main political movements, detained their leaders for many years and then drove them into exile and into the arms of those who offered them military help to overthrow the regime.

    The external supporters of the different nationalist movements during that time are just as responsible for the present shambles as they did little to prepare the future leadership of the country for their new responsibilities. Instead the exiled leadership found themselves living in luxury hotels in Europe while they directed a savage, low intensity guerilla insurgency by remote control in Zimbabwe. Their political education came not from the democrats of Europe and America but from the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the Maoists in China and the ideologues in Russia and East Germany. They did not have to account for the money they spent and they were feted by the left as the only hope for a new dawn in Africa. How to bring that about when they were actually in power and had responsibility was not considered.

    When came the actual day on which power came into their hands they were not really in control at all. That responsibility vested with the former colonial power and those who had engineered the final solution for Zimbabwe. When finally they took over, they had, for a short time, the benefit of the former settler administration but within 5 years this had gone, to be replaced almost completely by new political appointees loyal to the faction that was now controlling government most of whom were ill prepared for their responsibilities and had little of no experience.

    The western power brokers of that era had a single, simple political objective in mind. "How to effect a transfer of power to the people who could deliver peace after the transitional authorities had been withdrawn." They chose Zanu PF because it was the majority party and represented the majority Shona speaking people, they chose Mugabe as the "point man" for many reasons - he was well educated, was not by any means a dominant figure like Joshua Nkomo and would be more dependent on the transitional authorities to survive and therefore more malleable. Josiah Tongogara was a stumbling block and was assassinated just before independence in Mozambique.

    There is talk that the first election was in fact manipulated by the transitional authorities to ensure that Mugabe got his majority. Whatever the truth of that, once this was achieved the transitional authorities moved swiftly to ensure the Rhodesians co-operated and that Zapu and Soviet influence was marginalized.

    The reality is that Robert Mugabe never was a democrat - it was a role he was forced to play by circumstance and as soon as he was able he threw off the mantle and assumed total control in Zimbabwe by violently subjugating the political opposition and subverting the whole democratic process. He has brought this process to the point where Zanu PF can hold an election in Zimbabwe today and virtually deliver whatever outcome they desire.

    The past 26 years are littered with the carcasses of political parties that have attempted to confront and overturn the Mugabe regime by democratic means - Zapu, Zum, The Forum Party, Margaret Dongo's brave experiment in the early 90's. When the MDC was formed in September 1999, everyone who had been involved in previous political movements knew what was in store for them and braced themselves for the onslaught.

    In fact Mugabe had been so successful in his previous efforts at subverting the whole democratic process that he underestimated the new Party and the mood of the people. It was an error he did not repeat. Once he realized what he was up against he simply let loose all the weapons in his vast armory. Since then the MDC has been subjected to massive political violence, it's activists murdered and imprisoned in their thousands. Hundreds of thousands have been tortured and the electoral process has been completely revamped to ensure that Zanu will never be unseated by democratic means.

    The MDC has stated and remains committed to what it calls "a peaceful, democratic, legal transition of power". In fact it has become clear to all over the past 6 years, that such a transition was and is a futile dream because Zanu PF (not just Mugabe but the entire leadership of Zanu PF) is totally committed to preventing such a transition and has taken the required steps to ensure that this can be achieved. Democracy in Zimbabwe is dead, has been for some years - may have in fact been still born at independence in 1980.

    So the problem facing the MDC leadership has been to try alternative means of dislodging Zanu from power, without resorting to illegal or violent means. They have worked hard to persuade the international and regional community that the country needs help if it is going to see a return to the ballot as a means of effecting change. This has resonated well in the traditional democracies but not in Africa where Mugabe is actually admired for his stance and secretly for his skill in subjugating the feared electoral poll.

    The effort to try and secure change in the same way that the settler regime in Rhodesia and the Afrikaner regime in South Africa were unseated has not been successful. We are grateful for the efforts of the EU and the USA to put pressure on the regime but until South Africa comes to the table on this agenda, there will be no progress. In fact the President of South Africa has done everything in his power to frustrate the political ambitions of the MDC. There is now ample evidence that South Africa may in fact be behind the present shambles in the MDC and in so doing may have been attempting not only to get Mugabe out of the way, but also to secure the head of Morgan Tsvangirai as the price of compliance by the military and security
    structures in Zimbabwe who now effectively control what happens here.

    In this scheme of things, the theory runs, once Morgan Tsvangirai is out of
    the way and the MDC is no longer a serious threat, the real power brokers in Zanu PF will comply with the conditions attached to the G8/SA loan agreement for the resuscitation of the Zimbabwe economy. These reforms will include the early retirement of Mr. Mugabe, the appointment of his successor by the Party rather than the people and the absorption of elements of the MDC into a new transitional government. In this way, frustrated by the failure to get progress through conventional electoral means and failure to secure a popular uprising on a scale that would effect real change, key elements in MDC may have thrown their lot in with Mbeki and the "reformers" in Zanu PF.

    The outcome of [the] Senate elections will be informative in this respect, because if the "MDC" candidates are returned in a significant number of seats it will signal that Zanu has used its hidden hand to rig the election in their favor. It may also signal an interesting outcome of the Zanu congress in early December. For the majority of Zimbabweans who still support Morgan Tsvangirai and his cherished goal of a new constitution and a new beginning, it will signal more agony and delay. But it may be the only way forward at this time.

    Eddie Cross
    Bulawayo, 25th November 2005.

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  • ZANU "Wins" Sham Elections

    While the rest of the world slept, Mugabe's ZANU-PF swept to "victory" in the senatorial elections over the weekend. Since the posterity recorded in this space leaves devotes scarcely any time or space to events of nil or minimum significance, we shall here take our reprieve of said development precisely because it falls in one of the two aforementioned categories.

    This is Zimbabwe has excellent election coverage if you want to know how it all went down, and why I have thus adjudged ZANU's "landslide victory."

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  • Friday, November 25, 2005

    Election Eve: Word on The Street

    Yours truly spent the day trolling the streets of Harare looking to hear the lay man's perspective on this election eve Friday. The following are excerpts of my interview with "Farai," a working class Zimbabwean about his thoughts on this weekend.

    ZP: Are you voting?
    Farai: I will not be voting my friend. Right now the only other party that one could vote for is the MDC. With all the mayhem thats been happening in their camp,well there is not much difference now with the rulling party...politicians are all the same underneath mate.
    ZP: How would you describe the way people feel about politics in Zimbabwe?
    Farai: I haven't heard much talk to tell the truth. I don't think that the numbers will be all that fantastic, lest if they pull off their usual. [i.e. adding ballots unofficially] I was laughing to my self the other day when i saw Bob (Mugabe) on the TV campaining. I thought that he was wasting resourses because people in town will not be voting much....
    ZP:Why are people not interested in the senate?
    Farai: People aren't interested in the senatorial thing because they feel it's still pointless as there isn't much of an opposition to speak of here. The opposition has let us down big time. They don't seem like they will bring much change....we need a complete overhall of everything here. That the only way that we can set things back on track,epspecially our economy.
    ZP: The Herald is predicting that 3.2 million will vote. What do you think about that?
    Farai: Funny they are saying that. Those are the figures for those who registered to vote. I mean that figure just tells you just how much this is a joke to people; I mean thats not even half the number of the actual people eligible to vote!
    ZP: Tell me this, have you heard anything about the third force in recent days?
    Farai: Nope. Sorry mate, haven't heard a word about it.

    There you have it from the horse's mouth.
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  • Thursday, November 24, 2005

    "My four days in Mugabe's prison."

    John "Briggs" Bomba who was part of the ZCTU led demonstration in Harare three weeks ago, has written a testimonial of his ordeal behind bars in Zimbabwe's defunct justice system. The article, which appears in the 26 November edition of the Socialist Worker Online, chronicles not only the horrific details of filth and inhumane treatment in jail, but also the inspirational story of bold defiance of oppression that is gathering steam in Zimbabwe. Here's an excerpt;
    Arriving at the station we were ordered to line up at gunpoint. We were harassed into stinking filthy cells, heavily infested with bed bugs and lice. The police were clearly overwhelmed by the large numbers. The simple procedure of taking down our details took forever. The cops were also clearly demoralised and looked disinterested.

    It's becoming more and more obvious that junior officers are cracking and coming to sympathise with the poor masses. The fact is that junior police officers suffer like all of us. They get peanuts while police chiefs own farms, drive the latest cars and are get fatter by the minute.

    On the first night of our detention our lawyers had to fight to get us fed, as some overzealous officers wanted to starve us. The police chiefs had insisted on feeding us prison food, which they would not give to their dogs.

    Sometime after 9pm a new ordeal began. We were ordered onto a lorry, and packed in tightly like grain bags, while a group of tired farm worker or war veteran looking guys in overalls and worksuits pointed AK-47 assault rifles at us. We were kept in the dark as to where we were going and throughout our imprisonment such mystification remained a key weapon the police would use to torture us.

    We were taken to Makoni central police station in the town of Chitungwiza, south of Harare. Here we were detained from Tuesday evening to Friday evening. Chitungwiza hasn't had running water for three months. So we were detained at a place that had no water and no working toilets. We were packed in tiny cages like rats. There wasn’t room for everyone to sit down, so we would take turns.

    Both the women’s and man’s cages had no toilets so we were given 20 litre plastic buckets to use, which filled up in no time. The cruel, stupid and overzealous cop on duty refused to let us empty them. The whole night we called on deaf ears. By morning as urine was flowing to where people were seated, the stupid officer continued to ignore the situation. We threatened to sue him personally for his cruelty but still unmoved. The same officer even had the audacity to deny drugs to HIV positive prisoners.
    Read the rest of the article here.

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  • And Then There Were 128...

    George Bush and his White House continue to ratchet up the pressure on Mugabe's State House and it's cronies. The former just announced a new and expanded list of targeted persons for their involvement in impeding Zimbabwean democracy. Here is the list (it's a pdf and is 49 pages long). You'll need to go down to the end to see the latest additions.

    In a public battle of wills, Mugabe continues to blame the sanctions for the rapid contraction of Zimbabwe's economy. Bush on the other hand insists the sanctions are not intended to harm Zimbabwean people,
    "This action is not aimed at the people of Zimbabwe, but rather at those most responsible for their plight," said White House spokeperson Dana Perino.

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  • Wednesday, November 23, 2005

    Resigned to Fate

    In just two days Zimbabweans go back ot the polls to elect and accept their senators. Did you also notice just how little fanfare these elections have caused? No one cares about this election. Not the people, and certainly not the media both local and foreign. This tranquility, or rather lack of interest this close to an election is instructive of chasm that has wedged itself into Zimbabwean life. There is a rift between the drive for survival and all other things including politics.

    Traditionally tense and dogged with violence, Zimbabwe's electoral seasons had become the stuff of blazing headlines both at home and broad. Over the last five years, any talk of elections has drawn the attention and ire of democracy activists the world over, but even that is dead this time around. Also conspicous by its absence is the political antagonism authenticated by opposing groups of "toyi-toying" youths recruited by aspiring candidates high on marijuana and free beer that harkened back to he days when the guerillas called village rallies to strategize resistance against colonization. Even the politicians who crissed-crossed the country and imposed posters dominated with their scary faces on every surface likely to be surveyed by wondering eyes are staying home. All that is nil this time around because all that is secondary to the quest. The quest for survival.

    In countries like the US, TV execs are beside themselves with excitement during elections because of the largesse brought in by election advertisements. Not so in Zimbabwe, only the printers have something to sing about the election. Now it appears even they have little joy when it comes because no one cares or wants to care.

    Understand this reader dearest; it is not that we don't care about democracy or having the right politicians in place or any other high sounding question you may want to throw at us. No, our nonchalence is evidence only that we care about other things more than we care about politics and governance. We care more about living to see tomorrow. It is all about survival now. Such is the result of how simple and unsophisticated a society ZANU-PF has made us.

    Politicall speaking one could say the people of Zimbabwe have resigned themselves to the fate that is ZANU-PF's dominance.

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  • Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    Cross Posted at Global Voices

    I do a blog roundup from Zimbabwe and a handful of other countries each over at Global Voices. Here's this week's scoop.

    Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe took center stage a couple of times at WSIS in Tunis last week. First up was Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president calling for an end to the use of the internet against the freedom of lesser developed countries by developed nations.
    "These last two years have shown us how information and ICTs are often deployed as preludes and accompaniments to aggressing the sovereignties of poor and small nations. I say this because my country Zimbabwe continues to be a victim of such aggression, with both the United Kingdom and United States using their ICT superiority to challenge our sovereignty through hostile and malicious broadcasts calculated to foment instability and destroy the state through divisions."
    Mugabe is accused of single-handedly curbing many freedoms in Zimbabwe, including that of expression. Hope at This is Zimbabwe wonders, '“Undermine a country’s values”…? “Cyber-terrorism”…?'

    At the on again-off again 'Expression Under Repression' seminar, Taurai Maduna the information officer at shared his perspective on the role of the internet in a repressed country noting that Mugabe's government doesn't view the internet as a serious threat,
    "Taurai tells us that Kubatana operates openly, with the knowledge of the Zimbabwean government and has avoided harrasment, largely because the government doesn’t see the Internet as a way to reach the Zimbabwean mainstream, just the elites."
    Meanwhile Hope at This is Zimbabwe is seeing flying pigs over reports that Mugabe has announced the discovery in Uranium in Zimbabwe.

    Burundi: Agathon Rwasa highlights the strained relationship between Burundi's national media and the local UN office after UN peacekeeper outfits were found in the possesion of the FNL.

    He is also reporting the arrest of the FNL's chief of staff,
    "The first ever arrest of a senior FNL leader is a major step towards justice.

    FNL Bujumbura Chief of Staff Aloys Nzabampema has command responsibility for the troops that carried out the
    August 13th 2004 Gatumba massacre, which was a "crime against humanity" under international law.

    As a senior FNL figure, Nzabampema is also implicated in the group's widespread and systematic campaign of civilian massacres, including the December 28th 2000 "Titanic Express" ambush. The Burundian authorities must look at the evidence for his involvement in this campaign, which also constitutes a "crime against humanity".

    D.R.C: Carl writes about the joys of reliable carbon paper in his mundane operetions,
    The length and breadth of this country, at every airport we go to, every form we fill out is duplicated the old fashioned way, with carbon paper. You go to fill out a flight plan and are handed very carefully arranged forms, 3 deep with carbon paper in between each one. One of the airports I go to, the guy does it for me on an old Underwood manual typewriter. He bangs away on that thing and I feel like a character in a World War II movie. The ribbon is wearing out and the letters are half red and half black. The carbon paper works good though.

    This is a bit old fashioned but it suits the place because the carbon paper never seems to wear out. That is an important consideration when the last supply shipment from central office was 2 years ago and the next one will be whenever.

    007 In Africa decries the exorbitant cost of small amounts of yogurt.

    Finally, Adventures of a Retired Armchair Traveler notes that Rwandan mayor Paul Bisengimana, the former mayor of Gikoro has pled guilty to genocide.

    Malawi: Mike of Hacktivate endorses the $100 laptop in his comments on WSIS.

    Geeta highlights the paradigm shift that has happened in Malawi's fight against HIV/AIDS,
    As I’ve mentioned in other posts, there is a paradigm-shift occurring in HIV and AIDS programming. The entire development community has finally come around to thinking that the Malawian response must move to the district level. One trip to a few areas outside of Lilongwe can tell any outsider why this is so terribly important.

    If you visit the offices of the District Commissioners (who are like Premiers for a province, but with a lot less power and money at their disposal), they’ll tell you about the total shortage of supplies, training, resources, knowledge, and even autonomy to make necessary choices on a district-specific HIV and AIDS response. If you visit the offices of the District AIDS Coordinators (DACs), you would also see that some don’t have computers on which to type reports they are expected to submit, none have access to the internet, and others don’t even have binders to file their papers.

    Rwanda:George shares the inspirational story of a woman surviving with HIV in Africa.

    He also takes time to highlight the agreement between Nokia and Grameen Foundation> The agreement seeks to provide cheaper access to communication technology in underdeveloped countries.

    Giving his first hand account of the riots that rocked Kampala last week, he gives he take on why they started in the first place,
    Turns out that the government thought it wise to arrest and jail one of the leading opposition presidential candidates, and this followed on earlier riots at Makerere University (one student killed by police) and the ongoing tension related to their constitutional amendment allowing President Museveni to remain in power basically forever (it removes term limits, at least as I understand it).

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  • Monday, November 21, 2005

    Eddie Cross: A Tidal Wave of Destruction and Misery

    Eddie is prominent business leader and top advisor to MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai

    When operation "Murambatsvina" was at its height, I was walking through a bus depot in a small regional town looking at the devastation - about 2000 small businesses had been destroyed that morning and behind me was the astonishing sight of police, assisted by home owners, destroying accommodation. As I walked back to where my vehicle was parked two young men spoke to me from the side of the road "this is a Zanu Tsunami" they said in Shona.

    A Zanu PF Tsunami! Looking back on the past 6 years, we could say that about the whole sorry story of Zimbabwe. After 20 years of independence and many decades of promise, the leaders who have controlled this country since 1980 have simply destroyed not only what they achieved in the first decade of their government but at least 30 to 40 years of hard work before they took over. The achievements of the past are still there - monuments to what sort of people our forefathers were, modern cities, tall buildings, a national network of infrastructure that would do a more developed State proud. But inside this historical façade, the factories are silent and many people dead or absent.

    What is more astonishing is that this whole sorry tale was a deliberate and planned exercise in self destruction, carried out with savage efficiency and determination by educated and sophisticated men and women. One could say the same thing about the "Great Leap Forward" in China under Mao, or the globally destructive swathe of German aggression in the 30's and 40's. Today is the 60th anniversary of the Nuremberg trials at which the Nazi leaders, responsible for the physical destruction of Europe and perhaps 60 million deaths - the deaths of a whole generation of young men in the Soviet Union, central Europe and millions of others from other continents. Looking at that row of men in an Allied Court it was difficult to understand how such men could have done such things to their own people and to others. But they did.

    Under the leadership of Robert Mugabe, a team of men and women, many of them holding PhD's from reputable Universities in the West, have almost wiped out commercial agriculture, created near perfect conditions for the spread of HIV/Aids, destroyed much of the medical and educational system that at one stage delivered the best social services of this kind in Africa. They have overseen the largest and most continuous fall in national economic output in any country in the world, they have reduced exports to the stage where we can no longer sustain our economy or pay our bills.

    In social terms we now have one of the highest rates of maternal and child mortality in the world. This means that if you were born in this country today - your mother would have a 1 in 7 chance of dying in the process of giving you birth and then you would face a new world where your own chances of survival were 50/50. We have seen the flight of millions of our people to other countries, airlines fly full every day from Harare airport and return half empty. The Limpopo River has become a broad road to Egoli and a desperate life in the slums of South Africa.

    Our children attend school hungry and when they are there they try to learn in classrooms without windows, sometimes even roofs, no school books, no chalk, with teachers so badly paid and poorly motivated that they do not give a damn if the kids pass or fail. Children are sitting exams after 14 years of schooling and achieving pass rates of 2 or 3 percent at some High Schools. We note in business, a rapid decline in the standard of education in the average school leaver. Neither functionally literate nor numerate, many school leavers are little use in a factory or retail environment.

    We are a nation of professional mourners - we attend the funerals of family and friends every week. Sometimes the stories are just devastating - this past week I know of one young man whose wife was discharged by a District Hospital with cancer of the stomach. The hospital could do nothing for her and told the young husband to take her home to die. He carried her from the hospital to the nearby roadside and begged a lift in a long haul truck, and then he carried her from the road to his rural home some 15 kilometers off the main road. It was over 40 Celsius in the shade at the time; the wife has two children. To hire a car to take her 200 kilometers to her home would have cost the young man Z$9 million. An impossible sum for them today.

    Over 80 per cent of our basic foods are now imported, half our population requires food aid and tens of thousands are sick with tuberculosis, malaria and other Aids related diseases. With prices doubling ever three months and incomes shrinking in line with the economy and the declining value of the money we earn, life has become a nightmare for the average person here. We cannot feed our babies with the food they need, our children go to school hungry or hang around the homestead because we cannot pay the school fees and our hospitals are mortuaries where underpaid nurses and doctors struggle with few drugs and little else.

    And then, because Zanu PF perceived that the urban poor in the informal sector were a continuing threat, they launched operation Murambatsvina -during which they destroyed a million small businesses, perhaps 300 000 homes and displaced a third of the total urban population who are now homeless, destitute and even more desperate. And when the American Ambassador gets his staff to prepare a detailed stark summary of all this destruction, he is vilified in the press, told to "go to hell" and
    threatened with expulsion - pure political intimidation. But he was right to speak out and we ask, "Where are the others".

    Instead of threatening Mugabe and his cronies with another Nuremberg trial for their gross violations of our human and political rights, the UN pleads with these thugs for permission to feed our people and house our displaced. It's an absolute disgrace and a complete travesty of everything the UN stands for in the world today. All those associated with this sham and abdication of responsibility should be ashamed of themselves.

    After 1945, we never thought the United Nations would allow it to happen again - but we did not understand, the determination of those in charge there only applies to their own essential interests and not those of the poor in places like Zimbabwe.

    Eddie Cross
    Bulawayo, 20th November 2005

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  • Friday, November 18, 2005

    Excellent article

    For the second week in a row I have a weekend treat for you dear reader. Bill Saidi, the chief editor of Zimbabwe's stifled Daily News has a brilliant article in the Independent on the subject of why Zimbabweans don't deserve democracy.

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  • Expression Under Repression

    Zimbabwe was again in the limelight at WSIS yesterday. Taurai Maduna, the information officer of shared his perspective on what it's like in Zimbabwe. Read about his perspective here. Then read about other people's thoughts on it here and here.

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  • An unjust irony

    Misheck Shoko, the MDC mayor of Zimbabwe's third largest urban settlement, Chitungwiza, is the next target of a crusade by ZANU to wrestle back control of city hall. Stung by an almost routine routing in the mayoral polls, the (mis)ruling party tasked Ignatious Chombo, the unproffessional and incompetent accident of a minister, to launch a crusade of frustation against MDC mayors across the country. Chombo, the loyal party cadre he is, effectevily ousted Elias Mudzuri from townhouse in the capitol replacing him with an inefficient and incompetent commission that has done nothing but plunder the Sunshine City's long lost glory.

    Chitungwiza, just nine kilometres south of Harare, is Harare's main "dormitory town," the nation's fastest growing urban settlement, and ZANU-PF's next target for effecting "democracy from above." The gods that are ZANU-PF, believing it their manifest destiny to know better than Zimbabwe's voting public what good leaders look like have taken it upon themselves to ensure that Zimbabwean people get the best leader in every city:
    "Chombo may deny it, but he has been a busy and enthusiastic hatchet man in spearheading his party's bullying campaign against MDC mayors in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Kariba and now Chitungwiza."
    Not wanting to whine for the sake of whining, we the people must look at the results of this anti democracy policy and find what it is doing for us. Our blogger friend has the desired answer to our quest thus,
    "Walking home from work last night with my bottle of mace firmly squashed between my not-so-large breasts I noticed a group of women waiting for a lift at the corner of Enterprise Road and Arcturus Avenue. What caught my eye was that each of the women had a 5 litre plastic container of water by their feet. They were probably on their way out to Mabvuku/Tafara a high-density suburb otherwise known as a township, east of Harare. This high-density area hasn’t had water for the past week."
    Those women live in the jurisdiction of the commission appointed to run the affairs of the city of Harare, and that was over two weeks ago.

    Just today the commission tuats it's brilliant solution for to the water problem in the city--a whole 21 days later,
    "SOME suburbs in Harare and its satellite towns will have water cuts of up to 12 hours in every 48 hours to ensure that all areas receive water at adequate pressure for at least the other 36 hours.

    The local authorities and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) — which provides the bulk supplies — have agreed to the rotational cuts in order to cope as demand exceeds the maximum supply of 600 million litres a day."
    You see that? It's really not about a shortage of water even though there's a drought in the country, the water shortage is a result of an inability to process enough water. Said in their confusing way, "demand exceeds maximum supply."

    With the jury quick returning, the verdict is in. In the matter of what can the commission do you for you, we the people have unanimously agreed that there's nothing the commission is able to do for us.

    Here's the disheartening part; the commission just got recommissioned.
    "THE Government will reappoint the Sekesayi Makwavarara commission, which is running the affairs of Harare City Council for a further six months beginning next month.

    The Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development Cde Ignatius Chombo confirmed this yesterday but could not be drawn to say whether the commission would include new members.

    There has been wide speculation that some commissioners would be dropped and new ones appointed. The speculation arises from reports that the commission was divided over the implementation of the capital’s turnaround strategy.

    There are also reports that some of the commissioners were expending their energy in backbiting at the expense of council business.

    The second term of the commission expires on December 9. The Makwavarara-led commission came into office in December 2004 following the expulsion of the MDC council after it was found guilty of mismanagement of council affairs."
    They get a third term! Whatever happened to recall elections if this ever was about democracy?

    It's ironic, but it's unjust and sad. What's worse is all signs seem to indicate Chitungwiza is headed the same direction.

    Woe is us.

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  • Thursday, November 17, 2005

    Eddie Cross:"Climate Change"

    The buzzword of many in the world today is the issue of climate change. This has been enhanced by the storms that have ravaged different parts of the world this past summer in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere we wait to see what is in store for us and I fear it will not be either pleasant or easy to deal with.

    The general consensus is that climate change is going to make areas of high rainfall, wetter and areas of low rainfall drier. So here in Matabeleland we can expect (if the predictions are true) that our average precipitation will decline in the next decade. This will make agriculture here an even less attractive business activity than it has already become because of the impact of the illegal occupation of commercial farms and the consequential destruction of the support infrastructure that maintained agriculture here during the past 100 years.

    What made this country a success in agriculture was a whole range of factors - all of which are now in disarray. We had a unique population of highly trained and skilled commercial farmers, a network of world-class research centers and an excellent extension programme. The commercial banking system and a substantial grid of industrial firms completed the picture, enabling farmers to produce and compete in global markets despite sanctions and all the other impediments that third world farmers have to contend with - including the Common Agricultural Policies of the EU. This was also facilitated by large, well run marketing organisations.

    The large-scale commercial farmers were able, in a dry season, to bring irrigation to bear on an astonishing 80 per cent of all commercial arable land. Some 280 000 hectares of arable land could be irrigated - most of it not for long because of stored water shortages, but for long enough in a dry season to make the difference between a crop and a failure. Because of this capacity, despite a 40 per cent mean variation in rainfall from one year to another, Zimbabwe became one of the largest producers of white maize in the world, a leading breeder of crop varieties and self sufficient in all other grains. We also became the third largest producer and exporter of flue cured tobacco and a large producer of a wide variety of other agricultural products.

    What is not generally understood is that the small scale or peasant sector -which in itself was a major component of the agricultural industry, producing in a reasonable season up to 70 per cent of maize grains and over 80 per cent of all seed cotton; has been equally affected by the collapse of commercial agriculture and its support infrastructure. Peasant sector production has in fact declined in line with the decline in overall output -not by quite the same extent, but still very significantly.

    Climate change will further damage the prospects of the subsistence sector. These farmers, some 800 000 of them - mostly women, do not produce significant surpluses and with the growth in urban populations the dependence on commercial large scale farming is likely to grow significantly in the years ahead. This deteriorating outlook for the capacity of the small-scale sector to meet even subsistence needs is being compounded by the HIV/Aids situation. Many families on the land simply do not have the human capacity to do the hard physical work that is required for subsistence
    farming. This is a factor that is being reinforced by the flight to other countries of millions of young adults who would otherwise be available to help with the work in rural areas.

    This is a nightmare situation and one which, if not addressed by all those responsible, could simply result in Zimbabwe becoming a perennial target for food aid on a massive scale. We have not fed ourselves for the past 5 years and this ears cropping season is likely to be the worst for many decades. This condemns us to being food aid recipients in 2006 right through to May 2007. This "hunger season" will require food imports from all sources to feed the majority of our population and half will require assistance, as they cannot afford the food.

    It needs to be understood that a recovery in agriculture will not be easy and will take many years, if not decades. It will not even begin if we do not recognise that the so-called "land reform" exercise has been an unmitigated disaster - for everyone. It is absolutely necessary to acknowledge that only large-scale commercial agriculture - perhaps conducted by companies with the required resources and expertise, can actually cope with the new climatic conditions that are emerging in this part of the world. However, they simply cannot even start operations without real, concrete, long-term security over assets, including land. Unless Africa
    comes to grips with this reality it is difficult to see much more than a continuing crisis in the food and agricultural sector, not just in Zimbabwe but anywhere where similar conditions exist.

    But while we recognise that climate change is affecting our farming activities, we must also recognise that there are massive changes taking place in other spheres that might also be described as "climate change". The changes in the political climate for example. No longer can tyrants like Mugabe get away with what he is doing unscathed. The new era of instant communications and the emergence of a coherent international consensus on basic, universal, human and political rights has changed all that. The growth of democratic States and the demise of autocratic, Marxist power blocks has reinforced these trends so that we now have a much more
    principled and robust international environment that is intolerant of those who violate the perceived norms that constitute good governance.

    Mugabe has not got away with his antics - he has and is being punished for them and will one day be held accountable. That is what these modern 21st century dictators fear most. The specter of Saddam in the dock before judges is a constant nightmare for those who violate the new rules.

    Closer to home it has been encouraging this past three weeks to see how ordinary people in Zimbabwe reject the old tyrants of tribal politics and ethnic divides. I well remember the 60's when the two dominant nationalist Parties battled it out for turf in the Townships. Killings and riots, directed not at the white minority government of the day, but at each other. Setting back the agenda for black rights and political freedom by 20 years. Local leaders trying the same story today are being simply brushed aside by the people and I see great hope in that for the country as a whole.

    Eddie Cross
    16th November 2005

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  • Wednesday, November 16, 2005


    Zimbabwe's government is corrupt. There really is no other way of looking at things. One could almost contend that members of Mugabe's government are competing for a spot on list of the most selfish, vile and debased human beings.

    First up is tax collection boss, Gershom Pasi who has been looting from both the people and the government:
    "Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) Commissioner General Gershem Pasi allegedly used his influential position to import goods over the past three years without paying full duty or paying nothing at all, investigations by ZimOnline have shown.

    Pasi, in charge of customs and excise collection, is together with Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa being investigated by the police over allegations that they illegally converted to personal use tax money collected in hard cash from foreign motorists entering Zimbabwe mainly from South Africa through Beitbridge border post.

    Pasi, who according to some ZIMRA officers interviewed by ZimOnline, sometimes raided the revenue authority's cash office at Beitbridge for foreign currency to use on personal trips to South Africa, is said to have imported goods worth about 800 000 South African rands so far this year alone.

    For example, in April this year, Pasi imported 50 beds and mattresses, each set with a shop value of 250 rands. But the beds, which Pasi was importing for his lodge in Gwayi safari area, were valued at 109.50 rands per set for purposes of declaring duty at Beitbridge.

    According to our sources a ZIMRA officer who cleared Pasi's beds, one Mbuso Mahlangu queried why the goods were being undervalued but he was allegedly cautioned by the ZIMRA chief and told to allow the goods to pass.

    Four months later, in July, Pasi allegedly imported a Toyota Liteace vehicle together with some tyres and several other vehicle accessories and spares. The Bill of Entry for the goods was recorded as C29204/2July 2005.

    The goods were cleared under the name of a company called Oppecott, which however does not appear to be registered with the Registrar of Companies.

    The company's postal address is listed as Box CH 626, Mgaca Mbinga Harare, an address that Zimpost said did not exist."
    Then there's the notorious Samuel Undenge who is the country's deputy minister of economic affairs. After going through a publicly messy divorce, it has now emerged he can't afford to send his own children to school!:
    "THE deputy minister of Economic Affairs, Samuel Undenge, has evaded paying school fees for his two children this term after threatening school authorities from sending them home, New can reveal.

    Undenge and Angeline were granted a divorce order by the High Court last month, six months after the Magistrate Court had ruled that Undenge should pay for his children’s fees.

    Sources said when judgment was made; Undenge who is also Zanu PF’s Chimanimani MP transferred the children from the prestigious private educational institution, Eaglesvale.

    'Other pupils were sent home but he has made it clear to the school’s hierarchy that should his children be sent home, the school staff would suffer the consequences. They are scared stiff. He even ignored the deadline for November 5 that he was given.'"
    Question: if a paid deputy minister cannot afford to pay for his childrens education, who in the country is supposed to be able to do it? Or maybe this guy is just so selfish he doesn't want to pay for their education so he uses his portfolio as a bully pullpit to pillage the country. Shame on you!

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  • Tuesday, November 15, 2005

    Cross Posted on Global Voices

    The weekly roundup I do for Global Voices is up. Find it here.

    Zimbabwe:This is Zimbabwe in Surviving Zimbabwean Democracy presents a summary of the major arguments for and against the MDC’s participation in the senate elections which a are now under two weeks away. Disturbed by the failure of many pundits to decipher just how mundane and cruel implications of an election bode for lay Zimbabweans, he cautions not to,
    “forget that when Zimbabweans are asked by political parties to turn out and vote, they are in effect being asked to deal with intimidation, violence and with the likelihood that they and their children - I emphasise, their children - will be deprived of food if the area votes against zanu-pf. To be fair to the people of Zimbabwe, any arguments for or against electoral participation have to engage with their grassroots reality.”

    On the subject of senate elections, FirePussy takes aim at the MDC,
    “the Senate Elections notwithstanding, there has been a Big Bold Sign flashing for the last couple of years:

    MDC Change Your Tactics.”

    And Zimpundit seems sure that Morgan Tsvangirai’s days at the helm of the MDC are over,
    “Tsvangirai emerged not as the benovelent savior Zimbabweans had begun to look to him as, but as just another victim of that dreadful pandemic that has claimed hindered the continent’s prosperity and progress: a dictator, another tyrant in the making.

    He had started to build himself a kingdom, an untouchable kingdom just like Robert Mugabe has succeed in doing. And just like Mugabe, he has been trying albeit unsuccesfully to squash any dissent to his views. Fortunately for Zimbabweans, his closest associates saw this and denied him that opportunity.”

    This is Zimbabwe also discusses the fisicious diplomatic row raised by Harare after Christopher Dell, the US ambassador, critized the Mugabe regime in a speech.

    Mark of Paradise Lost interviews Sizwe a young Zimbabwean immigrant in South Africa and Gary Cross a pastor at a church in Harare which is faced with a crisis as retirement benefits have long since fallen behind inflation.

    Burundi: Agathon Rwasa is mad at the UN for promising action and then backing away allowing more innocent civilians to be killed in Burundi,
    “By making threats back in 2004 and then not following through with those threats, the UN was inviting the FNL to carry out further atrocities. By encouraging the FNL to think that they were immune, and that they could extract further concessions by killing more people, the UN helped to cause the August 13th 2004 Gatumba massacre.

    This is a matter of life or death. Unless the UN a) applies sanctions to the FNL or b) shuts up now, their empty threats will help to cause another massacre, possibly one even worse than Gatumba.”

    He is also reporting that Tanzania’s retiring president, Benjamin Mkapa is encouraging his followers halt FNL activity from Tanzania.

    Finally, Agathon Rwasa announces a new blog, Memoire Vigilante

    DRC: Congogirl reports that a Belgian priest, the first foreigner charged in relation to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda will be allowed to go face trial in his home country. Father Guy Theunis edited a publication that republished extract from a Hutu magazine.

    Malawi: Blogger Geeta shares her thoughts on joint programming in Malawi.

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  • Let's talk cricket

    I've heard it said that if you want an idea of how a nation's really doing, take a look at their prison system. Such an observation might yield telling results in the case of Zimbabwe but there's one exception. I'm pretty sure the shambles that are Zimbabwe's prisons would do little telling when it comes to this one factor we know is endemic among the nation's bourgeoisie: an unfettered greed and insatiable lust for power.

    Nowhere is this more apparent in Zimbabwe than in the sporting arena. Zimbabwe's sports are performing dismally and there almost no domestic leagues for talent to be groomed. And it is not for a lack of talent that that the nation's test cricket team has been winless for ages. We have cricketers all over the world competing in premiere leagues but have no desire to turn for their nation. The same is true for soccer, golf, tennis, rugby, swimming and pretty much any other athletic activity you can find on the continent.

    Here's what has happened right before our very own eyes. Just like they did with the farms, numerous government cronies have muscled their way into positions in sports where they have no knowledge to be in. Just like the farms, sports like tennis, rugby and swimming had been managed eff iciently and were generating huge profits that saw unmatched grassroots development and grooming of impressive talent. When the avaricious cronies of government who had been watching enviously as Zimbabwe's sports became the pride of the nation saw an opportunity to stick their filthy paws into the gold pot, they did so at their first opportunity.

    Riding a vile momentum from the seizure of farm across the country, people like Osias Bvute swooped into board rooms claiming to be extending the "third chimurenga" when what they really wanted was the money. In just a few short years of unchecked pillaging there's nothing left for brave souls that have chosen to shamelessly represent their country.

    Late last week, we learnt of young Tatenda Taibu's self imposed exile from his own house in fear for his own life. Taibu is the 22 year old wicketkeeper and captain of national cricket side who lent his voice to calls for reviewed player contracts. We're not talking club sports here, we talking about the very people who represent the nation around the world. In Zimbabwe, they have no contracts. What gets me is that all the administrators and "front office" people have their unjustified contracts laid out. Now that the players are demanding what's rightfully theirs, people want harass them claming they are "being used by whites"? How sick is that? What infuriates me most is that these valiant souls can't even lift up a finger to protest for what is rightfully their.

    But then again, what else is new? This is Zimbabwe, if you want something that you think you deserve better that the next person and you happen to be a ZANU thug, you can have it. That's the kind of society we live in now.
    So if you want an idea of how well a society is doing, take a look at their sports.

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  • Monday, November 14, 2005

    Bulawayo; a storied city whose legacy lives on

    In 1871 King Lobengula leader of the Ndebele established Bulawayo. Weary from their excruciating escape from the tyranny of Tshaka's kingdom, the Ndebele needed a place to rest. So they established Bulawayo as fortress settlement. Sadly, Bulawayo was never to become the place of rest they needed it to be. It fast became just another deathbed for hundreds of Ndebele only this time it was at the hands of imperial settlers. So the Ndebele named the place after it's own legacy. They called it the place of killing--Bulawayo.

    Over a century later, Bulawayo is the site of many a killing. In yet another giant slaying, Bulawayo claimed Morgan Tsvangirai's political carrier, as its latest victim.

    "How so," you ask. Tarry a while and I'll explain.

    Both factions of the MDC were in Bulawayo pleading their cases to the party's grassroots base over the weekend. Tsvangirai emerged not as the benovelent savior Zimbabweans had begun to look to him as, but as just another victim of that dreadful pandemic that has claimed hindered the continent's prosperity and progress: a dictator, another tyrant in the making.

    The MDC senate debacle has really been a battle of the wills; an ego contest between Tsvangirai and the people of his party. Tsvangirai's diction says it all;

    "I find it sad that Gibson Sibanda, a close associate of mine for over 20 years, chose to rebel against me. But it is not surprising because we know that his faction was bribed to destabilise the MDC by ZANU PF."
    This was Tsvangirai at a rally in the city.

    What was he talking about? Trudy Stevenson, a founding member of the MDC explains,

    "I was there at the Working People's Convention in February 1999 when we resolved to form a political party to contest power in order to meet the aspirations of the people, who had been badly let down by ZanuPF after independence. We agreed on the core values of our new party at that time, and drew up a constitution to enshrine those values and ensure that the party would always uphold the same values and principles which bound us together at our inception.

    So now, 6 years down the road, when we find that at least part of the party is straying from those values and principles, it is not surprising that members start to blow the whistle. In my view this is healthy. This is what democracy is all about. The problem is that those "in the know" have watched the sad shift away from our values and principles over several years, so that this crisis is no surprise at all, whereas for most of our members and the general public, this is like a bolt out of the blue.

    Most members and supporters cannot even begin to imagine that Morgan Tsvangirai or any other leader is not the god-like figure they have hero-worshipped for six years or more. "
    Tsvangirai had started to build himself a kingdom, an untouchable kingdom just like Robert Mugabe has succeed in doing. And just like Mugabe, he has been trying albeit unsuccesfully to squash any dissent to his views. Fortunately for Zimbabweans, his closest associates saw this and denied him that opportunity.

    Said Welshman Ncube a former Tsvangirai confidante turned senate elections backer,

    "I think it is becoming clear to many people that Tsvangirai is not fit to lead this country, everybody is left with no doubt whatsoever that Zimbabwe is one country which should not be burdened with this man as its president.

    The purported expulsion of those who stand as senators (candidates for the senate) is null and void, that is vintage Tsvangirai, breaking the constitution yet again, breaking the procedures within the MDC."
    What they have done--save us from yet another dictator--must be celebrated.

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  • Rare truth in the Herald

    The nation's only pro-government daily The Herald, is the surprising harbinger of negative news about the state of things in the country. They are reporting the deaths of 14 children as a result of salmonella poisoning. Translation: governance is so bad in my country, they can't even afford to provide clean water for the people.
    FOURTEEN children under the age of five have died of salmonella infections — usually contracted from infected food — in Harare in the last few weeks adding to the woes of an unrelated dysentery outbreak in Harare and Chitungwiza that has seen 200 people hospitalised.

    The spread of the twin infections has not been made public by the authorities in either Harare or Chitungwiza and no warnings or advice have been issued by the health authorities.

    Salmonella poisoning is most notoriously contracted from contaminated chicken and eggs although other sources are possible. Dysentery is contracted from contaminated water or food
    There are some truths you cannot mute, death is one of them.

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  • Friday, November 11, 2005

    Eddie Cross:"Whither Zimbabwe?"

    We end this week with some wise thoughts from Eddie Cross a true Zimbabwean elder statesman.

    If you are not confused by what is going on in Zimbabwe then you simply have not heard enough of all that is happening. It is astonishing that this small central African State should be in such turmoil - just short of a civil war situation - the only plus is that we are not killing each other.

    We have the fastest shrinking economy in the world - perhaps even an historical record in that respect. We have a population that is experiencing enormous shifts - shrinking by at least 3 or 4 per cent per annum, with thousands leaving the country every week and hundreds of thousands dying quietly in their homes each year from every disease and malady imaginable. Half our population is starving and the other half is walking to work.

    The ruling Party, Zanu PF, has been in power for 26 years, has no idea of what to do to halt the collapse and turn things around. They are deeply divided into three camps - one centered on the old "liberation heroes" around Mugabe, all in their late 70's and early 80's. Another centered around General Mujuru, who is trying to be king maker in the race to succeed Mugabe and perhaps a third group centered on Munangagwa who are trying to set up a succession strategy that will take their particular interests into account.

    The MDC now seems to be split down the middle on the Senate issue - there are other issues behind the scenes in this conflict, but it is the Senate issue that has caused the divide. It's not ethnic in character - there are both Shona and Ndebele and white leaders involved on both sides. It does not involve any real dispute about leadership in that Morgan Tsvangirai is unchallenged as President of the Party. But both sides are slugging it out and the media loves it, as do the hyenas in Zanu PF.

    The international community is divided on the issue of what to do in Zimbabwe. Regional leaders want a reformed Zanu PF government with new policies that will stop the internal hemorrhaging in Zimbabwe and reverse the flood of economic refugees into their countries. The major democratic States want action by the UN and by the region to curb the excesses of the Mugabe regime. China, Malaysia, Libya and Cuba - virtually the only friends Mugabe has left in the world are just hoping the local nutters will not further embarrass them.

    Then if you live here you can be justified in being even more confused because of the constant propaganda that pours out of every pore in the skin of government. Radio, television, the print media are all controlled by the State. It is only when you go into the electronic media that you can get anything like a balanced view on what is happening on the ground and where things are going. Zanu PF has been at this game for 45 years - they know how to handle the media and how to put a spin on a story that will resonate with their constituencies.

    Even the administration of Government is in a shambles - the Governor of the Reserve Bank and the Vice President (Msika) say that the invasions of farms must stop, that they are "criminal in character" and are damaging the national interest (all true). The regime in some areas is quietly trying to allow certain farmers back onto their land and to restart productive activity. At the same time the Minister responsible for the land issue and for security - Mutasa, says that all white farmers are to be dispossessed and driven off the land. Dozens of commercial farmers who have survived the past 6 years are now being forced off their farms. While in other areas
    farms are being quietly re-occupied by original farmers and farming is starting again.

    The net result is that there is very little land preparation. Many small farmers who started farming on land that had been given to them have abandoned their holdings in frustration and we are going to produce the smallest summer crop on record this year - whatever happens to the rain.

    One Minister says this, another disputes the story, negotiations are on in South Africa for the mysterious loan, progress is being made - but no substantive developments are in sight. The platinum miners get a great deal from the State; invest, only to be told that all the rules are changed. Zimbabwe negotiates a bilateral protection of investment agreement with South Africa and then simply does not sign it. It signs investment protection agreements with France, Holland, Germany and the World Bank and then simply ignores them or violates them at will.

    In the midst of all this Mugabe declares 2005 as the "Year of Investment" -bizarre in any circumstances, but laughable in Zimbabwe. Who in his right mind would invest here at present and under these conditions?

    The disease of "confuse and divide" seems to have even invaded the cricket pitch with radical elements and the CIO intruding into meetings of cricket officials and trying to overturn an administration that has created the only internationally competitive sport regime in the country. Even violence is being used to achieve certain ends - violence in that most hallowed gentleman's game! Perhaps this is also because cricket just generates too much money?

    So wither Zimbabwe? I think we are in a most interesting situation. It is clear that the reformist elements in Zanu PF are slowly winning the struggle for more rational policies in government. This was evident in the recent monetary policy statement by Gideon Gono and subsequent events. It is also evident in the quiet negotiations going on for that illusive loan from South Africa - there seems to have been a welcome shift in the conditions attached to it - a new constitution, more rational and legitimate land policies, a return to the rule of law and the re-establishment of all human and political rights.

    Maybe, just maybe, quiet diplomacy is working - accompanied by more strident statements by the UN and the major powers - especially the USA and Europe. It is long overdue and we must watch for signs of a break through in these areas rather than simply worry about the shambles all around us. In fact the situation in the MDC and the almost certain humiliation that Zanu PF is expected to inflict on the MDC rebels who are standing as candidates may in fact encourage the process of reform and concession that is already underway in the ruling Party. Then watch out for the unintended consequences.

    Eddie Cross
    Bulawayo, 8th November 2005.

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  • Thursday, November 10, 2005

    Whither African diplomats in the west?

    Pan Africanist writer Baffour Ankomah, irked by the constant delvings of western ambassadors in Africa wants to know what Africa's diplomats in the west are doing that comparable.
    "I don’t understand why Western ambassadors and their subsidiary diplomats in Africa are free to pronounce on, and many times even interfere in, African domestic affairs whilst African ambassadors and diplomats in the West never ever open their damn mouths about the internal affairs of the Western countries in which they serve. Why? Is it a case of colonial hangover? Shivering in the presence of the Master? Dear African ambassadors everywhere, please give us some education here. We all know about the exploits in Kenya of the American ambassador posted there many years ago under President Moi, and recently the British high commissioner in Nairobi, Sir Edward Clay, (who has since retired). There was once a British high commissioner in Accra whose frequent interference in Ghanaian domestic matters sent President Rawlings raving mad. And yet, you don’t ever hear a squeak from the Ghanaian (or any other African for that matter) high commissioner or ambassador in London about British domestic matters. I want to know why? Why don’t we ever see our ambassadors calling press conferences in London or Washington or Paris or Tokyo or Berlin or Stockholm or Amsterdam and criticising some British or other European domestic matter, like their ambassadors do in Africa? Or are they more human or smarter than we are?" From the July issue of The New African Magazine.
    Your thoughts?

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  • Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    Zimbabwe government; it's bloated but it's broke

    Zimbabwe's oversized government faces its biggest challenge from within yet as it has emerged that they are unable to pay themselves. Zimonline is reporting that the government cannot afford such basic necessities as stationary for everyday operations.
    'Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's government has suspended major capital projects and is considering retrenching up to 60 000 of its more than 160 000 workers as it sinks deeper into bankruptcy, authoritative sources told ZimOnline.

    Hundreds of soldiers have already been told to stay at home because there is no money to pay for their upkeep in barracks while the cash crunch had also seen the government stopping new recruitments at its national youth training centres, whose graduates are accused of terrorising opposition supporters.

    "There is no money to buy simple things like bond paper, pay for travel allowances or any other basics. Things are falling apart and there is panic," said a senior Finance Ministry official, who declined to be named.'
    As far back as June, we heard good arguments against any further expansion of government.
    Economic analyst and opposition member of parliament Eddie Cross said the country could not afford the perks and salaries of additional legislators.
    It just didn't make any economic sense then, it still doesn't make any sense now. They cannot expect to be able to attract enough money into the national fiscus when they are piling up a chokehold pressure on the markets. Oh well, I guess they live to learn or learn by living.

    Now, with soldiers being told to stay home they're right into the hands of the opposition nad giving it a much more restive public to court. If the MDC survives it's current internal wrangling, good times abound ahead. Believe it or not, ZANU-PF is close to governing itself out of power. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    This explains why they are so irked at Christopher Dell, the US ambassador who said in a recent speech that,
    "Neither drought nor sanctions are at the root of Zimbabwe’s decline. The Zimbabwe Government’s own gross mismanagement of the economy and its corrupt rule has brought on the crisis."
    It's because he spoke truth. Who are the "perverts" now?

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  • Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    Mugabe tells Dell to go to hell in cheapshot

    Reuters is reporting that angry Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has taken the low road again telling reporters with the nation's sole broadcaster that,
    'I cannot even spell the word Dell with a "D" but an "H" and that is where Dell should go'
    This is the class of leader our nation boasts. What a shame.

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  • Dell treatment for would be protestors

    Zimbabwe's repressive government has dealt it's own citizens the same hand it is unleashing on US ambassador Christopher Dell. In yet another shameless display of how far Harare will go to quash any dissent to their iron fisted grip over the nation, they have arrested 150 leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). The ZCTU had called on all its' members to take to the streets today to protest the government's failure to curb the country's economic meltdown which has been going on for more than five years now.

    This from Zimonline,
    Zimbabwe police on Tuesday arrested the country's labour leaders and about 150 workers for marching in Harare to protest against worsening economic hardships.

    Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Lovemore Matombo told ZimOnline by phone from police cells that the police had not yet pressed any charges against the union leaders and workers.

    "They are still questioning us and taking down initial details," was all Matombo could say.

    Also detained with Matombo are ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibhebhe and former parliamentarian and labour activist, Munyaradzi Gwisai.

    Before the Harare arrests, the police had late last night swooped on labour leaders in the second largest city of Bulawayo, arresting ZCTU chairman in the city, Percy Ncijo and other top labour officials Reason Ngwenya and Dzavamwe Shambare in a bid to thwart demonstrations by workers there.
    Read the full report here.

    Over the weekend, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) held protests with mixed results. Zimbabwe's beleagured populace is showing increasing signs of discontent.

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  • Cross posted on Global Voices

    I do a weekly roundup of blog news from a handful of southern African countries at Global Voices. Here's this week's edition.

    Zimbabwe:- A coalition of opposistion civic groups, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) held improptu demonstrations in major cities in Zimbabwe on Saturday. This is Zimbabwe, the blog hosted by protest group Sokwanele/Zvakwana reports that 18 people were arrested by Zimbabwe’s brutal police who were caught unawares by the demonstrations.
    “[Saturday’s] protests saw 18 people arrested by the police . They will all face charges of breaching the Public Order and Security Act (POSA). In Zimbabwe, it is illegal for people to gather in groups of three or more to discuss politics or hold public demonstrations without first seeking police permission. “
    Both This is Zimbabwe and Zimpundit are anxious about the prospects of even larger protests called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) for today.
    “Tuesday, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) intends to have it’s 300,000 members on the streets after what it calls a breakdown of talks with the government,”
    writes Zimpundit.

    FirePussy notes that while there may be “no explosions” in Harare, people in some of the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods have been without water for over a week now. Tragically she notes, the nation has submitted a bid to host the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in 2010, a move which will obviously cost the nation billions of dollars.
    “I noticed a group of women waiting for a lift at the corner of Enterprise Road and Arcturus Avenue. What caught my eye was that each of the women had a 5 litre plastic container of water by their feet. They were probably on their way out to Mabvuku/Tafara a high-density suburb otherwise known as a township, east of Harare. This high-density area hasn’t had water for the past week.

    But hey, the national football association have recently put in a bid to host the 2010 Africa Cup. Never mind the fact that our decrepit infrastructure (and that includes the government) can’t supply clean drinking water to its urban residents.”
    DRC:- Congogirl has notes that one the nation’s best established citizens is ready running for president. Oscar Kishala, the senior director of oncology at Millennium Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, appears ready to leave behind his life of luxury for the tremendous taks of restoring his war ravaged country.

    Malawi:- Mike of Hacktivate points out MSMs inability to articulate a full perspective of the world’s story. He is surprised by a New York Times article that focuses on deforestration but neglects the fact that it is hunger that forces people to take logging jobs;
    “Surprisingly there is not a single mention of the famine, but perhaps that is a good thing as people tune out when they hear about another “famine in Africa”. Instead it talks about how Malawi is losing its forest, and how the loggers manage to survive with their sad profession.”
    He also has exciting reports about two new innovations that hold exciting prospects for the lifestyles of Africa’s millions. First, is the “hipporoller” which simplifies hauling water over long distances–a mundane reality in Africa.

    Second is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk which pays people for doing simple tasks that computers cannot do.

    Read Ethan Zuckerman’s discussion of this scheme here.

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  • US ambassador Dell stirs up the hornet's nest in Harare

    Christopher Dell, the fairly new US ambassador to Zimbabwe looks like he's on his way out. Things have been tense between the Zim Government and Dell since the moment the well travelled Dell set foot in Harare. Preceding him in government circles was his reputation for warring against some of Africa's worst dictators so they viewed him as "meddler."

    Just over a week ago Dell was arrested for "tresspassing" on a secure sight that happened to be in the Harare Botanical Gardens (a public park next to the presidential mansion). After a few diplomatic apologies, the row has scaled up after Dell delivered a blistering attack on the government's inefficiency,cronysm and nefarious activities.

    This is Zimbabwe, the civic action group Sokwanele's blog has a thorough report on this whole debacle.

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  • Monday, November 07, 2005

    Police brutality quashes demonstrations

    Zimbabwe's National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), the umbrella body uniting all of the country's civic action groups attempted a feat that has not been done yet over the weekend. In a country were unparalleled fear of the state rules the day owing to endless intimidation, repression and infiltration, the NCA claimed it was going to surprise authorities by withholding the meet up locations of demonstrators in the different cities.

    That must have really angered the cops because they came out in full force--guns drawn and all.

    As for the demonsrators, they did what they could until the teargas, boots, and arrests overcame them. Here's a report from Zimonline,
    Armed anti-riot police patrolled the streets of Harare on Sunday as tension gripped the crisis-hit southern African country after a weekend of public demonstrations to demand a new constitution and to protest against senate elections at the month-end.

    On Saturday, police used teargas to break up protests in the five major cities by members of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) civic alliance, which campaigns for a new and democratic constitution for Zimbabwe.

    The NCA, which brings together the ZCTU, churches, students, opposition political parties, women's organisations, human and civil rights groups, also opposes elections set for November 26 to create a new senate, saying the government should instead first allow a people-driven constitutional reform process to take place before it can establish the senate.

    Twelve members of the NCA who were arrested by the police on Saturday are expected to appear in court today facing charges of allegedly taking part in an illegal demonstration and of assaulting a policeman.

    Under the government's draconian Public Order and Security Act (POSA), Zimbabweans are barred from gathering in groups of three or more to discuss politics or hold public demonstrations without first seeking police permission."
    Tomorrow, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) intends to have it's 300,000 members on the streets after what it calls a breakdown of talks with the government. More later.

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  • Friday, November 04, 2005

    Quote of the week

    We end this week with a telling quote from a former liberation war hero Wilf Mhanda commenting on the problems encountered by the MDC. Take note, this view is from a pro-Mugabe mindset.
    "The MDC leadership totally underestimated Mugabe. They believed the struggle for democracy would be hard, but they never understood he was prepared to destroy everything — them, the economy, institutions, infrastructure, the whole country and everything in it to survive.

    The MDC thought they could win by being right, by appealing to the majority, and they got that support, but that was never enough. Mugabe controls the security forces, the courts, the media, the intelligence services, the assets and he has perfected the system of patronage manipulating each and every person in positions of power.

    Mugabe was impossible to defeat in elections because he controls every aspect of them too. The task was too big for the decent MDC and the party neglected making inroads in the lower ranks of the army who are just as poor as everyone else.."
    Doesn’t that say it all?

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  • Thursday, November 03, 2005

    Swatting out the truth

    In Shona we have a great saying to the effect that the truth will always come out, "Rinamanyanga hariputirwe mumushunje." Translated literally this mean you cannot wrap anything with horns in newspaper. This saying came to mind as I was browsing through the Herald's coverage of the Zimbabwe Farmers Union congress. A pretty funny thing happened right before our very noses all courtesy of the aforementioned truth and the Herald's failing attempts to gloss over the governments mistakes.

    On Monday, November 1, the paper carried an article under the by line Zim’s agric production declines in which Slyvester Nguni, the deputy minister of agriculture, is quoted blasting the land reform program and its entailments as the reason behind the decline in agricultural production.
    "We have a few people that are really committed to production while many others are doing nothing on the farms. The problem is that we gave land to people lacking the passion for farming and this is why every year production has been declining. Granted, drought has taken its toll on production, but the biggest letdown has been that people without the faintest idea of farming got land and the result has been declining agricultural output.’

    'The truth of the matter is that the maize price is not very attractive. Even if we did not have a drought we were still going to import as farmers turn to more lucrative crops — and this is the truth.'

    'What sort of an audit team is it that leaves out farmers and only includes officers who do not even know the kind of problems farmers face?’’ asked some farmers, adding farmers’ problems can best be solved by farmers themselves and not people who spend their working time in offices.'"
    Someone must not have like this much truth seeping to the public. Not an admission of failure! No way, this government is immune to errors. Desperate to alter the tone of its coverage, the Herald published another article quoting Nguni's boss watering down all the positives things they'd quoted him saying a day earlier. They have some gems for quotes in this one. Read carefully.
    "THE decline in the country’s agricultural production has been caused by a combination of drought and illegal sanctions imposed by Britain and her allies, the Minister of Agriculture Dr Joseph Made has said.

    Traditionally, communal farmers used to produce 75 to 80 percent of maize and almost 100 percent of cotton but that is no longer possible because of the drought," said Dr Made.

    "They stood tall-to-tall with the former white commercial farmers before the advent of drought but they have now been incapacitated by these challenges."

    The minister criticised former white commercial farmers for reportedly vandalising property on the farms after the acquisition of their farms by Government.

    "These former white commercial farmers are now misleading the international community that the land reform programme was a failure when they are the culprits. Only 15 to 35 percent of their land was producing, leaving the rest of their land idle but our new farmers have the capacity to do well once they are fully supported."
    Tall to tall? What the heck is that? Didn't he want to say "eye to eye?" Was the minister seriously saying that he thought subsistence farmer could produce output that stood "tall to tall" with commercial farmers? But then again this is the same guy who hopped on a helicopter to take a tour of the country's agricultural production a couple years ago. After the jaunt he boistrously declared that the country was going to have a bumper harvest which didn't materialize.

    He might have been in the same chopper when he made his reality defying discovery that a subsistence farmer matches a commercial farmer in output! Here, I have a name for the chopper, we'll christian it Air Lies 1.

    Parents beware, do anything you can to keep your children from going to the University of Wisconsin schools, this is where this lying scoundrel got his education. I'm not sure at what level they introduce the air survey of agricultural produce. Bachelor's? Master's? Doctoral?

    I digress.

    My point was to show you the great lengths the Herald went to try and cover up the truth Nguni had told in their newspaper, but "rinamanyanga hariputirwe mumushunje."

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  • Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    Uncontrite Sikhala, "You can't suspend me."

    Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC's beleagured leader has once again been accused of violating his party's constitution. This time the allegation come from his firebrand MP, Job Sikhala. Job Sikhala made headlines last week alleging that the MDC was receiving funding from Ghana, Nigeria and Taiwan but later withdrew the claims.

    In rare show of resolve, Tsvangirai unilaterally suspended Sikhala. A fomenting Sikhala fired off this salvo to his party's leader, in which he said among other things,
    "YOU know very well that the supreme document of the party, the constitution, does not give you the jurisdiction to suspend members from the party. Such jurisdiction is the preserve of the Vice-President and the Disciplinary Committee, ‘whose duties shall be to investigate breaches of the code and, where appropriate, impose the requisite penalties."

    "A fortnight ago, you sent Dennis Murira to invite me and talk about the possibility of me supporting the “No to Senate Campaign”.

    I openly told you that I would not support factions, but that I was praying for my leadership to be united and fight…as a team. Did I disappoint you, Mr President? I am sorry if so because I believe in the name of God, that factions won’t take our party anywhere. I will remain indifferent to factionalism until you all see the bigger picture of our struggle."

    Will Tsvangirai's resolve prevail or will it peter out as more people test his ability to stay the course. So far, at least with the "renegade candidates" he's shown that he can talk tough. Whether this will be his new face remains to be seen.

    The MDC and people of Zimbabwe need a leader who is resilient and will stick to his principles. It would be a welcome change.

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  • Deposed first bodyguard accuses first lady of infidelity

    Zimonline has a fascinating follow up on a story it broke a month ago about the change of guard over state house. Winston Changara, Mugabe's former bodyguard who was removed from his "prestigious" duties turned tables on the first lady who had him removed on allegations of indecent assualt according to the article.
    "He plainly told them that he was being fixed by the First Lady because he had threatened to spill the beans and let the President know of her affairs.

    Changara said Grace wanted him removed from near Mugabe because this was the only way to make sure he would never be close enough to her husband to tell him that she was seeing other men."
    So Mr. President, who's report are you going to believe, that of your wife and bedmate for close to ten years or that of your 20 year confidante?

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