Friday, April 28, 2006

Dreaming of Nepal: A Criticism Zimbabwe's Democratization Mechanism (Part 1)

As I sit here looking at my computer screen I'm dreaming of Nepal. I so badly want the reality they are experiencing to be mine . I want to be able cower my despot into democracy too!

Right on cue, Paramendra Bhagat a native of Nepal pointed me to his blog where he has discussed the "Democracy Spreading Mechanism." You can see where this leading right? This got me thinking; just how well are we doing according to the 21st century democracy revolution standards set by our Nepali brotherhood?

This post is the first in an eight part series where I'm going to present a criticism of Zimbabwe''s democracy movement according to the principles set out by Paramendra in the aforementioned post. If you haven't already done so, you'll need to read the post. Paramendra arranges key components of the democratization mechanism into three categories; domestic, diaspora, and international community. Since this is a "A Criticism Zimbabwe's Democratization Mechanisms," this series will evaluate Zimbabwe by points in the first two categories only. Besides, we all know how "well" the internation community is doing at keeping up their end of the bargain--no need to beat down the dead donkey we call that muchekadzafa--cutting the dead.

<...More here...>

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  • Thursday, April 20, 2006

    Street Talk

    To keep you appraised on the reality of life in Zimbabwe for ordinary people, I conduct random interviews on Harare's streets. Here's the latest on what life is like in Harare, two days afterecelebrating independence. We'll call our intervewee "Tino."
    ZP: How is life in Zimbabwe these days?
    Tino: Life here is really tight we're are barely getting by now,still hanging in there though.

    ZP: Just two months ago fuel was next to impossible to find, has the situation improved?....,

    <...More Here...>

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  • Tuesday, April 18, 2006

    Mugabe Misfires (again) on Independence

    Zimbabwe commemorates the 26th annivesary of it's independence today. As has become customary over the years, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe used a gathering to commemorate a national event as a platfrom for another vitriolic attack on his opponents. There was very little celebrating at the National Sports Stadium in Harare today, Mugabe had a lot on his mind.

    Mugabe, fresh from publicly deriding Tsvangirai a couple weeks ago at the burial of Winston Changara at the national shrine, fired another salvo at Tsvangirai. Said Mugabe,
    "There are some who say they no longer want elections saying they now will change the government through mass protests …. I warn them, they are playing with fire and they should stop."
    Tsvangirai has been holding rallies across the country in preparation of what many expect to be mass demonstrations planned to force Mugabe's government to quit.

    One would be forgiven for thinking that when the old man stepped to the podium today he's ascerbic aresenal would be low since he just attacked Tsvangirai at another national event weeks ago. But there are there things bothering Mugabe in a very real way.

    Masked beneath the thin veneer of boisterous threats is genuine fear and trepidation in ZANU-PF. Speculation is rife that he and his cronies are nervous about the possibility of mass revolt. There even is some speculation that he is talks with the MDC about a peaceful transition.

    The proposed plan, tipped to be UN Secretary General Koffi Annan's last hooray before retirement, will see Mugabe retire in 2008. After Mugabe's retirement, a coalition government led by a ZANU-PF transitional president will preside over the country before elections in 2010.

    The key element of all this is the claim that the composition of the transitional government will, "reflect on the country's ethnic and gender balance." Why? Because as Jonathan Moyo (a former ZANU-PF henchman) reveals in this article
    The top four leadership positions in the ruling Zanu PF - president and first secretary, two vice-presidents and second secretaries and national chairman - which make up the party's presidency, should reflect Zimbabwe's regional diversity and ethnic balance between and among the country's four major ethnic groupings, namely Karanga, Manyika, Zezuru and Ndebele in order to promote and maintain representative national cohesion, development, peace and stability while fostering a broad-based sense of national belonging and identity; that the top position of president and first secretary of the party should not be monopolised by one sub-tribe (or clan) but should reasonably rotate among the four major ethnic groupings; that the filling of these top four positions should not be by imposition by the party hierarchy but through democratic elections done by secret balloting; and, that the filling of the top four leadership positions and the democratic elections should be defined and be guided by and done in accordance with the constitution of the party to promote the rule of law within the party as a foundation for maintaining the rule of law in the country.
    ZANU-PF has long been wary of disproportionate gender and ethnic balance of the country's top leadership. The presence of concern for the same principle in speculated plan lends credibility to the proposed plan.

    As we have now come to expect, when national events like this happen, Mugabe will address not the nation, but only his opponents. Makes one wonder what he spends more time thinking about; the nation and the plethora of problems beseiging it, or his enemies?

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  • Monday, April 17, 2006

    Independence Day

    On the eve of the 26th commemoration of Zimbabwe's independence from colonial rule, I wonder if anyone in the country will observe the holiday with anything more than the customary day off. Even that won't mean much, 85% of Zimbabwe's able and willing workforce are jobless. There is very little independence left in the country, and there is even less to celebrate.

    In hollow statements Arthur Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai, the two leaders of the MDC's bickering factions issued blurry calls for action from the Zimbabwean people.

    In his first independence message to Zimbabwe, an ambitous Mutambara delves into details of his lofty plans to transform Zimbabwe's economy;
    "Beyond recovery and survival we need to develop long term strategic initiatives, with sector specific programs, that enable Zimbabwe to emerge as an industrialized, technology driven, competitive nation, fully integrated into the global economy. We should use the existing capacity of Zimbabweans and their natural resources to compete through the design and construction of new and innovative products on the world market. While building upon our national core competencies such as agriculture, mining and tourism, emphasis should be on focused manufacturing and leveraging new technologies. These include wireless telecommunication (e.g. Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) and Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMax)), biotechnology, wireless power (e.g. fuel cells and solar-thermal), automation, nano-technology, micro-electronic and mechanical systems (MEMS), and electronic commerce. Some of these new technology platforms are cheaper and lend themselves better to countries with poor infrastructure than advanced countries. Hence, there is a unique opportunity for Zimbabwe to run where others walked. We can thus, leap-frog from the current economic crisis into the globally competitive and knowledge-based economy. Zimbabwe needs an effective science and technology strategy, rooted in regional integration and linked to forces of globalization."
    While urging collegiality among Zimbabwe's civic organizations, Mutambara is consipicously mum about his frosty relationship with Tsvangirai. Notice, he has nothing to say to or about the other MDC. Trust me, it's not for a lack of things to say. Several members of his faction recently defected.

    What I find even more galling is the absence of plan of action from the former student activist. One would think that given the background of Tsvangirai's succesfull rallies and widely publicized plans for mass actions Mutambara would use the independence platform to broadcast his alternative strategy. All says is,"the hour has come for us to reclaim our national birth right." What the Zimbabwean people want to know from you sir is just how we can do that.

    While acknowledging that his prior calls for action have failed to yield results, Tsvangirai connects his failings to he calls Zimbabwe's long standing "march to democracy,"
    For the record, allow me Zimbabweans to re-state that the march to tyranny can be traced to the early years of our Independence.

    In a 24-page private letter in 1983 on the then emerging trend towards state-sanctioned brutality, the late Joshua Nkomo told Robert Mugabe: "Zimbabwe is defenceless today because the people live in fear, not of enemies, but their own government."

    Six years later on 10 July 1989, the late Ndabaningi Sithole - in another letter to Mugabe said: "The exposure of the gross corruption of your most senior ministers and other government officials raises questions regarding the ability of the present government to run the country. The whole episode causes one to wonder whether we have a government or merely a gang of the most unscrupulous ever to be entrusted with the running of our country."
    Tsvangirai has plans for the future, plans for state and people of Zimbabwe, but nothing for his own party. It is disengenous for Tsvangirai and Mutambara to postulate their overtures for the future of the country when neither can own up to the problems dogging their party.

    In case they both don't realize this; all the problems facing the nation articulated in both the Tsvangirai and Mutambara speeches are patently obvious to all and sundry. The people are living in this sadistic reality everyday. It is also obvious that the people need an organized leader to galvanize the protest movement. What is not obvious is why and how they can both glaze over some pretty obvious problems in their party. Neither of them can be a solution to Zimbabwe's larger problems if they cannot solve the nation's smaller problems. Tsvangirai and Mutambara should address the differences that almost derailed their party if they want to be relevant to Zimbabwe's future. The separatist kind of politics they are flirting with are exactly what brought ZANU-PF and the country to where it is today.

    Read Mutambara's statement here. Read Tsvangirai's statement here.

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  • Sunday, April 16, 2006

    Zimpundit to Move

    A little over year ago I moved my writings to and started the Zimpundit blog. Since then you the reader have made this one of Zimbabwe's most read blog. And because you have passed word onto to friends, peers, and family, I have been able to hookup with some really neat people out there. For that I am truly thankful .

    One of those people I have come to know and admire Curt Hopkins of the Committee to Protect Bloggers. Curt along with the rest of the committee, Marshall Kirkpatrick and Brian Schartz have graciously extended me an offer I cannot resist; assuming editorial control of the Enough is Enough superblog.

    Enough is Enough (EiE-- is going to be Zimbabwe's first "super blog." In addition to my regular posts, you will be able to find a wealth of information in different multimedia formats from a variety of vantage points including other Zimbloggers, observers, and Zimbabweans abroad. In Curt's words, "Enough is Enough is designed to act as a blog aggregator, an information exchange for concerned Zimbabweans within the country, and a “bridge blog” to carry the news in that country (now completely devoid of an independent press) to the outside world."

    Enough is Enough is NOT affiliated with either Sokwanele ( or Zvakwana ( but will collaborate with both as necessary.

    So after more than a year long stint on blogspot, it's time to move. In a matter of days I will begin my daily posts at I will, for the time being, duplicate those posts at

    Enough is Enough is more than just a place for me to voice my opinions, it is a collaborative project to give voice to Zimbabwe's voiceless. So if you have pictures, podcasts, articles, or video to share, I encourage you to do so.

    See you at!

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  • Enough is Enough: A New Zimbabwean Democracy Super Blog

    We are writing to make you aware of an interesting new project called, “Enough is Enough” ( Enough is Enough is a blog devoted to news and analysis of the African country of Zimbabwe, from the inside out.

    Once the “breadbasket of Africa,” in recent decades, under the increasingly tyrannical rule of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe has become a wasteland. However, in Zimbabwe, activists, including many bloggers, are attempting to reverse that trend. The editor of Enough is Enough, the blogger known as The Zimbabwean Pundit (, is prominent among them.

    Enough is Enough was conceptualized, planned and built by the Committee to Protect Bloggers’ ( Curt Hopkins, Marshall Kirkpatrick and Brian Schartz.

    Enough is Enough is a translation of the Ndebele phrase,
    Sokwanele' and the Shona equivalent, 'Zvakwana.' These are also the names of two cooperating pro-democracy groups in the country and[which Enough is Enough is NOT affiliated with but will collaborate with as necessary]

    Zimpundit will write regular postings for the site, which also contains automated feeds of news, blog posts, photos and multimedia files. Enough is Enough is designed to act as a blog aggregator, an information exchange for concerned Zimbabweans within the country, and a “bridge blog” to carry the news in that country (now completely devoid of an independent press) to the outside world.

    Stop by and give Zim your support. He and his fellow Zimbabweans have got a long row to hoe.

    p. 541.729.4146
    aim. MorphemeTales
    skype. cpbone

    "Reasonableness is just around the corner."
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  • Thursday, April 13, 2006

    Mass Exodus and Uninspiring Rallies become Modus Operandi for Mutambara

    While Tsvangirai has consolidated his position as the only MDC leader with the people's mandate, Arthur Mutambara his antagonist for the party has seen his prospects dwindle from oblique to bleak. Yesterday, Mutambara addressed a rally in Mt. Pleasant, a northern suburb in Harare which is home to the University of Zimbabwe, where Mutambara rose to prominence as a firebrand student activist. Despite his illustrous academic and political carree during his days at the university, Mutambara could only attract around 200 people to the rally only minutes away from the campus.
    Beleaguered Bulawayo dissident faction leader Professor Arthur Mutambara was not 10 minutes into his speech in Mt Pleasant yesterday when a small timid crowd that turned up for his rally began to show signs of acute boredom. They whispered, scratched, stared at the ceiling. And these were his few remaining fervent supporters, mainly students drawn from the University of Zimbabwe who were seduced with Scuds [popular Zimbabwean opaque beer] to the rally venue, Mt Pleasant Hall in Harare North constituency. The robotics professor prodded on.

    Nowhere has the contrast between Mutambara and Tsvangirai been more apparent than during the last two weeks where Tsvangirai pulled no less than 10 000 people with each outing while the embattled robotics professor only managed to pull a paltry 300 students and a few domestic workers force-marched to the rally by their white employers, obviously sympathetic to Harare North MP Trudy Stevenson. From yesterday’s rally, it was apparent that Mutambara’s faltering campaigns continue to lack the brash self-confidence and hype that characterized his emergence into the political fray two months ago.
    After the resignation of Blessing Chebundo from Mutambara's faction, Simon Sipepa Nkomo has also reportedly quit the side. Nkomo, most famous as editor of the now defunct Daily News, had apparently been appointed to deputise Chebundo as director of elections in the faction. As if that is not enough, I have seen an email chronicling the resignation of five other Mutambara faction members whose roles are not specified.

    Meanwhile Tsvangirai is expected to unveil the details of his planned mass action. Part of the strategy involves calls to boycott businesses controlled by government.

    David Coltart a reknowned human rights lawyer, MDC advisor and advocate for an amicable reconciliation of the factions fired of this salvo to leaders in both factions pleading for peace in any actions taken.

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  • Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    Pro Senate MP Defects to Tsvangirai Faction

    After performing dismally in their rallies to drum up support for their cause and losing a court case against the anti-senate faction, Arthur Mutambara's faction of the MDC seems all but doomed. A prominent member of the of the side, Blessing Chebundo has quit the faction. From Zimdaily,
    The Arthur Mutambara pro-senate faction of the MDC has suffered a major setback following the defection of Blessing Chebundo, their parliamentary chief whip and director of elections. The Opposition Member of Parliament for Kwekwe, has also resigned from the positions of director of elections and from being the MDC’s parliamentary chief whip respectively.

    Chebundo cheated death in the run-up to the 2000 parliamentary election when he stood against Zanu PF's Emmerson Mnangagwa in the watershed poll. While Mnangagwa came back into Parliament as Speaker, Chebundo came in as the new representative of Kwekwe and became the opposition’s shadow Health minister.
    Zimonline, who broke the story yesterday had more juice,
    "It is with deep regret that I have to advise that, due to very personal reasons, I am no longer able to continue as the 'Director of Elections, and as Chief Whip' of the MDC side led by Prof A Mutambara.

    "My resignation from the above two positions is with immediate effect. I trust, and wish the 'side' all the best," said Chebundo in his terse resignation letter which was also copied to Mutambara and the faction's deputy president Gibson Sibanda.

    Chebundo's resignation appears to deal a serious body-blow to the Mutambara faction of the MDC which has been struggling to attract huge crowds to its rallies around the country.

    Chebundo told ZimOnline last night that he had been "pressurised by his constituency" to rejoin the Tsvangirai faction.
    Spurned by the move, members of the faction immediately blamed Tsvangirai of employing "ZANU-PF tactics." Said Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga,
    "The Tsvangirai faction has used the same tactics that ZANU PF has been using over the years. It is not that Mavhaire (Dzikamai) wanted to come back to ZANU PF but was put under intense pressure just like Chebundo. You cannot blame him."
    Because Tsvangirai has shown been better, I am not going to rush to speculate that time is up for the pro-senate faction evan though it sure seems like that. They might well find a creative way to revamp themselves.

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  • Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    Emboldened Tsvangirai Enchanting Crowds

    A very unlike change of tides is afoot in Zimbabwe. At it's center is Morgan Tsvangirai who many of us thought was well on his way to political oblivion. Through last weekend and continuing through the week, Tsvangirai continues to hold rallies accross the country bringing his message that enough is enough. What's different this time compared to the other times the MDC has gone down this beaten path is that he is openly calling for mass disregard of the law.

    At Whitecity stadium in Bulawayo (the same rally described by Eddie in the post below), a belligerent Tsvangirai responding to Mugabe's thinly veiled death threat to him a week earlier, said,
    "I am prepared to die in order to liberate the people of Zimbabwe from Zanu PF’s misrule. Who are you Mugabe to talk about the death or life of an individual, are you God? Even if I am killed, one thing is certain, all dictators, just like other people, will die. If I die first, I will be waiting for you in heaven and I will ask you if you managed to improve the lives of Zimbabweans"
    At another rally last week Tsvangirai publicly denigrated the repressive POSA law which has been wielded to reign in any opposition to the government.

    This is the same Tsvangirai who seemed all but done in Zimbabwean politics after the party he founded splintered into two groups. He is the same man who's escaped treason charges (which could have earned him a death sentence) twice in Zimbabwe. And this is the same the same party whose coffers were emptied after split. All of a sudden it seems that MDC, which appeared tamed and permanently fractured is on the mend.

    There's hardly any talk about the pther MDC--the prosenate faction--any more. They've cancelled their rallies and of the ones they've held, they've been poorly attnded. As expected these intellects do not have charisma to pull the crowds. They cannot go it alone.

    The question is this enough to roll people's anger over? Will the people stand with Tsvangirai when he calls for action or will they wilter away in fear? He's done his part it's our part now to take back what's always been ours.

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  • Monday, April 10, 2006

    Eddie Cross: "Gundwane" (Rats)

    As I sat on the grass with about 12 000 other Zimbabweans at yesterdays rally in White City Stadium I thought how do we explain just what has happened to these ordinary, hardworking people just what has happened to their spending power and standard of living? Then it occurred to me that they might understand the example to all of us of a rat infestation.

    Rats operate very largely in the dark. They leave few signs of their presence – a bit of dung but mostly you see the evidence of the damage they cause. It is like having a rat in your pocket – you receive your salary, put it in your pocket and when you take it out it is not worth the same amount as when you put it there! The rats of Zanu PF have been at it and stolen what you earned with the sweat of your brow.

    How do they do that? It’s all a matter of modern economics. A hundred years ago when we did not have reserve banks and Ministries of Finance with their computers and when trade was paid for in gold or gold equivalents, manipulation of the value of wealth was more difficult. We still had wealth and poverty – but if you wanted to accumulate wealth or take more than your fair share, you had to do so in the full light of day. Now an official in the Reserve Bank can reach out in the still of the night and steal what is yours while you sleep!

    If we take export proceeds for example – hard currency earning generated by workers in our mines and factories. Paid into our bank accounts by foreign buyers. No sooner has it arrived than the Reserve Bank reaches out and takes a bite – and gives you back a tenth of its real value in local promissory notes. 90 per cent of the portion’s taken real value goes into the rat’s nest where it is used to keep the rats warm and well fed.

    Then a while later, they reach out and take the rest at half its value – it too goes into the rats nest where it is also used to keep the rats warm and well fed.

    But it does not end there – the bits of paper given back to you by the rats as promissory notes have a certain value when they are issued to you. This is because when they were issued to you there were only a set number – divided to cover the real value of your work. But while we are sleeping these rats – being devilishly clever, print more notes, so that when you wake up and go to the store to convert your paper back into real things, you suddenly find the rats have eaten another 25 per cent or more of what you have in your pocket.

    So the daddy rat – who else – gets fat and indolent and arrogant – these simple peasants he thinks, they all work for my rats and me. Mommy rat just loves to shop – does not think for one minute about where her wealth comes from just knows that daddy rat keeps it coming. The rat’s uncle – a rat called Gono the Gundwane does it with a smile and every now and then he calls all the suckers in to a meeting where he tells them what he is going to do next to keep the flow of resources to the rats going.

    You get a rat infestation when the conditions are right and the predators of rats are few. When that happens you need an eradication team to clean house and destroy the rats themselves. That is where we are today and nothing else will stop the erosion of our living standards and economy.
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  • Three Numbers...

    That rule life in Zimbabwe, here they are;

    31,1 millions, the number of dollars the average Zimbabwean family needs to meet the poverty datum line.

    36, the average life expectancy a Zimbabwean woman as reported by the World Health Organization.

    913.6 percent, Zimbabwe's record breaking annual inflation rate.

    These are the times we live in.

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  • Friday, April 07, 2006

    Eddie Cross: "Paranoia"

    There is now little doubt that the present regime in Zimbabwe is becoming very anxious about the swelling tide of opposition and criticism that it is facing. They have put the army on full alert, cancelled leave, they are mobilizing their street gangs and thugs in the form of the youth militia and are rumored to be printing thousands of T shirts in the MDC colors in an effort to discredit the mass action that is now threatened by the MDC leadership.

    As a taste of things to come the township of Budiriro in Harare where a bi-election is programmed has already become a battleground. The CIO is in there in strength (there are some 17 000 people working for the CIO in Zimbabwe) and clashes between the restive and angry community and these Para military security operatives are becoming more frequent.

    Then there is the tirade of abuse by Zanu PF leaders and Ministers directed at the MDC – not the break away faction which strangely attracts little attention, but towards the MDC and its recently elected leadership. We hear reports that they are finding it difficult to rebuild the contacts they lost in the MDC when the breakaway took place last year. This seems to be supported by some of the regimes actions, which show a lack of real inside knowledge of what is really going on.

    We had Mr. Mugabe threatening the leadership of the MDC with death if they dared to appose Zanu PF on the streets. Then came statements from Mutasa and Chinamasa to the effect that “what the MDC is planning is illegal, amounts to an unconstitutional threat to a democratically elected administration”. They have even gone so far as to say that the MDC is planning a coup against the legitimate government of Zimbabwe.

    Now aside from the fact that the present regime is neither democratically elected nor legitimate it maintains its grip on power with the use of military force and organisation. There is a lot of evidence that since the 2002 statement by the armed forces that they would not accept an MDC leader as State President under any circumstances – in effect a military coup in its self, that we are in fact living no longer in a democratic state but under a form of a military junta. It astonishes how little real influence or authority is exercised by either the Cabinet or Parliament. The principal focus of power seems to lie in a shadowy Security Council that seldom sees the light of day.

    But it must be made clear to all who have an interest in our affairs, that what the MDC and civil society in general want as an outcome from the present campaign (because that is what we are now engaged in) is quite simple. We want: -

    1. The convening, with immediate effect, of an all stakeholders’ conference to thrash out, on a consensual basis, the way out of the mess we are in the form of a new constitution and a negotiated transition to democratic elections under international and regional supervision.
    2. We are demanding that during the transition, the government restores the rule of law, freedom of the press and freedom of association. We are also demanding that food be brought into free supply and be completely depoliticised. We are demanding that the State controlled media be brought under the control of an independent media commission and be forced to operate professionally and impartially.
    3. We are demanding that every Zimbabwean citizen and permanent resident be allowed to vote on the basis of a satisfactory identity document in a national election for both Parliament and the Presidency. That these elections be administered by a truly independent authority set up for this purpose and that the regional and the international community be invited, without restrictions of any kind, to observe the process.
    4. Then finally, we are demanding that the administration that emerges from this process, be declared the legitimate government of Zimbabwe and that that this government then takes power to administer the country and to control and direct the activities of all the security arms of the State.

    I am no lawyer, but that does not look like an illegal operation to me. Nor does it amount to a coup in the traditional African sense of the word. It certainly would be a coup if the MDC could achieve such a transition back to real democratic and legal values, but by no stretch of imagination could it be termed “an illegal and unconstitutional attempt to overthrow by violent means the government of Zimbabwe”.

    Therefore why the paranoia? The paranoia about what the MDC is proposing is due to the simple fact the regime knows that if such a programme was to be followed, Zanu PF would be ousted from power as surely as the sun rose today over Zimbabwe. This would mean that the misdemeanors of the present regime would be disclosed, the real story of what has gone on behind closed doors would become public knowledge and the Courts would be available to those whose interests have been damaged during 25 years of bad and corrupt government.

    The gravy train would be derailed and the massive transfers of wealth from the majority to a tiny political elite would be stopped and even reversed. This is the real reason why the present regime is crying foul. It’s got nothing to do with the alleged illegality of the MDC proposals, nothing to do with a “planned coup”. In any event, all the arms and armed capacity in the country is in the hands of the national army and the police as well as the Para military forces. The MDC has no such capacity, has never sought such capacity and has no intention, under any circumstances, of following that route. The only men of violence here are in Zanu PF and its affiliates.

    We have tried the democracy route, it has been blocked off by this administration and that leaves us with no other choice but the street and the power of ordinary people seeking redress and their universal rights. Despite what people might be thinking – MDC has never committed itself to such a programme since it was born in 1999. This is the first time we have backed direct action to force change. We have no alternative – the regional community refuses to take action and we simply cannot go on accepting the destruction of our country and the rape of its assets.

    Eddie Cross
    Bulawayo, 7th April 2006

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  • Thursday, April 06, 2006

    More on the Militarization of Everything

    This week's edition of the Financial Gazette is up. Read more about how much Mugabe is increasing military influence in Zimbabwe in this article from the paper. Excerpt;
    Late last year, the army launched a command agriculture programme called Operation Maguta in a desperate effort to boost agricultural production and avert massive food shortages. Under the food-security initiative, army officers are tilling rich agricultural land to boost maize output following poor harvests in the past five years after new black farmers took over productive white-owned farms.
    The army is also engaged in an ambitious housing reconstruction programme codenamed Operation Hlalani Kuhle/Garikai in which government is building low-cost houses for people who were left homeless in the aftermath of Operation Murambatsvina.
    Until recently, Zimbabwe’s electoral system has been heavily militarised with the elections body comprising mainly former army personnel. In addition, serving and retired army personnel have of late been seconded to head state institutions. Examples of parastatals headed by army personnel include the Grain Marketing Board and the National Railways of Zimbabwe, among others.

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  • Wednesday, April 05, 2006

    Eddie Cross: "Running out of Time"

    This past week has seen several interesting developments on the continent. The major one being the decision by the West African States to abandon their protective screen around Charles Taylor. He promptly slipped away from his hide out in Nigeria and was mysteriously picked up a few days later (I suspect by special forces) and today arrived in Monrovia to face trial for the atrocities he committed in the region over a period of nearly 15 years.

    I remember when he first put in an appearance and the BBC picked up his voice from the depths of the West African bush, brash and outspoken, this American educated thug then went on to become one of Africa’s so called “big men”. Using child soldiers and others he is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths. The slaughter that he unleashed in fact only stopped when a small force of British soldiers arrived and actually initiated a peace-making role that was astonishing effective. Like all bullies and thugs, when faced with a well-trained group who mean business, he was no match and his days were over when West African leaders ganged up on him and forced him into exile in Nigeria.

    He now faces justice in a Court run by the government that he once terrorized. He did not look all that cocky this morning when he was bundled out of a helicopter and into an armored vehicle. Almost at the same time the Americans announced that they had taken into custody his son – once the key player in the Presidential guard for Taylor.

    Then Mr. Blair – Prime Minister of Britain, made a series of key policy speeches – one in London and another to the Australian Parliament last week. I listened to the latter and was most impressed. He called for a coalition of countries to support good governance and democracy throughout the world. He argued that the historical practice of “non interference in internal affairs” no longer held sway where the government in question abused their people, were a threat to regional stability and security or global security and stability. He actually cited Zimbabwe and Iran as two examples of States where he felt the domestic situation demanded concerted action by the international community.

    I do not think for one minute that this means a return to gunboat diplomacy. But it does mean a much tougher stance by the majority of countries towards those who blatantly abuse their people and whose actions threaten their region. It also means that not only is time running out for many who fit into this category but also that there are fewer hiding places.

    When Mengistu fled Ethiopia – at the behest of the United States and was flown to Harare in a US military jet to be given sanctuary by the Mugabe regime, the US was in effect ducking the issue and allowing a tyrant and a murderer to get away with his crimes – because it was thought that this was the only way to get him out of the way so that Ethiopia and the region it dominates, could find its feet and start to recover. He still lives in comparative luxury in Harare and his family seems to be able to move more or less freely throughout the world. I think this would be much more difficult to achieve today.

    Then on the home front we saw the Zanu PF pantomime in full swing. One of the senior policemen in the close protection unit for the Mugabe clan died under mysterious circumstances – one report said his family thought he had been poisoned. It turns out this was the same man who had threatened to tell Mr. Mugabe about his wife’s infidelities and as a reward he was unceremoniously dumped; only to be re-instated and then die. But the charade did not stop there – he was declared a “National Hero” and without a postmortem buried with full military honors watched by a crowd that
    comprised men and women from the armed forces who were told to attend “or else” and to do so in mufti.

    At the funeral Mr. Mugabe completed the play by abusing all his detractors and reserving special venom for Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC Party. Our great leader and senior African democrat, a “big man” in a league all by himself, threatened the leadership of the MDC with death if they dared to challenge Zanu PF supremacy.

    Then Mr. Mugabe moved into the Ministry of Finance and decided that the Commissioner of Taxes – actually quite a competent man in his own right who has done a reasonable job in very difficult circumstances – was not good at collecting taxes. So what does our “big man” do? He takes the head of the Army – a very nasty character, and puts him in charge of the Tax Department. Heaven knows what he is going to do in this job – any way, not much going on in the army and if he does not collect big time soon, the army is going to starve along with the rest of us.

    If anyone needed proof that we are now under a military junta – this is it. Military officers of various shapes and sizes and rank now run the National Parks, the Electoral process in Home Affairs, the Grain Marketing Board, the Attorney generals Office and Noczim. They are present in all the structures of government and whenever Mugabe encounters problems he turns to the military to step into the breech.

    Understandable really as the military, police and the CIO are the last remaining pillars of the State under Zanu PF. If we had a real, free and fair election today under genuine democratic conditions, Zanu PF would cease to exist as a functioning entity. They know this and that is why they will do everything in their power to avoid such an eventuality.

    But like the driver of a run away train – they know where they are headed, they know it means destruction and a huge crash with all of us passengers on board, but they simply do not know what to do. They cannot stop the train and they cannot divert it in another direction – the rails see to that. They cannot jump off and risk breaking their necks in the process – anyway the ‘big man” in charge is likely to shoot or poison any who try to defect at this stage.

    I spoke to a diplomat this past week and he said he had met with a wide range of Zanu PF leaders in recent weeks – all of whom were in despair about the economy, inflation, the increasing isolation and the collapsing infrastructure. But not one of them had the slightest idea as to what to do. What he did not say was that time is running out on these goons and that it is most unlikely that the “big man” has very long to go.

    Eddie Cross
    Bulawayo, 4th April 2006

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  • Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    Mugabe; Posturing or getting poised?

    True to his form, Mugabe is attempting to pull another fast not only on the world and his countrymen, but even some his closest allies in ZANU-PF. Take a look at this from Zimonline;
    President Robert Mugabe has directed Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) chief Constantine Chiwenga to supervise revenue collection following numerous reports of rampart corruption at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) in which ZIMRA boss Gershom Pasi was also implicated, ZimOnline has learnt.

    Authoritative sources said Chiwenga began overseeing ZIMRA operations on March 4, a day after Mugabe summoned Pasi for a meeting at his Munhumutapa offices at which the 82-year old President is said to have accused the country's chief tax collector of corruption and threatened to have him jailed if he did not mend his ways.
    Sound like the old man is cleaning house? Think again. There's a method to this madness (no pun intended) when we take a closer look what Mugabe has been doing over the past year. He is posturing a reforming leader who's been let down by his peer all the while poising himself for inevitable reality that things will go bad. What am I talking about? Read on.

    When Mugabe elevated Mujuru to vice presidency over a year ago, the move was heralded not only as positive, but brilliant as she became Zimbabwe highest ranking woman. Many thought Mugabe by choosing a woman over Mnangwa, a top male confidante, evaded the hairy controversy stemming from the paternalistic ambitions among his top henchmen. What many more could not decipher is that the real winner was Solomon Mujuru, a retired army general speculated to be the most influental man in ZANU-PF besides Mugabe because of his control over the army.

    This was arguably Mugabe's most visible display of crux of his new strategy to survive: placate the army and hope they protect him after his demise. After a rough 2004 during which many fissures developed in ZANU-PF the largest of which was the "Tsholotsho Indaba" led by now deposed information minister, the truth that he was vulnerable dawned on Mugabe. For the first time in his long dominance of Zimbabwean politics he felt that breeze, the breeze of exposure. That caused him to fixate on surrounding himself by people who are also influential in the army who could be counted on to lend a hand or an army should things go awry.

    All of a sudden military might is a premium virtue in ZANU-PF. Unsurprisingly Mugabe has since then deliberately turned control of the country's critical structures over to the army. It's only fitting that;
    Mugabe's decision to place ZIMRA under Chiwenga widens the army's control of key national institutions.

    Among state institutions now under the control of serving or former officers of the ZDF is national food utility, the Grain Marketing Board, whose chief executive officer Samuel Muvuti was recruited from the army, while the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that runs elections in the country is headed by former High Court Judge and army officer George Chiweshe.

    Former military intelligence officer and a lawyer Sobuza Gula-Ndebele is the Attorney General, a key post in the administration of justice in the country.
    Add to that General Mike Nyambuya the minister of energy. Not only are we fast becoming a military state, we're going to be a military state long after Mugabe is gone!

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  • Monday, April 03, 2006

    Life in Zimbabwe

    Many of you wonder what life really looks like in Zimbabwe today. You want hear about how ridiculous mundane costs have become. To that end, yours truly spent some time on Harare's streets to bring it to you straight from the people. Here's a street interview with our guest "Peter."

    What did you pay for the ET to work this morning?
    40k into town, 40k to mount pleasant. [up from $20K/trip two months ago! ]
    ZP: How do you hack it man, 160K a day on transport everyday
    Peter: I am fortunate in that my company pays half of my transport costs. so i just make sure i get into tow in the morning and they will take to the office and back into town manheru
    ZP: ok, even then, what portion of your salary is left when you take away the 80K you use a day,that's $320 a week, 1.28 million a month on transport alone! And that's using just one combi ride into work. Many people in Harare have to take two combi's to get to work!
    Peter: Yep, thats excluding the weekend trips. My salary is at 18million now, less rent and groceries for a family of four and fees for children that needed to go to school.....
    How about bread, how much is a loaf of bread?
    Officially 66k, but I saw it for 70k yesterday
    How about rent?
    A standard cottage will go for about 10M. thats bedroom, kitchen, bathroom. Medium density rates.
    Schools are closing soon, has there been any word on school fees yet?
    None that i have heard.
    But then what do you do with the money if you have any leftover, even if you save, interest rates are lower than inflation so you lose money by saving it
    Right now the best way to invest is the stock market but its risky, your share price can rise or fall.
    What is the fuel situation these days?
    Still no fuel at most stations. You have to hear from people where to buy it.
    Yeah, in zim you have 2 choices, give up or die trying. i will take the second option.
    What's the US dollar trading for on the streets and do you think it's available
    u'll find it at about 220k per 1USD and yeah, if u look in the right places u can find it.
    that said tho i am still hopeful about this country. There are pple who are making it in this country, we still have infrastructure, and resources. its just the "pea" brains who are behind it that need to be fixed.
    What's a bottle of coke cost, if you can find it now?
    just came back on the market about a week ago. 60k for the 300ml bottle.
    and a plate of sadza (Zimbabwean staple) for lunch?

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