Monday, June 26, 2006

Cross Posted on Global Voice

Zimbabwe: The Interception of Communications Bill is having a pronounced toll on the Zimbabwean blogosphere. Posts from domestic bloggers have slowed down noticably over the last two weeks. Despite this tragic reality, several cyberactivists continue to chronicle the largely unheard Zimbabwean story.

The unceremonious death of Tichaona Jokonya, the minister of information is the biggest news out of Zimbabwe this weekend. Jokonya died in his hotel room Saturday morning. Describing Jokonya's death Zimpundit expresses reservations about late minister regarding his role with the Interception of Communications Bill,
Jokonya’s tenure at the helm of the ministry was clearly marked by a softening of the government’s stance on independent media practitioners. Jokonya was even rumoured to have been making benign attempts at “defrosting” relations between his ministry and the independent media establishment.

Lately, he appeared to have buckled down and had began singing along to ZANU-PF’s abuses of independent media. Addressing a press conference earlier last week, Jokonya described locally based correspondents of foreign media as “traitors” saying,

“You know what the end of a traitor is? The end of a traitor is always death. The unfortunate thing about a traitor is that you are killed by both your own people and the person whom you are serving,”

Further, even though it is yet unclear what role he played in instituting it, the repressive Interception of Communications Bill came into effect during Jokonya’s reign.

Still on the subject of death, the father of Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC died this past week too. Zimbabwe's overenthusiastic police brazenly distrupted funeral proceedings calling on MDC supporters at the funeral to remove party regalia they had on. Said The Bearded Man
The police have overstepped the mark and I am horrified at the actions. A death in the family is hard enough, without Mugabe's heavy-handed tactics making it any harder. Morgan, I am so sorry for your loss. My sympathies to you and you family. May your father rest in peace.

The Bearded Man continues to do daily news roundups. (more...)
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  • Saturday, June 24, 2006

    Information Minister Dead

    Both New Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Journalists are reporting the death of Zimbabwe's information minister Tichaona Jokonya early Saturday morning.

    Jokonya, who took over the controversial ministry from Jonathan Moyo had previously been Zimbabwe's ambassador to the UN.

    There had been longrunning rumors that he had been unwell.

    According to New Zimbabwe,
    Jokonya's body was recovered from a bath tub of the Rainbow Towers Hotel, formerly Sheraton Hotel, in Harare.

    He had booked a 16th floor room and when he failed to answer the door to his bodyguard, hotel staff forced open the door.

    It is not known if there was any other person in the room with Jokonya who has a house in Harare and lived with his wife, Winnie Friede and children.
    After taking over the information portfolio, Jokonya had, until last Wednesday, done little to reverse his ministry's legacy of mantaining ZANU-PF's absolute monarchy on Zimbabwe's information outlets, and dealing harshly with independent media. On Wednesday, the formerly mild Jokonya boldly announced he was going recentralize the operational structure of ZBH, a wholly owned parastatal, and Zimbabwe's sole radio and T.V. broadcaster. The move, which will eradicate the national broadcaster's "small business units" was Jokonya's first real challenge to the establishment left by Moyo. (more...)

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  • Thursday, June 22, 2006

    Getting too personal with the politics

    Zimbabwean police can be disgusting. Like yesterday, when disrupted the funeral for MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai's father. Zimonline has the report:
    About 25 police some carrying guns and teargas canisters stormed the funeral of the father of opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Morgan Tsvangirai, ordering mourners to remove the party's regalia and stop sloganeering.

    Tsvangirai's father, Dzingai Chibwe, died at Murambinda Hospital in rural Buhera district last Sunday at the age of 78. He was buried at a family compound in the arid district, about 200 km south-east of Harare.

    But the burial ceremony - a hallowed occasion in the local Shona culture - was thrown into chaos as police attempted to force the about 1 000 mourners to remove MDC -shirts and bandanas in yet another clear example of harassment of the opposition leaders and supporters.

    The police, who were said to have been in a fighting mood, bizarrely claimed that the mourners were violating the government's tough Public Order and Security Act (POSA) that forbids political gatherings without prior permission from the police.

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  • Wednesday, June 21, 2006

    Hot Seat: Moyo, Raftopoulos and Robertson

    Violet: We continue the teleconference interview discussing various issues of national interest with three people who have at one time or another advised some of the key players in Zimbabwean politics - political analyst Professor Brian Raftopoulos, former Information Minister, now independent MP Professor Jonathan Moyo and leading economist John Robertson. This week we are going to be discussing how Mugabe thinks. What is his mindset? Why is he allowing the country to collapse so totally? A huge part of that collapse has been economic and so we start this week’s discussion with the economy.

    With inflation nearing 1200% it’s been said the economy has become Mugabe’s real opposition. So I first asked economist John Robertson to explain the state of the economy and tell us how bad things really are.

    Robertson: The state of the economy is certainly extremely serious. We have lost about half of our gross domestic product. The GDP per capita has come down to less that US$1 per day for the population as a whole and at that level we have, I am afraid, a very debilitated population. I think many, many people are suffering malnutrition and because of the treatment and the various little security measures taken by the government we have also a traumatised population. Which might explain why they have not taken mass action to date. There was some evidence of courage to do that back in 1997/ 98, but the treatment that was meted out to the people after that has left them very, very cautious and very anxious not to have that experience again.
    Now these problems are mounting in such a way that the economy can no longer employ most of the people. We’ve got some 300 000 youngsters turning 18 in this country every year – about maybe 10% of them can find work – the rest of them are unemployed and unable to find any kind of suitable employment anywhere. So they have to leave the country if they want work. We’ve got many of them leaving for South Africa illegally and facing very serious problems when they do that. I think that we face a very, very long recovery unless we get a massive amount of assistance from abroad. And once again I say that South Africa’s position here is the most important. We could speak of following the same path of recovery as say Uganda or Ethiopia or Mozambique and each of those cases we are talking more than 30 years and they still haven’t come right. We could come right very much more quickly with a lot of assistance from South Africa. I believe that the South African assistance could be in the form of the assistance given say to East Germany by West Germany when the Berlin Wall came down. (more...)

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  • Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    Coltart's procrastinated decision evidence of a crippling pandemic

    Apparently David Coltart has finally made a decision about his political future. Not anyone was holding their breath. The prominent lawyer, human rights activist, found MDC member, and, I think, Zimbabwe's sole white male MP aligned himself with the "pro-senate" faction of the MDC. Read his statement here.

    Not that anyone was holding their breath.

    By his own confession, Coltart was seven months in limbo. Seven months, before acting. Seven months sprinkled with loquacious statements planned to whet the public's interests in him. Seven months of endless mediocre attempts at mediating the crisis all to naught. Seven months this man has had his way with national politics.

    But these have also been seven months during which inflation for the first time passed 1,000%. Seven months during which the poverty datum line shot to over 50 million dollars. Seven months during which the not-so-august house Coltart sits in crafted and tabled a new bill aimed at shutting down sites like this very one and eaves dropping on innocent Zimbabwean's conversation. Seven months during which Coltart has contributed nothing towards the national debate. (more...)

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  • Eddie Cross: Once more into the breech

    Morgan had lunch with a group of local business leaders this week. During the conversation he made the point that he would never have predicted that the Nationalist government in South Africa in 1989 would have accepted the changes that were about to break over the heads of all who lived in South Africa. They controlled all the instruments of the State, huge resources, the electoral system and the media. Domestically they seemed to be unassailable. Five years later they were defeated, out of power and the party that had dominated South Africa for the previous 45 years had disintegrated.

    It happens. Never say the word “impossible” in politics.

    Suddenly there is a new consensus in the international community about Zimbabwe. This replaces the assumed approach sculptured by Tony Blair at the G8 summit in mid 2005 when the G8 renewed its commitment to helping put the Zimbabwe economy back on its feet and its support for the approach proposed by the South Africans. After the Gleneagles summit, Thabo Mbeki has had a go at getting Mr. Mugabe to step aside and allow reform and recovery on three separate occasions and on each occasion he was frustrated by the local leadership. (more...)
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  • Thursday, June 15, 2006

    Hot Seat: Analysts say engagement not mass action

    Transcript of 'Hot Seat' programme in which SW Radio Africa's Violet Gonda talks with Professors Brian Raftopoulos, Jonathan Moyo and Economist John Robertson.

    Broadcast on 13th June 2006

    Violet: Zimbabwe is a country in crisis and many have asked what needs to be done internationally by all democratic forces and what role the regional and international community can play – now, and in the post Mugabe period. To help discuss various ideas I've invited three people who have at one time or another advised some of the key players in Zimbabwean politics. They are political analyst Professor Brian Raftopoulos who once acted as an advisor for Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC, independent MP Jonathan Moyo, who was widely described as an advisor and strategist for Robert Mugabe and well known economist John Robertson. Welcome to the programme gentlemen. Now we will start with a common question, ah, well, there is no question, but there is a serious political crisis in Zimbabwe and that the economy has collapsed with inflation officially at 1 193.5 % but generally it's understood to be much higher than that. Now obviously something must be done about Zimbabwe but what are the suggestions? Let's start with Professor Moyo.

    Jonathan Moyo: Well, the suggestions - I don't think that the way our country is and how things are going invites suggestions, clearly what is needed is action. The first action, of course people would reasonably expect, that it must come from government - what government should do. And, the problem we have at the moment is that the government seems to be in a policy paralysis and it does not have a response. Although, I must say, the recent developments suggest that there is some international engagement which might lead to some resolution of this crisis because of the consequences of this economic meltdown. All this discussion around a possible initiative led by Kofi Annan suggests that the government now wants a way out and the question is, what it would be? There are a number of scenarios we can talk about in the course of the discussion.

    Violet: Ok, we'll talk about that later, but I would like to know the views of John Robertson and Professor Raftopoulos about what they think needs to be done. John Robertson?

    John Robertson: I believe that the government today is completely out of its depth and doesn't have the resources any longer to deal with these crises. Unfortunately it has constantly sought economic answers to what are basically political problems. I feel that strenuous efforts must now be made to devise political policies that are there to fix the political problems. We've seen a massive decline in the level of production, a total absence of new investment into the country, a massive flight of skills from Zimbabwe and the country now has no credit rating internationally. And, although we might have raised a bit of money to pay for fuel by pledging exports of certain minerals, we have come nowhere near solving any of these problems because the political hang-ups still keep the people who could help the country at arms length. So, I think that the answer has to lie in the political arena, not in the economic one. (more...)

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  • Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    Eddie Cross: "Breakdown or Breakthrough"

    I walked into a business here in Bulawayo this morning to discover that the staff was basically cleaning up prior to shutting down. The owners were already in South Africa – they had left without telling many friends that they were going. This is an event taking place across the country right now – business people are deciding that they have had enough. They cannot export at ruling exchange rates, local demand has simply disappeared and they have no raw materials and no cash to continue operating.

    The Zimbabwe economy is closing down – literally. We have inflation now at nearly 1200 per cent per annum (28 per cent in May and 21 per cent in April so it is still accelerating). But unlike the situation in most other countries that have experienced hyperinflation, the Zimbabwe economy is imploding at the same time. GDP is now down about 50 per cent, exports by two thirds and if it is at all possible, output in all sectors – mining, agriculture, industry is down again this year over last.

    The reasons for the implosion in the economy are largely self-inflicted. They rank from open threats against owners of businesses, expropriation and theft of assets by people associated with the ruling Party. The near collapse of the legal system and massive political interference with what is left. To this you can add total confusion in terms of macro economic, monetary and fiscal policy. Totally skewed exchange rates accompanied by wholesale theft of revenues and the misuse of scarce resources allocated on a patronage basis.

    In recent weeks the reports of accelerated decline have poured in – gold output down by a third on last year, winter cropping down 50 per cent, electricity supplies down to 70 per cent of demand and threatening economic activity across the board. The tobacco crop down by a third and prospects that the coming crop could be very small – perhaps less than 20 000 tonnes. Industrial activity shrinking fast and, if it was at all possible, the numbers of foreign tourists still dropping. (more...)
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  • Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    Great Post

    Accoustic Motorbike has a great post titled, "Yes I Am Sexist" about the unfair reality of being a woman in Zimbabwe. It's sad but true, the amount of oogling, cackling, whistling, staring, shameless overtures, that meet any woman that isn't carrying a baby on her back is downright disgusting.

    If you know any Zimbabwean men or any men encourage them to read it. If we want progress anywhere in the world, we must fight just as hard to end the kind of oppression expressed in the post just as hard as we fight the wors dictators. Here's an excerpt:
    I hate that I don’t feel safe on my own at night in my own neighbourhood. I hate that I don’t enjoy going to one of my favourite local restaurants, a few blocks from my flat, on my own—the sea of testosterone that awaits inside those doors is too much to navigate alone.

    And, of course, it’s not just about sex. It’s about men’s attitudes towards women. Maybe the message that a woman is not for beating already resonates with many men. But gender based violence is about much more than beatings. It’s about much more than rape or sexual assault. Surely it also includes the safety with which women move around in their own homes, their own streets, shops and neighbourhoods. Women are not for beating. They are also not for raping, heckling, objectifying or harassing. What messages do men grow up with then about what women are for. What do men think men are for? What do women think women or men are there for? Society has changed dramatically in the past 100 years. It is no longer acceptable to judge or stereotype someone on the basis of their race. Somehow gender differences feel like a harder thing to crack.

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  • Monday, June 12, 2006

    Cross Posted at Global Voices

    Zimbabwe: Announcing AI's and explaining why Zimbabwe badly needs the project, Accoustic Motorbike illustrates the impending fate Zimbabwe's bloggers face owing to the new Interception of Communications Bill;
    So it all works something like this:

    1) The army, police, or intelligence service decides that Jane Bloggs is a dubious character, and applies for a warrant to intercept her communications. These could include her text messages, cell phone and land line calls, emails to her known email address(es), communications sent electronically via her ISP, and post arriving at her house.

    2) She is not told by any authority that an interception warrant has been issued in her name. The friendly technician at her ISP might want to give her a heads up that she is now being monitored, but given the threat of a three year prison term, is unlikely to do so. Similarly the ISP, phone company and postal workers also face a fine and/or three years jail time for not assisting the “MICC” – Monitoring and Interception of Communications Centre—with whatever information it requests.

    3) Knowing the risk of her emails being watched, Jane might choose to use some kind of encryption device. But even if she did, she could at any time be instructed to hand over these passwords—or risk a fine and/or five years imprisonment.

    4) With all of Jane’s text messages, emails, internet searches, etc, the state is sure to find something dubious with which they can charge her under any one of Zimbabwe’s other draconian laws—the Public Order and Security Act, the Miscellaneous Offences Act, the Foreign Exchange Controls Act, or the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, for starters. And, since it will have collected this evidence in a nicely “legal” manner, it will be able admissible in court, to strengthen whatever case the state might wish to make against her.

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  • Friday, June 02, 2006

    Zim Blog Drive

    Zimbabwe has quite a few bloggers under threat from the IC bill. The bill could mean that some if not all of these blogs are going to close down.

    In light of this discouraging reality, please take time to read other Zimbabwean bloggers. Follow the links I have or go here.

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  • Thursday, June 01, 2006

    Bennett: "CIO, Chinamasa botched my application."

    Former Zimbabwean MP Roy "Pachedu" Bennett blames Zimbabwe's dreaded CIO and justice minister Patrick Chinamasa for his failed asylum application in South Africa claims a report published in The Zimbabwean.
    In a Home Affairs document in the possession of CAJ News, the SA government denied Bennett asylum, saying his claims had not been substantiated.
    "After a thorough assessment of your claim and careful scrutiny of all the available information the Refugee Status Determination Officer has come to a conclusion that your testimony does not warrant the granting of refugee status. In consequence thereof your claim has been rejected in terms of Section 24 (3) c. of the Refugee Act of 1998 as unfounded for the reasons stated hereunder," reads the document.
    However, Bennett dismissed the Home Affairs' refusal, arguing that there had been manipulation of the process by Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). He said justice minister Patrick Chinamasa had actually flown from Harare to see his South African counterpart over his application.
    Bennett, who the MDC has revealed will remain the party's national treasurer, declared his affiliation with the Tsvangirai/anti-senate faction of the MDC claiming that was the only MDC the grassroots people were interested in.

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