Monday, July 31, 2006

Eddie Cross; Tsvangirai's speech from the weekend

On Saturday, the Churches in Zimbabwe held a National Convention to debate the crisis in Zimbabwe and the way forward. The meetiung attracted a large number of delegates - 300 plus - and representatives of the Unions, Civic groups and 5 political parties attended. The meeting was chaired and fascilitated by the Christian Alliance.

Morgan Tsvangirai played a key role and this is his address to the Convention. Because of time constraints he did not read this at the meeting but spoke to it. It makes interesting reading and I commend it to you. In addition to this speech, Morgan called all five political leaders to the podium to pledge their commitment to unity of purpose and action in the weeks ahead. The road map was accepted as was a draft "democracy charter". All constituent bodies are now being asked to register as part of a "Broad Aliance to Save Zimbabwe" and within 7 days the leaders of this Alliance will meet to agree on a combined action progragramme designed to force Zanu PF to come to the negotiating table.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 31 July 2006.

Tsvangirai address the Save Zimbabwe convention
Political Perspectives to the national crisis

Address by Morgan Tsvangirai, President of the Movement for Democratic Change at the Save Zimbabwe Convention, Harare, Zimbabwe.

29 July 2006

May I open my address by thanking civil society and the people of Zimbabwe for staying the course? Against all odds, civil society has never wavered on matters of principle. You are with the people, as always. The record speaks for itself. In colonial times, it was the church, student movements and trade unions that spearheaded the struggle for freedom. After Independence, the people remained vigilant, constantly demanding their democratic space.

At the end of the first decade of our Independence, it became clear that our revolution was fast losing track. An avaricious nationalistic clique had abandoned the ideals of the liberation struggle. Corruption began to flourish. Our nation's political leadership began to lose their focus. The labour movement came under pressure from the workers to de-link itself from that ruling elite. The ZCTU declared its autonomy from Zanu PF. We were informed and guided by the workers whose welfare was now on the block.

The workers were concerned by a steady erosion of their gains since Independence and decided to confront both their employers and the government. The people raised their voices and demanded their space. Part of Zanu PF's response included far-reaching legislative changes to restrict academic freedom. This invited the anger of students and progressive intellectuals. They, too, like the workers, declared a rights dispute with the government. After the unification of Zanu PF and PF ZAPU and the declaration of intent to establish a one-party state, Zimbabweans realized that they faced a hard transition and began to search for political alternatives.

The introduction of Economic Structural Adjustment Programme in 1991 heightened the ideological confusion in Zanu PF and opened the way for even greater confrontation between the workers, the church, students and all advocates of free political space. We felt then that part of the problem lay with the Lancaster House Constitution. We began to agitate for a new Constitution. This led to the formation of the Constitutional Movement in the mid-nineties. After years of struggle along this route, we met as the National Working Peoples' Convention to debate our fate.

The National Working Peoples' Convention
In short, the National Working Peoples' Convention decided then to form an alternative political movement to take on Zanu PF. We agreed, as civil society, to challenge Zanu PF and to attend to pressing governance issues whose contagion cut across our political, social and economic life. Seven months later, the Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, became a reality. In February, Zanu PF tested his first defeat in a national referendum to decide on a government drafted Constitution.

That was another major turning point in Zimbabwe. It was a people's
victory. This was the first victory for civil society. It is not my
intention at this forum to chronicle six years of struggle and intense political activity in Zimbabwe. But let me place on record that a wounded Mugabe, in response to the crisis, targeted the people. Mugabe declared a war with the people. Mugabe declared a war with the world. The aim was to stretch the MDC and to test the people's resilience and seriousness. Unlike his peers, Mugabe failed to work out an exit strategy when it was clear that he had outlived his usefulness.

For two decades, our national and institutional systems failed to address growing internal frictions and tensions arising from a self-created crisis of governance. The existing institutions and governance methods no longer worked. To this day, Zimbabwe finds itself saddled with persistent political imbalances, which can no longer be sustained because of numerous political deficits. However, these imbalances and policy flip-flops, which have affected all of us, show a dictatorship flame-out that should offer us a superb opportunity to start afresh.

Together, we are bearing the brunt of the social, economic and political costs of the dictatorship. The MDC, as you all know is an institution that arose from a resolution of the National Working People's Convention. The MDC is the political face of the people's struggle. The MDC is a mere symbol of the people's resistance. But the bulk of the work rests with all of us, with the people, through the party, civil society and through you. The view of the National Working People's Convention was that a political alternative should challenge the status quo and to bring about change. The birth of the MDC was a people's response to an unbearable set of circumstances around them.

Our main strategy was to take on the regime at the ballot box. We succeed in this approach. But the people were unable to assume power. The dictatorship responded in a manner that has surprised the world. It is fair to note that on our part, we seriously under-estimated the dictator's ability and determination to defy reasonable opinion. As we review the performance of the entire democratic movement, an opportunity presents itself for self-introspection. It is a fact that the MDC is still more of a broad-based movement than a political party in the strict sense of the word. We draw our support from everywhere, literally. Our support emerges from any person keen to see a new dispensation, a new democratic framework, and a New Zimbabwe. While some in civil society may argue that they have no vested interest in attaining political power as individuals, they remain an indispensable part of this liberation culture.

After February 2000 and the wholesale destabilization of commercial agriculture and the rule of law, the MDC attracted millions of new members, new supporters, new sympathizers and new allies whose ideological positions were at variance with the thrust of the initiators of the MDC project.

Conservatives, liberals, democrats, socialists, patriots, anarchists and extremists in our society and beyond found a home in the MDC, creating a mix that was not only difficult to manage but highly open to infiltration, manipulation and opportunism.

The mix became pronounced more glaringly in our international relations regime. Liberal democrats sought an association with us; so did the conservatives and liberals. They invited us to join their international solidarity groups and to take up membership of the same. But our ideology, Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, is social democracy. Quite often we were embarrassed to be lumped in the same basket with rebel African rag-tag and ornamental opposition forces and extremely conservative and racial units. These contradictions have earned us a lot of misunderstandings and sometimes open hostility.

Our goal is to complete the unfinished agenda of the liberation struggle: to extend the people's freedoms. Our objective remains and has always been to search for a lasting solution to the national crisis. Our vision is a New Zimbabwe.

We have tried everything: elections, dialogue, local and international lobbying, symbolic mass action, judicial redress and the law, and Parliamentary pressure. We know something out of all that. While we made some inroads here and there in exposing the weaknesses of the dictatorship, we believe we now have to break new ground in order to make real progress.

The experiences of the past six years are instructive. Countrywide, the people are demanding a short final phase of the struggle. We all realize that a long struggle wears down its own activists and supporters. A long struggle tends to be overwhelmed by unexpected challenges and changed circumstances. Many expected a short and clean sweep, but that was not be. We have to be realistic: you can't put time frames to a struggle of this nature. Together, we have been exposed to a serious onslaught from the regime. That onslaught almost disorganized us.

The final phase of our struggle
As we enter the decisive and final phase of our struggle, allow me Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen to reflect on my experience and to attempt to place a forecast on what lies before us. The roots of this struggle reside on a serious national grievance: a grievance that is at the heart of our national politics. The MDC represents a rallying cry for the fulfilment of an uncompleted national agenda, a national assignment and a national revolution.

We cherish a value system that bound us together to confront colonialism. Zimbabweans always believed in, and even fought for, justice. We respect our dignity. The concept of hunhu hwe munhu or ubuntu, has guided our relations in our homes, in our communities and in our natural interactions with our neighbours from time immemorial. We long for liberty and personal advancement. We aspire for a society with equal opportunities. Our culture calls on us to support each other. We believe in stability and empathy. As a people, we are natural social democrats.

Zimbabweans look in hope and a deep longing for a united nation. Inside our chests moves a spirit that seeks to express freely the basic traits of our common humanity and togetherness, which for so long has been suppressed and negatively exploited by a variety of political parasites.

We feel betrayed because we never expected the nationalistic elite to simply replace the colonial administrator at Independence and perpetuate inequality, political corruption and divisions in our society. We question the seriousness and the changed, modern-day credentials of the new minority in our midst, the new elite in power. We realized that Zanu PF's equality debate was flawed right from the beginning - it was based on a narrow principle of equality across race and colour. The party failed to see beyond this, such that today, we live in a society soaked in black-on-black oppression.

Colonialism taught us that a minority always tampers with our national values. A minority thrives on a patronage system. A minority develops cartels and breeds corruption. And when challenged, a greedy minority in power often retreats into a distorted form of nationalism and invokes fears of the unknown; a minority looks to our colonial past for opportunistic and comparative defence.

As I said earlier, after 20 years of abuse our national institutions and systems gave in. The crisis of governance reached a stage when it was no longer possible to keep the lid on. The people refused to be cowed into submission. Today, Zimbabweans desire and demand a leadership, at all levels, with a clear vision, a national sense of modesty, and much courage, born of honest and patriotic concern to articulate our common humanity, our common goals and our Zimbabwean identity within the global community.

Zimbabweans are keen to restore their confidence in the concept of public service and public good. After a serious bruising and more than two decades of unfulfilled promises and political deception, the people eagerly wait for leaders with hearts and minds large enough for the urgent task of attending to our immediate humanitarian emergencies, national healing, national reconstruction, justice and equality. There is a national consensus accepting that it will take a great deal of hard work, personal humility and patriotism to bring us together and rebuild our tattered lives and our shattered nation.

Zimbabweans expect an extension of a system of values that celebrates the sanctity of life and an unfettered extension of freedom. As a people at the heart of danger and struggling with hard transition, we must exercise caution and demand irreversible safeguards to insulate the nation against possible future abuse, regardless of who is in power. The people expect a permanent opening for liberty, personal security and collective advancement. We risk sliding into a form of generational irrelevance; we risk permanent national disability unless we show leadership and confront the dictatorship at a time when literally the nation is fully behind us.

More than at any juncture in the past, this is certainly the time we must take a proactive stance and work out the necessary political and institutional arrangements that will form the basis of a broadly shared sustainable solution to the crisis. The crisis here may be clear to every Zimbabwean, but not to Robert Mugabe and a few of powerful cronies and associates. Their mental block has become a major source of national implosion. Mugabe and his team are failing to connect with something larger than their personal egos. As a result, their leadership is unable to give Zimbabwean life any meaning at all.

We believe the time has come for Robert Mugabe to step aside because he has become an unacceptable national liability. He has lost himself. He seems stuck in a time warp and within the myth of measurement, propelling him to think that if he goes, Zimbabwe will varnish. In life, you cannot measure what you have done, especially that which is good. We recognize Mugabe's contribution to the liberation struggle. However, we differ with his apparent reluctance to take an exit package and to enjoy, in retirement, an otherwise noble position as one of the icons of the liberation struggle and a founding father of modern Zimbabwe.

We find discomfort in his insistence to cling on to power, run the country aground and destroy the future of millions of young people. We believe he no longer has the ideas and the energy to grapple with the needs of a new generation to pilot the ship of state in the right direction. But, we still need him to assist us in this transition because while he is the source of the problem and he is also part of the solution.

With his concurrence and influence, we can soft-land the crisis; achieve our main goal of completing the unfinished business from the liberation struggle and realize our vision of a new Zimbabwe. If Mugabe allows Zimbabweans today to search for an honest national solution, the discussion will be over in a few hours because we all know and agree on what needs to be done to impel the nation out of the woods. Leadership must give meanings to the lives of others. Leadership requires an honest application of love and an open heart.

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, the MDC is fully behind an orderly transition to a new Zimbabwe. We are against any form of retribution. We are against the use of force to settle political scores. We pledge to allow the past to guide, and not to derail, us as we work into the future. We shall never allow history and our personal preferences or grievances to interfere with this vision.

We support a democracy charter as a moral, contractual barometer for our society and a guiding expression of our national values, regardless of who is in government. We are unhappy with the unnecessary delay in resolving our national crisis at a time when all Zimbabweans, across the political divide, are agreed on the fundamental issues confronting our country.

We are dismayed that despite the national consensus on the need for a new Zimbabwe, some among us wish to see Zimbabwe burn when we know our problem and politically we have the solutions. For instance, the nation accepts and expects a new Constitution, good governance and a compassionate state, economic revival, land and agrarian reform, respect for private property rights, direct foreign investment and international legitimacy, food security, an open government, strong national institutions and jobs. We sincerely believe Zimbabwe must move fast and sort itself out because of the geo-political, social and economic developments facing the SADC region. In 2010, the region, led by South Africa, hosts the soccer World Cup.

As I said earlier, there is a real possibility of creating a dangerous political vacuum in Zimbabwe. Together with Mugabe and Zanu PF, we must seek a way to avoid further damage to our nation. We need everybody in this delicate transition. As a nation, we must manage that process; otherwise the 2010 World Cup shall be marred by a political blot. A military junta could step in to fill the possible political vacuum.

Already Mugabe, conscious of his advanced age and with a view to increase his own security, has militarised our main national institutions: power generation and supply, food production, food procurement and food security, fuel management and distribution, national parks and wildlife management, agriculture, industry and commerce, election management and administration, key civil service departments and parastatals, land distribution and local government. The entire state sector is now in the hands of the military.

In theory, there may be nothing wrong with military personnel offering assistance to a beleaguered regime on behalf of the people. But our experience in Zimbabwe is unique. In 2002 and thereafter, the military took over the administration and management of national elections, with disastrous results. We have it on record that some ambitious elements in the military harbour a negative view of the people's sovereign right to elect a government of their choice.

International attention shall shift radically to Southern Africa over the next four years as the region prepares for the international soccer competition. Our crisis shall interfere with regional harmony if we continue to postpone the inevitable. A solution is urgent because of the historic task ahead. Zimbabwe needs to embark on a major reconstruction agenda and to re-set its mind and consciousness in order to play a meaningful part in the hosting of the World Cup.

History will judge us harshly if we allow our own internal problems to soil this critical event with, as expected, haphazard migration across the Limpopo, squabbles over disputed elections, lack of political space, a flawed Constitution, starvation and insecurity and bad governance.

Although Germany played host to the 2006 World Cup, 13 European nations participated and assisted in one way or the other. Europe housed and provided facilities to various national teams, visitors and official delegations before the official kick-off of the competition. We are hosting the World Cup. Let us join the region in the preparations for this event.

We are therefore proposing that we deal with our national issues way before 2010, better still three or four years before this international showcase to allow us to rehabilitate our nation, recover our national pride and dignity and play our complimentary role in hosting the World Cup. Let us avoid alienating ourselves further from our neighbours. We must work together to re-open our links with the rest of the business community and participate, as a stable community, in international events. At the moment, we are simply an irritant, a gadfly ready to muddy a noble cause in 2010. We hope and pray that Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF understand that as Zimbabweans we have a responsibility, a duty to our people and to the region.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, while some in this struggle may feel tortured and betrayed, powerless and hopeless, my sincere advice to the people is: stay the course and lead with an open heart. Let us remain compassionate in our search for a lasting solution to the national crisis. Let us pay attention to the people's pain, against all odds.

I thank you.

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  • Thursday, July 27, 2006

    ICB goes before parly

    Yesterday, the second day of the second session of Zimbabwe's sixth parliament, the government presented the dreaded Interception of Communications Bill (ICB) reports Zimbabwe Journalists. This development essentially means the bill only two steps from promulgation.

    Before it can be voted on in august house, the ICB shall be evaluated for constitutional consistentcy by the Parliamentary Legal Committe.

    Of course, this the same legal committe that gave the nod to the electoral act which empowered the chief justice to unilaterally appoint judges to the electoral court giving ZANU-PF unchecked access to the electoral legislative process. The Electoral Act has since been struck down because it does not honor the constitutional mandate that judges be appointed (by the president) and confirmed by parliament. See this.

    Once assented by the legal committe, the bill will go before the main floor where it will be voted on by the legislators. Since ZANU-PF has control of both houses of the legislature, there's little doubt the bill will pass and be gazetted as law in short order.

    Details about Communications Monitoring Center, which the bill proposes to establish, still remain unclear. What is clear however, is effect such a proposal has on the freedom of expression of the Zimbabwean people.

    This is Zimbabwe the prominent blog of the Sokwanele/Zvakwana civic action groups appears to have folded. Many of us involved in Zimbabwean cyber activism are now in limbo as we are unsure how the new law will affect our wellbeing. We've always known ZANU has little sympathy for the things we do, now they will have legal sanction to snoop and harass those us working to tell the story as we see it.

    With little recourse left, all we can do is wait to see how the law will affect our lives.

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  • Wednesday, July 26, 2006

    Sekai Holland: The Opening of Parliament Drama Today

    Sekai Holland is a member of the MDC's National Executive Committee. Here's her account of how events unfolded at opening ceremony of the second session of the sixth parliament of Zimbabwe. Via:The Zimbabwe Situation

    Two weeks ago the MDC Women's Assembly Chairperson, Mrs lucia Matibenga invited women across all the divides, that keep women apart, to meet at Africa Unity Square, at the opening of Parliament today, to launch the programme to promote the Peace and Tolerance agenda in Zimbabwe. We were told not to wear our party regalia, not to sing our songs as it was a public function, and that we were to respond politely to all forms of provocation, if it arose.

    Zimbabwe's Formidable Security Services in Full Force

    MDC women were the first to arrive at the venue by 10.00 am. We were searched by the Police as we entered the Africa Unity Square, a park facing Parliament House. After being cleared, we were told by the Police who searched us, that we were not to leave the park, until the end of the opening of Parliament ceremony.

    We were all shocked when we entered Harare, by the large numbers of security services surrounding the city. There were ZR Police placed everywhere, blocking off streets around the Parliament, army personnel, the riot squad, prison police, and airforce. It was an act of courage for all of the women who came to attend the opening of Parliament in this environment of the signs of repression, the instruments of violence.

    It was an act of great conviction by the women to approach the ZR Police personnel surrounding the Africa Unity square, with this consentration of armed personnel to see whether we would be allowed to enter the square. It bacame a test of how far any of us would go this morning, to get into the square, stay in the park, before we were stopped by some force, one of the many in our country today! We walked in one by one. Many were terrified, but even they, simply took courage, and all of us eventually were inside Africa Unity Square.

    The Park Bench

    Once inside we were advised by a uniformed Police-woman officer where to go to observe the opening of Parliament. We found a bench, the first one as one walks on Nelson Mandela Avenue side, immediately after crossing Sam Nujoma street, along Africa Unity Square, and we sat on that, while the rest preferred to stand around the bench, as we waited for both the others to join us, and also for the ceremony to begin..

    Ruling Party Districts March into Africa Unity Square

    By 11.30 am the zanu/pf groups from the districts began to assemble inside the square, singing their songs, all of which were aimed at the MDC. We sat on our bench unabashed, and the singers in their district formations began to come into the square, along the route where we sat. They turned into the lawns to the end of the park by Third Avenue. The songs were loud and meant to provoke us, but we sat on. We awaited for the arrival of the Mugabe entourage into the Parliament.

    Types of Zanu/Pf songs sung Today

    Call: Musha unechinja ndewani, tibombe !
    Umuzi ka guqula ngokabani, sibhombe !
    The home of the one who wants change, whose is it, so that we can bomb it !

    Response: Musha unechinja ndewani !
    Umuzi ka guqula ngokabani !
    The home of the one who wants change, whose is it !

    The songs were in that mode.

    Ruling Party Women Greet Women by the Bench

    With this prevailing hostile environment generated by the militia, we were pleasantly surprised when some of the Zanu/Pf women, dressed in their party regalia, recognised us as they arrived, walked to us at our bench, greeted us before they moved on to join their own colleagues, and all of them who came, shook our hands, all of us on the bench, and those standing around it. They even afforded us not just the handshake, but a smile, as we exchanged that traditional greeting.

    Provocation of Those by the Bench by Militia and Provincial Leader

    As soon as the ruling party districts took their places, some of those plainclothes who had shown us where to sit, came to tell us 'to join the others'. We asked them who the 'others' were. Another of the same group who had shown us where to sit, again came to ask us to stand up from our bench, to 'join the others', this time pointing to the crowd of zanu/pf districts. We asked why we needed to relocate to the other side of the path when the rope on our side had no one. We were the only ones where we were sitting down on the bench on the other side of the path.

    When we asked them who gave them the instruction that we be moved they went away and came back with junior ruling party youth to give us the reply to our question.

    A well known ruling party harraser of MDC members in Mbare, a woman, called Oripa, came towards us playing to the gallery of her colleagues around her, which was made up of the assembled Zanu/Pf districts. She shook her fists at us, and angrilly shouted at us:

    ngavabve pano tisati tavarakasha !
    kabasuke singakabamukuli !
    let them get out of here before we beat them up !

    When she got to where we sat, she instructed us to get out of the park or else, and she did not complete that sentence, but she went into a frenzy, throwing her fists at us, and in the air. The women asked her who gave her the instruction that we leave the square, she was even more angry this time, and replied, facing us:

    ma chef
    ngama chef
    it is the chefs

    The women asked her which particular chef gave her the instruction that we leave the park, and Oripa left. Meanwhile William Nhara, the Zanu/Pf Harare Province Publicity Secretary, came hurriedly to where we sat, and his instruction was made directly to me. He instructed me and the women on the bench, and those standing around it, to leave the park, before they did something to us. He got more and more worked up as he spoke to me. Before we could put our questions to him, he looked at me and addressed me by my name:

    "Sekai Holland, this is not Tony Blair's place, go back to America, get out of here, quickly, before we beat you up."

    The Zanu/Pf youth who had been listening to this interraction by now began to converge around us, sitting on the bench, and looking at those standing around the bench, with anger. They now also talked loudly at us, most of them, at the same time, demanding that we vacate the park, or else they would deal with us.

    Hapasi penyu ka, apa, ito bvai pano, izvozvi tisati taku........
    Kasindawo yenu le phela, wohlani lisuke lapha khathesi nje, singangakali.....
    this is not your place, just get out of here right now, before we.....

    Hapasi pa Tony Blair apa, harisi benji ra Tony Blair iri, ibvai pano !
    Kasi ndawo ka Tony Blair le, kasi bentshi lika Tony Blair leli, sukani !
    This is not Tony Blair's place, this is not Tony Blair's bench, get out !

    Decision to Avoid Violence Against Us by Militia - by Leaving Bench

    There was a barrage of insults aimed at all of us sitting and standing around the bench, from all sides of where we sat and stood, from the gathering motley crowd of Zanu/Pf militia. As that crowd began to swell and converge around us, I stood up, looked at them directly, and told them to open the way for us to leave the bench. We wanted to see what to do next, to ensure that we saw the opening of the Parliament ceremony to the end. As we walked away from the baying crowd, we bumped into a uniformed Police officer, walking towards the crowd. We explained to him what had happened to us, as we sat quietly on a park bench, to witness the opening of the Parliament.

    Search for Police Protection in the Park

    The friendly Police officer directed us to the superitendant in charge of the occassion, at the end of Africa Unity Square, on Third Avenue side. When we got there, we were directed to another uniformed officer who called a uniformed woman Policer officer, who then went to get us the plainclothes Police officer, who told us to stand there while he organised his next step. The remaining officers wanted us to move to the area where the cannons for the gun salute were located, and actually firing. We refused their persistant advice that it was a safe area, to which they were guiding us to stand.

    Plainclothes Take us to Harare Central Police Station to Lay Our Complaint

    After repeated questions from other Police officers who wanted to know why we were standing there, the plainclothes officer eventually returned, to take the 9 of us to Harare Central Police Station to have our statements recorded. A docket was opened, based on our complaint.

    Family Experience at Harare Central Police Station

    Meanwhile we rang my husband at home to tell him that we were at Harare Central Police Station, on a borrowed cell phone, whose battery was on its last bar. Jim assumed that we were arrested, put out the call to that effect, made lots of sandwiches for the group, and with our neighbour and friend, hurried to the Police station.

    The Police took Jim and Dr Val Ingham Thorpe to the cells where they assured them that they were not holding any white women. Jim was agitated by what to him were ridiculous assumptions, and to their question whether his wife was black or white, he insisted on that detail by giving them my name. Eventually it cliqued on the Police that it was our group my husband was after. Val also had called the Zimbabwe Human Rights Lawyers to attend to our demise before she drove to the Police station. The lawyer arrived and immediately interracted with the Police officers who were interviewing us, to get the sense of what our complaint was. He assured us that he would chase up the case into court. (more...)

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  • Tuesday, July 25, 2006

    Eddie Cross: Nearly There

    Is the end in sight?

    There are growing signs that we may be seeing the end of the Mugabe regime. The principle driver is the economy, but this is now being supported by regional consensus that he has to step down so as to allow intervention and recovery. Political momentum is also being supported by renewed global agreement that Zanu has exhausted all options, save one and must now step down and allow change to take place.

    On the economic front the pace of collapse has accelerated sharply. This is not reflected in official statistics but today the US dollar is trading at five times the official rate, fuel prices have risen to over Z$500 000 a litre and a loaf of bread is selling at Z$200 000 with milk not far behind for a half litre. This week maize meal prices have doubled, pushed by the first price increase in maize from the GMB in nearly two years. In the past 24 hours, we have been without electricity for 12 hours – many areas are also without water.

    I watched the Zimbabwe television news the other night and heard Mr. Mugabe announce that we are no longer importing maize – we have after all grown enough maize to feed ourselves! The reality is that in the week ending the 14th July, we imported 17 000 tonnes of white maize from South Africa. No matter what the rhetoric, the reality stays stubbornly in sight – we will only reap a third of our maize needs, imports will again have to be over a million tonnes. We have grown a scant 20 000 hectares of wheat and barley and will have to import three quarters of our needs of these essential grains as well. (more...)

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  • Monday, July 24, 2006

    That is the economy, stupid.

    While reading Saturday's edition of the Herald I was reminded of how badly the Zimbabwean government has misunderstood the capitalist system and how it is playing itself out our country. Generally put, the Zimbabwean government, is guilty of distrusting the market system. In their bid to correct all that is wrong with the economy, they've overregulated the formal market, so much that it has become inaccessible for most Zimbabweans and Zimbabwean businesses.

    But there's a minority in Zimbabwe who, in the face of the failure of the formal economy, have become part of a vibrant alternative market. In the informal market people operate laissez faire; free from the entrapments of government precipitated laws and unweilding influence. Here they have been able to unleash the power of their creative thinking and be rewarded fairly well for it. Just like it is supposed to work.

    The Herald's erstwhile business editor, Victoria Ruzvidzo, is astonished to find just how well the informal economy is doing when she immerses herself into one of it's most prosperous markets; the Dubai cross border trade.
    At least 170 shoppers travel to Dubai every week, spending an average of US$3 000 each.

    Some spend tens of thousands of the greenback and have to bring their wares in containers by sea.

    On each visit, one person folks out US$115 for a single entry visa and $258 million for a return ticket.

    This effectively means that on average, the shoppers, or cross-border traders as they have come to be known, spend a combined US$510 000 per week or about US$2,4 million per month on their trips, enough to buy a day’s petrol supply for the whole country.

    Add this to the figures spent by those who ply the China, Singapore, and other traditional routes such as South Africa, Botswana and Zambia and you have a huge figure of foreign currency that could otherwise be allocated to more deserving national needs.
    Sadly, like the officials over at the Reserve Bank and in the Ministry of Finance, Ruzvidzo is resentful of the informal market because the government cannot regulate and influence it. More importanly, they cannot levy and collect taxes on most informal market activity. So they yell and scream, deride and chase, but fail to realize that they cannot eradicate the informal market.

    No one can do that.

    Like the Zimbabwean government, many people don't understand that the miracle of the capitalist free market resides not in the places where the business transactions occur (eg. Wall Street, Nikkei), or in the currencies of trade (US$, Yen). No, the magic of the free market is in the mind where an unparelled creative capacity ensures the most efficient matching of needs and resources.

    Look around you, is there a "black" market? It's doing just that; making sure that people with needs are brought into contact with resources that address their needs.

    In many cases, say the U.S. (where, for the most part, the formal market is doing a phenomenal job of allocating resources to the needs of people) for example the informal market becomes "black" because it isthe place where trade in illicit goods is happening.

    This is not the case everywhere; certainly not in developing countries like Zimbabwe.

    Those readers who've read me for a while know that I have long been intrigued in discovering the reason why the market economy has succeeded so well in some parts of the world, while it let the rest of the of us down. My quest has led me among other things, to Hernando De Soto and this erudite assertion of his; the free market hasn't failed in the developing world, it just hasn't been discovered yet. De Soto claims contrary to popular opinion, the free market is alive in the developing world; it is just not recognized as the "formal market." (more...)

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  • Thursday, July 20, 2006

    Indictment of the world

    The past week's events in the Middle East have confirmed Zimbabwean's fears that in eyes of the world some lives are intrinsically more valuable than others. And we now know without a doubt that our lives, those of millions of Zimbabweans ravaged by years of misrule and the extinction of democracy in our homeland, are less valuable than those of the Israeli people.

    You see it has become apparent that Zimbabweans are on the opposite end of the global totem pole than the Israelis. How else are supposed to process the reality that: it has taken the death of less than 50 Israelis (in this latest episode of longranging dispute) to garner global media attention and bring diplomatic initiatives around the globe to a virtual standstill.

    Less than 50 deaths, and every major media outlet across the USA and Western Europe has been fixated on the crisis. All the major bulletins, front page headlines, and syndicated commentators are focused on the crisis. Most if not all have sent their most capable and prominent personnel to report live. Incessantly returning viewers to check on new developments throughout the day (and night), the media are crooning over the crisis with the devotion like that of a physician to a patient in extremis.

    It is a global crisis. And less than 50 deaths is all it has taken.

    I don't mean to minimize the value of any human life anywhere, especially (and God forbid) in Israel. But, I'll let Mandebvhu, speak for me;
    Firstly, the world is falling over themselves to assist where they can because there is a fear that there may be as many as half a million displaced people as a result of the ongoing Israeli/Lebennon crisis. According to a report from the UN's special envoy last year, displaced people in Zimbabwe number around 700 000 - and yet no one wants to help - because Zimbabwe has no oil.

    Secondly. Mugabe has a habit of using world events and the fact that world attention is elsewhere to cover another audacious move against his own people. Watch and see.
    Hundreds were killed during Operation Murambatsvina. Over three thousand people are dying in Zimbabwe every week. Where is our global spotlight? Where's our Charlie Gibson, Washington Post,BBC, AFP, or carnival in the blogosphere?

    Some lives have more intrinsic value than other lives--I guess.

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  • Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    Cross Posted on Global Voices

    Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe's blogosphere has virtually been deflated by threats of new legislation allowing government to surreptitiously spy on people's cyber actvities. Their numerous voices have been silenced leaving a marked void in the chronicling of the one the world's worst crises. Please keep this troubled nation's valiant bloggers in your minds and prayers. Few bloggers still persist, here are some of the issues they have been reporting;

    After an acrimonious split, Zimbabwe's opposition MDC is steeped into further controversy after a ghastly attack on Gertrude (Trudy) Stevenson. Stevenson, who has aligned herself with Arthur Mutambara's "pro-senate" faction, is the MP for Harare north constituency on an MDC ticket. Zimpundit is sickened by the attack.

    The Bearded Man posts and discusses headlines on Zimbabwe everyday.

    D.R.C>:Carl at Because we're here boy no one else; just us shares his version of elections related developments. These include; increased patrols by the airforce, the arrival of EU troops, a war threat by a presidential candiate if the elections don't go well, and relief organizations cutting back their operations in the country.

    Meanwhile Fleurdafrique contempletes whether the elections will be just another historical event or if they will be democratic at all:
    Should I sit here and say “well at least we’re having elections”? What’s the point of having them if it’s clear who’s running the show?

    Somebody is clearly taking a piss.
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  • Tuesday, July 18, 2006

    MDC Releases Road Map

    The MDC has released their "Road Map." The document, which charts the party's way forward is posted here.

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  • Monday, July 17, 2006

    Mugabe chastizes party on corruption, succession

    Apparently frustrated by his party's penchant for a quick buck and lust for power, Mugabe bombarded his party's top members not once but twice over the weekend. Speaking to ZANU's central committee on Friday Mugabe lashed out at the members over corruption saying,
    These cases of [members] wanting to enrich themselves are increasing in number. You are not being fair -- some people are just being crookish. Zanu-PF is going to embark on a major cleansing exercise to remove those elements bent on tarnishing the image of the party by their wayward behaviour with their private and public lives.
    The aged leader, did not leave any stone unturned in his long harangue. Taking a swipe at the MDC over recent violence within the party, Mugabe charged lies and violence were seated deep within the party. He contended this was something western powers refused to listen to. He alsoissued a thinly veiled threat to the MDC about their planned mass action saying he wanted police given more powers to crush such revolts. He continued saying the only way to secure power was by election.

    On Saturday the Central Committee found themselves under Mugabe's cross hairs when Mugabe characterized some of them as rabidly power hungry.
    The things we hear about succession, succession, succession — zvatinonzwa zvacho, zvakaoma. Hapana zvakadaro. If I were to write books, I would write volumes and volumes of nonsensical things. Vamwe vanoenda kun’anga kuti ndinoda kuita ichi. Imi weee . . . N’anga huru is the people of Zimbabwe. Hazvina n’anga mukati izvi. (We hear lots of unbelievable stories about succession. We hear some people are consulting witchdoctors . . . but the biggest witchdoctor is the people of Zimbabwe. There is no need to consult witchdoctors.)

    "If you do your work and work with the people well, the people will recognise you. Unhu hwako tinenge tichida kuti hunge huri hwakanaka." (We want people with dignity.)

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  • Friday, July 14, 2006

    Weekend Reading

    The Muckraker, the Independent's satirist is juicy this week. The installment lampoons the contradictions of the Mugabe regime highlighting their onesided mentality.

    Muckraker also critizes Mugabe's press secretary George Charamba, who, while writing under the Nathaneil Manheru nom de plum, savagely attacked Jonathan Moyo in a clearly tribalistic and xenophobic outburst.

    It was Jonathan Moyo, the former information minister, who outed Charamba as the impetus behind the Manheru's bitter protests against all government critics almost a year ago. Now, he finds himself, the object such an attack.

    Known for his ascerbic two forked tongue, the former minister wasted no time firing back in this article carried by New Zimbabwe, one the Zimbabwean publications with a soft spot for the former minister best known for presiding over the closure of four newspapers deemed unfriendly.

    Apparently unsatisfied by the the attention Moyo's response garnered, New Zimbabwe editorial core decided to spinoff a tabloid style headline, "Charamba tried to kill wife..."

    This should making for some fascinating reading for your weekend.

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  • Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    Whither Zimbabwe: What's holding back our desire for change?

    With winter almost over, there's no doubt in my mind that there will be no "winter of discontent". Streets across the country are devoid of the anticipatory buzz that is a mundane precursor to any significant upheava. With the grizzly attack on Trudy Stevenson, theHarare North MP the main faction of the MDC pounded in the last nail on their coffin. And with this failure to deliver, Morgan Tsvangirai and his cronies have unwittingly failed to distinguish themselves as authentic politicians apart from the legacy of false prophets and self-aggrandizing impostures that have dominated Zimbabwe's political landscape over the years.

    Since (thankfully) the MDC does not represent the entirety of Zimbabweans who feel ZANU-PF is long past its' due, I get asked why someone else hasn't stepped into the void and galvanized the masses in a Nepal-style uproar. To be frank with you, on days like this I catch myself wondering what it is going to take for us, the laity in Zimbabwe, to take our destinty from the hands of fate and render our influence on what the future holds for us. In short, whither Zimbabwe; what is holding back our desire for change.

    Eddie Cross thinks it's the leadership not only in Zimbabwe but across the continent. That's fine, I still refuse to lump an entire nation's culpability on one single function in political machinary that makes up a succesfull country. Posterity manifestly bears out the fact that even more important than political leaders the world over, so called "followers" have consistently risen to the occasion when the leadership has failed, Nepal being the latest example.

    So why not in Zimbabwe? We've already endure seven hears of a hellish economic meltdown. Parents have found themselves haplessly observing has the bread has been taken from their families plates, tables, and homes as inflation has roared out of control. (more...)

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  • Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    Eddie Cross: Leadership in Africa

    There is a great deal wrong in Africa. The continent has the highest ratio of internally displaced people in the world, we generate more refugees than any other continent, and we are poorer now than we were before independence.
    We are the Aids capital of the globe and our life expectancies are retreating on a scale seldom seen in history.


    It's not for lack of resources – we have those in abundance and if we rated Africa on the basis of population to its natural resource base we would find ourselves at the top of the log. It's not for a lack of energy – we are now a major producer and exporter of oil, we have vast reserves of coal and hydroelectric potential to light the continent for decades to come. It's not for a lack of aid from richer countries – many States in Africa draw up to half their annual budgets from donors in the West. Per capita we are one of the largest recipients of aid in the history of the world

    The reason for all these problems lies not in our history nor in the predation of industrial economies, it lies in our leadership.

    No better example of this could be found than the latest meeting of African Heads of State in the Gambia. This leadership summit of the African Union was expected to yield new consensus on Darfur, condemnation of human rights abuse in a number of countries, including Zimbabwe and the adoption of a Democracy Charter for the continent. On the sidelines it was expected to
    yield a breakthrough in the crisis in Zimbabwe.

    Instead we have the spectacle of the Heads of State rejecting the Democracy Charter, refusing to face up to the genocidal activities of the government of the Sudan and complete failure to come to grips with the crisis in Zimbabwe. A two-year-old report on human rights abuse is again deferred at the request of the perpetrators. I despair and so do many others who hold the welfare of Africa and its people's dear. (more...)
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  • Monday, July 03, 2006


    Gertrude "Trudy" Stevenson, a member of parliament representing Harare north constituency was brutally attacked by thugs suspected to be Tsvangirai sympathizers. New Zimbabwe has the story.

    Looking at he images, one would think this yet another onslaught by ZANU-PF on it's opponents. Think again. This brutal voilence was for the cause of none other than Mugabe's most celebrated opponent, Tsvangirai.

    This grotesque disregard for human life is the precise reason David Coltart cited for his decision to join the Mutambara faction. Anyone who condones this kind of barbarous behavior cannot be a champion for democracy and justice.

    This only gives credance to suspicions that Tsvangirai is more like Mugabe.

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