Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Eddie Cross: How long?

How long, oh Lord?

Perhaps this has been the most common question that I have been asked in recent weeks. People look at me anxiously and hope for an indication that things are not as bad as they seem and that there is some hope that this long nightmare might end.

That is a tough question – perhaps because there is no answer. The truth of the matter is that we might wake up tomorrow morning and find that everything has changed. The reality is however, that change is not likely to come very soon and it is how we manage that bit of information that matters.

Let’s just review the overall situation that confronts us right now.

It is now certain that 2007 is going to be much worse than 2006. Inflation is going to be higher, the economy will almost certainly shrink – for the 9th year in a row and the flood of economic refugees into other countries will, if anything get worse. Shortages will be more widespread and this will
create additional problems for those of us who live here. I predict that the coming agricultural season will be much worse than in the past year. Output across the board will be lower – without exception.

Then there is the situation in Zanu PF. Mr. Mugabe is no longer functioning effectively as Head of State – he is working very short hours and for whatever reason is already in a state of semi retirement. He has moved to his new home in Harare and goes into the office late in the morning
returning home before midday. Few people are seeing him and it is clear that government is confused and divided – no strong central direction is apparent. Everybody is doing his or her own thing.

Then there is the succession debate. Rumors abound about Mugabe’s future plans – they all point to him stepping down and it would appear from our sources that the debate on whether to allow him to remain President until 2010 has been quashed. It would appear to us that he is now committed to
retirement in March 2008, if not sooner. A recurrent Zanu PF nightmare is that he might become incapacitated sooner than March 2008, leaving Zanu unprepared for the succession battles that will follow. (more...)

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  • Monday, October 30, 2006

    Cross posted on Global Voices

    Following recent reports chronicling the decline in Zimbabwe's HIV/AIDS prevalence, the spotlight has now been turned on to the effect anti-AIDS campaigns have wrought on traditional Zimbabwean morals and values:
    Zimbabwe's lead in condom use and condom sale worldwide has produced mixed reactions, with some sections of society welcoming the development, while others see it as a sign of "moral decay".

    Zimbabwe is the leading country in Africa in male condom use and sales — selling over 163 million male condoms and 3,8 million female condoms over the past five years. The 163 million male condoms sold represent the highest figure in Africa, while the 3,8 million female condoms figure sold represents the highest number of female condoms sold in the world.

    A total of 900 000 female condoms were sold in 2005 alone, representing the highest per capita in any programme in the world so far.
    But in an entry decrying the absence of service by the Harare City Council, Taurai at Kubatana illustrates how deeply mired the the pro-condom message can sometimes be,
    There are some garbage bins in Harare that display colorful adverts for Protector Plus condoms. Part of the advert reads, “What the smart guys are wearing”: a great message but what a pity that most of the bins are overflowing with garbage that hasn’t been collected for days.


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  • Monday, October 23, 2006

    Eddie Cross: Price Control Arrests

    The Arbitrary Arrest of Businesspersons.

    During the past week many hundreds of businessmen and women have been arrested and detained for short periods by the Police and other StateAgents. In addition literally thousands of businesses have been raided –some on a daily basis, in an effort to intimidate and force wholesalers and retailers to reduce prices and margins.

    One business that I know personally has had individuals from State agencies literally camped on the premises for more than 10 days. They issue tickets and when managers have gone to the local Police Station to pay “Admission of guilt” fines they have been confronted with a wide range of arbitrary

    Three such charges that I have seen read: -

    Docket number 3627023 “Wrongfully and unlawfully offering for sale”

    Docket number 3625426 “Failure to furnish information”

    Docket number 3625427 “ Failure to display prices”

    In each case a fine was paid of Z$10 000.00 – much cheaper to pay the fine than go to Court with all that that involves. The authorities are trying to enforce a maximum retail mark up on a wide range of goods of 10 per cent. What they are demanding at wholesale level is anyone’s guess – perhaps 5 per cent?

    By my calculation a wholesaler must operate a net (after taxes) margin on at least 15 to 20 per cent and turn their stock every month to make enough money to pay taxes, finance new stock (at significantly higher prices) and pay overheads and direct costs. A retailer requires double that level of margin, as their sales are smaller and costs higher.

    If you do not make these sorts of margin then you might cover costs but will not generate the additional funds to buy new stocks. If I take sugar as an example, I bought 7 tonnes of sugar in November 2005 for Z$94 000.00. Today sugar costs Z$351.00 per kilo – my 7 tonnes would cost Z$2 457 000.00 – that is 26 times what it cost just 12 months ago. If I bought 7 tonnes every two
    weeks my mark-up at 10 per cent would only finance a small part of this huge increase in the unit costs. The rest would have to be financed from borrowings or from margins on other products.

    You can see this happening to retailers and wholesalers – they stay open but their stocks shrink. If I borrowed the funds to pay for the higher costs, interest at today’s rates would cost me Z$25 000 a day on 7 tones of sugar –in 14 days that is Z$350 000 or much more than 10 per cent of the cost of
    the product.

    One or two reports say that the officials carrying out these raids have shown copies of the Notice that established their right to act in this way. The one report said the new authority would expire at the month end. Directors of business are obliged by law to trade in such a way as to protect the business. They may not trade under conditions that would knowingly lead to the firm’s insolvency and threaten creditors interests.

    Most managers are now out on bail. It will be fascinating to see what happens when they get in front of a magistrate.

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  • Wednesday, October 18, 2006

    Tendai Biti: MDC acts on Hon. Mubhawu

    The national executive of the MDC held its fifth post-Congress meeting in Bulawayo on 15 October 2006. The meeting was historic in that it was the first time the party had held its executive meeting in Bulawayo.

    The national executive deliberated on the state of the party, did a post-mortem on the Chikomba and Rushinga by-elections and received and deliberated on Advocate Happias Zhou’s report on the assault of in Mabvuku 2 July 2006. The national executive also reviewed the debate in Parliament on the Domestic Violence Bill. Pursuant to this, a number of critical decisions were made, which include the following:

    1 (a) That the executive committee accepts in total the report and extends its thanks gratitude to Advocate Zhou, Ms Irene Petras, Mr Kay Ncube and Mr Kudzakwashe Matibiri for their sterling effort in producing the report for no charge. The executive also accepted the responsibility of Zanu PF and its intelligence agents in infiltrating and destabilizing the party and the centrality of the State in the barbaric assaults that took place on 2 July 2006. However, the party acknowledges the huge internal problems inherent in Mabvuku and with immediate effect dissolves the Tafara/Mabvuku district executive. An interim committee will be appointed to run the district pending elections to be held in 3 months time.

    (b) That the party acknowledges the destructive role played by the sitting MP, Hon Timothy Mubhawu and for his role in the matter, the party immediately relieved Mubhawu of his position in Harare province where he was director of elections. The party further barred and interdicted Hon Mubhawu from dealing with any structures in Mabvuku in any manner other than that of organizing meetings and rallies consistent with party programmes.

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  • Eddie Cross: The farm situation today

    Set out below is a letter from a lowveld farmer on an irrigation farm. It describes what has been going on there for the past few months. The ceizure of farm equipment was done by Police and Army details useing force. It was declared illegal and the High Court ordered the equipment returned. We are talking here of many million of US dollars worth of equipment. When they eventually colected the equipment - it had been vandalised to the point where it was no longer operational. Jambanja is a term used to describe the use of a mob to terrorise the occupants of a home on a targetted farm. It is often accompanied by physical violence, noise and fire damage to property.

    The campaign is carried out on an ethnic basis - white farmesr are the targets. It is completely illegal and destructive. Farms taken over in this way quickly become derilect and unproductive.

    Eddie Cross
    18th October 2006

    Pardon my poor responses to your e-mails. My mind is a bit cluttered for the moment by the reappearance of what I thought was behind us.

    There's been a turn for the worse again. We were told to fetch our illegally seized equipment from the various police stations, starting on 20th September. This, after explicit high court orders to do so in Dec 2005. We were able to access about 60% of what they took from us. It is all very badly vandalized and abused. None of the tractors were mobile. All the many trailers and towable implements no longer had tyres, etc. Those unfortunates who'd had their expensive centre pivots uplifted by the police team last year had to pick through the jumble of pipes, wheels, motor, gearboxes computerized control panels, etc where they had been simply dumped last year. Never used, some even had the original paper labels on.

    What a wicked exercise last year's seizures by government agents was.

    We finally completed the recovery of what was available, on 26th September. The Ministry of lands immediately slapped a fresh order on all the premises where the equipment had been temporarily stored! It was in the form of a notice of "Intention to Acquire" our equipment, some kind of perverted pretence of following "procedure". The long and short of it is that our equipment has been re-embargoed. In its present state it cannot ever be used, and the state's agents know this. The act was out of spite and revenge for losing the court actions all along the line! A twisted attempt to "save face" perhaps.

    There is a new spate of farm evictions.You have no doubt read about it in the media. All the eviction notices are illegal. There is no provision in law to issue any. In the haste last year to change the constitution and nationalise the land, the ZG omitted to include an eviction clause.

    Parliament and the senate have now corrected their oversight with yet another amendment. This awaits signature by the president.

    Greig still lives at Farm 39, which is "next door". On Sunday there was a jambanja mob at the gate demanding to come in. A police inspector from Masvingo was demanding the keys from the yard staff in order to enter and seize a homestead. Several employees escaped into the sugar cane, one coming to report to me. Greig was unaware of the drama until I phoned him in his abode, and by the time he went to investigate the inspector had called off his efforts and departed! Nonetheless Greig went looking for him, and they had a frank conversation of 45 mins. Low volume, but the fellow is totally brainwashed, mouthing revenge for the whites chasing his ancestors into the hills in the nineteenth century etc, and his resolvde to recover the land which was stolen.

    That is where it should have ended. Greig has however received several messages to say a proper jambanja will ensue, starting tomorrow. One doesn't know what to believe, other than they are as predictable as a puff adder.

    The whole problem stems from the corrupt ministry of lands, whose local officials have refined dishonesty to an art. They've been issuing forged "eviction notices" to many farmers during the last few weeks. On initial inspection these looked to be genuine, and caused quite a stir. In spite of being false the bits of paper have of course had the desired intimidatory effect!

    Meanwhile I am a bit concerned about Greig. I cannot proscribe to him. There have been several warnings from friendly sources that he should be cautious. The dilemma is to decide on the level of danger, and whether the suggestion wasn't planted in the mouths of well-meaning messengers.

    Whichever way you look at it, whites have again become very vulnerable on the farms. There seems to be little recourse at present to counter the determination of Didymus Mutasa to rid commercial farms of all whites by the end of the year - or by the "start of the rainy season" as he has vowed.

    Keep well, my friend.


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  • Monday, October 16, 2006

    Cross posted on Global Voices

    Global Voices has posted a harrowing video documenting the brutal beatings suffered by worker's union demonstrators recently. Read the post and watch the video here.

    Debate surrounding a new law, the Domestic Violence Bill, became the context for a much criticized misogynistic outburst in Zimbabwe's parliament last week. Timothy Mubhawu, a controversial member of Zimbabwe's parliament attracted the ire of women worldwide when he, purpoting "to represent God", expressed his views on the proposed bill,
    "I stand here representing God Almighty. Women are not equal to men. It is a dangerous Bill and let it be known in Zimbabwe that the right, privilege and status of men is gone. I stand here alone and say this bill should not be passed in this House. It is a diabolic Bill. Our powers are being usurped in daylight in this House."
    This outburst, wouldn't nearly be as appalling had it been uttered by any other legislator save for Mubhawo. Zimbabwean women were on the streets the day after Mubhawo's infamous statement. Mubhawo is the chief suspect in the brutal assault of Trudy Stevenson, a white female parliamentarian.

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  • Eddie Cross: MDC rallies

    The MDC held one of its anniversary rallies in Bulawayo on Sunday. This morning the local State controlled daily has as its headlines "Residents Boycott Tsvangirai". Nothing could be further from the truth. No doubt Nelson Chamisa and William Bango will release photos later of the event but my own estimate is that we had a larger gathering at White City than thelast time we were there.

    It is very difficult to estimate numbers on an open field but people were sitting perhaps 15 to 20 deep and standing about 5 to 10 deep at the back in a 180 radius crowd. The atmosphere was festive - a lot of humour and good spirited banter, some very clever heckling of certain speakers. As usual MT got a very strong response. I sat next to Grace Kwingeh - she had been in Europe for the past 4 years and it was her first rally in Bulawayo since coming home. She said she was astounded at the turnout.

    It was especially so when you appreciate it publicized by word of mouth, there is no public transport and people had to sit in the open in October for 4 hours to hear the leadership. No one moved until it was all over.

    MT had just come from the Eastern districts where three rallies were held and after Bulawayo he was on his way to the Midlands. A frantic schedule and I do not know how he keeps it up.

    On another subject, we held a National Council meeting in the morning prior to the Rally and one of the main decisions was to suspend Timothy Mubhawu from all positions in the Party and to put his case the National Disciplinary Committee for consideration. He may well be expelled from the Party as a result. The reason for this strong action was the statement he made in Parliament on women and their status in society. This statement was completely at variance with Party policy and was viewed as a very serious breech of discipline on a key issue.

    The decision was unanimous.

    Eddie Cross

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  • Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    Domestic violence bill stokes up heated debate

    Despite the fact that we have a one sided parliament in Zimbabwe (ZANU-PF controls both houses of the legislature), some Zimbabweans are fiercely debating the implications a proposed Domestic Violence Bill. The bill, which was first proposed two years ago, was finally gazetted for parliamentary reading in July.

    As it has gone through the legislative process, the proposed bill has engendered emotional debate among Zimbabwe's laity. Traditional Zimbabwean culture is very conservative and pretends to be paternalistic. I use the word "pretends" because I am of the opinion that in families that truly uphold authentic traditional Zimbabwe cultural values, women are indisputably deeply revered. Zimbabwean oral traditions give women a sacred place as the chief matriac of any lineage.

    If you think I'm pulling this out of my behind, here are a few examples that I believe elucidate my convictions that true Zimbabwean culture places a premium on the role women play. According to Shona oral tradition, the most heinious offense a child can commit is assaulting their mother. The whole concept in the Shona language of "kutanda botso" or high filial treason, is built around protecting the mother figure. There is no such measure advocating for the protection of paternal figures yet this idea is reinforced among children over and over again as they grow up. The sense of unquestioning respect that our cultures heaps upon a mother is so high, I can clearly remember feeling guilty of this filial high treason for mere anger at my own mother. What's worse is the consequences of "kutanda botso" are assured psychiatric rages as payment from the ancestors, it can be very scary growing up a Zimbabwean child.

    Second, in my culture's highly valued marriage process, mothers are intenionally accorded exclusive homage; apart from the dowry or bride price, Zimbabwean culture mandate the delivery of a special cow to the brides mother known as "mombe yeumai" or the motherhood cow. The idea behind this hallowed piece of tradition is to honor the bride's mother for bringing her into this world. Again, no such specific attention is given and lauded up the father of the bride despite that the partriachs dominate proceedings during a traditional marriage.

    Beyond the marriage ceremony itself, the relationship between the mother in law and her son in law remains one of the most strictly upheld aspects of our culture to this day. Mothers in law are to be venerated with a degree of respect that I can only think of as matching that which subject were expected to laud upon their African kings in antiquity. A son in law must not make eye contact with their mother in law, they should (if they abide by strict Shona culture) appear before their mother in law dressed casually or in jeans, and must not talk to her out turn.

    I blame the chauvinistic neo-classicals for crusading against the sanctity of women. That's a post for a different day.

    Back to the DV bill. Without a doubt, its most controversial moment came on Monday when MDC MP Timothy Mubawo uttered the infamous "I represent God" in defence of male dominance,
    "I stand here representing God Almighty. Women are not equal to men. It is a dangerous Bill and let it be known in Zimbabwe that the right, privilege and status of men is gone. I stand here alone and say this bill should not be passed in this House. It is a diabolic Bill. Our powers are being usurped in daylight in this House."
    Yes folks, that came out of the mouth of a legislator who has been under suspicion for the most violent outburst of rage against Trudy Stevenson a female MP!

    Zimbabwean women came out on the streets yesterday to protest the misogynistic comments of Mubawo.

    As the controversy has raged, it has emerged that Mubawo's misdirected comments may have been evoked by a purpoted attack the bill reportedly mounts against marriage. According to Zimbabwe Journalists,
    But a closer look at the Bill by zimbabwejournalists.com revealed the MP, although apparently out of order in making the sexist comment about women, the Bill, which has been hailed as a saviour for women who suffer domestic violence on a daily basis, is far from what many ordinary women expected.

    A perusal of the Hansard, the daily record of the House of Parliament, reveals the Bill was supported by almost every legislator on the clauses that deal with domestic violence, which according to Oppah Muchinguri, the Gender Minister, is responsible for 60 percent of all murders in Zimbabwe.

    Trouble started when the legislators discovered embedded within the Bill were clauses that they think undermine the sanctity of marriage by giving too much powers to mistresses who can take wives to court if approached about their adulterous affairs.

    If the mistress claims harassment and the court concurs, the wife can be jailed for up to 10 years. Under existing law, a woman with a Chapter 37 marriage certificate could take her husband’s girlfriend to court but under the Bill, it is an offence for the woman to approach the mistress.
    But there's even more,
    Apparently the Bill also protects the former mistresses from losing the property acquired through their adulterous affairs. Male MPs who spoke off the record for fear of making sexist remarks said the Bill has “completely shifted from dealing with domestic violence to protecting the interests of a few women leaders”. They promised to speak on record in the House after “re-grouping” with the chiefs and others to put their case against certain clauses in the Bill together.

    Another Zanu PF MP, who also did not want to be named said: “Right now we are going to Bulawayo to discuss the budget but I feel this is an important issue. Look at the House, we have 22 female legislators and only four are married – not that it’s an offence to be single. The four are outnumbered. They know the Bill threatens the institution of marriage. Oppah Muchinguri, the Women’s Coalition and others should be applauded for their work on trying to nip domestic violence in the bud but then they have not fully explained to the generality of the women in the country what they really intend to do with the law – protect themselves, their own selfish interests.”
    As the debate continues, one can only pay homage to our mothers, grandmothers, and sisters hoping that they will someday see the honor and respect our ancestors endowed them with.

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  • Monday, October 09, 2006

    MDC turns seven

    The MDC will on Sunday, 8 October 2006, hold its seventh anniversary celebrations at the ceremonial home of people power at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare.

    The occasion will attract thousands of MDC supporters both in and outside Harare, provincial leaders from across the 12 provinces as well as national executive and standing committee members. President Morgan Tsvangirai is expected to give the keynote address at the carnival ceremony which will be interspaced with music and drama from various groups.

    The MDC was formed in Harare on 11 September 1999 and on Sunday, the party takes stock of its challenges and achievements in the past seven years. On Sunday, we will celebrate seven difficult years under an unrepentant dictatorship. On Sunday, we will celebrate the resilience of the people of Zimbabwe in the face of visible signs of collapse which include a high inflation rate that continues to skyrocket, a collapsed health and education system, a life expectancy of 34 years, massive corruption in all sectors of the economy and an acute shortage of foreign currency for critical imports such as power, fuel and medicines.

    The MDC bears visible scars after only seven years in existence. We remember and salute the thousands of our supporters who perished at the hands of Zanu PF such as Learnmore Jongwe, Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya, to mention but a few; we remember the thousands whose houses were burnt and destroyed by this government and the millions who have fled their motherland to seek refuge elsewhere and to work in dehumanising and degrading conditions. We remember the pain and tears of our supporters over the past seven years as Zanu PF went on the rampage across the country and unleashed unprecedented violence on those suspected of sympathising with the MDC.

    Ours has been a tough struggle against a dictatorship determined to remain in perpetual combat with the ordinary people of Zimbabwe. The MDC has shown its resilience under one of the most vicious dictatorships and the fact that we are still existing bears testimony to the determination of the people of Zimbabwe to save their country. Our cause is just and we continue to survive the detours, impediments and set-backs authored by the dictatorship.

    On Sunday, we will take advantage of the occasion of the party's seventh anniversary to reflect on our challenges and achievements over the years. The MDC is ready to roll out its programmes. There is no doubt that the people shall soon express themselves in a big way against tyranny. We remain committed to to peaceful resolution of the national crisis. We have already tabled our roadmap as our humble submission towards a peaceful resolution of the national crisis that continues to get worse everyday. In any contest with the people, dictators have always come second best. Zimbabwe deserves better. Let's build a new and better Zimbabwe.

    Nelson Chamisa, MP
    Secretary for Information and Publicity

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  • Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    Eddie Cross: The responsibility to protect.

    For almost all of the 20th Century, a basic dictum of international diplomacy was “non interference in the internal affairs of other States”. Even today, Mugabe angrily denounces all attempts to even discuss the crisis in Zimbabwe at international gatherings as “interference in our internal affairs.” At the SADC summit last month he stormed out of that gathering and flew home 24 hours early when leaders insisted that the Zimbabwe situation be discussed in a closed session.

    Today in Darfur the international community faces a fresh challenge – the Sudanese government is flatly refusing to allow more effective UN surveillance of the situation in Darfur and is continuing to try to subjugate the people of Darfur by means of armed force using both State resources and informal armed forces. The international media is still allowed into the Sudan and so we can see for ourselves the effects of this situation on the ordinary men and women of the western region of Sudan. We can see the refugee camps, the fresh graves; hear the stories of those whose lives and rights are being abused by a dictatorial Islamic regime.

    In recent times the issue of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States has come under scrutiny. People are questioning the dictate and saying that where a government is threatening the fundamental human and
    political rights of its people, the international community has the responsibility to act in solidarity with the poor and defenseless. So today we are seeing really tough talk at the UN about Darfur and we are also seeing more and more prominent people from all walks of life saying that the international community has the responsibility to interfere.

    In southern Africa we have been there as well – both the Rhodesian and South African governments used the dictate to argue that outsiders had no right to interfere. But eventually, the gravity of the crisis and the threat to the
    stability of the region persuaded those with power to take action. In both cases the international community appointed a “point man” to take responsibility for coordinating and directing the resolution of the crisis. In both cases they were successful. Henry Kissenger was the point man on Rhodesia and Margaret Thatcher the point “man” for South Africa.

    What happened after their intervention was critical, but it was their (often unsung) actions that actually broke the logjam and made all else possible. If you had told me that South Africa would go through the process that led
    to the 1994 elections without serious violence and upheaval – I would have said you were nuts. But it happened and the key element was a carefully planned and executed political action backed by the threat of the use of
    power. Such threats are only credible when they are real and can be backed up by action if needed.

    Today it is 30 years since Henry Kissenger flew into South Africa and held talks with a team of Ministers led by Ian Smith at Union Buildings in Pretoria. He came with a plan agreed by key African leaders and the backing
    of the global community at the time. He arrived when Rhodesia was in the throes of an armed struggle with the armies of Zanla and Zipra who were demanding one-man one vote (democracy). 150 000 men were under arms and the
    ordinary population of the country was being brutalized by all sides. The economy was in dire straights and there was no end in sight for the conflict. There were fears the conflict might spread into South Africa itself. Smith was totally in charge and even the South Africans were wary of taking him on politically.

    Kissenger persuaded the South Africans that there was no future for Rhodesia under Smith. That backing the Smith government was not only a waste of South African resources but was having a negative impact on the survival and prosperity of South Africa itself. He was well prepared and the US had used its considerable intelligence capacity to ensure that he could argue this case with some force and conviction.

    Kissenger sympathized with Smith – recognised his courage and determination and even his love of the country he led. But he also understood that he was never going to win and that if the final defeat came any way other than
    through negotiation, it would be a disaster. He presented his plan to the Rhodesian team and after they had debated it amongst themselves for a while, they rejected it. At that point the President of South Africa came in and
    said to the Rhodesian delegation that if they walked out of that room without an agreement, he would cut off their essential supplies and all future support would cease. Smith went on to call it the “Great Betrayal” but in fact what those two foreign leaders did that day was to rescue the country from itself and open the way to a new beginning.

    The Rhodesians flew home and Smith went on television 30 years ago on the 23rd September 1976 to say they had agreed to a transition to real democracy. It took 3 more years but when Zimbabwe was born on the 18th April
    1980, Henry Kissenger was, in a very real sense, its father.

    Today the international media are banned from Zimbabwe and unless someone has the courage and the equipment to film something clandestinely – the world cannot see what is happening here. That does not excuse leaders. They
    should not require pictures to make decisions on situations like Darfur and Zimbabwe. Unfortunately very often that is the case – but it should not be so. They know what is happening – they have other resources, reports,
    intelligence and their diplomats.

    The crisis in Darfur is serious, but it does not compare to the situation in Zimbabwe where a criminal class is in power, is terrified of its past and is fighting to stay in control at any cost. The consequences are there for all
    to see – GDP down by half, exports by two thirds, life expectancy by half in a decade, elections a sham, the media totally controlled and all forms of opposition ruthlessly put down by armed force and violence. We are a threat
    to regional stability and prosperity; our economic and political refugees are drowning the social and economic systems of our neighbors. Our leadership is unrepentant – even of genocide and the mass destruction of homes and livelihoods. They are guilty of the theft of national assets and income on a scale that has not been seen in recent years in the rest of the world.

    Like Burma and North Korea they have built up a military State that is able and willing to maintain itself on what remains and can continue to do so indefinitely. The only recourse of its beleaguered and embattled population is flight or a form of national “house arrest”.

    The Zimbabwe situation is one that is wide open to international intervention. The failure by African leaders, the South African leadership in particular, demands that the international community itself takes a fresh look at what is going on and what can be done to get things back on track. Unlike Darfur, Iraq, Burma and North Korea – Zimbabwe is vulnerable to international action. It is a small country with limited resources – none of them really strategic, it is land locked and its neighbors hold the key to the survival of the regime.

    This is a problem that can be fixed. For the sake of its people, the international community has an obligation to interfere. It does not require military intervention of any sort, just coordinated and concerted action by the leaders of democracies in Africa and abroad.

    Eddie Cross
    Bulawayo, 2nd October 2006

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  • Monday, October 02, 2006

    Cross Posted at Global Voices

    Years after the first commercial farms were invaded by marauding war veterans and supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF, a new wave of farm invasions has hit the country merely weeks before planting for the upcoming agricultural season is supposed to begin. The Bearded Man has picked up on the story;
    So what else is new in Zimbabwe - Mugabe continues to bully the population, the government continues to chase white commercial farmers off their land, while the Zimbabwean economy is in a permanent nosedive with the local currency not faring very well against all other currencies
    The government has passed a new law extending them greater liberty regarding how much leverage they can put on commercial farmers who own land the government wants to annex. What is surprising about these new invasions is that the government has announced the end of farm invasions several time over the past year. In fact, there has even speculation that the government was offering land back to farmers who'd lost it during the redistribution excercise. So much for that.

    After it's members where deported upon arrival at the Harare airport, AFL-CIO blog is shining the spotlight on the Zimbabwe government. First, documentation of police brutality,
    "Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Lovemore Matombo and First Vice President Lucia Matibenga were among trade unionists badly injured during the government’s Sept. 13 attack on a peaceful demonstration by the nation’s unionists. AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer William Lucy, who traveled to Zimbabwe says “the police just went crazy” in their attack in the capital Harare.

    Lucy described his experience today during a meeting with union members at the AFL-CIO building in Washington, D.C., where he showed a 12-minute video of the Sept. 13 assault given to him on their trip. (Note: The date of the attack is incorrect on the video. The attack occurred Sept. 13.)
    Watch the video here.

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  • ZANU-PF's prehistoric mindset on display

    Geriatric Nathan Shamuyarira, a long time ally of Mugabe and former minister revealed just how outdated and out of touch ZANU-PF's psyche can be. Speaking at a conference discussing the Gukarahundi massacres of 1980-85, Shamuyarira reportedly refused apologise,
    Speaking on the sidelines of a conference on the National Reconciliation Process in Zimbabwe, in Vumba last week, the Zanu PF spokesperson said the political situation in the early 80s had to be considered first before people talked about compensation.

    Shamuyarira said the actions of the North Korean-trained 5 Brigade in the three provinces were "not regrettable". Shamuyarira had been asked to comment on growing calls for compensation for the victims of Gukurahundi.

    "It was because the dissidents were killing people that Gukurahundi went to correct the situation and protect the people," he said.

    "The assessment of the operations of the 5 Brigade must be seen in that context."
    So becuase the soldiers were trying to "fix" a situation they had free pass to do what they wanted? Over 20,000 dead, and it's justifiable just because ZANU-PF thinks so. I think not; Gukurahundi was a genocide, just like Rwanda, just like Darfur.

    In case you didn't see it, that report said he was speaking at a conference on National Reconciliation for Zimbabwe.

    And that's Shamuyarira's contribution to the conference? His conscience contradicts the thesis of the conference; the whole point of the meeting is reconciliation, you can't reconcile without admission of guilt and forgiveness.

    You can't defend Shamuyarira because he doesn't regret his own utterence. A week later he's clearly unapologetic,
    Last night, Shamuyarira claimed he had been quoted out of context, but still refused to say if he regretted the genocidal killing of civilians during a government operation stretching from 1982 right through to the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987 between Nkomo's PF-Zapu and Mugabe's Zanu.

    Shamuyarira told New Zimbabwe.com that President Mugabe and the late former Justice Minister Edison Zvobgo were wrong to openly admit that the 5 Brigade killings were a terrible mistake.

    Mugabe has described the massacres as a "moment of madness" that should never be repeated. Zvobgo went a step further by apologising and admitting that the massacres were giving him sleepless nights.

    Shamuyarira said Sunday: "The reported comments came from a long discussion that we had (in Vumba), but some of the statements which are quoted are not correct.

    Asked if he had said he did not regret the atrocities, Shamuyarira replied: "No I did not say anything like that. Some of the things may be out of context."

    But pressed further and asked if he had any regrets, Shamuyarira retorted: "That's a situation that we would like to put into history. It's not a fair question to put to me, why should I be answering this 25 years later?

    "My personal views are not important in this situation, these things happened 25 years ago, we can only review and assess the past but the personal views of individuals are not relevant."

    And does he share President Mugabe and Zvobgo's view that the Matabeleland atrocities were a moment of madness? "I don't share that. No I don't share their view," he said.
    Shamuyarira's bullheaded mentality clearly predates this conversation. It's representative of how ZANU-PF thinks of themselves; they are always right, can't go wrong and will not apologise. Because of that, they have no place at Zimbabwe's reconciliation talks, at least not with their current disposition. Zimbabwe's ready to move on and engage in progressive conversation surrounding our national heritage and future, we'll do it without ZANU-PF. They will be left behind.

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