Saturday, April 05, 2008
Western intervention against Robert Mugabe’s ‘evil regime’ put Zimbabwe into an economic straitjacket and disempowered its people.
‘We’ve beaten Mugabe’, said a frontpage headline in the London Evening Standard yesterday. Only there were no quote marks around the words ‘We’ve beaten Mugabe’, which made it difficult to tell if the paper was reporting the thoughts of Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) upon its electoral victory over Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF Party, or its own back-slapping relish at the thought that its journalism may have played a part in toppling Mugabe.
Indeed, ‘We’ve beaten Mugabe’ could be the slogan of political and media operators in Britain and elsewhere in the West, who like to fantasise that Mugabe is ‘Africa’s Hitler’, that his Zimbabwe was ‘more evil than, for example, China and Saudi Arabia’, and that it is up to the West to ‘put pressure on Zimbabwe to change’ (1).
The media reports about Zimbabwe’s elections present them as a clash between the ‘evil’ Mugabe and the ‘heroic’ Tsvangirai, an electoral battle for Zimbabwe’s soul. Mugabe is depicted as having brought Zimbabwe to its knees, causing widespread poverty and enforcing terror and repression, and Tsvangirai is discussed as the harbinger of a dignified ‘revolution’ against Mugabeism (2). This is a fantasy.
It ignores the key role played by Western governments and financial institutions in using sanctions, tough diplomacy and the proxy interventionists of the South Africa government and the African Union to isolate and harry Zimbabwe over the past decade. Such self-serving external meddling has contributed to Zimbabwe’s economic crisis - and it has dangerously distorted the political dynamics inside Zimbabwe and elsewhere in the south of Africa.
Over the past 10 years, American and European governments cynically transformed Mugabe’s Zimbabwe into the West’s whipping boy in Africa, the state they love to hate, a country against which they can enforce tough sanctions to demonstrate their seriousness about standing up to ‘evil’.
The West has imposed economic sanctions on Zimbabwe, warned off foreign investors, denied Zimbabwean officials the right to travel freely around the world, demonised Mugabe as an ‘evil dictator’, discussed the idea of military action against Zimbabwe, and used moral and financial blackmail to cajole South Africa’s president Thabo Mbeki to ‘deal with’ Mugabe (3).
Objectively, this singling out of Mugabe’s regime as the ‘worst government on Earth, the most brutal, destructive, lawless government’ made little sense (4). No doubt Mugabe is a nasty piece of work, but then so are some of the government heads that the West is more than happy to work with.
Indeed, one could argue that, over the past decade, there was more choice and openness in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe than there was in Rwanda and Uganda, both close political allies of America and Britain. No, Zimbabwe was labelled the demon of Africa, not in response to events on the ground in Zimbabwe itself, but in response to the needs and desires of governments in the West looking for a purposeful mission in international affairs.
Western meddling pushed Zimbabwe to the precipice. Yet listening to the discussion of the elections, you could be forgiven for thinking that the country had suffered from a sudden, inexplicable case of Spontaneous National Combustion.
The economic crisis is depicted as a peculiar phenomenon on a continent where there has mostly been economic growth in recent years. Where most of Africa’s economies have been growing at a rate of between five and six per cent recently, Zimbabwe is the only African country that had a negative GDP in 2007/2008. It is reported that the Zimbabwean economy has shrunk by more than a third since 1999, a ‘decline worse than in major African civil wars’, says one newspaper (5). Apparently there’s an unemployment rate of around 80 per cent, and inflation is running at 100,586 per cent (6).
Yet the only explanation given for this economic nosedive is Mugabe’s seizure of colonial-era, white-owned commercial farms eight years ago. As the UK Guardian says: ‘The economic crisis is largely blamed on the seizure of white-owned farms that began in 2000, disrupting the agriculture-based economy.’ (7) It is true that foreign exchange earnings from these former white-owned farms have plummeted, causing major economic problems; but there is more to Zimbabwe than tobacco and the other cash crops once produced by the white farmers.
A key driver of Zimbabwe’s economic crisis has been the West’s attempts to bring down Mugabe by turning the financial levers. Relentlessly, the American and British governments, and the European Union, economically punished Mugabe’s Zimbabwe for what they considered to be its political disobedience.
In November 1998, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) implemented undeclared sanctions against Zimbabwe, by warning off potential investors, freezing loans and refusing to negotiate with Zimbabwean officials on the issue of debt.
In September 1999, the IMF suspended its support for economic adjustment and reform in Zimbabwe. In October 1999, the International Development Association, a multilateral development bank, suspended all structural adjustment loans and credits to Zimbabwe; in May 2000 it suspended all other forms of new lending (8).
In December 2001, the US passed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, which decreed that Mugabe could restore relations with international financial institutions only if he agreed to conditions on Zimbabwe’s rule of law, the presence of its troops in the Congo, and the conduct of its internal elections. The American law also instructed all US members of international financial institutions to oppose and vote against any extension of loans, credits or guarantees to Zimbabwe.
In 2002, then British foreign secretary Jack Straw declared that Britain would ‘oppose any access by Zimbabwe to international financial institutions’. Also in 2002, British officials threatened to withdraw financial assistance to other countries in southern Africa unless they, too, imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe.
This led Benjamin Mkapa, then president of Tanzania, to complain that African members of the British Commonwealth were enduring ‘a bombardment for an alliance against Mugabe’ (9). The European Union imposed ‘smart’ sanctions against Zimbabwe, refusing to allocate visas for travel in EU countries to Mugabe and his officials and freezing all of their economic assets in Europe (10). In the early and mid-2000s, both the World Bank and the IMF tried to dissuade states and institutions from extending financial credit to Zimbabwe.
A Zimbabwean official claimed that: ‘Our contacts in various countries have indicated that these institutions are using all sorts of tactics to cow all those who are keen to assist Zimbabwe.’ (11)
The economic punishment of ‘evil Mugabe’ by powerful Western forces had a massive impact on Zimbabwe. According to one critical observer, Gregory Elich, author of Strange Liberators: Militarism, Mayhem and the Pursuit of Profit, ‘Western financial restrictions made it nearly impossible for Zimbabwe to engage in normal international trade’. And ‘for a nation that had to import 100 per cent of its oil, 40 per cent of its electricity and most of its spare parts, Zimbabwe was highly vulnerable to being cut off from access to foreign exchange’.
Elich argues that the impact of Western restrictions on trading and crediting with Zimbabwe was ‘immediate and dire’: ‘The supply of oil fell sharply, and periodically ran out entirely. It became increasingly difficult to muster the foreign currency to maintain an adequate level of imported electricity, and the nation was frequently beset by blackouts. The shortage of oil and electricity in turn severely hobbled industrial production, as did the inability to import raw materials and spare parts. Business after business closed down and the unemployment rate soared...’ (12)
Alongside turning the screws on Zimbabwe’s economy, the West interfered politically in an attempt to undermine Mugabe’s government. America’s Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 authorised President George W Bush to fund ‘opposition media’ as well as ‘democracy and governance programmes’ inside Zimbabwe. In April last year, the US State Department confirmed for the first time that the US had sponsored ‘events’ in Zimbabwe aimed at ‘discrediting’ Mugabe (13). It is reported that the opposition party MDC also received financial backing and political direction from Britain, Germany, Holland, Denmark and the US.
A small number of political observers in the West have questioned the wisdom of Western interference in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs. When America passed its Zimbabwe Act, US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney asked during a debate in the House of Representatives why US officials were enforcing politically-motivated sanctions against a mostly democratic country: ‘Zimbabwe is Africa’s second-longest stable democracy.
It is multi-party. It had elections last year [in 2001] where the opposition [the MDC] won over 50 seats in parliament. It has an opposition press which vigorously criticises the government and governing party. It has an independent judiciary which issues decisions contrary to the wishes of the governing party.’ (14) Indeed, one of the ostensible reasons why America passed the Act was to protest against the presence of Zimbabwean troops in the Congo. Yet, in 2001, both Uganda and Rwanda also had troops in the Congo; and neither Uganda nor Rwanda allowed opposition political parties or a free press. Yet both were allies of America, and received considerable economic backing from the US.
Mugabe was no doubt a rotten ruler; his party certainly used pressure and even force in order to secure victory in general elections in the late 1990s and the 2000s. Yet that is not why he was singled out as a ‘tyrant’ and an ‘African Hitler’. It was political considerations in the West that elevated Mugabe to that position and transformed Zimbabwe into a pariah state.
Western governments despised what they considered to be Mugabe’s cheek, in particular his temerity in daring to seize white farms, to interfere in the Congo without a green light from the US, and his frequent denunciations of Western colonialism. Indeed, since the defeat of the white rulers of Rhodesia in 1980, Mugabe lived off his reputation as a brave warrior against Western arrogance in Africa. It was colonialism and imperialist intervention that gave him his base of support, which has always been a substantial one, despite, or perhaps because of, international hostility against Zimbabwe.
As the African commentator Barrie Collins has argued: ‘Since the end of the Cold War, the USA and the UK have got used to a high degree of compliance on the part of African governments - and they are no longer prepared to tolerate those, like Zimbabwe, that insist on doing things their own way.’ (15)
Bashing Zimbabwe played a dual role for Western officials and commentators. It allowed those of a conservative stripe to defend the historic reputation of colonialism by comparing it favourably with the rule of individuals like Mugabe. Eton-educated British observers loathed Mugabe because they considered him a symbol of African cockiness, who had humiliated Ian Smith (the white minority ruler of a self-declared ‘independent’ Rhodesia from 1965 to 1979) before the eyes of the world. Attacking Mugabe’s rule became a way of rehabilitating the image of old-fashioned, British-tinged colonialism.
At the same time, one-time anti-colonialist radicals - including most notably the gay rights activist Peter Tatchell in the UK - focused their political energies on opposing Mugabe, describing him as intolerant and not sufficiently respectful of minority rights. At a time when political radicalism is on the wane in the West, some activists sought to recover their old campaigning spirit by taking potshots at the easy target of a beleaguered African state. Indeed, radicals often led the charge for tougher economic and political punishment of Zimbabwe - and frequently, they got what they asked for.
From the late 1990s to today, Zimbabwe became the West’s favoured punchbag in the ‘Dark Continent’. Yet Western governments have chosen striking forms of intervention. Instead of militarily and directly intervening in Zimbabwean affairs - despite loud demands from the colonialist/radical alliance that they should do so - governments in the West pursued a more hands-off form of meddling in Mugabe’s regime. They used sanctions and economic blackmail; they funded opposition parties and ‘events’; and most revealingly they put pressure on South Africa, Tanzania and other nearby states to use their muscle to try to push Mugabe from power.
This was effectively ‘blacked-up imperialism’, an attempt by Western powers nervous about being seen smashing their way into Africa to use local proxies to do their dirty work for them.
To their credit, many African officials refused to play the game. The African Union turned down Western suggestions to send forces to Zimbabwe in 2005, arguing that ‘it is not proper for the AU commission to start running the internal affairs of members’ states’. Though South Africa’s Mbeki has become involved in Zimbabwean politics, he has also, to the irritation of Western observers, insisted that the future of Zimbabwe ‘has never been a South African responsibility’ (16).
Zimbabwe captures both the West’s sense of caution in international affairs and also its inexorable drive to interfere wherever and however it can. As the former British foreign secretary Margaret Beckett argued, Britain cannot be seen explicitly interfering in Zimbabwe because we are ‘the old colonial power’ - yet at the same time Britain apparently has a ‘responsibility’ to spread democracy around the world (17).
The end result of this schizophrenic approach to African affairs and international affairs more broadly - a political defensiveness combined with a desire to do something seemingly purposeful and proper - is an unpredictable, ravenous, behind-the-scenes form of meddling in other countries’ affairs, a kind of ‘cowardly colonialism’. And it can have dire consequences for people in the third world.
On the basis of little more than the fact that they needed a focus for their international pretensions, Western governments have put Zimbabwe into an economic straitjacket and warped its internal political process. If the sanctions, blackmail and withdrawal of trade have helped to push Zimbabwe’s economy into freefall, then the relentless backdoor political interventions have disempowered the people of Zimbabwe.
The dynamic of Western intervention caused Mugabe to become more entrenched and paranoid about outsiders - and it encouraged the MDC to look to Western officials and radicals for their favour and flattery rather than to build a meaningful grassroots movement inside Zimbabwe.
Indeed, for all the talk of a ‘revolution’ in Zimbabwe, both during minor street protests last year and during the elections this week, many people actually seem quite resigned about Zimbabwe’s fate. As one report recently said: ‘[T]he opposition hasn’t been able to mobilise tens of thousands of people…’ (18) Lots of the current news coverage continually shows Zimbabweans queuing up for hours to buy a newspaper for a few thousand dollars so that they can read about the elections. This footage is supposed to show how bad inflation has become in Zimbabwe, but it also reveals something else: that the West’s attempted strangulation of Mugabe’s regime reduced the people of Zimbabwe to observers rather than masters of their fate, who look to the front pages of newspapers to find out what might happen next in their country.
Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked. Visit his website here.
1) End of days for ‘Africa’s Hitler’, National Post, 1 April 2008
(2) Heroic return for Zimbabwe’s opposition leader, Independent.ie, 28 March 2008
(3) Mugabe hoping to side-step Mbeki and Annan , ioL, 24 July 2005
(4) Abroad at Home; A Regime Of Thugs, New York Times, 5 May 2001
(5) Britain prepares £1bn-a-year package to aid Zimbabwe, Guardian, 3 April 2008
(6) Britain prepares £1bn-a-year package to aid Zimbabwe, Guardian, 3 April 2008
(7) Britain prepares £1bn-a-year package to aid Zimbabwe, Guardian, 3 April 2008
(8) The Battle over Zimbabwe’s Future, Global Research, 13 April 2007
(9) The Battle over Zimbabwe’s Future, Global Research, 13 April 2007
(10) ‘This time, Bob, it’s personal’, by Barrie Collins, 22 February 2002
(11) The Battle over Zimbabwe’s Future, Global Research, 13 April 2007
(12) The Battle over Zimbabwe’s Future, Global Research, 13 April 2007
(13) US reveals its efforts to topple Mugabe regime, Guardian, 6 April 2007
(14) Sanctions, which sanctions?, New African, May 2007
(15) ‘This time, Bob, it’s personal’, by Barrie Collins, 22 February 2002
(16) Trashing Mugabe, by Josie Appleton, 25 July 2005
(17) See Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett Condemns Mugabe Goverment
(18) Zimbabwe: talking up a revolution, by David Chandler, 22 April 2007
Zimbabwean war veteran sings denouncing lyrics about MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in Harare.
"We went into this election without the need for a runoff. This is totally unacceptable," Morgan Tsvangirai told reporters in a conference call on Saturday. He previously had said he would be willing to participate in a second round of voting. "This country cannot afford a runoff. A runoff would traumatize and polarize the nation," Tsvangirai added. Mugabe's party has said those concerns are unfounded.
On Friday, Mugabe's party, Zanu-PF said he was prepared for a runoff, should the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission call for one. A runoff is required if neither candidate wins at least 51 percent of the vote.
Mugabe's party has said he is willing to enter a runoff, which would have to be held within 21 days of the commission releasing the results. What do you think about the situation in Zimbabwe?
The commission had until the end of Friday to post the results of the March 29 presidential race, but missed the deadline. Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, filed an application with the nation's Supreme Court, asking that it order the commission to release the figures.
A hearing scheduled for Saturday was delayed until Sunday because the commission said it wasn't ready with the necessary documents, and needed more time, opposition lawyer Alec Muchadehama said. The hearing is set for noon (1000 GMT) in Harare, the capital.
"We consented and we appreciated that they needed to file those papers, although we would be happier with the matter being heard as quickly as possible," said Muchadehama. He said the matter is being heard before Justice Tendai Uchena.
Tsvangirai asked Saturday why the commission could not count 2.5 million votes in a week.
He accused Mugabe of preparing to promote violence and intimidate voters, because he has stationed militias and war veterans across the country.
The delayed presidential election results have raised fears that Mugabe is working on ways to cling to power. A look at the candidates »
There were three other races in the election: House and Senate seats and local council members. The only results released so far are the House votes, which show Tsvangirai's party was victorious.
Mugabe's party has vowed to contest 16 seats in that race, contending there was cheating involved in those constituencies.
On Saturday, police briefly blocked journalists and lawyers representing MDC from entering the High Court. They later were allowed inside.
Executive Zanu-PF members have promised to respect the outcome of the election, said Bright Matonga, a party spokesman who is also the government's deputy information minister.
"We don't think there will be violence. There's no need for violence, and we are going to show the rest of the world that Zimbabwe can hold peaceful elections," Matonga said Thursday.
Panel: Mugabe's party loses grip on parliament
Mugabe: Liberation hero turned tyrant
Morgan Tsvangirai and his fight for office
Blog: Change is in the air
TIME.com: Mugabe clenches his fist
Matonga attributed the delay in announcing results to the fact that four elections were held simultaneously, leaving the electoral commission with a huge task.
Asked by CNN when he would release the presidential results, the chairman of the electoral commission, George Chiweshe, said he was prevented from talking about it because of the pending court decision.
Zanu-PF officials said they will support Mugabe in a runoff, indicating that is the direction the party is taking. But some party members said there was an attempt to avoid a runoff because the party knows Mugabe would lose.
The opposition has asked the United Nations to intervene to avoid bloodshed ahead of a possible presidential runoff, a party spokesman told CNN.
With no presidential results, Zimbabweans were nervous, said Dzikamai Machingura, the national director of ZimRights, a human rights group.
Asked how the situation is affecting residents, he said, "Well, with regard to the election results ... I will tell you that, typically, people are driving to work. They get to work and they sit at their desks. They do no productive work because all their minds are elsewhere."
Another Zimbabwean said: "People are just anxious because they're wondering whether the results are actually, really going to come out for the presidential race. I think because it's taken such a long time, there's a lot of anxiety," he said.
There were more reports of violence Friday, and police continued to hold two Americans, including a New York Times journalist, Casey said. The Zimbabwean government has denied cracking down on journalists and the opposition. Watch as journalist describes her arrest »
Members of the Zimbabwe Peace Project said Friday that they had received reports that two homes had been burned in the Mudzi District of Mashonaland East Province, and they blamed the incidents on government retribution for those who backed opposition candidates. See photos from the country's elections »
Peace Project Executive Director Jestina Mukoko said the homes belonged to people who campaigned for an MDC candidate in the parliamentary election.
Once revered as the breadbasket of southern Africa with good education and healthcare, Zimbabwe now has one of the lowest life expectancies in the world, schooling is a luxury and it is difficult to get even basic food supplies.
Inflation has skyrocketed to more than 100,000 percent; food production and agricultural exports have dropped drastically. E-mail to a friend
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Saturday April 05, 2008 [04:00]
Communications and transport minister Dora Siliya has commended Zambian Airways for being proactive and aggressive in its three-year strategic plan. And Siliya has observed that there are a lot of opportunities for growth in Zambia's airline industry.
During a presentation by Zambian Airways of its ‘Three-year growth and development plan from 2008 to 2010’ on Thursday at The Post offices, Siliya said Zambia, like most African countries, had a lot of areas that were still not air linked.
"Just today, I had to drive for four to five hours from Petauke to Lusaka, but had Zambian Airways connected that area, maybe it could have taken me 20 to 30 minutes,"
Siliya said. "So what I am saying is that there is a lot of room for the airline business to thrive because a lot of areas in Zambia still remain not air linked."
Siliya extolled Zambian Airways for being practical by embarking on forceful three-year expansion despite the challenges the airline was facing.
"We are very happy to see that you are not sitting back and crying to government about the challenges you are facing in your growth but instead you have taken a proactive approach and you are engaging all the stakeholders," Siliya said.
"I am are particularly glad that you are marketing your three-year expansion plan to stakeholders who include financiers who are critical to growth because we feel the only way you are going to succeed in your strategic plan in the next three years is by engaging stakeholders who include financiers as they are relevant."
She also said Ministry of Communications and Transport would keep its doors open for Zambian Airways to engage government on the number of challenges the airline was facing in its expansion programme.
Siliya also expressed satisfaction with the growth rate of the Zambian Airways.
"Last year, there was a time we felt in government that maybe we were moving too fast in our policy reforms for the private sector to respond. But when we look at the progress of Zambian Airways we see the fruits of those reforms," said Siliya.
"And as a ministry, we will continue to implement regulations and policies that create an enabling environment for private sector growth in the aviation sector to respond and thrive thereby making more money for the government to do what it knows best and that is to provide social services like education and health to the Zambian people.
And presenting the three-year growth and development plan, Zambian Airways chief operating officer David Evans said the airline was targeting to create an aviation training facility that would generate about 100 skilled aviation jobs.
Evans said the airline was also looking at utilizing the hangar of the defunct Zambia Airways which had been lying idle for more than ten years.
"If you asked most airlines in Africa about some of the biggest challenges they were facing today, it is lack of parking space and where to conduct the maintenance of their aircrafts," Evans said. "But that is not the case with us because we have got the former Zambia Airways hangar. That is a hidden gem that has been sitting idle for ten years and if we utilize it, it will help to build capacity for the country because right now we have planes flying over Zambia going to South Africa...so if we start using that hangar at the airport, all those planes would be doing the maintenance in Zambia. And most importantly that will also allow us to create about 100 skilled aviation jobs.
I mean engineers and pilots thereby resulting in a major contribution and for us to make a huge impact on the economic growth of Zambia. And that is a gem we must develop."
Evans also said the aviation sector in the country would continue to post strong results for growth despite recent recession in global economy.
"I was in Europe a few days ago and I saw how negatively those markets have been affected by recession in the global economy but I think that is not the case here because the demand for aviation services is there.
The opportunities for growth here are still great as the demand is very high," said Evans. "And the fact that the Zambian economy is growing, will also positively impact on the growth of the airline because there is strong link between economic growth and growth of the aviation industry."
And Zambian Airways chief executive officer Mutembo Nchito said the airline was determined to expand its operations through a three-year growth and development plan.
He also said the airline would continue to engage all stakeholders like financiers in its expansion programme.
"There are certain things like fuel costs that we can do nothing about but we are ready to take control of things within our control and grow the airline," said Nchito.
Among the people who attended the presentation included Investrust Bank managing director Friday Ndhlovu and Development Bank of Zambia managing director Dr Abraham Mwenda and Pangea EMI Securities director Ceaser Siwale.
By Kingsley Kaswende
Saturday April 05, 2008 [04:00]
THE Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the immediate release of a New York Times correspondent Barry Bearak who was arrested by Zimbabwean police on Thursday. Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed that police had arrested two foreign journalists believed to be unaccredited at a hotel in Harare.
Bearak, a New York Times correspondent based in Johannesburg, was arrested together with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) correspondent Adrienne Arsenault at 18:00 hours on Thursday evening but Arsenault was released after an hour of questioning and verification that she was accredited.
Zimbabwean authorities warned last week that they would deal severely with journalists who were caught operating illegally.
Journalists have to be licensed in order to operate in Zimbabwe.
Foreign journalists are required to pay US $3,000 about K11.5 million for an annual licence or US $1,500 per entry into the country.
"I can only confirm that we have arrested two foreign journalists at York Lodge," Bvudzijena said.
"They are being investigated for practising without accreditation. They were picked up early this evening and taken to police custody."
In a statement, CPJ executive director Joel Simon called on Zimbabwean authorities to stop intimidating journalists.
"It is imperative that all journalists, foreign and domestic, be allowed to freely cover the important political situation unfolding in Zimbabwe," he said.
Bearak is being held at Harare Central Police station pending court appearance.
By Kingsley Kaswende
Saturday April 05, 2008 [04:00]
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe will not easily accept defeat and will fight to the last minute, Zimbabwe's political analysts said yesterday. The analysts believe President Mugabe will accept to go for a second round with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and fight hard to maintain his grip on power, although he is widely expected to lose the runoff. University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Dr Eldered Masunungure said it seemed President Mugabe was not prepared to leave office at the moment.
"Mugabe will accept to go into any re-run a very desperate man, and I see him being beaten very badly, getting humiliated," Dr Masunungure said. "I just don't see how he is going to recover from this now because psychologically there is a momentum building up for the final blow."
Dr Masunungure said he did not understand how ZANU-PF expected to win the re-run on a level ground with the current situation of the world's highest inflation at more than 140,000 per cent, a virtually worthless currency, shortages of food and fuel as well as a general social breakdown.
Another analyst, Brian Kagoro, said President Mugabe would do anything he could to stay in power.
"Mugabe is a high stakes political gambler, and I think he is going to go for it with everything he can marshal. But I don't think he can reverse his fortunes," said Kagoro, a lawyer.
President Mugabe has faced his toughest challenge in his 28-year rule and for the first time, everything points to his exit. His usual election shoo-in has been absent in this year's election as many Zimbabweans are increasing getting frustrated of the deteriorating economy.
Official results on Wednesday, showed Mugabe's Zanu-PF party had lost control of Parliament.
Kagoro said President Mugabe would not win this election because he was not fighting Tsvangirai but the economy.
"The economy is in such bad shape you cannot gloss over it without looking ridiculous," Kagoro said.
With the rural areas, normally his strongholds, now suffering as much as the urban opposition strongholds, President Mugabe has been losing his traditional support base.
By Maluba Jere
Saturday April 05, 2008 [04:00]
HOME affairs minister lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha has urged Comesa member countries to consider introducing a simple travel document to enable people travel more easily as is the case in the western world. Speaking when he officially opened the third meeting of ministers of home affairs of the Comesa region yesterday, Lt Gen Shikapwasha said the move would go a long way in harmonising immigration practices.
“As we seek to deepen the integration of our region, we should take the opportunity to learn from the experiences of the other regional integration groupings,” he said. “It is a well known fact that one of the key successes of the European Union was the removal of all barriers to the movement of persons and labour in the region. The success of that programme creates a sense of community belonging.”
Lt Gen Shikapwasha also said he was aware that considerable progress had already been made by Comesa in the free movement of goods. He said the Free Trade Area was now covering 14 member states.
He said removing restrictions on the movement of people would enhance cross-border investment.
He noted that once restrictions to the movement of genuine travellers were removed, people would recognise that they were in the same economic zone.
“If a businessman is interested in going to country X but is told that he needs $50 or more, he will reconsider travelling to that country,” he said. “He or she would rather go to a country which is not in Comesa thereby defeating the reason why we are trying to integrate the region.”
Lt Gen Shikapwasha further said cooperation in migration matters would go a long way in facilitating the growth of the tourism sector.
“We are aware that managing migration well goes a long way in enhancing tourism. The tourism sector is currently one of the fastest growing areas,” he said.
And speaking at the same function, Comesa secretary general Erastus Mwencha said the FTA membership and value had expanded.
He said in terms of value, the FTA started off with $1 billion but currently had $25 billion while the membership had risen to 14 from the initial 2, with two others intending to join.
Mwencha also said it was important for member countries to sign the protocol in the free movement of goods and people.
“In signing the protocol we are aware of the sensitivity but believe that the protocol has provided mechanisms not to endanger the national security and minimise risks,” he said.
AN increasing number of white former commercial farmers are reportedly threatening resettled black farmers throughout the country with eviction from their farms or face the wrath of an anticipated "incoming MDC government". In Chiredzi, white former sugarcane farmers and conservancy operators have reportedly returned in their droves, threatening to repossess their plots in anticipation of an MDC victory. This has raised fears and apprehension among a host of newly-resettled farmers who benefited under the Zanu-PF Government’s land reform programme.
Some of the sugarcane farmers who spoke to The Herald yesterday expressed concern over incidents of white former farmers in Mkwasine, Hippo Valley and Triangle who were threatening to return to plots they previously owned.
The newly-resettled farmers said the white former farmers were allegedly camped at Malilangwe Conservancy on the outskirts of Chiredzi town where they have been staying since the run-up to harmonised elections.
Zimbabwe Sugar Milling Industry Workers’ Union secretary-general Cde Admore Hwarare last night warned the white former farmers against any attempts to repossess land in Chiredzi, saying that such moves would be fiercely resisted.
"Let no one fool himself or herself that they can repossess land in Chiredzi because we are going to resist that. The land was allocated to us by the Government and we have got security forces who are prepared to defend the right to our land.
"Let it be known that there is nothing like that going to happen in the Lowveld as we are prepared to defend ourselves," said Cde Hwarare.
White former commercial farmers in the Lowveld have been resisting the land reform programme where they had maintained a stranglehold in the multi-billion-dollar sugar industry.
In Mashonaland East, the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC faction’s proposed Agriculture Minister and newly-elected House of Assembly representative for Marondera Central, Mr Ian Kay, reportedly told workers at his former Chipesa Farm that he would soon be repossessing the farm that was acquired by the State at the height of the Land Reform Programme.
While Mr Kay could not be reached for comment yesterday, workers at the farm said that he had told them that he would be demanding to be paid rent for the past seven years since his eviction from the property.
Yesterday morning, a rifle-wielding Mr Thomas Beattie is said to have gone to Cde Bright Matonga’s farm in Chegutu with a gang of five or six men and told workers that he would soon be "reclaiming his land".
Mr Beattie only left when farm workers organised themselves and made it clear that they would not tolerate his presence on the property.
Cde Matonga, a ruling Zanu-PF MP and Deputy Minister of Information and Publicity in the last Cabinet, confirmed the incident.
Reports of white former commercial farmers threatening new owners with eviction started emerging early this week following reports that the MDC was likely to win the harmonised elections.
Such cases have been reported at Paarl, Impofu and Bougainvillea farms in Mashonaland West as well as in Norton where the former farmers were seen taking pictures at various farms.
Speaking at a Press briefing yesterday, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association chairman Cde Jabulani Sibanda said: "We have received reports from villages and farms that there are white former farmers moving around the country threatening to invade the farms.
"This is a second invasion after the first one in 1890 (but) then the whites had some guns and we only had spears.
"If these elections result in an invasion of the country instead of a fight for parliamentary seats, then these people must know that there are other freedoms outside democracy," he said.
Cde Sibanda said Zimbabweans had a right to their land, minerals, natural resources and if need be their freedom to choose their leaders.
"Under these conditions, we do order those involved in sanctions, supporting and funding the invasion of our land to know that we have the capacity, strength and, far and foremost, willingness and determination to defend our revolution and sovereignty," he said.
The war veterans’ leader said although Zimbabwe had had free, fair and credible elections, the process was done under the pressure of sanctions to reverse the gains of independence.
"The West has organised and imposed illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe and we want to tell people to ignore activities of Europe in supporting the opposition and employing sanctions to weaken the party, Government and revolution," he said.
"Our country was taken away in 1890, we fought a protracted struggle to recover it and the process is still on. We gained political independence in 1980, got our land after 2000, but we have not yet reclaimed our minerals and natural resources.
"The fight for freedom is still on until everything is recovered for our people."
Cde Sibanda said the war veterans are still solidly behind President Mugabe.
"This is a battle between revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries, Zimbabwean people represented by President Mugabe and foreign interests through the MDC and we will continue supporting him," he said. However, the MDC-Tsvangirai party said it had no intentions of reversing the gains of the liberation struggle by handing back farms to white former commercial farmers.
Reacting to the reports that some white ex-farmers had threatened to repossess farms in the event of a Morgan Tsvangirai victory, opposition spokesperson Mr Nelson Chamisa said they would not undermine the agrarian reform.
"Land is a national heritage and asset which belongs to all Zimbabweans. No people-centred government would seek to undermine the desire and need for land reform. As the MDC, we have underscored that there is no going back to the pre-2000 era," Mr Chamisa said.
NAIROBI. Kenyan newspapers have criticised the size of the new coalition cabinet, saying 40 ministers was a waste of money in a country where many live in poverty.The outcry yesterday came a day after political rivals Mwai Kibaki, the president, and Raila Odinga, head of the Orange Democratic Movement, announced a deal on a coalition government.
"This will be the largest cabinet Kenya has ever had since independence. Questions will continue being raised about the need and cost of such a large grouping," Kenya’s top-selling Nation newspaper said in an editorial.
The government conceded that the cabinet was large, but said it was necessary to include all communities across the country.
"Most of the new ministries are subdivided from formerly existing ministries and therefore the budget and members of staff for those new ministries already exist," Alfred Mutua, a government spokesman, said.
"There is no price that is too high for our country to ensure peace, harmony and reconciliation, healing and stability that will spur and grow the economy and create even more wealth."
But the head of the Africa Centre for Open Governance accused Kenya’s political leaders of creating a "totally wasteful government".
"What Kibaki and Raila [Odinga] did was to show that their clients are not the people of Kenya, but themselves and their political expedients," said Gladwell Otieno.
"The two agreed to set up a totally wasteful government, rewarding each other with ministries that we do not need and yet they are the ones who set off the crisis that has left Kenyans suffering."
"This is a very bad start for a Grand Coalition that has yet to be accepted by a majority of Kenyan," Mwalimu Mati, an anti-corruption campaigner with Mars Group Kenya, wrote on his blog.
He estimated the cost of the new cabinet as costing Kenyans 52 billion Kenyan shillings ($840m) a year.
About 60 per cent of Kenya's population lives on less than one dollar a day.
Business groups have long complained Kenya’s public wage bill takes too large a portion of expenditure, eating into money that would otherwise fund development projects. Kibaki and Odinga, the prime minister-designate, agreed to share power after a disputed December election sparked clashes that killed more than 1 200 people, uprooted more than 300,000 and hit some of Kenya's key economic sectors, including tourism and transport.
Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement, which argued for 25 ministries compared to the 44 that Kibaki’s team wanted, is expected to get half the cabinet seats though it was unclear which ones. — Al Jazeera.
Friday, April 04, 2008
By Peter Mavunga
IT HAS been a momentous week. The harmonised presidential, parliamentary and local elections have concentrated the minds of many Zimbabweans wherever they are. But they have also attracted a level of interest from beyond our borders; a level of interest that left me intrigued. In Britain, the interest has been keen. This has manifested itself in acres of newsprint devoted to the subject; journalists (like John Simpson) smuggling themselves into Zimbabwe despite the ban on the BBC; and a debate in the House of Commons in which David Miliband, the British foreign secretary, made a full statement.
Miliband said the level of interest is due to their concern for Zimbabweans whose will, he argued, had to be respected. He called for the results of the elections to be published as soon as possible as further delay was likely to heighten suspicion.
This of course sounds wonderfully balanced and diplomatic although it does not hide the fact that the statement is given from the point of view of a government minister who, like many before him, wants President Mugabe to go.
If anything, the whole media coverage has been about maximising the President’s discomfort to facilitate his "departure". A good example of this pre-occupation was Jeremy Paxman’s question for Cde Boniface Chidyausiku, Zimbabwe’s USA envoy, on Newsnight on Wednesday night.
"Why doesn’t he just go?" Paxman asked. "To go where?" came the rhetorical question in reply. And quite right too!
For all their "good" intentions and ‘‘love’’ for the people of Zimbabwe, the British interest in Zimbabwe’s electoral process ought to be seen in the context of their perceived interests in the country. If we lose sight of this we do so at our own peril.
The purpose of this article is not in any way to argue that President Mugabe should not go if that is what the people of Zimbabwe desire. He himself will not deny this given that he is the man who brought democracy to a troubled people who had been denied the vote since colonial times by the white man.
The point I make here is that the responsibility to remove Cde Mugabe from office or any public servant for that matter, is, after due process, a matter for Zimbabweans. It is certainly no business of the British to inject haste and sense of urgency in the process.
Election results in Iraq after the removal of Sadam Hussein took months to come out without questions being asked of the British and the Americans.
There is a due process, though, that has to be gone through. Zimbabwe has a Constitution that sets out the rules of how the electoral business is conducted in circumstances similar to those that we saw during the course of this momentous week.
Even John Simpson the BBC’s world correspondent conceded back on Wednesday that the Zimbabwe Constitution allowed the presidential election results to be published by today, Friday. Yet the sense of urgency in British political circles and media alike implies wrong doing on the part of the Zimbabwe authorities when, in actual fact, due process, which Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC faction leader said quite sensibly on Tuesday he was going to allow to take its course.
British intervention in matters like this, I am afraid, has tended to be partisan, condescending and unhelpful. It has implied that Africans, those ‘‘benighted heathens’’, cannot manage their affairs, let alone resolve their own differences peacefully.
The coded messages inherent in what they were saying was that very soon Zimbabwe was about to descend into Kenya-type chaos of murder and destruction. Talk of "tensions rising" was designed to whip up feelings of grievance to trigger a violent reaction.
Once Zimbabwe was in smoke; images of dead bodies like we saw in Kenya, would become the subject of western cameras. It is all done in the interest of informing the world what is going on in the African country. Yet, if truth be told, bodies of dead British soldiers coming from Iraq are quite rightly never paraded in public. This would be an affront of public decency.
It is essential, that Africans should consider themselves capable of doing what they have to do for themselves. Sikhanyiso Ndlovu put it nicely when he told an interviewer earlier this week that: "We do not do things in order to please you."
Yet there is an unhealthy desire to report issues of national interest to the British.
The harmonised elections were held in an atmosphere of self-imposed peace and tranquillity. It should be a measure of what a people can do without outside interference despite their differences.
The only blot to this sense of maturity was the constant stream of unofficial "results" that kept coming out as if to undermine the official results from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. True, there was political posturing and manoeuvring, as there was something in it for the MDC Tsvangirai faction.
For instance when the faction’s secretary general, Tendai Biti, repeatedly said on Sunday, the day after the elections, that "there was no room for doubt, in fact no shadow of doubt" that the MDC had won 67 percent of the vote or had won the election, it served two purposes.
First, it was a clever way of creating in the collective mind of the British public that the opposition had finally won the election. The clever bit was that given that the strategy of the opposition party was to portray Zanu-PF as a party that "rigs" and "lies" about the elections, any figures that came out officially afterwards would be dismissed by the British public as such.
But Biti’s repeated claims served another purpose: of making black people look silly. I would have thought that one claims that there is "no room for doubt" about anything when one is in possession of the full facts, not when this is but an opinion. Or one should tell the world the basis on which the claim of total sureness is made.
Another contribution to the silly season was Basildon Peta’s suggestion that Morgan Tsvangirai, whom he believed to have won, should go to State House accompanied by supporters to claim the presidency.
I notice, though, that the MDC faction leader did not choose that option. For a start it serves to undermine the very institutions that allow due process to take place in peace. It also begs the question as to whether Peta would be willing to travel from South Africa to lead the supporters?
And Bishop Desmond Tutu was also suggesting in the "London Paper" that foreign troops must be deployed to "watch Zimbabwe". He is concerned about human rights and that the country might "descend into chaos." I do not know how the cleric came to that view.
What is known is that ours is a professional army that has performed its duties excellently.
There will be no requirement of an outside force to keep it in check.
And so to depart! This has been a momentous week and one in which Zimbabweans ought to reflect coolly what happened and continues to happen. For, as I write on Wednesday night, the end results of the parliamentary and presidential elections remain unknown to me.
But whatever happens, the will of Zimbabweans must prevail not through the coercion of an external force that has an axe to grind, but through the efforts of our own people.
EDITOR — I am shocked that some people actually voted for the power hungry Morgan Tsvangirai. The fact that he got so many votes as to force a runoff in the presidential election is an insult to our collective psyche as Zimbabweans. Voting for Tsvangirai and his MDC is voting to be removed from the lands of our forefathers that we have just been allocated by President Mugabe and the Government.
Voting for Tsvangirai is a clear betrayal of the sacrifice made by all who died to liberate us from colonial bondage since they had to leave their homes and families just to liberate us, many others lost their lives in the process or carry the wounds to this day.
If we let the stooge Tsvangirai return Zimbabwe to the tentacles of the white settlers, our ancestors will turn in their graves and our country will never know peace.
Zimbabwe must never be a colony again.
The land is the reason we took up arms to liberate ourselves, we will be utter fools if we watch Tsvangison return the land to our erstwhile colonisers.
To this end, I urge all Zimbabweans to come out in their millions to defend the revolution by voting for President Mugabe in the runoff.
If you vote for Tsvangirai you will be voting against everything that defines us as a people.
Tsvangirai promised to return land to white farmers on many occasions, let’s be guided accordingly.
As his former allies in the other MDC have told us countless times, Tsvangirai is an accident waiting to happen.
He is ruthless, over ambitious, daft and destructive.
I beg you fellow Zimbabweans let us vote for our only liberator Cde R. G. Mugabe.
Never Ever Mashura.
By Charles Mangwato in Choma and Pride Bwalya in Monze
Friday April 04, 2008 [04:00]
ZAMBIA Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Leonard Hikaumba has said the negotiations process for improved salaries and conditions of services between the government and the unions has been difficult. Addressing civil servants in the Choma council chamber yesterday, Hikaumba regretted that the negotiations have been made difficult by civil servants themselves through the proliferation of unions.
"We have created this problem on our own. There is no way the government can negotiate with seven different unions representing the same workers,” said Hikaumba.
He said the government negotiation team had to deal with seven unions representing civil servants thereby making it difficult to achieve desired results in good times.
Hikaumba said the formation of splinter unions have created a big disservice to the bargaining power of the civil service unions as the employer had become more advantaged.
He said worse still, the unions were not consulting each other on what demands to present to the government, hoping to outwit other unions on the outcome of the bargaining process with government.
"But what is true is that government is very clever, it will award increment that will please all its workers," he said.
He suggested that civil servants should have one union or have one bargaining unit.
Hikaumba said the formation of more unions had weakened the voice of the civil servants and advantaged the employer.
"Even when you call for a strike, there won't be any impact because some unions might not participate. The voice of the civil servants has indeed been weakened," he said.
He urged members of the Civil Servants and Allied Workers Union of Zambia to exercise patience in the wake of the current difficulties being experienced in the negotiation progress.
And Hikaumba in an interview in Monze said negotiations were supposed to be completed before the national budget was prepared, approved and presented before Parliament.
He said the delay in negotiations for salary increment was worrying because the government workers were anxious to see negotiations being concluded in time.
By Jack Zimba
Friday April 04, 2008 [04:00]
THE car loan scheme for doctors was not properly handled, health Permanent Secretary Dr Simon Miti has admitted. Appearing before the parliamentary committee on health, Dr Miti, who was answering a question from Patriotic Front Kantanshi member of parliament Yamfwa Mukanga on Tuesday, said proper guidelines in administering the loans were not being followed.
He told the committee that the scheme was being administered by the Resident Doctors Association under the defunct Central Board of Health. He said the programme could have been handled better.
Mukanga wondered why the scheme was “mismanaged” when it was managed by doctors, who are supposed to exhibit high levels of professionalism in their work. Dr Miti said his ministry was still conducting a verification exercise to help recover money from those who benefited from the car loan scheme. He could not, however, specify the amount of money the government might have lost through the scheme. He said the ministry managed to recover one vehicle from a doctor who had relocated to South Africa.
Dr Miti also disclosed that the Ministry of Health was planning to extend the car loan scheme to nurses and other health personnel. Under the scheme introduced by the government in 2005, about 500 doctors were supposed to benefit.
By Kabanda Chulu
Friday April 04, 2008 [04:00]
FIVE International companies have submitted bids to supply and deliver 125 power transformers to Zesco Limited at a cost of over US $ 4 million. And through selective tender, the Zambia National Tender Board (ZNTB) received a bid from ACTMAT of South Africa to deliver specialist military vehicles and equipment to the Ministry of Defence that would cost over 10 million euros.
Releasing the tender report yesterday, ZNTB public relations officer, Hazel Zulu said five companies submitted bids and have since paid bid security sums (two per cent of the actual price of goods to be delivered.
The five firms that are bidding to supply and deliver one 330/88/11KV and 125 power transformers include, Octo Trading which is bidding US $2.67 million with First Alliance Bank issuing a bid security fee worth US $56,000, on behalf of Octo.
ABB Limited’s bid sum is US $ 3.1 million with Citibank issuing a bid security worth US $62,000 while China Henan’s bid sum is US $3.159 million with the Bank of China providing bid security worth US $63,200.
The rest are Rousant International, whose bid sum is US $3.473 million and Fortis Bank issued a bid security worth K30 million while China National Aero-Technology Corporation submitted bids worth US $2.749 million with the Bank of China providing bid security worth US $55,000.
By Mwala Kalaluka
Friday April 04, 2008 [04:00]
AN officer from the Auditor General’s office yesterday complained to the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that death threats were issued to him when he was auditing Western Province administration books of accounts last year. Western Province auditor Evans Bumba told PAC that the audit responses submitted by provincial permanent secretary Patrick Kashinka to the committee seemed ‘incomplete’ because of the “frosty relationship” that existed during the audit period.
“One of the officers had to issue death threats to me,” Bumba said. “There were a number of difficulties that I encountered just from the onset.”
He said instead of cooperating, the officers wanted to give directives on how the auditing process should have been conducted and that it reached a stage where he had to report the matter to his superiors in Lusaka.
The committee learnt that the director of audit for provinces, Matthew Hara, had to travel to Mongu to quell the dispute between the audit team and the provincial administration.
Hara told PAC that it was clear that even his intervention in the issue, which he said was characterised by “unpalatable language”, did not help the situation.
But PAC chairman Charles Milupi said the issue was worrisome and a signal that there were things that auditees were trying to hide from the auditors.
“If we are being told that there was lack of cooperation, are you telling us that this report is invalid? And why is this the only province where there has been no cooperation?” Milupi asked Kashinka.
Kashinka said the issue had been harmonised by the Auditor General’s office.
He said the complaints of death threats were found to be unfounded and that he would have dealt with the culpable officers had Bumba reported the issue to him.
However, PAC temporarily sent Kashinka out of the room to deliberate whether they should accept the delegation’s inadequate report or call for a re-audit through the committe later decided to take it as it was presented.
And PAC also quizzed an action where the department of resettlement in Mongu misdirected about K87 million out of the K336 million that was allocated towards the provision of water supply in three land resettlements in the province to the procurement of a vehicle.
By Kabanda Chulu
Friday April 04, 2008 [04:00]
LONDON Metal Exchange (LME) analyst David Thurtell has projected that copper prices will remain high despite concerns about global economic growth. And First Quantum Minerals, the holding company of Kansanshi and Bwana Mkubwa mines, has predicted a 37 per cent growth in copper output for 2008.
According to the Mining Daily, Thurtell stated that copper prices during the first quarter of 2008 on the London Metal Exchange, which is often seen as a key gauge of real economic activity, was quoted between US $8,806 and US $8,660 per metric tonne as compared to the closing price of the previous quarter that stood at US $8,430 per metric tonne.
“As long as the credit market turmoil persists, commodities could expect to benefit from fund buying and it is expected that tight supply from the mines may support prices but the burning question is how well or badly the mining industry will perform this year especially that fresh specific disruptions have already occurred and there will almost inevitably be more,” stated Thurtell. “But as at now, London copper future prices are heading for their strongest quarterly gain in almost two years, with prices expected to remain high despite concerns about global economic growth.”
And First Quantum minerals chairman Philip Pascall stated that the 37 per cent projection increase was based on the commissioning of First Quantum's newest operation, the Frontier Mine, in Zambia.
"This project, which had a measured and indicated resource of 182 million tonnes of copper at a grade of 1.16 per cent began commercial production during the fourth quarter of 2007 and it is estimated that 84,000 tonnes of copper will be produced this year," Pascall stated.
First Quantum Minerals has six operational mines, including the Kansanshi open pit copper and gold mine, the Nkana underground copper mine and cobalt refinery, the Mufulira underground copper mine, smelter and copper refinery in Zambia, the Lonshi open pit copper mine in the DR Congo and the Guelb Moghrein copper gold mine in Mauritania.
By Patson Chilemba and Lambwe Kachali
Friday April 04, 2008 [04:00]
The Post does not need Shakafuswa's transgressions to survive, Press Freedom Committee of The Post chairperson Chansa Kabwela has said. Reacting to finance deputy minister Jonas Shakafuswa's statement yesterday in which he accused The Post of twisting what he said at the Speaker’s Bar in order to increase newspaper sales to pay its employees who he alleged have not been paid for the last three months, Kabwela advised Shakafuswa to deal with his problems in an honest manner and not by smearing filth on others.
"Let him argue his issues with truth. The Post doesn't need his transgressions to survive financially; it actually abhors them. Mr. Shakafuswa has adequate avenues through which he could seek redress," she said.
Kabwela challenged Shakafuswa to present one employee of The Post who had not been paid for the last three months.
Briefing the press on Wednesday, Shakafuswa accused The Post of twisting what he said at Parliament when he threatened to beat up Chikankata UPND member of parliament Munji Habeenzu over prostitution at National Assembly Motel.
Shakafuswa bragged that he had been a good newsmaker over the past 12 days and that he was happy that the employees of The Post, who had not been paid for the last three months had finally received their money due to increased sales.
By Kingsley Kaswende in Harare
Friday April 04, 2008 [04:00]
ZANU-PF has rejected claims by MDC of a straight win that will not require the two parties to go for a run-off. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, whose party has won most parliamentary seats to end ZANU-PF's majority in Parliament for the first time in 28 years, claimed on Tuesday that he had registered a straight win that will not require a run-off.
But President Robert Mugabe's spokesperson, George Charamba, on Wednesday accused the opposition of attempting to mislead the public by inflating the digits that are not even in the possession of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
Charamba dismissed MDC’s projections as mere speculation.
"They are anxious for a result that is not theirs," he said.
President Mugabe himself has not been seen in public since Saturday's election.
Former information deputy minister Bright Matonga said MDC were rushing to announce results even when they were not an official body to do so.
"If the MDC thinks they have won, why don't they wait? Let it come from official sources," he said in an interview.
Official figures of parliamentary election results released by ZEC indicated that Tsvangirai's MDC had taken 99 seats, ZANU-PF with 97, Prof Arthur Mutambara's MDC with 10, and one independent in a 210-strong Parliament.
Tsvangirai's MDC faction said its leader had won 50.3 per cent of the presidential vote and Mugabe 43.8 per cent according to its own tallies of results posted outside polling stations.
According to the recent amendments to the Zimbabwean constitution, the President will have powers to nominate 10 members of parliament to the House of Assembly and six senators to the Senate.
MDC secretary general, Tendai Biti said this absolute majority was enough for outright victory but Tsvangirai would accept a second round run-off against Mugabe "under protest".
The state appears to have been preparing the population for a runoff by revealing its own projections showing a second round would be required in the statutory three weeks after last Saturday's vote.
According to state projections obtained by The Post, and pasted in the state media, neither candidate has an absolute win, which puts off a run-off and that even when the results of three by-elections caused by death of candidates are known, neither will have the 106 seats needed for an absolute majority.
ZANU-PF claims that it is ahead of Tsvangirai in terms of the popular vote although Tsvangirai has a lead in seat numbers.
The ruling party claims it won 45.94 per cent of the votes in the contested seats, with Tsvangirai's recording 42.88 per cent, Mutambara's MDC 8.39 per cent and the minor parties and independent candidates 2.79 per cent.
ZANU-PF claims an absolute majority of the vote in five provinces namely Mashonaland, Midlands and Masvingo and that Tsvangirai's MDC won the absolute majority of the vote only in Harare and Manicaland.
ZANU-PF projects that if the voting patterns follow the votes for the members of parliament fairly closely - with Zanu-PF supporters voting for President Mugabe, MDC-Tsvangirai voters opting for Tsvangirai and the other MDC voting for Dr Simba Makoni - it is difficult to see how any candidate can reach the total of 50 per cent plus one required to avoid a run-off.
"Even if almost all those who voted for independent candidates and the minor parties gave their presidential vote to Tsvangirai, he would still fall far short of the total unless a large number of ZANU-PF and MDC-Mutambara voters switched to him in the presidential poll," the ZANU-PF analysis states.
By Mutale Kapekele in Livingstone
Friday April 04, 2008 [04:00]
SOUTHERN Province minister Daniel Munko-mbwe has called on the Tonga Traditional Association (TTA) to change the ‘isolationist attitudes’ of Tongas in the province. And National Constitution Conference (NCC) vice chairperson Leonard Hikaumba has said the biggest challenge the conference faces was reaching consensus on issues.
Speaking when Hikaumba and TTA president Dickson Namwanza paid a courtesy call on him yesterday, Munkombwe said there was need to change the nature of Tongas in the province.
“Help us to unlock the isolative nature of our people in the province,” Munkombwe said. “Isolation is retrogressive to development. I am glad that I have been given total commitment by all the members of parliament in the province.”
Munkombwe said he would work with anyone who recognised the government in the province.
“I am the government here and anyone who wants development should come through me just like you have to go through Jesus to get to God,” he said. “I am not comparing myself to Jesus; I just want to illustrate a point. For instance here in Livingstone I will use Sakwiba Sikota for developmental programs, he will have to cooperate with me because I am the government.”
Munkombwe also said leaders who wanted recognition must show love and commitment and described Hikaumba as one such leader.
“You (Hikaumba) fight with charm and love. You don’t grab people by the neck when bargaining and that has made you a great young man,” he said. “Some trade union leaders have become extremists and can’t get anything for their members. If one is not lovable as a leader then they are part of chaff.”
And Hikaumba said the diverse nature of the NCC composition would make it difficult for delegates to reach consensus on various issues.
“We have 492 members at the moment and all of these have unique backgrounds and the biggest challenge we will face is reaching consensus at every point of the conference,” he said.
Hikaumba also said opposers of the NCC were misleading the nation when they said that some sections of the Constitution would not be reviewed.
“There has been talk that the bill of rights will not be changed, some people even stayed away from the NCC for that reason but I can assure you that no part of the constitution will be over looked,” he said.
Hikaumba is on a tour of the Southern Province to sensitise people on the NCC and its progress so far. The NCC resumes sittings on the 22nd of this month.
Friday April 04, 2008 [04:00]
There is still a lot that needs to be done in protecting and promoting human rights in Zambia. There may appear to be some advances made in the protection and promotion of human rights in Zambia. But when one looks at things critically, it will not be difficult to discern that whatever advances have been made, they are in respect of the rights of influential, well-to-do groups or classes. The human rights of the great majority of our people, especially the poor, still face considerable challenges and obstacles in their protection and promotion.
The poor, especially the rural poor, still have very limited access to education, health and other services that are needed in an organised community.
And when we talk about human rights, we are talking about the things that, in our opinion, constitute true humanitarianism, the policy of promoting the dignity of human beings and their well-being. We are talking about things that make citizens feel they count; they are part of society; they feel they have a national dignity and a homeland.
We believe that a nation’s human rights record should not necessarily or exclusively be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, its most privileged citizens, its most powerful citizens. It should however be judged by how it treats its weakest citizens, its lowest citizens, its least privileged citizens.
It is sometimes said that no one truly knows a nation until he or she has been inside its prisons. A nation’s record of human rights should also be judged by how it treats its prisoners – who happen to be at the lowest level of its weakest citizens.
And here in Zambia, we are treating our imprisoned sisters and brothers like animals. Let us work to increase the humanity of our fellow citizens who we have locked away in our prisons. Let us make sure that despite their incarceration, they should not be made to feel they are sub-human.
Let us show solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are in prisons. Let us not forget the fact that even if they have committed serious crimes against us, they are human beings whose human rights should still be protected and promoted; they are human beings deserving care, attention and love from all of us. Our laws were made for human beings, and our prisons were built for the imprisonment of human beings.
They were not meant for animals. We have no prisons in this country for animals, although sometimes we cage dangerous ones – we don’t imprison animals. We only imprison human beings but the imprisonment of human beings should never be allowed to reduce them to the status of animals.
A human being will always be a human being, regardless of the crimes they commit. Even those human beings who sometimes behave like animals, are still human and their rights should be respected.
It cannot be denied that our prison conditions are harsh – and as the Human Rights Commission has correctly observed - life threatening due to severe overcrowding, meager food supplies, inadequate sanitary conditions and so on and so forth. Outbreaks of tuberculosis and dysentery are common in our prisons.
Some of our prisons contain three or more times as many inmates as they had been designed to hold. Imprisonment and other measures which result in cutting of an offender from the outside world are afflictive by the very fact of taking from the person the right of self-determination, by depriving him of his liberty.
Therefore, our prison system should not aggravate the suffering and degradation of a human being in such situations. The purpose and justification for a sentence of imprisonment is ultimately to protect society against crime.
This end can only be achieved if the period of imprisonment is used to ensure that, so far as possible, upon his or her return to society, the offender is only willing to lead a law-abiding and self-supporting life. This is not possible if all that we do in our prisons is to break the prisoners, make them lose faith in humanity, including their own humanity.
We should therefore utilise all the remedial, educational, moral, spiritual and other forces and forms of assistance which are appropriate and available to help our prisons maintain and improve the human rights of our prisoners. We should seek to minimise any differences between prison life and life at liberty which tend to lessen the responsibility of the prisoners or the respect due to their dignity as human beings.
The medical services we provide to our prisoners should seek to detect and treat any physical or mental illnesses or any defects which may hamper a prisoner’s rehabilitation. All necessary medical, surgical and psychiatric services should be provided to that end. For these people, society has to provide because their incarceration means that they are not in a position to do anything for themselves.
The treatment of persons sentenced to imprisonment should have as its purpose, so far as the length of the sentence permits, to establish in them the will to lead law-abiding and self-supporting lives after their release and to fit them to do so. This treatment should be such as we encourage their self-respect and develop their sense of responsibility. We will also need to improve the way we treat prisoners awaiting trial – remand prisoners.
Persons arrested or imprisoned by reason of a criminal charge against them, who are detained either in police custody or in prison but have not yet been tried and sentenced, should be presumed to be innocent and treated as such. But our prisons hardly differentiate between a tried and convicted prisoner and a remand prisoner. They are both subjected to more or less the same treatment.
This is not just unfair, it is also unjust and inhuman. It is unfair, unjust, inhuman to imprison in that way a person who is presumed by law to be innocent until proven guilty. They should be allowed to benefit from their condition of being remand prisoners and as far as possible, be kept separate from convicted prisoners.
Therefore, as we analyse the 2007 state of human rights report in Zambia, let us do so in conformity to our belief in the unity of humankind. we should not pay exaggerated attention to the accidental differences within the human family and treat those who violate standards as animals deserving no respect and compassion – no human rights.
Let us work to extend solidarity to all our weak brothers and sisters – prisoners, the poor and the weak of our society. We say this because solidarity is a basic fact of human existence. No person is an island; cut off from others and self-sufficient. To deny any person their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.
By Masuzyo Chakwe
Friday April 04, 2008 [04:00]
HUMAN rights abuses are still rampant in Zambia, the 2007 state of human rights report in the country has revealed. And United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative Aeneas Chuma said there were still considerable challenges and obstacles in protecting and promoting human rights in Zambia.
The report, which was released yesterday by the Human Rights Commission (HRC), stated that despite the Fifth National Development Plan acting as a human rights and governance contract between the people and the government, there was need to scale up measures to advance people's human rights.
It stated that there was need to improve access to education, improve quality of and access to health and safe water, thereby adequately protecting the right to life.
The report also stated that there was need to adequately protect individuals or groups of individuals against arbitrary and unlawful deprivation of life; the protection from torture and other cruel or inhumane treatment and protection from arbitrary arrest and detention.
It stated that there was need to also broaden the Bill of Rights in the Constitution to include socio-economic and cultural rights.
The report further stated that there was need to enhance the status of women's rights and adequately protect children.
According to the report, the right to education still posed a challenge in Zambia as equitable access to quality education was still a dream for most of the young population. It stated that human resource for health service provision was also scarce thereby undermining the right to health and the related right to life.
The report stated that currently in Zambia, there was one medical doctor for 17,589 persons; one nurse for 1,864 persons and one mid-wife for 4,999 persons.
The report further stated that although the right to life necessitates the government to protect its population from arbitrary deprivation of life and threats to human life, the death penalty was still applicable in Zambia especially when a person was found guilty of a most serious crime like murder.
"Currently, there are 211 persons on death row in Zambia. However, the application of the death penalty has been suspended since the current government came into office in 2001. Hence, between 2006 and 2007, there have been 97 commutations of the death sentence," it stated.
According to the report, in 2007, there were incidents of arbitrary killings by state agents in particular, the police.
The report stated that currently, there were 1,826 terminally ill prisoners countrywide and 42 prisoners had died since January as a result of various illnesses most of which were HIV/AIDS related.
It stated that there were also delays in suspects appearing before the courts of laws.
The report also stated that a constitution based on broad participation and national consensus might not be fully realised as major church organisations and some civil society organisations decided to boycott the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) citing inadequate consultation and representation as their major concern.
And during the launch, Chuma said the UN promoted rights-based development to which all actors should subscribe.
"For if development does not enlarge possibilities for the realisation of human rights then what is it for?" he asked.
Chuma said human rights underpinning Zambia's democracy become increasingly entrenched with the passage of time.
And acting HRC chairperson Palan Mulomba said it was pleasing that since independence, the state had provided for domestication of international human rights standards in the FNDP running from 2006 to 2010.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Posted: Thursday, April 3, 2008
THE contest for the House of Assembly went into a photo-finish with MDC-Tsvangirai ending with 99 seats, Zanu-PF with 97, MDC with 10 and one independent.
Neither major party has an absolute majority and even when the results of three by-elections caused by death of candidates are known, neither will have the 106 seats needed for an absolute majority
Besides the 206 seats contested on Saturday, Muzarabani South was won unopposed by Zanu-PF and three by-elections are pending following the death of MDC candidates. While the MDC-Tsvangirai is likely to win at least two of these, since one is Redcliff and the other is in Bulawayo, it cannot gain the 106 seats needed to hold a majority in the House of Assembly.
While the MDC-Tsvangirai had a small lead in seat numbers, Zanu-PF was ahead in the popular vote.
In the polls for the 206 contested seats, Zanu-PF had won 45,94 percent of the votes, MDC-Tsvangirai 42,88 percent, the MDC 8,39 percent and the minor parties and independent candidates 2,79 percent.
Zanu-PF won an absolute majority of the vote in five provinces: the three Mashonalands, Midlands and Masvingo; and last night came first in Matabeleland South with just under 43 percent of the vote, although that lead was not translated into seats.
MDC-Tsvangirai won the absolute majority of the vote in just two provinces: Harare and Manicaland. No party took an absolute majority of Bulawayo, although MDC-Tsvangirai won all the contested seats with just 47 percent of the vote in a vicious three-way contest, coming first in that province and coming first in Matabeleland North with just under 37 percent of the vote.
In the two rural Matabeleland provinces, three-way fights produced some curious results. In the 12 contested constituencies of Matabeleland South, Zanu-PF came an easy first in the total vote, but won just three seats. MDC came second in the vote, but translated that into seven seats, and MDC-Tsvangirai was third, and with just two seats.
Masvingo, like Matabeleland South, produced an anomalous distribution of seats when compared to the provincial vote. Zanu-PF was an easy winner of the popular vote, taking 52,01 percent of the votes, but only 12 of the 26 seats. The other 14 seats went to MDC- Tsvangirai, although the party only managed 41,61 percent of the popular vote. Many Masvingo seats were won with minute majorities.
Zanu-PF has lost its majority in the House of Assembly for the first time since independence, despite its lead in the popular vote. It tended to win with larger majorities where it was stronger than the opposition parties were winning in their strongholds.
Since the 2000 and 2005 elections, Zanu-PF has lost significant support in Manicaland and some support in Masvingo, although a drop of less than 10 percent in its share of the vote in that province saw the huge cut in seats.
The party held its support in rural Mashonaland and rural Midlands while MDC-Tsvangirai has maintained its support base in the cities and towns, and changed the face of the next Parliament with its large gains in Manicaland and modest advances in Masvingo.
Rural Matabeleland has always tended to concentrate most of the marginal constituencies in Zimbabwe, and the strong three-way fight in that area accentuated that trend. Many seats in the region were won with well under 50 percent of the valid vote.
The ZEC, with the national agents of the candidates monitoring its work, is still compiling the totals for the presidential vote.
But if the voting patterns follow the votes for the MPs fairly closely – with Zanu-PF supporters voting for President Mugabe, MDC-Tsvangirai voters opting for Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC voters voting for Dr Simba Makoni – it is difficult to see how any candidate can reach the total of 50 percent plus one required to avoid a run-off.
Even if almost all those who voted for independent candidates and the minor parties gave their presidential vote to Mr Tsvangirai, he would still fall far short of the total unless a large number of Zanu-PF and MDC voters switched to him in the presidential poll.
A look at the turnout in the four constituencies that did not vote for MPs suggests that even with the bulk of these votes, neither of the two main candidates can avoid a run-off.
Without significant cross-voting, a run-off appears the most likely outcome.
Thursday April 03, 2008 [04:00]
A country beginning to develop itself must, in the first period, work, above all at organisation, and one should approach the practical problems by using one’s head. This may seem to be an abstract and vague opinion but it’s something very important. While the increase in donor aid can be said to be a positive aspect because it can bring much more rapid development than even a few years ago, we shouldn’t forget that aid is provided under certain conditions. And on this point we must be very vigilant.
Donor aid, as the All Africa Party Parliamentary Group visiting our country has correctly observed, has weakened a lot of things in our country, including our parliamentary system. As they observed, Zambia is unable to effectively implement its own budgets due to influence from donor countries and agencies such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Department for International Development.
And truly, foreign aid has weakened our democracy by making our government less accountable to us and our representatives in Parliament.
This is because donors have tended to work over and around our members of parliament rather than with them. In this way, it has been almost impossible for our members of parliament to provide a safeguard for ensuring that aid is used in an efficient, effective and orderly manner to relieve poverty and promote economic development.
As we observed over the privatisation of Zambia National Commercial Bank, all our people – the entire civil society – and the great majority of our members of parliament were opposed to the privatisation of Zambia National Commercial Bank. Parliament had even resolved that this bank shouldn’t be privatised.
But the government went ahead and privatised it because it was under extreme pressure to do so from the donors who had tied substantial aid or financing to the privatisation of this bank. So, effectively, our government is more accountable to the donors than to us and our representatives in Parliament.
Aid has tended to focus on meeting what the donors want and not what the people of this country want; aid focuses on meeting donor objectives and not necessarily poverty reduction. And this has led to aid being poorly targeted and ineffective.
The ways in which donors behave in this country overemphasise our government’s accountability to donors without them being accountable to us or our government. Donors are not held accountable by our government, our members of parliament or indeed ourselves. But they take a driving seat in everything that is happening in our country.
This in turn is working to undermine accountability in our country. It is continually weakening our government’s ability to decide its own policies and in turn our people’s ability to hold their government to account is also continually reducing.
Our government’s view continues to refocus on donors rather than the citizens of this country and their representatives in Parliament. And because of this, aid has been increasing expectations without delivering results.
It is time we are allowed to spend the funding given to us by donors on our priorities – priorities truly decided by us and not by them.
The quality of aid must improve if poverty reduction objectives are to be met.
There’s need to change donor practices if we are to increase aid effectiveness. And donors should realise that their aid will only be successful if it is truly owned by us.
In today’s scheme of things, we are highly accountable to donors, but donors are rarely accountable to us. Making donors more accountable to us will go a long way in helping to improve their aid practices, and more leadership by us in this aid relationship itself could promote our ownership better.
There is need to address the power imbalance between donors and us if we are to harbour any hope of promoting real partnerships between us and them. We cannot deny that donors have legitimate claims in what is done with their aid. But we also have a legitimate claim on what we should do with the aid given to us.
Therefore, what we need to have is shared development goals, in which each has legitimate claims the other is responsible for fulfilling and where each may be required to explain how they have discharged their responsibilities, and be sanctioned if they fail to deliver.
There is a clear asymmetry of power in our aid relationships. Donors determine the quantity and quality of their development assistance, monitoring closely the performance of our government. Our government, for its part, has little influence over donor policies, and few mechanisms for monitoring donor performance. Donor agencies are accountable to their home countries and constituencies, but the consequences of their actions are felt by our government and our people.
There is currently no direct feedback loop that allows us to influence policy-making in donor countries. There is no doubt this aid is not working well and is distorting our accountability framework. Mutual accountability and reciprocal commitments imply shared responsibility for the outcomes and impact of development interventions.
Attempts to promote mutual accountability will need to generate a greater voice for us and our government, power and capacity to challenge donors, to enhance enforceability.
At the moment, donors only face weak incentives to improve the quality of aid, based on reputation and peer pressure – being seen as a bad donor – but little or no regulation or competition – bad donors are not penalised.
Clearly, donors need to radically reduce the number and scope of conditions they attach to our budget support. And they should cease tying their budget support to IMF targets or conditionalities. They also need to drastically improve their transparency.
Donors have come to assist us and they shouldn’t be entrusted with the responsibility of making all the key decisions about how we conduct or manage the affairs of our country. They should be here to assist us, not to run our very lives.
This is not aid, it is something else. We don’t want to call it imperialism, it can be called anything else. There is no way we can develop under such conditions or arrangements. We need better relationships that address the power imbalance between us and our government on the one part and the donors on the other. This is necessary for us to promote real partnership with the donors.
By Florence Bupe
Thursday April 03, 2008 [04:00]
DONOR aid has weakened Zambia's parliamentary system, a delegation of members of parliament has observed. And the delegation has advised Western donors to spend more money on strengthening African parliaments to ensure that they hold governments accountable in the use of aid.
According to a report released by Africa All Party Parliamentary Group, the cross-party Western delegation, which toured four African countries, cited Zambia as one of the countries that were unable to effectively implement its own budgets due to influence from donor countries and agencies such as the World Bank and the Department for International Development (DFID).
Other countries cited in the report were Tanzania and Malawi. The delegation observed that foreign aid may have weakened Africa's democracies by making governments less accountable to their elected national legislatures.
"Only two of Africa's 53 states have enjoyed uninterrupted democracy: Botswana and Mauritius," the delegation noted.
The parliamentarians charged that historically, donors have tended to work over and around parliaments rather than with them.
"Aid strengthens recipient governments, but risks making them more accountable to donors and less accountable to their own people," they said. "African parliaments have the potential to provide a safeguard to ensure that foreign aid is used to relieve poverty and promote economic development."
The group further highlighted the increasing importance of Chinese aid in Africa and warned that China was unlikely to become a major actor in strengthening parliaments.
Africa All Party Parliamentary group was formed in 2003 and it was set up to focus on issues that affect Africa as a continent and in particular issues relating to New Economic Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) as a policy priority in parliament.
By Maluba Jere
Thursday April 03, 2008 [04:00]
HOME affairs minister Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha has said the Zambian security personnel have been put on alert as Zimbabwe waits for the outcome of last Saturday's polls. In an interview yesterday, Lt Gen Shikapwasha said, "As you are aware, we've been handling influxes and so we are aware of the situation and have our officers on alert if an influx occurs."
Zimbabwe went to the polls last Saturday and the official results for the presidential race had not been announced by press time yesterday.
And Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) secretary general, Erastus Mwencha, has said restrictions on the movement of persons are discouraging intra-Comesa trade as they were adding to the cost of doing business.
During the sixth meeting of Comesa chief immigration officers in Lusaka yesterday, Mwencha said it was difficult to establish the large economic space, which the member countries were striving to attain when people were not able to move freely.
"I am informed for instance that business persons entering Singapore are able to enter that country within a few minutes of arrival with minimal disruption," he said. "It is believed that it is this kind of facilitation that has enabled Singapore to become a choice of first location for most international businesses."
He however expressed confidence that implementing legal instruments relating to the free movement of persons would bring about the desired goals.
Mwencha said facilitation of movement of persons was key to the enhancement of integration especially if focus was on aspects such as trade, investment and tourism.
And Lt Gen Shikapwasha called for the harmonisation of the Comesa protocol with that of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and ultimately, the African Union (AU) objectives.
"At a bilateral level, Zambia has concluded bilateral agreements affecting immigration with all her neighbours," he said. "However, we do recognise that similar arrangements could be negotiated with other Comesa member states that are not neighbours to Zambia in addition to the protocol on free movement of persons covering gaps that exist."
Lt Gen Shikapwasha said these arrangements should cover issues such as putting in place reciprocal visa arrangements as well as cooperation in border management to confront ills like international crime, terrorism, drug trafficking and smuggling.