Friday, March 15, 2013
by Staff Reporter
THE United States on Wednesday condemned a reported petrol bomb attack on the home of an aspiring Zanu PF councillor a day earlier.
William Chapepa was hospitalised with serious burns following the raid on his home in Makoni West, Manicaland Province – it is thought by a single suspect – shortly after 2AM on Tuesday. Police said Chapepa – vying for a council seat in Ward 11 – woke up after a ball of fire landed feet from his bedroom.
On opening the door, he noticed a 5-litre plastic container on fire, picked it up and threw it away. But investigators say a mystery man picked it up and hurled it back at Chapepa, and his clothes caught fire from the petrol spray. He was hospitalised at Rusape Hospital where he remained on Wednesday.
In a statement, the US embassy said it was “deeply concerned about the alleged petrol bombing” which came barely two weeks after the house fire death of a 12-year-old boy in Headlands – originally blamed on Zanu PF militants – but later revealed by police to have been the result of an explosion of tobacco chemicals.
The US embassy said: “As in the case of the death of Christpower Maisiri, the son of an MDC-T Headlands district deputy organising secretary in February, this terrible occurrence is an opportunity for the Zimbabwe Republic Police to conduct a thorough investigation, and, if it is determined to be arson, to hold all responsible for this atrocity to account.
“Swift professional law enforcement work to bring the perpetrators to justice is vital to reassuring Zimbabweans that their political leaders sincerely want, and will insist on, peace and peaceful elections in 2013.”
Zimbabweans vote in a referendum on a new constitution on Saturday. Political leaders are anxious to see the vote pass peacefully, which could augur well for general elections set to be held in July.
Police chief Augustine Chihuri has named Senior Assistant Commissioner Lee Muchemwa as the 2013 elections commander, aiming to avoid a repeat of the June 2008 presidential election run-off which was marred by violence and accusation that the police stood akimbo as militant foot soldiers of President Robert Mugabe’s targeted his rivals.
Muchemwa said Tuesday he had a mandate from Mugabe, who has been speaking out against political violence, to “deal with malcontents and hooligans”.
The US embassy statement added: “As Zimbabwe brings its Global Political Agreement to an end, non-partisan, efficient, and professional law enforcement is critical to gaining the confidence of the Zimbabwean people, neighbouring countries, and the international community.
“Respect for the rule of law and apolitical policing are also essential for creating the conditions for credible and non-violent Zimbabwean elections later this year.”
Violence outbreak ... MDC-T's Sten Zvorwadza (right) is attacked in Mbare on Friday
by Staff Reporter
A BBC news crew covering the last day of campaigning for Saturday’s constitutional referendum was caught in the fray when unidentified youths attacked an aspiring MDC-T Parliamentary candidate for Mbare as he put up posters in the area.
According to the BBC, Sten Zvorwadza, who hopes to become the next MDC-T MP for Mbare, was punched as he tried to put up posters urging voters to back the new constitution. He escaped uninjured and said the youths were almost certainly Zanu PF supporters.
The BBC's Andrew Harding witnessed the incident and said the youths also threw punches at him and his film crew. He however said no-one was seriously injured.
In a statement Friday the MDC-T said: “Nine (party) members were (Friday) afternoon assaulted by unruly Zanu PF supporters at Nenyere Flats in Mbare, Harare. The nine were assaulted while putting up MDC posters encouraging people to vote yes in the referendum.
“A BBC news crew that was in Mbare filming preparations for the referendum was also assaulted and their filming equipment damaged. The MDC members are seeking medical attention.
“However, when they made a report at Matapi Police Station, the police officers at the station refused to accept their complaints saying they should first go and remove the MDC t-shirts they were wearing.”
Zimbabweans will Saturday vote on a new constitution which is expected to pave way for elections to replace the coalition government later in the year.
The MDC's Tendai Biti, who currently serves as finance minister, told the BBC the document was the "midwife" to a brand new Zimbabwe as it sets out people's rights, devolves some power and sets up a system of check and balances for those in authority.
The Zanu PF campaign has highlighted the irreversibility of the land reform programme, which saw some 4,500 farms seized from mainly white commercial farmers, and other moves intended to give more economic power to black Zimbabweans.
By Roy Habaalu
Thu 14 Mar. 2013, 17:30 CAT
PRESIDENT Michael Sata says some diplomats accredited to Zambia are interfering in internal affairs. And President Sata said the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 7.3 per cent compared with 6.8 per cent in 2011. President Sata said a diplomat went to one of the provinces and started asking locals about Zambia's governance system.
"What I would not accept is for some of you, especially male ambassadors and high commissioners, touring the provinces and asking the province about good governance. Please don't go in the provinces and ask the opposition about governance. If you want to know anything about governance, come to my office.
Go to all the ministries, including foreign affairs. They will let you know because you know under your terms of reference, you are very free, you have access to all of us but not like what one of your brothers did last week…went to one of my provinces and asking all political parties saying; 'can you tell us about good governance'," said President Sata when he received credentials from 14 ambassadors and high commissioners accredited to Zambia.
President Sata said his office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were open to any diplomat that wanted to raise concerns with Zambia's governance record. President Sata said where there was unemployment and no investment, there would be no good governance.
"Wherever there is dead economy, where the economy is slow, you don't expect good governance. And when you are asking for youth employment created by the government, the taxpayer is the one who is going to raise the money and taxes are going to create employment for youths," he said.
President Sata appealed to African diplomats in particular to invest in Zambia.
He said diplomats should not only be wearing nice neckties and attending cocktails during national days but bring that which was lacking in the country and attract Zambians to their home countries.
"Don't only rely on investing in the mines. There are so many other areas. Zambia has more natural resources than your countries. Your countries have more rich people who are unemployed and we are looking for those rich people to employ them in Zambia. The only people that are going to bring employment are you. Bring Canadian investors; Canadians have never invested in Zambia. We have never seen a Canadian. At least we have seen people from Cyprus and Bangladesh. You are no longer interested in Zambia but please go back and tell your people, we have more resources, we have more land, we have more space than in your country," he said.
Diplomats that presented their credentials were from Cuba - Caridad Perez Gonzalez, Republic of Ireland - Finbar O'brien, Prof Ruthle Rono of Kenya, Kgoshi Piet Mathebe of South Africa, Jo Yong Man from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Bela Laszlo of the Republic of Hungary, Touhid Hossain from Bangladesh and Richard Stuart Mann from New Zealand.
Others were Dan Shaham-Ben Hayun from Israel, Koang Tutlam Dung from Ethiopia, Christos Salamanis from Greece, Koenraad Adam from Belgium, Agis Loizou from Cyprus and Alexandre Leveque from Canada.
Meanwhile President Sata said there had been an improvement in real GDP per capita, which rose to an estimated US$1,500.0 in 2012 from US$1,463.0 the previous year.
According to a statement issued by his special assistant for press and public relations George Chellah, President Sata said at the end of December 2012, foreign reserves rose to US$3.215 billion compared to US$2.322 billion as at end-December 2011, while foreign investment pledged for 2012 was US$10.089 billion."
The President said though macro-economic stability and appreciable economic growth had been achieved over the recent past, the main task that still remained was that of meeting the basic needs of Zambians as poverty levels and unemployment remained a challenge.
"We can confirm that since the PF government assumed office, approximately 195,744 jobs have been created as follows: central government 9,716; local government 5,257; private sector 24,098; plus another 5,510 jobs were actualised through the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) 2011/2012 pledged investment as well as 5,858 new jobs have been approved for recruitment in the newly created districts. Furthermore jobs created by the parastatals totaled 29,305 while the jobs created in arts were 116,000," he said.
The President said the growth in GDP reflects the government's pro-growth policies and maintenance of macroeconomic stability.
He futher said that the government would continue to lower costs in the economy, especially as these costs contributed towards limiting employment growth as well as raising costs for poor households.
Labels: MICHAEL SATA
By Kabanda Chulu
Thu 14 Mar. 2013, 16:30 CAT
FIRST Quantum Minerals says its Zambian subsidiaries have complied with the government's new tax regime without prejudice to the company's rights under the Development Agreement.
And construction of a 1.2 million tonne smelter has reached an advanced stage at Kansanshi Mines, a project that will result in the mining company becoming self sufficient in treating copper concentrates.
Meanwhile, the board of FQM that owns Kansanshi Mines has approved the second phase of the 400,000 tonne annual production capacity expansion project of the sulphide treatment plant facilities.
FQM stated in its financial and operational report for the three months and year ending December 2012, that the 2011 adjustment to mineral royalty from three per cent to six per cent was in breach of the Development Agreement it signed with the government at the time of investment in the country's mining sector.
"Government announced in 2008 a number of proposed changes to the tax regime in the country in relation to mining companies. FQM, through some of its Zambian subsidiaries, is party to Development Agreements with the government for its existing operations which provide an express right to full and fair compensation for any loss, damages or costs (including interest) incurred by FQM by reason of the government's failure to comply with the tax stability guarantees set out in the Development Agreements and rights of international arbitration in the event of any dispute," it stated.
"Following the change of government in 2011, the first Budget of the new government introduced a further increase in the copper mineral royalty tax from three to six per cent, effective April 2012, in breach of the Development Agreements. In the 2013 Budget, delivered in October 2012, the government has decreased the rate of Capital Allowances from 100 per cent per annum to 25 per cent per annum. This will impact the timing of the tax benefit from FQM's significant capital programs at Kansanshi and Sentinel. Until resolved differently with the government, FQM is recognizing and paying taxes in excess of the Development Agreement, resulting in an effective tax rate of approximately 43 per cent at Kansanshi."
According to highlights of the report, Kansanshi's concentrate was currently treated at smelters in Zambia.
"However, existing domestic smelting capacity will be insufficient to process the substantial increase in production resulting from the Kansanshi expansion and the Sentinel project hence the construction of a new copper smelter designed to process 1.2 million tonnes of concentrate to produce over 300,000 tonnes of copper metal annually," it stated.
"The smelter is also expected to produce one million tonnes of sulphuric acid as a by-product at a low cost which will benefit Kansanshi by allowing the treatment of high acid-consuming oxide ores and the leaching of some mixed ores. The additional acid is also expected to optimise the expansion of the oxide leach facilities and allow improved recoveries of leachable minerals in material now classified and treated as mixed ore."
It stated that detailed design works on the smelter were well progressed and all of the major equipment packages have been ordered.
"On site, earthworks construction is approximately 85 per cent complete and concrete pouring is 20 per cent complete. Mechanical installation commenced in January 2013. The project is scheduled for construction completion in mid-2014 followed by commissioning and ramp up," stated FQM.
Scott 'no longer in mood to fly in ZAF choppers'
By Moses Kuwema
Thu 14 Mar. 2013, 16:50 CAT
VICE-President Guy Scott yesterday jokingly said he is no longer in the mood of flying in the Zambia Air Force choppers.
Speaking when he officiated at an Oxfam conference at Government Complex, that was held under the theme 'Middle income country defining, economic and political challenges and opportunities', Vice-President Scott who was sharing with the audience the poverty situation in rural areas where he has been to, said he was not sure he was in the mood of flying.
"I go round Zambia usually by helicopter but I am not quite sure today I am in the mood to take a helicopter anywhere. You stop over at a school and you see problems, and people asking we need toilets, classrooms, teacher's houses and road fixing," Vice-President Scott said amid laughter from the audience.
And Vice-President Scott said he had a problem with the model used by some non-governmental organisations in their analysis of the economic situation of the country because they were very weak.
He said some of the modelling of what was wrong with the Third World could be very weak.
"Recently an NGO launched an attack on a certain big industrial company that according to it, is not paying tax. There is more than one way to screw the country's wealth and the first way is over pricing due to monopoly strength. I have more documentation on Zambia Sugar's alleged monopoly pricing of sugar to the extent where Zambia has the most expensive sugar in the region even though it supplies all the surrounding countries. If that's true, then that is the first way to screw a country before you even get near to the tax returns," Vice-President Scott said.
He said Zambia had in the last few years not had a big increase in tax revenues, adding that the country had all the growth which ought to have been generating revenues but that these revenues were not there and that this was what was squeezing the budget.
Vice-President Scott said the economic success that Zambia had experienced over the last decade was done by the Chinese who produced the growth model for themselves.
And Vice-President Scott said the financial sector in the country was ripping off other sectors.
"The cost of interest is simply too high, in Japan it is about one per cent if you borrow but in Zambia it is about 30 per cent on inflation of six per cent so they bankrupt you if you borrow on those kinds of rates. We need to understand the way this free market economy that you extol really operates in a small country like Zambia. It does not operate according to the text book," he said.
And Oxfam deputy regional director for Southern Africa Elijah Adera said economic growth was a necessary foundation for reducing poverty.
Adera, who spoke on behalf of the regional director Laurie Adams, said his organisation was concerned about the levels of poverty in Zambia despite the country attaining economic growth.
Meanwhile, Oxfam Zambia country director Nellie Nyang'wa hoped that there would be an improvement in the understanding of the issues affecting the country at the end of the conference.
By Roy Habaalu
Thu 14 Mar. 2013, 16:20 CAT
Fr Richard Luonde says Zambians made the right decision by not voting for Hakainde Hichilema. Fr Luonde says Hichilema can cause serious tribalism in Zambia if elected president of the country. His remarks come in the wake of Hichilema's description of President Michael Sata and Dr Kenneth Kaunda as dictators.
Fr Luonde, an Anglican priest based in Kitwe, said Hichilema's utterances were a recipe for civil strife.
He said if Hichilema had nothing to say, he should withdraw from the political race, go into reflection and return after the 2016 general election.
"Mr Hakainde can cause a serious tribal revolt in this country if he was by any chance elected president of Zambia. He's in a rush to become president not knowing how to go about it and he's about to crash. He's so hungry for power that's why he moved out of many political pacts including that of his party and the PF," Fr Luonde said.
He said Hichilema would do better to concentrate on his economics because politics had failed him.
He described Hichilema as an angry man who had no respect for elders that had contributed to his education.
He described Hichilema as a hypocrite who lacked respect after benefiting from Dr Kaunda's policies.
He said Dr Kaunda sacrificed the last years of his presidency paving way for the birth of multi-party democracy in Zambia.
Addressing the press at the party secretariat in Lusaka, Hichilema said he never thought for once that another dictator like Dr Kenneth Kaunda would emerge after 1991.
"Sometimes I sit down on my own and ask what sin we committed. Why have you given us this type of leadership? And I ask you to pray to God. We know God will answer us. God will help us," he said. "This is not the type of leadership, I am sure, that the youth voted for when they were shouting ' pa maka, pa maka ', when they were shouting donchi kubeba. I don't understand what Mr Sata wants. He won the elections and Rupiah Banda handed over power, what else does Mr Sata want?"
By The Post
Thu 14 Mar. 2013, 16:40 CAT
ZAMBIA Army director of chaplaincy Colonel Vincent Mwenya says laziness has become endemic among our youth. We agree.
And we believe that this laziness and do nothing attitude relates to the changing of discipline in the home and school. Today many parents let their children get away with most things because they think they are protecting them, the young people are not learning good hard work or discipline. When they grow up, they fail to understand that actions have consequences and the sense of being responsible.
Today we have young men and women over the age of 30 still living in their parents' homes, having free accommodation, free food, free everything and doing nothing but watch television, surf the Internet and fidget with their cell phones all day and night long.
Some of these young men and women are even marrying and producing children in their parents' homes. And the parents take care of everything. These young men and women are given money for new clothes, cell phones, talk-time, alcohol and so on and so forth. There are servants to take care of all their needs - cook for them, wash for them, clean their rooms and make their beds, and even look after their babies. The parents are paying for all that.
Most of these young men and women are not working, claiming there are no jobs. There are no jobs because most of the time these young men and women only want white-collar jobs, the same type of jobs their parents have.
They want to start their working lives as managers, as ministers and so on and so forth. Castro Chiluba used to boast: "Umwana wambwa ninshi? Nimbwa! Umwana wambushi ninshi? Nimbushi! Umwana wa president ninshi? Ni president…"
This is what the young people today want to be. The station of their parents in life should also be their stations in life forever. If their parents live in Sunningdale, Kabulonga, Woodlands, Rhodes Park, they too should live there, even if their personal stations in life can only enable them to live in Mtendere, Kalingalinga, Bauleni, Garden or Ng'ombe compounds.
Let us send them out from our homes so that they can use their minds and bodies to work. We are destroying them, and with them the nation, by giving them free accommodation and free food.
The laziness of our youth, to some extent, is responsible for the lack of rapid development in the country. They sit under trees and verandas all day long. And they try to blame this on lack of employment. We cannot expect to be rich if we don't work hard.
Our young men and women should start their work experience from lower
responsibility until they reach to the top positions of their dreams.
Some of the dreams of our young people lack responsibility. Let's dismiss lazy youths from our homes so that they can fend for themselves and learn what it means to be responsible. If you keep young men and women, with their spouses and children, in your house, you will one day be forced to resort to corruption to meet these huge obligations.
We are destroying these young people and the nation by giving free accommodation and free food to people who refuse to help in the development of this country.
What seems to be growing more and more in our nation is a lack of demand for responsibility and only emphasis on a person demanding their rights. This is unfortunate. John D. Rockefeller once said, "I believe every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty."
Sadly, parents are often to blame for this problem, for the laziness of our young people. In an effort to avoid confrontation, or the desire to make their children happy, many parents actually condition their children to be lazy. A parent's goal should be to develop a sense of wellbeing within their children by teaching them the importance of being diligent, of being hard working.
We should not, under any circumstances, reward or ignore slothful behaviour. We understand and accept the fact that parenting is an extremely hard job. But it becomes more difficult by failing to instil diligence and developing strong character in our children. Let our young people know that fun and pleasure come as a result of a good, honest work ethic.
Today's youth have a sense of entitlement that we find difficult to understand. They have no respect for their parents, or authority. And this seems to be a direct result of the way we are changing our views on how to deal with bad behaviour. We have allowed our children to think they can get away with laziness, with not working, with acting in this way.
We often hear parents say, 'When I was your age I had to walk 20 kilometres through the bush, crossing streams just to get to school.' That or something like that is usually said to a youngster who is complaining about having to do something. Laziness is inherent in youths who think they have to do nothing but eat, sleep, watch television, surf the Internet, talk on the cell phone and send SMS to friends, all at the expense and effort of someone else providing them the means and opportunity to do so. But at what point does childhood transcend into adulthood? When does a child become responsible for their own actions? When do you, as a parent, take away privileges and allow your children to fend for themselves?
Today, getting a young person to even clean up after themselves without being told is a nightmare, let alone asking them to do something on top of that. It is like pulling teeth to get them to do any chores if they do any.
As Col Mwenya has correctly implored, let us not allow laziness, which is now endemic in our youths, to continue. No country can develop that is not able to fully and effectively deploy its young people. These are supposed to be the most productive citizens of our country.
And if the most productive citizens become the most unproductive, then there is no hope for the country to develop, then there is no hope for a better life for the great majority of our people who today wallow in extreme poverty.
By Fridah Nkonde
Thu 14 Mar. 2013, 17:20 CAT
YOUNG people in Zambia should stop being lazy and begin to take keen interest in the country's development programmes, says Restless Development programme coordinator Benjamin Mwape.
Commenting on Zambia Army director of chaplaincy Colonel Vincent Mwenya's observation during Youth Day celebrations in Lusaka on Tuesday that laziness had become endemic among the youth, Mwape said young people needed to wake up to the fact that they are leaders and not beneficiaries of development programmes.
"All the young people in Zambia should stand up and become innovative so as to productively contribute to the development of the country. My emphasis is that young people should stop looking at themselves as beneficiaries of government programmes targeted at them. They should become more engaged and participate in the issues of development in the country," he said.
Mwape said there was need for the youth to wake up to the new challenge and become innovative by initiating their own developmental programmes.
He said it was unfortunate that most young people were not active in their communities, adding that they always waited for their area members of parliament to promise them development.
"Most youth in Zambia just wait for the MP to visit the area and promise them things. I don't even know why they do not initiate their own developmental
programmes because most of the time, they don't even have an opportunity to see their MP. The youth in Zambia should realise that they have the right to engage with their leaders," Mwape said.
He said Restless Development believed that young people were the solution to development.
Mwape said the youth needed guidance and support for them to fully participate in the development of the nation.
He said Zambia had a great opportunity to invest in young people and make them become the main contributors of development because they were the majority.
Mwape said the government needed to utilise young people so as to realise more productivity through them.
In his sermon shortly before laying of wreaths during Youth Day celebrations, Col Mwenya implored the youth to maximise available opportunities to better their lives.
"The key therefore is that every opportunity that comes your way, maximise it to the full; do not allow laziness which is now endemic in the youth in Zambia," said Col Mwenya.
By Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone
Thu 14 Mar. 2013, 17:20 CAT
SYLVIA Masebo has called for a change in work culture among civil servants. Masebo, the tourism and arts minister, after receiving a letter from a Livingstone woman during the arts auditions at Mukuni Park for the forthcoming United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly said that there is a big problem in the government with regard to work attitude.
She said ordinary citizens now feel comfortable to have their concerns submitted directly to the ministers than civil servants.
"Now they (people) feel it is easy to see a minister and pour out their ideas and plans. I have this letter here written by a lady whose name I will withhold although she has signed it; she says there are five ladies who have ideas on how best they can be enterprising and want assistance so I invite the lady and her friends so that we can have lunch tomorrow (Wednesday) and discuss what they have to offer," Masebo said.
She said Zambians must be free to approach the government workers to get answers on various government programmes meant to empower them.
"The government has released a lot of money to line ministries which are intended to change the lives of the ordinary citizens but this is not seen or does not get to the ordinary people. I'm very mindful because we may have a big event (UNWTO general assembly) which will be of no value to the ordinary Zambian," Masebo said amid cheers from the artistes and youth.
Various artistes showcased what they have prepared for the UNWTO general assembly in terms of artifacts most of which have been branded in Zambian colours, while most musical CDs have tourism messages.
The UNWTO general assembly scheduled for August 24 to 29 will be held for the first time in Southern Africa and the second in Africa after Senegal hosted the 2005 gathering of the tourism sector.
Thursday, 14 March 2013 19:31
Back in the village, in the land of milk, honey and dust or Guruve, village elders with cotton tuft heads say no amount of cosmetics can beautify a frog. It is ugly. There, it is a fallacy to apply lipstick or foundation on the frog. It remains ugly. Neither do villagers there encourage one to teach a pig to sing. It will not happen. Firstly, you annoy the pig and secondly, the pig will never sing.
In Rhodesia and indeed in pre-land reform Zimbabwe, Dande River separated villagers in Sipolilo Tribal Trust Lands from the Horseshoe Commercial Farming Area. There, one farm — The Dande Farm — stood outstanding as a white farmer’s agrarian legacy.
Dande farm did not employ people from the villages across the river. There were two reasons. One, the Shona, the autochthons of the land, abhorred working on the farms. Secondly, the white farmer himself was not very keen on engaging them.
His worry was that each time a Shona knocked off duty, he carried a brick home until he built his home. Each time a Shona picked up a lost spanner or a piece of metal, he immediately thought of his home. But an alien would rush to the Baas and give the spanner back, for the alien had no hope of going back to Malawi with the item one day. The aliens, it was said jocularly, would fly to Malawi in a basket overnight and back undetected by the radars. The baskets would not carry bricks and spanners, without risking detection and accidents.
At the farm, Aphiri, a man of Malawian origin walked with a stoop. His shirt, a former gold T-shirt, now a multifarious array of strings tied together in reef notes, told a story of abject poverty. Aphiri’s wife had died more than a decade earlier.
There was no doubt he was now spent, after years of working hard for the white farmer, Mr Pierce. Aphiri had worked for Mr Pierce senior first, then for Mr Pierce Junior, who now ran the farm, left by his dead father. Despite his long service, Aphiri had nothing to show for it.
The hierarchy at the farm was such that there was the farmer or Baas (boss), his wife Misisi (Mrs), the white manager Pikinini Baas (junior boss). Then came the children — the boys and girls — all Pikini Baas or Pikini Misisi.
The Baas’ dogs and cats also ranked higher than all the black workers, the foremen included, for on going to hospital or on those rare occasions when the black workers rode in the Baas’ car, the dog sat in the front seat, while the blacks occupied the loading tray. The workers envied the dogs and cats, for theirs was unfathomed luxury.
Aphiri always remembered the day rains pounced him while on his way from Mvurwi Town with Baas. There he was, huddled in the corner of the open truck’s tray, miserable, cold and shivering, while Baas sat with his dog in front. Baas never stopped. Instead, he continued driving as if nothing was happening. Baas only slowed down to close the passenger window to save the dog from the rains. Worse still, Aphiri was on malaria treatment!
Lighting stabbed the air, followed by thunderclaps. Trees shook. Branches and tree leaves sang. Huge raindrops pattered, spattered and drenched him silly. The wind sang along with the vehicle engine. The sky spoke in intermittent rumbles. Aphiri’s body responded with a chill running down his spine, each time the sky rumbled. Thereafter, the rains spattered to a steady halt but the wind continued hissing and singing along with the engine, until his clothes dried on him. Only the lizard knows the warmth of the rock on which it lies, an elephant might not.
While seated at the back, Aphiri remembered how he saw the current Baas grow. First, Aphiri remembered Misisi pregnant and one day giving birth to a baby boy. He remembered how he saw the boy crawl and take his first steps. Aphiri had been working at the farm, before the current Baas could hardly wear his pants without leaning on a wall.
Now an old man, Aphiri had been ordered off the same farm, the only home he had known and the only place his body had worked for, until all energy shed off.
Aphiri’s contorted forehead, a scullery of dead pimples, visible blood veins that threatened to jump out of the skin, lips that seemed to have kissed a red-hot iron, wiry, skinny and slim stature made him look ghostly, miserable, sorry, and useless!
His bloodshot eyes — affected forever by many years of curing tobacco without protection from the spewing smoke — told the odd story of suffering. Those were the scars of his life at the farm.
Barefoot, his feet cracked beyond redemption, the end of his life was nigh. His life was reaching an inevitable end. Too old to work, the white man ordered him off the farm, to accommodate new and still vibrant youths.
The farm was private property and Aphiri had no choice. Besides, the white farmer was ultra powerful. He had come from Malawi with his parents when he was a young man during the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. He remembered following the iron snake (the railway line) on foot until they reached Salisbury.
For all the years Aphiri worked at the farm, he did not save a cent. He hardly touched cash, over the five decades, he worked there.
The Baas had a store at the farm. Every worker had an account he or she was allowed to borrow against the meagre salary. Every month end, the store keeper, Chaputika Chaibva, would deduct money from the salary.
Aphiri and the majority of the workers had balances always in the negative. They were in a perennial cycle of debt. Matemba, bakayawo, maize meal, sugar, salt, clothes and everything, were all found at the farm store. The workers worked to service their debts.
Baas made it a point that the money circulated in his pockets. Very few workers, if any, had touched cash in their hands. Baas would even take you to hospital and still deduct from your salary. But, cash, he would not give.
Desperate, Aphiri crossed Dande River to the Tribal Trust Lands, looking for a place to build his own home. The village head understood him and gave him a place.
That was not enough. Aphiri did not have a pension. Aphiri did not have savings.
His children had scattered with the farms all over Zimbabwe, seeking greener pastures. None of the children at the farm had gone to school, for there was no school at the farm. Baas had always wanted cheap labour and the educated would not want to be cheap labour.
Education opens apertures of the brain. He virtually had no one to assist him except the villagers. Do elders not say a single bracelet does not jingle?
One day, while about to complete building his mud-and-pole hut in the village, Aphiri collapsed and died. The village head sent a message to Baas for help but he said there was nothing he could do because Aphiri, was no longer in his employ. The messenger also said he had found Baas, using his workers to bury his dog, decently. Apparently Misisi had run over the dog accidentally, while driving off to the fields to give Baas tea in a flask.
Irked, villagers agreed to bury Aphiri, for, failure to bury him would bring untold abominations to the village.
Rhodesia was something. The Rhodesian yaidzvinyira! Rhodesia was ugly. No cosmetics can cover the scars and pimples of Rhodesia.
Do village elders not say one who causes others misfortune also teaches them wisdom?
Rhodesia, Rhodesia, Rhodesia!
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 21:35
In a week leading to Zimbabwe’s referendum on a new constitution and at a time we are experiencing bizarre claims of supernatural happenings across the country, it is a bit of a quandary for any columnist to focus on a topic far away from home.
Claims about the occurrence of godly miracles and underworld supernatural happenings in Zimbabwe now border on the ridiculous, and the sooner the country wakes up from this superstition stupor the better for the name of human civilisation and for the dignity of Africans in the 21st century.
But there is a shared feeling of relief across the Kenyan population after the conclusion of last week’s presidential election. This time Kenya did not burn — no images of barbaric Africa with victims of political violence being ferried to surgical rooms with spears and arrows stuck into their skulls. We saw these kind of images in December 2007, and the use of traditional weapons between the clashing political rivals painted Africa as a backward continent struggling to transit into civilised democracy — perhaps the same way it makes civilised people across the planet raucously laugh when they hear of Zimbabwean young men that pretend to be prophets of God with powers to create babies and cash from thin air — or weird counter claims of satanic powers that purportedly turn school kids into baboons, or any other such primitive nonsense.
At the conclusion of the election in Kenya, there were no inflammatory statements this time around. After losing to outgoing President Mwai Kibaki in 2007, Raila Odinga was asked by a BBC correspondent to restrain his supporters and he responded, “I refuse to be asked to give the Kenyan people an anaesthetic so that they can be raped.”
That was a tacit encouragement to the violent rioters, and Odinga is lucky not to be among those later indicted by the ICC for playing key roles in the violence that killed 1 200 people.
At the height of the political clashes the then Lands Minister, Kivutha Kibwana, said about Raila Odinga’s supporters: “It is becoming clear that these well-organised acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing were well planned, financed and rehearsed by the Orange Democratic Movement leaders prior to the general elections.”
This time Odinga complained that the election he lost to Uhuru Kenyatta “lacks integrity,” but he quickly called for “calm, tolerance and peace.” It would appear like the people of Kenya have learnt that violence does not pay, and as one Kenyan said to the BBC’s Karen Allen, there has been a “revolution in Kenya’s political maturity but not a revolution in the leadership.”
While young Kenyans are celebrating the election of the country’s youngest leader ever, the losing candidate Odinga seems to lack the maturity to concede defeat — or the decency to accept the verdict of the Kenyan people on his political fate. This time he seems to be licking his wounds all by himself — with no solidarity message even from his ally Morgan Tsvangirai.
The court challenge announced by Odinga might simply be a gimmick to conjure up solidarity so he can retain the leadership of his party on a sympathy vote, or a mere face-saving tactic to exit the political scene with the image of a robbed gallant fighter. From a legal perspective, the challenge looks badly compromised by the fact that Odinga simply does not have the numbers.
Francis Eshitemi, an Odinga supporter from Kibera, conceded that it was clear his candidate had lost in a free and fair election. He said: “The problem is that Raila doesn’t have the numbers. There were a few irregularities, but the gap between Raila and Uhuru is big.”
A Kenyan academic resident in Australia, Charles Okumu, had this to say: “The ethnic implications for the Kikuyu-Kalenjin-Meru alliance that gave Kenyatta and Ruto victory are huge and very significant. It is indisputable that these three ethnic groups easily make up about half of Kenya’s population, and the ‘we stand with our own’ sentiment was quite evident in the campaign leading to this election.”
Mr Okumu added: “Apart from the numerical advantage of this coalition, it must be credited to the coalition leaders that they did an excellent job of mobilising their supporters for both voter registration and for turning out to vote on the election day. Raila Odinga lacked in this respect.”
Another Odinga supporter, Isaac Khayiya, was wary of violence. He said: “This time we want post-election peace, not war. We will be the ones to suffer if there is violence. For them, Uhuru, Ruto and Odinga — they have security and they are rich.” And in comes the quandary of the West — the dilemma the West faces after their sponsored candidate, Raila Odinga, was defeated by about one million votes. Kenyatta, the ICC-indicted candidate that the West so wished to be the loser, was delivered a solid mandate by the Kenyan people, and that reality is a bitter pill to swallow for Western policymakers, let alone for the sponsors of the Kenyan ICC cases. The ICC indictment hugely boosted Kenyatta’s profile.
However paper-thin his victory margin might be described, Uhuru Kenyatta still won the election outright. The result itself shows the defiance of Kenyan people to Western affirmation in the affairs of their country, and the rest of Africa was watching.
The West’s affirmation for the leadership of Zimbabwe is on Morgan Tsvangirai and his Western sponsored-MDC-T, but perhaps it is time the West begins to realise that the financing of election victories in Africa is no longer as straightforward as the United States used to do in Central America in the seventies and the eighties.
Like Odinga proved to be a worthless leader as Prime Minister of Kenya under a coalition government with Kibaki’s party, Morgan Tsvangirai has done worse in proving his lack of leadership depth as Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister in a coalition government with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party — and there are more chances of the scandalous Tsvangirai losing the vote to the veteran Zimbabwean leader than there ever were for Odinga losing to Kenyatta.
The alliance between Tsvangirai and Odinga can be easily described as camaraderie in confusion.
To the majority of Kenyans the matter of the ICC indictments is viewed as an inconvenience rather than an impediment, just like sanctions against Zimbabwe have rallied the masses on the side of President Mugabe. Those who voted for Uhuru Kenyatta simply do not regard him as a criminal, and to them he is an innocent man facing a smear campaign from a politically motivated international court. It appears both Uhuru and his supporters are confident that it will be easy to have Kenyatta cleared. For Kenyans it was the victory of politics over justice and at The Hague the West will want imperial politics to triumph over justice.
Kenyatta is tremendously influential in Kenya and it can be predicted that a verdict based on the travesty of justice as was seen in the Saddam Hussein conviction would certainly trigger a disastrous mob backlash in Kenya. In the run-up to the election, Johnnie Carsons, the top American envoy to Africa, bullishly warned that “choices have consequences,” and that was widely interpreted as a threat to Kenyans not to vote for Kenyatta.
Clearly the majority of Kenyans have responded by an open “game on” gesture, and the whole world waits curiously to see Carsons’ threatened consequences.
Carson’s predecessor, Jendayi Frazer, has already rubbished her successor’s utterances, saying the statement was “reckless and irresponsible,” adding, “Kenyatta knows that he needs the United States, and the United States knows it needs Kenya. While it might be awkward, there won’t be a significant change in our policy stance toward Kenya or theirs towards us.”
In addition, US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “We will continue to be a strong friend and ally of the Kenyan people.” In reiterating that the ICC indictment has no effect on his capacity to do his job, Kenyatta has also urged “the international community to respect the will of Kenyans,” and he has called on the West to recognise “the sovereignty” of Kenya.
The indictment of Kenyatta has rallied Kenyan citizens to the side of their new leader — in total defiance to the expectation of the West. This is precisely because the ICC stands as a discredited politically motivated court whose sole focus is on the continent of Africa.
Since its establishment in July 2002 the ICC has indicted 30 people and they are all from the African continent. Of these, 10 are fugitives, one is dead, 9 are either on trial or pre-trial, 4 have been arrested, one has been acquitted, 3 have had their charges dismissed and one has been convicted, and that is Thomas Lubanga of the DRC, who has since appealed.
All this is despite the fact that the illegal Iraq invasion happened almost a year after the ICC had been instituted, or that the drone bombings of Afghanistan civilians still goes on unabated, or that the deadly and ruthless Nato grazing down of Sirte in the lead-up to the murdering of Muammar Gaddafi was fully televised for the world’s full viewing.
The ICC has no political motivation to investigate any of these Western-inflicted atrocities, and that alone is enough enragement to rally Kenyans around their own leaders they perceive to be victims of this egregious conspiracy.
Ayo Johnson, the director of View Point Africa, had this to say: “Many Africans have lost faith in the ICC and view it as targeting African leaders and failing to discharge its justice among non-African leaders.” He added: “Kenya sent a loud message to the ICC — don’t interfere.” In what seems to be a strong affirmation of African resentment for the motives of the ICC, senior lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi wrote in the newspaper The Nation that the Kenyatta-Ruto victory “must be seen as a slap in the face of sponsors of the ICC”.
Britain committed about US$25 million to the Kenyan election, and the stakes are quite high for the former colonial power. The top five Kenyan corporations are British owned, and there is a strategic military base where British soldiers are sent before deployment to Afghanistan. These cannot be abandoned easily and certainly will not.
The United States considers Kenya a central part of its military strategy in East Africa, especially when it comes to the anti-terror efforts targeted at Somalia.
The United States should not exactly worry too much about the ICC status of Kenyatta, if only the country was principled enough to respect its own rejection of the relevance and usefulness of the court.
The US has not only refused to be a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC but has vastly mobilised against the work of the ICC by arm-twisting weaker states to exempt its citizens in their commitment to the ICC.
Kenya has brought to the fore the dilemma of peace versus justice. Those that say the result of the election must be upheld to keep peace in the country now face the prospect of being labelled rule of law traitors, while those who favour the route of the ICC idea of justice risk the label peace traitors.
Kenyan patriotism has been put on trial as well, and it is hard to believe the ICC can thwart the patriotic resolve of a defiant people. It is highly likely that the ICC will drop the charges against Kenyatta and his co-accused in a show trail to save the face of the West.
Hardly after Kenyatta’s victory the ICC dropped its charges against Francis Muthaura — the president-elect’s co-accused. For once the people of Africa seem to be determining global affairs.
Africa we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!
Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia. Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wafawarovawrites.com
Friday, 01 March 2013 23:47
Nathaniel Manheru The Other Side
As I write this piece, my heart bleeds for the Maisiri family which lost a 12-year-old son in a horrific inferno last Saturday. I have seen images of the little boy’s charred remains sticking out to form an ugly silhouette against a dim backdrop of charcoal.
You saw what remained of the torso, some burnt and bloated little thighs of a soul that once breathed, lived, walked, but now so haplessly prostrated by an ugly fire. It looks like he expired face downwards, as if giving his back not just to the world that would not keep him, but to all those fated to lift his burnt remains for interment.
I am a father. I have sons. It is very easy to slide into the shoes of Shepherd Maisiri, the father of this ill-fated boy whose name — Christpower — seem like a mockery or a cynic’s view on Divinity itself.
My deep condolences to the Maisiri family, and all those related to the same. My humble tribute to the family is my decision to devote this Saturday to a reflection on this tragic incident.
When facts become so rare
Yet here is one death which has afforded us a rare glimpse into the nature and depth of our own humanity: as a people, as a nation, indeed as a culture. How a people create death, grant death, receive death, handle death, read into death, gives them a character. Instances of human end reveal a lot about human nature, and this is the subject matter I wish to grapple with. First some basic facts. Christpower was in primary school.
Christpower had some congenital handicap. We are still to hear whether this was fits or down syndrome. The Maisiri family is, like most peasants, agricultural. In their case, they grow tobacco, and Headlands is known for that crop. The curing facilities were within the precincts of their homestead.
For all his disabilities, Christpower, alongside his siblings, performed some of the chores surrounding this crop, including starting the fires for curing.
Or stoking them. And in curing tobacco, lots of fire is made, is used. From what I have seen, the Maisiri family has slender means, like most of our rural families. There is no electricity at their homestead which comprises basic structures which one paper, obviously straining to make sense to its imagined readers abroad, termed “apartments”.
The term sounds like some cynically misapplied description of opulence that the Maisiris can only meet in dreams. That is always the tragedy of news: to be written from the angle of the reporter, not of the subject!
Naked fire, naked lies
Like all of us who grew up in rural homes, the Maisiris rely on naked fire to beat darkness, to cook and to cure their tobacco. For lighting, they use chibani, a makeshift paraffin lamp made from used jam bottles, with an improvised wick lit above the bottle top. The wick coils beneath, inside the bottle soaked with paraffin.
It emits thick carbon, whose dark soot one always scoops out each morning after, using your curled small finger, itself the last born child of your palm, and thus the one most abused. Most of us relied on this form of lighting, until recently when better times finally came. On that fateful Saturday night, something went terribly wrong, leading to the death of this incapacitated child.
It is still not clear whether the fire that extinguished Christpower’s life was started outside or smouldered within. The tenuous claims of explosions by persons who were also asleep cannot simply settle matters. Let us be serious. In any case the fact that Christpower’s siblings had to escape or pulled out when the house was already aglow suggests help only came well into the tragedy.
What is the rush about?
All his other siblings made it to safety, which might suggest that Christpower’s incapacities played some part in his tragic end. And this adds to one’s sense of grief. A mishap fed by incapacity.
These are the facts I can bring up for the attention of you, gentle reader. How these facts interacted or didn’t interact, to give us this tragic story,
I cannot say. I am no expert and would rather wait for those with requisite competencies to guide my understanding.
I don’t have the boldness of those in certain newsrooms who handled the matter with the profoundness of forensic scientists, a capacity far exceeding what my little diploma in journalism from Harare Polytechnic will ever permit.
I am sure the good Lord and Christpower will still find room to grant these men and women from my professional tribe the grace of forgiveness.
In the meantime I counsel that we wait for a full report from the Police, which should tell us what happened.
The day grief bowed down to slogans
I said death reveals our nature. That surely it does. Upon seeing the headline, my own little humanity was tickled. I sought to find out whose son the dead boy was; what ugly circumstances had caused his death. Equally, I sought to hear original grief groaning from the loins and womb of those that bore the ill-fated boy.
Grief is always big, gripping story, good copy in the pidgin of my profession. And this is where the despairing side of things started hitting me, triggering this existential question on who we are, when measured against sorrowful circumstances.
From news reports, I sought in vain to vicariously meet and condole with Christpower’s parents: his father, his mother especially.
But I could not find these two key characters in this story of profound grief. In their place I met raging activists from a political party, characters pouring out slogans of a party, than plaintive sobs of heartbroken parents haltingly sharing the story of their tragedy with the rest of the world. What I met was a political story, never a human interest story in a story so profoundly human.
Where is mom, dad?
Today I know Shepherd Maisiri more as MDC-T’s deputy organising secretary, and as an aspiring candidate for Headlands, than I know him as heartbroken, pitiful father of the late departed, father of Christpower. Today I know Beauty not as that writhing womb that carried Christpower for a long nine months, but as a woman activist sober enough to say: “He (Christpower) has been made to be a sacrificial lamb for the MDC and this constituency will definitely go to the MDC”.
Not quite words of a grieving mother, certainly words of an activist seeking mileage from a tragedy. Not quite words that unite us in common grief, but words that invite us to ask whether or not you are eligible, strictly on grounds of your political side and choice, to concern yourself with this tragedy.
Or even to see it as one. In all this, Christpower is orphaned by the very world he has trusted with his charred remains. What is worse, his death is extinguished by political calculation. I hear him cry, where is mom, where is dad, from the high heavens.
So we can condole with them . . .
Mai Maisiri goes further: “I delivered this son in a mountain because I was fleeing from Zanu-PF activists who wanted to kill me.... I was raped in 2008 by a Zanu-PF election agent, Lovemore Manenji, my house was burnt eight times by Zanu-PF supporters. I want Mutasa to come out clean in this matter or else the blood of my son will not rest until the truth is known about those behind the killing.”
I immediately thought of Betty Makoni and her fund-raising confessionals; thought of Grace Kwinjeh and Beatrice Mtetwa baring their inner portions to display Zanu-PF’s well-marketed brutality. Here is a grieving mother savaging her own demeanour and standing, which is what rape does to womanhood. Here is a grieving mother making key political connections - causal connections - between her son’s death on the one hand, and politics and key political players for Headlands, one of whom is her own husband, on the other.
This is how far we have come. We cull politics out of cadavers, even hold for show claims of violation of our very dear bodies, our own wombs, indeed Christpower’s home before he came into this burning world some 12 or so years ago. I want to grieve for Christpower; can Christpower’s parents stand up please, ndivabate maoko!
Skills of a dip tank attendant
What is the significance of the figure “nine” in the tragic life of this family?
Beauty, Christpower’s mother says “nine” counts the number of times her “house” has been burnt for political reasons. An unnamed neighbour says “nine” counts the number of times her husband was attacked in politically motivated violence. Here is one family whose homestead has been burnt on nine successive occasions, without the story hitting headlines! More is claimed, this time by the father of Christpower: “Since the MDC was formed, these mountains have been my home.
They have burnt my houses nine times since 2000. I lost two children to the cold weather while I was hiding in the mountains. In 2003, they stabbed my younger brother to death after mistaking him for me. They have also been attempting to take away my fields.” Again quite an extraordinary story already, before we factor in Christpower. Yet unwritten, unknown, unheard.
Would it not be more helpful for our all-knowing reporters to do simple cross-checking for us, readers, so we grieve better with the Maisiris, than delving into the esoteric area of forensic science with the exquisite skills of a dip tank attendant? And with such stalking tragedy, why until now hasn’t the propaganda-hungry MDC-T profiled this family for maximum effect? Could they resist such an awful story, they whose appeal is founded on artful victimhood?
Let me move on, away from the family whose grief I still wish would one day find clean expression. The MDC-T. The key actors are Biti, Mwonzora, Eddie Cross and Timba, well before the party president, Morgan Tsvangirai, comes in.
On Sunday, a day after Christpower’s death, Biti tells the world Zanu-PF has hatched plots to assassinate MDC leadership: “I have been informed today by our friends in the security forces that they have a plot to assassinate our leadership to instill fear into our supporters.
“They cannot win any elections without using violence but we are not afraid of anyone”. This key claim frames Headlands, just before the death becomes news. It does much more. It girds the nation for more horrors.
In other words it inaugurates a psychosis of tension, violence and death in the country, leaving a brooding sense of uncertainty to do the rest. Above all, it projects MDC as the brave victim, ironically yelping for SADC and international rescue from the impending “mini-genocide”. And Biti is a lawyer.
The dossier that was already ready
Enter Mwonzora, another lawyer. He finds Zanu-PF guilty until proven innocent! He says: “The callous murder unquestionably bears the signature of Zanu-PF. It is high time people put an end to Zanu-PF hegemony by voting them out of power”. Yet he still speaks of giving the police names of suspects!
He adds: “We are going to push for observers from the UN, the African Union, Sadc as well as other groups.” Then something extraordinary happens. The MDC-T produces a brand new dossier recording 120 cases of political violence against its supporters, barely one working day after the death of Christpower!
It is also armed with wads of pictures of the charred remains of Christpower. And Biti widens the vista of his charge against Zanu-PF: “The MDC-T is extremely enraged at the increase of politically motivated incidents of violence taking place throughout the country at the instigation of the chaos faction of Zanu-PF.
“As we speak, some people are being trained in Israel for that task”. Zanu-PF and Israel? He ropes in what he terms attack on NGOs, alignment of institutions, security sector reforms and of course the need for international monitors, all this heaped on the lifeless, charred body of little Christpower. And a manifesto begins to take shape!
Christpower the game-changer
But it is Morgan Tsvangirai who clinches the point, as indeed he should as head of the party. He says: “What confronts us requires global attention if Zimbabwe is to move away from dinner-table discussions, where it has been dominant, clearly for wrong reasons, for the past few years. Zimbabwe is today standing at a crossroads.” Worse came on the day of Christpower’s funeral. Tsvangirai spoke of being given a “matchbox” with which to burn this country, although he would not accept it. This was after the car crash in which his wife perished. He added that Christpower’s death “was a game-changer”. I spoke about the dossier which is whipped out, thanks to this death. More drama. Incidents, we are told through self-serving leaks of Cabinet deliberations by MDC ministers, are recorded in Cabinet. The President is said to have been shown images of the charred remains of Christpower. Minister Mutasa, we are again told, is accused of murder of the boy by Minister Tendai Biti. The same drama spills over into Parliament before its recess. Above all, we are told that Tsvangirai has despatched Jameson Timba to selected SADC capitals, all to plead for an extraordinary SADC Summit on the matter! This is the extraordinary turn of events, including indications that the MDC-T is mulling boycotting the forthcoming harmonized elections they have been battling to prevent, or at the very least delay. Elections whose likely outcome their own people predict are likely to go against them. All this and much more is the whirlpool around Christpower’s tragic death. How are we to make of it, to make of ourselves as a people?
I now hate us
Firstly, Christpower’s death has become both incidental and integral. This sounds paradoxical,itself arguably the best description of ourselves in, and with, grief. The Headlands incident proves we have ceased to be a people in grief, to become a people who ask what grief does for us, what death does for us, when it occurs. This is why Christpower has been far outrun by his own death. Incapacitated in life, he is now once more incapacitated in his death: a creature fated to be left behind, including by those who bore him. Far more painful than meeting an incinerating fate in a collapsing compound is his lonesome stillness amid the noisy cymbals of native politics.
The dictates of politics have marginalized him, made his funeral and burial incidental and mechanical, while the centre gets stolen by princes of power or the search of it, whose calculated language begs the very humanity which pretends to inform their outrage. We are fast descending into a society that can no longer mourn, that no longer handles death as a sorrowful departure of loved ones, but as sacrifices made to this heartless god of vaulting ambition. This is what makes Christpower incidental to his own death, yet such an integral driver to politics he was yet to understand, yet to sensibly believe in, beyond genuflecting to his parents’ convictions and choices. This turn in the national heart truly hurts. This cast in our politics makes one despair, creates a sense of a humanity which is slipping away, between our fingers. I hate us.
What does it say of us as a people when we keep dossiers in readiness for a death that might come? A people ready for a campaign that only awaits a bit of gore to trigger it? An empty manifesto which awaits the gruesome death to write itself? A people who will not seek for the whys and wherefores, who will not wait for facts, for truth, but will happily swim away with slanderous conjectures? A collective psyche pointing to an eagerness for gruesome tragedy, gratitude for it even? How do we look after our children, they whose death elicit the most pity and thus a death most wished for our politics to move, they whose tragic departure assure us of “global attention” we so seek, they who guarantee us of a factor that changes our game of politics? It redefines politics as some ogre, some Dracula craving for sacrificial blood of one’s own. We crave for sympathy for ourselves and our politics, yet spare none for those whose tragic departure we wish and require to trigger that craved-for sympathy for our political cause. And to belong to a party, to be of service to your party means to offer the charred body of your own son to that party for politicking?
Adding colour to our tragedy
Dossiers are ready. Pictures are taken and circulated. Larger political demands are made by big men and women standing on the charred and disintegrating remains of Christpower. Is that our new pedestal, our new podium from which we expound lofty theories of democratic change? Enter Eddie Cross. That white Rhodesian who has been with us from God-knows-when as a believing and active instrument of settler land policy here way back in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. A good thirty-something years after we overthrow the very system he so diligently served, he joins us, all in fake, politically calculated grief, and we feel consoled in this most synthetic, white way? He is no Guy Clutton-Brock, that lonely white African nationalist who rests at Heroes Acre, presumably still wondering why no other has joined him yet. He is Eddie, a mere cross we bore in colonial servitude.
How many black children died in Rhodesia? How many of these did he bury, this white man of MDC-T? He stays in Bulawayo, but is prompt, punctual enough to be in the right place, down there in rural Headlands, when the cameras snap, standing side by side with the grieving family, face contorted with learnt grief. I suppose it adds color to our tragedy as a people. Yet is leaves one with an overbearing sense of choreography, all in tragic circumstances. Is this what we have made of death, of our own dying? Why is Christpower so blest, even to gain a whole casket in his death, he who huddled in one room with his three other siblings while he lived?
When Tsvangirai meets Cameron
The hard truth is that Christpower is the little boy who wrote an election manifesto for a party that had none. God willing, he might be the trigger that MDC was looking for in order to start a train of events that might incinerate this country, and whose hoped-for endgame is an MDC ascendancy to power, amidst its ashes. Not by ballot, not by Zimbabweans, but by invasion and violent regime change led by outsiders. You get a sense of a Tsvangirai who craves for an Ivorian scenario in Zimbabwe. You get a sense of a Cameron who is craving for an opportunity to outclass France’s Hollande is his own backyard. Imperialism has grown an interventionist reflex and we carve our own political careers out of it, hoping to wade to the throne, last charred bodies. This is why Biti is so keen to shunt in a UN-mission here, on the pretext of election funding, disregarding all protocol. It is to internationalize our little, narrow politics, never to nationalize the international imperative as does nations that have grown great.
When virginity can’t save
But this little boy may have made him to give away the game, too soon. Indeed Christpower is a game-changer. The speed with which the MDC has jumped onto this tragedy has raised eyebrows. Their game is now known and shall soon falter. The MDC-T seeks power without a manifesto, without a platform. After the Inclusive Government, its “chinja”mantra has lost resonance. It cannot mobilize on opposing ZANU(PF) it has partnered, it has grown enamored of, in the years of inclusive politics. It cannot deny sanctions it has, itself acknowledged and even asked to be retained as some leverage against ZANU(PF). And as I have repeatedly said, it no longer pretends virginity after such a long night with a virile man who is known to tear down hymen in the village. It has governed and in doing so, it has misgoverned for all to see. Repeatedly, it has searched for a galvanizing idea, repeatedly it has drawn a blank. We have had restarts, promised slimy juices, yet we still wait. Herein comes Christpower.
Playing the last card
The little boy is that emotion which MDC needs to move western mountains, that powerful impulse that by-passes so many rational questions the MDC must answer from a disheartened, alienated electorate. They can only put forward a sympathy manifesto, which is why death and dying is so key to their survival as a party. You get a sense of an overdrawn tragedy. You get a sense of a party so fearful that Christpower’s tragic mishap might perchance become a mere death, not a murder, not a political killing, not a craved-for-assassination. It must have deep connotations. And in its stampede to keep this a murder, the party has shown some very fatal, ungainly steps which are sure to rob it of even this sympathy card, its last tramp card. This little boy who gave a party a manifesto, he might just take it away. And the trick is so clear- garner maximum publicity against ZANU(PF) while investigations continue, such that by the time the results come, facts will be at the mercy of contrived prejudices.
America first labels
I have made reference to regime change forces. They have come in mainly in two forms. First, the American Embassy here. This Warthog guy, sorry Wharton, why would he rush to issue an incriminating statement well ahead of investigations? Has he come here as a reporter under USIS or a whole, dignified and qualified ambassador serving a old democracy that must know better, behave better in the host country? It betrays a predisposition, does it not? A readiness to blame, convict and attack which is remarkably comparable to the MDC dossier craving for some death to be validated and galvanized. And of course those whom American seek to destroy, America first labels. Could that be why a man associated with Cold War-time disinformation has been deployed here at this time in the life of our Nation? Is America seeking facts and understanding, or bellicosity? Let him redeem himself. Today I express fears, raise questions on motives and purpose; soon I, too, shall judge.
Sleep well, the one who couldn’t be mourned
The second form is by way of a negative campaign against indigenisation and economic empowerment. I see it assuming an institutional form by way of a sustained media coverage. Interestingly, the so-called NIEEBGATE is the only other story that has been vying with that of Christpower for the first page. Correctly so. In the absence of a manifesto, the natural recourse of a beaten political party is to seek to rubbish the unrivaled policy of the winning party. And where you cannot attack the core tenets of the policy, you seek to cast aspersions on its implementation.
As a matter of fact in the wake of this debate on the Zimplats deal, Biti quietly made contact with Implats in South Africa to stiffen their back against indigenisation. Let him deny it if he dares. The hope is to attack one case of empowerment in the hope that by extension, the policy itself becomes a hard sell in actual elections. That way MDC will have got a pairing partner in running for office on empty. That is the beauty about elections. You get to know who is who. In the meantime, sleep peacefully Christpower, the one who couldn’t be mourned or buried.
Friday, 15 March 2013 00:00
Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
ZIMBABEWANS must defend their land from aggressive forces as it is the cornerstone of development for every country. Chief Gaborone of Botswana, Mr Monare Gaborone, told journalists after meeting President Mugabe at State House in Harare yesterday that land was Africa’s gold.
Chief Gaborone is in the country at the invitation of the Government. He played an instrumental role during the liberation struggle as he offered his house to Zanla forces to operate from.
One of his rooms was turned into a Zanla armoury during the liberation struggle. Chief Gaborone said: “The people of Zimbabwe know what I did for them. They love me and I love them.
“I strongly urge them to look after their land. Land is our gold and if anybody comes to take the land tell him to go to hell. If they want money, give them but not land.”
Chief Gaborone, who is now 96 years old, described the time of the liberation struggle as the most difficult period.
He said he offered accommodation to many people who flocked his home fleeing from oppression in their respective countries.
President Mugabe paid tribute to Chief Gaborone for the role he played.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said Zimbabwe was indebted to Chief Gaborone and the people of Botswana.
“Of course he (Chief Gaborone) is an old, old friend and ally of the liberation struggle,” said President Mugabe.
“He looked after our people in Botswana and Botswana used to be our route to Tanzania and Zambia. Some remained in Botswana and of course they were assisted by Chief Gaborone.
“They needed accommodation and Chief Gaborone accommodated them free of charge. We are indebted to him and the people of Botswana for the help they rendered and hospitality they gave to our young people.”
President Mugabe said some of the people assisted by Chief Gaborone were still alive and some were late.
He said he visited Chief Gaborone twice after independence.
“I paid two visits to his home after independence. He once came here after independence and I am happy that he is back again. Unfortunately he came alone. Our mother, his wife, passed on six months ago but he came with his son (Ledingwane) and we are really happy.
“His visit reminded us of the good old days and I am only a youth to him. He is 96 and I am only a miserable 89,” said the President.
Meanwhile, Chief Gaborone laid a wreath at the grave of Cde Gaylord Themba Hlatshwayo at Warren Hills Cemetery.
Cde Hlatshwayo whose Chimurenga name was Cde Mao died on April 29, 1997. He was a Zanu representative in Botswana during the liberation struggle and worked closely with Chief Gaborone.
Earlier President Mugabe met Mines, Industry and Energy Minister from Equatorial Guinea Gabriel Obiang Lima.
Speaking after meeting the President, Minister Lima said they discussed areas of co-operation, especially in the mining and agricultural sector.
He said Malabo was keen to tap mining expertise from Harare.
“You know we are brotherly countries and we have a lot of agreements. We want to cement our cooperation. We want to gain mining experience from our brothers in Zimbabwe. We want to bring our civil servants for training in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Minister Lima said they would send some of their civil servants once they finalised negotiations with local universities and technical colleges.
He said he also brought a special message from President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo thanking President Mugabe for supporting Equatorial Guinea.
Minister Lima said they were happy that President Mugabe attended all the summits hosted by Equatorial Guinea since 2011 such as the African Union Summit, African Caribbean and Pacific Summit and the Africa South America Summit.
THE Zanu-PF presidium will put mechanisms to rationalise challenges arising from double allocation of pieces of land, party national chairperson Cde Simon Khaya Moyo said yesterday.
Addressing party supporters at the official opening of Zanu-PF offices in Zvimba East, Cde Khaya Moyo said the party leadership was disturbed by the eviction of resettled A1 farmers who were still waiting for their offer letters.
Zvimba East legislator Cde Patrick Zhuwao had raised concern with the eviction of A1 farmers who have been on the land since 2000 by people who bring A2 offer letters. He requested the presidium to withdraw such offer letters.
“We are going to meet as the presidium. President Mugabe, Vice President Joice Mujuru and I will meet to discuss the problems of A1 farmers being taken to courts by those people who have not been on the land,” said Cde Khaya Moyo.
“This country was fought for by the people who are on the land now. Those who are now coming with offer letters were not there (the liberation struggle).
“Why should these people who have been at the farms for years be evicted? Where do you want them to go? This should stop because some of the people who are now coming with those offer letters do not even know where we came from.”
Cde Zhuwao said a number of A1 beneficiaries were being taken to court by people who bring A2 offer letters.
“The problem we have here is that some people are coming from Harare with top of the range vehicles to evict people who have been on the land since the year 2000 (when the land reform started).
“These people are taking people to courts on the strength of the A2 offer letters yet these people have been waiting for their (A1) offer letters for years.
“We are requesting that Clause 7 of the (A2) offer letters be invoked in areas where there are people who are still waiting for their offer letters. We cannot have our people staying in squatter camps in their country because they are yet to be given their offer letters,” said Cde Zhuwao.
Turning to the Zanu-PF Tashinga district offices, Cde Zhuwao said the community used its resources to construct the offices as a way of strengthening the party in the area.
Cde Khaya Moyo officially opened the offices that will be used for party activities.
There is a main wing office, a women’s league office and the one for the youth league.
Proceeds from the Mhondoro-Ngezi-Chegutu-Zvimba Community Share Ownership Trust were used to drill a borehole for use by the community.
Present at the ceremony were Zanu-PF national political commissar Cde Webster Shamu, Mashonaland West Governor Cde Fabber Chidarikire and former Mashonaland West Provincial chairperson Cde Philip Chiyangwa among others.
Meanwhile, Cde Khaya Moyo urged supporters to come out in their numbers and vote for the draft constitution tomorrow.
“You all have to vote Yes for the draft constitution because it came from you. The draft contains what you said you wanted to be in the constitution. We know some people tried to temper with it at the drafting stage but we corrected it by putting back your views.
“We know MDC formations are now claiming to have created this draft but if you look at its contents it reflects the issues that we said we wanted to be addressed. Wherever you are until Saturday you should all be reciting the “Yes” vote,” said Cde Khaya Moyo.
Friday, 15 March 2013 00:00
The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board has brought sanity and improved services for farmers at the auction floors, tobacco growers have confirmed.This has not been the case in the past seasons where the first days of auctioning were marked with congestion and farmers complaining of poor accommodation and payment system.
Most tobacco farmers said they were grateful to the TIMB as they were getting better treatment at the auction floors.
There are three auction floors, Tobacco Sales Floor, Boka Tobacco Floors and Premier Tobacco Floors who were licenced by the TIMB to participate this season after meeting requirements which included having adequate accommodation and ablution facilities, banks with cash, decent canteens and safe water, among other things.
Karoi farmer, Mr Joel Marange said he was impressed with the decent accommodation and could bath at the auction floors, a facility that was not available during the past years.
Mt Darwin farmer, Mrs Lena Makwanya said getting her money soon after selling made life easier as she does not have to spend days camped at the floors as was the situation in the past few years.
“Now I do not have to spend days waiting to get my money because the process is now shorter and I can go back to the farm after selling my crop the same day,” she said.
TIMB chairperson Mrs Monica Chinamasa urged farmers to register and submit their crop estimates before delivering their crop for sale.
“The cardinal rule of booking first then deliver today and sell tomorrow, is meant for planning purposes and ensuring order at the floors,” she said.
A number of growers have however, continued to bring their crop without having made prior booking arrangements.
TSF managing director, Mr James Mutambanesango said although the farmers were not sent back they first have to register before selling their crop and this might result in delays.
He said some of the farmers were new and not aware of the procedures they had to follow when selling tobacco.
Meanwhile, tobacco deliveries have increased from an average of 70 000 kilogrammes during the first days to above 200 000 kilogrammes per day.
There has been a slight decline in prices this season compared to last season. Farmers have also complained that the highest price at the auction floors has remained at US$4, 99 since last season while the contract sales are registering prices as high as US$5,70 per kilogramme.
At the opening of the 2013 selling season in February, TIMB noted that last season there was an uncomfortable difference between auction floor and contract prices for similar grades which should be corrected this season.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
By Dick Nichols
Global Research, March 13, 2013
Green Left Weekly
Une pierre tombale pour le Portugal...
Whenever there is a protest in Portugal you are almost certain to hear the haunting song “Grandola, Vila Morena” (“Grandola, sunburnt town”), with its line “who most rules within you, O city, is the people”. On March 2, at huge protests across Portugal, “Grandola, Vila Morena” was sung by more voices than ever before.
That day, up to 1.5 million Portuguese responded to the call “Screw the Troika, Who Most Rules is the People!”. They filled the squares of 40 cities and towns to demand the immediate resignation of the government, a right-wing coalition of the Social-Democratic Party (PSD) and Democratic and Social Centre-People’s Party (CDS-PP), headed by prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho.
“Grandola, Vila Morena” was broadcast early on April 25, 1974, as the signal to launch the “Revolution of the Carnations” that ended the decades-old fascist regime. It is again becoming the freedom hymn of the biggest Portuguese protest movement since that time.
More than 1.5 million people marched throughout Portugal against austerity and for the resignation of the government. (right)
There is a popular tsunami against the austerity policies being imposed by the “troika” -- the European Central Bank, European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) -- as condition for the country receiving a 78 billion euro bailout.
March 2, which coincided with the seventh troika inspection of its Portuguese protectorate, was organised by the “Screw the Troika” coalition of over 100 social and community groups.
Passo’s implementation of austerity -- a million-strong Lisbon demonstration on September 15 last year.
September 15 showed the depth of popular anger against a specific government measure, a proposed increase in social security contributions that was later dropped -- a success for the movement.
March 2 was much more: a protest against the entire gamut of Troika austerity policies and one that had a precise demand -- government resignation and fresh elections.
As the “people’s censure motion”, voted by the 800,000 in Lisbon’s vast waterfront square Terreiro do Paco, said: “This government does not represent us. This government is illegitimate. It was elected on the basis of promises it did not fulfill.
“It promised that it would not increases taxes, but has increased them to unbearable levels. It guaranteed that it would not rob pensions nor cut financial support to workers, but not a day passes when it doesn’t rob more money from workers and retirees.
“It swore that it would not sack public servants nor increase unemployment, but every hour that passes there are more people without work …
“This people’s censure motion is the cry of a people that wants to participate. It is the public affirmation of the growing desire of the people to take the leadership of the country into their own hands, overthrowing a corrupt power … let the people rule!”
Compared to September 15, March 2 was more organised, with greater participation and support from trade union and left political forces, including the Left Bloc (BE), the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) and the General Confederation of Portuguese Workers (CGTP).
The Socialist Party, which in government had invited the Troika into the country in the first place, had to express its “sympathy” with the movement.
The various sectors of the population most affected by government policy -- education workers, health workers, retirees and pensioners, the LGBTI community, culture workers and the unemployed--took part in the protests in various-coloured “tides”.
March 2 also brought out new sections of the community, included people attending their first demonstration. Notable was the increased presence of retirees who face cuts to already miserable pensions as part of the IMF’s latest proposal to cut Portugal’s spending by 4 billion euros this year.
Another increased presence was that of the lower ranks of the armed forces, not wearing uniform but grouped behind the banners of the three armed forces associations.
Popular chants of the day (which rhyme in Portuguese) included “With Passos at the helm, the country goes on sinking”, “It’s time for the government to exit”, “Your sacrifices are in their wallets”, “Passos, thief, you’re not worth a cent” and “One more push and the government bites the dust”.
The anger of the day was summed up by protester Fabio Carvalho in an interview for Reuters: “The government has left the people on bread and water and flogged off state assets at bargain-basement prices so as to pay the debts run up by corrupt politicians to benefit the banks.”
Writing in the March 5 Expresso, political commentator Daniel Oliveira noted the hardening mood among the protesters, especially the older generation: “One of the things talked about most on Saturday was the children who emigrate, who are unemployed, who are desperate. And the lack of prospects for their grandchildren …
“Some of the retirees who took to the streets on Saturday were participating in a demonstration for the first time in their lives … and it is only now, at more than 60 years of age and after almost 40 years of democracy, that they feel propelled into the street.”
The anger has been intensified by the growing realisation that the government and troika’s Thatcherite claim that “there is no alternative” is bunkum. In a February survey by Diario de Noticias about what interviewees thought the government could cut to save and restore spending on health, education and pensions, 36% nominated interest payments on the public debt, 33% military spending and 57% spending on private-public partnerships.
On March 3, Left Bloc MP Jorge Costa made this assessment: “Saturday’s massive demonstrations have changed the immediate future of social struggle in our country … that large scale popular mobilisation is not an isolated phenomenon or an occasional cry of the soul.
“It is the expression of concrete social struggle, a permanent fact of the national situation, of a majority that is speaking out against the cuts that are crushing our society.”
That “permanent fact of the national situation” is being reinforced by Portugal’s disastrous economic plight. Growth in the year to December 2012 shrank 3.8% and, in the year to September 2012, consumption dropped by 5.9% and investment by 14.2%. Official unemployment rose from 14.8% to 17.6% in the year to January.
During the crisis government consumption has fallen, from 22.1% of GDP in 2008 to 17.5% last year. A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development states that the spending cuts in the health sector in Portugal have been twice as large larger than those agreed by the troika.
The Portuguese Ministry of Health denies this but the report adds that Portugal’s spending in the health sector is expected to fall to 5.1% of GDP in 2013, down from over 10% in 2010, and much lower than the average of 7% of GDP for the eurozone.
In Portugal’s poorest neighbourhoods, children increasingly come to school on Monday dizzy with hunger because school meals are the only ones they have. Without the country’s remaining social safety net the percentage of the population below the official poverty line would more than double to 43.6%.
Yet, despite the country being sunk in depression and with unemployment on the rise, union struggles have not disappeared. In February alone there was a week of struggle for public education and teachers’ wages, big demonstrations against the planned privatisation of state shipyards as well as strikes in the hospital sector.
State rail workers were on strike for a week in early March and March 15 will be a national day of action for public servants. Further bitter labour struggles in the private and public sectors are in the pipeline.
Can Passos survive?
All the signs are that Portugal is entering a critical phase. The call for the government to resign grows louder and louder as tensions rise within the governing coalition between those, like Passos, committed to “staying the course” and “not governing according to demonstrations” and those, like increasingly nervous MPs of the CDS-PP, who see their parliamentary careers vaporised unless Passos at least pretends to heed the people’s voice.
However, with all signs showing that Passos is determined to see out his parliamentary term, the pressure remains on the protest movement to build even stronger action.
Even more critical is giving concrete and feasible form to the alternative to Passos, the alternative of a left government. Jorge Costa sums up the challenge like this: “The people who form part of this mass movement require anti-Troika forces to develop a common response and to take concrete steps for a shared political alternative.
“First, the Left Bloc and the PCP should demand new elections and together seek a leftist government to break with the Troika. But this unity should not stop at dialogue between the anti-Troika parties. Rather, the design of a leftist government will be as broad as the program it promotes is clear…
“It is among the many, many voices of the people who have ‘occupied’ our cities that the project will draw strength. And among these voices are many socialists who refuse to accept the watered down austerity program [pursued by the SP leadership]. They are those who recognise the need for debt renegotiation and a complete change in policies for the real economy. Unity on the left will shred the [Troika] memorandum.”
On March 7, Left Bloc national co-coordinator Joao Semedo carried the mood of March 2 into the national parliament: “[The prime minister] must understand that the people are sick of him, his policies and his government … Prime minister, resign! Don’t be afraid of elections. Let democracy solve the country’s problems to which your government has been unable to respond.”
The same message had come in parliament a fortnight earlier, in musical form. As Passos was preparing to speak, a packed public gallery started to sing “Grandola, Vila Morena”, forcing the prime minister to stop. Will that moment symbolise Portugal’s future?
Dick Nichols is the European correspondent of Green Left Weekly, based in Barcelona.]
March 9, 2013 (LD) - The primary reason, we are told, that the West must immediately begin wider operations to support the so-called Syrian rebels is to head off extremists - namely Al Qaeda, from overrunning Syria.
This narrative has been sold for nearly a year now as it has become evidently clear that all major offensives in Syria against the Syrian people and their government have been led by Al Qaeda terrorist fronts, including most notoriously, Jabhat al-Nusra.
It turns out, however, according the London Telegraph, that the US and Britain have already been arming terrorists operating in Syria for some time, including a massive airlift of 3,000 tons of weapons, sent across Syria's borders with Jordan and NATO-member Turkey. In the Telegraph's article titled, "US and Europe in 'major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb'," it is reported:
It claimed 3,000 tons of weapons dating back to the former Yugoslavia have been sent in 75 planeloads from Zagreb airport to the rebels, largely via Jordan since November
The story confirmed the origins of ex-Yugoslav weapons seen in growing numbers in rebel hands in online videos, as described last month by The Daily Telegraph and other newspapers, but suggests far bigger quantities than previously suspected.
The shipments were allegedly paid for by Saudi Arabia at the bidding of the United States, with assistance on supplying the weapons organised through Turkey and Jordan, Syria's neighbours. But the report added that as well as from Croatia, weapons came "from several other European countries including Britain", without specifying if they were British-supplied or British-procured arms.
British military advisers however are known to be operating in countries bordering Syria alongside French and Americans, offering training to rebel leaders and former Syrian army officers. The Americans are also believed to be providing training on securing chemical weapons sites inside Syria.
With so much admitted involvement in the violence aimed at overthrowing Syria's government by the West, it is inconceivable that Al Qaeda could be "overrunning moderate forces" in Syria, unless of course, no such moderate forces exist, and the West had planned from the beginning to use Al Qaeda as a mercenary force. And indeed, that is precisely what is happening. It has been established with documented evidence since at least 2007, and reaffirmed with this latest report.
Pulitizer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, in his 2007 New Yorker report titled, "The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?"stated explicitly that:
"To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda."
Is there any doubt that the US has executed this plot in earnest, arming and funding sectarian extremists "sympathetic to Al Qaeda" on both Syria's northern and southern border? Where else, if not from the West and its regional allies, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, could extremists be getting their weapons, cash, and logistical support from?
And of course, Syria's borders with Jordan and Turkey have been long-ago identified by the US Army's own West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) as hotbeds of sectarian extremist/Al Qaeda activity - hotbeds that the West is purposefully funneling thousands of tons of weaponry through, while disingenuously claiming it is attempting to prevent such weapons from falling into the hands of extremists.
The CTC's 2007 report, "Al-Qa'ida's Foreign Fighters in Iraq," identified Syria's southeastern region near Dayr Al-Zawr on the Iraqi-Syrian border, the northwestern region of Idlib near the Turkish-Syrian border, and Dar'a in the south near the Jordanian-Syrian border, as having produced the majority of fighters found crossing over into Iraq throughout the duration of the Iraq War.
Image: (Left) West Point's Combating Terrorism Center's 2007 report, "Al-Qa'ida's Foreign Fighters in Iraq" indicated which areas in Syria Al Qaeda fighters filtering into Iraq came from during the US invasion/occupation. The overwhelming majority of them came from Dayr Al-Zawr in Syria's southeast, Idlib in the north near the Turkish-Syrian border, and Dar'a in the south near the Jordanian-Syrian border. (Right) A map indicating the epicenters of violence in Syria indicate that the exact same hotbeds for Al Qaeda in 2007, now serve as the epicenters of so-called "pro-democracy fighters."
These areas are now admittedly the epicenters of fighting, and more importantly, despite being historical hotbeds of Al Qaeda activity, precisely where the West is flooding with cash, weapons, and military "advisers." Just like in Libya where the West literally handed an entire nation to sectarian extremists, we are watching a verbatim repeat in Syria - where we are told Al Qaeda terrorists are "pro-democracy" "freedom fighters" that deserve US cash, weapons, and support, when it couldn't be any clearer they aren't.
Not only has the US and UK lied to the world about their policy toward Syria and their current level of support for increasingly overt terrorists committing an array of atrocities - their latest act including the taking of over 20 UN peacekeepers hostage in the Golan Heights - but have revealed once again the manufactured facade that is the "War on Terror."