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  • Christine Chumbler
    Mugabe rewards loyalty over ability Chido Makunike 30 August 2002 07:00 Zimbabwe s embattled President Robert Mugabe this week swore in a new team of ministers
    Message 1 of 57 , Sep 3, 2002
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      Mugabe rewards loyalty over ability
      Chido Makunike
      30 August
      2002 07:00

      Zimbabwe's embattled President Robert Mugabe this
      week swore in a new
      team of ministers who he referred to as an "economic
      and political war
      Cabinet".

      Observers have been surprised by how few changes he
      made.

      Mugabe had been expected to use a reshuffle to get
      rid of a number of
      controversial and unpopular ministers. He was also
      thought likely to give at
      least the impression of a rejuvenated government in
      the face of economic
      problems, famine and diplomatic isolation.

      The only notable -- though widely anticipated --
      change was the dropping of
      his Finance Minister, Simba Makoni, often touted as
      his potential
      successor. Minister of Health Timothy Stamps, the
      only white in the
      Cabinet, was replaced by his deputy, David
      Parirenyatwa. But Stamps had
      been ill for some time -- like the country's health
      services -- and
      Parirenyatwa had been the de facto minister.

      Makoni, although respected and free of scandal,
      failed to convince Mugabe
      to adopt any of his suggestions, which included
      currency devaluation.

      Recently, Mugabe referred to those advocating
      devaluation of the Zimbabwe
      dollar as "saboteurs". This was clearly a dig at
      Makoni -- an indication that
      his position was becoming untenable.

      The sacking of Makoni was accompanied by the
      re-engagement of former
      minister Witness Mangwende -- as Transport Minister.
      Unlike Makoni,
      Mangwende is known for his taste for the good life
      and for being a Mugabe
      loyalist.

      Yet Zanu-PF has brilliant people to call on. That
      Mugabe has not given
      these people ministries indicates that, for him,
      loyalty is more important
      than problem-solving ability.

      Mugabe's circle has grown paranoid about who might
      be sympathetic to the
      opposition Movement for Democratic Change. He has
      instituted purges in
      his party and the civil service to try to get rid of
      them. He wants within his
      circle only those willing to say that a Western
      conspiracy explains
      Zimbabwe's travails.

      Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe's propaganda chief and one of
      his closest
      confidants, is an unlikely ally. He was once one of
      Mugabe's sharpest
      critics. When recruited by Mugabe he was dogged by
      allegations of financial
      impropriety by the Ford Foundation, for which he had
      worked in Kenya, and
      by the University of the Witwatersrand, where he
      also did a stint.

      These charges have not been resolved. For as long as
      Moyo is a minister in
      Mugabe's government he can expect to remain beyond
      the reach of his
      accusers.

      Mugabe's Cabinet also excludes any individuals with
      political power bases
      of their own. Legal Affairs Minister Patrick
      Chinamasa and Land Minister
      Joseph Made, who have rammed through land reforms,
      and the equally
      unpopular Moyo, are all appointed MPs with no power
      base. They owe their
      prominence solely to Mugabe.

      A new land-tenure pattern -- different from the
      colonial one and better
      reflecting the country's demographics -- is
      supported by all black
      Zimbabweans and many whites. A well thought-out and
      fully funded
      programme, however, could not have satisfied
      Mugabe's need for something
      quick and dramatic to save him at the last election.


      Mugabe's forcible farm seizures now guarantee
      serious economic hardship.
      Prospective farmers allocated previously white-owned
      land do not have the
      resources even to make a start. Government attempts
      to provide free tilling
      services, seed and other support will make little
      difference.

      Zimbabwe's northern neighbours appear unimpressed by
      Mugabe's
      destruction of his country's economy in the name of
      correcting colonial
      imbalances. Though these countries coyly avoid
      suggestions that they are
      welcoming white former Zimbabwean farmers, they are
      quietly
      accommodating them. The official stance of some
      neighbouring states may
      be resistance to Western imperialism and
      neo-colonialsm, but they need
      Western support more than Mugabe's posturing.
      Privately, they are dealing
      with the West. Under pressure, they will drop
      Mugabe.

      Mugabe is feeling the chill of isolation, even from
      his African brothers, and
      recently lamented it.

      Many black South Africans support Mugabe's rhetoric
      and actions because
      of the vicarious satisfaction they derive from it.
      But this will not last, as they
      realise that blacks cannot catch up with whites
      economically simply by
      decree.

      South Africans will also become less enamoured of
      Mugabe as the number
      of makwerekweres (foreigners) seeking economic
      refuge rises. Moreover,
      Mbeki's dream of a Western-funded African recovery
      will also likely expire
      because of events in Zimbabwe and his inadequate
      response to them.

      In that sense Mugabe's Cabinet reshuffle, though a
      non-event, will
      accelerate Zimbabwe' s implosion with far-reaching
      implications for the
      region.

      Chido Makunike is a freelance Zimbabwean journalist

      *****

      'Mugabe's defiance a facade'
      Padraig O'Malley

      30 August
      2002 07:00

      "Don't compare me with Mugabe -- I will give
      Zimbabweans
      the opportunity to get rid of me," says Zimbabwe
      opposition
      leader Morgan Tsvangirai in conversation in Harare
      with
      Padraig O'Malley

      Where is the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
      after the election and how do you move forward?

      President Robert Mugabe was spoiling for a fight. If
      we
      engaged in mass protests, the democratic movement
      would
      have been crushed. We decided to build confidence.

      Mugabe's dictatorship must be confronted by the
      people and
      until they are motivated by a clear goal, we will
      not do
      anything. The regime is unsustainable because of
      mass
      poverty and starvation in rural areas, companies
      closing, no forex, basic
      commodities almost exhausted.

      Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo and President
      Thabo Mbeki tried to
      intervene to legitimise Mugabe, without confronting
      his [il]legitimacy in the
      elections. They chose diplomacy rather than
      democracy and gave him
      space to consolidate. The whole attempt was destined
      to fail from the
      beginning.

      There is only one way out. Mugabe and his cronies
      are trapped nationally
      and internationally. We must find a back door for
      him.

      [More than] 80% of Zimbabweans want change. But we
      have to choose
      between violent and non-violent paths, the challenge
      being a young
      generation who believe it is time to think about
      armed struggle. We must be
      conscious that beyond this chaos, we'll have to pick
      up the pieces.

      Do you think in Zanu-PF there's mounting
      opposition?

      Oh yes. It has dawned that Mugabe is more a
      liability than an asset.

      Does he realise the extent of the opposition?

      To some extent. He is accusing everyone of sabotage,
      including his
      ministers. The gulf between reformers and
      hard-liners who think only about
      power is widening.

      Africa mobilised against apartheid, but not against
      Mugabe. Why?

      Until apartheid was defeated, the anti-colonial
      struggle was not finished in
      Africa. There was guilt on the part of the West.

      Now it's more of a national issue, it does not raise
      international emotions. It
      is a dictatorship and so what? One more dictator is
      not going to make a
      difference in Africa. The opinion is: Zimbabwe is
      independent. If they mess
      up, that's their problem.

      Why do you think South Africa has not openly...

      The African National Congress is divided, but I
      think Thabo Mbeki's position
      is that Mugabe is a stabilising force. He has the
      instruments of power. If
      there is a change of government, there may be
      conflict. His preference is for
      a reformed Zanu-PF government.

      That's like asking for a reformed National Party
      government!

      Exactly. In all nationalist movements, a small
      ruling elite acquires power
      and wealth, while the nation is neglected. Zanu-PF
      justifies its existence by
      saying, "We fought for liberation and no one should
      challenge our
      hegemony."

      That's what's going to happen in South Africa down
      the line. In another five
      years or so the racial divide will be used as a
      scapegoat for Mbeki's failure,
      for the ANC's failure in government.

      Mbeki is in a predicament. [Minister of Finance]
      Trevor Manuel will privatise.
      It's exactly the same ideological contradictions
      that are going to confront
      him. Already they are there. Cosatu [The Congress of
      South African Trade
      Unions] is complaining about privatisation. The
      government say it's the only
      thing.

      Here we had to implement a structural adjustment
      programme. There was
      no alternative to it and yet we knew that the causes
      of structural adjustment
      were nothing but corruption and maladministration,
      otherwise we wouldn't
      have needed it.

      Then down the line the government tries to say there
      is no alternative, but
      down the line when people complain about the effects
      of that programme --
      the government starts using the racial divide. It's
      a very good scapegoat. I
      have no doubt in my mind that in South Africa it
      will emerge, but give it
      another five years or so, and the racial divide will
      be used as a political
      scapegoat for Mbeki's failure, for the ANC's failure
      in government.

      Have you met Mbeki?

      Unfortunately not. I have met most of his senior
      ministers.

      Have you requested a meeting with him?

      At one point yes, I did request a meeting. I was
      told that I would have to see
      the minister of security first before I could meet
      him. It never took place. I
      don't know whether there is anything personal -- the
      first time we met person
      to person was when he was with the ambassador so it
      was not a person to
      person meeting at all.

      Have you met Nelson Mandela?

      Oh yes. I have a very high regard for him. Within
      three hours of asking him
      for a meeting, I met him.

      When Mugabe said, "Our former colonial masters are
      interfering in
      our affairs again", did he touch a nerve in Africa?

      That's what he wanted to touch. In Africa there is
      solidarity of leaders, not
      solidarity with the people. The attack on Mugabe is
      one every African leader
      fears most: democratic participation.

      But Mugabe is not only to blame, we have a land
      question here. It's not as if
      Britain is fighting for democracy in Zimbabwe; it
      has its own national interest
      in the land question. The robust British
      participation has not been good for
      us. There are many African crises, why this special
      interest in Zimbabwe?
      Those who distinguish between the forest and the
      trees are labelled puppets
      of whites and the British.

      So other African countries would not condemn Mugabe
      because that
      would see them being collaborators with the former
      colonial
      masters?

      That's what has stopped Mbeki in his tracks. There
      were stories in The
      Herald saying, "Mbeki's supporting the West." That's
      why dictators are
      attacking Nepad [the New Partnership for Africa's
      Development] and why the
      [African Union's] agenda is blurred.

      The reformers [in Africa] are saying: "We've had 30
      years' experience of
      nationhood, it's time we owned up to our mistakes."
      But others hide behind
      the colonial past. The colonial agenda is
      manipulated, not for the good of the
      African people, but for the good of leaders.

      Zanu-PF took the land reform agenda from the MDC and
      made it their own,
      but to raise emotions, bring back the liberation
      struggle. Whites had to be
      put off the land, invasions and violence had to take
      place.

      What have the beatings to do with land reform? The
      people realise it is not
      just about land. They are not convinced that for 22
      years Zanu-PF had no
      capacity to implement land reform, but that six
      months before elections, it
      became necessary to implement it.

      What can Mbeki and Obasanjo do to legitimise the AU
      and Nepad
      approach -- Africans taking responsibility for
      resolving conflicts and
      guaranteeing democratic governance?

      They say: "Zimbabwe is so crucial we don't want to
      push it so that it
      becomes a conflict area." We have so many conflict
      areas; it's difficult to
      establish African credibility. So let's solve the
      others: Angola, [Democratic
      Republic of Congo], Sudan, Sierra Leone.

      Eventually they will have to come back to the
      Zimbabwean crisis. Their
      agenda will be: the only solution is a government of
      national unity. We've
      gone through this before, with Joshua Nkomo [the
      late Zimbabwean
      nationalist leader]. The people won't hear of it
      because they [have] got a
      government of leaders, not of the people.

      Have you seen a change in Mugabe? One can see him
      now as a
      megalomaniac.

      He is a megalomaniac. He's totally irrational, even
      for his own interest. The
      defiance is a fa?ade; deep down he's afraid of
      change that will hold him
      accountable. He's done so much harm to people. A
      frightened, trapped
      animal is more dangerous -- hence the need for a
      back door. But that can
      only be guaranteed by [those] outside. He can't
      believe people inside
      [Zimbabwe] will forgive him.

      We hoped South Africa would guarantee his exit, but
      I don't think that is
      happening.

      What effort is the government making to manage
      HIV/Aids?

      HIV/Aids programmes were more of a private
      initiative, rather than one of
      government leadership. We still have denial: "He
      didn't die of Aids, he died
      of malaria." There has been no national focus and
      the pandemic has been
      devastating. [More than] 25% of adults are
      HIV-positive. What is important
      is political leadership, no ambiguity.

      Where is Aids among the MDC's priorities?

      Number three, after poverty and law and order.

      Does the Mugabe government allow anti-retrovirals?

      There isn't the debate that we saw in South Africa.
      Anti-retrovirals are
      allowed, but it's a question of availability and
      cost.

      How do you compare the government's position here on
      Aids with
      the government's position in South Africa?

      Mbeki made it a personal issue, making arguments on
      academic lines. He's
      not a scientist, so has no authority. It does not
      solve the problem. South
      Africa was at an initial stage of infection and he
      could have done much to
      prevent the disease.

      When the first Aids case was detected here
      [Zimbabwe], there was
      bombast by the health minister that there is no Aids
      in Zimbabwe. Total
      denial for the next three, four years.

      What compels governments to deny the existence of
      Aids?

      Dictatorial governments prescribe what is good for
      the people rather than
      allowing the people to define what is good for them.


      You have a population that appears ... fairly
      apathetic about the
      lengths they will go to ensure change.

      I don't think Zimbabweans are that docile -- why did
      they fight for liberation?
      A dictatorship has instilled fear on a massive scale
      and would do everything
      to retain power, including killing people. We are
      almost in a [Augusto]
      Pinochet situation.

      Our biggest challenge is when change comes, let's
      not make it a change of
      power, but involve the people in a new political
      culture. Restore confidence
      slowly, bring people on board to feel that national
      institutions, the police,
      your army, the [Central Intelligence Organisation],
      whoever, are there to
      serve them.

      Are there two components in the MDC, held together
      because you all
      want to get rid of Mugabe?

      I don't think we are united by our hate of Mugabe.
      The social democratic
      platform has been good for uniting people. You need
      to recognise the
      elements of production and redistribution.

      I told the Cosatu executive, who are still crazy
      about Marxism-Leninism:
      "The biggest lesson we have learned in Zimbabwe is
      cut the rhetoric."

      Our experience has been rhetoric about socialism;
      for 10 years we were on
      a campaign of redistribution without considering
      production. What
      happened? We had nothing to distribute and a
      structural adjustment
      programme.

      The ANC said pre-1994: "We must bring the people on
      the board."
      The public protector's last report to Parliament
      said service delivery
      has not improved since 1996; that there's increasing
      alienation
      between the government and the people...

      Judge me as an individual; don't judge me with
      Mugabe. I tell Zimbabweans:
      at least I will give you the opportunity to get rid
      of me.

      Padraig O'Malley is a senior fellow at the John W
      MCCormack Institute at
      the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He has
      monitored the transition in
      South Africa since 1989. His work is now being
      archived by the Robben
      Island Museum

      *****

      Zambia refuses GM
      'poison'

      Zambia's president has refused to overturn his
      ban on genetically modified (GM) food aid
      despite the food crisis which is threatening up
      to 2.4 million people.

      Levy Mwanawasa said he would not allow
      Zambians to eat "poison".

      Up to 13 million people face
      famine across southern
      Africa, aid agencies have
      warned.

      But much of the food aid
      delivered so far has
      been GM maize from the
      United States.

      Zimbabwe has also banned GM aid in case it
      contaminates local crops.

      A deal was done with Zimbabwe, whereby GM
      food was milled before being distributed, so
      that it could not be planted.

      Similar arrangements have placated fears over
      GM food aid in Malawi and Mozambique.

      Lost markets

      "Simply because my people are hungry, that is
      no justification to give them poison, to give
      them food that is intrinsically dangerous to
      their health," Mr Mwanawasa told journalists at
      the World Summit on Sustainable Development
      in Johannesburg.

      Just last weekend,
      hungry villagers
      stormed a chief's
      palace in rural Zambia
      and made off with
      2,000 bags of maize.

      They complained that
      they were dying of
      starvation while food
      was lying idle.

      The World Food
      Programme has warned
      Zambia to accept GM
      food aid due to the food crisis.

      United States aid officials deny that the food
      is unsafe, pointing out that Americans eat GM
      maize every day.

      The World Health Organisation has certified the
      grain for human consumption and says it does
      not constitute a danger to people's health.

      But there are fears that southern African
      nations could lose lucrative export markets in
      Europe if they cannot certify that their crops
      are GM-free.
    • Christine Chumbler
      Voting doesn t fill the belly Justin Pearce 12 December 2004 23:59 Mozambique s ruling party, Frelimo, surged ahead last week in unofficial results from the
      Message 57 of 57 , Dec 14, 2004
      • 0 Attachment
        'Voting doesn't fill the belly'

        Justin Pearce

        12 December 2004 23:59

        Mozambique's ruling party, Frelimo, surged ahead last week in unofficial results from the country's recent election, puzzling analysts who had expected a neck-and-neck finish with the opposition Renamo. At the same time, evidence of ballot-stuffing in some remote districts cast a shadow over the clean bill of health that international observers gave the elections.

        Projections suggest that Frelimo's presidential candidate, Armando Guebuza, will get 60% of the vote, as compared with 35% for Renamo's Afonso Dhlakama, who in 1999 collected nearly 48% of the vote. These projections are based on results posted by individual polling stations and collected by Radio Mozambique correspondents around the country.

        The sharp drop in Renamo support was accompanied by an equally dramatic fall in voter turnout, with numbers expected to be between three million and 3,5-million: less than half of the eligible voters. Turnout in the 1994 and 1999 general elections was 5,4-million and 4,9-million respectively.

        Analysts agreed that abstention had been highest among Renamo's traditional supporters in the largely agricultural centre and north of the country, who felt that the government had let them down, and the opposition had failed to provide a viable alternative.

        "People chose to stay in the fields -- voting doesn't fill the belly," said independent journalist Marcelo Mosse.

        "In the cities, the absence might have been a criticism not only of [outgoing president Joaquim] Chissano, but also of Guebuza -- he is not someone who inspires support."

        The political weekly Savana described the low turnout as "a red card to the political class", which it accused of being out of touch with voters' interests.

        Reports of irregularities were concentrated in Tete province in western Mozambique.

        "In Tete there was clearly fraud, though not enough to affect the final result," said Luís de Brito of the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (Eisa).

        He said two voting stations in the province's Changara district had reported turnout of close to 100%, with most of these votes going to Frelimo. De Brito said the high turnout for the province as a whole gave reason for suspicion.

        "In Tete, we have an average of 400 voters turning out at each voting table, compared with fewer than 300 per table in all the other provinces."

        De Brito said Renamo activists had been forced to leave certain areas of Tete province early in the election campaign, which had prevented them from sending monitors to polling in those areas. Elsewhere in the country, the presence of party representatives during voting and counting was hailed as Mozambique's best safeguards against fraud.

        The Mozambican Political Process Bulletin -- an independent newsletter with a wide network of correspondents -- also cited evidence of ballot-stuffing in Tsangano district of Tete province, as well as in Chicono in northern Niassa province. In the latter, 996 out of 1 000 voters registered at one station appeared to have voted, with Guebuza gaining more than 900 of the votes.

        Such reports contradicted the positive assessment of international observation teams, who praised Mozambique's strong legal framework for elections, the professionalism of polling station staff, and balanced coverage both in state and private media. Asked why the international teams had not picked up the incidents of fraud cited by Eisa, De Brito said these incidents had occurred mostly at remote and inaccessible polling stations.

        The international teams, including Southern African Development Community parliamentarians and representatives of the Commonwealth, the Carter Center and the European Union, were however concerned at the low electoral turnout. Several of the observer teams also mentioned the mistrust that had been created by the party-political structure of the National Electoral Commission, where Frelimo is able to force through decisions by majority vote.

        *****

        Elderly pay the price for raising Aids orphans

        Kezi

        14 December 2004 08:21

        Until a week ago, elderly Hannah Dube and her five grandchildren living in the dusty village of Kezi in soutwestern Zimbabwe had been surviving on small portions of dried white melon.

        Then Zimbabwe's social services stepped in, handing the 75-year-old Dube emergency aid of the staple corn grain to feed her family, caught in the grip of an HIV/Aids pandemic and a crippling drought.

        Her face worn by grief and stress, the aging grandmother's plight in this remote and rural corner of Zimbabwe tells the story of the burden of many other pensioners in this southern African country where HIV/Aids has turned a million children into orphans.

        The UN children's organisation Unicef estimates that more than one in five children will be orphaned in Zimbabwe by 2010, with more than 80% of those orphaned by HIV/Aids, which kills about 3 000 people per week on average.

        Nine of her grandchildren are orphaned -- she is looking after five children between the ages of five and 13.

        Three successive years of drought in this naturally dry region some 600km southwest of the capital, characterised by unproductive soils, and a political and economic crisis have exacerbated food shortages.

        "We only eat one meal a day," said Dube, who lives in a hut next to a dusty road, where her cooking fire has long since gone out.

        "We are used to it now and there is nothing unusual about it," she said.

        While food is available in the shops, people like Dube and her family, who have no source of income whatsoever, cannot even dream of buying any.

        Driving up to Dube's home along a narrow dust road, hundreds of people, dangling empty sacks, were seen walking back home, looking tired, hungry and dejected.

        They are coming from the local business centre where they had gone to register their names for food aid to be handed out three days later.

        "We were told [by an international aid organisation] to come and register our names for food coming next week. But now they say only those on the old list will be given food," Dube said.

        The Zimbabwean government this year turned away foreign food aid, saying the country produced enough to feed its people.

        But Harare has recently allowed the United Nations World Food Programme to undertake a one-off free food distribution to get rid of its stock left over from April when the government stopped general food aid.

        Volunteer workers confirm the hunger in the area.

        "It is depressing to go out there visiting the sick, handing out a few bars of soap, diapers, some antiseptic solutions -- but seeing that what is urgently needed is food," said volunteer Georgina Tshabalala.

        Dube is not only struggling to provide food for her orphaned grandchildren, but also shelter.

        She cleans up grass that fell while she was thatching the roof of her new mud and pole hut in this remote rural area of Zimbabwe.

        With nobody to help her build or maintain their home, Dube has to risk climbing onto the roof to patch it up before the rains bring it down.

        Inside, the fire has gone out.

        Dube said besides the fact that their one meal has already been cooked, she could not afford to keep the fire going because she does not have the energy to regularly go to the bush to cut down firewood.

        The elderly woman -- old and weak enough to be a dependent herself -- said she had no choice but to look after her some of her grandchildren.

        Those who are not under her wing are probably involved in illegal gold mining, rife in the area.

        "I don't really know how they are surviving, but no one helps me with anything. The chickens and the goats you see outside I sell to send these children to school," she said.

        Despite the difficult living conditions and lack of food, one of her grandchildren, Dan, (7), passed his year-end school examinations with A grades. - Sapa-AFP

        *****

        Improved Zim inflation still world's highest

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        14 December 2004 15:15

        Zimbabwe's official inflation rate dropped to 149,3% last month, down from 209% in October, the state Central Statistical Office said on Tuesday. The new rate still leaves Zimbabwe with the highest inflation in the world.

        The troubled Southern African country is in the midst of its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1980, with inflation peaking at more than 600% last year.

        With the local currency plummeting, sending a Christmas card to Europe by air mail now costs Z$40 000 (about R41) -- twice as much as a one-bedroom apartment did shortly after independence.

        A dollar was equivalent to Z$2 at the time, compared with the current official rate of Z$5 600, or Z$8 000 on the black market.

        The Reserve Bank attributes the recent drop to tighter fiscal policies aimed at reining in rampant profiteering and a lucrative black market in scarce commodities and hard currency.

        However, the official inflation rate excludes prices on a wide range of services and imports that have continued to soar throughout the year.

        The cost of medicines, vehicle repairs and health, agriculture and mining equipment has risen by more than 600%. The state telephone and postal companies have increased their fees by 1 000%.

        The agriculture-based economy has collapsed in the four years since the government began seizing thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to black Zimbabweans.

        The country routinely faces acute shortages of food, gasoline, hard currency and other imports. -- Sapa-AP
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