Different Points of View 190509

Duane encourages all those who love Zimbabwe to?join the Prime Minister in prayer for her well-being.
He concludes with the prayer of a poet.

Reporters’ Forum 180509

Lance Guma analyses the week’s top stories with broadcast journalist Brilliant Pongo and political commentator Msekiwa Makwanya. Stories under the microscope include; the MDC National Council decision to refer all outstanding unity government issues to SADC and the African Union, the ZAPU congress over the weekend and the spat between Tsvangirai and guards at State House last week, who blocked one of his security cars from entering. Was the latter a protocol issue or just plain lack of respect?


Newsreel 180509

IMF starts rebuilding ties with unity gov
By Alex Bell
18 May 2009

A delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) arrived in Zimbabwe over the weekend, as the financial lending institution starts rebuilding a working relationship with the unity government.

The five-member team will spend more than two weeks in the country to conduct an assessment of Zimbabwe’s public finance management system. The visit comes almost two weeks after the IMF announced it was resuming technical assistance in targeted areas of Zimbabwe, such as tax policy and administration, payments systems, banking supervision as well as central banking governance and accounting.

Ironically, it is the unity government’s ‘commitment’ to economic recovery that led to the IMF’s decision to resume targeted technical assistance in the country. But while the government, understandably, has remained committed to improving conditions so that money would pour into its coffers, very little else has changed. The African Union and the Southern African Development Community have once again been called in to deal with a political deadlock between the principals of the government, with Robert Mugabe refusing to budge on key issues affecting the country’s future. At the same time, people are still dying, farms are still being invaded and innocent people are being targeted with arrest.

Meanwhile, generations of Zimbabweans will live and die before the country fully pays back the enormous debt owing to the IMF. According to a report by the Fund released last week, Zimbabwe is set to start to pay back a modest US$100 000 every three months, to start covering the more than US$131 million in arrears that originally saw the IMF cut ties with Zimbabwe years ago. Mathematically, it works out to a repayment period of more than 300 years, and highlights the deep financial crisis that the country will face for years to come.

Clearance of IMF arrears is one of the conditions for the full restoration of budgetary support for Zimbabwe, which was suspended in October 1999 following disagreements between the IMF and Robert Mugabe over economic management and governance issues. The withdrawal of IMF assistance triggered the pullout by other multilateral financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank (ADB). Zimbabwe still owes the World Bank more than US$600 million in arrears and about US$400 million to the ADB, which is part of the staggering debt figure of US$9 billion that Zimbabwe owes in total.


MDC appeals to SADC and AU to break deadlock
By Tichaona Sibanda
18 May 2009

The MDC-T on Monday officially notified SADC and the African Union of their national council resolution, which calls on African leaders to intervene to address the outstanding issues so negatively affecting the country’s fragile three-month-old coalition government.

The top leadership of the MDC met on Sunday in Masvingo and resolved to write to AU leaders and South African President Jacob Zuma, the current chair of SADC.

The party’s secretary for International Relations, Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro, told us the MDC felt the country was ‘not moving’ and decided as a matter of urgency to seek redress from the guarantors of the inclusive government.

‘This is a very urgent issue. Once SADC and the AU get notification from us, it would be up to them to come up with the machinery to deal with this issue,’ Mukonoweshuro said.

The MDC MP for Gutu South, who is also the Public Service minister, said the issues at hand bordered on the implementation process rather than policy issues. The policy issues were dealt with leading to the signing of the Global Political Agreement.

‘It’s taking long for the issues to be implemented. The country is at a standstill. We are barely moving because we are not getting aid as a result of the delay in resolving the remaining issues,’ Mukonoweshuro added.
The MDC national council also resolved that the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee should be more effective and monitor the full and proper implementation of the GPA.
The party also called on the National Security Council to be convened in terms of the law. Since the formation of the new government, the NSC has not met and Mugabe still chairs the old Joint Operations Command, a body that was supposed to be dissolved after the signing of the GPA.
The chairman of the MDC veteran activists association, Solomon Chikohwero, said it was going to be a miracle if Tsvangirai could get Mugabe to reverse some of the unilateral decisions he made last year.

‘When Mugabe decided to join the inclusive government all he wanted was breathing space. He’s not interested in reviving the fortunes of the country, all he wants is to preserve his power and authority. People are dying, people have no money and he doesn’t care about it,’ Chikohwero said.

The international community have declined to provide the billions of dollars in aid that the country so desperately needs, until the new government showed it was able to effect a fundamental change in policy. The ongoing, violent land invasions alone, have seriously dented the international communities confidence in the unity government.

Tsvangirai and Mugabe formed the coalition government in February, brokered by former South African leader Thabo Mbeki on behalf of SADC.
But the power- sharing pact has remained fragile. Tsvangirai has pointed to the politically motivated arrests and accuses Mugabe of making unilateral decisions in appointing senior government officials, including the attorney general, the central bank governor and provincial governors.

Addressing thousands of party supporters at Mucheke stadium in Masvingo, after the meeting of the national council, Tsvangirai told them the credibility of the new government had been overshadowed by a series of arrests that were political.

In the past two weeks alone, two journalists and a human rights lawyer were arrested in separate incidents and other activists have been in and out of jail several times since December.

Tsvangirai said ZANU PF should contribute to the stabilization of the economy instead of embarking on the arbitrary arrests of people. He reiterated that respect of the rule of law and human rights was necessary to secure international assistance.

‘We are busy luring investors and international assistance but ZANU PF is not concerned about the misery of Zimbabweans. We (MDC) are not satisfied with the dragging of feet to solve the outstanding issues and these arbitrary arrests. If we are ever going to get international aid or resources, all this nonsense about the arrests must stop,’ Tsvangirai added.


Zapu breaks unity deal with Zanu PF
By Staff Reporter
18 May 2009
Mugabe’s ZANU PF was delivered a blow on Saturday when its ally, ZAPU, officially withdrew from the 1987 Unity Accord. The Standard newspaper said a special congress held in Bulawayo attracted disgruntled Zanu PF heavy weights, including Cyril Ndebele a former speaker of parliament. Paul Siwela, who contested the 2002 presidential elections, members of the MDC formations and civil society representatives were also present at the congress.
Interim ZAPU leader Dumiso Dabengwa said: “The re-emergence of ZAPU and its extrication from the Unity Accord of 1987 is informed by the noble agenda which seeks to renew the Zimbabwe dream through rebuilding infrastructure, providing economic stewardship, building democratic institutions and respect for the rule of law, devolution of power, human rights and civil liberties.”
He said: “It is with this message that ZAPU wants to restore the respectable nationhood. The will of the people is the pivot around which proper, able and accountable leadership is elected, and true empowerment and emancipation will be the ultimate goal.”
ZAPU, which was founded by the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo in 1961 was, like the MDC, forced into a coalition government following a bloody campaign against its supporters by ZANU PF. The Unity Accord was signed after the regime unleashed the North Korean trained 5TH Brigade on ZAPU strongholds – Matabeleland and the Midlands – killing over 20 000 people.
Dabengwa said former ZAPU leaders, Vice-President Joseph Msika and John Nkomo the Zanu PF chairman, no longer represented the interests of the party, since they vowed to remain in ZANU PF.
Meanwhile, a showdown is looming between the two parties after Mugabe responded angrily to the pull out. According to reports Mugabe insists the unity accord is still intact and went on to label Dabengwa a ‘disgruntled rebel.’ However the Standard newspaper reported that members at the congress resolved to recover its properties seized by Mugabe’s old administration, and find various strategies to build structures that will turn it into a fully fledged party.
Since the Unity Accord, ZAPU leaders have accused the Mugabe regime of neglecting their region and of refusing ‘to fulfil commitments it made in the agreement such as rotating the party’s leadership, changing party symbols and giving equal opportunities to cadres from ZIPRA and ZANLA, their former military wings.’


15 MDC youths arrested after clashes with ZANU PF
By Lance Guma
18 May 2009

A second attempt to hold elections for the Zimbabwe Youth Council, ended in violence between ZANU PF and MDC youths at the Mhlahlandlela government complex in Bulawayo this past Friday. The previous Friday, similar but controlled tensions, forced a postponement of the government sponsored council, after ZANU PF youths climbed on top of tables while shouting obscenities at the MDC youths. They alleged their rivals far outnumbered them and had an unfair advantage in terms of the allocation of posts. A decision was then made to move the dates forward by a week.

Our correspondent Lionel Saungweme reports that police were called in to quell the disturbances after the second attempt at holding the elections erupted into open warfare. He said the ZANU PF youths provoked the disturbances, but ended up on the receiving end. Nonetheless it was about 15 MDC youths who police arrested and no one from ZANU PF was picked up. Deputy Youth Development Minister Thamsanqa Mahlangu, who is from the MDC, accused the ZANU PF youths of trying to frustrate their members and ‘grab all the positions’ in the council.

Not much has been known about the Zimbabwe Youth Council until recently, when the coalition government was formed. Saungweme told us despite claims the council was there to promote training programmes for youths to be economically empowered, the history of the body shows it was just a cover for brainwashing youths into supporting Mugabe’s regime. It is also alleged the Youth Ministry used the council funds allocated to it to sponsor violent campaigns against the opposition, using ZANU PF militia youths.

The Youth Ministry, still run by ZANU PF minister Saviour Kasukuwere, has a very notorious past. During last years violent elections Kasukuwer then deputy youth minister, was nicknamed ‘Paraquat’ for encouraging party youths to rub the highly poisonous herbicide onto the torture wounds of MDC activists. This meant that it was almost impossible for the wounds to ever heal and caused enormous suffering and a number of deaths. It is little wonder attempts to merge MDC youths into this youth council are meeting so much resistance.
In April this year violent clashes broke out between ZANU PF and MDC supporters at a youth summit, organised again by the Youth Ministry. Problems erupted during the feedback stage of the conference, over the sensitive issue of national healing and reconciliation. Those who attended told Newsreel at the time that the clashes were started by ZANU PF youths who threw water glasses at student leader Clever Bere. This angered the students present and fists fights began. A sizeable amount of hotel property was damaged during the fracas. Its alleged Kasukuwere never left his seat and just watched during the time the youths were exchanging blows.


WOZA protest failures of unity government
By Violet Gonda
18 May 2009

Over 1 000 members of the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise took to the streets in four separate demonstrations, that merged at the government complex in Bulawayo on Monday.

WOZA spokesperson Annie Sibanda said the aim of the protests was to highlight the failures of the first 100 days of the power sharing government and the fact that very little progress had been made in the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans. She said the demo went very well and there were no arrest.

The group said it had given the politicians breathing space since the formation of the unity government but that now it’s time to show that ordinary Zimbabweans are growing tired, as nothing has changed since the formation of the GNU in February.

WOZA have a list of priorities they want the inclusive government to address immediately. The list was compiled after the pressure group conducted a survey, asking the public what they would prioritise if they were in the coalition government.

According to the survey the priorities should be decent and affordable education, stabilisation of the economy and restoration of the rule of law, including the resignation of police commissioner Augustine Chihuri.

Despite the formation of the inclusive government MDC officials, such as sitting MPs, are being arrested and jailed and so are journalists and lawyers. Sibanda said ordinary people across the country are also still being harassed. “Our members across the country are reporting that they are being stopped and arrested for petty infringements and being made to pay bribes or fines – and the amount of police harassment of ordinary Zimbabweans has increased. So there really is a demand for the police force to become professional and receive human rights training outlined in the Global Political Agreement.”


Callback 180509

Last says that people had high hopes of the GNU but they have been let down, and he describes the government as ‘hopeless and dysfunctional’; whereas Tapfumaneyi feels that even though the GNU has brought about some positive changes, such as the ready availability of food, they are still to address problems like the judiciary. Then Ananias complains that the little forex that they get from their jobs does not even begin to meet the high cost of living. He says the MDC should pull out of the GNU.

Letter from America 180509

Dr. Stan Mukasa predicts that true democracy and the rule of law will not come to Zimbabwe until after the 2016 elections.

Rebuilding Zimbabwe 160509

A new charity organisation run by Zimbabweans in the Diaspora is to embark on a project to build a hospital in Chipinge, with donor assistance. Spokesman for RebuidZimbabwe, Josh Chigwangwa, says the charity has already acquired land for its first project. Currently, the charity is helping raise funds to assist Jester Mpofu, the mother of the conjoined twins who died in April at Mpilo Hospital.

Through the Valley 160509


Hot Seat 150509

Violet’s guest is Shadreck Manyere, the photo journalist who spent 5 months in police custody and is facing charges linked to alleged plots to overthrow the Mugabe regime. Manyere, who was finally granted bail on Wednesday, believes he was targeted because of his work, which included footage of Operation Murambatsvina, which was sent by NGO’s to UN special envoy Anna Tibaijuka to illustrate the regime’s human right abuses. The journalist gives his opinion on the unity government, where he believes PM Tsvangirai is being used as a fundraiser by ZANU PF.

On the Pulse 150509

Luis Gimenez and Rugare Musikavanhu from the band Demachena speak to Lance Guma. The two are part of a musical trio who play versions of traditional mbira music from Zimbabwe, as well as fusions of Latin, Katanga, Saharaui and Aborigine music. Demachena are due to perform at the Chimanimani Arts Festival and Lance asks them about this and many other things.

Newsreel 150509

Announcement on outstanding GPA issues postponed
By Tichaona Sibanda
15 May 2009

The eagerly awaited statement about the talks to resolve the remaining issues in the Global Political Agreement, has been postponed to a later date. The principals had been scheduled to issue a statement on Friday.

SW Radio Africa is reliably informed that the principals are still sharply divided over the appointments of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s spokesman, James Maridadi,
confirmed to us that ‘nothing was going to come out from the
principals today (Friday)’. This is despite assurances by Tsvangirai this
week that a statement would be made on Friday.

‘I am afraid there is not going to be anything today,’ Maridadi said without elaborating.

Reports of a stalemate in the talks will not come as a surprise to most Zimbabweans and to many in the MDC, who feel their party is being completely sidelined by Robert Mugabe. An MDC insider told us there is a general feeling of ‘disgruntlement’ in the party because of the long time it is taking to resolve the outstanding issues, that are so negatively affecting the country.

The decision making body of the party is meeting on Sunday in Masvingo to discuss the inclusive government. The party insider told us ‘there would be fireworks’ in Masvingo because of a general consensus of disillusionment in the party.

‘Already there is a combative mood among the party faithful, from top to bottom. The situation is dicey because there are strong sentiments that the party is being taken for a ride by Mugabe,’ our insider said.

‘The general membership of the party is asking; are we coming or going. And if we are going, where to? People are saying we have given the principals enough time but nothing has happened. In any negotiation there is a cut off point. People cannot talk forever,’ he added.

The MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti last week gave an ultimatum to Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara to resolve all outstanding issues of the GPA by this past Monday.

This ultimatum signalled the growing frustration with the inclusive government, which is affecting the country’s economic and social problems.

‘Look all of us are getting poorer by the day because of the unresolved issues. But that ultimatum by Biti was not a bluff. The man was not bluffing, just wait for Sunday and you will see what he meant,’ our insider said.

In the past three weeks Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara have met eight times to try to deal with the sticking points. All the time, they have failed to agree, as daily it becomes clearer that Mugabe is determined to hold on to all the reins of power.


Two more MP’s suspended by Mutambara MDC
By Lance Guma
15 May 2009

After suspending 3 MP’s and another 3 officials last week, the Mutambara MDC have moved to suspend a further 2 MP’s this week, on allegations of undermining the reputation of the party and its leadership. Bulilima East MP Norman Mpofu, Nkayi West MP Abednico Bhebhe and Lupane North legislator Njabuliso Mguni, along with national youth chairman Gift Nyandoro, white commercial farmer Alex Goosen and former St Mary’s MP Job Sikhala, were the first to get suspension letters. Hardly before the dust settled on that issue Gwanda North MP Zinti Mnkandla and Tsholotsho South lawmaker Maxwell Dube were summoned to answer similar charges of plotting to oust the leadership.

For a party with only 10 legislators in parliament many analysts are surprised the party can risk attempting to sack 5 of its MP’s. Although under a power sharing deal the Mutambara MDC can have by-elections to replace its MP’s, those removed are allowed to run as independent candidates since none of the other parties, ZANU PF and the Tsvangirai MDC, can field candidates for the by-elections. There is also a risk the other major parties can support an independent candidate of their choice who will vote with them in parliament. All these considerations are probably weighing heavily on party president Arthur Mutambara and his deputy Gibson Sibanda, who reportedly clashed with Secretary General Welshman Ncube over the matter.

Acrimony in the camp is said to be high, with the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper reporting that Ncube threatened to quit the party if the officials were not suspended. Although Mutambara and Sibanda wanted the charges dropped, Ncube’s position was pushed through with support from his deputy, Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga and treasurer-general Fletcher Dulini Ncube. Suspended national youth chairman Gift Nyandoro told Newsreel there was confusion in the party since they never held meetings. He claimed his suspension came as a surprise, since he quit the party 14 months ago and could not be suspended from an organization he was no longer a member of. ‘I thought the letter was an April fool’s joke’ he told us.


MDC finance plan angers cash hungry ZANU PF
By Alex Bell
15 May 2009

The financial future of Zimbabwe, which is being carefully planned by the Finance Ministry headed by the MDC, is reportedly adding more fuel to the fire of animosity between the party and ZANU PF.

The Ministry, which inherited empty coffers and a rotten international reputation for corruption from the Robert Mugabe regime, has been fighting a losing battle to secure direct cash investment in the government. Donor countries have demanded that real change be evident in Zimbabwe before investing, and have understandably held back funds in the face of ongoing violations of the Global Political Agreement. So far, only credit line pledges to support the private sector have been made, while international donor governments have only funnelled cash directly to aid groups battling the humanitarian crisis.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti is now set to launch a new campaign to mobilise donor funds through structures that are not part of the government, which still has Mugabe and his cronies in top positions. The Finance Minister last week met with donors on the path to creating a Multi-Donor Trust Fund to mobilise donor aid under the ‘Humanitarian-Plus’ initiative; an initiative that will see aid not being limited to humanitarian needs but will also not extend as far as development assistance.

The Fund will be driven and controlled by the MDC led Finance Ministry, along with the World Bank, African Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme, and will completely exclude the involvement of ZANU PF. Biti has also proposed a ‘focal unit’ within his Ministry, which will receive and coordinate donor funding while the Trust Fund is being established. The plan is now reportedly causing anger among ministers in Mugabe’s party, who believe the MDC is trying to ‘hijack’ the unity government by creating a financial centre of power, separate from the government.

South African based economist Luke Zunga explained on Friday that ZANU PF “does not want this unity deal to succeed and they will do all they can to see it fail.” He argued that the party will continue to ‘frustrate’ any process that will see the MDC become successful, saying ZANU PF would rather “lay the blame of the failure of the unity government at the MDC’s feet.”

Ironically, when forming the unity government, MDC control of the Finance Ministry was one of the first concessions made by Mugabe, because of the party’s probability in securing cash injections in the government.

But Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai himself has admitted that ZANU PF hardliners within the government are intent on seeing the unity deal fail.


Tsvangirai stopped from attending State House function
By Violet Gonda
14 May 2009

Last month National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) leaders reported they had been blocked in their attempts to see the Prime Minister, by security details at his Munhumutapa offices, despite having been invited by Mr Tsvangirai himself. The Prime Minister sent his private secretary to confirm that Dr Lovemore Madhuku and his team were his guests, but they were still turned away by the security agents. The NCA leadership drove off but were called back by Constitutional Minister Eric Matinenga, who told them that Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe had been called in to intervene.
At the time NCA Director Ernest Mudzengi said when they finally saw the Prime Minister he acknowledged that on a daily basis his visitors undergo harassment and he was trying to stop this.
This week another incident has occurred, which exposes the fact that the Prime Minister is still not being accorded the respect he deserves. A delegation from North Korea is visiting Zimbabwe and Mugabe held a state banquet in their honour.

Although Tsvangirai had an invitation to attend the banquet he was forced to make a u-turn when he arrived at the State House for the event. His spokesperson James Maridadi said the guards denied him entry, because one of his security cars had not been cleared.

Maridadi said the Prime Minister refused to go in without part of his motorcade and went back home. Maridadi said: “The Prime Minister was driving into (State House) and one of his lead vehicles was said to be unregistered by those who were manning the entrance, and they said this vehicle would not go through on account that it was not registered. So as a matter of principle the Prime Minister said in that case I might as well make a u-turn and go back home.”

No one else had problems getting into State House, including other cabinet ministers from the MDC-T.

One observer said it’s incomprehensible that the MDC ministers did not walk out in solidarity with their leader: “When the MDC crowd heard that Morgan Tsvangirai was shut out they should have left the dinner in midstream, but shockingly sat through the entire charade.”

Since the issue happened at the gate it is possible that the MDC ministers may not have known what had happened. We tried to get clarity on this from James Maridadi, but he said he couldn’t comment on other MDC officials as he is only the spokesperson for Mr Tsvangirai. We then called MDC spokesperson and Information Minister Nelson Chamisa, but he said he couldn’t comment as he is not the spokesperson for the government or for Mr. Tsvangirai.

Zimbabweans have not forgotten the Gukurahundi, that saw the massacre of at least 20 000 people from the Matabeleland and Midlands regions, and the role the North Koreans played in training Mugabe’s 5th Brigade involved in the attacks.

Many observers have criticised the fact that the MDC even considered attending an event for the North Koreans. Political commentator Glen Mpani said: “It’s just mind-boggling why the MDC decided to sanitise the visit of such a controversial delegation, whose record on good governance is very poor. The MDC’s constituency in Matabeleland was victim of the product of the Koreans. What message is it sending to them? Sadly once again under the guise of working together, the party is condoning the 80s brutal acts and impunity, and dining with the devil.”


Lawyer Alec Muchadehama & Clerk of Court released on bail
15 May 2009
By Violet Gonda

Prominent human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama was released on bail on Friday, a day after being arrested and charged with obstructing the course of justice, in a case involving three abductees.

Muchadehama was granted bail of US$100 and told to report to the police once a week, by Magistrate Archie Wochiunga. He was remanded to 28th May.

The lawyer is accused of conniving with Constance Gambara, a clerk to High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, in facilitating the release on bail of freelance photojournalist Shadreck Manyere and MDC officials Gandhi Mudzingwa and Chris Dhlamini on 17th April. The abductees were re-arrested just a few days after their release. The three are among a group of activists accused of plotting to overthrow the ZANU PF government.

The Clerk of Court, who was arrested and detained with her nine month old baby last Thursday, was released on bail late Thursday, after the State indicated they no longer wanted to oppose her bail.

Media organisation, Misa- Zimbabwe, said the Law Society of Zimbabwe convened an urgent meeting of its members to discuss the issue of Muchadehama’s arrest, which they described as continuing harassment of members of the legal fraternity.

They resolved to petition the Minister of Justice, the Chief Justice, The Home Affairs Minister and the Attorney General and a protest march is scheduled for Tuesday.


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