Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for February, 2009

MPs should lead by example

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Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 by Sophie Zvapera

I will start by wishing the new ministers in the inclusive government success in every effort they take to stop Zimbabwe from hemorrhaging and rescue the economy from the continuous slide into the abyss.

I am already touched by the Minster of Education, Sports and Culture’s honest assertion that the government is broke and therefore cannot afford to pay civil servants, especially teachers, anything above USD100. He should be applauded for being honest. However I want to ask the entire cabinet where they are going to get the money to pay the 71 minsters and deputies and buy them cars, furnish and staff their offices? Why is it that the civil servants have to wait to be paid adequately but at the same time we have not heard that the minsters are not going to stop getting their perks for one month until government gets the necessary funds?

Can they lead by example and start by tightening their belts themselves by trimming all the unnecessary perks with effect from the end of this month? This can be done by avoiding buying mercs for all the ministers for example but perhaps this might be too late because already the MDC would want to miss the gravy train I wonder?

The MDC as a workers’ party should understand that our children have missed out on a whole year because teachers were on strike – all they are asking for is a decent living wage. I thought the MDC would look at the civil servants’ plight and give them a decent living wage because USD100 is not enough to pay for a passport, rent, electricity and school fees which is between USD100 – 250 in some of these cheap government schools. So if a teacher who is a graduate cannot even earn a salary that is enough to send just one child to school what does that say for all of us? We do not want to see a repeat of the same behaviour and uncaring attitude from the government as was the norm with ZANU PF.

But already this government is so bloated that the taxpayer including civil servants are going to carry this heavy burden while their plight is shelved for later.

Questions and answers

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Saturday, February 21st, 2009 by Bev Clark

I’ve just had an exchange with one of my colleagues about being petty. She reckons I’m being petty about wanting to blog this issue . . .

A couple of weeks ago we sent out a Kubatana email newsletter asking people to write to Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara to remind them that illegally detained pro-democracy activists needed help, and that they needed to be released, forthwith. We used the email addresses that we receive communications from for the two men. A Zimbabwean who wrote to Mutambara got this reply: don’t write to me pliz.

Again I come back to Leonard Mutsa’s recent blog in which he asks, where and when do our politicians welcome and encourage the views and input of ordinary Zimbabweans? Is it too much to ask that a political party have mechanisms through which members of the general public can ask them questions and get some answers?

Supporting shameless parasites

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Saturday, February 21st, 2009 by Amanda Atwood

Either way you slice it, this new government has a big job ahead. On the one hand, there are thousands of civil servants, all of whom need to be earning a living (forex) wage. On the other hand, there’s an overstuffed 61-strong cabinet, and the various salaries, offices, allowances, vehicles and other perks that these ministers will expect – and, I fear, be given.

As a discussant on an email list I’m on put it recently, “Maybe the striking teachers are justified in declining the US$100 per month and demanding more, because with a cabinet this big, where on earth does the govt get the money to support all these shameless parasites?”

The government may try and tighten its belt and scrimp on salaries for the “treacherous teachers.” But somehow I suspect the Mercedes Ministers are going to get by okay.

Calm the rage of betrayals

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Saturday, February 21st, 2009 by Bev Clark

I’m sitting at my desk in my office in Harare this Saturday morning. The room is being painted and furniture is piled up high around my desk. The Zimbabwean sky outside is big and very blue. The Kubatana team reckoned that its time our work space had a face lift. Quite a good idea I think at this point in time as our country could possibly be on the verge of something new. Possibly.

Somewhere in the city Mugabe has turned 85: talk about needing a face lift, he needs much more than that, like a plane to somewhere else; anywhere but here.

I’ve just come across an article sharing memories of Mugabe from various Zimbabweans on the BBC web site.  Andrew Mutandwa, former press secretary to Mugabe, said that “we were hungry for a hero”. Back in the early 80s, Mugabe was that hero to millions of Zimbabweans.

Why I mention this is because I’ve been reading an email from a big hearted, patriotic Zimbabwean who believes that we should shun the phrase “let’s wait and see”. This is what just about everyone is saying in response to the formation of the Unity Government. He believes that we should engage the term “let’s work and see”. The thing is, the majority of Zimbabweans have never stopped working hard, but as Leonard Matsa points out, the politicians care very little for the man and woman on the street.

Another suggestion in his email is that photos of Morgan be put up alongside Mugabe’s in all the public, and private (would you believe) spaces in Zimbabwe where presidential portraits are currently hung. But, we don’t need to do this. Instead, we need to take Mugabe’s portrait down, rather than add to the mugs gallery. The elevation of our leaders through grandiose birthday parties, presidential portraits, brash motorcades and a a host of special privileges must cease. Very quickly the trappings of power corrupt our leaders. And through our consent, we encourage this.

Zimbabweans are going through a lot right now. Besides being challenged by maintaining a sense of dignity and hope on the battleground of unemployment, inflation and a cholera epidemic, this new Unity Government will take some getting used to. Whilst we must look forward with optimism, we have to have some time to reconcile our feelings of doubt and mistrust.

As Chris Magadza, a Zimbabwean poet, writes in “Sun on my Face” . . .

Wipe away the bitterness
From my brow.
Heal my soul, and
Calm the rage of betrayals.

Fractured confidence

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Saturday, February 21st, 2009 by Amanda Atwood

When we told our SMS subscribers that the MDC had agreed to join the inclusive government, the response was largely relief. People sent us messages saying things like “Thank God,” “at last,” and “This is a good move.”

But three weeks into the new government, the cracks are beginning to show. The arrest and ongoing detention of Roy Bennett, Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate, is particularly worrying for many of our subscribers. Here are some of their responses to the news of his arrest:

As head of government Tsvangirai should enlighten us on the circumstances leading to Bennett’s arrest. Has he been criminal or an enemy of government? Why include him in cabinet when he has arrest warrant? Moreover I think there was a clause telling us to forget the past and open a new chapter in their speeches. If we need to prosecute for past crimes then the whole Zanu PF hierarchy should be arrested.


Bottom line. Bob has to go. Sorry

This is totally unacceptable. Let us walk out of this farce.


What charges are they arresting Bennett? Otherwise this inclusive government is a bluff. Tsvangirai might have been corrupted and sold out. The much needed rescue package is gonna not materialise. So the set up is a failure. We still at zero. If there is no selling on Tsvangirai ‘s part let him be the first protestant so that we have direction otherwise we need to further study the set up before we conclude anything.


Zanu is undermining the very fragile Political Agreement by arresting a Dep. Minister nominee. They always want to complicate situations. They should release him.

Fight for fresh elections

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Friday, February 20th, 2009 by Bev Clark

The International Socialist Organisation (ISO) has always offered a different vision and plan for ridding Zimbabwe of the Mugabe dictatorship. The February 2009 lead story in the Socialist Worker, the ISO’s quarterly newspaper, called for the fight for fresh elections under a new people-driven constitution. The article has just been published online by International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

The ordinary people have no choice but to fight back against the massive attacks on their living conditions arising from dollarisation and liberalisation. For these reasons, progressive social movements, trade unions, student unions and civic groups must not call for a ceasefire and must not have naïve illusions in the GNU deal or the constitution drafting process. Some elitist and pro-MDC NGOs are trying to persuade, bribe and bulldoze civic society to give a chance to the GNU and its politician-driven constitutional process, saying we can improve on this. We must reject this. If the engine is defective, the car can never move.

Read the whole article here

On the same site you can read how Morgan saved the Mugabe regime

Meanwhile, the University of Johannesburg has organised a seminar called,  Zimbabwe: youth, intellectuals and politics. Three men (why only men?) from Zimbabwe are speaking including Munyaradzi Gwisai, who’s always been strongly involved with the International Socialist Organisation. Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe’s new finance minister will be joining him. And then the already confused realm of Zimbabwean politics just got more confused with the University of Johannesburg advertising that the Prime Minister will speaking as well. That’s Arthur Mutambara, according to them.