Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for October, 2010


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Wednesday, October 27th, 2010 by Bev Clark

From a Kubatana subscriber:

Raphael’s weekend off

I took Raphael; our gardener of two decades, to his home situated some 30kms north of our scruffy city.  I started by asking him if he wished to retire. “No I am only 52 and I have twins of four years”. I followed up by asking for his views on the talk of elections next year.  “We do not want elections as “they” will just come back and beat us. There is no one to stop them!”  This on the outskirts of the MDC stronghold.

We turned off the Domboshawa tar road at a “business centre” called Crossroads.  I soon picked up a large, imposing man with a shaven head. On our right was a cemetery with freshly borders to each grave.  I issued a compliment. He said, “This is our Heroes Acre where liberation fighters are buried. I am Petro the area co-ordinator.” Or, in other words, the local Zanu heavy. ” My area has 1,400 households each with a few families as the people in this place are polygamous.”

Raphael and Petro struck up a conversation.  Soon I dropped this man Petro off – he had transformed immediately into a thug in my mind.  Raphael seemed relieved that we were back to the two of us. “That is the man who, with his youths, will beat us when the elections start.”  Such synchronicity.

We drove into Raphael’s home down a goat track to find his wife pounding maize, three goats (one very thin) in a pen awaiting their daily reprieve to forage the close shaven couple of hectares. His four kids ranging from 19 to 4 years of age, greeted their father smiling. He had returned with six bags of fertiliser.

Zimbabwe’s Transition in Comparative Context

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Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 by Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa

The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Foundation, in collaboration with the Mass Public Opinion Institute hosted a conference recently for politicians, civil society and scholars to share their perspectives on Zimbabwe’s Transition. Among the presenters was Cyprian Nyamwamu who shared some experiences of Kenya’s transition.

In concluding his presentation Mr. Nyamwamu made the following remarks:

Monitoring and enforcing accountability in government must be made a systematic process that is carried out by political non-state actors. In Kenya this has been largely successful except that the entrenched culture of impunity makes it to secure behaviour change and governance.

The state cannot be left to reform on its own. It is the role of forces outside and inside the state to escalate the demands for reforms. This requires a deliberate construction of democratic movement that galvanises the energies to force democratic negotiations about the future of our democracies be it in Kenya or in Zimbabwe. Innovative strategies for ensuring sustainable reforms can only be realised if reforms are held within a political and transitional justice framework where reforms are broad rather than confined to some formal changes that do not open up the state to concerted reforms.

In Zimbabwe like in Kenya, democratic reforms and political transition shall not be sustainable without a thorough transitional justice agenda where public and private citizens, officers and groups get to account for violations and injustices that may have been committed in the past. A new democratic state and cohesive nation cannot be expected in countries where victors’ justice is the order of the day and where impunity has taken root.

There is need for the Inclusive government of Zimbabwe to be sustained even with it inherent limitations until the national democratic project is delivered. V.    It is our view that elections in Zimbabwe before 2013 shall not add value to the Zimbabwe democratic deficit. It is feared that elections before 2013 may precipitate a return to the multiple socio-economic, humanitarian and political crises that were witnessed in the aftermath of the 2008 elections.

It is hoped that the democratic forces in ZANU-PF, MDC, civil society, the private sector and other sectors of the political economy shall adopt an attitude of ‘no reforms no elections’. Reforms here must mean both reforms on paper and in the real world. Reforms cannot happen if the only logic of the political actors is power for the big boys. Those in power must be convinced including through positive sanctions to embrace and champion reforms for the sake of the people and the nation.

SADC must construct a better national democratic reform framework for Zimbabwe than the current one. In the 1989 Poland political Transition example, the President was offered assurances and immunities and Western European countries invested economic incentives into the reform pact that saw the end of the monolithic one-party state rule. This is important seeing as is the case that unlike Kenya, the international community seems ready to leave Zimbabwe to suffer on the ropes for longer. In the Kenyan case in the wake of the post election crisis, the international community made it clear that Kenya was too important to be left to Kenyans alone.

Fear of elections in Zimbabwe

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Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 by Bev Clark

Hello everybody in yo great organisation! Please send me the much needed news! We r tired of this tyranny. MDC is not doing enough 2stop zanu’s rot. Am afraid pple may b butchered again next yr if it remains like this. Please do something now!
- Text message to Kubatana

The MDC is in big political trouble and needs to fix its mistakes

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Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 by Bev Clark

Psychology Maziwisa believes that its the beginning of the end for the MDC. I’d agree with him. A recent news article suggested that Tsvangirai is going to have a hard time getting battle weary Zimbabweans to go to the polls again to vote for his party. To get people out to vote, and more importantly to defend their vote when Zanu PF steals it, the MDC is going to have to engage their brains, rather than their mouths over the next while.

“To survive, they need visionaries able to see beyond the comfort of the GPA” . . . here’s some more very good food for thought from Psychology:

If there is one line of engagement that requires originality, momentum and avoidance of stupidity it is politics. The authenticity of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) project has always been an open question and so a handicap in its own right. However, events of the last three weeks alone might yet herald the beginning of the end of that project.

Doubtless, apart from providing Zimbabweans with a breather, the primary function of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) was to give ZANU PF a new lease of life- and it has. It has also given them time to rediscover, re-group and re-energise. Nor can the effect of the Chiadzwa diamonds be under-estimated. For the rest of the country, however, the GPA has flattered to deceive and been a grievous mistake. But the GPA alone will not destroy the MDC- there are other elements at play.

First, the question of sanctions has revealed a rather treacherous and malevolent side to the MDC not least because they have dismally failed to provide a satisfactory rebuttal to accusations that the sanctions were imposed at their instigation. Indeed David Miliband’s proverbial declaration that the British government would be guided by the MDC on the subject of subjects might well have given it all away.

When history is written, when the moment of truth-telling dawns upon us, this will be counted among the most inexcusable and most unforgivable of the MDC’s actions. Indeed it will count in no small measure among the reasons for the downfall of the MDC.

Second, Tsvangirai’s position on the sanctions as a party to the GPA has been anything but clear. He has called them different things at different times. Nor has he been clear about their effect let alone removal.

For instance, a highly respected figure in Zimbabwean political circles wrote to me in confidence on the subject of sanctions and lamented: ‘Maziwisa, It’s unfortunate that Tsvangirai continues to vacillate on the sanctions issue. I have serious doubts about his capacity to run this country effectively given his flip flopping on important issues’.

And it is not just among Zimbabweans that the MDC has lost important support through the question of sanctions. Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, whose assessment of things many in the West have no choice but to consider as plausible, has constantly and unmistakably called for the removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe. This has been a huge blow to the MDC who have had no option but to join the gallery and also call for their removal although, by the look of things, they would have preferred it if Zuma said otherwise.

And it never rains for the MDC. A few weeks ago President Robert Mugabe’s long-time critic and Tsvangirai’s known ally, Ian Khama of Botswana, added insult to injury by joining the already growing number of African leaders in calling for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe. That the sanctions have yet to be lifted is neither here nor there. Suffice it to say that the European Union has since expressed a desire to ‘reconsider’ its position on sanctions.

Nor can the damage occasioned by the GPA be overlooked. Quite the contrary, it has been devastating to the MDC as a party. Two weeks ago, President Robert Mugabe acted in what many, including this writer, perceived as a disturbing pattern of unacceptable unilateralism.  No question about it, President Mugabe was wrong for reasons that are not the subject of this piece.

But while being so wrong, Tsvangirai’s rather ‘stupid’ reaction was even more so- the culmination of which has since seen ZANU PF’s approval ratings rise by a considerable margin while the MDC’s plummet substantially.  It was a moment of madness. It was a schoolboy mistake from an important politician.

Make no mistake the MDC’s impulsive but characteristic decision to seek the intervention of western and foreign governments in a matter purely domestic and purely Zimbabwean met with widespread domestic and regional condemnation- a sure plus for ZANU PF and a resounding negative for the MDC.

Empirically put, 99, 9% of those I have spoken to regarding the matter believe Tsvangirai’s move gave credence to accusations that his party is foreign founded, foreign funded and foreign interested. They believe it served to confirm allegations that theirs is an outpost of foreign interests. The fact of the matter is that Tsvangirai’s statements and actions make it horrendously difficult for anyone to imagine otherwise.

And the decision has backfired big time. For example, the United Nations has bluntly dishonoured Tsvangirai’s plea. It was always going to take a lot of persuading for Jacob Zuma to even read Tsvangirai’s letter. And, apart from classifying it is as ‘a matter of concern’, the European Union has yet to heed Tsvangirai’s request. Moreover, ZANU PF has made it clear that it would reciprocate any gesture of goodwill from the EU. Back home President Mugabe has since used Tsvangirai’s mistake to announce the imminent end of the GPA, pleading with his party for an ‘acceleration of pace’ in preparation for elections at the same time.

Meanwhile, Arthur Mutambara has endorsed President Mugabe’s appointments. Oppah Muchinguri is doing everything in her power to maintain the momentum. Roy Bennett has fled the country and, in the clearest sign of desperation ever, Morgan Tsvangirai has hinted that he will not leave the GPA. In politics, as in many things in life, one ought to play with one’s cards close to one’s chest. But, then, Tsvangirai has a known propensity to inadvertently disclose party secrets and strategies.

All things considered, the political battle in Zimbabwe has become disappointingly one-sided. It has exposed MDC weaknesses and confirmed ZANU PF strengths. All told, the MDC is in big political trouble and needs to fix its mistakes. They have not done much in the GPA. Sadly they have secured higher praise in certain quarters than their record in government justifies. To survive, they need visionaries able to see beyond the comfort of the GPA.

Only Zimbabweans Can Make Peaceful Elections Happen

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Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 by Bev Clark

Kubatana recently received this interesting opinion from Arkmore Kori:

I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent. (Mohandas Gandhi).

Recent political developments such as the impasse concerning the Government of National Unity with only four months before it expires and the constitutional stalemate have made it fashionable to talk about elections as the only solution to the Zimbabwean crisis.

Many, including Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, believe that with the help of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations, peaceful elections are possible. Some have even called for either regional or international stakeholders to be deployed in Zimbabwe to safeguard peace during election time.

But our experience shows that SADC and the AU are powerless to stop any political or election violence in Zimbabwe. When they came for the June 2008 run-off, they just ‘observed’ both elections and the accompanying violence with the mild conclusion: ‘elections were not free and fair!’ In fact, it’s a bit ambitious to expect SADC or AU to make Zimbabwe a better place. President Mugabe did not join SADC, but is the only surviving founder of then Frontline States, which changed into the Southern Africa Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) before becoming SADC. This means he has a lot of influence in regional decision-making. At the same time, it’s SADC that advises AU on regional issues, including the Zimbabwean question. This means any decision made on Zimbabwe at either regional or continental level, is indirectly made by Mugabe.

Indeed, except for Operation Gukurahundi of the 1980s, which had an external influence in the substance of North Korea, the political and electoral violence that has been occurring in Zimbabwe, particularly after the year 2000, has been home grown. It has been organised and perpetrated by four community based conglomerates – traditional leaders, war veterans, youth militias and the ‘women’s league’ – that work together.

Against their traditional role of safeguarding our culture, providing food to the needy (remember Zunde Ramambo?), mediating conflicts and preserving peace, traditional leaders have become an extension of the deteriorating ZANU PF structures. Their mandate in Zimbabwe’s internal conflict is ‘selling out’, pin-pointing and compiling lists of ZANU PF opponents for the salaries and numerous benefits, including houses, vehicles and electrification provided at the tax payers’ expense. The youth are responsible for administering the list of opponents and effecting ‘punishment’ according to instructions they receive from war veterans. The ‘women’s league’ provides moral support: ululating, singing and clapping during torture or murder sessions.

The way forward is to destroy this network. The removal of the youth from this violence equation would make elections safer. Real war veterans and traditional leaders are too old to torture or kill. Recently in Bikita the youth refused to be ‘used’ in violence by war veterans. Communities must discourage the youth from cooperating with violence mongers. Instead, the youth should become the defenders of their communities against the ‘intrusion’ and violence, especially caused by ‘imported youth’ from other villages or districts.

Surely, we don’t need SADC, AU, United Nations or international forces to stop us from beating or killing one another?

“All My Diamonds” – Ideas For A Soap Opera

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Monday, October 25th, 2010 by Thandi Mpofu

It is pure jealousy that has motivated the writing of this piece. Some young man has just been awarded a ridiculous amount of money for sitting in a house for 3 months. I know that I’ve achieved just as much, in fact, I’ve accomplished more, having been unemployed for over a year. Unfortunately for me there’s been no recognition, no pomp and fanfare, and no fat cheque!

However, watching the luck of this fellow unfold, I’ve realised that making money is very easy. If he could become wealthy for displaying absolutely no talent, then I conclude that, with my good looks and God-given abilities, I’ll be a millionaire in no time. So, given my aptitude for writing obscene amounts of drivel, I’ve figured that instant wealth will come to me if I write a soap opera. Why not? The plots don’t need much thought and it’s a billion dollar industry that I would like to be part of.

With inspiration all around, I’ve already drafted a few ideas for ‘All My Diamonds’. I’m sure, in typical soapie-fashion, it’ll make for entertaining and bewildering viewing:

1.    At each other’s throats – It’s always about rivalry and in my production it’s between an elderly man, the patriarchal figure and his wicked son, every soap opera’s proverbial villain. The wretched boy resents that his father won’t retire from the helm of their diamond-mining corporation. So, he turns against him and sets up a rival enterprise.

2.    Back from the dead – The son launches an attack on his father who has to seek the assistance of long-lost comrades. In a dramatic scene, the veterans who were believed to be dead re-emerge and carryout violent campaigns in support of the patriarch.  They manage to keep the ingenious old man firmly in power.

3.    Bloodlines Unearthed – The cause of the son’s waywardness is discovered. Paternity results show that he is not the old man’s child but was sired by a horrid chap from abroad. To add insult to the betrayal, this errant member from overseas was thought to be a friend of the patriarch. Exercising his nasty influence on the boy, the two combine efforts to inflict suffering on the old man and his close friends.

4.    Amnesia – In soap operas amnesia eventually befalls everyone like a common cold, including a trusted colleague of the patriarch’s. He becomes useless in fulfilling his local governance and planning responsibilities with the company. As such, evil forces (probably supporters of the prodigal son) penetrate the diamond-concern. But luckily, the old man discovers this and undertakes a massive clean up of his enterprise, which involves the destruction of tens of thousands of illegal records.

5.    Being blackmailed – The wayward son influences his powerful friends abroad to use their positions to exert pressure on his father to cede control of the company. This results in very difficult times for the patriarch’s employees who endure dire shortages of money, food, electricity and water. The restrictions are also especially uncomfortable for the patriarch and his close friends, whose movements around the globe are restricted. However, despite this, the comrades bravely fight on.

6.    Boardroom Coup – Despite the father’s admirable manner in presiding over the diamond company, its laws of corporate governance state that an election must be held. The father and son go to great lengths to ensure that they secure the votes needed to control the company. It is a bitter fight in which underhanded tactics are used and many board members and employees are assassinated or maimed in the violence in the run up to the vote. When the board does go to the polls, the evil son almost prevails. However, the patriarch manages to avert disaster by citing an obscure rule governing the process. In the end, he manages to retain power, in a run-off contest where his ingenuity sees him as the only candidate competing.

7.    Highly anticipated weddings – Every soap opera must have a lavish wedding and I am toying with a radical idea along these lines.  Imagine that the father and son put aside their differences and decide to unite to make the company profitable and well governed, for benefit of all, employees included. On second thought, that is a boring idea. Such coalitions never work any way. It’s probably best that I stick with the tried and tested, where someone, running from a helicopter or riding on horseback, dramatically stops the union from happening. Then the fighting can go on, the drama will continue and “All my Diamonds” can progress well past its 30th season!