The Non-event Talks and Riot Police
The non-event masquerading as the latest round of negotiations on the Zimbabwe power-sharing deal is still going on. Earlier today, some people tried to protest in the city centre about the unwarranted delay in concluding this deal but riot police teargassed them and soon dispersed them. (Riot police in Zimbabwe are relentless, chasing after peaceful protesters,running them down and then driving around town or any affected area dispersing any group that, in their own judgement, appears to be preparing to protest.) There is no such thing as a peaceful protest in Zimbabwe as far as these riot police are concerned. Any protest is illegal. POSA and AIPPA are still in force. These two filthy pieces of legislation make it illegal for a group of more than three people to meet. They make it illegal for anyone to protest without police permission. If the permission is applied for by any group that is not linked to the ruling ZANU PF, it will be turned down.Invariably.Amazingly, ZANU PF never seeks permission, but all others have to. It is unlikely that this will change, even if, by some miracle we end up with Morgan Tsvangirai in government as Prime Minister.We can expect that there will be no condemnation of this police brutality and ruthlessness by the MDC, though. There was no word from them when youths protesting at the inordinate delay in concluding the talks during the first sitting of the new parliament were teargassed and dispersed right in front of the legislature two weeks ago.There is no news from the talks themselves, as is normal. They are being held in complete secrecy. But, for those interested in the extremely wonky Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, here is some news: the market crashed today, Most counters fell and those that did not traded very close to their Friday levels. This, however, is not because there has been any leak from the talks (they are very well-guarded). Rather, punters are now simply crystallising their "profits" (if there can such a thing with 2 billionn percent inflation) after a breathtaking two-week bull run which saw most companies' stock prices rise by more than 500% every day. Much of this has to do with the talks, yes. Punters would like to keep their assests somewhat liquid in case something positive comes out of the process. If that does happen, you can expect the market to take a nosedive, because it is linked to the black market rates for the US dollar, which will also inevitably fall should there be an agreement. If your money is in your account, it is protected against that fall. It is as simple as that. After three or four days, though, this market going to rise again because it will be clear that there is no hope for an agreement to come out of this process.Mavambo. Today, the National Coordinating Committee of the Mavamo.Kusile.Dawn Movement met in Harare to tie up some loose ends relating to the draft constitution and the proposed party's policies and principles. The meeting also discussed fine tuning logistical arrangements for ensuring that no corner of the country, no matter how remote, is left out of this consultative process. Dr Makoni was in the chair and all provinces were present.A lot of emails are coming through to the movement's head office from people who fear that they may miss the boat with regards to making input into the consultative process announced recently. Fear not, fellow travellers, this process is only beginning. In fact, because of the fine-tuning that was taking place today, the draft is still to be rolled out properly across the country for input and consultation. Perhaps in a week or so, that processs will start in earnest. Then, and only then, will the activists currently writing to us and visiting our offices have cause for worry. At that time, also, I will publish here the phone numbers and contact details for all the interim Provincial Coordinators as well as the leadership of this process in the diaspora (US, UK, South Africa and other countries). Giving them out now would be premature.Because I was in the Mavambo meeting, I was not able to get the inside information that I normally impart on this blog (our meeting only ended at 9p.m.). But from Tuesday, you can expect the usual gems.A SPECIAL NOTE HERE TO ALERT ALL OF YOU ABOUT JENNI WILLIAMS AND MAGODONGA MAHLANGU, BRAVE SOULS WORKING WITH WOZA (WOMEN OF ZIMBABWE ARISE), WHO ARE LANGUISHING IN JAIL AT THE MOMENT FOR PROTESTING PEACEFULLY. THE AUTHORITIES ARE CREATING ALL SORTS OF EXCUSES TO DENY BOTH OF THEM BAIL. WE ARE WITH THEM FROM OUT HERE.Till then, keep your fingers crossed for Zimbabwe (though I doubt that will do us any good).
HOW THE TALKS HAVE DIED
Today is Monday. SADC Heads of State have started arriving as I write. It is a futile mission, primarily because Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC, as well as Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF, have lost interest in saving Zimbabwe and in these talks.As stated previously, Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC have abandoned these talks. No compromise from Mugabe, short of virtual resignation, handing over power in total to the MDC-T, will convince Morgan to sign the deal. Even if he gets Home Affairs, Finance, Local government and 12 (twelve) other ministries on top , Morgan Tsvangirai is still not going to sign. At the heart of his intransigence is the dossier he will present to Heads of State today, in which he accuses Thabo Mbeki of being virtually a card-carrying member of ZANU PF. Although an agreement is in place, Morgan wants it all reversed because, with Mbeki no longer president in South Africa, the MDC believes it is worth its while trying for a new mediator and starting the process againfrom scratch. In other words, they no longer want the agreement they signed. New elections is what they want. Or, failing that, a new mediator who will read the riot act to Mugabe, set aside the June 27 election results and installs Morgan as president on the basis of March 29 results, in which he thrashed Mugabe soundly.On the other hand, Mugabe feels humiliated, cornered and is aware that no compromise short of hand-over of power will assuage the MDC leader. He is obviously not prepared to do this, or to carry on talking when he knows that there is now no hope. Psychologists and even just ordinary Joes will tell you that, when a man is humiliated, you can only push him so far, and Mugabe is humiliated right now. His face in Swaziland told the whole story (see picture): the man was fuming. Just watch the footage and look at the photographs. This is quite apart from what he told senior party members when he came back. According to the briefing he gave senior party members on his return from Swaziland, Mugabe now knows for certain that even if he was to give Defence, Home Affairs, Finance and a Vice Presidential slot to Morgan, the MDC leader will still not sign. The opposition party wants a new election. The opposition party wants the presidency. Morgan wants total control and the only impediment he saw previously was Thabo Mbeki. Now he is no longer there. So Morgan sees his chance. This is what Mugabe is now saying. His attitude today is going to be extremely dismissive. There is a deal on the table and Morgan can either sign or tell the truth that he is no longer interested in anything short of being appointed president, since he won on March 29.What this means for Zimbabwe is simply too difficult to put in words. By this time next week, people in Harare, Bulawayo and other cities will be starving to death. Previously, only the rural areas were touched, but now, the cities themselves are under siege. With shops refusing to accept anything but US dollars and rands, and only 1% of the population in Harare, as an example, with access to this foreign currency, the rest will not be able to buy even the most basic of the basic foodstuffs. By mid-November, Zimbabwe will be a few weeks away from being a Somalia of Southern Africa.Put no hope in the promise of aid from South Africa, which is going to give us seeds and fertiliser for the current agricultural season. Giedon Gono himself said yesterday, "senior government officials know where the ships and trains carrying these supplies are and they have already set their traps." All those inputs will be vandalised, pillaged, stolen and flogged off on the black market. No more than 2% of actual farmers will see any of these supplies.This is of little concern to Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe. Their focus is on power, nothing else. The tug-of-war has to do with who gains ascendacy over whom. It is not about the people. Cynically, cruelly, both parties still talk about the people being "hungry", "suffering" yet they seem bent on doing everything in their power to prolong that suffering.To close, then: there is going to be no agreement this year in Zimbabwe unless there is a seismic change in attitude by the two leaders, which is unlikely. Morgan Tsvangirai is getting extremely bad advice and Robert Mugabe ceased long ago to feel anything for the people of Zimbabwe. Against this background, those out there in the diaspora with relatives back home must now prepare to airlift them out of Zimbabwe. Those in the country with no other route to leave should now make preparations for being thrown back into the stone age: electricity will dry up,as will water and other things vital to life, basic foodstuffs, already in short supply, will now dry up completely. Aid agencies which have been concentrating on the rural areas will now find their resources stretched. Their cumbersome distribution practices will also mean that, even in the rural areas, by the time food gets to the people, many many many of them would have died. The children are especially at risk and we may well be witnessing the beginning of the decimation of an entire generation.I did not post yesterday because I was travelling in two rural districts of Zimbabwe, then came back to Harare where I also travelled to four high-density areas, Borrowdale Brooke Shopping Centre, Avondale, Malbereign and Eastlea. One thing was clear: no person is going to be holding his breath today as the talks progress. The people's resignation was truly pitifult to see yesterday.It is a whole load of nonsense that the people of Zimbabwe are being fed by the MDC and ZANU PF and they should seriously start seeing that they do not eat false promises, false sympathy and false hope from MDC and ZANU PF. It is time to look to new leadership across the board.
NO SANCTIONS ON MUGABE, SAYS JACOB ZUMA
There is a lot of mistaken belief in Zimbabwe that when Jacob Zuma becomes president of South Africa, he will be harder on Mugabe. This belief is premised on the fact that COSATU and the South African Communist Party (COSATU), which are largely responsible for mobilising support for Zuma to get the presidency of the ANC, are both vehemently against Mugabe's regime. The MDC and a lot of people in Zimbabwe have now staked the life of the democratic project in Zimbabwe on this flawed thinking. Now, from the horse's mouth, from Zuma himself, we hear that he has no intention of doing any such thing. Sanctions are out. Below is the article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. We should stop looking to outside interests to solve our problem. ONce we do that, we will find that local solutions come easily, the suffering of people will end in a heartbeat.
Down with Mugabe and his murderers!!!!
FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
NEW YORK -- South Africa will stay the course on its longstanding diplomatic policy with Zimbabwe, Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa's ruling African National Congress party, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal Friday.
Mr. Zuma, the likely next president of the country, also said South Africa will maintain its fiscally disciplined policies despite the credit crisis and the weakening global economy.
Endorsing his party's approach on Zimbabwe, Mr. Zuma ruled out sanctions, arguing that the South African-brokered power-sharing deal agreed to last month by Zimbabwe's ruling and main opposition parties is the only viable plan. Longtime leader Robert Mugabe is to share power with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Mr. Mugabe has thrown the deal into jeopardy by asserting control over ministries that handle defense, internal security and the media.
Mr. Zuma said South Africa would try to persuade Mr. Mugabe to make the deal work, and noted the agreement has been endorsed by the international community. He said that when he met President George W. Bush informally earlier this week, "He was even saying, 'We are ready to lift the sanctions, let us ensure that this package works.' Because nobody can produce, at this point in time, a better plan."
In a written response to the Journal, a White House spokesman acknowledged the meeting and said the U.S. is prepared to lift sanctions once Zimbabwe has "a government that represents the will of the people."
Noting that more than three million Zimbabweans have fled Zimbabwe's political and economic meltdown and settled in South Africa, Mr. Zuma and top advisers who accompanied him in the interview stressed that sanctions would likely inflame the crisis and increase the flood of refugees. Zimbabwe faces massive food shortages, and this year its official inflation rate topped 230 million percent.
Mr. Mugabe has retained the presidency through a brutal campaign of violence and intimidation and suppression of the press. While South Africa is Zimbabwe's largest trading partner in the region, the ANC leaders ruled out unilateral action or "bully-boy" steps, as ANC Treasurer General Matthews Phosa put it. The ANC leaders contrasted their collaborative approach with that of U.S. international policy in Iraq and elsewhere, which Mr. Phosa described as "arrogant."
"So stand back. Allow Africans to resolve this issue. We're almost at the door now" of making the power-sharing deal work, Mr. Phosa said.
Since taking the reins of the ANC last December, Mr. Zuma, who is widely regarded as the standard-bearer of the ANC's left wing, has been taking pains to assure international business and political leaders that South Africa's business-friendly policies will remain the same. However, many South African commentators interpreted a recent economic summit of the ANC and its allies as foretelling a leftward shift.
Joking that "Nobody's checking whether [the ANC] is going to go right," Mr. Zuma said that the ANC would continue its "mixed economy" approach that combines business-friendly policies and avoidance of deficit spending with investment in social and public-works programs to try to alleviate the crushing poverty that most of the population still endures.
As head of the ANC, South Africa's heavily dominant party, Mr. Zuma is almost certain to win the presidency in elections next year. Mr. Zuma declined to say whether he would ask Finance Minister Trevor Manuel to continue in his administration, but praised his work and reiterated something Mr. Manuel recently said in a speech: that South Africa's fiscal discipline has acted as a shock absorber in the current credit crisis.
The Slow, Agonising Death Of Zimbabwe And The Lessons Joshua Nkomo Learnt
It really has to be seen to be believed. Inflation is running riot in Zimbabwe, with the US dollar being quoted at upwards of 5 billion Zim dollars per one US dollar. All other prices have followed the same stratospheric route. The suffering it is all causing is now unprecedented.My mother is a case in point. Yesterday, she went to the bank, withdrew Z$50 000 to buy sugar, only to find the sugar costing Z$55 000 for a 2kg pack. She went home and was back at the bank today to withdraw another Z$50 000. This time, she found the sugar now cost Z$90 000. Two days of waiting for hours in the queue just to get enough money for a 2kg pack of sugar.Public transport has been rising by Z$10 000 every single day this week. It is all a dog's breakfast.There is a palpable sense of foreboding for Monday, when the SADC heads of state arrive in Harare to try and mix water with oil. Theirs is an futile mission. Mugabe appears unlikely to budge. Morgan and the MDC, on the other hand, have their sights set firmly on a new mediator and, ultimately, new elections. If these negotiating parties had any sense of shame or even mere empathy for their presumed followers, we would see an agreement in place by Wednesday, but the frightening failure by these two parties to simply acknowledge the existence of reality means that we are extremely unlikely to have any sort of agreement out of this mini-summit.I really do not see what the problem is here. Ministerial office does not in any way mean control of a ministry, especially if Robert Mugabe is still president. Like I have said before, Mugabe appoints ALL service chiefs, including the Police Commissioner-General. He carries them in his back pocket for the rest of their tenure in office. Mdala Joshua Nkomo learnt this when he ran Home Affairs. Legends like DD (Dumiso Dabengwa) were arrested and imprisoned without the Minister of Home Affair's knowledge. He did not even see the arrest warrants or hear of their existence until the deed was done.A report mirrored on www.zimbabwesituation.com says the only group that has bothered to ask the people of Zimbabwe what they think has been overwhelmingly told that the people want an agreement. And they want it now. They do not even put conditions to it. They do not qualify their opinions. In other words, the shape and content of the deal itself, they are not much concerned about. They simply want a GNU formed. Regardless.I really, genuinely do believe that if the MDC and ZANU PF let this opportunity go, it will be the death of this country. It is no exaggeration to say that this is an opportunity for both parties to rise above their time and age. The economy is dizzy from standing on the edge of a precipice. Without clear political direction next week, it will topple headlong into the abyss. As some of the those quoted in the report on Zimbabwe Situation say: if these leaders spent more than a day in the high-density areas, there would be no deadlock to talk about.The people should really be bigger than anything else, consideration for their suffering greater than any other ambition. In practice, this is the Servant Leadership that Simba Makoni speaks of so often. Genuinely, selflessly, putting the the people first means that looking to what's good for them before looking at what's good for the leadership.But the truth is that we, the people of Zimbabwe, have sold our souls to the devil by our meek acceptance of everything we are told. Do you remember that Makoni was shouted at for suggesting a GNU or Transitional Authority, yet the same people are now applauding that same GNU because Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe tell them it is good for them. I have used the analogy of the naked emperor before: it was a little boy who unmasked his elders' hypocrisy by pointing out that the emperor had no clothes on. In other words, it matters not who originates the idea. We need to start looking at the merits of the idea rather than looking at the person proposing it. Our prejudices are colouring our judgement.Those who speak against the GNU have no viable alternative to offer. Yes, it will be an imperfect creature, but it will at least staunch the bleeding. In the meantime, we will have bought enough time to work at perfecting our strategies for office, all of us, because the right to run this country has not been bestowed by God on any individual. Tsvangirai has as much right to aspire to be president as Mutambara or Makoni or Lovemore Madhuku or Nelson Chamisa or Tendai Biti...........you get the picture. The people shall speak. Let them do so without feeling any pressure to act a certain way, in a normal economic and social environment. Let them. And see who they pick!Is it better to see this country reduced to ash than to implement an imperfect agreement. In fact, Morgan Tsvangirai said, "There is nothing wrong with this agreement." His supporters cheered. But now there apparently is indeed something wrong with it, he says. His supporters cheer. Which is it? We need to distinguish between grandstanding and serious business. The lives of men and women of Zimbabwe is a serious matter and does not deserve be treated like a lectern from which to deliver debating points.I don't know what you think. I would love to hear it and I will publish every single comment here, no exception. Is it better to have an imperfect deal than no deal at all?
If They Can, Why Can't We?
To be honest, the people of the world are now sick and tired of whining Zimbabweans. I remember a Botswana reader, writing to a newspaper in his country, stating that all Zimbabweans in Botswana should go back to their country because, whenever they get a chance to vote, they put Mugabe back in power.
Another one was a caller to CNN, commenting on Zimbabweans illegally crossing the Limpopo River into South Africa. Calling from Nigeria, his words, which are now legend in Zimbabwe were as follows: "I used to respect Zimbabweans, but I have now lost all respect for them because I can not understand how a man can run from another man and into a crocodile-infested river. Is that not the worst cowardice?"
Friends from as far afield as Britain, Sweden and Canada all ask the same question: How is it that other countries can throw off dictators but the people of Zimbabwe seem to enjoy being pitied, being felt sorry for, by the world?
The top-of-mind question today is: Do Zimbabweans have the leadership they deserve? Most people seem to think so. Cody Braithwaite at the University of California certainly thinks so. "The people of Zimbabwe and Burma are like the beggar families of India," he says. "For those who do not know, the beggar families in India prefer to beg than work. Begging is a family industry, so if a healthy baby is born into a beggar family, it is considered a liability. It does not elicit the pity of the passer-by. To turn the healthy offspring into an asset as opposed to a liability, the family maims that child in whatever way they see fit. They may disfigure it or take any other action guaranteed to attract the pity of the passer-by so that they can be given handouts. The people of Zimbabwe appear reluctant to confront and overthrow the dictators in their midst. Either they are not real dictators and their populations have simply found an excuse to migrate to wealthier countries, countries where citizens of other less high-profile countries would kill to migrate to or something is seriously wrong with the Zimbabwean psyche."
Cody goes on to disclose that on a per capita basis, Zimbabwe now ranks with Nigeria, India and China as the countries that export the most human beings to the developed countries of the world. "Soon, the major cities of the world will have Little Zimbabwes alongside their Chinatowns and Little Italys."
Where Cody has it wrong is in assuming that there is a whole organised industry in Zimbabwe that exports people to Britain, USA, South Africa, New Zealand and other English-speaking countries. But he does have a point, in my opinion, when he questions the failure of the people of Zimbabwe to dislodge the vile dictatorship of Mugabe. We Zimbabweans are very good at expecting other people to solve our leadership problem. Perhaps he even has a point in saying that we deserve the leadership of Mugabe. Do we?
All we hear is SADC, please help us, AU, please help us, Mbeki, South Africa, please help us. All talk and no action is the curse of the Zimbabwean. Yes, there are some that have acted, but the majority only hope and pray. As the saying goes, God (or the UN, or AU, or SADC) helps those who help themselves. We are very good at at supporting. And doing so blindly.
This is how we created Mugabe.
Unquestioningly, we got caught up in the euphoria of an illusory democracy. Should we follow the thinking of Cromwell and decide democracy is too good for us? Of course not. Yet by default, we speak thus.
The will of the people triumphs every time the leadership and the people face off. Even acquiescence is a will that can be expressed, as is apathy. By tolerating the intolerable, you make it tolerable. By ignoring the unusual, you make it commonplace. Vanhu veZimbabwe havachatirimuka. That is as much a tragedy as it is a potent explanation for the lack of action by our masses. What makes us more helpless than the people of the Philippines were when they overthrew Ferdinand Marcos and elevated Corazono Aquino? What makes us less human beings than the students who lay down in front of tanks in Tianamen Square in China? Are we not as human as the humans who carried out the yellow revolution of Eastern Europe, the humiliation of a Romanian Dictator?
If they can, why can't we?
You see, the removal of Mugabe from power is, by definition, a revolutionary act. Revolutions are not executed by thinkers, but by doers.
Simba Makoni Meets Citizens
Dr Simba Makoni was in the city centre of Harare today, touring areas ranging from the Railways station on Kenneth Kaunda Avenue, First Street to Fourth Street.Why?He wanted to show the residents of Harare and others that it is not ALL their leaders who have forgotten their suffering. Although he is not party to that agreement signed on September 15, the requests that keep pouring into his offices at Old Mutual Centre in Harare clearly show a silent majority out there who have lost hope in the current scenario. Dr Makoni was especially concerned to meet the men and women who are bearing the brunt of the bickering currently going on between the negotiating parties. He saw people who had slept in queues. He saw mothers who had babies crying on their backs but who could do nothing about it because every scrap of food being sold in the country is now referenced to an exchange rate that makes eating a basic meal a luxury for 90% of our people.Makoni was clearly touched by this. All he could do was offer hope. Most people were of the opinion that the leaders in Zimbabwe today are completely out of touch with what is happening to the people. If they knew, so said those met on this tour, they would realise that this country can not stand much longer."Taneta". "Zvichapera rini?" Zvichapera sei?" "Ko, chiiko chiri kunetsa?" "A-a-a zvanyanya izvi" - these were only some of comments encountered on this tour.Others wanted to know when the party is being formed, how they can join and what they can do to help the movement. Yet others wanted to know if Dr Makoni could not help this process and "end our suffering".Most people he met also sought the opportunity to find out what exactly was the reason for the malfunctioning of the banking system in Zimbabwe. They assumed that, since he was once Minister of Finance, he could explain to them why exactly they were suffering like this, since no one else seemed bothered to tell the people what the problem with the banking system was or how they plan to end it. They had pinned their hopes on the talks, but these have now floundered. People are confused and scared. Some actually said that the deaths we will see this year and early next year will be horrendous. HIV patients are not getting adequate funds to buy their medication and the healthy food that can help in fighting away the onset AIDS, children are not learning at the schools since teachers spend days on end in the queue trying withdraw the money that will not even pay for bus fare for two weeks.Dr Makoni did explain that he has repeatedly offered advice to both parties in the negotiations. Some was taken on board, but some of it was also ignored. He made it clear that he is watching the process carefully and will not let an opportunity to end all this suffering pass him by. For now, the best he can do is forge ahead with the forming of a political party, to stand ready to bring real change to Zimbabwe, because change is not change unless it ends the people's suffering. This appears unlikely for the foreseeable future, mostly because of the obstinacy of people like Robert Mugabe.In fact, as the sun baked the heads of babies in First Street in Harare, as grannies fainted in the queues at the banks, as cholera broke out across the towns and cities of Harare because they go for months without water, Robert Mugabe was in Uganda attending a meaningless meeting of COMESA, where he went straight from his flop in Swaziland, while the prime minister-designate is virtually a prisoner in Harare.All the money spent on going to New York for the UN General Assembly, to Swaziland, Uganda, could have helped towards lessening our people's suffering. But that appears to be the least of Mugabe's concerns.The people, however, will prevail. Of that we can be certain.Dr Makoni is not a boardroom type of person. He enjoys being out and about, amongst the people. That is why he says he is not a politician. He insists that he is an activist and has been all his life. It is the reason he travelled the country by road during the campaign in March, visiting the most out-the-way places that never see a presidential candidate.
Bigots Not Allowed
We are fighting to achieve a truly Great Zimbabwe. We are fighting for the right of Zimbabweans to free speech. We are fighting for real democracy. We do not believe that fighting Robert Mugabe automatically makes a person or entity Godly.We have no sacred cows.We should then ask why supporters of the MDC are so scared of opinions that do not sing the praises of their leadership. Why are they so afraid of free speech. You will find in the comments forum of my previous post, "The New MDC Strategy, Zimbabwe's Tragedy", a comment from an "anonymous" who has torn a page out of the ZANU bible and is threateningly informing the blog that we should not criticise Tsvangirai.Why not?There are good reasons to criticise him if we so choose. He is neither infallible nor God. He is not Lord and master of the universe. His party, which has been fighting and losing against Mugabe since 2000 is proving incapable of delivering the killer blow. This blog believes that this is down to a lack of proper strategic superiority on the part of those in whom Zimbabwe has reposed its hope for a brighter future.Only in the world of ZANU PF do you get the mentality that criticising the president of the party is enough reason to be killed. Only there do you find the attitude that the party president is on par with God and criticism of him is tantamount to criticism of God.We reject such nonsense. And where we disagree, we will speak out. Because we are mot zombies, we are not rats to the Pied Piper's sweet music. We will not commit moral suicide by mortgaging our brains to popular opinion or conformist behaviour.We choose to actually use our brains, but we do not seek to force anyone who chooses not use his to follow our example.This is a news and opinion blog, and there is no such thing a wrong opinion. All one can do is offer a different opinion.In that spirit, let us talk about real issues and stop trying to muzzle free speech. Let us not fear interrogating the leadership we have in Zimbabwe. Let freedom ring, then. Fear not to express your views and your ideas. This is the Republic of the Free Thinking Zimbabwean. It is an elite club. And we welcome you, each and every one.
The New MDC Strategy: Zimbabwe's Tragedy
The new thrust by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his advisers is to escalate the Zimbabwean crisis all the way up to the United Nations.Clearly, Tsvangirai and his people are of the opinion that they signed the September 15 agreement only because Mbeki, who they see as pro-Mugabe, was president of South Africa and also Chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Back then, the MDC leadership could see no other way open for them to take over the country. Now they think that either Mothlathe, the new South African president, can be more hard-hitting, or that SADC will throw its arms up in despair, admit failure and open the way for the AU and, eventually, the UN, to step in.It is, as I have said before, a fatal miscalculation on the the part of Tsvangirai and his advisers who have mistaken Mugabe's readiness to negotiate as a sign that he is ready to capitulate. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Should the MDC maintain its pig-headed approach to this whole thing (yes, Mugabe, is also being pig-headed, but he holds all the Aces and Morgan has nothing but a handful of dust), SADC may well declare MDC and Tsvangirai the real impediment to the talks and hang them out to dry.What will not happen is the capitulation of SADC. Nor indeed that of Mugabe. They will never admit failure and refer this issue to the AU. We have been through this before, when Morgan tried to escalate this issue up to the AU, only to have that body refer the matter back to the SADC leaders, saying this was a regional issue. The new South African president has also signalled through his paly-paly approach to Mugabe, that we can expect a continuation of South Africa's policy towards Zimbabwe, which the MDC had mistakenly personalised as a Mbeki policy. It isn't. It is now clear that this is an ANC policy.It beggars belief just how the MDC hopes to turn a trifling matter like the issuing of a passport into an international incident. What would be the purpose? You certainly are not going to get international, UN-approved sanctions approved on this basis.But there is another angle to all this, one which has been ignored by all the media and commentators on Zimbabwe. Put simply, it is this: in these negotiations, it is not Mugabe who is under pressure, but Morgan Tsvangirai. He has played very nicely into the dictator's hands. Mugabe withheld Tsvangirai's passport in the aftermath of the laughable June run-off because he did not want Tsvangirai leaving the country to lobby the UN, SADC, AU, EU and the USA.Now, it is Mugabe who doubts Tsvangirai's sincerity and he does so genuinely. It may be warped thinking on Mugabe's part, it may be ridiculous, but if one is to defeat him, one needs to understand the mindset that is at work in Mugabe's head here. Mugabe, you see, believes that Tsvangirai only agreed to the talks as a means to get his passport back. The veteran Zimbabwean leader believes that, should Tsvangirai get his passport back, he would bolt at the first opportunity, leave Mugabe to cool his heels in Zimbabwe while he visits the capitals of the world to ask for more pressure (i.e. stronger, perhaps even general, sanctions) to be tightened around the ZANU PF leadership that snatched victory from the MDC jaws in June.It means then, no matter what the MDC does, Tsvangirai is not getting his passport back until he agrees to be sworn in as Prime Minister and agrees on a cabinet with Mugabe. Full stop. Mugabe is quite wiling to go ahead with the charade of forming a 5-year tenure government, leave the MDC out in the cold and hold on to the passport. Tsvangirai will be greatly hamstrung by this. He would not be able to leave the country except in the manner of Joshua Nkomo: jumping the border into the arms of his best friend Ian Khama of Botswana and launching a global offensive against Zimbabwe from there. Mugabe believes that it is the withholding of Tsvangirai's passport that resulted in him agreeing to negotiate, but only as a ruse to allow him to get the document back and then flee, perhaps to set up a governmnet in exile, which would be quickly recognised by America and the EU. That passport will have to be prised from Mugabe's "cold dead hands", to use the late Charlton Heston's words.Nothing will move Mugabe, who now sees a new lifeline in South Africa's pledge of US$30 million for preparations around the current agricultural season. It is also likely that, with the SADC leaders having now lost patience with Tsvangirai (King Mswati is snubbing the meeting in Harare on Monday as a direct insult to Tsvangirai for standing him up in Mbabane this past week), they will pool their resources and seek to inject cash and other economic support into Zimbabwe.Investors are also losing patience and, at a conference in South Africa this last week, some were muttering that they will go ahead and buy up investments now and hold onto them in preparation for the turnaround that they are sure is likely to come. Surprisingly, the common consensus coming out of this investment conference was that the appalling state of Zimbabwe's economy is artificial and, with the right kind of support and environment, the currency would rally within weeks and the economy could be back on sound footing within six months. The Telegraph quotes the conference as agreeing that Zimbabwe is "the best investment option" in Africa at right now!!All of this conspires against the MDC strategy. It now looks increasingly likely that the MDC will be in the wilderness for the next five years. There will be a semblance of recovery once the support SADC is extending arrives in a Zimbabwe with a ZANU PF government. This will buy Mugabe time to organise his party and his succession. It will not last, to be sure, and inflation and suffering will come back with a vengeance within a couple of years.Fatally, though, the people, whose hopes have been raised and now lie in ruins, Zimbabweans, will almost certainly move away from the MDC. Basically, in failing to understand the lengths to which Mugabe is prepared to go in order to make his point, the MDC may well have committed political suicide. By toying with the emotions of the peple, they have turned them off. This is fact.Now, however, they are not the single opposition party that they once were. They are faced with a stiff challenge from Simba Makoni, who was in the city centre of Harare on Wednesday visiting with and talking to depositors, people waiting for trains at the railway station on Kenneth Kaunda and others along First Street.Previously, The MDC could hold the people hostage to its own status as the only opposition party, but now, those people have the option of saying, "perhaps if we try Makoni, he has a better understanding of the psychology of Mugabe and can probably outwit him and deliver the people of Zimbabwe from this suffering and economic inferno into which we have been plunged".Interesting times indeed.
Morgan Tsvangirai Plays Tough, Mugabe Ignores Him
Well, it has been an interesting day. Like I said, Tsvangirai wants a complete reversal of the deal he signed on September 15 and that was made clear today.First off, the MDC leader refused to attend SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) Troika Summit in Swaziland. He does not have his passport back yet and was instead issued with an Emergency Travel Document valid for travel to Swaziland only. He said this was an insult and he would not go.Emerging from his car at the conference centre where the summit was to take place in Swaziland, Mugabe looked a bit confused as he was told the news. He looked around and behind him in full view of the camera, as if he expected to see Morgan there!!King Mswati apparently dispatched a jet to fetch Tsvangirai, but the MDC leader sent it back empty, demanding nothing less than his full passport to allow him to travel. Mugabe appears reluctant to give in on this, since he accuses Tsvangirai of globe-trotting to ask for sanctions and "pressure" to be put on Mugabe and his government. He does not want Tsvangirai to go around asking for "more sanctions".But the passport issue was simply an excuse for the MDC. They betrayed their real reason when the party's Secretary General told the media that this issue could not be solved by the Troika. They have now moved the goalposts, the MDC, and demanding that the ALL SADC Heads of State meet to consider the issue and look at other things that they say show Mugabe is not negotiating in good faith, such as the failure to give Tsvangirai a passport.This is vexatious and the MDC risks having the SADC leaders turn on them. You simply can not ask Heads of State of other countries to issue a directive to Mugabe to give Tsvangirai his passport. That is such a trifling matter, really.But the asking for a full SADC summit shows that the MDC now wants to put on the table the issue of getting another mediator. This is unlikely to happen, no matter what they try.Today, the "transfer rate" for the US dollar reached Z$120 million for a single unit of the greenback. Cash shortages are back and the queues in Harare are simply frightening. I have not seen anything like this for some time now. There economys free fall is now accelerating. Mugabe knows this, as does his so-called Governor of the Reserve Bank, probably the most cold-hearted man in Zimbabwe today. Yet they will not be moved. We can expect that there will be no shift from the restrictions that are making people suffer in Zimbabwe. Businesses now routinely price their products at the transfer rate, in broad daylight and Gono and his people do nothing at all to regulate this. Instead, they turn the screws on the people.Strap yourselves in. Zimbabwe is has just boarded the express train to the depth of Hades.
How The Talks Will Progress This Week
Now that we all know the game plan Morgan Tsvangirai has, it is easier to predict with accuracy how this week will pan out on that front.Morgan sees the ouster of Mbeki as a way of revising the deal he signed on Sept 15, essentially meaning that he wants to go back on his word because he now thinks that, with Mbeki out of the way, he can refuse to compromise, have another election and gain the presidency, which is his First Prize. We all know that Mugabe is as tough as old boots and that is unlikely to happen. There will be NO new elections, in two years or three or six six months. We will have to wait the full 5 years.So, here's how it will go: On Monday, they all troop down to Swaziland to meet the SADC Troika. The Toika will say that the offer on the table appears reasonable to them and Morgan should accept either rotation or some of the other compromises suggested for the Ministry of Home Affairs. Tsvangirai, because any decision that does not hand him Zimbabwe on a silver platter is wrong in his eyes, will then denounce SADC (as he has previously done) as a club of dictators and seek to escalate the dispute to the African Union (AU) level.At the AU level, the response will be same: This is the best deal around. Morgan will then scold the African Union and seek to escalate the dispute to the United Nations. But here, he will hit a brick wall, because the mediation he submitted himself to did not involve the UN, except simply as observers (who were not even allowed into the country by Mugabe, if you remember). So they have no standing regarding this deal and its implementation.Then there is the issue of showing cause. Strictly speaking, Mugabe has not breached the agreement, since Tsvangirai short-sightedly appended his signature to an incomplete agreement, which did not contain adequate guidelines on the composition of the power-sharing cabinet. The agreement only provides for the number of posts each party gets, but remains quiet even on the vague notion of "equitable distribution of power" - who gets what in order to balance scales. Tsvangirai and his army of advisers slipped there, as they have always done The dictator laughs all the way to the black market yet again. Inexperience is costing the people of Zimbabwe dearly.When he realises he can't go the UN route, Tsvangirai will either come back to negotiate with Mugabe (we have seen this before: a lot of grandstanding based on fatal miscalculation: Remember the "Mugabe will gone in six months" comment, shouted a rally in 2002 by Morgan Tsvangirai?We will be back to square one, a lot of time wasted. In the end, we will all be brought back to the de ja vu of now by Morgan Tsvangirai. He will come back to the agreement that is on the table right now.That is how this thing will pan out. It is going to be an interesting week and can even spill into the following two weeks. In the end, though, come what may, after a lot of unecessary suffering humming and hawing, Morgan will come back to sign, much more weakened. Mugabe will be much emboldened, knowing that there is nowhere left for the MDC to run to. You see, Britain and America and shout, but they may as well shouting boo to the Niagra Falls: he will not be moved. There is little else they can do. Africa neither has the inclination, nor indeed the power, to haul Mugabe over the coals and give him a good roasting.Checkmate.As Mutambara said: There is a leadership crisis in this country. Unfortunately, that crisis is on both the ZANU PF and the MDC-T sides. One is a rock. The other is a hard place. And the people are getting swung back and forth, pounded against one, then the other. They are past the stage of crying out now. They can only whimper and moan.
The Games Tsvangirai Plays
When the MDC saw that Thabo Mbeki had been deposed as president of South Africa, they immediately envisioned all their dreams coming true. In a signal act of revisionism, Tsvangirai now saw that this was his chance to get another mediator as long cherished by his party, which accused Mbeki of not being an honest broker.The problem was that there was nothing left to mediate. Tsvangirai had already signed on the dotted line. Strictly speaking, the sharing of cabinet posts had nothing to do with Mbeki. If the MDC leader had, through lack of foresight and good judgement, signed an incomplete deal, trusting Mugabe to do right by the agreement, then it was a bed he had made. Circumstances now tell him to sleep in it.But no, the prospect of a tougher mediator to revise the original agreement of September 15 in favour of the MDC was too good to pass. There was only one thing for it: precipitate a crisis. Which is what Tsvangirai and his people duly did. Now they've got their wish. They head to Swaziland. ( I suppose Mugabe was frisked by Mbeki in the Presidential Suite and Tsvangirai's passport was fished from his back pocket to be handed to its rightful owner.) While in that oppressed kingdom, Tsvangirai is hoping that the SADC will recover their lost spines and read the riot act to Mugabe.Fat chance.Whatever happens, the MDC will not find joy. That much is certain. No leader in Southern Africa would dictate to Mugabe what ministry should go where. They are all to timid. Will the MDC walk away? Probably not. Now seeing the stumbling block, in the form of the "point man" on Zimbabwe, Thabo no longer holding sway in Sout Africa, they want to try their luck, perhaps have the SADC leaders declare the problem too big for them and ask for AU or UN help in solving the impasse.The problem, though, lies in the fact that, strictly speaking, Mugabe has not broken or violated the deal. Everything he has done is within bounds. Nowhere in the agreement is it specified what ministries should go to whom. That was a fatal mistake made by the negotiations novice Tsvangirai. His inexperience is now coming back to haunt him. Worse, it is plunging Zimbabwe into the acutest economic crisis any nation on earth has faced in the last 100 years or more.In all likelihood, after Morgan has wasted yet more time, and the people have suffered some more, he will succumb to the inevitable and form the imperfect government that he is now rejecting. It may well be that he will end up getting considerably less than what he was being offered this time around.Next week promises to be a grand old party.
Zimbabwe: Of Waiting, McGee and Mugabe Paranoia
This is the very last chance for Zimbabwe to actually climb out of this hole we find ourselves in. With the Zim dollar being quoted at $60 million for one US dollar, we are on a slippery slope to hell. Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara are still holed up inside the Rainbow Towers as I write this. There is no word on how this will progress. Personally, I still am hopeful that a deal will come today. Mugabe said as much when he told the media as he arrived, "Today is a day for deals."You see, I have been using public transport, Kombis, we call them here in Zimbabwe, to travel around these days. This is where you get the pulse of the nation. It is pitiful. There is not a single day in the last two weeks or so that I have not heard people asking each other every morning and evening in the minibuses what the status of the talks was. These are urbanites. Their contempt for Mugabe is clear from their words. Yet they are so desperate for this process to yield positive results. It is their only hope. It is from these encounters with people living with Mugabe's destruction everyday that I can say emphatically that those who are calling on Morgan to withdraw from this process are a very insignificant minority. The people know what Mugabe is capable of. As Heidi Holland said in her excellent book, Dinner With Mugabe, after meeting the Zim president, Mugabe is quite willing to totally destroy Zimbabwe in order to prove his point that Britain and America are fighting him over land.(As an aside, American ambassador McGee also seems to have a death wish for these talks. Why, only days after confirming news that he played golf with Morgan after the signing of the deal, would he come out now to publicly say there were "large holes" in teh agreement that the MDC leader signed. He is surely intelligent enough to know that these comments are fodder to the Mugabe paranoia that Morgan was told to renegotiate everything by the Americans, who, together with the British, do not want this deal to see the light of day? He does not go a day without food, this McGee, so he sees no urgency to this crisis. And can we have no more of this "we give humanitarian aid" nonsense. he reason Zimbabweans are doing well all over the world today is because they are hard workers. Don't give us handouts. We want space in which to work and eat from the sweat of our brows. By pandering to and stocking Mugabe's paranoia, McGee is ensuring that we never get that chance.)The sensible ones in Zimbabwe know that they will never be able to depose Mugabe through demonstrations (they just don't have it them. They can not stand in front of tanks like that lone Chinese student did during the Tianamen protests in the 80s. They can not follow the example of Middle Easterners who are prepared to sacrifice their lives in order to die for what they believe in. Zimbabweans of today want somebody else do die in order that they may enjoy a good life. The era of fierce warriors died with the end Mugabe's war.)So, this deal is the only hope Zimbabweans have.These talks have now lasted longer than any other since the resumption of talks on the cabinet. Something will come from this, definitely. If Morgan lets this one go, I am afraid he will have forfeited his only chance of wiggling his way into the presidency. Tactically, he can contribute to lessening the people's suffering and, once he roams the corridors of power, he will also be able to entrench his position and take over the country eventually. He will have to work like Mandela did to calm fears, unite a divide people, reach out to bigots and be the glue that holds this nation together. If he can achieve that, he will certainly find the military, police and other securocrats eating out his hand, just the Afrikaners ended up seeing Mandela, the man they persecuted, as the best guarantor of their own rights in a new South Africa.So far, this role appears bigger than Tsvangirai, but people can learn and change. You never know. This is the first step. His principled stand to negotiate is the best thing he could have done on the journey to becoming a Zimbabwean Mandela. Will he throw it away, or will he embrace this greatness that has been thrust upon him.I am awake. I will post here as soon as the leaders emerge from their conference.
Zimbabwe: Poiltical Games, Grandstanding While The Nation Suffers
There are still reports of a deadlock in Zimbabwe, although you should not pay much attention to them. It is unlikely that the parties will walk away now. Tsvangirai wants this as badly as Mugabe needs it.My reading is that this whole "deadlock thing" is a mask, meant to throw the media off the scent. There will be an announcement today, over the weekend or Monday at the very latest. Arthur Mutambara, the most level-headed of all the participants in these negotiations, is getting very frustrated. His comments, however, betray a hint that the talks are not in as much danger as the sensationalist Nelson Chamisa would like to make it appear.In fact, all the principals are saying things that are at odds with what Chamisa is saying. Tsvangirai, who is not at all good with diplomacy, chose the wiser route of not commenting as he left the talks last night, lest he inadvertently lets the cat out of bag. Mugabe said he had been "asked to be here at 11 tomorrow morning (Friday)".It may be hoping against hope, but I am almost certain that things are not as bad as they sound. The parties have come too far. And if the talks should really fail, I think we can say that this is the end of Morgan Tsvangirai's hope of ever leading Zimbabwe. I don't think he wants that.Mugabe can continue even under an official inflation rate of a trillion percent. Having tried to negotiate, he will now get SADC and his other friends to stand more solidly behind him. Mbeki will tell SADC, who gave him the mandate, of the intransigence of MDC and Tsvangirai during the talks, their refusal to compromise and their unrealistic demands when they have no power base from which to act as if they have an upper hand.Still, you will hear from me later on in the day and I hope I will be delivering good news. I expect the stock market will go bonkers today, as will the exchange rate. The hope is that all this will add pressure to Mugabe. The truth is that he does not give a hoot. No matter how badly people suffer, Mugabe is not going to cave in. That we have experience of. He would rather rule over a rubbish dump than see he and his party emasculated.The tactic of destroying the economy as a means to force Mugabe's hand has failed and will continue to fail. Unity of purpose, tactful positioning and coaxing are the things that will carry the day. Which is how Mbeki managed to hammer out an agreement in the first place. The MDC should sit down with him and get some lessons in drawing in your prey, lulling them into a false sense of security and then pouncing when least expected.But, as I have been saying since 2002, the MDC is still mired in student politics, which values grandstanding and meaningless gestures over progress towards the people's objective.Lets see how this day goes.
Zimbabwe Crisis Talks Deadlock or Hoodwink?
What do you call a double deadlock? According to Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the MDC Tsvangirai, a deadlock has been declared in the ongoing talks to break the deadlock over the allocation of cabinet posts.He says perhaps the Mbeki, the mediator, can think of something else to put on the table. According to him, up to ten ministries are in dispute. Which is strange, considering his own boss, Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara of the other MDC and even Tendai Biti, Morgan Tsvangirai's secretary General, were all saying astonishing progress was made yesterday. Biti's exact words were, "mountains are being moved." What then did they spend the whole day talking about today, until so late in the evening?It is almost midnight in Zimbabwe now and I guess a clearer picture will be got tomorrow morning.People around me are still sceptical that this thing could break down when the leaders have come so far.Oh, the way, the markets went bonkers today. The US dollar climbed to about 65 million Zim dollar on the cheque/transfer rate. The stock market outdid itself, with counters such as Bindura, which closed at 15 million dollars each yesterday closing at 30 million today.JUST IN: As I write this, SABC is again reporting live that Mbeki has been asked to stay on in the country to witness Tsvangirai's anticipated swearing-in tomorrow. Same bulletin also showing President Monthlante of South Africa also says South Africa will be "at the forefront" of assisting Zimbabwe's "economic recovery". "Then the rest of the world will come through....It is a race against time".And so to bed, tomorrow, a new government!!
Tsvangirai May Be Sworn In Tomorrow
SABC News reported at around 4p.m. today that Morgan Tsvangirai may be sworn in tomorrow as Prime Minister. Read the brief piece on sabcnews.com in the Southern Africa section.
Already, South Africa has also announced that it still committed to ensuring that the country then immediately gets as much fertiliser, seed and other inputs as is needed for the imminent agricultural season. The rest of the world (or a good chunk of it, we are not counting on Britain, USA right now, all opposition supporters I speak to here have written off these countries).
In all probability, Tsvangirai will then also swear in the ministers or do that in conjunction with Mugabe. Mugabe is treating Morgan as the First Minister, so he may also swear in all the ministers after swearing in Morgan. That, obviously presumes that Tsvangirai has been clear all along who he wanted in what ministry, so that they can be called in at short notice to be sworn in. As I promised at the beginning of this week, we will have a deal and a cabinet by the end of the week. As I write this, the negotiating parties are still holed up in the Rainbow Towers Hotel, where Mbeki is staying.
By my reckoning, I have just won about 650$US in bets that I will collecting tomorrow.
Signing off and hoping for another post this evening when and if news is announced. I reckon that the parties will seek to surprise the world by announcing the deal and the swearing in at the same time to give short notice to everybody. My bet is that all this will happen very quickly and the world will be left dizzy and grasping for a reaction all day tomorrow. America will announce that will "wait and see" as will Britain and the EU. That is also a bet I am taking money on. Bet through the comments section on at the bottom of this post and we'll see. Do not get me wrong: These countries will "welcome" the development, but will take no action to support Tsvangirai in his new position to right the country. Which, by the way, is reason why Mugabe will win in the end, because the economy will continue on its slide without support from EU, USA et al and the fickle people of Zimbabwe will soon switch off the MDC. One of three things will then happen: either Makoni's new party will find itself very popular, or the people will simply NOT vote or decide that they are better with the devil they know, ZANU PF and damn the rest of the world.
Till tomorrow (or later on).
Zimbabwe: The End In Sight
As I write, Morgan Tsvangirai, Robert Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara are holed up in the Presidential Suite at the Rainbow Towers (formally Sheraton Harare), where Thabo Mbeki is staying while mediating an end to the so-called crisis in Zimbabwe. The sticking point is allocation of cabinet positions.It is now as complicated as some news organisations have made it out to be. What we know for sure at this moment is that the three have basically agreed on 90% of the cabinet posts. Finance is definitely going to the MDC. The talk of putting a neutral person in that position us now out of the window. What is left is discussion of the Home Affairs portfolio, which, to be agreed on, requires a lot of shifting of other ministries already agreed on. In addition, Tsvangirai now also wants the issue of Provincial governors settled in the presence of the mediator so that he does have to deal ZANU PF intransigence later on by himself. What is clear is that the man can not hold his own in a one-on-one negotiation with Mugabe, hence his desire to see an end to this whole thing in the presence of Mbeki. This will be quickly done, as the provincial governors' posts are really not crucial to the running of the country. (They should ideally be abolished, but both parties need spread favour around, so these portfolios exist only to provide jobs for the boys and we are not going to see them abolished any time soon.) There should be an announcement either today or tomorrow stating that all sticking points are settled.Yesterday, police in Harare dispersed a crowd of students who were protesting about the lack of progress towards forming a new government. They were beaten up and three of them were arrested and are still in custody, according to my most reliable information. It begs the question how much will change if this agreement is implemented. Already, there are rumblings that the MDC is especially concerned about Simba Makoni's new party and want to ensure that it is not allowed space to engage this new inclusive cabinet. We will most probably find that, as far as the rights of citizens are concerned, the MDC will work with ZANU PF to block popular protest and sentiment from being aired. That would be tragic, but it is fully expected.As of today, a single US dollar is worth Z$25 000 000 (twenty-five million zim dollars), although this will swiftly change once the new government is announced. We will most likely a drop to a third of that value within three days, since the cash rate (if you are buying US dollars using actual Zim dollars and not a cheque), is not even 20 000 Zim dollars to a US dollar.Those with sizeable holdings in Zim dollars should keep them and wait until next week before seeking to change them into US dollars.More later
Zimbabwe Leaders Still Talking
Those so-called stalled talks are still going on in Harare between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara.Like I have said before, the talks will result in a new government by the end of this week. The cost of failure is simply too ghastly to contemplate. It has been clear since last Friday that the reason for this so-called stalling of talks is MDC secretary-general Tendi Biti, who is eyeing the Home Affairs ministry. According to sources extremely close to the MDC core team of Tsvangirai, Biti and Khupe, Biti demanded that, if the Home Affairs portfolio goes to Mugabe, then he, Biti, should be given one of the Deputy Prime Ministerial posts. He is reportedly prepared to see the deal fail if this is not done.On other developments: It is now impossible for people to buy food, just the basics. The collapse of the national payment system has seen shops refuse cheques (most banks are not issuing chequebooks to those who have run out anyway). The swiping system is also now practically non-existent. There are only two shops in the whole of Harare that are accepting debit cards for payment and they, as can be expected, have absolutely nothing to sell. Nothing that a family needs to feed itself, anyway.So, expect to see people starving to death while they have sizeable amounts of money in the bank. The maximum withdrawal limit per day per person is now $50 000, but a loaf of bread now costs $20 000, and the US dollar can be bough for Z$15 000 cash or $15 000 000 through cheques.Ninety percent of Harare has now gone for a month without a drop of water coming through their taps. There have been deaths from cholera all over this city. Women can be seen daily carrying jerry cans on their heads as they go to and from the nearest fetid streams all over the city. Most of these streams are polluted with industrial waste, since Zimbabwe has no respect whatsoever for environmental protection in the cities. Even the Herald newspaper in Zimbabwe refuses point blank to publish evidence of the industrial effluence that is being poured in to the city's rivers by industries.The only hope left is this agreement. If it fails, which I am still certain it will now, then this will b the end of Zimbabwe as we know it. Before the year is out, Zimbabwe will make Somalia look like a first-world country.
Simba Makoni Lashes Out At Tsvangirai, Mugabe
Attended a Briefing by Simba Makoni to the media and diplomats today. The former Finance Minister, who challenged Mugabe for President in March and came a distant third (officially, that is. Ibbo Mandaza, one of his top people, says Makoni actually got nearly 30%), lambasted Morgan Tsvangirai for signing an "incomplete deal". He also did not have any kind words for Mugabe, whom he said was responsible for destroying Zimbabwe and should not behave as though he is in control during the ongoing Inclusive Cabinet talks.Makoni told the journalists and diplomats that the people of Zimbabwe were now worse off than they were before the power-sharing deal was announced.Answering a question from Swedish Ambassador Steve Rylander, Makoni said he was an "eternal optimist" who believed that a cabinet will be formed out of this Power Sharing agreement. Still, he refused to say whether this will happen before the end of this week.A Herald reporter asked him about the rumours of the in-fighting in his movement and his response was: "The Movement in coherent, united and that is why you see all of us here today."Makoni also told the gathering that his new party's constitution was now being circulated by his coordinators all over Zimbabwe for input and "consultations."His main message, however, was that the negotiating parties should quickly form a government because of the massive suffering of the people, which can not be endured for a moment longer. He lambasted Mugabe especially, saying,"He promised us three weeks ago that there would be a cabinet before the end of the week, but we are still waiting, three weeks later. Why did he not even bother to come back to the people to tell them why that cabinet he promised did not materialise."On the upcoming Agricultural season, he said that the country was "in a state of unpreparedness never seen before." Mugabe, Makoni pointed out, has previously said that no one will starve in ZImbabwe, yet "people are indeed starving."Immediately after the briefing, Makoni left to attend a Conference organised by the CPIA where he is due to deliver a paper on the Values and Visions required to turn Zimbabwe around.