Things Fall Apart

85 year old Robert Mugabe, the dictator of Zimbabwe, eats cake during his birthday celebrations in Chinoyi earlier today, where he insisted that his Presidential powers are still "intact" despite the coalition arrangement with Morgan Tsvangirai

Well, that was to be expected.

The SADC Finance Ministers, meeting in the lazy opulence of Cape Town in South Africa, decided not to decide whether or not to commit any funds to the recovery of Zimbabwe's economy and even social fabric. At the end of their meeting, they said they will speak to a few other people and see who can chip in with something.

It is an unenthusiastic response to the much-touted unity between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai.

But this should not surprise anyone. I did point out on this very blog that there was little likelihood of donors wanting to rush in with foreign currency that would only be used to prop up a bloated behemoth of a government, whose focus is worse than that of a drunk.

Seventy ministers and governors! Ambassadors! 210 parliamentarians! Permanent Secretaries in every ministers office, functionaries, spokespersons, drivers, bodyguards! All this is chewing up considerably more than the US$30 million dollars per month budgeted for by Patrick Chinamasa. I bet you we are going to get a mid-term supplementary budget by June/July this year, because this government is going through money like it grows on trees.

There are gleaming Mercedes Benzes already delivered, plus brand new twin-cabs. The MPs are soon to get a couple of cars each for their current term.

I asked a few days ago what donor in their right mind would want to give money to such a bunch of naked mercenaries - yes from both ZANU and MDC.

Zimbabwe is a funeral wake and the leaders and their parties embarrass themselves in the eyes of the mourners by rushing to the buffet table, the trough, to stick their snouts in there with indecent haste.

What Samaritan, I ask you, would give money and such to a "destitute parent" when they can see that every penny the parents gets is spent on clothes, shoes, Chicken Inn and Nandos (fast food), and make-up for themselves? This is exactly what this creature called the Coalition Government is doing.

Don't hold your breath. Until there is some sign that the words accountability, responsibility and transparency mean something to the MDCs and their ZANU PF bedfellows, then the donors will keep their hands in their pockets.


Then this: two Zimbabwean policemen who beat a prisoner to death over seven days in the police cells have been remanded in custody to March 9 in the ancient city of Masvingo. The man, Felix Chauromwe, was suspected of stealing a neghbour's goat. I expect he denied the whole thing through all the beatings, and ended up six feet under because the Zimbabwe Republic Police motto appears to be "The Suspect Has A Right Be Beaten Until Proven Guilty".

This was a theft suspect. Now can you imagine if it was a political detainee? 

One thing is for certain: they would not have been arrested at all and would still be free. If the victim had lived and been freed, he goes back to his home area with horror stories from the cells, tales of torture and beatings. Then the whole community sees impunity on two legs as the culprits continue to walk amongst them unmolested.

For the ordinary person, this is reason enough to stay clear of all politics, to leave Mugabe and Tsvangirai to do what they please while they themselves concentrate on ensuring their families' survival. And that is how the nation is cowed.


And speaking of the law: Roy Bennett, the Deputy Agriculture minister-designate and a close aide to Tsvangirai, had his bail application thrown out by the courts yesterday. Beatrice Mtetwa, the Human Rights lawyer acting for Bennett, sought to have nullified the continued detention of Bennett by the courts despite bail being granted. 

This was the same court that granted him the bail in the first place, but now they side with the Attorney General and say that the prosecution is well within its rights to hold him while it makes up its mind whether to appeal the bail ruling or not.

So Bennett remains in jail. And the MDC watches and wonders. The party says it is not sure what it is going to do about all this, but it will not pull out of government.

Tsvangirai was reported to be attending Mugabe's birthday celebrations in Chinhoyi today, but when I watched the live coverage a couple of hours back, I did not see him. I saw Joice Mujuru, the VP, chatting all the way through Mugabe's speech with Themba Mliswa, owner of a few repossesed farms (and a Game Reserve, I think) here in Zimbabwe.

Still, Tsvangirai's approach seems to be to want to embarrass Mugabe with politeness. It might work. And if not, would make a good dossier in six months time when they have to go back to SADC for a progress report and "review".

If Tsvangirai keeps to the proper conduct of the partnership, going out of his way to be accommodating to ZANU PF and Mugabe, even in the face of the provocative arrests of his supporters, then he would have strengthened his hand immensely for that SADC summit in six months time.

The problem is his supporters, who see every tactic of his as a further sign of his weakness. To be certain, we can not be sure of Tsvangirai's strategy and history behoves us not to be generous in our expectations of the man's ability to manoeuvre around ZANU PF and Mugabe.

All in all, a big dog's breakfast then. They sit there looking at each other over the oak Cabinet Table during Cabinet meetings, devoid of any meaningful money with which to run the government, broke, but not so broke as to forego their own luxuries.

Meantime, the unemployed and hungry look upwards, to their leaders for leadership in setting this country on the right path again. Right now, that does not look like it is happening soon.

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  1. Great reporting, keep it up Denford. May the Lord protect you all the way into old age. You are a breadth of fresh air!! Kuda Chikanya, UK


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