Editorials


SADC’s habit of being involved in regional issues by remote control will never bear fruit.

But then, SADC was not formed to perform any meaningful purpose; SADC was formed to fan the egos of regional leaders and, in that regard, it is performing its duties well.

Thus I was astounded when SADC “came down hard” on Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai and directed that Zimbabwe must hold elections next year.

Zimbabweans are not that stupid; SADC leaders are, because we know that SADC has no punitive measures to apply on its wayward member states.

So when those SADC leaders “demanded” that Zimbabwe holds elections by next year, we knew that what they meant was that their bosom buddy, Mugabe, can continue beating up Zimbabweans at will.

Over the years, how many directives on Zimbabwe has SADC issued and how many of those directives were heeded?

None.

And what did SADC do about that?

Nothing.

SADC is so chicken-livered that it now makes our regional leaders look really stupid for dabbling in politics of futility where they are supposed to either keep quiet or say something nonsensical in support of mindless communiques that betray public trust.

SADC citizens accepted SADC in their midst because we believed and expected the organisation to take a leading role in protecting citizens, not presidents, of this region.

We expected SADC to keep an eye on our leaders and gourd them in the right direction; we expected those of our leaders who came together to form this organisation to respect the organisation’s role because SADC was meant to be people-driven and was expected to formulate policies for regional integration.

SADC was meant to provide regional public safety, regional conflict resolution, along with imposing and monitoring the rule of law.

Instead, SADC publicly and undiplomatically undermines its own Tribunal by not acting against Robert Mugabe for his refusal to abide by rulings of SADC Tribunal’s pronouncements.

Imagine what this says to the people in our region; imagine what this says to those professionals who sit on the Tribunal and what it says about those individual Heads of State.

Above all else, this misguided, selfish and shortsighted reaction, which could only have been hatched and promoted by people like Jacob Zuma, has laid bare the credibility of both SADC and the Tribunal.

As far back as 2008, the SADC Tribunal ordered the Zimbabwean government to compensate owners for the farms that were seized and to protect the farmers’ rights to their land.

Mugabe ignored those orders, prompting the SADC Tribunal to find the Zimbabwe government in contempt of court three times.

Mugabe and Patrick Chinamasa, his justice minister, both declared that the Tribunal’s rulings were “null and void”.

One of Mugabe’s men on the bench, Justice Bharat Patel, then went on to rule that “the Tribunal’s orders on land reform have no authority in Zimbabwe”.

During its policy formulations, did SADC ever try to harmonise laws from its different member countries to fit the SADC framework and membership?

Of course, no!

Mugabe is right. If SADC itself does not uphold its own emissaries’ conclusions, who should?

Earlier this year, South African courts set a precedent by recognising the SADC ruling as being enforceable.

But this week, instead of SADC standing by its Tribunal, they decided to disband the regional human rights court because Mugabe had refused to honour its pronouncements.

What kind of nonsense is this?

SADC is a talk shop where problems afflicting the region are never discussed.

SADC “demanded” elections in Zimbabwe by next year. I dare ask “who the hell is SADC?”

Zimbabwe is not ready for elections and SADC knows it.

I would have hoped that this useless and expensive grouping would be aware of that, but they are not.

Ok, suppose SADC wants elections in Zimbabwe next year, what are they doing about the on-going violence, which has already started interfering with that expectation? Is this SADC aware that Zimbabwe needs a new constitution to hold such elections?

Is SADC aware of the problem it created in Zimbabwe?

If SADC means well, how come it always sides with the person who is messing up not only Zimbabwe but the region?

Is SADC not aware of the on-going violence in Zimbabwe today?

Is SADC blind to the fact that, because of SADC itself, the party that won elections is still, in effect, the opposition party?
Is SADC aware that people are being prevented from giving views for a new constitution that would make SADC demand for elections next year a reality?

If SADC wants to further prove its now internationally renowned incompetence by using Zimbabwe as the dummy, then to hell with SADC.

SADC must not, SADC cannot, SADC should not order elections when they have absolutely no authority or legal leeway to intervene when their Prince of Darkness starts slaughtering our citizens as before.

SADC should have told Mugabe and Tsvangirai that they were coming into Zimbabwe to monitor the constitutional outreach programme and set the stage for free and fair elections then, and only then, would SADC leave.

I now hold SADC’s individual Heads of State and Government as co-conspirators in the abuse and subjugation of the people in our region. SADC leaders must now choose whether or not to remain in this stupid organisation, which tarnishes every office of the president in the region. Those Heads of State with shame and any semblance of decency must quit this hopeless organisation.

SADC insults the citizens of the region that it is supposed to protect.

The death of SADC is a plus for the region.

Because of SADC, we watch the likes of Mugabe, Zuma, Mswati and all our horrid “leaders” abusing us at their conferences at which we have neither an invitation nor a say, only footing the bill.

SADC, because of its inactivity, is actually unwittingly lowering human rights standards in the region.

An African leader who does not abuse his people is frowned upon by other African leaders.
Prove me wrong.

Human Rights is a scary word to most of our SADC leaders.

Jacob Zuma has absolutely no capacity to understand all this and never will.

True to his masters, Zuma is offering Zimbabwe to South African businesspeople on a platter.

In Zimbabwe, Mugabe wants to remain in office as a means to protect, not only himself but also those who helped him to abuse the nation. And while his young wives are being bonked by his own ministers, Mswati of Swaziland, shamelessly parades in front of us as if he is some sort of symbol for our children to emulate. We can go on until the cows come home and leave again. Do we deserve such leadership?

I am not amused by the outcome of the SADC Summit in Namibia.

It was a useless, cowardly gathering which was not able to scratch its own itching behind and we knew that before all of them gathered.

SADC is a dangerous, phony organisation that must be stopped because it is using its existence to oppress citizens.

SADC is a social organisation meant for our dictators.

It really is time for well-meaning presidents in the region to disassociate themselves from SADC, which, to me, is organised crime.

(Source)

Recent remarks by President Robert Mugabe at the National Heroes’ Acre that the process of reconciliation was national are a breath of fresh air.

However, President Mugabe has to walk the talk if these calls are to be taken seriously.

Zimbabweans’ greatest fear is that his calls are meant to ensure ZANU PF supporters – who constitute the majority of those who perpetrated political violence since the formation of the MDC in September 1999 – may get off the hook.

Sentiments swirling are that ZANU PF supporters who engaged in these heinous acts will be the biggest beneficiaries of the blanket amnesty proposed by President Mugabe.

What Zimbabwe needs is transitional justice. There can be no national healing unless those responsible for politically-motivated violence and murders are brought to book for disregard of human lives and property.

If South Africa and even Ghana have had Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, why then should the uneasy coalition government of President Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara be an exception?

Unless such radical actions are taken, then the message of national healing will lack meaning and relevance.

There is no way there can be national healing and reconciliation when perpetrators of violence are walking freely on the streets, at times coming face-to-face with their victims.

This then just becomes grandstanding which no right-thinking Zimbabwean will take seriously.

The deadly snare of political conflict will remain a reality, and that demon cannot be exorcised unless bold steps are taken to send a very strong message that political violence will not be tolerated.

It is important for action to be taken against those who have perpetrated wanton violence and reparations made to surviving victims or their kin.

Unless President Mugabe toes this line, then his messages on unity are going to be taken as vanity because this is not the first time people have heard the rhetoric.

The only way ZANU PF can cleanse itself is by taking action against those of its members who raped, tortured, maimed and murdered all in the name of the party, which has in the past boasted of its “degrees in violence”.

It is the hope that – as part and parcel of the ongoing national healing process – all these dreadful cases will be revisited, examined and justice served before the country can move forward as one without skeletons in anyone’s cupboards.

(Source)

We always knew a unity government would bring change to Zimbabwe – but perhaps not in the form of eggs and toffees.

Early last year, Zimbabwe, the world’s last bulwark against imperialism, ditched its own Zimbabwe dollar for United States dollars and other foreign currencies.

drying-notes.jpeg

Almost overnight, the currency reforms brought some stability. Inflation, which was last measured at 500-billion percent, has slowed to 5,3%, supermarkets are full, we no longer have to carry clumps of near-worthless notes — and robbers again find it worthwhile to hit banks and mug people.

But, for all the joys of finally using a currency of some value, we have to contend with a shortage of small change.

For your 37c change after handing over $2 for a carton of milk, you are asked to choose between a candle, seven toffees, two eggs or matches. Or you can get the people at the stores’ deli section to surgically cut up slices of ham for the exact amount. Or get the fruit and veg section to weigh a banana for the amount.

Either that or they hand you a “credit note”, a slip of paper saying how much the supermarket owes you. The slip is as good as money, at the same store.

And so Finance Minister Tendai Biti has come up with an idea. Zimbabwe will import currency in smaller notes and coins, he says.

“Under the current multicurrency regime, the inadequacy of smaller denominations has posed a number of challenges in transactions. Treasury will facilitate in 2010 the importation of foreign smaller denominations and coins,” he told Parliament recently.

This week his South African counterpart, Pravin Gordhan, said he was yet to receive a request for rands from Zimbabwe.

The debate over small change in Zimbabwe has spiralled into a wider emotive debate about whether the country should adopt the rand.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been nudging Zimbabwe towards the Southern African Customs Union. A “hard peg” to the rand would help end currency fluctuations, the IMF says in its latest report on Zimbabwe’s economy.

“The rand would also offer more appropriate small denominations and bank note and coin-handling costs would be lower than with the United States dollar,” it says.

According to Gordhan, the impact on South Africa of Zimbabwe doing this would be minimal.

But although we have surrendered our sovereignty to the US, submitting ourselves to South Africa would be hard for many Zimbabweans to swallow. Among politicians South Africa is seen as that smug, wealthy cousin you go to only grudgingly. On Harare’s streets, unlike in Bulawayo, the rand is rare, with the preferred currency being the US dollar.

Use of valuable currency has made stingy bean-counters out of Zimbabweans and businesses, especially supermarkets, are under pressure to find solutions.

John Mushayavanhu, head of Zimbabwe’s bankers’ association, says banks have loads of rand coins. But beady-eyed retailers appear reluctant to take them.

“Right now we are sitting on thousands of rands in coins, but retailers are not coming to collect,” he said.

CBZ, the country’s largest bank by deposits, has taken out advertisements offering “South African coins, R1, R2, R5, in exchange for South African bank notes at a rate of one-to-one or US dollars at the rate of the day”.

NewsDay, the country’s newest daily paper, sells on the streets for 50c, or R5. But this kind of money is hard to come by, so you pay the dollar and get a special token you can use to buy the paper’s next edition.

Other service providers still resort to old Zimbabwe dollar bills to get by. But in taxis the $50-billion notes are good only as change.

At the Avondale market in Harare, wily traders make good money selling the iconic $100-trillion notes to collectors from around the world.

Still able to bargain at the tills and even rustle up a few coins, city folk have it easy. But rural life under the hard-currency regime is a great deal tougher.

A story is often told of the rural woman who paid for a bus ride with a chicken — and got an egg as change.

It is most probably a tall Harare tale, but it tells the story of how barter trade has taken over the rural economy.

According to Biti, our beloved Zimbabwe dollar will not be back in circulation before 2012. Maybe then, when our sovereignty is finally restored, the economy will have undergone real change.

(Source)

Yesterday, you may recall that I wrote about Mugabe’s attitude to the new SADC ruling following his ignoring the initial ruling. This is all about the land grab and the SADC Tribunal had ruled that the applicants, Michael Campbell and his son-in-law, Ben Freeth, were to be allowed to live and work on their farms and that the invaders were to leave them alone.

The thugs, representing Mugabe’s interests, then burned the households to ground.

The invaders have not left the farms and Campbell and Freeth have not been able to work the land.

A new ruling reiterates the original ruling and orders the invaders off the land.

Mugabe’s Minister of Justice has stated that the Zimbabwean government doesn’t recognise the tribunal’s ruling.

The government has once again snubbed a ruling by the human rights courts of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), saying the ruling is of ‘no consequence’ to Zimbabwe.

The comments were made by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa over the weekend, after the SADC Tribunal ruled that the government was in contempt, for ignoring previous rulings over unlawful land seizures. The contempt ruling is the third since the government was taken to court over the land ‘reform’ programme in 2008, and the case will now be referred to the SADC summit in Namibia next month.

But ZANU PF’s Chinamasa on Sunday told the state controlled Herald newspaper that SADC rulings would never change the government’s position on land ‘reform’. He added that the position on the SADC Tribunal remained the same, in that that it did not recognise its judgements.

“Our position remains the same that we don’t recognise the SADC Tribunal for reasons that we have given before. The farmers can have as many such judgements as they can but they will be of no effect in our jurisdiction,” he said.

“The farmers are wasting their time and money and are only going there for propaganda purposes. They are entitled to play their propaganda by going to the Tribunal but we will not recognise the judgement,” he said.

When I wrote an editorial yesterday, I stated exactly that. Mugabe will not be moved – not be SADC, not by the AU, not by the EU and not by the UN. Mugabe believes that he was ‘elected’ by the Zimbabwean people – and now he is intent on remaining in power and will shout down anyone who objects, will knock down anyone who opposes him and hold down anyone who seeks justice for the treatment handed out by his violent ZANU PF party.

Yet Mugabe believes that his party should be recognised as the ‘ruling party’ by virtue of his position as President of Zimbabwe, although his return to that office was achieved through violence, intimidation and fraud.

Whilst his government refuses to recognise the SADC Tribunal, perhaps it is time for SADC to refuse to recognise his tenure, knowing that it was achieved through surreptitious means.

The Tribunal on Friday ruled that farmers can refer their grievances to the SADC summit in August, as the Zimbabwean government has still failed to protect them and their rights to their land. This decision followed an urgent court application made by farmers Louis Fick and Mike Campbell last month, in a bid to force SADC leaders to intervene.

The application called on the SADC Tribunal to consider measures under the SADC Treaty to terminate or suspend Zimbabwe’s membership from SADC. The basis of the application is that the government remains in contempt of the SADC Tribunal by allowing ongoing farms invasions, arrests, prosecutions and imprisonment of farmers, despite a Tribunal order to protect the same farmers.

The government was ordered to protect these rights in a landmark ruling by the Tribunal in 2008, which said that land ‘reform’ was unlawful and discriminatory. That ruling has been completely ignored by the government, which was eventually charged with contempt by the Tribunal. Previous comments by Chinamasa dismissing the Tribunal landed the government in further hot water, when another contempt charge was eventually handed down.

The termination or suspension of Zimbabwe’s membership to SADC will achieve nothing as Mugabe will believe then that he has removed yet another yoke from his shoulders – and I believe that he will ensure that the land referred to in the rulings will not only be invaded and taken in toto, but that the invasion will be conducted with extreme prejudice.

Chegutu farmer Ben Freeth, who heads the SADC Tribunal Rights Watch group, on Monday told SW Radio Africa that the ball is now in SADC’s court to take firm action with Zimbabwe. He explained that the Tribunal is a “visionary concept that means nothing until judgements are implemented.”

“A court with no teeth is a pretty useless thing,” Freeth said. “It paints a gloomy picture for the whole SADC region if human rights abuses are allowed to continue in this way.

Robb WJ Ellis

The Bearded Man

(Source)

The fact that the MDC led by  Prime Minister Morgan Richard Tsvangirai is Zimbabwe’s most popular and dominant political party is not an accident of history. As the ZANU PF moribund dictatorship is slowly but surely collapsing, the rise of the MDC became spontaneous. The majority of the  people of Zimbabwe rejected the ZANU PF dictatorship a long time ago; in fact, as long ago as around 1990. Although regular elections have been held in Zimbabwe since independence, all right-thinking people know, for certain, that these elections were marred by massive intimidation, violence, ballot box stuffing and all sorts of shenanigans that one may imagine. The birth of the MDC in September 1999, thus brought a breath of fresh air on the Zimbabwean political landscape. For the first time since independence in 1980, ZANU PF was confronted by a massively popular, national and broad-based political opponent that had the muscle to peacefully wrest power from the incumbent regime. Fearing for its very survival as a political party, ZANU PF, since the formation of the MDC in 1999, has engaged combat mode. This is a crudely intolerant and morbidly violent mode of political existence that has perfected a scorched earth policy; a policy that ensures that as ZANU PF faces its inevitable disintegration, the whole nation of Zimbabwe should also collapse with this party.This scorched earth policy is the very anti-thesis of patriotism; it ruthlessly decimates anything good that is still left in Zimbabwe.

It is never easy to dismantle a deeply-entrenched dictatorship, a dictatorship that had become a way of life in Zimbabwe for the past three decades. The MDC has given the dictatorship a rude awakening. The resounding victory of Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC during the harmonised elections held on March 29, 2008 was the last straw for the dictatorship. The popularity of the MDC dazzled and puzzled the dictatorship. They didn’t know what hit them. Up to now, most ZANU PF functionaries are still in need of therapy and counselling to reconcile them with the massive victory of the MDC in March 2008. The fact of the matter is that the people’s victory of March 2008 was not an accident. Some of us had seen it coming. Whilst ZANU PF believed its own propaganda to the false effect that its support base was in the rural areas, the MDC election campaign was slick, incisive and hugely effective. While ZANU PF used intimidation, machetes and knobkerries to bludgeon the rural voters into submission, the MDC resorted to a campaign of preaching peace and tolerance. They moved around spreading the message of hope and real change. They won the hearts and minds of the people of Zimbabwe; moreso in the rural areas where ZANU PF falsely thought they were most popular. To this very day, the majority of the people of Zimbabwe no longer support ZANU PF. Even if the dictatorship still manipulates and controls both the print and electronic public media, the increasing popularity of Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC is breath-taking; it is simply unbelievable. Just over a week ago I attended a deceased relative’s  funeral in Gokova village in Zaka. As I mixed and mingled with the mourners of various age groups, one thing struck me. All the villagers that I talked to at this funeral showed remarkable faith and trust in the leadership of Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC. Comrades, we should never let these people down. That would be a travesty of justice; a betrayal of the toiling masses of Zimbabwe.

Real change is coming. That’s for sure. However, the dictatorship will not go away without a fight. History has taught mankind that a cornered dictatorship is at its most lethal point. It is capable of delivering a vicious knock-out punch to anyone and/ or anything that it perceives as a threat to its continued existence. Going forward, we should be more focused and tactful in order to ward off the dictatorship’s last desperate offensive to cling to power. To begin with, the constitution-making process will be deliberately targeted for disruption. Why? Because the dictatorship knows that as soon as a new people-driven constitution is in place, the freedom train will be fast approaching its final destination. They know that ZANU PF will never win a free and fair election. Infact, they will do everything within their power to sabotage the constitution-making process. As we are already witnessing in areas such as Mudzi in Mashonaland East province, the dictatorship will resurrect its instruments of terror and brutality. It is folly to expect that the outreach program will be a stroll in the park. Several obstacles will be placed along the path of the constitution-making process with the ultimate intention of derailing the true wishes of the people. For the record, ZANU PF is allergic to a genuinely people-driven constitution for they know that the people have long since rejected them. We shouldn’t be fooled into believing that ZANU PF is ready for an election. They are not and they will never be. All they want is to hold the people to ransom and where necessary; to preach peace and tolerance by the day and be purveyors of hate, intolerance and violence by night. Once bitten twice shy.

The MDC’s biggest trump card is simply that the majority of the people are on our side. No amount of intimidation and violence can persuade the people of Gokova village in Zaka to freely vote for ZANU PF. Similarly, no amount of hate-mongering against Morgan Tsvangirai and the top leadership of the MDC by the ZANU PF controlled media can make the majority of the people like this moribund party. If anything, the more they malign and denigrate our leaders, the more popular our leaders become. It is amazing, really. The Real Change rallies currently being held across the length and breath of Zimbabwe are a crucial communication tool with the grassroots supporters and communities. These people are the real owners of the party for without them, we will lose legitimacy in the same way that the dictatorship has long since lost its legitimacy and relevance amongst the majority of the people. While  the MDC is basking in the blaze of popular support; we should not under-estimate our political adversaries. Day and night our competitors are plotting against us. They would like to weaken and divide us.Just witness the manner in which Ignatious Chombo is going all out to ‘ protect” the Chitungwiza councillors who were recently dismissed from the party on allegations of corruption. While corruption and ZANUPF are two sides of the same coin, in the MDC, we have vehemently and vociferously rejected corruption as a way of life. That is as it should be. Those MDC cadres who prefer practising corruption should promptly join ZANU PF; the natural home and haven of corruption.

History has taught us that a dictatorship cannot last forever. From outside; the dictatorship might appear strong and invincible but in reality, this ‘ strength” is just but a facade. This is the main reason why Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Nicolae Caecascu, Idi Amin, Mobutu Sese Seko and Jean Baptist Bokassa were eventually toppled by popular uprisings. The MDC is guarded by the principle of peaceful democratic resistance. Using hammer and tongues, the dictatorship has persistently sought to crush the people’s peaceful resistance. We take comfort in the fact that good can never succeed over evil. In the end, the people shall triumph. They will achieve real change; sooner rather than later. Victory is certain.

(Source)

Wikipedia describes a “politician” (from Greek “polis”) as an individual who is involved in influencing public decision making through the influence of politics or a person who influences the way a society is governed. This includes people who hold decision-making positions in government, and people who seek those positions, whether by means of election, coup d’état, appointment, electoral fraud, conquest, right of inheritance (see also: divine right) or other means. Politics are not limited to governance through public office. Political offices may also be held in corporations, and other entities that are governed by self-defined political processes.

There will be various other interpretations of the term – and it is as often misused as the position.

It should be remembered, that in democracies (which Robert Mugabe attempts to sell Zimbabwe as) that the political representatives are freely and fairly elected by the proletariat (a very basic misnomer meaning the public at large – all registered voters, of course!) and are hence elevated to public office by that choice.

If you were to trawl through vast numbers of reports on elections in Zimbabwe, going back as far as independence in April 1980, you will, no doubt, find numerous reports of vote fixing, rigging and other means used to influence the outcome.

The people so elected as supposed to be civil servants (so why we insist on putting them on pedestals, I shall never understand) – and therein lies the clue… “Civil” and “servant”…

These are servants of the people – not the other way around!

When the latest election panned out in Zimbabwe, we found that ZANU PF (Mugabe’s party) had lost the parliamentary majority to the 10-year-old MDC party. The Presidency was taken by Mugabe – only after a bloody campaign was launched against the MDC, resulting in the deaths of at least 130 people and the subsequent withdrawal from the second round of the election by Morgan Tsvangirai – and he now uses the position to make unilateral decisions that fly in the face of the ‘power-sharing’ agreement signed in September of last year.

Today I read that the leader of the smaller faction of the MDC, the parachuted in Arthur Mutambara, has suggested that the ‘unity’ government might not be interim government we were led to believe.

Part of an article in The Zimbabwe Times read “What we all know is that elections will be held after a new constitution has been crafted,” said Mutambara.

It is, however, clear that no one knows of the date or is certain when the polls will actually be conducted since sitting MPs might feel that the polls should be held after five years.

“We all know that previous illegitimate elections have been at the centre of controversy in the country, which means the inclusive government has to make sure that the next elections are held in a free and fair atmosphere.”

There has been debate on when the elections will be conducted. According to the Global Political Agreement (GPA), the inclusive government has to conclude the constitutional reform process within 24 months of its inauguration, to pave way for free and fair elections.”

My query is very simple – and yet begs an answer…

Why should we, as law-abiding Zimbabweans vote for political representation in one timetable, only to discover that these representatives can rework and re-engineer that timetable, thereby negating the understood timeframe held in mind when the vote was balloted?

By allowing the representatives this power, are we not enabling them to be self-serving as opposed to being civil servants?

(Please note that I have never voted in Zimbabwe – primarily because of my ZRP training in which it was imbued upon me to be apolitical…)

Robb WJ Ellis

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