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African Tears Beyond Tears Innocent Victims Imire Can you hear the drums, by Cathy Buckle

Zanu PF mafia looks after its own
August 4, 2012, 2:01 am

It never ceases to amaze me that the self-appointed ‘Bishop’ Norbert Kunonga wields so much influence in the Anglican Church. They call him ‘Mugabe’s Bishop’ apparently so I suppose that explains everything. In Zimbabwe, loyalty to Mugabe will open every door and now Kunonga has the ZRP in his cassock pocket. It’s coming up to that time of year when Anglicans celebrate the life of Arthur Shearly Cripps, the early Anglican missionary. There is a shrine to Cripps’s memory in Chivu where every year Anglicans hold a memorial service and a procession of the faithful. Not this year though, this year the police have – not for the first time - banned the memorial on the grounds that it is ‘an illegal gathering’ and rumour has it that Kunonga has taken over the shrine along with 78 other church sites in Masvingo Province.

As with farms, so it is with churches; for any loyal Mugabe follower it’s all about grabbing ownership of the land by any means, fair or foul. Kunonga has the backing of Chief Justice Chidyasiku, another loyal Mugabe supporter. It was Chidyasiku who granted Kunonga guardianship of the Harare diocese last year. In short, the Zanu PF mafia looks after its own.

The argument that has been going on this week that Mugabe’s departure would make no difference to the situation in the country misses the point. Without this cult of the personality, Zimbabwe would be a very different place. It is the unconditional loyalty of his followers that distorts the political situation. With the police force, the judiciary and the military all supporting him, Mugabe can sit back in the belief that his legacy is assured. He will die in office and mourners at a state funeral will praise him to the skies as Zimbabwe’s great Liberation hero. There seems to be nothing to threaten that dream; Mugabe certainly has little to fear from the MDC, comfortably ensconced in a Unity Government and apparently happy to play second fiddle to Zanu PF. Roy Bennett’s call to the MDC to “Wake up and finish off Zanu PF” is a timely reminder of the opposition’s principal task. Instead of using their position to get the job done, the MDC leadership heaps praise on the man they should be going all out to remove. Tsvangirai’s talk of ‘mutual respect’ in his dealings with Mugabe must have sent a very mixed message to his audiences during his recent Far East tour.  All the praise heaped on Tsvangirai by his hosts in comparing him to Nelson Mandela only succeeded in irritating Mugabe who said in effect that the MDC leader was no better than a puppet of the west.    

The truth is that support of Mugabe and Zanu PF leaves no room for even the mildest dissent. Objective thinking goes out the window and despite the fact that Zanu PF is clearly in disarray over the draft constitution and deeply divided on the succession issue, only unquestioning loyalty to Mugabe and the party will be tolerated. It is the clause in the draft constitution that threatens Mugabe’s thirty-two year hold on power that has divided the party more than anything. There is, so they say, no one who could take his place and certainly no one who could command the unquestioning loyalty that Mugabe has enjoyed over the years. But that is all changing now as a new generation of ‘born frees’ prepare to go to the polls. The fact that neither ZEC nor the political parties have access to the Voters’ Roll is thanks to another loyal Mugabe follower, Tobaiwa Mudede. An election without a clean Voters’ Roll would surely be as suspect as any of the rigged elections that Zimbabwe has had in all the years of Mugabe’s rule?  

Unless the MDC ‘wakes up’ Zimbabwe will be condemned to years more of Zanu PF’s rule. Mediocrities, such as Norbert Kunonga and illiterate war veterans like Joseph Chinotimba flourish in a dictatorship for no other reason than their slavish devotion to the ‘Dear Leader’. These nonentities are able to get away with theft and murder while a partisan police force looks the other way. A fundamental and drastic change is needed if Zimbabwe is ever to become the true democracy we believed would be a reality with Independence.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle, Pauline Henson


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Sanctions and divine rights
July 28, 2012, 4:50 am

The issue of sanctions has dominated this week’s world news. Sanctions, you could say are the 20th/21st century alternative to military intervention which in the end solves nothing and brings down suffering and death on innocent citizens. Syria is the particular country that has brought the sanctions issue into focus. The opponents to Assad’s rule claim that the west is not doing enough to support them in their attempts to topple the man they regard as a tyrant and dictator. Without a UN resolution, the west replies, we cannot act and Russia and China have consistently blocked such a resolution. So the fighting goes on in Syria in what is virtually a civil war in a country riven by religious and ethnic divisions.

Zimbabwe, however, is not in a state of civil war but, despite having a Government of National Unity, the country is ruled by a man with a history of violence who has surrounded himself with partisan police and military who are ready to use force against those who oppose Mugabe’s regime. The western world, while continuing to supply humanitarian aid, can do little to show their disapproval of the Mugabe regime except by applying economic and other sanctions against firms and individuals. Calls for sanctions to be lifted have come from all sides though as Tony Hawkins points out, lifting personal sanctions will not help the dire state of the economy or promote political reform. The Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai has repeatedly called for sanctions to be lifted although he now seems to accept that it must be conditional on free and fair elections, including the Referendum on the new constitution. The US has declared that it will not lift sanctions until there are peaceful polls and reforms, Australia is reviewing the sanctions issue and the UK announced that most of the names and companies on the sanctions list will be removed – but not until after the Referendum has been held. Commentators make the point that neither Robert Mugabe or his inner circle are off the hook since EU sanctions remain in place against them.    

Zanu PF, of course, dismisses all this talk of sanctions as ‘nonsense’ but you can bet that, come Christmas, bigwigs of both parties will be itching to come and do their shopping at Harrods again!

While we wait for the Referendum date on the new constitution to be announced, there have been increasingly critical comments about the document itself coming from different quarters. The draft constitution states that dispossessed white farmers will not be compensated and neither will they be allowed to challenge the takeover of their properties. In effect, the new constitution has legalised the theft of land; it also stipulates that war veterans, including we assume those who violently invaded the farms, should be “recognised and accorded respect, honour and recognition” This, in spite of the fact that a 2008 SADC Tribunal ruling declared the land grab was illegal and that the farmers should be compensated. Not surprisingly, Zanu PF are resisting a Land Audit which would reveal just how many of those invaded farms have been allocated to the new elite. One particular white farmer faces eviction after he permitted the MDC to hold a rally on his farm. And around the country violent Zanu PF thugs continue to disrupt MDC rallies. In Makoni South, the MP wants to know why there is a 400 strong army battalion in his area. In the capital, Zanu PF thugs fight for control of the commuter omnibus ranks in Mbare.  Even the presidential spokesperson, Didymus Mutasa has called for the disbanding of the notorious Chipangano gang which he blames for losing his party support among the people.

The truth is that all is not well in Zimbabwe. The economy is in meltdown and Mugabe and Zanu PF continue to behave as if they have some ‘divine right’ to rule the country. While the imposition of sanctions will solve none of these problems, they do at least convey the world’s abhorrence at Mugabe’s appalling human rights record.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle, Pauline Henson.


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The question all Zimbabweans must be asking themselves.
July 20, 2012, 1:33 pm

It seems the much-delayed constitution may finally be ready and, having been signed by all the negotiators, will be handed to the GPA principals today, Friday. Will Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF actually stand by the new constitution or will they play their usual dirty tricks behind the scenes and undermine or even sink it? That is the question all Zimbabweans must be asking themselves.

    Meanwhile, Robert Mugabe was at the AU conference in Addis Ababa, calling for the removal of sanctions. In the UK, Peter Hain, a British MP and one-time anti-apartheid activist was doing the reverse and calling for sanctions not only to remain but to be extended. And, at the EU we are told no decision has yet been made but today comes the news that the UK. will back the move to lift sanctions; it will apparently be a ‘conditional’ suspension of sanctions. Clearly, Zimbabwe not yet done enough to convince the world that the country is on track towards ‘free and fair’ elections but at least the voters roll is public knowledge and online for all to see. Is Zimbabwe now ready for ‘free and fair elections’? Perhaps more to the point is whether Mugabe will get away with another rigged election? The online voters roll shows that there are 5.6 million names on the roll; how many of them are centenarians or even actually alive is uncertain. While Tobiah Mudede, a fanatical Zanu PF supporter, remains in place as Registrar General those questions are bound to be asked, given our past experience of the man.

    Events on the ground suggest that Zanu PF is definitely in election mode. The army is already openly campaigning for Mugabe’s party in the Rusape/Nyazura area. Truck loads of soldiers were seen arriving and dropping off military personnel in a so-called ‘exercise’ which involves nothing more –at the moment – than wandering around the villages. Zanu PF has reportedly spent $14 million on top-of-the-range new vehicles for the election campaign. Where that money came from is anyone’s guess; this week we heard that Zimbabwe has no money to host the World Tourism Conference. At the same time, revelations about Zimbabwe’s huge mineral wealth – and diamonds particularly – continue to create high expectations. Yesterday the Minister of Finance, Tendayi Biti, was forced to cut the budget, citing poor diamond revenue as the cause while the economy apparently ‘loses momentum’. The growth forecast has been cut to 5.6% for 2012 as the country struggles to attract foreign investment. Needless to say, Saviour Kasukuwere’s ‘Indigenisation’ has effectively deterred foreign investors but this morning came the rather puzzling announcement that new investors will not have to comply with indigenisation. What was the point of ‘indigenisation’ at all if it is selective in its application? We hear that Zanu PF are relying on ‘Indigenisation’ to win them the next election but it’s hard to imagine ordinary Zimbabwean voters being swayed by that argument when they know from experience that ‘indigenisation’ simply means giving to those that already have. Interesting to see that the Chinese have already asked to be exempted from ‘indigenisation’ in the case of Zimasco (chrome and steel).

    It is Zimbabwe’s huge mineral wealth that has dominated the financial news this week. There are allegedly 60 different types of minerals just waiting to be exploited but energy supply is still the big problem as Zesa collapses under its huge debts. The hope that Chiadzwa diamonds would solve all the country’s problems has been shown to be exaggerated. The government had expected the diamonds to generate $600 million but between January and June this year they only realised $416 million. Perhaps the original estimate was hopelessly optimistic but whatever the reason the disappointing reality of diamond revenue has upset Zanu PF’s hopes for assured victory at the polls. Even the security chiefs are worried that perhaps Zanu PF might not win. Without Zanu PF protection the generals stand to lose everything. Payback time is looming!

Yours in the (continuing) struggle Pauline Henson.


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Will the draft constitution ever become a reality?
July 16, 2012, 5:26 am

Will the draft constitution ever become a reality? Only yesterday we were told yet again that it is ready for publication. On Tuesday there was a report that the new constitution will allow dual citizenship. Every citizen by birth – even if they have since taken on foreign citizenship – will be permitted to vote but on Thursday the Minister of Justice, Patrick Chinamasa announced that Zimbabweans in the diaspora will not be allowed to vote. The number of Zimbabweans in the diaspora is   not clear but in 2009 the IOM calculated that four million people had left Zimbabwe. These diasporeans contribute huge amounts to Zimbabwe’s economy but, say Zanu PF they will not be permitted to exercise their democratic right. It’s easy to see why Zanu PF does not want those four million voices to be heard; they are for the most part MDC supporters or people who have no interest in politics and do not bother to vote.
    Without up-to-date statistics from census figures, it is hard to be accurate. Zimbabwe last had a census in 2002 when the population was estimated at fourteen million; no figure was given for the number of people who had left the country. The next census operation will begin in August this year and the IOM will assist with technological support. Meanwhile, it was announced on Thursday that the census has a budget shortfall of $15 million! In addition to a possible census in August, less than a month away, the Global Political Agreement stipulates that Zimbabwe must hold a Referendum on the constitution. Once the draft document has been handed over to parliament in August, the country can expect a Referendum on the draft constitution in September or October this year.       
    In short, it’s going to be a very busy and expensive end-of- year. Strange that Minister Saviour Kasukuwere should choose this time to introduce his highly contentions indigenisation issue, the ‘enrichment of the enriched’ as Naison Chamisa describes it. Even Philip Chiyangwa and the Affirmative Action Group are asking why it the same old people who benefit time and again from so-called indigenisation. Significantly, the Cabinet meeting held after Robert Mugabe’s return from Singapore “looking fit and strong” did not include the indigenisation issue but you can be sure that it hasn’t gone away.
    The CZI announced this week that Zimbabwe’s manufacturing sector is in deep crisis, in fact very few goods are ‘Made in Zimbabwe’ any more. Zimbabwe’s external debt stands at $ 10.7 billion and there seems no end in sight to workers’ demands for salary increases. On Wednesday power workers threatened a country-wide strike if they do not get a pay rise. All the lights would go out the country would grind to a halt – all this while there are reports of massive corruption at Zesa. Civil servants and teachers are unhappy with their salaries too, asking why their remuneration cannot be drawn from the massive diamond profits.
    There are some bright spots, however; at least Mugabe appears to have given up on early elections and the country will abide by the SADC resolution and delay the poll until after ‘reforms have been made’. An article in the UK Telegraph suggests the British are about to lift sanctions and the EU is to discuss  ‘re-engagement’ with  Zimbabwe at the next Council Meeting later this month. Whether that is good news for the majority of Zimbabweans struggling to survive is questionable.
    The west believes things are looking up in Zimbabwe - or that’s what they want to believe. They should try listening to ordinary people and not just the politicians. Roy Bennett is right when he says that the MDC should be pushing much harder for reforms. The fact that a Human Rights Bill was passed that excluded investigation into Gukurahundi and the horrific violence of 2008 implies that the MDC- now that they are in government - are prepared to draw a veil over Zanu PF and Mugabe’s violent past. Where do the victims and their families turn now for justice and reparation? It would seem that coalition government entails compromise and loss of principles. 
Yours in the (continuing) struggle, Pauline Henson


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Chinese news programmes and the exiled white farmers’ imported maize
July 7, 2012, 1:55 am

    It’s the ‘same old same old’ in Zimbabwe. Issues raised long ago and apparently all sorted suddenly re-surface years later. Even with a Coalition Government, it is still Zanu PF ideology that dominates and Zanu PF will not give up until they get what they want. And, what they wanted – and still want – is total land ownership. Having taken over white-owned farms from 2000 onward, it seemed logical to assume that the issue was settled but it still goes on. Today, Friday, comes the news that a Marondera farm has been invaded, not by war vets but by senior government officials leaving. 80 farm workers and their families  homeless.                                     

    When cabinet ministers them selves are die-hard fanatics like Saviour Kasukuwere, it’s not surprising that he once again raises the subject of ‘Who Owns What in Zimbabwe’. What he doesn’t have the courage to define is who exactly he means by the term indigenous and whether a white – or brown - person can be considered an indigenous Zimbabwean? The answer is clearly in the negative for Kasukuwere and he has his master’s whole-hearted approval when it comes to the question of ownership. Speaking a week ago Robert Mugabe said foreigners should only get 10% of Zimbabwean businesses. Mugabe was addressing the Central Committee of Zanu PF at the time so, of course, he used the opportunity to attack the west. “Be wary of the west taking over Africa” he warned the faithful. That was in the week when the EU announced that it had funded water projects in Chivi which have directly benefited 100.000 people and the UK has already given $300 million since February. In contrast, Mugabe’s friends from the East, the Chinese, gave 200 workers the sack and dismissed them without notice or severance pay.

    On Wednesday it was announced that the Government had given banks one year to cede 51% to local blacks. So, there we have it, from the horse’s mouth. Saviour Kasukuwere was quite specific: ownership was to be handed over to black people; white Zimbabweans born and bred in the country are virtually non-people when it comes to land ownership. It is no longer just banks that must be indigenised, Kasukuwere has now included hotels, educational institutions and telecommunications. The Reserve Bank Governor, responded by stating that only seven out of twenty four local banks are foreign owned. As for mines, the Minister of Mines behaves as if they are his personal property to allocate to whoever he sees fit. This week he pledged gold, diamond and platinum mines to police and military officers. No wonder they are such fervent supporters of Zanu PF!

    The indigenisation issue has caused chaos and confusion in all the affected sectors.  David Coltart the Education Minister has described the move to indigenise private schools as ‘illegal’ but perhaps more relevant is the question: who are the precise owners of private educational institutions? For the most part they are church- owned. Peterhouse, the prestigious school in Marondera is owned by the Anglican Church; St George’s, another highly respected school in Harare, is owned by the Catholic Church as is Kutama - which Mugabe himself attended. All of these institutions are already run by indigenous, black churches. So who or what exactly is being indigenised?

This move to indigenise is, in fact, no more than a political ploy by Mugabe intended to assure the electorate that under Zanu PF they will all be bosses but the brutal truth is that indigenisation is racism of the worst kind - and it is unworkable.

Not to worry, as Zimbabweans say, for the next three years we’ll have Chinese news programmes to cheer us on our way and the exiled white farmers’ imported maize to feed us. Who was it said, “Zimbabwe will never be a colony again”?

Yours in the (continuing) struggle, Pauline Henson.


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