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

ZANU PF Conference or Congress?
October 22, 2011, 1:40 am

As the Zanu PF Conference – or is it a Congress – draws closer, the question of who will be the party’s candidate for president in the next election takes on increasing urgency.

Time for Zanu PF chefs to reveal where their true loyalties lie!  Patrick Chinamasa this week declared himself in favour of Robert Mugabe, “Zanu PF will sink without Mugabe” he said. Interesting that it is the party rather than the country that concerns Chinamasa; the party could not afford “to change the captain in the middle of a storm,” he added, though what exactly that storm is, Chinamasa did not stipulate.

Enos Nkala, a founding member of Zanu PF, in whose Highfield home Zanu PF was born in 1963, thinks otherwise. This week he urged the party to drop Robert Mugabe as their 2012 candidate saying openly that Mugabe is too old and if he remains at the helm then the party will lose the next election. Nkala’s dissatisfaction is, however, not only to do with Mugabe’s age and leadership style, the state of the party is also a matter of concern. “I am not happy with the way the party is going…cowboys, power seekers and fly-by-night politicians have highjacked the party.” Nkala said.  There are reports that various factions within the party have united in a bid to oust Robert Mugabe.  

It would be naive to assume that all these dissenters are acting for purely altruistic motives. Despite the fact that Zanu PF has declared officially that Mugae is their candidate, the vice-president and widow of the late Solomon Mujuru, is keen to take on the post of president.  Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Minister of Defence, is another top Zanu PF man eager to take over the presidency. With so many people after his job, Mugabe might be tempted to retire from the fray; but, supported by the military, the police, the war vets and with hundreds of Zanu PF youth ready to stir up trouble wherever HE wants it, the Old Man is probably not too worried.

It was Zanu PF Youth who disrupted an MDC Rally in Marondera this week, forcing members of the public to run for their lives. Apparently Zanu PF in Marondera strongly objected to posters displayed around the town advertising an MDC Rally. Zanu PF said the posters ‘offended’ them! Meanwhile, soldiers in the same province were busy handing out notebooks to village headmen to record how and where people vote in the forthcoming election. Now, that is offensive. Similarly, when Zanu PF Youths disrupt Electoral consultations and announce that they intend to target white-owned businesses to fund their party’s Conference, all true democrats must be offended.

Mugabe’s party is accustomed to condemn anyone who dares to comment even mildly about Zimbabwe; the party cannot tolerate criticism. It was the Commonwealth’s turn to provoke Zanu PF’s anger this week when they said they would be happy to readmit Zimbabwe once the country has been restored to full democracy. Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi called that comment ‘illegality with arrogance’. A Commonwealth briefing paper had suggested that it could offer help to encourage Zimbabwe’s progress towards democracy though why that is either arrogant or illegal escapes me.

Considering Zimbabwe’s recent electoral experiences, it sounded pretty hypocritical when Mugabe congratulated Zambia on peaceful elections and for appointing a white man as deputy president. Mugabe boasted about how many whites he had in his first cabinet but omitted to say how whites – and especially farmers - have been treated lately. Today, Friday, Zanu PF proclaimed the late, unlamented Gaddafi as ‘a hero’ even though ordinary Libyans have been dancing in the streets to celebrate his demise. Once again we see how party comes before country and people for Zanu PF.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.

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The 'incompatible marriage'
October 14, 2011, 10:30 am

This week Robert Mugabe described the Unity Government as ‘an incompatible marriage’ ie. a union where the parties are incapable of existing together in harmony. That is hardly a description of a happy union but this week Patrick Chinamasa went to the UN Human Rights Periodic Review in Geneva and reported to the world body that everything in Zimbabwe is rosy.  Despite the fact that Chinamasa rejected 67 of the 177 recommendations to improve the country’s appalling human rights record, he still went on to claim that Zimbabwe is ‘committed to human rights’ and blamed the ‘continuing suffering’ in the country on ‘illegal sanctions’. He defended the infamous POSA as a ‘justifiable piece of legislation’ though it is hard to see why a nation would require such draconian legislation if indeed all is sweetness and light and its citizens’ rights are protected by a government committed to human rights. Mugabe and his sycophantic Zanu PF ministers continue to deceive the world with downright untruths about the state of affairs in Zimbabwe. You have to wonder who believes them any more?   Today, Friday, we learn that the report which Chinamasa was touting at the UN as representing the views of ‘the government’ had not even been seen by the MDC ‘partner’ in this ‘incompatible marriage’ we call the coalition government! 


It was the arrival of the Anglican Archbishop Rowan William last weekend that highlighted a specific area of human rights abuse: the horrific treatment that Anglicans have suffered at the hands of Norbert Kunonga. The Archbishop of Canterbury handed Mugabe a dossier giving a detailed account of how Anglican priests, nuns and parishioners have been targets of Kunonga’s vicious campaign against them.

“We have asked in the clearest possible terms,” Williams told the press after his meeting with Mugabe, “to use his powers as Head of State to put an end to all unacceptable and illegal behaviour.” The question now is whether Mugabe will keep his word and rein in Kunonga who with his banner-waving thugs barred Rowan Williams from entering Anglican churches in Mutare and Penhalonga. In typical Zanu PF style Kunonga has totally distorted the real issue and turned it into an anti-homosexual rant. He accused Rowan Williams of  “acting for homosexuals” not to mention being an envoy of the British. This was after Rowan Williams had preached what his colleagues called ‘the sermon of his life’ in front of thousands of cheering, ululating Anglicans in Harare. That service took place not in the Anglican Cathedral as you would expect but in a sports stadium because Kunonga has taken over the Anglican cathedral. “I am in charge of the church and all its properties. I am in the cathedral. That is my throne. He cannot come here.” declared Kunonga. No wonder the Archbishop attacked the ‘injustice and arrogance of false brethren.’ More like megalomania than arrogance I’d say.          

The question remains: will Mugabe keep his promise and do something about Kunonga, a man whose sole objective appears to be to acquire property. Since he appointed himself archbishop in 2008 he has seized 40% of Anglican church property. This dispute is nothing to do with theological differences, it is ‘a result not of schism but of thuggery’ as the Archbishop of Capetown commented. On a more hopeful note, twice this week Kunonga has lost High Court actions and been ordered to vacate the church properties he has seized.

Ironically, of all people it was a group of war veterans this week who said bluntly that Zanu PF, to which Kunonga owes unswerving allegiance, had been “ hijacked by thieves and crooks, bent on lining their pockets”. That’s hardly a fitting epitaph for the party which liberated the country from colonial bondage; neither is it a fitting legacy for Robert Mugabe, the great liberator - as he would have us believe.  

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.

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Where did it all go wrong?
October 8, 2011, 1:35 am

Recently I have been reading some of the many books written about Zimbabwe. The question posed by all the recent publications is: after such a brilliant start for independent Zimbabwe, where did it all go wrong? Was it Zimbabwe’s colonial history that laid the foundation for the troubles or was it the British government’s failure to keep its promises. Perhaps it was the nature of liberation ideology and its inability to adapt to changing circumstances that caused the problems. The top/down, centrist nature of Zanu PF certainly did not encourage easy relationships with the west, or, and this is the one that most authors are unsure about, was it the personality of Robert Mugabe himself that caused things to go so wrong in Zimbabwe?

Reading Robert Mugabe’s recent speech to his Zanu PF party, one is immediately struck by the fact that in Mugabe’s mind, nothing has gone wrong in Zimbabwe. But then he is still in power and for Mugabe that is all that matters. All he has to do is demonstrate to the world that all is well in Zimbabwe and anyone who says anything to the contrary is, quite simply wrong or in his words, a liar.

“They say there is violence, where there is none, fighting where there is peace, dictatorship when we are ruling together…they are peddling lies.” says Mugabe. He is speaking about Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC but in fact it could be anyone who disagrees with him, including Amnesty International, the Human Rights Forum or the 17 NGOs who this week signed a letter of protest about the ongoing harassment of Woza.


 From a very young child (according to Heidi Holland’s Dinner with Mugabe, published by Penguin Books) Robert Mugabe was led to believe that he was special. He was told as much by his fanatically religious mother: he was ‘the special one’, chosen by God for high position. Consequently, he grew up with the deeply rooted conviction that he was special and whoever opposed him was simply wrong. Holland demonstrates what a complex character Mugabe is; extremely intelligent but totally lacking in what psychologists call ‘emotional intelligence.’ He is incapable of relating to others, has few close friends and only his first wife, Sally, ever really understood him or was able to soften his rigid personality.

While the west condemns him as a heartless monster who  inflicts terrible suffering on his people, Mugabe the man, cannot relate to the pain he causes others. If Heidi Holland’s analysis is correct and I believe it is, then it’s not difficult to see how Mugabe’s complex personality contributed, at least in part, to Zimbabwe’s downfall. His inability to accept criticism of any kind meant that he surrounded himself with ‘yes’ men who would never disagree with him or criticise him in any way, and if they did then he would simply get rid of them. So Zimbabwe has ended up with a cabinet of mediocre ministers, incapable of independent thought. One example is Saviour Kasukuwere. He is the man who is running the ‘Indigenisation’ programme and this week he is on record as admitting that it is Zanu PF members who will mostly benefit from indigenisation – but, he says, that’s only right because the other parties disagree with the policy! With this one observation, Kasukuwere destroyed any moral justification that indigenisation was meant to benefit all Zimbabweans.

The people who knew Mugabe when he was first in power all say how much he has changed since then. He was, they claim, genuinely interested in the welfare of the common people. Was he a racist? It seems not, he even had white men in his cabinet when he first came to power.  I believe the change came about with the rise of the opposition. Mugabe simply cannot tolerate opposing views and that famous image of the white farmer handing over a cheque to Morgan Tsvangirai was the start of it all. Mugabe was threatened where he is most vulnerable: his inability to accept criticism and learn from it. It is, as Heidi Holland observes, a sign of emotional immaturity. Seven university degrees may prove to Mugabe how intellectually superior he is but they do not make up for plain common sense or the ability to feel others’ pain, qualities which are essential to true leadership.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.

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Zanu PF to blame
October 1, 2011, 5:17 am

A report by the International Bar Association has put the blame squarely on Zanu PF for the failure to implement reforms in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe, says the IBA report, is still in crisis three years after the signing of the grandly named Global Political Agreement, “…political environment gravely polarized by resurgence of violence, arrests, intimidation and hate speech…”

Zanu PF, of course, responded the just way we have come to expect. Rugare Gumbo condemns the IBA as an organization that is “in business to criticise Zanu PF.”  

If this short extract is anything to go by, the IBA report is relatively mild, compared to what is really happening in Zimbabwe. A worrying development recently is the increasing use of so-called ‘youth’ in carrying out violence and disruption. I’m not exactly sure what age one has to be to qualify as a ‘youth’ but last weekend it was reported that ‘Zanu PF youths’ had seriously disrupted a ZCTU meeting being held in Bulawayo. The meeting was being addressed by top Union officials when this rowdy group of ‘youths’ disrupted the gathering. For once, the police actually did what they are supposed to and ordered the youths to leave but they would not budge. It was only the intervention of a senior Zanu PF official that finally persuaded them: Zanu PF’s law had prevailed!

The news that the activities of the Chipangano gang has the support of senior Zanu PF leaders came as no surprise and this week the MDC called on Mugabe to stop the gang’s violence.  Needless to say, Mugabe has done and the gang continues to wreak havoc in Harare. ‘Zanu PF youths’ were busy this week taking over the carparks in a Harare suburb. They say it is part of the ‘indigenisation’ programme, empowering the people! To demonstrate their loyalty to Mugabe and the former ruling party, the youths hoisted the Zanu PF flag at ‘their’ carparks.  At the same time as this patently illegal activity was going on, a group of MDC youth were denied permission for a march. All marches are banned, the police announced, except for those organised by government ministries or departments.

The combined motives of violence for political ends and personal greed make for a toxic mix that has poisoned all aspects of life in Zimbabwe. Zanu PF thugs have banned the Seventh Day Adventist Church from holding their services in a local school because some of the church members are also members of the MDC. ‘Bishop’ Kunonga continues to evict bona fide Anglican priests from their homes. This week he was in Chegutu where his thugs were accompanied by a court messenger to give a veneer of legality to their illegal activities. Apparently, the thugs are masquerading as priests while they beat and threaten both laity and clergy. In the rural areas too, some traditional chiefs appear to be in thrall to Kunonga as one chief orders Anglican parishioners in Chikwaka to pay allegiance to Kunonga – ‘pay’ being the operative word.  

A statistic from the IBA report shows that politically motivated arrests have increased from 300 people for the whole of 2010 to 800 in the first six months of 2011. The continuing harassment and arrests of the Woza women is clearly political and the charge of ‘kidnapping and theft’ against the leaders, Mahlangu and Williams is simply nonsensical. These brave women have been remanded in custody until October 6th despite calls from all quarters for their release.

Reports speak of 5000 Mapostoris invading sugar estates in the lowveld where sugar production has been reduced by 70%; I seem to recall another such invasion some years back. It is, as a good friend of mine always says, “Same old, same old” in Zimbabwe. As the net tightens, Zanu PF they descend to crude threats against their enemies, real or imagined. This week it was Emerson Mnangagwa telling those countries that want to invade Zimbabwe (!) that the ‘ZNA will crush them.’  No comment needed, I think.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.

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September 24, 2011, 2:19 am

While Zanu PF endlessly rails against sanctions, I’m pretty sure that if you were to ask the average Zimbabwean, Mr and Mrs Average Citizen, what are the main problems facing the country today, the answer would most definitely not be sanctions. The reason for that is simply that sanctions have very little effect on the average citizen’s daily life. Now that the US dollar has replaced the worthless Zim dollar it is possible to buy just about anything  - providing, of course, you have the money. So why do Mugabe and his underlings continue to go on and on about sanctions. The answer must be that it is they, the top chefs, not the ‘povo’, who are most affected. The ‘chefs’ can no longer travel freely, access their foreign bank accounts, shop in Harrods, stroll along the Champs Elysee or walk down Fifth Avenue, though no doubt Robert Mugabe and his party will attempt the latter while he is in New York for the UN Summit!

Apart from those inconveniences to Zanu PF chefs, I wonder what purpose sanctions serve any more? They have certainly not persuaded Mugabe to change his policies. By lifting them Zanu would lose its main propaganda tool: the lie that the west is responsible for everything that has gone wrong in Zimbabwe. The Attorney General argued last week that sanctions violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. When I checked the specifics of that reference, it turned out that Tomana was referring to that part of the Declaration that dealt with property rights. Coming in a week when, by my count there were more than half a dozen illegal seizures of property, that’s pretty ironic. In Chiredzi Zanu PF youths took over white-owned businesses;  there were threats of takeovers in the Save conservancy by Zanu PF chefs; fresh farm invasions hit Masvingo and Zanu PF youths targetted all white-owned businesses in the town; there were more details of the Kunonga takeover of the Shearly Cripps Orphanage revealing the suffering caused to the children; the so-called February 21st Movement threatened more land seizures; white robed Mapostori refused to move from the farm which they had invaded and in Bulawayo a Zanu PF youth group plans to take over all unoccupied buildings.

Meanwhile Robert Mugabe tells the UN that ‘his’ land reform has alleviated poverty and reduced pressure on the land. How he justifies that claim is hard to fathom when we see pictures showing Zanu PF youths butchering an elephant they had slaughtered in a game conservancy where they chopped down trees for firewood to sell, poached game, set fires and generally misused the land and its resources.

Zanu PF wants better relation with the US and the EU, Mugabe   says, but not until sanctions are lifted. Only then will Zanu PF fat cats be able to get their hands on their ill-gotten wealth  deposited in foreign banks. Why should these criminals be allowed to benefit more than they already have from land and property seizures?  Mr and Mrs Average Citizen are entitled to ask that question but it would not, I suspect, come top of the list of problems facing Zimbabwe. From the outside looking in, the main problems facing the country is political violence and the failure by the police to deal with the perpetrators. However, Mr and Mrs Average Citizen living inside Zimbabwe might see it differently. They, I suspect, would put money - or the shortage of it –at the top of the list of problems Zimbabwe faces. That problem affects every citizen. With unemployment still at 80%, earning a living wage is the major problem.

Mugabe boasts of his policy of ‘Economic empowerment’ but, as the economist Tony Hawkins pointed out this week, it is a foolish policy which discourages investment and thus perpetuates poverty, slows growth and leaves the majority of the population poorer and still not empowered either politically or financially. The fat cats continue to do very well out of it though.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle, PH.

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