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Wednesday, 20 June 2007



18 June 2007, by Cyprian-Orina Nyamwamu in Nairobi. John Kamau's article (Business Daily 29th May 2007) on Zimbabwe calling on the world to give Mugabe a break was the most articulate article regarding Zimbabwe to have filtered to the Kenyan press this year. Sadly the Article was peppered with propaganda aimed at achieving sympathy for Mugabe's despotic rule in Zimbabwe.
As we speak, Mugabe has succeeded in destroying Zimbabwean society all in the name of fighting imperialism. The problem in Zimbabwe did not begin with the land acquisition programme that Mugabe ordered after losing a referendum on a new constitution in 2000. The problem is Mugabe's understanding that he is Zimbabwe and even if all Zimbabweans were to die, so long as he remains the President, so be it. You have in Zimbabwe a despot who has appropriated his gallant role in the struggle for Zimbabwe's independence and majority rule as a basis for killing ethnic Ndebele's and suppressing opposition in the name of ZAPU and now MDC. This despot has created a humanitarian and economic crisis that has driven nearly 3 million Zimbabweans out of their country.

A campaign of annihilating

Between 1981 and 1987, Mugabe ran a campaign of annihilating a whole Ndebele population using the red-tagged Fifth Brigade simply because Joshua Nkomo was Ndebele and had demanded for Multi-party democracy and power sharing in Zimbabwe. When Gukurahundi ended in 1987 and as the world began to embrace liberal democratic systems of governance, Mugabe embraced the IMF-imposed liberalization programme that hurt the people of Zimbabwe and delegitimised his rule further. The economic crisis began with the failure of the SAPs and has been compounded by the chaotic and inept governance system that Mugabe has created to safeguard his populist rule.
Mugabe's after destroying ZAPU, then sought to entrench his rule through constitutional amendments aimed at giving him unparalleled power to dominate Zimbabwe's politics. Mugabe is also fearful of the repercussions that will follow him after he leaves power emerging from the killings he sponsored and supervised in Matebeleland and parts of Midlands.

Violent land invasions

After Mugabe lost the 2000 referendum, mainly since the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led a campaign that was well coordinated against the Mugabe constitutional amendements, he then had to jump to the violent land invasions by war veterans and ZANU-PF stalwarts to reward cronies aimed at consolidating support that he had lost over time. Here, a dictator who had sensed defeat needed a quick populist act to hold his base together. Mugabe, a Shona, witnessed  for the first time parliament receive up to 57 MDC MPs and nearly lost the presidential election in 2002. The whole of Matebeleland voted for MDC as was the case in Shona dominated provinces because the country was doubtful of Mugabe's credentials to lead a modern nation and steward a modern economy. I can report that indeed the 2002 Presidential election was stolen. Morgan Tsvangirai without doubt won that election. 
Since 2002 Mugabe has been involved in a Mugabe-succeed-Mugabe subterfuge. In continuing with this strategy Mugabe has packaged himself anew. He has presented himself as the African leader of the anti-neo-colonialist and anti-imperialist war and therefore the tackler of Blair and Bush; as the custodian of Zimbabwean interests against whites and foreigners and the selfless and strategic leader of a Zimbabwean revolution. He is none of these three.

A failed leader

Mugabe is a failed leader of the Zimbabwean independence. He has actually become the negation of the Zimbabwean independence and freedom. Any one who plans and executes a programme of killing more than 20,000 of his own people in the name of fighting about 400 insurgents in Matebeleland, consolidates a dictatorship. This dictatorship mismanages the economy and disregards the voices of it's own people calling any one who has a different even better view a stooge and reactionary. Any one who represses his own people, who bangles on land reforms in attempting to achieve political ends of maintaining the status quo must fail the test of patriotism and Pan-Africanism. Dr. Mugabe is not a Pan-Africanist but a dictator who is exploiting Pan-Africanist sentiment. He is not an anti-imperialist leader but a fascist who is exploiting anti-imperialist sentiment to legitimize the tyranny and torture he is unleashing on his own people.
He is not working towards giving the people land formerly owned by whites. What Mugabe is doing is to reward his cronies to ensure continued rule until death. Mugabe is not a strategic leader of Zimbabwe but a coward who feels dwarfed by emerging leaders in his country. He only uses his organizing skills to marshal political power against opponents successfully. MDC's weakness to date has to be attributed to the weakness of its leader to marshall numbers on sentimental platforms as Mugabe has managed, rather than a bankruptcy of vision to deliver Zimbabwe.

Ineptitude rule

Sadly Mugabe has succeeded to portray his Zimbabwean victims as villains and to blame his ineptitude rule on Blair and Bush. Africans who have yearned to see the minority whites in Zimbabwe kicked and fellow blacks given land are so happy. They ask, what was Mugabe supposed to do? To this I reply, Mugabe should have facilitated the making of a democratic constitution in Zimbabwe, implement a comprehensive agrarian reform, seek a SADC assisted plan to finance economic modernization and hand over leadership to the next generation of elected leaders.
Mugabe supporters who no longer care about Zimbabweans living in polythene roofed shelters in economic exile in South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia blame economic ruin in Zimbabwe to the sanctions imposed by the USA and Britain. While the sanctions particularly those outlined in the Zimbabwe Democracy Act, passed in the US should be condemned unreservedly, the fact is that diplomatic sanctions are  in the nature of  personalised travel bans and freezing of assets of ZANU-PF cronies. What about Mugabe's and ZANU-PFs mismanagement of the economy through corruption, cronyism and looting? So are we going to sit and whine about Blair and Bush? Kenya inherited same problems of unequal land distribution from British colonial rule and while little has been done to deal with the land issue, Kenyatta, Moi or Kibaki have not used land to secure political victory and destroy the economy and the society.

Economic independence

While we must resist imperialism and neo-colonialism in all its forms and I am a believer of economic independence, I am not about to side with fascist dictatorship, the murder, harassment and torture of innocent Zimbabweans simply because they oppose Mugabe's misrule. I am not about to tolerate human rights violation and torture by a fellow African because he thinks he is fighting imperialism yet he is corrupt and self aggrandizing. You can not hurt the people and destroy the economy and cause a humanitarian crisis the proportion it reached in Zimbabwe in the name of developing the same people and fighting imperialism. We know you fear prosecution for killing ethnic Ndebeles when out of the Office and fear a failed legacy marred by impunity and gross human rights violations, after many years of gallant and celebrated struggle for independence.
As Africans we must refuse to stand with the tyrants and stand with the people. The legacy of Mugabe can not now become of greater significance than the millions of suffering and dying Zimbabweans. The arguments that even in Kenya opposition activists get killed and beaten in demonstrations and that since USA has Guantanamo Bay so then Mugabe's acts of terror and debauchery are tolerable are too shocking for my comprehension. Is Bush torturing Americans in Guantanamo bay? Is Blair torturing Britons or Iraqis in Abu Ghraib? Why should Mugabe and Museveni torture the victims of imperialism for us to win against imperialism?

Deep political, economic and social crisis

Logically, President Mbeki should act with urgency and negotiate the safe exist of Mugabe from the Presidency of Zimbabwe. Mugabe is the problem and can not solve the countries deep political, economic and social crisis. ZANU-PF is no longer a nationalist liberation political party but a machinery for marshalling sentiments to secure Mugabe's dictatorship and the enrichment of government functionaries. The MDC should consider organizing a broad National Democratic Alliance/ Front to persuade Mugabe and ZANU PF to undertake political reforms to facilitate a free and fair election in March 2008 where the will of the people shall prevail.
Those who speak in support of a new Zimbabwe should in my view state this: If ZANU PF were to win, which is unlikely if constitutional and electoral reforms are undertaken to level the ground, then so be it. But I doubt if electoral reforms are realistic since the real problem in Zimbabwe is Mugabe who is determined to succeed himself. And the March 2008 election offers an opportunity for that feat. 
Cyprian-Orina Nyamwamu
Chief Executive Officer
National Convention Assembly (NCA) and NCEC,
your comment


8 comment(s) available
your name and city 06-20-07 07:37:03
Mugabe is a gtreat crook ( a sophisticated master-assassin) who is a shame to any peoples that cherish decency! His attempt to hide behind a semblance of AFRICAN NATIONALISM has failed dismally! Rev Mufaro Stig Hove...... www.zimfinalpush.blogspot.com
your name and city 06-19-07 20:56:41
Biffo from Kampala - You should also read the incive comments by Reason Wafawarova!
your name and city 06-19-07 20:53:43
Biffo from Kampala- Beware the hidden forces mentioned by the world esteemed correspondent Tichaona Chimoga of Cape Town
your name and cityRastus from Lusaka 06-19-07 20:50:32
How come Capt Bob, as we all affectionately call him, does not host the Football World Cup?
your name and city 06-19-07 20:22:35
Tichaona Chimoga Cape Town. Your article shows indepth research, but I think to simply point in the title and say Mugabe is the problem is rather simplifying a complex issue. More hidden forces are at work in Zimbabwe.
your name and city 06-19-07 15:32:01
The majority onto farms?? Mr. Reason hasn't been on many farms of late, that much is clear. If he would have visited the farms impounded by so-called war veterans and the Zimbabwe government he would mostly have come across derelict fields and nature taking over. Aren't the shops empty? Aren't people dying of starvation, especially in the rural areas? And let's not forget to mention that a clear majority of the Zimbabwe people voted against Mugabe's constitution proposing forced land restitution.
Reason Wafawarova 06-19-07 13:31:56
I cant believe the writer of this article has the audacity, temerity and open face to claim the minimum semblance of Pan Africanism in him. I wanted to ask who funds NCA and NCEC but I now just have to ask how much the organisations have been funded this year. How does Mugabe force-march the majority onto farms?
your name and city 06-19-07 12:07:33
I applaud your very well written article, written with knowledge and great objectivity.If only there were more of you! from a White African


Tuesday, 19 June 2007



Dell has a parting shot at Mugabe as he prepares to leave
By our Correspondent

BULAWAYO, 19 June 2007 - The outgoing United States (US) ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, says Zimbabwe's inflation will hit the one and a half million mark by year's end, forcing President Mugabe to leave office.
"Zimbabwe's actual rate of inflation currently stands at 20 000 percent and it will continue to double every month, to be pegged at 1, 5 million percent by year's end," Dell said.  "The economic collapse will drive President Mugabe from power."

Dell, who was addressing journalists in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, on his last tour of duty, predicted the end of President Mugabe's regime was only months away.

"The first phase of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle is coming to an end in the coming months as long as the rate of inflation doubles every month," he said. "The second phase to define the future of Zimbabwe past a few old men is
coming in the next few months."

He said independent inflation figures indicate that the country's inflation was at 3000 percent in February, doubled to 6 000 percent by March before doubling again in April to reach the 20 000 percent mark by May.

"By year's end the inflation rate will be at 1, 5 million percent and there is no historic example of a government that has survived inflation that has hit seven digits," Dell said. "It is just a matter of time before everything collapses around President Mugabe. This is an end game."

Dell also took a swipe at the state media for misrepresenting the annual report where the US government conceded that it was supporting democratic groups in Zimbabwe.

He said the US was not involved in what he described as sneaky deals against government, saying his country only supported civic organizations to strengthen democratic space in the country.

"We are not fools,' Dell said. "We would not publish sneaky information in annual reports that are made public and there is nothing wrong in supporting or strengthening democratic space in any country. The Zimbabwean
government has this old mentality that it sees enemies everywhere."

He said President Mugabe's government was afraid of democracy and had done everything in its power to eliminate the opposition from the country.

Asked how he would characterize President Mugabe, Dell said he would describe him sadly as a man who could not judge that he had overstayed in power.

"Mugabe did not see his expiry date," said Dell, a relentless critic of Mugabe during his term in Harare. "He stayed too long and overstayed his welcome. He is a man who played a largely historical role from independence through the first quarter of a century, it's a legacy someone should have been proud of but he overstayed."

Commenting on his many confrontations with the government, Dell defended his actions, saying there was a mistaken conception of what diplomacy was meant to be.

"Diplomacy is not engaging in double talk," he said, "or talking smooth and not ruffling feathers. It is about representing the interests of what one country stands
for and my duty here was to defend values of the US government.

"The people of Zimbabwe do not have a voice in the future of their country and we think it is wrong and we want to stand on their side."  Send your comments to: letters@thezimbabwetimes.com This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it


Peace and Tranquility???
Peace and Tranquility???
 Cell in RSA: 0791463039

Monday, 18 June 2007

Zimbabwe needs constructive engagement!!!!!


By Daniel Fortune Molokele

Last updated: 06/16/2007 08:38:16

How clueless Blair plunged Zim into disaster

The Zimbabwe I don't want

Zimbabwe and Malawi: the eternal bond that binds us

Tsvangirai at 55: a date with destiny beckons

ZINASU: the struggle continues 10 years on

Change is the only constant

TIA - This is Africa

Is Mugabe Zimbabwean?

Either Trevor and Benjani are foreigners, or both Zimbabwean

Ian Douglas Smith: the interview

A tale of two great men

Zinasu must celebrate 10 years in style

ODE to a liberator turned dictator

Zim trade unions: we shall overcome someday

The shameless hypocrisy of NAM

A tribute to Fidhas Muchemwa

I, too, have a dream

Zimbabwe needs a new breed of heroes and sheroes

Moment Mutambara shook Tsvangirai's hand

First hurdle cleared towards Diaspora conference

Living a dream

Madhuku third term tragic, disturbing

Working towards a Zimbabwe diaspora conference

Thierry Henry, Zimbabwe and Freedom

Happy birthday Zimbabwe

The birth of a Diaspora baby

LAST week I wrote about the apparent failure of the outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair to positively help Zimbabwe through his policy of diplomatic isolation of the Robert Mugabe-led regime in Zimbabwe.
In response to that, I received several emails in my feedback mailbox that challenged me to proffer a clear way forward on how to handle the current impasse in the crisis affecting Zimbabwe .

In particular, I got an email from Joram Nyathi, the Deputy Editor of the weekly Zimbabwe Independent newspaper that is based in Harare. Nyathi wanted me to further clarify my stance on the efficacy of the Blair led policy of isolation of Mugabe and his regime elements.
Subsequent to that, in the 'Candid Comment' feature column, he went on to interrogate the simple but difficult question; is it better to isolate or not to isolate the Mugabe regime?'

It is thus by the reason of the foregoing that this week I will take some time and further explore the ramifications of either option. Specifically, I will argue that the time has now come for all the friends of Zimbabwe to appreciate the need for a constructive engagement with the Mugabe regime. The time is now ripe to remove any form of vestiges of the regime's isolation from the rest of the global diplomatic community.

Be that as it may, for the avoidance of doubt, it is incumbent for me to further state that my position on the political legitimacy of the Mugabe led regime remains unequivocally clear. It is my take that unless the side-effects of the controversies perambulating the aftermath of the country's last three major national plebiscites of the years 2000, 2002 and 2005 are decisively addressed; there is no way the nation can move forward as a cohesive political entity. My honest view is that the legal framework and political context of the said elections are to such effect that one cannot sustain an argument that we do have a popular democratically elected government in Zimbabwe today.

It is common cause that the whole constitutional labyrinth that encapsulates the Zimbabwean elections today makes it virtually impossible for the electorate will to be fully expressed.
In particular, I fully endorse the calls for a major overhaul of the electoral systems especially on the need to replace the key role of the Registrar General with a fully fledged Independent Electoral Commission.
To that end, there is an urgent need for a constitutional amendment process in the run up to the 2008 polls that will capture that legitimate issue of concern.

Having said that, may I return to my original argument on the need to urgently rehabilitate the Mugabe-led regime, diplomatically. Even then, it is also necessary to further unpack what the diplomatic isolation has actually entailed, over the last decade. In other words, what in essence do we really mean when we talk about the diplomatic isolation of Zimbabwe?

Firstly it is my view that there is a need to demystify the notion that the so-called smart sanctions from the Western governments are the main cause of the crisis in Zimbabwe. It is indeed absurd to argue that denying travel visas to Mugabe and his close associates has actually led to the political and socio-economic collapse of the nation!
It is common cause that the situation in Zimbabwe could be much better than it is today had it not been for several policy and political blunders made under Mugabe's extended 27 years in power. Put in other words, we as Zimbabweans are still holding most blame for the crisis in our country, and also the keys to the solutions.

Secondly, it must also be clearly asserted that the Western governments have not necessarily sought to isolate Zimbabwe as a country but have implemented what are largely known as 'targeted' personal sanctions of Mugabe and his cronies. They have over the years come up with 'blacklists' of the leading persons in the regime and their close family members that they have used to restrict their travels to those countries and also their ability to freely conduct business there.

Further, they have also revised some of the multilateral and bilateral agreements to assist the Zimbabwean government in the hope to pressure the regime to accept some of their conditions on the need for political and socio-economic reforms in the country. This has thus been some kind of a 'carrot and stick' strategy. The Western governments have never sought to impose full scale diplomatic isolation of Zimbabwe. This explains why they have maintained their embassies in Zimbabwe unto this day without ever threatening to close them down at any time over the years. Conversely, the Zimbabwean government has also maintained its own full diplomatic presence in all the major capitals of the leading Western nations including London and Washington DC.

Thirdly, the so called isolation of Zimbabwe has largely been limited to the leading Western governments only. Both the USA and the European Union have so far tried and failed to influence the rest of the global community of nations to join them in their dis-engagement strategy of the Mugabe regime. Apart from the largely symbolic expulsion of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth Club, Zimbabwe has easily maintained its full presence in all the major diplomatic forums in the world. That is, from the United Nations, EU-ACP, Non-Aligned Movement, G77, African Union and right up to the Southern African Development Community; Zimbabwe has been largely unshaken. This is mainly due to the full support it has consistently got from most African countries especially the influential role of South Africa.

The support that the Mugabe regime has received from South Africa and others is perhaps best captured in the preparations for the forthcoming Europe – Africa Union Summit that is due to be held in Portugal in December 2007. The EU countries had initially insisted that Zimbabwe be excluded from the process. In response to that, the African countries as led by Ghana and South Africa have also been unequivocal in their stance, in terms of not backing down to the EU demands. As a result, it now looks like the EU itself will be soon forced to change its stance and embrace Zimbabwe back into the fold.

This is a fact that has been captured in the recent remarks that the outgoing EU chairperson and also the new G8 chairperson, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel made about Zimbabwe. She has accepted that it might be necessary for the EU to compromise on its stance on Zimbabwe for purposes of progress.

Fourthly, over the past few years, most Western governments have opted to tone down on their political rhetoric on Zimbabwe. Having realised that the Mugabe regime is most unlikely to accede to their pressure for reforms in Zimbabwe, they have reluctantly resorted to a 'hands off' approach. This forced strategic retreat has also been accompanied by a view that asserts the need for a so-called 'African solution' to the crisis in Zimbabwe. This turning point was largely captured during the July 2003 visit to South Africa by the USA President George Bush who formally endorsed President Thabo Mbeki to lead the process of re-engaging the Mugabe regime. This stance was further affirmed by both the AU and SADC which earlier this year also tasked Mbeki to help bring the key parties involved in the crisis in Zimbabwe to the negotiation table. The apparent U-turn was then eventually completed by the last ditch endorsement that Mbeki also got from Tony Blair during his farewell visit last month.

Fifthly and perhaps most crucially is the fact that both the leading opposition political parties and the civic society formations in Zimbabwe all seem to be in favour of a re-engagement strategy in dealing with the Mugabe regime. In the last few months, we have seen the willingness from all these parties to sit down and engage Mugabe at the negotiation table. There is thus no clear opposition from all these key critics of the Mugabe regime to constructively engage him on the need for a decisive solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Last but not least, there are also indications that both Mugabe and Zanu PF at large are also amenable to the idea of sitting down with the opposition parties and forge a common way forward on the future of Zimbabwe. In fact, Mugabe himself this week also made a rare public acknowledgement of the critical role of the opposition parties in the national developmental agenda. These then may be signs of a thawing of the hitherto frosty relations between Zanu PF and the opposition MDC. The question now is how much compromise they are prepared to make once they meet the opposition parties and hopefully, the broader civic society formations representatives as per the recent demand of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign.

It is therefore plausible that if the current trend towards a constructive engagement of the Mugabe regime continues, then some compromises will soon be made that will pave the way for renewed opportunities for Zimbabwe to have a fresh start. The onus now remains on both the Mugabe regime and the opposition to come up with a positive attitude towards the need for an all inclusive strategy for a decisive solution to the political and socio-economic crisis in Zimbabwe. In this regard, only time will tell!
Daniel Molokele is a Zimbabwean Human Rights Lawyer who is based in Johannesburg. He can be contacted at zimvirtualnation@yahoo.com


Friday, 15 June 2007



AFRICAN brotherhood. A magnificent outrage!

That's what I call it.

What is wrong with African leaders?

No, it's not President Mugabe I'm talking about yet.

Would you believe that in 1927, incumbent President Charles D B King of Liberia won the presidency by 234 000 votes? Yes, only 234 000 votes separated him from a determined challenger. That was too close for an African president, wouldn't you say?

Well, King was "duly elected" President of Liberia. Oh, I forgot to mention that the total number of registered voters was only 15 000. The African was a genius after all! Better than our very own resident manufacturer, Tobaiwa Mudede. King turned 15 000 eligible voters into 234 000 votes for himself.

The poor challenger seems to have unwittingly voted for his opponent thousands of times over. Could Mudede have been in Liberia in the 1920s? But that's Africa! Those are the kind of precocious presidents we have always had.

Is modern-day Africa's best the likes of Olusegun Obasanjo, Mugabe and Thabo Mbeki? Is this the best this continent can produce? Why are African leaders despots, oppressors, cruel, uncaring and why do they choose to live in their respective Finance ministries instead of State Houses?

Why is there so much brutality used on Africans by Africans? Is it in our genes that once we are rulers we are not happy with just oppressing our own citizens but look around us to find, encourage and protect other African leaders who brutalise their hapless citizens?

French President Jacques Chirac must have had nightmares staring into the eyes of all those dictators amongst whom were murderers, adulterers, sadists, polygamists, girl-snatchers and, yes, thieves.

Chirac knew but did not care about what some of these men did for Mugabe and to us in Zimbabwe last year during a charade called presidential elections, an odious election that Mugabe now impetuously uses to literally keep up appearances.

Chirac should also be aware of how faulty Obasanjo and Mbeki's entente cordiale on Zimbabwe is. True to the norm of dictators mollycoddling each other, Obasanjo and Mbeki can only hear Mugabe's complaints and mumblings but not the screams from the millions of people in Zimbabwe.

African leaders' attitude towards last year's elections is not surprising. It was the betrayal of a nation, but more importantly, it was the first salvo fired in salute of the birth of the African Renaissance.

It was a luminous flare in the African skies to inform all and sundry that no African president will fault another. Yes, it was the African Renaissance, African dictatorship by a new name.

Now we know what this renaissance is all about. It was not by accident that even the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) was launched in South Africa by Mbeki having been bankrolled by a notorious dictator from up north who is only African at his convenience but is otherwise an Arab throughout the year.

Qaddafi can spot talent.

He sees dictatorial potential in an individual and cultivates it. Mbeki is part of the new breed of ineffective and inexperienced youngsters who, as Moi said, "can be guided".

At its launch hardly a year ago, Mbeki announced that one of Nepad's aims is to provide African solutions to African problems.

On 23 February, 2003, the French newspaper Le Monde reported that South African President Thabo Mbeki had asked French President Jacques Chirac to help resolve Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic crisis. Oh, dear!

But surely Chirac must have heard how the despots who were gathered around his table recoiled when "good governance" was thrown into the political stew called Nepad.

Chirac should proceed carefully; these despots mean business. Look what havoc they are causing in the Commonwealth. But if Chirac wants the respect of African leaders, he should start by killing several French citizens, haunt opposition MPs and for good measure bring Le Pen to trial for lese-majesty.

But closer to home, it must have taken tremendous soldierly courage for General Vitalis Zvinavashe to momentarily forget his comrade-in-arms Mugabe to acknowledge that we have a crisis in our country as of January 2003. He surely must have been enjoying Rip Van Winkle's 20-year-long siesta.

Who woke Zvinavashe up, I wonder?

Zimbabweans acknowledged this quagmire years ago. At one time even Mugabe fired his under-performing Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa after realising that things were just not going well.

Zvinavashe should have made this acknowledgement years ago. Only last year, Zimbabwean nationals recoiled in a pre-emptive defensive cringe when Zvinavashe and his armed uniformed cowboys broke out of the cattle pens and undermined the electoral process by intimidating the people through a declaration of unwavering support for an unpopular incumbent who was heading for an embarrassing defeat.
Now Zvinavashe is at it again. He was praised in editorials for his bold admission that we have a crisis. I beg to differ. Zvinavashe does not deserve any praise. He is part of the rot. Was it not his soldiers who shot dead citizens demonstrating against high food prices several years ago?

Please, I am not being maddeningly elliptical but personally, I do not want to see Zvinavashe's nose steaming the window panes on rooms in which the people are electing a leader. Stay in the barracks, Vitalis! The people will choose the leader, your boss, by themselves. You can vote like any other civilian it is your right, but when you hold a news conference in full military fatigues telling people that you can only accept a president you were with in Mozambique then you are setting a dangerous precedent and stripping the citizens of this country of their rights.

Now the heart of this matter is that those who fought to liberate this country have failed dismally. You yourself acknowledge that. Our liberators are now our oppressors. But our liberators do not want us to mention this. When we do, your so-called war veterans beat us up, maim us and kill us. This, I am sure, is part of the crisis you were talking about. Now that you recognise the crisis caused by your kind, what are you going to do about it?

Press reports say you are part of a team that is trying to impose a leader on us after sending your erstwhile colleague Mugabe into exile. No chance, my friend! That is not going to happen again. We believed in you people once and you not only betrayed us but killed some of our kin.

Stay in the barracks, Vitalis.

We are aware that you are manoeuvring to endear yourself to both the citizenry and whoever is our next leader. You are now saying these things because your friend is said to be negotiating for an exit package. Your comrade-in-arms reportedly wants to leave. He doesn't like it here any more.

Didn't Mugabe know all along that when he turned tyrant, it was his own freedom that he was destroying? You didn't say anything to him then. So why now? I will accept Josiah Tungamirai and Solomon Mujuru's utterances because they may be party loyalists but they are not civil servants any more.

I personally do not wish to see the army anywhere near civilian politics. This country is not going to breed failures like Obasanjo, who is a far greater and sadder disappointment than Mbeki, the African Renaissance man. Mbeki is just Mbeki. He has no history by which his presidency can be measured against, except his first term as president.

Mbeki's presidency so far has been a disaster to Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular. Even South Africa's Sunday Times says Mbeki is unable to confront difficult issues (16 February, 2003).

But Obasanjo is a one-time president of Nigeria having used blazing guns to attain that post. The international community could not praise him enough for "handing over power" to an elected government. He became a darling and was appointed a member of the Eminent Persons Group, troubleshooters in pre-independence South Africa. Obasanjo helped to get Mbeki, among others, out of the abyss that was apartheid. Now he and Mbeki have teamed up and formed their very own North-South axis, to make sure Zimbabwe is kept oppressed with no food or hope of political plurality.

Obasanjo has proved beyond doubt that he is no democrat but just another African reactionary who performs for his wallet and the paymasters elsewhere. He has let us down. He has ruled Nigeria twice and yet can never criticise the worst offenders on the continent. "If there are points to be raised in Zimbabwe, like brothers we put ourselves into a room, we lock the door" (Obasanjo: Daily News, 10 February, 2003).

Lord have mercy!

The "brothers" lock themselves in a room to shut out our screams! Talk about a trade union of African despots! They do not like their people to be free. Freedom is the ultimate empowerment and that is cause for concern to any African leader. If people in a neighbouring country are free, they are a threat to the despot in the adjoining country.

Similarly, Europe and the West do not like popular, strong Third World leaders because they are difficult to control or influence. That is why our dictators get support from them. What I have learned from history is that nations watch while one nation cannibalises itself. It starts as a murder here, a couple of murders there. At this stage the murderers are dubbed "unknown assailants". We have seen it recently in Rwanda and Yugoslavia. The world stands by as they did when famine hit Ethiopia and only jump into the fray when corpses can no longer be ignored. Now public funds are being spent bringing "war criminals to account for their actions".

Now picture this: While serving a term for "war crimes" the accused writes this to a relative and he ends by saying, "Oh, there are things, you see, for which one has to carry the blame, even if purely factually one might find excuses; the intensity of the crime precludes any attempt at self-justification" This accused, however, went on to accept only "co-responsibility" but never "guilt". This is an excerpt from a letter written by Albert Speer, Hitler's former Minister of Armaments. He was writing to his teenage daughter from Spandau Prison. Enough paranoia and suspicion have been cultivated in our country to easily lead to our self-destruction.

How many people have to be killed in any country before leaders recoil? And is Africa really hoping for a revival, a renaissance of any sort when we produce presidents like Mbeki, Mugabe and Obasanjo?

Look what Mswati of Swaziland is doing in the name of African tradition. And then there is the incongruous Sam Nujoma!

Can any one of these men do anything for their countries, let alone for Africa? Africa and its leaders!

They are a magnificent outrage, aren't they?

(Tanonoka Whande - The Daily News, Zimbabwe)

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Text of Mugabe's speech at ceremony to distribute farming machinery!!


TALKZIMBABWE brings you the text of the live broadcast of President Robert Mugabe's speech at the ceremony to distribute farming machinery. The speech was delivered in English.
AFP20070612509004 Harare ZTV in English 1536 GMT 11 Jun 07
THE Honorable Vice President Comrade Joseph Msika, the Honourable Vice President Joyce Mujuru in absentia and Baba Mujuru who is here, also, the Speaker of Parliament Comrade John Nkomo in absentia but as represented by the Deputy Speaker who is here, members of the cabinet here present.


Honourable ministers, members of the Politburo who are here, our bishops who happen to be present, Reverend Trevor Manhanga who opened our day with a prayer.

The resident minister and governor of Harare Metropolitan Province, other governors who are here and the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and with him of course although reference has been made to him in collectivity, the minister of agricultural engineering and mechanisation and the minister of finance who has just spoken.

The president of the senate, members of the senate and parliament who are here. Service chiefs, members of the opposition who have come here in [applause] we are happy they are here [applause] and they are part of us in the entity we call the nation and no politics can ever make them alien and therefore that realisation is very important that there must be occasions we must be together [applause]. And after all we eat together, don't we?

Chairperson of the Harare City Commission Mrs Sekesayi Makwavarara, senior government officials here present, traditional chiefs, farmers here present, members of the diplomatic corps, ladies and gentlemen.  Our Women's League, members of the Women's League who are here, members of the Youth League, including old youth leaguers, Comrade Msika and myself [laughter, applause]. We haven't resigned from the youth league. [laughter]

Comrades and friends, today is indeed a happy day for all of us. We proudly mark a moment which will reside in our country's history as a solid step forward in our march towards self sustenance in food security and other agro-related sectors.

When government embarked on the revolutionary land reform program, our detractors led by Britain, sought to breed disillusionment and despondency among our people through their false message of a complete annihilation of Zimbabwe's agriculture sector. Further, this gloomy prophecy got misguided futile echoes of support from a few among us who chose to betray the country and sup with the enemy in seeking to perpetuate audacious and unjust remnants of colonialism. As is characteristic of any pioneering mission the land reform program has during its eventful life been emotive, at times, and met with setbacks at others. However, the principle objective of government has been to remain steadfast in our resolve to follow our deepest conviction that what is morally right and just for the people of Zimbabwe always comes first. [applause]

 I remember in one of his deliveries at the United Nations, President Mbeki saying, this was a moment when we were witnessing the principle that might was right, but I think we are beginning a principle, sorry we are beginning a period, which is witnessing the fact that the principle has reversed itself. It is right is also might [applause] and what is right is beginning to reign. It was wrong for Bush and Blair to attack Iraq. It was wrong for Blair to organize the world into tarnishing us, completely disregarding the area of our difference which was the land issue and the failure by Britain to abide by the agreement at Lancaster House to provide the necessary money for compensation for the farmers, and organizing the rest of the world on the political principal that Zimbabwe was a violator of human rights, of the rule of law and good governance. That was a big lie put together for the rest of the world to get us and on that basis those who fell for it imposed sanctions on us. But we knew we were right in what we had done, we were doing. We knew we were right in our politics, we knew we were right in taking in our land, and indeed right is becoming our might.

Through our unshakable determination, today we are proud masters of our political and econo mic destiny. As the fountain of our collective heritage, which is back in our hands, the land, the land should now be transformed into acres upon acres or into hectares upon hectares of maximum productivity. It is in this context that government, with the assistance of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and other stakeholders, has embarked on a long term agricultural mechanisation program meant to give added impetus to the productivity of our farmers.

The mechanization program, whose implementation will span the next five years, focuses on equipping farmers with mechanized capability across the entire cropping cycle, covering tillage, planting, fertiliser and chemicals application, crop tendering as well as harvesting, and right up to transportation to the market. And we realize that it is only one dimension of our agriculture sector. The livestock sector is another area where equal inputs are needed in order for our livestock to also play a part in the same way cropping is intended to play a part. Experience here at home, in the region and all over the world has shown that farm productivity is directly linked to the degree of mechanization and specialization in the agro chain, hence my government has taken a bold step of strengthening and increasing the support available to our farmers through mechanization. Collaborate efforts between our ministers of agricultural engineering and mechanization and the Reserve Bank, among other players, has seen government procuring assorted farm machinery which we are proudly distributing to the initial batch of beneficiaries today.

I am informed that in total that this machinery constituting the first phase of the mechanization program comprises of some 925 tractors, 35 combine harvesters, 586 disc plows, 463 disc harrows, 78 fertiliser spreaders, 241 boom sprayers and 71 planters. I am informed that in determining today's list of beneficiaries, intensive interaction with community leadership structures played a predominant role that enabling the identification of those farmers who have consistently demonstrated impressive production levels. To this end, today's beneficiaries are men and women who are leaving the years of the government's support so they can now translate this new dawn into positive yields delivered to the Grain Marketing Board and other markets. As government we will continue to work towards the expansion of the mechanization program in order to empower the growing number of our farmers. Consideration will also be given to special interest groups who include women, the youths, war veterans and war collaborators as well as grassroots farmers on A1 and communal farms. As we work to reinvigorate agriculture productivity, government will remain alert to the varying needs of our farmers by ensuring that national resources are deployed in a manner that yields maximum impact.

Equally prominent in government's prepared way of national resource allocation is elimination of all forms and manner of corruption, favouritism or discrimination, and this I say of whatever nature of description. As Zimbabweans we need to turn the current challenges obtaining in the country into stepping stones towards macro-economic recovery and development. The equipment I have the honor of unveiling today should not be used as mere status symbols that eventually gathers rust and dust for lack of use. So that people say I have a tractor? That is not the way to go. Appropriate self service centers will be created countrywide to give farmers accessible spares and maintenance avenues. Minister Made has spoken about it.

Equally important is centralization systems for the procurement of spare parts and ancillary equipment should be formed to push out briefcase dealers who continue to wreck havoc on our economy by stoking up the inflation monster through shameless profiteering. I hope among the beneficiaries of today are not any speculators. Those who want, well we have been told not to use the farming equipment for purposes of hiring out and making money and making that the main purpose of their ownership and possession. The phenomenal foundation unveiled today must also be nurtured and supported by provision of finance and inputs to farmers. Slippages of past seasons have no place where our motto is "Maximum Productivity." Combined with the government's dam construction and irrigation expansion programs, our national efforts will strengthen the country's buffer wall of incidences of recurring drought.

It was, I think, an inspired act that you also invited members of the church. There are a lot of things that we can do, we the humans can do. We can make these huge harvesters, make them as artistic as possible but at the end of the day they must operate in a profitable way. It doesn't mater how learned we may be, we remain humans, man of flesh, creatures of flesh. It is causing rains to fall. Our forefathers had rain makers. I don't know whether in fact it was they who caused rain but to my knowledge they also prove the rain should come in their own way. They also sought divine intervention for the rains to fall and so it is they the men of God, those who have dedicated themselves to religion, taking from the spiritual side of our lives, it is they we rely on not only in times of need, when we have drought but also in times of plenty. So we can remain grateful to the Lord Almighty so he can shed his tears over us. And we are now going to go into the agriculture season, summer, and we don't know what the future holds for us in terms of rains. So they too play their part, the church people, the men of God. Their prayers are needed for us to get the rain and for us to be meaningful in our agriculture otherwise the huge implements can not do much, they will be absolutely useless in the absence of water, in the absence of rain, in the absence of moisture. But then the good God, the good Lord never, never say you will not get rain at all. He does give us rain sometimes but when he gives us rain we don't realize that most of it is running to the sea where it has come from, and we don't take precautions to preserve it, conserve it and put it together.

We have done so here much more than the average African country, including South Africa. Well, South Africa hasn't got much by way of rivers anyway nor have they got much in terms of dams. But the largest dams we can talk about are Aswan in Africa and then you have big lakes and so on. But of all the countries we have done a lot of damming, you know water creation, water conservation areas. But that they are not enough, we have got to work in order for these implements to be really successful and consistently successful. We are looking at a period when, really when the rainfall is very short and then we will have recourse to the water that we will have conserved in our dams. And so, our agriculture remains consistent, short of that we will always be having these fluctuations in our productivity. Years of plenty followed by years of hunger.

Ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends, as we commemorate today's remarkable achievement, we need to commit ourselves to a singleness of purpose and resist attempts by our detractors to tempt us into losing sight of our national program. Even as we are having problems and looking forward, there are others in Europe, in America, planning our downfall. In the British parliament, hardly a month ends without the debate on Zimbabwe. And when you listen to it, look at what is happening on television, you begin to wonder really whether the British are any longer sane and rational. They are debating Zimbabwe as what country to them? Who are we to them? You ask whether this [David] Triesman is a mad man. Raising the issue of Zimbabwe either in the House of Lords or in their Parliament. That is imperialism at its worst. They don't care about the international law, international relations and the norms that govern us or what is written in the charter of the United Nations that you should not interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries. No, that does not bind them. As long as they are thinking of their interests and their interests only governing them, then they will attack any country that they think, you see, is affecting their interests. And Zimbabwe of course was for nearly a century a provider of not only life but wealth to Britons who were here and Britons who were in Britain even as lots of our wealth was being scooped from the ribs of the little part of our earth going to Britain to feed others at our expense. So let us be very cautious, very careful, very defensive, very alert. But within our own system let us do those things that sustain our system and not help towards its destruction as desired by our enemies.

Issues like the parallel market, illicit trading in gold or other minerals, externalization of our funds and deliberate fuelling of inflation by raising prices every day. These things in total undermine our economy and our wellbeing. In regarding inflation, the recently appointed National Incomes and Pricing Commission we hope will, without delay work diligently to remove any elements of irregularity and any excesses in our markets in defense of our workers and the generality of consumers. Further, government will continue to play the facilitatory role of creating an enabling environment for active private sector participation. And on this one I am glad to have been shown the products of our private sector. All the plows, I am told they exceed 1,500, plus some other equipment were produced by our industry so eventually let us also work at substituting these products with our own. We study them, we have lots of experts, let them design their own equipment so that eventually we produce our own tractors, our own engines. So import substitution is a very important process.

In due course the ongoing reviews of the mining legislation also will be finalized, this is now going to other supportive sectors, supported by a more better transparent and systematic management and accounting of our precious minerals, including gold, diamonds, platinum and emeralds and uranium. We need a lot of iron if we are going to manufacture a lot of steel, if we are going to produce equipment, but we need to revamp our mining sector not just with capital investment, but also with experts and over and above that, supervision and management. In implementing these reforms my government will remain alert to genuine requirements of well-meaning strategic partners in the investment sectors.

Fellow Zimbabweans, events such as we are seeing today must give us momentum and deep faith in the undeniable ability we have to turn around our economy. Let me end by reaffirming the commitment of government to ensuring that we continue to evolve solutions to all the challenges we face. Challenges must not weigh us down. Challenges must raise in us the spirit to counteract them, to challenge them without those challenges, those problems and problems are a challenge, there cannot be solutions. Let us be adaptable. Ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends, it is a big day, a great day that has brought us together.

As I said earlier, first I wondered why the governor and Minister Made wanted this to be so great an event, it is merely handing over tractors to farmers and why can't we just give it to these farmers and they said no, the first phase of our national program of mechanizing our agriculture and leading us to be really self sufficient in agriculture and produce much more for export, it is necessary that we must mark this not with just jubilation but this great respect given it, including even a prayer by a member of the church. So indeed it turns out indeed that they were right and I was wrong in my underestimating the event, and it also happens that it is an event which has brought even politically our other side to be with us [applause]. And it's a national event. The issue of feeding is for everyone. No one amongst us does not survive from eating. Yes, when we start fighting politically it is because we are full. It now gives me great pleasure to officially commission this first phase of the agriculture mechanization program even as I urge relevant government ministries and the Reserve Bank to keep up its good work, always remembering that the land is the main anchor of our economy [applause]. We belong to the land. We are sons of the soil. The land belongs to us. And so that should be remembered all the time. I don't want to remind you what the Reverend said to us that when we die, the soul leaves the body and where does it go? They don't say to land, they say to dust. I would rather be happy if they said to land we go because that's where we came from. Comrades and friends, I thank you for listening.
[Description of Source: Harare ZTV in Shona -- Government-owned and controlled national television]


Wednesday, 13 June 2007


Broadcast on Tuesday 12 June


Violet Gonda: The discussion on the programme Hot Seat this week centres on the issue of talks and elections and whether or not there are alternatives to talks and elections. My guests on the programme are Jenni Williams, the co-ordinator of the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise, Zimbabwean poet and writer Chenjerai Hove and Professor Stanford Mukasa, a political commentator. Welcome on the programme Hot Seat.
All: Thank you

Violet: I’m going to start with Jenni on the issue of the talks and also the elections that are scheduled for next year. What is the feeling on the ground on these two issues?

Jenni Williams: On the issue of an election, you know, as far as we’re concerned as members of WOZA and MOZA, and, just as ordinary Zimbabweans, to have an election in a climate where you are starving, where 4000 people are dying every day, is totally irrelevant. And, right now I don’t know whether anyone is even pre-occupied or thinking or even looking forward to the day of any election and even thinking they will leave their homes for that day. So an election and even the discourse about an election is pretty irrelevant. We are just looking at how to survive today. On the issue of talks we have a little bit of a slightly different reaction because the situation; the cost of living, everything is just tough and so people are just saying: “Today, how am I going to survive. Let me spend a little bit of today thinking about how we can put pressure to make this Mbeki initiative at least become something close to being genuine and, if don’t do something like that, I know what will happen. It will be a repeat of the deals before, Lancaster House and others where politicians speak at a level that is totally irrelevant and then cut political deals in our name, and then we end up with nothing. So I have got to be able to have some voice, some recognition, some acknowledgement on that table if I might find that tomorrow will be a bit easier for me.”

Violet: And you were arrested in Bulawayo last week together with 7 other women and just on Monday about 150 WOZA women were arrested after they handed themselves in at the Filabusi Police Station. Now, your group has been holding demonstrations, or trying to, for inclusion in these talks. Are any of these demonstrations having any impact on the talks?

Jenni Williams: Well, I don’t know if we actually want to be included in the talks. I think our role is more to project what should be on the agenda of the talks, and that is more what we are pre-occupied with. We do not think that sitting right directly there will be time well spent because our role is a watchdog role. We need to be on the sidelines pushing an agenda on and then making sure that those discussions and the discourse and the issues that we want addressed are addressed in the talks. If they are not addressed we then are still free and have that arms length role to be able to keep insisting and keep pushing and keep on making sure our issues are being more genuinely discussed. So I think that is our role as WOZA. We recognise that role, all our members understand it very well and that’s why we are able to mobilise them to keep active and to keep putting pressure.

Violet : And what should be on the agenda?

Jenni Williams : It should be dealing with the socio economic crisis. We have our ten steps that we have recommended and in each of those ten steps, if they are progressively done, we will be able to have a better climate and then we will be interested in talking about an election. Until we get those ten steps addressed and until we have a better climate, until all the unjust laws have been repealed and until we have done an audit of the civil servants and disbanded the Law and Order, we won’t be able to have a climate where a truly free and fair election with one man/one woman one vote can be conducted and give us a now independent and fresh start for Zimbabweans.

Violet: The continued arrests and beatings of Opposition and rights defenders have left many to question the validity of the Mbeki led negotiations and also the participation of the MDC in the talks. Now, some ask how can we allow talks to take place while Mugabe is given free reign to put his violence and rigging machinery in place. What do you say to this?

Jenni Williams : Well, again, it’s a matter of agenda and mandate. You know the MDC should actually be able to look at on what basis they will go into the talks and they should be able to envision and come up with the climate that they need for those talks to be conducted. If it’s the freedom of all their members in custody, if it’s a different environment, it’s their agenda to press for that. We are not interested in pursuing their agenda or even a ZANU agenda. We are only interested in pursuing our agenda; that we need for what will be discussed when those talks take place. And, if Mbeki is to be a fair arbitrator and also a genuine mediator, he will also be pressing from his angle that those talks should be able to engage the issues that would make Zimbabwe liveable.

Violet : And, Mr Hove, what are your views on these talks?

Chenjerai Hove: I think the talks should be all-inclusive. By that I mean that it is no longer possible for political parties to deal with the situation in Zimbabwe . It is important that all interested parties should be included in these talks so that they don’t seem to be pushing party political agendas. They have to be inclusive; everybody: WOZA, MDC, the constitutional movement, the youth, Lawyers for Human Rights, they must be included in these talks if they are going to be substantial talks.

Violet: But the Opposition has said that these other stakeholders would be included in these talks and this is just a preliminary stage.

Chenjerai Hove: Yes, yes, it’s better to include everybody in the preliminary stage because you have to draft the agenda, you have to get all the items on the table which are coming from everybody and then you go on. Otherwise you can’t take people or some other people on half way through the journey. So I think it’s important that we realise that this is a national crisis which is political, social, economic and cultural. It must include everybody who has a stake in what we want to do for our country.

Violet: Now, some Zimbabweans say that this is déjà vu and that they have seen this happen with ZANU and ZAPU, so how can the MDC ensure that they don’t suffer the same fate?

Chenjerai Hove: Yes, the MDC has to be cautious that’s why I am talking about an all inclusive discussion table, because ZAPU went in as ZAPU and it was swallowed by ZANU PF. Now, if they went on as MDC, MDC now are going in as a minor partner in the discussion because ZANU will say ‘Oh no, look, you don’t have many seats in parliament, you are a minor partner, you don’t have much negotiating power’, which was the same with ZAPU. But if you include everybody else, the Churches, all the Women’s’ organisations, Men’s organisations, Lawyers for Human Rights, Women for Human Rights, then the risk of being swallowed by ZANU PF and put on the ZANU PF train will be less; will be reduced.

Violet: And also, Mr Hove, what about the situation on the ground right now that is worsening, so while people are talking about talks, Mugabe is carrying on with what he’s always done for seven years especially, you know beating up opponents, arresting opponents. Now, shouldn’t that be a precondition to talks, you know to stop the violence, to stop the arrests?

Chenjerai Hove: The violence definitely has to stop. I think Mr Mbeki, if he wants to be seen as a serious negotiator; facilitator, he should make sure that he clearly tells President Mugabe that this has to stop. You can’t negotiate while you are killing the other negotiating partners, you are torturing them, people are being disappeared and being people are being imprisoned. So that violence has to stop and that negotiation table must include a lot of basic changes. The laws which have been made to safeguard Mugabe’s power; ZANU PF’s power; must be on the table and those have to be removed. Electoral laws, POSA; all those laws just make it impossible to have no violence in the country. So, if those are put aside and negotiations are done on that basis; a genuine basis. Because, if you look at what happened to Ian Smith, for example, it was one South African President who said ‘if you don’t negotiate with the blacks in Zimbabwe, the consequences are going to be too ghastly to contemplate and this is exactly what Mbeki must tell Mugabe.

Violet: And now, Professor Mukasa, you know there are those who believe that Mugabe is using delaying tactics and that the MDC seems to be following his agenda and that it’s becoming like a daily pilgrimage for the Opposition going to South Africa . Now, are there an alternative to talks and is the initiative becoming a waste of time?

Professor Mukasa : Yes, of course there are alternatives to talks but those alternatives are aimed at bringing pressure. Ultimately, any conflict is resolved at a conference table. The problem with the present talks is that Mugabe’s agenda is likely to prevail simply because MDC does not have any bargaining power at all. You see, if you go to a conference table and you have nothing on your side to show that you are also strong, you are going to be swallowed up by the other person’s agenda. Right now, I was talking to an MDC official the other day who said ‘well, if you can suggest alternatives to participating in elections, let us know’. You see that’s a tacit admission that we don’t have any bargaining power because going to the conference table is tantamount to power politics. You know, people who sit and face each other across the table, each must have what I may call a stick, a power base which can make their demands credible and believable from the other person’s perspective. When ZANU engaged in a dialogue with Ian Smith, it was against the background of each partner, each group, having a power base. Now, the power base for the MDC is obviously the civil society and what is needed now is to create that kind of environment that will make it clear; unequivocally clear; that he does not posses all the power. Mugabe, right now, is dependent on the military power he thinks he can wield at any time he wants to.

What MDC needs to do now is to link up with the rest of the civil society and make it clear to Mugabe that if he does not accede to the basic demands; demands like just social equities, you know, the basic necessities that Jenni talked about; the need to bring about free and fair elections, the need to bring back the Rule of Law, the need to bring back true democracy and the kinds of economic reforms that are needed to make Zimbabweans move forward and make Zimbabweans feel there is something for them in this post-colonial era. Unless MDC can marshal that power and strength; that power base, they are going as junior partners to the conference table with Mugabe. And, Mugabe can postpone the talks as much as he wants, and even if he were to come to the conference table, he is not likely to take those talks seriously because he has got so much confidence in this own power base.

And, one thing that must be recognised is that, the agenda for talks; according to Mugabe; is not to save Zimbabwe , but to save himself; to save himself from the kinds of prosecutions that could arise. Mugabe has lost interest in the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe , Mugabe has no vested interest in bringing back free and fair elections. He knows what’s going to happen to him. Free and fair elections are going to be a death knell to him politically and in terms of his career and his party. And, he knows what lies ahead for him if the Rule of Law is ever to return to Zimbabwe . So, he has a power base, namely the military, and because he does not believe that the talks as envisaged by the MDC and Mbeki and the International Community will work to his interest. He is going to hold out. He has survived for seven years now and he feels he can hold out indefinitely. So, what is needed right now, I wouldn’t talk about alternatives to talks, I would talk about developing a power base in order to become a real force at the talks or to force Mugabe to move away from his agenda of self survival to the agenda for the survival of the nation.

Violet: But how do they do that exactly because some say both the Opposition and the general civic society have failed to develop meaningful rhetoric free programmes which would deliver tangible immediate outcomes. So, what suggestions can you give?

Professor Mukasa: Well, then you have to start asking yourself

Jenni: If I can also come in here?

Violet : Yes

Jenni Williams: The one thing that we recognise, if MDC definitely thought they had to go to a table with bargaining power and a power base, they would have consulted civic society; they would have gone to the communities. They have not done that. So the first thing that needs to be done, is that anyone who calls themselves a civic or political leader needs to re-examine their agenda and ask themselves whether they are in it for the long haul or they are just in it for personal enrichment and positions and the glory. If they are please its time for them to please step aside. We need people who are going to understand they must be in this for reform and a real transitional process and not a quick fix. If we then have those kind of people then those people will be more inclined to go and develop a power base, to go and engage people, to genuinely meet with WOZA, to genuinely meet with other mass based movements and say, OK, how can we now unite, how can we come together, what memorandum of understanding can we come up with and then we will go forward. That is the kind of solution but with the current crop that you have I don’t know if those people even have the intention to respect someone enough to ask them what is it and how can we work together to have a power base and give us more bargaining power and that is the grade zero of the whole problem

Violet: Now Jenni still on that issue about consultation. Now as I said earlier, your group has been embarking on these demonstrations, but have you had any response from the MDC?

Jenni Williams : No, we don’t engage with them, they don’t engage with us, which is actually a very sad thing that I have to admit and it’s the truth and so I don’t mind. But I can tell you that the other problem here that is coming and that is not actually seen, is we who are in the communities, we understand, we hear the heartbeat of the communities, ZANU have already begun their election campaigning two months ago. MDC mustn’t be surprised if an earlier election is called so that basically ZANU will present Mbeki with a fait accompli and that will be that. Where are MDC? Pre-occupied talking about talks; amongst themselves and not in a consultative process to develop a power base. And so, do you see where this is going?

Violet : Now Mr Hove, can you give us your thoughts. We know that there is in-fighting in the MDC and many people say that this is the reason that Mugabe continues to stay in power because the Opposition forces are fighting amongst each other. And now, as Jenni has told us, even within the civic society people are not, you know, consulting or working as one. What can you say about this?

Chenjerai Hove: Yes, I think the problem, one of the big problems we have in the country, which we have had for some time, is the factionalism. Zimbabweans are specialists in creating factions out of every organisation and that fragmentation is costly. That fragmentation is going to disrupt the whole democratic programme. Why shouldn’t people and organisations be talking to each other about this, and say ‘OK, we want to get our act together, we go there together, we go there as a big power base to negotiate and we tell Thabo Mbeki that we have all these organisations, as what happened in South Africa, for example, the United Democratic Front which brought in the Churches, the different political movements, the Labour Unions, brought them together and they were a power base. They were very important for change in South Africa . Now we, in Zimbabwe , we tend to concentrate on very petty things and forget the bigger picture and that has cost us a lot at very crucial moments.

Violet: And what are your views on this Professor Mukasa? Because it seems Zimbabwe has become highly polarised and divided. How can these Opposition forces or rather pro-democracy be united? Or rather, is there a need for them to work together?

Professor Mukasa : Ok, two things first. One, some people have talked about the unity of Opposition forces into one anti Mugabe struggling mass. I don’t necessarily subscribe to the physical unity. I think it’s good for the Opposition forces to exist in their individual entities because those are the seeds for multi party democracy in future. What is needed is a common strategy. Let all the different parties in the civic society movement sort of be co-ordinated in their actions. So that when there is a ZCTU demonstration, let it not be a ZCTU demonstration, let it be a peoples’ demonstration. When there is a WOZA demonstration, let it not be a WOZA demonstration, let it be a peoples’ demonstration so that the fight for one becomes the fight for all. So, two strategies are needed here. One, and this is immediate and very important, is that the Broad Alliance which had been mooted some time in the past, it must be given an extra strength to co-ordinate the activities, so that when the ZCTU people are on strike everybody should participate. Just because the demonstration has been called by ZCTU, or by WOZA or MOZA it should not remain an exclusive activity of that particular agency. Everybody should join in. That’s very very important.

And, when anybody is arrested, when anybody is victimised, whether it’s in the ZCTU or the MDC or whatever, it should be a concern for all Zimbabweans. So it should be one fight for all. But, let the different entities exist in their own ideological enclave because that will give seeds. Those are the seeds for a multi party democracy once Mugabe is overthrown. If everybody was to unite under one party, you know, that will easily lend itself to the post Mugabe trend towards a one party type of political system.

The most important thing right now by way of developing a power base is that the Opposition movement must strategise. They must actually sit down and have a weekend seminar somewhere, it does not have to be in Zimbabwe, they can go to neighbouring Botswana, and sit down and say ‘look here are some practical steps that we must take by way of developing a power base; a source of influence on Mugabe that will push Mugabe. Mugabe right now is dilly-dallying, Mugabe is taking his time, Mugabe is not serious about the talks because he knows the Opposition is so divided that they cannot come together to consolidate their strategies, they cannot co-ordinate their work. This is where the MDC needs to review their tactics.

In 1963 after the Sharpeville massacre, Nelson Mandela stood up and said ‘look, we have tried all this non-violent and peaceful strategies and the time has come for us to ask ourselves very serious questions. Now, I’m not saying that the Opposition should engage itself in any violent activity, but they should from time to time be reviewing their strategies. One thing that amazes me and impresses me about WOZA is that they are very creative, innovative, they are always coming up with new strategies to beat Mugabe, and, they have been very successful. So let us learn from each other, you know, where ZCTU is looking at why their efforts have not been that successful, they should also learn from how the other groups has been successful.

Violet: But Professor Mukasa, why do you think these other groups have not picked up on those strategies that you’ve talked about?

Professor Mukasa : That is the question that is the challenge now for these other groups. They should not be so stuck on saying like; I think it was Welshman Ncube who said it one time who said ‘look we have no alternative but just to go on with the elections’ you know, agitating - when he was defending his decision to go to participate in the Senate elections. Now, that’s a defeatist attitude you know. The history of revolutions, if you are to study the history of revolutions, they never started successfully. The very first Chinhoyi battle that was waged by ZANU PF, all the members at Chinhoyi, they were all wiped out but they did not sit back and say ‘well we tried it and we failed’. Some of the most successful revolutions had very poor starts – the regimes were so effective in wiping them out but they didn’t sit back and say well we have tried the best thing is to talk to them. No.

Violet : Professor Mukasa, before you carry on and before I go to Jenni and Mr Hove, on the issue of elections that you have just talked about, what else can people do besides going to the elections?

Professor Mukasa: Well, what people need to do is to agitate for their rights. The elections are, in the present environment, the elections are not going to give people what they want. I mean since 2000 every single election has been rigged and we know it. You can be as sure as the sun comes from the east and sets in the west that the next elections are going to be rigged as well. So its foolishness just to keep on doing the same things and hoping you’ll get results. I think the strategy now is to develop what I call a power base to be able to make it clear to Mugabe that if you don’t accede to our demands we are prepared to go to the streets.
Some people have given up on mass action, I have not. And, I believe that the Zimbabweans will arise, and that they are able and that they are willing. And, in fact, if rumours are true, Mugabe’s Security Chiefs have reportedly told him that the people are now ready and willing to overthrow him through mass action. Whether that is true or not we don’t know, but the fact of the matter is that what is needed now is that kind of leadership that will mobilise the people; not the leadership that will just sit by the rivers of Babylon and just moan their failures and weep. But, we need leadership that are creative, that are very innovative, that are always constantly reviewing their strategies. If something did not go well in the past we have to sit down and ask ‘why did it not go well’. I believe right now that the people of Zimbabwe are ready and willing and able to be mobilised into real demonstrations. I mean WOZA is a model, is a text book case that shows that people are ready and willing. What we need now is the kind of resolute leadership that will take that extra step and say ‘look we have to show Mugabe by demonstrations, by what I call a civil disobedience campaign. It doesn’t necessarily involve mobilising thousands of people onto the streets but there are many, many strategies that can be engaged in and that is what Mugabe is fearful of. He’s afraid that there will come a day when the Opposition movement will have that kind of a leader who will mobilise people into a systematic and purposeful civil disobedience campaign.

Violet: Let me ask Jenni about this. Why isn’t this happening? You are on the ground and you mentioned the problems of the leadership, what really is the problem?
Why aren’t these organisations, including your organisation, why aren’t you all working together? Professor Mukasa talked about the MDC Opposition detainees that were in custody, and some of them spent more than 65 days in police custody and there were no demonstrations from any of the other organisations demanding their release. The WOZA women are always getting beaten or brutalised or arrested and we don’t hear other organisations issuing statements condemning the arrests. Why is it like that?

Jenni Williams: It’s the fear of the baton stick, the baton stick syndrome, and I know it because I am actually amongst people and people fear very much when that riot policeman gets off his vehicle wearing his chamber pot helmet and he lifts his baton stick people fear that very much. And we do a lot of training to ask people to overcome fear and we recognise that we still now have to take another step in our training programme, in our curriculum development to try and find a way to train people to overcome the fear of that baton stick. That is number one, for us as WOZA.
But with other organisations and other political parties, they fear that time in custody. They don’t want to be in the dirt, they don’t want to have lice in their hair like I’ve currently got, and they fear all those sorts of things. But sometimes the things that you most fear are the things that you need to do if you want to be free, and we need to come to that stage where we realise that. But then, the other thing that also comes into play, and it needs a lot more discussion; it needs analysis examination is this issue of non-violence.
With us; as a non violent organisation; we are developing a worry, a concern when we are called by other organisations to join them in the streets and it is primarily because of our commitment to non violence. WOZA people are trained, we 100% endorse non-violence as the way that we are going to remove this violent regime. But, other organisations have not developed that commitment, have not developed that ability to be as brave to say, in response to your violence, I will sit down, in response to your violence I will hand myself in, in solidarity. They haven’t got that and so it makes us very reluctant to join in with people who might respond violently and destroy a reputation that we have actually suffered five years to build.

There needs to be an understanding that non-violence is not your response to violence. It’s a sustained campaign of strengthening the psyche of a people who want to be more dignified. And if people start to recognise that and commit to non violence; I have been with Morgan Tsvangirai and I’ve asked him ‘can you commit to non-violence’ and I’ve not gotten a clear answer. I’ve seen NCA demos do they commit to non-violence? No, we don’t see that. ZCTU maybe they commit to non violence but there’s no sustained training and curriculum development that allows someone to say ‘I am a non violent human rights defender and because of that, under the United Nations as long as I maintain non violence and universality, I have that protection. And that will act like a shield to protect people so that they don’t fear the baton stick as much.

Violet Gonda: And I’m going to pause here for this week but join us next Tuesday for the last part of this discussion with Professor Stanford Mukasa, Jenni Williams and Chenjerai Hove.

SW Radio Africa transcript

HOT SEAT INTERVIEW: Jenni Williams, Chenjerai Hove and Stan Mukasa (final segment )

On the programme Hot Seat, journalist Violet Gonda talks to human rights campaigner Jenni Williams, poet and writer Chenjerai Hove and political commentator Professor Stanford Mukasa

Broadcast on 19 June, 2007

Click here to see part 1 of this interview Broadcast on 12 June 2007

Violet: And we welcome again on the programme are Jenni Williams from WOZA, Chenjerai Hove a poet and writer and Professor Stanford Mukasa, a political commentator. We continue from last week where Jenni ended by saying there is no common vision and no dialogue amongst the pro-democracy groups. She said Opposition and some of the civic groups have not shown commitment to a non violent campaign like her group. I then asked Jenni to explain this further.

Just how different are your forms of resistance as the MDC and the NCA have embarked on similar protests?

Jenni Williams: It’s committed to a sustained non violent campaign and to not mobilise for an event, a protest, but to mobilise people to a non violent struggle and there I agree precisely with Professor Mukasa. It’s to mobilise people on a daily basis, develop forms of resistance that they and their family and friends can be involved in. To help build that courage in them on a day to day basis, and, while they are building that courage you then take them out into high risk demonstrations, they then come back from that, they evaluate how did they behave, how did they overcome their fear. Take them back into other forms smaller, flyering, engaging with police officers, street dramas; many different things that help people develop their courage level and engage in a daily struggle rather than just an event. There is the difference.

Violet: Now, let me go to Mr Hove and the issue of elections. Should the MDC participate in elections next year because, as Jenni said earlier, either way elections are going to happen next year and Mugabe may even push them forward. Now the MDC has said they will not participate if their demands are not met. But, if the MDC don’t participate in elections, small parties will participate like what we have seen in Zaka East where there was a low turnout but elections still took place and these small parties participated in those elections. So is this a lose / lose situation for the Opposition?

Chenjerai Hove : Well, what Mugabe actually wants at the moment is to have an election during which the MDC itself is fragmented into two factions; the other civic organisations are also on their own on little constituencies and without any united force. He wants to have the elections in that sort of situation as quickly as possible. And of course, that is another strategy; there are so many ways of rigging elections and that’s one of the strategies. He might call an election tomorrow and fairly and squarely, without all these organisations coming together, the Opposition will lose. So, we have to realise that elections can be called but if the Opposition, all the civic organisations and politicians – this is no longer a political agenda - it’s a social movement which must come to the front and be able to present an agenda and be able to even include non political, non politician candidates. So that this regime cannot be removed by fragmented institutions and organisations. So, and Mugabe would want them to be as fragmented as possible and this is one of our problems, we tend to rely too much on our fiefdoms instead of sitting down among the Opposition and say ‘listen, let’s sit down and talk about violence, about these things, about how do we overcome this problem’. So people are shouting at each other from different windows and no orchestra happens.

Violet: And what about on the issue of strategies for civil disobedience? What about the actions that have been taken by WOZA activists? Do you think that this is a sign that there will be a kind of a vicious revolt from the grassroots movement?

Chenjerai Hove: It could be. You see, WOZA have been very creative in what they have been doing but my fear is that the whole nation now has lost patience and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of an uncontrolled eruption of violence especially from young people who have no jobs, who have qualifications and who have been to school. So that could be a very, very dangerous possibility.

Violet: Because also, you have to ask, and Jenni was talking about the other groups not committing themselves to, you know, non violent strategies. But what do you do when you have a violent police force, violent soldiers who are actually the perpetrators. How do you respond in a situation like that?

Chenjerai Hove : So for me, it is very difficult for any organisation in Zimbabwe at the moment to guarantee that there will not be any violence. If a police man pops in at my house and beats me in my house, I cannot just sit down and say ‘OK, you know, I’m non violent, I sit down’ so, it’s a violent situation which breeds more violence from people who respond. So it’s a very difficult, it’s a very volatile situation and …(interrupted)

Jenni Williams : But that is why we are in this mess because people keep saying things that. It is not going to work. You cannot answer Mugabe with violence. You can expose and make it clear…(interrupted)

Chenjerai Hove: No, no, no, I’m saying…(interrupted)

Jenni Williams: …and you can ask that police officer to examine how he is living his day to day life. Do his children go to school? Does he have food in his house? And that is the most powerful lobbying tool that WOZA has and it works! We are alive today because it works and other people need to genuinely try it. I am not saying it’s the only solution, I’m saying people need to collectively and committed, genuinely try it! I don’t believe that I have still managed to get as unscathed as I am and it is a surprise to me when I made bail on Saturday because I keep on thinking that this might be the time I will come out of custody through a hospital in a critical condition. But works is the constant telling the truth and asking people to say ‘examine your personal life, examine how you are being used and what future you have. And, that is what works; tell people the truth and get them to speak about it. And I think people need to keep doing that and do it more genuinely, rather than saying ‘ah, if you come into my house with your baton sticks I will beat you back’. Violence only begets violence and it’s a cycle of destruction. We’ve tried that and Zimbabwe was born out of violence, let’s try a Zimbabwe born out of non violence and love and maybe that will bring us a future.

Violet: Mr Hove?

Chenjerai Hove: Yes, I am saying that a situation which is volatile like that is very unpredictable. That the way people respond to a violent situation, a violent police assault is unpredictable because people have been subjected to so much violence over the years. Look at what happened in South Africa . In the end there was just lawlessness in the streets; people began to say ‘I don’t have to respect any law’ because of the violence which was inflicted on people. So, what I’m saying is that even those organisations like WOZA , OK non-violence, but where is the dialogue with the other organisations? Let’s sit down seriously and share spaces; political spaces; and say ‘OK, we have our vision, this is our vision, what shall we do?’ If MDC people are arrested and WOZA people stay at home and they don’t demonstrate. WOZA arrested, MDC people or NCA people stay at home, there is no common vision and there is no common strategy. So there should be a lot of dialogue among the organisations themselves. I think we are lacking a lot of dialogue and negotiation, even among people who agree on basic principles. Dialogue is a must.

Violet : And Professor Mukasa, what are the implications, for example of the WOZA strategy of non violence if it is maintained?

Professor Stanford Mukasa: Ya, non-violence can work if it is sustained over a period of time and if it is planned. I like the idea of Martin Luther King one time once said ‘look, let us fill those jails’. Can you imagine a situation where thousands of people will go to be jailed and will then say ‘OK, arrest me’, you will overwhelm the police. There is a myth in the sense that the police are all too powerful because they carry weapons. Power really lies in the people. One thing I can tell you right now is even the police themselves are afraid of people. Can you imagine a situation where lets say 500 police are confronted by 10 000 masses you know. So power is relative to the kind of strength you bring to the table as I keep saying. So I subscribe to the idea of non violence as long as it is sustained and it is systematic and it is part of the culture in other words. There are many strategies that you can do non violently that can overwhelm the enemy, the police force. And, of course, removal of the fear factor is a very important strategy. If we go in large numbers, if we sustain our approach, at some point, at some point, even the police themselves are going to start questioning themselves, I mean, you know, their strategies.

So, you can actually disarm, you can weaken this military strength, this military power base that Mugabe has by just overwhelming them and this is what Martin Luther meant by saying ‘let’s fill those jails, let’s overwhelm them with our non violence’. Actually, non violence can actually be very overwhelming because one power that Zimbabweans have is power in numbers. You are looking at a population of about 12 million people. That’s power in itself even though none of them has got a gun or has got a weapon or so. That can be very overwhelming and I think that has not been fully exploited, the way I see it right now. If you demonstrate in drips and drabs, you know you have got a few people who do hit and run demonstrations, of course they are going to be overwhelmed by the military power. But, if you can; and I think Mugabe recognises this; that Zimbabweans are so angry at this point that they are capable of mounting a major non violent campaign and overwhelming him. Because, the police are also human beings, when they are holding those guns and they are hitting people, they are banking on people not responding in terms of overwhelming them in their non violent campaigns.

And, I was just reading with interest the WOZA women who stormed the Bulawayo Central. Now can you imagine storming a military base, because that’s what Bulawayo Central is now: a military base! Can you imagine that happening? The fact that they stormed and they were in such large numbers, I don’t know if it was 200 or 1000 but as more and more people become part of this non violent campaign, they are going to wield so much, you see there’s power in non violence. They are going to wield so much power that they are going to overwhelm, you know, the other party.

I want to comment briefly on your question that you asked, that the MDC - should the Opposition participate in the elections next year. My question is the environment for peaceful, for free and fair elections does not exist. At this point, instead of planning for participating in elections, they should be planning on developing their power structures, their campaigns, their non violent plans, that’s what they should focus on right now, organising themselves, dialoguing among themselves. And, I agree that there is not enough dialogue among the Opposition membership. They don’t necessarily have to unite into one party as such. But, at least they can form a broad alliance; a coalition; that can co-ordinate all these other activities so that any time there’s a demonstration, anytime anybody is imprisoned the whole nation must be involved.

I sometimes feel concerned that maybe a member of WOZA is imprisoned, or maybe a member of MDC imprisoned and, you know, there are no statements made by other parties; they just keep quiet. It’s almost like a ‘they and us’ attitude that exists. I think it should be ‘one for all and all for one’. That kind of coming together as one huge critical mass; that can actually overwhelm Mugabe and I think Mugabe is afraid of that. But he is banking on the fear factor. As long as he rules on basis of - you see, the fear is actually his strength, that is not the weapons that we give him, it’s the fear that Zimbabweans have and I keep going back to the same old strategy that let’s have the kind of leadership that will unite all the people. Not organically as such, but unite them in purpose and in terms of moving forward towards a sustained campaign against Mugabe. That is what will ultimately wear Mugabe down. But certainly, the environment for elections does not exist now and the Opposition movement should spend more of their resources strengthening themselves, strengthening the powerbase of the civil society, because, Mugabe has not yet got the message. You know, he is a spoilt kid and he does not take these talks seriously. Merely coming to the table will not resolve anything at all because Mugabe has got his own agenda of those talks and so just because he ultimately agreed to come to the table will not solve anything at all.

Violet: And Jenni your group, as Professor Mukasa has just said, you have started handing yourselves in, in solidarity with arrested colleagues in the police stations. 150 women handed themselves in at Filabusi police station and then another 80 handed themselves in in Bulawayo . Is this now become part of your multi faceted resistance plan?

Jenni Williams : It isn’t something that just started now. I remember last year I was given 24 hours to hand myself in or face criminalisation in the press and I went and handed myself in. This time I’m on a hit list and I go and hand myself in. This is not something we have started now, in fact the strategy and the tactics and the responding tactics have progressed further. If you look at our 2005 you will see that we had large amounts of people willing to be arrested because we had removed the fear of arrest from our membership. And then, on the other hand, we were being taken to court and faced a lot of trials. We won all those trials. So, the police, looking at the embarrassment of huge amounts of women in custody and the fact that they were losing trials, have now come up with a tactic. Their tactic is beat us in the streets and this started in November last year, if you look at the 29 th of November. That’s their tactic to respond to our strategy of arrest us and let us make the injustices visible. We now recognise that even in our - it worked in Insiza; it did not work in Bulawayo ; over 80 of us actually were outside Bulawayo Central Police Station and forcing our way in. I knocked at the door, a huge door, myself and said ‘here we are, we’ve come to hand ourselves in’, and they said ‘no ways are you doing that’, and their responding tactic was to pull me out of the queue. They told us to make three lines which we politely did; we are quite law abiding and polite you know, and they pilled me out of the queue - Magodonga (Mahlangu) happened to be in front of me so she came. That was their tactic to just arrest who they wanted and beat the rest so they went away. We now have to, in these next few days, come up with another tactic to respond, because it isn’t now a matter of filling the jails. We’ve done that, we’ve been that trip, they are beating us now to stop us filling the jails. We now need to re-strategise and that’s the challenge that is before us as the leadership right now.

Violet: I understand that in Filabusi, Insiza police got tired of writing down the names of the 150 women, that they ended up saying ‘they are tired’ and then released the women because there were too many women that handed themselves in?

Jenni Williams: Ya, and we’ve seen that scenario playing out in Bulawayo . In Insiza the programmes are running much slower than they are running in Bulawayo and the response of the police is also much slower. So, what we saw in Insiza, we had already been seeing playing out in our demonstrations here in Bulawayo since 2005 and in Harare since 2005. There, people just; the police just got tired of recording peoples’ names. So it’s just an interesting development and we have to just continue to evolve and find ways to with responding tactics to their tactics. I think maybe what I also would like to really mention, civil disobedience and resistance to Mugabe - non violent resistance to Mugabe - is not only about what you do, it’s also about what you refuse to do.

And, yes, there will be an election called. We need to consult, we need to go all around the country. We need to talk to Zimbabweans and say: “Right now, if nothing changes and there is Amendment 18 in place and MDC is still sitting in Jo’burg trying to be involved in talks, is there any reason for you to walk into the ballot box? Is there something that you will get from an election that can help you to put food in your child’s mouth?” And, we need to be able to ask those questions, we need to come up with an answer. We had a boycott of the Senate elections, a very successful campaign that we ran as WOZA, no one else ran a campaign like that except us. And so, those sorts of things also have to be looked at. There are 198 methods of resistance and you have to explore and utilise all of them simultaneously.

Violet: Professor Mukasa, what are your thoughts on this, and also, as a follow up to what Jenni said about boycotting elections. Will it really make any difference to ZANU PF if the MDC boycotted the elections? As I said before, we saw what happened in Zaka East; ZANU PF still went ahead with the by election and even small parties participated.

Professor Stanford Mukasa: As I was listening to you saying that, my question was ‘so what?’ So what if there are thousands of other small parties that participated after a national boycott of elections? So what? What will it change? I have heard this, that ‘well, if we don’t participate other small parties will participate and therefore the international community is likely to recognise the elections as legitimate.’ You know, that’s a load of bull, pardon my language here, you know, it’s not going to change anything at all. Mugabe himself knows that an election where MDC does not participate will lead to nothing; nothing at all where the Opposition Movement does not participate will not bring him the kind of result that he needs. We had the same thing with Ian Smith when he tried to organise, you know through the Internal Settlement that excluded ZAPU and ZANU PF. After those elections the situation never changed at all and Mugabe knows that. He knows that without the MDC participation his election will be a sham.

If MDC goes ahead and participates in the elections without those absolute iron clad guarantees that the elections will be free and fair, that there will be a return to the Rule of Law; without all this and if MDC participates then they will be playing into the hands of Mugabe. Because, that is what Mugabe needs; to tell the whole world that everybody participated in these elections and that is my answer. So I wouldn’t lose sleep that there are thousands of other small parties that participated. Nobody is going to recognise that because the Opposition now has gained international recognition and, they know; just like in the case of ZAPU and ZANU, that without their participation in those elections, those elections are going to be a very big sham. Right now, if MDC were to say we are not going to participate in those elections unless they are free and fair; unless certain guarantees are assured, unless there’s international supervision; if they say that today, you can be very sure that Mugabe is going to be worried about those elections.

JenniWilliams: Violet, I also just want to make a clarification there.

Violet: OK

Jenni Williams: You cannot call what happened in Zaka East a boycott. Because a boycott without mobilisation is not a boycott. There has to be mobilisation and advocacy around certain issues and that is a campaign. Just not going into something is not necessarily a non-violent campaign and not a form of civil resistance and disobedience. You have to mobilise and advocate. We have only heard that ZANU are very busy already on their campaigning, not only in rural areas but also in urban areas. We have already confirmed in Pumula, just here in Bulawayo, they were going door to door and insisting on people taking cards; those that didn’t take cards were told ‘you won’t get food, you won’t get housing’. So, we know that campaign is already rolling out but we also know one other thing; they have already created a rigging system and an unfree playing field by extending the constituencies. Now, not only does Insiza have to contend with an Andrew Langa running for ZANU PF, but they are going to give space to Sithembiso Nyoni and Malaike Nkomo who is in Insiza. That is the sort of unfair playing field that ZANU has already in place. So, if suddenly, there are assurances without a change in the delimitation process, in the voters roll process, it’s still not going to be something that MDC should consider running for because they will still not be playing a fair game.

Violet: And finally, Mr Hove, what are your thoughts on what we’ve been discussing? People say that things don’t work if you follow the same strategies and that the two MDC’s can participate in the Mbeki led negotiations but that they should have their own cut off point. Now, what are your final thoughts on this and is there now a need for a dramatic shift in the politics of confrontation?

Chenjerai Hove: Yes, there is a need for the utilisation of a multiplicity of strategies and the negotiations are fine and good but it depends on what the MDC groupings take to the negotiations. They can’t go there empty handed. They have to go there with a multiplicity of strategies and say ‘we are prepared to negotiate if these negotiations are based on this and this and that, and this is not being met, we are prepared to be with our partners, be able to do A,B,C, D.’ So it’s really a matter of re-thinking the strategies and also re-working and re-imagining and re-shaping certain things that have happened before.

Violet: And since Mugabe is carrying on as if there are no negotiations or talks, when should the MDC say enough is enough, they are throwing in the towel and they are not going to go ahead with this charade?

Chenjerai Hove: They should just go in there and say to President Mbeki ‘listen, this man is pretending that these negotiations are not happening and continuing to torture people, continuing to imprison people, and, while this is continuing, we cannot continue to negotiate with this man and his colleagues’. I mean look at Chinamasa? What is Chinamasa’s baggage when he goes to negotiate? Chinamasa was the Attorney General and at that time the State never won any big cases which were taken against the State. He is a poor lawyer, he is a poor negotiator, he is a man who the President appoints to negotiate when he knows that he is a weak man. Listen, Mugabe’s strategy is that he appoints you to do things when you are in the weakest position. I mean, what decision can Chinamasa make in the negotiations which Mugabe will take? Chinamasa is not a big guy in ZANU PF in terms of the power politics of the country. You don’t put weak people there if you are serious. This is a farce; it’s a tragic farce actually, or a tragic comedy.

Violet Gonda: Ok and I’m afraid I have to end here. Thank you very much Jenni Williams, Chenjerai Hove and Professor Stanford Mukasa.