Thursday, April 09, 2009

Zimbabwe News Update: President Mugabe Challenges MDC-T on Sanctions Fight

President challenges MDC-T

By Sydney Kawadza

ZIMBABWEANS from across the political spectrum, especially from the MDC-T, should speak with one voice against the unilateral and illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Britain, America and their allies, President Mugabe has said.

In his address to the 76th Ordinary Session of the Zanu-PF Central Committee at the party headquarters yesterday, President Mugabe challenged the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC formation to join their counterparts in the inclusive Government to condemn the sanctions.

"The inclusive Government is now a reality. We have held a few Cabinet and Cabinet Committee meetings of the selfsame Government and I am pleased to say that we are making progress with each passing day. Yes, there are problems here and there, but we continue to register progress.

"There has been relative peace and stability in the country out of this arrangement although there are also some isolated incidents of violence, there is a general peaceful situation across the country," he said.

"(However), for the inclusive Government to continue to operate, for the economy to be revamped the fact of sanctions should be addressed.

"We want the voices of all against the sanctions, we want the voices of the MDC-T to be heard much more loudly against the sanctions. The other MDC led by Professor Mutambara has been calling for the removal of sanctions but we also want the other side to be heard loudly speaking against the sanctions," he said.

President Mugabe said the formation of the inclusive Government had rendered the sanctions meaningless.

"Of course, we have our detractors, both within and outside, who sought regime change yesterday and who have not been enthused by the modest success of the inclusive Government," he said.

The West, President Mugabe said, has continued to work against the new political dispensation.

"There are those in Europe who think that they are the people with a divine prerogative to say the people want regime change in Zimbabwe, that Mugabe must go but you wonder where they get these ideas when there is a general acceptance of democracy in the country," he said.

President Mugabe said these countries were still living in "colonial times" where they dictated what happened in other countries.

"It’s not for the people from other countries to choose leaders, but the people of a particular country have a God-given right to choose their leaders.

"I don’t blame them for being that mistaken, sometimes we have some kind of lunatics who believe they have the right to do so," he said.

The problem, he said, was mainly for developing countries that have allowed the West to dictate to them.

"We in Zimbabwe have resisted that, but the Third World has continued to let them do that. In a sense, we must bear the responsibility.

"We go to them with empty bowls to pay for our budgets, for them to give us money for our workers, so when they call the tune then they must sing the tune and their natural sovereignty is compromised when you go on your knees begging for their help," he said.

President Mugabe said political leaders have, however, managed to work together despite these challenges.

"Last weekend, there was a Ministerial Retreat in Victoria Falls in order to strengthen the need for a common vision for the Government, with a common goal in respect of STERP," he said.

He, however, said Zanu-PF’s participation in the inclusive Government was premised on conditions that certain national aspirations and fundamental principles are not tampered with.

"Chief among these, is our sovereignty that we would never exchange for any price in the world.

"We have also been firm in underlining the policy that our land reform exercise is not reversible."

President Mugabe also warned white farmers trying to sow misunderstanding on the land issue.

"Those who now wish to cause confusion by claiming that there are ‘farm invasions’ should be warned that their malicious and wicked lies will not deter Government from its pledge to economically empower the people, by giving them access to the means of production in the agricultural, mining, tourism and manufacturing sectors, through obvious legal processes," he said.

President Mugabe reiterated the call for the unconditional removal of illegal sanctions imposed by Britain and its Western allies.

"Those who belong to the right-thinking and fair world ought to join us in condemning these sanctions that early this year cost us innocent lives of some of our people through a cholera outbreak," he said.

Sadc and other AU countries have called for the repeal of sanctions and their continued stay, said President Mugabe, simply underlines the malice behind them.

"Our message to those countries that have imposed sanctions is, allow us access to the resources that are ours by virtue of the blessings of the Lord and you will see what our country will become through development," he said.

President Mugabe also paid tribute to Sadc states for their support of the inclusive Government.

"We of Zimbabwe now need to put the needs of the people first and together address the grave socio-economic challenges, and enable the people, once more, to fully enjoy the independence and freedom that rightly belong to them," he said.

We’re our own liberators

By Reason Wafawarova

THE implausibility of the notion that the West is genuinely concerned with democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe should not prevent Zimbabweans from persisting in their commitment to the establishment of a solid democracy founded on the inalienable values of the liberation struggle.

Zimbabwe must be focusing on constructive solutions to the problems that have bedevilled the country for the past 10 years.

The most knowledgeable people on the Zimbabwean affairs outside the Zimbabweans themselves are the guarantors of the Global Political Agreement that established the current three-party inclusive Government that is taking care of the national administration of the country.

The guarantors are Sadc and the African Union and it is based on good reason that the conclusions of these knowledgeable people are taken seriously.

To these African people the most constructive solution to the Zimbabwean problem is not the vindictive desire to secure the absence of President Mugabe from the political landscape of Zimbabwe.

The former UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq, Hans von Sponeck, observed that the only "constructive solution" to the Iraqi problem "would be to lift the economic sanctions that have impoverished society, decimated the Iraqi middle class and eliminated any possibility for the emergence of alternative leadership".

Sadc and the AU have rightly made similar observations on Zimbabwe and they have made a joint call for all forms of sanctions against Zimbabwe to be removed.

As was the case with Iraq the West are insisting that the removal of one man from political office is going to create a super democracy that would make Zimbabwean poverty history.

This is despite the fact that Iraq is more than 10 times worse off economically than it was when Saddam Hussein was in charge.

Then the Arabs from surrounding countries were coming to study in Iraqi universities and there were no power shortages across Baghdad.

On Iraq, David Halliday added: "I believe if the Iraqis had their economy, had their lives back, and had their way of life restored, they would take care of the form of governance that they want; that they believe is suitable to their country."

Can this not be said about Zimbabwean people?

Surely, Zimbabweans would be better off voting for the government of their choice on stomachs fed by food from their own fields than handouts from foreign lands.

While the Zimbabwe inclusive Government embarks on a journey towards reviving the economy of the country the role of the international community is not to choose occupants of political offices in Zimbabwe or to determine who wields what kind of power in the political set-up of the country.

That is called diplomatic aggression and it does not achieve anything for both our colleagues from the countries concerned or for us the bona fide owners of Zimbabwe’s political processes.

As priorities for Iraq shifted in 2002, it was widely claimed that those who once proudly shared responsibility for Saddam Hussein’s 20 years of torture of Iraqis and Iranians were now entitled to resort to violence to bring about democracy.

Their consistent record of support for savagery and tyranny and their hostility to democracy, demonstrated with unique passion at that very moment, provided no reason to question the proclaimed intentions.

Equally, those who violated UN sanctions on Ian Smith’s UDI Rhodesia by continually buying chrome from the murderous Smith, have had no slightest shame in invoking ruinous sanctions on independent Zimbabwe.

Their documented record of not only refusing to support military intervention against Smith, but also helping him circumvent the effect of sanctions, still provides no good reason to question their proclaimed good intentions in Zimbabwe.

Sanctions are supposed to be like violence; only resorted to as a last option when constructive solutions have clearly failed.

Now Zimbabweans are being helped by fellow Africans in liberating themselves from the chains of impoverishment by way of constructive solutions to their problems.

Western countries have in their wisdom decided to complement this effort by expanding the sanctions regime on the country and we are supposed to solemnly believe that this is because the West have a legitimate standing to proclaim the custody of what constitutes democracy and human rights for the people of Zimbabwe.

The West is the compendium of freedom and happiness and they command such an admirable righteousness that when they demand who should be on trial before our courts and who should not we are supposed to comply like law-abiding Third World citizens so we do not jeopardise the prospect of the flow of aid.

This is the model of the hegemonic superpower and it calls upon us to desist from making "subjective judgments" based on nationalism, liberation or "vain concepts of sovereignty".

Many people were of the opinion that if Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai made a call for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe, then the sanctions would just go as light came when God said "Let there be light" at creation.

Indeed, the Prime Minister did say "Let there be no restrictive measures" but the sanctions have remained.

From the days of Ronald Reagan to the days Bush Senior and even before, Washington staunchly backed Saddam Hussein in varying ways.

Hussein stepped out of line in August 1990 and all policies suddenly changed from the point of view of the US. Saddam became a terrorist, a tyrant, a despot, a demon and the true son of Lucifer. He had always been anyway; of course alongside his backers.

However, there was a constant that was never going to change for Washington.

The people of Iraq were never to be allowed to control their own country. When the Iraqi people sought US backing in their efforts to topple Saddam Hussein in 1991, the tyrant was allowed to crush them using US weapons because Washington sought a military junta that would rule the country with "an iron fist", and if no alternative was available then Saddam was to stay.

US media reported that Washington and its allies held a "strikingly unanimous view" that "whatever the sins of the Iraqi leader, he offered the West and the region a better hope for his country’s stability than did those who have suffered his repression".

For Zimbabwe, the "strikingly unanimous view" is that whatever the merits of this inclusive Government and whatever hope it offers for the people of Zimbabwe, it falls short in offering the West a better hope for "the rule of law" and "restoration of property rights" — two favourite euphemisms for the demand of former white occupied farms, now firmly in the hands of indigenous Zimbabweans.

The Prime Minister of Zimbabwe knows the limitations in achieving the West’s version of rule of law and property rights in Zimbabwe and he has not made any firm promises on helping the West in that regard.

This is why his call for the lifting of "restrictive measures" has been emphatically ignored.

The US-led Western alliance would not let a popular revolt control Iraq because that would not leave the US in charge, and by the same logic the US is not going to bless an inclusive Government that does not leave the United States in charge, or at least one of its junior allies, in this case Britain.

To show their determination to control Iraq, President George W. Bush declared in March 2003 that even if Saddam Hussein and his cohorts were to leave Iraq, the US would invade regardless.

The US were determined that Iraq was not going to be taken over by someone outside US control, even if that person were a product of a popular vote.

The postwar Iraq organisational chart released by the US Department of State was quite informative of US intentions in the control of Iraq.

The chart had 16 boxes, each containing a bold picture and a designation of the person’s responsibility, from presidential convoy Paul Bremer at the top (answering to the Pentagon), down to government officials, through a list of seven generals; all US citizens and none of the 16 was Iraqi.

There was at the very bottom one collective small 17th box, with no names, no pictures and no functions, simply reading "Iraq ministry advisers".

This kind of an organisational chart is probably what the US ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, sought to achieve by his constant interferences with the negotiations that brought about Zimbabwe’s inclusive Government.

Now that Sadc and the AU are the only foreign features in the organisational chart that makes up the country’s transitional structure, it would be myopic to assume that the hegemonic empire is amused in the least.

Zimbabwe has been helped by fellow African countries to start this journey on a historic march towards liberation from the bondage of lack and poverty.

We are our own liberators and those of us who blindly place hope in the magic powers of aid must be reminded that even the so-called developmental aid has not developed any nation.

We need constructive solutions in regard to boosting production in the country.

We need to boost agricultural production and that goal is very achievable if we put in place an implementation action plan that is owned and monitored by the entire nation.

We need to create positive engagement with countries abroad so that we revive once again our tourism sector.

We need synergies and networks to attract investment in the mining sector.

We need to support our manufacturers in every way possible so that we create employment in that sector.

We must ask for and welcome all aid that comes our way as we move out of this most forgettable phase of economic meltdown as we have lived in the last 10 years.

However, aid cannot and will not be a means to an end. It is a mere mitigatory factor.

The ultimate answer lies in hard work and reviving the production line. We have the resources and we have the brains to add value to those resources. We have the hunger for success and we have the passion for our country.

All we need is to get up and start working.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome.

-Reason Wafawarova is a political writer and can be contacted on or or visit

EU/US sanctions: An impediment to GPA

By a Special Correspondent

IF anything ever threatens to imperil the inclusive Government and the actualisation and realisation of the ideals of the Sadc-brokered Global Political Agreement in Zimbabwe, it is the continued European Union and United States economic sanctions.

The insistence by the two allied powers to keep the sanctions in place has dampened wide expectations of a quick return to normalcy in Zimbabwe, ravaged by a decade long political and economic crisis.

With hopes running high that the inclusive Government formed by erstwhile political antagonists, Zanu-PF, MDC-T and the MDC, would drive Zimbabwe back on the rails, and expectations of renewed positive engagement with the international community, specifically the Western allies, the EU/US sanctions agenda has become focal.

It now appears the reluctance by the new US Administration of President Barrack Obama and the EU to reward the formation of the inclusive Government with immediate and unconditional lifting of the punitive sanctions regime is predicated on a more sinister hegemonic agenda after all.

If it were all about representative, accountable and responsive governance with a commitment to periodic democratic elections, then the sanctions ought to be history by now.

Rather, the two powers are still clinging on to the carrot and stick approach to diplomacy in dealing with a fast changing and dynamic political and economic environment.

This brings back to the fore the contention that the use of punitive economic sanctions by the big powers, outside the UN mandate, tends to hurt ordinary citizens, as in the case of Zimbabwe, sparing more the ruling elite for whom they are intended.

In the case of the United States, the ever-present need to "kick-butt" somewhere to bolster the presidency seems to have inspired the Obama decision to extend the US sanctions.

The US presidency thrives on this.

If it is not to support the military industrial complex, quite often by ominous means such as the senseless Iraq War, then another diversionary foreign policy issue has to be found such as a "bad guy to clobber" for reasons real, created or imagined.

How in the eyes of the US presidency President Mugabe should present, in the words of George W Bush, and repeated by Obama, "the most serious threat" to US foreign policy and core values is a real wonder.

For the US, notorious for propping up and cavorting with the most despicable dictators in Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean, this kind of grandstanding is devoid of any moral clout.

On the other hand, the adoption of hard measures on Zimbabwe by the EU, long considered a "soft power", always kow-towing to, and subordinate to US interests, albeit in a curious love hate relationship presents a new dimension to Europe’s post liberation neo colonial agenda in Africa, seeking to set up client states.

The idea and notion of nation states and critically that of sovereignty, consistent with US President Woodrow Wilson’s idealism at the formation of the League of Nations must necessarily be trashed.

What is, however, ironic is the belief and conception among some of the affected Zimbabweans that it is not the US/EU sanctions that have hemorrhaged the Zimbabwean economy, but homegrown, administrative failure and economic mismanagement.

If this assertion is not a typical case of "blaming the victim while identifying with the aggressor, then what is?

This is not to discourage national discourse on this seemingly simple but rather fairly complex matter.

Even within the inclusive Government, the issue ought to be fully interrogated and appreciated.

We are reliably informed that at the recent Government retreat in Victoria Falls to chart a course for the implementation of STERP, the issue came under scrutiny.

The Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Lutho Addington Tapela is said to have stirred a hornet’s nest when he commented that it was a good thing that in his opening remarks to the deliberations, the State President had not made reference to the issue of sanctions.

This was as if to suggest that the sanctions were a non-event. Others disagreed and fumed at this.

But, says Senator Aguy Georgias, a leading proponent and campaigner for the removal of sanctions: "This is the same myth and lie peddled by the EU all along; the idea of smart and selective sanctions that do not hurt ordinary people. What a lot of baloney!

"If it were so, why then the reluctance to lift ineffective sanctions on the part of the US and the EU?"

Adds Sen Georgias: "It is self-evident that sanctions have run our economy aground. It does not require special intelligence to see the ravage caused by limiting our access to lines of credit, let alone lack of goodwill. It is clear for everyone to see.

"The kind of cognitive dissonance that leads to such flimsy denial to actual reality will not do the nation any good. The sanctions must go, period."

It is, however, pleasing that, there appears to be general consensus at the very top that the sanctions are a serious impediment to the 100-day STERP thrust.

The chorus for the removal of sanctions is being sung by all, Sadc and the African Union included.

Back home, the State President, Prime Minister Tsvangirai and his deputies — Arthur Mutambara and Thokozani Kuphe — are singing the same hymn; that the sanctions must be removed forthwith and a process of re engagement entered into without further equivocation and trivial objection.

Perhaps President Obama could do us good by revisiting Wilsonian idealism.

It could be a good start in abandoning the practices that have precipitated the Global financial crisis and its exacting challenges to nations such as ours, grappling to make a fresh start in economic revival.

As for the EU, it is quite clear the sanctions have run their course and must now go.

Now is the time to re-brand Zim

By Political & Features Editor Mabasa Sasa

IF there is any disservice Zimbabwe’s political parties have done the nation over the past decade it has been the creation of a negative image of the country.

Regardless of which political party one wishes to consider, the fact is all of them have in their own ways contributed to the creation of an image of Zimbabwe as a country that is not prepared to do business.

That is why tourists are not coming. That is why dyed-in-the-wool-capitalists have not ignored the EU’s and America’s nonsensical sanctions talk. That is why mines have shut down and industries have relocated to other countries.

Even the divisional headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have moved house to South Africa!

The fact is Zimbabwe has been portrayed the world over as a country that would rather let the politicians grind everything into dust before it can consider engaging in some good old-fashioned economic exchange.

The "Zimbabwe" brand elicits images of politicians squabbling while ordinary folk get on with the business of surviving.

And it is for this reason, if for any other, that Zimbabwe is in serious need of re-branding.

But no one among the political elite, save perhaps for Professor Arthur Mutambara, seems concerned with the direct link between a national brand and economic revival.

So since the politicians do not seem overly worried by the poor brand that Zimbabwe has become, the nation now has to wait for a mere 19-year-old in the person of Clinton Dale Mutambo to fret himself about the country’s image and how this impacts on all efforts at rejuvenating the economy.

There are no two ways about it: it is embarrassing that a practical all encompassing re-branding concept has to be driven by a teenager when we have PhDs and men and women of great learning claiming to be leading the nation into the future.

Mutambo has come up with a package that seeks to restore pride in being Zimbabwean and doing business in Zimbabwe with Zimbabweans.

He calls it the "Definitely Zimbabwean" campaign.

Many people will be familiar with the "Proudly South African" campaign on the other side of the Limpopo River and the "Definitely Zimbabwean" concept is in many ways a generic of this.

Following apartheid, South Africa was faced with the urgent need to re-brand itself after the dark years of racist minority rule and unspeakable oppression.

While Zimbabwe is certainly not coming from the same background as South Africa, the past decades have been marked by a debilitating form of national paralysis brought on by irresponsible political and corporate behaviour both at home and abroad.

As Zimbabwe embarks on various initiatives meant to restore confidence in the country’s business environment regardless of the continued imposition of sanctions, there remains the need to make Zimbabweans feel proud about who they are and the standards they can achieve.

This is where something like the "Definitely Zimbabwean" concept comes in.

"What we need in Zimbabwe right now is a medium of communication that channels all efforts towards re-branding Zimbabwe across the board in terms of productivity and services. ‘Definitely Zimbabwean" was born out of a desire to see Zimbabwean brands back on the shelves, standards restored in health care delivery services and the education sector — the entire spectrum of society.

"We have developed the "Definitely Zimbabwean" concept as a national revival brand. It is all about a rebirth, the promise and attainment of infinite possibilities, becoming masters of our own destiny, a call to arms," he explains.

The concept, which is being rolled out as a fully-fledged brand, was created by Mutambo’s company Uhai Media. ("Uhai" meaning "Life" in kiSwahili.)

"Uhai Media’s vigorous drive, creativity and visionary commitment are fuelled by the simple ethos: "By Zimbabweans for Zimbabwe". In coming up with a name for the agency, we were also thinking in terms of not only our national origins but also capturing the pan African vision.

"One day we intend to be a continental entity, which is in keeping of the vision of bodies such as Sadc and AU — which one day will come up with common currencies, initially for the regional bloc and I am sure one day there will be a common African market."

The whole idea is to position Zimbabwe as a global brand.

This requires the practical marketer’s thrust of first building a campaign aimed at attaining brand appeal at the local level first before venturing farther abroad.

Essentially, Uhai Media will institute a process of placing a seal of approval on Zimbabwean products and services that meet certain pre-determined standards.

These seals will include the Definitely Zimbabwean Quality Product, Quality Service, Enviro-Conscious and Visionary Achiever.

These seals will be a guarantee to the people of Zimbabwe and the world that companies and organisations and their products and services so approved are "committed to the wholesome pursuit of excellence".

The bodies in question include large corporations, small and medium enterprises, civic bodies and their affiliates, and educational institutions.

"Member organisations shall first join the campaign and then apply for the quality and/or enviro-concious seals, of which due diligence is mandatory in vetting them," Mutambo says.

This process of quality accreditation and standards certification will be out-sourced to competent organisations, and as things stand, consultations with the Standards Association of Zimbabwe seem to be heading in the right direction.

Members will be charged a once-off registration fee after which the companies and organisations will be required to undergo a holistic auditing and testing of their overall operations, products and services before they can become the proud bearers of the "Definitely Zimbabwean" seal of approval.

"If company ‘X’ as a member of ‘Definitely Zimbabwean decides to have the quality product or quality service seal on one of its products or services, or it seeks the enviro-conscious stamp, it shall apply for accreditation to Uhai Media.

"Uhai Media will then engage the relevant quality or ecological partner to verify the company’s compliance with the ‘Definitely Zimbabwean’ standards. Only then will use of the seal be allowed."

It might be hard for some to quantify the pay-off resultant from creating a brand that a people can be proud of.

Perhaps the simplest way to contextualise it is to look at the pride with which Germans hold BMW and Mercedes Benz, the Japanese Sony and America its McNuclear . . . sorry America its McDonald’s.

And national branding goes beyond just man-made goods like those cited above.

Look at Egypt and its pyramids, Switzerland and its Alps and South Africa and its Drakensberg range.

These countries have managed to create global brands that are easily associated with their peoples and they have done this by first getting the indigenous populations behind the product.

And people will only rally behind something and adopt it as a national brand when they have that pride in themselves and in what they produce and offer as a people.

In a sense, this is about nationalism going beyond political rhetoric and assuming the mantle of something that can transform lives through real economic growth and development.

People often say they "do not eat nationalism" and that is precisely because nationalism and pan Africanism are yet to be branded as economically viable goods.

The branding starts at home and grows until we can talk of it in the same way that Yankees talk of the "American Dream".

Zimbabwe needs a brand new brand and "Definitely Zimbabwean" could be the start of something good.

Mutambo surmises, "It (‘Definitely Zimbabwean’) is at once a seal of approval, a mark of excellence, a seal of quality and a state of being; a way of doing things imbued by strong ethics, integrity and passion for success."

With 19-year-olds like this one, Zimbabwe surely has a future worth looking forward to.

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