Friday, September 12, 2008

Zimbabwe News Bulletin: Power-Sharing Deal Reached at Last; Western Sanctions Continue; Will Botswana Host AFRICOM?

Deal at last

By Sydney Kawadza and Mabasa Sasa
Zimbabwe Herald

DEAL at last! Zimbabwe’s three main political parties — Zanu-PF, MDC-T and MDC — last night reached an agreement to form an all-inclusive Government following months of negotiations.

Announcing the conclusion of the talks last night, Sadc-appointed mediator, South African President Thabo Mbeki said President Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara had "unanimously" endorsed a final political settlement that will be unveiled to the public on Monday.

The parties would over this weekend work out the composition of the new Government and stressed that its priority would be to turn around the economy with emphasis on food security.

Regional and continental leaders are expected to attend the official signing ceremony scheduled to start at 10am in Harare.

President Mbeki urged the international community to respect the agreement as it represented the wishes of the people of Zimbabwe.

"I would like to announce that we have concluded the negotiations that the parties have been engaged in. An agreement has been reached (and) there will be a signing ceremony at 10 o’clock in Harare.

"The documents that have been agreed on and signed by the principals today will be officially signed at a ceremony to be attended by regional and continental leaders to express their support for this agreement," he said.

"The parties have taken these negotiations seriously because of the need and desire to find a lasting solution to the challenges being faced by the country.

"It is an agreement that is unanimous, without any reservations. We have been working with the Government of Zimbabwe and the people of Zimbabwe and with the support of the region and the continent we will mobilise resources to assist Zimbabwe to recover.

"We hope that everybody in the international community will respect this agreement, lend their support and extend the necessary hand of support for the country to recover from its socio-economic challenges.

"We are confident that our friends will respond so that this political agreement succeeds. All the parties are motivated by the desire to find a solution to the economic challenges.

"Just today, we were discussing the forthcoming agricultural season and the need to have seed, fertilizer and all the necessary inputs so that next year we will not have a problem of food security," he said.

The South African leader said, as facilitators, they were pleased by repeated statements of commitment to the success of the talks by the parties.

"We have been involved in a number of negotiations across Africa, in Lesotho, Burundi, the DRC, the Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, and elsewhere and we have always been confident that this dialogue process would succeed.

"We have been particularly pleased, however, by the repeated commitment shown by the parties here for the talks to succeed. Like all dialogue processes, the parties came and presented their positions and people give and take and in the end they have reached an agreement."

President Mbeki said they were confident that the deal would hold as it was coming from the people of Zimbabwe and represented their aspirations as a nation.

He said he had not been distracted by criticism from detractors who said his "quiet diplomacy" was not achieving any results.

"Well, we never paid any particular attention to criticism about the so-called quiet diplomacy. All diplomacy is quiet. If it isn’t quiet, then it is not diplomacy.

"We understood what was required to produce a positive outcome when we were asked by Sadc to facilitate dialogue. We have handled negotiations elsewhere in exactly the same way.

"But for some strange reason, we cannot understand what was perfectly acceptable in other places in Africa was not acceptable in Zimbabwe. But we did not let this distract us from our purpose," he said.

President Mbeki said South Africa had taken up the task to facilitate the dialogue with the full realisation that as neighbours, negative developments in one country affected the other.

"You should know that we have been involved in the political situation in Zimbabwe since 1998. In 2001 Sadc Heads of State were here in this same building on the same day, September 11 discussing the political situation and seven years later we are back to conclude this process.

"So we have always been involved and as a neighbour we do not need any encouragement from anybody to assist a brother."

Tsvangirai, who was the first to leave the venue of the negotiations, gave a brief statement to the media saying a deal had been reached.

"All I can tell you right now is that we have got a deal."

No comment could be obtained from Mutambara.

President Mbeki returned to South Africa last night and will be returning to Harare on Monday.

Chiefs request closed-door meeting with President

Traditional leaders have requested to meet President Mugabe in the absence of the Press and Government officials to brief him on developments in the country.

President of the Council of Chiefs, Chief Fortune Charumbira said traditional leaders had grievances on the conduct of some senior Government and Zanu-PF officials..

He said some senior officials had personally visited traditional leaders in the run up to the March 29 harmonised elections soliciting for support to succeed Cde Mugabe.

The failure by Zanu-PF to win outright on March 29 was because of the divisions in the party.

He said the traditional leaders have the names of the senior officials who worked against the party.

Chief Charumbira said Cde Mugabe remains the traditional leaders’ choice for president.

"We do not see any other picture other than yours," he said.

In a wide ranging address to the chiefs just before Cde Mugabe spoke, Chief Charumbira said the Deputy Minister of Agriculture Cde David Chapfika had given a report that did not tally with facts on the ground. He said the chiefs had accused him of reading prepared notes.

Chief Charumbira singled out Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono as a performer among the people appointed by Cde Mugabe.

"Some of the people you entrust with power do not perform. Gono is a performer.

"When he comes to us he acknowledges that you have sent him. The rest act as if it is through their wisdom that they assist us," he said.

He said were it not for Dr Gono, the economy would have long collapsed.

Chief Charumbira said Government should repossess all under-utilised land regardless of who owns the land. He said only hard workers should be allowed on the land. He said the chiefs were not happy with arguments that people need up to 40 years to gain farming experience yet they have been provided with all inputs.

He also asked or a review of chiefs’ allowances.

Chief Charumbira said the power to either dismiss or suspend a chief should not be vested in the Minister of Local Government or his secretary but should be the responsibility of a tribunal in the same manner judges are treated.

He said chiefs support the ongoing talks but were urging the parties involved to conclude the talks and allow for the formation of a Government.

In response to some of the chiefs issues President Mugabe agreed to meet the chiefs and get to hear what they have to say on behalf of the people.

He also said Government was looking into the issue of their allowances.

SA xenophobic attacks rapped

South African chiefs attending their Zimbabwean counterparts’ annual conference in Bulawayo have condemned in the strongest terms the xenophobic attacks on Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals in May and called on regional governments to open up their boundaries and allow the free movement and integration of people.

The senior manager in the National House of Traditional Leaders of South Africa Mr Sam Kandlela described the xenophobic attacks as the worst acts of barbarism and evil against fellow Africans mostly from neighbouring Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

He said the attacks had greatly tarnished the image of South Africa.

"We bear a collective feeling of shame and responsibility. South Africa is very sorry for the attacks," he said.

Mr Kandlela said it was surprising that no whites or Asians were attacked during the xenophobic attacks bringing to the fore arguments that there was a third force that could have been involved with the aim of destabilising and tarnishing the image of the South African government.

"It was a despicable act that can not be justified. Victims included Zimbabweans, Mozambicans, Somalis and also people from South Africa. Victims were exclusively Africans. There were no reports of whites or Indians or Europeans," he said.

Mr Kandlela said a number of possible reasons for the attacks were advanced some of which include perceptions that foreign nationals were taking jobs meant for the locals and that foreigners were contributing to high levels of crime.

He said the fact that the attacks were mostly concentrated in shack settlements also explains that the attacks were a fight for scarce resources.

He said the attacks were strongly criticised by the South African government, traditional leaders and political parties.

After the attacks, traditional leaders visited all the affected areas to counsel the victims and to discourage a perpetuation of the attacks.

Mr Kandlela equated the xenophobic attacks to the twin evils of tribalism and enthinicism.

He said Southern Africa should do away with the artificial boundaries created by Europeans at the Berlin conference saying the numerous tribes in South Africa could also be found in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Botswana.

He said regional governments should open up their boundaries and allow the free movement of people in the same manner the governments sought to allow the free movement of people under the transfrontier park model.

"We recommend that as people of Southern Africa we need to dismantle the theory of these artificial boundaries. We are one people. Simunye," he said.

He said if the regional governments had seen reason in doing that to animals — they could do the same with human beings.

"Animals are not better than us. We need to create human transfrontier parks where we move freely," he said.

Inkosi Vusimuzi Nhlapo also lambasted xenophobia when he presented a solidarity message on behalf of the National House of Traditional Leaders of South Africa.

"As traditional leaders we condemn in the strongest sense these barbaric and irrational acts perpetrated by the lunatic fringe from my country.

"The people of Zimbabwe, the people of Mozambique and neighbouring countries are our people — we are one, Simunye. We are inextricably linked by family ties, culture, collective history — including the liberation struggle and triumph against the evil forces of colonialism and apartheid—and collective resolve to ensure economic development and stability in the region," he said.

Sanctions: What’s the game plan?

By Stephen T. Maimbodei

WHY has it been so important for the West to continue extending sanctions on Zimbabwe, when Zimbabweans are negotiating the formation of an all-inclusive Government under the mediation of South African President Thabo Mbeki, the Sadc-appointed mediator?

On July 28, President Mbeki objected to the West’s latest sanctions regime targeted at President Mugabe, some of his ministers and Government-related companies.

This was not the first time President Mbeki objected to sanctions since he has previously warned that further sanctions could damage the delicate talks.

South African Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad also maintained that sanctions are akin to external interference.

"For us, it is difficult to understand the objectives of new sanctions . . ." Pahad said.

Both Sadc, the AU and other progressive forces the world over have roundly condemned the sanctions, arguing that sanctions are not hurting individuals, but the whole nation.

Government has always maintained that apart from the untold suffering that these illegal sanctions veiled as "travel bans" have caused, the West’s action is also tantamount to external aggression and interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.

However, Western powers continue to make ludicrous claims that they are doing so on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe.

Why does the West continue to do this? What does this mean to Africa and how does this affect the continent’s bilateral and multilateral relations with the West?

Whose viewpoints and decisions really matter in the Zimbabwe narrative: the people’s, Africa’s or the West’s?

Current sanctions regime

The European Union has refused to heed calls by Sadc and the African Union to lift sanctions and instead they imposed new sanctions against Zimbabwe on July 22, a day after the Memorandum of Understanding was signed between President Mugabe and leaders of MDC-T and the MDC.

The latest round of sanctions was also imposed after President Mbeki had reassured the progressive world that talks between Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations were progressing well.

In the widened sanctions, the EU added 37 more people (journalists included) to a list of individuals under a visa ban and asset freeze, and placed for the first time four major companies to this list. This was the first time that business people and companies were publicly targeted by the EU sanctions.

The US and EU actions were premised against pressure exerted early in July by the British government, which told the Western community that it would seek tougher EU sanctions after its bid to pass United Nations Security Council sanctions against Zimbabwe’s leadership was vetoed by Russia and China.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband argued that the sanctions that Britain and its allies sought and proposed were "designed very much to reinforce the drive for the transition government to reflect the democratic will of the Zimbabwean people".

"Despite efforts by international mediators, and despite calls by the international community to return democracy to Zimbabwe, the government has shown itself unwilling to negotiate in good faith, and uninterested in meaningful reform," Miliband is quoted as saying.

Zimbabweans are negotiating an all-inclusive Government, but Miliband talks about a transitional Government. Who set the agenda for the talks — Zimbabwe and Africa or the British and their allies?

It is also amazing to note that Canadian Foreign Minister David Emerson accuses Government of being "unwilling to negotiate in good faith, and (being) uninterested in meaningful reform". And he made the claims before the negotiation process is completed, and when at the time of writing the principals have been negotiating on the few remaining sticking points in the power-sharing deal.

It is also remarkable that the West makes such claims when on September 9 leaders of both MDC formations made the following statements regarding the talks: "There have been some positive developments, but the talks have not been concluded" (Tsvangirai); and, "tremendous progress", said Mutambara.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency said: "Sanctions have played a role, we have to keep up that role."

It is thus amazing to note that while the proponents of the sanctions are clear about the "role" that these sanctions have played, Zimbabweans who are living daily under this sanction regime are oblivious of that, believing instead that sanctions are a propaganda tool used by Government to divert the people’s attention from the current hardships. Some also believe that "sanctions" is a question of semantics, which means travel bans for Zanu-PF and Government officials.

On September 5, Canada joined the US and the EU in imposing "targeted" sanctions against Zimbabwe in what Emerson described as a protest against "intimidation and State-sponsored violence" against opposition supporters, and ‘‘failure by Government to promote democratic rule".’

Under the Canadian sanctions, arms exports are banned; assets of top Zimbabwean officials are frozen and Zimbabwean aircraft is banned from flying over Canada.

Questioning sanctions timing

Why is the timing of these extended and expanded sanctions so crucial? What is their motive? What is the West communicating and with whom?

Both Zanu-F and the MDC should interrogate this move, which is widely believed to be a tactic meant to scuttle the on-going talks. One analyst has argued that the West does not want the current deal to go through. This is why they have used so many strategies to destroy it. He also argued that this is not a problem for them since they use their economic might to do this.

Although truth is stranger than fiction, we still wonder why, for example, Canada imposed the latest round of sanctions two days before MDC-T celebrated the ninth anniversary of the formation of the MDC, and three days before the inter-party talks resumed.

We also wonder about these especially when locally accredited Western diplomats and their media have been a permanent feature around Rainbow Towers, venue of the talks.

Apart from the latest action from Canada, are the dates a coincidence, since the EU and US also expanded their sanctions a day after the signing of the MoU? What is the West worried about when Zimbabwean politicians are prepared to bury their differences and agree to collectively work for the nation in a spirit of Africanness?

Zimbabweans are talking, and they are doing so with a sincere hope of finding lasting solutions to challenges that have dogged the country for the past decade. They are looking for supposed homegrown solutions to problems most of which were inherited from elsewhere.

What has shocked many Zimbabweans is that while the political leadership are seeking a consensus, the very people who have been making a lot of noise about the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe are extending and expanding their sanctions against them.

Where are the human rights? Where are the rights for Zimbabweans to chart a common destiny for themselves and future generations if they have to do so under the noose of sanctions? The issues that have taken Zimbabweans this far are well known to the generality of Zimbabweans.

However, as more Western countries continue to impose or extend sanctions against Zimbabwe, we have to ask ourselves, what exactly is it we are missing in the plot.

They can only offer ‘‘humanitarian’’ assistance under their own terms. If President Mugabe and Zanu-PF had refused to go to the negotiation table, and if Sadc and the AU had left Zimbabwe to deal with its internal problems on its own, there probably could have been some justification to the current position.

Thus we ask this critical question: why sanctions again when we are actually looking forward to their removal? Is this meant to aid and abet the inter-party process in an adverse way?

Is this also meant to intimidate certain parties so that they deliberate with the knowledge that they are being watched and any wrong move would be detrimental? Is this also meant to influence the results and implementation of the talks? Are we missing something?

Is the recent spate of sanctions seeking to influence the dialogue process and results therefrom?

If so, then we ask again, influence which of the dialogue, and also to what extent? Is it meant to influence the two MDC formations, Zanu-PF, the facilitator, Sadc or the AU?

There probably are some issues that we are not aware of that would make the West pursue their acts of aggression through the extension and expansion of sanctions since we all believed that the sanctions time line was long overdue.

Some analysts believe that one the West’s major fears in the current dialogue process is how much power President Mugabe retains, since they believe that too much power would undermine MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

They also argue that if President Mugabe remains in power, which they are against unless he does so as a ceremonial leader then there would be very little positive response from the Western world to assist in the reconstruction process.

When "some" and not "all" raise eyebrows

Even before one sees the list of individuals targeted by sanctions, a glaring element is the statement in most media reports that the targeted sanctions are against President Mugabe and some (my emphasis) of his ministers.

Automatically this raises questions. Why "some", and not all of ministers, when all of them are Zanu-PF members, and they have leadership positions in the party? Why this subjective listing?

Arguments have been made about how these lists are compiled. The bottom line is that these basically are lists that are not only biased, but they are a tool to create divisions and disharmony the Zanu-PF party and Government.

Zanu-PF is a big party, governed by various leadership structures from the Politburo, Central Committee and provincial leadership right down to the cell in all the country’s 10 provinces.

Thus the inclusion of "some" members and exclusion of others raises eyebrows and can only be interpreted as very mischievous. This also relates to spouses and children of some of the targeted individuals. Why "some" and not all, if in the first place they should be on any lists at all.

The Western media also celebrates the country’s unemployment rate, but when they target companies, who are they punishing—the Government or workers? And why has the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions remained tight-lipped about this?

Canada’s sanctions on Zim disrespectful

EDITOR — Canada’s decision to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe at a time when the main political parties are engaged in serious dialogue shows the utter disrespect Westerners have for Africans.

On whose behalf did Canada impose the sanctions and what is our quarrel with them?

Our differences are with London and stem from the Labour government’s refusal to honour their colonial

obligation to fund land reforms in Zimbabwe.

What have the children and spouses of politicians done to deserve inclusion on the sanctions list?

This goes to show the desperation and childishness of the Westerners.

Does Canada think it is above the UN that recently rejected British and US attempts to impose sanctions on Zimba-bwe through the Security Council?

Tanganeropa Mujajati.

America, stop this hypocrisy

EDITOR — I see the Americans were playing the great victim yesterday, commemorating the embarrassing bombardment they underwent at the hands of Al Qaeda on September 11, 2001.

Well, I have some advice for the Yankees.

Stop trampling on other people’s toes and there will be no comebacks.

What hypocrisy, mourning the death of 3 000 odd Americans yet you have launched unprecedented genocide on innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Shame on you.

So much for the so-called American values.

Cde Chadhuuka-Chadhuuka.

Khama treading on dangerous ground

EDITOR — I was shocked by reports that the leader of the Botswana military junta, Seretse Khama Ian Khama is treading on dangerous waters by discussing hosting Africom, the unpopular American military presence proposed for Africa.

Khama, a British trained military man, has never fought a war, having been born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

He, however, has had extensive contact with the US military as such he may be comfortable with the militarisation of Sadc through Africom, which will find his friendship, his country, and its strategic resources to be a valuable ally.

Khama is said to be the man behind Thebephatshwa air base.

The exact connection between US activities and Thebephatshwa is unclear, regional observers, however, have since indicated that it is likely to be a US base.

With South Africa (and the rest of Africa) so clearly opposed to Africom, gradually working towards making Thebephatshwa into a regional headquarters for US interests should be a very attractive possibility for the military leadership of Africom.

Botswana’s political opposition is certainly not too excited about Khama’s ascendency to power.

A Mmegi (Botswana online) article on Khama has pointed out that in addition to other aspects of Khama’s military training, "He has had some training with almost all the major intelligence organisations.

The BDF, at least at the intelligence level is much closer to the Americans and Israelis so Ian would have done a number of programmes in the intelligence arms of those countries"

The Mmegi article concludes that: "There is nothing in any of this that will help foster democracy.

Military language is not the language of democracy. Military structure and hierarchy is not democratic.

A democratic government needs to listen to a broad spectrum of society, not just the most loyal and unquestioning followers.

If Botswana is going to preserve democracy there will need to be effective opposition to Khama’s initiatives along the way. And Khama shows no ability to compromise, or willingness to yield or lose. Botswana is on an electrical power tightrope.

In my view, because of the focus on Zimbabwe, no one is paying attention to Khama’s rise to power and the long-term implications of his foreign backers’ military intentions for the suothern African region.

Within Botswana, the opposition is right to be sounding alarm bells. All the signs show that Khama’s presidency is much more likely to be authoritarian, paranoia-riddled and anti-democratic.

Worried African.

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