Thursday, July 30, 2009

Zimbabwean NGOs Concerned Over Mugabe Threats

By Alex Bell
29 July 2009

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have voiced serious concern over comments made this week by Robert Mugabe about the ‘advisability’ of having NGOs operating in the country.

Speaking at the Global 2009 Dialogue conference in Uganda, Mugabe said the government might have to reconsider whether such organisations are desirable, saying they act as a kind of shadow government.

“We have now a phenomenon of NGOs, or shall I call them phenomena for they really are a type of government in the background of a formal government?” Mugabe said.

“I don’t know whether this creature is for the better or for the worse, but in our country we have seen a situation where they have exceeded, really, their terms of reference and perhaps we might have to reconsider the advisability of having NGOs,” he told the gathering.

NGOs have been constantly harassed and threatened by the Mugabe led government for several years and were last year banned from operating in the country. The ZANU PF government at the time accused NGOs of backing the MDC during the turbulent election period, and by ordering the ban, Mugabe was able to use the limited food available in the country as a political weapon. But with millions of people dependent on food aid, the government effectively ushered in a severe hunger crisis that has still not been eradicated months after NGOs were cleared to continue with their efforts.

NGOs were also earlier this month blamed for the disruption at the All Stakeholder Constitutional Conference, a disruption that was in fact caused by ZANU PF thugs and their party legislators. Fambai Ngirande from the National Association of NGOs (NANGO) said on Wednesday that such accusations were baseless and empty, arguing that, “a constitutional reform process is something we as NGOs have been advocating for, for many years.”

He said Mugabe’s threats against the NGOs are ‘unfair’ and ‘unfortunate,’ as such organisations have been ‘picking up the pieces for the government because it has failed its people.’

Western governments, meanwhile, have only pledged humanitarian aid funnelled through NGOs, instead of developmental aid to the government, in response to the unity formation’s plea for financial assistance. The donor countries have reiterated that real change must be evident in Zimbabwe before developmental aid will be made available to the government, which Ngirande explained is the core reason why Mugabe has issued the threats against NGOs.

SW Radio Africa

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Zimbabwe Human Rights Activist Mukoko Honored By Weimar, Germany

13 July 2009

Interview With Harrison Nkomo - Download (MP3) Download
Interview With Harrison Nkomo - Listen (MP3) audio clip

The City Of Weimar, Germany, has awarded its 2009 Human Rights Award to Jestina Mukoko, director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, which monitors rights violations, inviting her to the city to receive the award on December 10, International Human Rights day.

Mukoko has been in the headlines since Dec. 3, 2008, when she was abducted from her home in Norton, northwest of Harare, and released weeks later only to be charged by authorities with plotting to overthrow the former government of President Robert Mugabe.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Government of National Unity Continues to Crack as SADC Silence Prevails

By Alex Bell
22 July 2009

Cracks of disunity in the coalition government have continued to appear more than five months after the unity formation came into being, and there is still no word from the South African Development Community (SADC) on intervening.

Serious human rights violations, including assaults and arrests, as well as what appears to be a deliberate plot to whittle down the MDC majority in Parliament, are said to be creating serious and understandable discord in the unity formation. Yet another MDC legislator was jailed this week on spurious charges, while two MDC MPs were unlawfully suspended from parliament. At the same time, the fight over the reformation of the constitution has now sparked fears of a resurgence of violence, after it emerged that ZANU PF had deployed youth militia and war veterans to lead a campaign for support of the Kariba Draft, favoured by Mugabe. Youth militia in schools have already seen teachers flee their posts out of fear of renewed persecution, after what happened during last year’s political violence.

So while the government leaders have slowly come to agreement on a few issues - most recently an agreement to convene the National Security Council - critical reforms are clearly still a long way off.

The MDC earlier this year sent a letter to SADC to intervene on the outstanding issues of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), a role SADC, as guarantors of the deal, is meant to fulfil. The MDC also presented a document detailing more than 700 incidents of breaches of the GPA by Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF, but to date there has been no move by SADC to address the issues.

A summit that was mooted to begin at the end of this month is now widely believed to have been set down for September. It is understood that despite the plea for intervention from the MDC, the regional body is waiting for its first report from the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), which is expected in mid-August, more than six months after the government was formed. JOMIC, a tripartite group of high-level party members, is supposed to ensure that the unity government adheres to the GPA in full.

JOMIC is comprised of four members of the Mutambara MDC (Professor Welshman Ncube, Frank Chamunorwa, Edward Mkhosi and Priscilla Misihairambi-Mushonga), four members of the Tsvangirai MDC (Elton Mangoma, Elias Mudzuri, Tabita Khumalo and Innocent Changonda) and four members from ZANU PF (Nicholas Goche, Patrick Chinamasa, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Oppah Muchinguri.)

MDC national spokesperson Nelson Chamisa on Wednesday explained there has been no response from SADC and there is an urgent need for the regional body to intervene. He also said there was frustration and anger within the party over what he called the ‘non-existence’ of JOMIC, saying the group had done nothing to ensure the implementation of the GPA.

“JOMIC is toothless, comatose even, and they have let people down,” Chamisa said. “If they report back to SADC it will only be about JOMIC’s death and disfunctionality.”

SW Radio Africa

Leaders to launch national healing Friday

July 22, 2009

The Zimbabwe Times

HARARE – President Robert Mugabe and his partners under the Global Political Agreement (GPA) will on Friday come together to commission three days which have been set aside by government to observe national healing in Zimbabwe.

This follows a Presidential proclamation last week which designated the period between this Friday and Sunday as the days to mark the dedication of national healing.

The three days, which shall not be public holidays, will see church groups, traditional leaders and spirit mediums leading rituals all in the name of national healing.

“This process would be led by the signatories to the GPA at a ceremony that has been scheduled for Friday, July 24 at the Rainbow Towers ,” John Nkomo, one of the three co-ministers in charge of Zimbabwe’s organ on national healing, integration and reconciliation told journalists Wednesday.

Nkomo, a Zanu-PF minister, said the national healing process would focus on the pre- and post-independence period, and would be followed by a programme in which the ministers will visit provinces to reinforce the spirit of national healing.

He refused to outline the programme saying they were still trying to engage experts to study the mindsets of Zimbabweans on how they wanted the emotive subject to be dealt with.

Nkomo said since their appointment as ministers in charge of national healing, they had met church representatives, traditional leaders, trade unionists, war veterans civic organizations to gauge their opinion on how they want the process to be conducted.

He said the national healing organ, which was incepted at the formation of the unity government in February this year, will not give in to pressure by groups agitating for the incorporation of justice on perpetrators of political violence.

He said justice would be done in a Zimbabwean way where emphasis would be on forgiveness.

“We will concentrate on addressing the causes and not the symptoms,” he said.

“Virtually no one has not suffered some form of injustice,” said Nkomo. “No one has not been a victim at one time or another. They may be very few who have not been perpetrators at one time or another.

“All of us have gone through injustices. We have been victims and probably we are the best people to oversee this process.”

Sekai Holland, co-minister from the Morgan Tsvangirai led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said conflict resolution in Zimbabwe would be done in the true African way.

“In the traditional African society, the concept of justice is different because it is all inclusive.

“When the pre-colonial period started, there were no jails. That did not mean there was no crime. There was a way of dealing with conflict together.

“Our form of justice does not separate people. Rather, it forces them to come together and to deal with the problems decisively.

“The environment has to promote the togetherness of the people so together they can look for solutions to the problems without any discrimination.”

Gibson Sibanda, the third co-minister who comes from the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC, said those calling for justice were people who had ironically benefited from the 1980 blanket amnesty which was announced by Mugabe, then newly elected Zimbabwean leader.

The ministers, however, conceded the continuation of violence in some areas in Zimbabwe but said the problem was not serious enough to derail the national healing process.

But some observers have criticized the secretive manner in which the three ministers have elected to handle the crucial matter.

Victims of political violence are calling for some form of compensation for deaths, injuries, theft of livestock and some transgressions that they were repeatedly subjected to by the perpetrators.

Thousands of Zimbabweans have, since independence in 1980, been subjected to recurrent acts of State-sponsored political violence mostly on supporters of Mugabe’s opponents.

Victims variously estimated at up to 20 000 died at the hands of President Mugabe’s North Korean-trained Five Brigade in the early 1980s in the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces.

The country witnessed a recurrence of political violence following the rejection of a government-sponsored constitution in the 2000 constitutional referendum.

Between 200 and 300 mostly MDC supporters were killed by vindictive Zanu-PF militants who were out to punish Zimbabweans for voting against Mugabe in the 2008 presidential elections.

But as government unveils its national healing programme, some MDC legislators are still being taken to court for cases which the MDC says are trumped up.

Zim at risk of fresh cholera outbreak: UN

by Cuthbert Nzou Wednesday 22 July 2009

HARARE - The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
said on Tuesday that Zimbabwe remained at risk of a fresh outbreak of
cholera once the next rainy season starts in less than five months time.

The OCHA said in a report released yesterday that structural causes at the
root of the current epidemic that killed more than 4 000 people over the
past 11 months had not been addressed and could trigger another outbreak
during the approaching rain season.

"As the next rainy season approaches, there are, however, fears of another
cholera outbreak because the structural causes of the current epidemic have
not been fully addressed," the OCHA report said.

It added: "These include broken down and anachronistic water and sanitation
infrastructure characterised by burst sewer systems and water pipes, often
resulting in sewerage contaminating water before it reaches household

The OCHA said the current epidemic had reached its tail end as indicated by
the lower number of cases and deaths being reported.

By 15 July 2009, the cumulative number of cases of cholera infections
reported since August 2008 was 98 592, an increase of 61 new cases from the
98 531 cases recorded by the same time in June.

The number of cumulative deaths was 4 288 representing an increase of six
from the 4 282 reported at the same time last month, with 2 631 community
deaths in mid-July, which shows an increase by one from 2 630 in mid-June,
according to OCHA.

The UN humanitarian arm said most Zimbabweans had no access to safe water,
raising the risk of catching cholera in the event of an outbreak.

"The challenge of limited safe water and frequent water cuts that force
people to resort to unsafe sources including shallow wells, ponds and dams
among others, has not been addressed," the agency said.

"The revised Consolidated Appeal for 2009, partners in the water, sanitation
and hygiene (WASH) cluster estimate that six million people in Zimbabwe have
limited or no access to safe water.

"Further, some rural areas have extremely low latrine coverage, resulting in
unhygienic practices that lead to the contamination of water sources during
the rainy season. A combination of these factors increases the risk of
populations contracting cholera."

The organisation said weaknesses in water and sanitation services were
further compounded by a fragile health delivery system.

"Although the health system has improved since the onset of the outbreak,
with more services being available and accessible, it still needs further
strengthening. In addition, despite an improvement in health information
delivery including the weekly rapid disease notification system, many health
facilities still lack quick and easy access to communication equipment for
reporting," the OCHA said.

Given this scenario, the UN agency said, the humanitarian community's focus
was on preventing another large-scale cholera outbreak. - ZimOnline

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Commonwealth Round Table on Zimbabwe

July 14, 2009

THE Commonwealth Organisations’ Roundtable on Zimbabwe, held in Johannesburg July 7 – 9, 2009, brought together Zimbabwe civil society, local government, parliamentarians from the region and other partners, and those from the Southern African region, with representatives of Commonwealth Associations and Organisations in order to:

  • Review the needs of Zimbabwe during a period of transition
  • Identify priorities for practical help and support
  • Develop and strengthen programmes of action

Commonwealth Organisations welcomed the recent visit of the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe to the United Kingdom and his interaction with Commonwealth representatives on that occasion; they noted the commitment by the Prime Minister to the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and to realising the benchmarks set out by the Zimbabwe Government in this regard.

Discussions at the Roundtable centred on key areas including governance, democracy and the citizen; social protection and human resource development; humanitarian assistance and the rehabilitation of infrastructure; economic stabilisation, reconstruction and development.

Commonwealth organisations reaffirmed the commitment expressed in the Kampala Civil Society Statement “Realising People’s Potential” to engage with the people of Zimbabwe and commit resources to planning and development for the future.

Commonwealth organisations, regional and Zimbabwean partners indentified the areas where support was required, noting that the full implementation of the GPA is an urgent necessity including the restoration of human rights, the rule of law and the freedom of the media:

  1. The process of healing and reconciliation should address the legacy of conflict. Commonwealth organisations will draw on experience in the region and in the wider Commonwealth to provide support and encouragement including at the community level.
  2. Democratic institutions need to be strengthened at every level and confidence restored in the electoral framework. Commonwealth organisations are actively engaged through parliamentary, local government and civil society organisations and will endeavour to provide training, advice and exchange programmes.
  3. Civil Society Organisations are an important source of support for citizen engagement, cultural expression and the delivery of essential services; therefore cultural, faith based and trade union capacity needs to be strengthened through partnerships with Commonwealth and other organisations.
  4. Commonwealth Organisations will seek to strengthen the freedom and independence of the media, by urging repeal of repressive legislation specifically AIPPA and POSA. Furthermore, a call was made to improve ICT access at all levels.
  5. Support for human resource development throughout Zimbabwe is required. Commonwealth organisations will increase their commitment to secure resources and to help build capacity within the human resources sector. The skills and experience within the Diaspora needs to be developed.
  6. Schools, universities and training institutions need to be revitalised in order for them to function effectively.
  7. Ensuring social protection and practical support for the vulnerable and young people, labour rights and empowerment of women is another area where Commonwealth organisations are able to provide examples of good practices and offer support.
  8. Restoring the country’s essential infrastructure such as roads, communications, safe water and sanitation, low cost housing and other key services is vital. Local government throughout the Commonwealth will provide relevant technical expertise and other support including through city-to-city partnerships.
  9. Food shortages are widespread and the threat of a further cholera outbreak remains. Commonwealth organisations will urge member governments to ensure that the provision of humanitarian assistance is expanded and sustainable agricultural production is restored.

Zimbabwe’s economy has collapsed but steps have been taken to reverse its decline. Commonwealth business organisations and investment agencies will be encouraged to play an active role in the rebuilding of the economy. Support for micro finance and small enterprises will be explored through Commonwealth networks.

The Roundtable recognised the scale of the challenges facing the Inclusive Government and its need for regional, Commonwealth and international support to address these. A Special Programme for Zimbabwe will be developed by Commonwealth Organisations with Zimbabwean and regional partners, drawing on the strengths of the Commonwealth’s unique networks across more than 50 countries and responding to requests for advice, training and practical support. Such a programme will be an essential means to strengthen the links between the people of Zimbabwe, the people of the Commonwealth and the wider international community to support the process of reconstruction and development. The Special Programme will be communicated to CHOGM through the Commonwealth Peoples’ Forum, in Trinidad and Tobago in November 2009.

Johannesburg, July 9, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


13 JULY 2009


The Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe (SCMZ) condemns the behaviour of ZANU PF hired ‘quasi-fifty year old youth’ at the prematurely ended First Constitutional All Stakeholders Conference, pencilled for the 13th of July 2009. It is highly deplorable and unacceptable that some purportedly ZANU PF youth (who are visibly geriatric),led by the party President`s nephew Patrick Zhuwawo(as cited by most observers), would jeopardise the future of many Zimbabweans by disrupting the Constitutional Reform process for a morsel of political rhetoric and empty promises from their equally geriatric leader, Robert Mugabe.

In tandem with Article 6 of the Global Political Agreement, the Conference was meant to bring together all stakeholders from different walks of life; students, churches, youth, civil society, farmers, informal traders, political parties as well as the so-called ‘war veterans’. As SCMZ, we had prayed and hoped that this platform would give young people a chance to determine and give direction to their future, little did we know that ZANU PF ‘youth’ would hold young people`s journey to a free and democratic Zimbabwe at ransom. This deliberate attempt by ZANU PF to muzzle the voice of Zimbabweans from writing their own constitution is diabolic and should never be condoned in any way. For long, the former ruling party has tried through hook and crook to cling on to power, no wonder we witness such desperate antics by the party to frustrate the people so as to prolong their leader`s relevance in the political arena. However, as SCMZ we dismiss such party politicking as immature, and we urge all progressive minds particularly young people to remain resilient, focused and work unflinchingly for a new democratic people driven constitution.

ZANU PF and other retrogressive minds need to be reminded that the cry of the children`s God shall not go unnoticed; though the road to a democratic Zimbabwe is seemingly rough, unwinding and infested with thieves and robbers, one day we shall shed tears of never-ending joy as we reach to the promised land . For the Lord says, “Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with them: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings”, Isaiah 3:10

Inserted by SCMZ National Office, 83 Central Avenue, Harare

Email:, +263 912 589 454, +26

Judiciary must protect prisoners

July 11, 2009

HARARE – The Judge President, Rita Makarau, yesterday said it is the duty of all judicial officers to protect the rights of prisoners.

Makarau, Hungwe

Judge President Rita Makarau and High Court Judge Justice Charles Hungwe

Makarau was speaking at a meeting of human and prisoner’s rights stakeholders organised by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) in Harare.

“It is the duty of all judicial officers to protect the rights of prisoners. They must be invited to these training workshops and trainings,” said Makarau.

“Prisoners do have rights and at the High Court we are guided by the provisions of the Supreme Court and that should also be applied down to the magistrate courts.“

Makarau’s colleague and fellow High Court judge, Charles Hungwe, also told the meeting that the business of protecting the rights of prisoners does not only lie with the prisons.

“The magistrates can make unscheduled visits to any prisons. In future it will be appropriate for the Provincial Magistrate to keep an eye on what is happening at the prisons rather than just (viewing) the magistrates’ courts. They must make more frequent visits to the prisons to see what should be done,” said Hungwe.

Hungwe said he had to personally intervene to try and save the situation at Mutare prison which had become overcrowded because of the huge number of people who were arrested in the Chiadzwa diamond fields.

“Mutare Prison was overcrowded. There was a sudden influx of prisoners due to the Chiadzwa diamond rush. The police were bussing three 75-seater buses full of prisoners to court but after the granting of bail the prisoners could not pay bail,” said Hungwe.

“The result was that at some stage food stocks ran out and prisoners had to sleep standing, I made the decision to release the accused on free bail,” said Hungwe.

Speaking at the same meeting an official from the Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) painted a bleak picture of the prisons.

“The Zimbabwe Prison Service has been unable to satisfy any of its mandatory obligations due to the fact that we were heavily incapacitated. We have now become an embarrassment to the criminal justice system,” said Washington Chimboza, the Deputy Commissioner of Prisons.

According to the Prisons General Regulations of 1996 the Zimbabwe Prison Services should provide adequate food to inmates but has been failing to do so.

“Food commodities spelt out in the statutory instrument have not been provided. Since 2006 we have experienced the worst and highest death rate in the history of the service. The most severe cases were experienced in 2008 when pellagra was rampant in our prisons,” said Chimboza.

“Malnutrition acted as a catalyst to most deaths given that where cases of opportunistic infections were evident, it was impossible to commence medication since there was no food in the country in general and particularly in the prisons.”

The Prison Service requires 500 tonnes of maize-meal a month to feed a prison population of 13 000 inmates. The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is supposed to supply ZPS with these requirements but has not been able to do so.

ZPS administers a total of 46 prisons and 26 satellite prisons throughout the country. These prisons include the old type built at the turn of the last century, such as the Harare Central Prison, Masvingo Remand Prison and modern structures built after independence such as Kadoma, Mutare Farm, Chipinge and Khami Maximum Prisons. While the official holding capacity is 17 000, the current prison population stands at around 12 971, comprising 10 299 convicted and 2 672 remand prisoners.

The female population stands at 694.

“Our inability to honour such a mandatory obligation has caused untold suffering to the inmate population in our custody,” said Chimboza.

“The little food procured has not been prepared under healthy conditions since all the cooking pots we had have seen their days. Of the 26 pots at Chikurubi Maximum none is working and this has led to the creation of a temporary kitchen where iron cast posts are in use.”

“We have resorted to using drums sourced from neighbouring Lafarge Cement.”

He added that they had not been able to transport inmates to court for either remand or trial to the extend of requesting that the canteen at Marondera Prison be converted into a court house for further remand.

“The security vehicles, the only four Mercedes Benz Atego trucks have been parked since August 2008 because we could not afford to repair and service them,” said Chimboza.

Chimboza said the water situation has been equally dire.

“The water situation in our prisons is very poor. Chikurubi Prison Complex has gone for five years without ZINWA providing any water,” said Chimboza.

“This shortage has seen the birth of water borne diseases due to inadequate cleanliness.”

The government recently passed a resolution allowing relatives of inmates to provide clothing and other necessities to prisoners. Chimboza said the community will have to come on board to safe the situation.

“Inmates do not lose their right to health care by virtue of being in custody,” said Chimboza.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Tsvangirai Carries the Can

The momentum is moving in the MDC's favour yet its foreign friends remain cautious

After a three-week tour through Western capitals and having raised some US$150 million for his fragile government, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai now knows that diplomats and business people in the West are as ambivalent as their African counterparts about the prospects for Zimbabwe in the short term. The difference is that African governments have already 'taken the risk', as Tsvangirai puts it. The stakes are much higher for Zimbabwe's neighbours if things fall apart again.

The Nigerian-based Afreximbank has extended some $250 mn. in credit lines to Zimbabwean state-owned and private companies; the regional Preferential Trade Area is extending another $150 mn.; Botswana and South Africa are offering nearly $200 mn. Several African bankers who attended the Zimbabwe roadshows in Cape Town on 10-12 June told Africa Confidential they would open negotiations, having been convinced to sign up by Finance Minister Tendai Biti, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and Harare's omnipresent financial baron, Nigel Chanakira. Tsvangirai had the tougher mission of persuading Western countries wedded to the view that any government allowing Robert Mugabe to stay on as President was almost doomed to repeat the patronage, corruption and violence of the past or else would simply disintegrate under the weight of its own contradictions.

Inside Zimbabwe, the power-sharing project looks less tenuous. That is perhaps because so many Zimbabweans – for either the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) or the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) – desperately want it to work, to bolster the economy and to end the fearful political violence. The momentum has been on their side for the last four months: the longer the power-sharing lasts, the more normal an MDC prime minister and finance minister becomes; and the more support they can garner from within and without, the more stable the transition will become.

Tsvangirai knows the differing constituencies to which he must appeal and is increasingly adept at hitting the target. He opened his address to Britain's Royal Institute of International Affairs with a 'special tribute to the British people for their unwavering support for the ordinary people of Zimbabwe', followed by a diplomatic reference to the colonial land grab 'notwithstanding our historical ties arising from our past relationship.' The thrust of his argument, rehearsed in Berlin, Brussels, London, Paris, Washington and elsewhere, is that there are strong parallels between Zimbabwe's transition from rule by ZANU-PF to a social democratic system and South Africa's transition from apartheid rule to an open democracy with a liberal constitution.

Freely admitting that he is 'not a Mandela', Tsvangirai says the important point is for Zimbabwe to avoid the hyper-violence of South Africa's transition, which killed some 20,000 people because extremists in the old order thought they could derail the process. Having dropped the electorally suicidal association with white farmers, Tsvangirai now neatly triangulates between general resentment about gross colonial inequities in land distribution, concern about the rule of law and property rights and an almost implicit acceptance that most of ZANU-PF's land resettlement will not be reversed, although compensation schemes and the land audit may remedy some of the worst excesses on all sides.

Tsvangirai has to rely heavily on his Finance Minister Biti and Economic Planning Minister Elton Mangoma (see Who's Who). Under their tutelage, the economy has changed from the most bureaucratic, cumbersome system of regulation – covering everything from foreign exchange, capital controls, payment of corporate taxes and import tariffs – to one of the least regulated economies in the developing world.

In reality, the job was half done by the collapse of most of the formal economy: regulations were openly flouted, especially by greedy politicians who used the system for personal enrichment and political patronage. For most Zimbabweans in the cash economy, the suspension of the Zimbabwe dollar and the adoption of the US dollar and South African rand as legitimate currency were an acceptance of reality. It has prompted huge economic and political change.

Almost instantly, dollarisation destroyed ZANU-PF's patronage base and the power of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, who can no longer disburse foreign exchange to political favourites or indeed order the prosecution of political foes for currency violations. Most of Gono's strength is now negative, the power to make the economy go wrong. Judging by his broad smile when Africa Confidential saw him in Biti's office last week, there may be some truth in the report that Mugabe refuses to allow Gono to resign, for fear of giving in to the MDC.

The question haunting Zimbabwe's transition is whether it is reversible. Of course the MDC line on Tsvangirai's sojourn was that the 'commitment to a new Zimbabwe' was overwhelming. This time, Tsvangirai's enthusiasm captures the sense of change in Zimbabwe: the reopening of schools, clinics and hospitals together with a more open (but still fractious) political climate.

This year's sweeping economic changes make impossible a return to the status quo ante. The main beneficiaries from failure would be – as in South Africa's transition – a small band of securocrats who may face prosecution for serial human rights abuses. Tackling that issue amid the wider calls for political reform is becoming a pressing issue for those determined to shore up the new order.

Source: Africa Confidential

300 Zimbabweans arrested in Johannesburg

July 4, 2009

By Ntando Ncube

More than 300 Zimbabweans staying at the Central Methodist Church were arrested in the Johannesburg inner city for loitering and sleeping on the pavements, metro police said on Saturday.

The church accommodates 4 500 Zimbabwean refugees and asylum seekers with an estimated average of 100 to 200 new arrivals per week.

Senior Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the raid followed numerous complaints from the high court and business owners in the city.

“The vagrants were making it impossible for anyone to walk on the pavement on Prichard, Kruis and Von Brandis streets. Some pedestrians had been attacked and robbed by some of the vagrants,” superintendent Minnaar said

Bishop Paul Verryn – whose church in provides shelter and food to homeless immigrants – said the church had seen an increase in the number of children of school-going age from Zimbabwe arriving to seek shelter after entering South Africa on their own.