Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Mugabe’s reconciliation, What reconciliation?

Once upon a time, President Robert Mugabe was the envy of many African leaders. He was the perfect African president African leaders were encouraged to emulate. Once upon a time, a very long time ago, our president, then Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, preached about reconciliation with the former colonizer.

After a bloody war that had sacrificed a lot of our people, it was such a noble decision, a decision the former enemy gladly accepted. The policy of reconciliation made the legendary leader a saint in the West. After that bloody liberation war, it was indeed a pat on the back for Price Charles, “Hey mate, what’s done is done. Let’s call it a truce and go bowling.”

Yes the policy of reconciliation, announced soon after the historic 1980 election, was a necessary and important for the country. The two warring factions of the black majority and the white minority agreed on peace for the sake of the country. One question that really bugles me is; was there a timeframe for on this reconciliation Mr. President? The other is was there really any reconciliation to begin with?

As a national policy, the concept of reconciliation was supposed to incorporate all the warring factions after the war and not only blacks and whites. It was meant to address the rising tensions that were erupting between the two former liberation armies, ZANLA and ZIPRA.

Mugabe’s reconciliation, what reconciliation if I may ask Mr. President? When the then PM Mugabe was out addressing the foreign media and diplomats in Harare and abroad, his lieutenants were busy devising a strategy to wipe-out all the Ndebele people in Matebeleland and Midlands. His close aide, Enos Nkala, particularly had a great hatred for Nkomo and ZAPU, a statement he constantly repeated and emphasized during the 1980s.

What reconciliation Mr. President were you talking about when you had your very own Shona troops trained specifically by the North Koreans on the best methods to kill and wipeout the people of Ndebele origin? Whilst our learned president was busy wining and dining with other statesmen at international conferences, the infamous North Korean trained 5th Brigade was busy terrorizing people in Matebeleland.

All this time internationally Mr. Mugabe was being seen as a beacon of hope with the policy of reconciliation as part of his many successful policies. Genocide was also occurring at the same time in Matebeleland. Preaching about peace whenever he was given a platform whilst on the other hand being the architect of a mass genocide best describes the policies of our president. Double standards is what we call it Mr. President. We are all aware of ZANU PF’s open involvement in the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s.

One wonders whether that policy of reconciliation was for all the people Zimbabwe? Maybe it was only meant for those defeated former white minorities. If it was for the whites only, then whatever happened to that reconciliation 20years later after independence?

 One wonders if the overzealous, weapon-totting war veterans terrorizing white farmers, force-marching them off their farms was the expiration of Mugabe’s famed policy of reconciliation? These are the very same people who were the majority beneficiaries of the policy of reconciliation. Mr. President, was there any reconciliation to begin with?

The policy was a farce to begin with. It was meant to encompass all the warring forces after the war. It was for everyone, it was supposed to be for every Zimbabwean regardless of race, creed, culture or tribe. It would have been the best platform on which to begin to new state; Reconciliation for everyone. Everyone beginning on a new slate.

Even after that historic Unity Accord of 1987, the president never really revisited his policy of reconciliation to include the Ndebele, nor did he make an inquiry into the disturbances. The accord was just another pat on the back for Joshua Nkomo, “Hey Josh, sorry for your people man, it was my bad. Let’s just start over. How about the Vice Presidency for you? Aaaaw what a good lad.”

It is no wonder why any mentioning of Gukurahundi is considered a taboo here in Zimbabwe. Even the minister of the present-day policy of reconciliation, Minister in the Organ of National Healing and Reconciliation, Moses Mzila Ndlovu was arrested when he spoke about Gukurahundi. The topic is such a thorny issue that you cannot find it in Zimbabwe’s educational curriculum. ZANU (PF) does not want its own people to know what exactly occurred during the period 1980-1987. All we got to learn in school was a comment, in passing,of the disturbances in Matebeleland and Midlands. Nothing more, nothing less.

All this time since the “disturbances in Matebeleland and Midlands”, the Shona people were largely spared, apart from the few sacriced during Tekere’s ZUM. It was not until the creation of the Movement of Democratic Change (MDC) in 1999 when another monster was created. In the subsequent elections that followed till this day, anyone who supported or believed to be a member of the MDC became highly vulnerable to state-sponsored violence. March and June 2008 is a period that invokes the bitter memories of Gukurahundi.

Whilst hundreds of opposition activists perished as compared to the thousands lost during Gukurahundi, all these events have one common factor. They were all orchestrated by one man. Strategically created at Jongwe’s offices at ZANU (PF) headquarters, all these disturbanceshave been orchestrated by one man, who 32years ago, was a man globally known for his policy of reconciliation.

Is it that maybe, just maybe he was misquoted then? 32 years later, after taking the white people’s farms, he is now after their companies in the largely unpopular Indigenization and empowerment policy. This is all happening 32 years later when everyone thought that well, now blacks and whites can live peacefully and happily ever-after, after that largely famed policy of reconciliation. Maybe some played with Mr. President’s words then. Maybe it was the excitement of finally being free.

One thing that we all know is that Mugabe is living a life of double standards. Across Africa he is well known as a nationalist and model leader but is he really that? Only the Lord knows.

Monday, 26 March 2012

For how long are Zimbos going to be tolerant?

When South Africa "fired" Thabo Mbeki as president a few years ago, it showed how much our southern neighbours had had enough of the man famously known on the cntinent for his "I am an African" speech. The South African public had no kind words for him either. He was cndemned the world over for his stance on HIV/AIDS that did not help him either. As for us Zimbabweans, his resignation was a welcome relief to the majority.
This is the man who had been appointed as the mediator by SADC for the Zimbabwean crisis. His close links to the former ruling party ZANU-PF, did not help matters either as he was agonisingly biased and sympathetic towards ZANU-PF. When Zim shops were empty, the majority of people starving, human rights abuses at their peak, inflation in its quadtrillions to name but a few, Mbeki stood firm with his infamous quiet diplomacy policy when Zimbabwe was on the brink of collapse.
Who will forget his infamous statement in April 2008 when election results were being withheld by ZEC when he said that there "is no crisis in Zimbabwe." A statement he made after a meeting wit president Mugabe. I was at university in South Africa then and i remember talking about it with my lecturer  and he was of the view that Mbeki might not finish his term. Even though i argued at length how such a thing was almost impossible in Africa, he told me that South Africa was not per say, Africa. He further told me that unlike Zimbos, South Africans are not that tolerant.
True to his word, Mbeki did not finish his term. As Zimbos, we have stood the test of time. We have lived under the worst of times but we continued soldiering on. A good friend of mine told me that as Zimbabweans, our tolerance is our own weakness. What we do is living to see the next day. Hoping that something is going to happen or someone is going to give us deliverance. It is like we did not learn enough from our relationship with Mr Mbeki. No one will come to solve our problems because people like Zuma will only do so much and it is up to us to determine what it is that we want for our country.
We depended on Mbeki so much that all our hopes depended on his mediation. He left without any solution but outstanding issues for the GPA, issues that are still outstanding years after the more outspoken and firmer Zuma took over his role as the mediator. What we have to understand is that Zuma got his own problems as the president of South Africa and he is more likely to concentrate on Zimbabwe when it gets worse. For now, his mediating teams can fly to and fro at will spending our taxpayer money without any clear solution.
I believe that as Zimbabweans we are more about talk. Talk that we do inside the comfort of our homes, far away from the spies of the government. If its not about talk, it is about hosting press conferences week in, week out condemning the regime when people are still disappearing everyday, diamonds being looted, people being denied bail in jail to name but a few.
The risks of going ahead challenging the regime are well documented and you can forgive the people for being tolerant but for how long are we going to allow the junta and their friends in the politburo to take us for a ride. The Egyptian or Arab uprisings are still a pipe-dream in this country. Munyaradzi Gwisai and the socialists are the perfect examples. A revolution or an uprising may be beyond us but we do need one person who will inspire us to fight our tolerance.
In Tunisia one frustrated street trader, Mohamed Bouazizi, protested against his wares being taken by the authorities by setting himself on fire. His self-immolation was the catalyst the Tunisians wanted just to push them to voice their frustration. The whole of the Arab world responded to this and it showed how much they had had enough of the dictatorships in that region.
The Zimbabwean government knows that even though we are the most tolerant, almost the most obedient citizens, they know that we are on the edge. We might be scared of going onto the streets to march today but when the time comes, we shall go. We tried doing it through elections but our efforts were frustrated. Maybe this time the old guard will take heed of the events that happened in Zambia and recently with Wade in Senegal. Elections might be the only catalyst we need to voice our frustrations because the time has come. We cannot be tolerant forever. 
Despite all this, how long are we going to wait for that time when tolerance is replaced by rebellion? 

Friday, 17 February 2012

Tales of the Zimbabwean Dollar, bad memories for the average masses

HARARE - By David Hwangwa

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Dr. Gideon Gono once revealed that he had nightmares over the zeros he had slashed on the Zim dollar. Tales of the dreaded Zim dollar evoke several emotions amongst the people. The majority would not even want to hear even the slightest mention of the word whilst some of Harare’s dealers would jump with joy if it is to return in its weak state. The era of the Zim dollar in its last days, were the worst for the majority.
Since its inception after independence, the Zim dollar was a stable currency that was even at par with most of the world’s strongest currencies, at one time being of more value than the US dollar, one of the currencies currently being used as legal tender in the country. It was not until the late 1990s that the dollar started to slide when the Zim government was just starting with their poor domestic and foreign policies.
Fighting for regional dominance with South Africa, the Zim government entered our troops into the infamous DRC war despite being warned about its negative effects on the economy. Just to add to their poor policies, the government further gave out huge payments of ZW$50,000 each to the thousands of the veterans of the Second Chimurenga. This also had massive effects on the economy because we could not afford that at the time but once our government decides on a policy, they go ahead with it without considering the after effects of such moves. The Zim dollar started falling, foreign currency shortages were being reported and the sliding trend for Zimbabwe was just beginning. At the turn of the new millennium, such policies continued. The chaotic land redistribution, oppressive laws, Operation Murambatsvina, rigged elections and ofcourse continuous printing of the Zim dollar, all added to the further weakening of the currency.
Whilst the economists can go over their books and come with various reasons and formulas why we should not resort to the Zim dollar just yet, the average man on the street will just hit you with a blank NO. They have so many reasons why that currency should never come back.
In the last decade where the Zim dollar was the main currency, it cast a dark shadow over the general masses. How could it not be when the governor was printing money at will as if he was funding a mafia organisation? His new hobby was that of printing trillions, quadrillions and figures never heard of without even considering the plight of the masses.
It was a period where nothing was available in the shops. To those who had supplies and who were selling them, the mode of payment was the scarce forex even though it had not yet been legally approved by the government.
The most painful thing during the Zim dollar era was that of waiting in queues, even for things that were not even there. It was even more heartbreaking when that commodity you had been waiting for runs out whilst you were still in the line. We became so accustomed to waiting in lines that whenever you saw people standing in a queue you would immediately join them without even knowing what they were waiting for. One would almost be certain that whatever that thing was, you would probably need it. People would go to the shops as the whole family because things were rationed; 1 – 2 per person and a family of eight would probably require three people just to get enough supplies.
The Zim dollar era resulted in the country becoming almost idle. Industries closed, multi-national companies relocated to neighbouring countries and most local businesses were just operating at a loss. The unemployment rate rose to levels never heard of. People reluctantly left the country they loved so much for menial jobs outside. People had no options but to degrade themselves so as to feed their own families.
The government had no pity at all for the businesses during that time. With Gono printing his worthless Zim dollars at will, it meant that every time a new family of currencies was introduced, prices would rise as well. It was even painful seeing prices being increased whilst you were waiting by the till. To counter such practices, the government introduced the infamous price controls. This was the final nail in the coffin because this practice resulted in companies not producing anything because the price fixed by the government was just suicidal to their businesses. You could not blame the business people because you honestly cannot sell a product marked for example $5 and be told to sell it for a dollar. Anyone in his right senses would say no to that and it would be beneficial to that person to just stop producing that product. The biggest victims from this policy by the government were the masses because we got everything we want from the store and waking up one day being told that there is no bread, it is just an insult. At times, Zimbos we are just too tolerant.
The big shefs in government were living large at the time yet the masses were paying the price for their incompetent policies. People had to purchase goods where they were limited. Substandard goods became the order of the day. New terms were being coined by the suffering masses to portray their everyday life. People were now living on economics Zero-Zero-One where the one referred to the only meal of the day. The one meal was even necessitated by two factors; one it was because in that day and age, people could only manage to scavenge one meal per day because things were so hard. The other factor was that even though some people might have had the means to have more meals per day, the stumbling block was that there was nothing in the shops to buy. We are talking of a time where if you visited a relative, you would expect to return to your place without even being offered anything to eat. Visiting people was almost a burden because you would just inconvenience your host.
In the rural areas it was even worse. Visiting my grandmother I the village in December 2008 I almost cried. She had stacks of worthless Zim dollars that she was saving; dollars that were not even in circulation anymore. She told me that she was not even aware of what the new family of currencies was. The other factor was that she kept them because there was nothing to buy from the stores. It was even sad visiting people in the village. There was virtually no food to eat. The government had banned NGOs from operating in the country. They were the only ones that were giving people in the rural areas food supplies.
Things were so drastic that people were boiling mangoes to eat. It might sound weird to the urban folk but that was the situation on the ground. The situation in the rural areas was a little different from that in the city. We went to ChaChaCha growth point in Shurugwi to buy my old lady some supplies for Christmas. In some of the shops there was maize meal from South Africa that was written “Not for Consumption by People under 12years and those over 65years.” I was shocked because that is generally the average ages you will find in the rural areas. The sad part was that people were buying that very produce. I asked myself, is it ignorance or the mere fact that people were taking advantage of the rural folk. Some overzealous entrepreneurs were just taking advantage of the rural folk.
It was not only business people who were taking advantage of the masses. It started from the top. Gono and his cronies were printing gazillions of Zim dollars at will, fuelling the black market. It was hard waking up to go to work. You were never guaranteed that the price you paid for the kombi would be the same come 6 pm. No wonder the soldiers ran amock when shops were refusing the $10trillion notes. That was towards Christmas in 2008, government workers had been paid $30 trillion. Just those three notes that were not being accepted in shops. That was just taking our patience and tolerance to the limit. Not everyone had the means to forex then but the government never considered how the average man on the street was surviving. Yet you wonder why Zim remained at peace. Zimbos and their tolerance.
Now we see the state media journalists and Dr Gono echoing the same sentiments from the December 2011 ZANU PF Conference about bringing back the Zim dollar. Yes a country needs its own currency but at the present moment Zimbabwe is better off without its own currency. I am not an economist but I know that we are not yet ready for a return of the Zim dollar. Our industries are still recovering and hardly working at full capacity. Bring the Zim dollar right now is just tantamount to disaster. Maybe the ghosts of the slashed zeros are haunting our learned governor that he is under pressure to bring back the dollar. We all know that the governor does not really care. He is one man who purchased a Mercedes Brabus when the country was the majority of the population was languishing in poverty.
Well Dr. Gono and fellow Cdes from ZANU PF, we suffered so much under the Zim dollar we are not yet ready for the return of our fallen currency. Our economy is just starting to recover, can we please allow it to grow before the once mighty Zim dollar makes its inevitable return. Elections are just around the corner, now is not the time for the Zim dollar.
David T. Hwangwa is writing in his own capacity. He can be contacted on

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Unemployment challenge for the Zim youths

Zimbabwe has over the last decade been at the summit when it comes to literacy levels in Africa and still continues to churn out thousands of world class graduates every year. Every year each prospective graduate is full of optimism of graduating, being capped by the president, being called a graduate, getting a job and contributing to their country’s development but that optimism is soon replaced by heartache because our industry and economy cannot offer them anything. The biggest challenge that the youth are facing is that of unemployment. With more than 90% unemployment rate, it means that only a fraction of the estimated 12 million people is employed, roughly over a million if we are to go with the estimates. Every year, close to more than 5 000 people graduate in Zimbabwe, from state universities, poly techs, nursing school, teachers colleges, apprenticeships to name but a few and all these people are expecting to be part of that 10%.
The Zimbabwean economy continues to grow at a painfully slow rate. Things have gotten better in the country but people continue to struggle for a decent living. Wages and salaries continue to be stagnant and despite the cries from the people salary raises continue to be a pipedream. The President has on many occasions called for all our foreign graduates to come home and contribute to the building of our economy and resuscitating our country’s fortunes. Locally we have thousands graduating from high schools and universities and already the country cannot support all these graduates and apart from all those foreign graduates the president is calling on, we have thousands more from his Presidential scholarship from all the major universities in South Africa coming back as well to scavenge for the little resources that are already exhausted. I wonder where the learned President of the Republic of Zimbabwe want all those professionals earning a decent living overseas, want to put them when the local professionals here have nothing. Does he want them to contribute to the unemployment rate. There is need for him to create job opportunities for us here in Zimbabwe before calling on all those foreign graduates. As a graduate myself who is unemployed I believe the president should work on making me and the rest of the other graduates happy by giving us jobs.
In developed countries, even in some African countries it is unheard of for graduates to go for prolonged periods of time unemployed but for our beloved country, you might as well bury the certificates because they might not get used in a very long time because there is nowhere to use them for. Most youths will regard the four years they spent studying for a degree, for that diploma, for that profession as a waste because most people usually end up in trades that have nothing to do with what they studied for just to make ends meet. We have seen people with a professional qualification swallowing their pride to do menial jobs. We have seen most youths editing their CVs removing their degrees so as to get a job because most companies will not employ a graduate with a degree for a menial job. Thus, most youths in our country are certificate holders yet they are not doing what they went to school for all for the sake of making ends meet.
What the youths need is a government that gives them a guarantee that there will be jobs. Jacob Zuma promised to get 500 000 jobs for his people after a certain period. At least people can hope. The ZANU PF government engages in policies that are killing the economy where most people see the only alternative as going overseas. The ZANU PF government destroyed our economy with their guerrilla policies of how to run the economy, running it down and destroying the industry, effectively destroying the source of employment for the majority of the people. I want a government that provides a guarantee and an effective plan and policy of providing for jobs. The Ministry of Finance continues to freeze out jobs in the public sector effectively rendering all the graduates jobless because the government is the biggest employer in the country yet they are failing to provide us with employment, yet the president is calling on graduates to come home. To work where Mr. President if I may ask?
What we need is a treasury that is able to support the populace through the provision of releasing funds and unfreezing jobs in the civil service. The treasury has to release funds to bail out the industries so that the youths get employed. Zimbabwe is becoming centralized with everything being reduced to Harare. This is a sad reality particularly for the other youths based in other parts of the country. It is even sad for those in Bulawayo as most industries there are relocating to Harare. Prof. Welshman Ncube, what are you doing? Lobby the Finance Ministry to bail out Bulawayo because as youths we are seeing our dreams disappear in front of us because we cannot get jobs.
Unemployment is a bigger challenge to us the youths and there is need for these politicians to walk their talk because the time has come where we will not tolerate their improbable plans for us because we need something to look forward to for tomorrow.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Zimbabwean Youths as Pawns in the political warfare

As youths we are pawns in the political field. We form 60% of the voting electorate yet we are hardly represented in parliament and government. There has been so much advocacy for women representation in government, i.e. in parliament and cabinet and the political parties have heeded this call with increased number of women in government, with Vice President Joice Mujuru and Deputy Prime Minister Khupe being the leading examples. What the politicians have failed is to increase the number of youths in government and this is one of the biggest challenges we are facing because without one of our own in government, our views can never really be represented.
Political parties take advantage of the challenges facing the youths, chiefly that of unemployment and use it against us. A perfect example is that of Chipangano in Mbare. Luring the youths with incentives such as a low allowance, most youths facing financial problems will do anything even for a tiny allowance. The ZANU PF sponsored Chipangano in Mbare has coerced and forced the youths to join them in their violent paths as they are left with no choice. They are promised cash allowances and most of them use it to buy drugs and toxic spirits such ZED as a way of boosting their confidence when terrorizing civilians in Mbare and surrounding areas in Harare.
The problem is that the youths are being forced to play the role of the pawn, play the dirty work whilst the politicians are in their offices. As pawns we are forced to protect the “king”  by all means even if it means resorting to all the unorthodox methods. Zimbabwe is by far a peaceful country but some of these youth leaders become overzealous thinking that violence will bring forth with it success. The youths in Mbare have been playing the part of the pawn for a while yet their “king” keeps on finding better opponents. Cde Savandhu should know better having seen his fortunes dwindle because his pawns have not done a good job of protecting their king.
As leaders these politicians should know better and start from the front and condemn violence and should further set the example. When the Human Rights Bill was being deliberated in Parliament, the president was at the forefront of condemning violence yet outside the building overzealous Chipangano were busy terrorizing people outside parliament building. As if that was not enough ZANU PF youths attacked and clashed with MDC-T youths at a rally for the MDC-T in Chitungwiza with senior ZANU PF officials being fingered in the plans to cause chaos. What is surprising is that whilst the GPA leaders might go on TV denouncing violence, the problems that need to be addressed are there within their parties because as leaders they are largely expected to say certain things but the problems are there within their own parties through their youth leaders.
We can thus never really move forward for as long as these youth leaders and senior party officials continue to promote their cause through violence. It is not even helping when some in ZANU PF say that they will continue to support Chipangano yet perennial Mbare constituency candidate Cde Tendai Savanhu continues to deny the existence of this youth militant group. What this does is that it does not help the cause of preventing violence because the youths will continue to be used as scapegoats to play the role of the pawn, as the face of violence for them. With threats to their families as well as their well being, youths are left with no option but to go on with whatever they are told to do.
ZANU PF has thus taken the role of coercion and force to a whole new level. Youths are forced to go knock door to door into people’s houses forcing them to come to ZANU PF rallies and functions. ZANU PF wants to create an image to everyone that they are a well oiled machine giving back to the people yet this is to the contrary. In the recent ant-Sanctions petition, they knew they would not get the numbers they wanted for their project. Youths terrorized people in town forcing them to close their shops and stop whatever they were doing so as to attend the signing on ceremony at ZANU PF headquarters. People were driven in trucks from their villages to come and sign the petitions without even their consent all for the sake of maintaining a fake image. That is not what the people want and that is by far not the role the youths want to play when we say we need a political role.
Why take advantage of the youths? We are by far the most important group in the population, the most important group of the electorate. What politicians forget is that a youth movement may as well play a determinant role when it comes to elections. Our interests are hardly being addressed yet we are the pawns in the game. We are the ones that necessitate their political paths yet our political interests are not being addressed. We need leaders that understand that the views of the youths have to be attended to. The truth is that we cannot continue playing the role of the pawn forever. There would be a time when some of us will make the journey across the board from being a mere king to a “queen”, a “bishop” and even starting the game as the king. Politicians have to understand that as kings they cannot go anywhere without their pawns and they need a strategy. They need to understand that they cannot play chess with draft tactics, they will not win because their pawn will be crashed in no time. What they need is a strategy, a formula where they make everyone happy and not use us as tools for their dirty work. They are the ones who more or less got the country into the situation that it is in and thus there is need for them to pull it out and as youths we need to play our part for our country because the day of being nothing but a mere pawn has to end.
David T. Hwangwa writing in his own personal capacity. He can be contacted on