Friday, 22 February 2013

ZANU-PF’s outburst at EU sanctions lifting a fore-warning that they will not guarantee a free and fair election

On Monday the European Union lifted a travel ban on 21 individuals
that includes six ZANU-PF ministers as well as one company. The target
based sanctions, imposed on Zimbabwe by the West at the height of the
land reform in the early 2000s, were mainly placed on Mugabe’s cronies
and their businesses. Over the years, since the signing of the Global
Political Agreement in 2009, have been eased and relaxed gradually
with the western nations reviewing whether to lift the sanctions
The latest lifting of the ban is attached with certain conditions,
chiefly the holding of peaceful free and fair elections. ZANU-PF,
instead of responding to the EU with a pledge of hosting free and fair
elections attacked them with vengeance.
“The decision by the EU to remove certain individuals and companies
from their illegal sanctions list is outrageous and preposterous.
ZANU-PF will never accept any conditional removal of the illegal
sanctions,” Rugare Gumbo, the ZANU-PF spokesman responded when asked
about this latest development. ZANU-PF wants an “unconditional and
total” lifting of the elections.
EU did not however remove sanctions on the Zimbabwe Mining Development
Corporation, keeping those measures at least until the conclusion of
the upcoming elections. The keeping of the sanctions on ZMDC is a
welcome measure considering that the company is responsible for
funding ZANU-PF in all its endeavors, including state-sponsored
violence against members of the former opposition, the MDCs. The
lifting of the ban on ZMDC was requested by Belgium, where Antwerp,
the world’s biggest diamond trading centre, is based, who pushed for
it to be freed from the sanctions ban.
ZMDC was given a grace period of at least a month after the elections
to see whether it can be fully rid of the sanctions by the EU. ZANU-PF
has, since the discovery of diamonds in the eastern province of
Manicaland been dependent on the revenues from diamonds to fund their
loyalists in their political rivalry against their fierce rivals, the
MDCs. They will not be affected by the EU’s refusal to lift sanctions
on ZMDC because the diamonds from ZMDC are still in demand in Asia and
thus, they are guaranteed more revenue for their state-sponsored and
target based violence against their rivals.
Whilst ZANU-PF may have dismissed the latest developments as
“outrageous and preposterous” it leaves one wondering what it is that
ZANU-PF really wants. In 2012 they sent their chief lawyer, Attorney
General Tomana to go and challenge the EU to lift the “illegal
sanctions” they imposed on Zimbabwe. Now that there is an impartial
lifting of the sanctions, they are still reluctant to accept such
developments because they still want the EU to remove them wholly
without them playing a part also.
The EU has demanded that ZANU-PF allow a free and fair election to
take place and this latest outburst on EU shows that they are not
willing to play along with the EU by guaranteeing a just and fair
election. Zimbabwe has a record of bloody and unjust elections and
since 2001, all the elections that have taken place in Zimbabwe are
nothing but a farce that have legitimized Mugabe’s hold on power at
the expense of the people. SADC have over the years certified these
elections as free and fair because they always succumb to Mugabe’s
Why is it that ZANU-PF does not wish to reciprocate to these measures
by EU? The EU ambassador to Zimbabwe, Dell’Ariccia assured ZANU-PF
that all these restrictive measures would be removed if the elections
are free and fair. Only through a peaceful free and fair will result
in “an immediate suspension of the majority of all remaining targeted
restrictive measures against individuals and entities,” Ambassador
Dell was quoted on Monday at a press briefing in Harare.  Since
independence, ZANU-PF are yet to guarantee Zimbabweans such conditions
for a free and fair election and thus all this noise is just a message
to the EU that unfortunately ZANU-PF cannot guarantee a free and fair
Such utterances are the last thing that Zimbabweans want to hear as we
are only weeks away from the constitution referendum, penciled for the
16th of March. Memories and wounds from the 2008 harmonised elections
are still fresh on the people of Zimbabwe. Everyone is aware that
ZANU-PF will not succumb to any pressure from anyone to host peaceful
elections if it means them losing their grip on Zimbabwe. They will do
everything in their means to ensure that their challengers will not
taste victory. 2008 is testimony to that.
Rugare Gumbo’s statements are not only addressed at the EU’s partial
lift on sanctions but to all their political foes in Zimbabwe as we
approach Election Day. The partial relax on the sanctions was
dismissed as nothing but plans by the West to further their economic
interests in Zimbabwe. ZANU-PF has for ages dismissed the MDC-T as a
puppet of the EU and such developments are just seen by ZANU-PF as an
attempt to appease the people to vote for the MDC-T now that there
sanctions are being relaxed, albeit gradually.
ZANU-PF fails to understand that the west will not remove sanctions
without any reforms because it is because of ZANU-PF’s autocratic rule
that brought these sanctions to Zimbabwe in the first place. The only
way in which the West will remove these sanctions is if ZANU-PF
reforms. The latest lifting of sanctions was brought about by
ZANU-PF’s part in the drafting of the constitutional draft. All the
countries that had placed Zimbabwe on sanctions were encouraged by
Zimbabwe hosting free and fair elections this year is a long short
because the conditions facing the country at present are the same
conditions we faced in 2008. The draconian laws such as POSA that give
ZANU-PF an unfair advantage over their rivals are still there. Most of
the reforms that were meant to be implemented at the signing of the
GPA are yet to be implemented and unless if their implemented before
June a repeat of 2008 is upon us. ZANU-PF have failed to guarantee
Zimbabwe a peaceful free and fair election, they are more concerned
with starting a verbal warfare with the EU than guaranteeing their own
people a just election for once.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Mthwakazi is all ado about nothing. Their plans border on treason and destabilizing Zimbabwe

“MLF (Mthwakazi Liberation Front) has nothing and will have nothing to do with Zimbabwe, let alone elections that serve no purpose. All MLF wants from Zimbabwe is Mthwakazi independence,” remarked the MLF spokesman, quoted in an interview last year. Mthwakazians, the secessionist extremists want the separation of Mthwakazi, which is the present day Matabeleland and some parts of Midlands, from Zimbabwe and full independence. They are of the belief that this full independence of Mthwakazi will be fully realized by 2018.
The Mthwakazi state existed in the area that is now Matabeleland and Midlands and was made up of various tribes and cultures that were settled in those dry plains. Led by king Mzilikazi, who had fled to those parts after fleeing the raids of the Zulu king, Shaka, during the period of mfecane in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa in the 19th century. It is from there where they established their territory which they named Mthwakazi, led from the start by Mzilikazi and later his son, king Lobengula.
Mthwakazians claim that their territory and “state” was recognized at the Berlin Conference in 1885 when the European powers demarcated Africa as they divided it amongst themselves for settling and business. They claim that the territory was also ratified by the United Nations when it came to being. Further claims to this “state” of Mthwakazi come from the pact king Lobengula had with Jameson that led to the creation of the Jameson Line which created physical boundaries separating the present day Matabeleland and Mashonaland. Mthwakazi was thus created in an already existing state of the Mutapa, a predominantly Shona dominated area of various dialects.
With colonization and later the war of liberation, both the Shona and the Ndebele, the dominant group of the Mthwakazi, fought for the common cause of liberating Zimbabwe. This is despite the fact that they both had different armies that were aligned to their tribes, ZANLA to the Shona and Zipra to the Ndebeles. They were both determined to the liberation of all the children of Zimbabwe and not merely the Mthwakazi or the Shona only. Mthwakazians claim that they were duped by Mugabe and the negotiators at the Lancaster House Conference that paved way for the independence of Zimbabwe.
Led by the MLF, a grassroots movement that seeks to liberate the people Mthwakazi from the “invading Shonas” they want their territory to be separate from Zimbabwe so that they can grow and develop their state to the benefit of its citizens. They argue that the Shona have deliberately ignored and left to rot the industrial city of Bulawayo as well as the whole of Matabeleland. This comes from the fact that the Mugabe led government wanted to rid Zimbabwe of all the people of Mthwakazi during the Gukurahundi massacres of the early 1980s. As a result of such, the people of Mthwakazi have been intimidated, exploited and largely marginalized in an area that they should be calling home.
In 2012 leaders of MLF were arrested and charged with charges of high treason after being found with subversive materials. Such materials had the effect of destabilizing Zimbabwe because they were talking of establishing a small state within Zimbabwe, a Lesotho-like state within the already existing state of Zimbabwe.
Their claims that they be granted independence from Zimbabwe are unfounded in the sense that they came to settle in what was an already existing state back in the 19th century. They further claim that they have the full support of the whole of Matabeleland and Midlands in their future plans but the truth is that people barely know who Mthwakazi is or what they stand for. People at the forefront of this whole Mthwakazi liberation are just overzealous extremists whose intentions and dreams will only bring gloom to them. Not all the Ndebele are in support of such claims because in this day and age we no longer talk of tribe but we are all Zimbabweans and determined to work for the benefit of the country as a whole not merely for the Shona or the Ndebele alone.
Such plans of giving Mthwakazi independence border on destabilization and treason. Zimbabwe belongs to everyone. They seem to be oblivious of how state-making works. One cannot just wake up and decide to create a new state within another existing state. Somaliland, the breakaway state from conflict-ridden Somalia was established four years ago but to this day they are yet to be recognized internationally. Zimbabwe is not suffering from the same fate that faced states like Sudan that led to the international community supporting the establishment of South Sudan. We are a peaceful country and these Mthwakazians will find it hard to sell their case internationally.
Mthwakazians are calling for President Robert Mugabe to grant them a referendum to allow people to vote for their independence. What they do not understand is that such a move has to be approved by parliament. It is highly unlikely that parliament will have time to deliberate on such issues considering that the country as a whole has other pressing issues that are far much important than that. Such claims for a referendum are unfounded because Zimbabwe at present can barely afford to fund its own constitution referendum and the impending elections. Mthwakazi on their own can barely afford to fund the referendum for their independence because they are broke, relying on Welshman Ncube to bail one of their leaders who was arrested last year.
In the event that they are granted the referendum, they will hardly make the numbers tally. To Mthwakazi, their move is highly tribalistic because they blame the Shona for all their misfortune. The Shona make up the majority and it is not even likely that all the Ndebele and other smaller minority tribes that were part of the Mthwakazi “state” are in on their plans. They might afford the few votes of the elderly but the y need the support of the youth. How are they going to influence the youth when they can barely fill halls in Bulawayo for their rallies? They lack funding and order.
MLF is calling for non-participation in the upcoming elections whilst another party, the Mthwakazi National Party is of the opinion that it is important for Mthwakazians to be involved in elections but will only contest in Mthwakazi areas. Already there is confusion as to who is really representing the best interests of this so called Mthwakazi state. They are divided because these groups claiming to be representing them are only concerned about publicity and being heard first. They are misrepresenting the people because they will have people pin their hopes on them when in fact they are little more than money mongers and power hungry people who want to cause chaos for the whole of Zimbabwe.
In the event, hypothetically speaking, that they are granted independence what will happen when one day Binga decides that they no longer want to be part of Mthwakazi and want their own independence. Victoria Falls does the same and Bulawayo as well, what then will become of Mthwakazi? Zimbabwe is doing well at the moment and such claims for independence by overzealous extremists is unfounded and not given room for future trouble. They will be allowed to talk because they are entitled to their opinion but Zimbabwe is for every person who is Zimbabwean. Shona, Ndebele, Tonga, Ndau, white or whatever tribe, Zimbabwe belongs to all of us equally. It does not matter where you come from, Zimbabwe belongs to all of us.

10 Years After Henry Olonga & Andy Flower’s Black Armband Protest, Zimbabwe Is Still Mourning The Death of Democracy

The world on Thursday commemorated former Zimbabwe cricket captain Andrew Flower and the first black cricketer to play for Zimbabwe, Henry Olonga’s Black armband protest against the death of democracy in Zimbabwe. On the 10th of February 2003, when Zimbabwe, co-hosting the cricket world cup with South Africa and Kenya were preparing for their match with Namibia on an overcast day at Harare Sports Club, two of their influential players, wicket-keeper Andy Flower and fast bowler Olonga took to the field wearing black armbands in a show of no confidence against Mugabe’s ZANU-PF regime.
At the time, Zimbabwe was going through a bad patch both economically and politically, a patch that would last for the entire first decade of the new millennium. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, led by weapon-totting war veterans were terrorizing white farmers, or the few that were left, invading all the white owned farms across the country. The chaotic and highly racist land-redistribution program, meant to address the injustices of the past when the British settlers took over the land belonging to the indigenous people, was highly condemned and deemed unconstitutional by the courts. The land reform triggered an economic melt-down for the once prosperous bread basket of the region. The program in itself was a gross violation of human rights and to this day, the perpetrators of that dark period are still to be brought to book.
White farmers were given ultimatums to leave their properties within days. Some did not even get the chance to pack before the ZANU-PF youths invaded their land, burning some alive, some shot in front of their children and wives whilst some who resisted were arrested and tortured in the police cells. Property rights of these farmers were violated and these invasions were only targeted against white farmers, making the whole program wholly racist. White farmers were accused of supporting the new opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and to drum up support for the black majority who owned barely a quarter of the total agricultural land in their country, Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF went on a massive farm invasion spree that brought the country to its knees.
Zimbabwe, a once stable and industrial power-house second only to South Africa in the region started falling dismally. The West condemned events that were happening in Zimbabwe. In the elections that were held in 2001 and 2002 for parliament and the presidential election respectively, there were massive irregularities and vote rigging that cost Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC victory in the elections. Political activists were arrested and killed whilst the rule of law was ignored making Zimbabwe’s elections a farce and thus triggering the death of democracy, or the lack thereof.
Speaking on BBC5 radio on Thursday, Andy Flower, the current director of the England cricket team, revealed what triggered the events of that fateful day. Back at the time, it was almost a taboo for one to go against the Robert Mugabe regime as you would most likely disappear or rot in jail. After seeing the death of the agricultural sector with former white-owned farms being reduced to nothing but a typical African savanna, Flower was prompted by a former friend who had lost his farm to take a stand. With Zimbabwe hosting the cricket world cup, all eyes were on Zimbabwe and that was more than a platform for him and Olonga to show and reveal to the world the death of democracy in Zimbabwe.
Flower spoke to Henry Olonga, who shared the new ball then with Heath Streak, as he wanted the protest to be led by two people of different races, one white and one black. That brought the balance to the protest, as it brought two men, one black and white, who shared the same views and who were also suffering from the Mugabe regime. One man who was in the thick of things with the plans for the protest was Senator David Coltart, the current minister of Education, Sports and Culture, who was then a human rights lawyer. The plans for the black armband protest were only known to the three and those in the background with the whole of the Zimbabwe cricket team unaware until the day of the match against Namibia.
It was only until moments before the match when the two issued out their statement to the media. The media statement contained, ”We believe that if we remain silent that will be taken as a sign that either we do not care or we condone what is happening in Zimbabwe. We believe that it is important to stand up for what is right. In doing so we are making a silent plea to those responsible to stop the abuse of human rights in Zimbabwe.”
Recalling on those events ten years ago, both Flower and Olonga have no regrets of their actions. What they did ten years ago was a brave and noble thing, facing and exposing the monster when everyone was scared and just looking at events in Zimbabwe from a spectator’s view. Olonga and Flower stood up for the voiceless, the oppressed and for all the people of Zimbabwe. They put everything before them considering that such an act in itself was next to committing high treason. Three weeks after the cricket world cup, Henry Olonga received death threats and relocated to England, where Andy Flower also fled to and continued with his cricketing career.
In Zimbabwe then, as it is now, democracy is still six feet under. Elections are still a farce and human rights violations are still an everyday experience. State-sponsored violence and target based violence are still the biggest cancer in Zimbabwe and something that will continue in this country unless we change and head towards democracy. So many people have died, lost their possessions and fled Zimbabwe because of what they believed in. We have come through a long way since the two led the way on that cricket ground those many years ago.
Whilst some might say that Olonga was used by the whites to get back at the ZANU-PF regime for their lost possessions, the truth is that Olonga represented all the black people in Zimbabwe that were suffering from the chaotic regime of Robert Mugabe. It is not only the whites that lost out when their farms were taken but the whole country. Zimbabwe is an agro based economy that depended on agriculture to support its economy and with the death of that sector of the economy, everyone suffered. The thousands of farm workers lost their jobs, the country lost revenues from the agricultural exports and in return the country’s economy fell.
Politically such a move isolated Zimbabwe. Western nations put Zimbabwe on sanctions and everyone was affected as Zimbabwe was reduced from the bread basket of the region to the begging bowl of the world. As we remember the Black Armband revolt of ten years ago, we acknowledge the efforts of these two who put themselves on the line for the rights of the millions of Zimbabweans. That act was more than a stroll onto the pitch of the Harare Sports Club, it was great courage and bravery considering that the man they were revolting against lived and still do, next door at the State house, a stone’s throw from Zimbabwe’s home of cricket. Was that revolt enough? Zimbabweans only hope that the elections penciled for this year will complete the dream that Henry Olonga, Andy Flower, MDC activists and other democratic activists started.