Sekai Holland: MDC Star Rally Latest

Who said living in Zimbabwe would be so exciting!!

Sad Update – Back From Zimbabwe Grounds!

It was a bad start to our attempted entry into Zimbabwe Grounds at Highfield just then. The most surprised of all is Mr Marima, Harare province MDC Secretary, who was informed earlier by Police this morning, that they were withdrawing from the grounds, and that the MDC gathered crowds could come into Zimbabwe grounds to hold their Rally. Marima with those gathered, led the jubilant entry, all to be severely assaulted by Police, still inside the Grounds. The crowds in shock are defending themselves from this unexpected assault, we were told as we arrived. The place is crawling with Police.

Farai Mariri, Harare Province Treasurer, who was with Secretary Marima when the good news was passed onto the Province by Police, in the public hearing of most there, that all was well now with the Rally, is now briefing the entire gathered, holding a copy of the Court Order, allowing MDC to go ahead with the Rally, in the absence of the badly injured person in charge, Marima, of details of what happened.

When we all arrived after being advised that the Police had cleared the Rally, led by the President Tsvangirai himself, we found the Zimbabwe Grounds blocked to us by Police, heavilly armed, with reinforcement of 3 brand new looking Israeli made military water tanks for rioters. There were
Police everywhere, inside they were teargassing those in the grounds.

The President’s convoy was prevented from entering, we were however advised to go to the local Police station with the Court order for the Senior Police Officer on duty to see the Order for himself. The President, accompanied by the National Organising Secretary Elias Mudzuri and others went there, on the way there we met 3 more Israeli water tanks rushing fully maaned and equipped to the Zimbabwe Grounds. I have just been dropped to update everyone and then to go back to the others at Zimbabwe Grounds, where we have all agreed to reconverge when the President returns form the Police Station.

And so in changed clothes for the new situation including being arrested en mass this afternoon, I now sign off to return to Highfields to join the
others!

Sekai Holland
Harare
1.15 pm Sunday
18 February 2007
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With Mugabe’s approval, police quash another demo

In what has been widely condemned as the state’s approval of police cruelty, Mugabe berated Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) leaders for crying foul after police brutalized them for their attempted demonstrations last week. Speaking at an official event during a stopover on his way back from Cuba and New York, Mugabed raged at the demonsrators accusing them of putting on a charade for western media to document,

The President said the ZCTU leaders — who were beaten up by police for holding an illegal gathering in Harare — got the treatment they deserved for ignoring warnings to disperse.

“We cannot have a situation where people decide to sit in places not allowed and when the police remove them, they say no. We can’t have that, that is a revolt to the system. Vamwe vaakuchema kuti takarohwa, ehe unodashurwa. When the police say move, move. If you don’t move, you invite the police to use force,” the President said.

And as if they had planned it ahead, the police did it again.

27 people on Monday were left with bruises after police in Harare crushed a protest march by the pressure group National Constitutional Assembly (NCA). Demonstrations, which took part in several cities last Wednesday, had failed to take place in Harare due to heavy police presence.

Dr Lovemore Madhuku, chairperson of the NCA, said the impromptu strike action which was attended by around 300 people was to make the people of Harare go back to the streets and regain their confidence as the police blocked the protests last week. He said; “The objective is to raise awareness and putting pressure on the government.”

Police are said to have started beating the protesters who were not resisting but merely sat on the road. There were no arrests. Madhuku believes it was a well calculated plot by the authorities not to arrest anyone so as to create the impression that there were very few people in the streets. He also said perhaps it was coinciding with the return of Robert Mugabe who was returning home from the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

All this does is instill tremendous amounts of fear in an already fearful lay population in Zimbabwe. One of the things Mugabe’s propaganda has done extremely well is overmagnifying the consequences of opposing them whilst underplaying or downright ignoring the progress made by activists for a better Zimbabwe. Ultimately, as ordinary Zimbabweans engage in the cost-benefit analysis of whether it’s worth the risk of going out on the streets, there are huge disincentives for the people to be involved in street protest. We cannot forget the plain reality here; at just 7 years of age, the MDC has attained heights scaled by no other opposition party in Zimbabwe. And despite Mugabe’s constant belittling, the NCA and ZCTU are still out there for the people. Don’t forget the other civic activists braving assured police torture on a daily basis either.

As for the Bull Conner like government, their time is fast approaching. They too, like their infamous predecessor will realize that just the most violent beatings, the most inhumane punishment, and the most demeaning things they can do and say will not take away from the people of Zimbabwe that which the government didn’t give; our God-given right to freedom and dignity. Pretty soon, the people will have nothing left to fear anymore. In Why we can’t wait, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. describes Mugabe’s impending reality,

When for decades you have been able to make a man compromise his manhood by threatening him with a cruel and unjust punishment, and when suddenly he turns upon you an says: “Punish me. I do accept it so that the world will know that I am right and you are wrong,” you hardly konw what to do. You feel defeated and secretly ashamed. You know that this man is as good a man as you are; that from the some mysterious source he has found te courage and the conviction to meet meet physical force with soul force.” p.16

It’s only a matter of time….

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Elevating the struggle

Barely a week after their counterparts from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions were arrested and tortured for demonstrating against the government, Lovemore Madhuku’s National Constituitonal Assembly (NCA) have promised they’ll be out on the streets today. From Zimonline,

Zimbabwe’s National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) civic alliance will today stage street protests in Harare and other major cities against alleged police torture of trade union leaders last week, ZimOnline has learnt.

“We are not happy with the way the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) leadership was brutally attacked (by the police),” said Madhuku. “There is anger out there but I cannot confirm when exactly the demonstrations will take place,” he added.

NCA insiders said alliance leaders were not letting out the exact time protests will kick off in order to surprise the police, who are expected to again mount a similarly massive security operation as last week when they thwarted ZCTU-led worker protests.

But they said more than 300 NCA activists were expected to march across Harare while almost similar numbers of protestors were expected in the cities of Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo and Kadoma.

In our repressive situation, I have no information yet of how the demonstration is going thus far. That’s not what is most important to me though. Here’s what I find interesting; that the NCA will purpotedly be on the streets in protest of what they know the police did to the ZCTU, and more importantly they’re going to be on the street despite their knowledge of what they know will happen. That, is called defiance and marks a new horizon in the Zimbabwean struggle for the restoration of our democracy.

I am not waxing nostalgic over nothing here. I know that every time we’ve had a protest in Zimbabwe, the government has always come out threatening, with actions to back up their words too. So there is a sense in which every protest that has gone on in Zimbabwe has been defiant. What I’m talking about here is something different though. Right after the ZCTU protest was crushed last week, the MDC came out and said that their march is still on. Now NCA is doing the same. What is more is that ZCTU went into last weeks protest knowing their march had been banned by government! See the trend, it is called defiance, but it’s to detriment of the leaders who are doing so. That is something refreshingly new.

I have long criticised for the opposition movement in Zimbabwe for excercising restrained opposition. I’ve called them out for engaging the diabolic forces that are dominating Zimbabwe only as far as it was at no personal peril. Now it seems our leaders are maturing in their leadership of the people. We the people follow their lead, we’ll only engage in the struggle only as much as they do. If they show restraint, we have to do likewise. And if they don’t, it allows us to sell out to the cause of our democracy. That’s why I mantain that the struggle has elevated to a new level. We’ve long been waiting for the leaders to do this.

So despite its success or failure, today’s NCA protest together with that of the ZCTU from last week and that which is to come from the MDC will go down in my book as the markers of new heights in the fight for Zimbabwe. Enough! Zvakwana! Sokwanele!

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Eddie Cross: Seven years of courage and determination

Seven years ago I sat in the aquatic stadium in Chitungwiza and watched as 8000 ordinary Zimbabweans – mostly low-income workers and rural peasant farmers, formed a new political Party, which they called the “Movement for Democratic Change”. It was the start of a new era in Zimbabwean politics.

I seem to have been in opposition politics all my life. It started in the 60’s when I was a student at the University in Harare and underwent a metamorphosis in political terms – discovering the conditions under which people were living and working and for the first time appreciating the
unjustness of the situation. I vowed to work towards resolving the problem and spent the next 12 years in opposition politics – working against the Smith government.

At independence in 1980 I was part of the transition team – working to help the incoming administration (Zanu or Zapu) to come to grips with what had been a closed book to the rest of the world for 13 years following the imposition of mandatory UN sanctions in 1967. I then worked on the first donor conference and did the background papers that laid the groundwork for a very successful transition in agriculture. Over the next 15 years the farm sector was Zimbabwe’s most consistent performer.

Although I sympathized with the forces that came to power in 1980, I always had an uneasy relationship with them even though I occupied quite senior positions in the first 8 years of Mr. Mugabe’s rule. This was accentuated in 1983 when I was brought face to face with the early effects of the Gukurahundi exercise and raised my disquiet with the then Secretary to the Cabinet, Charles Utete. I went on to raise my concerns with certain European governments and got my first serious reprimand and threat from the Minister of State Security, Emerson Munangagwa.

It was the beginning of the end for me – the last time I had been threatened by a Minister of Security, it was by a Minister in the Smith government who called me a “threat to national security”. Somewhat exaggerated in my view at the time and also in retrospect, but as we have come to learn, political paranoia has no bounds.
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Eddie Cross: New Beginnings

Better late than never.

The damage done by the split in the ranks of the MDC in October last year is now almost fully repaired. The reasons for the decision of a small group of leaders to leave the Movement and form a new political grouping are still unclear. But whatever the motivation I think they now realize that the exercise has taken them into a cul de sac.

MDC has regrouped and restructured around Morgan Tsvangirai and the newly elected leadership is beginning to function well. There are some very significant new players drawn from the academic world and the team of 15 policy portfolio secretaries is starting to work together to craft appropriate and effective new policy positions to assist in the eventual rehabilitation and reconstruction of our society and economy.

This process has not been easy or without pain. We continue to miss certain of the leadership that hived off into the new group and we eventually hope they will join the 30 or so leaders who have returned to the main wing of the MDC under its new leadership. These are now gradually being integrated into the structures of the Party and hopefully, this process will eventually heal the wounds in the ranks of the opposition.
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MDC Secretary of Economic Affairs Responds to Gono’s Zeronomics

If Zimbabweans needed fresh evidence that the Zanu PF regime does not understand how modern economies work, does not have a clue about what to do to fix Zimbabwe’s staggering problems and is totally impotent when it comes to addressing these issues, the policy statement by the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Reserve Bank provides ample such evidence.

The Minister tinkers while Zimbabwe burns and the Governor steps through a magic mirror into a fantasy world that is entirely of his own imagination.

The MDC has stated on many previous occasions that the collapse of the Zimbabwe economy can only be halted and reversed if we undertake the following with immediate effect: –

1. We agree to setting up an interim administration to oversee the return of the country to the rule of law and democratic sovereignty.
2. We collectively negotiate a new people driven constitution to replace the existing one and hold free and fair elections under international supervision to restore legitimacy to the Zimbabwean government.

Until we are in a position to resume inflows of finance and support from the international community and adopt more orthodox fiscal and financial policies, there can be no halting of the steady decline currently taking place in all sectors of the economy.

As far as the details of the two statements are concerned the MDC comments as follows: –

GDP Decline.

Since 1997, the Gross Domestic Product of Zimbabwe has declined progressively and continuously. It did so in 2005 and we expect the economy to shrink by a further 7 per cent in the current year.

The Fiscal Deficit

The IMF brought to the countries notice the massive deficit in the national fiscus in 2005 of an estimated 63 per cent. This must be compared to the maximum sustainable budget deficit of 3 to 5 per cent observed by most countries. The Minister of Finance has done nothing to address this issue except to be a little more honest than he was in 2005. The accumulated domestic debt of government at Z$43 trillion must be added to the estimate of parastatal debt of Z$73 trillion – giving rise to an astonishing figure for total government domestic debt of Z$116 trillion.

This confirms Zimbabwe’s status as a deeply indebted country and with our external debt now standing at almost US$4 billion with over US$2,2 billion in arrears Zimbabwe simply has no chance of either servicing such debt or redeeming it for many decades to come.

Of grave concern is the fact that the Minister has made no attempt to redress this issue or to halt the explosive growth in debt. This will inevitably lead to inflationary pressures being maintained in Zimbabwe and present inflation rates can only accelerate still further until more robust and substantial measures are taken.

The Absurd Monetary Situation.

The decision by the Reserve Bank to slash three digits off the national currency and to replace all existing currency in 21 days is a welcome, if stop gap, measure. The MDC hopes that the necessary administrative action to support such a radical step has been carried out in advance of this announcement or the long suffering Zimbabwean population is going to be faced to yet more chaos and confusion.

Tax Measures

The decision to raise the tax free limit from Z$7 million to Z$20 million a month is a belated attempt to redress the impact of inflation on individual incomes. MDC has argued that the tax threshold should be adjusted on a regular basis and in line with the assessed poverty datum line. Under the Ministers new tax regime, people earning significantly less than the PDL (Z$68 million a month) will pay tax at the maximum rate. This is simply another example of the depths to which Zimbabwe has sunk in the past 26 years.

Corruption.

The main source of corruption and theft in Zimbabwe remains the State administered system of under valuing exports in local currency and in the wholesale theft and expropriation of private assets. Mr. Gono is right to identify corruption as a major problem and one of the key areas that require the attention of the State. However, he fails to recognise that the Reserve Bank, an institution that he manages and directs, is in fact the main source of corruption in the country.

Inflation.

It is clear to all except those in privileged enclaves, that inflation continues to accelerate and that there is absolutely no way that this can be halted and reversed under the very conditions being created by these chaotic and piecemeal reforms. The massive reduction in interest rates will further devalue our capital stock and the massive expansion in money supply dictated by the unmanageable budget deficit, will only foster inflation and decay.

Conclusion

Inflation, shrinking economic output and declining foreign earnings are strangling Zimbabwe’s economy. None of the measures announced by the Minister of Finance or the Governor of the Reserve Bank will halt that process. The key to progress remains political rather than economic and monetary tinkering and time is not on our side.

Dr. F. Hove
Secretary for Economic Affairs

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Scenes From Tsvangirai’s UK Rally

Speculation continues on the actual number of people who attended Morgan Tsvangirai’s Leeds rally on Sunday. Zimbabwe Journalists estimates that a crowd of around 500 people gathered to hear the Tsvangirai and his team address diasporans on Sunday. This is pretty much a consensus figure I have thus surmized from various reports on the rally.

Here are pictures taken during the rally. All photos courtesy of Zimvigil.
Tsvangirai Leeds Rally

Tsvangirai Rally attendees

Tsvangirai Leeds in Song

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Desperate for Attention, Moyo “Advises” Tsvangirai

Deposed information minister and political turncoat Jonathan Moyo is out courting ire of Zimbabweans again. This time, he used a long diatribe titled Beyond Budiriro in which assumes a lofty position of wisdom and attempts to dish advice to the MDC. Roundly castigated for his oppressive role in crafting AIPPA (Zimbabwe’s unliked media regulation law), Moyo, now Zimbabwe’s lone independent parliamenterian is seemingly desperate to rejuvinate his political career.

In the piece, Moyo asserts among other things that Tsvangirai is myopically obsessed with the idea of asserting his faction of the MDC as the “real MDC.” In so doing Moyo counters, Tsvangirayi is foolishing extrapolating his popularity within the MDC to reach across to all other Zimbabweans. Like the long slumbering Rip Van Winkel, Moyo seems oblivious to what has been going on around him; Tsvangirayi has been going around the country courting all Zimbabweans to respond to a national agenda for progress and the end of tyranny. This idea that his travels are intended solely for flexing his political muscle is far fetched at best.

Building on the fallacy that Tsvangirayi is operating from the throes of self aggrandizing ambition, Moyo “challenges” Tsvangirai to pursue the building of a “coalition of the willing” of sorts. It is clear Moyo writes from the deluded assumption that politics in Zimbabwe remains an esoteric confine accesible and malleable only to the elite and the educated. Alas, those days are long gone in Zimbabwe. Fortunately, the new generation of politicians on the rise in Zimbabwe (which include Tsvangirayi and Mutambara but not Moyo) have latched onto this already. This is why they are travelling so extensively and are reaching out to ordinary Zimbabweans.
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Militarization of Agriculture Failing

Over a month ago, I highlighted the fact that the army had taken over agriculture in Zimbabwe. Apparently Joice Mujuru, the vice president, went to check up on the project on our behalf and was infuriated with what she saw. Zimonline has the report illustrating yet another ZANU-PF failure.

This is the Zimbabwean story not being told or heard in the outside world. Evidence is mounting galore for ZANU-PF’s abundant failures: in the economy (inflation, unemployment, GDP decline); education (unmotivated staff, unaffordable fees, insufficient supplies); health (nurse/doctor shortage, hospital/clinic closures, denial of service due government debt by critical suppliers viz a viz pharmaceutical firms); and in politics (corruption, lost election).

The list is endless but we cannot talk about it within the country. It’s all an open secret, but there is such a pervasive fear among the people of the dreaded CIO (Central Intelligence Organization) that no one wants to talk about the reality of life. That fear has become the basis of ZANU-PF’s endurance.

Don’t for one moment assume that we are passive or ignorant about our situation. Until you’ve been on the ground in Zimbabwe and have seen it first hand, I dare anyone to challenge our fear. There is so much paranioea in government.

No further commentary necessary. Read the article.

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Violet Gonda’s Interview of Arthur Mutambara

SW Radio’s awarding winning Violet Gonda interviewed Arthur Mutambara on Hot Seat. Mutambara is the self proclaimed “anti-senate leader of the pro-senate faction of the MDC. The transcript is here.

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