By Gershom Ndhlovu
Who voted in last month’s elections in Zimbabwe? Is it Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown or American president George Bush? Is it not the abused and oppressed people of Zimbabwe who cast their precious vote in the hope that they would get rid of the despotic, demented and megalomanic octogenarian in the name of Robert Mugabe?
Incidentally, Mugabe’s regime is throwing barbs at the wrong people for the shameful but expected loss it suffered in the elections whose presidential results have not even been released to date.
Mwanawasa’s crime, for him to be labelled as working in league with the British government is to call for an extra-ordinary summit of SADC leaders for which he is chairman, to review the problems in Zimbabwe.
If that is not the SADC chairman’s mandate, then, as I have suggested on this forum before, is that countries like Zambia should concentrate their membership on COMESA which is more economically orientated than the toothless SADC.
Just look at South African President, Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki’s failure to resolve the Zimbabwean issue to an extent where he does not even see a crisis in that country when people are being butchered by Mugabe’s thugs for voting for change.
Mwanawasa may have his faults, but the kudos he and other progressive delegations earned for his conduct at the Lusaka summit explains why MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai wanted him to take over the role of mediator in Zimbabwe from Mbeki.
Zambians may not know what exactly transpired, but below is an extract from an SW Radio Africa report:
But it begs the question as to why they called an emergency summit in the first place and what happened behind the scenes to dampen Mwanawasa's earlier promise to speak up rather than stay quiet. "He and many others did speak out," a delegate of the Mauritian team told Independent Newspapers, "but the problem is that the voices of the new blood are lost in the blanket of old conservatism."
Present on Saturday were eight heads of state, among them presidents from Zambia, South Africa, Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Angola, Malawi and Botswana, whose recently elected Ian Khama is a newcomer to the group. The remaining SADC countries of Tanzania, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Mauritius were represented by ministers or ambassadors. No man was alone - they each brought with them an army of advisers and officials. It is understood that Botswana, Malawi and Mauritius had repeatedly pushed for a more hardened stance in dealing with the 84-year-old Mugabe. Khama has rarely been reticent in recent weeks in speaking out about his support for Tsvangirai and his belief that the time has come for change. On the other hand, Malawi is widely seen as a friend of Simba Makoni, and if not a clear backer of Tsvangirai, Dr Bingu Wa Mutharika shares Khama's view that Mugabe's term in office ended a long time ago.
The moderate voice of Mwanawasa often reflected their thinking throughout the day and it was assumed that Tanzania would have followed suit. Unfortunately in the absence of President Jakaya Kikwete, "the Tanzanians said very little", one South African delegate said. They met with heavy resistance from Mozambique's Armando Guebuza, Joseph Kabila of the DRC and Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia throughout the day, and to the surprise of many, Lesao Lehohla, the deputy prime minister of Lesotho, who stayed firmly on the side of the Zimbabwean delegation.
That aside, but what are the credentials of Patrick Chinamasa, the Zimbabwe’s Justice Minister who even lost his seat in the last election anyway? He should definitely be the last person to accuse Mwanawasa of being used by the British.
A casual search of Chinamasa’s name on Google brings out enough muck on him to understand why Zimbabwe is in such political and economic state.
Wikipedia, the free internet encyclopaedia, says about him: “A leading member of the ruling ZANU-PF party, Chinamasa became first deputy Agriculture Minister, and then Attorney General of Zimbabwe; he also holds the role of Leader of the Zimbabwean Parliament.
Since his appointment, many Zimbabwean judges have resigned, complaining of political pressure. On February 9, 2001 after Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay took early retirement at his suggestion, Chinamasa held meetings with senior Justices Ahmed, Ebrahim, Nicholas (the last white justice on the Zimbabwean Court), and told them for their own safety to leave.
In 2002, following what Chinamasa considered lenient conviction of three United States citizens caught and convicted of smuggling arms in an aircraft, Zimbabwean High Court judge Fergus Blackie brought successful charges against Chinamasa for a conviction of “scandalising the court.” Chinamasa had Blackie immediately arrested on charges of "corruption," on the grounds of having decided the case of a white woman improperly (on the basis of an alleged adulterous relationship and racist bias), and without the support of the other judge that was sitting with him on the matter. After the case closed, Chinamasa declared various NGO's illegal, including leading Human Rights organisation the Amani Trust which provides support to victims of torture; and was reportedly accused of working with the British government to unseat President Robert Mugabe and destabilize the nation.
On December 17, 2004, Chinamasa, who had been the Secretary for Legal Affairs of ZANU-PF, was removed from the party's Politburo. In 2005, Chinamasa was ejected from his post as Justice Minister; however, six months later he was returned to the post.
In September 2006, Chinamasa was cleared by a judge of trying to pervert the course of justice. Chinamasa was accused of trying to stop a prosecution witness, James Kaunye, from testifying in a case against the Minister of State for National Security, Didymus Mutasa, who had been accused of inciting public violence."
I think that Zambians and all right thinking people all over the world should not take some of Mugabe’s minions like Chinamasa seriously in their mud-throwing game because they themselves have a lot of ducking to do to avoid the mud.
In fact, it is just right that Tsvangirai should be talking about prosecuting some of the rogues like Chinamasa for human rights violations during their stint in government.
Is it any wonder that Mugabe and his henchmen do not want to vacate the State House in Harare?
Friday, 25 April 2008
By Gershom Ndhlovu
Posted by Gershom Ndhlovu at 16:37
Thursday, 17 April 2008
By Gershom Ndhlovu
Recently, African Union forces backed Comoro Islands troops to drive out a rebel leader, Colonel Mohammad Bacar, from the island of Anjouan where he had declared independence from the rest of the country.
Incidentally, this is the treatment that would befit Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe who, really, has taken over power by illegitimate means after losing last month’s elections.
He, like Bacar, deserves the Africa Union boot following his failure to pass on the presidency to Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai who beat him hands down. This is not a matter for speculation if the action of Mugabe’s henchmen at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to delay the release of the results more than two weeks after the poll is anything to go by.
Mugabe’s position is untenable in many ways but particularly with regards to the pre-election statements by the heads of the army, airforce, police and prisons who said they would never salute anyone other than Mugabe. This is probably the group that engineered the “unannounced” coup d'etat which has seen him desperately cling to power.
South African president Thabo Mbeki should also be blamed for Mugabe’s recalcitrant position because of his actions long before these elections and after. Had Mbeki done what he was charged to do by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the rest of the world to help solve the crisis in that country, all this would not have been witnessed.
But, anyhow, what does anyone expect from Mbeki who himself failed to read the mood in his own backyard in the ANC when he stood for the party presidency for which he was challenged and defeated by his former vice president Jacob Zuma?
Even now he has failed to see the unfolding crisis in Zimbabwe and wants to gloss over it when Mugabe is unleashing his military and political thugs to beat up and maim members of the opposition. The pictures that are turning up on the internet on the unfolding campaign of terror in that country are disturbing, to say the least.
Anybody who doubts Mugabe’s capacity for violence needs their heads examined including that of one Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki who would probably need a bed at Bulawayo’s Ingutsheni Hospital for turning a blind eye to it all.
Back in the early 1980s, Mugabe’s chilling declaration of war - for that is what it was - when he unleashed his Korean trained brigade on the people of Matabeleland in the Gukurahundi (the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains) campaign in the early 1980s, zvino chigoborayi ziguswa (now is the time to get rid of tree stumps) should make anybody sit up with goose bumps to think about the terror that is unfolding at his behest.
Over 20,000 people, mostly Ndebele, died in that campaign for the simple crime of not supporting his ZANU PF at the time the late Joshua Nkomo’s ZAPU was active. Nkomo himself fled Zimbabwe disguised as a woman to escape the wrath of his freedom fighter partner who was getting inebriated with power from early on.
Mugabe can afford to thumb his nose up to his fellow SADC leaders who called for a meeting to try and resolve the electoral impasse but surely he should not be allowed to do it to the people who voted him out and is refusing to vacate the seat.
Of course the SADC chairman, Levy Mwanawasa, was being sensible to call for the meeting but he has been abused by Mugabe before for trying to make him see sense when his thugs battered Tsvangirai to pulp sometime last year.
I wish that Mwanawasa did not withdraw his statement about Zimbabwe being a sinking titanic because this is now very evident. It, in fact, is beyond salvage.
It is now time for genuinely democratic loving SADC countries joined the countries that have imposed sanctions on Mugabe and his cronies so that even the little maize that is coming from countries such as Zambia stop crossing the Zambezi.
It was, to say the least, shocking to hear that some mine owners want unions to be abolished for allegedly being indifferent to collective bargaining. If government gives in to this outrageous demand will be like throwing the sheep to the wolves.
That the mine owners want the unions outlawed only means that the workers’ bodies indeed keep these selfish wolves on their toes. Without the unions, even the little that they mine owners give reluctantly will be taken away.
As it is, the issue of safety in most of these mines is nothing to write home about. Daily we read stories of miners dying in rock falls and other accidents which could easily be prevented with the strict enforcement of safety laws, rules and regulations.
During privatisation, government had to concede a lot by allowing the new miners to cede supporting social amenities such as schools, hospitals that miners used to enjoy under ZCCM. One cheeky bidder even declared that the company was in the business of mining and not football.
I doubt if the new mine owners even sponsor people like ZCCM did for studies abroad because they are themselves busy employing people who are trained through the apprenticeship system after their GCSEs in their countries who then superintend over highly trained Zambian miners.
Labour Minister Ronald Mukuma should not just moan about the non-compliance of the country’s labour laws. He should punish those employers, local or foreign, who flout them. The business of pampering investors by conceding to them each and everything that they demand will just expose Zambian workers to all sorts of industrial risks.
It is high time investors came into Zambia at our own terms and those that flout them should face the boot. Zambia should not be one big sweatshop where the workers are paid pitiful wages for working under appalling conditions.
I was shocked a few weeks ago when I saw pictures of a worker at one engineering company in Lusaka using an arc welding machine without protective goggles and even worse, he was wearing tattered trainers which could not protect him in case a heavy piece of metal fell on his foot.
Posted by Gershom Ndhlovu at 19:17
Friday, 11 April 2008
By Gershom Ndhlovu
One day many years ago as a seven or eight year old, I found myself among a group that had gathered one evening in the neighbourhood in which I grew up. Why I found myself among this gathering was the fact that we had no television sets, never mind electricity, to keep us occupied after dark.
The speeches, which I can now not remember but if placing the events in time is anything to go by must have been 1971, were somehow muted. When I went back home after that meeting, in my childish innocence, I announced to my family, nifwebo ba UPP (we are UPP).
It was either my mother or one of my elder sisters who grabbed and pinched my cheeks as it is done with a naughty child, shook me and gave me one slap that sent me reeling backwards as I saw imaginary stars dancing before my eyes.
That act slapped UPP out of my mind for good until about nine years later when the founder of that party died and as Form 2 Kitwe Boys Secondary School pupils then, we just talked about Simon Kapwepwe’s death, again in muted tones.
However, it was in senior secondary school a couple of years later that we openly talked about Kapwepwe after we read his books Afrika Tubelele Uluse and Shalapo Cani Ca Ndala as part of the Bemba subject reading list. I personally was captured by the man’s political philosophy and creativity although I soon forgot about him as it was anathema to talk about him and his party as the country was deeply in the throes of the one party system under UNIP.
Still under UNIP, I remember how UNIP youths would rampage through the township of Kwacha, kicking pots off mbaulas, whipping anybody in sight shouting bamayo na batata tiyeni ku meeting (ladies and gentlemen, let us go to the meeting). Marketeers equally bore the brunt of the youths who forcibly closed markets so that they could attend the same meetings which I suspect meant that President Kaunda was in town because even schools were closed as pupils were frog marched for long distances to go and “welcome” him just by waving as his motorcade sped by.
In 1990, the Zambian citizenry threw in their lot to fight the oppressive system under Kaunda hoping that they would bring about a society in which they could openly criticise the president without fear of any sanctions, penal or otherwise.
Unfortunately, the political system in Zambia today in terms of speaking out especially by politicians holding high political office in the ruling party and the opposition, is not any different from that which existed under Kaunda.
It is not only the opposition PF that has expelled six of its MPs from the party for challenging the party by their, and 21 others, participating in the National Constitution Council; the ruling MMD has expressly taken disciplinary measures against two of its NEC members, Terence Findlay who is Copperbelt Province and Christine Moonga, for criticising President Mwanawasa for the way he is running the ruling party.
As in the Kaunda days, vindictiveness is also playing a big part in national affairs if former Republican and MMD Vice-President Enoch Kavindele’s and his North-Western Railway project are anything to go by.
For his infraction against the MMD, first by challenging President Mwanawasa’s leadership of the MMD and contesting the Kabompo East seat as an independent in the 2006 elections, today Kavindele has to plead to see ministers who were political nonentities when he was the second most powerful man in the land.
Under the UNIP government, there was a slogan which was secretly loathed by those who had a democratic streak in them which went some thing like UNIP mulilo, uwaikatako apya (UNIP is fire which burns if one touches it) or something to that effect.
The slogan can as well be reversed today, 18 years of the existence of the current ruling party: MMD mulilo, uwaikatako apya. I am sure Kavindele, Findlay and Moonga have learnt the lesson the hard way.
President Robert Gabriel Mugabe or “Paramount Chief” Robert Gabriel Mugabe? Paramount Chief, because he does not want to vacate the throne for which he lost ten precious years of his life when he was jailed by the colonial government in the 1960s.
Only a few weeks ago, he was praised by another “Paramount Chief” of Libya, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi who said that Mugabe and his Ugandan leader where the only true revolutionary leaders in Africa. It is therefore not surprising that he is resisting vacating the presidency after being overwhelmingly rejected by his supposed people.
Just before elections, he said something about going if he was rejected by the people, but it appears that he wants to stick to the throne by hook or crook even when the odds are stacked against him, most of all by his age which is ordinarily way beyond retirement.
Whoever is pushing him, particularly the military and defence force chiefs, should see the signs of dementia and megalomania which are forcing him to make irrational decisions on important national decisions.
The shame of Africa is that the presidency when a leader gets it from the colonisers or those who were engaged in coups and counter-coups before this method was frowned upon by most of the world want to keep it for themselves or in their families. The late Gnassimbe Eyadema and his son who is now Togolese president, Congolese Joseph Kabila and his father, Laurent or even the newly installed President Seretse Khama Ian Khama after a couple of “unrelated” presidents, of course, are cases in point.
There is even talk that Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is grooming one of his sons to take over. The trouble though is that even Cuba which most of Africa looked to as a model has just done the same, Fidel Castro just passed the leadership baton to his brother, Raul.
Mugabe is 84 years old and it is not to long from now that he should be making peace with his creator. This should have been the time to make peace with not only himself but his people whom he has brutalised for a long time instead of fighting election run offs with candidates half his age.
Posted by Gershom Ndhlovu at 16:23
Friday, 4 April 2008
By Gershom Ndhlovu
The issue of morals, or the lack of them, for Katuba Member of Parliament, Jonas Shakafuswa has been thoroughly discussed and rightly so by all and sundry.
I, however, want to take issue with the way he mocked how poor Munji Habeenzu, the Chikankata MP, is and cannot afford the expensive whisky the deputy minister drinks from exclusive clubs.
Habeenzu’s crime was to merely point out how the honourable (if we can call them that now) members use the motel for illicit sex.
I suppose Habeenzu earns a similar amount of money in sitting allowances with Shakafuswa although he has other extraneous perks as Deputy Minister of Finance. Or that should tell us how much money members of the executive earn to set them apart from other MPs and not least, ordinary citizens.
Now, if Shakafuswa can view Habeenzu in such demeaning terms, I wonder how he views his constituents at 10 miles in Mungule or at 22 Miles at Katuba who cannot afford a decent mug of Chibuku and rely on gankata or seven days for their beverages.
Anyone who has been in a rural setting such as Katuba knows that the villagers don’t mind much about taking daily baths, don’t use toothpaste that much and for deodorant, it is firewood smoke.
The villagers don’t wear the pin-stripe suits that the likes of Shakafuswa wear. To them, tattered Bermuda shorts and sweat-stained shirts are the normal garb as they while away the time at some village where seven days is on sale on a particular day.
Shakafuswa’s mockery of a fellow MP reminds me of one aspiring candidate during one election somewhere in Lusaka Province who never partook in the food cooked by villagers during campaigns.
This candidate always carried Hungry Lion snacks with him and at meal times after the villagers had sweated to cook nshima in big shomeka drums, he pulled a folding chair and table that he took along with him to eat the posh nosh. He looked so out of place with the villagers scrambling over communal nshima plates.
You guessed it, the candidate lost badly in the elections.
May be Shakafuswa has learned the art of humbling himself among villagers of Katuba constituency but I am sure that now they know his views about poor people including humble MPs who don’t have money to buy expensive whisky and to pay for sex, they may not give him the vote.
Who knows, may be the Freudian slip by Shakafuswa is symptomatic of how those in the MMD government view the majority of Zambians who cannot afford a decent meal, decent clothes and just a decent lifestyle altogether.
This is probably what the ministers and top civil servants discuss and laugh about when they congregate in the exclusive and expensive clubs where a tot of blue label whisky is equivalent to a teacher’s salary. You should just listen to the banter of the ministers when they are comparing the material of their suits!
On the other hand, it is refreshing to have politicians like Habeenzu who are candid about the goings on in the corridors of power, in this case in the august House. For those of us who have been to Parliament Motel, we know the decadence that goes on there when parliamentarians and their guests feast on cheap food and beer.
But, as you would expect from such precincts, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, to borrow from the bible, than for a journalist to go through the gates of Parliament Motel. The MPs that recognise journalists while there even joke that the reporters should put away their notebooks and pens because they don’t want what goes on there to be reported.
The most honourable thing Shakafuswa can do for now is to step down as deputy minister and even resign his seat if he is genuinely sorry for his conduct towards a fellow MP, the disregard he has shown for the women folk and more so his attitude towards those that may not be as wealthy as he may be, his constituents inclusive.
Does it mean that former President Dr Kenneth Kaunda is a lesser mortal than his two successors, Dr Frederick Chiluba and Dr Levy Mwanawasa? Dr Kaunda is very happy, or is it that he has no choice, to be admitted to the University Teaching Hospital while the other two are flown out of the country each time they have an irregular heart beat.
It appears that Dr Kaunda has more faith in the UTH than Drs Chiluba and Mwanawasa because it is his creation and would like to share his pain with the man from Jack or Kuku compounds while the other two want to share their illness with other rich patients at Morningside Clinic in Johannesburg or London hospitals.
Dr Kaunda wants to be treated by Zambian trained doctors and nurses at the UTH while Dr Chiluba and Dr Mwanawasa want to be treated by Zambian trained doctors and nurses working in Johannesburg and London.
It is difficult to tell what the Zambian leaders follow when they go for treatment abroad, whether it is the expert personnel which they have the capacity to retain locally with simple political will, the equipment which they have the choice of buying for the local hospitals or simply the exotic environments from which they receive the treatment.
I would like to believe that Dr Chiluba and Dr Mwanawasa travel outside the country just to be different from the ordinary citizens who daily place their lives in the faithful doctors and nurses still manning the local facilities with minimum equipment and few drugs which, incidentally, Dr Kaunda still has faith in.
In 1991 people had strong feelings against Dr Kaunda’s 27 year rule and they vilified him for everything that was going wrong in Zambia then, but 17 years of the MMD shambolic rule, it is difficult to still harbour those feeling against the man. He is a statesman to the core. Get well soon, Super Ken.
Posted by Gershom Ndhlovu at 17:03