Zimbabwe: The Chinese Arms Saga Continues

The saga of the weapons cargo carried by the Chinese ship An Yue Jiang, continues after the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) announced yesterday that their members will neither unload the ship, nor transport the deadly freight to Zimbabwe. The Union also indicated that they were going to approach the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) for support. Indications are that a further Union may join they fray. The United Transport and Allied Trade Union, told reporters that their members were not happy about the arms shipment and that they will be taking a firm decision in this regard shortly.

In spite of the strong resistance offered by the unions and equally strong criticism from a variety of bodies inside the country, the South African government appears to be doing their level best to get the arms to Zimbabwe. To resolve the logistics, they will be using Armscor (SA government owned) to get the job done.

The SA Government acts as Mugabe’s Forwarding and Clearing Agent
Here are three glaring anomalies:

Anomaly 1
Normally, cargo cleared at a Port of Entry, is fetched and carried by the importer’s own devices and not fetched and carried by the government of the day. At the same time, Maseko sticks to his original story: “South Africa is not at all involved in the arrangement: it’s a matter between the two countries.”

Would you agree with Maseko that carting Mugabe’s weapons equals not at all involved with the arrangement? No reasonable person would…

Anomaly 2
Normally, well before cargo that consists of arms and weaponry is shipped, a conveyance permit will be sought by the exporter. No conveyance permit was requested by China before shipment because said shipment was rushed: it left China on the 15th of March and arrived in Durban on the 10th of April 10. An urgent conveyance permit was issued by Defence Secretary January Masilela (and herein lies the irony) in between sittings of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC). Then Maseko commented that “It would be possible, but very difficult for South Africa to start intervening and saying that we will not allow the shipment through.”

Would you agree with Maseko that he could not stop or at least seriously delay the shipment? Considering the lack of paperwork, BOTH Masilela and Maseko had every opportunity. Any reasonable person would have found a way to cause a delay…

Anomaly 3
The very same NCACC chaired by January Masilela has a policy NOT to export weapons, arms and ammunition into conflict areas or to countries (to quote there policy verbatim) where “systematic violation or suppression of humanitarian rights and fundamental freedoms” exist. Masilela still went ahead and issued the permit AND defended the decision by saying that the violence etc. in Zimbabwe was nothing more than allegations. He might as well have said ‘conjecture’.

Would you agree that Masilela ALSO had the ability, given the NCACC policy and the strife in Zimbabwe, to stop the shipment? Any reasonable person would say ‘Yes…”

Then what is the Low Down
Weapons kill. That is their only purpose in the hands of an army that is already perpetrating violence, intimidation, torture and murder. By allowing the weapons to land on our soil and facilitating its shipment into Zimbabwe, President Mbeki and his henchmen will be complicit to every life taken and for every person harmed by any one of these bullets and grenades on the cargo list.

The pride I feel to be South African in view of the preparedness of the Unions to make a stand and do the right thing, and the pride I feel to be South African as more and more Groups/Bodies/Parties step forward condemning the SA government’s handling of the Zim / China Arms Crisis, are in stark contrast with the feeling of shame I am filled with by our government’s shoddy behaviour: their blatant, wilful denial of the truth; the lies that are being perpetuated in defence Mugabe – who is nothing more than an ego-driven murdering maniac; and that now, when Mr. Mbeki’s leadership and moral fibre are needed most, all we as South African citizens are witnessing is his pathetic grovelling at the feet of his erstwhile comrade and mentor, Robert Mugabe.

It is a shame indeed…

State Owned Zimbabwe Herald Praises Thabo Mbeki

Here is an excerpt from the Zimbabwe Herald today:

Mbeki deserves special honour
“… President Mbeki needs to be specially commended and honoured by the whole Zimbabwean leadership and people for the sterling work that he has been doing in the past eight years. His “quiet diplomacy” and “soft power”, are actually not as quiet as the world wants to believe.

The backlash against President Mbeki’s presidency and his own personality has been immense. This is why Zimbabwe, as we celebrate 28 years of nationhood today, should say a big “THANK YOU” to this gallant son of Africa, just as we are saying thank you again to our gallant sons and daughters who sacrificed limb and soul for the independence of this nation. There is no substitute for genuine friendship; just like there will be no substitute for homegrown, genuine regional co-operation and integration. The least we can do is name one of our roads after Cde Mbeki and give him the freedom of the City of Harare.

As Wafawarova put it: “President Mbeki has had to face the agony of eight-and-a-half years of a crisis-waving Britain, but the ever alert and revolutionary Mbeki has not been fooled, even once. He saw no crisis with the land reclamation . . . He saw no crisis with the 2000, 2002 and 2005 elections . . .”

Apart from his now famous “No crisis in Zimbabwe” statement, President Mbeki also made the same statement a week earlier when he told dinner guests in London: “We have been very pleased with the manner in which the elections were conducted; the opposition had access to every part of the country, there was no violence, no one was beaten up. You have a very serious effort by the people of Zimbabwe to resolve their problems, we could see there was a common spirit among them and that’s the sense we got. And in the conduct of the election none of the parties came back to us to intervene to say something was going wrong.”

Something wrong with this picture
One has to ALWAYS take whatever is said in this Mugabe-an mouthpiece with a couple of bags of salt because it perpetuates half truths and lies nearly all of the time. However, there is an old maxim that says: The enemy of my enemy is my friend and the friend of my enemy is my enemy… or something like that, at least.

Is Robert Mugabe busy blowing sunshine up Mbeki’s behind? Or is Mugabe viewing Mbeki as a friend because he has not, at the face of it, quite given in to the pressure from within and from without South Africa? Or is Thabo Mbeki being viewed as a real friend by Robert Mugabe because he has maintained his soft (or is it wet) approach to the land grabs and the election fixing over the years?

In the final paragraph above, Thabo Mbeki is quoted by the Herald to be saying that All is Well. This may indeed be quoted out of context, or some measure of poetic license may have been applied to it. Who knows? However, regardless of the context, saying that there was no violence etc on the day of the election and then failing to mention the extent of the violence in the nearly three weeks post election, is highly irresponsible, fairly manipulating and somewhat dishonest.

The Political Plague in Africa
Behind the words in the Herald, Mugabe’s imperialistic rhetoric and Mbeki’s deafening silence, is one of the reasons why democracy in Africa is such a resounding failure.

For some reason, some of the African governments have not quite heard the penny drop that when they are democratically elected, they ARE governments and NOT liberation movements any longer. Because the majority of the population support them and have legally and democratically illustrated such support, the whole boring story of Struggle, is neither relevant nor appropriate.

But, for some reason – perhaps it is an attempt to use the past to play the audience – these elected leaders don’t move on, don’t salute the past and embrace the future, and don’t lift their eyes to the horizon. Their regressive behaviour debilitates progressive behaviour. It kills growth and it kills development.

Countries such as Botswana have not stepped into this trap of self-pitying retrospective-ness. That is why their economy is sound, their political landscape stable and their incidence of crime very low when compared to the rest of the continent. Now, Ian Seretse Khama is carrying the torch, which he took over from Festus Mogae, which he took over Quett Masire, which he took over from Ian Khama’s father: Sir Seretse Khama. A torch that burns brightly and that should be viewed as an example of what can be achieved, (by doing the right things), by their counterparts in Africa.

President Mbeki has done many right things during his term, but he has also failed miserably in others – the latest being his inability to manage the abominable situation in Zimbabwe. Fortunately it is nearing the time for him to step down: time to allow somebody younger, somebody more visionary and somebody bearing less baggage to carry the South African torch forward. There is political talent enough in our country. And, when we hold our elections next year, may the best man…or woman…win.

Zimbabwe: To Coup or Not to Coup

The courts refused ordering the election results and Mugabe has, according to his own laws, only until Saturday to hold a presidential run-off election. The lack of election results together with a run-off not being planned before Saturday means that Zimbabwe will theoretically be without a government come Sunday morning.

What are Mugabe’s options at that point in time? The one is to carry on regardless, to continue his own personal feud against the rest of humankind and to grudgingly maintain the façade of democracy by putting up with the likes of Morgan Tsvangirai. The other option he has is to stage a coup d’état and to install himself as the de facto ruler of Zimbabwe in that way.

How well is Mugabe positioned to pull off a coup?
To effectively stage a coup d’état, the following elements are required:
1) Control of the military and law enforcement arms;
2) control of the media; and
3) the ability to force the populace into submission.

Mugabe has:
1) The ownership and support of the official military, the police and the courts
2)A private army comprising of war veterans and youth militia.
3) Promoted 407 police officers last Friday: 11 officers from Chief Superintendent to Assistant Commissioner; 42 officers to Chief Superintendent, 72 to Superintendent and 282 to Chief Inspectors.
4) Placed an army general in each and every Zimbabwean province. Since 29 March, the training of new recruits, the regrouping of the war veterans and the mobilization of the Riot Units, all started in earnest.
5) Instructed the governor of the Zim Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono, (who has owned up to this) to bankroll the refurbishment of 260 Defender vehicles for the military, the purchase of police uniforms and to pay for generators and borehole drilling at the Chikurubi Camp.
6) Complete control over the media.
7) Ability to quickly and violently suppress any resistance from within the country.

The answer is: Better Than Most

How likely is it for the coup to be successful?
For a coup to be successful the chances of intervention from outside the borders have to be low and should such intervention take place, it must be defendable by the military

Mugabe has:
1) The diplomatically silent allegiance of Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki is unlikely to oppose the coup by using his armed forces. Of note is that when the MDC started planning protests, the SAPS riot units were placed on standby. (First hand information) I wonder whose side they will be on?
2) No threat from any of the other neighbours. They are simply not strong enough.
3) No threat from the West. There is no oil or anything else of strategic value to gain from this. (Cynical, but pragmatic, I know)

The answer us: His chances of success are very high.

What if he fails?
No risk to the man with the small Hitler-ian moustache. He can seek and will be granted asylum in South Africa, where he is currently building a Beverly Hills type of mansion in the vicinity of the Lipizzaners in Kyalami. Mugabe won’t be destitute as he will still have the proceeds of his blood diamond and mineral mines in the Congo, not to mention income from his other shady little-publicized ventures too. And he will still have his old friend close by for a bit chit-chat after the demands of his current position cease come the time for the next South African election.

Will he do it?
Who knows whether this volatile megalomaniac is going to continue running his kleptocracy on an as-is basis or whether he is going to go for the country’s jugular by means of a coup. The choice is his – there is precious little that will influence it, except perhaps his own delusional mind.

Zimbabwe: Mugabe and the Medium

There is sometimes a bit of humour hidden beneath the sharp rocks in a dark, seemingly insurmountable abyss. Zimbabwe is no exception…

 

A True Story

 

Not long ago, in the middle of yet another fuel crisis, which the Zimbabwean government blamed on sanctions…(but then it is a government of blame: they blame empty shelves on business, the mess in their country on imperialism and their power failures on monkeys)… they were approached by Rotina Mavhunga, a 35-year old Sangoma (spirit medium, for the non-locals).

 

Rotina told them, that when she became possessed by the Spirits of the Forefathers, she could cause the finest diesel to come forth from the rocks. She produced a sample of her magic, which the Central Mechanical Equipment Department declared as pure. Mesmerised, she was accompanied by some of the ministers who took off their shoes and knelt or crouched at her feet as she, filled with the Spirits of the Dead ancestors, manifested the precious liquid as quite a magnificent fountain.

 

She was rewarded handsomely by her adulating ministerial followers:  5 billion dollars and a farm.

 

Then…well then…the truth came out. What her ‘feat of magic’ really was, was diesel bought in Zambia and then piped to the rocks from where it cascaded beautifully. A crude swindle it may have been, but Mugabe and his equally gullible henchmen were taken in – suckered, scammed, conned, hoodwinked!

 

The highly embarrassed government had her arrested (naturally). Her defence in the magistrate’s court was that it was not her that swindled the entire cabinet. She shifted the blame to one Changamire Dombo, a 17th century Rozvi Empire leader who, according to Rotina is so powerful that his power reaches into the 21st century.

 

I suppose if the Zimbabwean government can blame their swindles on 17th Century Imperialists, then Rotina could probably blame her swindle on 17th Century Spirits too 😉

Zimbabwe: A Situational Update

Farm Invasion Update

The farm invasions have grown progressively worse since it started on Saturday last week:

 

1)Between 60 and 100 farms and 1 game lodge have now been invaded by War Veterans according to Trevor Gifford, the president of the Commercial Farmer’s Union.

2)The local media officer from the Ministry of Information, Mr Maunganidze, is said to be paying people to invade the farms.

3)The farm invasions have now spread to include Masvingo, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central. The land of two black farmers was also grabbed because they were said to have voted for the MDC.

 

 

Intimidation & Violence Update

“Militias are being rearmed, ZANU-PF supporters are being rearmed … The long and short of it is that there has been a complete militarization of Zimbabwean society since the 29th of March 2008,” said Morgan Tsvangirai. From the accounts received to date, this is not opposition propaganda:

 

1) Zimbabwean Police arrested seven election officials, accusing them of undercounting votes cast for President Mugabe, and are to be charged with fraud

2) Zimbabwean police have assaulted more than 80 opposition activists in the western provinces of Manicaland and Matabeleland. The attack is thought to be part of Mugabe’s tactics to intimidate voters ahead of the planned presidential run-off.

3) According to informed sources, 200 senior officers of the armed forces have been deployed to lead the war veterans in a military operation aimed at forcing Zimbabweans into voting for President Robert Mugabe in the run-off.

4) In Nyamandhovu in Matabeleland North, supporters of the opposition MDC and those of independent presidential candidate Simba Makoniave been beaten up and tortured by Zanu-PF youth militias and war veterans.

5) In Sigaba Village two MDC youths, were assaulted by a group of 10 Zanu-PF youths who accused them of being sell-outs.

6) The shop of former ZIPRA freedom fighter, Stanley Wolfenden, was raided and shut down on Friday. He was accused of drumming up support for Makoni during the election campaign.

 

South Africa’s Attitude Update

Nothing has really changed…

 

1) Aziz Pahad, South African deputy foreign minister, said that “foreign media and the international community were orchestrating the destabilisation of Zimbabwe and had unfairly accused Mugabe of wanting to “steal” the elections by delaying announcement of the results.”  

Sies Aziz!!! Been there of late?

 

2) Mbeki, Tsvangirai talks ‘not on the diary’

The president is in India now, doing goodness knows what – shirking his responsibilities back home.

 

3) ANC president Jacob Zuma crtiticised the delays in releasing the election results.

He took no stance in as far as Mugabe is concerned, but this is a good start at least.

 

4) Archbishop Tutu said: “They are tipping over the precipice. Violence is very much in the air. I would have hoped there would be a great deal more pressure, not just from South Africa but from the international community.On the whole, African leadership has not done themselves proud on this one.”

Could not have put it better myself. Not inclined to maintain Diplomatic Silence (hint, hint, President Mbeki), the Archbishop has said his say, and hit the nail on the head. That is why I (and many others) respect him so much!

The Mugabe… I mean… The Zimbabwe Herald Today

You have to read the state-owned Zimbabwe Herald to appreciate just how ridiculously extensive Mugabe-an control over this excuse-for-a-newspaper is. If the matter was not so serious, it could even be downright funny – like a good old April Fool’s Joke. His propaganda litters all the pages, at an enormous density per square inch. There is no attempt to camouflage it – on the contrary, it is right in your face.

 

The editor and the journalists are anonymous as are most of the sources quoted. The golden thread of the paper is that the mess Zim finds it in is no fault of Mugabe: There are strong conspiracy-type theory undertones; and everything and everybody other than Bob, are blamed. The underlying message is venom and hate. Not a pleasurable reading experience at all.

 

Here are some of the headlines forced on their captive readership today:

 

Headline 1: ‘Tsvangirai Begs for VP Post’ by anonymous Herald Reporters

“MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai asked Zanu-PF to accommodate him as one of the Vice Presidents in a government of national unity after being told by his advisors that a possible run-off with President Mugabe for the top job was not in his best interests, The Herald can reveal…”

Okay, you get the gist… the rest of the article – all 975 words – quoted a variety of sources – all of which were (naturally) anonymous and, to appease the Zanu-PF handler, a fair dollop of Anti-MDC Anti-Tsvangirai Anti-The-Rest-OF-The-Evil-World propaganda was added for good measure.

 

 

Headline 2: ‘Don’t withhold goods; Govt warns business’ by anonymous Herald Reporters

“GOVERNMENT expects the business sector to fulfil its social responsibility by ensuring continued supply of basic commodities as opposed to dabbling in politics as part of the regime change agenda, a senior official has said.”

This comes in the wake of the increasingly empty shelves in the Zimbabwean shops. So, what is the reaction of Mugabe? You are right, blame business for this and be silent about the fact that his government has not been importing enough Maize and that they are not exactly paying their Maize accounts either…  and, to be honest, the warning is not a warning, it is a threat…

 

Headline 3: ‘Let’s protect heritage during run-off’ by anonymous Editor

“Fellow Zimbabweans, as we head for a possible presidential run-off, let us make an informed decision best for the future generations and us.”

Starting with an impassioned appeal the remainder of the article launches into a full frontal attack on white settlers: past present and future. He pointed to the fate of Malawi under British influence and extolled the virtues of the Cubans. Anonymous editor neither made an attempt at disguising his racial hate speak, nor of his intentions to fuel it. Quite chilling, actually.

 

Headline 4: Poll results: Solve anomalies first by anonymous Editor

“I have been following election-related events over the past few days and conspiracies and counter-conspiracies that have been emerging over delays in announcing presidential poll results.”

Naturally, Editor blames it all on the MDC. He accuses them of rigging, tampering, yak, yak, yak… and then – as could be expected – dedicates the second half of the article to hurling a variety of personal insults at Morgan Tsvangirai.  

 

Headline 5: White Farmers Free to Apply for Land by {nobody}

“WE salute the police for moving in to stop the new wave of farm occupations that threatened to engulf the countryside, and war veterans for heeding police directives to move out of the farms they occupied in retaliation to threats by hordes of white former commercial farmers.”

Yup, hordes, I am sure…there were 4,000 to start of with, but that was a long, long time ago. Now there are only 300, minus 8, and they are spread all over the country. Be that as it may.., The article warns (or threatens, you decide) these imaginary hordes of farmers that:  ”…those who are lucky enough to still hold farms continue harbouring the unrepentant farmers without counselling against provocative actions, they only serve to brew mistrust in the State and the populace. This mistrust may culminate in a take-over of the remaining white-held farms for distribution to landless black Zimbabweans, many of whom are on the waiting list.” Then, in the very last sentence white farmers who have left Zim are invited to return where they can “apply for resettlement just like other citizens.” Need I say more? Perhaps, best that I don’t.

 

 

On the off-beat side, the property and entertainment sections of the newspaper were …well…empty. I wonder why?

 

Avaaz Petition: Mugabe, Release the Results!

 I received this Avaaz petition in my Inbox a short while ago. They aim to collect 10,000 signatures to present to Mugabe. Please read, and if you would like to support the cause, click on the avaaz link. Perhaps the Zimbabwean people need to know that they are not alone in this…

Dear friends,

Zimbabwe is on a knife’s edge between democracy and chaos. Results still have not been released from the 29 March elections–and fears are rising that Mugabe will resort to violence and fraud to hold on to power. South African president Thabo Mbeki said today that “it’s time to wait”–but time has run out.

Observers, NGOs, and the opposition have appealed for international support. To respond, we’re launching a new campaign to all Avaaz members throughout Africa. Click below to add your name to a petition calling for the results to be released, verified, and peacefully honored. We will send the petition to Mugabe’s government, and to leaders and media organizations throughout Southern Africa and the world:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/democracy_for_zimbabwe/1.php?cl=72012816

Every day brings new developments, and the more time passes, the greater the danger grows that the will of Zimbabwe’s people will be ignored. The faster we can grow this petition, the more powerfully we can show that the people of Africa and the world are looking to Mugabe to honour the choice of Zimbabweans.

In a crisis like this, a petition is just a small step–but it’s something all of us can do, to raise our voices and call for what’s right. And as history shows, international solidarity can be a powerful thing.

With hope,

Ben, Graziela, Ricken, Galit, Paul, Iain, Pascal, Milena, and Esra’a–the Avaaz.org team

 

 

 

PS: A year ago, in one of the first Avaaz campaigns, we called together for Mugabe and his government to end their brutal attacks on opposition leaders. More than 45,000 people around the world took part. Now, there’s a hope for much more substantial change–a new hope for the 12 million Zimbabweans struggling with hyperinflation, starvation, and HIV/AIDS. Please do sign the petition, and forward this email to friends and family–they can sign at http://www.avaaz.org/en/democracy_for_zimbabwe/1.php?cl=72012816. 

ABOUT AVAAZ

Avaaz.org is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means “voice” in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Paris, Washington DC, and Geneva.