Looking Beyond Mugabe
October 26, 2015 | 0 Comments
By STEPHEN CHAN*
It’s not been a good year for Robert Mugabe. When cameras caught him stumbling down the steps of a podium in February, photographers were forced to delete the images and several bodyguards were later fired. Nevertheless, photoshopped pictures of the nonagenarian dictator went viral. Some show him sprinting up a football field, riding a surfboard, astride a missile, and were almost affectionate. Others might be tactfully described as vulgar, hostile — and symbolic of his approaching end.
An indication that his grip on power might loosen sooner rather than later came in September when, in an address to Parliament, he spent nearly half an hour oblivious to the fact that he was reading the same State of the Nation speech he had given in the same chamber to the same M.P.s only a few weeks before. The speech drew polite applause, but begged the question: What happens when the 91-year-old president either steps down or dies?
It is a question of growing importance in a country beset by so many self-inflicted wounds — from Mr. Mugabe’s ruinous land redistribution effort that destroyed a prosperous agricultural sector and fueled the flight of white farmers, to the rampant corruption and political violence that has caused Western aid to shrink. Though foreign direct investment is trickling in, it’s nowhere near enough to help. Chinese aid will do some good in the long term, but China is not subsidizing budget deficits. Though the use of the U.S. dollar means that the hyperinflation of a decade ago won’t return, the lack of national income means fewer dollars to buy fewer goods. Meanwhile, the rains have failed and agricultural production has declined.
As Zimbabweans hunker down for a bleak 2016, many speculate about the coming power struggle. There are no reformers waiting in the wings. About the best thing to be said is that at least the presidential wannabes appear to be divided equally between male and female figures.
On the female side, there is Mr. Mugabe’s 50-year-old wife, Grace — widely known as “Amazing Grace,” for her lofty rhetoric, and “Gucci Grace,” for her compulsive shopping sprees in Western capitals. Then there is Joice Mujuru, a heroine of the struggle for independence from Britain, and a vice president until last December, when a barrage of savage political attacks fired off by Grace cast her into the political wilderness.
On the male side, there’s Ms. Mujuru’s replacement, Emmerson Mnangagwa, another celebrated liberation fighter. Known as the “Crocodile” for his political guile and ruthless suppression of Mr. Mugabe’s critics, he was reportedly delighted by the purging of his former comrade in arms. Then there is the defense chief, Gen. Constantine Chiwenga, now widely thought to be positioning himself as the power behind the throne — no matter who occupies it.
With the exception of Ms. Mujuru, all are members of the ruling ZANU-PF. The fortunes of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, have plunged since its poor showing in the 2013 elections, and it is now splintered and rudderless. None of the other small opposition parties have made any headway. Ms. Mujuru has conspicuously delayed any formal announcement establishing her much-touted People First party, amid reports that some government leaders would like her to be reinstated into “the party of liberation.” People like Phelekezela Mphoko, a vice president, want ZANU-PF to remain a tightly knit party, one that solves all problems from within. They do not want a popular politician like Ms. Mujuru splitting their base.
Though Grace Mugabe has the rhetorical skills to lead the putsch against Ms. Mujuru, the fact that she herself has no guerrilla credentials suggests that she will find it difficult to galvanize the hardened men and women of the country’s ruling party. Nevertheless, her husband wants to secure his family’s security, and thus she cannot be counted out.
Given these uncertainties, what can the West do to promote stability and renewed prosperity? Zimbabwe has great economic potential if its agri-industrial sector can be revived and its immense mineral resources developed. The last thing the West needs is another failed state in an increasingly troubled region.
Unpalatable as it appears, there is much to be said for swallowing hard and re-engaging with the regime. The West has little choice but to put up with the last years of Mr. Mugabe while actively cultivating moderates like Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa. Though hardly an angel, he nevertheless seeks something that resembles fiscal stability — and a modicum of probity — even as Mr. Mugabe urges him to find money somewhere.
Mr. Chinamasa might in turn encourage Senior Vice President Mnangagwa to learn what it takes to be seen as user-friendly by the West, should his moment for the top seat come. Though Mr. Mnangagwa has his own internal enemies, his party might rally, albeit reluctantly, around one victor so that the spoils of office can continue to be shared among the faithful.
Should there be conditions for re-engagement? The West probably won’t be able to resist making calls for less opaque financial and political dealings. But the land issue is settled: There is no politically viable force that would seek to restore farms to ousted whites. And given the implosion of any viable opposition, the West has little choice but to work with ZANU-PF — unless Joice Mujuru establishes her own party. But if she decides to do so, General Chiwenga or Mr. Mnangagwa or Grace Mugabe might each claim the mantle of the true defender of Mr. Mugabe’s legacy.
The world will one day soon see the end of Robert Mugabe. But his party will likely live on, and it is within that party that, like it or not, the West must now find people with whom it can work toward some kind of viable future for this unhappy country.
*Source NY Times.Stephen Chan is a professor of world politics at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and the author of “Southern Africa: Old Treacheries and New Deceits.”
MoneyGram Announces Collaboration with Econet Wireless
October 22, 2015 | 0 Comments
Zimbabweans now have 24/7 access to remittances on the EcoCash network [caption id="attachment_21770" align="alignleft" width="600"] Mr. Douglas Mboweni, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Chief Executive Officer[/caption] MoneyGram , a global provider of innovative money transfer services, and Econet Wireless, the leading mobile operator in Zimbabwe, today announced the launch of a new service that enables customers from more than 200 countries and territories worldwide to transfer funds via EcoCash, Zimbabwe’s leading mobile money transfer solution. The new offering means that more than 4.9 million EcoCash subscribers and MoneyGram customers can receive funds across the EcoCash network at any time, day or night, and from any place. What’s more, consumers can access MoneyGram’s services at more than 20,000 EcoCash locations across Zimbabwe, or at any one of MoneyGram’s agent locations worldwide. The launch was celebrated at a press conference on October 21, 2015 in Zimbabwe, which was attended by Herve Chomel, MoneyGram’s vice president for Africa and Anton Luttig, MoneyGram’s regional director of southern and eastern Africa. “Our activation with EcoCash, a leader in Zimbabwe’s mobile money realm, furthers MoneyGram’s vision of expanding our self-service offerings to ensure an unparalleled customer experience,” Chomel says. “With the service, we are offering millions of consumers, many in remote areas of the country, access to a fast, reliable and secure method of transferring money, much of which is used to purchase life essentials and daily expenses.” EcoCash is the second fastest growing mobile money solution in Africa. “We have a strong presence in Zimbabwe’s digital environment and we are excited to link up with MoneyGram to utilize the company’s global footprint and bring more options to our consumers,” says Douglas Mboweni, CEO of Econet Wireless. “In-wallet remittances are becoming more topical, not only in driving access to international remittances for the previously unbanked but also driving further financial inclusion as we link the diaspora and home. By working with MoneyGram, we will help reach more consumers who rely on our domestic and international remittance services to handle their daily financial needs.” Consumers have access to MoneyGram in more than 50 African countries, and the company is working to support economic development across the continent through expanded alternative channels like the EcoCash service. MoneyGram is a global provider of innovative money transfer and payment services and is recognized worldwide as a financial connection to friends and family. Whether online, or through a mobile device, at a kiosk or in a local store, we connect consumers any way that is convenient for them. *APO]]>
Zimbabwe encourages women’s participation in engineering sector
October 15, 2015 | 0 Comments
Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers (ZIE) Women in Engineering members at the division launch during the Africa Engineering Week in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe on 14 to 19 September, 2015.[/caption] Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers (ZIE) is spearheading an initiative in Zimbabwe to enhance the active participation of women and the girl child in the engineering sector, according to Engineer Farai Mavhiya-Bhiza, ZIE Vice President and Women In Engineering (WIE) division Chairperson for the institution. Mavhiya-Bhiza revealed at the recent Africa Engineering Week hosted by Zimbabwe in Victoria Falls resort with support from UNESCO that the Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers Women in Engineering division encourages women in all engineering disciplines to participate in the activities of the profession. The women in engineering division of the institution was set up to make Zimbabwe and the world at large aware of the existence and professional participation of women in the engineering sector in Zimbabwe. Mavhiya-Bhiza said that traditionally women are expected to be at home, church or doing charity work, but the current initiative seeks to change the norm. “As women in engineering, we are here to work hand in hand with fellow male engineers to participate in socio-economic issues affecting the country,” she said. The Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers vision which is supported by the women in engineering division is to be recognized as a credible institution whose members are leading players in wealth creation and sustainable growth in Zimbabwe. Women who enter the engineering sector are expected to provide innovative, workable and economic solutions to engineering problems and challenges in society through upholding high engineering standards and ethical values in the practice of the profession. According to Mavhiya-Bhiza, membership to the women in engineering division is welcome from students, fellows, graduate technicians, graduate engineers, technicians, honorary fellows, affiliate organisations and companions. The objectives of the women in engineering division which is promoting the participation of women in the sector are to encourage and improve women engineers participation in the development of the nation, to mentor, empower and support young women engineers, to facilitate scholarships for continuous professional development for women engineers, facilitating attendance to local, regional and international workshops and conferences by women engineers, facilitating the economic empowerment of women engineers, partnering and participating with other women’s organisations, encouraging, supporting and providing career guidance to girls to pursue engineering including motivating and supporting women in engineering to remain in the engineering profession. The Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers also reports that women in engineering statistics have gradually grown since 2011. “This is evidenced by the increase in women actively involved in the institutional activities and appointed to the ZIE board. The representation of women in engineering members in leadership has increased from 3% to 33% in the ZIE board,” Mavhiya-Bhiza said.]]>
WorldVentures Foundation Plants Seeds of Hope in Zimbabwe
September 1, 2015 | 0 Comments
Children from Rose of Charity Orphanage and the surrounding neighborhood together with WorldVentures Foundation Executive Director Gwyneth Lloyd on the right, and Jennifer Ho on the left[/caption] As the world mourned Cecil the Lion and debated the humanity of hunting big game in Zimbabwe, a baby found abandoned in a pit latrine was being loved back to life nearby. How she got there, no one knows, but her plight fuelled purpose for those who joined WorldVentures Foundation™ (WVF) in August for Volunteer Days at the Rose of Charity Orphanage and its Community Center in Victoria Falls. “My heart breaks when I think of that sweet baby, left to drown in human waste,” said WVF Executive Director Gwyneth Lloyd, as she fought back tears. “The inhumanity is unspeakable but, as horrible as it is, stories like hers are all-too common. It’s why we are called to serve.” Lloyd and her team led two groups of WorldVentures Representatives and Members to Zimbabwe August 9-16 and August 13-16 to clean, paint, furnish and construct a sustainable food garden at the Victoria Falls orphanage. The beautiful humanitarian Simangele Moyo founded the home in 2007 as a haven for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Today, services have expanded to include personal empowerment workshops, education assistance, therapeutic counselling and more. WorldVentures Foundation raises funds and provides volunteer support for outreach organizations like Rose of Charity to fulfil its mission to positively impact children worldwide. Lloyd said education and clear paths to self-sufficiency will help end the cycle of teen pregnancy and baby abandonment that leads to institutionalization in Zimbabwe. To that end, WVF volunteers are helping to collaborate on funding a school dropout prevention program at the orphanage that includes vocational training for careers in tourism and hospitality. Lloyd also invited the management at nearby Elephant Hills Hotel about partnering with the home on training and job placement. “Without the selfless contributions of our volunteers, none of this would be possible,” Lloyd shared. “They’ve built more than a garden here; they’ve planted seeds of hope.” WorldVentures Rep Misty Anderson of Chattanooga, Tenn., was among the volunteers who came to lend support. With a heart for giving that stems from her own disadvantaged youth, she expressed her passion for the Volunteer Days program. “I’m passionate because I was kinda raised like this,” she said tearfully, while watching the orphans play. “I want to give because I didn’t really have anybody to give back for me. Being able to overcome some of the things I’ve come from, I want to help others overcome. I would advise anybody to do this because of what you get out of it.” WorldVentures is the leading international direct seller of vacation club memberships and helps people achieve more fun, freedom and fulfilment by offering DreamTrips™ memberships, which include premium vacations at reduced prices. WorldVentures is a privately held company based in Plano, Texas, with active Representatives and members in 28 countries. *APO]]>
11th AFRICAN GAMES – BRAZZAVILLE, REPUBLIC OF CONGO, 04-19 September, 2015
August 27, 2015 | 0 Comments
The 11th Edition of the African Games is scheduled to take place on 4th to 19th September, 2015, in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. This edition will mark the 50th Anniversary of the African Games, since the 1st edition in 1965 that was also hosted by the Republic of Congo. Approximately 7000 athletes from 50 African countries will converge back to the birth place of the African Games in Brazzaville to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the African Union in the spirit of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance.
This edition is also a milestone for the AU as it is the first one under the auspices of the African Union as the owner of the Games, following the dissolution of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA) as well as the integration of the functions of the SCSA into the AU. The integrated functions of the SCSA include the ownership, coordination and organization of the African Games.
The opening ceremony will take place on 4th September, 2015, and will be presided over by H.E. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, and attended by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, H.E. Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, Commissioner for Social Affairs and H.E. Martial de Paul Ikounga, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology. The African Games will be preceded by the Bureau Meeting of the Specialized Technical Committees on Youth, Culture and Sport and a Sub-Committee of the STC Ministers of Sport on 3th September, 2015.
During the games, the AU will rally the continent around the spirit of Pan-Africanism through its key message i.e. “I am African, I am the African Union” and through its 50 year Agenda 2063 development framework. Agenda 2063″ is an approach to how the continent should effectively learn from the lessons of the past, build on the progress now underway and strategically exploit all possible opportunities available in the immediate and medium term, so as to ensure positive socioeconomic transformation within the next 50 years. The agenda will assist the continent achieve its vision, i.e. an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.
“Because of the power of sport, we see this event as an important milestone on the road to achieving the objectives of our continental vision and action plan, which Africa has christened Agenda 2063: the Africa We Want”, said AU Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
SOURCE African Union Commission (AUC)
What next for Zimbabwe’s Joice Mujuru? 3 Possibilities
August 18, 2015 | 0 Comments
Once a front runner to succeed Mugabe, the former VP is now tending to her rural farm. But is it too early to write off Joice Mujuru?
By Problem Masau*
Joice Mujuru, Zimbabwe’s former vice-president, was once touted as the natural successor to President Robert Mugabe. The veteran politician had long been in the inner circle of Zimbabwe’s leader, who has now been in power for 35 years, and looked well-positioned to take over if and when he stepped down.
However, that all changed ahead of the ruling party’s congress in December 2014. In a well-orchestrated plot spearheaded by Mugabe’s wife, Grace, Mujuru was accused of a litany of crimes that ranged from plotting to assassinate the president, to dividing the party, to using witchcraft.
Mujuru watched helplessly as Grace attacked her on national television day after day. And by the time Zimbabwe’s first lady had finished political rallies in the country’s 10 provinces, it was evident Mujuru was going to be purged from both the ruling ZANU-PF party and the government.
At party congress in December, the once powerful Mujuru was reduced to an ordinary card-carrying member.
Since then, the former vice-president has maintained a low profile. This may well continue, which would leave Emmerson Mnangagwa, another veteran insider who replaced Mujuru as vice-president, as Mugabe’s most likely successor. However, it may be too soon to write off Mujuru just yet.
We do not know what is going in Mujuru’s head, but we see three possibilities for what might be next for once revered VP.
Possibility 1: Mujuru walks away
Since she was sacked from government, Mujuru has relocated to her farm 40km south of Harare. Pictures of her at her farm have circulated on social media and she seems happy in her new role.
According to court papers, Mujuru’s late husband, General Solomon Mujuru, left behind vast riches and businesses across the country, including farms, mines, real estate and pharmaceuticals companies.
With Joice now in charge of these entities, she could be one of the richest women in the country and could lead a very comfortable life away from politics. In fact, for the past eight months, Mujuru has shown no interest in returning to the political fray, even avoiding national events such as the recent Heroes’ Day commemorations.
If Mujuru were to stay away from politics permanently, it is likely Mugabe will leave her alone in return. However, for someone who has lived and breathed Zimbabwean politics since she was a teenager, the prospect of Mujuru turning her back on events in Harare’s corridors of power for good may be slim.
Possibility 2: Mujuru re-joins the party
While it might seem far-fetched, another possibility is that Mujuru will be brought back in from the ZANU-PF cold.
In the past, Mugabe has extended an olive branch to former political nemeses when it has suited him. In 1987, for example, the president signed the Unity Accord with fierce rival Joshua Nkomo and made him his vice-president. Similarly, over the past couple of decades, the influential Jonathan Moyo has fallen in and out with the Mugabe administration; once expelled from the party, Moyo is now a government minister.
When it comes to Mujuru, one might be able to read signs of a possible reconciliation in the pipeline too.
Mugabe appointed some of Mujuru’s close allies – such as Nyasha Chikwinya and Ambrose Mutinhiri – in a recent cabinet reshuffle, and has confessed that the expulsion of Mujuru and her allies has failed to stop factions angling to succeed him in his party.
For her part, Mujuru has tended to avoid criticising her former boss publicly, saying that she was taught during the days of the liberation struggle not to question her superiors.
However, the possibility of a Mujuru return to ZANU-PF fold would likely meet resistance from other bigwigs. For instance, Grace Mugabe, who many believe is now the centre of power in the party, would probably still see Mujuru as a potential threat.
Furthermore, two of Mujuru’s close allies – former Presidential Affairs Minister Didymus Mutasa and former ZANU-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo – say that she has no intention of re-joining the ruling party.
Possibility 3: Mujuru forms her own party
A final possibility for the ousted vice-president then is that she stays in politics but forms her own party. Mutasa and Gumbo have already indicated that they have laid the groundwork for a party which Mujuru would lead.
They have used the slogan “People First” in different forums, which suggests that could be the name of the party. And in one of her press statements early this year, Mujuru used the slogan herself.
Mujuru has also sought to distance herself from ZANU-PF by publicly apologising for “aiding” Mugabe’s “misrule” for the past 34 years.
If this is indeed Mujuru’s plan, it could send shivers through the ruling party. The former VP is reportedly popular with ordinary people, especially in contrast to her likely rival, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has been nicknamed The Crocodile and has a reputation for being ruthless.
In fact, Mnangagwa was defeated in his constituency of Kwekwe Central in consecutive elections, in 2000 and 2005, before switching to the safer seat of Chirumanzu-Zibagwe for the 2008 elections.
Mujuru also still enjoys support within ZANU-PF itself and is said to have had to loyalty of 9 of 10 provinces when she was sacked. The leaders of these nine provinces were expelled along with her.
Many factors thus fall in Mujuru’s favour. But if she is considering launching her own party to contest the 2018 elections, she will be well aware that the road to power will not be straightforward.
Having worked with Mugabe, she will be all too familiar with how he deals with his opponents. The veteran president has arrested, violently harassed and intimidated his rivals for decades, and Mujuru might decide to only form a political party just before 2018 so that Mugabe will not have enough time to dismantle her politically.
Mujuru will also have to woo Zimbabwe’s powerful security chiefs, some of whom have previously vowed never to salute anyone other than President Mugabe and have been pivotal in keeping him in power.
Will Mujuru want to confront these hugely risky challenges? Would she consider a return to ZANU-PF if welcomed? Or would she rather just bow out and retire to her businesses?
Only time will tell. But it would be too soon to forget about the once-admired and still-influential veteran MP just yet.
*Source African Arguments.Problem Masau is a Zimbabwean journalist.
Zimbabwe company inks $1.1bn thermal power deal with China
July 24, 2015 | 0 Comments
Zimbabwe Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, seen in Harare on April 9, 2008, when he was the justice minister, stressed that the power project funded by China will ease the country’s current electricity woes (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe)[/caption]
Harare (AFP) – A Zimbabwean company on Thursday signed a $1.1 billion agreement with the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) to build a 600-megawatt thermal power plant, a move expected to ease power cuts in the country.
“This first phase is a 600 MW coal fired plant, it’s the first of four phases so it’s a huge project for Zimbabwe. One of the biggest projects Zimbabwe has ever done,” Stuart Perry, chairman of the Pan-African Energy Resource, PER Lusulu Power, said at a news conference in the capital Harare.
He added that construction should begin early next year with the first phase completed in 2019.
Huang Changbiao, a representative of CSCEC, said his company was happy to be involved in the project.“It is our honour to help solve the power problem in Zimbabwe,” Changbiao, the general manager for CSCEC east and southern Africa said.
Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said that PER Lusulu Power company was a consortium of local and foreign investors without giving details.
The minister stressed that the power project funded by China will ease Zimbabwe’s current electricity woes. Blackouts of up to eight hours a day are a common occurrence in many parts of the country.“It is a very important project which seeks to address the infrastructure gap in the power generation sector,” Chinamasa said. “In total overall the project is to develop 2,000 MW of power and they are going to use coal concessions which are found in the area.” This year Zimbabwe’s power utility budgeted $5 billion (4.6 billion euros) for projects to scale up electricity generation, as the country battles a crippling deficit.
Projects lined up included the $1.5 billion joint project with China to build units at the Hwange thermal power station, a $533-million expansion at Kariba hydro-power station and solar, gas or diesel generators in the eastern border town of Mature.
Zimbabwe is recovering from an economic slump that lasted over a decade and the utility has been battling to raise money for the maintenance of its ageing power stations.*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>
Dynamic US-Africa Partnership Lauded at African Day Celebrations in Washington,DC.
May 29, 2015 | 0 Comments
Rev Jackson and Ambassador Teitelbaum in a group photo with African Ambassadors in Washington,DC.[/caption] In celebrations to mark the 2015 African Day in Washington, DC, dynamic ties between the USA –Africa hailed by the Ambassador of Egypt Mohamed Tawfik. Speaking as co-Chair of the celebrations organized by the African Ambassador’s group, the Egyptian Envoy cited the last US-Africa’s Leaders’ Summit and the support that Africa continues to receive from the US in multiple forms. “The celebration is about Africa’s success”, said Ambassador Tawfik as he enumerated a litany of positive developments taking place in the continent. Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world he said, with life expectancy ticking up, and more children in school than at any other time. The continent is increasingly taking charge of its own security challenges and Egypt will be hosting a historic summit soon geared towards the creation of a broader Pan African free trade zone ,said Tawfik. In addition to Women serving as Presidents, and in parliament, Tawfik also cited the example of AU Chair Dlamini Zuma to highlight the progress made by women in the continent. Ambassador Donald Teitelbaum, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State at the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs delivered the keynote speech in which he highlighted the important role women have always played in the history of Africa. [caption id="attachment_18381" align="alignright" width="586"] Rev Jackson poses with members of the Ivorian dance troupe that animated the celebration[/caption] Celebrated under the theme “Women Empowerment & Development towards Achieving Africa Agenda 2063”, Ambassador Teitelbaum saluted the strides that have been made by the African Union and African countries. Africa’s biggest resource is its people Ambassador Teitelbaum and no country can get ahead if half of its population is left behind. Africa represents a growing a growing market and just this year alone, there have been some 316 million new cell phone subscribers reported ,Teitelbaum said. Programs like the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, have been helpful in alleviating the health plight of women and children, said. Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana of Rwanda who heads the African Ambassadors Group in Washington, DC, also spoke on the importance of placing women at the center of development. With Maureen Umeh of Fox TV as MC, the celebration had as special Guest the Rev Jesse Jackson ,Founder and President of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Other guests from the African American Community included Melvin Foote from the Constituency for Africa, and Denise Rolark Barnes, Publisher of the Washington Informer. Sponsored by Chevron, Coca Cola, and Exxon Mobile, guests were treated to an art exhibition and entertainment performance of folk dances from Egypt, Rwanda and Ivory Coast. ]]>
Thomas Mapfumo, Zimbabwe's Cultural Advocate In Exile
May 29, 2015 | 0 Comments
Thomas Mapfumo performs on stage during Live 8, Africa Calling, in 2005.
Matt Cardy/Getty Images[/caption] As Bob Marley is to Jamaicans or Fela Kuti is to Nigerians, Thomas Mapfumo is to Zimbabweans. The bandleader is a superstar in his home country, both for his masterful blending of traditional sounds with world music and for his powerful political messages. Mapfumo has been a tireless critic of the colonial government of former Southern Rhodesia, as well as the dictatorship that presently rules Zimbabwe. Music critic Banning Eyre has written a new biography of Mapfumo and compiled an album of his music, both titled Lion Songs: Thomas Mapfumo And The Music That Made Zimbabwe. Eyre recently joined NPR’s Robert Siegel to discuss Mapfumo’s music and his career of moving people — both on the dance floor and in their political views. “He is a singer and a bandleader,” Eyre says, “but also an activist: a social critic who has kept in his heart the interests of poor people and rural people and people who become the victims of governments, whether it’s the white, racist Rhodesian regime or the corrupt regime of Robert Mugabe. He’s a politician in the sense that he has really moved the politics of the country forward. But really, at a deeper level, he’s an advocate of culture.” One element that stands out in Mapfumo’s music is the way he uses a traditional thumb piano called the mbira, which Eyre explains is believed to have the ability to contact the spirits of ancestors. Mapfumo translates music traditionally played on thembira — a repertoire of songs thought to have been around since ancient times — to the electric guitar. “And so, when Mapfumo started putting that music on electric guitars in the 1970s and singing songs that were both bringing forward the culture but also attacking the regime and encouraging fighters,” Eyre says, “it was a really powerful package.” Other former British colonies in Africa saw black-majority governments take over once given independence, but in Southern Rhodesia, colonial whites declared their own independence and wanted to remain a white-ruled country. A 1977 song, “Pamuromo Chete (It’s Only Talk),” was Mapfumo’s response to a statement by the leader of the white government, Ian Smith. https://youtu.be/kftTRXZuyOY “Smith had declared that there would never be a black-majority government, not in a thousand years, so Mapfumo was right there with his response: ‘You’re just talking, it’s only talk,'” Eyre says. “And he was right. Within a few months, Smith had to walk that back. And you can hear this kind of moral authority in [Mapfumo’s] voice in that song. This is the moment when he’s really discovering that he can harness traditional rhythms, melodies and attitudes and make it really sting.” Now living in exile in Oregon due to his outspoken criticism of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, Mapfumo yearns to go home, according to Eyre. “He still has this … sense of unfinished business: that he’s needed at home,” Eyre says. “He tries his best to record music and release it, but you never really lose that restlessness, that desire to get back.” *Source NPR]]>
Zimbabwe Proposes Compulsory Chinese Lessons, Stirring Controversy
May 20, 2015 | 0 Comments
By[caption id="attachment_18206" align="alignleft" width="300"] Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe speaks during a press briefing on April 8, 2015. A proposal from Zimbabwe’s government to make Chinese compulsory in state schools has sparked debate. Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko[/caption]
The Zimbabwe government has proposed adding the Chinese language to its curriculum in state-run schools. While many support the idea, which could give students better job prospects in a country that has long had a connection to China, critics say it’s not worth the resources when teachers are already had to come by and traditional languages are in jeopardy.
A state-owned media outlet reported the proposed change earlier this month. Among other changes to the curriculum, officials announced that Chinese, along with French, Swahili and Portuguese (the language of neighboring Mozambique), would be a compulsory subject in all state-run schools.
“The importance of Chinese language skills can be understood on the background of the bilateral relations the two countries have, which has culminated in a number of business ventures,” University of Zimbabwe linguistics professor Laston Mukaro said.
There are already Chinese classes in elementary, secondary and tertiary schools around the country, mainly using teachers from the Confucius Institute at the University of Zimbabwe, Mukaro said. Firstopened in 2007, it’s one of 400 institutes around the world that teach Chinese language and culture.
China has been an important economic ally for Zimbabwe, especially after Western trade sanctions on allegations of human rights violations by the regime of president Robert Mugabe, who has led the country since 1980. These were first imposed in 2003, the same year Zimbabwe’s government launched its “Look East” policy that gave priority to investors from China. Trade with China has boosted the agricultural sector: for example, roughly 40 percent of Zimbabwe’s tobacco exports now go to China,according to Zimbabwe government data cited by Reuters. Bilateral trade between China and Zimbabwe topped $1 billion in 2013.
As a result, Mukaro said, both Zimbabwean and Chinese companies in the country are in desperate need of translation services. This means Chinese speakers can earn substantially more than ordinary employees.
However, not everyone is as excited about the Chinese influence in the country. Locals working for Chinese companies have complained of exploitative low wages and even abuse.
A spokesperson for the National Mine Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe told the Mail & Guardiannewspaper that workers at Chinese-run mines worked long hours in unsafe conditions. Another worker told local media that working for Chinese companies was “hell on earth.”
Sergeant Chevo, registrar at the University of Zimbabwe, told IBTimes in an email that Chinese, like English, was just another “evil language used to colonise us and brainwash us.”
Others have come out against the plan for compulsory Chinese in schools due to a lack of resources. The average teacher in Zimbabwe earns US $400 per month, according to the Harare-based Financial Gazette, while teachers in neighboring South Africa earns more than twice that, which means many of the country’s qualified teachers are drawn there. The education minister recently told reporters that that9,000 teachers needed to go back to school to “re-qualify” themselves.
Another concern for Zimbabweans is losing traditional language, history and culture. English, Shona and Ndebele are the official languages of Zimbabwe, with an additional 13 local languages used throughout the country.
“Traditionally, people have been learning English, yes, Portuguese, yes, there have been some private institutions that speak Portuguese. And I know that Chinese has also been introduced at the university level. But to make it compulsory, I think it’s unfair. Let people learn those languages out of their own volition,” Earnest Mudzengi, director of the Zimbabwe Media Centre and a part-time teacher at Zimbabwe Open University told RFI. “At the end of the day, we have people who know a lot about the history of China, the history of England, the history of America, but there is very little knowledge of the history of their own country.”
Zimbabwe: Mugabe Meets Putin Over U.S.$4 Billion Deal
May 10, 2015 | 0 Comments
By Herbert Moyo* [caption id="attachment_18037" align="alignleft" width="300"] President Mugabe and Russia’s President Vladmir Putin exchange greetings in Moscow yesterday. – Photograph:Zim Daily[/caption] PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe was yesterday set to leave for Russia for that country’s Second World War commemorations during which he will meet with President Vladimir Putin and investors to discuss implementation of the US$4 billion platinum mining deal signed last year. Besides Putin, Mugabe will meet with the Russian investors VI Holdings, Rostec and Vnesheconombank over the US$4 billion platinum joint venture with government in Darwendale. During the Russian trip, which is his twelfth since January, Mugabe will also meet with businesspeople to discuss investment opportunities in the country. Putin invited Mugabe in his capacity as both Sadc and African Union chair to the victory parade, which will be held tomorrow to commemorate the then Joseph Stalin-ruled Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in the war that lasted from 1940 to 1945. Contacted for comment, Presidential spokesperson George Charamba said: “The President has been invited in his capacity as the chair of the AU. Yes he will meet Putin and the Russian business establishment. The platinum issue is uppermost in his mind and they will discuss the issue.” The visit comes at a time both countries are subject to restrictive measures or sanctions from Western countries — Zimbabwe for human rights violations which accompanied the land reform exercise and elections since 2000, and Russia over its policy of aggression in neighbouring Ukraine. As a consequence, government officials said Putin and Mugabe will use the opportunity to discuss the further strengthening of diplomatic relations as well as business issues, including the Darwendale platinum project — signed in September last year — expected to be rolled next year. “The two leaders will use the opportunity not only to cement ties but also discuss the Darwendale platinum project. The Russians are worried at the slow pace of progress and they have been saying Mugabe must sign a special lease permit urgently as their investment funds which are in roubles (the Russian currency) will depreciate with the prolonged delays,” said one government official of Mugabe’s visit. The exchange rate is currently at US$1: 50,29 roubles. Last December it had, according to the EU Observer website, plunged to 64,4 roubles to the US dollar, an overall decline of almost 50% as a result of the fall in world oil prices and EU sanctions. The project is a joint venture between the Zimbabwean military through Pen East Mining Company and Russian investors including VI Holdings, Rostec and Vnesheconombank. The special mining lease will grant the Russians exemption from paying corporate taxes and royalties for a five-year period in which they will re-coup their investment. Government sources said Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa has reportedly been sitting on the documents and not forwarded them to Mugabe because he allegedly prefers that the Russians partner the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) to ensure accountability.He also wants benefits of the project to accrue to Zimbabweans rather than the army which among other security agents is accused of shady diamond mining deals at Marange. Government officials said the Russians are now demanding more land from the Zimbabwean government in addition to the 6 500-hectares which is the project site. “They are pressing for at least 10,5 hectares more land saying they want to build infrastructure in the form of clinic, 500 houses and a business centre. They argue that the land they have been allocated contains platinum ore and they cannot be building on the site of mining operations, hence the need for more land,” said the source. However, an official in the ministry of Mines ministry said there were no delays but the explorative stages are taking longer than anticipated because of the vast area being drilled. He said mining was expected to commence next year after the explorative stages, which should be complete end of this year. “Drilling started immediately after the agreement was signed and the scope of drilling exceeds 300 000 running metres. As the drilling begins, you are able to see a pattern that will inform the development plan, which will tell us how much platinum and other minerals we are dealing with,” he said. “The drilling will also determine the kind of operation that will be undertaken, be it pit or shaft mining. The mining development plan also takes into consideration environmental issues.” The Mines official added: “After the drilling, we expect the geological report on a discovery that will help develop the feasibility study. “The reports are submitted to the mining affairs committee.” Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Joey Bimha did not respond to calls and messages sent to his mobile phone seeking comment on the details of Mugabe’s visit. Mugabe is expected back home on Monday. *Source Allafrica/Zimbabawe Daily]]>
Zimbabwe to import 700,000 tonnes of corn to avert hunger
May 7, 2015 | 0 Comments
Harare (AFP) – Zimbabwe will import 700,000 tonnes of corn to avert hunger after annual crop yields shrunk by nearly half due to poor rains, the national television network reported Tuesday.[caption id="attachment_17932" align="alignleft" width="300"] The bulk of Zimbabwe’s annual corn crop has been written off due to poor rains (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe)[/caption]
“The final crop assessment report shows that the country’s maize production went down by 49 percent, hence the need to import more grain,” Zimbabwe television said quoting Agriculture Minister Joseph Made.
The minister said the bulk of the corn crop was written off after an erratic rain season.
It was not immediately clear where the corn will be imported from but Zimbabwe has in the past bought grain in neighbouring Zambia and South Africa.
But it is expected to add pressure on the cash-strapped government that is already struggling to pay public service workers salaries.
The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) says Zimbabwe needs around 1.8 million tonnes of corn to feed its people annually.
“The unfavourable rains in Zimbabwe, particularly impacting the low-producing regions in the south resulted in a write-off of nearly 300,000 tonnes,” the FAO said in its latest report.
For years the country has suffered a food deficit which President Robert Mugabe blames on low rainfall caused by climate change.
But his critics say the low yields are a result of Mugabe’s controversial land reforms which saw the seizure of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to landless blacks, most of whom lacked the means and skills to farm.
Mugabe earlier this year admitted that he blundered by giving ill-equipped black farmers vast tracts of farmland seized from whites under his controversial land reforms.*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>