Zimbabwe’s agony

If this one is too esoteric please ignore it. Zimbabwe is back on the news again. It seems that the BBC has managed to get back into it despite being banned. The ongoing tragedy which is Zimbabwe has been going on for years now. What was once a relatively rich African country seems to have descended into being one of the poorest in the world (though of course everyone is a millionaire) and a country once described as the “bread basket” of southern African is now reliant on food from the World Food Programme and with the lowest life expectancy in Africa. Of course the primary villain in Zimbabwe’s current agony is Robert Mugabe; a man who has ruled his progressively collapsing country with a grip becoming increasingly iron fisted as the country has degenerated. It may be that Mugabe’s time is coming to an end (see links and he is of course 83) but more of that later.

It was not always thus, once Mugabe was seen as a fairly enlightened ruler though that was to deliberately ignore some of the signs even in the early stages that he would brook no dissent from his rule with the “Gukurahundi” massacres by the North Korean trained Fifth Brigade.

To begin to analyse the disaster which Zimbabwe is one can go back as far as one wants. A little like Northern Ireland where do you want to start 1969, 1921, 1916, 1688, earlier?

(As before regarding Africa; I do not pretend this is an exhaustive history lesson and I would never delude myself that I lack my biases. In addition I have tried to make the article read without resorting to the links most of which are from Wikipedia. Those interested in books could check out Martin Meredith’s The Past is Another Country, though it is out of print you can get it on Amazon).

A reasonable starting point might be with Cecil Rhodes. This truly bizarre character essentially took over large tracts of Africa with his own private company (though heavily supported by the British government) during the “Scramble for Africa” at the end of the nineteenth century. As ever with these events the country was “civilised” and white settlers brought in to help. Translated into modern speak the black African population were turfed off the land and it was given to white Europeans. The Africans were then allowed to work what had been (and was no longer) their land for the whites. One of the few distinguishing features of what was Southern Rhodesia was the large number of white settlers. After the Second World War a further wave of white Europeans came to Rhodesia including some from Northern Ireland and a significant number of South Africans migrated north.

A movement to get more rights for the black population began which as ever was resisted by the colonial government semi autonomous from Westminster from 1923 (in some ways similar to Stormont). Briefly there was a federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland including Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland (Malawi) which collapsed as the northern states had little political kinship with the Rhodesian whites.

Roy Welensky and before him Godfrey Huggins were Prime Ministers of Rhodesia and were inclined to some form of compromise and move (extremely slowly) to black votes though in such a way that black majority rule would have occurred some time this century.

Ian Smith and The Rhodesian Front (initially led by Winston Field) were bitterly opposed to black rule ever, and to cut a long and convoluted story short Rhodesia declared UDI in November 1965.

Initially it must be admitted that Rhodesia was reasonably successful (from a strictly white view point). The initial attempts at an uprising were suppressed and black politicians imprisoned.

It is generally accepted that the Bush War began in 1966 (some would argue 1972) but the extremely efficient Rhodesian armed forces who were not adverse to entering other countries and whose human rights record was poor were able to keep the situation under a very significant degree of control certainly until at least 1972 and realistically until 1976. In this war they had obsolete weapons, inadequate ammunition and made great play of their troop’s training and skill with groups such as the infamous Selous Scouts. What they made less play of was the very significant South African air force and ground troops help. Their eventual downfall was related to: South African PM Vorster pressurising Smith, external sanctions, white Rhodesians leaving, the complete failure of the Rhodesians’ to make serious concessions to the black majority and the fact that whilst the Rhodesian army were able to win every battle they fought there was no competent strategic plan nor any logical victory in prospect.

Eventually under pressure from within and without and with a failed internal compromise Smith (having been replaced as PM by the black politician Abel Muzorew) attended the Lancaster House conference which resulted in the creation of Zimbabwe with Mugabe as its first leader.

As I have said initially; the situation seemed to be a success story. However, there were significant problems from the beginning. There was tension between the major ethnic groups the Shona (Mugabe is Shona) and the Ndebele led by Joshua Nkomo whom the whites (and probably the British) had hoped would win the election. This resulted in various compromises occurring and failing.

One of the major problems was land reform. Despite a campaign of voluntary purchase, few whites were willing to sell the large commercial farms which grew cash crops such as tobacco. The government ran up large debts and then embarked on a neo-liberal economic policy which lead to greater hardship (though it was more economically fashionable and arguably more sustainable in the long run).

Exactly how the land invasions of white owned farms began is slightly unclear. It is likely, however, that Mugabe actively promoted these invasions by war veterans who had begun to protest about economic conditions. Ironically whilst retired members of the Rhodesian armed forces received pensions those of Mugabe’s guerrilla army did not. The war veterans were lead by a colourful character “Hitler” Hunzi, (most famous possibly in the UK for his bizarre rant on Radio 4’s Today programme), before dying in 2001. These war veterans and hangers on removed all land from white control but unfortunately much of the land is now not farmed by anyone or has passed to the control of senior ZANU-PF members, leaving the country with the world’s highest inflation rate (currently essentially uncalculateable).

It now seems possible that a palace coup will result in Mugabe either being ousted or being forced to retire. It is possible that ZANU-PF will replace Mugabe with Simba Makoni. Whatever happens when Mugabe finally goes it is likely that any new leadership will attempt to stop the current lunacy and that the international community will be likely to help. Such a situtation is clearly long overdue.

  • graduate

    Turgon,
    Again an interesting piece.
    Nkomo wasn’t necessarily the British choice- his backing came largely from the Russians ( who made a rare error of judgement in assuming he would take power).
    Mugabe simply took the doctrine of Westminster rule and bastardised it. The Shona are the majority tribal group in Zimabwe and simply used their greater numbers to decimate the Ndebele- ie they went for majority rule without protecting the rights of the minority. There was also an ethnic cleansing spree in Matabeleland at one point against Nkomo and the Ndebele by Mugabe and his henchmen. Incidentally he also used spurious attacks on white farmers to get rid of Nkomo and opposition from the Ndebele leaving him at hte top of the pile
    One other thing I would point out is that there were a considerable number of blacks who fought in the Rhodesian army and who did not subscribe to the ideal of communism- they weren’t thrilled with the existing system ( to understate somewhat) but they did see the damage that ZANU-PF and other movements could do to the country.
    Just as a by-the-by, it’s worth wondering what will happen in South Africa when Zamu takes over…

  • Turgon

    graduate,

    You are of course correct; the only issue I would have is that there is some suggestion that the British (and white Rhodesians) wanted Nkomo to have enough support so that he could rule along with the whites. Remember that in the first parliament of Zimbabwe there were seats reserved for whites (30 from memory).

    You are of course quite correct regarding blacks in the Rhodesian army. The Selous Scouts were about 80% black and Rhodesian African Rifles were 100% black with white officers. To an extent it was a civil war with the whites on one side with some support from the black population and the black guerrillas on the other side.

    Of course the black members of the Rhodesian army were not necessarily keen on white rule but were maybe opposed to the guerrillas and of course it was a good job.

    Incidentally thank you for commenting.

  • Fair play to Turgon for raising the international human rights crisis that is Zimbabwe on Slugger.

    But where’s the Northern Ireland connection, you may ask?

    Well, in this inter-connected world, nowhere is that isolated anymore – not Northern Ireland, not Zimbabwe.

    Turgon has already mentioned in passing that many Northern Ireland people went to what was then Rhodesia in years past in search of the good life.

    But let me give a few more up-to-date connections between Zimbabwe and Northern Ireland.

    For one, Northern Ireland is now seen as a safe destination country for refugees fleeing Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. I’ve met a few of them and some are viewed as political dissidents, involved directly or indirectly in the Movement for Democratic Change. Some have set up the Belfast-based Zimbabwe Solidarity Campaign.

    There is also the small matter that at least a couple of Northern Ireland-based companies may be helping, indirectly, to arm Mugabe’s military.

    Amnesty’s September 2007 report, Northern Ireland: Arming the World, relates how Goodrich Engineering in Belfast may be helping to supply engine control systems for engines going into Chinese attack jets which are subsequently sold to Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, Co Antrim-based Martin-Baker Aircraft has helped develop and supply aircraft escape systems, which similarly, may have gone into Chinese attack jets sold to Zimbabwe.

    How is this possible? Sadly, it’s all too simple. The UK’s arms export laws are riddled with loopholes, which mean locally-based companies could be helping to arm some of the worst dictators in the World (Zimbabwe, Burma, Pakistan?) and it’s all perfectly legal.

    What can we in Northern Ireland do? Find out more and take action with Amnesty.

  • Pete Baker

    Patrick

    Your comments here are always welcome.

    But I do find it somewhat depressing that Amnesty Northern Ireland seems to have more to say about human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, and other areas, than it ever has done about human rights abuses in Northern Ireland.

    Perhaps a comment on the considerations of the Eames/Bradley Group might be appropriate?

  • Greenflag

    Turgon,

    Thanks for the update . When one has lived in a country and gets to know many of it’s people of all ethnic groups -seeing it deteriorate is very sad indeed -particularly when it should never have happened . Well done the BBC for getting somebody in there.

    When Cecil Rhodes arrived on the scene the Matabele (an offshoot of the Zulus) were pushing north into Mashonaland . The Mashonas were a conglomeration of pastoral tribes and were considered an easy target for the warlike Matabele .

    Rhodesia’s first Prime Minister was Sir Charles Patrick Coghlan (son of an Irish father and German mother) (1923-1927) and a Roman Catholic .He’s interred at World’s End – IIRC just a few steps from Rhodes . Leander Starr Jameson (of the infamous raid and others are also interred nearby) . There was always a significant catholic community in Rhodesia including Irish, English and missionaries although technically the country was categorised as a German province by the RC Church . St George’s one of Rhodesias best schools was run by the Jesuits .

    Garfield Todd who preceded Ian Smith as PM was a decent man who favoured moving to majority rule. He knew that change had to happen . By this time (1970’s) Rhodesia had also attracted a number of non British /Irish settlers including many Greeks ,Italians and Germans as well and even smaller jewish and indian communities. In 1899 when the original settlers planted their flag the population was 700,000 . By 1976 it was 3 to 4 million . In 2001 it was estimated at 13 million . Zimbabwe’s economic growth (and even earlier Rhodesia) could not keep up with the population increase. Some 3 million are now said to have left the country mostly for South Africa and Botswana .

    It would be a mistake to assume that only Africans opposed Smith’s regime. Some whites particularly those who took McMillan’s ‘Winds of Change’ speech to heart . Many of the newer settlers were however not keen on African majority rule. They had recently left a war torn europe for a better life and many could foresee that life disappearing in misgovernance and communist dictatorship. In retrospect the situation they foresaw has turned out to be worse than even they could ever have expected. As usual the Africans have suffered the worst .

    The question which any observer of Zimbabwe must ask is ‘why’ . Could it have been avoided ? Garfield Todd had he managed to hold on to power might have made a peaceful transition as happened in neighbouring Botswana . As events transpired Todd turned out to be the Capt O’Neill of Rhodesia 🙁

    What is not generally known (although there are hints of it above in references to the British hoping Nkomo would take the presidency) is that Nkomo was prevented from making a successful coup d’etat against Mugabe by none other than – the Rhodesian Airforce ! Once peace had been declared Nkomo suddenly discovered that one man one vote meant majority Shona rule i.e Mugabe . Nkomo considered himself the paramount leader of the struggle for African majority rule and led a convoy of tanks and armoured vehicles to attack Mugabe’s forces at Entumbane outside Bulawayo. Mugabe had no choice but to ask the Rhodesians to send in the airforce . .

    For the first few years of independence Zimbabwe appeared to make progress. Peace was restored and the economy recovered somewhat from the sanctions years . But it soon became apparent that not enough social or economic change was taking place for the majority population . Truth to be told Zimbabwe although better prepared for independence than many other sub Saharan States was like many other sub saharan countries not ‘ready’ . There was virtually no black middle class even though Zimbabweans were well educated compared to other neighbouring States.

    to be continued

  • The All Seeing Eye

    Another example of selfish British involvment in another country’s affairs, and which has hapenned across the world, ending up in conflict. Shame on them, they are a disgrace to the world.

  • Greenflag

    The final ‘straw’ in Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown has been the ‘land ‘ question. The White population (commercial farmers) held most of the good land whereas the Mashona and Matabele were settled in marginal areas. As there was a ten fold population increase over the period 1900 to 1980 basic food supply became ever more dependent on large scale commercial farming . Mashonas and Matabele had been traditional subsistence farmers even prior to the ‘white’ conquest. The ‘white conquest’ brought with it increased reliability of staple food supplies – some industrialisation – mining and large scale tobacco growing . The introduction of western medical disease prevention vaccinations and basic health care also added to the population explosion. Traditional African mores as regards the role of women in society prevented any slowdown in the population expansion . Add in Aids and Drought to the above and you have developing in Zimbabwe a human tragedy that would long since have been on the front pages of the worlds newspapers had 3 to 4 million (about one third of the entire population) not fled the country during the past decade.

    The harsh fact of life in Zimbabwe is that ‘traditional’ farming techniques cannot feed a population of 13 million . Mugabe’s Government has done little or nothing to train black Zimbabweans in this critical area . Much of the land taken from whites has ended up in the hands of Mugabe’s political henchmen who on taking up ownership rent it out to subsistence farmers and thus reduce the nations food supply !

    Like all sub saharan countries which now have populations many times what they were 100 years ago the problem facing any post Mugabe regime will be how to create sustainable conditions for economic growth . It can and will be done eventually. But ‘land’ redistribution only made the overall food supply situation worse given the lack of supply of black Zimbabwean commerial farmers and Mugabe’s policy of driving out any remaining white commercial farmers .

    During my time there I met many individuals black and white who were doing the best they could to help the new Zimbabwe emerge from it’s colonial past . There was Steve Williams a young Welshman who managed a mixed craft centre Mzilikazi(wood carving , pottery etc) in the western suburbs of Bulawayo and who trained hundreds of young Zimbabweans . There was Fr Odilo a German Catholic priest who passed away recently in his mid 90’s who spoke out publicly in his church against the Mugabe Government . Odilo had been the last German missionary allowed to leave Germany when Hitler came to power . There was Fr Victor (a huge bearded Dutch priest) who ran a school and orphanage for about a thousand children just outside Bulawayo. Jeb (Jabulani) the personnel manager who had lived in the UK and was trying to train young Zimbabweans in modern management techniques . And yes there a few ‘racists’ who said that it would all be for nought and that sooner or later the country would collapse . Could the ‘horror’ have been avoided ? Yes but then so too could Northern Ireland’s . Why was’nt it ? The absence of intelligent and capable political leadership at a critical time in each country’s history.

    For anyone interested in sub saharan generally I’d recommend a read of Paul Theroux’s ‘Dark Star’.

  • barnshee

    “Another example of selfish British involvment in another country’s affairs, and which has hapenned across the world, ending up in conflict. Shame on them, they are a disgrace to the world”£

    So they did what was asked and left and the arse fell out of it (as predicted) and will stay that way until bailed out by guess who ?

    remids me of another place where the brits left and the arse fell out of it (as predicted) until the EC bailed it out (after it had exported millions of its people to those disgraceful brits)

  • The All seeing Eye

    See what you want to see. But Murderers and Slave traders all, who carved up the world to serve their own greed. The Brits are a disgrace to the known world.

  • Greenflag

    ‘The Brits are a disgrace to the known world.’

    Along with the French, the Spanish, the Portugese , the Belgians, the Dutch, the Japanese, the Russians , the Americans , the Serbs , the Italians , the Jews , and not forgetting the bicycle riders in downtown LA who cause accidents .

    ‘But Murderers and Slave traders all’

    It’s such a relief to know that we Irish are so perfect that we’d never have fought among ourselves if the Brits had not interfered in our affairs .

    BTW those dastardly Brits also ended slavery and eventually gave up their empire apart .Apart of course from a rock on thE Spanish coast and a hard place closer to home where the local clans have been only prevented from eating each other through the ‘generosity’ of the Brit taxpayer!

    Greenflag

  • darth rumsfeld

    I don’t suppose it’ll surprise many to learn that I’m a fan of Ian Smith, who wasn’t anything like as bad as history paints him given the impossible position he was in, though Garfield Todd is also a bit of an unsung hero. Neither was helped by a blinkered and self-interested British government- was Wilson’s foreign policy even stupider than Eden’s. Rhodes was a strange mix of robber baron and visionary.

    But by far the greatest statesman in that sad and sorry country was president Canaan Banana whose unfortunate surname provoked some of the finest headlines ever written. Who can forget the reports of his trial for Mugabe’s favourite crime of sodomy “Man raped by Banana”. I think they even passed a law to stop jokes at his expense.

  • Greenflag

    ‘reminds me of another place where the brits left and the arse fell out of it (as predicted) until the EC bailed it out (after it had exported millions of its people to those disgraceful brits)’

    There is some truth in this comparison . Both Ireland and Rhodesia experienced huge population growth over the span of 100 years from ‘conquest ‘
    Ireland’s population quadrupled from 2 million to 8 million and Zimbabwes from 1 million to 12 million . Both countries relied on agriculture and one staple (potatoes and maize/corn) to feed their populations. Both countries were also under industrialised apart from a small area around Belfast and the small white controlled industries in Rhodesia. Neither country ever achieved the economic growth rate that would have absorbed their growing populations . Much higher returns on investment were possible in other more ‘remunerative’ colonies such as the West Indies etc .

    Where the comparison falls down is that by 1900 Ireland was largely self governing in the sense that there was a large local middle class (increasingly Catholic but also Protestant ) which administred the country. There had been 100 years of ‘stability’ if we exclude the horrific famine years’

    Ireland was much more prepared for ‘independence’ in 1920 than Zimbabwe/Rhodesia was in 1980.

    Economic conditions in the world generally were not favourable to Irish independence in the 20’s and 30’s . Both the Free State and Northern Ireland were economic failures in the 20’s and 30’s . NI benefited in the post war years but even then came nowhere close to achieving the economic growth rate that would have enabled the State to end emigration . The Republic almost failed in the mid 1950’s when it was finally accepted that the ‘ourselves alone’ policy would never work and that unless there was radical change the Irish like the Scots in 1707 would have to be bought out by London.

    Today’s Republic is testimony to the fact that good political leadership at the right time can make all the difference . Northern Ireland and Zimbabwe in their own ways show us where political incompetence can lead with the former now perhaps in recovery mode whereas the latter having been diagnosed for 20 years has still to embark on a course of treatment 🙁

  • graduate

    D’you know, it’s really good to see that a piece such as this has provoked a spirited and in most cases sensible debate. Maybe we’re not all as navel-gazingly instrospective as people think. For what it’s worth I’m inclined to agree with Darth about Ian Smith and i think Wilson was absolutely abysmal as far as PMs have gone.
    Also think Greenflag is spoot on with his last paragraph so maybe there’s hope for us all. Hop eto see you all next time we’re campaigning for Zimbabwe

  • Greenflag

    ‘Rhodes was a strange mix of robber baron and visionary.’

    Rhodes wanted all of Africa coloured in red i.e within the British Empire . The world according to Rhodes needed ruling by the superior Anglo Saxon english speaking peoples . Given the times he was living in this was not as visionary as it would seem today . Thirty years later another mustachioed robber baron had another vision for world government -in which German would be spoken . Further east there even more visionaries who saw a world state controlled by the ‘proletariat’ as achieving heaven on earth !

    Perhaps the lesson from the 20th century should be ‘beware of visionaries’. They tend to attract misery and disaster on a world wide scale and in the process end up destroying their own and neighbouring countries.

    ‘But by far the greatest statesman in that sad and sorry country was president Canaan Banana ‘

    Can’t say I’d agree .The R.A.R’s favourite song was none other than ‘Sweet Banana’ . This was not intended as a slight on the Methodist Minister’s prediliction for young boys /security guards etc etc . Anyway it could not have been true after all Mugabe made it clear that there were no homosexuals in Zimbabwe and if there were they were all white !

    ‘I don’t suppose it’ll surprise many to learn that I’m a fan of Ian Smith, who wasn’t anything like as bad as history paints him given the impossible position he was in’

    Smith was certainly not the ogre that the western press painted . He simply did not have the political skills that were needed to avoid the bloodbath . Garfield Todd might have succeeded.

    Anyway the past can’t be cured . People have to focus on the future in Zimbabwe and closer to home -in Northern Ireland .

  • graduate

    Greenflag,
    Can I quote you about the past and future when the Eames/Bradley roadshow rolls into my part of the world?
    (sorry to digress)

  • Greenflag

    ‘ the Eames/Bradley roadshow rolls into my part of the world? ‘

    You might want to use some of the following not that they’ll do any good mind you.

    ‘The oftener you look back the sooner you won;t get ahead’

    ‘Half the pleasure of recalling the past lies in the editing’

    ‘The present was once the future from which we expected so much in the past ‘

    ‘You cannot change the past , but you can ruin the present by worrying too much about the future ‘

    I liked Barry White’s article in the Telegraph
    to quote from part of his piece.

    ‘That’s why I prefer to regard the Troubles as a time of tribal madness, when a one-party state was challenged, not before time, by an increasingly well-educated and frustrated minority, and could not reform itself in time to avoid an extremist-led explosion.

    The extremists got control of their tribes and it took 30 years for the moderates to wrest it back – before they were again overtaken. The tribes have learned to co-exist, after a fashion, but whether they can learn to co-govern, in difficult economic and political circumstances, has yet to be proved.

    The wounds that the Eames-Bradley group hope to heal are obviously still open, but surely people who complain about the police’s invisibility, on the Shankill or elsewhere, must realise that it is connected with our obsession with investigating the past. Sir Hugh Orde has spelled out the choices facing him, and us. He can allow his experts to occupy 99% of their time looking into historical events or he will have to say “stop”, and put them to work on the present. He himself spends 40% of his day dealing with the past.

    In other words, we have to grow up, accept our collective guilt, and try harder to move on. If we won’t, or can’t, we’ll never agree on a transfer of policing and justice powers, and eventually devolution itself may be lost. Then what? ”

    To answer Barry White’s ‘ Then what ?

    Well I guess it’ll be back to the future sorry the past or was that the present ?

    Anyway keep digging up the past -It’s the best way to bury the future 🙁

  • Pete

    Sorry that I’m only getting the chance to respond to you now – life has intervened since you posted your query.

    Anyway, please don’t be depressed or indeed surprised that an international human rights organisation should spend most of its time focussed on international human rights issues.

    There’s a big world out there and lots of bad things are happening in it. That’s where our main focus – as an organisation based on the principle of international solidarity – is.

    So, while terrible things have happened and continue to happen in Northern Ireland, let’s not lose a sense of global perspective. The present-day troubles of Zimbabwe, Burma or any one of dozens of other places, put our own in the shade. That is not to diminish the importance of Northern Ireland affairs to those of us who live here, nor to suggest that an organisation like Amnesty shouldn’t take an active interest in some of them (as we do), it’s simply to state that our priority as the Northern Ireland office of Amnesty is to enable people here to stand up for human rights worldwide.

    Of course, we are active on a range of local matters, as a check through our press releases or our blog would quickly reveal.

    In the last year, as well as our international agenda, we have been campaigning for a Bill of Rights, against the deployment of Tasers before essential human rights standards are met, standing up for asylum seekers and the victims of trafficking and demanding proper services for victims of violence against women (among other matters).

    Re the Eames/Bradley process, you ask a fair question. However, we don’t have a formal position on this as we are not directly engaging in this debate (or on myriad other matters, which you might argue we should and which we probably would, if we had limitless time and resources).

    But, for the record, I am happy to state that Amnesty International would not be likely to welcome any proposals which would result in immunity or impunity for perpetrators of abuses, whether they be state or non-state actors. We opt for justice every time. That’s not to say that we ignore or don’t understand the arguments in favour of truth / reconciliation and would likely support any victim’s family who wished for the latter in the absence of any likelihood of the former.

    Now, any comments on what I had to say about Zimbabwe?

  • Pete Baker

    Patrick

    I don’t wish to distract too much from Turgon’s post, but..

    “Anyway, please don’t be depressed or indeed surprised that an international human rights organisation should spend most of its time focussed on international human rights issues.”

    Hmm.. perhaps a re-reading of that vision statement would be in order.

    It’s not about highlighting human rights abuses elsewhere as you seem to imply – “There’s a big world out there and lots of bad things are happening in it.”

    “Our vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [] and other international human rights instruments.”

    Think globally, act locally, perhaps? Especially if, as you state, “Northern Ireland is now seen as a safe destination country..”

    And while you may be “active on a range of local issues” they’re not exactly on potentially uncomfortable [local] political issues.

    And “demanding proper services for victims of violence against women (among other matters).”

    Yes. I’m aware of some of that campaign..

  • Pete

    We’re not going to agree on this one, but at least you’re a breath of fresh air. Normally we have people, who don’t like what we have to say about matters close to home, telling us to go look for human rights problems somewhere else…

    Still no comment on Zimbabwe? Of course, it’s fine if you don’t, but some of us do have concerns both within and beyond these shores.

  • Pete Baker

    Patrick

    It would, indeed, seem that we will not agree on this one.

    “Normally we have people, who don’t like what we have to say about matters close to home, telling us to go look for human rights problems somewhere else…”

    Well my specific complaint was that your organisation wasn’t sufficently outspoken on local matters. Which isn’t exactly the same thing.

    However, there is the link I provided earlier.

    Think globally, act locally.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “This was not intended as a slight on the Methodist Minister’s prediliction for young boys /security guards etc etc . Anyway it could not have been true after all Mugabe made it clear that there were no homosexuals in Zimbabwe and if there were they were all white ! ”

    No reason to go back to this except to rehash old headlines, the best of which wa in the
    Guardian- “Banana forced police officer to have sex”

  • Pete

    “not exactly on potentially uncomfortable [local] political issues”

    More’s the pity that Northern Ireland having the worst service provision in the UK for women who have suffered violent abuse does not create more discomfort in local poltical circles. Devolved Scotland, for instance, is years ahead of us on this.

    Perhaps an issue like violence against women doesn’t sufficiently fit the paradigm of local politics to be viewed as interesting by most politicians, journalists or bloggers…

    “Think globally, act locally” – couldn’t agree more, but on its own not a sufficient model for standing up to human rights abuses across the world when many people in many countries are simply unable to freely “act locally” and are dependent on voices from overseas being raised on their behalf, including by people from Northern Ireland.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    This just in…

    Asymptotic inflation and a self-sabotaged economy lead to the issuance of $10,000,000Z “bearer cheques.” Still insufficient to purchase lunch. (BM value = $3.90 US, 2.60 euro, 2 bp).

    But, hey — at least there are a whole new slew of African multi-millionaires…

  • Greenflag

    So how bad can a currency crisis get ? The below is the ‘action plan’ to turn around Zimbabwe’s currency melt down . Never in the financial annals of economic history has any Government endured such a decade long melt down of the value of their currency .

    STATEMENT BY
    DR G. GONO
    GOVERNOR
    RESERVE BANK OF ZIMBABWE
    ON THE IMMINENT LAUNCH OF SUNRISE 2
    21 NOVEMBER, 2007

    1. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

    1.1 Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Zimbabweans, we meet at a point in time when as a Central Bank we have been impelled to now take stern and unprecedented punitive measures against the dark forces of parallel market trading and
    financial disintermediation.

    1.2 It has become more than evident that, left to their own whims, the blossoming cash barons, smugglers and other illicit dealers will threaten the stability of our National Payment Systems.
    1.3 As Monetary Authorities, we have closely trailed the recent trends and studied the avenues through which cash is being kept outside the formal systems, and time has come now that
    swift measures be taken.

    1.4 As part of a tactical move to entrap these disruptive dealers, I had recently announced that Sunrise 2 was postponed to a later date.

    1.5 Just as was expected, the cash barons, with total complicity of some banking institutions and bulk cash handling corporates swang into full gear with their illicit dealings, resulting now in ARTIFICIAL cash shortages that are
    inconveniencing innocent rural folks and other law abiding citizens.
    1.6 The purpose of this Statement is to lay out in no uncertain terms the state of preparedness of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to now launch Sunrise 2.

    2. THE LESSONS AND EXPERIENCES UNDER SUNRISE 1
    2.1 Our swift operations under Sunrise 1, launched on 1 August, 2006 gave us the following key lessons:
    (a) Some banks were allowing cash barons to deposit parallel market cash in excess of set daily limits. This time around, those hoarding cash will burn their fingers as new stricter
    surveillance systems have been devised;

    (b) The RURAL AREAS need special consideration, given that logistically, some terrains are not easily accessible. This time around, the vehicles and personnel to be deployed to rural
    areas will be more intense. We would like to assure our rural area parents, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons that aspecial programme will be put for them to make sure that no one
    loses a dollar from Sunrise 2. They, therefore, need not worry. Equally, measures are in place to ensure that they are not used as escape hide-outs by fraudsters;

    (c) That some cash barons and bulk cash handling companies were splitting their stampede deposits using runners they picked from the streets. This time around, questions will be asked on all bulk cash deposits to certify source. Where no
    convincing proof is rendered, the money will be frozen in zero interest Anti-money Laundering bonds for a minimum period of 5 years pending further investigations;

    (d) Some dealers rushed to rural areas and dumped their dirty cash to unsuspecting rural people by buying off livestock in droves. This time around, the Zimbabwe Republic Police will be strict on issuance of livestock movement certificates in
    and out of rural areas;

    (e) Some had bulk-shipped cash in neighbouring countries and some as far as Europe in search of foreign exchange in the parallel market. This time around, there will be tight collaboration with ZIMRA and law enforcement arms to ensure that no such cargo of returning cash will re-enter scotfree.
    3. SUNRISE 2
    3.1 Armed with the above lessons, the general public, as well as the financial sector are hereby forewarned that Sunrise 2 is now imminent.
    3.2 The Reserve Bank has now put in place all the machinery in place, to enable the implementation of a short and precise change-over programme, which would be completed in a matter of a few days, as opposed to the longer time accorded
    under Sunrise 1.

    3.3 In order to guarantee maximum impact in terms of penalties to the destructive forces of parallel markets, the imminent actual date for Sunrise 2 shall remain undisclosed.

    3.4 SINCERITY IS SUBJECT TO PROOF

    3.5 In case there are those die-hards who think the Reserve Bank could be bluffing, the following systems have been put to the public’s eye as proof that indeed Sunrise 2 is upon us:
    (a) The actual notes of the new currency have been circulated to the banking system, the media fraternity and the business representative leaderships;
    (b) The Reserve Bank has already assembled country-wide fueling depots complete with the logistical maps, to power Sunrise 2. These maps are open for viewing;
    (c) All the vehicle muscle, by province and by district has been aligned and is ready to go;
    (d) The entire country’s bank branch network has been clustered, with comprehensive teams all now set for deployment.

    (e) Already, the entire Zimbabwe Republic Police machinery has been alerted to be ready for the imminent Launch of Sunrise 2.

  • Greenflag

    ( In case any of you out there are holding any of the 58 trillion Zimbabwe dollars ? BTW some of the language used is perhaps not your standard bureaucratise . Terminology such as swift surgical operation may cause some concern -references to ‘manure’ and ‘fingers burnt’ is not the kind of language one normally hears from a Reserve Bank Governor .) GF

    From Governor Gono Part 2

    NEED FOR PREPARING I.T. SYSTEMS

    3.6 The swift and far-reaching implications of Sunrise 2 demand that all Bank and Non-bank Financial Institutions immediately gear their systems up for the change-over.

    3.7 As Monetary Authorities. we advise that such preparation includes simulations for the removal of 1, 2, 3 or even 4 zeros from the current set of legal tender, as the actual change-over will be done with no advance warning.

    3.8 The Bank Supervision and Surveillance arm of the ReserveBank will be, with immediate effect, moving around banks to certify their state of preparedness.

    3.9 Any defaulters will face appropriate corrective measures.

    3.10 It is imperative that Audit firms and the entirety of the corporate sector also ensure that their systems are ready for this swift surgical operation.

    NEUTRALITY ON PRICES

    3.11 As Monetary Authorities, we also wish to highlight to the corporate world, including wholesalers and retailers that this
    change-over should not translate into underlying price increases as happened under Sunrise 1.

    3.12 The Reserve Bank will work closely with the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) to make sure that members of the public are not short-changed.

    DEPOSIT PERIOD

    3.13 With a total of $58 trillion in cash currently in issue and in circulation, the current shortages are principally a result of
    underground parallel market trading activities.

    3.14 With immediate effect, therefore, all holders of excess cash must deposit same back in the formal system in order to avoid serious and perilous losses when their hoarded loot
    turns into useless manure.

    3.15 The cut-off date for acceptance of current bearer cheques will be announced imminently along with the actual launch date.

    4. CONCLUSION

    4.1 Fellow Zimbabweans, time has come that we say no to selfdestruction of our economy by a few bad apples among us whilst the rest watch.

    4.2 As Monetary Authorities, we say NO to this callous path, and hereby declare total war against the illegal dealers who are causing havoc in our markets.

    4.3 This time around, those who do not take heed will never recover financially, as a definite ultimate blow is being set on them.

    4.4 To the Rural folk, we say, please do not panic as special tailor-made conditions are being put in place for your convenience.

    Thank you.
    DR G. GONO
    GOVERNOR
    RESERVE BANK OF ZIMBABWE
    21 November 2007

  • Greenflag

    ‘But, hey—at least there are a whole new slew of African multi-millionaires…’

    On the other hand if I was being paid what I earned back there as an expat in the 1980’s I’d now be earning the princely sum of 2 US dollars a year 🙂

    There is of course not even a hint of criticism of the Zimbabwean Governments fiscal misgovernance in Dr Gono’s call to action . Neither is there mention of the millions of US dollars in Swiss Bank accounts held by the Zimbabwean political elite .Meanwhile millions face starvation . Freedom you can’t beat it eh ?

    How the Zimbabweans carry on is a mystery . Even the Germans could only put up with a few weeks of currency devaluation in the late 1920’s .

    The end has got to be nigh .

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Greenflag: “How the Zimbabweans carry on is a mystery . Even the Germans could only put up with a few weeks of currency devaluation in the late 1920’s . ”

    The Weimar Republic / pre-whathisname currency crisis is the only one I can think of that approaches this disaster, when it whell-barrows filled with specie to go shopping and wages were paid at least twice a shift (according to my school-text) because inflation was *THAT* bad.

    Greenflag: “There is of course not even a hint of criticism of the Zimbabwean Governments fiscal misgovernance in Dr Gono’s call to action . Neither is there mention of the millions of US dollars in Swiss Bank accounts held by the Zimbabwean political elite .Meanwhile millions face starvation . Freedom you can’t beat it eh ? ”

    What, you think the kid what pointed out that the Emperor had no clothes *didn’t* get a whupping when he go home??

    Said it before, will say it again — present-day Zimbabwe makes at least half an argument for Rhodesia.

  • Greenflag

    ‘$10,000,000Z “bearer cheques’

    2,000 Euros now buys you 88 million Zim Dollars . So even if your property values in the Republic or NI or UK are sinking remember that at least your ‘hard assets’ are valued in hard currency . Americans might take note that those who profess that a devaluation of the dollar is good for the American economy and it’s citizens -need only look to Zimbabwe to see where this kind of thinking can lead . Germany found it’s solution in the 1930’s to it’s currency crisis by turning to a chap with a mustache who knew where to point the blame for the destruction of the german middle and lower middle classes. Mugabe of course blames the ‘whites’. Wonder who Americans will blame for their upcoming recession? It won’t be Citigroup or Merrill Lynch – I guess Osama /Iran /Afghanistan /Islamic Fundies will have to do !
    Plus ca change !

  • Greenflag

    ‘$10,000,000Z “bearer cheques’

    2,000 Euros now buys you 88,000,000 Zim Dollars + or – 1,000,000. So even if your property values in the Republic or NI or UK are sinking remember that at least your ‘hard assets’ are valued in hard currency . Americans might take note that those who profess that a devaluation of the dollar is good for the American economy and it’s citizens -need only look to Zimbabwe to see where this kind of thinking can lead . Germany found it’s solution in the 1930’s to it’s currency crisis by turning to a chap with a mustache who knew where to point the blame for the destruction of the german middle and lower middle classes. Mugabe of course blames the ‘whites’. Wonder who Americans will blame for their upcoming recession? It won’t be Citigroup or Merrill Lynch – I guess Osama /Iran /Afghanistan /Islamic Fundies will have to do !
    Plus ca change !

  • Greenflag

    Moderator,

    Please delete no 4 above

    Posted by on Jan 18, 2008 @ 07:19 PM
    -duplication

  • Greenflag

    ‘Said it before, will say it again—present-day Zimbabwe makes at least half an argument for Rhodesia.’

    In terms of total human suffering you are probably half right . 3 million refugees, an economic basket case – 5 million facing imminent starvation – hundreds of thousands of malnourished and damaged children – a worthless currency and future hopes dashed for millions of young Zimbabweans versus plenty of food and a decent economy but 35,000 dead in a senseless war ?

    When theres a choice of two evils there is no choice.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Greenflag: “When theres a choice of two evils there is no choice. ”

    Yes there is, but its a cold and ugly calculation. Ask any doctor who has had to triage patients under less than ideal conditions.

  • marty

    As the elections in Zimbabwe get closer the British media will go into overdrive at the behest of their masters in the British security services. Robert Mugabe will be demonised on a daily basis, and the so called opposition the MDC, will be touted as a lily white democratic political party that is going to be cheated, but what they will not tell their viewers who really pulls the strings, and funds this so called political party . The party is founded among others, by major white business interest in both S.Africa and Zimbabwe, with a guiding hand of the British security services not far away. Their plan is quite simple but non the less tried and trusted in other other countries where the British or other western powers did not approve of a particular government coming to power. In reports comeing out of Zimbawe over the next few weeks, from so called professional journalist, will be highly and unashamedly biased anti Mugabe rhetoric and propaganda, and although Robert Mugabe and the party which he is the democratically elected leader {Zanu fp} and which has millions of supporters , you will not hear their side of the story, the poodle journalist will do their jobs as instructed and the story of the millions of men women and children to whom Robert Mugabe is a National hero their story you will not be allowed to hear.Just like the article which I am responding too mentions the alleged Gukurahundi massacre, whilst ignoring massacres carried out on a daily basis by the racist Smith regime.