Zimbabwe at a crossroads – What next?

Zahra Moloo interviews Obert Madondo about recent political events in Zimbabwe, including the swearing in of Emmerson Mnangagwa as president of the country. Obert Madondo is the Ottawa-based founder and editor of the independent publications, the Canadian Progressive and the Zimbabwean Progressive. He is also a photographer and former development worker who was involved in Zimbabwe’s opposition movement before moving to Canada.

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Interview of Gertrude Hambira, former head of Zimbabwe’s General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union

Gwen Schulman interviews Gertrude Hambira who was the former head of Zimbabwe’s General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union, before she fled for her life after producing a documentary critical of Mugabe’s land reforms. She now lives in Winnipeg.

Mugabe become’s head of AU

Exiled Zimbabwean human rights activist Gertrude Hambira talks about Robert Mugabe’s election as head of the African Union.

SW radio Africa signs off

The issue of land In Zimbabwe: we present the last coverage from Zimbabwe’s London based SW radio Africa.

Zimbabwe: what future after the elections?

As the Zimbabwean elections unfold, and Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF turn to intimidation and fraud to hold onto power, Amandla’s Gwen Schulman and Rose Marie Whalley speak to Gertrude Hambira, the former Secretary General of the largest trade union in Zimbabwe and a member of Women of Zimbabwe Arise; and Violah Shamu, who was elected as a city councillor for the capital city of Harare in 2002 and was driven into hiding by the Mugabe regime.

Looking back at land reform in Zimbabwe

What happened to land reform in Zimbabwe? CKUT collaborator Rosemary Walley talks to Gertrude Hambira from the General Agricultural Workers Union of Zimbabwe, now living in Winnipeg, about the situation of land reform, farmworkers and agriculture under Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF.

Interview with Zimbabwe Exiles Forum activist Gabriel Shumba

Gabriel Shumba is one of Zimbabwe’s most prominent human rights defenders and provides regular expert commentary to national media in South Africa and international media. He is a human rights lawyer who fled Zimbabwe in 2003 after he was arrested and brutally tortured for providing counsel to a representative of the Movement for Democratic Change, President Robert Mugabe’s chief political opposition.

In 2004, he appeared before US Congress to testify on behalf of victims of political violence in Zimbabwe. In October 2006, Gabriel petitioned the Canadian government to indict President Robert Mugabe under Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.

 listen to an interview with him about the current situation in Zimbabwe

South Africa accuses the UK for the Zimbabwe crisis/ L’Afrique du Sud accuse le Royaume-Uni comme responsable de la crise au Zimbabwe

(Lien en anglais/ link in english)

Selon le Guardian, de Londres, l’Afrique du Sud accuse le Royaume Uni d’imposer des barrières contre le Zimbabwe, contribuant à la crise actuelle qu’il vit et contraignant les discussions avec les autres gouvernements africains de la région.

According to the London Guardian, South Africa accuses the UK to impose barriers creating the crisis the country actually lives:

South Africa blames UK for Zimbabwe crisis

Chris McGreal, Africa correspondent
Monday August 13, 2007
The Guardian

South Africa has blamed Britain for the deepening crisis in Zimbabwe by accusing the UK of leading a campaign to “strangle” the beleaguered African state’s economy and saying it has a “death wish” against a negotiated settlement that might leave Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF in power.

MugabeAccording to a South African government document circulating among diplomats ahead of a regional summit this week, President Thabo Mbeki will paint an optimistic picture of his efforts to broker an agreement between Mr Mugabe [see picture] and the Zimbabwean opposition.

But the document, a draft of the report the South African president is expected to present at the meeting, says Britain remains a significant obstacle by spearheading sanctions that Mr Mugabe blames for his country’s economic collapse.

“The most worrisome thing is that the UK continues to deny its role as the principal protagonist in the Zimbabwean issue and is persisting with its activities to isolate Zimbabwe,” the report says.

“None of the western countries that have imposed the sanctions that are strangling Zimbabwe’s economy have shown any willingness to lift them.”

Britain pressed the European Union to impose “targeted sanctions” against Zimbabwe’s leadership by refusing visas, freezing bank accounts and other measures that the UK said were aimed at individuals without harming Zimbabweans.

But Mr Mugabe has blamed what he describes as the “illegal sanctions” for the economic collapse and said his government is a victim of British imperialism because it seized white-owned farms for redistribution to poor blacks.

His opponents say the crisis is the result of a brutal strategy to hold on to power by violently suppressing the opposition, rigging elections and trying to buy support by seizing the farms. This last move devastated the tobacco export industry that provided Zimbabwe with much of its foreign earnings.

The wholesale printing of money helped fuel inflation now estimated to be running at about 20,000%. Shops are virtually empty of basic foodstuffs.

Some African leaders have been willing to criticise Mr Mugabe, although a Zambian opposition leader, Michael Sata, urged the region’s leaders to “join hands and launch strong protests against attempts by the west to recolonise Zimbabwe”.

The South African report describes the crisis as “Zimbabwe’s bilateral dispute with Britain”. However, the focus of Mr Mbeki’s efforts is to reach an agreement between Mr Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change ahead of elections next year.

Mr Mbeki has not had a smooth ride. Mr Mugabe’s two negotiators, both cabinet ministers, failed to arrive for talks in South Africa last month. The ministers, Nicholas Goche and Patrick Chinamasa, finally arrived in Pretoria a week ago.

The document says some issues, including constitutional reforms, have been “worked out”. “There are strong indications that the two sides are sliding towards an agreement,” it says.

But MDC sources say that agreement is not near and they suspect that Mr Mugabe is playing for time until the end of the year when the focus will shift to the presidential election campaign. Meanwhile, the economic crisis is expected to deepen. More than 3 million Zimbabweans have left the country in search of work.

Le salon international du livre du Zimbabwe/ Zimbabwe International Book Fair

Zim Book fair(Liens en anglais/ links in english)

Le salon international du livre du Zimbabwe vient de se terminer Samedi. Cet événement annuel existe depuis 1984 et a été considéré comme le plus grand salon du livre du continent africain. En l’an 2000, l’Association pour le développement de l’éducation en Afrique confirmait qu’il était le plus grand d’Afrique. La version 2007 du salon n’est malheureusement plus que l’ombre de ce qu’elle fut comme le présente cet article du Miami Herald (plus bas en anglais).

The Zimbabwe International Book Fair ended this Saturday. This yearly fair, which started in 1984, was the biggest book fair in Africa. The Association for the Developement of Education in Africa confirmed it in its 2000 Newsletter:

The Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) is Africa’s publishing showcase, the largest and most diverse exhibition of books, magazines and journals in Africa. In addition to being a market place, it embraces a varied program of seminars, workshops and round tables on different aspects of book development.

Despite the political and economical situations in the country, this book fair has managed to keep its activities going. But the Miami Herald tells us that the 2007 edition of the fair is just a shadow of what it used to be in the past:

Zimbabwe book fair a shadow of past days

By ANGUS SHAW
Associated Press Writer

HARARE, Zimbabwe —
The Zimbabwe International Book Fair once attracted agents, publishers and authors from around the world.

This year, amid the country’s deepening economic and political crisis, the fair was a shadow of its former self. The only foreign exhibitor at the event, which ended Saturday, was the embassy of Iran – offering Islamic tracts and political brochures.

“What is amazing is that this fair happens at all,” said Kudzi Kaparadza, a high-school teacher visiting from Bromley, 25 miles east of Harare.

Zimbabwe is facing acute shortages of gas, food and most basic commodities in its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980. Inflation is officially at 4,500 percent, the highest in the world. Scores of businesses have closed down and state health and education services are short of supplies, with up to 10 children sharing one textbook.

To stifle potential political unrest, longtime ruler President Robert Mugabe has clamped down on opposition movements and asserted increasing control over media and communications.

After the inaugural fair in 1984, Harare attracted hundreds of agents, publishers and literary figures from Europe, the United States, Asia, Australia and within Africa. But there is little incentive for foreign publishers to attend now – after all, few Zimbabweans can afford books.

This year’s fair featured just 84 exhibitors – mostly local publishers, booksellers, church groups and aid and human rights organizations.

“Whether we are still an international book fair is a vexing question,” said Greenfield Chilongo, executive director of the independent nonprofit association of organizers.

This time around, writers and academics came from Kenya and nations around the region for workshops, discussion groups and poetry and theater readings, he said. But bright souvenir T-shirts with the fair’s symbol were not produced, and the coffee bar no longer resembled a literary cafe.

“Like everybody, we have had our budget constraints. We have done our best to survive and our participants and supporters want to see it continue,” Chilongo said.

Maverick former politician, guerrilla leader and a ruling party founder Edgar Tekere arrived a few hours before the closing of the five-day event to sign copies of his autobiography, “A Life of Struggle.”

He said he had to “scrounge” for gasoline in his home city of Mutare on the eastern border with Mozambique to reach the fair.

Officials with a free-speech lobby group said some visitors, evidently supporters of sweeping media laws passed by the ruling party in 2003, were openly hostile over the group’s exhibit of literature and fliers on media repression, arrests of independent journalists and pro-Mugabe propaganda in the dominant state-controlled media.

In addition to controlling print and broadcast media, the government is now intent on monitoring the Internet. The official Herald newspaper reported Saturday that Mugabe had approved a new law giving authorities power to monitor and intercept communications on the Internet as well as fixed and mobile telephones.

There were no violent incidents at the fair. There have been scuffles over past controversial exhibits and the government one year banned a display of literature by gays and lesbians after Mugabe described same-sex partners as “lower than pigs and dogs.” Ruling-party militants trashed the display.

GALZ, the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, had a stand this year that displayed only a sign and a logo.

Just 500 people passed through the gates in the central Harare park on the first day the fair was open to the public, compared with thousands in previous years.

“I guess people are preoccupied out there searching for food and necessities,” said Kaparadza, the high school teacher. “All the same, I’m inspired by the hard work of the brave, committed people who put this fair together against everything that’s going on.”

Émission Amandla du 18 juillet 2007/ Amandla show from July 18th 2007

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant l’émission Amandla du 18 juillet dernier sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez la télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

Émission entièrement en anglais

L’artiste zimbabwéenne Stella Chiweshe (voir photo plus bas) vient à Montréal pour donner un spectacle dans le cadre du festival Nuits d’Afrique. Elle est la première femme du Zimbabwe à diriger son propre groupe et elle joue le mbira (aussi connu sous le nom de kalimba). Nous vous présentons une entrevue qu’elle a donnée à un membre de notre équipe d’Amandla. Sa présence au Festival Nuits d’Afrique à été couvert par le journal “Le Devoir“.

The Ravaging of Africa: Coporate Plunder. Rediffusion d’une émission radio en quatre parties qui traite des impacts destructeurs de l’impérialisme américain en Afrique. “Corporate Plunderdétaille les effets désastreux de la présence de Royal Dutch Shell au Nigeria et ceux de la canadienne Tiomin Resources au Kenya. On souligne aussi les façons dont les entreprises occidentales réussissent à ne payer aucunes taxes en Afrique. Avec Ifieniya Lott, Mwana Siti B. Juma, Charles Abugre and John Christensen.

Here are the subjects that were addressed in the July 18th Amandla radio show on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the show here (link valid for two months only).

Show entirely in english Stella Chiweshe

The Zimbabwean artists, Stella Chiweshe (see picture), comes in Montreal to perform at the “Festival Nuits d’Afrique” . She’s the first woman in Zimbabwe to lead her own group and she plays the mbira (also known as kalimba). We air an interview she gave to one of our Amandla crew member. Her presence at the Festival Nuit d’Afrique was alos covered by “Le Devoir” (in french).

The Ravaging of Africa: Corporate Plunder. It is a four-part radio documentary series about the destructive impact of U.S. imperialism on Africa. “Corporate Plunder” details the disastrous effects of Royal Dutch Shell’s operations in Nigeria and those of Canada’s Tiomin Resources in Kenya. Also highlighted is the massive tax looting of Africa by Western corporations. With Ifieniya Lott, Mwana Siti B. Juma, Charles Abugre and John Christensen.

Voici une petite video d’un spectacle donné par Stella Chiweshe en 2006. Here is a video showing a performance by Stella Chiweshe in 2006: