A dressed up Somalia
I had two disturbing experiences this week. I visited the Head Office of the
Ministry of Education and then went to the Government Pensions office. I was
asking after the pension of a friend who had been retired for two years and
had not received his pension.
The Ministry of Education was a shock - there was no one at work. Floor
after floor was almost deserted. 'Where is the clerk who deals with
Bulawayo?' I asked. 'She is at the bank' was the reply. Today I went back to
find the office deserted except for a solitary employee who told me they had
not seen the clerk for several days - did not know when she would be back at
work, 'try the pensions department' she said.
I had 30 minutes before my next meeting so I went over to the building where
the pensions department was and again walked in on a department where out of
30 employees there were two in attendance - one the supervisor and the other
a data clerk. They told me they had 300 000 pensioners in their data base
and the supervisor told me without any reluctance that she earned Z$2
million a month - US$4.00 at today's exchange rate.
If this is representative of what is going on in government departments then
the situation is pretty dire. In a recent survey, people were asked if they
had tried to leave the country. 53 per cent responded that they had tried to
leave Zimbabwe in the past year. Do you blame them? Today I was told that
all State hospitals in the capital had closed down and were not accepting
When I attended a Parliamentary caucus this week I told a fellow legislator
what I had seen in the government offices - he laughed and said, 'we are a
dressed up Somalia'. I thought that was very apt. 4 hours later the
Parliament was closed for a month - there was no money for expenses and no
water in the building. The last time I looked, I was getting Z$50 000 a
month - enough to buy half a loaf of bread.
In my pigeon hole at Parliament was a glossy document - the annual report of
a State controlled institution. The lay out and contents were very
professional - it could easily be taken as an annual report for a big
company. However, when I studied the balance sheet and did some number
crunching, I found that the main customer of the organisation - another
State controlled institution, had not paid its bills for two years and
technically, the organisation was broke - even with money in the bank.
On Friday we finally gathered to hear what had transpired last Sunday at the
SADC summit in Johannesburg. It was both intriguing and disappointing - the
14 States had spent 12 hours debating two regional problems - the conflict
in the eastern Congo and the political crisis in Zimbabwe. In the end they
fudged both. Angola and Zimbabwe both offered troops - the Angolan offer is
unlikely to be taken up, as the Congo does not trust Angola (with good
reason). Our offer was an empty gesture unless Kabila or Angola was going to
pick up the tab of about US$1 million a day.
On Zimbabwe they fudged the whole issue, clearly supporting Zanu PF and more
particularly, Mugabe. The final communique could not have been more one
The MDC leadership spent the rest of the week talking to those SADC leaders
who are sympathetic to the MDC and have some democratic credentials. After
those consultations, our leadership met in Harare and finally today, we
called in our National Executive and Council.
After an all day meeting we finally resolved - unanimously, to reject the
SADC decision, reaffirm our commitment to the Global Agreement and clearly
stated what our conditions are for participation in any new inclusive
Government. Our demands are well known to all SADC States and to the
Secretariat in Gaborone. They are: -
We reject the agreement signed on the 15th of September in front of 23 Heads
of State and with great fanfare supervised by Mr. Mbeki as not representing
the actual agreement negotiated and signed on the 11th September in Harare.
We insist that the new inclusive government be based on the original
agreement and that the way it is implemented also be in accord with the
We demand the allocation of ministerial portfolios on the basis of equity
between Zanu PF and MDC. By no stretch of the imagination can the
Mugabe/Mbeki allocation be considered as anything but biased and partial.
We demand the recall of all 10 Provincial Governors, unilaterally appointed
by Mugabe in defiance of the MOU and the Global Agreement and the allocation
of these posts on the basis of the Parliamentary majorities in each Province
(5 MDC, 4 Zanu PF and 1 Mutambara).
We demand the appointment of all Permanent Secretaries and Ambassadors on
the basis agreed in the original version of the Global Agreement.
We demand full prior agreement between the Parties to the constitution and
membership of the National Security Council to which the armed forces and
security service are to be accountable to ensure they are not controlled and
directed on a partisan basis.
We demand full agreement by all Parties to a draft version of Constitutional
Amendment number 19 referred to in the Global Agreement and intended to give
full expression to the Agreement in legal terms and on the basis of which it
will be implemented. The Draft Bill to be jointly proposed and supported by
all Parties to the Agreement when it comes to Parliament and is passed into
Finally, we resolved that since it was obvious that neither Zanu PF nor
Mugabe can be trusted to act in the interests of either the country or the
Agreement, that all these conditions must be met in full and implemented in
clearly defined legal terms before we would participate in any inclusive
government. We further stated that we would not recognise any government
appointed by Zanu PF in the interim and would continue to hold that no
Ministers currently in office have any legitimacy or legal standing and that
Mr. Mugabe can only become State President by agreement.
That is a big spanner in this particular works - we wait to see what the
region and the regime do in reaction. For the rest of us, it's 'vasbyt'.
The Zanu PF propaganda machine is working overtime. 'MDC agrees to join
inclusive government' was the headline this morning in State newspapers.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Zanu PF thought that the SADC
decision would put us in an impossible situation with no real options. They
now know better. If they want to see Zimbabwe put back on the road to
recovery, if they want to get out of the hole they are in, then they have to
have our approval and participation. If not, they are going nowhere.
Bulawayo 15th November 2008