Sunday, August 19, 2007

Shame on all SADC leaders

What transpired at the SADC heads of state summit in Lusaka last week has left me wondering whether south African leaders know exactly what is going on in Zimbabwe or they are just so blinded with their love (or is it fear) of President Robert Mugabe that they just don’t care.

How on earth could Zambian president, Levy Mwanawasa say problems in Zimbabwe are being “exaggerated”?

How can anyone exaggerate hunger affecting 3-4 million people; 80% unemployment; more than 5,000% inflation; 3-4 million Zimbabweans exiled; hundreds of opposition and civic activists beaten up, tortured, jailed and killed? How possible is it to embellish that when most of these statistics are churned out by none other than the government or its agencies?

Mwanawasa should know better. Not long ago his own country was in a situation not even as bad as what is prevailing in Zimbabwe. But he is president now because long-time president (for 27 years), Kenneth Kaunda, allowed free and fair elections that toppled him in a labour and civic-driven vote not unlike the one being suppressed in Zimbabwe.

Why then, Mwanawasa do you want to help suppress Zimbabweans from exercising what you benefited from? We thought you were your own man when you stood out and condemned Zimbabwe as “a sinking titanic”. How powerful is Mugabe’s hold on you?

As for South African president, Thabo Mbeki, I wonder whether we are really underestimating the thinking behind the so-called “quiet diplomacy”. Surely a country “burdened” by no less than three million Zimbabweans crossing over in thousands everyday, should actively and urgently seek a lasting solution to the troubled neighbour’s problems.

Unless, of course, Zimbabwe’s troubles and loss of its people is a massive economic gain to South Africa. One just has to look at how many Zimbabwean professionals are running South African hospitals, schools, newsrooms, companies and more. Could it be that Mr. Mbeki has realized that Zimbabwean exiles are worth more to him?

As for the rest of SADC leaders, well, I kind of sense jealousy. After all Zimbabwe is really an economic giant that is only slumbering. Should it be woken up to play, it will rule the commercial playground again in no time.

This is the only way I can rationalize what is going on in SADC about the Zimbabwe issue. Forget all this “solidarity with a brother state” nonsense. Forget the phony condemnation of Britain and the US and others. It is all about insecure regimes happy to have national and international attention on someone else not themselves.

Everybody knows what the real issue is in Zimbabwe. It is about a politically and economically suppressed nation. A nation needing relief from an 83-year-old khulu whose recycled ideas and personnel are just too spent to recharge a modern economy needing modern leadership and ideas.

It is not a personal issue against Mugabe or anybody. It is an urgent national and regional matter that needs to be addressed now.

Mandela, Kaunda, Nyerere, Nujoma and even Mugabe’s own idol, the late Kamuzu Banda let their countries free to seek new leaders. This is all we are asking for please, President Mugabe.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What report will Mbeki present in Lusaka?

This week all southern African eyes will be on Lusaka and particular attention will be on one man, South African president, Thabo Mbeki.

Thabo Mbeki will take centre position at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state and government summit as he is expected to give a report back on his mediation in the Zimbabwean political and economic crisis.

A lot of regional and international hope has been placed on Mbeki mostly because he is believed to be the only man Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe will listen to and co-operate with. And, this is the reason why, in my view, it should not surprise anyone if come end of summit, no tangible progress has been announced by Mbeki.

The fact that Mugabe lends his ears to Mbeki means that Mbeki too listens to Mugabe and I am not inventing anything here because the evidence is already there. Mbeki subscribes to Mugabe’s theory that Zimbabwe’s problems have been caused and exacerbated by Britain and its western allies and Zimbabwean political puppets.

Yes, Britain historically caused problems to Zimbabwe like it did to all its other former colonies including South Africa. However, I am not willing to buy that Britain exacerbated these problems alone with its so-called allies and puppets.

If Britain played a part in the escalation of Zimbabwe’s problems, it was in cahoots with the current Zanu PF government or in reaction to actions of the Zanu PF government.

What I mean is; Britain may have played part in the land chaos in Zimbabwe, but it did not influence or sponsor the subsequent economic rot and political persecution of the opposition and civic groups.

Nevertheless, Mbeki will not be expected to initiate and force Mugabe to see reason in redrawing the constitution and redressing the current injustices perpetrated on the nation by Mugabe’s government. Mugabe simply does not want that and what Mugabe does not want, Mbeki will not push for.

This is why recently the South African president announced that the main SADC goal is to ensure “free and fair” elections next year. He makes it sound like “free and fair” is a new catch phrase in Zimbabwe or the region.

The fact is that Zimbabwe has had “free and fair” elections since independence and SADC has been one organization that has always led the way in declaring Zimbabwean polls “free and fair” despite clear and mounting evidence to the contrary.

So, I wonder whether there is a new “free and fair” that Mbeki is talking about. We all know that unless something quite dramatic happens in the remaining months until March 2008, Zimbabwe will go to the polls, Zanu PF will win and Mbeki will declare a “free and fair” election.

Already the so-called talks have been beset with problems of Mugabe refusing to have the constitution discussed and his envoys not availing themselves for meetings. Word has it that not much really has been discussed except a few house-keeping matters.

So, I can predict what Mbeki’s report will say: “Progress has been made and continues to be made.”

Life goes on.


Calling CIDA---Hello, hello?

I have dealt with a number of both federal and provincial departments and I have been as satisfied as anybody could be with all except CIDA.

I have since come to the conclusion that guys at CIDA are reluctant to respond to enquiries and my writing about this comes from being frustrated three times in less than a year.

On Monday, July 23, I received a news piece from Voice of America that Canada had donated $3.3 million worth of food to Zimbabwe. The story did not have much detail, so on Tuesday I called CIDA for more information.

A media officer, Jinette Thibodeau answered my call and after I told her that I would appreciate an answer by the end of the day, she promised to do her best. She had not answered by the following day and I followed up. She said she had forwarded my request and was still waiting for answers which should come by the end of that day.

Nothing happened for more than a week until Friday, August 3 when I called and left a message registering my disappointment. Ms. Thibodeau called back and said she too was waiting for answers but promised again that answers would be provided by the end of that day.

Nothing came my way until Monday, August 6 when a brief answer restating what I already knew came via e-mail from Greg Scott, Chief of Media Relations.

Needless to say the editor I had pitched this story to had already lambasted me for promising what I could not deliver. To make matters worse, the information provided by Greg Scott left me where I started off, meaning I would have to call CIDA, again, and repeat the questions I wanted answered.

I gave up just like I did late last year when I was part of a group of journalists seeking funding for a project. We wanted to apply to CIDA which has such programs as the Mass Media Initiative and Journalism Development Initiative.

We called and e-mailed CIDA several times and all we got were voicemails which promised to respond to us promptly if we left detailed messages. We did but for weeks we never got any answers until May or June (more than six months later), when I received an e-mail informing me that our application had not been approved. I had forgotten we sought help from CIDA.

In March, after the release of the Senate report recommending that CIDA be closed because it had only done work worth 20% of its $12.4 billion budget for Africa in 38 years, I attended a meeting at the University of Ottawa, on aid to Africa and the future of CIDA.

Participants were hoping CIDA would answer questions but a lady who identified herself as a CIDA worker said she was there in her personal capacity.

“Do not expect an answer from CIDA,” she said and everybody there seemed to accept that it was in fact the way CIDA operated. Well, I still tried to seek comment but my call was not returned.

Still I defended CIDA because I really believe in the work they do in Africa, insignificant as it may seem to Canadian Senators. But the shoddy treatment I have received from CIDA every time I seek information is making me wonder whether I was too quick to defend them.

From talking with other people who deal with CIDA regularly, among them diplomats and journalists, it appears I am not the only one to be treated shabbily by this public institution and I wonder why.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

How will Brown handle relations with Zimbabwe

When Nicholas Sarkozy won the French elections in May, Africans held their breath. This was the man who, barely a year before, had called immigrants from the western and northern parts of the continent, “rabble” needing “a power hose” to cleanse them off the streets of Paris and other French cities.

But to his credit, Sarkozy took advantage of his inaugural speech as new French president, to invite African leaders to talk about “this common problem” of immigration. You could hear the collective sound of air being let out of millions of African lungs at that very moment.

If any of us from English-speaking Africa, particularly the southern tip, might have felt removed from that situation, we now have our own to ponder.

Gordon Brown has just taken over from Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street. Blair and his policies were rather harsh on Africa, so it is safe to say not many on the continent will miss him.

But we have his closest ally now to content with. He has not said much yet, particularly on the burning issue of Zimbabwe, which has always been the centre-piece of Britain’s relations with Africa.

Is he going to engage Mugabe or not? Is he going to offer some carrots to Mugabe to play ball and relieve the people of Zimbabwe from their suffering that has lasted exactly the same period that Blair was in office? If he offers carrots, is he going to bring sticks with the carrots?

Being a Blair protégé himself, will he pile up only sticks like his predecessor or will he be his own man when it comes to Zimbabwean issues?

The way Brown is going to handle the Zimbabwe issue will dictate the way Africans in general and southern Africans in particular will regard him – an ally or an enemy.

The way he handles the Zimbabwe issue could easily define Brown’s legacy in the same way it tainted Blair’s, but lest we say too much, suffice to say we humbly await The Honorable Prime Minister to speak on the issue.

Lets hear your views!!


Saturday, June 09, 2007


When Charles Taylor's trial was moved from Sierra Leone to The Hague, the United Nations and its western backers argued he would not receive a fair trial in Sierra Leone and that he risked being killed by his victims.

Well, he was taken to The Hague where he lives in a cell whose comfort millions of his victims would never dream of. The much anticipated beginning of his trial came on Monday and what did the former Liberian strongman do? He boycotted it.

Oh, he had a reason alright.

"I am driven to conclude that I will not receive a fair trial at this time and I must decline to attend hearings," said Taylor in a letter read out by his defence lawyer Karim Khan. "I cannot take part in this charade that does injustice to the people of Liberia and the people of Sierra Leone."

This coming from a guy who is answering to 11 counts of murder, kidnapping, torture and all sorts of other human rights abuses to thousands of Sierra Leoneans and Liberians. Now he wants justice for his victims?

Taylor's letter went on: "I have only one counsel to appear on my behalf against nine on the prosecution team. This is neither fair nor just."

I wonder whether he knew the terms "fair" and "just" when he was a warlord terrorizing most of West Africa in the 1990s. Looting Sierra Leone's diamonds and using them to fund rebels who raped, maimed and killed.

Familiar story
But Khan was not finished. He went on to tell Judge Julia Sebutinde he had been fired by Taylor who said he would represent himself.

If you are wondering where you heard this before, it happened in the same court, a few years ago when another dictator, Serbian Slobodan Milosevic, was on trial at The Hague.

Milosevic turned the International Court of Justice (ICJ) into a four-year circus that only ended with his death early last year. No doubt Charles Taylor was watching Milosevic's antics like all of us. The difference is that we were agonizing at how a justice process was being subverted at will by the former dictator while Taylor was probably taking down notes. If he were a student, he would be on course to an "A" grade.

If the United Nations and its western backers are serious about deterring would be despots and war criminals from emulating the likes of Milosevic and Taylor, they should close the ICJ immediately. It is a toothless body that gobbles millions of taxpayers' money without producing anything.

People like Charles Taylor do not deserve the kid-glove treatment they are accorded at The Hague.

These are men who played by the sword and in my best view they should die by the sword.
Charles Taylor ordered or did nothing to stop his predecessor, Samuel Doe from being kicked and stoned until he died on the streets of Monrovia. He ordered the raping, maiming and killing of thousands of his own people. He simply has no heart and you do not handle men like him so softly.

I must state clearly that I do not condone street justice. However, I think if Taylor had been tried in Sierra Leone, he would have respected the trial process better.

The way he is treating the ICJ and the way the court is letting him do that, gives a green light to those still persecuting innocent people to carry on knowing that when they are done butchering people, they will retire to The Hague to die in comfort.



Controversy might as well be Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's middle name. It dogs her at every turn.

The latest instalment is that Winnie, who was divorced by South Africa's former president, Nelson Mandela in 1996, was denied a visa to enter Canada late on Monday.

She was scheduled to headline a fundraising gala concert last night as part of the ongoing Luminato arts festival in Toronto. Devastated organizers of the $200-a-plate dinner concert dubbed "A Night in Soweto" said Winnie was to be accompanied by her daughter, Zindzi.

"We are devastated and she is very sad. She was all packed and dressed, ready to leave for the airport when she was informed she could not enter Canada," said Carole Adriaans, events director for arts organization, MusicaNoir, the group that invited Winnie.

Adriaans and other officials at Luminato and MusicaNoir said yesterday they did not know why Winnie was barred from coming to Canada.

Karen Shadd-Evelyn, a spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration Canada said yesterday: "She did not satisfy admissibility rules."

Well, I am not about to confuse readers by claiming ignorance or by using politically correct language to state the obvious. Quite simply, Winnie is a convicted criminal.

Canada does not admit criminals. That is the law and Winnie is subject to the law.

Under the criminal inadmissibility clause of Canada's Immigration Act, convicted foreigners may only be allowed into this country if:
* They meet the legal requirement to be deemed rehabilitated;
* They apply and are approved for rehabilitation
* They obtain a temporary resident permit
* They obtain a foreign pardon recognized in Canada.

Many South Africans and other people in the world, including myself, have nothing but admiration for Winnie's struggles under apartheid, but in the process of her fight for democracy she committed what was later to be known as her "reckless behaviour."

In the late 1990s, Winnie was charged with 18 crimes including murder, kidnapping, and torture. The most famous victim of Winnie's so-called "reckless behaviour" was 14-year-old Stompie Seipei, who was killed by one of Winnie's associates in the infamous Mandela Football Club, which was largely regarded as her own hit squad.

In 1997, Winnie was sentenced to six years in jail, but she appealed and the sentence was reduced to a fine.

If her actions in the 1980s could be excused as consequences of persecution by apartheid officials, her conviction in 2003 for fraud can hardly qualify her as a political or racial victim.

Further, Winnie has a tendency to utter political statements that tend to embarrass those around her and not many governments, not least of all the Canadian government, would want to be responsible for whatever she was going to say here.

In fact, a part of The Passion of Winnie, a film-opera to honour her struggle, which she was due to commission on Friday, seems to glorify "necklacing," a practice popularized by her supporters who killed her enemies by placing burning tires around their necks.

Winnie's supporters have argued she was allowed to fly into New York two weeks ago to receive an award for her work with AIDS and the Save Africa Concerts Foundation affiliated with the United Nations, so Canada should welcome her.

The fact is the UN operates like a sovereign government and its visitors are confined to its compound in New York, they are not allowed anywhere else in the United States as long as the U.S. government has barred them, as is the case with Winnie.

So, Canada does not have to admit her just because the UN did.

The law is the law.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Don't forget Zim land issue in Blair's legacy

AS British Prime Minister, Tony Blair counts down his days in office, his legacy is already being written by many a writer.

As far as most of the world is concerned, Blair will be remembered as the Prime Minister who ended the age-old conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.

He will also be remembered as the Prime Minister who became a friend indeed to a US President (George W. Bush) who was fast running out of allies as he invaded Iraq on false charges of developing weapons of mass destruction.

But this is not all he should be remembered for. People in Africa – Zimbabwe precisely, will remember him as the British Prime Minister who dared tell President Robert Mugabe off, helping spark an economic and political crisis that has consumed the southern African nation all his entire tenure.

Zimbabweans do not forget that the main reason Zimbabwe’s independence was finally won around the table at Lancaster House rather than in the streets of Harare was because the British government promised to pay for land redistribution in Zimbabwe.

They did some of it under the so-called “willing-buyer, willing-seller” concept. The money stopped during the time of the last Conservative PM, John Major.

Then Blair came into power in 1997. He represented the Labour Party, traditionally the party that understood the feelings of the down-trodden. He would be better to deal with, Mugabe and his government thought until Mugabe met the 44-year-old new PM in Edinburgh where he hosted Heads of the Commonwealth.

It was touted as the highlight of the Summit. Mugabe brought up the issue of funding land redistribution and horror of horrors, Blair would have none of it.

Blair said Britain provided in excess of BP44 million since 1980, most of which went into the fat bellies of Mugabe’s political cronies.

“But promise is a credit,” argued Mugabe.

“Was I there when you were given that promise? I was in school and I do not honour promises I had nothing to do with,” countered the young PM.

It ranks as the only time anyone dared tell Mugabe off like that and the consequences are there for everyone to see.

Blair might have had a point that Britain provided money that had not been properly accounted for, but to pretend as if he did not know Britain’s obligations to Zimbabwe is criminal.

Much as we blame Mugabe for the chaos that resulted from his badly planned land redistribution exercise, Blair must shoulder some of the blame, if not in equal measure.

This is the reason why most African leaders would rather ignore Mugabe’s atrocities to his own people because they consider that he stood up for them.

However, this, of course, is now an issue for historians to argue. Blair is no longer a factor in the scheme of things as you read this comment. Gordon Brown is the man now.

I am sure Mr. Brown does not need anyone to tell him how important it is for him to approach the Zimbabwe issue more pragmatically than his soon to be predecessor.

Britain cannot afford to ignore its political and economic ties to Zimbabwe and a fresh start may help us all.


Mutambara sneaks into Canada

MDC faction leader, Arthur Mutambara snuck into Canada in the last week of April and secured a rare meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister, Peter MacKay in his Parliament Hill office.

The key words here are "snuck in" and "rare". For a national leader whose party boasts the majority of political Zim-Canucks, Mutambara's visit was somehow not communicated to anyone in the Zimbabwean community.

But much as this might surprise many, Zim-Canucks are the list bit fazed.You see, those Zim-Canucks who support the MDC identify themselves with the Morgan Tsvangirai faction so, they have no time for a robotic politician. Some middle of the road Zim-Canucks believe Mutambara is just not worth their time. The rest wouldn't have cared even if it was Tsvangirai or President Robert Mugabe who had come.

Still, for a man seeking to lead MDC to victory against Zanu (PF) and possibly lead the country, Mutambara acted as if there are no Zimbabweans here and that smacks of arrogance. A smart politician, especially one seeking support, would have sought even a single Zimbabwean family and be seen grinning, holding a baby and saying something like: "We are fighting for our children here to come back to a free country and play their part…"

That aside, Mutambara got a very rare meeting with the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, the second most important politician here. Such meetings do not just happen and given Canada's lukewarm response to the Zimbabwe crisis, Mutambara must be congratulated for securing that opportunity.

Now, when you get a one in a million chance, you have to throw in that card you know will win. In this case, Mutambara should have pressed MacKay to bring out his blazing gun of condemnation of Mugabe's human rights abuse and even promise to act on it.

Well, what does our robotic leader do, he asks for "technology transfer" when (or more precisely, if) he takes over power. How childish. No wonder MacKay responded by offering "moral support" and ushered Mutambara out of his office.

If I had been there, I would have said: "It is not robot science, AGO."Now, you may remember that a few weeks ago I mentioned that the local MDC branch was so dysfunctional that the chairman was contemplating quitting. Last week, he quit.

Vice chairman, Andrew Mudzingwa takes over the leadership in an interim capacity until an election is held in 90 days. Manyevere said his retirement followed extensive consultations with his executive and was driven by a desire to give a chance to "enthusiastic" young party members who wanted to lead. Smart move. Politics never seemed to be his calling and it definitely contradicted his teachings at the local Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church where he is a respected elder.

What's next for him? Watch this space.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Beating up lawyers is spitting in faces of African leaders

THE attack by Zimbabwean police officers on lawyers is a slap – no actually a phlegm-filled spit on African leaders’ kid’s glove diplomacy on President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF regime.

The insult to the African Union and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) heads becomes even embarrassing because on the very day the lawyers were given a public flogging like delinquent neighborhood kids, the Pan African Parliament was sitting in South Africa to determine, among other issues, the way to handle the Zimbabwe crisis.

Even more embarrassing, AU chairman, President John Kufour of Ghana and SADC mediator, President Thabo Mbeki were also meeting with the former hoping to hear of progress in the Zimbabwe crisis talks.

To those who may not have known of the issue I am ranting about, here is a brief account:

On Tuesday a group of Zimbabwean lawyers went to the High Court to demonstrate in solidarity with two colleagues who had been arrested and detained on politically motivated charges.

When they gathered to demonstrate, they were told by the police to disperse and they were in the process of doing so when some police officers decided they were not walking fast enough.

"They physically forced us onto a truck drove about three or four kilometres and asked us to disembark. They asked us to lie on our stomachs and then they started assaulting us," said the Law Society of Zimbabwe's president, Beatrice Mtetwa.

According to other accounts, it appeared the police had found themselves something to amuse themselves with judging from how they ran around beating the lawyers like rowdy goats that strayed into a neighbour’s maize field.

How does President Mugabe hope to get sympathy for any of his arguments when his security people show such disrespect for human rights?

Exactly two months ago, it was the opposition and civic leaders who were attacked, resulting in a worldwide outcry that led to the emergency meeting of SADC leaders where Mbeki was chosen to lead talks between Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The government has maintained that Morgan Tsvangirai and his colleagues deserved to be beaten up because they had defied police orders not to politicize a prayer meeting.

What law did the lawyers break when they complied when they were ordered to disperse? Okay, let’s suppose they did actually break the law in some way, what does the policing rules say in the Constitution? Is there anywhere it says load the offenders on a truck, drive them out of town and proceed to beat them up?

These beatings are senseless to say the least. They tell a tale of fear within the core of the regime. They tell a tale of a cornered bully whose reaction to legitimate challenges is to lash out at anyone within reach.

Last September it was union leaders, what law did they break to deserve a beating? As for members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and their children, they have actually become target practice for an inept police force.

There are people who believe in President Mugabe’s argument over land and other “injustices of the west”. How convincing, President Mugabe, can you be to them when you continue bashing in the heads of your own people?

African leaders, how justified is the beating up of lawyers, unionists and women and children?

My question to you all at AU and SADC is: When are you going to say enough is enough?

Beating up people does not bring back land; neither does it stop Britain and America or even China from colonizing Zimbabwe if they want to. You are actually making it easy for them.


Saturday, March 31, 2007


Recently I attended meetings that left me wondering if Canada is really serious about doing business in Africa.

In all the meetings I detected a dearth of information on Africa as an investment destination and trade partner. I wonder what Canadian diplomats and companies already doing business in Africa are reporting back because it appears the government regards Africa in the mode of a hapless continent that can only be dealt with in terms of aid.

But if one cares to ask them, Africans will tell you that their priority is investment and trade.

A week ago I wrote about how CIDA could be abolished because it is considered to have failed to make a change in Africa and yet that determination is made without input from African beneficiaries.

Last Friday I attended a business roundtable discussion organized by the Canadian Council for Africa (CCA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFIAT).

It turned out that at a time when Europeans, Americans, Chinese and Indians are making a beeline to make business partnerships with Africa, Canada has reduced its incentives to businesses and is pulling out its commercial attaches.

This is because DFIAT lacks real time information on the business potential of Africa. For example, DFIAT has divided Sub-Sahara Africa into four investment and trade zones (south, east, west and north) with the main determinant being the availability of oil and minerals.

The zones show that DFIAT does not consider Africa a continent to do business with but a provider of resources.

It also shows that the department ignores information on the existence of investment and trade zones that Africa itself has set up under the African Union (AU). These are Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), East Africa Community (EAC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

These groupings are used by the EU, China, the US and other investment and trade blocs to great rewards. Trying to circumvent these blocs will not help Canada and may actually be the reason Canadian businesses find it difficult to penetrate the African market because when they think they have satisfied requirements in one DFIAT zone, when they go from country to country they find different requirements they need to meet.

Another issue that came out in the meting was that DFIAT regards business related to education and health provision in Africa can only be provided under the humanitarian banner, hence its CIDA’s job.

Nothing could be far from the truth. Africa has long moved past the free education and health mode and investors from other countries are taking advantage, making a killing by opening up private institutions in Africa.

But DFIAT bureaucrats take orders from their political bosses. This is where the problem lies and it was articulated clearly at another meeting, on Saturday, which was called by Liberal MP, Keith Martin who is seeking support from Zimbabweans to re-launch his effort to have Mugabe indicted in Canadian courts as a war criminal.

Martin admitted that fellow politicians regard Zimbabwe and Africa in general as “a lost cause”, “a dead end”. I wonder whether the wars in Somalia and Sudan or civil unrest in Zimbabwe and other spots are enough for Canada to dismiss Africa totally like that or there is something else.

No matter, my point is that Africa is emerging as a business destination and Canada would best be advised to get involved or it will be left to rue the missed opportunity in a not so distant future.



I was about to sign off on my column for this week when new information landed in my inbox. Someone told me that a new Zimbabwean pressure group has been formed in Toronto and it is called the Empowered Women of Zimbabwe (EWOZ).

It is late at night here in Canada and its my deadline, so you will forgive me because I do not have enough details about this spanking new organisation except that it is chaired by a fellow journalist, Irene Mazvita Mlambo. I am not sure yet what the organisation stands for but I promise to let you know next week when I get a chance to talk to the chairlady or someone in the group.

For years Zimbabwe has been losing thousands of its professionals to other countries who have readily accepted them as value added to their economies. One such country is Canada where Zimbabweans, although they are relatively fewer than other nationals, are already making their mark in various professional sectors.

This did not escape the eye of the Ontario provincial ministry of labour which is repealing its labour laws to enhance the integration of foreign trained professionals into the economy.

The ministry has especially sought the input of Zimbabweans “because of their high level of education and professionalism” to draw up a new law that will be used in future. This naturally makes us Zim-Canucks proud but our pride is tempered by knowledge that this kind of recognition would have been more meaningful were we at home and being accepted by our own government. Anyway, as this process progresses, I will be updating you.

There is nothing that is more fulfilling than to have someone take your criticism as constructive and try to do the right thing. In the past I have been “trashing” the Toronto branch of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). I have said, factually, that they are ineffective, disorganised and directionless.

Well, I see some change already. On Saturday I attended a meeting they called with Liberal Member of Parliament, Keith Martin, who has been fighting a lone battle to have Mugabe indicted as a war criminal by the Canadian government. Martin has lost that battle so he is seeking Zimbabweans to give him the numbers he needs to relaunch the effort.

So, in Saturday’s meeting, the MDC supporters pledged to back him by marching on the Zimbabwean embassy in Ottawa on April 16th as a way to draw Canadian attention to Zimbabwe’s plight.
The last time they demonstrated here in Toronto, they sang Ishe Komborera Africa and told bystanders that it was the national anthem of Zimbabwe. When I and other people told them that Zimbabwe’s national anthem had long changed to Simudzai Mureza WeZimbabwe/Pakhamisa iFlag yeZimbabwe, they argued that it was a Zanu PF song. So, I was pleasantly surprised on Saturday when it was announced that MDC members were learning the actual Zimbabwean anthem which they had now accepted to be theirs as Zimbabweans.

One member asked MP Martin to lobby the international community to allow Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to vote. Martin rightly answered that this issue is a constitutional matter that only Zimbabweans could determine.

However, that point was, to me, a sign of foresight on the part of the member. Some of us have long argued that if Mugabe could be forced to allow exiled Zimbabweans to vote and then make sure the elections were monitored more tightly than before, then this time next year, we could be talking of a new regime in the country. Food for thought.

Watch this space.



I told you from the beginning that in this column there will be no sacred cows. In that regard, this week I would like to talk a little bit of politics.

Like all other Zimbabweans elsewhere in the Diaspora, we, Zim-Canucks have two forms of political representation.

One is, obviously, the government, via the Zimbabwe embassy in Ottawa. Well, I have nothing much to say about Mrs. Chideya and her team except, of course, that they represent President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF and we all know what they stand for.

My focus today is on the executive of the Toronto branch of our main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change. These guys’ style of leadership leaves a lot to be desired. They will not tolerate criticism whatsoever, and I should know because I have been vilified many times for calling a spade exactly what it is.

Some members of the leadership asked me to expose some of the things that are done by the executive of the branch and before I tell you some of these “vices” I need to say that I asked the chairman, Mr. Andrew Manyevere, not once, but twice. On both occasions I also told him I was asking in my capacity as a journalist and that I intended to write about it.

His response: “Some of the things you are saying are known only to my executive and the fact that you know them makes me believe you when you say members of my executive told you.

“We have problems, but like in any organization, we have channels to deal with those problems and that is what we are doing.”

Now, here are the problems that members complain about:

The first thing is that MDC-Toronto draws most of its membership from Zimbabweans seeking political asylum. Now, when any of them complain about one thing or another, they are quickly reminded that they can always leave the party but bearing in mind that if they do, they might not have a chance at the refugee board. I know that is very far from the truth.

Then there is the issue of officials who “misplace” or “borrow” party funds for personal use with the complicity of the executive. One wonders whether the MDC code of conduct allows this and if paying members are aware that their contributions are used as “soft” loans for executive members.

There are also squabbles about who should give out statements, when and how. In fact, one executive member said meetings called to discuss strategy to lobby for support in the fight against Zanu PF always end up discussing “mundane administration” issues.

In fact, the current executive was appointed in an interim capacity to prepare for the election of a substantive executive but my sources said some officials are strongly against relinquishing power. Curiously, the ones refusing to leave their posts are those who have either gone for refugee hearings and were denied or are still to appear before the refugee board.

Then there are some who are said to have earmarked themselves (or might have been promised by somebody in Harare) for ministerial posts when MDC takes power “soon” but they know that if new elections are held for the branch, they will be voted out and so they are refusing to let the elections be held.

Now, having said all that, I believe it is a very good thing to have MDC represented in the Diaspora, but the party may want to be certain of the people who lead this representation.

Nuff said. Right now I will just chill and wait for what I know is coming - more vilification from MDC-Toronto.

I wonder what they are going to call me this time around. Want to know too?

Watch this space.



Fellow Zimbabweans, tino kumhoresai, siyalibingelela, wherever you are on God’s earth.

Did anybody hear what I heard? Some wise guy is said to have recommended to President Robert Mugabe to declare Australia, South Africa, Canada, the UK and US; virtual provinces of Zimbabwe and upgrade (or is it downgrade) our ambassadors and high commissioners in those countries to provincial governors.

I do not know if that is true, but in terms of Zimbabwean populations in those countries, such a suggestion would not be so crazy really. We all know, of course, that Zimbabwe is a nation asunder, its citizens driven abroad by professional deprivation, political persecution and in search of economic emancipation.

Life goes on among Zimbabweans in the Diaspora. People fall in and out of love, babies are born and given names like Sibonelo, students go to school without fear of being sent to Green Bomber camps, professionals try to make their dreams come true, people fall sick and die and we all contribute to our local communities.

We have opinions about what is happening back home and we also contribute towards the betterment of our own people and country through various means; sending money to family in Gokwe, joining political and social forums that debate issues back home and raising awareness about our national plight.

Today we introduce to you this column which will be a weekly feature in this newspaper. In this column you will read about your family, friends and just fellow Zimbabweans in the Great White North.

Canada is generally a quiet country with people who are very careful of what they say to the next person. It is often regarded as no one’s country because we all came from somewhere.

In Canada you see all colours of people, you hear all languages on earth and in the midst of this multicultural mosaic, Zimbabweans are thriving and contributing. We like to call ourselves Zim-Canucks just like Zimbabweans in Australia might want to call themselves Zim-Aussies.

Canuck is an endearing term Canadians are known with. According to Wikipedia, the Internet encyclopedia, Canuck was first recorded in 1835 to mean (ironically) Americanism.

However, we will always be Zimbabweans and this column will seek to advance our Zimbabweaness through our aspirations, desires and wishes as any people far away from home.

Each week we will give you substance on what is happening in our small world in a big and very cold country - it gets so cold here even cars freeze stiff in temperatures that can reach lows of -30 Degrees Celsius. We will tell you what we think and what we say about ourselves and our country. We will also tell you about what others think and say about us as a nation.

Generally Zimbabweans are regarded with respect here. We are better educated, we are largely humane and professional in our conduct and we often excel in what we do. However, we also get entangled in issues that affect everybody else; immigration matters and contentious matters of human relations.

Like in any big family, we also have our own rotten apples or black sheep who put our name in shame once in a while.

Well, as long as we know about it and we have the facts to back up any issue about Zim-Canucks, you will read it in this column because, in true journalism ethos, there will be no sacred cows.

We also invite you, to alert us to any issues that concern Zim-Canucks and we will be sure to discuss them on this column.

Watch this space.