|Africa News Digest
Zimbabwe Unity Government Formed
Jan. 30 (EIRNS)In the face of intense pressure from the London-based global financial cartel, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Zimbabwean opposition MDC-T announced today that his party has agreed to participate in a Government of National Unity (GNU) with President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, as well as a smaller party (MDC-M) that split off from Tsvangirai's party, and which is led by Arthur Mutambara. Tsvangirai will become prime minister, as previously negotiated under the mediation of former South African President Thabo Mbeki. Tsvangirai will be sworn in Feb. 11. Mutambara will become a deputy prime minister.
Presidents and heads of government finally convinced the Tsvangirai faction of the MDC to form a GNU after a 14-hour summit meeting of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) on Jan. 26. The SADC is now headed by South African President Kgalema Motlanthe. Then the Tsvangirai faction had to convince those in his party who opposed the move. Reportedly the MDC decision has a lot of popular support, because people are getting fed up with all the factional differences in the MDC that have stalled the agreement since it was made last Sept. 15.
This morning, Tsvangirai's MDC faction and Zanu-PF met to iron out details, before MDC leaders made their final decision. Both MDC factions and Zanu-PF have set up a joint body to monitor the implementation of the deal.
Mugabe's government today welcomed the decision by Tsvangirai to join a unity government, saying the opposition was "shifting from external influence." "We welcome it, we expected them to do that," Information Minister Paul Mangwana told AFP after the MDC leader said he would be sworn in as Prime Minister by Feb. 11. "We are happy that for the first time they have now recognized themselves as Zimbabweans and we are happy that they are shifting from external influence and have started to reason like Zimbabweans," Mangwana said.
Now the task will be to attempt to revive the economy that has been destroyed by ten years of economic warfarethe IMF refused to allow any company to do business with Zimbabwe, as part of the sanctions package against the country, as punishment for having dumped the privatization and free-trade schemes that battered the economy in the early- to mid-1990s. Now the question is: Will the financial cartel allow the rebuilding of Zimbabwe, which once had the highest education level in Africa? The pretext for the economic warfare against Zimbabwe had been what the cartel called the lack of democracy. Now that the two sides are on the way to forming a government, will the cartel attempt to sabotage the unity government, to provide themselves with a pretext for continuing to refuse to rebuild the country that was ruined by its economic warfare?
African Leaders: Lift Sanctions Against Zimbabwe Now!
Jan. 31 (EIRNS)London, which has taken the lead in attacks against the Zimbabwe government for not being democratic, is taking a chilly attitude toward the agreement among three Zimbabwe parties to form a Government of National Unity, instead of helping it to succeed.
African leaders, on the other hand, are calling for the immediate lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe. Arthur Mutambara, the leader of Zimbabwe's MDC-M and a prominent scientist, told Reuters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, "It's not for Britain or America to judge our agreement; your job, as America or Britain, is to support what we try to do. All the sceptics must now shut up and support what Zimbabweans want. Listen to us as Zimbabweans.... This agreement is a flawed arrangement. It is imperfect. But it is the best short-term answer.... Let's forget our political differences and think about Zimbabwe's national interests."
Mytambara called for aid, but especially investment, and said he was encountering "a lot of appetite to be involved in Zimbabwe" at the Davos meeting.
In South Africa, the director general in the Presidency, Frank Chikane, told the South African public radio station SAfm, "We expect Europe and the U.S. and other countries to stop the sanctions."
The executive council of the African Union Commission today adopted a resolution calling for "the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe to help ease the humanitarian situation in the country." The chairman of the commission, Jean Ping, put a sharp point on it when asked about European and U.S. sanctions: "Imagine that you don't help Zimbabwe. Who will be blamed?"
Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Targetted with Food Cuts
Jan. 29 (EIRNS)Just as the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) group of nations, currently led by South Africa, is in the process of setting up a Government of National Unity (GNU) in Zimbabwe, the UN announced that it was going to cut food rations to Zimbabwe by half. A successful implementation of a GNU would eliminate the pretext used by nations following London's policy of cutting off all economic collaboration with the country. This London-originated policy is what has destroyed the economy of Zimbabwe.
The London Guardian today reports that the UN is going to cut food rations to Zimbabwe by half, ostensibly because donations from foreign donors are drying up. The World Food Program is to cut the core maize ration in February from 10 kg to 5 kg a monthjust 600 calories/day, which is below what will keep an adult alive. This will affect 7 million Zimbabweans, or 70% of the population. The recommended ration is 12 kg/month, so Zimbabweans will have less than half the minimum food requirement. Many will now be fortunate to eat once a day. People are selling livestock and household goods to raise money to buy food.
Agriculturalists are projecting that the April harvest will fail, providing less than a quarter of the country's needs. As a result, drastic food shortages will continue into next year. Next month, the total number of Zimbabweans relying on food aid will rise by 1.5 million. A lack of agricultural inputs, a result of the economic warfare against the country, has greatly contributed to the crop failure. The London press, and its allies around the world, maintain that this is happening because Mugabe is a dictator, making no mention of the economic warfare.
In neighboring Mozambique, the UN World Food Program will meet only half the survival rations needed for 350,000 people from February to April.
Today, on Reliefweb.int, the U.S. AID Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSN) reported that, "through the end of April, the World Food Program will only meet 55% of [Mozambique's] needs for this period, due to lack of resources. As a consequence of an undersupplied food aid pipeline, the food insecure persons in selected districts of Manica, Sofala, and, Tete provinces will not be receiving food assistance from February to April 2009."
The WFP is threatening to cut rations, or discontinuing food relief altogether, elsewhere around the globe. In the 1990s, the annual volume of world food relief reached 15 million tons; but in recent years, it has barely topped 7 million tons, although the need is far greater and urgent.
Sudan Expert: Defer ICC Action Against Bashir
Jan. 27 (EIRNS)Sudan expert Alex de Waal called Jan. 25 for the UN Security Council to defer the implementation of an arrest warrant for Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, should the International Criminal Court (ICC) issue one. De Waal sees such an arrest warrant, which is expected in the coming weeks, as a mortal threat to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between Sudan's North and South.
His call appears on his blog, "Making Sense of Darfur," on the website of the Social Science Research Council (New York). The UN Security Council has the power to defer an ICC arrest warrant from year to year under the ICC's founding statute.
De Waal does not mention the fact that the ICC is funded privately by George Soros and his co-thinkers.
De Waal writes: "My proposal is that the UN Security Council should invoke Article 16 without condition [Under Article 16, the Security Council can pass a resolution suspending the court's investigations or prosecutions for a year at a time].... I do not support putting conditions on the Article 16 deferral. Using every opportunity for leverage on the Sudan Government is not a strategy but a habit, and in my view the absolute priority is to focus on the CPA and Sudan's progress towards democracy and stability, and only when that objective is agreed does it make sense to apply additional leverage. The 12-month deferral is the time period in which the strategy for that objective needs to be in place and seen to be working."