Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What Are The African Interets in Zimbabwe



The opposition MDC supporter was assaulted on the buttocks by Zanu PF youths and a herbicide-paraquat/gramoxone poured on the wound to inflict more pain. Paraquat is a fast action corrosive herbicide.


Africa's search for the betterment of its citizen has been elusive and a journey marred by disastrous setbacks. A few African countries show little prospects of a consistent path of advancing African interests with the greater number experiencing unending wars, diseases, hunger, poverty and marauding dictators.


This calls upon all citizens of Africa to engage in a serious conversation of their future. If at all Africa is to achieve an excellent quality of life for its citizen comparable to the magnitude of the quality of life currently being experienced in developed nations.


At the core of any nation is a socio-economic and political unity from which all citizens derive a shared meaning and value. The unity is derived from the amalgamation of individual and private interests to form national interests and consequently this adds up to continental interests-African interests.


In normal and mature democracies individuals advance their individual cause without having adverse effects on the interests of others. These private interests are self-directing and self-motivating they need not to wait for governments or any superior authority. The concepts of interests are the simpler underpinnings of nation states and the birth of sovereignty.


The opposition MDC has announced its decision to boycott the pending presidential runoff election. These and other events in Zimbabwe present a serious litmus test to what really constitute African interests? The MDC reveals that the election atmosphere that followed the disputed first ballot is not consistent and conducive for a free and fair election.


The atmosphere is characterized by abductions, arrests of opposition supporters and leaders, rape, torture, arson, denial of food aid, election rigging, double standards by the SADC appointed mediator- President Mbeki and the recent threats to President Morgan Tsvangirai's life.


There is need for us to question the values that inform the African Union and the prospects of the United States of Africa that Libya's Gaddafi advocates for? What then is the role of the African Union in Zimbabwe?


Only a few African leaders have at least managed to issue statements condemning the situation obtaining in Zimbabwe. The rest of the African leaders have remained silent and the worst coming from the self-proclaimed founding father of the united states of Africa, colonel Gadaffi who uttered 'leaders like Mugabe should be left to die in Office'. A defiant Mugabe resonated those views last week by arguing that only God can remove him from office.


What values and interests do Gadaffi and other silent leaders of Africa represent? This is clear tacit approval of the events in Zimbabwe. A closer look will unearth that Gaddaffi, Mugabe and many other African leaders have a lot in common that they share. They all do not value the will of their people and democratic fundamentals often oscillating and hiding behind the former Organization of African Union's (OAU) plea of sovereignty and non-interference.


A unique familiar quality is to blame the West for all the bad past of Africa. What about the future? Yet the independence of Africa brought to us self-determination representing a restoration of our birth right to self direct our nations towards African interests.


The MDC has vigorously campaigned to bring Zimbabwe on the spotlight only to get concern from non-African countries. African countries like South Africa through the SADC appointed mediator Mbeki have sought to sweep the violence under the carpet often opting to plot the de-skilling of the MDC through persuading and pressuring for a government of national unity (GNU).


What government of national unity when the ruling Zanu PF is plotting violence against the MDC leaders and its supporters? Why a government of national unity when the MDC agenda is opposite to that of Zanu PF?


The proponents of the GNU are informed by the need to recycle Zanu PF, which has been rejected by the people because of its disastrous policies of farm seizures and impending company seizures in the name of blind and self-serving indigenization and empowerment.


 It is clear that the people of Zimbabwe by voting against Zanu PF in the first round have rejected that brand of racist and selfish indigenization and empowerment. And no one has the moral authority and is qualified to subvert the will of people by smuggling Zanu PF back in a GNU setup with the MDC.


The MDC, one of Africa's modern and strongest opposition parties has been labeled a western stooge. African leaders have all along been rejecting audience to the MDC based on this false assumption that together with Britain it is intent on re-colonizing Zimbabwe. Then why form a GNU with a stooge?


African Union has a crucial role to play in curbing the excesses of Mugabe. It is clear that Zimbabweans have made their choice and it is up to African leaders to author an international precedent against the defunct principle of sovereignty and non-interference.


If Africa does not act on Mugabe immediately then it has itself to blame for abetting the delvish violence in Zimbabwe. African leaders need to rise from mere rhetoric against Mugabe's deeds to more covert action. As the battle for control of Zimbabwe by Zimbabweans intensifies only those who stand up in solidarity to their African brothers in Zimbabwe will be able to broadly define and construct what really are African interests.


It is un-avoidable that Morgan Richard Tsvangirai represents a post-colonial icon and hero of African hopes. His principles are typical of African interests that can salvage Africa.


We urgently require a return to the values embedded in our traditional values by categorically making a stand that 'an injury to Zimbabwe is an injury to Africa' only then can we start to realize the African dream of a peaceful and prosperous United States of Africa.


By Hillary Kundishora

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gender And Agricultural Development In Africa

Gender refers to the different relationships between men and women in society. According to the Ministry of agriculture in Zimbabwe 80% of communal farmers in Zimbabwe are women and 10% of the extension staff are women. On a global scale women constitute the majority and are most engaged in agriculture.


If interventions in agriculture are to engineer a green revolution in Africa and turn Africa from a brand marred by hunger, disease and malnutrition to a continent of plenty and a breadbasket of the world. It is urgent that we revisit gender issues in the agricultural development of Africa with the view of stimulating sustainable agricultural development.


Agricultural development implies an increased productivity on a sustainable and equitable basis. At the core of agricultural development is strategic change through adoption of new knowledge and skills, and the intensification of science and technology in agriculture. Gender provides a missing link to sustainable agricultural development considering the triple role of women.


Women since the biblical times of Jesus Christ's mother Mary have acquired a strategic role in society. The history of women is as long as the history of mankind and civilisation. Powell G.N in Women and Men in management argues that women have a triple role derived from socialization-a productive role, a community management role and a reproductive role.


It is inescapable to point that the roles of women are derived from socialisation and a part of culture. Implying that the roles of women are dynamic and extension needs to match this dynamism.


The productive role of women is of paramount importance. The reasons why most state interventions in agriculture fail are that gender is not given prominence it deserves. This point on all institutions engaged in agricultural development starting from the family level to mainstream gender in productive activities. Agricultural extension is a socializing agent that works towards fostering harmonious roles and behaviour in agricultural production.


An X-ray view of gender issues in agriculture will reveal constraints ranging from-lack of relevant client based and customized agricultural extension aimed at serving the needs of women in agriculture, a skewed resource ownership tilted against women, patriarchal views discouraging women from leadership roles in society, limited land rights to women in Africa, low productivity, lack of technical know-how and reduced democracy at family level which undermines and suppresses women.


The constraints said above point that Governments, Private sector and NGO's to stimulate African development and counter the ever increasing security threat from food riots induced by low food outputs need a rethinking of agricultural extension, if agricultural extension it is to act as a social re-engineering tool.


The tripartite development alliance (Government, Private sector and NGO's) to be an engine of African hopes in agriculture and gender urgently needs to;


1.      Encourage a cultural shift in the way we view women in agriculture in order to elevate and train women for decision making.

2.      Encourage partnering and collaboration between women in the value chain with a view of advancing a womanly cause.

3.      Carry out a massive leadership and capacity building programmes aimed at mainstreaming gender in society.

4.      Encourage a multi-sectoral response to gender issues and create standardized measures of compliance to gender issues. The standard will act as a qualification for doing business with stakeholders and accessing incentives.

5.      Create legislations aimed at elevating and assisting the historically disdvantaged women and girl child of Africa. Including ratifying international conventions and protocols on gender.

6.      Introduce a vibrant youth programme which encourages 'the girl child' to acquire skills; both practical and academic with a view of nurturing better mothers of tomorrow.

7.      Encourage new innovations, and intensification of science and technologies that reduce burden to women during production.

8.      Encourage and nurture entrepreneurship among women and re-engineer agriculture as a business than a subsistence activity.

9.      Revitalize extension services to be customized to serve the client based needs of women with emphasis on issues affecting agriculture such as HIV and AIDS.

10.  Resource provision to women and increasing land ownership without bias to sex.


Aid and charity have failed to develop Africa. Africa has hopes to salvage itself but the onus is upon this generation to be able to formulate strategies aimed at growing the economies of Africa.


Gender and agriculture represents an entry point to break the vicious cycle of poverty; these are serious interventions that will have a lasting developmental role to African hopes. Ahead of Africa lie both danger and an opportunity in the current global food crisis. Gender mainstreaming in agriculture will advance opportunities for exporting food to capitalize on the unmet needs arising out of the global food crisis.


By Hillary Kundishora

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Laboratory Of Economic Experiments - Exchange Rate Reforms & Inflation


Robert Mugabe the liberator turned benevolent dictator no longer has any moral license and cause to continue to steer the Zimbabwean ship in the stormy and mucky waters of globalisation.

It is clear that the national challenges we are facing require that we assemble an 'A-Team'. A team whose construct views the world from a perspective different from that required in prosecuting liberation wars because the challenges facing the nation and the environments are now diametrically the opposite to those that were obtaining during the liberation struggle. Zimbabwe urgently requires a leadership blend of seasoned politicians, diplomats and technocrats.

At 84 years old Robert Mugabe no longer has anything new to offer after leading the government for the past 28 years. From the Malaysian economic survival plan whose underpinnings was based on a fixed exchange rate to the current orthodox and free-floating exchange rate reforms, Zimbabwe has become a mere laboratory for economic policy experiments.

The latest free-floating exchange rate policy was necodemously stolen through 'cutting and pasting' from solutions proffered by both business and the opposition MDC. The policy was conceived and implemented in a vacuum yet its capability of steering and revitalising Zimbabwe lay in it operating within a package of supporting measures.

The free-floating exchange rate and inflation is another typical failure of the Junta; it has worsened massive suffering, with prices skyrocketing daily as business chase the prevailing exchange rate. The crisis has destroyed the social fabric, with hospitals operating without key drugs let alone the critical staff needed, and teachers have engaged on a permanent go slow in protest that their salaries be linked to the exchange rate.

This is the final nail to the Junta; it can no longer survive beyond the presidential June 27 runoff.

The correct prescription and measures would have been to implement a free-floating exchange rate and then support it through availing foreign currency to key institutions whose products/services are consumed by the most vulnerable in society.

The underlying idea is to stimulate the inflow of hard currency from foreign direct investments in particular from sovereignty wealth funds, aid and grants, remittances from abroad, and help to stabilize the value of the dollar against major currencies. This will tame inflation factors driven by foreign exchange shortages.

At the core of this policy reform is productivity and a production drive from industry, mining, tourism and the agricultural sector. This supply side approach will help the nation to trim its import bill (since imports will be more expensive) and deflate the black/parallel market, which is partly responsible for speculative activities running riot in the economy.

The current thrust of the policy only benefits fat businesses through enhancing international competitiveness. The overlooked fact was that there could be no policy success without a balanced trade off between the needs and wants of the broader society.

Workers in particular the lowly paid civil servants and other vulnerable members of society have emerged injured in the battle for economic recovery masterminded by the unpopular Junta. Yet basic facts are that social cohesion should be at the core of any successful national strategy or policy.

The rate of the dollar against major currencies has continued to slide further even if there are no inflows of funds into the interbank system. This point to the fact that our demand for funds is high against our supply for the funds further highlighting that rationalising the supply side of the economy is critical for any exchange rate reform success.

Inflation and the exchange rate have emerged as major drivers of inflation with Zimbabwean businesses resort to opening trading after 9am and closing trade at 3pm after factoring in the current exchange rate. This has left the economy experiencing high menu costs, with prices incrementally changing hourly and daily.

The lessons from these failed exchange rate reforms point to the fact that Zimbabwe needs a new government which is capable of negotiating a recovery package from any possible willing foreign sources. It has been proved beyond doubt that Zimbabwe lacks the strategic capacity to recover without international support.

The current governing Junta lacks the international goodwill; astitute politicians, seasoned diplomats and technocrats that can propel further our national cause.

Our rare circumstances both past and present, call on all responsible citizens to vote wisely in the coming presidential run-off. It is my considered view that no single individual can pull this country out of the mucky it is in. Only a collective leadership of our most brilliant and moral politicians, diplomats and technocrats can salvage this country.

One only needs to analyse the current events both in and outside of Zimbabwe to be able to see that Morgan Richard Tsvangirai indeed is a viable incumbent who has the capacity to assemble a leadership team that can salvage us. Come 27 June 2008, my vote goes to the young and brilliant Morgan Richard Tsvangirai who I'm confident has the capacity to assemble a team that advances our national cause.


Hillary Kundishora


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