It has been six months since arch-rivals Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe were brought together to form Zimbabwe's unity government. So how is this awkward shotgun marriage actually working?
This week Ginny Stein returns to Zimbabwe and finds some promising signs of a new start.
The unity government scrapped Zimbabwe's worthless currency, replacing it with the US dollar and the South African rand, which has meant that many shops and markets have finally been able to restock, and people once again have access to the necessities.
With government agencies still struggling to fund basic services, optimistic volunteers are coming together to help clean up rubbish and stem the spread of cholera.
But Ginny finds the changes don't run deep.
President Robert Mugabe retains control over the security forces, the legal system and the media, and there are still many obstacles to Zimbabwe's recovery.
As frustration grows, many are quickly losing faith in the promise of the unity government.
Below is a response from Zimbabwe's Ambassador to Australia, Mr S.C. Chiketa:
On 30th August 2009 the SBS Dateline screened a programme titled Zimbabwe Rising.
Though viewers were shown the "abundant agricultural produce" and told of the availability of food and the supermarkets whose shelves are filled with goods, the producer misinformed the public and spent more time and concentrated on past negative events rather than on the current positive developments and promising future prospects.
Dateline's Prior Announcement To Viewers: Before the programme was shown over the TV, viewers were informed that they would be treated to scenes that show how Zimbabwe is Rising, progressing, and advancing since the advent of the Inclusive Government.
But what was shown on 30th August, 2009 wrongfully attributed some positive developments that are a result of the efforts made by the previous ZANU (PF) led Government to reforms made by the Inclusive Government.
Further, the programme concentrated on the past negative events at the expense of the current positive developments and future bright prospects.
Your viewers should be made aware of the real fact that the Inclusive Government has indeed ushered in a very bright promosing future for Zimbabwe and its people.
The Availability of Agricultural Produce and Food: The abundant agricultural produce shown to the viewers is the result of the efforts of the previous ZANU (PF) led Government that had provided farmers with agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilisers, and equipment. Your viewers might be interested to know that the agricultural season in Zimbabwe begins in October/November (in this case of 2008) and ends in March/April (again in this case of 2009). The Inclusive Government was sworn on February, 2009. It is therefore the ZANU (PF) led Government that should have been given the credit for the abundant agricultural produce that was shown on the programme.
Furthermore, the use of the multiple currencies (that include the US$, the SAR, and the Botswana Pula) was introduced by the acting Minister of Finance, before the Inclusive Government was formed. The viewers should therefore have been informed that the use of the multiple currencies was introduced prior to the advent of the Inclusive Government.
The previous Government had introduced the multiple currencies to fight the run-away inflation. The result was the taming of the inflation and the availability of goods in the supermarkets.
The Inclusive Government is indeed credited for increasing the allowances to civil servants. While the previous acting Minister of Finance had pegged the allowance at US$30.00 (thirty United States Dollars only), the Inclusive Government increased the allowance to $100.00 (one hundred United States Dollars), and that allowance has further been increased and will be increased still further as and when the foreign currency earnings increase.
Emphasis on Negative Past Instead of the Positive Present: From the onset, the attitudes of the viewers were conditioned and prepared by the warning that the "report contains some disturbing images". These images are of past disturbances and have nothing to do with the Zimbabwe that is Rising. The viewers are not even allowed to make up their own opinions as that is already made for them, even though it is under the guise of a prior warning so that those who would wish not to view them would make up their minds.
Moreover, the viewers are treated to a selective and biased reporting of what happened to supporters of one political party at the exclusion of whatever happened to supporters of the other political parties as if it was only supporters of that one selected party who suffered from the perpetration of violence. There are abundant Police Reports that show that the violence was not one sided, and that even police officers were burnt while they were asleep in their houses.
Even after the signing of the Global Political Agreement the three parties to the Agreement issued a statement that acknowledged that their members were involved in the pre-election violence.
What is worse about the Report is that it goes against the grains of the title of the programme, that is, about the Zimbabwe Rising. The images shown have nothing to do with the Zimbabwe Rising. If anything, it leaves the viewers with the feeling that the Inclusive Government will fail.
The picture in the current Zimbabwe is of hope, of peace, of law and order, and is far different from the picture painted by your reporter.
The Inclusive Government: At independence in 1980, the Prime Minister at the time, the current President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, was the first leader of a country that had won independence in Africa after a bloody war who introduced the policy of reconciliation and declared a general amnesty for all who committed war crimes during the War of Liberation. The amnesty was extended to include people like Mr. Ian Douglas Smith (the man who had declared the illegal Unilateral Declaration of Independence and who had tortured and imprisoned many people including Mr. Robert Gabriel Mugabe himself who was imprisoned for more than 10 years, and kept hundreds of thousands of people behind barbed wire fences), to General Peter Walls (the man who had ordered the massacre of several thousands of civilians at Nyadzonia and Chimoio in Mozambique, and in other camps in Zambia etc.) and to several other war criminals.
If such “war criminals” were forgiven for the sake of peace, harmony, unity of purpose, and development of the country for the good of everybody, it is therefore possible and should not be a surprise that the various parties that have been at loggerheads have come together for the good of the people of Zimbabwe and for the good of their country. Towards that end, they have formed an Organ whose mandate is to heal the wounds of the past and bring about peace and harmony amongst the Zimbabweans.
Organ for National Healing and Reconciliation: One would have thought that the presenter, when reporting on Zimbabwe Rising, would have informed the viewers about this Organ and its positive objectives rather than on the negative events of the past. For, what have those negative events and disturbing images of the past got to do with the Zimbabwe Rising?
Indeed, if all that there is in the current Zimbabwe is those negative disturbing images and the statements of some selected opposition supporters, then there would be nothing to say about the Zimbabwe Rising as there would be nothing rising.
The Organ which is made of three Ministers, one each from the three respective political parties, will look at and stem out politically induced violence, and urge people to forgive each other for the crimes they committed against each other in the past. The Zimbabwe Rising believes still in the policy of reconciliation and in a general amnesty if the rising of the country from its past dark ages is to be sustainable and to continue to benefit its entire people.
The process of healing and reconciliation is not an event, and it is not a one day wonder. That it is succeeding is seen in the fact that the leaders of yesteryear who used to scream at one another are in an Inclusive Government, they sit in one room at one table as a Cabinet to discuss, to exchange views, and to find ways of making the peace, prosperity, bring about law and order, and achieve sustainable development.
All the political leaders have been speaking and speak and preach at political rallies of peace and against violence.
The Zimbabwe Rising is seen in this co-operative spirit and in the hospitals and schools that are open and functioning, even though there is still a long way to go.
It should be appreciated that the Inclusive Government only started operating and functioning in February this year.
Omissions: It is noted that the programme omitted any mention of the negative effects to the economy, the health delivery and education systems of the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the Western countries.
Also omitted in the programme is the negative impact of the sanctions on the country and its inability to make use of its vast mineral resources such as gold, platinum, diamonds, emeralds, vast coal deposits, huge reserves of methane gas, iron, copper, chrome, etc. The revenue earned from the sale of the minerals could have been used to resuscitate the economy. Such sanctions distort the development and growth of the economy.
Foreign private investors and Banks (including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank) are prohibited from investing in the country.
The rate of Zimbabwe Rising would be faster if those sanctions were to be lifted, and foreign investment and competition is allowed to flow into the country’s rich natural resources. Modern machinery and equipment is required to extract those mineral resources.
Joint Operations and Monitoring Committee (JOMIC): Regarding the issue of farm invasions, it should be pointed out that a Joint Operations and Monitoring Committee (JOMIC) which was formed to oversee the implementation of the Global Political Agreement is responsible for the examination of reports of farm invasions and to bring peace and order to the affected farms.
The Committee is made up of senior officials from ZANU(PF) , MDC(Tsvangirai) and MDC(Mutambara).
The constitutional process is well underway and its pace will be determined by the situation on the ground. It is led by the Parliamentary Constitutional Committee made up of members from all parties in parliament. The committee listens to all views from the Zimbabweans.
ZANU (PF) Declined to Comment: The producer informed viewers that ZANU (PF) declined to comment on issues in the report. It is doubtful if the reporter actually sought to interview Government Ministers and officials from ZANU(PF) since the reporter was not accredited with the responsible Ministry.
CNN and BBC are now legally openly operating in the country.
All members of the Political Parties are expected to be supportive of the Inclusive Government. As any partisan comments and reports are likely to undermine the efforts and objectives of the Inclusive Government, it is far much better that responsible people decline and desists from making any comments on such divisive issues.
The emphasis is on unity of purpose, inclusivity, peace, harmony, healing of the wounds of the past, reconciliation, restoration of the rule of law and order, delivery of services to the people, and more.
Zimbabwe Rising is riding on a wave and is nurtured by a positive spirit. With the removal of the illegal sanctions and the coming in of foreign direct investment particularly into the hospitality industry, the manufacturing sector to add value to the country’s raw materials, and into mining sector, the country that boasts of n educated human resource will recover faster.
The country does not need a lot of foreign direct investment into the agricultural sector, the largest foreign currency earner. However, the agro-industries and value addition to the agricultural produce would contribute a great deal to and speed up of the Zimbabwe Rising.
On air: 30th August 2009