Friday, August 01, 2008

What can you buy for $100 billion in Zimbabwe? Not quite one loaf of bread ...

With the amount of violence that has gone on, with the total denial of access to the media, with the fact that we have not had an opportunity to look at the voter rolls yet, there is just no way that a free and fair election can be held.
- David Coltart quote

This week I had the strange dejavu when I touched a 25 billion banknote which came from the wallet of David Coltart. John, Gina and Richard and I found David's stories from the cold face very disturbing. Like under communism the theatre of the absurd under totalitarianism in Africa does make my blood boil. Wherever one goes there seem to be some ironic central european connection or disconnection. The Mugabe regime’s final lifeline is a small Vienna-based software company that helps it to keep printing the money it relies on for its survival Blood Diamonds - Blood Democracy with licence to print Mugabe's money ; Gideon Gono - Zimbabwe’s equivalent of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke - issued a $100 billion note Hyperinflation: The Inevitable Result of Government-Manged Money

David with Jennifer and their four children

David Coltart: Human Rights Making a Difference Cry for freedom in Zimbabwe: Movement for Democratic Change
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says Mr Mugabe is on a much tighter timetable than it to find a resolution because of the economic freefall.

Today, with annual inflation officially at 2.2 million per cent, Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank will introduce a currency that wipes 10 zeros off the previous notes - $Z10 billion will be worth $Z1 in the new currency. But as the regime has done nothing to improve economic fundamentals, the inflation will continue. "We would like to see the speedy conclusion of the talks … and a successful outcome so that we can focus in the future our attention around our economy," Mr Mugabe said this week in Harare. He voiced his "total commitment" to a successful conclusion to the negotiations in South Africa between his ZANU-PF party and the two factions of the MDC.
David Coltart, a senator-elect for the smaller MDC faction, said the speed of the talks was being driven by what was happening in the economy. "I think Mugabe understands he has no solution to hyperinflation and the looming problem of him not being able to pay the military and police has put enormous pressure on him to reach a settlement," Mr Coltart said in Sydney in July 2008.
A lot of cold water flowed under the bridge of injustice since David came to Australia back in 2005 Interviews, speeches and papers: New Africa

The Shadow Minister for Justice from Zimbabwe, Mr David Coltart briefed Law Council President John North and Secretariat staff on the current situation in Zimbabwe. He reported on the ongoing settlement demolitions which resulted in more than 700,000 people being displaced over the last 7 months. Mr Coltart advised that the displacement of the people is a retribution and intimidation tactic by the Mugabe Government to secure its power. There have also been more than 300 political murders in the past 5 years but no one has been convicted to date. The reason for this is that the judiciary in Zimbabwe has collapsed and is not working at all. Mr Coltart himself was the subject of an assassination attempt but was able to escape against all odds.
Mr Coltart further noted that the Law Society of Zimbabwe has about 400 members. The Law Society is still strong and is opposing the Mugabe Government together with the Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights, which made a submission to the UN that was included in the —Report of the Fact-Finding Mission to Zimbabwe to assess the Scope and Impact of Operation Murambatsvina“. This report and more background information regarding the situation in Zimbabwe can be downloaded at Report of the Fact-Finding Mission to Zimbabwe

Pressure on Mugabe to pay troops; [David and his stories about lack of food and real money; But a lack of food isn't the only danger: More and more people are getting killed and beaten up in both rural and urban areas. The culprits are members of the ruling ZANU-PF party; the victims are mostly supporters of the Tsvangirai-led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The general population has become hopelessly fearful. This terror campaign by ZANU-PF is already estimated to have claimed 500 lives. David Coltart, the opposition senator and a human-rights lawyer, has described this as a deliberate and systematic attempt to wipe out an entire political group in order to permanently cripple the MDC. We're hungry, angry, and depending on a sovereign God; David Coltart, the legal affairs secretary of the Mutambara-led MDC, said a GNU would be viewed with extreme scepticism by most Zimbabweans who fear that it would draw in unscrupulous political leaders.The fear is that those leaders are then compromised and that they will fail to deal with the fundamental problems facing Zimbabwe, Coltart argued. It is for this reason that a transitional authority should be agreed to. Coltart is of the view that civil society should play a crucial role in some aspects of the TG. During the transition, civil society will have to play a major role in certain aspects of the transitional authority’s mandate, especially regarding the process which should culminate in a new democratic constitution, he suggested GNU, TG Which Way For Zim? Losing billions in Zimbabwe; Senator tells: Why the fight is still ahead for Zimbabweans ]
• · The phrase Tear Down This Wall was as powerful in Cold War era as David’s headline is now in the context of Africa - That vision reaches out to gather in the desires and hopes most ordinary Zimbabweans carry for peace, freedom and justice in their country. The coming weeks are not a time for empty leadership, nor is it time for a process of arranging the chairs of power to comfort the padded fundaments of power-brokers. Zimbabwe has seen enough of this. We need leaders who listen to human-scale policies Ditch this old dictator; David Coltart, in a very thought-provoking article, has described the long history of state sponsored violence in Zimbabwe and the resulting idealisation of violence, ‘kragdadigheid’ and the gun. It’s time it ended - in Zimbabwe and in South Africa too. Until we are brave enough ; Question what has happened to all our patriots? It seems to me that our nation has been blighted by a succession of leaders who are more concerned with their personal interests or the narrow interests of their own political parties and supporters than they are in the great nation state of Zimbabwe Towards A Negotiated Settlement In Zimbabwe ; Obama In Berlin, U.S. Mideast Policy, and Zimbabwe's National Unity
• · HOPES for a breakthrough in talks to establish a unity government in strife-torn Zimbabwe … UN troubleshooter Haile Menkerios ; Under a gracious exit plan, Robert Mugabe will become Zimbabwe's ceremonial president during the forthcoming transition, after which he will retire as the Founding President and father of the beleaguered nation, protected under a blanket amnesty. Amnesty plan for Mugabe
• · · A few years ago, the United Nations published a list of Zimbabwean politicians and businessmen that it accused of plundering the riches of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Mugabe cronies reportedly stashing US dollars into foreign accounts; Attempts to tame Zimbabwe’s multimillion percent inflation rate is beginning to have a negative effect on banks in that country.
Zimbabwean banks cash strappe
• · · · For money, one can safely substitute might. RBZ Currency Reforms Futile, Say Economists; Zimbabwe Rolls Out New Bank Notes
• · · · · Stolen crude oil Vs blood diamonds ; Diamonds have scripted a typical rags to riches story for Bonny, 35, who spent most of his life on the streets before the discovery of the gems three years ago, near the eastern Zimbabwe town of Mutare, transformed his life. I have, over the last two years, acquired a fleet of 12 cars and several houses in Mutare and in the capital, Harare - Bonny told IRIN. ZIMBABWE: Diamonds are Mutare's best friends ; It is the fact that Mr. Mugabe has been quietly doing business, a lot of it, with the one country which has virtually unlimited need of strategic raw materials Zimbabwe can provide -- China. Mugabe’s Zimbabwe is, along with Sudan, on the central stage of the new war over control of strategic minerals of Africa between Washington and Beijing, with Moscow playing a supporting role in the drama. The stakes are huge. Mugabe’s biggest sin ; The Austrian firm, Jura JSP, provided the Mugabe's Zanu PF party with software that allows the regime to print forgery-proof bank notes back in 2001. As it is Zimbabwe’s economy is being propped up by foreign investors who are taking advantage of cheap resources. Mugabe’s man unmasked: Arms ship exposes Robert Mugabe’s link to Chinese firm
• · · · · · Tanyaradzwa Mutola is now losing hope that life will change for the better and give her a well-deserved rest after years of “hard” labour. Cry for freedom in Zimbabwe; They are pouring money into the pockets of the cronies of Mugabe, Mahmoud Ahma-dinejad and the Burmese generals. The recent drift from general sanctions Sanctions are a war waged by cowards; US looks at more sanctions against Zimbabwe