Jun 29th, 2009 7:11 PM UTC
By Beth Adler
Thanks to good rainfall, Zimbabwe has been able to increase production of maize—the staple crop in the country—by 130% to 1.1 million tons. Despite this increase, however, 2.8 million people will still face food shortages this year, as the UN Food and Agriculture Orgaization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) report. Zimbabwe’s food security situation is still extremely tenuous, with basic necessities out of reach for most households. The report also warned that Zimbabwe could see the lowest-ever wheat harvest this winter due to high seed prices and electricity shortages.
“This year’s improved harvest comes after two consecutive years of poor production,” said the World Food Programme’s Jan Delbaere, who worked on the report, reports AP news agency. “Having depleted their food stocks and sold livestock and other assets to cope with the effects of the recent crises, many rural households are still struggling to survive.”
If you’re curious about the report, you can find it here.
Apr 2nd, 2009 10:13 AM UTC
By Chris Scott
Thanks to Amnesty International USA, last week I and some other ONE staff got the chance to meet with two extraordinary women from the organization Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA). Formed in 2003 by Jenni Williams, WOZA now has a membership of over 70,000 women (and men) and has truly become a grassroots force to be reckoned with.
The idea behind WOZA, as Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu stressed, is to give ordinary women in Zimbabwe the power to mobilize and take nonviolent action against injustices. Unfortunately, the right to mobilize—something we as ONE members often take for granted—is regularly stifled in Zimbabwe by a police force who, according to Ms. Williams, have become agents of the ruling party rather than an independent and non-partisan organization. Both Ms. Williams and Ms. Mahlangu have spent time in custody for exercising WOZA’s ability to organize and peacefully protest.
Both women spoke at length about some of the crushing social and systemic crises currently afflicting Zimbabwe, including a collapsing economy, healthcare system and a disintegrating—nearly nonexistent now—educational system. The children that are fortunate enough to live near an open and staffed school have to bring their own chair and chalk to school and basic medicines, including pain killers, are no longer available in many hospitals. As these problems mount, the Zimbabwe government continues to subvert the will of the people, making a stark divide between wealthy politicians and impoverished citizens.
It was fascinating and enlightening to hear Ms. Williams and Ms. Maglangu speak not only about their on-the-ground, personal experiences living in Zimbabwe, but also their efforts to mount a massive coalition of ordinary Zimbabwe citizens to speak out against the Zimbabwe government. They are truly living up to the mission of WOZA, which means “come forward” in Ndebele.
To learn more about WOZA and their ongoing campaigns, check out: www.amnestyusa.org/woza and http://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions_details.asp?ActionID=364.
-Chris Scott, ONE
Mar 19th, 2009 10:16 AM UTC
By Aaron Banks
Great news, more than 100,000 ONE members have signed our petition to the African Union, asking that important political body to do everything in its power to help Zimbabwe’s new unity government succeed.
After years of misrule, Zimbabwe is mired in a humanitarian crisis that is wreaking misery across this former regional economic powerhouse. What were once some of the best schools and hospitals and most productive farms in Southern Africa are closed and in ruins, victims of the mismanagement, corruption and repression perpetrated by Robert Mugabe’s dictatorial rule. Hunger is widespread and cholera has killed almost 4,000 in Africa’s worst outbreak in 19 years.
Despite all this, there are finally signs of hope. Leaders from the long-oppressed opposition are now part of the government, alongside the still obstinate Mugabe, and they are making slow progress in tackling the enormous challenges facing Zimbabwe. But Zimbabwe won’t stay on the road to recovery for long, unless outside actors like the African Union take a leading role in supporting Zimbabwe wherever possible and sidelining those whose actions are hurting this nation in its most desperate hour.
Keep reading the ONE Blog for the latest news from Zimbabwe, as we’ll be continuing to cover developments there and bring you opportunities to get involved.
Mar 19th, 2009 10:15 AM UTC
By Aaron Banks
Zimbabwean political leader, nominee to be Deputy Agriculture Secretary and activist Roy Bennett will be joining political commentator and consultant Joe Trippi for a rare television appearance on the MSNBC show 1600: Penn Ave tonight at 6:00pm.
Bennett has been a leading voice for reform and action to end the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe that has plunged this formerly proud nation into abject poverty. For his efforts, Bennett has faced harassment and arrest on trumped-up charges brought by repressive ruler Robert Mugabe’s supporters. Bennett was just recently released on bail and will be back in court next month, so make sure you’re in front of your TV or have set your TiVo, and tell your friends about this rare chance to hear one of Zimbabwe’s most important voices.
Joe Trippi has been working for weeks to help secure the release of Roy Bennett, rallying people in the United States and Zimbabwe to speak out. You can read more about that work on his blog.
Despite the new unity government that includes Bennett’s MDC party, Mugabe is still harassing and imprisoning political opponents and humanitarian and civil society leaders. An unknown number are still in the prison Bennett was just released from. Until these outrages end, rule of law is established and the unity government is pursued in earnest, it will be impossible for Zimbabwe to rebuild its shattered economy and infrastructure, take on widespread hunger, and end Africa’s worst cholera outbreak in 19 years.
But Zimbabwe can’t do it alone. That’s why we’re asking the African Union – the official guarantor of the unity government deal – to do everything in its power to support the new government when possible and put pressure on those within it who are acting in bad faith. You can add your voice by signing our petition to the AU here and follow our continuing Zimbabwe coverage right here on the ONE blog.
Mar 17th, 2009 10:17 AM UTC
By Aaron Banks
More than 86,000 ONE members have signed our petition to the African Union, calling on them to keep the commitment they made to support Zimbabwe’s new unity government, as it struggles to rebuild in the midst of a humanitarian crisis.
We’ll be delivering those petition signatures in a few weeks and you can help us reach our goal of 100,000 names, making a powerful statement that the world is watching:
Zimbabwe is still in a very precarious situation. As David Lane said in his email to ONE members today:
“This petition won’t be the end of the line for our work on Zimbabwe, there will be much more to do, but it is a critical first step. Zimbabwe is on the verge of being able to function again and with strong AU support, there is a chance that things could get back on track for people who have been through extraordinarily tough times.”
Mar 6th, 2009 10:18 AM UTC
By Chris Scott
As the situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate, it’s more important than ever for us to come together and encourage positive change in the region. As we’ve written about before, the African Union can play a significant role in ensuring that Zimbabwe’s unity government succeeds.
Today, ONE member and activist Kumi Naidoo sent out an email explaining the work he’s done to bring attention to this issue, and his support of the campaign. Please check it out, and lend your voice to the campaign here.
My name is Kumi Naidoo, a South African founder of the Global Campaign Against Poverty, and a ONE member. I’m writing to ask you to join me in signing ONE’s petition calling on the African Union to do everything in its power to end the human rights violations against Zimbabweans and hostility towards humanitarian groups in Zimbabwe. Only then will Zimbabwe’s unity government be able to take on the rampant hunger and widespread cholera epidemic that is ravaging the people of Zimbabwe.
Please ensure that the African Union executes its role as guarantor of the new Zimbabwe unity government.
I recently completed a 21 day fast in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, many of whom are fasting involuntarily in a country ravaged by want, destitution, fear and terror. During my fast, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe joined the government, after reaching an agreement with Robert Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF. This agreement will be overseen by the African Union, acting as guarantor. For this new unity government to have any chance of ending the humanitarian and political crises in Zimbabwe, the African Union and its member nations must take decisive action to ensure that their role as a guarantor is defined and fulfilled.
I have seen with my own eyes what happens when regional powers like the African Union passively allow governments to dismiss the will of a people. Late last year I travelled to Zimbabwe to see for myself what years of corruption, repression and mismanagement had wrought. While there, I met a 10 year-old boy named Sibusiso who had not eaten for 10 days. He told me, “Our country needs to be free – free as a bird – here we are not free. We do not get food to eat.”
We must take action for Sibusiso, for the millions of Zimbabweans who are just as hungry and face the threat of Africa’s worst cholera outbreak in 19 years, which has already killed almost 4,000 people.
Feb 26th, 2009 10:20 AM UTC
Reuters: African Development Bank praises Zimbabwe plan
Zimbabwe has made an impressive start on an economic recovery plan which warrants support from the international community, African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka said on Thursday.
AFP—UN talks with Mugabe ‘positive’: aid official
A top U.N. aid official said she had held positive talks yesterday with Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe about finding ways to combat a raging cholera epidemic and food shortages. Catherine Bragg, the assistant secretary general for humanitarian affairs, met Monday with Mugabe and new Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the long-time opposition leader who joined a unity government this month. She said her five-member team was focusing on the cholera epidemic that has so far killed 3,806 people and spilled into neighboring countries.
Reuters—Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai calls for reconciliation
Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai called for national reconciliation and forgiveness this weekend, saying that the time had come to address poverty and hunger head on in the country. “This nation needs national healing. It has endured so much violence. Let’s forgive those who have transgressed against us,” Tsvangirai said. Zimbabwe’s new government urgently needs to find a solution to the country’s economic meltdown that has led to the world’s highest inflation and a worthless currency.
-Steve Wilson & Chandler Smith
Feb 5th, 2009 10:21 AM UTC
By Chris Scott
Zimbabwe’s parliament just unanimously approved an amendment that will allow opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to become prime minister of Zimbabwe. We’ve been keeping you posted about these developments as they occur at our Zimbabwe page , so be sure to check the ONE Blog for further news.
Details of the amendment below, article here
The move allows a power-sharing deal to go ahead with Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe remaining the president.
Mr Mugabe is expected to sign the amendment on Friday and Mr Tsvangirai is due to sworn in on 11 February.
The power-sharing deal was agreed in September 2008 but has been mired by bitter disputes.
Last week, southern African leaders, who have been mediating the deal, persuaded Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to join a joint administration despite their concerns over Zanu-PF’s commitment to sharing power.
Jan 30th, 2009 2:49 PM UTC
By Chris Scott
The New York Times is reporting that Zimbabwe’s opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has decided to join a power-sharing government as prime minister with President Robert Mugabe. This decision was reached unanimously at a meeting of the opposition party’s leadership in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. The Times reports that it will “usher in a new phase in the opposition’s decade-long struggle against Mr. Mugabe, 84, and his almost 30-year grip on power.” We’ll bring you any further developments as they occur.
Excerpts from the breaking news below, full report here
Mr. Tsvangirai now faces the daunting job of reviving Zimbabwe’s moribund economy and rescuing an increasingly famished, sick and impoverished population with a partner, Mr. Mugabe, whose security forces have viciously beaten Mr. Tsvangirai and thousands of his supporters over the past two years and abducted and allegedly tortured dozens more in just the last few months.
But after more than four months of deadlock and uncertainty following Mr. Tsvangirai’s signing of the power-sharing deal with Mr. Mugabe, his followers reacted with hope that he might be able to stop the country’s accelerating downward spiral.
The challenges are monumental, and the distrust of Mr. Mugabe is so deep that it is uncertain whether the United States and European nations will lift sanctions and infuse substantial new aid for the reconstruction of Zimbabwe until they have solid evidence that he will agree to sweeping changes in the country’s disastrous economic policies, the restoration of the rule of law and democracy.
Jan 28th, 2009 1:49 PM UTC
By Virginia Simmons
I read this story in Sunday’s New York Times on children fleeing Zimbabwe “for lives just as desolate” in South Africa, and wanted to share it here on the ONE Blog.
Below are some excerpts but you can read the full piece on their site.
With their nation in a prolonged sequence of crises, more unaccompanied children and women than ever are joining the rush of desperate Zimbabweans illegally crossing the frontier at the Limpopo River, according to the police, local officials and aid workers.
What they are escaping is a broken country where half the people are going hungry, most schools and hospitals are closed or dysfunctional and a cholera epidemic has taken a toll in the thousands. Yet they are arriving in a place where they are unwelcome and are resented as rivals for jobs. Last year, Zimbabweans were part of the quarry in a spate of mob attacks against foreigners….
South Africa’s national police force is exasperated by the crimes… most victims do not file complaints. After all, they are here illegally, unless remaining in the Showgrounds. “Last week, I had 1,500 ready for deportation,” he said.
The captain stood up, walking over to a computer screen. “We keep photos of the refugees killed near the border.”…
Mention of the children seemed to feed his exasperation. “Street kids, more all the time,” he said. “They come in as if they are playing in a game.”
He asked, “What do we do about these kids?”
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
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