Sanctions Against Mugabe Extended to 2009

Sanctions Against Mugabe Extended to 2009


The EU has renewed its sanctions against the Mugabe regime.

Under the sanctions, which have been extended until February 19, 2009, key figures in the regime are prevented from travelling to Europe and are subject to an asset-freeze.

Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, who has spearheaded the attack on the Mugabe regime in the European Parliament, commented: “I am reassured by the renewal of these sanctions. Mugabe will be 84 on Thursday and this is exactly the birthday present he deserves.

But the EU has a poor track record in upholding its own sanctions policy. After all, it invited Mugabe himself – top of the banned list – to its EU-Africa Summit last December. The EU has not bothered to update the list of targeted individuals. There is no mention of Gideon Gono, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, who has been the willing instrument of Mugabe’s disastrous and oppressive economic policy, nor of Leo Mugabe, the President’s own nephew and a prominent member of the Zimbabwean Parliament.

He added: We are coming up to another crucial moment for Zimbabwe, with presidential and parliamentary elections due on March 29th. International observers have effectively been excluded from monitoring the electoral process and the opposition faces daily intimidation from a desperate regime.

The EU should be calling on President Mbeki of South Africa, who is supposed to be performing a mediation role in Zimbabwe, to insist that international observers and the international media are given unrestricted access to ensure free and fair elections.

Where has protest art gone?
Theatres opt for fluff and fantasy


The scantily dressed actress waltzed onto The Mannenberg Theatre stage. She cuddled a teddy bear close to her chest, caressing its fur, as she got lost in fantasy to the lyrical soundtrack of Love is Not Supposed to Hurt by U Meleni.

The audience watched in awe as Netsai glided into character in a scene from the drama Sister-Sister, just premiered in the capital and a play that romaticises the life of a young, city-dwelling woman.

In apparent deviation from the traditional provocative protest art, mellow and good humoured developmental art is making a resurgence – no doubt much to the relief of President Robert Mugabe and his governing Zanu (PF) party, long the butt of criticism by protest artists who accuse the establishment of plunging Zimbabwe into its worst-ever economic recession.

Playhouses such as The Mannenberg Theatre have hosted some of the most hard-hitting political satires ever, including What They Said, What They Got that blasted Government directly for curtailing media freedom through draconian laws such the Access to Information and the Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

But the theatres are transforming. In a shift of focus from confrontational political art lampooning the country’s leadership, artists are tuning in to the more mundane developmental scripts romanticising life safely away from police trouble.

The shift has already raised the question whether the continued arrests and intimidation of artists has finally cowed the otherwise bold protest arts sector to submit to the wishes of the State. Government has, in recent months, banned several productions perceived as too critical, and has arrested artists.

Larry Ndoro, producer and director of Sister-Sister, starring siblings Privilege and Priscilla Mutendera, is quick in his defence of developmental art: No, we haven’t been cowed into any submission. We want humour for a change through developmental art…we want a good laugh and a smile for once, rather than be fed on endless politics. If music and theatre were all politicised, there would be no entertainment.

Priscilla Mutendera, who has featured in tough satires like Decades of Terror written and produced by Daniel Maphosa and is among performers crossing over to romantic productions, said: As an actor, I am a foot soldier and simply do what the directors and producers want…sing, dance, cry, laugh – anything.

Veteran playwright and arts educator Stephen Chifunyise said the shift to romantic and development theatre was only a confirmation of theatre as a versatile medium of communication that could be used to convey political as well as social and developmental messages.

Protest theatre can’t always be attacking the same people that it seeks to influence and educate, said Chifunyise, a former top official in Mugabe’s Government.

However, controversial playwright and director Cont Mhlanga scoffed at the resurgence of romantic theatre, saying artists changing over to this type of theatre at the expense of protesting for socio-economic change were simply cowards afraid of the Government.

The playwright, who has been in endless trouble with the police for his provocative productions, said: Zimbabwe is in a tragic state and why should artists romanticise tragedy?

He added: I don’t understand why an artist should stand on stage and say let’s have a good laugh’, when people can’t find food in the shop…’let’s have a good laugh’ when the sick can’t get medicines from hospitals and when the homeless are sleeping on the streets. What kind of art is it that turns us into fools?

Mhlanga said Zimbabwe now required courageous protest artists who were the eyes and ears of society and could articulate the nation’s political tragedy, offering clues and solutions. – ZimOnline

No hope left for talks, says Christian Alliance


The Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, a network of church and civic bodies, says it no longer has any hope that inter-party peace talks brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki will achieve any results before the March 29 elections.

The talks were initiated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) at its heads of state summit in the Tanzanian commercial capital, Dar-es-Salaam, in March last year. The inter-party talks were intended to promote dialogue between the ruling Zanu (PF) and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party.

We welcomed the SADC-initiated talks, said the ZCA. However, our excitement turned to scepticism due to the lack of clear objectives and accountability on the part of those involved.

In a pastoral letter released this week, the ZCA said: The exclusion of civil society and churches meant that there was no-one at the table to act as watchdog.

While Mbeki says he remains optimistic about a negotiated solution, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai says the South African President has failed to confront Mugabe on his dictatorship and repressive policies, which were likely to render the March elections neither free nor fair.

The SADC talks failed to produce tangible results in terms of creating a conducive atmosphere for free and fair elections, said the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance. There were many international figures who were interested in assisting in solving our crisis. President Mbeki kept them out by confidently claiming that his soft diplomacy was working and that the talks were on course and would yield the desired result.

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