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Saturday, December 6

Zanu-PF = Khmer Rouge

"We would be better off with only six million people, with our own people who support the liberation struggle. We don't want all these extra people."

Didymus Mutasa – Zimbabwe’s Minister of State for National Security, Lands, Lands Reform, and Resettlement – August 2002 (source)

Another week in Zimbabwe and more cracks emerge and the regime becomes even more isolated in its own country - though its neighbours largely stand by and watch.

Botswana's Foreign Minister, Phando Skelemani, told the BBC last week that regional leaders will only criticise Mugabe behind his back.

Low ranking soldiers riot after having their salaries stolen from them by senior officers, the ones being payed first to ensure their loyalty, the ones who got farms when Mugabe 'liberated' the land in 2000. The economic (beyond) crisis means there's lietrally not enough money to keep the lower ranks happy.

So now they are resorting to this (report from Robb Ellis, 'The bearded man'):

Obviously, I cannot vouch for this story personally, but having served in the Zimbabwe Republic Police during the time of the Gukurahundi [the early 80s mass killings in Matabeleland] - a time which I was obliged, by virtue of being a policeman in uniform, to clean up the mess of the Fifth Brigade - I can easily believe it.

Such cruelty, such hatred, such venom... belongs behind bars...

"The embattled Zimbabwean strongman, Robert Mugabe ordered the chilling execution of 16 rioting soldiers in a cold blood murder carried out by members of the Presidential Guard death squads at its PG HQ Base in Dzivarasekwa, North West of the Capital. Three others died during torture, our confirmed source can reveal.

The callous act has been communicated to all members of the armed forces as a chilling warning by the paranoid regime.

Last night, a fast track military court Marshal at Army Head Quarters’ KG6 Barracks was presided over by the retired High court judge Major General George Chiweshe, sitting with three other assessors, two Majors and a Captain. They passed death sentences to the 16 soldiers and it was signed by Robert Mugabe just before midnight and executions were carried out around 4 am in the presents of a military Doctor and the victim's bodies were taken to unknown destination."

I have run this page since the end of February 2005 and it may become my life's work - together with my book "Without Honour" - and it may not be anything I am ever remembered for - but I have stood on the side of what is good and right.,and I have taken some serious shots by detractors who accuse me of racism and call me all manner of names.

All of which I have been called before by instructors on the grounds of Morris Deport in Harare many years ago.

But when I read that Mugabe has ordered - callously - the cold blooded murder of serving soldiers, then I believe that everything I have written over the last three years is the truth - all the words I have typed whilst I have looked at Mugabe's disastrous rule and the damaged he has wrought - I find the strength to carry on.

I now believe that the MDC activists 'arrested' (together with a 2-year-old) have been executed as well.

How sick a man is Mugabe?

"The 16 soldiers executed on Tuesday morning are believed to have been arrested during the skirmish with police in the last few days.

It is also reported that three other soldiers died during torture.

The line of the Zimbabwe regime’s propaganda says the soldiers beat up and arrested illegal foreign currency traders in the streets of Harare on Monday, accusing them of causing severe cash shortages, but our source can revealed that this is all part on the power struggles within ZANU PF.

"They are all fighting for resources to take control, and how would they (soldiers) feel when they see commanders driving Q7s, yet they can’t access their salaries in the banks," said one source. Foreign currency dealers at Road Port are believed to be ZANU PF militia working for the country’s Central Bank to finance party activities against internal ZANU PF factions.

At the Reserve Bank, former police Commissioner Henry Mukurazhizha is in charge of the clandestine foreign currency operations with the assistance of CIO officers stationed at Atlas House, along Samora Machel House and some members of the police force."

And to think that I gave four years of my life to work as a loyal Zimbabwe Republic Policeman. I am sick to the stomach. Without reward, without any ideas of grandeur - I just did what any person would do if they wanted to be a good and successful policeman.

I don't care who says what about me, and I no longer care about the threats of reprisals here in the UK.
Whilst the so-called 'unity' government talks stall due to Mugabe's intransigence (or plan all along), the abductions and murders of the opposition which reach a peak before and after the July elections still continue. Sokwanele is calling for help with the series of cases, one of which involves a two-year old boy.

And Mbeki has dropped all pretence of being impartial, in responding to Tsvangirai's criticism of the latest SADC concession to Mugabe.

He said that Tsvangari did not have to wait for approval from its “external supporters” (i.e. the 'west') before signing away all real power in a so-called 'unity' government, using words which could have come directly from the regime's mouthpiece the Herald newspaper and repeating Mugabe's line on the MDC.
Zimbabwe's opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai's prominent media headlines do neither help the country, nor will these help himself.

As you secure applause because of the insult against us that we are 'cowards', you will have to consider the reality that our people have accepted into their countries very large numbers of Zimbabwean brothers and sisters in a spirit of human solidarity, prepared to sustain the resultant obligations.

None of our countries displayed characteristics of cowardice when they did this.

All of us will find it strange and insulting that because we do not agree with you on a small matter, you choose to describe us in a manner that is most offensive in terms of African culture, and therefore offend our sense of dignity as Africans, across our borders.

You know this, too, that the rest of southern Africa, your neighboring countries, has also had the unavoidable obligation to carry much of the weight of the burden of the Zimbabwe crisis, in many ways."

I say this humbly to advise that it does not help Zimbabwe, nor will it help you as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, that the MDC-T contemptuously repudiates very serious decisions of our region, and therefore our continent, describing them as 'a nullity'.
Ironically, the report is that Mbeki was riled up after MDC secretary general Tendai Biti questioned his impartiality. Ironic because Biti is still facing 'treason' charges from the regime.

And the South African government appears to be following Mbeki's line, saying:
[We] would be extremely surprised if the outbreak of cholera, the death of innocent Zimbabweans as a result of a failure of politicians to reach an agreement, does not spur them to more urgent action.
Huh? Cholera has nothing to do with the 'agreement'. It has to do with the deliberate neglect of Zimbabwe's water, health and sewerage - all of which have completely collapsed - and the starvation of the people, in geat part because of the farm seizures (echoes of the Ukraine in the 1930s).

Didymus Mutasa, who I quote at the top, was also the man who led Operation Murambatsvina [Operation Drive Out the Filth], in 2005. Soldiers, police and government militias used extreme violence to destroy the homes of hundreds of thousands of poor people on the outer edges of the country's towns and cities.

Mutasa presented Murambatsvina as a regeneration and renewal scheme to "clean up" urban areas. But most of the 700,000 to a million people who watched their houses being bulldozed, sledgehammered and set ablaze were opposition supporters.

Like Pol Pot's Kmer Rouge, the Zimbabwean leadership simply doesn't care how many of its people die.

All they care about is power.


Here and here are some actions you can take to support Zimbabweans.

Tuesday, December 2

Industrial strength douchebags

Priceless. And spot on.

Gordon Brown on Leaks

Quite, quite odd to see a UK viral getting picked up. I'm used to Romanians and Italians and Malaysians etc. against the Britneys and Obamas.

Of course this is because this viral stuff explodes the hypocrisy on the Tory's arrest - just as Jon Stewart has been doing all year - hence the virality. But, jeez, where is the UK with online politics if a scandal of this scale barely raises a blip compared with two Romanian MPs shouting at each other?

Superhero fashion emergency

N'kay, "gay" can be an insult. But, c'mon these guys are dressed a 'lil ... gay


Oh, I think it's undermining the paradigm. Or some such.

Especially when a recent UK survey found of 16-14 year-olds:

23% have had sexual contact with someone of the same sex.
Sheesh. And what were they wearing ...

p.s. excuse the 'preload'. Myspace video? Fergit it ...

Hah, hah!

"I can't afford any of your products but can I buy some fake white earbuds so people will think I have a mypod?"

"Sure. That'll be $40."

"A god who knows what we want."

"They cost $8 to make and I pee on every one."

"I never thought a company could be my soulmate ~ Owh, it's my first mybill!"

"I know our posters say 'think differently' but our real slogan is 'no refund'."

From a Apple followers blog:
Of all the snarky Apple references in pop culture, my all time favorite is [a] brief clip from The Simpsons. During a school assembly, Kearney tells his buddy, "...take a memo on your Newton: Beat up Martin." He scribbles away only to see the Newton's handwriting recognition interpret his memo as "Eat up Martha."

A few years ago, a number of plastic Simpsons characters were issued, and the Kearney character actually shipped with a tiny Newton with "Eat up Martha" on the screen. I have one in my office.

Postscript: Removed! Well it was virtually the whole show ... one more replacement embed but see lotsa persistent clips here once that's removed.

Monday, December 1

Soldiers vs. cops in Zim

Phando Skeleman

I had the pleasure of hearing an interview with Botswana's Foreign Minister, Phando Skelemani, recently. He is one a very few fellow Southern Africans (alongside his President) who have called spades spades regarding Mugabe and Zanu-PF.
The rest of us should own up and say 'Yes, we have failed'. Call upon the international community and tell Mugabe to his face, 'Look, now you are on your own, we are switching off, we are closing your borders', and I don't think he would last.
There are, finally, some positive signs coming out of SADC. They just condemned the 'land reform' progam (of seizing farms and giving them to Mugabe's cronies) as "racist".

Meanwhile, darkness continues to descend.

From Sokwanele
At approx 3pm this afternoon an eye-witness spotted a soldier changing money with a vendor between Eastgate shopping center (next to Meikles) and Dulys in Harare.

A fight broke out between the two, so the police intervened. They apparently tried to beat up the soldier (note the ‘rule of law’ in Zimbabwe!).

With that, soldiers appeared from all over, and they apparently turned on the cop and started to beat him up.

More cops arrived and it ended up in a big punch-up between police and soldiers.

Stories about disgruntled soldiers taking money-matters into their own hands are coming up frequently. Some people are delighted, seeing it as a clear sign of anger towards the Zanu PF regime and an indicator that future loyalty might be diminished.

However, others are worried. Will the soldiers focus their attention on the real cause of the problem, keep in mind that we are all victims of this regime, or will they turn on businesses and private individuals for quick personal gain? Will they stand with the victims, or will they think the regime ‘owes’ them so they can money where ever they like?
From the BBC:
Dozens of troops have run amok in the Zimbabwean capital Harare after losing their temper while queuing up to withdraw cash at a bank.

Riot police used tear gas to disperse about 40 soldiers and a number of civilians who joined the protest.
The economy is wrecked. Even government monopolies (utilities) refuse the Zim dollar.

The term used in the real economy is 'units' (US dollars) as trading is illegal but to survive everyone had to be paid in and pay with 'units'. This anarchy is why different arms of the state are fighting each other.

Since it is them propping up Mugabe, and since not even they can avoid the rapidly growing (but denied) cholera epidemic, which has now led to Harare's water being cut, you have to hope that the end is nearing.

The UK recession: one way out

After being without the internet at home for a while, I sure know I'd rather have it than a car. And it seems I'm not alone - in fact most Brits feel the same way according to a new survey by AMD.

The average Briton would rather have access to the internet than a car or washing machine, according to a new survey.

The research, from technology company AMD, looked into British notebook usage and connectivity, and found that getting online for many has become essential, in particular for ‘Generation Y’, with 90% of 18-24 year olds owning a notebook and 73% going so far as to say they ‘couldn’t live without’ it.

In addition, Britons consider access to the Internet (67%) as more important than access to a car (54%) or a washing machine (58%).

And in another report, this sounds like a good choice as the only sector likely to stay steady or even grow in a recession is ... the web and digital media. And here the UK is doing well.
The UK leads a table of 12 industrialised nations when it comes to embracing digital technology, according to a new report from communications watchdog Ofcom.

The report also indicates at the Irish spend most time on their mobiles, while the Poles spend the most time listening to the radio.

Significantly, the research also uncovered that more women than men use the internet.

The Ofcom research reveals that UK consumers are embracing new digital TV services, such as High Definition TV and Digital Video Recorders, alongside many other leading economies across the world.

These services give UK consumers a much greater choice of TV channels with sharper pictures and the ability to record, store, pause and fast-forward programmes.

Ofcom's third International Communications Market Report into the £876 billion global communications market also looks at take-up, availability and use of broadband, landlines and mobiles, TV and radio in 12 established industrial economies and in four fast growing economies: Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Covering 2007, the report finds that UK consumers are getting a good deal for their money when buying communications services compared with people in other countries.

Digital TV take-up

Of the larger countries surveyed, the UK has more households with digital TV on their main set, at 86 per cent, up 9 per cent on the previous year as switchover gets underway here.

This compares with the US where 70 per cent of households have a digital TV, up 15 per cent over the past 12 months. France was next at 66 per cent of households with digital TV, and it had the highest growth during the period - an increase of 25 per cent.

High Definition

Consumers across the 7 main countries we surveyed are also making more sophisticated choices. High Definition (HD) services were relatively new in 2006 but now take-up of HD subscriptions has been huge, especially in the UK, US and Canada. Take-up doubled during 2007 to around 9 million subscribers across the 7 larger countries surveyed.

Although the US has the highest number of households with HD subscriptions at 6 million (6.2 per cent) the number of HD households in Canada is nearly 2 million, representing 17.6 per cent of households. The UK leads Europe with 700,000 HD households (6 per cent), higher than the combined number of HD households in France, Germany and Italy (500,000).

Digital Video Recorders

More households are choosing to pause, record, store and fast-forward TV programmes with a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). Ofcom's report shows that the UK leads the way with 30 per cent of people saying they own a DVR. The recorders are also popular in Italy (21 per cent), Canada and the US (20 per cent) and least popular in Japan (7 per cent). Across the seven largest countries, around 28 million pay-TV homes had a DVR in 2007, up from 14 million on the previous year.

According to price comparison research commissioned for the report, consumers in the UK continue to get a good deal when buying communications services. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, competitive markets are driving prices down and, secondly, consumers are shopping around for good deals through 'bundling' - taking multiple services from single communications providers.

The lowest prices for consumers, outside the US, are available when some services are bought in a 'bundle' from the same provider. A typical basket of services which includes a landline, four mobile phones, basic pay-TV and broadband is available in the UK for £104 a month when they are purchased together within a 'triple-play' deal, with Italy offering the next lowest price at £114, and then France at £131.

When these services are bought separately, the lowest prices a typical family will pay are in Italy (£116 a month), followed by the UK (£123). The same basket is £144 in France, £153 in Germany, £188 in the US and £248 in Spain.

The take-up of these new services is having an impact on traditional industry revenues as consumer behaviour changes.

With the growing popularity of pay television services, and the rising take-up of DVRs, advertising revenues no longer account for the main source of commercial TV funding. Advertising accounted for 49 per cent (£81 billion) down from 50 per cent on last year, while subscription revenues were at 43 per cent (£71 billion) - up by 2 per cent on the year.

Some 60 years since the first TV advertisement was aired in the US, subscription revenues overtook advertising revenues in the US for the first time in 2007 (£111 compared to £110 per person).

Advertising is increasingly shifting online. In the UK, online advertising accounted for £1 in every £5 of advertising (19 per cent) - the highest among the countries surveyed and up by a third in 2006. Sweden followed at 17 per cent (up from 13 per cent) with the USA next on 13 per cent (up from 10 per cent).

People spent less time making fixed-line voice calls in 2007 than in 2006 in every country covered by the report as people increasingly used mobile phones. In the UK, people spent five minutes less per head making calls on a fixed line in 2007 than in the previous year, but 23 minutes longer making mobile calls.

  • People in all the countries surveyed are spending much more time online. The US leads the way at just over 15 hours per week in 2007 - up from 11 hours in 2004. The UK is second at nearly 14 hours per week, an increase of nearly 6.5 hours a week in 2004, the highest increase amongst the countries surveyed.
  • The US and UK are also leading the trend of watching TV online. People in the US watched nearly 26 TV programmes per person in 2007, more than three times higher than in the UK with nearly 8 TV downloads per person. This increase has been driven by popular free to view TV (including the iPlayer in the UK, and the recently launched Hulu service in the US).
  • Canadians remain in the vanguard of social networking with 55 per cent of internet users visiting a social networking site. Half of UK internet users (50 per cent) accessed a social networking site, an 11 per cent increase since 2007.
  • Across all the countries surveyed, more women than men are using the internet. Some 56 per cent of Italian women use the internet compared to 44 per cent of Italian men. Japanese and Spanish women follow at 55 per cent, with the UK and France having an equal gender split. Women in the US are bucking this trend, at 48 per cent compared with 52 per cent of men using the internet.