Controversy as Mugabe wins Zimbabwe presidential polls again | 

Zimbabweans line up near a polling station in Harare.
Zimbabweans line up near a polling station in Harare.
Alexander Joe

Zimbabwe’s 89 year-old President Robert Mugabe extended his time in office to a seventh term. The man who has ruled since 1980 defeated his opponent and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai by carrying 61% of the vote.

Western nations raised concerns about the validity of the elections that were held on July 31. Accusations of rigging by observers and Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party cast a shadow over the election.

“What they have simply done is to plunge Zimbabwe into a political, constitutional governance issue, because they do not have the people, they do not have the legitimacy and they do not have the capacity of running this government,” said outgoing finance minister and MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti.
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Little progress for some of the world’s poor, says report | 

UntitledThe UK-based Catholic charity CAFOD interviewed 1,420 people in 56 communities across Uganda, Bolivia, the Philippines and Zimbabwe. They found that factors outside of the control of people are increasing poverty. Issues including environmental degradation, violent conflict, food price changes and economic crises all impact the lives of the poor. While many factors contribute to poverty, often occurring at the same time, the report says that gender-inequality is a cross-cutting problem.

“This research reveals above all is that poverty is hugely complex and controlled by myriad forces,” says CAFOD’s lead post-MDGs policy analyst Neva Frecheville. ”The interconnectedness of the world through globalisation means the poorest and most marginalised face negative pressures from all quarters making it harder and harder to sustain a livelihood.”

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Making it work for multinational corporations and smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe | 

In the debate over how best to help poor farmers in Africa, the tendency is often to pit the interests of smallholder farmers as necessarily opposed to the interests of large or multi-national corporations.

One fellow in Zimbabwe, who recently spoke in Seattle at the invitation of the Initiative For Global Development, thinks that ain’t necessarily so.


Pat Devinish

Pat Devenish is CEO of AICO Africa, a sort of corporate-cooperative of farmers in Zimbabwe.

As this story today by Interpress notes:

The presence of an agro-industrial company with headquarters in Zimbabwe on a list of sub-Saharan Africa’s 30 best-performing companies might surprise some, but not AICO Africa CEO Pat Devenish.

AICO Africa has taken advantage of favourable agriculture policy across Southern Africa to expand its business, in the process strengthening some 200,000 small scale producers in the region.

As Devenish said in Seattle, in late July, during an event held at the Rainier Club:

“Agriculture is the key to Africa’s success because we have so many resources in place. We have excellent land in many African countries and vast water resources. We have a large small-scale farming sector, who require agriculture as a way of making a living, and are very good at it.”

The majority of Africans depend on agriculture as a primary source of income and investments that benefit smallholder farmers have a direct impact on poverty reduction. AICO’s cotton business has achieved regional success through a “bottom of the pyramid” business model that provides financing, advisory services, and access to markets for over 100,000 smallholder farmers. Mr. Devenish explains to business people that smallholder farmers are “a hugely underrated resource and will contribute tremendously to the growth of the African economy.”