Forgotten Voices' Mission:

"Demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

9/17: Power Sharing Deal Details Released

Friends -

Here are some links for you to explore regarding the Power Sharing Deal in Zimbabwe. I circulated links to the overview earlier this week, but wanted to pass along more details to you.

30 Pages Released so far (out of estimated 80 total) from All
Zimbabwe Deal: Key Points from BBC News


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

9/16: Books on Zimbabwe

Friends - Last night, Victor Nakah (TCZ) and I spoke at Harvard about the challenges and future in Zimbabwe. I promised to post suggested books. Here are just a few. I welcome your suggestions here on the blog OR by email at

Dinner with Mugabe, Heidi Holland

When the Crocodile Eats the Sun, Peter Godwin

Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa
, Peter Godwin

There are so many... Please pass along your suggestions. Thanks!

9/15: Vic coming to Harvard - Tonight

Friends - a late addition to the schedule for Victor Nakah. Vic will be speaking at the Harvard Kennedy School tonight (Monday) at 6pm. The conversation between Victor and myself will take place in the Littauer Building, located at the corner of Memorial Drive and JFK Street. It is in the same building where the prestigious Forums take place, if you've been before.

Vic will be room L382 on the 3rd floor.

Please plan to arrive early, as we are now expecting a good crowd.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

9/13: New Deal for Zim; holding breath

I've been asked a lot of questions this week about the new deal for Zimbabwe. My apologies for taking so long to post something about it here.

I think there is a great sense of optimism that a new Zimbabwe is around the corner, but also a great sense of anxiety -- "we've been down this road before" kind of an approach. I don't blame my friends.

This weekend, I'm spending a lot of time with Victor Nakah - President of the Theological College of Zimbabwe - who just preached and spoke around Central PA this past week. He's now doing the same in Boston. Last night we talked at length about the new deal, without knowing a lot about it yet. We agreed that foreign aid would come pouring in (could be good or awful), optimism would grow, but next few months would be key.

So my 1.5 cents on the matter is this: PRAY. Pray for Zimbabwe's government, the people, its neighbors, the international community (especially EU, World Bank, IMF), and wisdom for all involved.

Our last century is full of cases where there were severe governance challenges, change in power, then the international community flooded the new "power" with cash...only to make the situation worse and encourage more corruption.

I don't want to take joy out of the situation... I've just seen it before. We all need to pray for wisdom.

Check out these 2 articles:
1) Details of new agreement (BBC News)
2) Muted reaction to Zim Deal (BBC News)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

9/4: Quilting Church

Read about North River Community Church in a commentary from Chuck Colson's BreakPoint. I'm a bit biased toward North River, a partner of Forgotten Voices' and where my father serves as the Life Development Pastor. But the commentary is interesting, as is the illustration of quilting the body of believers.

As we work hand in hand with church leaders in Zimbabwe and Zambia, I'm working to find ways to interweave our lives so that it isn't us "saving" Africa or Africa "saving" us...but rather us together ... sharing the story of the love we have found in Jesus Christ...and learning how to share that life together with others... in word AND in deed.

Enjoy the day!

9/4: Life in Harare - a story

Friends - I received this from a guy working in Zimbabwe. I thought his assessment matched what I've been hearing daily. I pray that you continue to keep Zimbabweans in your prayers.

Pray on,
I am currently in Zimbabwe visiting my family, especially my father who had heart failure a few weeks ago. Not to worry, he is better now, but I thought you would be interested to know about the current situation on the ground. I have been here since Saturday, August 29th. On Sunday I traveled from Victoria Falls (my town) to Binga where we are sponsoring 60 high school children, from where I proceeded to Bulawayo overnight, and then to Harare (the capital city) on Monday morning.

I came to Harare to renew my visa to be able to go back to New York in a few weeks. In addition to my core business, I have arranged to meet with a number of organizations to talk to them about the Council for Zimbabwe, current events and to see how Zimbabweans abroad and global citizens can play a constructive role in rebuilding Zimbabwe.

It is 4.15 am right now in Harare and I am sitting here to compose this email. A few hours from now, the electricity supply will be cut off for the whole day. On other days, the supply is sporadic, but Thursday, I am told, is a whole day affair. Water is scarce and my hosts in Grendale-a suburb of Harare-tell me that they have been using buckets to save water since November last year. My friend's mother, who is hosting me, is also up. She has to cook now and prepare for the day. But, she is one of the very fortunate few, who can wake up to prepare some food- her husband is a diplomat working for an organization that is a part of the World Bank. He earns U.S. dollars, but even for him, this is not heaven, not even purgatory! May be it's like being a VIP in the hell that has become life here- you have access to a few things, but the general condition is unbearable. But then again, that is only if you are somewhat VIP!

By now I am sure you have all heard about how difficult life is in Zimbabwe. Well, that is an understatement. For the general masses, things are beyond unbearable. I am still unable to figure out how people are surviving, let alone how much money I am carrying. Take this for instance, my brother earns no more than US$10 per month as an auditor for the Victoria Falls Town Council. A kilogram of meat costs about $5 and he has two kids! Inflation is unbelievable. On Tuesday I went to a public phone shop to make local phone calls and the cost of using the phone was 10 Zimbabwe Dollars (Z$10) per minute, in new currency- that is Z$100 Billion! On Wednesday morning, the price was Z$30 per minute and only God and Allah, and Jah know what it will be today. Shelves in stores are empty, except for the ones in well to do neighborhoods. Fuel is scarce, but when it is available, the informal-informal sector made of unemployed people with time to stand in line, is buying it from gas stations for resale at about 5 or times the marked price.

In the streets, people look gloomy. Yesterday I spent a good chunk of my day meeting with various people, before proceeding to the University of Zimbabwe to meet with the Dean at the Medical School. On my way there, a medical student gave me a ride. She tells me that she and her classmates are supposed to graduate in a few weeks as Dentists. They may not because there are no medical supplies for them to take their final examinations. Gloves, textbooks, anesthesia, and other basics that a Medical student is supposed to have as part of their training, you name it, the university is without. The time they are supposed to spend in hospitals to gain practical experience has been almost useless, they have no basics for them to practice with let alone prescribe.

Sorry, the power is out and I must conserve the little there is on this laptop for today's work. Will write soon. But for now, treasure the food, water, and everything else you are blessed with. And if you get a moment, give a little to those without. Till then, be blessed.

Dominic Muntanga
Council for Zimbabwe

Monday, September 1, 2008

9/1: Advice of doctors in Zim is not to get sick

Advice of doctors in Zimbabwe is not to get sick

Antibiotics, other essentials in short supply

By Angus Shaw Associated Press / September 1, 2008 article here

HARARE, Zimbabwe - The advice of doctors to Zimbabweans is, don't get sick. If you do, don't count on hospitals - they're short of drugs and functioning equipment.

As the economy collapses, the laboratory at a main 1,000-bed hospital has virtually shut down. X-ray materials, injectable antibiotics, and anticonvulsants have run out.

Emergency resuscitation equipment is out of action. Patients needing casts for broken bones need to bring their own plaster. In a country with one of the world's worst AIDS epidemics, medical staff lack protective gloves.

Health authorities blame the drying up of foreign aid under Western sanctions imposed to end political and human rights abuses under President Robert Mugabe. A power-sharing agreement aimed at bringing the opposition into the government could open the gates to foreign aid. But negotiations have stalled over how much power rests with Mugabe.

Meanwhile, the economic meltdown is evident in empty store shelves, long lines at gas stations - and hospitals where elevators don't work and patients are carried to upper wards in makeshift hammocks of torn sheets and blankets.

Jacob Kwaramba, an insurance clerk, brought his brother to Harare's Parirenyatwa hospital, once the pride of health services in southern Africa. Emergency room doctors sent Kwaramba to a private pharmacy to buy drugs for his brother's lung infection. He returned two hours later to find his brother dead, he told the AP in the emergency room.

"I couldn't believe it. It wasn't a fatal illness," he said.

Another family said a relative dying of cancer was sent home, and no painkillers could be found in Harare pharmacies. Relatives abroad were able to pay for morphine, but by the time import clearance was obtained from the state Medicines Control Authority, the man had died in agony, the family said, requesting anonymity for fear of government retribution.

A report by six independent Zimbabwean doctors indicates the scale of the collapse.

"Elective surgery has been abandoned in the central hospitals and even emergency surgery is often dependent on the ability of patients' relatives to purchase suture materials from private suppliers," it said.

"Pharmacies stand empty and ambulances immobilized for want of spare parts . . . this is an unmitigated tragedy, scarcely conceivable just a year ago."

The doctors who compiled the six-page report for circulation among aid and development groups withheld their names because comments seen as critical of Mugabe are a punishable offense.

In an interview this year, Health Minister David Parirenyatwa said lack of foreign currency due to sanctions was hindering efforts to maintain equipment. But political violence has added to the burden. The human rights group Amnesty International said hospitals ran out of crutches for victims of attacks blamed on Mugabe's forces.

The independent Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum, an alliance of human rights campaigners, said doctors and medical staff were chased from rural clinics to keep them from helping opposition supporters, while many city hospitals couldn't cope with the number of patients injuries sustained in beatings and torture blamed mostly on militants of Mugabe's party and police and soldiers.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says at least 200 of its supporters died in the violence, with thousands more beaten and made homeless.

No data is available on how many lives have been lost because of the medical crisis, but the report said hospital admissions declined sharply because of the cost of treatment and transportation over long distances to clinics and hospitals.

In recent years, 70 percent of births took place in health facilities; now it's under 50 percent, the report said.

It said that a decade ago Zimbabwe had the best health system in sub-Saharan Africa. But with the economic crisis worsening, 10,000 Zimbabwean nurses are employed in Britain alone, and 80 percent of Zimbabwean medical graduates working abroad.

9/1: Stalemate in Zimbabwe

Today, I'm going with some classmates to the JFK museum and library to learn about our USA President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Should be interesting. I haven't been there in years...since I was a kid.
On this day, September 1st, back in 1961:
3:00-3:30pm President Kennedy Meeting with chief arms negotiator Arthur Dean as the Soviet Union resumes atmospheric nuclear testing

The tour promise that we'll walk away inspired and renewed to pursue consensus building in the wake of challenges...I guess referring to our country's standoff in the Cuban Missile Crises.

It could be referring to the on-going tension in a land I love deeply. Zimbabwe continues to be in a standoff, as well...but internally. Read about it here.

Continue to pray for the situation there. Prices of goods now rise 40% every 2 days....creating havoc for shoppers and shop owners, as well as the police that circle around to make sure prices are "right".

All the best,