Sunday Observer, Sri Lanka
By Lynn Ockersz
The increasingly bloody political repression in Zimbabwe is proof of the
growing desperation of its ageing authoritarian ruler - President Robert
Contemporary Zimbabwe provides clinching evidence that strong arm rule and a
growing panic over losing power among those capriciously wielding it, are
just two sides of the same coin. Mugabe is right now a living example of
this pervasive political tendency.
There is a growing wave of popular opposition to Mugabe's rule but the
reaction of the out-of-favour authoritarian Head of State is to unleash all
the repression at his command on the dissenters. Thus has the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai been subjected to severe
physical harassment and demoralizing restrictions. Tsvangirai himself has
been a victim of the state's strong arm tactics.
The severity of the repression that has been thus exercised is strongly
reflective of the state's determination to thwart the gathering movement for
political liberalization in Zimbabwe.
Substantial democratic change in the country continues to be an elusive
goal. However, rather than take the zest out of the opposition campaign, the
mounting repression only seems to be making it grow.
With the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe coming out strongly in favour of the
movement for democratic change, the opposition to the state seems to be
acquiring unprecedented depth and vibrancy.
In a letter titled "God Hears the Cries of the Oppressed", the Catholic
Bishops Conference of Zimbabwe said, among other things, that, "Many people
in Zimbabwe are angry and their anger is now erupting into open revolt in
one township after another ..... In order to avoid further bloodshed and
avert a mass uprising, the nation needs a new people-driven constitution
that will guide a democratic leadership chosen in free and fair elections".
With the Catholic Church taking on a pivotal role in the opposition to
Mugabe's rule, the confrontation between the sides could be expected to be
both prolonged and absorbing, with the opposition receiving increasing
strength and staying power.
In a Catholic-majority country, the Church is bound to make much headway as
an awareness-raising agent.While a weakening of the government could not be
expected in the short and medium terms, it is bound to suffer impairment in
the long term as the opposition campaign gains strength and Zimbabwe faces
international isolation as a result of the West taking strong exception to
the Zimbabwean state's repressive conduct.
Moreover, the deteriorating economic situation in Zimbabwe too is bound to
further spike opposition to the state. Today, agricultural productivity in
the country has hit rock bottom and the inflation rate is rising
astronomically. Even if political disaffection does not have the desired
effect of weakening the state, economic disaffection would.
With the majority of the population living off state handouts, economic
discontent is likely to take a heavy toll on the country's internal
stability. Although initially described by the Western press in the early
eighties as "Marxist leaning", Mugabe is no communist.
His initial policy platform was black nationalism and this did serve the
vital purpose of delivering Zimbabwe from white minority rule.
However, unlike in the case of South Africa, Mugabe has failed to take his
country along even a broadly social-democratic path. Zimbabwe has had no
guiding vision of this kind and has today degenerated into an authoritarian,
one-party state where the state class or the ruling elite is enjoying an
obscenely parasitic existence, while the people wither and die in a state of
chronic economic want.
The fate that awaits such states is a prolonged, agonising, slow death. The
often noted Third World political irony of the one-time oppressed
degenerating into the oppressor, is thus haunting Zimbabwe too.
The Zanu-PF under Mugabe and their allies did well to dislodge the white
minority regime under Ian Smith in 1980 but have failed to take Zimbabwe
along a progressive path. Instead the erstwhile liberators have today turned
oppressor. That is, the new, black state class is entrenching itself in
power at the expense of the people.
One could only hope that the movement for democracy would have long life and
resourcefulness because it is an important corrective to the oppressive
structure forced on Zimbabwe by its one-time liberators.
By Foster Dongozi
ZIMBABWEANS in the Diaspora have started a campaign to have all
children of senior Zanu PF officials deported to boost the clout of the
The campaign, known as Fair Deal, is being pushed by Diasporans based
in Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and other parts of
It is being run through a news website, Zimdaily.com.
The campaign has reportedly gained wide popularity among Zimbabweans
who feel the children of senior Zanu PF and government officials must not
continue to enjoy the benefits of Western education, health, democracy and
freedom which their parents are denying their fellow Zimbabweans back home.
"We do not hate these poor kids," reads a message posted on the
website. "We love them. We want them to be with their parents."
Zimbabweans living overseas have designed a standard letter of protest
to be sent to their MPs in all countries seeking the deportation of all
children of Zanu PF stalwarts.
The letter reads: "I and all of my fellow countrymen are angered and
disappointed to learn of the presence of those that are directly benefiting
from Mugabe's rogue regime in this country.
"We believe they do not have a right to enjoy a society that has
freedom of expression, speech, association and other basic freedoms that are
denied people in Zimbabwe.
"Not only are our fundamental freedoms in Zimbabwe denied, but also
our right to live. Any dissent against the government is met with the
highest possible punishment: death."
The letter appeals to the local MP to lobby for the deportation of
children of senior ruling party officials.
One official co-ordinating the campaign told The Standard: "One of the
objectives of Fair Deal Campaign is to expose Zanu PF hypocrisy of
castigating Western countries yet their offspring reside and are being
"We have successfully courted the support of MPs in the UK, New
Zealand, Canada, Belgium, Australia and the US.
"To date, 200 names, including contact addresses, social security
numbers, passport numbers, photos and immigration status have been
collected. The response from some Western governments has been very
encouraging, with some officials asking for names and contact details."
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora who have been denied the vote appear
determined to ensure that the children of senior government and Zanu PF
officials join their parents on the travel sanctions list, preventing them
from travelling to Europe, the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
Most of the children of senior Zanu PF officials are reportedly on
The First Secretary for Political and Public Diplomacy at the British
Embassy in Harare, Gillian Dare, said in an interview: "No decision has been
made to extend the visa ban to the children of people who are already on the
visa ban list.
"In the meantime, if we are informed that children of key regime
figures on the visa ban list are studying in the UK, we will investigate
where the funding for their studies has come from and whether that
contravenes the EU assets freeze."
Almost the entire Cabinet, top military officers and senior ruling
party officials have children studying at institutions overseas.
In its recent report, the International Crisis Group recommended that
in order to pressure Harare towards the solution of the Zimbabwe crisis, the
European Union and the USA could apply travel sanctions on the family
members and business associates of those on the travel lists.
In addition, the ICG recommended that the EU and the US could cancel
visas and resident permits of family members of senior government officials.
However, not all Zimbabweans believe the children should pay for their
Information minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu was reluctant to comment on
the issue, saying: "Those children are in those places legally. How can
people claim they are interested in human rights and yet want to deprive
others of their human rights? It is like calling for sanctions which cause
people to starve."
By Nqobani Ndlovu
BULAWAYO - Church leaders yesterday defied a police order barring
opposition spokesmen from addressing a prayer meeting in Bulawayo and urged
the government to stop abducting its critics.
The meeting organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign (ZSC) was held at
the Roman Catholic Church's St Patrick's Cathedral in Makokoba to pray for
"an end to the country's political and economic problems".
ZSC was only given permission to hold the meeting on Friday evening on
condition that opposition leaders would not be allowed to address the
But pro-Senate MDCleader Arthur Mutambara was given the platform and
immediately attacked the government for "worsening the political and
economic situation in the country".
Thokozani Khuphe, vice-president of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC, was
among the more than 1 000 people who attended the service. They included
bishops from Malawi and South Africa.
The spokesperson of the anti-Senate MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said
Tsvangirai failed to attend the service because the party was holding an
executive meeting in Harare at the same time.
Speaking at the service, outspoken Bulawayo cleric Archbishop Pius
Ncube said it was time Zimbabweans "stood up together and confront the
"The President of this country is also suffering under the current
situation," Ncube said. "We have a duty to save him as he and his family is
not at ease. They are suffering and don't know how to help themselves to get
out of this situation."
Mutambara said opposition parties and civic groups must unite to form
a strong coalition ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections next
"There is no alternative to working together. If Herbert Chitepo,
Alfred Nikita Mangena and Jason Moyo and other late liberation war fighters
were alive, they were going to be with us in fighting the Mugabe-led
government," he said.
In a solidarity message at the same meeting, the general secretary of
the Malawi Council of Churches, Canaan Phiri, said the region must not be
fooled by claims that Zimbabwe's crisis was as a result of "illegal
"The crisis in Zimbabwe is of your government's making. What you are
going through right now is what we went through under Kamuzu Banda.
"We believe violence breeds violence and violence against the
opposition will not solve the crisis in Zimbabwe," Phiri said.
Meanwhile, two SZC leaders in Bulawayo, Ray Motsi and Patson Nhetawere
were briefly detained by police on Thursday over the series of prayer
meetings being held around the country.
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
OPPOSITION activists and ordinary people said yesterday celebrating
Independence had become virtually meaningless as poverty and political
repression now matched that of the colonialists.
A snap survey by The Standard last week included the view that
President Robert Mugabe (pictured)'s government had become as intolerant as
the last days of Ian Smith's regime.
They said Mugabe, who has been in power for 27 uninterrupted years,
had destroyed everything the country achieved before and after Independence
in his quest to remain in power.
Mugabe had banned political rallies, marches and demonstrations,
virtually rendering Zimbabweans a nation of political captives.
MDC pro-Senate president Arthur Mutambara said the principles and
values of the liberation struggle - democracy, freedom, liberty, equality,
universal suffrage, social justice - were no longer part of the
nation-state, making celebrations "an immoral act".
Instead, said Mutambara, Zimbabweans were experiencing "grotesque"
human rights violations, starvation, unemployment, deplorable working
conditions and unprecedented hopelessness.
"We live in an undeclared state of emergency where our basic freedoms
and liberties of assembly, speech, movement and association are heavily
curtailed by repressive legislation," Mutambara said.
Tafadzwa Mugabe of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said
in the wake of the events of 11 March when State security agents brutalized
MDC members and human rights activists, celebrating Independence had become
devoid of meaning.
"I did not imagine that one day a black government would turn against
its own people," said 79-year-old Mbuya Sekai Khuzwayo of Highfield.
She was an activist of ZANU in the 1960s when nationalists, including
Robert Mugabe, spoke out against and resisted colonial oppression.
By Bertha Shoko
MORE than five million children from 85 countries on Friday voted for
Zimbabwe's Betty Makoni as the winner of the World Children's Prize for the
Rights of the Child.
Makoni is the founder and director of Girl Child Network (GCN). She
scooped the first prize after the children voted for the Zimbabwean child
rights activist, who had travelled to Stockholm, Sweden, last week for the
Makoni was competing with Cynthia Maung of Burma and Inderjit Khurana
of India, both champions in the fight for a better world for children in
BY OUR STAFF
THE United States will adopt a twin strategy of increasing targeted
sanctions and condemnation of State-sanctioned atrocities in Zimbabwe, US
Ambassador Christopher Dell told The Standard last week.
Dell was responding to calls by the regional grouping, SADC, to lift
targeted sanctions against government, ruling party officials and their
"That is simply not going to happen," Dell said. "Until we see
irrefutable evidence, until we see that the government has adopted a new
approach. Until we see those people targeted are serious about economic
reforms to lift the country out of the mess that it is in and about pursuing
policies that will resolve the crisis, they are not going to be let off the
hook. Lifting sanctions will give them a free pass."
The US ambassador said condemning the atrocities being committed by
the government was important because this increased the government's
US is prepared to show its revulsion of State-sponsored violence goes
beyond mere condemnation.
"You will see an increase in some of the targeted measures that we
have been taking," Dell said. "You will see a further tightening of that . .
. It requires Presidential decision from Washington."
Last year Zimbabwe claimed it was committed to bridge-building, but
Dell said it was hard to think that any government could do anything
resembling bridge-building when it was intolerant to criticism.
While the government had responded by unleashing a campaign against
foreign critics, Dell said Zimbabwe did not understand the "extremely
negative consequences" the country would experience.
Undeterred by government attacks, Dell said, Harare was free to expel
him, but whether he stayed or left Zimbabwe that would not silence the US.
"Somebody will take over my place. What happens to me as an individual
does not matter. I am getting near the end of my assignment. I will move on.
Zimbabwe will have to deal with the consequences of self-inflicted wounds
and deteriorating relationships with the outside world," he said, warning:
"Sending me away now would provide me an opportunity to speak out more
directly, not only in the US but throughout the region."
Dell dismissed accusations by the government linking the US, UK and
the opposition to violence as "patently absurd". It was "naked gall" for
President Robert Mugabe to boast about his government's violence and then
attribute it to someone else.
But the US ambassador said he was more optimistic than a year ago. The
reason was that next year's elections and the inevitability of a transition
could be a step closer to signalling an end to the crisis in Zimbabwe. Free
and fair elections represented the best chance for the country's peaceful
But he said there was a fundamental disconnect in Zanu PF. On one hand
they claim they are the permanent majority party of Zimbabwe because of what
they did during the liberation struggle and that the majority of Zimbabweans
"What do they have to fear from a genuine open process, free and fair
election, open and transparent vote count, as well as observed process? If
that claim is true, what are they hiding and who are they hiding it from? I
remain perplexed until they explain this contradiction."
He was also optimistic because for the first time in its history, SADC
appears to have found enough courage to tackle one of their own after they
took President Robert Mugabe to task at the recent summit of the regional
grouping in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
"The opposition," he said, "has advantages going into the election.
The dismal state of the economy is certianly the Achilles heels of the
"It is however, wrong for Zimbabweans, whether from Zanu PF or the
opposition and civil society to think that the international community can
descend on Zimbabwe and resolve the crisis. We can only help provide
context, mechanism ... the real answers come from within."
By Kholwani Nyathi
BULAWAYO - Residents might finally realise their 95-year-old dream of
drinking water from the mighty Zambezi River if the city's remaining supply
dams dry up in October, as widely expected.
But the precious liquid would not be delivered by the
government-trumpeted Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) first
conceived in 1912.
The council is actively considering the use of a train travelling over
400km to the famed Victoria Falls Bridge at the border with Zambia to draw
water from the Zambezi River.
Outgoing town clerk, Moffat Ndlovu, told journalists at a press
conference that the "water train" was one of the options the council was
actively considering, which also included the equipping of boreholes within
the city "although the option is a bit rural".
'We are considering introducing a water train from the Zambezi . . .
we are very serious about it," Ndlovu said. "It will just go to the Zambezi
River and draw water on the bridge. We will purify it and distribute it to
residents . . . It's a possibility."
He said the uncertainty surrounding the Zimbabwe National Water
Authority (ZINWA)'s takeover of the city's water and sewerage infrastructure
was also scaring away investors who might want to help alleviate what could
turn out to be the worst water crisis in the history of the city.
"The non-governme-ntal organisations are saying: what if we come in
and the government takes over the infrastructure?" he said.
The council has applied to the government to declare Bulawayo a water
shortage area, which could be another way of alleviating the water problem.
"The international community will come in, as they did during the 1992
drought when the Norwegians sunk boreholes at the Nyamandlovu aquifer,"
But the majority of the 77 boreholes at the aquifer are no longer
functioning after ZINWA took over their management. The aquifer has the
capacity to supply 26 000 cubic metres of water a day which is about two
thirds of the requirements for residents of the high-density suburbs, but
only 20 boreholes are operational.
Ndlovu said the government had contributed to the crisis in Bulawayo
by failing to build alternative water sources as the city expanded. Two dams
have already dried up and the remaining three did not receive any inflows
during the 2006/7 rainy season which is drawing to a close.
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
POLICE seem reluctant to institute investigations in to cases where
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) members and human rights
activists have either been assaulted or killed by suspected State security
agents, the opposition party has said.
Several cases involving the beatings and killings of people suspected
to be anti-government remain a puzzle, some dating back to seven years.
MDC anti-Senate secretary-general, Tendai Biti, said last week they
had long lost confidence in the police because they never investigated their
"Now we don't expect anything from a criminal state," Biti said. "They
cannot investigate the cases because all what is happening is State
terrorism; it's sponsored by the State."
He said the people who planned the attempted murder of Kuwadzana
legislator Nelson Chamisa at the Harare International Airport were known but
the police were turning a blind eye to the case.
Chamisa was assaulted at the airport by known assailants on his way to
a parliamentary business trip in Brussels.
The other more recent cases include the sending of a live bullet to
the offices of The Standard two months ago and the murder of former Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation cameraman and technician, Edward Chikomba.
Chikomba was abducted from his home in Harare and his body was later
found dumped by the roadside near Darwendale, about 60km away.
It is widely believed that Chikomba was murdered for allegedly
transmitting the images of a battered MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to the
Tsvangirai had been severely assaulted while in police custody.
The Standard deputy editor Bill Saidi said the police had not updated
the newspaper on the investigations into the bullet incident.
"They just came here asked me and a few other people questions. That
was the last time I heard from them," Saidi said.
Other outstanding cases include the bombing of the MDC headquarters in
Harare in 2000, the bombing of the offices of Voice of the People Radio in
2002 and The Daily News printing press in 2001.
"Look at all these cases," said Biti. "No one has been arrested and
the police are silent about them. It sends signals that they are part of
Mugabe's plot to eliminate the opposition."
MDC activists Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya were murdered in
cold blood in 2000 but the suspects remain free despite mounting local and
international pressure for them to be prosecuted.
Central Intelligence Organisation operative Joseph Mwale, the alleged
killer of two, remains a free man.
Police chief spokesperson, Wayne Bvudzijena, said he was out of Harare
and would only be able to comment after getting the information from the
The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Patrick
Chinamasa and Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi could not be reached for
By Kholwani Nyathi
BULAWAYO - The government reportedly supplied stale "maize soya blend"
for a supplementary feeding programme after the city council raised concern
about the increasing number of people dying of malnutrition-related medical
complications, The Standard has learnt.
According to a report by the Bulawayo city council's health, housing
and education committee, 560kg of maize soya blend for feeding children
under five years old deemed vulnerable to malnutrition were destroyed after
they were found to be "unfit for human consumption" by health inspectors.
The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare had supplied 500 bags of 10kg
soya blend to feed 561 vulnerable children following concerns raised by the
Last month, the council raised concern that more people were dying of
malnutrition-related illnesses in the city as a result of the deteriorating
economic situation in the country.
The government's intervention was intended to address the problem but
the council condemned the food.
"About 56 bags of the blend were inconsumable, as they had weevils and
moulds," reads the report. "The health inspectorate declared the blend unfit
for consumption and it was destroyed."
The government has declared 2007 a drought year but continues to claim
that no one would be allowed to die of hunger as enough grain is being
imported to cover the shortfall.
But the Mayor of Bulawayo, Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, has said the number
of deaths attributed to malnutrition was an indication of worsening urban
poverty and appealed to non-governmental organisations to step in.
In its report, the council noted that care givers were reluctant to
prepare food, demanding payment for their services.
"Care-givers have been reluctant to come to the clinics to prepare the
food, expressing concern that their children were also hungry at home," said
the report. "There is a lot of economic pressure forcing the care-givers to
seek income- generating projects elsewhere."
The southern parts of the country have been facing serious food
shortages since last year, resulting in the emergence of a parallel market
in basic commodities.
The council said eight people died of malnutrition in December alone
and their ages ranged from the newly born to 70 years.
Malnutrition is caused by lack of a balanced diet.
There was no immediate official comment from the Ministry of Health
and Child Welfare but a Child Welfare official in Matabeleland North said
the council had not informed them that some of the food was stale.
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
ARMED soldiers guarding Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH)'s Mbare
Studios in Harare have been accused of beating up and harassing innocent
Harare residents are now taking longer routes to avoid passing near
the studios where the soldiers are alleged to have become vicious with
passers-by, especially during the evening.
The Standard last week heard that the soldiers either beat up people
or ordered them to roll in pools of stagnant water.
Temerity Gunidza of Mbare sells fruit in the Workington heavy
industrial area. He said while passing near the studios, the soldiers
accused him of being a member of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)'s
so-called democratic resistance committees (DRCs).
They accused him of responsibility for the current spate of petrol
"This was despite the fact that I was actually pushing my cart back
home," he said. "They ate some of my bananas before they forced me to roll
in the dirty water."
Gunidza said a motorist whose car had broken down at the corner of
Simon Mazorodze Road and Remembrance Drive was ordered to join him in the
Before they were released they were warned never again to walk near
the ZBH fence.
Even commuters to Glen View, Glen Norah, Highfield and Budiriro, who
would normally wait for transport at the corner of the two roads, have
abandoned the "bus stop" during the evenings.
Most of them now board buses at a service station just after the
Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital, some 300m away, fearing the wrath of
the soldiers. Abel Munemo of Budiriro, who used to board a bus home near the
ZBH studios, said: "It's no longer safe for anyone to wait for transport at
that corner because you might be unfortunate.
"Initially, we preferred the corner because we would get the
protection of the soldiers from thieves. Now, we are running away from the
soldiers, not the thieves."
Even soccer supporters, returning from a match between Highlanders and
Monomotapa football clubs last Sunday were not spared the soldiers'
"We had to run away when they started to advance towards us," said a
journalist, who had covered the match. "They would not allow anyone to walk
near the ZBH security fence."
Zimbabwe National Army spokesperson, Simon Tsatsi, said he had not
received complaints of assault or harassment against soldiers guarding ZBH
He said residents with complaints should report immediately to the
police or the army public relations department to enable them to quickly
"It's not ZNA policy to beat up residents. I would like to urge people
to report such cases so that the culprits can be brought to book," Tsatsi
He said the soldiers guarding ZBH premises were only there to assist
Reports of residents being assaulted by soldiers near ZBH premises in
Mbare come at a time when many people have been abducted and tortured by
State security agents.
BY WALTER MARWIZI
FORMER Daily News chief photographer Tsvangirai Mukwazhi is suing the
Ministry of Home Affairs over the disappearance of his expensive
photographic equipment that he alleges was seized by the police a month ago.
Mukwazhi was arrested in Highfield on 11 March while covering a prayer
meeting organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign.
Lawyers for the freelance photojournalist, allegedly brutalised by the
police while in custody, have notified the ministry of his action to recover
The police confiscated Mukwazhi's vehicle, a digital camera and a
laptop after accusing him of inciting violence. They then detained him at
Machipisa police station where he was beaten up and only released a few days
later following a High Court order.
Mukwazhi said when he tried to claim his property back, the police
threatened to charge him with working without accreditation. The charges
failed to stick after Mukwazhi produced his Media and Information Commission
(MIC) accreditation card.
Since last month, Mukwazhi has been battling to recover his equipment,
valued at more than US$10 000.
Mukwazhi's lawyer, Harrison Nkomo of Mtetwa and Nyambirai, last week
wrote to the Ministry of Home Affairs demanding the return of the equipment
In a letter of demand addressed to the Deputy Secretary (Finance and
Administration), Nkomo said it was clear his client's property "was either
stolen by your officers or they are deliberately refusing to hand them to
our client for reasons best known to them".
The letter was copied to the Commissioner of Police, the Minister of
Home Affairs, Officer in Charge and the Civil Division of the Attorney
"Our instructions are to demand, as we hereby do, the return of all
the above mentioned property belonging to our client as a matter of urgency,
failing which we shall proceed to issue summons without further notice to
you," Nkomo said.
Mukwazhi said without the equipment he could not work. He freelances
for a number of organisations.
Foster Dongozi, the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Union of
Journalists, condemned the police action against Mukwazhi.
"More horrifying was the recent abduction and murder of former ZBC
cameraman, Edward Chikomba and the subsequent arrests of Mukwazhi and Gift
Phiri (of the newspaper The Zimbabwean) who was tortured while in police
"We condemn the police officers especially for harassing Mukwazhi
despite the fact that he produced his official press card. I telephoned
Information minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu to register our disgust at the
treatment of journalists and he said the government did not sanction the ill
treatment of journalists. We are yet to be convinced," Dongozi said.
BY OUR STAFF
THE South African Medical Association has condemned attempts by state
agents to prevent opposition activists from getting medical treatment.
In a statement, SAMA chairperson, Dr Kgosi Letlape, said it was
unacceptable that doctors were prevented from treating people who were
beaten up or tortured by state agents.
"Doctors' autonomy and independence is a firm principle which is
entrenched in national and international policies, such as the World Medical
Association Code of Medical Ethics and Declaration on Professional Autonomy
and Self Regulation," he said.
"The Hippocratic Oath will not allow us to compromise these principles
and doctors in all countries must be allowed to treat patients in need of
medical attention, and to practise medicine without the fear of violence."
Letlape's comments came after state agents prevented MDC officials
from getting medical attention.
"SAMA has always advocated for the protection and promotion of human
rights, irrespective of individuals' political affiliations. The allegations
relating to denial of access to health care are serious since this is a
fundamental human right and entitlement of every person," Letlape said.
He said his organisation was aware of the plight of the people of
Zimbabwe not only through media headlines but also through the Zimbabwe
Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR).
by our staff
GOVERNMENT and monetary authorities should take measures to weed out
speculators involved in fuelling the depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar on
the parallel market, Standardbusiness has learnt.
In separate interviews with Standardbusiness, economists said
speculative activity on the black market fuelled the untamed price hikes of
basic commodities, which made life harder for the already hard-hit consumer.
The call came after the phenomenal surge of the exchange rate on the
parallel market for the month of March, whereby the US$ changed hands at
Z$35 000:US$1. The fixed official rate is $250.
The depreciation was accompanied by a spate of price increases in
Economists said the recent development contrasted sharply with
previous data that showed the Zimdollar had been depreciating at modest
levels on the parallel market.
The Zimdollar traded at Z$2 000:US$1 in December last year, Z$3
000:US$1 in January and Z$5 000:US$1 in February this year.
"The recent increase was unnatural, especially when compared with
previous levels and this points to a significant development in the market
which led to the high price," an economist with Kingdom Financial Holdings
"Possibly, someone has been buying foreign currency in bulk and this
is harmful to the economy, as it translates into even higher prices being
passed on to the consumer."
Fuel dealers emerged as chief suspects while some circles implicated
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
But RBZ governor, Gideon Gono has dismissed as false all claims
implicating his bank.
The Zimbabwe dollar is understood to have appreciated by at least 75%
with new prices pegged around Z$16 000.
But economists warned the slump should not be taken to mean an
improvement in the economy, as it only indicated that the suspected buyer
was now out of the market.
Although the figure cannot be drawn back to the February levels,
responsible authorities should take corrective measures to curb such
developments in the future, said the economists.
They said opening up more avenues of generating foreign currency and
giving producers a fair exchange rate would help avert speculative
By Nqobani Ndlovu
BULAWAYO - Cross-border traders caught unawares by new customs
regulations introduced by the government last week lost goods worth millions
of dollars after they failed to pay duty, The Standard has established.
On 5 April, the government, through Statutory Instrument 80A of 2007,
announced that importers of cars and other luxury goods must pay duty and
Value Added Tax (VAT) in foreign currency.
The announcement came a day before the Easter holidays, when returning
residents were trekking home from South Africa and Botswana.
At the Plumtree border post, a number of returning Zimbabweans told
The Standard on Thursday their goods were confiscated by the Zimbabwe
Revenue Authority after they failed to pay duty for groceries and goods for
resale classified as "luxury".
ZIMRA officials said warehouses at the busy border posts were full of
goods impounded last week after the owners, mostly cross-border traders
failed to pay import duty.
Official Zimra comment could however not be obtained.
"We were caught by surprise and now I have lost all my wares," said
Themba Ndlovu of Emgwanwini in Bulawayo who lost the jackets he wanted to
bring into the country for resale. "I have to start again and I don't know
where I will get the capital to get my business going once more."
Most traders were taking advantage of the overvalued Zimbabwean dollar
to import cars, clothing and other luxury goods for resale while paying a
pittance in taxes.
Some of the goods classified as luxury include trunks and suitcases,
leather goods, like handbags and clothing, cigarettes, tobacco, fur skin
clothing, tableware and kitchenware made of wood, mirrors, and wooden frames
Meanwhile, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
described the move by government to demand import duty in foreign currency
as an admission of lack of confidence in the local currency.
"This is a reflection of the lack of confidence in the local currency
and an admission that our currency has become worthless. It's a sign of
desperation on the part of the government in terms of getting foreign
currency," said Mfandaidza Hove, secretary for economic affairs in the
By Jennifer Dube
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is allegedly failing to pay for
gold remitted to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, resulting in most gold
producers not receiving payment for gold remitted in January, it has
In a circular to stakeholders, accompanying a report on the mineral
output for this year, the Chamber of Mines said the central bank had been
battling to make the payments since last year.
"Since October last year, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has been
experiencing severe difficulties in paying gold producers for gold lodged
with Fidelity Printers and Refiners," the report said. "As of the beginning
of April, most gold producers were not paid for gold lodged in January. The
delays have impacted negatively on production."
The chamber reported that delayed payment and a misaligned exchange
rate had "understandably combined to create a viability crunch that is
threatening the very existence of the gold industry in Zimbabwe".
Available statistics show that gold remitted to the RBZ in February
declined to 768kg from 819kg in January.
In an interview, Chamber of Mines chief executive, David Murangari
said the decline was partly attributable to the recent crackdown on
Murangari said owing to delays in payment, both local and foreign
suppliers were now demanding cash upfront for goods and services provided to
"At the current exchange rate, we have a big mismatch between
operating costs and returns. The price of $15 000 per gram has to be
reviewed upwards if miners are to benefit from the international price of
US$650 per ounce," he said.
The $15 000/gram price has been in place since last October despite
the increase of "basically everything" on the local market.
The RBZ referred all questions to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, who,
when contacted for comment, referred all questions back to the central bank.
THE one day most Zimbabweans - particularly those in urban areas -
dread most is 18 April, ironically an occasion most people are supposed to
celebrate the advent of Independence and all that's supposed to come with
In urban areas whole suburbs such as Mbare will be emptied of their
residents on Wednesday as they are corralled into Rufaro Stadium.
They will be expected to be there at daybreak. Similarly, residents in
other suburbs will be herded very early into commandeered buses bound for
the venue of this year's Independence anniversary celebrations for an event
that is supposed to kick-off after mid-morning.
Residents of Mbare and the market traders, in particular, will wish
the event passes quickly. That these harassed Zimbabweans are at their wits'
end over how to fend for their families will be of no concern to the ruling
party's commissars, whose pre-occupation will be to fill up the stadium and
impress their masters.
Of less concern to the ruling party will be the self-evident truth
that they are responsible for bringing the country to its knees, that they
are the architects of our misery with per capita GDP levels down to those
last seen in the early 1950s.
Instead, the residents, many of whom will have woken up to no
electricity and water, will be expected to endure hours of hollow rhetoric
that heaps the record-breaking 2 000% inflation and nearly 80% unemployment
rate on anyone but our rulers.
In fact, Rufaro Stadium Independence celebrations will signal the
start of the ruling party's 2008 elections campaign even though the
festivities should be a national event to reflect on achievements since
The celebrations will ring hollow because the govern-ment and the
ruling party have made a mockery of the goals of the struggle for
Independence and betrayed the values for which so many thousands of freedom
fighters paid the supreme sacrifice.
Annually the celebrations exhort belt-tightening but the majority of
Zimbabweans are aware that each year brings more misery and hardships. Since
the mid-1990s the only thing the government has to show for is its unbroken
record of spectacular failures. Electricity, fuel and water supplies have
collapsed while productive capacity has almost ceased to exist. Whole cities
and towns have been villagised.
Zimbabweans may have attained political Independence, but all their
other freedoms have been systematically eroded by the government to the
extent most citizens question whether Independence can be equated with
record high unemployment, greater hardships, widespread shortages of basic
commodities and unprecedented levels of impoverishment, collapse of the
health and education sectors and a rapidly shrinking industrial base.
Comparisons with the situation and conditions at the attainment of
Independence have become increasingly inescapable.
Residents of Mbare in particular and Harare in general will dread
Wednesday because they are only too well aware that each event that has
celebrated Independence has taken them further away from the Promised Land.
Zimbabwe in 2007 is a land of fear where opponents of the regime are
abducted and tortured.
People will dread Wednesday more because they have listened to the
rosy pictures the politicians paint since 1980 with little change to their
lives except descent into penury. That's what is surreal about Independence
Sunday opinion with Bill Saidi
PIERRE Mulele's name will live forever in the bloody history of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Mulele was a rebel. There have been many rebels in that country.
Cynics believe you can divide the DRC into "the people and the rebels".
The story of Mulele: after fighting the regime of dictator Mobutu Sese
Seko, he was invited to Kinshasa for talks.
Mulele must have believed the people of Zaire had seen enough
bloodshed. Peace talks with Mobutu seemed logical.
He was killed before the talks got under way.
Sympathisers have opined that Mulele ought to have been forewarned.
Mobutu's record of skulduggery, beginning with the betrayal of Patrice
Lumumba, was worse than Quisling's was for co-operating with the enemy.
Others say Mulele was naive. He believed God did not create bad human
beings. In every bad human being was a good human being struggling to come
Such people believe Ian Douglas Smith was also a good person, with
difficulty expressing himself in a way other people could understand him.
The problem was his language bore too many similarities with the
language of another man in history, Adolf Hitler.
Years later, both Smith's and Hitler's language would be likened to
that of another man of history, Robert Gabriel Mugabe.
Anthony Gizenga, once a Lumumba loyalist, was a rebel too. Unlike
another famous former Congolese rebel, he is firmly ensconced in the
government of Joseph Kabila, whose father, Laurent, was once a rebel who
triumphed over Mobutu and ruled the country, albeit very briefly. He had
avoided the fate of Mulele by fighting until the very end.
Kabila, like Lumumba, was killed while in office. His was not an
execution, as Lumumba's was. It was an assassination.
Such is the fascinating, if slightly gory political history of the
The rebel mentioned earlier is Jean-Pierre Bemba. He was in the
government of Joseph Kabila, as deputy president. But then they fell out and
Kabila sent his soldiers to sort him out. That mission was not accomplished
with style or subtlety, for it left 200 people dead, most of them loyalists
Kabila was not finished. He wanted Bemba arrested for high treason.
The rebel instinct in Bemba told him it was time to fade from the
scene, before Kabila could perform a version of "the Mulele" on him. He
sought sanctuary in the South African embassy in Kinshasa. They sheltered
him for weeks, until he was allowed to leave the country for treatment in
Portugal, not for any bullet wounds, apparently.
Kabila could do little to worm him out of the SA embassy, which is
not, diplomatically speaking, part of the DRC: it's SA territory.
So, the rebel triumphed, although he may never return to the land of
his birth - unless Kabila relents, or is himself killed by another rebel,
not necessarily because they are sympathetic to Bemba, but just for the hell
The DRC is like that: life is cheap, which is probably why President
Thabo Mbeki felt he had to intervene like the Good Samaritan that he has
tried to be in the Sudan, in Burundi, in the Ivory Coast - but, alas, not in
Zimbabwe's crisis has not degenerated to the bloody depths of the
other trouble spots.
It's probably not because Zimbabweans are more civilised or peace
Certainly, not because they are more content with their lot than the
brothers and sisters in those other poor countries Mbeki is trying to help.
Mbeki, it is said, has been able to deal with all the other leaders
because they are not 83 years old, old enough to be his father, the
venerated Govani Mbeki, author of The Peasants' Revolt.
That book was never elevated by aficionados of revolutionary
literature to the same level as The Communist Manifesto, but Govani blazed a
trail, as did Ndabaningi Sithole with African Nationalism.
Kabila is much younger than Mbeki, although behind his power stand
former comrades-in-arms of his father who cherish the Kabila name and are
getting filthy rich into the bargain.
This is the DRC: Mobutu Sese Seko built an opulent palace for himself
in his home area, before he was forced to flee the country.
Would Mbeki send his soldiers into Zimbabwe if Mugabe's regime was
threatened by disaffected middle-rank officers? He probably would.
An eternity ago - it now seems - Mbeki was in Zimbabwe on this
perennial Mission Impossible, trying to bring together these two political
parties led by two people from different eras of Time: The Cold War and The
What most people remember must be the bewildered sight of Mbeki as he
looked at Joseph Chinotimba. The SA president seemed to wonder: Was this
weird-looking man part of the Mugabe delegation? Or The Court Jester? An
The impression many of us gleaned from Chinotimba's presence was that
Mugabe wished for Mbeki to know that his "people" were not the clean-cut,
suave politicians who could fit easily at an international conference in any
hotel in London or Paris.
His people were "down-to-earth" and could not speak a single correct
sentence of English.
They were not stooges of the West - he wanted to say.
After absorbing the implications of this scenario, Mbeki decided
Mugabe was not ready for dialogue with the MDC. Mugabe may never be ready
for dialogue with the MDC. He oozes with such contempt for them it seems he
can hardly stand them.
If he ever consents to dialogue with them, it could turn out to be a
three-ring circus - in a huge ballroom with chandeliers over a huge
conference table, at the top of which he will preside, Zeus-like. An army
band would be on a raised stage, playing all Mugabe's favourites from the
days of the struggle, among them Mbuya Nehanda.
I doubt even he would contemplate a huge "Mulele" finale to the
But I suspect the opposition people would come away convinced there
would be no real dialogue with the man in his lifetime.
Which probably makes you wonder if they have to create the proper
circumstances for Mugabe to listen to them, or for Mbeki to treat the crisis
in Zimbabwe as seriously as he treats the others.
As someone once said famously, this is a scene too ghastly to
Sunday view with Trevor Ncube
I HAVE just come back from two weeks home in Zimbabwe and my heart is
sore. I am troubled by what is going on, much of it away from the glare of
local and international media.
Zimbabweans are under siege from a political leadership that fought to
liberate them from colonial oppression. And I am afraid that the current
oppressors are proving to be no different in their tactics and cruelty from
Ian Smith's settler regime.
Because of the absence of an independent daily press and private radio
and television outlets, many Zimbabweans are totally oblivious of the reign
of terror that President Robert Mugabe has unleashed on the opposition and
civil society activists. However, the victims of this violence are telling
their story and the word is spreading, and so is fear.
In certain instances there has not been any attempt to mask the
violence as happened in broad daylight at Mbare Musika bus terminus and
Fourth Street commuter rendezvous on the eve of the Easter holiday. In both
instances riot police armed to the teeth randomly assaulted people waiting
for transport to their holiday destinations for no reason. There have been
countless other instances of indiscriminate police and army violence against
The government media pretends all is well and completely ignores the
State-sponsored terror. The independent press is handicapped in telling the
unfolding orgy of state violence by being weekly.
Since the arrest and the brutal attack on Morgan Tsvangirai and other
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials, President Mugabe's
government has unleashed a ferocious campaign of violence against
journalists, political and civil society activists.
Evidence indicates that he has set up a paramilitary unit whose main
brief is to abduct, torture and murder opposition activists and unarmed
civilians. This is the same unit that has embarked on a petrol-bombing
campaign whose main purpose is to portray the opposition MDC as a terrorist
organisation. Fortunately only the insanely gullible have been taken in by
this propaganda ploy.
There is practically an undeclared state of emergency in the townships
where after dusk residents venture outside their homes at great risk.
Initially this terror campaign was concentrated in and around Harare but is
spreading countrywide. Gangs of heavily armed state thugs prowl the
townships hunting for their targets in unmarked vehicles. It is believed
these are the same people that assaulted MDC spokesman and MP Nelson Chamisa
at Harare International Airport three weeks back.
The petrol bombing campaign has also been used to trump up charges
against opposition elements that have been abducted and tortured in police
detention to try and extract evidence from them. Senior MDC officials like
Ian Makone and Last Maengahama have been victims of this campaign.
While the MDC are not angels, few believe they have the capacity to
organise the alleged bombing campaigns.
So far one television journalist, Edward Chikomba and an MDC activist,
Gift Tandare, have been abducted, tortured and murdered. Another journalist,
Gift Phiri, was abducted and tortured after being accused of involvement in
the spree of bombings. At the last count, over 600 people were known to have
been beaten and some tortured in detention and the figure continues to rise.
Indications are that approximately 30 people a day are admitted to hospitals
around the country mostly at night and mornings, following brutal assaults
under the cover of darkness. The poorly equipped and cash-strapped state
hospitals are failing to cope and the MDC this week launched an appeal for
funding and medication to take care of its members.
All this violence is seen as evidence that President Mugabe, who
boasts of "degrees in violence", has launched his 2008 election campaign.
Since he has nothing to offer the electorate his powers of persuasion are
limited to violence. It worked for him during Zimbabwe's liberation
struggle, in Matabeleland in 1982-1987 and he is sure this tried and tested
strategy will not fail him. This is the same violence witnessed in the
run-up to the 2000 and 2002 parliamentary and presidential elections
respectively in the name of land reform.
The purpose of this violence is to intimidate and it is working. The
vigilante groups aim to break the backbone of trade unions and paralyse MDC's
structures. There is a palpable sense of fear across Zimbabwe. The assault
on Tsvangirai sent a clear message that nobody is out of reach. And the
public is justified in asking: "If they can do it to Morgan who am I to try
and stand up to the regime?"
Thus the rigging of the March 2008 parliamentary and presidential
elections has started in earnest. The campaign of violence 11 months ahead
of the elections, the repressive and punitive media laws, an undemocratic
Electoral Act and an oppressive Public Order and Security Act are all vital
ingredients in Zanu PF and Mugabe's road to victory.
Yet the situation is most likely to get worse before the elections.
This is no environment to conduct democratic elections. But it is opportune
for President Thabo Mbeki who has been mandated by Sadc to broker talks
between Zanu PF and the MDC. It should open his eyes to the enormity of the
task that lies ahead for him.
So what is the way forward?
The wave of State-sponsored terror must be brought to an end before
President Mbeki gets the talks going. Mbeki, with the backing of Sadc, must
seek to have a broad based national dialogue that includes church leaders,
business, trade unions and other civil society players. A durable solution
to Zimbabwe's problems requires the involvement of more players beyond Zanu
PF and MDC.
Mugabe is itching for a fight and would love for MDC to respond in
kind to enable him to kill once and for all the national democratic project.
He has the instruments of the State to do this. It must be remembered that
Mugabe has vowed that the MDC will never rule Zimbabwe for as long as he is
alive. He is prepared to do anything to achieve this goal. The danger though
is that were violence to spin out of control there is no guarantee he would
have his way.
When the violence has been quelled, Mugabe must be asked to disband
his private militia and stop recruiting war veterans into a reserve army,
which is essentially a personal army. The national youth militia, commonly
known as the "Green Bombers", must be disbanded. Central to the conduct of a
free and fair election is the repeal of repressive media and public security
laws which infringe on freedom of expression and assembly.
The Electoral Act will have to be reviewed and all electoral functions
taken away from state security operatives. A transparent voter education and
registration exercise must be put in motion to include Zimbabweans in the
Diaspora. All military personnel currently heading state companies and other
organisations will have to be sent back to the barracks or retired.
As part of his strategy for victory in March 2008 Mugabe has announced
that he plans to expand the House of Assembly and the newly created Senate
from 150 to 210 and 66 to 84 respectively. He must be dissuaded from
embarking on this self-serving project whose sole purpose is to reward the
Zanu PF faithful and continue to abuse the rural electorate.
In the past Mugabe has used promises of talks with the MDC as a ruse
to buy himself time and he must not be allowed to do this again. For these
talks to be successful, Mugabe would have to concede a lot of ground on the
stumbling blocks to a free and fair election.
The media laws, the electoral act, the violence and intimidation and
the security laws have been pivotal in his winning elections this far and to
do away with them would be akin to committing political hara-kiri. I doubt
that Mugabe is ready to negotiate himself out of office. Without these key
pillars it is not possible for Mugabe to win a free and fair election. This
means that these negotiations will be sticky if they do take off at all.
Indeed if the list of concessions sought sounds like a surrender
document, it is because over the years Mugabe has heavily loaded the
political dice in his favour and this simply needs to be undone. It is not
likely that stubborn Mugabe will succumb to this, thus setting the stage for
stillborn talks and controversial elections next year. But there is no harm
in giving the talks a chance.
The current violence must be brought to an end not as a condition for
the talks but simply because it is barbaric and does not belong to the
future the majority of Zimbabweans desire. It goes against everything SADC
and President Mbeki and his African Renaissance project stand for, and must
be rejected and condemned in the strongest terms.
Trevor Ncube is the Chairman of The Zimbabwe Independent and The
Standard newspapers and Chief Executive of the Mail & Guardian.
Reflections with DR Alex T Magaisa
ONE of the great mistakes we make, especially when we sit in high
positions, is to misread the way the rest of the people perceive us. In the
intoxicating atmosphere of supposed glory, we often get to a point where the
line between cheers and jeers becomes blurred and we cannot separate
commendation from condemnation. On these occasions, we often consider manic
reactions as support even if, in reality, we are the subjects of ridicule.
It does not help when there are sycophants who simply hang around, giving an
incorrect interpretation of people's thoughts and feelings.
It seems to me that President Mugabe's decision to stand for another
term of office is not only astounding given the country's circumstances
under his 27-year leadership, but could fall in this class of human
misjudgements. When those women of Zanu PF's Women's League become
hysterical in his presence, urging him to go on, are they really cheering
him to glory? When the hangers-on advise him to go on, are they not really
placing him on display, for all to watch and ridicule, while they get on
with their nefarious activities?
Years ago, when I was in primary school, there was a hefty fellow
called Office. I do not know why his parents gave him that odd name, suffice
to say, that it takes pride of place in a rare breed of names that one is
only likely to find in Zimbabwe. Names like, Never, Forget, Opportunity,
Nobody, Eclipse, et al. Perhaps the name owed its origins to the
circumstances of his conception. The older folks pronounced his name as
Hofisi, while the rest generally adopted the phonetic, Ofisi.
Office was a big fellow whose exact age was generally the subject of a
great deal of doubt and playground speculation. Some said his birth
certificate had been altered and that he was, in fact, five years older.
Others who claimed to know him well said he had a wife and children. Word
had gone round too, that he had been a comrade (freedom fighter) during the
liberation war, though, it must be said, the presence of former fighters at
school in the early 1980s was not an unusual phenomenon.
Office was blessed with an athletic physique, which invariably gave
him physical superiority over fellow competitors on the sporting field. He
was a supreme athlete whose prowess was known across the region. He had a
number of limitations in the classroom but he more than made up for it on
the sporting field. He was a hero.
On one fine Saturday, an inter-schools athletics competition was held
at the school grounds and as usual, Office was the centre of attention.
Respected and feared by friends and foes alike, Office hogged the limelight.
But not even Office could have prepared himself for the extra attention that
he drew that day, during the 200m sprint event. What happened in that race
has become the stuff of legend, re-told over the years with the customary
You see, in those days, the popular attire for athletes was a vest and
a type of shorts that was commonly referred to as adidas. I do not know if
it has any relation to the popular Adidas brand, but I recall that those
shorts were very small and were designed in a way that did not provide
sufficient cover, and I do not think they were suitable for the big boys.
The shorts were particularly susceptible to a wardrobe malfunction. This
risk of a wardrobe malfunction was especially heightened if one did not wear
an under-garment. In the poor communities, under-garments for boys were
almost a luxury, even for big boys like Office.
Now, as Office worked the bend in the 200m race he was clearly in the
lead and spectators were cheering him on. But the volume of cheers increased
dramatically; in fact it became wild. "Ofisi! Ofisi! Ofisi!", the chants
reverberated in the packed ground as the hero surged ahead. Clearly
propelled by the noisy reception, Office upped the pace, waving his hands in
the air ecstatically.
But poor Office did not realise that the heightened excitement owed
not so much to his display of athletic talent on the track but to the fact
that the adidas short had literally given way. Office had not noticed the
wardrobe malfunction, which was the centre of the crowd's attention and the
cause of wild excitement. He simply thought they were cheering him on for
his efforts on the track. Instead, he was the laughing stock, but he went
on, blissfully unaware of his circumstances.
ometimes in life, like Office, we misinterpret the reaction of those
around us and think that we are being praised and cheered on when, in fact,
we are the subject of ridicule and fun. Sometimes it seems to me that the
Zanu PF leadership, like Office, misread the reaction of the people. The
wild excitement at gatherings may not necessarily be a show of support for
the great things that they think they have done. Sometimes, they are the
subject of laughter and ridicule.
The story of Office reminds me of Hans Christian Andersen's great tale
entitled The Emperor's New Clothes.
Believing that he was wearing new clothes, the royal procession went
on, the Emperor hogging the limelight, savouring the cheers and praise from
crowds of supporters lining up the streets. All of them could see that the
Emperor had no clothes; that he was naked but they also pretended to be of
pure heart and spirit, they pretended to see and praise the Emperor's new
clothes. So, in fact, the Emperor paraded himself naked to his people, all
deluded that he was wearing new clothes, believing that only those of pure
heart and spirit could see. This extraordinary spectacle would have gone on
but for an innocent child who exclaimed, for all to hear, that the Emperor
had no clothes!
The nomination of President Mugabe to stand for Zanu PF, in next year's
Presidential election, sounds to me like a similar case of the ruler getting
too enamoured with himself and the people around him joining in and
pretending to see what in fact is not there. The officials who inspected the
fellows weaving the magical cloth for the Emperor, reporting that they had
seen the most beautiful cloth, could well be Mugabe's ministers and coterie
of admirers who continue to tell him that he has been doing so great and
that the problems of Zimbabwe are not of their own making but can be blamed
solely on Western sanctions and drought. They can see the disaster but they
pretend to see something else that they would like to believe.
The people who lined up the streets and cheered the Emperor in a state
of nakedness, pretending to be smitten by his non-existent new clothes,
could well be the Zanu PF Women's League, who sing, dance and ululate for
Gushungo, urging him to go on, pretending to see all that is great and
beautiful when in fact there is very little they see.
But there are also many children, who can see and point out that in
fact, the President is being paraded without clothes. VaMugabe had better
listen to the voices of those children, whose cry is only for his good and
that of the country.
Alex Magaisa can be contacted at email@example.com
Let's direct anger at source of woes WHILE I appreciate the recent public
outcry at the manner in which the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) has
presided over the misfortunes of the national squad, I believe it is not
totally fair to blame Zifa for everything that is happening in football.
Reserve Bank Governor, Dr Gideon Gono, in his monetary policy review
also pointed out the folly of laying all failure on the governor's doorstep
while ignoring the causes behind the whole scenario.
However, the "wise" governor shot himself in the foot by blaming Zifa's
problems on "mismanagement". Perhaps he meant someone else's mismanagement.
There is a Russian proverb, which says: "Fish rots from the head
downwards." Everything in Zimbabwe is rotten. In 1980, soon after we
achieved our independence, you could feel a kind of euphoria in the air. We
felt like the Israelites after they had just crossed the Red Sea. Alas! We
did not realise that we were entering the desert.
True, once in a while we have a "miracle". A few quails and some manna
fell here and there but sometimes the miracle waters would be better like
those of "Mara". We failed to realise in 1980 that the Revolution was not in
leaving Egypt but in getting into Canaan.
Today, 27 years along the way we are despondent and dejected. Those of
us who cannot run fast enough to catch quails are suffering and the manna,
falling occasionally, must be queued for while the bitter water is
contaminated with effluent from malfunctioning sewer systems.
Aaron is dead and Moses is old. His vision has always been short and
as always he brags about taking us out of Egypt, which according to him and
his age mates and cronies was an end in itself. Unlike the Biblical Moses,
however, our own Moses does not tolerate the idea of a Joshua succeeding
him. Indeed, he loves the country so much that he would rather destroy it
than part with it.
Now because of this the whole country has collapsed. Every sector,
every facet is not operating well at all. Zifa is only a symptom of a
general problem. I challenge anyone to tell me of a single sector in this
whole country which is not malfunctioning.
Inasmuch as Gono refuses to accept all blame for the country's woes so
Zifa should not be the one to blame for the demise of football in this
country. Neither should we be shouting at Zifa only as if it is the only
institution that is in shambles.
What irks me is the fact that people are ready to vent their anger on
football. Yes, they may throw a few stones in order to vent their anger, but
they will still go back home on empty stomachs to find their wives and
children hungry and miserable.
My question is: Why can we not vent that anger against the real source
of our problems? What this tells me is that there is enough anger out there
and we need someone to harness it and channel it in the right direction.
We must remember that Paul was full of energy. However, he used that
energy wrongly with the full conviction of being right. However on the road
to Damascus he met someone and after conversion he re-channelled his energy,
turning him into one of the most influential instruments of His word.
There is a lot of energy and anger out there. My appeal is: Please
someone channel that energy in the right direction and we will make a
Reverend N Khumalo
Forex payment for luxury goods baffling THE statutory instrument
introducing the payment of duty for the so-called luxury goods came as a
surprise to many and it only shows the rhetoric of President Robert Mugabe's
On the one hand, the government tells the country that the Western
powers are the enemies of the State, yet on the other hand they compromise
the sovereignty of the country by proclaiming the currencies of the
so-called enemy countries are now acceptable to pay for goods in Zimbabwe.
Sending used cars to those back home was one way in which so many of
the brothers and sisters in the Diaspora were actually helping those back
home, never mind those Zimbabwe-based car dealers whose life was largely
based on this line of business.
All things being equal, the most sensible Zimbabwean would simply stop
importing cars thereby starving the fiscus of millions if not billions in
revenue. If the Government had encouraged this service, it would have
continued getting a lot of money - much more than what it is dreaming of
getting by charging for duty in foreign currency.
From experience, perhaps many people would not mind paying for the
cars in foreign currency if the system in Zimbabwe was transparent. The
problem is it's not. One will never know how much duty to pay until the car
is at the border; everything is down to the discretion on the assessing
officer (although they say in principle there is a formula in place).
The system in use in other countries such as Ireland is transparent -
duty is calculated based on what is known as open market value for the car
in question. Everything is calculated by the computer, would-be importers
can pre-check the value of duty they can pay prior to importing cars.
This system is transparent, cuts out corruption or calculation of duty
at the discretion of the customs office. Through your paper, could you bring
to the attention of the powers that be systems that are in place in other
countries, e.g. www.ros.ie/VRTEnquiryServlet/ShowVRT.
Hope through your paper you will be able to influence policies in
Zimbabwe for the common good of the country.
Israel G Chidavaenzi
Cricketers will pay dearly
TRIVIA question on cricket: What was the last team that
Pakistani Captain Inzamam Ul Haq played against in his long and
distinguished One Day International cricket before he retired?
Now here is a serious question. What else, other than the
distinction of playing against the great "Inzy" in his final - and, under
the circumstances, rather sad - appearance for Pakistan did the Zimbabwe
cricket team achieve during its somewhat abbreviated Caribbean caper?
The answer to that depends upon which side of the cricket's
barbed wire fence you happen to sit on in Zimbabwe. As an administrator, for
example, or perhaps a member of the board of Zimbabwe Cricket, you would
probably not have noticed the ignominious nature of Zimbabwe's dismissal
from the Cricket World Cup 2007 after they failed to win a single match,
including the one against first-time entrants Ireland.
You would probably have been too busy counting all those
American dollars that Zimbabwe was paid to appear on cricket's world stage,
albeit so briefly.
If, like me, you enjoy the game of cricket and you were hoping
against hope that this team of teenage cricketers could pull something out
of the hat - such as a win, at least, against an amateur Irish team
comprising farmers, butchers, accountants and a sprinkling of expatriates
from Australia and South Africa - then you would probably still be shaking
your head in disbelief that this is what our cricket has come to in less
than five years.
And now that the team has come home to well-deserved oblivion,
playing inconsequential and (almost) unreported twenty-twenty tournaments
that (almost) nobody, beyond a handful of spectators, could be bothered to
attend, Zimbabwe Cricket has seen it fit to literally incarcerate the team
within the country by waving contracts in their faces, contracts which
expressly forbid any of these youngsters from playing abroad during our
The players did sign these contracts and almost certainly they
knew what the small print said. But at the time they were asked to sign,
weeks before the World Cup, they would have signed their own death warrants
just to breathe the rarefied air of the tournament such as this.
Now they will have to pay dearly for their naivety, sitting
around and twiddling their thumbs in Zimbabwe while waiting for their
masters to cough up the lolly.
Coughing up the lolly is not something that the Zimbabwe Cricket
is exactly famous for doing. There are, if the talk about town is correct,
quite a number of ex-national team players still waiting for hard currency
pay outs dating back several years.
Then there was the case of former national coach, Phil Simmonds,
someone whose tenure here expired amidst much fury and talk of monies
unpaid. I do hope the uniquely-named Prosper Utseya and his young band of
wannabes haven't done anything silly.
The Catholic Peace organisation Pax Christi International has issued an
online petition protesting violence and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
The online 'Letter of Solidarity', hopes that Zimbabweans will know 'peace
rooted in the rule of law and respect for human rights at every level in
your communities and your nation.' Drawing on a statement by Catholic
Bishops in Zimbabwe to turn the present situation into 'a moment of grace
and a new beginning' the document hopes that Zimbabweans 'may be
strengthened in your distress and comforted in the knowledge that the world
hears your cries for justice.' A covering letter by Marie Dennis, the
Vice-President of Pax Christi, describes the petition as 'a strong
expression of deep concern from people of faith around the world' which she
hopes 'may make a small contribution to peace in Zimbabwe and would let the
people of Zimbabwe know that they are not alone in their struggle for life.'
Dennis's covering letter concludes with an appeal to forward the petition
(available at: http://www.petitiononline.com/22530309/petition.html) to
anyone that might be interested. She also notes that those with limited
internet access can email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with their name,
organisation (if appropriate), city and country to be included on the
The 51 signatures on the list of signatories mainly come from various parts
of the United States, and many religious affiliations are represented, as
well as Catholics from Australia and Thailand. Their comments are summed up
by the words of one signatory from California, who wrote that 'my husband
and I support Africa University and are greatly aware of the situation in
Zimbabwe. We pray for a return to peace and justice for your nation.'
African names are absent from the list of signatories: perhaps this should
change, and quickly. - Jaime Ashworth
BY GIFT PHIRI
HARARE - Pre-election political bickering, State-sponsored violence and the
deepening fuel crisis are adversely affecting Zimbabwe's tourism industry
amid reports the sector has suffered a 50 percent decline in tourist
arrivals due to the deepening crisis and the prevailing political
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) documents to hand reveal that between 40
and 50 percent of business has been lost since the eruption of violence this
"The picture being painted in the foreign print and electronic media is one
of a not stable situation," says the document, adding that the prevailing
situation nullified ZTA's efforts to clean up the country's image abroad.
Chief executive Shingi Mutasa of a top hotel chain told the core group of
the tripartite forum recently that tourist arrivals within the group were
about 40 percent less than that of last year.
He said there was a general lack of confidence in what is happening in the
"These issues are fundamental and should be urgently resolved. Tourist
arrivals are now 30 to 40 percent less than those of last year and we still
cannot tell those inquiring when the problems will be solved," he said.
Tourism is the third largest contributor to Zimbabwe's Gross Domestic Growth
after agriculture and manufacturing.
By Eric W. Bloch
One of the most frequently asked questions within Zimbabwe's industrial and
commercial environment is "When will the economy hit rock bottom?".
Increasingly the response is "There is no rock bottom in a bottomless pit!",
followed by a bitter and ironic further retort that "The economy is so
irreparably bad that it can't get any worse!". Whilst there is substance to
the first response, for it is inconceivable that Zimbabwe can ever be wholly
devoid of any economy, regrettably there is no foundation to the second, for
not only can the Zimbabwean economy worsen, but it is doing so at an
The evidence of the escalating rate of economic collapse is more and more
pronounced. Zimbabwe continues to hold the unenviable record of the highest
rate of inflation anywhere in the world, exceeding 2000 per cent per annum,
and still rising at a horrendous rate. The pace of inflation has become so
great that most industrialists are revising selling prices every week,
responsive to continuously increasing costs of production, whilst some are
doing so even more frequently. In like manner, almost all shopkeepers are
continuously increasing selling prices, in many instances as often as daily.
Very many employers have resorted to paying salaries fortnightly, instead of
monthly, so as to enable employers to expend their earnings ahead of further
Foreign currency availability is becoming less and less, as almost all
industries previously engaged in exporting have had to discontinue their
export operations, and concentrate exclusively for production for the
domestic market, as they can no longer price competitively in export
markets. Thanks to a combination of the soaring inflation, and massively
rising costs of imported inputs which must increasingly be sourced through
the Black and other alternative markets, the industrialist's costs of
production have risen exponentially. But in contradistinction, the Zimbabwe
Dollar exchange rate has remained unchanged for nearly nine months.
During those nine months inflation-driven costs have risen by more than 900
per cent, and yet the exporter realizes no more Zimbabwean Dollars for each
unit of foreign currency receivable for the exports than was forthcoming
before such gargantuan cost increases were sustained. It is little wonder,
therefore, that progressively ever more have had to discontinue their export
The rigid exchange rate regime has also impacted very negatively upon
tourism, for the unrealistic rate has made Zimbabwean tourism untenably
costly for tourists who are obliged, under Zimbabwe's exchange control
laws, to pay for their accommodation, and much else, in foreign currency,
with calculations of amounts payable being at the grossly unrealistic,
static exchange rates. The foreign currency scarcity is further exacerbated
by the very considerable extent that Government is commandeering available
foreign currency to fund food imports, necessitated by the continuing
failure of the Agricultural Sector to provide for Zimbabwe's needs.
(Government attributes that failure to drought. It must be admitted that in
the last season the climate conditions were unfavourable, but nevertheless
the poor agricultural outturn is primarily attributable to a catastrophic
mis-management of the Sector by Government, by extensive allocation of farms
to recipients ill-disposed to engage in farming, by poorly-conceived leases
which accord no collateral value and therefore preclude access to required
funding, and by belated sourcing and distribution of inputs,
whilst at the same time little or no assurance of viable production prices).
With the contraction in industrial production, due to most abandoning
manufacture for export, some factories have been forced into closure, whilst
most others have had to down-size their operations considerably. As a
result, many more have joined the ranks of the unemployed, with little or no
prospect of obtaining alternative employment. Whilst authoritative data is
not available, it is estimated that over 80 per cent of Zimbabwe's
employable population is unemployed, and the numbers unemployed would be
very markedly greater were it not for the fact that between three and four
million Zimbabweans have departed the country to see employment elsewhere
(in the main, in South Africa and United Kingdom).
Yet another indicator of the distressed state of the economy is the
magnitude of the Fiscal deficit. The 2007 Budget, presented to Parliament on
30th November, 2006, foreshadowed a gigantic deficit of Z$20 trillion, and
undoubtedly the actual deficit willbe considerably greater, as Government
has assumed declining inflation in 2007, whilst the reverse is very
pronouncedly the case. The extent of the fiscal morass is very apparent from
the fact that the State's borrowings have risen from Z$290 billion at the
end of February, 2007 to Z$922 billion a little over two weeks later. So
great is Government's dependency upon borrowings that 67,8 per cent of those
borrowings were required to fund interest payments, which amounted to Z$626
Until Government allows realistic, ongoing devaluations of the Zimbabwean
Dollar, in alignment with inflation, drastically cuts its expenditures,
modifies its land reform programme, and creates a genuinely welcoming,
investment-conducive environment, the continuing collapse of the economy is