Sat 22 April 2006
BULAWAYO - The Zimbabwean government plans to compel internet service
providers (IPS) to install equipment worth billions of dollars to enable the
state to snoop on online communication, according to a proposed new law.
Under the Interception of Communications Bill, the state will be
empowered to monitor and intercept internet communications between citizens
while ISPs will be required to buy and install software that will enable the
interception of information by state security agents.
But the Harare authorities who are battling a severe six-year old
economic crisis, are said to be too broke to fund the huge operation.
Section Three of the controversial Bill says that internet service
providers should have facilities to re-route user information to the
monitoring centre that will be monitored by state agents.
"A telecommunication service provider is required to install hardware
and software facilities and devices to enable interception of
communications," reads part of the Bill.
Internet service providers who spoke to ZimOnline yesterday criticised
the proposals saying they had no capacity to raise the required funds to buy
the equipment and software.
The service providers said the interception equipment alone without
the software, costs in excess of five million rand (about Z$180 billion).
"If this Bill is enacted into law in its current state, most of the
ISPs will be out of business because we cannot afford to buy the equipment
which is over five million rand," said an internet service provider who
refused to be named for fear of victimisation.
Last week, Zimbabwe's privately owned media resolved to challenge in
court the proposed new law saying it was an unreasonable piece of
legislation that should not be allowed in a democratic country.
Zimbabwe already has some of the worst media laws in the world, with
journalists for example, being liable to two-year jail terms if they are
caught practising without a licence from the state's Media and Information
At least four newspapers including the biggest daily, the Daily News,
have been shut down in the past three years for violating the country's
tough media laws. The World Association of Newspapers says Zimbabwe is among
the three worst countries for journalists. - ZimOnline
Sat 22 April 2006
HARARE - Two candidates from Zimbabwe's divided main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party will slug it out with a candidate
from the ruling ZANU PF party in a by-election in Budiriro next month after
the Nomination Court accepted their papers.
At the close of the nomination court at 4pm yesterday, presiding
officer, Simon Muchemenye, said three candidates had been duly nominated to
stand in the election scheduled for May 20 to fill in a seat left vacant
following the death of legislator for the area, Gilbert Shoko in February.
Emmanuel Chisvuure will represent a faction of the MDC led by Morgan
Tsvangirai with former legislator for Harare South, Gabriel Chaibva
representing the other faction of the party led by Arthur Mutambara while
ZANU PF will be represented by Jeremiah Bvirindi during the by-election.
This is the first time that the two warring factions of the MDC will
lock horns in a high-profile by-election since the break-up of the
opposition over the senate election late last year.
The two factions have since held separate congresses earlier this year
dealing a serious blow to efforts to reconcile the two factions.
Chisvuure said he was confident of winning the seat.
"The people of Budiriro will not allow a reject (Chaibva) from Harare
South to disturb them. I don't want to mention ZANU PF because the party is
a walkover," said Chisvuure.
Chaibva, who was absent at the nomination court, could not be reached
for comment on the election.
The MDC, which presented the greatest challenge to ZANU PF's
stranglehold on power during the past six years, is split into two warring
factions after several leaders broke away from Tsvangirai after disagreeing
over last year's senate election.
But Tsvangirai still appears to have retained grassroots support
following the huge turnout at his rallies. Mutambara's faction has struggled
with very few people attending his rallies. During the past two weeks, his
faction suffered further blows after several leaders defected to Tsvangirai's
camp. - ZimOnline
From News24 (SA), 21 April
Durban - A Zimbabwe opposition party MP has applied for asylum in South
Africa claiming that his life is in danger from state security forces.
Former MP for the opposition party, MDC, Roy Bennett fled Zimbabwe in March
and is currently in SA, after the state-run Herald newspaper alleged that he
was linked through the discovery of an arms cache to a plot to topple Robert
Mugabe's Zanu PF government. Bennett's Gauteng legal consultant, Danie
Fourie confirmed that Bennett was "safe, but unwilling to talk to media
during a delicate negotiation phase." Bennett applied through Lawyers for
Human Rights for international asylum, claiming that his life was in danger
from state security forces, including the Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO). The Witness is in possession of a letter dated April 06, 2006 from
Amnesty International's Africa regional programme director, Kolawole
Olaniyan to the South African department of Home Affairs supporting
Bennett's application. The letter concludes that field research, carried out
over six years by Amnesty, confirmed that Bennett's life was in danger and
provided "compelling grounds" that he should be granted immediate
The application follows media allegations on March 08 that Bennett was
linked to the discovery in March of an arms cache on the property of 1980's
security force boss turned professional hunter, Michael Hitschmann.
Hitschmann was arrested at 17:00 on March 06 at a fast-food outlet in
Harare. Police discovered one AK 47, four FN rifles, seven Uzis, 19 pistols
and revolvers and 11 shotguns all unconcealed at his house in Mutare, some
240 kms east of Harare. Hitschmann, who is still in police custody, claimed
that he was a legitimate arms dealer, and that he had licenses for each
weapon. Sources told the Witness this week that Hitschmann's defence counsel
told the Mutare court during an unsuccessful bail application hearing that
the arrest was a state-orchestrated ploy to shut down MDC meetings and
rallies by fuelling fears of social unrest. In addition, the court heard
that Hitschmann had been unable to produce licenses for the weapons as he
had been kept in police custody. Seven other men, including MDC Defence
spokesman, retired army Major Giles Mutsekwe were also arrested and
subsequently released. Several of the detainees later claimed that they had
been tortured by security officers into falsely implicating Bennett with a
coup plot connected to the arms find.
The Amnesty letter points out that Bennett, his family and his workers had
all been subjected to a six year campaign of intimidation. "Since 2000
workers on his farm have been subjected to beatings and torture, including
rape, both by state security agents and Zanu PF supporters." On April 09,
2004, Bennett was evicted form his farm in the Chimanimani district in
defiance of court orders prohibiting acquisition of the farm by the state.
Bennett was sentenced to one year in Chikurubi prison in October 2004 after
an incident in May that year when he pushed justice, parliament and legal
affairs minister, Patrick Chinamasa to the floor, during a heated exchange
in parliament in which Chinamasa branded Bennett's father and grandfather as
"thieves and murderers". Amnesty questioned the conviction, arguing that the
whole process, which took place under Zimbabwe's Privileges, Immunities and
Powers of Parliament Act was "patently politically motivated and failed to
meet even the most basic standards for a fair trial." Amnesty's letter
states that there had been a complete lack of independence and impartiality
"a grossly disproportionate punishment and denial of any right of appeal."
Asked if being seen to be sheltering an alleged conspirator could sour South
African diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe, Foreign Affairs Communications
director, Nomfalelo Kota declined to comment. She referred all questions
about the status of Bennett's application to the department of Home Affairs.
Home Affairs spokesperson, Nkosana Sibuye told the Witness that the
department was currently processing a backlog of some 110 000 refugee
applications. "Being a member of the MDC does not in any way disadvantage
Bennett's application for asylum. The allegations against Bennett have to be
dealt with by the Zimbabwe government. We will apply our own rules in terms
of the Geneva Convention and the Refugees Act," he added.
From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 15 April
A farm meant to be a showpiece for the Zimbabwean government's land reform
programme is lying derelict because three senior Zanu PF ministers have
looted essential equipment. Members of the military disclosed this to
Vice-President Joice Mujuru during her tour of Manicaland recently. Army
units are routinely deployed by the government to run appropriated
enterprises and intimidate the populace. Kondozi farm in Odzi was once a
thriving horticultural enterprise that exported fresh vegetables to various
European markets and earned an annual US$15million dollars in foreign
exchange, employing about 5 000 people as seasonal workers. The farm was
appropriated by the state two years ago. Last weekend, Colonel Ronnie
Mutizhe, the deputy army commander of 3 Brigade now charged with running the
farm, told Mujuru that Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, Transport and
Communications Minister Christopher Mushowe and State Security Minister
Didymus Mutasa had all appropriated various pieces of agricultural equipment
from the farm.
Mujuru, accompanied by six Cabinet ministers and other senior Zanu PF
officials, was on a trip to assess progress of the state's land reform
programme. Mutizhe told her it would be a miracle if the farm, which is now
producing maize and sorghum, managed to harvest any of the 40ha of maize
under cultivation. "The maize wilted because we no longer have irrigation
equipment," said Mutizhe. This infuriated Mujuru, who demanded to know what
had happened to the irrigation equipment there. "It's not something I can
say in public, Your Excellency, I need to discuss it with you in private,"
replied Mutizhe. Mujuru would have none of that. "Let the cameras roll, I
want you to tell me now what happened to the equipment.I'm the
vice-president," said Mujuru. Mutizhe reluctantly admitted that the pump was
taken by Mushowe, who had "not returned it since". He added that "another
minister, Nyathi, took the tractors". When Mujuru demanded to know who
Nyathi was, he responded: "It's the Minister of Intelligence, Didymus
Mutasa, Your Excellency." Mutizhe also alleged that the provincial governor,
Tinaye Chigudu, had removed various other tractors, saying: "It's for that
reason that we are unable to do much on this farm."
Owners Piet de Klerk and Edwin Moyo were kicked off the farm by Made in May
2004 with the support of erstwhile information minister Jonathan Moyo and
Mushowe. Vice-President Joseph Msika tried to stop the government from
acquiring the property in 2004 and, at the time, described Moyo, Made and
Mushowe as "immoral little boys" for their actions. Moyo and De Klerk have
since relocated to Mozambique. Mujuru told the crowd that such "behaviour
was unacceptable" and she "would take measures to ensure that production was
restored". Deputy Youth Minister Saviour Kasukuwere described the looting of
the equipment as "corruption" of the highest order. "If it had been small
fish that had taken this equipment, they would have been jailed and even
denied bail, Your Excellency," said Kasukuwere. "But it's the chiefs, and
nothing will ever happen to them." Women's Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri
said the farm was in a deplorable state because of greed, adding that she
was shocked her peers had destroyed a previously vibrant property. The once
bustling business complex on the farm is now derelict, empty of equipment
and with storage facilities stripped bare.
By a Correspondent
THE government of Zimbabwe announced last month it will soon be
introducing laws allowing it to snoop on e-mails, telephone calls and other
communications, all seen as a bid to crush rising opposition and dissent.
This law will impact heavily on the media, the opposition, dissident
Zanu PF members and legislators as the succession rift grows, business
people and all thought to be against Robert Mugabe's continued rule.
The proposed legislation - the Interception of Communications Bill -
will give powers to Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation, the
Commissioner of police and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to spy on citizens'
phones and e-mails and use the information gleaned through spying for its
operations. The information obtained in this way this will now be admissible
as evidence in court.
If passed into law, the bill reverses a Supreme Court ruling in 2004,
which declared Sections 98 and 103 of the Posts and Telecommunications (PTC)
Act unconstitutional because they violated the constitution. The full bench
of the Supreme Court upheld contentions by the Law Society of Zimbabwe that
the presidential powers provided for in the act to intercept mail, telephone
calls, e-mail and any other form of communication were unconstitutional.
Zimbabwe will actually become a police state if the Bill is passed into law.
Countries like South Africa have similar laws but carry fines of up to two
million Rands is anyone abuses the system and snoop on private
communications with state approval. Activists are worried the Interception
of Communication law will be abused in Zimbabwe to give the Zanu PF
government and urge above its critics by snooping on their plans and
pre-emptying them or even using information to intimidate journalists and
Section 20 provides for freedom of expression, freedom to receive and
impart ideas and freedom from interference with one's correspondence.
The law will authorise the minister of transport and communications to
issue a warrant to state functionaries to order the interception of
information if there are "reasonable grounds for the minister to think that
there is a threat to the safety of the country".
For those who want to peruse the Bill, you can find it in our
documents section. It has not yet been gazetted but has been uploaded to
If you would like to share your thoughts and recommendations with
civil society organisations committed to advocacy around the Bill in
Zimbabwe, please copy your email communications to the following:
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) - firstname.lastname@example.org
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum - email@example.com
Kubatana.net - firstname.lastname@example.org
Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) - email@example.com
Media Institute of Southern Africa - Zimbabwe - firstname.lastname@example.org
National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) -
Zimbabwe's white farmers say they have been invited to apply for
land - in an apparent U-turn by the government which has seized their land.
All but 300 of the 4,000 white farmers have been forced off their land
since President Robert Mugabe started his "fast-track" land reform in 2000.
A farmers' leader says some 200 applications have already been made
and more are coming in.
Critics say the reforms have devastated the economy and led to massive
Much of the formerly white-owned land is no longer being productively
used - either because the beneficiaries have no experience of farming or
they lack finance and tools.
Many farms were wrecked when they were invaded by government
The government has admitted that the exercise has been beset by
But Mr Mugabe blames Zimbabwe's economic problems on a plot by Western
countries to topple him.
"There is an understanding that our members want to play a significant
role in agriculture production, food security and generation of foreign
currency for the country," Trevor Gifford, Commercial Farmers' Union
vice-president told Reuters news agency.
"It is within this context that we were invited to submit the
applications and I do know that instructions have been given to provincial
land committees to process the applications and we are now awaiting
responses," he said.
'No going back'
Didymus Mutasa, the minister in charge of land reform, could not be
reached for comment.
But on Wednesday he said: "There is definitely no going back on our
policy on land."
He also said that 99-year leases for commercial farms would be
distributed by June, which he hoped would lead to higher agricultural
Earlier this year, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made told the BBC News
website that any Zimbabwean was free to apply for land, whether white or
black, as long as they used it.
Under colonial rule, the best agricultural land was reserved for
whites - a policy which Mr Mugabe says he is trying to reverse.
But many white-owned farms were highly mechanised, productive
businesses which formed the backbone of the economy.
The opposition says Mr Mugabe is using the land to buy votes.
By Tichaona Sibanda
21 April 2006
The economic recovery blueprint unveiled this week 'will never work'
unless Robert Mugabe overhauls the way he governs the country, a political
commentator said on Friday. On Wednesday Economic Development minister
Rugare Gumbo said government was hunting for investment and cash to pump
into a massive economic revival program.
The ambitious program aims to stabilise the economy within the next
nine months. Every three months the equivalent of US$2.5 billion would be
sought in cash and investments to revive key sectors of the economy.
Political commentator Bekithemba Mhlanga voiced doubts that the
program will ever take off the ground unless there is an implicit admission
or statement to say the political climate will change.
'Unless the government knows something that the rest of Zimbabweans
don't know, I don't see how they can be able to pump US$7.5 billion into the
country within nine months,' Mhlanga said.
The Blueprint also seeks to reduce the country's debt and restore its
image abroad. Mhlanga said it would be difficult to transform the economy as
long as there were fundamental problems to do with structures, policies and
the way the country is governed.
'I see no other way of stabilising the economy outside the political
context. The reason why investment hasn't flown into the country is because
people are afraid of property rights, they are afraid human rights abuses
and they are also afraid of social toxicity in the air in Zimbabwe at the
moment,' he said.
The country is suffering its worst economic crisis since independence
in 1980, with acute shortages of hard currency, food, fuel and essential
imports. About 3.5 million Zimbabweans have fled political persecution and
economic hardships at home and are now living and working abroad.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Bill Saidi
THE 26th independence anniversary celebrations on Tuesday 18 April
were not as lavish as the Silver Jubilee bash last year. I remember someone
at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe announcing rather blandly, a few weeks after
the last drop of whisky had been quaffed, that the country was facing a
crisis: there was little foreign currency left.
I mentioned this to a friend from a foreign country. I wondered aloud
what kind of government would spend the taxpayers' hard-earned cash on what,
in the end, was just a shindig, when they must have known, having looked at
the books, that there would be very little cash left in the kitty after the
last foreign head of state had left.
My friend said the government would probably hit back with this robust
response: the people deserved to celebrate their 25 years of independence.
It would be unconscionable to deny them this grand party.
The fuel shortage followed shortly after this. There was much gnashing
of teeth among the same people for whom the party had been held: there was a
terrifying transport crisis. The loss in productivity everywhere was
Like most things this government has done since independence, the
decision to hold the mother of all parties during the Silver Jubilee was
based on emotion, and not reason. A reasonable decision would have been to
scale down the festivities, on the logical grounds that there was just not
enough foreign and even local currency for such a grand party.
Moreover, a reasonable decision would have taken account of the fact
that productivity in all spheres, having begun its decline after the farm
invasions of 2000, would not be helped by this senseless extravagance. But
most political decisions in Zimbabwe since 1980 have not been inspired by
reason, but rather by emotion.
The latest example relates to new proposed legislation on the
ownership of mines. Everyone, including those people closely involved in
this rather hare-brained idea, appreciate that there will be a decline in
investment all round once that law becomes effective. But the emotional
drive is irresistible: ' we own the land, which has the mines with the
precious minerals. We should be paid for this: the investors may make their
profits, but we should get the larger share of the proceeds.'
In the final analysis, the potential investor is being told: "Look,
take it or leave it." Most of them will leave it. Not many of them are
philanthropists in the mould of Bill Gates. They want a return on their
investment, a good return. Admittedly, there are sharks out there, investors
who are determined to take and take and take and not put anything back in.
Most countries have a gradualist method of ensuring they reap maximum
profits from their natural resources. They allow the investors a period of
grace, a time for them to make reasonable profits, before "the owners of the
land" take over.
Talking of the land brings us to the land reform programme, an
emotional roller coaster that threatens to plunge the economy into an abyss
of non-productivity. Six years down the line, nobody argues against the
theory that, more than the droughts, the disruption caused by the land
invasions was responsible for much of the decline in food production in this
country. Take the dairy industry: an expert told us recently that Zimbabwe
had established one of the most stable dairy industries in the region, going
back 45 years. He said the infrastructure that had been "left behind: by the
farmers could be resuscitated and made use of by the "new farmers".
Not once did this expert spell out what had happened: the people, who
had, for 45 years, developed this thriving dairy industry, had been kicked
out during the farm invasions. In the six years that they have not been
here, the industry had almost ceased to exist.
Again, had the politicians curbed their emotions in 2000 and decided
on a step-by-step programme of the farm take-overs, there probably would
have been much less disruption than there was. My theory, which I have had
no opportunity to check with Sigmud Freud, is that emotion is unlike
passion, which some of our politicians insist drives them to perform such
so-called heroic works for their country and their people.
My definition of emotion does not come from Freud or any of the great
psycho-analysts. It comes from the humble dictionary and says: disturbance
of mind, mental sensation or state; instinctive feeling as opposed to
reason. Any account of the liberation struggle, given by President Robert
Mugabe, his two vice-presidents or the Speaker of Parliament, John Nkomo, is
bound to be emotional. Unfortunately, they seem to bring the same volume of
emotion into a discussion of the economy or agriculture or the future of the
This explains, in part, why Simba Makoni, could not last as a cabinet
minister in Mugabe's government. His cold, calculated proposal for the
devaluation of the dollar was devoid of emotion. Mugabe must have been
flabbergasted. The Marxist-Leninist in him protested at the inherently
capitalist logic behind the proposal.
Today, even the RBZ governor, Gideon Gono, can do little to rescue the
Zimdolar from its near-moribund state. In fact, there is very little chance
of the economy "turning around" until Zimbabwe returns to the basics: a
readmission into the international financial community. The "Look East"
policy, touted, as an alternative to the "Look West" policy of the early
years of independence is not premised on an entirely solid foundation. Both
India and China enjoy healthy trade with the United States.
In China's case, while Zimbabwe is "looking east", China is actually
"looking West". This week, the Chinese president, Hu Jitao, was in the
United States. His first meeting was not with George W. Bush, but with Bill
Gates, the Microsoft billionaire.
Chairman Mao would be aghast at what Hu is doing - supping with the
capitalist devils and trying to beat them at their own game. Would Hu
possibly mention Zimbabwe in his talks with Bush? Would he put in a good
word for Comrade Mugabe, perhaps so that Bush can end the "illegal
sanctions" which Zimbabwe claims have crippled its economy?
The origin of the bad blood between Zimbabwe and the West is steeped
in the Mugabe government's emotional attachment to the history of the
liberation struggle. If Zanu PF had reacted with reason to the emergence of
the Movement for Democratic Change, there would have been no need for the
outrage, which followed the MDC's
sterling performance in the 2000 parliamentary elections.
A large number of voters thought the MDC stood a good chance of
presenting them with a development programme that would improve their lives
better than anything that Zanu PF had ever offered them since 1980: they
were prepared to change horses. But Zanu PF would have none of it:
emotionally, the party could not adjust to being an also-ran, second best,
of not being king of heap.
As long as Mugabe and Zanu PF embrace this emotional attachment to the
origins of the nation of Zimbabwe, then we can forget about democracy for
many, many years to come.
Politics in Zimbabwe must now be anchored on reason and not emotion.
The dangers of continuing on this emotional path have been evident for some
time. They have brought us to the present crisis, where the government
prints money, which contributes little to solving the problem of shortages -
of everything, from good governance to honest politicians.
Friday, April 21, 2006 -
A FEW months ago on a farm near the town of Banket in Western
Zimbabwe, one of my friends saw a man with a whip on a ploughing tractor.
It soon became obvious the new black farmer was whipping oxen pulling
the tractor to till the land.
The farm is one of many expropriated in the last five or six years
during President Robert Mugabe's so-called "fast track" programme to hand
land to his country's black citizens.
The scene of oxen pulling a tractor may seem surreal, but it is true.
In fact, there are many similar experiences.
Mugabe's desperate tricks to cling to power have backfired on ordinary
I saw first-hand on a whirlwind Easter holiday what can be described
as nothing but hell for the poor (the blacks for whom Mugabe allegedly
appropriated white-owned farms).
As you may guessed, the tractor had no diesel.
The most likely reason is that the resettled black farmer has no money
to buy diesel or other implements to maintain production on the land.
But it could also simply be that the farmer could not find any diesel
Fuel stations are the most inactive businesses in Zimbabwe.
My journey began in Windhoek on Friday morning, 14 April, via Maun and
Francistown in Botswana.
Most of us would be aware of the hardships in Zimbabwe just from
reading news or having experience of personal visits in the past.
But a harsh reminder hit me as two kind Zimbabwean men who gave me a
lift stopped at a Spar supermarket in the last town in Botswana before the
Plumtree border post.
Their shopping cart contained 10 kg of rice, one litre of cooking oil,
2 kg of washing powder, two loaves of bread and deodorant, all of which took
an hour of picking up and putting back things they wished to buy but could
not fit into their 100 Pula budget.
Used to the Namibian dollar and aware of the fact that the Botswana
Pula is strong, the goods seemed a little too expensive.
But the two men assured me they were not only a great deal cheaper
than in Zimbabwe, but that they might also not find those products back home
Having emptied two 50-litre and one 20-litre drum of diesel into the
bakkie, the drive to Zimbabwe got underway.
At Plumtree border post everyone else (all five Zimbabweans in the
vehicle) had little trouble getting through immigration.
They were then reminded to pay 100 000 Zimbabwean dollars (N$3) as
import duty for the rice.
It is an apparent attempt to discourage people from taking rice,
flour, maize meal and other such commodities into the country, apparently
because they are available there.
One Zimbabwean remarked to the customs officials that it must cost
more than Z$100 000 to print the paper, affix a stamp and fill out forms in
He agreed, but that's the law.
Having been warned of the Zimbabwean government's allergy to
journalists, I tried to soften the immigration official's keen interest in
my passport by describing myself as a "writer".
"What type of writer are you?" he asked.
"A journalist and researcher.
I write a lot of different things," I said, by which time the two men
who had offered me a lift had already explained that I came from a friendly
The immigration officer would not be fooled.
He filled in my name on a form forbidding me from "writing anything
about Zimbabwe because you are just a visitor and have no right to work".
He also warned that any writing during or after the trip would lead to
my being banned from entering Zimbabwe again.
So, here we go.
About 50 km from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's fuel crisis was telling.
A car that was pulling a bakkie carrying several drums of fuel had
left the road and crashed into a ditch and motorists and other passers-by
stopped to look or to help.
The journey continued.
My first purchase in Zimbabwe was in Bulawayo, 100 km from Plumtree.
It was a Nando's quarter chicken and chips - lemon and herb flavour.
It cost Z$590 000 (N$18)! The cooldrink was Z$70 000 (N$2).
I had to borrow the money, having carefully avoided the black-market
currency exchange for fear of arrest.
After all, we hear Mugabe's secret service is everywhere.
Although I had been to Zimbabwe three years earlier, the price stunned
Three years ago, a Nandos's half chicken and chips cost about Z$8 000.
It should not really have been such a shock, considering I was aware
the Zimbabwe government measured the inflation rate at over 913%.
So, how often in a month do they raise prices? "Aaah, my brother,"
said a woman going to Gweru with the same lift, "you will get into a taxi in
the morning which costs Z$35 000 (N$1) and by the time you come back late
evening they will tell you the price has gone up to Z$100 000!" Some friends
told a story of a man who went into a shop to buy beer.
When he came to the till, he realised he had brought enough money to
buy two beers.
He went to the back of the store to get another beer.
By the time he returned to the till, the price had gone up.
He could only afford one beer! Internet provider fees rose from Z$300
000 to Z$1 million in a month.
A teacher friend I travelled with says their salary is Z$5 million a
As if that is not enough of an insult, the salary is paid three months
It seems the government does not even have money to buy ink and paper
to print the worthless money.
The government has discarded the official currency and prints "bearer
cheques" in denominations of Z$10 000, Z$20 000 and Z$50 000.
Most of these notes have expired but that does not bother anyone.
Trade goes on.
In Harare, a taxi driver tells me he charges Z$1 million from the city
centre to the Borrowdale suburb where I was going.
I negotiate to pay Z$800 000, careful not to squander the Z$2 million
my host had given me as equivalent to N$50.
The taxi driver says if he makes Z$10 million a day, business has been
Tourists who used to be his customer base have stopped going to
Even the Chinese, whose packets of sweets and biscuits dominate store
shelves, have cut their travel back home to fellow communist pretenders (a
drop of 70 percent over the past year).
The radio in the taxi announces that citizens should go to the stadium
with pride to celebrate the 26th independence anniversary the next day (18
"What are we going to celebrate?," asks the taxi driver, well aware
the radio announcer could not hear him reply to her unconvincing invitation.
He bemoans the fact that Zimbabweans have become a poorly dressed
nation compared to their neighbours in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, who
they had teased about their ragged clothes just over 10 years ago.
Rubbish is strewn on the pavements as dogs and human scavengers
rummage for whatever meal they can salvage.
The Harare municipality has no money to buy fuel to pick up the trash.
Trying to evade potholes makes driving seem like Formula One cars
trying to avoid crashing into one another.
Lampposts stand skew with electric wires dangling dangerously above
children playing in upmarket suburbs.
Despair is engraved on the faces of most Zimbabweans.
It is hard to miss.
On the way back to Namibia, the minibus is filled with Zimbabweans.
Many are traders but several say they are holiday makers, visiting
relatives and friends.
"But I will also see if I can find a job in Namibia.
I hear it's easy to get one," says a teacher.
A Namibian immigration officer, seemingly weary of the influx, asks
the Zimbabwean woman who wrote on the entry form that she is a housewife,
"how are you going to survive on N$300 for a three-month holiday?" She
stares at the immigration officer as if he does not know what he is talking
N$300 is a lot of money in Zimbabwe.
"The politicians have destroyed our country with this so-called land
I don't need land that I cannot afford to maintain.
I need a job," says one of the people on the minibus to Namibia.
"But you guys could be going the same way as us.
I read last year you expropriated a farm."
He was referring to Ongombo West, 50 km outside Windhoek.
While following all procedures and rules by paying some compensation
to the Wiese family, the expropriation was ill conceived.
It began with a fight between workers and their employer Andreas
Wiese, whom they accused of maltreatment.
Then President Sam Nujoma, apparently frustrated with the constant
abuse of farm workers around the country, declared Wiese a criminal and said
the farm would be expropriated for the dismissed workers to take over.
Flower production stopped.
The Wieses say a N$10 million investment was cancelled.
The source of livelihood of more than 10 families has crumbled.
The Government took over the farm in December.
Decay has already set in at Ongombo West as at other resettlement
Wiese has refused to go back and help run the flower production or
offer his export contacts in Europe.
People who have followed the Zimbabwean land grab wonder whether the
black people benefiting from Namibia's relatively orderly land distribution
programme can keep production going, seeing that they lack experience and
The comparison by the Zimbabwean jobseeker is unavoidable.
He is a telling sign of how election gimmicks, such as promising land
to the landless, can go horribly wrong if not handled carefully.
It's hard to imagine that Namibia could plunge to the level of
economic meltdown where Zimbabwe is now.
But it was just as hard for Zimbabweans to imagine they'd reach the
state of decline that Zambia was in in the 1970s.
The decline begins slowly, almost unnoticeably.
Thereafter it goes into freefall.
All because the voters failed to put the brakes on looting and
murderous politicians whose only ambition was to be in power at all costs.
How happy I was being back home after only a few days in Mugabe's
Sadly, the Zimbabweans riding with me were also relieved to turn their
backs on their country.
It is a decision that could not have been taken lightly.
But as the Associated Press quoted a prostitute in Harare as saying:
"What can I do? I have to eat".
By Violet Gonda
21 April 2006
The MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai will be finalising its post congress
rallies in Mutare this Saturday, before winding up their weekend rallies the
following day at the Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare.
A statement by Nelson Chamisa said; "This Saturday President
Tsvangirai and the Liberation Team will meet the people at Chisamba Ground
in Mutare at 12pm. The President's message will centre on how as a nation we
will proceed in liquidating dictatorship and tyranny. The MDC will also
articulate the roadmap to a new Zimbabwe."
MDC sources said after this weekend the party will then embark on an
intensive nationwide campaign to mobilise the people for mass confrontation.
The Tsvangirai led opposition party has been holding provincial rallies in
the last few weeks to re-endorse resolutions made at its national congress
last month. The source said after this weekend, "the leadership will be
divided and deployed to lead from their provinces and start working on the
democratic resistance strategies from ward to district levels."
Zimbabwe is experiencing a serious economic and humanitarian crisis
with record inflation nearing 1000%. The MDC is under pressure to do
something about it. The recent defections from the Mutambara faction has
given the Tsvangirai side a major boost and it is understood that the nature
of the democratic resistance will be announced soon after this last process.
Observers believe the time is now right for mass action and that
popular sentiment has reached a critical point because of the economic
crisis. The opposition party said; "Euphoria is high as Zimbabweans continue
to give notice to the regime to brace for a long winter of people power and
resistance against tyranny."
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Rural Zimbabweans Hit by Health Crisis
Growing concern over conditions for rural people resettled on confiscated
By Oswald Sithole in Odzi (AR No. 61, 21-Apr-06)
A huge health crisis is developing in areas where hundreds of thousands of
poor rural Zimbabweans and their families have been resettled on commercial
farms as part of President Robert Mugabe's socially and economically
disastrous land reform exercise.
Mugabe's ZANU PF government moved some 400,000 rural families on to
Zimbabwe's mainly white-owned commercial farms over the past six years
without a corresponding development of health and sanitary structures.
As conditions have deteriorated on the once rich and highly developed farms,
a major health crisis is developing.
As rural people were resettled on the farms, some 900,000 farm workers and
their families were simultaneously displaced from their homes on the land,
according to new statistics by the Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe, FCTZ,
an organisation created by trade unions and the Save the Children Fund UK to
raise farm labourers' standards of living. However, these workers remain
huddled in some pockets of the farmland and continue to compete with the new
peasant settlers for increasingly scarce and ill-equipped health services.
Most farms no longer have fresh water supplies because pipes are in
disrepair and pumps have stopped working for lack of spares. The new
settlers cannot afford water purification chemicals, and the main water
sources are now streams and dams.
"The situation is terrible. We know the risks of waterborne diseases such as
bilharzia, cholera and dysentery that we could catch, but there is really no
choice," said Savious Muromba, a veteran of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war
resettled at a farm in Odzi, about 32 kilometres outside Mutare in
Zimbabwe's Eastern Highlands. He said most settlers had hoped the government
would quickly move to provide basic sanitary facilities on the farms when
the land confiscation process was deemed to be complete.
People, said Muromba, were using open land as toilets while they waited for
the government to construct pit latrines called Blair Toilets. The latter
were developed to improve rural sanitation during the 1980s at Zimbabwe's
Blair Research Institute. Its clever design makes use of air currents, a
septic tank-like pit and fly traps to create an odourless and hygienic
toilet not dependent on water supply.
Most of the settlers cannot afford the six bags of cement necessary to
construct a Blair Toilet. During the rainy season, just ending, human waste
from the surrounding bush has been seeping into the reservoirs from which
the new settlers draw their water for domestic use.
With the government unable to afford to build clinics for the resettled
villagers, their leaders have proposed using abandoned white farmhouses as
health centres. "This is the best option, pending the establishment of
permanent clinics," said Farai Bazaya, a health worker.
In desperation, the Zimbabwe government has appealed to the United Nations
Development programme, UNDP, to provide help for people resettled on the
confiscated farms. But first, the UNDP has called for a comprehensive survey
to identify the scale of the problem. Agostinho Zaccharia, UNDP's resident
representative in Zimbabwe, told IWPR, "Before this has been achieved, we
can't even talk about the next step."
FCTZ's national director Godfrey Magaramombe told IWPR that his organisation
is deeply concerned by the lack of sanitation on the farms. "The situation
is bad," he said. "People are drinking surface water from streams and dams
and this water needs to be treated or boiled to reduce the risk of
infection. Since farm occupants cannot afford electricity they are not able
to get the power needed to pump their water from unpolluted boreholes."
In the first two months of this year 51 cholera deaths were reported
countrywide. In the absence of toilets and clean water on the occupied
farms, further and more serious disease outbreaks are feared.
Even before Mugabe launched his land reform programme, government policy had
contributed to the deterioration of health facilities on commercial farms by
discouraging the development of public infrastructure on private land.
Research conducted by the FCTZ showed that up to nine out of ten farm
workers had to walk more than 20 km to get to the nearest clinic, contrary
to government policy that no one should have to travel more than eight km.
For the majority of farm worker communities, the only contact with health
services is through basic health care workers employed by the FCTZ. These
workers were recruited from among the farm labourers and their families and
trained in first aid and other simple health care provision.
The disruption of farming communities has resulted in a corresponding
dislocation in this programme on most resettled farms. Some of the health
workers have been displaced from the farms where they used to live, while
those health activities that were supported financially by the former farm
owners have collapsed. Previously, each heath care worker covered two or
more farm villages consisting of about 400 people.
Four charities running home-based care projects for HIV/AIDS patients on
farms in Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central provinces had to abandon
this work in the face of the farm invasions and the violence that
accompanied them. These were the Batsirai AIDS Group, the Red Cross Society
of Zimbabwe, Silveira House and the FCTZ.
UNAIDS estimates that more than 20 per cent of adults in Zimbabwe are
infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and that there are over 100
000 AIDS orphans on farms in the country. Farm worker communities are among
the worst hit by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The government has yet to announce what, if anything, it plans to do about
the deteriorating conditions on the resettled farms or even acknowledge the
looming public health disaster there.
Oswald Sithole is the pseudonym of an IWPR contributor in Zimbabwe.
April 21, 2006
By ANDnetwork .com
The food situation at Bulawayo's two major referral hospitals, Mpilo
Central Hospital and the United Bulawayo Hospitals, has improved after the
authorities secured new deals, Chronicle has learnt.
A source at the United Bulawayo Hospitals said the situation at the
hospital had improved slightly as Willsgrove Farm Enterprises had resumed
supplying vegetables while the Cold Storage Company and a private butchery
were providing meat. "The situation has not improved that much. Willsgrove
resumed supplying vegetables to the hospital. Authorities at the hospital
are also sourcing meat from CSC and West Acre butchery," he said.
The meat is bought using Government requisitions and payment would be
made at the end of the month.
The source added that the hospital would soon be getting money from
the Government to boost its finances.
Hospital authorities from the two hospitals were last week reported to
be in Harare to appeal for more funds to buy food.
Willsgrove, the sole suppliers of foodstuffs at the two hospitals, cut
off supplies over an unpaid $15 billion debt, forcing authorities to reduce
Miss Letwin Phiri, who has been admitted to Mpilo's Ward B4 for more
than one week, said the food situation was now better. "Over the last few
days, there has been an improvement in the quantity of food that is being
provided by the hospital. Previously, the food quantities were limited as
hospital authorities said they were having problems in sourcing the food,"
Source : Zimbabwe Chronicle
There comes a day, at this time of the year, in our part of the country,
when the Poinsettia puts out its vivid scarlet flowers. Poinsettia and
Bougainvillea and the washed blue sky of April are for many of us evocative
of this country at this most special time of year. Yet neither plant is
native to the continent. Bougainvillea is an import from South America, I
discover. I had always thought it came to us from Madagascar but my
gardening books tell me different. I also thought they were named for one
Bougainville, a French admiral but I have no authority for this. From where
ever they hale, and for who ever they may be named they immeasurably enrich
the garden. We have them all up the drive to the house, and with the
poinsettias blazing red against the darker green of the frangipanis and bush
trees they make a brave and cheerful display.
This April has been much more like the month we used to always expect: warm,
even hot days, with clear skies and cool, invigorating evenings interspersed
with the odd day of guti and even the occasional thunder shower. And so it
has been. The rainy season ended with two days of heavy rain at the end of
March, giving us a welcome additional 26 and 47 mm that topped us up nicely
for the dry months ahead. But we have had some very pleasant showers in the
last week as well, not much to register in the rain gauge but good for the
garden and the grazing.
We have a new heifer calf born while we were away, to our little Dexter x
Jersey heifer who was also born here a couple of years ago. And the tough
old matriarch should calve down soon too if Jimu-Buru has done his duty. The
latter is our exceedingly stout little Jersey-Dexter bull, born on the 1st
of January 2000 and called, inevitably, Millennium. But it is a name too
alien for local tongues (Mureniyumi) and, as his services are shared by our
neighbours, who frequently send messages for him to visit, phrased as
requests for "Jim's bull", he has taken on this rather unflattering
nickname. As he is rotund and rather black, there may be some who might be
tempted to draw other conclusions.
It would be tedious for me to recount the incredible cost in Zim. terms of
everyday purchases: bread has risen since I got home from Zim$65K to 80K; a
packet of Maddison costs 130K, sugar at last count, if you can get it, is
over 250K for 2 kgs! And so on and on. Fuel seems to be available at
filling stations at the moment, mainly I think as people simply cannot
afford to fill up. I put half a tank into the old series 3 we use around
Feoch for carting sand and stone and compost, and it cost me 6 "bar". I
think I explained this curious term to describe a million. Where it comes
from I have no idea but the word has general currency, if you will pardon
the pun, certainly in Harare and our part of Mashonaland.
People are now complaining openly and it will be interesting to see what the
next months bring forth, with some sort of action being promised by
Tsvangirai to commence with 1st May. Of course Didymus Mutasa has threatened
an armed response to any sign of protest. He has subsequently denied having
said so which would seem to authenticate his remarks. He was ever a fairly
unpredictable and voluble character - "foot in mouth sort of chap", I
suppose would sum him up really; and of course absolutely rabid in his
dedication to party and leader. Nor has he any love for those not blessed to
be of his ethnic hue and culture.
He first came into my experience in the early sixties in the Save (Sabi)
Valley where he pursued a vigorous campaign to make the irrigations schemes
along the river unmanageable. Of course this included Devuli Irrigation
scheme at Birchenough Bridge which fell in the Buhera district. During this
same period a much more cultured and learned nationalist also became known
to me. This was Ndabaningi Sithole from Mt. Selinda. He had a store near
Birchenough and his "keeper" sold off much of the stock without material
benefit to his boss. The matter came to my court as a civil action
culminating in me finding for the plaintiff. The storekeeper pleaded extreme
poverty, a necessary part of the script in these situations. Sithole could
have sued for civil imprisonment after lengthy process but instead announced
that he 'would not be Shylock and demand his pound of flesh." (I was to know
him much better many years later when I served on his staff during the days
of the interim government.) Rob too knew him as he managed his affairs for
him after he acquired Albany the former home of the Sinclair's in
Chimanimani, and for long years Brightside's nearest neighbours.
To get to Brightside from the south and east, the easiest root took you
through Albany and a farm called Wonganela (was it first named by an
Australian, I wonder). On Wonganela one crossed a strongly running river,
the name of which I now forget before climbing up and over the long range of
hills that formed the bulk of the farm Brightside which my father had bought
in the early fifties. Here brother Rob and Pam were to spend many years in
ardent toil, growing coffee; and here our mother spent much of her time.
We would visit from time to time. On one such visit we were in our old Opel
Caravan, a vehicle I had brought down from Tanganyika and which was nothing
if not wilfully unreliable. On this occasion we crossed the river at the
fast flowing drift, which was running a fairly deep. It was notorious for
getting wet plugs and points and sure enough we spluttered through the last
few yards and stalled. Nothing would get her going again except a long rest.
Jill and I elected to walk on to the farm (about ten miles I guess) rather
than sit in what promised to be a very dark night waiting for the car to dry
So off we set. It is a long and sometimes steep walk and the night was very
dark. Some time some hour or two later we had passed what was called Jim's
gwasha (kloof or ravine - ChiNdau) and were nearing the little homestead of
Mack, the foreman, when the night was split by the most startling and blood
curdling noise to our immediate front.
I was reminded by Jill of this event quite recently. It had quite departed
from my consciousness for many years, for reasons Freud or some other
equally neurotic "behavioural scientist" would wisely point out was because
I wished it so. The truth is I very nearly had a bowel collapse. Dimly ahead
of me a shape loomed on the road. Jill says to my credit I pushed her behind
me. I might have muttered something about lions. I have no memory of this
either. But I do remember peering forward, my heart racing and stomach
turning to ice. I do remember, with the blood rushing to my face in shame
and embarrassment, seeing against the dim horizon a pair of large ears and a
head lifting as one of Mack' donkeys vented its ass-like frustration on the
night sky. I have seldom felt such a fool.
This must have happened well over forty years ago. It is testament to the DL's
infinite patience that she could wait all this time to quietly remind me of
my bush craft. There is no one quite so able when it comes to deflating the
balloon of pomposity.
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's government has blocked the United Nations Food and
Agricultural Organisation (FAO) from scrutinising Zimbabwe's crop harvest,
which independent food monitors have already described as inadequate.
Government and aid agency sources told The Financial Gazette yesterday that
the Ministry of Agriculture had written to the UN food agency just before
the Easter holiday informing the organisation of the cancellation of the
joint crop assessment, which was scheduled to start this week.
The sources said Agriculture permanent secretary Simon Pazvakavambwa wrote
to FAO country representative Geoffrey Mrema advising him of the
cancellation of the exercise.
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made confirmed the development yesterday.
"We will not, as Zimbabweans, have multilateral organisations doing crop
assessments. Zimbabwe needs to have full facts itself. We are a sovereign
state," he said:
The assessment known as the FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission
(CFSAM), which was scheduled to have taken two weeks, would have seen the
crop assessment team undertaking research in the country's 10 provinces to
ascertain Zimbabwe's actual crop yield.
FAO, which leads international efforts in the fight against hunger, was
expected to second three of its staff from Rome to assess the food situation
and estimate food import requirements, including food aid needs, for the
2006/07 marketing year after Harare had earlier requested technical support
from the food agency.
Mrema yesterday confirmed the cancellation of the food survey.
"We were preparing to bring a mission from Rome," said Mrema, who is also
the sub-regional representative for FAO for Eastern and Southern Africa.
"But the Ministry of Agriculture wrote to us saying 'due to circumstances
beyond our control' they had to put the mission on hold," he added. Mrema
said the CFSAM's figures were critical as they were usually utilised by most
countries for consolidated appeals in times of insufficient harvests.
The government veto lends credence to claims that it was jittery over a
round of crop assessments whose outcome was likely to reveal another deficit
despite an above-average rainfall season.
This is not the first time Harare has blocked multilateral agencies from
conducting food assessments. In May 2004 the government rejected food aid
from the international community and effectively cancelled the CFSAM by
recalling members of the mission from research in the provinces.
The latest development comes at a time when the World Food Programme (WFP)
has discontinued its food assistance programme in various provinces.
The WFP, which has been feeding millions of hungry Zimbabweans, says its
budget runs out at the end of the month and will now only consider acute
Zimbabwe is facing a serious grain deficit, largely a result of the
government's controversial land redistribution programme under which it
seized productive land from white farmers and handed it over to landless
black peasant farmers who lack the necessary expertise and financial
In spite of sufficient rainfall received this season the government has
failed to give the new black landowners skills training or financial and
farm inputs support to maintain production on the farms.
Independent food monitoring agencies have forecast a staple maize yield
within the 800 000 metric tonnes to 900 000 metric tonnes range, about half
the country's annual requirements. Last year Zimbabwe, which is facing an
unprecedented foreign currency crunch, spent US$135 million to import maize.
UNRELENTING interest in HHK Safaris, the hunting business linked to Policy
Implementation Minister Webster Shamu and Charles Davy, has led to
revelations about a fallout with the powerful retired general Solomon
Mujuru, who charged that HHK was part of a consortium that sought to
monopolise the arcane but lucrative industry.
This follows recent disclosures by HHK managing director and major
shareholder Graham Hingeston that Shamu was "only a front man" in the
business, with no shareholding.
Documents made available to this newspaper show that Shamu and Mujuru
clashed in early 2003 when their safari interests collided head-on at an
auction for the government-controlled Chete concession on the shores of Lake
Bamakino Safaris, a company then represented by Constance Tsomondo, Shamu's
wife, won the bid after fighting off Mujuru's Trans Africa Ventures.
However, this did not go down well with Mujuru, who wrote an angry letter to
the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management, claiming his rivals had
breached the rules.
"I was representing Trans Africa Ventures as a director. There were about 12
bidders. The auction started very well until we got to the figure of $200
million. From then on, it was Trans Africa Ventures and Bamakino Safaris,
represented by Constance Tsomondo who remained on the floor bidding. Trans
Africa stopped its bidding when the figure reached $575 million.
"However, what surprised me was that the woman with whom I was bidding, a Ms
Tsomondo, was always getting instructions from Charles Davy and Webster
Shamu MP as they were seated opposite the woman who was bidding.
Furthermore, the consortium that won the Chete Safari tender is already
operating the Chirisa Concession under Famba Safaris/HHK Safaris. In
addition to the above, HHK Safais is already operating a hunting camp on the
Chete Concession itself, managed by Mr Shawn Lamb, thus putting Trans Africa
Ventures at a disadvantage.
"It is important to note that the Zimbabwean government's policy, in terms
of hunting safari concessions, is one concession per consortium. In this
case there is a clear breach of this policy. We do hereby appeal to your
good offices to look into these irregularities as a matter of extreme
urgency as it is grossly unfair for one consortium to have a monopoly of
safari concessions throughout the country," Mujuru wrote.
Apart from Chete and Chirisa, HHK also controls the Deka, Matetsi and
Riverside Ranch Matetsi safari areas in Matabeleland North, Lemco
Conservancy in the South Western Lowveld, Omay Campfire Area and Sijarira
Lodge on the South Western shores of Lake Kariba.
Mujuru also offered to bring in the police "to get to the bottom of this
"We as Trans Africa Ventures are prepared to invite the Police Fraud Squad
to investigate the company accounts of the two companies that competed so
that we can all get to the bottom of this matter," he wrote.
Wildlife conservancies, which were opened up to greater participation by
previously marginalised indigenous groups after the land redistribution
exercise, have been at the centre of tussles involving members of the ruling
elite with competing interests.
BRITISH premier Tony Blair, has laid into President Robert Mugabe's
government, branding it a "disgrace" to Africa, in a development that put a
damper on talk of building bridges between the former colonial power and its
Responding to questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday last week,
Blair said Zimbabwe had cast a shadow over the whole of Southern Africa with
its poor human rights record and policies.
He was answering a question from Conservative legislator Michael Jack, who
wanted him to explain why western diplomatic efforts appeared to have
floundered in dealing with Harare in light of reports of worsening
socio-economic conditions as well as reported rights abuses.
"The right honourable gentleman is absolutely right in his analysis," said
Blair. "The question is, what is the solution? I am afraid that the
solutions are necessarily limited. Yes, what the regime in Zimbabwe is doing
is a disgrace. People are suffering in a country that is potentially
wealthy. We as a nation have had to give humanitarian assistance and food
aid to people in circumstances in which, if the country were properly run,
they could be looked after properly," Blair said.
His comments come on the backcloth of President Mugabe's statements that he
was prepared to build bridges with London.
Harare accuses Britain and its allies of working with opposition parties to
topple an elected government and imposing sanctions on the ruling elite as a
way to hit back at President Mugabe's government for embarking on land
"Blair must talk to us," President Mugabe said in February when receiving
the new British ambassador Andrew Pocock.
The UK has, however, set terms for building bridges, with a British
spokesman in Harare telling this newspaper two weeks ago that the
Zimba-bwean government needed to address all concerns of the international
community as set out in the United Nations report on Operation
Muramba-tsvina, among other issues.
Blair added: "The only issue is what we can do about it. What we are doing
in this country is our best to ensure that the right diplomatic pressure is
put on the Zimbabwe-an regime to change, but I am afraid there is a limit to
what we can do. I believe that while Zimbabwe remains as it is, it casts a
shadow over that whole part of southern Africa. It is a tragedy,
particularly - as the right hon. gentleman rightly says - for the people
Despite the icy relations on the political front, the UK has emerged as one
of the largest donors of humanitarian aid in Zimbabwe.
It recently donated over US$18 million towards Zimba-bwe's Consolidated
Appeal to raise US$151 million required to feed 4.6 million people reeling
from food shortages blamed on drought and the controversial land reforms.
AS Zimbabwe heads for a winter filled with uncertainty amid daunting
prospects of mass protests led by a faction of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), the government has responded by threatening to
crush any such demonstrations.
Although President Robert Mugabe has cautioned MDC president Morgan
Tsvangirai, who has warned of an impending "cold season of protests",
against mass action, indications are that there are worries in government
over the issue, especially as living conditions continue to deteriorate
because of the deepening economic crisis.
In his Independence Day address this week, President Mugabe said Tsvangirai
would be "playing with fire" if he persisted with his planned programme of
"I would want to warn those who want to disregard maitirwo enyika
edemocratic country . . . those who don't want to go through elections and
organise demonstrations to stop business," President Mugabe, who is in his
26th year of unbroken rule, said as he departed from his prepared speech at
the National Sports Stadium.
"Tinovayambira kuti murikutamba nemoto unopisa," (They are playing with
However, government sources this week revealed the deep worry within the
corridors of power, saying state security agents anticipated trouble from
Army chiefs have previously warned government to ensure food security or
face the prospect of violent protests.
The government this week announced a new economic blueprint, dubbed the
National Economic Development Priority Programme, targeted at stabilising
the economy, reducing inflation from current record-highs, rejuvenating
foreign currency generation and addressing the problems blighting
agriculture and impairing food security.
An expanded Zimbabwe National Security Council (ZNSC), which analysts say
could supersede the Cabinet, will oversee the implementation of the economic
President Mugabe chairs the ZNSC, which has been given the task of raising
US$2.5 billion in cash and investments within the next three months.
The "turnaround" of the economy is expected in "six to seven months",
according to Economic Development Minister Rugare Gumbo.
The magnitude of the challenge and the timeframe given for its
accomplishment suggest desperation within government, which recently sent a
team to Russia, reportedly for negotiations on economic partnerships in the
energy and minerals sector.
No information has been given on what the team sought on the latest Eastern
Tsvangirai's MDC, on the other hand, buoyed by huge crowds at rallies called
to ready the masses for "democratic resistance" as well as the progressive
weakening of its rival faction following a spate of high-level defections
over the past month, has vowed to defy President Mugabe and force his
administration to embrace political and economic reforms.
Party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa told The Financial Gazette yesterday that
the MDC was unfazed by President Mugabe's threats.
"We can't take insults and verbal abuse anymore. The threats are a tired
strategy, which is not going to work on people, who have been battered and
assaulted by poverty.
"Zimbabweans are facing threats to their livelihood everyday, as well as the
indignity of spending hours in fuel and food queues. Zimbabweans are going
to take their destiny in their hands . . . " declared Chamisa.
Tsvangirai recently told crowds attending his nationwide rallies that he was
prepared "to pay the ultimate price" in order to deliver Zimbabweans from
the clutches of ZANU PF's rule.
Zimbabwe is battling its worst economic crisis since 1980, dramatised by the
highest inflation in the world, widespread job losses, foreign currency and
An estimated 90 percent of the Zimbabwean population is wallowing in
poverty, with the jobless rate at about 80 percent.
A poorly managed land redistribution programme embarked on in 2000 is blamed
for the country's inability to feed itself.
According to a United Nations report, last year's controversial government
programme to "clean up" urban settlements left over 700 000 people without
shelter, while denying some 2.4 million others the opportunity to earn
incomes through informal trade.
Critics blame President Mugabe's administration for the troubles afflicting
Zimbabwe, which until recently was southern Africa's breadbasket.
INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund (IMF) chief executive Rodrigo Rato says he has
told Zimbabwe to improve its human rights record if its attempts at economic
reform are to succeed.
Zimbabwe's government needed to change course both in economic policy and in
how it ran the country in general, Rato said yesterday.
In March, Zimbabwe cleared its arrears on the eve of a board meeting, but
the IMF voted to maintain a ban on the country's voting rights.
The IMF said it had taken the decision because there were many "outstanding
issues", but Zimbabwean officials suggested the decision had been driven by
"We are really engaged in the future of Zimbabwe and we have been advising
the authorities of Zimbabwe to change their course, both in macroeconomic
terms and also in respect of plurality and human rights and governance,"
Rato told a press conference ahead of the IMF's spring meetings.
Zimbabwe's repayment of the US$210 million arrears came at a cost to the
economy, with the country having to print a staggering $21 trillion to fund
the repayments, a strategy that critics say has fuelled inflation to world
record highs. Despite the payment, the IMF says Zimbabwe still needs to
clear more hurdles.
"Those arrears have been cleared but also there are issues right now
regarding the consistency of data and we are working on that," Rato said.
The IMF says Zimbabwe's GDP fell 4.7 percent last year, and forecasts a
further decline of 4.1 percent this year.
President Robert Mugabe this week forecast the economy to grow by between
1-2 percent in 2006 on a projected 9 percent growth in agriculture, and
announced a new programme that he says will stabilise the economy inside the
next six months.
Rato said economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa in general was expected to
be the best in 30 years at least but the region needed more aid, trade and
investment along with better governance and the removal of some "impossible
ZIMBABWE'S civil society - frantically trying to preserve the country's
shrinking democratic space - is outraged by fresh attempts by the state to
push a new law, which seeks to monitor electronic mail and Internet access
Representatives from the media, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), lawyers
and the generality of civil society met in Harare last Thursday and resolved
to raise a case against the constitutionality of the Interception of
Communications Bill if passed into law.
With ZANU PF having a clear numerical advantage in the bicameral parliament,
the bill is assured of easy passage.
In what amounts to unacceptable invasion of personal privacy, the Bill
authorises police and intelligence chiefs to pry into private
Reads part of the draft Bill: "Under this part, the minister is authorised
to issue an inception warrant to authorised persons where there are
reasonable grounds for the minister to believe (among other things) that a
serious offence has been or will probably be committed or that there is a
threat to safety or national security of the country."
Among other things, it also orders telecommunications service providers to
install hardware and software facilities and devices to enable interception
Chris Mhike, a media lawyer, described the bill as an unconstitutional piece
of legislation considering that the Supreme Court struck out certain
sections of the Postal and Telecommunications Act that were infringing on
ISPs predict that a number of players in the sector would be forced to close
shop due to the prohibitive costs of procuring new equipment as demanded by
certain sections of the proposed law.
"We are looking at doing a feasibility study on its impact among ISPs but it
is clear that a number will wind up because of the huge costs of buying the
equipment, which is not available locally," said James Holland, a
representative of the ISPs. "All stakeholders should begin now to fight the
proposed law by firstly engaging ZANU PF legislators before it is signed
into law. I think it is also imperative to petition the President (Robert
Mugabe) as was done with the NGO (non-governmental organisations) Bill. If
all this fails and it is passed into law, the last course of action is to
fight it in the courts," added Holland.
Journalists' representatives described the Bill as worse than the
controversial Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA),
which has claimed private newspapers among them the Daily News and its
sister weekly The Daily News on Sunday.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) secretary-general Foster Dongozi said
the union would mount a legal challenge reminiscent of its battle against
repressive sections of AIPPA.
"This should be the route we should take if we are to maintain our freedom
of expression because it is scary to have our emails and Internet monitored
by moles," said Dongozi.
DON'T worry. Be happy. In just six months, the economy will be fixed. That
is if the National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP),
Zimbabwe's latest magical cure, can indeed deliver the miracle promised by
its backers in the "next 6-9 months". The sponsors of NEDPP tried hard not
to sound like snake-oil salesman when they announced the new plan on
Wednesday, saying this time they were bringing out all the right tools. "We
have the right formula," Economic Development Minister Rugare Gumbo said.
Central bank governor Gideon Gono said: "Previously we have been very good
at crafting turnaround programmes that have fallen short at the
implementation stage. This time round the programmes we have got are
But the fact that this new plan is only the latest in a string of programmes
that were touted as the cure-all remedy makes NEDPP a hard sell.
There has been ESAP and Vision 2020 and the Zimbabwe Programme for Economic
and Social Transformation and the National Economic Recovery Porgamme and
the Millennium Economic Recovery Programme and the Ten-Point Plan in 2002.
And the fact that the NEDPP - reportedly another gift from Malaysia - is
strewn with promises of heaven-on-earth within short periods also makes it
that much harder to believe, especially given the advance of Zimbabwe's
An injection of US$2.5 billion "in cash or in the form of investments" is
expected in the next 90 days.
There will also be a sharp spike in agriculture output this year.
So how will this work?
According to Gumbo, the strategy for success will be to cut the red tape.
But the implementation of the new plan will in fact be through an elaborate
maze - the government prefers to call it an "institutional framework" - of a
chain of committees, evidence that Zimbabwe is not letting go of its love
for bureaucracy just yet.
First, President Robert Mugabe set up the Zimbabwe National Security Council
(ZNSC), which then formulated the NEDPP.
But it is not actually the ZNSC that is responsible for NEDPP. That's a job
for another committee, the National Economic Recovery Council (NERC),
chaired by Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
That's not all.
The NERC will have to "work with" yet another committee, this one chaired by
the Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet.
The new programme also appears laden with contradictions.
While talking up Zimbabwe as "a conducive investment destination", President
Mugabe on Tuesday took another stab at the already frayed nerves of miners.
Only those willing to conform to planned government control of mines should
stay, he suggested: "Vanoda kubatana nesu, ngavabatane nesu pachiKristu"
(They should cooperate like good Christians).
And while packaging the NEDPP as a turn towards more progressive economic
policies, Gumbo insists the government has never mismanaged the economy: "We
are not apologetic about what we are doing in Zimbabwe."
Makes one wonder then why the country needs a "recovery" programme.
President Mugabe said the economy would grow between one and two percent
Importantly, that is a downgrade on Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa's
forecasts in December last year of two to 3.5 percent growth.
If it happens, it will be the first year of positive growth since 1998.
President Mugabe also firmly refuses to take the fall for the crisis. "An
evil programme of unjustified sanctions" is responsible, he says.
There will inevitably be much marketing put into this latest policy over the
next few months.
The good thing though is that, by October, Zimbabweans will know what to
make of the ZNSC, NERC and NEDPP.
FACTS speak loudest and most forcibly when they speak for themselves as can
be exemplified by the shrunken state of Zimbabwe's agriculture in the
aftermath of the controversial land reform exercise. Yet in the debate
surrounding the success or lack thereof under the fast-track land reform
programme, highly charged rhetoric from government has more-often-than-not
been substituted for informed and reasoned analysis. A situation which,
instead of shedding illuminating light, adds a sense of confusion to the
But for the public which takes the official position as an implication of
insincerity and exaggeration, a number of issues influence the scepticism
and uncertainty with which the land reform initiative is perceived. Chief
among these is the fact that the results of the exercise embarked on some
six years ago have so far been grossly disappointing. The much-expected
enhanced agricultural performance has remained a pipedream. And the major
agro-business success story that we were told was in the making is, to all
intents and purposes, a could-have-been-that-never-was. It is because of
this that government's every move in this key sector is always questioned.
It is with this in mind that we hope against hope that the government which
this week confirmed taking over the Lowveld-based 5 000-hectare Hippo Valley
(Anglo Amercian) and Triangle (Tongaat-Hulett)-owned Mkwasine Estate in
Chiredzi to resettle indigenous sugar cane farmers has learnt a lesson or
two from such previous schemes. Lessons from the pioneering out-grower
scheme at the Chipiwa Settlement Scheme, which is adjacent to the large
Mkwasine commercial sugar estate are particularly instructive.
Established in 1981 by Mkwasine Estate, which ironically owes its existence
to an attempt at shoring up white minority rule after it came into being to
grow cotton and wheat as a sanction-busting strategy, the Chipiwa scheme was
by 1997 home to 191 small-scale farmers.
As our Editor-in-Chief found out when he was commissioned to evaluate and
write on how well Chipiwa was working in 1997, the scheme was initially a
testament to the excellent synergies which can develop between small-scale
producers and commercial agri-businesses. The Mkwasine Estate provided the
Chipiwa farmers with all their input requirements, supplied haulage tractors
and maintained irrigation facilities at the settlement scheme, among others.
But then problems set in once this symbiosis broke down after the Mkwasine
Estate could no longer extend its services and infrastructure to the
settlers in the wake of the devastating 1991/92 drought. Thus the project
manifestly failed to achieve its goal because the farmers could not stand on
their own. And there is no guarantee that this will not happen again. Which
is why the government has to draw from the experience of Chipiwa to prepare
against such eventualities.
After being weaned from Mkwasine the farmers, whose financial matters were
hitherto handled by the Estate, started borrowing heavily from the
Agricultural Finance Corporation (now Agribank) which they considered a
source of cheap funds and thereby unnecessarily mortgaging themselves. Worse
still, most of the farmers were buying tractors on hire purchase. Yet on
plots of 10 hectares which they had been allocated per individual, there was
simply no justification for a tractor. Farming experts had repeatedly warned
government about the viability of 10-hectare plots in the long term. But
this fell on stony ground. The experts had argued that there was need for
bigger plot sizes because it was difficult to deal with crop rotation on a
10-hectare plot. And without crop rotation it was difficult for the farmers
to unwind from their highly geared positions.
Without assistance from Mkwasine Estate there was also no more efficient
resource utilisation. As a result, the farmers found it increasingly
difficult to produce sufficient tonnes of sugar per unit of water. Their
yields averaged between 68 tonnes and 114 tonnes of cane per hectare
compared to Mkwasine Estate's average of 116 tonnes.
The situation was compounded by the fact that although it would be
advantageous for the farmers to have individual access to water this was
however not even considered because the small plots of 10 hectares per
farmer rendered such a system uneconomic. If anything, given the sizes of
the plots, the farmers found it prudent to cooperate where economies of
scale were evident in areas such as cane haulage and irrigation. Still, this
meant that less productive farmers had undifferentiated access to the scarce
resource because communal pump houses were shared at an average of six
farmers to a pump house. This created a lot of payment problems. The ideal
situation would be where water usage is monitored by a bailiff on a daily
basis so that the farmers are charged for what they actually use.
Last but not least, instead of continuously romanticising the land reform
initiative, government must revisit the farmer selection process. Unlike
what happened at Chipiwa where the majority of the resettled farmers lacked
business experience, government should consider people for resettlement at
Mkwasine, only on the basis of skills level and initiative to ensure the
most effective utilisation of technology and expertise so as to guarantee a
successful outcome. Otherwise the Mkwasine project would be another flop
just like "the back to the land idealism" has seen the launch and subsequent
failure of so many small-scale commercial agricultural schemes.
We need not belabour the fact that a deep understanding of these issues
requires far more serious commitment of time and effort than the government,
which is obsessed with pork-barrel projects, has been known to devote to
such critical issues.
Africa cannot continue blaming whites for its troubles
EDITOR - I lived for a short time in the then Salisbury in 1967 when the
Smith regime was in power and thereafter for two years in Zambia. Say what
you like about white repression, no black Africans ever starved. Now
Zimbabwe relies on white countries for food aid. I say this because I find
inappropriate comments here about the white-rule era.
I have never seen African acknowledgement of the benefits handed to newly
independent countries, such as intact physical and administrative
infrastructures now decaying, as well as science, technology, education and
True, black Africans fought bravely and rightly so against the Smith and
other regimes but until they recognise the good that the colonialists did
and fight against tyrants of any skin colour, Africa will continue to
descend into chaos.
Africa cannot continue to blame whites for the troubles that are caused by
its own people who have been independent now for a long time - and were
gifted thriving economies by the whites.
Wake up! The continent is heading for starvation.
Don't lose sleep over defections
EDITOR - The Mutambara-led MDC component should not lose sleep over the
opportunists that are now crossing the floor to the other side. What is
important now is to strategise and work to build the membership.
It's not about loud and hollow talk now - we need brains.
EDITOR - I have been following with keen interest how Morgan Tsvangirai has
all of a sudden become a darling of the state media. The amount of coverage
that Tsvangirai's events (so-called congress and rallies) have been
receiving from ZBH, Herald and Sunday Mail leaves most of us wondering where
the link is missing from ZANU PF.
Can the "former" leader of the MDC explain this. The world awaits an answer.
We don't understand why you hate us so much, Geoff
EDITOR - Sir I write to comment on your correspondent, Geoff Nyarota's
continued attempt to hurt the Ndebeles. I and perhaps a million other
Zimbabweans are in 'economic' hiding in the land of the people that
President Mugabe and his gang hate with a passion.
We however, no longer have any shame whatsoever about living here (even
though many of us would rather be home under normal and peaceful conditions)
because in the western world, things work. So why are we staying away from
The answer is simple - because of the dark, sinister and incredibly soulless
hatred of ZANU PF and its cronies. So, to Geoff, let me explain what it
feels like to be a Matabele man.
Probably born into a family of law-abiding, easy-going, friendly, ambitious
and very neighbourly family. Very bad history of being hated - the whites
came into Zimbabwe and hated our pride and self-confidence to an extent they
sought to subjugate us. How? They denied us the education they gave to the
Shonas (no reflection on Shonas) and created a terrible lie under which
people like President Mugabe, Nathan Shamuyarira, Nicholas Goche, Emmerson
Munangagwa, Didymus Mutasa, et al, grew up - believing that if it were not
for the coming of the white man, the Ndebeles would have annihilated all
For any mature black person, this would not have been a problem because they
would have divined that divide and rule was the classic tactic of the white
man when he came to Africa.
But, unfortunately, the present-day leaders of Zimbabwe believed that lie
hook, line and sinker to the extent that even before independence, the
ravages of Gukurahundi were already in progress. And even before that, the
new government continued the white man's tradition of suppressing the
Matabeles - but with more venom than had ever been seen before.
The best teachers were taken away from Matabeleland, businesses with Shona
heads relocated from Matabeleland even when there was no need to (witness PG
Timbers, etc), mundane jobs such as lifting the boom of cars at the
Beitbridge border post were filled by people (Shona) from outer areas when
there were jobless thousands locally, and the worst thing was that all
Ndebeles became figures of ridicule, derision and scorn.
We were told that we were uneducated, were poor and did not fit in with the
modern day dynamics of a free Zimbabwe and the best places for us were
either back in Zululand where we came from or in disused mine shafts,
prison, hospitals (as patients of the physical wounds suffered from savage
beatings), as the Gukurahundi genocide took place.
And to cap it all, you had complicit editors like your Geoff Nyarota who
actually was egging on the Ndebele-bloodthirsty savages to kill, maim,
torture, humiliate, insult, denigrate as many as they could find. And today
it would appear that the killing of over 20 000 innocents was not enough for
your Geoff. The man still wants to see unleashed on us a worse force than
And because he can no longer eat from the same table with his previous
masters, he thinks attacking them will make us forget his role in this.
Trying to blind us with clever diversionary tactics will not work.
Blaming the Ndebeles for the anger and disappointment they feel under
President Mugabe and his friends is plain unacceptable. The story is told
that a CIA agent was asked how he would catch a bear and he talked about
setting a trap for it using nets and so on. The same question was asked of a
CIO operative in Zimbabwe and the reply was, "I'd catch a Ndebele and beat
him up until he agrees that he is a bear!" Not amusing in the slightest!
No, we will never forget Geoff! That will never happen - even Ndebeles have
a long memory. We accept the strangeness of a man from poor and
underdeveloped Manicaland being so hateful towards us as the cruelty of
sick-mindedness. The blood of the innocents of Matabeleland is crying out
for vengeance, for justice, for appeasement, for retribution against the
likes of your Geoff.
Forget the Mthwakazi thing he is talking about; indeed his own conscience
may be hurting, hurting, hurting . . . and the Matabeles, as other children
of God continue to survive, even under the murderous conditions abetted by
people like your correspondent, Geoff Nyarota.
Jump out of the sinking ship before it is too late, Arthur
EDITOR - Arthur 'Ago' Mutambara has always been my hero dating back to his
days as a student activist. The man has always been a crowd puller and he is
a genius in the field of academics. However the recent events in the
political arena have been a litmus test for Ago and he has shown us where he
really stands in terms of political maturity.
From my own conclusions academics and politics are two different things
altogether. Arthur needs real political orientation where he can be schooled
so that he may become a good leader. His idea of hi-jacking a sinking ship
shows some political immaturity.
Ago should have taken his time to digest the offer that came his way from
the pro-senate faction. If the truth be told, he was not their first choice
for the position of president. We are told there are other prominent people
who turned down the very same post after realising that it would not take
Politics requires someone who is pro-active with a high degree of foresight.
If Arthur was really serious about being president of Zimbabwe, I think he
should have formed his own party which is well composed and has a clear
The people of this country are now conscious of what they want and will not
be swayed around. Jump out of the sinking ship before it is too late Arthur.
Am I plain dumb or I'm missing something here?
EDITOR - Am I dumb or have I missed out on something. What is the outcome of
the court case involving ZABG? The bank is already declaring dividends when
its existence is being challenged at law!
Why is it being allowed to operate when all arguments point to the fact that
it was "illegal" - born out of wedlock, so to speak! So there is a different
law for the RBZ, and another for other banks. And this is expected to
inspire confidence in the banking sector.
No wonder we have another ailing sector which is supposed to insure those
who are sick and ill, being granted a verbal licence to operate a medical
aid fund by the minister, as claimed by the beneficiaries of this verbal
licence. Talk of conflict of interest, it's no longer applicable in
Zimbabwe. Cry the beloved country!
Financial Gazette (Harare)
April 21, 2006
Posted to the web April 21, 2006
THE Zvobgo family has announced the setting up of a scholarship programme in
memory of the late nationalist Eddison Zvobgo, who died about two years ago.
The scholarships, to be financed by Zvobgo Holdings, a family business
mainly involved in the hospitality industry, will benefit secondary school
children and university undergraduates.
Another Zimbabwean company, Econet Wireless, recently set up a scholarship
fund in honour of former vice-president Joshua Nkomo.
Eddison Zvobgo Jr, managing director of Zvobgo Holdings, said the scheme
would be structured to take beneficiaries from Form One right through to
"What we want to do is to follow the same people as they progress and we
will consider a combination of merit and need in selecting beneficiaries,"
Zvobgo said, adding that the initiative was meant to ensure continued
involvement in the community which his late father had served throughout his
A veteran of Zimbabwe's liberation war, Zvobgo Snr was to become one of the
country's most colourful politicians before he succumbed to lengthy illness
in September 2004, a few months after the death of his wife Julia. Both were
declared national heroes.
Zvobgo Jr added that apart from the scholarships, Zvobgo Holdings would also
take over two wards at Masvingo General Hospital.
"We are also taking over two wards at Masvingo General Hospital -- the
maternity ward and the children's ward. This we will be doing in both our
late parent's name," Zvobgo said.
"We are currently waiting for the budget and then we will take it over from
there," he added.
Asked if he was abandoning a budding political career he had appeared to
embark on following his father's death, in favour of philanthropy, Zvobgo
said while he remained politically active in Masvingo province, he also felt
the need for involvement in the development of the community in which the
family business operated.
"It is out of this realisation that, as a company, we put aside a modest
$240 million for developmental projects, in service of the community."
Zvobgo currently chairs the Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers'
Association, which, he says, seeks not only to champion residents'
interests, but also to complement the municipal authorities.
He says his association enjoys a "very good" relationship with the Movement
for Democratic Change-dominated council led by mayor Alois Chaimiti.
Financial Gazette (Harare)
April 21, 2006
Posted to the web April 21, 2006
THE Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) roars into life on
Tuesday. The festival, which has grown to become Zimbabwe's finest cultural
attraction, enters its ninth year as a major arts event on the international
Widely viewed as being in the same league of world-renowned events such as
the Edinburgh and Grahamstown festivals, HIFA is now ranked among the
world's top 10 arts festivals.
HIFA is the brainchild of concert pianist Manuel Bagorro and actress Maria
Wilson. Bagorro will make his debut performance at this year's festival.
The festival, which runs from April 25 to 30, will transform the Harare
Gardens into a hive of activity, with various performances taking place that
range from dance, poetry and music to theatre.
The streets of Harare will once again be festooned with banners and engulfed
in a carnival mood.
HIFA has over the years continued to showcase the richness of diverse
cultures and amply demonstrate the qualities of Zimbabwean art.
Despite the continued economic difficulties characterised by an inflation
rate that is rising faster than that of a country at war, local businesses
have continued to throw their weight behind the well-run festival.
Companies such as CABS, Jewel Bank and Delta Beverages have supported the
festival in previous years through their different brands.
Support has also come from various embassies and the donor community, in the
true spirit of cultural exchange.
The French embassy, for example, is sponsoring the La Voix programme at this
year's festival, which will feature internationally acclaimed Benin-born
diva Angelique Kidjo.
Arts and culture are now a major source of social and economic development,
and HIFA, which attracts art lovers from across the world, can easily be a
vehicle through which the under-marketed Zimbabwean tourism sector can
The festival will be held under the theme "hAND in hAND.
It will feature artistes such as Rex Omar from Ghana, Tiken Jah Fakoly of
Ivory Coast and Ntare Mwine Baho, an acclaimed Ugandan poet now based in the