By Sebastien Berger in Bulawayo
Last Updated: 12:56am BST 11/08/2007
There should be 63 workers in the factory in Bulawayo. But instead the
managing director stands alone in a deserted production room.
Under President Robert Mugabe's price control programme, his customers
cannot cover the cost of their goods, so they have stopped placing orders.
"They simply can't sell, otherwise they are going to make a massive
loss," said the businessman, a British-born naturalised Zimbabwean who
cannot be identified for fear of reprisals.
"Every millilitre we would produce we would produce at a huge loss."
The factory, on an industrial estate in Zimbabwe's second city, is a
stark demonstration of what happens when economics are ignored.
It is a basic principle of markets that price is determined by supply
and demand. If an outside agency, such as the ideologically Marxist Zanu-PF
government, instead sets the price too low, suppliers will not produce -
hence the empty shelves in Zimbabwe's supermarkets. Price inspectors have
descended on shops across the country to enforce the government's order
cutting prices to June 18 levels, forcing them to sell their stock cheap to
the queues of people who line up to take advantage of the opportunity.
"It's literally looting that's taking place," said the factory owner.
"Of course when those raids take place they have informed all their
"We don't have any stock for those people to pillage. We have no raw
materials in store, we have no packaging. Then of course there is the next
level of threat. They now say 'if you don't open to trade we will withdraw
your trading licence and take over your business'.
"This is building fear and fear is their weapon, their one and only
weapon these days. You have a bunch of geriatrics who have thrived on ego,
power and greed.
"The government is like a rabid jackal, snapping in a corner. It
doesn't care who it infects with rabies, it knows it is going to die."
For now his workers are still being paid from the firm's reserves, but
the situation is untenable in the longer term.
"We have a three-month contingency plan where we can sustain our
workers and staff, keep them fed and housed," he said. "Beyond that there is
Already most Zimbabweans are unemployed and the interconnected nature
of business means the impact of the price controls ripples far beyond each
affected firm. For example, no tinned food can be processed as the country's
only can manufacturer cannot afford to import an essential compound.
Industrial production, estimated at 20 per cent of capacity before the
chaos began, has fallen by two fifths.
Businesses will be taken over, handed out to cronies of the government
and asset stripped, the entrepreneur believes, in the same way as
white-owned commercial farms were, with similar consequences for Zimbabwe's
It is not idle speculation. Obert Mpofu, the architect of the price
control programme, this week told the state-controlled Chronicle newspaper
that hyperinflation was due to profiteering companies. By the end of the
year his task force will have "completely wiped out corrupt individuals and
firms" in the economy, he said.
So far around 7,500 retailers and managers have been arrested for
failing to heed the price directive. Most have been fined or released after
short periods in custody, and the businessman keeps a prison bag in the
corner of his office in case he is detained.
"We have an authority that really isn't interested in the welfare of
its citizens or the country as a whole," he said.
"The crew have maintained the officers, now the officers are going to
get their throats cut and they are on the bridge, just running the ship on
to the rocks. They don't care.
"They are destroying everything so when the new government comes there
will be nothing left."
National Post, Canada
For 30 years, Robert Mugabe has idolized north Korea's Stalinist leadership.
Predictably, the two nations now share the same disastrous fate;
RW Johnson, National Post
Published: Saturday, August 11, 2007
Visitors to the offices of high-ranking officials in Robert Mugabe's
beleaguered government in recent weeks have noticed the same book open for
study: Juche! The Speeches and Writings of Kim Il Sung. "Some may actually
believe this stuff, but it's more that they want to understand where the
President is coming from," one insider told me.
It appears that those who have become anxious about Mugabe's Canute-like
attempt to order inflation of 7,000% to be halved and to subordinate the
economy in general to his political will, is not just acting wildly. He has
a model:North Korea's Great Leader who, though he died in 1994, is still
enshrined in that country's constitution as "president for eternity." (To
this day, the current ruler, his son Kim Jong-Il, never actually uses the
title of president.) Receiving the new North Korean ambassador in May this
year, Mugabe told him that North Korea had been a guiding light and friend
ever since it began to aid his ZANU guerrilla army, Zanla, in the 1970s, and
that "everything in Zimbabwe is associated with the exploits of president
Kim Il Sung."
Because Joshua Nkomo's rival ZAPU movement was aligned with South Africa's
African National Congress during this period, and thus with the orthodox
Moscow-led Soviet bloc, ZANU perforce had to find its foreign funders and
arms-suppliers elsewhere, in Beijing and Pyongyang. This was a rare
breakthrough for Kim Il Sung, so when Zimbabwe became independent in 1980,
it immediately became North Korea's most ambitious diplomatic objective.
Hundreds of North Korean military advisers arrived, not only training but
equipping much of Mugabe's army, particularly the notorious Fifth Brigade.
Indeed, for a few years North Korea even dreamt of emulating the Cuban
model. From its Zimbabwean base, it deployed over 3,000 troops helping the
Angolan, Mozambican and Ethiopian governments.
What particularly appealed to Mugabe, however, was that the North Koreans
were not only experts in martial arts but in the far blacker art of
political indoctrination, having honed their skills in the notorious
"brain-washing" of U.S. and British prisoners in the Korean War. The
essential principle was that if, by physical torture, isolation and
relentless humiliation, you could break down someone's personality, it was
then possible to re-mould it along more "acceptable" lines.
The full horror of such techniques, first glimpsed in Zanla's liberation war
tactics, was fully revealed only in the mid-1980s when Mugabe ordered the
Fifth Brigade to repress political opposition in the Matabeleland region.
Using North Korean terminology, Mugabe explained that "The people there had
their chance and they voted as they did. The situation there has to be
changed. The people must be re-oriented."
Some 20,000 people died in the resulting campaign of torture and murder, but
it was not just repression pure and simple. What the villagers grew to fear
most was the dreadful all-night singing sessions in which they would have to
sing ZANU songs with cheerful enthusiasm at the same time that they were
savagely beaten; when they would not only have to watch as friends or family
members were tortured or shot but would themselves have to assist in the
process -- the emphasis always being on achieving their utter humiliation
and incrimination so that they could re-emerge at the end as Mugabe
One great focus of such loyalty would be the pilgrimage to Heroes Acre, the
140-acre site in the capital of Harare, which commemorates the heroes of the
liberation war. Its huge granite obelisk and Stalinist architecture were
North Korean-designed, such monuments being a regime speciality. (Kim Il
Sung erected over 34,000 monuments to himself.)
Kim first announced his philosophy of Juche ("self-reliance") in 1972,
whereafter North Korea cut itself off from almost all foreign trade and
defaulted on all its foreign debts -- steps which Zimbabwe has now emulated.
According to Juche, "man is the
master of everything and decides everything," and the most important work of
"revolution and construction is moulding people ideologically as good
Communists with absolute loyalty to the Party and Leader."
Kim had realized that to achieve this, he needed to isolate North Korea from
all outside influences --crimes such as singing a South Korean pop song or
reading a foreign newspaper carry a life sentence. Kim would have strongly
approved of Mugabe's recent expulsion of foreign media, his crackdown on the
independent press and his slavish broadcast outlets. Indeed, Mugabe's Herald
newspaper has carried laudatory articles about Juche.
After independence, Mugabe was at first prime minister. But his first visit
to North Korea had an enormous impact on him. "He came back almost a
different man," one of his former party stalwarts told me. "He was
tremendously impressed by the stadiums full of people doing mass
callisthenics and colour displays spelling out Kim's name or even depicting
his face. He came back wanting to change the constitution so that he could
become president, like Kim."
Nicolae Ceaucescu, the Romanian dictator, was similarly affected by his
visit to Pyongyang, and returned to Bucharest to launch his
"systematization" program, knocking down old buildings and churches in order
to build marching lines of
apartments, North Korean style. Mugabe and Ceaucescu became close to one
another so that the downfall and assassination of the Ceaucescus in 1989
were a trauma in Harare, and all news of the event was snatched off TV
screens. The fall of Cambodia's Pol Pot, who had also embraced Juche, was
similarly unwelcome news in Harare.
When Kim, the Great Leader, died in 1994, the Gregorian calendar was
abolished in North Korea, and a new calendar installed in which Year One is
1912 (Kim's year of birth), and in which the first day is April 15, Kim's
birthday. Zimbabwe set up its own Committee to Honour the Memory of Kim Il
Sung, chaired by Vice-President Joseph Msika. This holds a special month of
mourning for Kim every year, with lectures, seminars and a memorial service
"praying for his eternity."
The birthday of Kim's son, Kim Jong-Il, "the dear leader," is effectively
celebrated as the North Korean Christmas: he is "the central brain," "a
genius of 10,000 talents" and "the morning star."
Mugabe, whose birthday (Feb. 21) falls only five days later, has now copied
this: He too is celebrated as "our dear leader" with the same mass
synchronized dancing by women in traditional dress and army parades. Feasts
are also staged--even though, as in North Korea, the faithful celebrants are
often near starvation.
"The central idea is also the same: Everything, including the economy, can
be commanded and made to fall into line with the Leader's will," one close
Mugabe-watcher told me. "In North Korea, anyone unable to live with that
ended up in the gulag or fled as refugees to China, so you ended up with a
country where everyone left was totally obedient. This is undoubtedly
Mugabe's model." In both countries, regimes starting out as Marxist have
both ended up as apostles of extreme monarchical authority.
Juche, like Mugabe's radical socialism, was a fraud. In reality, North Korea
depended utterly on Soviet aid, just as liberated Zimbabwe's economy
depended completely on a few thousand white farmers. When Soviet aid ceased
in 1991, North Korea's income halved and mass starvation ensued, just as it
has in Zimbabwe following the eviction of the white farmers. Anywhere up to
three million North Koreans died, but Kim Jong-Il simply denied the facts of
starvation and at first turned away food aid. Mugabe did exactly the same.
When the World Food Programme offered to help Zimbabwe's starving in 2004,
he asked "Why foist this food upon us? We do not want to be choked, we have
In the end, both regimes have become massively dependent on foreign food
This week, Zimbabwe's Parliament faces Mugabe's proposed constitutional
amendment enabling him to choose his own successor and impose him without an
election. This, too, exactly imitates the way in which Kim Il Sung
designated his own successor; and it allowed Kim to continue to be
celebrated long after his death.
But there is something else to which Mugabe might pay heed. Although Kim
Jong-Il declared three years of mourning for his father, spent nearly
$1-billion on his mausoleum and declared two national flowers for the
country, Kimilsungia and Kimjongilia, his father's death from a heart attack
and "heavy mental strains" followed a bitter argument with his son and is
still clouded with suspicion. Kim Jong-Il would not allow doctors to enter
his father's room till long after the death. And all the doctors, as well as
his father's bodyguards, were immediately killed in a series of helicopter
"accidents." Other functionaries who had been close to his father all
quickly disappeared without trace.
So while North Koreans are encouraged to believe that Kim Il Sung still
rules and watches over the country, it seems likely that the great man's end
was more like the usual tyrant's exit.
-RWJohnson is emeritus fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, and Southern
Africa correspondent for the Sunday Times.
Saturday 11 August 2007
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party
on Friday urged regional leaders to impose limited sanctions on Zimbabwe to
force President Robert Mugabe to co-operate in efforts to resolve the crisis
in his country.
Acting DA leader, Joe Seremane, said Southern African Development Community
(SADC) leaders who are meeting in Lusaka, Zambia next week must pressure
Mugabe to save Zimbabwe from further turmoil.
Seremane said South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, who was last March
tasked by SADC to lead efforts to mediate between Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF
party and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party,
had virtually failed as the talks had "gone nowhere".
"Today, President Thabo Mbeki is scheduled to report on the progress of his
mediation with Harare to . . . SADC. This presents South Africa with an
excellent opportunity to intervene decisively and positively in the affairs
of that unhappy country.
"If the president is honest, he will have to admit that the talks he has
brokered have gone nowhere, for the selfsame reason that his interventions
have failed in the past. President Robert Mugabe - as usual - refused to
show any sign that he is committed to resolving the crisis in his country.
"It is time to change gears," said Seremane.
Mbeki is expected to report to SADC leaders next week on progress in the
The South African president is hard pressed to present a positive report on
the talks at the Lusaka meeting after saying in the past that the talks were
progressing "very well."
The crisis talks are however in danger of collapsing after ZANU PF insisted
that it would not discuss the issue of a new constitution, a key demand of
The ruling party has however said it would forge ahead with plans to
unilaterally Zimbabwe's constitution through Constitutional Amendment Bill
No. 18 using its majority in parliament.
The ZANU PF delegation led by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and
Nicholas Goche has in the past failed to make it to the talks in Pretoria
suggesting that the party was not taking the Mbeki-talks seriously.
Seremane said SADC should consider slapping targeted sanctions on Mugabe and
his senior lieutenants. He said the sanctions could involve a travel ban and
the freezing of assets of senior ZANU PF officials in the SADC region.
"Lest anyone at SADC be in any doubt, our president must drive the point
home. The need for punitive measures has arisen because the Mugabe regime
simply does not respond to polite pressure," said Seremane.
"Zimbabwe has now been in crisis for seven long, lean years. The steady
erosion, not only of the features of a free society, but of the elements
that sustain life itself - food, water, housing, power - has been all too
plain for her neighbours to see.
"If this regional organisation and our government in particular, is serious
about avoiding a human catastrophe, they must act at once, and with
resolution," Seremane said.
South Africa has been very reluctant to openly criticise Mugabe over the
past seven years but has instead pursued a policy of "quiet diplomacy" where
it desists from openly attacking Mugabe in public. - ZimOnline
Saturday 11 August 2007
By Prince Nyathi
HARARE - At least 10 percent of all school children in Harare's working
class suburbs are suffering from chronic malnutrition or stunted growth,
according to a report released this week by the Harare city council.
The department of heath council report, that graphically captures the
worsening economic crisis in Zimbabwe, says cases of kwashiorkor had last
year increased by 43.7 percent from the 2005 figures.
"Acute under-nutrition or wasting also increased during 2006, compared to
the previous year. The number of kwashiorkor cases increased by 43.7
percent," says the report.
Kwashiorkor is a disease that is caused by lack of proteins and is common is
The report says most of the cases were recorded in Harare's working class
suburbs of Dzivarasekwa, Kuwadzana, Mabvuku and Mbare where there is
"Overally acute under-nutrition or wasting increased during 2006, compared
to the previous year and it also increased, with the Grade Threes worse off
than the Grade Ones," says the report.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe economic crisis that has manifested
itself in rampant inflation of over 4 500 percent last May, widespread
poverty and unemployment.
At least 80 percent of Zimbabweans are out of employment leaving the few who
are still lucky to hold formal jobs struggling to put food on the table for
The report says none of the kwashiorkor cases were recorded in children
above the age of 15.
"The findings may be due to the harsh economic situation being felt
throughout the country by the majority of Zimbabweans," says the report.
Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa could not be reached
for comment on the matter.
Zimbabwe, once touted as a shining beacon and a model economy for black
Africa, is fighting its most crippling economic crisis described last year
by the World Bank as unprecedented for a country not at war.
The United Nations Children and Education Fund (UNICEF) last year said there
had been a serious deterioration in care for Zimbabwean children resulting
in many deaths for children under the age of five.
Zimbabwe is also at the epicenter of an HIV/AIDS pandemic that is mowing
down at least 3000 people every week leaving hundreds of thousands of
orphans without parental care. - ZimOnline
By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
10 August 2007
South African President Thabo Mbeki is shortly to deliver a progress report
on the Zimbabwe crisis talks he is mediating to his fellow leaders in the
Southern Africa Development Community, who handed him his mandate in March.
The official line from Pretoria is that there has been progress - but
analysts remain skeptical, noting that while the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change is clearly committed to the talks, the Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front party of President Robert Mugabe has seemed a
half-hearted participant at best.
Analysts said ZANU-PF has more to lose, and is therefore reluctant to
proceed. They predicted that it will continue to delay the process as much
as possible, a strategy the analysts have attributed to President Robert
Mugabe from the very beginning.
While lauding efforts by SADC and the African Union to pressure Mr. Mugabe
and his government to reform, analysts say true change can only come from
Reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye sought the views of Farai Maguwu, coordinator
of the Civic Alliance for Democracy and Governance, and Glenn Mpani, a
student of democratic governance at the University of Capetown, South
Mpani said SADC and other bodies are under pressure from Western countries
to take action, but can only apply so much pressure to President Mugabe.
Afrique en ligne
Cape Town (South Africa) South African President Thabo Mbeki must
convince his Southern African Development Community counterparts that time
has arrived to impose limited sanctions against Zimbabwe.
This is the view of acting opposition Democratic Alliance leader Joe
Seremane in a media briefing in Cape Town on Friday.
Seremane said Mbeki should admit that the talks he is brokering
between Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change have "gone nowhere."
His call comes ahead of the 27th SADC heads of state summit in the
Zambian capital, Lusaka, next week.
"Today President Thabo Mbeki is scheduled to report on the progress of
his mediation with Harare to SADC.
"This presents South Africa with an excellent opportunity to intervene
decisively and positively in the affairs of that unhappy country.
"If the president is honest, he will have to admit that the talks he
has brokered have gone nowhere, for the self-same reason that his
interventions have failed in the past.
"President Robert Mugabe has as usual refused to show any sign that he
is committed to resolving the crisis in his country. It is time to change
"If this regional organisation, and our government in particular, is
serious about avoiding a human catastrophe, they must act at once, and with
resolution in Zimbabwe," Seremane said.
African Press Agency
Mail and Guardian
10 August 2007 11:59
As more and more people flee Zimbabwe and pour into South Africa's
cities, the social networks that have developed over the years to
accommodate Zimbabweans are growing overburdened and, as a result, recent
arrivals are increasingly having to brave life on the streets.
Lloyd, in his late twenties, left his job, wife and child in
Chinhoyi, a town in north-west Zimbabwe in May. He earned a monthly salary
of around Z$300 000 (about R10), and said there was simply no point in going
to work anymore. "I thought because of the 2010 World Cup there would be
There haven't been many openings. "Since I arrived, I have
worked once. The people we worked for a month ago keep postponing paying
us," he explains as he exchanges a cigarette with two friends on an icy
Tuesday night at the Methodist Church sanctuary in Johannesburg's CBD.
He says he misses his family, whom he has not spoken to in a
month. "She [my wife] is waiting for me to come home. I just don't know when
I will get money to send to her."
"I was not involved in politics," he says when asked whether he
fled because of political persecution. "I just came here because things were
bad. And although things are bad for me here, they are even worse for my
"The winter here is bad. One time it snowed and all I had for
cover was cardboard paper. My feet were numb for hours," he says, describing
the days when he lived on the street.
Lloyd says he has not eaten a hot meal for weeks. "We have
forgotten how pap tastes," he says, adding "that's why some of our people
end up getting involved in crime".
This is a point echoed by Theko Pharasi, the station
commissioner at a police station in Alexandra. "Yes, Zimbabweans are
involved in crime, especially breaking into business premises and street
Pharasi could not provide figures for how many Zimbabweans his
officers have arrested. "Of course, they don't work independently. They work
with our local people here." Pharasi insists that the bulk of those involved
in criminal activities cannot be the recent arrivals. "It's people who have
been around. There is no way you can come today, befriend local criminals
and commit crime the following day."
Now living in the relative comfort of a shack in Alexandra,
Nkosinathi, who is in his thirties, comes from Bulawayo, the Zimbabwean city
closest to South Africa and whose majority Ndebele speakers share an Nguni
heritage with the Zulus. "I came last year," he says.
"We live on the occasional job that comes our way," he says when
asked how he survives. One of his friends explains that there are many
Zimbabweans in the area. "There is everyone here: Ndebeles, Tongas and
Shonas, all of them."
There is no way of knowing how many Zimbabweans live in Alex. At
the local clinic, CEO Abel Mangolele says he is not in a position to say
whether there is an influx of Zimbabweans who come for medical attention, as
they don't ask people for their identity documents. "We just ask for local
addresses and people just give out addresses. But it becomes difficult when
our social workers do follow-up visits as the addresses they sometimes give
National numbers on how many people are arriving are also hard
to come by, but those who work with Zimbabweans in South Africa say that the
numbers are definitely on the increase.
Toendepi Shonhe, a representative of the Movement for Democratic
Change in Johannesburg, says, "Everyday I serve around 10 genuine cases of
people who have fled political persecution in Zimbabwe."
Shonhe says he writes letters for these people as supporting
documents for their asylum status applications. He refers some of them to
Zimbabwe Political Victims Association whose coordinator, Oliver Kubikwa,
confirmed an increase in the number of people coming to their offices for
Analysts say that, with the campaign for next year's elections
set to begin soon and economic conditions continuing to deteriorate, the
southward trek will continue.
Doubt over refugee numbers
Despite the avalanche of information that South Africans know
about Zimbabwe and its people, no one quite seems to know precisely how many
Zimbabweans are on South African soil.
Recently, Patrick Chauke, home affairs portfolio committee
chairperson and ANC MP, suggested that there are up to 10-million foreigners
in South Africa -- the majority of them Zimbabweans. Local media has used
the three-million figure since 2002, butsome analysts argue that two-million
more Zimbabweans have arrived since the contentious presidential elections
of 2002 and the subsequent worsening of conditions in the country.
Sally Peberdy of the Southern African Migration Project (Samp)
argues that the three-million figure suggests that there are 1,5 Zimbabwean
adults for every 10 South African adults, a scenario that she describes as
"I don't know who came up with that figure and how they came up
with it," Peberdy says.
Loren Landau of the Forced Migration Studies programme at Wits
University concurs that "there are no good numbers available".
He said people have been streaming in and no one has been
counting. But he said the last census in South Africa indicated that there
were about 800 000 foreigners in the country. He said that the figure of
three-million lends the impression that "people have been marching in a line
into the country", adding "that it doesn't seem likely that three-million
have come in".
The question we should be asking, Landau suggests, is who is
inflating this figure and to what end? Is the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change trying to delegitimise the Robert Mugabe government, or
the white farmers who lost out, the media, the NGOs or other interested
parties? The answer to that is as imprecise as the figures bandied about. --
Mail and Guardian
Surika van Schalkwyk
10 August 2007 11:59
It's hard to imagine what Freeman* must be feeling. He hasn't
been able to move more than 100m for the last two months at the risk of
being arrested. He's gone all that time without a bath or a change of
clothes and he complains about being covered in lice.
Freeman is just one of the more than 500 Zimbabwean asylum-
seekers who live in the queue outside the home affairs office in Marabastad,
Pretoria. Apart from the fear of losing their places in the queue -- only
200 people are issued with Section 22 asylum-seeker permits each week --
they have been warned that if they leave the vicinity of the home affairs
office, they will be arrested as illegal immigrants.
"I have been sleeping in cardboard boxes outside home affairs
for weeks. We don't have access to toilets or running water. If we go as far
as the nearby river to take a bath or to the market to buy food, we get
arrested and deported," Freeman told the Mail & Guardian.
"If we are lucky, we eat once a day. I regularly see people
faint of hunger," said Johannes*.
The asylum-seekers also say that the dreaded Gumba-Gumba gangs,
which control illegal border crossings from Zimbabwe, work in collusion with
the department of home affairs.
"If you pay the Gumba-Gumba R500, you are taken to the front of
the queue. If any of us resist, we get beaten up or threatened with knives,"
said Jonathan*. The asylum-seekers claim home affairs officers and the gangs
then share the bribe money paid by queue jumpers. They add that the gang
also steals their cellphones, money and blankets. Jonathan added that the
South African police are not doing anything about the current situation.
But those waiting in the queue have also experienced some
kindness. Gilbert* expressed gratitude to the South Africans who donate
supplies to the hundreds of exiles living in the queue at Marabastad. "Even
though there are not a lot of donors, we are very grateful to those who give
us food and firewood."
* To protect the interviewees, only their first names have been
Friday 10th August 2007
I don't know who it was who said 'All publicity is good publicity' -
probably a newspaper magnate - but in Zimbabwe's case I'm not at all sure
it's true. Sky TV's footage this week of burly white farmers manhandling
desperate black Zimbabweans fleeing the chaos over the border was certainly
publicity but it did no one any good. What it did was to reinforce the
stereotypes of the past; memories of white men armed with whips and assisted
by vicious dogs in apartheid South Africa and Smith's Rhodesia only appeared
to emphasise the point that what is happening on the Zim/South African
border in 2007 is simply a continuation of the racial divisions and hatred
that tore the two countries apart in the past. The Sky footage may have
intended to highlight the desperate plight of the Zimbabwean refugees but
the over-whelming feeling left in the viewer's mind was antipathy towards
those South African white farmers. Geoff Hill's earlier report on SW Radio
Africa of what's really happening on the South African border had tried to
put the record straight; Geoff pointed out that the white farmers also
deserved our sympathy as they suffer daily incursions, theft and damage
caused by the fleeing Zimbabweans but no words could erase the image of the
farmers handcuffing terrified black people.
What the Sky report failed to do was to point out that the white farmers
would not have had to resort to vigilante tactics if the South African
police and immigration authorities had been doing their job properly. The
truth is that South Africa is totally unable or unwilling to address the
problem of Zimbabwean refugees , even refusing to call them what they are:
refugees fleeing a country where every aspect of life has become
unsustainable; a country which South Africa has consistently failed to
criticise for its gross abuse of human and property rights over the last ten
years, a country which has been brought to its knees, in part because of
South Africa's moral cowardice and failure to confront Robert Mugabe. Even
now, at the eleventh hour when Mbeki is mandated by SADC to facilitate
crucial talks between the Zimbabwean government and the opposition, he
continues to allow Mugabe and Zanu PF to dominate the proceedings with their
lies and deceit about the true situation in the country. You would think
that the presence of thousands of refugees on South African soil should
alert Mbeki to the collapse of the neighbouring state. But, when it comes to
Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe, Mbeki remains silent, apparently
tongue-tied by his fear of Mugabe's maniacal response to anyone who dares
criticise the actions of the 'Hero of the Liberation Struggle' and the
Speaking of maniacal responses, SW Radio Africa's interview with Florence
Chiwenga this week demonstrated perfectly that not all publicity is good
publicity! Anyone with a modicum of sense, even within the ruling party, who
listenined to Chiwenga's crazy ranting would have to be as convinced as I am
that when it comes to Zimbabwe the lunatics have taken over the running of
The inimitable SW reporter, Violet Gonda, never one to resist a challenge,
picked up her phone in London last week and rang the Commander in Chief's
wife to ask her about her attack, verbal and physical, on the members of
Morgan Tsvangirai's party as they toured the Makro wholesale outlet in
Harare. Tsvangirai had gone there to see the effects of the government's
price blitz on the availability of goods. Accompanied by journalists he
toured the huge store only to come face-to face with Florence Chiwenga, a
fire-eater if ever there was one. Quite what the lady was doing there was
not entirely clear but I suspect she was after a bargain or two that she
could resell on the black market. After all what's the point of backing the
government's crazy price reductions if one can't take advantage of them!
What followed was pure lunacy as la Florence screamed abuse and unprintable
insults at all and sundry and physically assaulted a journalist.
Violet, like the good journalist she is, followed up on the story and simply
wanted to ask Mme Chiwenga what it was all about; why had the sight of the
opposition leader provoked such a rage? Whether Violet really expected a
sensible answer, I somehow doubt. Chiwenga is after all the woman who told a
white farmer whose farm she wanted that she hadn't tasted white blood for a
long time. It's hard to believe that one would get a sane response from such
a person. What Violet got in answer to her always courteous questioning was
a positive barrage of nonsense about a lying foreign media, enemies of
Zimbabwe etc etc. We have all heard it so often that it's not even worth
getting angry about; all you can do is laugh and that's exactly what Violet
did when Chiwenga threatened to sue her for one billion US dollars for
daring to phone her private number! With that, the phone was slammed down
and when the intrepid Violet tried to phone again the amount had gone up to
It's all utterly insane but there's a chilling side to it; my mind went back
to when my daughter's farm was first invaded and there was a gang of rabid
war vets at the gate on a daily basis ranting and raving a la Chiwenga. The
scary thing about them was there was just no way one could actually
communicate; there was simply no talking to them as fellow human beings, no
common sense or reason in what they said. Any kind of normal human exchange
becomes impossible with people so brain-washed that they no longer know
right from wrong.
As more and more 'dissident' thinkers leave the country or are arrested and
imprisoned there's a terrifying prospect that only the madmen, the ranters
and ravers will be left to negotiate Zimbabwe's future. And that is a very
Ndini shamwari yenyu. PH.
By Patience Rusere
10 August 2007
A Harare magistrate on Friday remanded until October the cases of 33
activists of the Movement for Democratic Change faction of Morgan Tsvangiray
who stand accused of carrying out firebombing attacks and plotting other
violence against the state.
The defendants were told prosecutors needed more time to gather evidence
against them - this after a high court judge recently slammed police for
fabricating witnesses and other evidence to support the cases against the
The charges against the activists, who include Glen View lawmaker Paul
Madzore and Tsvangirai faction Deputy Organizing Secretary Morgan Komichi,
include malicious damage to property, recruiting and training for sabotage,
Following their arrests in March their bail applications were postponed 50
times. The last two of the 33 were freed on bail this week after four months
Defense attorney Alec Muchadehama told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that despite the high court bail decision, which
suggested the cases had been trumped up, his clients must nonetheless prove
their innocence in a trial.
Mail and Guardian
Yolandi Groenewald and Nosimilo Ndlovu
10 August 2007 11:59
Zimbabweans who want to sneak into South Africa illegally have
to be resourceful, brave and cunning.
First, their journey takes them to the South African border. One
option for crossing is to use syndicates operating from Beit Bridge, which
use South African-registered vehicles to transport people from Bulawayo to
Johannesburg for a fee ranging between R800 and R1 000, the Mail & Guardian
learned on a trip to Limpopo this week.
"Some bribe the police to come in or show them any documentation
and they let them through," says a fruit seller at the border.
A taxi operator, who drives taxis between the Zimbabwean and
South African border, says he works from 6am in the morning till 8pm. He
drives about 18 loads of people a day across the border and back, but takes
them only as far as the Beit Bridge taxi rank.
"Many Zimbabweans take buses straight from Zimbabwe to
Johannesburg and other areas as it is easier that way. They stand less of a
chance of getting into trouble with the law as they are vulnerable coming
from Zimbabwe," he says.
He estimates that 20 buses carrying no fewer than 70 people each
enter South Africa from Zimbabwe every day.
But the majority of cash-strapped Zimbabweans are seeping in
through the perforated border fence. Driving along the border, there are cut
fences and crossing points everywhere.
Once the border has been crossed, it is not as easy as hopping
on to a taxi to Johannesburg -- which seems to be the imagined utopia that
many immigrants aim for. Most taxis are afraid of the roadblocks dotting the
highway along the first 40km south of the border, says Samuel Netsune, a
Musina farmer on whose land many of the Zimbabweans sleep at night. Many of
them hike the 40km to get past the first tollgate on the N1, then catch a
taxi or a truck.
"Trucks are better. They are much cheaper than taxis and don't
get stopped that often," says Thomas Chingwere, a Zimbabwean waiting for a
lift in front of the tollgate at the Bokmakierie garage. Popular routes to
the tollgate include the railway line and the Eskom line," says Netsune. His
neighbours also tell stories of finding discarded photocopied maps of farm
roads on their patrols.
"The last roadblock is normally at Bokmakierie," says Gert
Klopper, whose farm borders Netsune's. "After that, it is home free."
Klopper participates in the farm patrols that round up illegal
immigrants. Another patroller, Benji Sutherland, talks about finding illegal
immigrants who had not eaten for 14 days. "They don't even have the energy
to run away, even if they wanted to."
Sutherland says the farm patrols are far more effective than
police operations. The farm patrols, structured along the same lines as the
now defunct commando system, patrol farms with flashing green lights,
looking for Zimbabwean immigrants, whom they perceive as a huge security
A local paper in Louis Trichardt estimates that, on an average,
more than 2 000 refugees a week are entering through the border. After the
publicity of the last few weeks, Limpopo police are more reluctant to give
new statistics about Zimbabweans crossing the border but, says police
spokesperson Ronel Otto, in the first two weeks of July more than 6 000
illegal immigrants were arrested.
The South African Police Service says that, between January 5
and January 12, 753 illegal immigrants were arrested. But, this was during
the wet season, when the river was flowing and crossing is more difficult.
Despite a warning from the provincial commissioner, Calvin
Sengani, that the farmers are acting outside the law, Gideon Meiring, the
chair of the Soutpansberg District Farmers' Union, says the farmers will
continue their patrols.
"We are protecting our property," he says. "And the flood of
immigrants has dire implications for South Africa. This is the community
policing that [Safety and Security Minister] Charles Nqakula has spoken
Other landowners in the Musina area believe the publicity given
to farm patrols has prompted increased police action against illegal
"It is definitely better now than a few weeks ago," says a
guest-farm owner. "But, ultimately, increased patrolling will not be the
solution. The true solution can only come from within Zimbabwe."