International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: August 12, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: Acute gasoline shortages crippled transport services
Sunday, stranding thousands of travelers at bus stops across the nation
before a two-day holiday honoring guerrillas who fought against colonial-era
At a main bus terminal in Harare, travelers said buses were infrequent and
were not available at all to some home districts for the cherished August
Some people had been waiting in line since 3:00 a.m. (0100 GMT) at the Mbare
terminus in the west of the capital, where riot police were called Saturday
to stop passengers fighting to board scarce buses. Police turned travelers
off overcrowded vehicles.
The Heroes and Defense Forces holidays Monday and Tuesday commemorate the
seven-year bush war that ended white rule with independence in 1980. Tuesday
also celebrates the defense capability of the nation's military, commanded
by many former guerrillas.
Thousands of travelers dotted the sides of Harare's main arterial highways,
trying to flag down rides. Crowds were three-deep on downtown sidewalks
waiting to clamber aboard trucks and private cars.
Many people gave up and headed for their township home - which became a
three-hour ordeal instead of the usual 30-minute trip.
"It's misery. There's nothing to celebrate," said a father with two teenage
children who only gave his name as Lazarus. "I hope they see their gogo
(grandma) at Christmas, God willing."
He said his elderly mother was ill.
Across the country, it was a similar picture, state radio reported Sunday.
It said some bus operators abandoned government-controlled fares and
demanded "exorbitant" amounts from travelers desperate to visit relatives in
The nation is facing its worst gasoline shortages since the often violent
seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial farms began in 2000, which
disrupted the agriculture-based economy.
President Robert Mugabe blames the economic meltdown on Western economic
sanctions and erratic rains.
In efforts to tame rampant inflation, on June 26 the government ordered
price cuts of around 50 percent on all goods and services, including
gasoline and transportation, saying it would subsidize fuel sold at less
than the cost of importing it.
The Sunday Mail newspaper, a government mouthpiece, reported bus operators
were still buying fuel on the illegal black market at about five times the
Police spokesman James Sabau said bus passengers often refused to disclose
fares to police at road blocks.
"Some of the passengers do not say how much they have been charged, making
it difficult to arrest the operators," he said.
At least 7,000 executives, business managers, traders and bus drivers have
been arrested in the prices clampdown that has driven corn meal, bread,
meat, milk and other staples from the shelves.
Official inflation is given as 4,500 percent, the highest in the world,
though independent estimates put it closer to 9,000 percent.
The government at the weekend backed down on a ban on private slaughter
houses, which are accused of profiteering, and doubled the price of beef to
restore meat supplies.
David Hasluck, head of the Livestock and Meat Advisory Council, told the
official media the new beef price still was not as high as the viable levels
of neighboring South Africa and other countries.
Because of acute shortage of commercially raised cattle, attempts were also
being made to buy cattle from fiercely proud villagers who saw cattle as a
symbol of status.
"In our traditional culture, the number of cattle one has translates into
his wealth. We can't expect farmers to sell their cattle at ridiculously low
prices," Hasluck said.
He said the government was expected to approve raised poultry and pork
Cigarettes and state-run newspapers were the latest items in short supply
Beer was trickling back onto the market after a 30 percent price increase
was announced Friday.
But the Harare Sports Club, venue of a cricket match between players from
Zimbabwe and South Africa, had no beer, the favored drink of spectators, and
no bread rolls or ground meat for burgers.
A restaurant at the cricket ground withdrew its menu Saturday, having just
chicken and potatoes on offer, and on Saturday nearby chicken and pizza
takeouts ran out of food and shut down early.
August 12 2007 at 10:56AM
By Peta Thornycroft
President Thabo Mbeki seems likely to go to the Southern Africa
Development Community summit in Lusaka on Thursday unable to claim much
progress on the Zimbabwe crisis.
Unless there is an unlikely and last-minute breakthrough between the
Zanu-PF and opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Mbeki will tell SADC
that Zimbabwe will not have a new constitution ahead of national elections
Instead, Mbeki is expected to tell his peers that any reforms will
have to emerge from an amendment to Zimbabwe's independence constitution.
Mbeki was appointed by SADC to mediate between Zanu-PF and the MDC at
a summit in Dar es Salaam in March, two weeks after MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and colleagues were savagely beaten by police.
At the start of the negotiations, a draft constitution hammered out in
secret between the MDC and Zanu-PF in 2004 was used as the foundation to try
to resolve disagreements.
But on the eve of the second round of talks last month, President
Robert Mugabe made it clear he would never agree to a new constitution
before elections next March.
His two negotiators, Labour Minister Nicholas Goche and Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa, failed to turn up for the scheduled talks on
Nevertheless, the two teams from Zanu-PF and MDC had already
undertaken assignments from SA facilitators to isolate points of
disagreement in that draft constitution.
Last weekend, when the two Zanu-PF negotiators finally turned up in
Pretoria and met the two MDC secretary generals, Tendai Biti and Welshman
Ncube, it had become clear that a face-saving mechanism for Mugabe had to be
reached if there was going to be any progress at all.
They had to abandon talks on a new constitution. Any reforms would
have to be accommodated within the 18th constitutional amendment due to be
debated when parliament resumes in Harare on August 21.
Political sources close to the negotiations are not optimistic Mugabe
will agree to substantial changes.
Zanu-PF's proposal to SA mediators on a way out of the crisis has no
political content beyond constantly reiterating that Britain is entirely to
blame for the crisis in Zimbabwe, and so the solution rests with Whitehall,
not reform of obnoxious laws.
The 18th constitutional amendment, which has already been gazetted,
would facilitate simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections,
expand parliamentary seats, and would give parliament power to appoint a
successor should Mugabe retire or die in office.
The MDC, political sources point out, is not an equal partner in the
negotiations as Zanu-PF is backed by extraordinary state power, while the
opposition is the principal victim of Mugabe's repression.
"It's now up to the MDC. The ball is in their court to see what they
can do with the 18th constitutional amendment," said Mugabe's former
information minister Jonathan Moyo, now an independent MP.
Even if the MDC and Zanu-PF reach some accommodation, little time is
left. Zimbabwe will go into election mode in early December.
It could begin even earlier if the fractured ruling party does not
agree that Mugabe will be its candidate in the presidential poll. If that
happens then Zanu-PF may call an unscheduled congress to elect new office
bearers, including a presidential candidate.
One MDC MP said on Friday: "I think Zanu-PF is just playing, and they
will not agree to the substantial changes we want. Mbeki has been outflanked
by Mugabe who has never had any intention of relinquishing power or even a
portion of it. Mugabe knows he has to hang on with grim determination even
if his actions result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of
If electoral reforms are inconsequential, the MDC has one trick up its
sleeve - to deny Mugabe undisputed election victory which he craves for his
legacy and re-entry to the international community by boycotting the polls.
This article was originally published on page 10 of Cape Argus on
August 12, 2007
By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist | August 12, 2007
NO ONE is surprised when a Roman Catholic bishop condemns the violence of
war. But when was the last time you heard of one pleading for a military
Zimbabwe's leading cleric has been doing just that in recent weeks,
imploring Great Britain to invade its former colony and oust Robert Mugabe,
the dictator whose brutal misrule has reduced a once-flourishing country to
desperation, starvation, and death.
Given the "massive risk to life" the regime poses, says Pius Ncube, the
archbishop of Bulawayo, "I think it is justified for Britain to raid
Zimbabwe and remove Mugabe. We should do it ourselves but there's too much
fear. I'm ready to lead the people, guns blazing, but the people are not
ready." Millions of Zimbabweans have fled the country, and those who remain
tend to be hungry, impoverished, and intimidated by Mugabe and his goons.
"How can you expect people to rise up," Ncube asks, "when even our church
services are attended by state intelligence people?"
The archbishop is no saber-rattler. But given the misery and murder spawned
by Mugabe and his fascist Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front,
or ZANU-PF, it is immoral not to fight them. "If you are no longer serving
your people and are choosing death for them," says Ncube, "then certainly .
. . stronger nations have a right to put you down."
Considering that "stronger nations" have been unwilling to put down Omar
al-Bashir, head of the Sudanese regime that is perpetrating genocide in
Darfur, the likelihood that they will muster the fortitude to drive Mugabe
from power in Zimbabwe is, in a word, nil. Instead they will go on issuing
empty condemnations, like the Bush administration's recent statement that it
"deplores actions taken by the Mugabe regime," but is "ready to engage a new
Zimbabwean government committed to democracy, human rights, sound economic
policy, and the rule of law."
Unfortunately, hollow pieties from the free world will not end the chaos and
cruelty that have turned Zimbabwe into a hellhole. In the nation once known
as the breadbasket of Africa, Mugabe's deranged policies are starving
millions. In a land many hoped would be a model of postcolonial
self-government, opposition politicians are beaten and imprisoned and
elections are blatantly rigged to keep ZANU-PF in power. In a country where
a decade ago the currency traded at the rate of eight Zimbabwe dollars to
$1, it now takes 200,000 Zimbabwe dollars to buy a single American dollar.
The wretchedness that is Mugabe's Zimbabwe was captured recently by New York
Times reporter Michael Wines, who described what happened when the
dictator -- in the face of hyperinflation estimated at more than 10,000
percent a year -- commanded merchants nationwide to cut their prices in half
or face jail time and the confiscation of their businesses:
"Bread, sugar, and cornmeal, staples of every Zimbabwean's diet, have
vanished. . . . Meat is virtually nonexistent . . . Gasoline is nearly
unobtainable. Hospital patients are dying for lack of basic medical
supplies. Power blackouts and water cutoffs are endemic. Manufacturing has
slowed to a crawl because few businesses can produce goods for less than
their government-imposed sale prices. Raw materials are drying up because
suppliers are being forced to sell to factories at a loss . . . As many as
4,000 businesspeople have been arrested, fined, or jailed."
Eighty percent of Zimbabwe's adults are now unemployed. Life expectancy has
plummeted to 36 years. The death rate for children 5 and under has soared 65
percent since 1990. While Mugabe's kleptocratic cronies and thugs drive
expensive cars, build elaborate mansions, and amass fortunes by manipulating
the currency market, ordinary citizens are reduced to unspeakable
degradation. Schoolteachers sell themselves for sex in order to feed their
children, the Times of London reports. A man in Rushinga was convicted of
killing his 10-year-old son with an ax handle for eating four mice meant for
the family's lunch. One-time accountants, bankers, headmasters, now refugees
in South Africa, survive through menial labor or begging in the streets.
Yet Mugabe, with his Hitler-style moustache and armed loyalists, remains
firmly in control.
"Anyone who is ready to starve his people to death for the sake of power is
a murderer," Archbishop Ncube says. "What more does he have to do?"
Countless lives could be saved, and incalculable suffering ended, if Mugabe
were forced from power. A detachment of US Marines, I wrote on this page in
2002, could do the job on its lunch break. The British could do it. South
Africa could do it.
But of course no one will do anything. The death toll in Zimbabwe will
continue to mount; the misery will continue to spread; the horror stories
will continue to multiply. Cry, the beloved country.
Jeff Jacoby's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday 12 August 2007
JOHANNESBURG - The United States-based Famine Early Warning System (FEWSNET)
says a government crackdown on prices that began last June has worsened the
food security situation in Zimbabwe.
In its latest assessment report, FEWSNET said the Zimbabwean government's
controversial price controls was further worsening household food security
in a country where the majority of the people can barely make ends meet.
It warned that the poor have been left more vulnerable to food insecurity
following the disappearance of basic commodities from Zimbabwean shop
shelves after President Robert Mugabe ordered a freeze on prices of goods
and services in June.
The 83-year-old Zimbabwean leader, whom many in the country and outside
blame for destroying what was once touted as southern Africa's breadbasket
through bad policies, pegged all prices at mid-June levels and arrested more
than 7 000 businesspersons who defied the order.
The effect of the price freeze was to drive most producers underground where
they now supply their goods on a thriving black market.
"The run on commodities is having the biggest impact on the poor, who are
forced to make frequent purchases in smaller amounts and are not able to buy
in bulk when commodities become available," observed FewsNet.
The plight of Zimbabwe's poor has been by tightening economic conditions,
marked by runaway inflation estimated at more than 4 500 percent in May.
The cost of a household's monthly basket of goods monitored by the
state-controlled Consumer Council of Zimbabwe was pegged at $12.6 million
for June before price controls lowered the cost to $8.3 million.
Such a family needed $3.3 million to survive in April 2007 and $5.5 million
in May, representing month-on-month inflation in May of 65.6 percent.
Mugabe - Zimbabwe's sole rule since independence in 1980 - has accused the
southern African country's opposition and Western countries of plotting to
unseat him and has been accused by critics of a draconian crackdown on
FewsNet said besides the impact of price controls, Zimbabwe's overall food
security situation was poor this year compared to other years, largely due
to the protracted economic decline and the poor 2006/07 harvest.
According to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation and World
Food Programme estimates, Zimbabwe's cereal production for this year is
expected to meet only 55 percent of the country's requirements.
The 2006/07 harvest was severely compromised by poor access to inputs, the
underutilization of land and, in the south and west, by El Niño-related
To mitigate the impacts of the production deficit, the state-controlled
Grain Marketing Board has indicated it would import 400 000 tonnes of the
staple maize from Malawi and another 200 000 tonnes from Tanzania.
To make up the balance, WFP plans to import about 352 000 tonnes of food aid
to feed 4.1 million people. - ZimOnline
Monday 13 August 2007
By Brendon Tulani
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe army officers have stormed Ross Camp police
station in Bulawayo and recovered hundreds of looted grocery items from
police officers enforcing a controversial price crackdown that began last
Sources at Ross Camp said the soldiers stormed the housing complex at
the main police station and conducted a thorough house-to-house search to
flush out police officers who had looted the basic goods.
Zimbabwe has since last June grappled with severe shortages of basic
goods in supermarkets after President Robert Mugabe's government ordered
shops to halve and roll back prices to mid-June levels.
The police, who are among the lowest paid civil servants in Zimbabwe,
have taken advantage of the chaos brought about by the price crackdown to
loot basic goods that they sell on the illegal parallel market at exorbitant
Although the source could not quantify the goods that were recovered,
he said senior police officers who are members of the price control
inspectorate were implicated in the looting spree.
The police spokesperson for Matabeleland North province, Assistant
Inspector David Nyathi refused to comment on the incident.
"As you know, operations of such a national scale are best dealt with
at Police General Headquarters. It would be best to contact those offices. I
cannot comment further than that," Nyathi said.
The Zimbabwean government, which has defiantly said the price
crackdown will continue, has over the past few weeks admitted that the
controversial operation, codenamed Operation Dzikisa Mutengo, had its flaws.
Last week, Deputy Anti-corruption and Anti-monopolies Minister, Samuel
Undenge telling businessmen in the eastern city of Mutare last week that the
police will arrest anyone who hoarded basic goods for resale.
The Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) protest group, last week staged an
illegal demonstration in Bulawayo demanding a thorough probe of police
officers who were accessing goods from shops on the cheap only to sell them
at inflated prices. - ZimOnline
Monday 13 August 2007
By Tanonoka Joseph Whande
GABORONE - Fittingly, they call the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) Summit 'ordinary.' Ordinary, indeed, were it not for the expenses
involved to soothe bruised egos and to fill the tummies of under-performers.
African heads of state love forming organisations and holding 'summits' in
different countries, like true tourists who have the tab picked up by
They love these talk shops where nothing happens. SADC should have been
called 'A T & T' (Always Talking and Talking).
After Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa's analogy of Zimbabwe to the Titanic,
I am hoping that the African leaders have started seeing the need to be
honest with each other and 'fix things'.
But, with hardly 10 days before the carnival started in Lusaka, I read,
"Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa has dispatched a special envoy to Harare
to repair relations with Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, diplomatic sources
said on Wednesday (August 1)."
Zambia hosts the regional road show, dubbed 'the 27th Ordinary SADC Summit
of Heads of State and Government' from this week. And I am holding my breath
that Mwanawasa does not retreat.
I am hoping he continues with his crusade against Mugabe, mild as it may be,
and, at last, allow us to actually count the number of teeth SADC has.
"To repair relations" sounds very ominous to me. SADC, the African Union
(AU) and other countless African organisations particular to the welfare of
Africa always brew highly commendable suggestions.
They put forward and lay down attractive suggestions and always urge
Africans to practice democracy and uphold human rights. During their
talk-shops, they come up with a united front and show a great deal of prima
They are so very able to prove that Africans are no different from anyone
when it comes to unity, democracy and good governance.
Unfortunately, during tea-breaks, some of them get on the phone to their
deputies back home and demand the arrest of political opponents or judges
and order the brutal putting down of any demonstrations that demand
democracy and the repeal of oppressive laws.
Africans are just different from others when it comes to unity, democracy
and good governance. Two days before leaving for the SADC 'Summit", Malawi's
Bingu wa Mutharika sent his police to spring a raid and ransack the home of
a judge because the judge had ruled against the government.
These are the 'Heads of State and Government' who are sitting down and
deliberating on the fortunes of the region and mapping its economic way
forward and in enforcing democracy and good governance.
At such gatherings, Africa has always provided SADC and the AU with good
opportunities to prove that indeed African leaders have come of age.
But as soon as they sign the protocols and leave the conference tables, they
flout the set of rules, which they themselves had just suggested and signed.
Is someone going to talk about the rule of law?
Is anyone going to complain that Mutharika, Mugabe, Mswati and others'
behaviors are tarnishing the image of SADC, if not, why not?
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has been hovering over the Zimbabwean
crisis for years and was at one time accused of making it impossible for
Zimbabweans themselves to settle their problems since he himself had proved
to be totally incapable.
Was it not these same leaders who gave Mbeki the assignment? The prevailing
situation in Zimbabwe provides African leaders, especially Mbeki, with an
opportunity to show that they are real leaders with a purpose and who can
take Africa away from its rotten past.
There is also the situation in Sudan, Lesotho and DR Congo yet African
leaders talk more and do less. African leaders form many organisations to
serve them and many of them are duplications of the others.
NEPAD, ECOWAS, ECCAS, PTA, WAEMU, SEMAC, IGAD, SADC, COMESA, East African
Community, etc. They were all formed to serve Africa but the participants,
along with their presidents, wait for donated air tickets to enable them to
attend these numerous meetings.
And when they do, they announce they can't do anything about particular
problems because they have no funds. The AU is a pathetic creation which is
totally unable to sustain itself.
The AU is not leading Africa but is itself being led by people,
organisations, and situations outside Africa. Look how it failed the people
of Darfur in Sudan!
Like the countries that formed it, it squats there with a begging bowl
hoping someone will drop a few coins for "its operations." And yet most
African presidents are richer than the donor organisations who give them the
money. (Remember reports that the nation of Zaire - now DR Congo - once
'borrowed' money from its president Mobutu Sese Seko).
Because of SADC, Zimbabwe is caught in a very sorry and confusing situation.
For example, SADC put out minimum requirements to be followed by its member
states when holding elections.
They all approved and signed the recommendations, dubbed 'The SADC
Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections'.
And last time Zimbabwe held presidential elections, it met only one of those
10 requirements: that of holding regular elections at intervals as
stipulated in the constitution.
When the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) hinted at not
contesting, it was SADC that put pressure on it to contest, defeating their
own pronunciations agreed upon at a 'summit' in Mauritius.
Now, elections are coming our way again and Zimbabweans want the leveling of
the playing field but neither Mbeki, who is chairing negotiations between
the Zimbabwe government and the opposition, nor SADC, which supposedly 'gave'
Mbeki the 'mandate' to do so, care to pressurise Mugabe about not only the
constitution but meeting SADC's own election guidelines.
If the MDC, once again, participates in these silly elections and offer
Mugabe an opportunity to steal yet another election, to whom will the MDC or
the people of Zimbabwe run to complain about rigged elections?
Won't SADC tell the MDC that they should not have participated since the set
up was such that free and fair elections could not be held successfully?
This is how SADC leads the region.
It is my hope that SADC leaders wake up and show not only the rest of Africa
but the world that they are leaders worthy their positions.
They represent more than their individual countries and there is no reason
why we should lag behind in democracy and good governance when we have such
a rich and diverse historical and intellectual background.
Every time we look at the past, we are talking about the future. And SADC
must try to learn from its dismal impotence, failure and lack of purpose. I
plead with our SADC leaders to please break with the past and be more
responsible to the people.
I urge them to look at how their countries and peoples have been good to
them. They should just introspect for a while, and see how their roles are
reflected on the wide-screen of history.
Our leaders attained their positions through different means and
circumstances but they all have one thing in common: they are serving their
SADC itself and the SADC leaders are not at all definitely sure of
themselves. Leaders make decisions based on how another leader would react
should they take certain positions.
'Collective responsibility' and agreeing with the rest, just to be
considered "one of the boys", is not good for any country or leader.
Citizens of SADC are unsure about SADC and view it as a largely ineffective
organ because of its inconsistency and inability to take and implement
proper positions on important matters and for its failure to follow its own
Leadership is not about making friends but guiding the nation. Like in many
countries of Africa, life in Zimbabwe is a struggle to survive on a
Like almost everywhere in Africa, there is danger, hunger and violence.
Desperately, we put our faith and hope in these men who are meeting in
Lusaka and expect from them a show of concern and love for the motherland.
It is our hope that the old mentality of long dead rulers, who failed and
brutalised their nations, is only history that stands no chance of being
resuscitated by our current leaders.
There is no time to reminisce simply because there is nothing in our
combined past to get nostalgic over. Africa and SADC are counting on those
gathered in Lusaka to show us that they care about our countries as much as
we, the so-called 'ordinary people', do.
And SADC should redeem itself by imposing punitive sanctions on Mugabe and
*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Botswana-based Zimbabwean writer
August 13, 2007
Sir, Thousands of Zimbabwean citizens are fleeing to South Africa daily as
their country collapses, yet the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, like the
South African Government, does not recognise them as refugees and is doing
nothing to help them. According to the UNHCR spokesman these are "economic
refugees, not refugees as defined by international convention". He adds that
the UNHCR could only be involved "in the case of the total collapse of the
Zimbabwe State". We must now presumably wait for that before acting.
The South African Government claims that the Zimbabweans streaming into
South Africa are not refugees as they are not facing persecution in their
own country; no special measures are necessary. The UNHCR agrees, adding
that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, 100,000 per month cross into
South Africa and 86,000 were forcibly deported back again between January
and May this year alone, according to the International Organisation for
Has the UN learnt nothing from Rwanda or Darfur where it acted too late or
not at all? The UN has an immediate duty to protect, which it has signally
failed to carry out so far. The last Secretary-General of the UN, too late,
finally described the situation in Zimbabwe as intolerable. His successor
should at once call the attention of the Security Council to the urgent need
for action, and the British Government should be the first to support him.
BARONESS PARK OF MONMOUTH, Oxford
Times of Zambia
By NEBERT MULENGA
EVERY morning, 48-year-old Tracy Zulu walks some five kilometres in the
sweltering heat across the Kariba Bridge from neighbouring Zimbabwe into the
border town of Siavonga where she sets up a stall outside the open market to
With her low-cost foodstuffs of juices, baking powders, ginger nuts, tomato
pastes and biscuits, which are all smuggled from Kariba town across the
Zambezi river, she basically targets retail Zambian buyers who do not seem
to ever get tired of bargaining for cheaper prices.
On a good business day, she says, she only makes as much as K10,000 in
profits; otherwise many are the days when she crosses back the international
border with nothing at all.
"Days are hard for us in Zimbabwe now, and no one can pretend that things
are okay anymore," Zulu, a mother of four school going children recently
told the TIMES in Siavonga. "I once had a powerful business selling
expensive duvets, blankets and clothes; everything is gone and I can't even
have a decent meal or afford to pay for my children's school."
Zulu's economic woes mirror the crumbling living standards in Zimbabwe, once
one of Africa's strongest economies but now in free fall. Recent data
released by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) puts annual inflation
above 13,000 per cent, which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts
could reach 100,000 per cent by the end of the year, four out of every five
Zimbabweans are said to be unemployed, basic commodities are unobtainable,
while shortages of fuel, electricity and water are a daily occurrence with
hospitals and clinics reportedly operating without adequate medical
equipment or supplies.
All these factors have over the years been at play to force thousands of
Zimbabweans to flee into neighbouring countries in search of both economic
and political refuge. And while the likes of Zulu have opted to stick around
and make the best out of the worst situation in the hope of a better
Zimbabwe sooner than later, several others have already started settling
down in neighbouring communities.
"Many of my friends are now living comfortably in Zambia, Botswana and South
Africa but I still feel I can't leave Zimbabwe just as yet. My children must
finish school first, although I am having a lot of problems raising money to
pay for them, to buy food, to pay for medical facilities and even to pay for
my (house) rent," she disclosed.
Nqobizitha Mlilo, the liaison officer for international revolution under
Zimbabwe's main opposition political party, the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), charged that political repression had reached an all time
highest level in the southern African country.
Mlilo who is based in Johannesburg, South Africa, from where he 'sells' the
Zimbabwean story to the rest of the world, said there was need for all
African countries to join hands and find a lasting solution to the problems
in his native land.
"The world must know the truth, the Zimbabwe story must be told in totality,
and we must all work towards finding a lasting solution to the political
crisis in Zimbabwe. We believe that the situation in Zimbabwe is an African
problem and we hope that the people of Africa will be able to find a
solution to it. Our government is in perpetual combat with its own citizens,
and the further African countries delay in resolving this political crisis,
the more Zimbabwe will deteriorate into an open-crisis country," he said.
Ahead of the 27th Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of
State Summit, which opened in Lusaka yesterday with the council of ministers
meeting, Mlilo has been in the country to lobby all influential forces to
press for urgent attention to the Zimbabwean situation, over which South
African president Thabo Mbeki was in March this year appointed mediator.
Mlilo's group came in as an advance party to hold a number of meetings on
the sidelines of the regional meeting of the 14-member countries. The group
has so far met some Zambian church mother bodies, political parties and the
Oasis Forum, and would soon be engaging the students community at the higher
"We have a lot of faith in president Mbeki's mediation efforts, and we hope
it will achieve positive results especially as we go to the general
elections in 2008. But above all, we hope that all Zambians will give us a
hand in this noble fight for change in Zimbabwe," he said.
"Zambia has always been our saviour starting from the pre-independence days
and we are very confident that a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis could be
born out of this particular SADC meeting being held in Zambia."
Soon after attaining political independence from Britain in 1964, Zambia,
formerly part of the three nation Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland which
encompassed Zimbabwe and Malawi, played a pivotal role in spearheading the
regional liberation struggle by hosting former freedom fighters from
Regional leaders who found political refuge in Zambia at the height of the
independence struggle include Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe and his
former vice president, the late Joshua Nkomo, Mozambique's late leader
Samorah Machel, Namibia's president Hifikepunye Pohamba and South Africa's
president Mbeki, former leader Nelson Mandela and the late nationalist
Oliver Tambo, among others.
Historians say it is because of playing host to the likes of Mugabe and
Nkomo that Zambia was at some point bombed by the Ian Smith minority regime
in 1975. The declining bilateral relations with Zimbabwe at the time also
crippled Zambia's energy sector as the Kariba North Bank, the country's
biggest source of hydro-electricity shared with Zimbabwe's Kariba South
Bank, was shut down.
"One thing which is clear is that the current confusion in Zimbabwe is
having far-reaching consequences on the region and SADC countries should no
longer remain quiet. They are all hosting refugees from Zimbabwe and in as
much as it is costly for them, we can only appeal for the continuous warm
reception until the Zimbabwe situation is completely resolved," added Mlilo.
According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA),
Southern Africa sub-region director, Jennifer Kabbo, Zimbabwe's
deteriorating economy and political instability has affected the economic
growth of the region.
"From an economic point of view, the Zimbabwe crisis has had adverse effects
on the growth of the region . Once concerted efforts are put in place and
the crisis in Zimbabwe is reduced to manageable levels, the southern African
region will perform a lot better," Kabbo recently told local media.
But SADC executive secretary, Tomaz Augusto Salomao maintained that the
Zimbabwe crisis was not beyond redemption and blamed the country's economic
meltdown partly on the sanctions imposed on it.
"The economy of Zimbabwe is (still) viable, and that is under sanctions.
Zimbabwe maybe the only country in the world where when one needs to import
a pen, they need to pay tax and you cannot run an economy like that,"
Salomao, who was tasked to assess the Zimbabwe economic situation at March
2007 last SADC extra-ordinary summit in Tanzania, said at a press briefing
in Lusaka on Thursday.
Zimbabwe's sharp downward spiral started in 2000, when the ZANU-PF
government embarked on its fast-track land-reform programme, which
redistributed white-owned farmland to landless blacks, setting off a chain
of events that have now led to more than a third of all Zimbabweans facing
severe food shortages.
In the process, over 30 white farmers were brutally murdered in the land
redistribution exercise, a further 700,000 black Zimbabweans were displaced
in the 2005 operation to keep the capital Harare clean, and in March this
year opposition MDC leaders including party president Morgan Tshangarai were
brutally tortured by military forces.
Political activists and critics of President Mugabe's government say all key
institutions are now run by top military officials, a situation that has
left the ordinary people and members of the Opposition with little say in
the running of the country's affairs.
"We are demanding equal access to the State media so that we have equal
chances of reaching out to the people because the State media seems to only
cover our activities in the negative, we need a people-driven Constitution
that shall guarantee free and fair elections next year and we also need
immediate repeal of all repressive legislation like the Public Order and
Securities Act," Mlilo said.
So, in the final analysis, it remains highly indisputable that whichever way
the Zimbabwean situation proceeds from now, it will certainly remain a
mammoth challenge especially for Zambia whose president Levy Mwanawasa now
takes over the chairmanship of the regional body from Lesotho's prime
minister, Pakalitha Mosisili.
SADC countries can surely only afford to remain silent on Zimbabwe at own
Monsters and Critics
Aug 12, 2007, 12:51 GMT
Harare - Fifty-one bus drivers were arrested for overcharging this weekend
in the Zimbabwean capital Harare as riot police were brought in to control
crowds of desperate travellers, official media reported Sunday.
Thousands of would-be travellers were stranded at Harare's main railway
station, unable to catch trains for the holiday weekend, according to the
Fuel shortages and a government directive to slash bus fares have
contributed to a critical shortage of transport in Zimbabwe, which is
trapped in its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980.
The 51 bus drivers were arrested on Saturday, according to the Sunday Mail.
'They have been forced to pay 40,000 Zimbabwe dollar fines and some will be
prosecuted for repeatedly overcharging,' a police spokesman said.
'Some of the vehicles are also being impounded as we have detected faults
which make them unroadworthy,' according to Inspector James Sabawu.
But bus drivers and owners say they cannot reasonably slash fares because
they have to buy their fuel on the black market, where a litre of petrol now
costs up to 400,000 dollars - more than six times the price set by the
We have no access to cheap fuel, one bus driver told the Sunday Mail.
Police are angry that some commuters are unwilling to incriminate their bus
drivers, according to the report.
'When questioned, some of the passengers do not say how much they have been
charged, making it difficult to arrest the operators,' said Sabawu.
Meanwhile passengers at the main Mbare Msika terminus spoke of waiting for
hours in the vain hope of securing transport for the four-day break.
In at least one case police forcibly removed passengers from an overloaded
bus, according to the Sunday Mail.
There was also little joy for would-be train travellers. One dejected man
told the Sunday Mail he had slept at the main train station for two nights
to try to board a train to Rusape, around 170 kilometres from Harare, but
Railway tickets were mostly only available on the black market at more than
four times the gazetted fares, the report said.
On Monday, Zimbabwe marks Heroe's Day to honour fighters killed in the 1970s
war for independence. The country is due to celebrate Defence Forces Day on
The holidays come amid worsening shortages of power, water and basics like
bread and milk in many towns and cities across this once-prosperous southern
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
12/08/2007 14:33 - (SA)
Harare - Zimbabwe has relicensed six private abattoirs in a desperate bid to
ease a worsening shortage of meat, a state newspaper said.
The official Sunday Mail newspaper said government has so far relicensed six
private abattoirs and is considering other applications in a bid to end a
shortage of meat.
This comes a month after industry Minister Obert Mpofu revoked licenses of
private abattoirs and said the inefficient Cold Storage Commission (CSC), a
near defunct state enterprise, would be the only abattoir.
President Robert Mugabe's government accused private abattoirs and retailers
of profiteering from basic commodities and attempting to oust him out of
power in connivance with his enemies.
The government hopes the relicensing of private abattoirs will help ease
supply constraints, which have seen meat disappearing from the butcheries
and all other traditional outlets.
Mugabe ordered business to lower prices of basic goods by 50%.
Early this week, the government increased the price of meat by 20% to ZW$150
000 and adjusted the price the CSC pays for a cow to ZW$12m.
But critics say should Mugabe continue pursuing his authoritarian economic
policies, the decision to relicence abattoirs would not end the shortage of
meat and other products.
Zimbabweans are traditionally fond of beef relishes.
The troubled southern African nation has the highest inflation in the world,
believed to be 4 500% in April.
August 12, 2007, 18:15
Government says it cannot give refugee status to Zimbabweans who cross the
border into South Africa. This was in response to urgent requests by several
youth organisations who have gathered at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
They say South Africa is not doing enough to assist Zimbabweans. The deputy
minister of safety and security, Susan Shabangu, says in terms of the United
Nations Convention, Zimbabweans cannot be classified as refugees, because
they are not seeking refuge in South Africa.
Shabangu says because people from Zimbabwe are coming into South Africa to
look for employment and often return to their country, they cannot be
classified as refugees. ". We all know refugees are people who are not able
to go back to their countries. They (Zimbabweans) just come here to get some
things and go back to their country and take care of their families," says
The Methodist Church has opened its doors to Zimbabweans pouring into the
country. Although conditions are appalling, most say they prefer it to the
political and economic hardships back home. The influx of Zimbabweans is
raising concern in several quarters -- from farmers and politicians, to
church and human rights groups.
Shabangu said the public should not only focus on Zimbabwe, as South Africa
hosted refugees from many African and Asian countries. Just more than a week
ago, deputy foreign affairs minister, Aziz Pahad, described the influx of
Zimbabweans as a serious problem, requiring action and many activists
believe South Africa is not doing enough.
12/08/2007 11:01 - (SA)
Johannesburg - The Department of Home Affairs' unveiling of a resurrected
plan for refugees has come too late for thousands of Zimbabweans, the
Democratic Alliance said Sunday.
DA spokesperson for home affairs, Mark Lowe, said the failure of the
department to admit to a refugee crisis was a reflection of "incompetence
and ignorance" in the department.
"The truth is that government has never known what to do about the
Zimbabwean crises that have hit the country with frightening regularity
since 2000," he said.
"Their stance has been to do nothing, and until recently this worked because
the overflow of the crises into South Africa was manageable."
Lowe said there were ways to make the lives of fleeing Zimbabweans better,
but government refused to admit to the failure of "silent diplomacy".
"For the ANC to actually admit that there is a refugee problem is to admit
that their and President Mbeki's "silent diplomacy" Zimbabwe policy has been
He urged the government to publicly hold Zimbabwe's government accountable
for their actions and stop deporting asylum seekers, while setting up places
of safety for refugees.
We had well over one hundred people at a swirling, vibrant Vigil - despite
being blacklisted by the Zimbabwean government! News of this accolade came
in an article in the Zimbabwe Independent
(http://www.zimbabwesfrrituation.com/aug10b_2007.html#Z2, Batch 3 Posted
10/8/07: "Zanu-PF plans cyber warfare against online publications"). We were
surprised to be thought of as sufficiently important to figure on their
radar taking in some 40 or so websites perceived as unfriendly by Zanu-PF.
It's sad evidence of their paranoia.
The lovely sunny weather may have contributed, but our large attendance
might have been helped by SW Radio Africa putting up a big banner on their
website urging people to support the Vigil. They are planning to do this on
a weekly basis. They say that, with only seven months to go to the
elections, it is up to Zimbabweans in the diaspora to do everything they can
to put on pressure for change. We are very pleased to have this solid
support from such a reputable news outfit.
Supporters were kept busy signing our letters to President Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa (see www.zimvigil.co.uk diary item of 09/08/2007 for text) as
he prepares to leave for the SADC meeting in Zambia. We have done a lot of
lobbying at the Vigil over the past few weeks and it was a great help to
have a second table at the Vigil today. This was also used for signing the
register and it freed up the front table to be much more accessible to the
general public passing by - these of course are the people we are trying to
reach with the message about our suffering friends and families in Zimbabwe.
People were much taken with the impromptu decorations on the Embassy, closed
for the Heroes Day weekend.
We have been contacted by a musician, Ian Thornton, who heard about us
through the Zimvigil myspace page operated by our supporter, Ian Pocock
(www.myspace/zimbabwevigil). He has written and produced a song "President"
highly critical of the Mugabe regime. It is available for sale and download,
check: www.myspace.com/ianthorntonband and a video on:
www.youtube.com/ianthorntonband. Ian has kindly suggested that proceeds
from the download sales should come to us to help the people of Zimbabwe.
Thanks to Chipo and Arnold for their hard work in supervising the signing of
the letters and generally overseeing the new table.
For this week's Vigil pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/
FOR THE RECORD: 115 signed the register.
FOR YOUR DIARY:
- Monday, 13th August 2007, 7.30 pm, Central London Zimbabwe Forum.
Tor-Hugne Olsen, the co-ordinator of the international liaison office of the
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, will be speaking to us about what may
happen at the 27th Ordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State where President
Thabo Mbeki will be updating the participants on his mediation on Zimbabwe.
Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street, London WC2
(cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John
Adam Street, turn right and you will see the pub).
- Friday, 17th August 2007, 2 - 5 pm. PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF DATE.
Kate Hoey MP will be joining the Zimbabwe Solidarity Campaign at their Vigil
outside City Hall, Belfast. As agreed with Ian Paisley Jnr, our Belfast
friends are presenting a petition to Stormont on 10th September. They plan
to do a presentation to the assembly members in the long gallery and then
get as many members as possible to sign the petition in front of the press.
They are trying to get some high profile campaigners along to raise the
profile of the campaign.
- Saturday, 1st September 2007, 12 noon - 10 pm. Zimfest 2007 (food,
sports, music). Venue: Prince Georges Playing Fields, Bushey Rd, Raynes
Park, London, SW20 9NB. For more information check; www.wezimbabwe.com.
- Tuesday, 4th September, 12 - 1.30 pm. The International Liaison
Office of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum will be hosting 'Zimbabwe's
Gukurahundi: Lessons from the 1980-1988 disturbances in Matabeleland and The
Midlands' at Chatham House in London. Further information on the Chatham
House website at: http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/events/view/-/id/572/.
- Friday, 7th September 2007, 6.30 pm. Debate on human rights opened
by barrister James Keeley. Discussion on Zimbabwe by Albert Weidemann.
Venue: Ripon, North Yorkshire, Address: YMCA, Water Skellgate, HG4 1BQ. For
more information, contact: Albert Weidemann on 01765-607900 or mobile 0779
- Saturday, 13th October - Zimbabwe Vigil's 5th Anniversary. An
early marker. Don't book anything else for this date.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
:: Steve Mvula - The Southern African
Sunday, 12 August 2007
LUSAKA - International Revolution, a new pressure group with links to
Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, has
sent representatives to Lusaka to lobby SADC leaders to ensure a solution is
sought for Zimbabwe's political and economic problems.
Johannesburg-based International Revolution's liaison officer,
Nqobizitha Mlilo told The Southern African.com that the crisis in Zimbabwe
is an African problem requiring an African attention.
According to data released by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ),
the inflation rate is now estimated at over 13,000 percent with four out of
every five Zimbabwean unemployed. Much worse there are constant shortages of
basic commodities including fuel, electricity and medical supplies.
Mlilo and his group saw the 27th SADC Heads of State and Government
summit in Lusaka this week as a golden opportunity to press the regional
leaders, especially South African President, Thabo Mbeki who was last March
appointed as mediator of the Zimbabwe crisis.
So far Mlilo and his colleagues have met with the Oasis Forum (a
coalition of opposition and civic groups in Zambia) and students at
institutions of higher learning. They will try to meet some government
"The story of Zimbabwe must be told to the world in its totality so
that a lasting solution can be found. Our government is in perpetual combat
with its own people and the further the African countries delay in resolving
this political crisis, the more Zimbabwe will deteriorate." Mlilo said.
Monsters and Critics
Aug 12, 2007, 19:03 GMT
Harare - Nine people were killed and 52 injured Sunday in Zimbabwe in a
collision between a bus and a car, the second major transport accident in
less than a week, state radio reported.
The crash occurred in northern Zimbabwe. The passenger bus carrying 74
people was on its way to the capital Harare from Mukumbura on the Mozambican
All five people inside the car were killed, as well as four passengers on
the bus, said the radio.
The injured are being treated at the state-run hospital in the mining town
of Bindura, near where the accident occurred, said the radio.
The latest accident comes two days after a collision between a freight train
and a passenger train in Harare killed one person and injured 83 others.
Zimbabwe is in the middle of a severe transport crisis, with thousands of
desperate rail and road commuters struggling to find transport from towns
and cities to rural villages ahead of a public holiday here early next week.
The southern African country's roads are notorious for traffic accidents
caused by speeding vehicles, poor driving and lack of vehicle maintenance.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
By Alex Morfey
Last Updated: 1:37am BST 12/08/2007
Money was not the motivation for Tatenda Taibu's return to play for Zimbabwe
nearly two years after he quit in protest against his country's cricket
The former captain said he could not ignore his desire to play international
cricket again, and that his wife had played a big part in persuading him to
change his mind.
Taibu had been playing overseas during his self-imposed exile, but his wife,
Loveness, had suggested the couple returned to Africa.
"My wife was tired of travelling and asked if we could come back home and I
agreed," he said. "She was against the idea of me leaving in the first
place. All the time we were away she was always asking me when we were going
The inspirational wicketkeeper said he had missed playing at the highest
level. "I realised that God gave me a talent not to play club cricket, but
to play international cricket and the only way I could play international
cricket was to return home."
Taibu turned his back on his motherland at the age of 22, in November 2005,
citing his displeasure with the way Peter Chingoka, chairman of Zimbabwe
Cricket (ZC), and Ozias Bvute, the managing director, were running the game.
He had also feared for his life after getting threatening telephone calls.
Taibu spent a month playing for a club in Bangladesh in January last year
before coming to England to join Pyrford in the Surrey Championship. He then
signed a six-month deal with Namibia, who play in the South African domestic
first-class set-up, but did not renew that contract and returned home in
Speculation grew that Taibu would make a return to Zimbabwe colours when he
trained with Kevin Curran's team last month. He joined the Zimbabwe Select
squad playing two four-day matches against India A, and scored 123 in the
first innings of one match, although his side lost by nine wickets.
"I am back to score hundreds, double hundreds and take more catches. Cricket
fans will see more of me," he said, adding that he had patched up his
differences with the ZC administration.
"ZC and myself have realised that there is more to life than having
Taibu said his return had nothing to do with financial gain because he had
earned enough money to care for himself and his family. "It is now a matter
of playing for my country, I have made enough money in my life and I still
have other things that bring me money," he said.
Zimbabwe have also been boosted by the return of Brendan Taylor, a top-order
batsman. He had refused to play for his province, Northerns, in Zimbabwe's
first-class competition, the Logan Cup, soon after his return from the World
Cup and then defied Bvute's order not to accept contracts with clubs abroad
in the off-season by taking up a club deal in Holland.
Taylor joined the Zimbabwean squad for training on Friday, ahead of two
four-day games against South Africa A, which start on Thursday.
Monday 13 August 2007
By Nqobizitha Khumalo
BULAWAYO - The state-controlled Media and Information Commission (MIC) has
postponed a hearing for award-winning Zimbabwean photojournalist Tsvangirayi
Mukwazhi who is facing charges of misrepresenting facts in his application
Lawyers representing Mukwazhi told the MIC that they could not appear before
the commission last Friday because they had been called at short notice
forcing the media body to postpone the case to 20 August.
In a statement released at the weekend, Harrison Nkomo, Mukwazhi's lawyer,
said they had also asked the MIC to furnish them with full details of the
allegations against their client to enable them to prepare for the case.
The MIC summoned Mukwazhi to appear before the commission last week accusing
the journalist of deliberately falsifying information on his application for
the renewal of his accreditation for 2007.
Nkomo said they had also asked the MIC to provide them with details of
Mukwazhi's application going to the time he first submitted an application
for accreditation as a free-lance journalist.
The state media body has also summoned freelance film producer, Tendai
Musiyazviriyo, also on 20 August, to answer to similar charges of falsifying
information on his application for accreditation.
Under Zimbabwe's draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (AIPPA), journalists must first register with the MIC before they can
practise their profession.
Mukwazhi and Musiyazviriyo were last March arrested and brutally tortured
while in police custody after they were caught up in political disturbances
in Harare's working class suburb of Highfield.
Main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and other civil society activists, were brutally assaulted by
state agents last March for attempting to organise an "illegal" rally in
The MIC has over the past four years banned four newspapers including
Zimbabwe's biggest circulating daily, The Daily News. At least a hundred
journalists have also been arrested during the same period while hundreds
others have been barred from visiting the country.
The World Association of Newspapers lists Zimbabwe among the three most
difficult countries for journalists. - ZimOnline
Monsters and Critics
Aug 12, 2007, 11:43 GMT
Harare - A top state journalist in Zimbabwe appears to have committed
suicide after his car was involved in a fatal road accident, the official
Sunday Mail reported.
The body of Moses Gumbo, 37, was found hanging from a tree with a shoelace
round his neck shortly after the accident, in which one person was killed
and 10 were injured, said the report.
Gumbo, who worked for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) was
driving his company car when the incident occurred near the central city of
Gweru on Saturday.
The car appears to have rammed into a truck that was turning ahead of him.
Gumbo, who was ZBC bureau chief for Midlands province, fled to a nearby
hotel where he washed his face, reported the accident and then disappeared.
His body was found 45 minutes later hanging from a tree, said the Sunday
Police investigations are continuing.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur