Demolitions May be Mugabe's Biggest
Mistake Assailed on all sides by a collapsing economy and dissenters in his
own party ranks, the Zimbabwean leader may have taken one step too far with
his all-out campaign to destroy urban homes.
By Dzikamai Chidyausiku
in Harare (Africa Reports No 40, 14-Aug-05)
With Zimbabwe's economic
troubles deepening and cracks widening in his ruling Zanu PF party,
President Robert Mugabe's decision to destroy thousands of homes may prove
to be the great mistake that destroys him after more than a quarter of a
century in power.
Such predictions have been made before, but this time
it looks like President Mugabe is in real trouble, facing the biggest crisis
both within his party and in the country as a whole since it became
independent from Britain in 1980.
Operation Murambatsvina (Operation
Drive Out the Rubbish), which led to thousands of urban homes being
bulldozed and torched in the name of urban renewal, may be the catalyst for
Mugabe's circle of friends abroad has been getting smaller and
smaller, especially among other African leaders who until recently lent him
their moral support in the face of widespread condemnation of his rule from
The international pressure on Mugabe has mounted
inexorably as a result of the human crisis created by the Murambatsvina
campaign, which has touched the lives of more than two million of the
country's 11.5 million people and left more than 200,000 families
At the same time, the government is grappling with the fastest
collapsing economy in the world, with gross domestic product falling in real
terms for each of the past seven years. Inflation is in triple figures,
wiping out people's savings and social security funding, while unemployment
has risen above 80 per cent as a result of continuing company
The government lacks the resources to import fuel or food for
the some 5.5 million people who international agencies say face starvation.
The country's health delivery system is a shambles, with HIV/AIDS wreaking
havoc and the government unable to buy medicines to combat the epidemic that
claims more than 13,000 Zimbabwean lives each month.
A new report
released by the Washington-based Centre for Global Development, CGD, says
that in the past five years, the standard of living for Zimbabweans has
fallen back more than 50 years.
"The signs of collapse are everywhere,"
say CGD research fellows Michael Clemens and Todd Moss. Manufacturing has
fallen by 51 per cent since 1997 and exports have shrunk by half in just the
last 48 months.
The report notes that Zimbabwe, once an exporter of food,
now requires "massive" food aid.
The Zimbabwe dollar, once on par
with its American counterpart, is now trading at 45,000 to the US dollar on
the widely-used black market.
The CGD researchers concluded that, "In
mid-2005 the average Zimbabwean had fallen back to that  level, wiping
out the income gains over the past 52 years.
"The scale and speed of
this income decline is unusual outside of a war situation. In fact, the
income losses in Zimbabwe have been greater than those experienced during
recent conflicts in Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra
Government policy has been characterised by "absurd"
macroeconomic management as well as the "general undermining of property
rights" and the damage done to agriculture by the mass appropriation of
mainly white-owned farms.
"Unfortunately, the mismanagement and
economic lunacy continues," the report concludes. "This suggests that
economic misrule will continue to cost Zimbabweans not only their children's
opportunities for a better life but, for many, any life at
Perhaps the latest indicator of the scale of the problems is
Zimbabwe's recent approach to South Africa for a six billion rand (one
billion US dollar) rescue package so that it can pay its debts to the
International Monetary Fund, which is threatening expulsion, and import
food. This is the first visible admission that the government has failed to
extricate the economy from its self-inflicted crisis.
cracking," University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure
told IWPR. "He is buffeted by problems from all angles. The economy is
crumbling while domestic and international pressure is mounting on
Within the president's ZANU PF party, which he has led with an iron
fist for more than 30 years, loud dissenting voices about his leadership can
now be heard, threatening a previously unthinkable split.
divided more than ever along clan lines, mainly between Mugabe's Zezuru and
the Karanga, the two largest clans of the wider Shona tribal grouping, while
the succession battle that almost sank the party early this year remains a
real threat. Nearly all the top positions in government and the military are
held by Zezurus who, shielded by the President's patronage, have accumulated
Party insiders insist that the group which attempted a
palace coup against Mugabe's new female vice-president, Joyce Mujuru - also
a Zezuru - in December last year still remains strong enough to rock the
battered ZANU PF ship. The group, led by Emmerson Mnangagwa, a Karanga and
once one of Mugabe's most trusted lieutenants, still has the clout to make a
move when the question of succession to the 81-year-old president next
The budding division in ZANU PF was dealt with
ruthlessly by Mugabe, who expelled six provincial chairmen - key party men
who were Mnangagwa sympathisers.
"Mugabe has clipped Mnangagwa's
wings for the time being by giving him an ineffectual ministerial post [in
charge of rural housing]," said Masunungure. "The succession issue, which
Mugabe silenced by imposing Mujuru, is still highly divisive, with Mnangagwa
waiting to pounce when Mugabe steps aside."
Mugabe's grooming of
Mujuru to succeed him in 2008 has stirred strong emotions and widened
fissures along clan lines. The Karanga provided the bulk of ZANU's fighting
forces and military leaders in the 1972-80 war against white rule, and are
now bitter that they have been elbowed out of power.
Members of the
Ndebele - related to South Africa's Zulus, and Zimbabwe's second largest
tribe after the Shona - are also grumbling. Ndebeles dominated ZAPU
(Zimbabwe African Peoples Union), until the party was swallowed up by ZANU
PF in 1987, in an deal that followed an army assault on ZAPU supporters in
western Zimbabwe, costing 20,000 lives.
Although he puts on a brave face,
Mugabe now has fewer friends in the region and internationally than he had
three years ago.
Even his staunchest African friends are wavering.
Zimbabwe's independent Financial Gazette reports that South African
president Thabo Mbeki and Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo have been pressuring
Mugabe to negotiate a solution to the political crisis with Morgan
Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
Mugabe has said he would sooner talk to the man he regards as his
arch-enemy, British prime minister Tony Blair, than Tsvangirai.
seems the president's reaction to the internal and external pressure is to
resort to ever greater repression. Laws have been promulgated to outlaw
demonstrations and political gatherings, and the media has been muzzled with
newspapers closed and journalists arrested.
"All these are signs of a
regime under siege from its own people," said MDC spokesman Paul Themba
History may show that Mugabe finally pushed Zimbabwe over the edge
with Operation Murambatsvina, which according to John Makumbe, a political
scientist at the University of Zimbabwe, "only helped focus international
attention on Zimbabwe. Mugabe is showing the world that he is a ruthless man
and in the process he is losing more friends."
Furious at losing
almost all urban seats in parliamentary elections last March, he launched a
campaign to drive out the "rubbish" from the towns, to disastrous effect. He
told millions of people to go back to where they came from, even though many
had been born and brought up in the shacks that government bulldozers
reduced to rubble.
The action has only widened fissures in ZANU PF, with
some senior officials speaking out against the policy and threatening to
quit the party. The most prominent case was the resignation last month of
Pearson Mbalekwa, a party official and a former agent of the Central
Mbalekwa said that the demolition of homes
showed that ZANU PF was no longer working for the people who elected it. The
Zimbabwean leader immediately punished him by confiscating the former
white-owned farm he had been given as a privileged member of the
presidential inner circle.
Operation Murambatsvina impelled United
Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to send a special envoy to Zimbabwe.
The envoy, Anna Tibaijuka, subsequently published a report lambasting the
government's mass demolition of poor people's homes as inhuman. She said
Mugabe had shown "indifference to human suffering" while her boss Annan
described the situation as "profoundly distressing."
As his erstwhile
friends tiptoe away, a desperate Mugabe has turned to China for economic
support. He visited China in July looking for help, but received minimal
aid. That leaves him with few places left to turn as the economy heads
Dzikamai Chidyausiku is the pseudonym of an IWPR
contributor in Zimbabwe
Long lines of cars waiting for fuel that rarely arrive form a
strange subculture, with engine-less vehicles joining the queue, and street
kids sleeping in Mercedes.
From Benedict Unendoro in Harare (Africa
Reports No 40, 14-Aug-05)
I have been waiting for the past 48 hours in a
"fuquel". Don't reach for the dictionary yet - in Zimbabwe, the words "fuel"
and "queue" are so closely interconnected that the words have fused
So what exactly is a fuquel? It's a queue at a petrol station
that has no fuel to sell. Like every other petrol station across the
country, it has not received any fuel for two weeks or so.
because its storage tanks have been empty for so long, we desperate
motorists delude ourselves into thinking we might get lucky and find
ourselves in the right place when there is a delivery.
The lack of
petrol is because of the crippling shortage of foreign exchange resulting
from a sharp decline in export earnings, an international donor community
suffering both fatigue and irritation, and the International Monetary Fund's
withdrawal of funding to support the balance of payments.
Oil Company, a state-owned monopoly, is finding it hard to import petroleum
because its debt to foreign companies more than 80 million US dollars and
Our once-rich tobacco industry has collapsed, but the small
amount that is still grown cannot get to market because the farmers have no
petrol for their trucks.
Even Air Zimbabwe flights are grounded
because of fuel shortages. More than 100,000 bus drivers and crews have been
laid off because there is no diesel for their vehicles. Education is
collapsing because teachers either cannot get to school, or have joined the
The reason I am in this particular fuquel is that the last time
it received any petrol was two weeks ago. S, I reckon it's high time for
another delivery. I have been here for two whole days and nights.
length of each fuquel ranges from a handful of cars to hundreds. Some are
five kilometres long. If a filling station has only just run out, most of
the motorists will drive away in search of a better prospect.
then a few will remain - the cars with no engines. This bizarre concept is
purely Zimbabwean - in any given fuquel, at least ten of the cars are mere
shells, in which only the petrol tanks are still intact. They belong to the
black marketeers, a patient and resourceful lot who can win great rewards.
After pushing the car bodies along for a few days in the queue, they will
eventually get them filled up. Then they will drain the tanks off into jerry
cans, and rejoin the queue.
The black market requires a short course in
mathematics, but we Zimbabweans are experts by necessity because of runaway
inflation which sees prices changing every day, sometimes every
The pump price of one litre of petrol is 10,000 Zimbabwean dollars,
but on the black market it will fetch anything up to 70,000. So for a
40-litre tank, the traders pay 400,000 dollars but will earn as much as 2.8
million. That will at least pay their rent and buy them a few
The fuquel brings rich and poor together. The flashy cars -
Mercedes, Pajero 4x4s, that kind of thing - belong to guys aged between 28
and 40. They dress in the latest fashions, and carry several mobile phones
which ring continuously, so that their owners have to juggle them to answer
But these men don't spend the night here. Instead, they hire
street kids to sleep in the cars and to push the vehicles forward if the
fuquel begins to move. They themselves sleep in the comfort of hotels and
The ordinary guys in the fuquels drive 20-year-old Peugeots,
Datsuns and Mazdas, but they have their own fun. They spend most of the
waiting time in the pub drinking lager, maize beer or the cheaper spirits.
The pubs close at 1030 in the evening, but the men don't go home. They pick
up prostitutes and take them back to the fuquel to "keep the cold
When the fuquels started, some six months back, people at first
stood around in groups discussing politics.
"Mugabe has failed this
great country," the conversation would begin. They would hold forth on how
President Robert Mugabe has proved such a disappointment after leading the
country to relative prosperity. Then they would discuss the prospects of
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change
But now the fuqueller are suffering from politics fatigue, and
spend the time reading about their favourite football teams in the
newspapers. The national team, the Warriors, are doing well for a change,
and stand a good chance of qualifying for the African Nations Cup finals in
Egypt and the World Cup finals in Germany next year. There is almost
universal agreement that the only good news to come out of Zimbabwe in the
past five years is the Warriors.
All fuquellers agree that Zimbabwe's
cricket team, on the other hand, is a national disgrace and say their
grandmothers could bat, bowl and field better.
The war in Iraq is a
big story among fuquellers, who generally supported the regime Saddam
Hussein. Why this sympathy? Mugabe has always hated the West, particularly
America, and this has rubbed off on most Zimbabweans, including my fellow
fuquellers. Because the Seventies war of liberation is still in living
memory, Zimbabweans remember American policy towards the black fighters whom
they called terrorists.
But in plain contradiction, Zimbabweans admire
American technological feats. The fortunes of the latest Space Shuttle
flight were followed very keenly here, and the lines of petrol-starved
motorists were alive with would-be astronauts.
Another man in the
queue has read on the internet that in the far-off town of Mutare, police
bullied their way to the front of a fuquel after a petrol delivery. He tells
us how riot cops with dogs were called in after our fellow-fuquellers
threatened to beat up the police bullies.
Someone gets fed up and leaves
his car to go off for a beer or two. We all laugh when he says he is not
worried in the slightest about his car's safety. "I doubt that any car thief
will manage to get enough petrol to fill it and steal it while I'm in the
pub," he says.
But excuse me - I have to go. There's a petrol tanker
arriving, and the queue-jumping is about to begin. The drivers of shared
taxi buses are highly skilled at aggressively pushing in to the front of the
queue, and they are at it already.
Benedict Unendoro is the pseudonym
of a IWPR contributor in Zimbabwe.
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party lost a key election yesterday
as Zimbabweans showed their disgust at his devastating campaign of shack
Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), polled five times the number of votes won by Mr
Mugabe's candidate in mayoral elections in the second city of
State radio announced yesterday that Mr Ndabeni-Ncube, the
sitting mayor, had received 29,575 votes against 5,509 for Dickson
Abu-Basuthu, a virtually unknown candidate from ZANU-PF.
Ndabeni-Ncube said his victory pointed to the government's growing
The clean-up exercise "was just the last nail in the
coffin" for the ruling party, he told The Scotsman. "This government is not
for the people. It (the clean-up exercise) makes them more hateful of
More than 700,000 people have lost their homes across
Zimbabwe's towns and cities since the launch in mid-May of "Operation Drive
Out Trash", Mr Mugabe's infamous "clean-up" campaign.
its wide avenues and old townships, was particularly hard-hit. Thousands of
people took refuge in 17 churches across the city, according to a recent
report by UN envoy Anna Tibaijuka. They were later evicted by armed
Political analyst John Makumbe said the MDC's victory was "a
continuation of the urban people's resistance" to Mr Mugabe. "We can see
that after the (clean-up) operation people are even more opposed to the
Mugabe regime," he said.
The 81-year-old Zimbabwean president
maintains he wants to "restore dignity" to Zimbabweans, but the MDC says the
operation was an attempt to chase its supporters into the
Yesterday Mr Ndabeni-Ncube said the displacement of voters
contributed to Saturday's low turnout of just 10.7 per cent. But the main
reason for the poor showing was "the misery of the people" who felt their
vote had become useless, he said.
The government has done all it can
to neutralise the power of opposition mayors. Elias Mudzuri, the MDC mayor
of Harare, was sacked in 2003 for alleged mismanagement while the mayor of
Mutare, Misheck Kagurabadza, was suspended in July on similar
Mr Ndabeni-Ncube was threatened with disciplinary action last
month after he held a closed meeting with the UN envoy during her two-week
Reporter Last updated: 08/15/2005 12:42:58 HUNDREDS of passengers were
stranded at London's Gatwick Airport late last night after an Air Zimbabwe
plane was impounded with their luggage over outstanding landing fees which
the national airliner has failed to pay.
Passengers who arrived at
Gatwick Airport just after 7pm aboard a Boeing 767 from Harare International
Airport were still at the airport three hours later.
Many were forced
to book hotels near the airport, at their cost.
A passenger who was on
the flight told New Zimbabwe.com by telephone last night: "We have been told
that our luggage has been detained because Air Zimbabwe has not paid landing
"I was supposed to catch a connecting flight to Scotland but that's
no longer possible because I have missed the flight and now have to book a
hotel which I hadn't budgeted for."
No comment was immediately
available from Air Zimbabwe.
Air Zimbabwe has been hit by a foreign
currency crisis that has brought Zimbabwe's once thriving economy to its
knees. Aviation experts say passengers' security is seriously compromised as
Air Zimbabwe currently has no financial capacity to carry satisfactory
repairs on its ailing fleet of passenger airplanes.
Zimbabwe has been forced to cancel flights at the last minute owing to a
critical aviation fuel shortage.
Flights to South Africa, Britain as well
as to Zimbabwe's premier tourist destination, the Victoria Falls, have been
Zimbabwe has only a tiny fleet of planes. The London route is
serviced by two Boeing 767-200ER.
US$52m worth of food A VISITING US ambassador, Tony Hall, yesterday said he
avoided meeting President Robert Mugabe because he did not want his trip,
focused on assessing Zimbabwe's humanitarian and food situation, to look
Speaking after a three-day tour of the country, Hall, who only
met one government minister, the non-governmental organisation (NGO)
community and civil society, said Zimbabwe's food crisis was largely
"man-made and avoidable". The US Ambassador, who last visited Zimbabwe in
2002, announced a donation of US$51.8 million or 73 500 tonnes of food to
six southern African countries.
The donation is set to benefit
between five and six million people in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique,
Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
However, much of the donation is expected
to benefit Zimbabwe, where the World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that one
million people are desperately in need of food aid. But the number could
swell to about 4.3 million people before the next harvest.
Zimbabwe's food situation was "desperate" and attributed it to Mugabe's
"counter-productive" land reform policies and the "clean-up operation",
which rendered at least 700 000 people homeless and unable to feed
"They (those affected by clean up operation) don't have
enough to keep themselves warm. They are hungry and their children are
hungry. This tragedy was entirely avoidable," Hall said.
estimates that the number of people desperately in need of food aid could
swell to about 4.3 million "in the next few months".
The US has provided
US$300 million in food assistance to Zimbabwe since 2002.
Zimbabwe previously recognised as the breadbasket of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) had since reduced itself to a basket case
because of its self-destructive policies.
"Today, the breadbasket is
empty, thanks to counter-productive land reform policies and a drought that
has made the situation even worse," Hall said.
The US envoy visited
Mutare and Hatcliffe and Hopley farm in Harare, where thousands of families
rendered homeless by internationally condemned operation are
Hall said the situation in the camps was worrying as the people
had no food, blankets and shelter.
But it was at Hopley Farm, which
is manned by the military, that the US envoy got a rude awakening.
was told in hushed tones that the government doesn't want me at this place
because old people are dying. We can't address the suffering of these people
if we can't see them and assess their needs," he complained.
met several NGOs, said several tonnes of relief food were being held up by
"For example, I have heard that the US NGOs have
10 000 tonnes of food aid in Durban bottled up, waiting for import
licences," he said, adding that another 15 000 tonnes were in the country
but government had not sanctioned its distribution.
Hall, who left
for South Africa yesterday, is the US ambassador to the (WFP), the Food and
Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural
Development (IFAD), based in Rome.
He told a Press conference before
leaving: "I did not seek to meet Mugabe because I did not want my trip here
to look political. It was only to assess humanitarian and food security," he
Earlier last week, the government spokesperson, George Charamba,
said the government was not aware of Hall's visit.
Zimbabwe's economic woes on Western powers, accusing Britain and the United
Sates, in particular, of working to unseat him because of his land
Washington has slapped Mugabe, his ministers and members of the
ruling party government with targeted sanctions for gross human rights
But notwithstanding political stand-off between Harare and
Washington, Hall said the US will continue assisting needy people in
"The United States will stand by the people of Zimbabwe,
because there is no place for politics when it comes to feeding hungry
people," he said.
Hall only met the Minister of Public Service, Labour
and Social Welfare, Nicholas Goche, who said the government, was "coping"
despite the critical food situation on the ground.
Bulawayo residents stay away from mayoral poll By Savious
BULAWAYO - The outcome of yesterday's mayoral election could turn
out to be tightly contested because of voter apathy.
their confidence in the electoral process had been shaken by the
government's total disregard for the people's wishes, especially if the
opposition won. Voter apathy favours the ruling party, but the government
has deliberately refused to work with mayors from the opposition party,
suspended or interfered with their work as happened in Chegutu, Harare and
A snap survey conducted by The Standard yesterday revealed that
most polling stations in and around the city had fewer people voting while
many others failed to vote after they were internally displaced or for other
By 10AM yesteray 9 863 people had voted, while 955 were turned
away. Counting was due to begin last night, with the results due
In separate interviews carried out in various wards in Bulawayo,
voters said they saw little point in voting because the Minister of Local
Government, Public Works and Urban Development, Ignatious Chombo, meddled in
the affairs of local authorities headed by the opposition.
Mnkandla, who cast his vote at the Large City Hall, said people saw no
reason for voting because their problems would continue to persist after
"People have chosen to stay indoors because they see no
reason for voting. Personally, I feel that it is unwise for people to
boycott the election because voting is the only way of choosing the
candidate who will properly represent us," Mkandla said.
Bulawayo mayor, Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, expressed confidence that the
electorate would re-elect him because they had faith in him.
people of Bulawayo are going to retain their faith in me as their mayor. I
can't go against the confidence that the people have in me after our great
achievements in maintaining standards in the city", Ndabeni-Ncube
However, Ndabeni-Ncube acknowledged that he was likely to face
interference in his work from Chombo, who in the past has succeeded in
meddling in the affairs of MDC-run councils.
Chombo dismissed Harare
executive mayor, Elias Mudzuri, and recently suspended Mutare mayor, Misheck
During the run up to the mayoral election, Ndabeni-Ncube
said that he had faced numerous problems, but soldiered on, holding up to 15
rallies - two or three times a day. Twelve of his supporters were arrested
at Emakhandeni while campaigning for him.
The crippling fuel crises,
he also said, adversely affected their campaigns although the MDC supplied
them with the scarce commodity.
Zanu PF secretary for information and
publicity for the Bulawayo metropolitan province, Effort Nkomo, dismissed
Ndabeni-Ncube's assertions that he will win. He said the MDC-led council did
not work towards improving the lot of residents' lives.
candidate (Dickson Abu-Basuthu) will take advantage of the voter apathy to
win the election. Our preparations were not all that good but we will
definitely capitalise of the voter apathy," Nkomo said.
said yesterday he was confident of winning the election.
Zim refuses entry to SA food-aid trucks By Vusumuzi
EFFORTS by the South African Council of Churches (SACC) to assist
victims of "Operation Murambatsvina" in Zimbabwe suffered a major setback
yesterday when two trucks with a consignment of foodstuffs were barred from
entering the country.
Speaking from South Africa, Eddie Makue, SACC's
deputy secretary general, said the two trucks were still waiting in
Johannesburg after failing to secure documents to cross into
Zimbabwe. "We are hoping to get the certificate to transport the goods free
of duty on Monday (tomorrow). We are consulting widely with the authorities
and hopefully they will be supportive. Only one truck with blankets was
cleared and it has already left for Zimbabwe," Makue said.
he could not estimate the value of the goods in the two trucks, Makue said
the goods would go a long way in assisting the affected individuals who are
in desperate need for aid.
"The trucks are ready, what is lacking is the
duty-free certificate only. We were told we would get the clearance on
Friday, but there were a few complications, but I am optimistic we will get
it this week. The trucks will be leaving for Zimbabwe once we get the
certificate," he said.
Once the two trucks are cleared, Makue said, the
SACC would start mobilising the second consignment of goods to be sent to
Zimbabwe at the end of this month.
Zimbabwean authorities refused to
issue clearance certificates to the two trucks as they were suspicious the
foodstuffs they carried could be genetically modified. Interventions by the
South African Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs to facilitate the
clearance did not bear much fruit.
Last month, the SACC, initiated
"Operation Hope" to assist victims of the government's "clean-up" exercise
that destroyed a number of shacks in urban and sub urban areas. This
followed a visit to the country by a group of church leaders, led by Bishop
Ivan Abrahams, who chairs the South African Church Leaders' Forum to assess
the impact of the "clean-up" exercise and consult with Zimbabwean church
leaders on the way forward.
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra)
Commissioner-General, Gershom Pasi, said he was "not in the picture" of what
was happening in relation to the trucks.
"I haven't received any reports
on that matter, why don't you call Priscilla Sadomba, our public relations
officer? I normally don't concern myself with daily operations, as there are
officers on the ground to do that," Pasi said.
Sadomba could not be
reached for comment yesterday.
Survey exposes evils of 'Murambatsvina' By our
HARARE - More than 90 percent of the people living in Harare's high
density suburbs were adversely affected by the government-sanctioned "clean
up" operation, which left hundreds of thousands of people without shelter,
food and deprived thousands of children of education, a recent survey on
"Operation Murambatsvina" has revealed.
The survey, carried out in 26
wards of the city's high-density suburbs, was conducted by ActionAid
International together with Combined Harare Residents' Association
(CHRA). Of the 13 712 households visited, 97 percent of them had been
affected by the internationally condemned operation in varying
"Overall, 79 percent of interviewed households reported that
they had lost their sources of income," said the survey, which sampled a
population of 81 995 people.
About 73 percent of urban dwellers were
engaged in informal trading prior to the operations, the survey
The primary sources of livelihood that were disrupted include tuck
shop business (98 percent), flea market (11 percent), fruit and vegetable
vending (17 percent), offering accommodation (18 percent), cross border
trader (6 percent) and petty trade (5 percent) such as sale of
The survey said the welfare of children especially in terms of
their ability to attend school was affected by the operation. School drop
out was reported to be 22 percent.
However, 45 percent of households
interviewed reported that they were in a precarious situationregarding the
funding and accessing schools for their children.
"This may be a
clear indication on the future prospects of school enrolment for children in
the near future," noted the survey.
About 60 percent of households
sampled claimed that they had become food insecure as a consequence of the
Being urban areas, most of the food supply to the family is
sourced from market places.
Apart from loss of food, 75 percent of
the respondents reported losing shelter.
The survey noted that 37
percent of the interviewed homesteads acknowledged that women and children
had become more vulnerable to abuse as a consequence of the
It said there was urgent need to resolve the accommodation/
shelter question for all affected families.
"There is urgent need to
grant and guarantee access to appropriate treatment and quality care for
people living with HIV/AIDS," said the survey.
It called for urgent donor
commitment for support to affected communities.
ANZ legal battles gobble $10bn By Valentine
ASSOCIATED Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) chief executive, Sam
Sipepa Nkomo, says his company has so far spent more than $10 billion in
legal fees and other operational costs as it battles to bring its banned
papers back onto the streets.
ANZ published two titles, The Daily
News and The Daily News on Sunday, which ceased operations on 12 September
2003 after being shut down by the government. The company then launched a
series of legal battles hoping to compel the Media and Information
Commission (MIC) to grant it an operating licence.
culminated in the Supreme Court, which ordered the MIC to consider a fresh
application by ANZ. However, this did not bear any fruit as the MIC, headed
by Dr Tafataona Mahoso, again turned down the company's application for a
licence last month.
"We have paid over $10 billion on legal issues and
the payments of salaries to our remaining employees, although we are not
operating," said Nkomo, who was speaking at a public discussion organised by
the Zimbabwe Journalists for Human Rights (ZJHR) under the theme "The Daily
News and the People of Zimbabwe."
Nkomo said the closure of the
newspapers has denied the people of Zimbabwe the right to information and
destroyed many people's livelihoods from journalists to vendors.
had given them everything that we thought was required and additional
information that the Act does not entail. My own understanding is that the
MIC should have looked at our application based on the information brought
before them," Nkomo said.
Sipepa Nkomo said he strongly believes that
the MIC misdirected itself in refusing to register the publishers of The
Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday.
He said ANZ has filed yet
another application in the High Court seeking a review of the MIC decision
and a return of its equipment, which was confiscated by police and which is
being kept at Chikurubi Maximum Prison.
Also, speaking during the
discussions, Thomas Deve, the chairperson of the Media Institute of southern
Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe Chapter, said the story of The Daily News was a sad
"When you are plunged into darkness others take advantage of that
darkness. I think The Daily News should not have been closed for the good of
this country and I believe it will bounce back," Deve said.
Takaona, the president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), said the
closure of the two newspapers dealt a major blow to the development of the
industry in the country.
CSO fails to release 2002 census figures By Nqobani
BULAWAYO - THE Central Statistical Office (CSO) is yet to release
the official 2002 population census results, making it difficult for
planners to plan for the future.
This serious anomaly became apparent
last week when John Henderson, theMD of the Zimbabwe Advertising Research
Foundation, (ZARF) revealed that they were using outdated figures in their
research work. "We are still to get an update from the CSO. It must be
affecting the research findings, it's bound to have an effect, but we have
no option but to rely on the official 1997 population census results,"
Henderson said, at the launch the Zimbabwe All Media Products Survey (ZAMPS)
second quarter results in Bulawayo.
ZARF is a foundation that
produces quarterly research results mainly for media houses, companies and
organisations that are into advertising. Acting Director of the CSO, Moffat
Nyoni, told StandardBusiness that his organisation had the 2002 figures but
had failed to publicise them.
"The results are available from our offices
and the figures have not changed at all. We missed the schedule of holding
publicity workshops where we go out to the provinces, invite stakeholders
and go through the report and get feed back for future improvement," Nyoni
However analysts last week expressed concerns over the lack of
openness surrounding the figures. They said, apart from being ill-equipped
to produce accurate figures, the CSO had become politicised by the Zanu PF
government with a view to manipulating the electoral system.
Mafa, the chairman of the Post Independence Survivors Trust (PIST), said:
"The truth is that the CSO is using archaic methods of research. They are
afraid to publicise them because people will dispute them."
He added that
the department was not only understaffed but used equipment that was
obsolete and thereby incapable of coming up with accurate figures.
always underplay the population of other regions for political reasons. For
example, there was a conflict over the Bulawayo population figures whereas
Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe (UMP) had an inflated population figures. When they
don't reveal the statistics, development patterns become distorted," Mafa
Opposition MDC spokesperson, Paul Themba Nyathi said it was
difficult to plan ahead in the absence of accurate data.
the CSO is not adequately funded or it is facing political interference for
the purposes of advantaging the ruling party. We live in a country that has
many abnormalities," Nyathi said.
Echoing the same sentiments, National
University of Science and Technology's (NUST), Oscar Chiwira, said
developmental planning was difficult without accurate figures. He added that
CSO produced outdated figures.
Court orders Chief Serima to return extorted cattle By
A Gutu magistrate has ordered acting Chief Serima of
Gutu, George Chivande to return three cattle he took from one of his
subjects, a widow.
Priscilla Chimhanda, a widow from Chivhande Village,
which falls under Chief Serima's area had reason to celebrate when the court
granted her permission to recover her cattle, which had been taken by the
chief. In her affidavit before the court, Chimhanda said on 2 July this year,
her son Robert Nhigo (23), unhappy that he had been fined two cattle by the
chief for allegedly stealing 20 chicken from Kanongovere Secondary School,
assaulted Sofia Chiduza (the Chief's mother).
The widow said on 16
July, instead of calling Nhigo to his court, the chief called her and
ordered her to pay three cattle and an additional $6 million for the
Chief Serima sent his messengers who took the three cattle from
An aggrieved Chimhanda took the matter to the court where a
provisional order that allowed her to have her cattle back was
The Chief and his mother were given up to 16 August to return
the cattle at Gutu Magistrates' Court or show cause why they should not be
ordered to return the three cattle.
This is not the first time the
chief has been dragged to the courts. Just before the March Parliamentary
elections Chivande, a teacher by profession, pleaded guilty to inciting Zanu
PF youths to commit acts of public violence in the area.
before Masvingo magistrate Shortgame Musaiona for contravening a section of
the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. The State alleged that Chivande
incited the youths to evict a local businessman, Abel Gandidza, from his
shop because of his "undesirable" political affiliation.
day the youths beat up patrons and workers at Gandidza's bar, before
deflating the tyres of his vehicle.
BULAWAYO - The National University of Science and Technology
(NUST) has earned the dubious distinction of being run almost entirely by an
From the Vice Chancellor's position right down to
senior academic and administrative staff, officials in various acting
capacities are running the affairs of Zimbabwe's premier scientific and
technological learning centre, The Standard can reveal. Insiders say this
has plunged the university into an administrative crisis, as the acting
officials cannot make key decisions which are crucial for day-to-day
operations at the university.
They attribute this scenario to delays in
the appointment of a substantive Vice-Chancellor (VC), a position which fell
vacant following the retirement of Professor Phineas Makhurane last year.
Former pro-vice chancellor, Lindelo Ndlovu, is acting.
understands that because of the delay, this has also jeopardised
appointments for other influential positions at the institution.
the Vice-Chancellor to the deans and chairpersons of quite a number of
faculties and departments, the positions are held by people who are acting.
Decisions are made by way of voting in committees, to avoid having one
individual being accountable," the sources said.
One such case is the
Faculty of Communication and Information Science, whose three departments:
Journalism and Media Studies; Library and Information Science; and Records
and Archives Management are all headed by acting chairpersons. Lawton Hikwa
is the faculty's acting dean following the death of Professor Stan Made in a
car accident in May.
The Standard understands during the last
examinations, NUST failed to raise enough funds to bring external examiners
from out of the country. As a result, examination results were released
without the approval of external examiners, as required by the university's
Under normal circumstances, external examiners go through
marked examination scripts and approve the results before they are
"The department of appointments and personnel delayed in the
appointment of external examiners. This resulted in them failing to raise
the required foreign currency to cover their expenses, and subsequently led
to exams being marked by our own lecturers, but were not approved by
external examiners as required," one source said.
The cash flow
problems have also seen NUST failing to raise the required foreign currency
for its personnel who are attending staff development courses in
neighbouring countries. One of the affected lecturers attributed this to
inefficiency in the department of Appointments and Personnel.
officials contacted by The Standard refused to comment, referring questions
to Felix Moyo, the university's director of information and publicity, who
was said to be attending a series of meetings.
However, Higher and
Tertiary Education deputy minister, Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, says the "NUST
issue is being given top priority" by his ministry.
"We are new ministers
who have just come in and it is too early for us to have made appointments
already. We met the council during our familiarisation tour, a number of
concerns were raised and they gave us recommendations, which we are
currently going through," Ndlovu said.
He said the university officials
who were acting had a right to make decisions just like a substantive
"The concept of acting should be understood. A person who is
acting has every right to make decisions expected from that office, even
major decisions. The acting VC has made major decisions," added Ndlovu, who
says he has also acted in a number of capacities and made key decisions.
Nuanetsi project, another pipe-dream By Godfrey
MWENEZI - It is just an open space of cleared land stretching for
about 5 000 hectares.
Young boys from nearby villages are
occasionally seen there playing social soccer, using dried logs for goal
posts. At dusk, women cross the vast expanse of land in groups, with their
strident voices echoing across the empty space as they engage in noisy
conversations, while others, clutching babies on their back, gather firewood
from the remnants of the forest that once covered the area.
are obviously grateful to the "Chinese" who have made their lives much
easier as they no longer have to travel long distances to fetch firewood, a
task that has increasingly become difficult in such communities, owing to
the rapid deforestation.
Welcome to what is supposed to be the giant
Nuanetsi irrigation scheme in Mwenezi, which for now, is no more than a
playing ground for children and a source of firewood for women in
The project's promoters, who included former Masvingo governor
and resident minister Josiah Hungwe, claimed a few years ago the government
initiated project would be the answer to chronic food shortages experienced
in the country.
Yet right now, there is nothing at the site that
shows any serious land preparation activity taking place or a resemblance of
any other government project of a magnitude that both the government and the
ruling party promoted so vigorously.
The government engaged China
International Water and Electric Corporation to clear the land and install
irrigation facilities, but to date, only 5 000 hectares of land have been
cleared. The target remains 150 000 hectares.
The Chinese company, said
to be owed a staggering $59 billion, has since scaled down operations as
uncertainty continues to cloud the project.
Hungwe's successor, Willard
Chiwewe, last week pleaded for funds from the private sector and government
for the completion of Tokwe- Mukorsi Dam, expected to provide water to the
"The province urgently appeals for the completion of
Tokwe-Mukorsi dam which can irrigate above 25 000 hectares in the Nuanetsi
and downstream areas. A lot of innovation and investment is called for in
this sector," said Chiwewe, while speaking at the National Economic
Consultative Forum workshop in Chiredzi.
Chiwewe added: "The province
has plenty of water and yet irrigation funds are insufficient for both new
schemes and rehabilitation of existing ones. There is need for more
equipment such as combine harvesters as well as necessary back up services
to be availed."
While Nuanetsi is moving at a snail's pace, several other
projects in the province are yet to be completed. These include the Masvingo
- Renco road, and the Gutu-Kurai road which started in 1995.
the event that the giant scheme gets completed, it would remain dry since
its source of water is Tokwe Mukorsi Dam has not been completed, several
years after construction work started.
CFU bemoans continued violence against farmers By Thomas
ZIMBABWE will continue to experience food shortages next year
because farmers are not free to produce crops for the nation, the Commercial
Farmers' Union (CFU) has said.
CFU Vice President, Stoff Hawgood,
said farmers remained bogged down by continued listings and acquisition
notices, disruptions and acts of violence and expropriation of equipment,
among many other things. Hawgood castigated government over what he said was
the lack of policy on the land issue.
"The land ownership system will
create multiply farm owners. Investment in agriculture is impossible in view
of this", Hawgood said.
The biggest part of all the challenges is the
crisis of illegitimacy facing commercial agriculture said the CFU
"Farming today was born out of wedlock, a bastard unable to
work and produce," Hawgood said.
The union said giving land to new
farmers would not make the problem of illegitimacy go away. "The laws have
created a state of insecurity and an environment of conflict that is not
conducive to agriculture".
Speaking at the same occasion the Union's
president, Doug Taylor-Freeme, said: "The situation at the farms today is
what it was in 2000. There is still intimidation and
Freeme called on the international community to assist in
the rebuilding of agriculture and added that the 99-year leases proposed by
the government will further accelerate the collapse of
He said white farmers and their workers had been subjected
to "Operation Murambatsina" since 2000. "It seems that there is some form of
ethnic cleansing taking place," he said.
Before the controversial
land reform programme agriculture was the backbone of the
"Agriculture has declined further despite claims of improvements
from those in authority and Zimbabwe has not produced for the past five
years. Our land has been lying idle", Hawgood said.
calls for the return of white commercial farmers were only rumours and
"How can farmers go back to the same situation that threw
them out of production?"
Most farmers who fled their farms have found
new homes in other African countries such as Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi and
Nigeria, among others.
Those who are still in the country are still
waiting for compensation, which is fast becoming a pipe dream as the courts
continue to "sleep over" their appeals.
Mayoral roll-of-honour snubs Mudzuri By Caiphas
IN what is being widely seen as a vindictive act, the Commission
running the affairs of Harare has left out Elias Mudzuri, the ousted Harare
mayor, from a list of former city fathers that are supposed to benefit from
free motor vehicle parking facility in the capital city.
was also extended to aldermen and serving commissioners in recognition of
their services. Mudzuri, who was fired by the Minister of Local Government,
Public Works and Urban Development, Ignatious Chombo, in 2003 on allegations
of mismanagement, was elected Harare executive mayor on the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ticket.
Harare City Council
spokesperson, Leslie Gwindi, said the chairperson of the commission, Sekesai
Makwavarara, was the only person privy to the reasons why the democratically
elected mayor was not accorded the same status.
"The only person who can
give you the reasons is the chairperson of the commission and she is out of
the country," Gwindi said.
MDC secretary general, Professor Welshman
Ncube, said the commissioners were just being vindictive.
are just being vindictive. But there is nothing he can do to challenge that
because it is just a privilege and not a legal right," Ncube
Most of the people who are benefiting from the newly introduced
scheme are known sympathizers of the ruling Zanu PF party.
the beneficiaries are former mayors Alderman Tony Gara, Charles Tavengwa,
Tizirai Gwata, Oliver Chidawu and Jabulani Thembani.
commissioners are Professor Jameson Kurasha, Tendai Savanhu, lawyer Terrence
Hussein, Noel Muzuva, Michael Mahachi, Viola Chasi and Prisca
The new council facility comes after the Commission introduced
strict parking regulations, which saw several vehicles being towed away and
owners paying fines of more than $1.5 million.
Harare city council
authorities last month said they were collecting more than $10 million on a
daily basis from fines.
Mudzuri, who has vowed to contest the mayoral
position once mayoral polls are sanctioned by government, was last week out
of the country.
The commissioners' term of office has expired and the
Combined Harare Residents' Association (Chra) has challenged their continued
stay in office in the courts.
The six-month term of the Makwavarara
Commission expired on 9 June 2005. The Urban Councils Act requires that
before expiry of its term, "any Commissioner so appointed shall organize for
elections to take place to fill any vacancy arising in council".
applied for an urgent hearing of the matter to avoid prejudice to residents
in terms of rates and charges payments and prevention of their right to be
represented by democratically elected councillors.
"Our urgent chamber
application has still not been heard, nearly two months later and this is
"Residents are being forced to pay huge increases in their
rates and charges, despite numerous objections that were lodged with the
Municipality. The Makwavarara Commission has failed to respond to these
objections in clear contravention of the law," said Trudy Stevenson
chairperson of Chra's legal committee
THE government's propensity for
destruction is astounding. Zimbabweans have allowed misguided individuals to
wreck their lives and those of their children. They have had
Five years ago Zimbabwe had one of the most successful
agriculture sectors on the continent, if not the world. That was until the
government conjured up its disastrous "agrarian revolution", to which many
today attribute the country's acute food deficit. Next, the government
turned its attention to newspapers. By the time it was finished, four titles
had been closed down and hundreds of breadwinners thrown onto the
Third destination was the non-governmental sector. While it did
not go the whole hog, the damage had already been done. What it has
effectively succeeded in doing is to create considerable fear and insecurity
among the few remaining non-governmental organisations.
of the fourth destination in this destructive trail were the dwellings in
the country's high-density areas. When the government was over and done with
this "operation" nearly a million people had been rendered homeless. Despite
calls by civil society organisations to halt the forced mass evictions until
alternative mechanisms to mitigate the plight of the affected are put in
place, the government stepped up its campaign. Few understood and many today
still do not understand the urgency and underlying compulsion to implement a
programme, comparable in modern times only to the pre-democratic apartheid
South Africa policies.
In its wake, it left people without homes, without
livelihoods and many without both. The United Nations warned that the
government had created an internal refugee/humanitarian crisis and trashed
the myth that informed the idea of rural repatriation. The government
believed it was right.
Not content with the trail of destruction during
the last five years, the government has now set its sights on education and
appears determined to introduce another "Jambanja" to this sector. As an
exercise in demonstrating its destructive capacity, this is unparalleled. It
seems the government's intention is to do to education what it did to the
Most of the sections under the Education Amendment Bill
have been rejected in the past, with even the High Court ruling last year
that all private schools in the country could increase fees without the
consent of the parent ministry.
But once again, as has become the
pattern during the past five years, the government does not like to lose. It
is therefore determined to stampede these amendments through parliament in
order to have its own way, even if this may be in breach of the
The government's obsession with the amendments is almost
obscene. It has also proposed the Constitutional Amendment Bill, under which
anyone with an interest or right in land will lose their right or interest,
once the government acquires the land. A pattern is beginning to emerge: the
government wants to own, control and direct everything is this country never
mind the consequences or protestations from representatives of the
MPs are good at claiming that they represent the people, once
they are in power. If this indeed is true, when the Bill comes up for its
second reading, they should throw it out, because this is the view that
emerged from the hearings conducted last week.
They must also ask why
the government spent so much time and resources in setting up the
Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training, which
reported its findings in August 1999 and what its intentions are on the
recommendations it made. The amendments that the Ministry of Education is
pushing for are not informed by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into
Education and Training.
The Commission was able to get a comprehensive
picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the current education system. It
recommended the establishment of structures which ensure good quality
education and efficient management of resources. There is no mention of
nationalisation of education. That investment has to be justified and its
There are other more pressing matters for
the Ministry of Education than this pursuit by control freaks. Dzingai
Mutumbuka and Fay Chung must be looking on in utter dismay to see the
post-independence education foundation they established being whittled down
Under their able leadership, Zimbabwe's education received
worldwide acclaim and it became a model for other developing nations. Now
all this is under attack. For once the MPs must exercise their power and
stop this self destruction from taking place.
There is something
sinister about a minister setting the benchmarks for teachers'
qualifications. If our understanding of how the government and the ruling
party operate is correct, Minister Aeneas Chigwedere is trying to railroad a
project that will ensure jobs for graduates of political education colleges
(Border Gezi graduates) and have spies to report on "activities" in private
Last year Chigwedere closed down 46 private schools. That is a
measure of his and the ministry's commitment to education and the children,
who under international conventions have a right to education.
once the MPs must have the courage to stop this madness.
Independent body needed to confer national hero
THE Zanu PF Politburo confers hero status on national leaders
based on certain ambiguous and unclear criteria. For instance, two leaders
who participated either in the liberation struggle or national development
are treated differently. This leaves one wondering why there are
inconsistencies and discrimination.
Is political affiliation a
factor? Does the deceased's ethnic or tribal origin matter? Do family ties
or personal relationships matter? Do one's mistakes or blunders wipe off
one's sacrifices and achievement? Ndabaningi Sithole, the founding president
of the original Zanu, played a very important role in the struggle for
independence in the National Democratic Party, Zapu and Zanu. But he joined
the internal settlement towards the end of the liberation war.
comparison, George Nyandoro played an equally important role in the
struggle. In fact, he and James Chikerema are identified with the origins of
the nationalist struggle in the 1950s. Later, he joined Bishop Abel
Muzorewa's Zimbabwe-Rhodesia regime in the late 70s. When he died a few
years ago, he was a declared a national hero.
Zapu vice president
Josiah Chinamano, who died in 1985 at the height of the bloody and
disastrous conflict in Matabeleland and the Midlands, was buried at the
However, Samuel Munodawafa, Zapu national chairman died
a week before the Unity Accord between PF Zapu and Zanu PF was signed on 22
December 1987. He lies buried in Masvingo with no recognition as a national
hero, although his participation goes back to the 1950s.
Jeremiah Chirau, who together with Muzorewa and Sithole participated in the
internal settlement as leader of Zupo, received semi-hero status and a
Among the first cadres to be trained as
guerrillas was Fibion John Shoniwa. His group included Albert Nxele, Dumiso
Dabengwa and Emmerson Mnangagwa. When Shoniwa died, he was buried in Gutu,
his home area but Nxele was interned at the national shrine.
the first women guerrilla leaders, Sheba Tavarwisa lies buried in Gutu.
Could her contribution be less important than that of Joseph Culverwell,
Chenjerai Hunzvi, Solomon Tawengwa or Witness Mangwende?
play any role at all? Noel Mukono dedicated most of his life to the
liberation struggle. At some point in the 1960s, he was Zanla Secretary for
Defence. Why did the Politburo not recognise his sacrifices? Is it because
he remained in Sithole's Zanu?
The history of the struggle and of Zipra
cannot be complete without Lookout Masuku. He was wrongly and unfairly
incarcerated after independence. His noble efforts are still not
Dr Joseph Taderera was known for the huge risks he took to
smuggle weapons into the country in the 1960s. He later trained as a
guerrilla and led fighters at the launch of the 1976 offensive. He fell out
of favour and was imprisoned in Mozambique between 1978 and 1980. When he
died in Zimbabwe in a car accident, his immense contribution was not
recognised. The same applies to Hlupo Shumba Chigowe, at one time Zanla's
Why was Michael Mawema not recognised despite his various
roles in the struggle, including that of acting first president of NDP? What
crime did he commit?
Do his sacrifices not compare with those of
Who played a bigger role in the struggle between Davies
Mugabe and Christopher Ushewokunze? Professor Mugabe was eulogised by
Eddison Zvobgo and others at his burial outside Masvingo
Obviously there is no consistency either in the criteria used to
confer hero status or in their application. Something appears to emerge from
the above scenario. Tribalism or ethnicity, political affiliation and/ or
patronage have a role in considering hero status for individuals. Being
Zezuru automatically qualifies one to be declared a national hero. If you
are Manyika, Ndau or Karanga you face an uphill struggle to be
The answer lies in establishing a national, independent and
apolitical body to come up with comprehensive criteria for individuals to
qualify for national hero status and confer it on them for their
contribution towards the liberation struggle, national development or any
other national outstanding achievements. If this is not done, history will
judge the current (and recent past) Zanu PF leaders harshly for deliberately
making political blunders to accomplish selfish interests.
The Herald complicity in Govt failures Sundaytalk with
I WOULD have found The Herald's editorial of 2 August most
entertaining had the issue it commented upon not been so vital to the
survival of the nation.
It is indeed tragic that the widely read major
government mouthpiece is so confused in regard to the real causes of the
shortage of basic commodities in the country. It is with tongue-in-cheek
that I say "widely read" because people have no other choice. People read it
out of desperation for information since the banning of The Daily News, The
Daily News on Sunday and later The Tribune.
The reasons for government's
proscription of these newspapers are two-fold. The first is jealousy. The
government papers, led by The Herald, which are mostly puerile government
propaganda sheets, were losing money because not many people bought them.
They could not compete with the credible and independent Daily News, which
did what newspapers are supposed to do, namely to inform, educate and
The second reason is that The Daily News was relentless in its
exposure of the weaknesses, ineptitude and corruption in government. It also
commented, without fear or favour on national events as they
In efforts to hide their failures and misdeeds, the governing
elite have now reached the extremes of absurdity. Instead of admitting that
the country is in a crisis of great magnitude caused by their ineptitude,
failure at governance and poor economic management, they desperately cling
on to power by subterfuge, outright lies and cheap propaganda which even
school children can see through. Instead of admitting that the once great
Zimbabwe is now a failed, bankrupt pariah State they glibly say that the
country is facing "challenges" and prescribe all manner of crazy stop-gap
measures for the disaster staring us in the face.
They talk about an
imminent "economic turn-around" through these dubious strategies while they
scurry all over the world with a big begging bowl.
God blessed Zimbabwe
with some of the world's most respected experts in many fields, including
economics, business and political science. For years these have bravely
tried to stem the tide of disastrous government policies without success. In
President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, anyone who does not pander to the
political agenda of Zanu PF and tries to offer realistic solutions is
immediately labelled a puppet of the West.
Anyone who does not agree with
them is by default associated with some nefarious forces arraigned in a
conspiracy against the country's "sovereignty and independence". Such a
traitor is, therefore, an enemy upon whom State sponsored censure including
violence may be visited. Apparently oblivious of any dire consequences, they
prescribe this and that ad-hoc solution to the country's myriad problems as
they blindly soldier on in their Mickey Mouse world of
I quote from The Herald editorial referred to: "The
shortage of basic commodities that has been with us for the past four months
needs to be investigated thoroughly not only to determine the causes, but to
find a lasting solution to this disturbing trend."
The Herald is
right in saying that there is a shortage of basic commodities. Everybody
knows that. However, it is wrong to say that this has been going on for the
past four months only. We have had these shortages ever since the chaotic,
unplanned and often violent so-called land reform programme. Also to call
the shortages a "disturbing trend" is the understatement of the
They may just be a disturbing trend to the well-fed fat cats
who belong to the ruling elite but to the poor working class, it is a
disaster and a nightmare. Apparently, the writer has never had to see his
family go to bed without eating sadza on his pay day. He has never had to
see his children go to school in the morning without eating porridge or tea
To say that the shortages need to be investigated to determine
the causes proves what some of us have been saying all along. Our government
is totally ignorant of the nature of the problems facing the country and has
no inkling as to how they may be solved. In other words, they are a confused
The Herald goes on to comment: "Manufacturers have lamented the
shortage of foreign currency to import raw materials, machinery and spare
parts, among other constraints forwarded for not producing some product
You have got it. The scarcity of foreign currency and, if I may
add, unreasonable price controls have contributed to the shortages of basic
After stating this real fact, does The Herald suggest
how the problem can be overcome? No, Sir. It goes off on a tangent to say:
But the availability of these goods on the parallel market is
How do they explain this? Elementary, my dear Herald, as
Sherlock Holmes would say. However, it does not need a skilled investigator
like Holmes to discover why goods in short supply, whose prices are
controlled by the government end up on the parallel market. There is nothing
baffling about that. It is the basic and natural law of supply and demand
which is at work here and nothing, not even police action, can stem it. One
does not need a degree in economics to understand that. There is nothing
warranting an investigation here.
The Herald goes on to give a rather
puerile lecture to business people. It says:
partners in development need to behave responsibly and desist from feeding
the black market. The consequences of doing so are obvious, chief among
which are the inflationary pressures induced into the economy due to the
high prices charged for products on that market. This is sadly happening at
a time when Zimbabwe is on a disinflation campaign. The government and the
Reserve Bank have played their part ." blah, blah, blah, blah, on and on
with more of the same gobbledygook.
The sum total of it all, of course,
is subtle scapegoating. In other words the government and the Reserve Bank
are failing to control inflation because of unscrupulous business people.
This may then justify the taking over of all private business by the
government. Maybe another tsunami is on the way.
May I take this
opportunity to inform The Herald that people do not go into business in
order to assist the government with its development programmes? They go into
business in order to make a living for themselves. They need to make
reasonable profits to pay their employees, feed, clothe and house their own
families, pay for services, rents, rates and taxes and have something left
over for leisure.
First and foremost people go into business to make
money, fullstop. Any business that does not strive to maximise its profits
will definitely go under.
It is the duty of the government to create
an enabling environment in which business can operate freely. It is also its
duty to see that there is fair play and market forces are allowed to operate
with only minimal and very necessary interference. Instead of lecturing to
disgruntled Zimbabwean business people, The Herald should lecture the
government on the need for it to create a stable political environment, to
attract foreign investment, with the necessary economic fundamentals which
our seasoned economists with no political axe to grind have been talking
about for so long.
The strategy of talks about talks By Dumisani
"No," thundered the man. "I know him too well. He would never do
that. Spare us the fiction."
"But," explained his colleague, "nothing
is impossible. After all, situations and circumstances change. Let me remind
you that this was the position someone in this country took, but a decade
and half later, they sat across the table and began talks. There are at
least three more recent examples in our region; therefore it seems logical
he should countenance talks." The cause of their argument was a recent
declaration by the most revolutionary of them all - the Don of Freedonia's
revolution. A few days earlier he had declared he could only meet a man, who
for a decade he had portrayed as a bogeyman, a personification of repugnance
and a co-conspirator in trying to bring down the revolution. The Don had
even called him "inimigo do povo - an enemy of the people". Now he was
saying: "This is the man to speak to."
Covert emissaries under all
manner of disguise were sent to sound out what the representatives of the
bogeyman thought. They were duly rewarded with as vague and diplomatic a
response as one could extract in such circumstances: there had been no
overtures from Freedonia or anyone on its behalf to press for an indaba with
the most revolutionary of them all.
Depending on one's understanding of
international diplomacy, this could mean a polite rebuff or "it's worth
giving a try".
The intelligence community went into overdrive mode.
Discussion groups purportedly representing civil society organisations began
holding meetings to discuss, gain national consensus and lend a patina of
legitimacy to this idea. Freedonia could then say it was acting on the
advice and direction of its people.
The truth, however, was that the
Don of Freedonia's revolution was trying to extricate himself and his
country from a tight spot.
If the man he had held responsible for every
problem that had beset this beloved nation - and Freedonia had enough
problems to break the back of even the sturdiest of mules in the land -
could agree to an indaba the Don would have achieved an unparalleled feat in
There could be no robust demonstration to
dialogue and engage the international community than offering to meet the
man at whom he reviled at every available opportunity. After all, it takes
considerable guts for a man of the Don's pride.
But this gesture of
an indaba on talks about talks on Freedonia's internal political condition
was being impelled by an earlier invite to the chief administrative officer
of the world body to visit Freedonia and see what a model State and society
the country was constructing.
If the offer of an indaba could materialise
or send signals of a thaw in relations between Freedonia and the rest of the
world, then the Don would be able to exploit the visit by the chief
administrative officer of the world body, by pointing out to a level of
progress on internal political dialogue.
The scenario was that the world
body's chief administrative officer would be impressed by this "sincere"
gesture to iron out internal political problems and engage the international
community. It was reasoned that, "in the interests of suffering Freedonians"
the visiting world top dignitary, would recommend that every available
assistance be extended to the reconstruction of Freedonia. Secondly, he
would recommend that strained relations with other nations in the world
cease, because of a willingness to turn over a new leaf by the revolutionary
leadership in Freedonia. This would open the floodgates of assistance and
opportunities in Freedonia.
Now if that became achievable and
deliverable, who needs an oppositional political organisation to bring about
change in the fortunes of the citizens of the land of the brave and free?
Freedonians, ever the optimists, would hail this as a "second" liberation
and guess who would have reclaimed the centre stage of both domestic and
global attraction? The Don, of course.
Is Africa dying before our very eyes & The Frontline Fellowship
[Some days ago, I wrote to Dr Peter Hammond of the Frontline Fellowship. I
am sure, in the dim recesses of my mind, that I remember these brave people
from the days of Rhodesia. The Frontline Fellowship does what Priests really
should be doing, if they want to call themselves priests, and that is to
spreak out about Terrorism, Communism, destruction, etc.
has written several books, and I will get details of them.
me that he wants to write a book about the national suicide going on in
Zimbabwe. I think it is an awesome idea. We are watching history in the
making in a big way.
A friend in the USA... in fact, probably the
first American I ever had as a friend, Dave, sent me a Christian publication
from the USA which contained an article "Is Africa dying before our very
eyes?". It lists the incredible destruction and death going on across
Africa... with thousands dying every day. The authors point out that the
regular destruction in Africa makes things like the December 2004 Tsunami
I couldn't help smiling to myself though, because the
Americans who wrote the article pointed out that these same countries were
THRIVING when they were part of the British, and other Empires! I smiled a
big smile, because the honest-to-God truth, is that Colonialism was the best
thing that ever happened to Africa. The article asked if "God has cursed
People can try to solve the problems of Africa, but as I
have said many times, the Marxist Liberation of Africa, was a big mistake,
and it could take Africa 100 or more years before it finds its feet
I smile - because the Whites made progress look easy. But it
wasn't easy, and many think they can replicate what our forefathers did, and
they will see how difficult it is.
I watch TV news here in
S.Africa and often find our ANC-dominated Govt to be quite good at comic
relief. I watch as President Mbeki runs around, trying to motivate people.
Its too funny. These people are basing all their thoughts and ideas on
principles and methods which haven't got a hope in hell of succeeding. The
same with Mugabe. Destruction, and economic failure is endemic to their
system. Their system CANNOT succeed. It will fail.
Rhodesian publications which I subscribe to, and I smiled to myself.
Rhodesia may have been killed off, because the world was stupid enough to
let it be killed, but Rhodesia stands tall a proud. Rhodesia represents the
greatest Zenith which "Zimbabwe" could ever aspire to. And Zimbabwe is being
wiped out. As Dr Hammond aptly called it: "National Suicide". All Mugabe can
do is: Smash, terrorise, oppress... that's the sum total of it, because his
stupid system, and his stupid philosophies CANNOT lead to
The ANC is the same. This evening I watched FOKUS - an
excellent Afrikaans TV news program - and they showed so many things which
made me shake my head. As unbelievable as it may seem, this country,
S.Africa, is going to end up a complete flipping RUIN, just like Angola, or
Mozambique or Zimbabwe.
And when it does, people will remember
APARTHEID and AFRIKANERS and the National Party. Imagine, 50 years from now,
people might be saying: Do you know, APARTHEID South Africa was awesome - it
was vibrant, it was successful, it was the most progress that country ever
knew. Look at the unbelievable miracles of progress which took place under
Afrikaner-dominated rule in the 1950's and 1960's - and look at how the ANC
came and levelled that country to the ground.
You think it
won't be like that? Stick around... and be SHOCKED!
I must say,
with each passing day, I am finding myself become prouder, and prouder and
PROUDER, of my forefathers and the things they did here in Africa - because,
with muskets and oxwagons, they achieved, what the United Nations, and the
EU and $25 billion in foreign aid can't achieve in 2005. Our forefathers
If we had any brains, sense or courage, we would be like
them, and rebel and chart our own course in Africa, in a country of our own
one day - because we're the only people, who ever lived in Africa, who ever
made it prosper. What our forefathers achieved, has never been duplicated by
anyone since. Jan]