|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Southern African countries suspicious of West's motives on
The growing tendency to oust regimes in areas of strategic interest by major
foreign powers is increasing reluctance among Southern African countries to
deal with the Zimbabwe crisis.
A report released by the Africa Institute of South Africa on the impact of
the Zimbabwe crisis in the region said increasing calls on regional leaders
to put pressure on President Robert Mugabe to quit by the West were being
viewed with suspicion and were prolonging the Zimbabwe crisis.
Che Ajulu, a researcher at the institute, said this
resistance to foreign
interference and the financial backing of the opposition MDC by Western
donors had strengthened solidarity among the region's governing former
liberation movements, in which Mugabe played a pivotal role.
Ajulu said some regional leaders feared that if Mugabe
relinquished power as
a result of foreign pressure, they too might be targeted.
He said the financial backing of the MDC by the West had
put it in bad stead
and explained why countries in the region had been reluctant to engage it.
"Mugabe played a major role in the liberation
of South Africa and supporting
other liberation movements on the continent, and that has not been
"The fact that MDC is supported
by foreign powers also plays a major role
because it's a threat to most of the liberation movements in the region,"
He said the
MDC's attempt to form an alliance with Tony Leon's Democratic
Alliance and Renamo of Mozambique had also sent alarm bells around the
region and complicated matters.
"The MDC now has to prove that it's a credible
opposition party for a quick
solution to be reached," he said.
Ajulu said the MDC's refusal to recognise Mugabe as the
legitimate leader of
Zimbabwe had also caused division within the 14-member Southern African
Development Community, as shown by its 2001 task team's failure to move
Mugabe towards a programme of action.
team recommended that Mugabe restore law and order, and address the
land question but its findings were shot down by staunch Zimbabwe allies
Namibia and Angola.
"Namibia and Angola have built strong ties with Zimbabwe
solidarity was strengthened when they militarily intervened in the
Democratic Republic of Congo, which probably explains why SA has opted for
quiet diplomacy to try to resolve the crisis."
HOME ON THE AFRICAN RANGE
|The Save ("Sah-veh") Valley Conservancy comprises
almost 900,000 acres west of the Save River in the southeastern lowveld region
of Zimbabwe. The conservancy was formed in 1991 by 21 landowners and is regarded
as the largest privately owned wildlife area in Africa.
Landowner Clive Stockil, who helped pioneer the concept, said the initial objective was to eliminate cattle ranching and farming to provide natural habitat for endangered rhinos. The country is a mix of thick mopane bush and grassy plains punctuated by rock hills and lush riverine areas. It represents a diverse habitat for a variety of native wildlife.
As the project flourished, multiple wildlife-based uses were apparent. The conservancy became a popular destination for wildlife tours and photo safaris.
Many animals, game and non-game, thrive in the conservancy, including various native species that were reintroduced. Populations of elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and Cape Buffalo -- Africa's classic "big five" -- continue to grow, and most plains game species are in abundance.
The conservancy was opened to limited sport hunting in 2001. Rifle and bow hunting were permitted to curb growing game populations, and the permit quotas are carefully regulated. Most game animals are an excellent source of food, and the meat is distributed to nearby villages. Annual census counts are conducted each spring to ensure that all game populations are maintained within a healthy balance.
Poaching with snares, dogs and primitive weapons remains an ongoing problem, and uniformed game scouts regularly patrol the vast conservancy; however, the wildlife has a way of balancing the score. Professional hunter Gordon Duncan said that in recent years warthogs killed two poachers, lions killed one, and elephants killed one.
-- JOE DOGGETT
It was an eyeful for Houstonians watching from an open Land Cruiser. Nothing -- at least nothing in Texas -- can prepare you for such a sight.
The tawny lions looked up with red fangs and shaggy manes and twitching tails from the torn carcass. The vehicle approached within 50 yards before they rambled into the bush. The distended bellies swayed.
The image was dazzling; these were wild and unreconstructed cats, not somebody's pets. This was not an orchestrated tour through a zoo park. It was the beginning of a weeklong safari in the 900,000-acre Save Valley Conservancy in the southeastern lowveld of Zimbabwe. The nearest fence was several mountains away.
"This is the real African experience," said booking agent Ron Oliver of Zimbabwe Wildlife Safaris. "You have to go in after them, and it really gets exciting when something can bite back. Even on the non-dangerous game, it's not always easy, but that's why it's hunting -- and Africa is the greatest hunting destination in the world."
Headquarters for the trip was Senuko Lodge, an impressive open-air facility situated on a granite hilltop, or kopje, with a magnificent view of the uncut bush.The Save (pronounced sah-veh) Wildlife Conservancy was formed during 1992 when 21 landowners joined to restrict cattle ranching and farming and restore the natural habitat for wildlife.
The lodge, built by second-generation landowner Clive Stockil, was intended primarily for photo safaris and eco-tours, but the conservancy was opened two years ago to limited hunting to control expanding game populations. The hunts are based on permit quotas determined by annual game surveys. The move was a positive one.
The rifle safari is expensive -- more so than the camera safari -- and funds generated by the hunts are used for the conservancy. In Africa, as in Texas, the sportsman's gun plays a significant roll in benefitting wildlife.
During the shakedown drive, the abundant game was evident. Several turns past the lions, three cheetahs, bold against the setting sun, stood under an acacia tree. Groups of graceful impala bounded through the grass and mopane scrub, and, once, the tall spiral horns of a kudu were framed against the scrub. The big gray antelope blended amid a screen of foliage, then it vanished like smoke.
Even driving back to camp was an adventure. There, right in the middle of the main gravel road, was a gigantic mound of dung; the "sign" appeared preposterous to wide-eyed hunters accustomed to spooring white-tailed deer. "Elephants," Stockil dismissed casually.
A bit farther, the vehicle passed an equally impressive tonnage of different droppings. "Rhino."
Words were unnecessary. Africa, after 40 years of dreaming, was close enough to touch. Not to mention smell.
The hunting began each day at dawn. Each client was teamed with a professional hunter, a vehicle and three trackers. The trackers, from the nearby Shangaan and Shona tribes, were skilled professionals with years of experience in the bush.
Oliver and professional hunter Gordon Duncan helped oversee the operation. Oliver is based in Pensacola, Fla., and has been booking African adventures for 10 years; before that he was attached to the U.S. Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Duncan was born in Zimbabwe. He has 10 years of professional hunting experience and coordinates the Shangaan Hunters Africa operation based at Senuko Lodge.
The typical drill is to drive the many dirt roads and trails cutting the bush. No shooting is permitted from the vehicles; the keen trackers search for animals or fresh prints, and if game is marked you stop and stalk on foot. The stalk might take 10 minutes or all day.
The first morning, as Duncan and trackers Augustin Goromondo, Collin Rwanda and Charles Jeremiah assembled in a Land Cruiser, Goromondo placed an AR 15 assault rifle in the gun rack. The military weapon looked out of place on a safari.
"What's that for?" said Houston hunter Robert Hibbert.
"That's our guitar," said Duncan.
"Oh, now and then, rogue elephants chase the vehicles. You don't want to shoot one unless you absolutely have to, so we use the assault rifle to make a lot of noise. You start strumming a few bursts over their heads and they usually run.
"Last week an old cow -- they're worse than the bulls -- got after us for about 400 yards. I couldn't accelerate fast enough through the river bottom. She was right on top of us before Charles spooked her off with a final burst."
Bellicose elephants aside, driving the bush and looking for game is a thrilling experience. The hunters were searching primary for Cape buffalo, but many random photo opportunities were available.
"One of the real thrills of safari is seeing all the game," said Oliver. "A lot of clients enjoy that as much as the actual hunting. But photography in the real bush sometimes is frustrating. The animals don't always just stand there and gawk like they do in a game park."
Once, attempting to slip on foot through brush to intercept a feeding giraffe, Duncan maneuvered to face a 6-foot-high opening in the scrub. You would think that a 6-foot gap would be sufficient for a telephoto shot, but the camera framed nothing but legs. The rest of the beast was way up there, shrouded by branches. As Duncan attempted to relocate, the giraffe spooked and galloped away.
A galloping giraffe will get your attention. So will a rambling rhinoceros.
During a kudu stalk, Duncan nodded to a huge gray mound about 100 yards away in the high grass. "Rhino," he whispered. "We've got the wind; maybe we can slip close enough for a good photo."
Several steps closer, a smaller beast appeared. "Smaller" means one ton rather than two.
The larger rhino was peering with upturned horn, twiggy ears and watery eyes. But there wasn't much danger. Rhinos have terrible senses and are half-blind.
A telephoto lens clicked off several shaky frames, and, mercifully, the cow and calf trotted away.
Buffalo hunting was the main event, but the experience was grueling and exhausting.
"What we try to do is pick up fresh sign made the night before," said Duncan. "When we find a trail, the trackers usually work about 20 or 25 yards out in front. It's their job to follow the tracks. I'm behind, letting them work, and I'm scanning the bush and looking for the animals. You try to always move upwind, checking the breeze whenever it shifts. In thick brush, the nose is the main defense.
"When we're on the spoor it's serious business -- no talking, no unnecessary movements. We use low hand signals, maybe a bird whistle. We carry crossed sticks to shoot from, but to be honest, most of the time on dangerous game in thick bush you don't have time for the sticks. The shots can be close and fast, and you better make the first one count. A wounded buffalo is a good bet to charge, and they can be awfully hard to stop."
On the third day, Duncan spoored a herd at 7:30 a.m. and tracked them all day through mopane scrub and "jesse" -- a thick mix of thorny brush that buffalo favor. Buffalo also are fond of wallowing in "dagga," or mud, which explains why solitary old bulls are called dagga boys and why the waffled soles of low-cut hiking boots are repeatedly caked in mats of straw.
It was tough walking, always an hour behind the herd, and it took the group about an hour to hike through the black bush back to the vehicle.
Back at the camp bar, Houstonian David Boyl?s, Stockil and liver were celebrating. Boyles had taken a fine Cape buffalo after an all-day stalk through the thick scrub and wet bottoms.
"I was whipped," Boyles said. "I had about an hour left in me, but Clive kept pushing -- felt certain we'd catch up
"We tracked him until he joined a herd. Then the dagga boy picked a fight with the dominant herd bull -- an incredible sight. They really went after it, and we were able to slip within about 35 yards. When they broke apart, I had my chance."
Boyles stood firm and put a clean shot with a .416 low on the shoulder, dropping the big bull almost instantly.
Stockil stood by the fireplace. Mopane limbs crackled and snapped in the gathering flames. He was flushed from a long day in the bush. His eyes were gleaming, reflecting the ancient call of the chase.
"He did it right," Stockil said, raising his glass. "People come here for different reasons, but to get out there and go one-on-one with dangerous game -- that's what Africa is all about. That's why serious hunters keep coming back."
The solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe did not lie in a
national unity with the ruling Zanu-PF, but in a transitional arrangement
leading to free and fair elections, the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change said on Friday.
MDC spokesman Paul Themba-Nyathi said Zimbabwe's fate could only be
determined through a free ballot. He was responding to calls by President
Robert Mugabe for the opposition to repent and re-orientate itself before
national political dialogue could resume. Mugabe said there could be no
unity with enemies of the people.
Said Themba-Nyathi: "A unity government will not rescue
Zimbabwe from its
crisis as long as democracy is not restored in this country. We will not be
seeking a unity government when we go to the negotiating arena but want to
see the people's right of self-determination, through electing leaders of
their choice, returned to them."
Zanu-PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira said talks between the
should be left to Zimbabweans, and that commenting on non-existent talks
only served to complicate the work of mediators trying to bring both parties
to the negotiating table.
From The Sunday Mirror, 17 August
A2 multiple farm owners ignore Mugabe's order
Land Review Committee has begun formulating the final
report of its findings on the fast-track land reform programme amidst
allegations that President Robert Mugabe’s call to multiple farm owners
allocated farms free of charge under the A2 scheme has gone largely
unheeded, the Sunday Mirror has learnt. Informed sources at the weekend said
that most multiple farm owners, some of whom were named in the controversial
Flora Buka Land Audit Report, had still not come forward to give up their
ill-gotten properties. Investigations carried out by the Sunday Mirror last
week revealed that the focus of the current farm reclamation exercise
appears to be targeting only small plot holders under the fast-track A1
resettlement scheme while the commercial farming model under which powerful
politicians and businessmen acquired scores of farms free of charge has been
largely left unruffled. The move has raised glaring questions over the
morality of parcelling out farms free of charge to middle class
beneficiaries of the A2 scheme and placing the burden of compensating white
farmers evicted from the properties on the frail shoulders of the
hard-pressed tax-payers. "The middle classes should have been made to buy
farms and not allocated. So now, even the middle classes are waiting for
compensation from government. Why should someone get a free farm when others
have bought?" queried a source. He argued that the recalcitrance of the
beneficiaries of free farms could have been avoided had the land reform
programme included a mechanism allowing the middle classes to compliment
government’s efforts through buying farms as opposed to having them
allocated for free. Local businessman, Mutumwa Mawere also threw his weight
firmly behind the idea of black Zimbabweans purchasing farms to support the
agrarian reform, adding that ultimately, the issue of land use should
attract paramount attention. "What’s wrong with black people buying farms?
The debate, really, should centre on whether that land is being used
productively or not," he said.
It is common knowledge among
senior government officials and politicians
themselves that their peers, including some very senior people, have
acquired more than one farm for free, thus making it difficult to
effectively enforce the policy. "(Presidential Land Review Committee
chairman, Charles) Utete is in a spot because this is just a smokescreen; he
knows the anomalies that exist. His objective now is to highlight how much
the land reform programme has benefitted ordinary Zimbabweans, which of
course is a fact that should be acknowledged by all," a source close to
government said. At the time of going to press, only Matabeleland North
governor, Obert Mpofu had been confirmed as having filled in forms giving up
one of his commercial farms, which he had acquired under the government’s A2
resettlement scheme. "Well, I wouldn’t want to comment on whether senior
politicians here have given up their extra farms or not because that is a
very sensitive issue. But as far as I know, only the governor has
surrendered one of his farms, which was formerly owned by the Cold Storage
Company. I understand he now wants to go into game ranching in Hwange," a
well-placed government official in the province told the Sunday Mirror
While most provincial governors who spoke to
this paper yesterday reported
progress on the regularisation of the ownership of A1 plots, most were
reluctant to comment on the contentious issue of A2 multiple farm ownership.
"The national land task force was here in the last two weeks and people
identified as holding more than one property have been interviewed. In fact,
some are coming forward to voluntarily surrender their farms," said
Mashonaland West provincial governor, Peter Chanetsa. The national land task
force is currently visiting all the provinces countrywide to verify claims
of multiple farm ownership and to effect the surrender of excess properties.
The task force, which already has a list of alleged violators of the
government’s one man, one farm policy has also been to Mashonaland Central
province and Manicaland, whose provincial governor Oppah Muchinguri could
not be drawn into commenting on the multiple farm issue. Acting provincial
governor for Mashonaland Central, Elliot Manyika confirmed that he had
received the task force and had already regularised the ownership anomalies
in the A1 model, with only a few cases outstanding. Matabeleland North
provincial administrator, Livingstone Mashengele said the task force was due
in Bulawayo this week and indicated that his team had already identified a
number of A1 plots irregularly owned by some war veterans for reclamation.
Contacted for a comment on the farm reclamation
exercise, national land task
force chairman and special affairs minister, John Nkomo said it was too
early to gauge the progress registered so far as the Presidential Land
Review Committee is yet to submit its final report. "I wish I could respond
but it’s probably too early, why don’t you wait till next week?" Nkomo said.
A government-sanctioned preliminary land audit report detailing massive
abuses of the one man, one farm policy under the A2 commercial farming
scheme was early this year leaked to the international media, prompting
spirited denials of its existence by both government and named persons. The
report, which was compiled by land resettlement minister, Flora Buka,
admitted that its long list of multiple farm owners under the A2 scheme was
"not exhaustive as the people interviewed were scared to reveal any
information" for fear of victimisation by the multiple farm owners "who seem
to have their loyalists within the various land committees". Manyika, who is
also named in the report as the owner of Duiker Flats and Sub Division 3 of
Caledon farms, dismissed Buka’s report as non-existent, saying the
allegations of multiple farm ownership under the A2 scheme in his province
were "false insinuations". "Those were insinuations, there was no Buka
report," he said. "Those kind of insinuations were false, that is why it
(the Buka report) was dismissed by government. As far as I’m concerned that
report never existed because, as a member of government, I never saw it," he
added. But Buka yesterday said she had indeed gathered information on the
land reform programme but refused to confirm or deny whether she had
compiled and submitted a report to government. "I know that I went around
the country and gathered information on the land reform programme, but I
cannot confirm or deny that a report exists because I do not know the
particular information for which you want that confirmation," she said.
Utete on Friday briefed President Mugabe on the progress his committee had
made. He said the process of gathering data was now complete, with only the
editing and ‘polishing up’ of the report remaining. The former chief
secretary to the president and cabinet’s appointment as head of the land
review committee is widely seen as indicative of President Mugabe’s desire
to effectively plug the holes in the ambitious land reform programme on
which he has staked his political career and legacy as a nationalist leader
of independent Zimbabwe. On July 30, President Mugabe told a politburo
meeting of the ruling Zanu PF that officials with multiple farms must
relinquish them within two weeks to comply with the government’s one man,
one farm policy under the A2 scheme. Dozens of senior Zanu PF leaders,
including government ministers, are in possession of more than one farm
obtained free of charge under the A2 scheme, a situation that has prompted a
vociferous outcry from landless peasants, war veterans and other disaffected
groups whose chances of owning land have been scuppered by the avaricious
"chefs". In response, Mugabe then announced his plans to establish a
presidential land review committee at Zanu PF’s national people’s conference
held in Chinhoyi last December. "It will be necessary for us to review our
land reform programme and establish where the process still needs
strengthening, for as we have celebrated our progress, we have also heard
disapproval of and dissatisfaction with certain elements of the programme,"
Zimbabwe accuses 'racist' Blair and Howard
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Australian Prime Minister John Howard
were accused of being racists today in a bitter attack by Zimbabwean
The comments follow Mr Howard’s sharp criticism of Zimbabwe’s political and
human rights record.
He described embattled President Robert Mugabe as an “unelected despot” and
called on the Commonwealth not to lift the suspension of Zimbabwe from its
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said Mr Howard and Mr Blair “have stood
out as racists who want to divide the world on racial lines” and protect
white interests in Commonwealth countries, the state Sunday Mail, a
government mouthpiece, reported.
Critics of the Zimbabwean government have said officials often resort to
playing the race card to deflect from the economic and political chaos in
The readmission of Zimbabwe, a former British colony, to the councils is to
be considered at a Commonwealth summit scheduled for December in Nigeria.
Zimbabwe was suspended for a year because of its deteriorating human rights
record and disputed presidential elections narrowly won by Mugabe last year.
Independent observers, including Commonwealth monitors, said the
presidential election was swayed by political intimidation by ruling party
militants, corruption and vote rigging.
Moyo said Mr Howard’s campaign against Mugabe was a ”kangaroo court” that
attempted to turn Commonwealth countries against Zimbabwe.
“We are convinced this is a kangaroo noise from a kangaroo prime minister
who is frustrated the international community has refused to be used as a
kangaroo court against Zimbabwe,” Moyo said, referring to the Australian
prime minister as “coward Howard.”
Howard is a member of a Commonwealth troika on Zimbabwe, along with South
African President Thabo Mbeki and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The two African presidents have been trying to bring Mugabe’s ruling party
and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to the negotiating table
on the country’s deepening political and economic crisis.
Mugabe, at a state ceremony last week, dashed hopes of any early compromise
with the opposition.
Moderates in both parties say Mbeki and Obasanjo are pushing for talks to
begin before the Commonwealth summit in December.
Zimbabwe is suffering its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980.
The deepening economic crisis is blamed partly on the state programme that
seized thousands of commercial farms from the white minority for
redistribution to black settlers. The programme is also blamed for
exacerbating a hunger crisis that threatens nearly half of the population.
Soldiers run amok over cash
By Kumbirai Mafunda
ANGRY soldiers stormed the Chitungwiza premises of Beverley Building
Society yesterday afternoon breaking windows and threatening tellers as the
biting cash crisis threatens to spill into the streets.
About 40 soldiers and police officers, who had been on the long queue
for hours, were incensed when the building society announced that it was
running out of bank notes and would serve only four of their colleagues who
were helping out to maintain order.
A glass panel was destroyed as the soldiers and policemen, desperate
to get money for the weekend, broke into the Beverley Building Society
premises and tried to force the tellers to serve them.
Eyewitnesses said the soldiers and policemen, some in uniform, were
angered by the building society's controller, a Mr Nyabani, who said they
had run out of cash and told the huge crowd of customers to go home.
Infuriated by the announcement, the soldiers bulldozed their way into
the premises and only left after, apparently, realising that they had caused
considerable damage to the building.
"Masoja ndivo akonzera zvose izvi. (the soldiers caused all this) We
had closed the door when we realised that cash had run out. We explained to
them that we were going to serve the four soldiers who were helping us. This
is when the soldiers forced their way," said Kudakwashe Chipamawanga, a
security guard with Safeguard Security, who was manning the entrance.
The security guard said two queues had formed at the premises: one for
soldiers and members of the armed forces, and another for the general
"We were even favouring those from the uniformed forces. After every
20 civilians, we were allowing five soldiers," said Chipamawanga.
The eyewitnesses said they were surprised at the slow reaction by the
police stationed near the shopping centre.
The police, said the eyewitnesses, only arrived at the building
society premises after the soldiers and policemen had dispersed.
The shortage of bank notes, which has paralysed Zimbabwe for more than
a month, is likely to spill into the streets as desperate people try to
force their way into banks and building societies to withdraw their savings
Last month, The Standard reported that irate customers had forced
their way into a number of banks and building societies in Harare and in the
melee, many premises were damaged.
Zimbabwe's biting bank notes' shortages continue unabated despite
attempts by the government to replace the notes with travellers' cheques.
Many Zimbabweans say the travellers' cheques are cumbersome and
difficult to use because they come in huge denominations that cannot be used
for small transactions.
Gold production falls to record lows
By Kumbirai Mafunda
GOLD production continues to plummet and the sector, which is in its
fourth year of recession, is expected to shrink a further 27,6 % to 11
tonnes this year, the lowest for years.
Last year, Zimbabwe realised 15,2 tonnes of gold, down three tonnes
from the 2001 output. Production peaked at more than 30 tonnes in 1998 when
Zimbabwe was the third biggest gold producer on the continent after South
Africa and Ghana. It has now slipped to eighth in Africa.
Ian Saunders, the acting president of the Chamber of Mines told
StandardBusiness that government's reluctance to devalue the local currency
and the skyrocketing inflation was to blame for the demise of gold output.
He said despite the devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar to $824 to the
American greenback, viability is continuing to be eroded by the increase in
inflation, which is pegged at 365,5%. The 11 tonnes are estimated to earn
the country US$100 million.
Saunders projection comes against a background of mine closures in the
The Chamber of Mines reports that 12 mines have closed in the past
three years and new projects have been suspended. He said monthly production
of gold has been reduced to 950 kgs, down from 1 150 kgs.
"The decline in output will result in loss of revenue to us and less
money to reinvest in projects," said Saunders.
Elvington Mine is the latest gold mine to close shop hard on the heels
of Venice Mine and Eureka Mine, which folded a couple of years ago.
Rio Tinto and Falcon Gold have already reported decreased output as
the skewed macro-economic fundamentals take their toll.
In a statement to shareholders on Friday, Rio Tinto Zimbabwe reported
that gold production for the half year ended June was 424 kgs compared to
668 kgs in the same period last year.
"The failure of the authorities to adjust the export exchange rate on
1 June as indicated in the Minister of Finance's statement in February has
led to a loss of confidence and has latterly fuelled rapid rises in other
exchange rates as exporters struggle to earn sufficient Zimbabwe dollars to
cover their expenses.
"Rio Zim, along with other gold producers, also faces the prospect of
delayed receipt of US dollars for gold deliveries," said the company.
"Although production related issues should have dominated senior
management time, this was not necessarily the case, with a great deal of
effort wasted in trying to extract the US$ payment for gold, already
delivered, from the Reserve Bank.
"The delayed receipt of these funds, which reached 60 days after
delivery at one point, meant that suppliers, including ZESA were left
unpaid. Additionally dealing with the bureaucracy introduced by the bank for
payment of suppliers' invoices became a further time wasting endeavour," the
gold miner added.
The mining sector contributes about 30% of net foreign currency
earnings and about 4% to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Since the imposition of the 50-50% foreign currency retention scheme,
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe - the sole buyer of gold - has failed to pay
mining companies in time.
The mining industry is also asking for an exchange rate of $1 500 to
the American greenback to break even and recover from the current slump. On
the thriving parallel market, the US dollar is fetching as much as $6 000 of
the local unit.
"We need a credible exchange rate system. Power costs are astronomical
and not revenue reflective. So we need a systematic and independent look at
our power costs to ensure they are competitive with neighbours," said
Muzenda critically ill
By our own Staff
Air Zimbabwe managing directtor, Rambai Chingwena, last night refused
to confirm or deny reports that a plane bound for Victoria Falls was
yesterday diverted from Bulawayo to Johannesburg to bring back home Vice
President Simon Muzenda who is seriously ill and was receiving treatment in
I am not aware of any plane being diverted from Bulawayo to
Johannesburg," Chingwena told The Standard, adding " I don't comment on
An Air Zimbabwe official in Bulawayo confirmed that the Victoria Falls
flight was delayed for about two hours yesterday morning "for technical
reasons". He would not elaborate.
Muzenda, whose absence was conspicuous during the National Heroes' Day
celebrations presided over by President Robert Mugabe at the National
Heroes' Acre on Monday, is said to be seriously ill with an undisclosed
He was, earlier this year, urgently flown to China to receive
emergency treatment from world famous Chinese doctors.
State broadcaster ZTV showed a forlorn looking Maud Muzenda, his wife,
unaccompanied at the national shrine where national heroes are buried, as
Mugabe read his official speech and acknowledged Muzenda's absence.
The veteran Masvingo politician, 82, a founder member of the governing
Zanu PF party and a close confidante of Mugabe, has been in poor health for
the past three years.
A family friend said the politician, who is perhaps the second most
powerful person in Zanu PF, had recently fought off pressure from his
children to quit public office and take time to recuperate, insisting that
he would only resign when Mugabe retires.
Mugabe gobbles millions on private junket to Malaysia
By our own Staff
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is on a private visit to Malaysia after
attending the 2003 Smart Partnership International Dialogue in Mbabane,
Swaziland, government sources have said.
From Malaysia, Mugabe is expected to travel to Tanzania for a SADC
The globe-trotting Zanu PF leader, who these days normally travels
with his entire family, is believed to have chartered yet another Air
Zimbabwe plane, costing Zimbabwean taxpayers millions.
Mugabe, blamed by Western countries of stealing last year's
presidential election, is banned to travel in Europe but seems to have found
solace in the Far East, especially in Malaysia where the leader Mahathir
Muhammad, is his personal friend.
Although it was not possible to calculate how much the Malaysia
private visit, and the round trip from Mbabane to Kuala Lumpur and then
Dar-es-Salaam would cost the Zimbabwean taxpayer, experts said the bill for
the visit was likely to run into millions.
'O', 'A' level examiners flee Zimsec
By Henry Makiwa
PROBLEMS continue to dog the marking process of this year's June 'O'
and 'A' level examinations after it emerged that Zimsec has failed to raise
the $5 billion it needed to house markers at centralised locations.
Investigations by The Standard have revealed that President Robert
Mugabe's cash strapped government has failed to raise the $5 billion needed
for the proper upkeep of examiners who are marking the June 'O' and 'A'
level exams, throwing the whole exercise into disarray.
Zimsec sources said the government had only managed to raise a meagre
$1,8 billion for the accommodation and sustenance of hundreds of examiners
during the two-week marking exercise, leading to many examiners abandoning
the whole process altogether.
"The government failed to raise the $5 billion that the traditional
marking centres were asking for to pay for accommodation and catering
expenses during the course of marking the June 'O' and 'A' level
examinations," said a senior Zimsec official who declined to be named for
fear of victimisation.
"This was also the primary cause of the delay in marking the June
examinations," said the source. The Standard has also learnt that scores of
despondent examiners are refusing to mark the June papers citing the "poor
rates" being offered by Zimsec.
Some of the examiners alleged that they were turned away by Zimsec
after the beleaguered national examination board failed to secure enough
money to pay for their food and accommodation. The shortage of examiners,
they said, was likely to affect the outcome of the June 'O' and 'A' level
"Morale is at its lowest among examiners this year more than at any
other time in history. Zimsec is failing to pay the markers meaningful
salaries and this has led to most of us boycotting the whole exercise this
year," said one teacher, who also preferred anonymity.
"Many feel that they are actually doing some form of national service
and are subsidising the government's expenditure rather than working for
themselves," he added.
Zimsec's traditional examiners are mainly experienced secondary and
high school teachers specialising in the different subjects.
When The Standard visited the Zimsec marking centre at Belvedere
Teachers College in Harare on Friday, examiners were going through a
co-ordinating exercise before being deployed to the provinces where they
will mark the examinations under a new decentralised cost-cutting strategy.
Many of the examiners who spoke to this newspaper in Belvedere were
bitter at the $5 000 to $10 000 per day that was being paid by Zimsec. The
examiners said the amounts offered by Zimsec were "too low" and had forced
some teachers to abandon the whole marking process.
"Because of the lack of funds, Zimsec has now set out on a crash
programme to rush the marking exercise at the lowest cost. They will, for
the first time, invite markers to commute from home paying them $1 200 each
if they reside in Harare or Bulawayo; and a paltry $600 per day as transport
allowances," the source added.
"Because of these poor salaries, examiners of certain subjects such as
the O' level Shona Paper II have not shown up. This will discredit the
entire marking process because the markers are likely to go through the
papers without passion," he said.
Copies of the new contract entered into between Zimsec and the
examiners show that markers are required to pay for their own accommodation
and pay for their food during the marking exercise between August 17 and 31.
"Examiners please note that you can only accept this invitation on
condition that you have or can find your own accommodation close to the
marking centre. The council will not be responsible for any accommodation
expenses incurred by examiners who accept this invitation," reads part of a
letter sent to examiners by Zimsec's assistant director for examination
administration, Chamunorwa Murira.
Neither Murira nor Zimsec director, Happy Ndanga, could be reached for
Zanu PF, MDC brace to battle for Bulawayo
By Wilson Dakwa
BULAWAYO - The stage is now set for what looks like a bruising battle
between the governing Zanu PF party and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) for control of City Hall in the forthcoming Bulawayo
municipal elections scheduled for the end of this month.
Twenty-nine council seats are up for grabs and Zanu PF and the MDC say
they are contesting all the vacant wards. Unlike in previous years when the
elections generated a lot of interest, this time there is very little
Some political commentators and analysts believe that the lack of
interest, especially from the ruling party, is because Zanu PF appears to
have given up the turf to the opposition.
Bulawayo and Matabeleland in particular have been a problem for the
party and have always been considered a breeding ground for the opposition.
Just after independence from Britain in 1980, many residents supported
the late Joshua Nkomo's then Zapu, a trend which was only broken after the
signing of the so-called Unity Arccor in 1987.
This arrangement was broken after the death of Nkomo and the emergence
of a strong opposition in the form of the MDC.
A leading Zanu PF official last week admitted to The Standard that
they had had no hope of capturing Bulawayo City Hall judging by the gloomy
mood prevailing among urban dwellers.
"Already some of our councillors who have been in council for years
have thrown in the towel and are refusing to stand. With the current
unpopularity of Zanu PF here, we will be lucky to win even a single seat,"
said the Zanu PF official.
Five veteran councillors here say they will not seek re-election.
These are Israel Gadhlula, Mike Lumsden, Mohammed Esat, Mike Constandinos
and Margaret Sibanda.
The MDC has already won two seats unopposed after Zanu PF failed to
"There is a mood of resignation in the party. Some people were not
willing to contest for fear of embarrassing themselves. We had difficulty
securing candidates," said another Zanu PF veteran.
National University of Science and Technology lecturer, Lawton Hikwa,
said while it was difficult to predict the outcome of the election, the
present urban set up tended to favour the opposition.
"Urban dwellers experience the brunt of the present economic
conditions and tend to favour the opposition," said Hikwa.
A prominent MDC councillor, Matson Hlalo, who will be representing the
party in Mzilikazi, believes that his party would be controlling the
municipal affairs of this city come September 1.
"Zanu PF is herding for a crushing defeat. They have nothing to offer
and their reputation of economic mismanagement and corruption is legendary,"
Treason suspects further remanded
By our own Staff
FIVE Matabeleland North MDC leaders who are facing charges of treason
following allegations that they were involved in a plot to overthrow
President Robert Mugabe through the June 2-6 mass action, have been further
remanded to October by a Hwange magistrate.
The five are Stephen Mudenda and Emmanuel Dropa, provincial executive
member Philip Kawara, Emmanuel Riyano, a member of the Hwange East district
executive and Melford Homela, a member of the Hwange West district
In their initial appearance in early June, they were charged with
treason and remanded out of custody to July 25 after paying bail amounts of
between $2000 and $5 000 each.
They were arrested with 46 party activists on allegations of
involvement in Hwange and Victoria Falls in plots to overthrow the
government through the mass action, dubbed the "final push" by the MDC.
Twenty five people were arrested and tried in Victoria Falls while 26
others who were picked up in Hwange appeared at the local magistrates' court
Four of those arrested in Victoria Falls were released on $10 000 bail
while the rest, including the Hwange suspects, paid admission of guilt fines
ranging from $2 000 to $5 000 and were released.
Cold reception for new TC's ruling
newsfocus with Henry Makiwa
THE recent introduction of local travellers' cheques (TCs) in place of
cash has become the latest signal of the government's mounting desperation
and lack of ideas to solve Zimbabwe's burgeoning economic problems.
Bank notes are now the latest on Zimbabwe's long list of "shortages"
after food, fuel and foreign currency and President Robert Mugabe's
administration - faced by an increasingly restive populace - has hastily
introduced the ill-fated TCs in denominations of $100 000, $50 000, $20 000,
$5 000 and $1 000.
The TCs, the government argues, would be as good as bank notes and be
accepted locally as payment for goods and services in an effort to eliminate
the cash shortages.
Two weeks on, the TCs have proved a futile panacea to the cash
shortages as long winding queues are still evident in almost all the banking
halls and at many automated teller machines (ATMs), especially in the
country's major cities of Bulawayo and Harare.
Several banks have also reportedly not received their allocation of
the local travellers' cheques from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).
In most instances, where they are available, the TCs are being issued
out in their largest $100 000 denominations, an amount that many ordinary
Zimbabweans say they do not have in their bank accounts anyway.
In Harare, several retail outlets have reportedly rejected the newly
introduced TCs leaving consumers stranded, thus defeating the whole idea of
introducing the cheques in place of cash.
The core of Zimbabwe's crisis however, analysts say, is the country's
tarnished international image, bad governance and the breakdown of the rule
of law. The introduction of TCs was therefore seen as yet another of the
government's attempts at "crisis management" .
Analysts have dismissed this latest move as yet another fragmented and
piecemeal solution that stands no chance of addressing comprehensively the
country's mounting crisis.
"Zimbabwe has now presented itself with a rare chance of storming into
the Guinness Book of Records if the country can run its monetary system on
the TCs," noted former Zimbabwe Chamber of Commerce boss Danny Meyer.
"The government should have addressed the causes of the problem which
are the galloping inflation, government expenditure and money supply instead
of the symptoms. The people cannot conduct their daily commercial activities
such as buying bread and commuting to work using TCs ... changing the colour
of currency will not solve anything," he said.
Godfrey Kanyenze, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions chief
economist, urged President Robert Mugabe to take full responsibility for the
country's crisis and also to apologise to the nation for current state of
affairs instead of accusing the West.
"There is an apparent lack of understanding even on government's part
with regards to the TCs. Why should Zimbabweans use TCs, are they nomads who
are always travelling?
"The economy has already rejected these TCs and our dear leader should
just accept responsibility for the country's woes and work towards the total
revitalisation of the country's economy as a whole," said Kanyenze.
Most people who spoke to The Standard professed ignorance of the
operations of the TCs given the hurried introduction the cheques by the
government. Many were also skeptical that the TCs could be effective for
Silas Mwandila, a miner in Bindura thought TCs were "air travelling
documents for the rich and famous".
"To be honest I thought the TCs were some of those things to make
travelling easier for the more affluent. There was no proper education
campaign prior to the introduction of the cheques as has been the case in
the past when the government introduced a new currency," said Mwandila.
Douglas Mwenda of Kuwadzana blamed both the government and the RBZ for
the general public's misgivings over the TCs.
Mwenda said: "It was clear that the government had been caught napping
by the cash squeeze and was executing a rushed stop gap measure. Besides,
the amount of $100 000 that the banks are offering is just too high for
ordinary people like myself."
He added: "On average, I buy groceries worth between $30 000 to $40
000, so how will the retailer be able to change the $100 000 TC and give me
cash worth more than the value of goods I have purchased in these times of
bank note crisis?"
With the travellers' cheques, the government says, an account holder
can buy goods and services from supermarkets and other retail outlets within
Zimbabwe's borders without the hassle of carrying stacks of bank notes, an
explanation analysts say is over simplified.
Kamba slams falling education standards
FORMER University of Zimbabwe vice chancellor Walter
Kamba says the
rising number of universities is likely to lower the standards in university
education. Kamba also gave his views on the current talks between Zanu PF
and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. He speaks to Walter
Question: The past few years have seen the proliferation of
universities across the country. As a celebrated academic, what are your
views regarding this kind of development which came against a background of
dwindling government support to institutions of higher education?
Kamba: You need a systematic approach. As you can see there are not
enough resources to go around all these universities. You end up with poor
quality education. Poor quality education can be so destructive. If I were
to do anything, I would set up a commission to look into the higher
education system with a view to establish what we need, which we can afford,
which will provide us with quality education. In this way, then you would
have looked at the recommendations. The rationalisation, which is taking
place in South Africa right now, is partly a consequence of that. So you
need a systematic approach Š
Q: So in other words you are saying - to be more direct - we don't
have the resources for all these universities?
A: We don't, we don't. Look at the University of Zimbabwe just now.
The academics have left; the physical facilities are deteriorating. At one
time we were going to have a public lecture in one of the theatres, there
were no bulbs. They had to open the doors and try to open the windows to let
in light - that's poor performance.
Q: What do you attribute this rot to?
A: Partly to the unsystematic increase in the institutions and partly
because of our whole situation in Zimbabwe right now. The economy is going
down, down everytime. The shortage of investment, what not, all those things
are contributing to the whole thing.
Q: You are talking about the sad state of affairs in Zimbabwe. And as
one of the sons of Zimbabwe who were proud of the new Zimbabwe that was
emerging from the shackles of colonialism, I am sure you are disappointed
with the way things have gone after so much hope and promise at
A: Well, I am sure we all want to see the Zimbabwe we had dreamt of,
which was emerging and developing. We wish to see that.
There is nobody who says things are OK, that there is nothing wrong.
We want to see the revival, the revitalisation progress in all areas of our
country. Good quality life - that's what we wish to see.
Q: How can we achieve this?
A: No single act will do that. A whole lot of things need to be done Š
Q: Like what? What would you say is the most important thing that
needs to be done to pull Zimbabwe out of the quagmire?
A: The most important thing is to put our heads together. What we need
is a framework, an understanding that there are things that are wrong. We
identify what is wrong and we seek solutions. We need that.
Q: What about the church-initiated talks, aren't they the solution to
A: Talks about what? What are they talking about? Can you say?
Q: To try and bring Zanu PF and MDC to the table
A: To do what? Talking doesn't simply mean you and I sitting here and
talking. If you want to achieve a goal you have to be clear about the goals,
the objectives and you work, engage in a process which leads to the
objectives. There are no objectives right now. You can't just talk.
Q: So do you have any hopes about these talks?
A: There is nothing which has happened so far.
Dump sites become gold mine for desperate Zimbabweans
Zimbabwe's economy is in tatters forcing many
ordinary citizens to
make a living through foraging rubbish dumps. But as Terry Murry reports,
many have salvaged their lives by finding hidden treasures in the rubbish
dumps of Harare.
Necessity, as Zimbabweans are rapidly discovering, is the mother of
invention, and few can claim to be more inventive than those searching for
re-usable scrap in Zimbabwe's many rubbish dumps.
In these days of want and gnawing poverty, many Zimbabweans have come
to realise that rather than live in total destitution, they can make a
comparatively decent living turning waste into useful, saleable objects.
For most families in the city slums that are found around garbage
dumps, digging for buried treasure has become a thriving business and a
permanent way of life.
Until 1997 when the national economy took a nose-dive, many towns and
cities in Zimbabwe enjoyed an uninterrupted supply of electricity. Hurricane
lamps for home lighting had become a thing of the past.
But as these towns and cities are being plunged into almost permanent
darkness by the erratic supplies from Zesa, demand for hurricane lamps is
shooting up, and the search for used tins to make new lamps makes garbage
dumps a goldmine.
Similarly, foreign exchange was once readily available to import tools
like hoes, machetes and watering cans.
But without the hard currency and with the local brands getting priced
beyond the reach of many, garbage dumps have become a never ending source of
raw materials for impoverished Zimbabweans to manufacture their own tools.
Scavenging has become an industry in its own right, fuelling the needs
of other industries.
"We encourage them to dig up the dump by offering attractive prices
for the empty tins and the like, because we cannot successfully be
manufacturers and at the same time suppliers of our own raw materials," said
John Taruvinga, a tin smith.
Taruvinga, a member of the Marange Apostolic Church, said business is
booming for members of his church as they are known to be accomplished tin
Old car bodies, discarded paint tins, cans and funnels, old shoes,
slippers and plastic footwear, all fetch a good price for the scavengers.
So far, these are the most sought after commodities, but a day's
treasures depend on the areas where garbage bins have been picked up.
"Bins from affluent residential neighbourhoods contain an assortment
of valuables like old clothing and household utensils," explains Tawanda
Murindi, who claims a decade of experience in scavenging.
But things have been changing for many of the old hands. Murindi is
worried about the growing competitive nature of life on the dumps.
"It is increasingly becoming survival of the fittest, with young and
able bodied men and women taking the lion's share," he said.
Murindi complains bitterly about the invasion of the garbage dumps by
displaced former farm workers and says that had the invaders not outnumbered
the original scavengers by far, he and his fellow old timers would have
forcibly evicted them.
For the displaced farmers and their families, the dumps have become a
real beacon of hope.
"We come here because some of us want to earn a decent living instead
of going begging all over the place. Most of us were chased from farms where
we used to work by war veterans," said Ivy Machona, a former farm worker.
A considerable number of the scavengers at dumps in Harare are like
Machona, former farm workers who were displaced during the country's chaotic
land reforms that started in 2000.
The dump sites also serve as permanent source of organic manure to
such an extent that most dump sites are surrounded by vegetable gardens
growing a huge variety of crops and without using chemicals and other
The irony of it, is perhaps, that in a decaying country like Zimbabwe,
decay itself has become the source of renewal.
Zimbabweans ignore State cash plea
BANKERS in Zimbabwe on Friday said few people had heeded a government
plea to return large amounts of cash stashed at home, providing no relief to
a crippling shortage of bank notes which has hit the country.
For the last two weeks scores of people have queued at banks in a
desperate hope that depositors, mostly retailers, would bring in cash which
could be withdrawn to buy food and fuel-which are also scarce in the
President Robert Mugabe's government last week said it had outlawed
the hoarding of cash and the government had set an end of September deadline
to abolish the highest denominated Z$500 note, which it says is being
hoarded for black market trade.
"We haven't seen any significant inflows of the Z$500 notes back into
the system, and cash injections from the central bank are still inadequate
to meet demand," one official at a Harare commercial bank said on Friday.
"Either people do not believe the government means business, or they
are waiting until the last minute to bring back the money," he said.
Inflation in Zimbabwe is running at an annual rate of 366 %- one of
the highest in the world-and the Zimbabwe dollar is plummeting on the black
market where it is trading at 4 000 to the dollar, versus an official rate
Just a month ago it was trading illegally at 3 500 to the dollar,
while at the end of June it stood at 2 500-a trend which has fuelled
expectations of an official devaluation.
The country's main labour union, which has recently led several
anti-government protests, says it will consult its members on what action to
take after a two-week deadline it gave the government to resolve the cash
crunch expired on Tuesday.
The banknote shortage is the latest sign of a political and economic
crisis which has deepened since Mugabe's controversial reelection in a March
2002 poll condemned as rigged by both the opposition and several Western
Critics say Mugabe has mismanaged the country since assuming power at
independence from Britain in 1980, leading to chronic shortages of food,
fuel and cash, along with an unemployment rate of more than 70%.
In a statement accompanying its interim results this week financial
services group, Kingdom, warned of further hardships for the country in
coming months and said inflation could exceed 800% by the end of 2003.
"What has clearly emerged ... is that any remedy is dependent on a
resolution of the political environment...thereby improving the country's
sovereign risk, which is essential to attracting foreign investment," the
Mugabe, 79, denies the charges of misrule levied against him and says
the economy has been sabotaged by local and international opponents over his
controversial seizure of white-owned farms, for redistribution to landless
Earlier this month the International Monetary Fund urged Zimbabwe to
enhance governance and transparency in its policies to attract foreign
investment and regain the support of creditors and donors.-Reuters.
Fewer exhibitors at Harare show
By our own Staff
THERE will be fewer exhibitors at this year's Harare Agricultural Show
that kicks off next week as the economic and political crisis continues to
bite. Organisers said there would 416 exhibitors, down from 427 last year,
at this year's show.
This reflects a decline from last year's fair, which also fell victim
to the prevailing economic problems that have seen agricultural activity
ebbing to its lowest record.
Show society spokesperson, Oliver Gawe, said a total of 453 stands
have been taken for this year's exhibition.
"We are almost where we were last year. People haven't lost hope. They
are still enthusiastic," Gawe said.
This years show is being held under the theme, 'What To see in
2003;The Harare Agricultural Show'.
For the third year running, the livestock section, a major attraction
for show crowds, will once again be missing owing to the continued outbreak
of the contagious foot and mouth disease in Harare and its surrounding
At last year's show, cattle pens remained empty because of
uncertainties in the commercial farming sector.
Humiliating life for 'Zimbos' in Britain
americannotes By Ken Mufuka
(The people in this story are real, and their suffering is beyond our
imagination. Their names have been slightly altered to protect the
I have been doing some summer research at Rhodes Library at Oxford. In
my spare time, I have traveled to many towns in Britain in order to witness
the great tragedy that has befallen our country. One can see the suffering
of the Zimbos (as they call themselves) through their eyes and their talk.
Muchataure chiiko Va Mufuka, hapana zvatingaita, almost every one of them
told me. (What can we say, we are in a predicament.)
The predicament is not always that the Zimbos in question had no jobs
in Zimbabwe as you shall see. In fact, many of them were well to do, but the
depreciation of their incomes at a time when prices were rising by multiples
of tens a day, made it impossible for them to maintain any reasonable life.
And as I suspected, the retirees (though well educated) were affected. Even
those who were stalwart Zanu PF members labour here quietly in shame, doing
RR jobs (RR means rese rese). This must be a humiliation of the spirit to
the last degree.
Let me begin with the biggest of them all. Josiah Ngoni, a stalwart
Zanu PF apparatchik, trusted by President Mugabe himself, took over the
greatest city in Central Africa as its chief operating officer.
He walked in the corridors of power and some say he was responsible
for designing a system of cronyism and corruption, which finally destroyed
the blood vessels of a once flourishing city.
This system was based on the tender system. Nobody outside their
coterie had any chance of winning a tender in this great system, and some of
the winners of these tenders were no show business party stalwarts who never
started or completed the work they had tendered for.
A common method of enriching themselves was to sell official Mercedes
Benz (after a three year period of use) to their users at ridiculous prices.
The crony apparatchiks would then realise thousands of dollars on the open
"Do you see that man there," said my Mukwasha, " he is here now." We
were in a little but very upscale town called Maidenhead in Berkshire and
the neighbourhood where the brother was living his last days was called
"Zvinhu hazvichaita kumusha," My Mukuwasha told me trying to hurry me
up, knowing that I would be tempted to ask too many questions. Our next stop
was a place called; "Nyama Yakachipa."
To give credit to the Mr. Ngoni, he did attempt to redeem himself by
resigning from Zanu PF and trying to win the mayor's seat through an MDC
ticket. The tragedy of his position today is that apparently, the wealth he
created was based on a house of cards and the economic conditions he helped
to create blew the house down. I know the suffering. Here is man who has
seen and tasted power, who had an opportunity to do good to himself and to
our country, but who (perhaps through foolishness) implemented greedy
policies that have now come to ruin himself and others.
Now, well over 60 years old, he faces a humiliating experience and is
told: "Come, Go" by the very imperialists he had spent all his life fighting
My Mukuwasha has not been spared the suffering also. Educated as an
electrical engineer in Europe, he had done well at home until the economy
began to unravel. Twenty-five years after he had left Europe, he returned to
do an RR job. His first encounter with humiliation was in housing.
British landlords are wary about black and West Indian tenants. In
their place the Nigerian landlords have jumped in with gusto. He took a
house whose plumbing and wall paneling was not in order. He set to repair
these, but this provoked the landlord's jealousy. He found himself locked
out, all the locks changed and his furniture thrown out. The landlord went
for higher paying tenants.
Anybody who comes from Masvingo will remember Mai Gwatidzo, the
district nurse. We know her for her kind heart. Her children have done well;
one is in the United States.
She is retired. "I will keep my mouth shut," she told my wife.
"I know what Ken will do with my story." But her story is the story of
many thousands of Zimbabweans. Her pension can no longer pay for her CIMAS
(medical insurance). Everyday, just like the Pharaoh in Egypt, the rulers
think up new ways to make the people suffer.
Oh, I cannot finish this letter before I tell you about this older
lady. She was a power in the nursing world. Mai Taputsa was her name. She
was a senior nurse tutor at Harare (PaGomo) and a pioneer in her field.
Later on she became chief matron in Chitungwiza. Her students remember her
for her fanatical adherence to hygiene and others remember her for her kind
heart. Her husband was a professor. But times are hard. Now well into her
seventies, she has returned back to the floor as they say through none of
Almost every Zimbo I saw had a story to tell.
They live in humiliation, the older ones returning to jobs they did 30
years ago. Almost all of them have two jobs, for they realise that time is
not on their side, either for fear of deportation or the fear of age
They live like a people without a country, in fear of the authorities,
here or at home, in humiliation at the RR jobs they do. The commonest job is
taking care of elderly people. While nurses have no problem with this job,
untrained men from Zimbabwe find it most humiliating to clean up an elderly
man's body toiletry.
Their profiles show that the majority of the 80 000 Zimbabweans who
have flocked to Britain in the last six years, the majority of them were
highly skilled. A former manager at INNSCOR, 32 years old and a university
graduate, is typical of those who are now doing RR jobs. The town clerk
mentioned above has several law degrees.
My aunt has several nursing diplomas. Mai Gwatidzo and Mai Taputsa
were pillars of the nursing profession in Zimbabwe. The common story behind
all of them is that even if one earned a million dollars in Zimbabwe today,
you will do better with one thousand British pounds. If you kill the money,
you literally steal the people's savings and wealth.
Repent: To whom, for what?
President Robert Mugabe was choosing his words to suit the
occasion or honestly displaying his unrepentant nature, the Zimbabwe public
cannot be blamed for dismissing the so called talks about 'talks' as 'full
of sound and fury but signifying nothing'.
Departing from his prepared speech at this year's Heroes' Day
celebrations, President Mugabe had this to say about the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC): "There is room for them to repentŠthere is room for
them to say we were wrong yesterday; we shall not be wrong tomorrow."
The obvious question that immediately comes to mind is repent to whom
and for what? Is somebody seeing himself as God here? Why is the President
acting as though everything depends on him - as the omnipotent giver of life
itself and all that goes with it.
These are hardly the words of a man whose attitude is of one willing
to negotiate a political settlement with the opposition as equal partners.
Negotiation essentially means you are not speaking the same language,
otherwise why negotiate in the first place? Negotiation necessarily implies
making compromises and being able to accommodate each other whichever the
case might be.
There is absolutely nothing for MDC to repent about. If anything, it
is the ruling party which has to repent about the enormous suffering that it
has caused the people of Zimbabwe. We are merely stating the obvious when we
say this. But it has to be said over and over again.
The cash crisis, the fuel crisis, the crisis of the unaffordability of
basic commodities-all these problems show no sign of abetting. In fact,
things are getting worse by the day. This is on top of the shocking
catalogue of human rights abuses that have been perpetrated by this regime
for more than three years now.
President Mugabe's address at Heroes's Acre on Monday has cast a dark
shadow on the whole process of dialogue. Many had doubted his political
commitment to dialogue and they appear to be vindicated by the President's
remarks. As we write, there is no indication to show that there is any
progress in the dialogue beyond spurious declarations of intent.
Clearly, as has been pointed out by others, the ruling party is merely
buying time and hoodwinking regional leaders into thinking that some
political reforms are underway when in reality, as we all know, there is
nothing on the ground. President Mugabe has not done a U-turn at all, as
some might have thought following media reports that he had welcomed the
intervention of church leaders in efforts to rekindle talks between the two
warring parties. And as far as we can tell, he is unlikely to do it any time
The language that is being used by the ruling party functionaries
clearly reflect a party that is unwilling to change and is hell bent, in the
interest of self-preservation, to perpetuate the status quo, and along with
it the suffering and hopelessness that now assails the people of Zimbabwe.
The severity of the problems in this country has not, it seems, jolted
the ruling party one bit into concrete solutions save for lurching from
stop-gap measure to another. The President and his lieutenants continue to
be locked in a paranoid mind set where they see enemies where none exist.
How can a fellow Zimbabwean be regarded as an enemy? We have said it before
and we shall continue saying it that if people disagree with you, they are
just thinking differently; they are not your enemies.
The moment all Zimbabweans start thinking alike or speaking the same
language at every turn, then Zimbabwe will cease to exist. The moment Zanu
PF and MDC speak the same language, then the two political parties cease to
be thinking and dynamic organisations. It is just that simple!
But more dangerous is the belief that the sovereignty of Zimbabwe
boils down to President Mugabe and Zanu PF. That notion must be dispelled
once and for all. Zimbabwe is much bigger than any individual dead or alive.
That is why it is nonsense for the President to say that 'there could
be no unity with enemies of the people, enemies of the struggle and enemies
of our independence'. How can anyone label MDC as 'enemies of the people'
when more than half of the Zimbabwean population voted for them in the last
general election. MDC and its President, Morgan Tsvangirai, are just as
passionate and committed to the development of Zimbabwe as anyone else.
There is a clear distinction between national interest and a political
party that is in power. Loyalty to Zimbabwe means one's unwavering
allegiance to the country regardless of the political party that is in power
at any given moment. Governments come and go. But the nation of Zimbabwe
will forever remain.
Whatever President Mugabe's antics, we are, therefore, comforted by
the fact that nothing is permanent in this world. One cannot fight against
the tide of democracy forever. Change is inevitable.This may, of course, be
an unpalatable truth for the ruling party to swallow, but as certain as
night follows day, change is coming. Nobody can stop it. It is foolish and
ridiculous for anyone to say never ever Š . History has a chemistry of its
own. It moves at a certain pace aided of course by the resilience and power
of the people, however docile they might appear to be.
The MDC, civic society and ordinary Zimbabweans must not relax in the
struggle. They must not be intimidated. They must go on in the knowledge
that nothing endures forever. Everything - including President Mugabe and
Zanu PF - perishes in time.
A quick guide to duplicitous doubletalk and deceit
Overthetop By Brian Latham
There is much in the troubled central African nation that is not as it
seems. And much that is said that, to an outsider, seems incomprehensible.
And so it was last week when the most equal of all comrades and lord
high chief of the Zany party said that the More Drink Coming party must
repent before talks begin.
Puzzled foreigners asked why the More Drink Coming party should
repent, but troubled central Africans, being fleet of mind, knew that the
More Drink Coming party has to repent being beaten, bludgeoned, tortured,
murdered, raped and otherwise suppressed by the Zany party.
That is the way it works in the troubled central African banana
republic. And indeed in banana republics the length and breadth of the
troubled continent. It tells us that if the troubled central African basket
case has adopted nothing else from the bland, neo-liberal imperialists in
the West, it has at least purloined Orwellian logic.
From the drug-crazed warlords of Liberia to the mad king of Swaziland,
the situation, and the same upside down logic, is the same.
Those same neo-liberal western imperialists wonder why this doesn't
worry troubled central Africans. They wonder too why troubled central
Africans aren't turning into embarrassed central Africans, because the
behaviour of the government is surely cause for deep embarrassment.
Well, it would be if anyone took much notice of government. Government
might be important in the US, or Britain perhaps. It certainly is in
Germany, where people fawn over their rulers. But troubled central Africans
don't believe that government is anything more than a necessary evil, a
bureaucratic stumbling block that must be endured and where possible
So, no, it isn't embarrassing to listen to the most equal of all
comrades telling his opponents to repent. On the contrary, troubled central
Africans may well be deeply troubled by the turmoil and tyranny they're
experiencing, but most of them remain proud.
Still, it was curious of the most equal of all comrades. Just when the
troubled country and its increasingly nervous neighbours thought progress
might be in the offing, along he comes and throws a well aimed spanner in
Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, troubled central Africans could
have seen it coming. But perhaps not. The breathtaking brazenness of the
statement takes some beating and it will take the More Drink Coming party's
spin-doctors some time to match that well timed and well aimed bazooka.
After all, what's there to repent? If the More Drink Coming party
isn't kicking itself for not making the now famous "repent statement" first,
it should be. But then it would have been blamed for wrecking the talks
before they even began.
That sort of accusation can't be made against the Zany party, even if
it's true. Had the More Drink Coming party told Zany thugs to repent,
leaders from the region would've woken from their slumbers to lob insults at
But as it came from the Zany party, the region's leaders (such as they
are) slept on unperturbed and undisturbed. Troubled central Africans have
come to expect little else. If they once considered looking up to their
southern neighbour, they now look down on it - and not just geographically.
Led by an old soak of such spinelessness he surely needs a corset to
remain upright, the Zany demand that the More Drink Coming party repent
passed - at least publicly - without comment.
That, not surprisingly, led many troubled central Africans to consider
whether their silly southern neighbour might have an agenda of its own - and
to decide they'd rather live with tyranny than become an adjunct of that