Japanese woman dies after being attacked by lion in
Sunday, August 21, 2005 at 20:13 JST
JOHANNESBURG - A 50-year-old Japanese woman, traveling in Zimbabwe, was
attacked by a lion in a safari park Wednesday and died in a hospital Friday,
the Japanese Foreign Ministry has been informed.
Saemi Ono, from
Kumamoto Prefecture, was attacked when she was returning to a car after
taking photos at a designated place within the park in a western suburb of
Harare, the ministry said. There were around eight other tourists and guards
but no one else was injured, it said.
Japanese embassy worker in Zimbabwe Sun Aug 21, 2005 11:15 AM
HARARE (Reuters) - A Japanese embassy worker died after she was
attacked by a pride of lions at a park near Zimbabwe's capital Harare, state
media reported on Sunday.
The woman, who was not named, had visited
the popular Lion and Cheetah Park, 20 km west of the capital, with five
She entered a lion enclosure with a guide and a
colleague. "One of the lions suddenly attacked the woman as she was about to
leave the lion's pen," police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told the
state-owned Sunday Mail.
"Other lions, whose number we were not given,
also went for the helpless woman and joined in the attack."
managed to drive off the lions with stones, but the woman later died from
her injuries at a local hospital.
There was no immediate comment from the
Japanese embassy but the paper said an official inquiry was
Gaby Hinsliff , political editor Sunday August 21, 2005 The
Zimbabwe should be kicked out of international cricket
because of worsening human rights abuses, two cabinet ministers have warned
the sport's ruling body in an unprecedented intervention. Tessa Jowell
and Jack Straw, the Culture and Foreign Secretaries, have written jointly to
the International Cricketing Council demanding a review of whether it is
'appropriate' for matches to take place amid a brutal crackdown on some of
the country's most vulnerable citizens.
Banning fixtures would turn
Robert Mugabe's regime into a sporting pariah and send a powerful signal of
international anger: he is known to value cricket fixtures as creating a
veneer of normality for Zimbabwe. Although the government has consistently
resisted pressure to intervene in world sport, the suffering caused by
Mugabe's brutal slum clearance programme - illustrated yesterday in film
footage smuggled out of the country by Amnesty International - has persuaded
them to act. 'What we are trying to do now is ratchet up the pressure on the
ICC, who have the power to act to change their rules,' said a source at the
Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 'The situation according to the
Foreign Office is getting significantly worse. Tessa feels it's right that
government isn't seen to be sitting back and letting this happen.' The
footage released yesterday depicted a squalid tent camp near Harare for
those forced from their homes, with people queueing for water in 'horrifying
conditions', according to Amnesty.
The United Nations says Operation
Murambatsvina - which translates as 'drive out trash' - has left more than
700,000 people homeless or without jobs after their homes were bulldozed:
there were reports of two children being crushed to death in the process.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change claims it is being done to
punish their supporters in poor areas. In their letter, a copy of which has
been obtained by The Observer, Straw and Jowell say the crackdown has led to
the deterioration of 'an already grave human rights and humanitarian
situation' in which 'thousands of homes and livelihoods have been
destroyed'. They also ask the ICC to waive fines now levied against
countries who refuse to play Zimbabwe. Kate Hoey, the former sports
minister, who recently visited the country as part of a campaign to stop
Zimbabwean asylum seekers in Britain being sent home, said Straw had been
deeply concerned when she briefed him on her findings. 'Jack Straw has
become much more high profile on this in the last few months,' she said.
'Cricket gives us an opportunity. [Banning] it sends a message out that
Zimbabwe is not a normal country in any sense.' The ICC has been highly
reluctant to turn on Zimbabwe, but international pressure is increasing,
with the governments of New Zealand and Australia launching similar appeals
to the ICC. the former is currently touring Zimbabwe, while the latter is
due to tour next year.
England's next fixtures there are not due
until 2009, although the Zimbabwean side is due to tour Britain in 2008. But
Straw and Jowell believe suspending cricket could send a crucial political
message to Mugabe now, as well as preventing a replay of the bitter row over
England's trip to Zimbabwe for a World Cup match last year.
have been led by former Zimbabwean players Henry Olonga and Andy Flower.
Both wore black armbands during the World Cup matches to mourn the 'death of
democracy'. Neither was chosen for the squad again.
Although the England
and Wales Cricket Board insists it cannot abandon tours because it would
face massive fines, some players were highly uncomfortable about the last
tour. Yesterday the board declined to comment, saying the letter was a
matter for Straw. It is understood to be reluctant to antagonise the ICC by
getting involved in the row.
Amnesty said up to 2,000 people were
believed to be living in the Hopley Farm camp it filmed, without adequate
access to food, water and sanitation and with humanitarian groups
Three hundred graduates of Zimbabwe's controversial
youth training camps have been hired to work with police in Harare to help
curb "illegal businesses" in the wake of the government's clean-up campaign,
the Sunday Mail reported.
Touts and pavement vendors have
flocked back to the streets of the capital after police chased them away in
May, when Operation Murambatsvina (Shona for Operation Drive Out Rubbish)
"The city of Harare has resolved to re-engage
300 National Youth Service graduates for the next three months at a cost of
nearly Z$6-billion (US$250 000) to ensure that illicit business activities
(are) curbed and illegal buildings destroyed during Operation Murambatsvina
(Restore Order) do not resurface," the paper said.
youths are to be attached to the municipal police, the paper
More than 18 000 youths have graduated so far from
the National Youth Service programme, which was introduced in 2001.
President Robert Mugabe's government says the programme is meant to instill
discipline and patriotism in Zimbabwe's young people, but critics say the
youths are indoctrinated in anti-opposition politics.
Operation Restore Order saw the arrest of thousands of
Their makeshift stalls were destroyed by police,
along with thousands of backyard cottages in a move that provoked
But many vendors are reported
to be sneaking back onto the streets to sell their wares. With unemployment
rates estimated to be at least 70%, the vast majority of families in
Zimbabwe depend upon informal jobs to keep themselves
On Saturday it was reported that members of
Zimbabwe's football team were being rewarded for winning a regional
tournament with the plots of land cleared of township
The team, known as the Warriors, won the Confederation
of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) Cup on Sunday with a
surprise 1-0 victory over Zambia in Mabatho, South
As a token of appreciation, the government will hand
over 18 residential plots, the deputy minister of urban development, Morris
The plots were cleared during June and
July as part of Operation Murambatsvina in which the government demolished
the homes of thousands of poor Zimbabweans. Ironically, several members of
the team were affected by the demolitions.
A UN report
charges that 700 000 people lost their homes or jobs as a result of the
Jonathan Mashingaidze, the Zimbabwean Football
Association's chief executive, said he hoped more land would be made
available for other squad members if the team qualified for next year's
African Nations Cup finals in Egypt.
"We can't have our
ambassadors living in slums and shacks," he said.
announcement came ahead of a visit starting on Monday by an International
Monetary Fund team which will report to a board meeting next month during
which Zimbabwe could be expelled for falling almost R2-billion behind in its
The Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono
announced the visit in the state-controlled Herald newspaper yesterday amid
warnings of a stock market crash and a big fall in the value of the Zimbabwe
"The nation should rededicate itself to responsible
behaviour, particularly when it comes to the setting or review of prices of
goods and services in the economy," he said.
Robert Mugabe has blamed sanctions and boycotts for his country's troubles,
along with drought.
President Mugabe dashed hopes of
political reforms on Thursday by pressing ahead with a 22-clause bill to
amend the constitution that the opposition has denounced.
The changes would strengthen his 25-year hold on power with the creation of
a senate expected to be dominated by his Zanu-PF party.
Mugabe's policies stunting regional growth: Mbeki Mon 22
August 2005 PRETORIA -- South African President Thabo Mbeki has warned
President Robert Mugabe his controversial policies were a stumbling block to
regional growth, reminding the veteran Zimbabwean leader that his actions
had an "impact on the rest (of the region)."
Writing in his
official "Letter from the President" column on his ruling African National
Congress party's website, barely a day after a Southern African Development
Community (SADC) summit that failed to censure the Zimbabwean leader, Mbeki
said a stable and prosperous Zimbabwe was critical to regional integration
and economic growth.
"Given the potential strength of the Zimbabwe
economy . it can and must play a central role in the struggle to achieve the
goals spelt out in the SADC Treaty," wrote Mbeki whose government has
offered US$500 million bailout loan to Harare to save Zimbabwe's
crisis-sapped economy from total collapse.
In a thinly veiled
reference to Mugabe and rare public show of exasperation at the Zimbabwean
leader's intransigence, Mbeki added: "As members of SADC . . . All of us
must understand that what we do in any one of our countries has an impact on
the rest. It means that as countries, we will sink or swim
The cash-strapped Harare administration
has not yet accepted money from Pretoria more than three weeks after it was
offered, reportedly because it is not happy with some conditions attached to
the loan, especially a demand that it reopens dialogue with the opposition
to find a democratic solution to Zimbabwe's worst ever economic and
Mugabe, accused of wrecking what was once one of
Africa's most vibrant economies, has said he will not talk to the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party but would rather talk to British
Premier Tony Blair who he claims is the principal behind the
Harare has also rejected an African Union attempt to broker
dialogue with the opposition. AU envoy Joaquim Chissano told the Press on
the sidelines of the SADC summit that was held in Botswana last week that
Mugabe had told him his help was not needed because dialogue between his
ruling ZANU PF party and the MDC would take place in
Mugabe's ZANU PF, which has controversially began
unilaterally amending Zimbabwe's constitution, has absolute control of
Parliament after a landslide victory in a March election that the MDC and
Western governments say was heavily rigged in favour of the ruling
But SADC leaders -- long accused of standing by in the face
of gross human rights abuses by Mugabe -- did not censure the Zimbabwean
leader, who is also accused by the United Nations of violating international
law when he ordered the destruction of city backyard cottages, shantytown
homes and informal business kiosks in an urban clean-up campaign that left
at least 700 000 people homeless and without income.
chairman, Botswana President Festus Mogae, told journalists Zimbabwe was not
on the agenda because its crisis was not a regional issue, even though its
problems have weakened the economy of his own country.
in its sixth year of a bitter economic recession that has manifested itself
in severe shortages of fuel, food, essential medical drugs, electricity,
hard cash and almost every other basic survival commodity.
troubled southern African nation's annual inflation in July shot up to 254.8
percent from 164.3 percent the previous month. Unemployment is
conservatively estimated at around 70 percent, while a burgeoning HIV/AIDS
epidemic is killing at least 2 000 Zimbabweans every week.
Analysts say Zimbabwe's problems and SADC's failure to take robust action
against human rights abuses and lawlessness in the country were a strong
signal to sensitive foreign investors to avoid the region. -
Former editor breaks silence on Zimbabwe media spy
saga Monday 22 August 2005
JOHANNESBURG - Former Financial
Gazette editor Francis Mdlongwa has harshly criticised the Zimbabwe
Independent and its sister South African publication, the Mail and Guardian,
over their handling of stories in which they claim that three Zimbabwean
newspapers, including the Financial Gazette, have been taken over by the spy
Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
Mdlongwa, who now
heads the Sol Plaatje Media Leadership Institute at Rhodes University is
particularly furious that his name has been dragged into the whole issue
which the Independent has dubbed "Mediagate" without being contacted for his
side of the story by the two newspapers owned by journalist and
businessman Trevor Ncube.
Mdlongwa also criticises Ncube in his
While emphasising that he does not know whether or not
the Financial Gazette has been taken over by the CIO as claimed since "I
have no such facts and I have had no such evidence", Mdlongwa says he finds
it astonishing that the Mail and its Harare-based sister paper, the
Independent, should report on "contestable claims" referring to him and
"seek to present these as facts or informed opinion, without bothering to
get critical comment from me."
"The dangers of this one-sided,
agenda-setting journalism are clear to all who cherish press freedom and
democracy - those whose voices could spoil a "good story that sells should
be shut out," says Mdlongwa.
"It is a travesty of justice that any
news media organisation should run a campaign, however laudable, based on
whispers, rumours and innuendo to try to cajole those it names in its
stories into merely reacting to its own agenda so as either to
validate this agenda or for these people to be entrapped into the same
Contrary to claims in the Independent and the Mail and
Guardian that Mdlongwa and his Octadew consortium, which was bidding to buy
the Financial Gazette from Elias Rusike, were lent money by former
Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) governor Gideon Gono without agreement,
the former Financial Gazette editor-in-chief said he did in fact have
He dismisses the allegations in the Mail and
the Independent as "nonsensical".
Without mentioning him by
name, Mdlongwa also criticises the Independent for affording former
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo widespread coverage despite being the
architect of the destruction of the private media in Zimbabwe.
In his statement, which ZimOnline publishes in full below, Mdlongwa presents
his side of the story and perspective on why he left the Financial Gazette.
* For the record, ZimOnline, which publishes original
news reports from Zimbabwe, has not done its own investigation on the media
As a rare departure to our policy, we only
re-produced a story carried on the subject by Independent Newspapers and a
subsequent response by current Financial Gazette editor Sunsley Chamunorwa,
with full accreditation. - Editor
* Please, see full statement
carried in the next box .....
When journalism is turned into a
campaign of innuendo Mon 22 August 2005
- For many years I have had respect for the Mail and Guardian newspaper
because, examining its news coverage, I had come to form an impression that
it tried as much as is humanely possible to present the many, if
conflicting, sides of a story.
That was until the newspaper's
publication last Friday of a story on the claimed buy-out of three
Zimbabwean newspapers by that country's security service almost four years
As a former editor-in-chief of Zimbabwe's Financial
Gazette, one of the newspapers named by the Mail as having been bought by
the spies and my own name having been dragged into this story by the Mail, I
would have expected nothing more from the Mail than that it complies with
the elementary but fundamental requirements of any credible and fair
journalism: that is to contact me for my views on its
That was never done - this despite the fact that
the Mail knows how and where I can be contacted.
also significant that the Zimbabwe Independent, a Harare-based newspaper
owned by Zimbabwean journalist-turned-businessman Trevor Ncube - as is the
Mail - also failed to seek comment from me when it ran a similar story a
Whether the Financial Gazette today is, as is
claimed, owned by Zimbabwe's secret service, I do not know because I have no
such facts and I have had no such evidence. Indeed it is not my business to
start speculating on who owns that newspaper almost four years after I left
it. I am sure the newspaper's owners can speak for
All I can say is that a consortium which I and
two medical doctors formed to take over the Financial Gazette in 2001 had to
quit the following year when the consortium disagreed with other
shareholders who had joined the company.
disagreements centred on the newspaper's editorial direction and operational
issues. My consortium, in leaving in November 2002, issued a statement
detailing its position as stated here, a statement that was published in
full by the Financial Gazette and is available to anyone with an interest in
an accurate record of history.
I find it astonishing that the
Mail and its sister paper in Harare, the Independent, should report on
contestable claims - I mean those which specifically refer to me -- and seek
to present these as facts or informed opinion, without bothering to get
critical comment from me.
The dangers of this
one-sided, agenda-setting journalism are clear to all who cherish press
freedom and democracy - those whose voices could spoil a "good story that
sells" should be shut out.
It is a travesty of justice that
any news media organisation should run a campaign, however laudable, based
on whispers, rumours and innuendo to try to cajole those it names in its
stories into merely reacting to its own agenda so as either to
validate this agenda or for these people to be entrapped into the
I do not claim to be particularly privy to
the political and economic realignments that are now shaping troubled
Zimbabwe in the wake of its tainted general election in March, but I can
tell when I see the fingerprints of a coordinated campaign of
In this case, I am deeply concerned that a
Johannesburg-based publisher found it necessary to mobilise connected
reporters in South Africa into picking up the Independent story so as to
give it "wider and maximum" publicity in their own news
organisations in South Africa and abroad.
When, for some
reason, the plot failed to deliver the required results, the publisher
dutifully proceeded to reassemble the stories that had not been published --
or parts of them -- into a rehatched job that was presented as credible
Back to the Mail last Friday, a fresh allegation
was injected into the story: that my consortium was loaned Z$200 million to
buy the Financial Gazette without having any agreement with the lender, the
Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ), nor any collateral
Needless to say, this claim is as nonsensical as it
is without foundation. The allegation is simply a fishing expedition: to
report the allegation as a fact first and then to seek comment later to keep
an old and dead story alive.
For the record, my
consortium did have an agreement with the CBZ, and its members used their
houses and other investments as collateral. Not that it is really necessary
for me to be disclosing these highly confidential details of a privileged
business transaction, but I have reluctantly had to do so in the
interest of truth.
And yet in the same vein and in the
interest of transparency, one wonders whether the Mail's owner would himself
be thrilled to be publicly disclosing how he negotiated the loans he secured
to buy the Mail and what collateral he gave. And what about details of other
loans which he obtained later to keep his paper going?
am concerned about the ethical conduct of journalism which employs
Gestapo-style activities to shut out the voices of those who are being
vilified. Far from enhancing the message that is purportedly being
disseminated, these activities, at least in the eyes of an intelligent
reading public, gravely undermine the practice of honest and factual
Such practices - be they driven by a blind
pursuit of bigger media audiences and super-profits or other agendas --
reduce an otherwise noble profession into an instrument of systematic
harassment and torture of all who are unfortunate not to own a media outlet
of their own, which would give the latter a right of
Indeed, many within and outside Zimbabwe must be
surprised to see those who only yesterday were propping up Robert Mugabe's
dictatorial regime and presided over the brutal demise of the country's
private media being embraced today as champions of
They are given acres of space in "friendly
newspapers" to try to rehabilitate themselves in the faint hope that
long-suffering Zimbabweans will have forgotten all about their crimes
The news media, anywhere in the world,
bears a heavy responsibility and duty to inform its audiences only with
accurate, impartial and balanced information and news, and this cannot take
place when the media sets itself up as a policing authority, prosecutor and
judge in one, denying the accused a chance to be heard.
Such media, especially in the Third World, gives dictators and other
opponents of press freedom a convenient excuse to crack down on independent
journalism, as has tragically happened in Zimbabwe.
differently, such a media - and not governments and other forces that are
blamed as the usual suspects - itself becomes the greatest threat to press
freedom and democracy.
* Francis Mdlongwa is the head of the
Sol Plaatje Media Leadership Institute at Rhodes University in South Africa.
He wrote this article in his private capacity.
Zimbabwean clergymen deplore SA deportation centre Mon 22
JOHANNESBURG - Seven Zimbabwean clergymen, who were on
a mission to assess the living conditions of Zimbabwean exiles in South
Africa, at the weekend launched a scathing attack on Lindela Refugee
Repatriation Centre, likening it to a "concentration camp".
Zimbabweans including an 18-year old pregnant woman died last month at
Lindela, which has become synonymous with failed Zimbabwean asylum
Zimbabweans account for the highest number of
immigrants arrested and deported via the centre monthly.
Zimbabwean churchmen from the Zimbabwe National Pastors Conference visited
Lindela to get a first-hand assessment of the situation at the notorious
centre, among other places they toured to get a thorough understanding of
the plight of Zimbabweans here.
"We believe it (Lindela) is rightly
described as a psychological torture chamber by Zimbabweans," said the
priests in a statement.
"Our view as pastors is that the consular
offices are psychology torture chambers and Lindela resembles a
The priests said they had noted with "grave
concern" that the system of deportation through Lindela did not have a clear
mechanism of appeal.
"In our view this process exposes Zimbabweans
to government agents and makes them vulnerable when they are
The pastors met with the Commissioner of Police for the
Gauteng Province, Commissioner Ray Naidoo, and said they were encouraged by
his concerns for the Zimbabweans in South Africa and his awareness of their
difficult "circumstances and vulnerability".
"We take seriously
the Commissioner's undertaking to create links between the police and
organisations working with Zimbabweans in Gauteng , and to ensure that all
people are treated as human beings regardless of their status," the
Spokesperson for the priests, Reverend Vimbai
Mugwidi, from the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe encouraged Zimbabwean exiles
to file detailed complaints of any incidents of ill-treatment with the
police to make it easier for Commissioner Naidoo to pursue their
"He (Naidoo) mentioned that some of the complaints from
Zimbabweans are too general and lack sufficient detail to enable the police
to track the culprits in the South African police," said
Zimbabweans who have fled home to settle in South Africa
as economic and political refugees, often complain of victimisation by
members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) who allegedly demand
bribes and sexual favours from women in exchange for not being sent to
Lindela for deportation.
Zimbabwean exiles are also living a
tough life in South Africa as most can't get jobs because of their illegal
status. Many complain they are unfairly denied refugee permits to remain in
the country legally and enable them to work.
The priests said
the "there is no war in Zimbabwe " attitude from South African authorities
was making it increasingly difficult for Zimbabweans to get considered for
refugee or asylum status.
Zimbabweans who had fled to South Africa
had generally moved from the "frying pan into the fire".
Zimbabweans that are living in South Africa are living in more terror than
they fled at home, more misery than they fled at home," said Reverend
She hoped the priests' visit would help in highlighting
the plight of the Zimbabweans.
"We have had an opportunity to
see first hand the conditions that Zimbabweans are living under....When we
go back home, we will be able to highlight their plight," she said. -
Angry, hissy podium banging Saturday 20th August 2005
Dear Family and
Friends, This week, again, everyone outside the country was talking about the
possibility of our two main political parties taIking about talks. The
Nigerian President appointed the ex Mozambican President to try and get
Zimbabwe to talk about talks.The South African government then denied that
they were using talks as a condition for financial aid and a few days later
said they were not going to talk about talks, or insist on talks or even
suggest talks, as it was clear that no one actually wanted to talk anyway.
It got more and more confusing by the day! Mid week some international news
stations said that it looked like talks were going to happen and those of us
at home groaned, yawned sceptically and waited for the rhetoric which we
knew was coming and sure enough followed shortly afterwards. In a couple of
angry, hissy, podium banging speeches, it was all over. It is now official,
yet again, that there are not going to be any talks between Zanu PF and the
MDC. Those of us living in Zimbabwe know that it doesn't actually matter who
asks, begs, pleads, cajoles or insists on talks between President Mugabe and
Morgan Tsvangirai, they are just not going to happen. President Mugabe
continues to insist that the MDC is a British sponsored party containing
sellouts and puppets and that he will not talk to them. It is apparently of
no consequence that Zanu PF cannot resolve the problems crippling the
country, they will be damned if they will let anyone else try, and so we
I was going to say that after all this talking about
mythical talks we would now get back to normal but that would be nonsense
because nothing is normal here. New taxes have just been announced to raise
money to rebuild the houses that the government just knocked down. Official
inflation rose to 254% in July and parliament is about to change the
constitution to remove the right of appeal from people whose land is seized.
Another change being proposed would give the government the power to refuse
passports to some people if it was in the "national interest." While all
this became common knowledge, the Botswana President Festus Mogae defended
the SADC's inactivity by saying: "The problems of Zimbabwe are not my
priority. We consult with Zimbabwe and we advise Zimbabwe in confidence.
That's all we do, that's all we can do and that's all we are prepared to
do." So, there it is, we are on our own, there will be no talks, no
conditions on financial loans and no criticism from African
I end on a very sad note with something else that became
common knowledge this week. Almost a month after ordinary South African
people reached out to Zimbabweans affected by Operation Restore Order, their
goodwill is still sitting at the border. Trucks loaded with 37 tons of
humanitarian aid including blankets, maize meal, cooking oil and beans are
sitting unmoving in the sun at the border as red tape, bureaucracy and
officialdom prevent it from being allowed into Zimbabwe. I believe that when
the trucks were filled and sealed on the 1st of August, they were blessed by
the South African Anglican Archbishop but even divine intervention has not
helped and so the poorest of Zimbabwe's poor continue to suffer in
silence. Until next week, with love, cathy.
Prospects of a respite are dim for Zimbabweans as the southern African
country's currency continues to tumble and runaway inflation sends prices of
basic goods soaring.
"Prices are just going up and nothing is
being done to match the incomes with the cost of living," says Tonderai
Mukeredzi, spokesperson for the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, a price
The council says the food basket for a family
of six has increased by more than 200% since January.
Zimbabwean economy, which has shrunk by 30% in the past four years, has been
battling hyperinflation and critical foreign currency
The dollar has been in a freefall, sliding
from an official rate of 55 to the US greenback in 2001 to 17 500 announced
by the central bank last month.
But the underground
market rate last week was up to 45 000, double the rate from May when one US
dollar was being unofficially traded at 22 000, indicating that the Zimbabwe
dollar is far from stabilising.
"Our currency will continue
on a freefall and inflation will keep shooting up until the government comes
to its senses to address the fundamental factors causing the currency
shortages and driving inflation," says economist Daniel Ndlela, who runs
a private consultancy firm.
inflation rate soared to 254,8% at the end of July, up from 164,3% in June,
according to official statistics.
It has been climbing
upwards since 2000 when it stood at 55.9%, rising to 71 percent a year
later. It reached 133.2% in 2002 before it shot to a record 622% in
Ndlela said currency devaluation was not the
"You don't devalue during a dire shortage of
currency. You need engagement with the international community and to
generate foreign currency through exports, to stabilise the currency," says
Economist John Robertson attributed Zimbabwe's woes
to dwindling exports.
"The economy has lost its ability
to export and other problems such as high inflation are a result of that,"
economist John Robertson said saying Zimbabweans would be "lucky" if the
economy stopped shrinking further this year.
"We used to
have the ability to generate our own foreign currency and now we are
borrowing. We need to revive our export sector to be able to get back on
Consecutive years of drought and a land reform
program launched in 2000 in which some 4 000 white-owned commercial farms
were seized and redistributed to landless blacks have punched a gaping hole
in agricultural production, which once accounted for 40% of the
Once a major exporter of tobacco, tea, coffee and
beef, Zimbabwe has seen production in those areas dwindle year after
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa admitted in parliament
last week that targets for economic growth and inflation for this year would
be missed as he requested a supplementary budget to pay wages and keep the
Zimbabwe is also negotiating a loan of up
to 500 million dollars from South Africa to be able to make payments on a
300-million-dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). -
Part of a new occasional
series presenting the evidence that the government really does live in a
far-flung corner of the universe...
From The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe), 21
UK in bid to scupper Zim, China deals
A top United Kingdom bank with links to the British
political establishment is seeking influence in the Bank of China through a
massive US$3,1 billion investment seen as an insidious bid to shackle
Zimbabwe's chances of securing developmental loan capital from the giant
Chinese institution. The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) reiterated last week
that it was leading the investment initiative, which would give it a 10
percent stake in China's second biggest lender, to "gain a foothold in
China's vast banking sector". Reports said if the deal sailed through, RBS
would also get a seat on the Bank of China's board of directors. Despite
scepticism amongst analysts and RBS' shareholders that say the British bank
will expose itself to China's bad debt problems, the chief executive of
Europe's second biggest lender, Sir Fred Goodwin, said they were pressing
ahead with their plans. Coincidentally, RBS intensified efforts to buy into
the Bank of China when President Mugabe led a high-powered delegation to
Beijing late last month seeking to strengthen Sino-Zimbabwe economic
RBS' move follows a string of other major deals clinched
between Chinese lenders and Western financial institutions, a development
which analysts say looks designed to make sure that Third World countries
like Zimbabwe do not get crucial lines of credit from the Far East. Last
year, another UK-based financial giant, HSBC, shelled out US$1,75 billion
for a 20 percent stake in the Bank of Communications, China's fifth biggest
lender, while the Bank of America bought nearly 10 percent shareholding in
the China Construction Bank in June this year. The deal was worth US$3
billion. Despite opposition from mainly European investors, which saw the
Edinburgh-based bank's share price taking a knock in the past few days, the
RBS board said it was going ahead with the plans. Defending the deal, Sir
Fred was last week quoted by BBC as saying: "The deal we have announced,
from Royal Bank's perspective, is low risk." The Chinese bank, which has a
network of over 11 300 branches, has been described in the Western media as
a known lender with an international outlook, prompting the British
political establishment to seek influence in it in the wake of President
Mugabe's visit to China.
Sources in London told The Sunday Mail last
week that the British political establishment could be coercing RBS into
tying up the deal to give the UK finance house more influence in the Bank of
China with the ultimate aim of hindering the extension of financial support
to Zimbabwe. The sources said Sir Fred and RBS chairman Sir George
Matthewson (64), among other board members, were known to have close ties
with the British political establishment that is at loggerheads with the
Zimbabwean Government. RBS was founded in 1727 through a royal charter and
is one of the leading financial services groups; ranking fifth in the world
in terms of market capitalisation. "Sir Fred is even the chairman of the
Prince's Trust while Sir George is also close to the regime, being the
former chief executive of the Scottish Development Agency," said one source.
"While British companies are free to invest in any country where they are
welcome and while hundreds of them have invested in China even after the
handover of Hong Kong, RBS' move to buy stock at a time when Zimbabwe is
seeking capital from China definitely raises eyebrows. It is not only
Zimbabwe who must be anxious about this move but the rest of the Third World
is concerned, especially considering that Western lenders have either been
unwilling to bail out developing countries or have, at best, been offering
tied aid," added the source.
During President Mugabe's visit to
China, the two countries signed a host of bilateral agreements in the power,
telecommunications, manufacturing, mining and aviation sectors, among
others, while some financial institutions indicated a willingness to extend
lines of credit. Local analysts said moves by RBS and other Western lenders
to buy into Far Eastern banks smacked of a conspiracy to undercut moves by
Harare to secure developmental capital from sources outside the World Bank
and the IMF. "The heightened interest in Asian banks by Western lenders at a
time when the developing world is looking East for financial support could
be an attempt to make sure that all possible avenues for funding are
ultimately controlled by the West," said one analyst. Political commentator
Mr Augustine Timbe said while British companies were free to seek investment
opportunities in any part of the world, it was foolhardy for anyone to think
that they could arm-twist a strong nation like China into taking positions
that were against its convictions. "This is not the first time that the
British political establishment had sought to sabotage economic recovery
initiatives by Zimbabwe. We had Blair trying to make friends with Colonel
Gaddafi of Libya, whom the British had considered an enemy since the
Lockerbie bombing, just to make sure that Zimbabwe could not get oil," said
Mr Timbe. Under the terms of China's admission to the powerful World Trade
Organisation, the Asian giant's financial sector must undergo restructuring
which includes opening up to foreign competition by 2007. However, the
proposed RBS investment is subject to regulatory approval by the Chinese
Reporters THE liberalisation of the fuel sector has created instant oil
barons who have made billions of dollars from importing fuel and selling it
to private companies as well as trading in fuel
Investigations by The Herald have revealed that some fuel
dealers were buying foreign currency on the black market and then buying
fuel coupons for resale to desperate motorists at double the black market
Others were using their free funds to import fuel and reselling it
in bulk to private buyers at prices ranging from $35 000 to $70 000 per
The liberalisation of the fuel industry to allow some filling
stations to sell fuel in foreign currency has enabled the central bank to
mop up foreign currency that was being traded on the black market without
benefiting the formal economy.
However, some enterprising dealers
have hooked onto the fuel coupons, which they have turned into a tradable
commodity at values much higher than the direct trade in black market
A dealer can buy 1 000 litres of fuel coupons worth US$1 000
from either oil companies or the central bank's designated foreign currency
service stations and resell these coupons to several buyers and make Z$70
million in a day's trade.
The coupon system caters for local
Zimbabweans with free funds, foreigners, embassies, Zimbabweans in the
Diaspora and other organisations with foreign currency accounts.
petrol attendants are acting as middlemen for the dealers and sell the
coupons in Zimbabwe dollars for between $60 000 and $80 000 a litre for both
petrol and diesel to desperate motorists.
The investigations also
revealed that fuel was in abundance in the country to those who were
prepared to fork to out more than the regulated pump prices.
foreign currency designated service stations and oil companies were selling
the coupons to anyone with foreign currency and were not tying the coupons
to specific vehicles.
When Herald reporters investigating the matter
arrived at one of the designated service stations to buy the coupons in
Zimbabwe dollars, attendants refused to entertain them at first suspecting
them to be police officers.
However, some taxi drivers parked next to
the service station offered to help the two reporters and promised that
something would be arranged for the journalists.
"I can facilitate
that you get a coupon for 10 litres, but do you have the money that is being
charged for such special arrangements these days?" asked one taxi driver
with his eyes darting around.
After convincing him that they could pay
$700 000 for the 10 litres he took them to the petrol attendant who
instructed the reporters to wait behind the service station while he looked
for the coupon in the offices.
The attendant later returned and signalled
one of the reporters into the back office where the money was paid and the
The sale of coupons was rampant particularly on Fridays
and Saturdays. It is understood that many motorists were willing to buy
coupons at any price.
Some motorists filled their tanks and had extra
fuel put in containers of between 5 and 25 litres.
It is suspected
that the fuel filled in containers was finding its way onto the black
A fuel attendant said an arrangement could be made to buy the
coupons using local currency from those who have access to them.
can arrange to buy the coupons from the people in the queues if you do not
have any foreign currency," the fuel attendant said.
however, revealed that there was a dealer, particularly in the morning,
targeting desperate motorists who had no foreign currency at one of the
There was also brisk business in the selling of South
African Rands near another of the service stations for motorists wishing to
A security guard at the service station pointed reporters to
a dealer by the name of Diva who was in a white Mercedes Benz parked a few
metres away from the entrance gate.
There were three occupants in the
vehicle holding mobile phones indicating that they were conducting
Diva was a bit perturbed when the reporters asked to talk to
"Ah, who are you? 'Boys' you can be shot just like that before you
know what is happening," he said as he got out of the car.
realising that there could be prospects of making quick money, Diva smiled
and said his friend only identified as Phiri could arrange
Using the cellphone of one of the reporters he contacted
his colleague who promised something after an hour.
"Don't worry this
friend of mine has relatives in the UK who deposit foreign currency into a
foreign currency account (and he gave the name) and he gets coupons here. So
he always has plenty of them," he said.
After an hour lapsed Phiri
indicated he was not prepared to secure less than 50 litres worth of
"Ah 'baba' we are talking big money, 10 litres is too little we
need big orders," Phiri said before he hung up.
Other dealers were
operating along Leopold Takawira Street as they openly criss-cross the road
and move between cars signaling to possible customers.
A young man in his
20s approached the reporters from the sidewalk and soon after realising they
wanted to buy fuel coupons he said: "Just wait here I will get the
He then dashed towards Town House and shortly returned to tell
the news team that he had secured a 25-litre coupon for $1,75
"You can check with me later if you need anything less than
that," he said.
The following day the young man had a 10-litre coupon,
which he said was selling for $800 000.
Some oil companies were
importing fuel for individuals and companies who then resold the commodity
to other motorists who waited at these service stations to negotiate with
those who were buying the commodity in bulk.
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle", set to cost the taxpayer a staggering $3 trillion,
is open to abuse and could end up enriching corrupt officials,
investigations by The Standard reveal.
Government has set an
ambitious target of 300 000 houses to be built by the end of the year, which
are supposed to benefit people who were rendered homeless by "Operation
Restore Order". However, The Standard found that as government rushes to meet
deadlines, the system it uses to procure materials countrywide falls far
short of minimum standards that can stop corrupt officials from ending up
the main beneficiaries of the national exercise.
discovered that companies supplying building materials are "approved" by the
Tender Board without following the actual tendering process. The Tender
Board approves the companies on the basis of their "credentials" and not on
the prices of their goods or quality of service.
Officials are not
prepared to say much about the "credentials".
Charles Kuwaza, Tender
Board executive chairman, said he did not know the finer details of the
process and referred The Standard to the board's principal officer, Eppie
Ushewekunze said the board came up with a list of approved
companies that can supply building materials after "vetting".
have a list which we came up with after a vetting exercise but I cannot give
you the details. We are not directly involved, you talk to the implementing
officer in the Ministry of Local Government, Mr (Partson) Mbiriri,"
Mbiriri is the permanent secretary in the Ministry of
Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development.
A man who
answered Mbiriri's phone at his home yesterday said the official was out of
Ignatious Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works
and Urban Development was not immediately available for comment. For several
days last week his phone went unanswered.
However, The Standard has
established that after approval, the list of approved companies is forwarded
to provincial head offices of the local government ministry. An official at
the ministry's Harare provincial offices confirmed they do not tender but
buy from companies approved by the Tender Board.
The way the
procurement system was being handled, sources told The Standard, had caused
widespread concern from officials who feared that some of these "companies"
could take advantage and inflate prices.
The sources said Central Bank
Governor Gideon Gono had also expressed concern and had been reluctant to
release funds for the project until the loopholes were closed.
said Gono, who recently released about $235b to Chombo, feared that some
unscrupulous officials could use the opportunity to buy from firms owned by
friends and relatives at inflated prices.
The $235b is part of the $3
trillion that Gono said would be availed for the construction of houses,
factory shells and market stalls countrywide.
In a response to questions
faxed to him, Gono would not confirm whether or not he had expressed concern
over the procurement process but stressed the need for transparency and
accountability in public organisations.
A fortnight ago, Chombo blamed
Gono for not releasing funds on time after failing to build the 5 000 houses
by the end of July as promised at the onset of "Operation
He told the Zanu PF mouthpiece, The Voice recently: "However,
only $135b has so far been released for the programme. This has affected the
procurement of building materials and payment of other construction
services. "The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is still to honour its promise
of disbursing a total of $200b per week." Gono refused to comment on
"I do not wish to talk to or about my principals on
an open forum, such as the print media." Gono said.
The central bank
last week released an additional $100b for the programme, which is half of
what it promised to release every week when the project
Meanwhile, the RBZ is investigating how the $2b it released
to the local government ministry in March for onwards transmission to
Chitungwiza City Council was used.
Fuel concessions fail to end shortages By our
NEARLY three weeks after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) allowed
motorists to buy fuel using foreign currency, the crisis has not eased with
motorists spending days in queues waiting for delivery vehicles, still in
A survey by The Standard at several garages in Zimbabwe's
major towns revealed that situation had not improved and the move by the RBZ
had not helped the majority of the motorists who have no foreign
currency. In Bulawayo, only vehicles with foreign registered number plates,
mainly from South Africa and Botswana, frequent Bulawayo Service Station,
Bradfield Motors and Enterprises Petroleum, where fuel is sold in hard
Local motorists were shunning these garages, preferring to buy
from the parallel market.
Donald Nyahwema, a motorist said he
sometimes buys fuel from the parallel market, depending on the price that
"Fuel on the parallel market fluctuates so you have to constantly
compare the prices," Nyahwema said.
National University of Science
and Technology (Nust) economics lecturer Oscar Chiwira, said most motorists
in Bulawayo were not buying fuel in hard currency because it was cheaper to
get it from the parallel market.
"Basically, if you compare the pump
price of fuel and the parallel market price, you will find out that the
parallel market is cheaper. People are now clever, they now do a cost
verification analysis before they buy," Chiwira said.
A litre of
petrol is selling for Z$35 000 on the parallel market while the pump price
of the same quantity is US$1, which translates to Z$45 000 on the parallel
market. Officially, one US dollar is equal to Z$24 000.
In Harare, while
there are no queues at garages selling fuel in foreign currency, permanent
queues form at other garages that do not sell fuel in foreign
The queues form even if there are no immediate deliveries of
the scarce commodity anticipated.
"These days motorists do not queue
for a long time because you just buy your coupon and proceed to get your
fuel," said a motorist, who frequently buys petrol from Comoil Service
Station in Harare.
War veterans admit attacking MDC MP By Savious
BULAWAYO - Three war veterans have admitted involvement in
kidnapping and severely attacking the late MDC MP, David Mpala, during the
run-up to the 2002 Presidential election, The Standard can
The MDC legislator died last year at St Luke's Hospital in Lupane
as a result of the severe injuries he sustained during the attack, according
to his family.
While Mpala's family had maintained that war veterans
attacked him, the government denied the involvement of the former freedom
Patrick Ndlovu (55), Minenkulu Ncube and Saith-Themba
Jubane (49), all from Tsholotsho district, were recently convicted of
kidnapping, theft and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily
They had all pleaded guilty to the charges before Lupane
resident magistrate, Skumbuzo Nyathi.
Two other war veterans who
were jointly charged with the three, Patrick Ndlovu (50), Raymond Gumbo (51)
died before they faced trial.
The state led by Saunders Sibanda, told
the court that on 13 January 2002, the five attended a war veterans' meeting
at Lupane Business Centre where they learnt that the MDC MP was at the
business centre with his wife and mother-in-law.
Mpala and force-marched him to a bushy area near Lupane Business Centre and
started assaulting him all over his body with unknown
The state further said that the war veterans then
stabbed him twice at the back with a sharp object and left him
However, he later gained consciousness after his
kidnappers had left. He was hospitalised but his health continued to
deteriorate until his died at St Luke's Hospital last year.
FINANCE minister, Herbert Murerwa, last week ruled out a
salary increment for civil servants, fuelling widespread disgruntlement and
anger among thousands of poorly paid government workers.
supplementary budget on Tuesday, the minister deferred the public service
salary reviews to the 2006 budget on the basis that this would put
additional pressure on the fiscus.
But civil servants who are bearing the
brunt of a record inflation rise slammed the government saying it was
insensitive to their plight and was forcing them to engage in corruption in
order to survive.
"People (civil servants) are not happy and some are
even contemplating a crippling job action. We have not heard anything from
the people who are supposed to be representing us and life has become very
unbearable," said one government officer.
The majority of the
civil servants earn salaries below the poverty datum line, currently $5.4m.
The lowest paid workers earn $1.4m while teachers and other officials in
various government departments earn about $3.5m. After deductions, many
civil servants like clerks go home with less than a million
"I think the government is not serious about us. How do
they expect one to live on a salary of just $1m -- it's very unfair," said
one civil servant working in Harare.
The Progressive Teachers'
Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary general Raymond Majongwe said the
announcement that government would not award an increment to civil servants
was a clear example of it's insensitivity towards the welfare of the
"Most civil servants, mostly teachers, have managed to get
this far by borrowing to make ends meet. There is no reason why they should
continue to bury themselves in debt," Majongwe said.
monthly income and expenditure account for a teacher prepared by the PTUZ
shows a total monthly expenditure of $7.6m leaving a shortfall of $5.6m for
an average teacher who nets a paltry $2m.
Public Service Association
acting president Maxwell Kaitano last week refused to say how the
negotiations for salary reviews were going.
"We just want to know
what the proposed allowances would get us to but we are in the middle of
negotiations for the salary reviews since June and our members would always
guide us on the best way forward," Kaitano said.
$440bn for civil servant transport allowances but many workers fear this
amount would only benefit those officials who receive transport and
subsistence allowances when on field missions.
PTUZ is demanding a
150 percent cost of living adjustment, a 100 percent increase in transport
allowance and an additional 200 percent for housing.
had last year allocated $11.49 trillion for the public service employment
costs in the 2005 budget, with a view to improve working conditions in the
erratic printing of the Hansard by the ruling Zanu PF-owned Jongwe Printing
and Publishing Company is compromising the work of legislators in their
constituencies, Members of Parliament told The Standard last week.
Hansard was last printed on 20 July although Parliament adjourned on the
28th of the same month for the Heroes and Defence Forces holidays. It
resumed sitting on Tuesday.
The MPs who spoke to this newspaper last
week said they were no longer able to take the Hansard, which records
parliamentary debates, for distribution in their constituencies. Some MPs
use the Hansard as reference material.
In most constituencies copies
of the Hansard are distributed to Parliamentary Information Centres, public
libraries and schools, where they generate a lot of interest as people
follow parliamentary debates.
Opposition Movement for Democratic
Change MP for Kambuzuma, Willias Madzimure, said the erratic printing of the
Hansard was a worrying development as it was "a handy tool" for
He said the Hansard should be produced as quickly as
possible to ensure that MPs are able to check whether their contributions
were correctly recorded. His comments were also echoed by Harare North MP,
But sources said Jongwe Printing and Publishing,
which used to be the ruling party's cash cow, is facing viability problems.
Zanu PF spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira, was not immediately available for
Deputy Clerk of Parliament, Helen Dingani, professed ignorance
of the Hansard printing problems.
Whitecliff: State bends the law newsfocus by Walter
FOR George Gapu, the mere mention of the name Whitecliff conjures
up images of the twin evils of lawlessness and hopelessness.
feeling is unavoidable. It's inevitable when you have nowhere else to turn
to," says Gapu, a lawyer with Scanlen and Holderness in Harare.
more than four years since Gapu agreed to represent the interests of the
developer of Whitecliff farm, but he has had to contend with disappointment
at every turn.
His client, Eddies Pfugari Properties (Pvt) Ltd, the
owner of Whitecliff remains disgruntled while his farm, hogs the limelight
as the focal point for "Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle", an ambitious
programme by the government to provide housing for victims of the "Operation
It is not that Gapu's legal skills in court have been
found wanting, but simply that judicial authority is being disregarded in a
manner that brings the administration of justice in Zimbabwe into
Since 2001 when war veterans and other "landless" people
invaded Whitecliff farm, Gapu has been in and out of courts trying to seek
judicial redress fore his client who wants nothing less than the removal of
the "invaders" from the farm.
"Back then when the problems
started, we obtained an eviction order to remove the people from Whitecliff.
However, the Deputy Sheriff could not evict the people because they had the
support of the government. We could not do anything about it," he
The invaders who went on to put up makeshift structures, some
of which were a eyesore to behold for travellers along the busy highway,
were only evicted in May this year when government launched "Operation
Murambatsvina" which reportedly displaced an estimated 700 000 people in
Yet this did not bring any relief to the owners of the farm
who have, since 2000, sold more than 700 low-density stands and transferred
title to over 200 buyers. Just a few days after the blitz, Whitecliff took
centre-stage again, this time, being the launch pad of "Operation
Murambatsvina's" successor, "Operation Garikai/Hlalani
Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development Minister
Ignatious Chombo announced that the government would build sample houses on
the farm, which, for five years, remained a playground for proponents of the
"Third Chimurenga" in a clear violation of a court
Subsequently, the government announced that it had subdivided
the farm into 9 960 stands and named the beneficiaries of the
Acting on Eddies Pfugari's instruction, Gapu filed for an
urgent chamber application and won a provisional Order on 21 June
interdicting the minister from "constructing sample houses or any structures
without the written consent or authority of the applicant" and "allocating
stands (at Whitecliff) without the written consent of the
The minister, who had opposed the application on the
basis that government intended to acquire the property under the Land
Acquisition Act, was also ordered to destroy structures built before the
order, in 48 hours.
The order was served at the minister's offices on
30 June but in clear violation, construction at the Whitecliff has not
stopped. A few weeks ago, acting Foreign Affairs Minister Stan Mudenge took
diplomats to Whitecliff to reassure them that the programme was in full
"It is very frustrating. There is no other arm of the State
which one can use in enforcing court orders," says Gapu who on 28 July, went
again to the High Court seeking that Chombo be punished for disobeying court
His fresh application implores the court to order that
Chombo, who has to put a stop to all construction activity, to be imprisoned
for 30 days and fined $20 million for contempt of court.
the High Court makes a ruling on the matter, Gapu and his client can only
wait, as they have done since early 2001, in the belief that orders of the
court will carry the day. In the meantime, Whitecliff will remain a classic
example of how President Mugabe's government continues to blatantly
disregard court orders with the judiciary remaining silent about
"When the government fails to obey court orders, then you have a
situation where ordinary people would be justified in not having faith in
the rule of law and administration of justice. It is very dangerous for the
rule or law and democracy," says a disappointed Gapu.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) says it is particularly disturbed
by how the case has unfolded. "When the legal owner sought and indeed was
allowed to stop these constructions, the court came to his rescue with a
Court Order barring the construction.
"Paradoxically the same
government that said it was restoring order acted in flagrant disregard of a
Court Order by continuing with the construction of housing units on this
private property.In essence therefore the government continues to act in
unashamed and arrogant contempt of a Court of law," the ZLHR
What is more worrying is the silence of the judiciary. "The
judiciary is called upon to stamp its lawful and constitutional authority as
provided for by the laws of the land to ensure that its lawful orders are
obeyed by all. ZLHR is particularly concerned at the judiciary's deafening
silence in such times when its authority is daily undermined by the
executive arms of the State."
Bulawayo council resorts to boreholes By our
THE Bulawayo city council has drilled more than 40 boreholes in an
attempt to improve water supplies in a city hard hit by water
The boreholes were drilled in Mpopoma, Newton West, Cowdray
Park, Magwegwe, Sizinda, Pumula, Saurstown and Entumbane.
department of engineering council officialconfirmed on Friday that drilling
of boreholes was underway.
"The residents will be using the
underground water for washing purposes, watering gardens and other domestic
purposes but the water can be consumed. People drink borehole water in rural
areas, so why not here in town," said the city council
The country's second largest city introduced water
rationing last month but the water shortage continues to haunt
Suburbs worst affected by the shortages are Emakhandeni,
Bellevue, Entumbane, Emganwini and Newton West which sometimes go for days
Bulawayo Town Clerk, Moffat Ndlovu, attributed
the water shortage to persistent poor rains received over the past years in
the catchment areas of supply dams.
"Major Bulawayo water
reservoirs such as Umzingwane and Upper Ncema have run out of water. Whilst
the remaining dams are on average 46 percent full. The gravity mains
channelling water to the water works are limited to 90 000 cubic metres a
day. This is against the city's average demand of about 140 000 cubic metres
a day, projected to have reduced to 90 000 cubic metres with the
introduction of the water rationing scheme.
THE World Bank, which is owed more than US$350 million by the
government has equated the country's economic crisis to a tragedy, The
Standard can reveal.
The Bank says what is happening is a tragedy and
that it is concerned about the rising poverty in a country that was once the
engine of growth in the sub-region.
The international financial
institution says that it is worried about the deteriorating economic climate
and rising poverty in the country.
Zimbabwe owes the World Bank more
than US$350 million, the International Monetary Fund more than US$300
million and the African Development Bank more than US$280
But the World Bank, in an interview with The Standard, said
the real issues of concern at the moment were the increasing poverty levels
in the country, the suffering of Zimbabweans and the lack of decisive policy
action - both on the economic and political front - to stop the economic
decline and achieve a normalisation in the relationship with the
It said unfortunately there was little
or no positive progress in the area of economic policy as evidenced by the
continuing recent economic decline.
The World Bank's comments
coincided with a report released by the Centre for Global Development, which
says: "Zimbabwe has experienced a precipitous collapse in its economy over
the past five years. The purchasing power of an average Zimbabwean in 2005
has fallen back to the same level as in 1953.
"For people in extreme
poverty, a collapse like this translates directly into sickness and death.
We conservatively estimate that persistence in the economic shock will cost
the lives of at least 3 900 Zimbabwean children per year - about half the
infant death toll from HIV and AIDS."
The international financial
institution said: "The World Bank is continuing to stay abreast of economic
and social developments by carrying out analytical work, for instance in the
area of poverty monitoring and stock taking exercises in the agricultural
and infrastructure sector, as well as assessing how the population is coping
with the worsening economic situation.
"Through this analytical
work, the World Bank remains prepared to support the people of Zimbabwe once
a significantly improved economic and political situation warrants a more
active presence by the Bank."
It said that at present its assistance
to Zimbabwe is limited to priority and urgent analytical work in the areas
of measuring poverty, assessing coping mechanisms, and exploring more
effective and efficient responses to HIV and AIDS.
"In all these
analytical exercises the World Bank is partnering with other stakeholders
such as non-governmental organisations and the United Nations family. There
is no active lending programme and the last project in the World Bank's
portfolio was cancelled in December 2002," it said.
While the World
Bank has not lent anything to Zimbabwe for nearly three years, unlike the
International Monetary Fund, it however maintains an official presence in
Harare through its country office as well as appropriate dialogue with the
government, so that "we are prepared to be effective if and when the
The IMF closed its office in Zimbabwe in September
The comments on Zimbabwe come in the wake of a visit to
Africa by World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz in June, which took him to
South Africa. It was a significant visit because it is his first since his
recent appointment as president of the World Bank. Wolfowitz says he has
made Africa a priority during his term.
The World Bank president
met President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa but says there was no discussion
on South Africa extending a loan to Zimbabwe.
"Mr Wolfowitz and
President Mbeki had a productive meeting during the brief visit to South
Africa in June. They discussed a number of issues of mutual interest,
including the situation in Zimbabwe. Following their meeting, Mr Wolfowitz
commented to the Press on his concern over policy decisions and the
deteriorating economic climate in Zimbabwe - concerns which have also been
formally conveyed to the government separately," said the Bank in response
to questions from The Standard.
Minister in court for culpable homicide By Savious
BULAWAYO - THE Zanu PF Politburo Member and Deputy Minister of
Higher and Tertiary Education, Sikhanyiso Duke Ndlovu, appeared in court on
Thursday to answer charges of culpable homicide after the vehicle he was
driving allegedly struck and killed a pedestrian, The Standard can
The politician briefly appeared at Tredgold Magistrates' courts
before magistrate Sibongile Msipa and was remanded out of custody to 22
August. A key State witness in the case failed to turn up.
case represented by Edwin Marecha is that on 5 October 2003 at around 8PM
Ndlovu, who was driving a Honda Accord struck down a pedestrian walking
along Leopold Takawira Avenue in Bulawayo after his vehicle veered off the
The pedestrian, identified as Handina Perkhams died on the spot
after sustaining multiple injuries.
The State further alleges
that after knocking down Perkhams, Ndlovu drove off but returned to the
scene of the accident after suspecting that he struck
According to the State outline, the pedestrian was knocked
down while walking beyond the yellow carriage markings that demarcate the
end of the road.
It is further alleged that Ndlovu was travelling at
a speed which was excessive in the circumstances and "failed to stop or act
reasonably when the accident seemed imminent".
Govt admits blunder on Hatcliffe By Thomas
DESPITE feigning bravado in the face of widespread criticism,
the government backed down on the Hatcliffe Extension evictions it carried
out in May because of international pressure, The Standard can
International organisations, among them USAID, UK's Department
for International Development and the World Bank funded infrastructure at
The international organisations funded water and
sewerage reticulation and the sewerage works at Hatcliffe Extension under
the Urban II Programme.
When the evictions started, the MP for Harare
North, Trudy Stevenson, remembered this fact and immediately sought meetings
with representatives of the international
Hatcliffe, which lies some 20 kilometres from the
capital, was a planned settlement. It was, however, a surprise victim of the
government's "clean-up" exercise.
Stevenson said: "I do not know
what they expect government to do. You will have to ask them directly! I
imagine they would expect government to fully compensate every person
evicted, to make a serious effort to provide 'catch-up lessons' for every
school child who has missed nearly two months of school, to provide adequate
replacement shelter for every family (the four narrow asbestos sheets
provided to some - not all, as far as we know - are not sufficient to make a
house!), to provide adequate remedial medical treatment to all those
withdrawn from their ARV and other medication programmes for two months, and
to guarantee security of tenure for every family to their stand without the
payment of any supplementary fee whatsoever."
They are being
charged an extra $400 000 a stand on top of the $100 000 they paid last year
for their leases.
Stevenson said: "They cannot afford that - they
used every cent they had for transport to escape the beating and burning
promised by the police! Never mind the extra school fees, new uniforms,
extra bus fares, loss of income from vending...the list is practically
Sources at USAID confirmed to The Standard that they wrote
to the government over destruction of property at Hatcliffe, which was built
with funds from international organisations, a decade
Stevenson said: "This was supposed to be a bilateral agreement
with government, with the City of Harare as the implementing agent in this
She met the World Bank's acting country manager, Sudhir
Chitale, very early on after the launch of "Operation
She added: "He said that, while it is a pity that
government destroys a project the Bank had funded, the contract period was
over and there was not much the Bank could do legally - but it would not go
unnoticed, for future funding requests.
"He also pointed out that
the amount of arrears owed by government to the Bank is a much more serious
matter than the relatively small amount put into Hatcliffe Extension
infrastructure - hence our suspension from Bank funding, which has had a
devastating effect to other international donor funding."
Hatcliffe Extension infrastructure included sewage treatment works,
mechanical, civil and electrical engineering contracts as well as a water
reservoir which started in July 1997 and was completed by the Chinese
contractor, Hualong, in March 1998 at a cost of $5,6 million and water main
and pump station.
The Hatcliffe BNR sewage treatment works
constructed by R Davis & Company started in September 1996 and was
completed in December 1998 at a cost of $38.5 million.
main and pump station was also constructed by R Davis & Company. Work on
it started in December 1997 and was completed in June 1999 at a cost of $33
USAID was involved in the planning of Hatcliffe Extension
new stands site-and-service scheme in conjunction with the Ministry of Local
Government. They were not impressed.
Records show that in 1992,
US committed $600 million in support of low-income housing, under which
housing co-operatives qualified for funding. The records also show that in
March 1994 the World Bank made available $21 million for housing
development, which was released to local authorities under the Urban II
The DFID is understood to have funded projects in
Hatcliffe. However, the British Embassy last week said: "The British
Ambassador has made representations to a number of senior government members
about our concerns over Operation Murambatsvina.
government's primary concern is for the people of Zimbabwe. We are working
both to facilitate and to contribute to an international response to the
humanitarian needs of the people of Zimbabwe... "
Jack Straw, the
British Foreign Secretary, in June raised the Zimbabwe issue during the EU
General Affairs and External Relations Council, saying the UK and
international partners were exerting pressure on Zimbabwe to end the
brutality of "Operation Murambatsvina", while discussing human rights abuses
in Zimbabwe with neighbouring African states and regional African
The UK has already provided one million pounds in
humanitarian assistance, channeled though United Nations agencies and
non-governmental organisations, in the form of food, blankets, medicines and
other immediate help to the most vulnerable families made homeless as a
result of the operation across the country, according to the
"It is crucial that the government of Zimbabwe agrees to
allow humanitarian access to the UN agencies and NGOs who are willing to
provide assistance," Embassy said.
The government started
returning thousands of families to Hatcliffe ruins after buckling under
Hatcliffe residents who were initially taken
to Caledonia holding camp attacked the government over what they described
as a lack of a clear policy.
"I have been moving all my life, In
1994 I lived at Porta Farm and was moved to this place, then to Caledonia
and now I am back (Hatcliffe)", said Maidei Maphosa, a young mother, who
says she has never lived in a respectable home.
Maidei narrated the
hardships they faced at the Caledonia camp, which has hitherto remained
closed to the outside world.
"We lived in plastic tents and were
mixed with streets kids and even people with mental conditions. On several
occasions my child was down with flu. There was an endless flu bug in the
camp," she said.
Albert Tasarira said the images of the camp, which
were shown to the outside world, portrayed a false picture. "We were living
crammed like rats, the tents were inhabited by the police and not just
anybody", he said.
Victims of the unpopular exercise said they were
no schools, resulting in hundreds of pupils dropping out.
operation has impacted heavily on the pupils who were forced to drop out of
school after the displacement of their parents.
Joyce Charehwa, a
13-year-old girl who was in Grade VII told The Standard that she missed
school but was however consoled by the fact that most of her friends were
"I really do miss school and am looking forward to
going back," she said.
The Minister of Health and Child Welfare,
David Parirenyatwa, recently addressed some of the returning residents who
were waiting for roofing sheets and said pupils should register at their old
schools so that they could start attending lessons.
Most of the
people said the government was not helping them when they were at the
transit camp. "We got all aid from the United Nations", said Terrence Kamba,
who said he was sleeping in the open with his wife and three children since
their return to Hatcliffe.
The Minister of Local Government, public
Works and Urban Development, Ignatious Chombo, visited the camp only once,
NATIONS and organisations that have chosen to stand
by Zimbabwe deserve to be commended. It is time we started reciprocating the
goodwill being shown towards us by demonstrating willingness to accommodate
advice and views from the few remaining friends.
Elsewhere in this
paper we carry a report indicating that the current economic crisis is so
deep that it has set the country back more than half a century. In yet
another report, the World Bank which is owed more than US$350 million by the
government, says its primary concern is the rising poverty rather than the
amount Zimbabwe owes. The two reports recommend decisive policy action,
politically and economically in order to stop the economic decline and
achieve a normalisation in relationship with the international
What is critical for Zimbabwe is to realise that the path it
has chosen during the past five years has an enormous cost and that no
country with genuine interests and welfare of its citizens can continue the
way things have been for the past half decade. Not everyone, who reminds us
of the consequences of the route we have taken, is driven by dark
In June, the executive director of the World Food Programme
visited Zimbabwe on behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General. His
visit was able to establish that there is need for emergency food aid and
that in the case of Zimbabwe in particular, more than 4 million people were
Since that visit the government chose not to capitalise on
it and launch an international appeal for food. Instead, it elected to
prevent any food aid coming into the country. The rationale for this action
by the government is perplexing, to say the least. Could a government,
professing to serve the interests of its people reject or stall the flow of
food aid intended for vulnerable populations, when it clearly does not have
the resources to go it alone? Why is the government afraid of saving its own
people from starvation, when it always claims credit for sourcing and
enabling international aid flows?
Efforts by the South African
Council of Churches to bring in food to alleviate the domestic shortages
have met obstacles. The United States has also complained that thousands of
tonnes of food aid are being held up because of bureaucratic paper work.
This is not the conduct of a government reciprocating gestures of goodwill
towards its starving populations. Canada, like others, has gone further by
seeking to empower rural people so that they are better prepared to overcome
future food crises. But that is the future. We have a crisis right now and
it requires immediate responses and solutions. Would the government rather
it had starving people - genocide? Whatever its differences with neighbours
or the international community - perceived or real - it should not cloud the
issues. It must begin to act as a representative of the people,
demonstrating concern for its citizens.
The government clearly has no
resources for the multitude of Zimbabwe's needs. The cancer has been allowed
to fester for too long and the response does not lie in ad hoc measures. If
a hungry person is an angry person, it is in the interests of the government
to begin to deal with removing the cause of anger that could come from food
shortages, by allowing all people of goodwill, including its friends to
weigh in with assistance. Let's stop being paranoid.
Bank, for example, says that it remains prepared to support the people of
Zimbabwe once a significantly improved economic and political situation
warrants a more active presence by the Bank and points out that it is for
this reason that it continues to maintain an office in Harare. Let's make
the work of the few remaining friends that much easier for them.
Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review, presented to Parliament last week and
ironically titled Restoring Confidence in all Sectors exposed the magnitude
of the problems Zimbabwe is facing. It is clear the government does not have
the resources, on its own, to begin to go about the task of restoring
confidence in all sectors in this country.
Buying food on the
international market requires foreign currency not the Zimbabwe dollar. We
do not have the hard currency or the capacity to generate foreign currency
to meet all the country's food requirements. That has been evident to the
government for a long time.
The problem extends beyond the immediate.
It is clear that the forthcoming agricultural season will be affected by the
unavailability of inputs that have to be imported - seed, fertilisers and
chemicals. Even if there is a good rainy season the unavailability of inputs
at a time they are required will be another major set back, likely to impact
negatively on food availability next year.
Those coming to our
assistance are not seeking to impose themselves on us. They do so out of a
realisation of the government's limitations.
KEY economic stakeholders have painted a gloomy outlook of
the country's economic fortunes after both the mid-term fiscal and monetary
policies announced recently failed to tackle headlong the country's economic
Speaker after speaker at a breakfast seminar organised by the
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) said the crisis-wrecked economy
would continue sinking into the doldrums in the absence of drastic measures
to arrest the haemorrhaging economy.
ZNCC president Luxon Zembe said
that there was need to remove the distortions in the economy and synchronise
"We need to have a single economy rather than the current
prices for different sectors of the economy. Right now we have price for
fuel for farmers, people with foreign currency, parastatals and also the
general public buying in local currency," Zembe said.
Robertson, economic consultant at Robertson Economic Information Services,
said that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would this year fall by 2% and a
further 1% next year unless a miracle happens to stop the decline in the
country's economic sectors.
He also predicted that the budget deficit
will worsen to more than 8.7% of the GDP as announced by Minister of Finance
Herbert Murerwa last Tuesday.
"Companies affected by high taxes will
decrease production and prices will go up. People will, as a result, have
less purchasing power and this will further shrink government revenues,"
According to Robertson Economic Information Services
goods in the country are now costing 1 000 times more than they were in 1995
and the manufacturing sector will further decline this
Witness Chinyama, an economist at Kingdom Financial Holdings,
ruled out any recovery prospects unless the country re-engaged international
development partners to attract foreign direct investment.
also bemoaned the fact that the country was spending more on recurrent
expenditure at the expense of capital expenditure through allocation of more
resources to "social ministries" and sacrificing productive ministries like
agriculture and energy.
Davy Matyanga of the Chamber of Mines of
Zimbabwe said the harsh economic environment in the country was causing
acute viability problems to the mining sector.
problems were being fuelled by shortage of inputs, unfavourable exchange
rate, high cost of available inputs and a very restrictive exchange control
He said as a result of these numerous problems, the
sector was now only projected to grow by 7.6%, down from an initial forecast
Production in minerals like coal, gold, nickel and
phosphate went down while asbestos and platinum registered some
"Most of the measures announced by government will increase
the cost of doing business in Zimbabwe. Also the country's investment front
measures were inconsistent with international standards and this will make
the country less attractive to international investors," Matyanga
The Commercial Farmers' Union revealed that there was little
land preparation taking place due to insufficient funds allocated for
agriculture. The union said the open market financing of agriculture was
unsustainable due to the country's high interest rates.
Fortune Charumbira, who sits in the Parliament's budget committee, said that
business and government should stop being in denial and should start
admitting their failures for the country to solve its
Joseph Kunyetu, ZNCC vice president, said the fiscal policy
announcement was going to create an even more difficult platform for
companies because of the high tax regime. Murerwa increased the rate of the
value added tax (VAT) from 15% to 17.5%.
in The Standard that failure of the electricity supply in Zimbabwe is due to
lack of coal for the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority.
interesting, especially, since President Robert Mugabe, that great critic of
white imperialism, has seen fit to facilitate a large chunk of the ownership
of Hwange into the hands of one Nicholas van Hoogstraten, who is a white
businessman and a Brit to boot.
WRITE in a state of shock, having seen the recent demolition of Hatcliffe
Extension Clinic and the first signs of attack on adjacent Zambuko
Zambuko School was established by government to cater for the
children of Hatcliffe Extension, and had an enrolment of 1 100 pupils from
Grade I - grade VI before it was forced to close under Operation
Murambatsvina in June this year. The school started as a community effort,
long before it was adopted by government. Ten years ago, it had six
unqualified teachers and a couple of wooden sheds, and was just behind the
Soon it had an establishment of qualified and
accredited teachers, a proactive headmaster seconded from Hatcliffe Two
Primary, and many benefactors who built toilet blocks, a soup kitchen,
community library, classroom blocks, boreholes, etc, etc.
than 100 pupils were Aids orphans supported by the BEAM programme, Batsirai
group and other donors. It was a model example of what a community can do
for itself, given a bit of encouragement.
Zambuko School is now
showing the first signs of destruction. Window panes are broken, classrooms
are in disarray, and the roofing is being torn off the main hall. The soup
kitchen has been entirely destroyed, and the swings and jungle jims have
The caretaker hangs laundry on the fence, and there are
various vehicles around the yard, but it looks like a "first come, first
served" scenario, whereby the pickings are ripe for whoever arrives
The new farmer next door, Nyasha Chikwinya, who has taken over
Pioneers Rust Farm from the Turner family, who donated the Church/School
Hall to the Hatcliffe Extension community, declares that Zambuko School is
on her property. She insists that it does not belong to Hatcliffe
It is plain that Zambuko School is under threat. I
therefore appeal on behalf of the 1 100 pupils and their parents to everyone
with any influence whatsoever to help us save Zambuko School! We do not want
all the investment in this school to be destroyed. Parents, teachers,
development partners and children have worked hard to make Zambuko a shining
example of community development.
Please help us to save Zambuko
School, and avoid having to spend more billions erecting a replacement
school six months or so down the line. We don't have those extra billions,
and we know that nothing will ever replace Zambuko.
Public hearings on Amendment Bill were a mockery of
THE National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) would like to
dismiss as a non-event, and as mockery of democratic consultation processes,
the Public Hearing on Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 17) Bill as
the inputs to be made will not be of any significance.
Parliamentary committee has ignored representations made to it previously
such as those for pre-election reforms.
The NCA strongly believes that
Parliament and the Zanu PF politburo have neither the mandate, nor moral
authority to undertake constitutional reform by themselves. This is the
sovereign right of Zimbabweans as a whole. The process has congenital
defects stemming from the strictures of an undemocratic constitution whose
perfunctory consultative processes are impotent.
purposes of the Bill are to re-introduce a Senate which will accommodates
President Robert Mugabe's cronies in order to shamelessly whittle down an
already emaciated Declaration of Rights by attacking the judiciary and
limiting freedoms of movement and rights to own property.
It is the
height of hypocrisy and abuse of power for a government that has claimed for
the past five years, that constitutional reform is not a priority; to turn
around and fast-track self-serving constitutional
This comes at a time when the people are suffering at
the hands of the regime - from shortages of food, fuel, transport and the
destruction of people's livelihoods through the notorious "Operation
Instead of addressing these problems, the regime
proposes to increase the number of MPs from 150 to 216 and Mugabe's
appointees from 30 to 46.
The moribund economy cannot sustain the
increase of MPs from 150.
Just as we rejected an imposed constitution
in 2000, so do we now reject dictated and piece-meal constitutional
Are Mugabe's supporters crazy lunatics? American notes
with Ken Mufuka
I MUST confess that when I heard that President Robert
Mugabe was getting some support among some black groups, my Eurocentric
black mind jumped to the conclusion that the supporters were lunatics or
more mad (black English).
Secondly, evidence had been all around me
for a long time, and I had ignored it - until recently. I was returning to
the United States, via South Africa.
I visited a black professor and his
wife who had lived all their lives in England. On returning to South Africa,
they were disappointed by President Thabo Mbeki ignorant policies on AIDS,
on Zimbabwe, and on the selfish get rich quick tendencies of the South
"Some things are plain wrong," he said referring
to Mbeki's policy on Zimbabwe. "How can he even think of securing Zimbabwe's
loans at the International Moneary Fund? This is madness!" In fact, as I
found out, President Mugabe is regarded as a hero in South Africa. President
Mbeki's as well as most African leaders, have a genuine admiration for
A Zulu man explained it simply. "Is it right for 4,000 whites
to own seventy percent of the land, far away from their own country?" The
argument that those 4 000 white farmers were citizens only made the Zulu man
more angrier (black American English). "Who gave them that power, to own
that much of the economy in a foreign country?"
It opened my eyes
to the fact that in a Euroecentric world, it is all right for a few men to
own all the means of production and to dominate the economy. To the Zulu and
perhaps the Africans I met, it is plain wrong, even stupid. Everything else
is academic. I was amazed to find that white farmers whether born in
Zimbabwe or not, were regarded as Europeans, and therefore not entitled to
protection under the law.
Let us turn to President Mbeki, or former
President Bakili Muluzi of Malawi or former President Sam Nujoma of Namibia.
A white couple from New Zealand enlightened me on a topic I was perhaps
overly sensitive about, racial solidarity. The couple, the wife a medical
doctor and the husband an environmentalist, were very informed about world
politics. Black nationalists resent white domination intuitively, and these
presidents mentioned above share that resentment. The cause of white farmers
in Zimbabwe is seen as a smokescreen to perpetuate imperialist domination of
black economies through a surrogate population that owes allegiance to the
In that sense, Mugabe has done what circumstances or
cowardice prevented them from doing. "Ah," I said, remembering Professor
Levy Bruhl, "Africans are illogical. This hatred of the white man consumes
them and subsumes economic thinking and planning."
the United States further enlightened me on this issue of race solidarity.
Randall Robinson was leading a defence of Mugabe policies. Because of my
Eurocentric mindset, I had to check his biography three times to make sure
that he was not more mad (black English). Robinson's credentials are
impeccable. A law graduate of Harvard, he founded TransAfrica, a movement
that was devoted to the liberation of South Africa. His is credited with
forcing Congress to face up to white racism by passing the Comprehensive
Anti-Apartheid Act, 1984 after twenty years of struggle. But Robinson was
cheated of his victory. When Nelson Mandela left prison, Robinson's group
was snubbed because Mandela had been advised to keep away from communist
organizations. Mandela feigned an illness and was unable to speak to
TransAfrica. Frustrated by the realization that even in victory, the
imperialists now wearing new clothes, and their ideology reborn and
predicated on democracy, liberation of women and regime changes in Iraq and
Haiti, sweet victory had been snatched from his mouth. "Whites don't give a
... (bad word) about what we think, never did, never will," he wrote in his
biography, Quitting America.
Robinson is supported by probably
the majority of US blacks. He says that whites use double standards in
judging Mugabe. In 1991, during the Commonwealth Conference, 30 000
Zimbabweans were kicked out of their shacks and hidden in some remote
"keeps" so the Queen would not see their unsightly shacks. And dirty faces.
He says American Indians and his black ancestors were murdered, enslaved and
kicked out of their lands to make way for European immigrants to America.
These Christians, he says, swore that God created all men equal while in the
same breadth they held his ancestors as slaves.
He says that in
Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa, the same people now complaining about
"Mugabe land grab" kicked Africans out of their land. Hypocrites, he calls
What about those blacks that are opposed to Mugabe land grab? I
seem to glean through his numerous writings that the answer to that is very
simple. Look at the paymasters to these blacks. Brother Robinson may have
gone too far here. His TransAfrica group received money from Ford Foundation
and many other imperialist devils. I have found a white man, Anders G Lewis
of FrontPage Magazine (3 August) who calls Brother Robinson a black racist.
Robinson's reply is that he (Robinson) is yet to receive compensation for
the labour his slave ancestors. Robinson has denounced his US Citizenship
and is hiding out in the Caribbean island of St Kitts.
the economy? The answer seems to be, the land is the economy, stupid. With
friends like these, why do we need enemies?
Zimbabweans can not afford to die Sunday opinion with
ZIMBABWE'S near esoteric inflation is being felt within
spheres which a few years ago were issues which would not give anybody
Only the event caused migraines, but otherwise the
attendant processes were done with relative ease.
Merchants of death
- the pun is intendeacad - who sprouted after HIV and Aids hit these shores
and are raking in millions if not billions in revenue as Zimbabwe's ailing
economy continues destroying the little ubuntu there is left in
While it is true communities need funeral parlours and other
service providers within the business of death that families now have to
deal with not only their grief but also worry about where they will get
finance to give relatives a decent send-off has become the norm in our
increasingly abnormal society.
In 2002, a family struggled to
hire a bus to ferry mourners to the local cemetery. The price then was only
$22 000. There was no fuel crisis then, but pooling together meagre
resources proved one hell of a headache.
A month ago a colleague went
to hire a bus to carry mourners, and was told to fork out $1.5 million. A
few weeks later he was back looking for a bus, again to ferry mourners to
the local cemetery. The asking price - $2.5 million! Then somebody quipped,
leli lizwe lamanga. Wabona ngaphi into ekhwela nge $1 million? (Loosely
translated - this is a "false" country. Where in the world have you seen
anything being increased by a million dollars?).
It is these
seemingly small and distant occasions which ought to run smoothly to ease
the emotional and psychological burden of death which bring to the fore the
bad turn of events here.
While others debate the technicalities of
the position Zimbabwe finds itself in, the stories that remain to be told
are not only of those families deprived of roofs and livelihood, but also
those for whom death itself is not "merely" about the passing of a loved
one. For them the real sorrow begins when they have to debate how they will
bury the deceased considering the exponential rise of those traditional
It is an accepted part of township lore that no
burial occurs without one or two buses finding their way among the funeral
cortege. But now with the fuel seemingly only being found at the price of an
arm and leg from the streetwise traders that hoard it from neighbouring
Botswana, the buses are slowly disappearing. Unless, of course, one still
has very deep pockets, or by some other obligation they want locals to bid
farewell to one who once lived among them, only then will there be such a
"Look, a bus," the people on the roadside whisper as
if Michael Jackson was in town. Still, alongside the bus, the family has to
worry about feeding mourners.
Is not death itself tormenting
enough without families having to worry about feeding mourners, hiring buses
and other things? These are issues which only a few years ago, although the
bad economic and political situation was already with us, families could
still not afford something like $22 000. It is from these experiences in the
townships that the reality of the cruelty of the rulers is
And then the people are told all this suffering is because
somebody they have never seen or heard of before in their lives is actually
responsible for the expensive buses to carry mourners!
days when the people would gladly take a relative who died in the city for
burial at their rural home, so much has altered the way people here mourn.
Now, instead of being buried at your homestead, the expense involved has
meant people are buried in the city, not where they would have loved - among
their patriarchs and matriarchs. Dying has become an expensive affair, and
who can afford it considering the circumstances?
It is interesting to
realise then that bad governance has also affected people's socio-cultural
order of doing things.
It is important to debate issues about
economic turnaround, but what is equally important would be recording
history to give those economic hardships a face and show how those economic
woes have affected the people whose story would not make the headlines. What
becomes increasingly shocking then is the patent arrogance of the rulers who
seem to firmly believe that the people's "belly aching" is inspired by very
All is well here so what the heck are you
complaining about? Walk on the wild side comrades, the mean streets of
Zimbabwe's townships; places where death no longer comes like a thief at
night, but is seen coming and still, owing to meagre wages that cannot pay
the hospital bills thus die of treatable ailments - nothing is done. Attend
a local funeral then you will see the face of hardship. Perhaps if you have
a soul, you might just quit politics.
Celebrating to keep Freedonia's hopes alive By Dumisani
IN traditional Freedonia society, the post-harvest period was a
season of feasting. Until the onset of the rainy season, this was one long
period of festivities.
Now the council of traditional leaders had
declared that for the first time since Freedonia wrested its independence
from the oppressors, they would host the mother-of-all traditional
In traditional society such festivities served several
functions. One, among them, was a libation - a thanksgiving occasion to the
Heavens and the dear departed ancestors for safeguarding the living and for
providing for their needs, especially in the area of good harvests. The
other was to invoke the Heavens and the spirit of the ancestors to ensure a
good agricultural season.
Yet another was to pray for
Freedonia was suffering from a serious food deficit, but also
after the great victory over the oppressors, many traditionalists had argued
that the proper way of welcoming the new order should have been to host one
such huge traditional ceremony to thank the great spirit mediums and the
ancestors for guiding the revolutionaries and the freedom fighters through
many years of the armed struggle.
Other people who expressed
reservations about such things were swiftly lectured on the extent of their
assimilation and reminded that one great power in the world held a
"Thanks-giving Day" each year. There was, therefore, nothing primitive about
Freedonia getting back to its roots.
The council of traditional
leaders also suggested that there be a Pfumvudza/Spring festival, a
celebration of life during which the countryside was a riot of colours, a
marvel to admire, and thank the ancestors for the promises that came with
The traditional leaders wanted this period to be
observed annually, nationwide, in addition to the mother-of-all-traditional
festival they had decreed.
It was not just these two festivals
that had become a major preoccupation of the leadership in Freedonia. Every
month, if there was no reason for a festival, the traditional leaders
recommended that there should be such events. It was argued that this was
one way of bonding the nation's citizens, and thus guard against external
influences meant to turn them against their own revolutionary country and
its consistent revolutionary leadership.
In this venture, they
found support in one historian - he also liked to pass himself off as an
educationist - who had recommended to the government that Freedonia's
educational system be restructured to emphasise the equality of all its
students, who would be required to don uniforms depicting the national flag,
whose colours bore historical, political and economic
In recent times Freedonia's foreign policy shifted
significantly. In some of the countries which it now looked up to, some
would say, for inspiration, mentoring and role modelling, societies and even
governments were guided by religious leaders. Freedonia appeared intent on
following this path of guided societies.
introduced to the water that Freedonians drank and this explains their
willingness to welcome the changes being introduced by the revolutionary
leadership," was all the old man of Freedonia could think of.
such a scenario outcome realised, the Don of Freedonia's revolution could
elect to "step down". But Freedonia's revolutionary party would hear of no
such a thing. The other revolutionaries would rush legislation through the
two houses and extend the Don's reign. It would be up to the Don to decide
his next move.
The multitude of "palace analysts, researchers and
scholars" suggested that if such an outcome was realised the Don would be
destined for immortality. That was the light at the end of Freedonia's long
dark tunnel. Keep hope alive.