HARARE, Aug. 5 — Zimbabwe's embattled white farmers meet on
Wednesday to reorganise their lives a year after hundreds lost their farms to
President Robert Mugabe's land seizures. The Commercial Farmers'
Union (CFU), which three years ago represented 4,500 white farmers, will hold
its annual meeting with only about a quarter of its members still actively
farming. Zimbabwe is struggling with its worst economic crisis in
decades, which critics say has been worsened by a 50 percent fall in
production in the key farming sector since Mugabe's supporters began land
seizures in 2000. Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket, has become
a net importer of food. Farming officials say 600-800 farmers
remain on their farms, while a majority left their land when the government
seized vast tracts for a black resettlement programme. Between 200
and 500 others are estimated to be farming by ''remote control'' from the
safety of urban areas where they took refuge during the sometimes violent
invasions, often led by veterans of the country's 1970s war against white
rule. CFU president Colin Cloete said Wednesday's meeting would review
the state of commercial farming in the country and tackle the difficult task
of planning for the next season, with a special eye on the
November-April cropping period. ''The congress is going to focus on
climatic changes, and how we can try to ensure that commercial agriculture
survives in this country in the face of all the challenges,'' he
said. A ''courtesy invitation'' has been to cabinet ministers to the
CFU meeting but none have been asked to speak. Mugabe has ordered
top officials who grabbed more than one farm during the seizures of
white-owned land to reduce their holdings to one property. Dozens
of senior ZANU-PF leaders, including government ministers, have taken more
than one farm since Mugabe launched his land reforms three years
ago. Critics say this shows that only a cynical elite has benefited
from a programme ostensibly being carried out to deliver land to poor,
rural blacks. The government also published a list of 418 farmers
whose land was seized, inviting them to contact the Ministry of Agriculture
to discuss compensation. Farming officials say very few farmers have received
full compensation. The government has insisted it will pay only for
developments on the farms, but not for the land itself, arguing that whites
originally stole it from indigenous blacks. Mugabe, Zimbabwe's
ruler since the former Rhodesia gained independence from Britain in 1980,
says his land seizures are meant to correct colonial imbalances which left 70
percent of the country's best farmland in the hands of minority whites.
ZIMBABWE: MDC continues to challenge Mugabe legitimacy IRINnews Africa,
Tue 5 Aug 2003 JOHANNESBURG, - Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) has told IRIN that it has not given up its challenge
to the legitimacy of President Robert Mugabe's election, and will continue
with its court action to have it reversed.
speculation in the media on Monday that an MDC document setting out issues
for proposed talks between the opposition and the ruling ZANU-PF, submitted
to church intermediaries at the weekend, omitted the issue of Mugabe's
The document, signed by MDC secretary-general Welshman
Ncube, states that "it is the MDC view that the current crisis in the country
is multifaceted and has political, economic, social and humanitarian aspects
It notes, however, that "at the core of the crisis are
issues of governance and the people's freedoms and liberties to determine
their destiny through free, fair and open elections".
IRIN that it was a simplistic and shallow reading of the document that had
led to the assumption that the MDC had withdrawn its challenge of Mugabe's
"For obvious strategic reasons, instead of putting on
the agenda a heading 'legitimacy of Mugabe government', we put in all the
issues that led to that illegitimacy - the absence of the rule of law, the
absence of political liberties, the flawed electoral framework etc. - in
other words, the sum total is all the issues that went wrong resulting in an
illegitimate election," Ncube explained.
"If we drop that issue
we have nothing to talk to ZANU-PF about, it's a simple issue that they stole
an election," he added.
As to the status of the proposed talks,
Ncube said the ball was in the ruling party's court.
made to believe, by the churches here, that Mugabe agreed that his party
would hand over to the churches a document containing the issues they want to
be included in dialogue [between the parties]. We were then requested, on
that assumption, that we should also hand in our list of issues and we did
that on Friday. That's where we are, I don't know if ZANU-PF intends to hand
in their list. We will wait for the church leaders, and the various
emissaries shuttling between us and ZANU-PF, to come to back to us," Ncube
He added that "hopefully, sooner rather than later" the
two parties would be able to conduct formal negotiations.
However, the official Herald newspaper reported on Tuesday that ZANU-PF
secretary for information and publicity, Nathan Shamuyarira, would not
comment on the list of issues the MDC has put forward for
"I cannot speculate on the talks. I have nothing to say
because the groups have not started the talks and the negotiating teams have
not started," he was quoted as saying.
The 2002 presidential
poll was condemned by some election monitors, including the Commonwealth and
European Union, as neither free or fair. An MDC legal challenge to the poll
results is to be heard in November.
Assistance for drought-hit Matabeleland livestock farmers IRINnews
Africa, Tue 5 Aug 2003
The loss of draught animals has hurt
JOHANNESBURG, - Moves are underway to
assist vulnerable families with livestock development in the drought-hit
Matabeleland South province of Zimbabwe.
Siboniso Moyo, director
of the Department of Livestock Production and Development, told IRIN on
Tuesday that the government's drought mitigation efforts were concentrated in
Matabeleland as it was the hardest hit by the recent drought. The department
also has plans to begin cattle restocking, as drought had claimed about
100,000 head of cattle in the province, the official Herald newspaper
reported on Monday.
"Our drought relief and mitigation programme
which started in February 2003 is on-going, following the declaration of
Matabeleland South as a disaster area," Moyo told IRIN.
Vision had warned in April this year that urgent interventions were needed to
address the decimation of livestock and the consequent erosion of household
security in the province.
"The loss of cattle has depleted the
draught power capacity of most communities. Smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe
rely heavily upon livestock for ploughing. Livestock losses, and the
declining health of remaining stock, seriously impacts agricultural
productivity," a World Vision statement said at the time.
Zimbabwe's livestock industry has also had to contend with outbreaks of
foot-and-mouth disease, forcing the Department of Veterinary Services
to suspend all movement of livestock in June.
In response to the
crisis in Matabeleland South, Moyo said her department had "moved into the
area and has started a number of interventions".
have encouraged the movement of animals to areas with better grazing within
Matabeleland. We could not take them outside the province because of
foot-and-mouth disease. Secondly, we have encouraged people to sell some of
their animals so they could hold that money [for the upkeep] of draught
animals... it could also be used for restocking [later]," she
Moyo said the Gwanda and Beitbridge districts have been the
worst affected by drought in the first quarter of this year.
have provided stock feed - which people only got in June but which was
planned for in March - directly to the people in Beitbridge and
Gwanda districts," Moyo said.
"But stock feed is expensive, per
50 kilogram bag it costs Zim $18,500 [about US $23], it's a lot really. So
the vulnerable households cannot make it without assistance and Matabeleland
is a livestock dependent part of the country," Moyo said. She explained that
the country experienced a "critical shortage of stock feed" in February and
March this year.
"Parallel to that we are saying we should start
restocking [cattle]. Restocking is going on in other parts of the country,
with initial support of up to five animals per household. [But] in
Matabeleland South the immediate need is for drought relief and mitigation
but we will not lose sight of the fact that we will need to engage in
restocking [in the future]," Moyo added.
She added that her
department's development programmes would also focus on encouraging increased
farming of small stock such as chickens, sheep and goats.
important for long-term sustainability and development that a balance was
found between animal grazing requirements and management of pasturelands to
"It's a long-term development programme. Any
intervention measures we undertake today may only be felt three years down
the line," Moyo concluded.
Zimbabwean business criticised for failing to exploit DRC
August 2003 Zimbabwean businessmen have been criticised for failing to
mobilise initiatives of business ventures identified in the Democratic
Republic of Congo.
The Zimbabwean embassy defence attache in the DRC,
Colonel Gregory Nhamoinesu, told a visiting businesswomen delegation from
Zimbabwe that Zimbabweans have taken a back seat in implementing projects
with a huge potential of creating foreign currency for Zimbabwe in the
Colonel Nhamoinesu told the delegation which comprised of
senior representatives from the Women Round Table and Zanu PF Women’s League
that business people in Zimbabwe should exploit the vast business
opportunities in the vast central African country.
He said that it is
saddening to note that Zimbabwe, one of the leading countries in setting the
tone for the business environment in the DRC, is still lagging behind whilst
South African products are dominating the market.
Hope for Zimbabwe Political Dialogue Fades Peta
Thornycroft Harare 05 Aug 2003, 17:34 UTC
Hopes of dialogue
between Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition faded Tuesday when both
sides got into an argument over candidates for local elections.
opposition Movement for Democratic Change said Tuesday it had lost all trust
in the ruling Zanu-PF party when it broke a gentlemen's agreement not to
obstruct a court petition over local elections.
The dispute arose over an
agreement that Zanu-PF would investigate why all opposition candidates in
local elections in Chegutu, a small town in central Zimbabwe, were unable to
register with nomination courts last month.
Several opposition candidates
were attacked by what the MDC says were Zanu-PF militants while on the way to
the nomination courts to register for the elections. Several candidates ended
up in the hospital.
Last week the MDC applied for the nomination courts
to be reopened and said it was led to believe Zanu-PF would not oppose such a
But instead, Zanu-PF's candidates, who were already declared
winners because they were unopposed at the nomination court in Chegutu, filed
papers Tuesday to challenge the MDC application.
Lawyers acting for
the 11 MDC candidates said they hoped the dispute would go to court
Zimbabwe tobacco sales hanging in the
balance August 05, 2003, 18:15
tobacco selling season is in danger of ending unceremoniously this year after
auction floors closed twice this week as farmers demanded a better exchange
rate before delivering to the market.
Tobacco sales in
Zimbabwe are denominated in US dollars but farmers are paid in the local
currency equivalent. A disparity in the official exchange rate of Z$847 to $1
and that of the black-market where one US dollar is almost Z$4 000 has the
tobacco farmers up in arms.
At the largest auction floor,
selling activity grounded to a halt as farmers openly expressed
dissatisfaction to the payment they are getting for their crop. Claiming
production costs have gone up 600% they want government to agree to a new
exchange rate of one US dollar to $2 500 Zimbabwe dollars. Until that is
done, they will hold on to their crop.
The Tobacco Industry
and Marketing Board, worried at the consequences of a marketing boycott, has
now engaged the Ministry of Finance for a compromise. Tobacco is Zimbabwe's
largest foreign currency earner. There are fears that if government does not
review the exchange rate, not many farmers will have good reason to grow the
crop this year.
Government officials say negotiations with
the marketing board are going on amicably and they are hopeful the matter
will be resolved soon.
THOUSANDS of $500 notes have vanished from the streets
of Lusaka and at Chirundu border post as money changers desperately try to
offload the notes ahead of a deadline set by the Government to phase out the
bills and replace them with new ones by October.
currency, which was fetching at least ZK3 (Zambia Kwacha) on the parallel
market in recent weeks slid to around ZK2,1 and ZK2,3 in the Zambian border
town of Chirundu over the weekend.
In Lusaka, the Zimbabwe dollar
was fetching around ZK2,4 and ZK2,5 down from about ZK3,5 before last week's
announcement by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Dr Herbert
Murerwa to withdraw the $500 notes.
One Zambian kwacha is equivalent to
one Zimbabwean cent as per the official exchange rate.
in Chirundu were flagging down motorists who were passing through the border
town as they tried desperately get rid of the Zimbabwean dollar.
money changer said he had disposed of about $300 000 in the past
"I have sold most of the Zimbabwe dollars that I had in
the past week. I am only left with less than $100 000," said Mr Fast Lula as
he waved a wad of $50 000 in $500 bills to passing motorists in the Zambian
border town of Chirundu.
Another money changer, Mr Jacob Gondwe who is
popularly known as the "Professor" because of his smart negotiating skills,
said it was imperative to get rid of the Zimbabwean dollar before it became
"Those who prefer to cling on to the Zimbabwean dollars stand
to lose millions of kwachas once the $500 notes are phased out. It is,
therefore, prudent to sell the money to those passing through Zimbabwe where
they can deposit it in a bank," he said.
Women traders at the border
town also confirmed that there was a significant movement of the $500 notes
from Zambia to Zimbabwe.
It was not immediately clear whether the money
was being offloaded into the formal system.
"People are afraid to move
large amounts into the country because they fear that they may be discovered
by officials at the border and their money may be confiscated.
result people are taking in small amounts of the Zimbabwean dollar into the
country," said a informal trader from Zimbabwe, who declined to
Zimbabweans are allowed to export at least $50 000 in local
currency per person. The facility will, however, be abolished this
Officials from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority could not disclose
the amount of Zimbabwean currency that has been confiscated at the border
arguing that they needed clearance from head office.
in Lusaka's Katondo Street, InterCity Bus Station, Comesa Flea Market and
officials from the country's commercial banks said they had run out of the
Mr Innocent Mulala, a money changer from Lusaka's
notorious Katondo Street said the Zimbabwe dollar had literally vanished from
the market after the announcement by the Zimbabwean authorities to phase out
the $500 bills.
"We have been disposing of the Zimbabwean notes following
last week's announcement. In recent months, there has been an influx of the
Zimbabwean dollar into Zambia to an extent that it was found at every point
that bordered Zambia with Zimbabwe.
"Traders have been coming with
their currency, sell it to us for US dollars then go back to their country
with US dollars or goods leaving behind large sums of Zimbabwean dollars
"However, we are no longer accepting the Zimbabwe dollar in view
of the recent developments," said Mr Mulala.
He added that Zambia had
been "flooded with Zimbabwean dollars" in recent months and most traders
travelled to Chirundu, Livingstone or Kariba to fetch the currency which they
supplied to other dealers in the same business.
Another money changer,
Mr Danny Hamaila, who had stock of Zimbabwean dollars said he was desperately
trying to offload the money.
"I will dispose of the money as soon as
possible otherwise I stand to lose. We are waiting anxiously for the
reintroduction of high denominations as announced by the Government of
Zimbabwe," he said.
Mr Hamaila complained that the phasing out of the
$500 denomination would make it even hard for him to continue trading in the
At Lusaka's biggest bus station, Inter-City Bus
Terminus, none of the money changers disclosed whether or not they had the
Zimbabwean dollars in stock.
The Inter-City based money changers became
suspicious of the interviewer and temporarily halted conducting their
None of the five bureaux de change that were visited had the
Zimbabwean currency in stock, but others had indicated the exchange rate on
their currency charts.
Unifinance Bureau de Change stated on its
currency chart that Z$1 was fetching for K3.5 Zambian Kwacha.
Bank, Standard Chartered, Stanbic and the Zambia National Commercial Bank
(ZANACO) all had no stock of the Zimbabwean currency.
Officials said that
although the currency was still in demand, most commercial banks were getting
rid of the currency, particularly the $500 bills.
Bank of Zambia (BOZ)
head of public relations and press, Mr Kabinga Pande said it was not
surprising that the Zimbabwean currency was disappearing from the streets in
view of the recent developments in Zimbabwe.
Mr Pande, however,
reiterated the Zambian government pronouncements that it was illegal to deal
in foreign currency without a licence or authority from the central
On several occasions the Zambian police, immigration department and
city council have rounded up a number of street money changers, mainly
from Katondo Street which is perceived to be a hive of shady deals and
MDC denies dropping Mugabe court challenge
August 5, 2003
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change
has dismissed widespread speculation that it is ready to withdraw its court
challenge to President Robert Mugabe's flawed re-election poll.
Media reports said the MDC was ready to drop the legal challenge in order to
kickstart negotiations with Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party.
the court case would be tantamount to recognising the legitimacy of Mugabe's
presidency, something he has demanded as a precondition for talking to the
The speculation that the MDC was dropping the challenge arose
after the MDC issued an agenda for church-brokered talks with Zanu-PF that
made no explicit mention of the issue of Mugabe's legitimacy.
But MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube - its chief negotiator - denied
yesterday that the MDC was ready to drop the challenge .
"We don't have to have 'legitimacy' as a heading on our agenda, because all
our political points are about the legitimacy thing. What we've done is to
say that the things that led to the lack of legitimacy have to be dealt
In a weekend letter to church leaders brokering talks, Ncube
said the MDC listed the "restoration of political liberties, a cessation of
all political prosecutions, the restoration of economic stability, an end
to torture, the de-politicisation of food aid and state services,
the establishment of a fair electoral framework and the restoration of the
rule of law" as items on its agenda. - Foreign Service
ONE OF the most important political events in
Zimbabwe in the recent past was the implementation of Robert Mugabe’s land
redistribution campaign in 2000, an act which saw the country’s white farmers
being forced to give up their land, forcing them out of business, out of the
country, and eventually holing the country’s economy below the
Often, the images of Africa we see in the Western media
concentrate our attention on the plight of the starving black peoples of the
continent, but this show - performed by Zimbabwean rock five-piece Mann
Friday - neatly flips that preconception on its head, giving us a brief
history lesson of the area’s turmoil from the perspective of these farmers’
children. And the message is loud and clear - black or white, everyone’s life
is being made worse by the people at the top of Zimbabwe’s food
The show works on three levels. First it is a straightforward rock
gig, as Mann Friday work their way through their catalogue. Then it is a
stand-up narrative, as Harare born-and-bred Rob Burrell recounts his life
story in between the songs. And it is also a visual experience, with
projected slides of various Zimbabwean scenes informing proceedings
throughout. In fact, if the subject wasn’t a matter of such concern, it would
be all to easy to flippantly say that Mann Friday are following the Who’s
lead with their very own "rock opera".
But there is a very real story
which needs to be told here, and it’s one which the band inject no small
amount of passion into. At first Burrell offers something approaching
misty-eyed nostalgia about his homeland, and recounts a split with his
girlfriend when he went to university in South Africa, which does smack a
little of self-indulgence.
But it’s all scene-setting for his tales of
2000 - when he couldn’t discuss the government on the phone with his parents,
such is the level of Mugabe-inspired paranoia - and the subsequent
demoralisation as the 2002 elections were rigged.
So, although Mann
Friday’s music may be more than a little daytime-radio twee, it is
characterised by strong choruses and Burrell’s impressively rough, bluesy
voice. Besides, the sometimes harrowing images are testament to the fact that
the show is about so much more than just the songs, and their hopeful slant
does suit Burrell’s poignant story.
Ultimately, then, it is so much more
than white man’s blues - more a tale to empower people of every race, colour
and creed. Which is the very least Zimbabwe can hope for, under the
Press reports across the political spectrum over the last
two weeks have announced, sometimes in triumphant terms, that the MDC has
dropped its court challenge to Mugabe's legitimacy and the outcome of last
year's presidential election. In two statements within the last few days,
however, which should be read together, the opposition party has set out its
position regarding negotiations with the government. The statements set out a
proposed agenda for talks, and also make clear the party's position with
regards to the ongoing court action contesting the outcome of the 2002
Two parallel efforts are currently being pursued in an effort to
bring the two sides of Zimbabwe's political divide together. One is the
initiative of Zimbabwean church leaders, who have recently met both
Tsvangirai and Mugabe, and have been shuttling back and forth between the MDC
and Zanu PF. This initiative has been conducted almost in public, with
statements from the bishops and the government fuelling the pages of the
press in recent weeks. Both parties were asked by the church group to submit
proposals for an agenda for talks by last Friday. The second process has been
more informal and has taken place behind closed doors. Meetings between Zanu
PF and MDC senior leaders have taken place, with Patrick Chinamasa leading
the government's side. Chinamasa last week rubbished the church
leader's efforts, labelling the bishops as "MDC activists wearing dog
collars". His denunciation was accompanied by similar attacks in the
state-controlled Herald last week, in the government-supporting Sunday Mirror
on the weekend, and again in today's Herald.
In its submission to
the church leaders, the MDC said "the core of the crisis are issues of
governance and the people's freedoms and liberties to determine their destiny
through free, fair and open elections. We need to return to a situation where
we can hold elections whose results are not contested and are palpably a
reflection of the will of the people." In order to restore such a situation,
the submission sets out ten points which need to be addressed in any
negotiations. They are: the restoration of political liberties; the cessation
of all political prosecutions; the restoration of economic stability;
stopping torture; the depoliticisation of food relief and general provision
of state services; the establishment of a fair, just and equitable electoral
framework; the restoration of law and order; restoring Zimbabwe into the
comity of nations; constitutional reform; and food security. It is not yet
apparent whether Zanu PF has submitted its proposals to the church group.
Judging by the response of Chinamasa and the government press to the church
initiative, it seems unlikely that they have bothered.
At the same
time as he was undermining the church leader's efforts, Chinamasa said "the
MDC would be doing the president no favours by withdrawing the (election)
petition". The MDC submission to the church leaders makes no direct
indication as to the withdrawal of the election petition. However, a separate
statement released late last week sets out the MDC position in bald terms.
The relevant section is worth quoting in full. "If talks get underway, and if
they are properly structured with a formal agenda, and if Zanu PF
demonstrates good faith and a commitment to resolving the crisis Zimbabwe is
facing, the MDC will consider suspending or holding in abeyance the electoral
challenge pending final resolution of the talks. In this regard it is pointed
out that the case is only scheduled to commence on the 3rd November 2003 in
any event and accordingly there is quite a large window of opportunity for
talks to begin," the statement states. "During this time the case should not
present any obstacle to the smooth continuation of talks. Indeed the crisis
in Zimbabwe is so grave that one would hope that a final agreement would be
reached long before the commencement of the case. If the talks result in a
final agreement which is irreversible, endorsed by the international
community and guaranteed by appropriate constitutional/legal amendments, then
the MDC will obviously withdraw the petition. Indeed the petition will, in
those circumstances, become irrelevant. However under no other circumstances
will the MDC consider withdrawing the petition."
Once hailed as the pride of Africa,
Zimbabwe’s education system has been engulfed from top to bottom by the
country’s deepening political and economic crisis. The University of
Zimbabwe, once the pinnacle of the system bequeathed by colonial rule, is
finding it almost impossible to keep functioning. Meanwhile, in schools
across the country, teachers are operating hand to mouth, worrying less about
lessons than about what their pupils have to eat. At the university, in
Harare’s Mount Pleasant suburb, clouds of tear gas frequently smother the
campus and dormitories. In the past few years police have sealed off the
campus so often that it is almost routine. Once last year riot police dragged
students from their dormitory rooms and beat them. One student died from his
injuries and has become a cause célèbre. The pay of lecturers and professors
is so low that almost all have had to find other jobs to get by. So many
university posts remain vacant after resignations that departments are
decimated and academics say the university is at the point of collapse.
Classes have been suspended and students sent home several times in the past
three years, making it difficult for students to finish their degrees in a
reasonable period of time.
"I used to enjoy teaching at the
university, but now the conditions have become untenable," said a retiring
professor. "There is political interference from political appointees,
corruption, the continual battles of police on campus ... the university has
become an encapsulation of Zimbabwe’ s problems." Other tertiary institutions
across the country have faced similar troubles, while in schools teachers
have been beaten, forced to attend "re-education camps" and killed, according
to union officials. Students of all ages are sent home if they cannot pay
fees or don’t have proper uniforms. Education budgets have been dropping for
more than 10 years. Teachers’ meagre salaries have lagged far behind the
country’s 269% inflation rate. This is a far cry from the 1980s when
President Robert Mugabe’s government made education its priority. Zimbabwe’s
teachers were respected and relatively well remunerated. Primary education
was nearly free and secondary education was within the reach of almost
everyone in urban and rural areas. The country achieved impressive literacy
rates, first of 80% and then above 90%, making Zimbabwe’s education system
one of the best in the developing world. But the education system, from
primary school up through university, has suffered 10 years of decline, and
since 2000 has been one of the main victims of the country’s economic chaos
and political repression. "I worked hard to qualify as a teacher and I was
honoured in my community," said Tendai M, a veteran of Mugabe’s liberation
forces who became a teacher after independence. "I got a good education but I
am not satisfied with the schooling my children are receiving." A
mathematics teacher, who does not want to be named for fear of retribution,
was appointed head teacher of his government boarding school two years ago.
"I thought things would get better, but being a headmaster has been
a nightmare," he said. "With food shortages and inflation we do not
have enough money to get our children and teachers enough to eat ... We try
to keep our classes going, but it is very difficult."
education system has been one of the many casualties of the country’s
multiplying troubles, according to Brian Raftopoulos, chairperson of the
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, who spoke at the Canon Collins Memorial Lecture
at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies recently. "After 2000, in
the context of the more general political crisis, a whole series of highly
politicised problems emerged in the educational sphere," said Raftopoulos.
"These problems have centred on the ‘disciplining’ of teachers for their
support of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change [MDC]; the
militarisation of youth centres; the struggle by teachers for
better conditions of service in a rapidly declining economy; and struggles
over the curriculum, in particular the teaching of history." In his
lecture Raftopoulos, who is an associate professor at the Institute for
Development Studies at the University of Zimbabwe, chronicled the stunning
successes of education in the early days of Zimbabwe’s independence. Primary
enrolment increased from 820 000 in 1979 to 1,2-million in 1980, rising to
2,2-million by 1989, according to government statistics. In the 1990s
enrolment reached a peak of nearly 2,5-million in 1996 before falling to
2,4-million in 2000. At the secondary level the expansion was even more
impressive. Enrolment increased from 66 000 in 1979 to 150 000 in 1981,
reaching 670 000 in 1989. Secondary enrolment rose to a peak of 844 000 by
‘While this quantitative growth of education has been
impressive," said Raftopoulos, "there are several problems which confront the
future of educational development in Zimbabwe. These include the absence of
a comprehensive policy framework; access and gender equity; relevance of
the curriculum; school dropouts; and finance." He said the education system
was struggling with tensions because of the government’s desire to use
schooling "as an ideological arm of the state". Raftopoulos said that about
15% of Zimbabwean children remained out of school in 2000, a
disproportionately high number of whom were girls. The country’s spiralling
economic crisis in the past three years has caused many more children to stop
going to school because their parents cannot afford the rising cost of fees,
uniforms and books. "In a poverty assessment study survey carried out by the
United Nations Development Programme, it was found that 61% of Zimbabweans
were classified as poor in 1997, rising to 73% in 2003," said
The cost of maintaining Zimbabwe’s education system is high.
Relative to comparable countries in the Southern African region, Zimbabwe
spends an unusually large share of national income on education. "For
example, in the mid-1980s Zimbabwe’s budget allocation to the sector was more
than twice the median of that spent by other low-income Anglophone countries
and exceeded the median for medium-income countries by about 22%," said
Raftopoulos. Nevertheless in the 1990s real per capita expenditure on
education fell significantly, with the total education budget declining from
6% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 1986/87 to 4% in 1993/94. By 2000
real expenditure on primary education had declined to 2% of GDP. "It is
apparent that, while there has been a remarkable expansion of educational
enrolment over the last 20 years, this expansion has intensified inequalities
in Zimbabwe because of the different forms of educational provision and
the problems of reduced financial expenditure that have placed an
increasing burden on poorer families," said
Ironically, Mugabe’s success in educating large numbers
of citizens has added to his troubles in recent years. The vast majority of
young Zimbabweans are educated, but they cannot find jobs. This has created a
huge well of discontent among the articulate youth. Zimbabwe’s drastic
economic decline in the past three years has caused the GDP to lose more than
30% of its value. Inflation is expected to be well over 300% for 2003.
The government responded by carrying out "an authoritarian restructuring of
the state, in order to consolidate its beleaguered position," said
Raftopoulos. This affected the education system in several ways. "Teachers
have been targeted on a regular basis for their alleged support for the
opposition party, the MDC, and because they were considered key informants
and community leaders in the rural areas."
Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe has documented the intimidation, harassment,
detention, arrests, torture and the unprecedented unleashing of state
security agents on the schools. As a result of the assaults by
state agencies, the union reported that between 2000 and 2002 five teachers
were killed, 119 raped and "many more were maimed, kidnapped, tortured
and displaced". In addition, many teachers and students have been forced
to attend "re-education camps" where lessons centre on a narrow,
party-oriented history of Zimbabwe, including the formation of the ruling
party, Zanu PF, and its military struggle against white-minority Rhodesia.
"Certainly, state violence against teachers and the narrow nationalist
approach to the teaching of ‘patriotic history’ are a long way from the tone
of tolerance urged by the Education Commission before the political crisis
began in 2000," said Raftopoulos. The difficulties that have confronted
Zimbabwe’s education system in recent years illustrate the depth of the
ongoing political and economic crisis. Yet Raftopoulos and other
education specialists believe that the country’s schools can rebound if
Zimbabwe pulls out of the crisis through a peaceful, negotiated process of
transition that will lead to free and fair elections. "The damage to
education is severe, but it does not have to be permanent," concluded
Raftopoulos. "The restoration of democracy will see Zimbabwe enter a period
of reconciliation in which education can once again return to a place of
priority. Teachers can once again have the respect of the government and the
community. Students will once again have the opportunity to learn."
Article by Jenni Williams - human and women's rights activist and a
founder of Women of Zimbabwe Arise, (WOZA). WOZA is a Zulu word meaning
WOZA Queens arrested in the City of Kings
meeting in Harare on July 5, 2003, 175 leaders of civil
society organisations, representing women, labour, students, youth,
churches, farmers, academics, minority groups, media, legal and medical
practitioners met for a historic conference on Dialogue and Transition. One
of the resolutions was to demand the repeal of unjust laws, such as Public
Order Security Act (POSA), in order to facilitate an enabling environment
for greater participation by citizens in the process of transition. Women
of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were represented at that meeting and at
subsequent WOZA report back meetings those resolutions were adopted for
At further meetings with Bulawayo based civic activists, it was
agreed to conduct a peaceful protest calling for the repealing of POSA.
Thursday 24th July was the day activities would peak. Women were willing to
take the lead in the protest. Harare based activists were to convene prayer
meetings and a public meeting to be addressed by Honourable Members of
parliament and nationalists, Edson Zvobgo, Edgar Tekere, Paul Themba Nyathi
and Dr John Makumbe. No one was arrested at the Harare meeting.
theme of the protest was to call for the repealing of POSA, which undermines
basic freedoms and the spirit of the Zimbabwean constitution. Inspiration as
to how to conduct the protest also came from the history books. In July 1960,
popular demonstrations rocked Rhodesia. Police killed 11 people in Bulawayo,
and the Whitehead regime enacted the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act (LOMA)
thereafter. In 2002, the Government of Zimbabwe repealed LOMA, and replaced
it with the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).
A letter was
prepared for delivery to the Senior Prosecutor Bulawayo. The letter quoted
Ecclesiastes 3:1-7 and closed with this paragraph. "We, concerned citizens
say time is up for POSA. Time is up for silence and the time has come for us
to be allowed to meet freely. There is even talk of party dialogue, how will
politicians speak whilst the nation is forced into silence? Repeal POSA and
other repressive legislation and allow the nation to heal."
At 10 am
on 24 August, women in all shapes and sizes, some with babies and youth began
to arrive and collect outside Tredgold Building. The delegation went in to
deliver the letter whilst those outside sang the African national anthem,
'God Bless Africa'. As courage increased more and more banners opened up.
Handwritten banners explained: LOMA and POSA are both colonial tools; Time up
for POSA; and Repeal POSA, clarified the purpose of
When the delegation that had delivered the letter
to the prosecutor returned, the peaceful protesters had grown to about 600
with passersby joining in. The leaders then gathered to march and began to
sing religious songs. Marching up to Herbert Chitepo Street and turning
towards the High Court, some policemen were in evidence but they ignored the
protesters and walked on. By the time the mob reached 9th Avenue a good time
was being enjoyed by all. Someone commented that this was why we wanted POSA
to be repealed so we could have the feeling of peaceful expression
without intimidation. We turned towards St Marys Cathedral still in charge of
the streets of Bulawayo and singing religions songs. Many of us were now
hopeful that the non-attendance of riot police would prevail. Most of us had
not seen a protest begin and end without disturbance since the WOZA protest
in November 2002 during Domestic violence fortnight.
When we reached
the Catholic Cathedral, the leaders began to discuss the dispersing of the
group and it was resolved that we would proceed to the Commuter Omnibus
Terminus and there the activists would catch their transport home. As we
approached the terminus, a police vehicle carrying law and order offices
drove past us. We began to disperse. Riot police arrived, jumping quickly
from their vehicles, batons at the ready to strike. Some activists had begun
to disperse and others started to run away. I was with some of the leaders
and we were within the terminus when someone tapped me on the shoulder asking
me to come with them. I asked who he was and he explained that he was a
police officer and 'we are arresting only YOU'. I insisted he show me his ID
and then followed him. The other leaders closeby heard him say that he was
arresting me alone and began to follow. As we walked, I told my companions
that I was under arrest and the intention was to arrest me alone. Many women
protested insisting that they had been part of the protest. By the time I got
to the Defender, nine women piled in with me. I called a lawyer while
watching the second Defender quickly fill up. And as we filed into the
detention room at Central Police Station in Fife Street, more and more women
forced their way in until there were 48 women and 4 babies, aged 2 months to
2 years. I saw another seven being chased out of the courtyard by riot
police. Some women kept a daily vigil outside the police station until our
It was midday Thursday when the paperwork regarding our
detention began. We were handed over to law and order and we went through
the same procedure of recording details twice more. By the time we went home,
Saturday, 7 different police officers had recorded our details longhand. Many
police officers that walked by commented upon the aged ladies in our midst,
we had about 15 over 60 yrs with at least two nearing 70 yrs and Gogo Jane
who insisted she was the elder but did not know her age or date of
Once under law and order, we were squeezed into an office. Some of
us had to sit under desks, a good hiding place for those requiring precious
'moments' alone. Whilst in that room, one officer after another took turns to
come in and intimidate and vilify us, in the end we decided to ignore them as
they obviously had no 'real criminals' to hunt down! I was the first to be
taken for 'interrogation'. Jenni Williams, mother of three versus six men. I
was only questioned for some 25 minutes and during that time there were
long silences of frustration experienced by the sextet. Sometimes a
single question was asked; sometimes more than one was fired at me
simultaneously. The session ended after I quoted the Zimbabwean constitution
section allowing for freedom of association, assembly and expression. One of
the officers said, "You are very determined" and ended the session. They
had accused me of being the 'organiser' to which I had replied that
WOZA believed women were all equal in their fight for their rights so we were
all 'organisers'. As I left the room, I was warned that someone would
implicate me as the organiser and an elderly 'gogo' called Sophia was taken
for questioning next. She returned saying she had told them she was
One young lady returned in tears and there was almost
a riot with the women demanding to know why she was crying. She later told us
that she had been told to cover her face with a bandanna and then hit her on
the head with an object whilst she was blindfolded. One more women came in
crying at the harrassment. Upon noticing that their 5 pm knock off time had
come and gone, they decided to interrogate four at a time. Some officers
where called to begin the charging process by taking warned and cautioned
statements, these are typed out on antiquated typewriters and we noticed that
the ribbons were too faint so an additional copy of paper and carbon paper
was used to allow for a readable copy. At about 9:15pm when nine of us
remained awaiting statement processing, we were told there was no more paper.
We were separated from the rest and taken to Entumbane police station for the
The verbal abuse continued incessantly. One police officer
insisted I show him what I had in the pockets of my jacket - I had some
leaflets calling for the repealing of POSA. The leaflets were exactly as seen
in the Crisis Coalition adverts in the press. The officer then declared 'that
nothing in Zimbabwe will be ok until we deport Jenni Williams'. I suggested
that he could deport me to my rural home, Gwanda in Matabeleland
We were aware that well wishers bringing food had been turned back
3 times despite police officers assurances that we would have access to food.
During the next few days very little food found its way to us as some
officers insisted only lawyers could bring us food whilst others said only
relatives could. Women consoled themselves by acknowledging that even in
their homes there was hardly any food so we were no worse off. Another women
said that she was happy that her children had fresh milk to drink and that
would fill their stomachs during her absence. During the 48 hours in
detention, from Thursday to Saturday morning, all we were given to eat by the
State was two spoonfuls of yellow maize porridge and two spoonfuls of beans
between 39. Some of us were fortunate to get two pieces of bread and a bun
with a drink from well-wishers.
As to the sleeping arrangements, 39
and 4 babies shared a small cell number 3 at central with about 8 blankets
sufficient only to cover the hard concrete floor. The women are only allowed
one article of clothing on top and bottom. The toilet, a hole in the floor
blocked off with a wall, was flushable. The women were squashed and
uncomfortable, and fortunately we managed to secure the release of the
mothers with babies by demanding that they at least be given some respect.
They were allowed home Friday night in their lawyers custody and were to
report back to go to Court on Saturday.
Nine of us who went to Entumbane
Police Station seemed to be better off. Our driver loaded us into the open
civilian truck and informed us that he did not intend us to 'arrive alive'
and proceeded to live up to his threat by driving at neck breaking speed
through town enroute to Entumbane, a high-density suburb. By God's grace, we
did arrive alive. This disrespectful law enforcer insisted that we jump over
the tailgate, as he did not want to waste his time opening it. We asserted
our rights and demanded without words that he treat us with dignity. We
stayed put until he opened the tailgate. The two grandmothers in our group
were relieved. Zimbabwean culture demands that elderly women are treated well
and by our actions we reminded him that despite being a policeman in uniform
he still bound by the cultural manners.
After a new round of harrassment
from 3 young police officers at Entumbane, who took their time over
everything, we were put in a cell and had 12 blankets between us. They seemed
to have come out of storage, as they were extremely dusty, they had been
stored before being washed and smelt terrible. Putting the blankets over my
head for extra warmth, I soon found I was in the company of lice. None of us
complained as dirty as the blankets were, they took the edge off the winter
cold and concrete floor. The next morning, we were served porridge, as I ate
two spoonfuls, a strange spirit of celebration prevailed. I had survived my
first night in state accommodations. Feeling disturbed by all that had
occurred, shock was replaced by the harsh reality of life in Zimbabwe. It
left a bitter taste in my mouth and I could not stomach any more porridge. A
verse in the bible states, 'they that sow in tears shall reap in joy'. I
prayed for that day to come soon.
There were foreign currency traders
'Osiphataleni', (apostolic faith women who are routinely arrested enmasse) in
a cell kicking up a storm and when they were let out for food they caused a
stampede resulting in a police officer hitting one woman rendering her
unconscious. She was just left lying in the cells corridor on the cold
concrete floor unattended.
The law and order officers come to collect us
about 11:30 am and we went up to their offices. Our lawyers from Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights were present awaiting our arrival. I was however
whisked away before I could talk to them. I was taken back to the truck and
moments later one of the lawyers followed and asked me if I knew where I was
being taken. When I replied negatively, she told me that I was being taken to
have my house searched. She asked for the search warrant and the officers
said it was still being processed but they insisted they had 'reasonable
cause' to search my house for proof that I was the organiser of the protest.
We decided to allow them to proceed but I resolved not to assist them in
their assignment. When they asked the way, I told them to find a map and when
we arrived at my home, my employee also had to be persuaded to let them
There were four of them and they proceeded to look though papers in
my lounge. I am by profession a PR consultant and at present spend my
time doing 'Protest PR'. I own a PR consultancy company, although it is
now, because of my activities, dormant. A file on a recent Crisis
Coalition workshop and research on the July 1960 protests was found and
received attention. They insisted on taking documents, which they said
were 'subversive'. Examples of documents they took include a recent speech I
made on a gender based media study; some old notebooks; write ups on
publicity and public opinion which they said was proof I was involved in
intelligence training; a copy of the Zimbabwean constitution (I hope they
read it); some receipts and notes on food distribution in urban areas; Peace
and dialogue workshop materials, including a speech by Bishop Trevor Manhanga
made at a public meeting.
They kept asking me where my children where,
saying they wanted to see them, thankfully my children have been removed to
safety having completed their schooling. I have always known that they would
attempt to get to me via my children. Even my husband was put on the list for
arrest but he was 'unavailable'.
With the search over, we returned to
central and they proceeded to record a statement charging us under the very
act citizens want repealed. This first charge was for participating in a
public gathering, which is deemed under POSA 'an illegal gathering'. I was
also charged under Section 24 (1) of the Public Order Security Act. This
calls on the 'organiser' to notify regulating authority of intention to hold
I denied the charges drawing attention to the
exceptions allowing meeting of clubs and such non-political organisations,
which is where Women of Zimbabwe Arise fits in. we are a civic and women's
rights organisation providing women with a communication and action platform
against violence and for bread and butter issues. This involved intense
discussion, as the officer was unable to understand or refused to comprehend
that calling for the repealing of POSA was a civic right and not a political
activity. This certainly drove home the point that we do not live in a
democracy - laws are viewed as ZANU PF laws and opposing them means you are
viewed as an opposition supporter. The lawyer and I painstaking reminded the
officer that parliament enacted laws and by calling for the repealing of POSA
we were speaking to parliament, disempowered though it be, not to
politicians. The arresting and the arrested were both relieved to get the
second statement and bail hearing paperwork completed ahead of provincial
We were reunited with the other ladies for Friday night. As the
cell was opened we tried to enter but found we could not take a step without
tramping on someone. There are no working light bulbs; pitch dark is the
night in a Zimbabwean prison. Light is a scarce commodity, even a sign of
affluence in modern day Zimbabwe. The Police officer said he had a bigger
cell, cell 1, but warned that the toilet was blocked and the cell had not
been used for sometime. Seeing that we would not fit in cell 3, he decided to
open up cell 1 and put us in it. All the women followed, they craved the
comfort of togetherness and we were soon squashed in. By the next morning
some 50 women were crammed in and we had to take turns sitting, standing and
lying flat to get some shut-eye. We could not call it sleep, as that luxury
was impossibility. The toilet did not flush and every time someone went
to relieve themselves the acidic smell would choke us much like we were in
a 'urine sauna'. Talk about chemicals of mass destruction! We were
relieved to go out for head counts and fresh air but many of us now have
upper respiratory chest infections.
It was a long night, 3 women fell
ill, one asthmatic had an attack and had to be revived and thankfully they
took her to the detention room for the rest of the night. We heard men
screaming in agony and newcomers into our cell told us what they had
witnessed. One told of a young man who was beaten by policemen in the
detention room. One of the officers had then looked at the face of his
victim, only to realise that it was his neighbour's son. He had quickly
apologised and sent him home. I heard a sound I will not forget for a long
time to come, the sound of a grown man screaming in pain, obviously being
beaten. It was painful to hear a fellow Zimbabwean suffer and I believe that
we will not be free as a nation until we can say with one loud voice, 'Hurt
one Zimbabwean and you hurt us all'. 'Starve one Zimbabwean and you starve us
We were distracted from our discomforts by a lady-of-the-night who
had been arrested after fighting over a man in a nightclub. Still in a state
of inebriation, she entertained us with details of how she had fought with
her rival. She admitted to us that she had grown weary of the taunting by
people for 'always being in bars' and said she felt she should look for her
own man, settle down and end this hard way of life. I was very proud to find
the WOZA women immediately took up the challenge to preach to this lady.
We immediately began to pray for her and a 'special song' inspired by the
holy spirit was sung to help her on the journey towards becoming the
'perfect' women we all knew her to be deep down inside. This shows the
character of the women of WOZA - on the streets fighting vocally, yet
peacefully for god given rights. Praying for an end to the suffering of our
families whilst at the same time being god fearing in outlook; firmly, softly
and gently expressing love for the nation and all Zimbabweans.
Saturday morning, we successfully made free bail, myself on both charges and
the other 47 ladies on their single charge of participating in the protest.
We will appear to answer charges on 13 August 2003, the day after our famous
Heroes holiday ends. As we left the dock, so did the entire courtroom of
women, sons and daughters, who had come to provide support. As we arrived
outside there was great jubilation and much hugging and shouts of 'Go
Warriors', 'Go Warriors'! (Warriors are the name of the Zimbabwean national
soccer team). It would be said that Woza Warriors are those who have been
imprisoned while purposefully walking this thorny road towards democracy. We
appropriated the name whilst in state accommodations to serve as a moral
Woza women, the mothers of the Nation, will achieve their
objectives and POSA will be repealed. The very word 'POSA' in Ndebele means
to 'throw away or curse'. This nation needs to heal and POSA must be thrown
away and cursed forevermore by all Zimbabweans. Please pray for the WOZA
Warriors of 24 July 2003, today, tomorrow and especially on 13th August as we
appear in Bulawayo Provincial magistrate's court. Bulawayo supporters can
join us for a prayer service at Byo Presbyterian Church in Jason Moyo Street
at 8:30 am 9th August.
As a retired
farmer I would like to share a piece from "Out of the Earth" with the
delegates and guests attending CFU Congress. It was set in America about
fifty years ago.
"One of the silliest and most superficial and cynical
assertions ever made in the history of this country was the now happily dated
assertion that "anybody can farm." Never, certainly, has there been a saying
so completely devoid of truth in this country or elsewhere throughout the
world. A good farmer has to know more about more things than any man in any
profession now practiced. The belief that 'anybody could farm' has cost us
billions of dollars in taxes.
One of the greatest satisfactions of the
farmer's life is his ruggedness and his independence. When that is lost and
he takes orders from the bureaucrat, ('war vet?') the very core of his pride
and satisfaction has rotted away and we shall arrive at an agriculture as
poor as that of the collective farms of Soviet Russia where the farmer is no
better than a slave who lives at a slave's level of food and shelter, and
where the state perpetually threatens the farmer with imprisonment, exile or
There are no short cuts, economic or medical or scientific,
where the laws of the Universe are involved. One works with Nature, whether
in terms of soil or of human character, or one is destroyed. That, I think,
is a law which it would be well for all of us - economists, politicians,
farmers, Marxists, businessmen and all others - to keep perpetually in mind.
It would be well for man to contemplate daily the principal fact of his
brief existence - the fact of his colossal physical
If at all possible, could all "economists, politicians,
farmers, Marxists, business men and all others," (at Congress) please give a
little thought to this passage. The little bit about "work with Nature in
terms of human character, or one is destroyed" is possibly the most exciting
component, right now. I wish you all a successful Congress with much healthy
C.F.U. Council. The e-mail
referring to the election of President and Vice President stated:
was felt that the Councillors could see and assess the performance of their
peers over a number of years and were better placed to elect a President and
Could you perhaps enlighten membership as to the
performance-appraisal system currently employed by Council? Naturally, a
transparent performance-testing scheme like that used in the dairy industry
could well be considered. Generally the larger the sample the more accurate
the results - technically, a sample of about twenty (Councillors) out of
four hundred farmers could be more INACCURATE than a sample of about one
hundred and forty degates (at Congress) from four hundred. Surely, the bigger
the sample size the more representative the sample?
Moving on to the
parameters - there are a number of characteristics available to select for
performance to select a good bull, which is always referred to as "half the
1. Agricultural Production (over the last two years.) 2. Union
growth. 3. Numbers of functional or effective farmers. 4. Political
Correctness. 5. Commitment to lead a tightly cohesive Union, based on
consensus of membership.
I believe that Council could have some good
variations of the above and Dr. Grant could be called in to give a resume of
the whole exercise, from a scientific point of view.
barter. Inflation has reached untenable levels.....
*Major shake-up looms
at RBZ. Currently facing nightmares over cash shortages.
Zimbabwe farm workers internally-displaced. Since the start of
the Government's "fast track" land reform programme....
That is 'only'
ten headlines in one weekly paper! Was it a surprise that JAG became
concerned 14 months ago?
Are you a proud member or supporter of the fast
track land reform programme?
In a CRISIS situation people have the option
to STAND UP for what is RIGHT, or, GET DOWN and get RICH - where do you think
we should be?
The fast track land reform programme affects many more than
those 500 000 farm workers because of the millions of Zimbabweans facing
starvation. Thank goodness for the World Food Programme.
accepts fully and unconditionally the FREEDOM CHARTER as put out by the
CRISIS COALITION. It endorses the CHARTER as the only method of Zimbabwean
people regaining their RIGHTS, SELF RESPECT & LIBERTY.
"The grass is rich and matted. It holds the rain and the mist
and they seep into the ground feeding the streams.
...It is well
tended, and not too many cattle feed upon it; not too many fires burn it,
laying bare the soil. Stand unshod upon it, for the ground is holy, being as
it came from the Creator. Keep it, guard it, care for it, for it keeps men,
guards men, cares for men. Destroy it and man is destroyed...."
Paton - Cry, the Beloved Country.
"The State is like a tree. The roots
are agriculture, the trunk is the population, the branches are industry, the
leaves are commerce and the arts; it is from the roots that the tree draws
the nourishing sap.....and it is to the roots that a remedy must be applied
if the tree is not to perish."
- Victor, Marquis de Mirabeau - written
at the beginning of the eighteenth century.
AGRIZIM endorses the words
of both Mirabeau and Paton about agriculture and land stewardship - which
have stood the test of time and are as applicable today as they were three
hundred years ago.