|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Chiefs lobby for PTC licences
MDC exposes Zanu PF smear tactics
Mugabe tones down rhetoric
|Fuel price hike sparks protests|
6/15/01 8:52:11 AM (GMT +2)
HARARE police yesterday arrested several young men in Warren Park as they protested against the 70 percent increase in the price of fuel on Tuesday.
The Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU) is to hold an emergency meeting tomorrow to discuss the
price increase which has hit commuters hard around the country, with some fares
rising by as much as 50 percent.
The youths in Warren Park had barricaded roads early in the morning, preventing commuter omnibuses from carrying workers to the city centre and the industrial areas.
The riot police later dismantled the barricades and arrested several youths.
The number of arrests could not be ascertained yesterday as the chief police pokesman, Wayne Bvudzijena, would not comment. But senior officers at arren Park police station confirmed the arrests.
There were reports of running battles in Kuwadzana between the police and embers of the public over the fuel price increase.
Reports from Bulawayo state that civic groups have warned the fuel price increase would result in a steep rise in the cost of basic necessities, leading to civil unrest.
The Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta), yesterday called for an immediate 30 to 40 percent cost of living award from the government.
Leonard Nkala, Zimta’s president, said in view of the 70 percent increase in the price of fuel, everything else would go up in price, necessitating need for an urgent salary review. He said workers had not budgeted for the rise in fuel prices.
Nkala said: “Hardly six months ago we were awarded a 15 percent increase across the board. Then we receive the bombshell of the fuel increase. We had rejected that 15 percent cost of living award as it fell short of the dollar’s eroded purchasing power. The rate of inflation is about 56 percent.”
The ZCTU general-secretary, Collin Gwiyo, said the union sent a letter of protest to the government at fuel price increase.
The letter to Mines and Energy Minister, Sydney Sekeramayi, and copied to the President’s Office, said unions would not accept the decision by the corruption-riddled National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, to increase the price of fuel.
The ZCTU has given the government 14 days to respond.
Commenting on the arrests in Warren Park yesterday, Gwiyo said: “The
militarisation of the situation will make workers more volatile. The government should reverse the increases.”
In Harare, commuters now pay $60 to and from work while in Bulawayo, the Bulawayo Public Transporters’ Association increased fares to $35 with immediate effect. Chitungwiza commuters now pay $40 to Harare.
On W ednesday, the ZCTU warned the government of pending riots following the increases.
Gwiyo said: “We are saying 'no' to these increases.
The increases are unbearable. The 14 days’ notice we are giving the government is just logistical. The real stance will be out on Saturday. The ZCTU general council will hold an emergency meeting then and we will see what action to take. If the government’s position does not satisfy us, we can call for a stayaway.”
The latest increases angered many motorists, given the acute shortage of fuel which started last year in February. The last price increase was in April 2001.
Motorists have to pay $76,29 at the pumps for a litre of leaded petrol, while unleaded petrol now costs $77,42 a litre. Diesel is pegged at $66,39, Jet A1 at $57,03, paraffin at $50,00 and bulk paraffin at $59,27.
Business in Harare plunged to a near-standstill for the commuter omnibuses as commuters resisted the new fares. The city centre, usually busy and overcrowded on business days, was yesterday unusually deserted.
Meanwhile, Bulawayo ran out of fuel yesterday leaving many commuters stranded as most operators were forced to pull their vehicles off the road.
Mugabe under fire from world unions
Political analysts say curbs on the foreign press are linked to preparations
for next year's presidential elections, where President Mugabe is expected to be
opposed by Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change.
A senior official of the MDC says the government is trying to make it as
difficult as possible for the international media to report on the elections.
Previously, foreign reporters were able to apply for a work permit on arrival
in Zimbabwe. Not only do they now have to apply a month ahead, but they also
have to do so from outside Zimbabwe.
Earlier this year, the government announced a licensing system for domestic
news organizations and journalists. A government-appointed media control body
will be set up, and only those journalists with relevant qualifications will be
Zimbabwe Information Minister Jonathan Moyo accused Reuters news agency and
the Associated Press Thursday of collaborating with unnamed foreign spies and
aid organizations to fuel violence in the country.
The minister called the news agencies "merchants of violence." He said that
after the death last week of Chenjerayi Hunzvi, the man who spearheaded the
invasions of 1,500 farms, the agencies wrote articles about violent incidents
that supposedly took place after Mr. Hunzvi's death. The minister says such
incidents never happened.
From now on, Mr. Moyo says, this kind of reporting "will be nipped in the bud
to maintain the rule of law, protect lives and defend Zimbabwe's democratic
Mr. Moyo also charges that unnamed officials of the Commercial Farmers Union,
which represents the farmers, have been inventing stories about violence.
The farm invasions have led to the deaths of a dozen farmers and workers,
while thousands of workers have been beaten up and forced to flee their homes.
The supreme court has declared the invasions illegal, but the government has
done nothing to stop them and, in fact, has continued to express support for
"I'm as black as he is"
Date: 16 June 2001 07:32
Dear family and friends,
This letter is dedicated to the memory of Zondiwa Dumukani.
It's been another tumultuous week in Zimbabwe with more insanity on the
farms, more insanity in the courts and an economic announcement by
government which has sent the country into a dizzy downward spiral.
The farm most in the news this week has been one often referred to in
African Tears. Blackfordby Farm on the outskirts of Harare saw plenty of
police presence in the first part of the week. The police though were not
there to assist the legal owner of the property, they were there to arrest
the owner, to arrest the farm workers and to protect the illegal 'war
veterans' and squatters. The farm owner was arrested for inciting public
violence - workers on the farm had attacked some of the squatters. The farm
owner and 30 of his workers were arrested. One farm worker, 32 year old
Zondiwa Dumukani was battered to death by 'war veterans' with a golf club
after being accused of trying to run away from a political meeting on the
farm. Witnesses positively identified the four 'war veterans' who beat
Zondiwa to death, one of the attackers was a form 3 student from a nearby
On another farm in another district 'war veterans' grabbed the farm
manager, surrounded him with hay bales and then set the hay alight -the man
is alive but, like so many thousands of others, will never forget. On
another property the farmer was told that if he did not vacate his home he
would 'have his legs beaten until he fell.' On another, the farmer was
visited by army men and interrogated: which land are you going to give us,
we want milk, give us meat.
The farm most in the news later this week is one in Chegutu where 100
people are employed to tend tobacco and soya beans. It was invaded by 80
people led by 4 policemen and the District Administrator. The farmer was
given 7 days to get off his land and out of his house, the farmer did not
wait the 7 days, he fled immediately. This farm is owned and run by a black
Zimbabwean, Philemon Matibe. Mr Matibe was not too scared to speak to the
press. He has engaged a lawyer to sue invaders for unlawful occupation and
he said to reporters: "Mugabe says he is taking land from the whites and
giving it to blacks. I'm as black as he is. Now he is taking land from some
blacks and giving it to the blacks who support him. ...I've lost everything
overnight. Everything I worked for all my life has disappeared." We will
all be paying close attention when Mr Matibe's case comes to court because
the infamous 'Protection from Eviction Bill' was gazetted this week.
Parliament is in recess, need I say more. This new Bill prevents squatters
and 'war veterans' from being evicted from private property. Worse though,
the Bill forbids any Court from trying to enforce previously granted
I promised myself that I would not mention Hunzvi again but I must. The man
may be dead but it is clear that someone else is now being paid to continue
the reign of terror, continue where Hunzvi left off. We have not yet been
told who will now head the War Veterans' Association. Perhaps it will be Mr
Grass Hat who was front page news this week. Mr Grass Hat who was a
security guard with the Harare Municipality was pictured emerging in a
beautifully tailored suit from his own personal and brand new Cherokee Jeep
- worth Z$5.5 million. Being a farm invader is clearly a very lucrative
In a move which has put Zimbabwe in total turmoil this week, the government
announced an increase in the price of fuel. Not 5 or 10 or even 50 percent,
no ! Fuel prices increased 'with immediate effect' by SEVENTY PERCENT on
Wednesday. One litre of diesel is now Z$66, petrol is Z$ 76.29. There has
been an uproar, the unions have threatened mass stayaways if the rise is
not retracted within 14 days. Civil servants immediately demanded pay
rises. Bus fares immediately increased by 50-70%. How on earth are we going
to survive? Most minimum wage earners are no longer going to be able to
afford to get to work. The cost of getting produce off farms and to towns
will now cost seventy percent more than it did last week, the cost of food
is going to be outrageous and send our present 60% inflation soaring well
over the century mark. Even assuming 'war veterans' were to leave all
farmers alone from today, the cost of their food is going to be beyond the
reach of the majority of our population.
Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo was prominently in the news this week.
Not only has it completely run out of fuel (even after the 70%), but the
government has decided to 'postpone' the mayoral and council elections
there. Minister of Justice, Patrick Chinamasa said the elections had been
postponed because the voters roll was 'a shambles'. That really made me
laugh - if the roll was in such a 'shambles' why had it been acceptable for
parliamentary elections last year? MP David Coltart, who like so many now,
just will not give up, was in the Courts immediately. The Judge ordered the
postponement null and void and ordered the Registrar General to announce
new dates. The Minister of Justice replied by saying he will appeal the
null and void ruling.
And our government's response to a week of 'shambles' - it was twofold: All
foreign journalists must give a months notice when applying for
accreditation. All foreign journalists currently in Zim must leave the
country when their permits expire. They must re-apply from their country of
origin. And the second response to the 'shambles' - 421 farms listed for
'compulsory acquisition' in yesterdays' state run press. So it is clear -
when all else fails, when shambles rules - grab another few hundred farms,
land, after all, is the answer to everything.
May I end on a personal note. I've had lots of enquiries from 'family and
friends' in the UK asking why African Tears is not in the windows of
bookshops, not on display. I don't know the answer, but it is available. It
has been classified as political history, it can be ordered both in
bookshops and on the net. Please help me to spread the word about
Zimbabwe's plight. I am going to stop now and be a mum for the day -
albeit a bleary eyed one. Richard woke me twice with bad dreams, one about
falling off a roof and the other about breaking windows. At least his
nightmares are now about 'normal' things and easier to explain to him. When
I asked him this morning about his dreams he did admit, very shamfacedly,
that he and his friend had been on the roof of the carport yesterday
afternoon getting their ball. And the breaking windows - they are in 'pea
shooter' mode manically and it seems that there was a very close call
yesterday when a missile hit a window. As always I got him back to sleep
last night with my made up story of a little red car fuelled by Smarties -
it's a tale I made up years ago and is ironically apt in our shambolic
country. With my love and thanks, as always, to the hundreds of people who
write, who care, who continue supporting and encouraging Zimbabweans to
keep going. cathy
Political analysts say curbs on the foreign press are linked to preparations for next year's presidential elections, where President Mugabe is expected to be opposed by Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change.
A senior official of the MDC says the government is trying to make it as difficult as possible for the international media to report on the elections.
Previously, foreign reporters were able to apply for a work permit on arrival in Zimbabwe. Not only do they now have to apply a month ahead, but they also have to do so from outside Zimbabwe.
Earlier this year, the government announced a licensing system for domestic news organizations and journalists. A government-appointed media control body will be set up, and only those journalists with relevant qualifications will be licensed.
Zimbabwe Information Minister Jonathan Moyo accused Reuters news agency and the Associated Press Thursday of collaborating with unnamed foreign spies and aid organizations to fuel violence in the country.
The minister called the news agencies "merchants of violence." He said that after the death last week of Chenjerayi Hunzvi, the man who spearheaded the invasions of 1,500 farms, the agencies wrote articles about violent incidents that supposedly took place after Mr. Hunzvi's death. The minister says such incidents never happened.
From now on, Mr. Moyo says, this kind of reporting "will be nipped in the bud to maintain the rule of law, protect lives and defend Zimbabwe's democratic sovereignty."
Mr. Moyo also charges that unnamed officials of the Commercial Farmers Union, which represents the farmers, have been inventing stories about violence.
The farm invasions have led to the deaths of a dozen farmers and workers, while thousands of workers have been beaten up and forced to flee their homes. The supreme court has declared the invasions illegal, but the government has done nothing to stop them and, in fact, has continued to express support for them.
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, has agreed to allow a top level group of Commonwealth ministers to help resolve his country's rapidly deteriorating economic and political crisis, according to South African officials.
The proposed initiative is expected to focus on the explosive question of land redistribution to landless black farmers, how to finance it, and how to ensure that it is conducted in a legal and orderly manner, as well as on Zimbabwe's wider economic plight.
Mr Mugabe's reported concession comes after months of refusing all outside intervention in the political turmoil that has torn Zimbabwe following violent land seizures by veterans of the former guerrilla war.
His move is seen as directly related to fears of a growing food shortage in Zimbabwe, on top of soaring inflation and energy prices, which were raised by 72 per cent this week.
Estimates of the shortfall in the current harvest of maize and wheat range from 250,000 to 600,000 tonnes, and maize prices have been rising sharply on expectations of a poor crop.
The new plan for Commonwealth intervention would involve seven members of the organisation, including South Africa, Britain, Nigeria and Zimbabwe itself, according to the officials. Others proposed are Australia, Kenya and Jamaica, although the plan has yet to be approved by all the countries most closely concerned.
It is hoped a first meeting will be held early next month, to be convened by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the South African foreign minister, whose country is currently in the Commonwealth chair.
"President Mugabe has agreed that the committee will look at everything, including the land question and the Zimbabwe economy," a senior official said. "And they will respect the outcome of these processes."
The initiative was discussed by President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, and Tony Blair, the UK prime minister, when they met on Thursday. Nigeria has also given its blessing, the official said.
Mr Mbeki has recently stepped up his public criticism of events in Zimbabwe, while insisting that quiet diplomacy would be most effective in restoring order.
On his state visit to Britain this week, he admitted that "many things have gone wrong" in Zimbabwe, and warned that a "situation of collapse" in that country would have serious consequences for South Africa. At the same time he backed the need for continuing land resettlement in Zimbabwe, as in South Africa.
The initiative is an alternative to the planned Commonwealth mission to Zimbabwe by the foreign ministers of Australia, Barbados and Nigeria, which Mr Mugabe refused to accept.
Other members of the Zimbabwe government have been privately expressing their growing concern at the country's international isolation, and rapidly deteriorating economic position.
"Hopefully this ministerial committee will come up with some practical suggestions about what needs to be done," the South African official said.
South Africa is understood to have made it clear to Zimbabwe that in the event of serious food shortages, the country would be in a desperate plight if it had no international friends to help finance emergency imports.
But there might not be enough maize to meet demand, they said.
Maize prices on the privately run Zimbabwe Agricultural Commodity Exchange (Zimace) were firmer, reflecting fears of a shortage later in the marketing season, the exchange said.
"Maize prices have firmed by Z700 a ton since the same time last month and have risen by 300 a ton this week alone," Zimace said.
"This is probably because a larger-than-normal portion of the crop is below B grade, and the overall production is down.
"Reports that a large number of people are already in need of food aid will add to the pressure on maize, and further price increases are anticipated," it said.
Production was disrupted by veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war, who have invaded commercial white-owned farms since early last year. A foreign currency shortage also led to fuel and fertiliser shortages.
Despite repeated government denials of a shortfall, industry groups estimate that Zimbabwe may have to import up to 800000 tons of maize, mainly from SA, to fulfil its domestic requirement of about 1,8-million tons. SA might not have enough, however. Grain SA, the umbrella body for producers, said it had factored in exports of 300000 tons of maize to Zimbabwe in its supply and demand estimates.
"There is a feeling they will need more than 300000 tons. If they do need more, it will leave our kitty very bare indeed," Grain SA's spokesman, Kit le Clus, said.
Farmers in the east of SA are reporting reduced yields in their maize harvest, while those in the Free State bread basket have just started harvesting, and say yields are what they were expecting.
SA expects to produce 6,967million tons of maize this season, down from last year's bumper 10,1-million tons. There is a carryover stock from the last season of just more than 2-million tons.
"Farmers are hard at work on the harvest. The yields in some areas have disappointed farmers," said At de Lange, a spokesman for OTK , the large agricultural company which covers the east of the country.
Senwes agricultural company spokesman Marius Killian said the quality was within the longterm average and the yields were as expected. Free State Co-operative spokesman At Kruger said: "We expect a little more than our earlier estimate. Yields are slightly better." Reuters.
WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday slammed new restrictions on foreign journalists imposed this week by the government of Zimbabwe, saying the rule was "particularly troubling."
"In light of other government actions against the media ... and continuing statements by the government against the independent media, it appears that the government of Zimbabwe wants very much to limit media reporting on what goes on inside Zimbabwe," State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said.
"We find this new development particularly troubling in view of the presidential election slated to occur in the first quarter of next year," he told reporters.
On Wednesday Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government enacted new controls on foreign reporters, requiring them to apply for accreditation a month in advance of travelling to the country.
Previously, foreign journalists were allowed to apply for credentials on their arrival and Reeker said the new regulation was "clearly aimed at limiting the access of the international media to Zimbabwe."
Last week, the France-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borderssaid Zimbabwe was becoming the most hostile country in the southern African region for journalists to work in.
"Zimbabwean and foreign journalists cannot work freely anymore in this country," RSF said in a statement on Friday, adding that Zimbabwe was becoming the "most repressive" towards press freedom in the region.
RSF cited the banning last week of a talk show critical of the government, a day before police beat up and arrested journalists covering student demonstrations, as evidence of the deteriorating situation.
Washington has been harshly critical of Harare in recent months and last month, on a visit to South Africa, Secretary of State Colin Powell denounced Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence, for his apparent desire to remain in power.
"After 20 years in office, Zimbabwean President Mugabe seems determined to remain in office," Powell said on May 25, calling for next year's presidential elections to be free and fair.
At least 34 people died ahead of parliamentary elections in June last year, while thousands more were beaten, raped, kidnapped or otherwise intimidated in a campaign of violence and the occupation of white-owned farms by pro-government militants led by self-styled veterans of Zimbabwe's liberation war. (AFP)
From The Financial Times (UK), 16 June
Mugabe 'accepts foreign intervention'
London - Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, has agreed to allow a top level group of Commonwealth ministers to help resolve his country's rapidly deteriorating economic and political crisis, according to South African officials. The proposed initiative is expected to focus on the explosive question of land redistribution to landless black farmers, how to finance it, and how to ensure that it is conducted in a legal and orderly manner, as well as on Zimbabwe's wider economic plight.
Mr Mugabe's reported concession comes after months of refusing all outside intervention in the political turmoil that has torn Zimbabwe following violent land seizures by veterans of the former guerrilla war. His move is seen as directly related to fears of a growing food shortage in Zimbabwe, on top of soaring inflation and energy prices, which were raised by 72 per cent this week. Estimates of the shortfall in the current harvest of maize and wheat range from 250,000 to 600,000 tonnes, and maize prices have been rising sharply on expectations of a poor crop.
The new plan for Commonwealth intervention would involve seven members of the organisation, including South Africa, Britain, Nigeria and Zimbabwe itself, according to the officials. Others proposed are Australia, Kenya and Jamaica, although the plan has yet to be approved by all the countries most closely concerned. It is hoped a first meeting will be held early next month, to be convened by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the South African foreign minister, whose country is currently in the Commonwealth chair.
"President Mugabe has agreed that the committee will look at everything, including the land question and the Zimbabwe economy," a senior official said. "And they will respect the outcome of these processes." The initiative was discussed by President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, and Tony Blair, the UK prime minister, when they met on Thursday. Nigeria has also given its blessing, the official said. Mr Mbeki has recently stepped up his public criticism of events in Zimbabwe, while insisting that quiet diplomacy would be most effective in restoring order. On his state visit to Britain this week, he admitted that "many things have gone wrong" in Zimbabwe, and warned that a "situation of collapse" in that country would have serious consequences for South Africa. At the same time he backed the need for continuing land resettlement in Zimbabwe, as in South Africa.
The initiative is an alternative to the planned Commonwealth mission to Zimbabwe by the foreign ministers of Australia, Barbados and Nigeria, which Mr Mugabe refused to accept. Other members of the Zimbabwe government have been privately expressing their growing concern at the country's international isolation, and rapidly deteriorating economic position. "Hopefully this ministerial committee will come up with some practical suggestions about what needs to be done," the South African official said. South Africa is understood to have made it clear to Zimbabwe that in the event of serious food shortages, the country would be in a desperate plight if it had no international friends to help finance emergency imports.
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 15 June
Mugabe tones down rhetoric
President Robert Mugabe has softened his hitherto hostile stance against the British and Americans on the advice of South African president Thabo Mbeki, the Zimbabwe Independent has been told. Diplomatic sources said Mugabe has adopted a different tone in his comments on Britain and its Prime Minister Tony Blair as well as the United States administration after this week’s visit to Harare by South African Defence minister, Mosiuoa Lekota.
Although Lekota was attending a ministerial meeting to finalise the protocol on the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security on Monday, he visited Mugabe to deliver a special message from Mbeki. Lekota held talks with Mugabe on Monday. After the meeting, the South African minister spoke extensively on state television about the situation in Zimbabwe. While Lekota showed outward support for government, he clearly stated that in private talks the South Africans were much more robust in their criticism of Mugabe and his government.
Sources said the message from Pretoria - delivered to Mugabe on the same day Mbeki flew to Britain for a state visit – urged the Zimbabwean leader to moderate his public pronouncements against London and Washington to avoid throwing spanners into Mbeki’s talks with Tony Blair. Mbeki was expected to engage Blair on the Zimbabwe crisis in a bid to find ways of resolving the land issue and other problems besieging the country. Sources close to the South Africans said Lekota had two weeks ago delivered another message to Mugabe from Mbeki when he attended the late Defence minister Moven Mahachi’s funeral on May 29. The message was about Mbeki’s proposal to meet Mugabe to discuss the Zimbabwe situation. The presidential meeting has been due since inter-ministerial talks held in Pretoria in March. It was supposed to have been held in Jakarta, Indonesia, two weeks ago but failed to take place after Mbeki’s schedule became congested.
Sources said Mugabe appears to have taken Mbeki’s advice seriously. On Tuesday, he told visiting representatives of the Carter Center that he did not have any hard feelings against US Secretary of State Colin Powell despite his recent stinging attack on him. During a recent visit to South Africa Powell accused Mugabe of "clinging to power". This week Mugabe extended an olive branch to the Americans. He told the delegation from the Carter Center, which is involved in conflict resolution, that the American leadership was free to visit Zimbabwe to see for themselves what was happening on the ground. Judging by reports in the official media, it would appear Mugabe is actually keen to meet Powell for talks. Mbeki is expected to travel to Washington on June 26 for meetings with US President George W Bush and Powell. The meetings are expected to touch on the Zimbabwe situation and how to dig Mugabe out of the economic and political hole he has been busy excavating.
On Wednesday Mugabe - in what appeared to be a major volte face - sent Blair a congratulatory message on his resounding victory in Britain’s general election last week. "On behalf of the government and the people of the Republic of Zimbabwe and my own behalf, I wish to congratulate you, Mr Prime Minister and the Labour Party on winning the recent British general elections convincingly," Mugabe said. "Please accept, Mr Prime Minister, my best wishes in the years ahead," he said. Last Friday at the Heroes Acre Mugabe attacked Blair at length over Britain’s refusal to fund the fast-track land programme. Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge has written to the new British Foreign secretary Jack Straw saying he hoped they could meet to discuss the problems over land.
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 15 June
War vets assault Australian aid worker
An Australian aid worker was last week beaten up by war veterans grieving the death of their leader Chenjerai Hunzvi, accusing her of spying on them. Her "crime" was that she had passed by the house where the mourners were gathered in Harare’s Milton Park. The war veterans had closed off sections of Van Praagh Avenue in Milton Park and threatened to beat up anyone who passed through the area. The house used by the mourners belongs to Heritage Zimbabwe, a "cultural" organisation founded by Jocelyn Chiwenga.
The unsuspecting Australian aid worker, who lives on the same avenue, fell victim to the marauding war veterans as she passed the house. She was carrying a camera which the war veterans accused her of using to take pictures of them. The victim, who requested anonymity, works for Jekesa Pfungwa/Vulingqondo, a Hatfield-based women’s non-governmental organisation. She confirmed that she was assaulted but said she did not want to make an issue of it. "I have no comment to that and I don’t want the issue to be publicised in the papers," the victim, in her early 50s, said.
In the skirmish she was assaulted, her clothes torn and she was nearly raped in the presence of police details who were spectators to the drama. A number of innocent people were also beaten up in the same avenue but police did not take action against the perpetrators despite the fact that the crimes were committed in their presence. The Australian High Commission confirmed that one of its nationals was beaten up but said it would not take up the case since it was an individual issue. Australia’s aid to Zimbabwe for the 2000-2001 financial year was approximately A$5,7 million.
From News24 (SA), 16 June
US policy on Zim 'frustrates' regional growth
Cape Town - Excluding Zimbabwe from the benefits of the United States' African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) frustrated attempts at regional development in South Africa, Justice Minister Penuell Maduna said on Friday. He told a seminar of the United States' influential black National Bar Association (NBA) in Cape Town that in taking this position on President Robert Mugabe's government, the United States was punishing Zimbabwe's masses. He also said Agoa did not say enough on debt relief for poor countries, and that the act would have been better had there been "an element of consultation" with African governments when it was being drawn up. Agoa, signed into law by ex-president Bill Clinton in May last year, allows duty and quota-free entry for a range of African goods into a US market worth almost US$ 10 trillion. However governments have to meet standards set by the bill on democracy, human rights, the rule of law and a market-based economy, to be eligible for Agoa benefits. Thirty-five African countries, among them South Africa, are currently on the approved list. Zimbabwe, crippled by a ruined economy and Mugabe's dictatorial style of government, is not one of them.
Maduna told the NBA that though Agoa was "good for our economies", and that South Africa recognised its noble intentions, selecting a few "good" countries for participation and rejecting others frustrated efforts at regional development. Zimbabwe was the largest consumer of South African goods in the Southern African Development Community, and it was not in the region's interest that Zimbabwe be allowed to deteriorate, no matter how Washington felt about it. "It would be better for us and them (the US government) to have a discussion about how we see the sub-region develop and how we see Zimbabwe feature in that development," Maduna said. "It would be very helpful if we were allowed an opportunity to handle Zimbabwe, together with them, totally differently. "It's not to our benefit for Zimbabwe to be excluded from the benefits, the opportunities and the projects of Agoa." He also said if Agoa was to assist South Africa, it should target the black majority. The reality was that even if there were any black exporters to the United States, and he did not know any, then number was minuscule. If Agoa had no meaning to the people of South Africa's slums, it had failed.
Counsellor for economic affairs at the American embassy in Pretoria, Robert Godec, who also spoke at the seminar, said however the Agoa preconditions were essential to any country's progress, and "there is really no point in including countries not committed to these principles". The reality was South African exports to Zimbabwe were dropping because war veterans were invading farms and South African businesses, and the rule of law had been undermined. "That's the fundamental issue for South African business, not whether Zimbabwe is included in Agoa," he said. Godec said the US believed Agoa was having a real impact on South Africa in terms of job creation and generating wealth, and could ultimately result in billions of dollars worth of new trade and investment between the United States and Africa.
He said even though the announcements of what products would be added to be under Agoa to the general system of preferences only happened in December, the effect could already be seen in January trade figures, when US$4 million of goods was exported to the United States. Because a control system for clothing exports, which now enjoyed a 17 percent tariff advantage over non-Agoa countries, was not approved until the end of March, the first Agoa shipments took place only in April. In that month alone South Africa exported US$ 4,5 million in "apparel goods" to the United States under Agoa, and these numbers made it clear that South African exporters were getting US orders right from the start.
Agoa was also creating new investment interest in South Africa. Ramatex, a major Malaysian company, was deep in negotiations to establish a textile and clothing facility in the Eastern Cape, an investment expected to be worth about US$ 50 million and which should create up to 20000 jobs. The NBA is America's largest and most prestigious organisation of black lawyers. Founded in 1920 by lawyers who could not gain admission to the American Bar Association, it includes not only practising lawyers, but also federal and state judges.
From The Daily News, 16 June
Chinamasa to appeal
Patrick Chinamasa, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, has appealed against the High Court ruling by Justice Kennedy Sibanda on Wednesday that nullified his postponement of the Bulawayo mayoral election. In a statement yesterday, Chinamasa said the order was granted in his absence, describing the judgment as unfair. Justice Sibanda granted the MDC a provisional order compelling Chinamasa and Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede to immediately authorise the holding of the election. Justice Sibanda declared Chinamasa’s postponement of the election null and void. Chinamasa postponed the election through an Extraordinary Government Gazette notice on Thursday last week.
In what the MDC said was a feeble and flimsy excuse, the minister, a qualified lawyer, said the voters’ roll was in a shambles and there should be fresh inspection which should not take more than three months. The order also gave Chinamasa 10 days to show cause why he should not personally pay the costs of the application and the re-advertising of the nomination and election. The MDC secretary for legal affairs, David Coltart of Webb Low and Barry, yesterday argued that it was at the discretion of the judge to call the legal representatives of the two parties. "We were also not represented. Maybe the judge felt it unnecessary as the case was quite clear," said Coltart.
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 15 June
Bindura by-election "soon" as political calendar fills up
President Mugabe is expected to make a proclamation setting dates for a by-election in Bindura left vacant after the death of Zanu PF MP Border Gezi, it emerged yesterday. Government sources said Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa has made a recommendation to Mugabe to have the election slotted for next month. The president is yet to approve the proposal before declaring the election date. Chinamasa confirmed he had written to Mugabe over the issue but refused to disclose the date of the by-election. "I have written to the president but he has not yet signed the notice," Chinamasa said. "I can’t give you the date for the election now because I am still waiting for the president to approve my recommendation."
Chinamasa however promised that the poll would be "soon". Zanu PF has indicated that it would field Mashonaland Central provincial governor, Elliot Manyika, against the opposition MDC’s Elliot Pfebve. Pfebve lost the Bindura seat to the late Gezi in last year’s general election. Gezi won 13 328 votes while Pfebve polled 11 257. The MDC had challenged Gezi’s victory in the courts on the grounds that it was achieved through intimidation and violence. By-elections are also due in Makoni West and Chikomba. The Makoni West seat fell vacant following the death in a car accident of Defence minister Moven Mahachi last month, while Chikomba became vacant after the death last week of war veterans’ leader Chenjerai Hunzvi. Mahachi beat his nearest rival, the MDC’s Elisha Makuwaza by 11 138 votes to 7 356. The MDC was challenging Mahachi’s victory on grounds that it was attained through violence. Hunzvi had defeated the MDC’s Peter Kaunda by 13 417 votes to 6 776.
More by-elections could be looming because the MDC is challenging election results in more than 30 constituencies alleging that Zanu PF won as a result of the use of coercion and violence. The High Court has so far nullified three Zanu PF election victories ruling they were tainted by violence. The invalidated results are in Hurungwe East, Buhera North and Mutoko South. The ruling party has appealed to the Supreme Court against the High Court rulings. Zimbabwe’s political calendar between now and April 2002, when the presidential election is due, is heavily congested. Apart from by-elections, there are also mayoral polls due in several towns across the country, including Harare.
From ZWNEWS, 16 June
Good News on Chewing Gum: Invaded Factory Sticks It Out
By Michael Hartnack
The good news, in a country where many things are said to be held together by blobs of chewing gum, is that the factory making the gum is back in production. "We haven't seen a war veteran since the government told them to leave us alone," says Stefan Hair, factory manager at the Danish-owned Dandy plant at Norton, 45 km west of the capital, Harare.
Jorgen Mogensen, managing director of what was once a showcase foreign investment, is on two months leave recuperating from his ordeal when self-styled "war veterans" invaded the premises in May claiming to represent employees dismissed with the approval of the Labour Ministry. One of the fired workers had been caught stealing diesel, the other sugar, both prized commodities in this land of rampant fuel shortages and soaring prices for household staples. Mogensen was manhandled and abused by a noisy mob. They included teenagers too young to have served in the 1972-1980 bush war in former white-ruled Rhodesia, when Denmark was a strong sympathiser with President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party and its guerrillas. Dandy, with headquarters at Vejle, 230 km west of Copenhagen, was the first foreign investor in newly independent Zimbabwe in 1980. Later that year Mugabe made thank-you trip to Denmark and was photographed embracing delighted Danish children.
Relations are now very different. This year, the Danish Embassy in Harare warned that "politically motivated blatant lies" in the state-controlled media would lead to further slashes in Denmark's Zimbabwe $14m aid programme. Denmark rejected Zimbabwe government claims it was helping the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Dandy temporarily shut down early in May when police refused to intervene to shield Mogensen, senior management and the 150 workforce at Norton from the militants who claimed they were taking over the role of the pro-MDC Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions in "protecting workers' rights".
The attack on Dandy was part of a wave on invasions in towns. Targets included the Canadian aid agency CARE, where High Commissioner Jim Wall was roughed up, and locally owned workplaces, as well as German, South African and Indonesian-run businesses. he MDC accused Zanu PF of seeking to extend to towns ahead of next year's presidential elections the political intimidation it uses in rural areas with farm invasions. In addition, the "war veterans" routinely took a "cut" of 25-50 percent from monies extorted from managers.
When Dandy was invaded, Denmark formally protested to Zimbabwe Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge, and Dandy board chairman Holger Bagger-Soerensen ordered suspension of production to protect staff. Workers committee chairman Oscar Manhombo declared support for management. "We stand to lose because of a few people trying to take advantage of war veterans," said Manhombo, as many of his colleagues went into hiding and the jobs of all 150 staff appeared in jeopardy. The plant, producing up to 300 tonnes of chewing gum worth US $12m a year, reopened on May 21 and has resumed exports throughout the region. "Basically we are back in production following the statement that was made by the foreign minister (Mudenge) that they would protect the company," said Hair. "We have been told by the local police in Norton that they have had instructions from higher up and the war veterans here said they also had orders to stop invading us. The problem has just gone away and we hope it will stay like that."
Although halted for the time being, the business invasions have caused a crisis on confidence among industrialists and investors, says the Confederation of Zimbabwean Industries. In the past year 400 firms have filed for bankruptcy, laying off 20 000 workers to join 4 million unemployed. The invasions have also accelerated an exodus of skills, with the departure of many black professionals as well as members of the white community, now down to about 50,000. Zimbabwe no longer issues formal emigration statistics. However, South Africa estimates that it has 400 000 trained Zimbabwean doctors, accountants, mining engineers, teachers and technicians, as well as up to 2m unskilled illegal job-seekers who can earn in a week's casual labour nearly the equivalent a month's pay back home.
From The Times (UK), 16 June
Fleeing Zimbabweans brave crocodiles for a new life
Beitbridge, South Africa - Wading across the Limpopo River, with crocodiles lying in wait, marching for days and dodging police border patrols, Zimbabweans are fleeing to South Africa. About two million black Zimbabweans have already left in search of a new life and the authorities in Pretoria fear that another two million could soon follow if fuel-price rises announced earlier this week trigger township riots and a general strike. "I don’t know how many cross over," Sergeant John Boshoff, of the South African border police, said. "We catch 100 to 300 every night."
Most embark on the perilous crossing under cover of darkness. Some never make it. Crocodiles and hippos have killed scores, crocodiles even congregating at crossing points in anticipation of a nightly feast. Once across the Limpopo, the refugees have to clamber over three razor-wire fences that run the length of South Africa’s northern border from Botswana to Mozambique, erected to keep out ANC guerrillas during the apartheid era. For Nhamo Makudo, 24, caught yesterday in the town of Messina after walking from his home in Masvingo, it was the second time he had been arrested. "But I’ll try again," he said. He is typical. Most refugees are the so-called "born frees" generation. They know little about the civil war fought by President Mugabe’s Zanu organisation and others to end white minority rule. They see only the chaos brought about the seizure of white farms and other acts of intimidation by so-called war veterans. "I’m the oldest of seven," Mr Makudo said. "My parents have no work. We have no food. There is nothing for us in Zimbabwe. Everyone thinks South Africa is the land of milk and honey."
From The Star (SA), 14 June
Africa is a mess, says Mbeki
London - South African President Thabo Mbeki, in a frank assessment of his continent, said on Thursday it was in a mess but with help could pull itself together. Mbeki, on the last full day of his first state visit to the Britain, told an audience of investors the foreign perception of Africa as ridden with wars, disease, corruption, dictatorships and refugees was probably not far off the mark. "That picture would not necessarily be wrong. But we have this strong delegation visiting the United Kingdom... because we have the possibility, working with you, to do many things to change this reality I have been describing," he said.
He described South Africa as not only the gateway to the continent but as a backdoor on to world markets through deals such as last year's free trade pact with the European Union. "I think we have a common project with regards to turning what many people might still regard to be good potential, good prospects in South Africa... into something that will convey a message about the African continent that will be radically different," the Sussex University-trained economist said.
Mbeki, travelling with a delegation of eight cabinet ministers, said in the seven years since the end of apartheid and the advent of democracy, South Africa had built a sound economy with solid policies and good prospects for growth. Local investment was building but foreign direct investment remained vital to securing the critical mass necessary to begin cutting unacceptably high levels of unemployment - running at around 30 percent nationally and 40 percent among blacks.
The president, who on Wednesday visited Scotland to deliver an impassioned plea to developed nations to slash the crippling debt burden on the world's poor, said he accepted South Africa still had to tackle issues such as crime and Zimbabwe. But he specifically avoided mentioning the national Aids epidemic that threatens to torpedo the economy, killing millions and leaving thousands of orphans in its wake. He said the government had been moving resources into fighting a rampant crime wave and was beginning to win the war - although it has not published crime statistics since late last year. He said the repeated message from business was that, while South Africa might be a haven of stability on the continent, it suffered from being in a bad neighbourhood because of its northern neighbour Zimbabwe.
In an unusually sharp critique of the government of the former British colony of Rhodesia, Mbeki said the rule of law had to be applied. "It is clear that there are many things that have gone wrong in Zimbabwe," he said. Mbeki said there was a need for land redistribution in both countries, but it must be conducted in an orderly manner, not through land invasions as has been the case for the past year in Zimbabwe. He said his government was in contact with the government of President Robert Mugabe and trying to help the Zimbabweans drag their economy out of the mire. "Clearly we don't want a collapse in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabweans must turn the country around," he said, adding that South Africa would do what it could to help.
"We need to create a good neighbourhood," he told his packed audience. "To address all these things we need this continuous engagement with yourselves. South Africa must become a preferred investor destination because of its potential." Mbeki, who leaves on Friday morning, was lunching with Prime Minister Tony Blair later on Thursday before addressing a meeting of parliamentarians on his Millennium Africa Recovery Plan.
Comment from The Times (UK), 15 June
Mbeki to Mugabe : A franker message but still not fierce enough
If Africa is to become a "good neighbourhood" for investment, its most sophisticated nation, South Africa, must lead the way. So said that country’s President, Thabo Mbeki, at a meeting with London investors yesterday. The usually cautious Mr Mbeki also made unusually critical remarks about his northern neighbour, Zimbabwe, suggesting that worsening abuse there had tainted the reputation of the entire region. Many things had gone wrong in Zimbabwe, he said. He criticised the recent invasions of white-owned farmland by gangs of "war veterans" that have been a feature of the last year or so; he said the rule of law had to be applied.
Mr Mbeki’s speech was a good start. Britain has long pressed the South African President, the one foreign political figure seen able to influence Zimbabwe’s leader, Robert Mugabe - to drop his increasingly extremist policies; diplomats will no doubt be pleased that he has made at least some public criticism. But Mr Mbeki’s decision to focus on Zimbabwe’s need to avoid economic collapse, and South Africa’s duty to help it to do so, softened his message. Crucially, he stopped short of admitting that Zimbabwe’s problems were, at base, political rather than economic.
The sickness racking Zimbabwe certainly has many economic symptoms. Foreign investment is dwindling. So is international aid. Fuel prices nearly doubled this week. Food shortages are expected within months, and unrest may follow. But the underlying cause is political. It is the brutal treatment meted out by President Mugabe to his democratic opponents, his attempts to quell the press and judiciary, and the corrupt, arbitrary and inefficient management by presidential cronies of economic resources (including commercial farmland) that are scaring off investors from a once wealthy country.
Mr Mugabe, who is 72 and has been in power for two decades, insists that nothing needs fixing in Zimbabwe except its economic symptoms, which he puts down to the evils of long-ago colonialism. His "cure" - kicking 3,000 of the country’s 4,500 commercial farmers (mostly white former colonialists) off their land, and resettling landless black peasants on it - would, he says, sort everything out fairly. The violent land grabs already carried out on dozens of farms have claimed lives, spread terror, and reduced dramatically production of Zimbabwe’s main export crop, tobacco. Peaking during last year’s parliamentary elections, the attacks happened also to target members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition. Even though the chief of the "war veterans’", "Hitler" Hunzvi, died last week, it is likely that more, and equally political, violence will mar next year’s presidential election - for which Mr Mugabe is determined to stand again.
The new US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has denounced what he calls Mr Mugabe’s "totalitarian methods" of holding on to power. Mr Mbeki, who ignored 40 Zimbabwean deaths during last year’s parliamentary campaigning and rushed to pronounce its elections "free and fair", must now have the courage to open his eyes too. Otherwise he may find he has taken the wrong side in the struggle for Zimbabwe’s soul.
From News24 (SA), 14 June
Mugabe sweet talks Blair
Harare - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has sent a congratulatory message to British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressing optimism that his re-election to power will provide an opportunity for the two countries to patch up their differences. "We look forward to your renewed mandate as providing a new opportunity to address some of the outstanding issues between our two countries," Mugabe said in his congratulatory message to Blair. Britain, the former colonial power, has led harsh criticism of Mugabe's administration, particularly over its controversial land reform scheme. Mugabe has responded by repeatedly telling Britain to keep its hands off Zimbabwe's affairs. But Mugabe, in a message published on Thursday by the state-owned Herald took a somewhat conciliatory tone saying: "We stand ready to constructively engage your government to resolve these outstanding issues and normalise relations between our countries."
Government says Britain has reneged on its promises to give Zimbabwe funds to compensate for land taken from white farmers for redistribution to blacks. Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge said early this year the countries had "unfinished business". The Herald also reported that Mudenge has written to the new British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Jack Straw, congratulating him. "As you are aware, the nature of the present relations between our two countries has known better days in the past," he told his counterpart. "It is, therefore, my fervent hope that with goodwill we can, together, find solutions to these quite surmountable misunderstandings affecting our relations," said Mudenge. Early this year Mudenge complained that since the Blair government first swept to power, neither the prime minister nor the then foreign secretary Robin Cook had bothered to visit the southern African country. Last month local state media reported that Britain was seeking to re-open dialogue with Zimbabwe in a bid to heal strained relations, and that it had approached Mozambique, Nigeria and South African to help mediate between the two countries.
Comment from The Financial Gazette, 14 June
Alarm bells are ringing louder each day for President Robert Mugabe to go with some semblance of dignity before Zimbabwe's most crucial presidential ballot in 10 months, but the hardened fighter will not throw in the towel yet. Too much is at stake to call it a day now, Mugabe reckons, and yet he probably stands to lose too much, if not everything, while clinging to power in the name of seeking to complete unfinished business. Somehow he still believes that a miracle will rescue him from a humiliating electoral defeat, which looks increasingly certain as Zimbabwe hurtles towards total collapse.
Many in the country are rightly asking: what has the Old Man got up his sleeve which makes him believe he can defy history and turn back the clock of change? Only the President knows, and yet even he too - the brave guerrilla chief whose forces helped send the powerful Rhodesian edifice crashing down to earth - should be aware that the die is now cast and the moment of reckoning has finally come. Is he really ready to accept the wrath of the people at the polls or is he planning to impose emergency rule to forestall his inevitable ouster?
The warning that Mugabe received from US Secretary of State Colin Powell two weeks ago is only the latest sign that it is time to go before the tide becomes a storm. Even South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has been quietly urging Mugabe to act against government-inspired chaos, is now making the point that whatever Pretoria does is merely aimed at preventing Zimbabwe's TOTAL collapse. In effect, this means that Mbeki is finally acknowledging that Zimbabwe has indeed crumbled and that all efforts must be made to prevent its plunge into a dark hole.
But will Mugabe heed the gentle words of advice from Powell and Mbeki or, as he has often done before, merely brush them aside and soldier on? Whatever the President decides to do, there is no denying the fact that the international community is finally closing ranks to isolate and punish him for behaviour unbecoming of a head of state. And we fear much worse could come if Mugabe fails to read the tell-tale signals from Powell and others who are hoping to reach out to him before the storm erupts. He should learn from the hard lessons of the not-so-gentle ousters of Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic and Panama's Manuel Noriega that history has no place for such dictators, even long after their ignominious downfall.
Domestically Mugabe knows he faces an unwinnable battle at the projected ballot, if it is free and fair, and yet he has gone ahead to announce his candidature in one of his many dare-you-all measures. With Zimbabwe's economy already on its knees - the fuel of Mugabe's downfall - we ask: how does he hope to drown the palpable nationwide discontent against his government in the few remaining months before the polls? What makes him believe that he can pull off the impossible? Could it be that he is misinformed about his political support? Or does he have other strategies that will deliver the miracle?
Surely Mugabe must know now that violence employed by his Zanu PF party against opponents ahead of last year's parliamentary election can do so much and no more when the hour has come. Indeed his hasty and chaotic land reforms, meant to cover up for his government's failure to deliver land to peasants in the past two decades, won't do the trick either. Some Zimbabweans will take the land under Mugabe's illegal fast-track scheme, but will not forget that it was none other than the President, for years pre-occupied with globe-trotting and the politics of patronage, who palpably failed to allocate enough money for an orderly and transparent land reform plan. His rising crescendo of charges against Britain over the land question will simply not fly because they are baseless and he knows this. British aid for land redistribution remains unclaimed in London even today because Mugabe does not want to meet its minimum conditions: that the land reforms address poverty of most Zimbabweans regardless of their political beliefs.
From The Wall Street Journal, 14 June
US concerned about Zimbabwe's curbs on foreign press
Washington - The U.S. State Department expressed concern Thursday over new restrictions in Zimbabwe on foreign reporters, and said the measure was "particularly troubling" in light of the impending start of a presidential election campaign. Zimbabwe imposed entry conditions on Wednesday for foreign journalists, requiring them to apply for official press accreditation at least a month before an intended visit. Without clearance enabling them to work, they would not be admitted and the government advised them not to make travel arrangements until receiving clearance, state radio said.
State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said foreign journalists previously were able to apply for accreditation upon arrival in the country. Coupled with other actions against the press, Reeker said it appears that "the government of Zimbabwe wants very much to limit media reporting on what goes on inside Zimbabwe," Reeker said. "We find this new development particularly troubling in view of the presidential election slated to occur in the first quarter of next year, 2002." In addition to attacks on the independent media, Reeker said there have been attacks on the judiciary, the opposition and opposition supporters. "We call on the government of Zimbabwe to return to the rule of law and respect the rights of its citizens," he said.
From News24 (SA), 15 June
Judges shy away from MDC
Harare - The opposition MDC party, challenging the government for alleged electoral fraud in last year parliamentary election, is facing a fresh dilemma: judges are now reluctant to hear its petitions. The party says it sees the move as part of the ruling party's attempts to frustrate its search for justice, arising from the bloody election campaign in which about 40 people died, all from the opposition. They have now challenged Jacob Manzunzu, the registrar of the High Court, over delays in replacing Justice James Devittie (who resigned last month) in the 29 pending hearings.
Yvonne Mahlunge, one of the MDC legal advisers, said the High Court registrar also turned down a request to increase the number of judges hearing the petitions in order to speed up the process. Most judges, fearing victimisation and political interference, have refused to handle MDC petitions, leaving Manzunzu in a separate dilemma. Newly appointed judge Charles Hungwe, a former member of the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC), recused himself from hearing the petitions. As a member of the ESC last year, Hungwe's commission issued a damning report condemning violence during last June's parliamentary election won by Zanu-PF. Other High Court judges are said to have given flimsy excuses.
The MDC is challenging the election result on the grounds of violence by Zanu PF. Initially, the opposition party was challenging results in 37 constituencies but some of the petitions have either been concluded or withdrawn. Before leaving the bench, Devittie handed down three judgements in favour of the MDC. He was then removed from hearing the petitions. Only two judges, Justice Vernanda Ziyambi and Justice Paddington Garwe are now hearing the petitions. The MDC has complained to Manzunzu that Devittie should not have been removed from hearing the petitions before a replacement had been found. The opposition party said the delays in finding his replacement were meant to frustrate the MDC.
In response, Manzunzu said it was mischievous to suggest Devittie was removed from the Bench. He said Devittie could not handle more cases because he was retiring. Manzunzu told the MDC lawyers Justice Ben Hlatshwayo, another new judge connected to Zanu PF before his appointment, had replaced Devittie. "On a caretaker basis, some matters previously allocated to Devittie have been allocated to Hlatshwayo," said Manzunzu. "It must be appreciated that court rolls are prepared well in advance for obvious reasons, and that such developments are prepared well in advance for obvious reasons, and that sudden developments such as Devittie's retirement can throw the court roll off the rails."
However, MDC lawyers said Hlatshwayo, one of the judges appointed after Zanu PF complained about unfavourable judgements, told them he was not assigned Devittie's cases. Hlatshwayo was a member of the government-appointed Constitutional Commission whose draft was rejected in a referendum in February last year. Correspondence between the MDC lawyers and the registrar of the High Court's office shows that the opposition party made the first request for the increase in the number of judges on 5 March. Mahlunge said the requests had been turned down. She said the Electoral Act stipulated that election petitions had to be disposed of expeditiously. The point had been acknowledged by Manzunzu but he had failed to comply, said Mahlunge. It appears the government was unsettled by the three MDC victories in the hearings so far and wants to avoid further embarrassment, said an MDC spokesperson.
From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 14 June
Battling for survival
Every month a in Harare worker will spend more than half of his salary on bus fares, before buying a meal or paying the school fees for a single child, reports IRIN
The line of cars began in a narrow side-street and snaked around three corners before finding its way to the crowded forecourt of a petrol station over 1 km away. A heat haze danced on the roofs of the 200 vehicles in the queue as drivers waited with growing impatience to fill up. John Maponga had queued for over three hours to be served at the Total petrol station in the Harare suburb of Helensvale. He asked: "How am I meant to run my business when I have to waste time like this? Look what has happened to Zimbabwe. I'm going to emigrate to Zambia. At least they have petrol there."
Endless queues at the few Zimbabwean petrol stations with supplies are the most visible signs of an economic crisis that worsens by the day. With no reserves of foreign exchange to buy imports, Zimbabwe has suffered fuel shortages since December 1999. Superficially, this only affects the small minority of people wealthy enough to own a car. Yet the economic slump is so severe that an entire society is being impoverished. President Robert Mugabe's government has achieved the distinction of recording some of the worst macroeconomic statistics in Africa. Last year, unemployment rose to 60%, inflation ran at 57%, the budget deficit swelled to 23% of gross national product and the entire economy contracted by 6%. The victims of the collapse can be found on any street corner in Harare.
Thomas Karimadondo, 25, once worked in a clothing factory in the industrial suburb of Graniteside. He lost his job when the company closed in 1999. To support his son, now aged 3, he joined the informal economy and based himself opposite Meikles Hotel in central Harare, where he sold souvenirs, mainly small wooden elephants, to tourists. But Zimbabwe's tourism industry was crippled last year when the number of visitors fell by 70%. So Thomas lost his livelihood once again. He still earns a living as a street trader, but now sells goods that are in constant demand - petrol funnels. As he walked beside a row of cars halted at the busy junction between Second Street and Tongogara Avenue, Thomas carried his collection of shiny, silver funnels with genuine pride. "Other people sell old ones that leak, but mine are the best," he said.
His customers seem to agree. Thomas sells about 10 funnels a day, at the equivalent of US $1 each, making him rich by the modest standards of Harare street traders. "Everyone needs one of these funnels. I can sell all that I buy," he said. Thomas has survived by spotting the gap in the market created by Zimbabwe's fuel crisis. For the very poorest, living outside the formal economy, survival now hinges on ingenuity. Entire families are dependent on selling the unlikeliest objects. When asked where he gets the funnels from, Thomas looks uncertain. In fact, the clean, metal cylinders are made from Harare's street signs, which are rapidly disappearing. Finding your way around the city is increasingly difficult because countless streets have become anonymous overnight. The metal signs have numerous uses. Many people eke out a living by turning them into coffin handles and then selling them to undertakers. About 2 000 Zimbabweans are estimated to die of AIDS every week, so the demand for coffins is growing fast. The business of death allows thousands to live.
The battle for survival is also fought by the 40% of the workforce who hold jobs in the formal economy. An inflation rate of 57% is indiscriminate in the poverty it causes. The petrol price increase of 74 percent announced on 13 June has already led to a 50% rise in bus fares and will push up the cost of every basic essential. A manual worker living in the dormitory town of Chitungwiza, 25 km south of Harare, will typically earn the equivalent of US $55 per month from a factory job in the capital. Yet the cost of commuting by bus each day is now about US $1.36. Every month, the worker will spend more than half of his salary on bus fares, before buying a meal or paying the school fees for a single child. So more and more people are walking to work. Every day in Chitungwiza, thousands rise at 4 a.m. and walk the 50 km round-trip, to and from Harare. The additional strain this imposes, and the hours it adds to the working day, have become unavoidable.
Only the very richest have been shielded from the effects of economic collapse. But even they risk poverty when they reach old age. Inflation has wiped out the value of savings and pensions, depriving those who once held senior government positions of a quiet retirement. Steven Sibanda, 73, retired from the civil service as an Assistant Secretary in 1987. His pension was then worth US $400 per month. It has now plummeted to US $145 per month at the official exchange rate, and US $57 at the more realistic "parallel" rate. Last year, Sibanda's pension was upgraded by 15 percent - less than one third of the inflation rate.
He said: "We've reached the crunch point now. To survive, we're going to have to make severe economies." Sibanda cannot afford to visit his children in South Africa and may soon have to dispense with his gardener and housemaid. To supplement his income, he does occasional lectures at the University of Zimbabwe and other casual jobs. "We don't really have a retirement any more. We have to go on working to survive," he added. For people at every level of Zimbabwean society, a country that once prided its self on its orderliness and sophistication, survival involves nothing but a struggle.