July 2, 2009
By Owen Chikari
MASVINGO - It was in February 2000 soon after the rejection of the
government-sponsored draft constitution when a group of seven former freedom
fighters invaded Yotham Farm, about 55 kilometres east of Masvingo city.
The invasion sparked spontaneous farm occupations across the country under
the banner of redressing colonial land imbalances in Zimbabwe.
President Robert Mugabe, sensing danger following the rejection of his
government's sponsored draft constitution in a referendum, seized on the
opportunity presented by the land seizures and blessed them, while
glorifying the often violent process as the Third Chimurenga.
Critics cite the bitterness arising from his defeat in the referendum,
Mugabe's first since 1980, as the real reason behind the tacit approval of
the invasion of white-owned commercial farms rather than any genuine to
redress imbalances in colonial land-ownership patterns and push for a
necessary programme of land redistribution.
Zanu-PF and so-called war veterans accused commercial farmers of influencing
the rejection of the constitutional draft proposed by government.
However, nine years down the line, the pioneers of these farm invasions in
Masvingo are living in squalor. They now accuse Mugabe of abandoning them.
The five surviving members of the original team of farm invaders in
Masvingo: Felix Zivanai, Peter Saharo, Elton Mushunde, Ernest Matambo and
Kid Muzenda now live in abject poverty.
Two of the former freedom fighters Isaac Mupondi and another, only
identified as Chiwawa, died in penury.
Besides a small piece of land they grabbed under the A1 Resettlement model,
the five have nothing substantial to show for the early occupation of Yotham
According to Zivanai, the recent and much-touted farm mechanisation
programme launched by Mugabe's government had not benefited them in any way.
"When our leaders come here they promise to solve our problems but nothing
has been done," said Zivanai angrily.
"We had hoped that the farm mechanisation programme would target us, genuine
farmers, who spearheaded the Third Chimurenga, but nothing is forthcoming.
"President Robert Mugabe has abandoned us and we are not going to forgive
him for that. We just hear that some people were given tractors and
scorch-carts, wheel barrows and harrows but we did not get anything.
"We believe all these farming implements were looted by senior Zanu-PF and
government officials at the expense of the generality of the people."
Mugabe's farm mechanisation programme was bankrolled by Reserve Bank
Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono whose controversial appointment by the
President has caused a stir within the inclusive government.
Under the farm mechanisation programme, the RBZ purchased various farming
implements ranging from wheel barrows to combine harvesters which were
dished out to Zanu-PF loyalists.
Zivanai, who was in the company of his frail wife, said they were sharing a
farm house at Yotham Farm with fellow war veterans but the situation was not
all that rosy.
"We would want an audit of all these farming implements because we feel Gono
and some of our leaders just played games to benefit themselves," said
"I need a tractor; so do my colleagues."
Narrating how they became the first farm invaders in 2000, Zivanai said they
were angered by the rejection of the government-sponsored draft constitution
in the referendum.
Civil society and the newly-formed MDC campaigned for the rejection of the
"When the 'No' vote carried the day, we as war veterans felt that Zanu-PF,
our party, had lost," said Zivanai. "So we asked ourselves; what do we do in
order for us to benefit from the government given the fact that people had
voted 'No' in the referendum?
"We held a meeting at the Chiefs Hall in Masvingo where we agreed to start
the farm invasions. Some of the war veterans refused because they argued
that the white farmers were armed but we felt it was time for us to take the
"We targeted Yotham Farm because the owner Dick Ren had already left. After
all, his farm was used as training ground for Rhodesian soldiers and as a
torture centre for villagers who supported the liberation struggle.
"Soon after taking over that farm, we wanted to dish out pieces of land to
landless people until the government chipped in, blessed our idea and then
regularise the process.
"To date, everyone is happy to own a farm, even Mugabe himself, but we are
saying he should not forget us.
"Our lives have not changed since we invaded these farms. If anything, our
lives are deteriorating in terms of living standards.
"If you have the capacity to meet him (President Mugabe) tell him that we
are living in squalor and that if he does not give us the farming implements
which he shared with other party activists and officials, we are not going
to forgive him and his government."
July 2, 2009
By Mxolisi Ncube
JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe's Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development,
Murisi Zwizwai has attracted criticism from both his party and Zimbabwean
exiles, with his recent denials of killings in the Chiadzwa mining area of
Manicaland province. A request has been made for him to apologise for his
Zwizwai, who belongs to the mainstream formation of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), led by Morgan Tsvangirai, last Wednesday denied any
killings in the eastern Marange diamond fields, where rights groups say tens
of civilians have been killed by members of the Zimbabwean army in various
operations since 2006.
Zwizwai, who was speaking during a meeting of the Kimberley Process, the
international scheme to curb the sale of blood diamonds, said that the
situation in Marange had been brought under control.
He blamed illegal miners for descending on the area, saying that this had
forced the President Robert Mugabe-led government to conduct operations to
curb the illegal mining activities.
"Contrary to allegations in the media, nobody was killed by security forces
during an operation at Marange, where about 30 000 people descended onto the
alluvial mining field," Zwizwai told the meeting's 200 delegates at the
conference in Namibia.
"These people comprised of cunning, die-hard illegal diamond diggers. This
compelled government to conduct a special operation to flush out the illegal
diamond miners and to bring order and sanity to the area.
"There are unsubstantiated reports of a number of deaths and cases of human
rights abuse which we are keen to investigate if anybody comes forward with
any leading information."
Human rights groups have called for Zimbabwe's suspension from the Kimberley
Process over claims of forced evictions and other abuses in Marange, while
the World Federation of Diamond Bourses in April banned the sale of diamonds
from Marange, but Kimberley has resisted taking a tough stance.
The MDC Tuesday issued a statement describing Zwizwai's remarks as both
unfortunate and inaccurate in the absence of an investigation into the
killings, and called on the unity government to probe the killings.
"The MDC views as unfortunate and inaccurate the remarks by the Deputy
Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Hon Murisi Zwizwai, that there
were no killings in the Chiadzwa mining area of Manicaland province," said
the party, which is part of a tripartite unity government.
"We view the remarks as premature and inaccurate in the absence of an
investigation into the murky dealings in the Chiadzwa diamond fields where a
lot of things happened out of the public eye. Hon Zwizwai's claims are
therefore fact-hostile and evidence-free.
"The MDC calls on the inclusive government and Parliament to commission an
investigation into the goings-on in Chiadzwa."
The party said it believed that "a thorough investigation will enable the
inclusive government to come clean on what really transpired before senior
government officials seek refuge in denial."
"Zimbabweans are only aware that whatever happened at Chiadzwa remains
shrouded in secrecy," said the MDC.
"There is no public information as to how much the country has accrued from
the diamond fields where ordinary Zimbabweans were displaced to make way for
politically-connected fat cats and politicians.
"There are unconfirmed allegations of mass graves and massive looting which
cannot be easily dismissed in the absence of an investigation.
"The MDC is a party of excellence. We remain true and committed to our
constitutional values of honesty, transparency and accountability.
"We believe that Hon Zwizwai's statement remains misleading, unfortunate and
inaccurate before a public report is tabled before the nation on what really
transpired in Chiadzwa."
The MDC Veteran Activists Association (MDC VAA), also came out with guns
blazing against Zwizwai, saying that his comments as an authority in
government made him part of the killers.
"We regret what the honourable minister has said in his comments and we
believe that our party is not part of that, because we know that the MDC
policy stands for the people," said MDC VAA chairman, Solomon Chikohwero in
"Zwizwai must apologise to the people for these comments because we know
that several families are still traumatised by the loss of their relatives
in these police operations."
The activist, who says that he knows some of the affected families, said
that the deputy minister's comments had left many people wondering if the
people that they were putting into office were the rightful ones, urging the
MDC to act.
"We are urging the party to act on Zwizwai if he does not issue a public
apology over his comments," said Chikohwero.
"We know that Zwizwai is trying to get a licence to mine diamonds in
Zimbabwe, but he should not sacrifice people who are suffering to gain that.
Those people are going there because they are suffering due to economic rot
caused by Mugabe and have no alternative source of income, but they are
still human beings deserving respect from their leaders.
"Some of those people were killed brutally and for Zwizwai, with whom we
suffered Zanu-PF wrath, to now come back and say that is embarrassing."
Zimbabwe Black Diamond Campaign coordinator, Gabriel Shumba, who says that
he was present in Namibia when Zwizwai issued the statement, said that his
organisation was still deciding on what course of action to take on the
"We are also not happy with he said and believe that something should be
done to avoid such inflammatory comments by ministers in future," said
July 2, 2009
By Our Correspondent
MUTARE - Peter Michael Hitschmann, a former member of the police
constabulary, who was jailed for three years for possessing an arms cache,
was released on Thursday.
He immediately vowed he would not be a State witness in the trial of Roy
Bennett, the MDC Deputy Minister of Agriculture-designate who is on remand
pending a trial for treason.
State prosecutors say Hitschmann is the key witness in the trial of Bennett,
who also faces charges of attempting to commit acts of sabotage, banditry,
insurgency and terrorism.
Bennett's trial will kick-off on October 13 this year. He faces life in jail
if convicted. Bennett dismisses the charges as politically motivated.
Hitschmann told journalists in this eastern border city he would not be a
State witness in Bennett's case.
This will be a body blow to the State as Hitschmann is the principal
witness. He said Bennett has nothing to do with the arms cache that was
found in his possession.
Hitschmann was initially charged with attempting to assassinate President
Mugabe and key Zanu-PF politicians in Manicaland but the charges were thrown
out due to lack of evidence. He was then convicted on lesser charges of
possessing arms without a license.
He was sentenced to four years in jail but served three years and three
"I was surprised to hear that I was a State witness (in Bennett's case),"
Hitschmann said. "I am certainly not going to be a State witness. I find it
surprising. Bennett has nothing to do with it."
"He has not been to my premise and there is no link between Bennett and the
He said he was forced to incriminate Bennett during torture by security
"On the night of March 6, 2006 we were taken to Adams Barracks were we were
tortured and forced to make certain confessions," Hitschmann said. "None of
the confessions incriminated Roy."
Adams Barracks is an army camp outside Mutare on the Mozambican frontier.
"According to that confession Roy and I were plotting sabotage specifically
of radio and communication equipment in the area of Bromley somewhere
He said some of the forced confessions were that he was plotting to
assassinate President Mugabe as he celebrated his birthday in Mutare.
Hitschmann said he was also forced to confess that he was planning to
assassinate key Zanu-PF members in Mutare, Esau Mupfumi, a wealthy
businessman and Enock Porusingazi, also a businessman and former MP for
Charges that he wanted to assassinate President Mugabe and the two Zanu-PF
officials from Mutare were thrown out by High Court Judge, Justice
Chitakunye due to lack of evidence.
Hitschmann said he was disappointed he had completed his sentence while his
appeal against conviction and sentence was still pending at the Supreme
He said this was an indication the justice delivery system in Zimbabwe was
Hitschmann said prison conditions were appalling and during his 40 months'
stay in prison he saw close to 50 people die.
"The conditions can be described as (akin to) a death camp," he said. "In my
life I have been in many difficult situations but I have never seen humans
die in conditions worse than (those of) animals.
He said he survived the harsh conditions because of the support he got from
his family and friends.
By Tichaona Sibanda
2 July 2009
The top hierachy of the MDC will hold a two day strategic planning meeting
beginning Friday, amid reports of lingering disagreements between party
members over participation in the government.
The situation came to head on Monday when cabinet ministers from the MDC,
led by Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe, boycotted a cabinet meeting.
Robert Mugabe had angered the MDC after he unilaterally shifted a cabinet
meeting scheduled for Tuesday, back to Monday. He rescheduled the meeting
because he was travelling to Libya on Monday evening.
But Khupe said the decision was aimed at preventing Tsvangirai from chairing
the Cabinet meeting as Tsvangirai would be the chair in the event of Mugabe
It is believed this latest spat between the MDC and ZANU PF has prompted
SADC to finally move in and try to mediate. Unconfirmed reports say SADC
will convene a meeting in the next two weeks to discuss the issues that
remain outstanding in the Global Political Agreement.
Simon Muchemwa, our Harare correspondent, said there has been a lot of
despondency in the MDC lately, following the slow pace to implement these
remaining issues. He said a number of party members were not happy with the
recent spate of arrests and convictions of MDC legislators.
But while some MPs and grassroots members have been calling for the party to
pull out of the unity government, the party leadership has remained resolute
that they will not do so.
Muchemwa added that the party had found it proper to convene a meeting and
deliberate on events that have taken place in the last month.
'They are obviously going to sit down and deliberate on the concerns brought
up by members countrywide. The issue of the constitutional making process is
also going to be tabled and the deliberate arrests of MPs will be discussed
with a view to finding a common position,' Muchemwa said.
By Violet Gonda
2 July 2009
Michael Peter Hitschmann, who was initially arrested for allegedly plotting
to assassinate Robert Mugabe at his birthday bash in Manicaland in 2006, was
released on Thursday. Although the assassination plot charges were dropped,
Hitschmann went on to serve a total of three years and four months in jail
after police said they found an arms cache at his home and he was charged
with possession of firearms without a licence.
In an interview with SW Radio Africa shortly after his release the former
police constable says he was a registered firearms dealer and the weapons
found at his home were never hidden. He said since the farm invasions he
acted as a conduit for firearms for the police. He would collect firearms
and weapons from evicted commercial farmers and take them to the police
armoury. Hitschmann said he was doing the job the police were supposed to do
and claimed the receipts he got when he handed weapons into the police,
mysteriously disappeared when he was arrested.
Hitschmann said shortly after his arrest he was taken to an army barracks
in Mutare and tortured severely and forced to write confessions that he had
conspired with several people, including some from both the MDC and ZANU PF,
to assassinate Mugabe.
"I was kicked in the testicles a few times and then they resorted to using
cigarettes on my buttocks. Although that was a terrible experience I was
lucky enough to pass out quite early when they started with the cigarette
burns," he narrated.
"But more effectively they arrested my wife and my son." He said he was told
that if he didn't confess, his family would join him at the army barracks.
Several police officers and MDC officials, including Giles Mutsekwa, who is
now the MDC co-Home Affairs Minister and Roy Bennett, the MDC Deputy
Minister of Agriculture designate, were arrested in connection with
Hitschmann's case. Mutsekwa and the others were acquitted, but Bennett is
still facing charges of attempting to commit acts of banditry and terrorism.
Meanwhile, Hitschmann heard through his lawyers that the State prosecutors
want him to stand as a key witness in the trial against Bennett. But
Hitschmann says 'there is nothing to testify about." He said the State would
need to clarify what it is they want from him as there is no connection
between him and the MDC official. "The thing doesn't make any sense, because
they are charging him (Bennett) with exactly the same charge that they
charged me with - for which I have been acquitted."
By Alex Bell
02 July 2009
Almost two months after a potentially crippling teachers strike was averted,
teachers once again on Thursday renewed their threat to down tools over low
In May, the Education Ministry managed to prevent a nationwide strike
despite not being able to meet the wage demands laid out by the country's
educators. The Ministry instead managed to persuade teachers' unions that
they were doing everything they could to raise money for the education
system, and as an incentive allowed the teachers' own children to have free
At the time teachers' unions, including the Progressive Teachers Union of
Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA), acknowledged
that their wage demands could not be met. They agreed to go along with the
proposed 'road map plan' set out by Education Minister David Coltart that
would eventually see a significant pay rise in the education system.
But patience is now appearing to wear out, with ZIMTA stating on Thursday
that its members "will soon find it irresistible to embark on industrial
action." ZIMTA's acting CEO Sifiso Ndlovu explained that the strike action
"will be the last resort if current engagements with the Education Ministry
fail to yield results this month." He added that most teachers are willing
to embark on a strike immediately out of desperation, but continued that
they would wait until the end of the month to see what developments had been
made by the government.
Many teachers across the country have already stopped working, apparently in
an effort to find other jobs to supplement their meagre civil servants
income. PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou said last week that in areas such as
Bikita, Mberengwa, Chivi, Buhera and Chipinge, teachers are no longer going
"They are very disgruntled and we have been officially informed by our
representatives in such districts that they have gone on strike," explained
Zhou in an interview.
Zhou continued that the teachers' cause for not going to work is genuine and
the government must be seen doing something positive now "if ever they want
our education system to remain reputable."
Meanwhile, the Public Service Association last month also issued a strike
threat to the unity government over low civil servant pay. The US$100
allowance that is being paid out by the government is not nearly enough to
cover the economic needs of a family, where a basic food basket costs an
estimated US$500. According to a statement issued by the Public Service
Association, the workers have decided to go on strike should the government
fail to hike salaries or allowances this month.
July 3, 2009
Jan Raath in Harare
Nicholas van Hoogstraten, the British property tycoon who became a friend of
President Mugabe, has had charges of illegal currency dealing and possession
of pornography dismissed by a Zimbabwe court.
Mr van Hoogstraten, who is said to own more than 200 properties in Harare,
was allegedly caught by police in January 2008 demanding rent from his
tenants in US dollars rather than Zimbabwean dollars, as required by law.
When police raided his home in the Emerald Hill area of the Zimbabwean
capital, they found hundreds of photographs of naked women in what they said
were "indecent poses". Mr van Hoogstraten, 64, appeared in many of the
He was held in custody for five nights but released on bail. The case came
to trial this week but the magistrate, Morgen Nemadire, said that police had
bungled the pornography case by seizing the pictures without a search
warrant. "They were illegally obtained, which rendered the pictures
inadmissible in court," he said.
Mr van Hoogstraten was cleared on the illegal currency dealing charge
because police were not able to produce the officer who had allegedly caught
him. The magistrate ordered that the tycoon's photograph collection be
Mr van Hoogstraten, who has changed his name by deed poll to Adolph von
Hessen, has been a generous contributor to Mr Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party and
has bought into several large state-owned companies.
In Britain he was sentenced to ten years in jail for ordering the killing in
2002 of a business rival, Mohammed Raja, but was later released when his
sentence was overturned on appeal.
He was ordered to pay £6 million in compensation to the family of the dead
man but said that they would "never get a penny".
In 1990 he fought a lengthy battle with the local ramblers' association to
stop them walking across his now-abandoned estate in Sussex and blocked the
paths with razor wire and discarded refrigerators.
by Cuthbert Nzou Friday 03 July 2009
HARARE - Government revenue has gradually risen to US$70 million in June
while the economy has grown by 1,1 percent between January and April as the
country continues to stagger through the decade long recession.
Finance minister Tendai Biti told investors at a conference in Harare
yesterday that revenue collected from taxes has jumped from US$66,8 million
collected in May to the new figure, indicating steady economic growth since
the formation of the inclusive government in February.
With entirety of the civil service outside the minimum tax threshold of
US$150 per month, government revenue has grown from US$4,7 million in
January, US$15 million in February, US$44 million in April and US$51,6
million the following month.
Altogether government has collected revenue amounting to US$185,3 million
during the first half of the year.
Biti attributed the surge to a 30 percent growth in the real sector -
mining, manufacturing and tourism.
Biti also told investors that capital markets had also grown as reflected by
the 66 percent growth of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange during its few weeks
after resumption of trade in foreign currency in February.
Biti also advised the private sector to participate in productive capacity
and infrastructural development through Public Private Partnership and Build
Operate Transfer programmes.
Biti's remarks came two weeks before his maiden midterm fiscal policy
statement, which is expected to introduce new tax measures amid reports that
government would introduce a proper remuneration for the civil service. The
introduction of proper salaries on government workers will result in the
suspension of US$100 allowances paid across the board since beginning of the
Sources said the Finance Minister is also expected to announce the new
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe board after the tenure of the existing board
expired. The announcement of the new board could be part of Biti's Cabinet
approved plan to reform the central bank.
It is yet to be known whether Biti would adopt advice given to government by
applied economics professor Steve Hanke who met Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai in Washington during his three-week tour to re-engage with the
United States and Western Europe.
Hanke, a renowned monetary expert with the Cato Institute of the John
Hopkins University advised government through a pre-recoded video at the
conference to adopt wide-ranging reforms modelled along those of Singapore
after independence in 1964.
"The first thing I would like to do is focus a little bit on the vision
thing, that the vision I think will be appropriate for the economic sphere
for Zimbabwe and to do that I will be talking about Singapore," Hanke said
He said government could also adopt a "flat tax" regime of about 10 percent
to stimulate economic activity.
"The only thing I can say in terms of policy are two things that government
officials should stop talking about going back to the Zimbabwe dollar,
essentially you now have the world's premier currency in place. It's working
now and it has stabilised the economic situation immediately. I think as far
as the eye can see you should retain dollarisation now. It should be
retained in an official way."
Foreign aid, Hanke said had been a "general failure" due to corruption and
mismanagement of "privileged contractors".
Paul Robinson, an investment analyst working for Laurium Capital said South
African investors were keen in investing in consumer-focused listed
companies with bigger and more liquid shares.
"Investors are currently waiting and seeing the economic developments in
Zimbabwe but they remain cognisant if not missing investment opportunities.
We are also eager to make comparative analysis of financial results for
listed companies now that reporting is now being in foreign currency." -
by Simplicious Chirinda Friday 03 July 2009
HARARE - Zimbabwean civic society groups will this weekend meet in Harare to
decide on how best they can participate in the constitution making process.
The meeting comes amid serious divisions within the broad movement of the
"This convention will focus on developing a robust, meaningful and well
co-ordinated civic society engagement with the constitution making process,"
said Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC) and the National Association of NGOs
(NANGO) who are orgainising the event in a joint press statement issued
A total of 2 000 delegates drawn from 234 civic organisations are expected
to attend the conference which starts on Friday.
The civic society organisations are deeply divided on how best to approach
the constitution making process. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU) and constitutional lobby group National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
have expressed reservations over the whole process.
"We are not attending the conference. NANGO and Crisis have no mandate to
take the lead in this constitutional issue, the NCA is the specific
organisation to take the lead but we are not going to stand in their way,"
said Wellington Chibhebhe, ZCTU secretary general.
The two organisations are opposed to the use of the Kariba Draft, negotiated
between MDC and ZANU PF as the basis upon which a new constitution will be
Article 6 of the global political agreement (GPA) signed by the country's
three main political parties last September provides for the drafting of a
The draft constitution would be put before the electorate in a referendum
expected in July next year and if approved by Zimbabweans will then be
brought before Parliament for enactment.
Once a new constitution is in place, the power-sharing government is
expected to then call fresh parliamentary, presidential and local government
Zimbabweans hope a new constitution to replace the one inked in 1979 at the
Lancaster House talks in London would whittle the president's powers,
strengthen the role of Parliament and guarantee civil liberties and
The existing constitution has been amended 19 times since the country's
independence in 1980 and critics say the changes have only helped to
entrench President Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF's stranglehold on power.
Parliament is expected to soon convene an all-stakeholders conference to
discuss the constitution. Already teams drawn from the 25-member
parliamentary constitutional committee are currently conducting
consultations around the country. - ZimOnline
by Tafadzwa Mutasa Friday 03 July 2009
HARARE - A Cabinet boycott by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC
ministers this week has heightened tensions and opened deep divisions in a
fragile coalition government but the former opposition party is unlikely to
pull out for now, analysts said.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Monday boycotted the weekly
Cabinet meeting brought forward by President Robert Mugabe, arguing that
this was orchestrated to prevent Tsvangirai from chairing in the veteran
Political analysts said while it was not unusual to reschedule a Cabinet
session to any day other than Tuesday, the unilateral move, at short notice,
had fed on the MDC's suspicions that Mugabe sought to undermine Tsvangirai
at every opportunity.
The move by the former opposition party had shaken Mugabe, sources close to
him said, and had given an opportunity to the MDC to bring its growing
concerns to the fore.
"That (Cabinet boycott) is a culmination of the growing frustration within
Tsvangirai's group in regards to the way Mugabe is continuously flouting
provisions of the global political agreement," said John Makumbe, a senior
political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.
"You ask me whether if the unity government is about to unravel, I don't
think so, not for now," said Makumbe.
The MDC has taken a harder line on Mugabe than its leader Tsvangirai, who
has borne persecution by authorities for standing up to the 85-year-old
leader in the past decade.
Senior officials in the MDC accuse ZANU PF of stalling democratic reforms
demanded by key Western donors, with some suggesting the party should quit
the unity government if outstanding issues are not resolved by the end of
The Southern African Development Community is set to meet in July to mediate
in a dispute over the appointment of central bank governor Gideon Gono and
Attorney General Johannes Tomana.
The MDC says ZANU PF is violating the political agreement signed last
September by continuously arresting its Members of Parliament and human
rights activists while state media has in recent days gone into overdrive to
Some MDC officials say Tsvangirai has gone out of his way to defend Mugabe.
"There is a feeling that he (Tsvangirai) is projecting a message to the
world that Mugabe is not bad. There is no evidence to suggest that and so
yes we are concerned with that message which is not reciprocated by Mugabe
anyway," a senior member of the MDC executive said.
"The boycott was a message to Mugabe not to take the MDC for granted," the
official who declined to be named said.
Tsvangirai, who returned from a three-week tour of Europe and the United
States, said he understood the frustration by his colleagues but was quick
to say the party would not pull out of the unity government.
Zimbabweans had hoped that the new administration would usher in economic
prosperity and end a decade of a suffocating economic crisis that has
impoverished the once prosperous nation and forced millions abroad for
better paying jobs.
"In a set up of this nature you are bound to see such hiccups but for now
that's what they remain, just hiccups," Eldred Masunungure, a leading
political science lecturer said.
"But what we are seeing is the MDC trying to prod ZANU PF, to say we have
not forgotten all these issues, let us do something about it and I am sure
the boycott did rattle Mugabe," he added.
Tsvangirai has accused some elements from the old regime of trying to block
progress in the new government but says they are a minority and their
actions would fizzle out.
Political analysts say many in the old establishment, particularly the
military are still opposed to the transitional arrangement they see opening
the way for Tsvangirai to assume full power. - ZimOnline
WASHINGTON, July 2 (Reuters) - Improved economic policies in Zimbabwe have
led to a "nascent" recovery in the economy, the IMF said on Thursday, but
stressed it could not agree to financial aid to the country until it cleared
its IMF arrears. "A more liberal economic environment, price stability, a
deepening in financial intermediation, and increased access to foreign
credit lines underpinned a pickup in economic activity," the IMF said in a
statement after talks with authorities in Harare.
Among officials the IMF met with was Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who
recently traveled to the United States and Europe to convince donors to
support the new coalition government and help rebuild the country's battered
The IMF said public finances have benefited from the recovery in economic
activity and consumption, and the government matched expenditure to revenue
during January-May 2009.
A significant rise in budget revenue in recent months has made it possible
for the government to increase spending in social areas, the IMF said.
To sustain the recovery, reform and stabilization efforts were needed, the
In particular, the IMF said the government needed to increase spending in
social programs and to repair infrastructure.
The IMF said donor assistance will be needed to help Zimbabwe clear its
arrears to the fund before the country can qualify for IMF aid.
It also urged improvements in governance at the central bank, a key demand
Tsvangirai's opposition party has called on Zimbabwe's central bank Governor
Gideon Gono to resign for policies it says contributed to the country's
Finance Minister Tendai Biti said the economy was on course to meet the
government's growth target of between 4 percent to 6 percent.
He also said changes were coming in the way the central bank is run.
"We are also cognizant of their concern over the Reserve Bank. We are
amending the Reserve Bank Act and there will be major changes in terms of
how the central bank is run," he added.
((Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; additional reporting by Nelson Banya in
Harare; editing by Gary Crosse)
www.chinaview.cn 2009-07-02 20:33:33
HARARE, July 2 (Xinhua) -- Greece has donated 650,000 U.S. dollars
to Zimbabwe to help fight cholera and assist in food relief projects, The
Herald said on Thursday.
Speaking recently on the occasion of Greece's National Day, the
Greek Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mihail Koukakis said his government was
responding to calls for urgent humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe.
The donated amount has been transferred, in equal parts, to the
World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
"The Greek embassy has already transferred the 650,000 U.S.
dollars in equal parts to WHO and WFP respectively. This money should be
used towards improving the lives of the disadvantaged people," Koukakis
In addition, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs has dispatched
two containers of food aid to the embassy in Harare to be distributed to the
The total value of goods dispatched, made up of rice, wheat,
flour, sugar, olive oil, high nutrition biscuits and a quantity of water
purifying tablets, amount to 103,000 euros, which is approximately 150,000
Koukakis said his government would continue to extend humanitarian
aid to Zimbabwe.
"We shall continue to support both the needy institutions and
people of Zimbabwe since they are good people," he said.
Humanitarian aid from Greece to Zimbabwe has increased ten-fold
By agency reporter
2 Jul 2009
A Zimbabwean Catholic priest has told Catholic aid agency CAFOD that despite
supermarket shelves heaving with food imported from South Africa, the
majority of Zimbabweans are still in need of food and basic medicines as the
country remains in the grip of the worst humanitarian crisis since
Battered by years of political and economic upheaval, the country's economy
is in shreds. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that
half the population of 12 million people will be reliant on food aid.
Hospitals are still struggling to provide basic drugs such as aspirin and
antibiotics and patients are asked to bring their own food, makeshift
bandages and intravenous drip tubes. These medical supplies are unaffordable
to the average Zimbabwean and completely out of the reach of the poorest
people living in remote rural areas.
The Zimbabwean priest, who cannot be named for security reasons, told
CAFOD's Africa press officer Nana Anto-Awuakye during a recent visit to
Zimbabwe: "Be careful of false impressions. The crisis is still here.
Nothing much has changed for the rural poor. Whilst the supermarket shelves
are bursting with food, families continue to struggle to put food into the
mouths of their children.
"Last year things were very difficult, the Zimbabwean dollar could not buy
you a bread bun and now with the introduction of the US dollar families in
rural areas do not have access to this currency, as it circulates amongst
the very few. So still people are struggling to buy basic household items".
CAFOD's partner Caritas Zimbabwe is ramping up its emergency programmes
alongside international non-governmental organizations in a coordinated
programme providing food to vulnerable communities, education and health
institutions. And in light of the devastating cholera last year which is
still a public health issue, Caritas Zimbabwe is also involved in promoting
public health and hygiene education whilst working with communities to
repair water pumps and build pit latrines.
However, there is a shortfall in their funds. In January 2009, Caritas
Zimbabwe launched an emergency appeal for US$7.7 million (£5 million) for
all eight Catholic dioceses. Currently only one third of the money has been
raised, limiting their ability to reach the most vulnerable in urgent need
Nana Anto-Awuakye said: "A silent crisis of hunger is stalking Zimbabwe. I
saw what difference a school feeding programme had made to the lives of 519
primary school pupils, some 114 kilometres outside of Harare. Cauldrons of
bubbling high-protein maize porridge, dished out into what ever receptacles
children could find at home. The headmaster told me that only a few weeks
earlier the school was silent, as children were too weak and hungry to play
or concentrate on their lessons."
Photo: Anthony Kaminju/IRIN
of ARVs ran low in 2008 as a result of delays in receiving Global Fund
Since the formation of the Global Fund in 2002, the country has received grants in Rounds 1, 5 and 8 of funding. UNDP will take over management from the government-controlled NAC in the final phase of the Round 5 grant and the recently approved Round 8 grant, totalling about US$169 million.
The Global Fund is one of the few remaining international donors supporting Zimbabwe's HIV/AIDS interventions, and the Round 8 money is expected to bring much needed relief to the ailing public health sector.
Seven months ago, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) admitted diverting over US$7 million from the Global Fund's Round 5 grant, earmarked for scaling up the national antiretroviral (ARV) programme.
As a result, efforts to decentralize ARV treatment from hospitals to rural health centres were set back, and many HIV-positive people were unable to access treatment or had to change drug regimens when the money to purchase ARV supplies failed to materialize.
The RBZ eventually returned the money, but the breach of trust is one of the likely reasons for the Global Fund's decision to stop channelling funds through the NAC. The bank will also no longer oversee the accounts of the non-governmental organizations that are sub-recipients of Global Fund grants.
Deputy Minister of Health Douglas Mombeshora said he understood that the Global Fund wanted "quick implementation of programmes and greater accountability", but worried that making UNDP the principal recipient would stall programmes because funds would have to go through the UN agency's offshore accounts.
"What this means is that each time the NAC - or any other organizations that are sub-recipients of the Global Fund money - want anything, they must go through the UNDP," he told IRIN/PlusNews.
"The UNDP will look for suppliers of whatever it is that is required; after finding the supplier the UNDP will then order, and after it receives supplies, forward them to NAC." A better solution would have been to "capacitate" reputable local organizations to handle the grants, he suggested.
Dr Tapuwa Magure, Director of the National AIDS Council, in oral evidence to the parliamentary committee on health and child welfare, agreed that the handover from the NAC to UNDP would delay grant disbursement, hampering programme implementation. He described the development as "retrogressive".
But HIV/AIDS activist Chitiga Mbanje told IRIN/PlusNews it was preferable to have greater accountability from the UNDP than no funds at all through the central bank and the NAC.
"For a central bank to dip its fingers into the coffers of people living with HIV ... is the most unforgivable thing an institution could have ever done," he said.
"Grant disbursements, even with the NAC as principal recipient, were extremely slow because there were so many political issues at play - it wasn't as smooth as these officials now want to put it. The most important thing is that from now on, grant money will reach the people who need it most."
Read more: Relief as Global Fund grants approval Where's the Global Fund money? Possibility of Global Fund money lifts
mood The long road to
More than 320,000 people in Zimbabwe are in need of ARV treatment; of the 1.7 million living with HIV, only about 150,000 are obtaining ARVs from the public health sector.
From Allafrica.com, 1 July
Q: On Zimbabwe, it would appear that after Prime Minister Tsvangirai's visit
to Washington, there is a willingness by the administration to provide a
certain amount of aid, while keeping sanctions in place. How would you
describe the United States' policy on Zimbabwe at this time?
A: We are deeply concerned about what is happening in Zimbabwe and what has
happened over the last decade. We believe that the visit by Morgan
Tsvangirai gave us an opportunity to hear first hand how the global
agreement [between President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF and the Movement
for Democratic Change led by Tsvangirai] is being implemented and how his
relations with Zanu PF and Mugabe are taking shape. It also gave the
administration a chance to share its views with the prime minister and to
reaffirm number of things.
The United States supports the forces of democracy in Zimbabwe, and the U.S.
supports the people of Zimbabwe. The U.S. supports what the MDC has been
trying to do to bring a return to democracy, and we support Morgan
Tsvangirai and encourage him to continue to do his work. Equally, we
encourage Zanu PF to play their part. They have an important part to play.
We reaffirmed to Prime Minister Tsvangirai that we would continue to provide
assistance in the area of health care. We have done a lot in providing
support on HIV/Aids, cholera and child survival. We also affirmed we would
be providing assistance in promoting democracy. Both the President and the
Secretary of State said they would support additional resources for
education - providing learning materials, and for agriculture - providing
seeds, fertilizer, and instruments in rural areas.
Q: Without lifting sanctions?
A: There is no talk about lifting sanctions right now, until we see
progress - irreversible progress - in the implementation of the global
political agreement. President Mugabe can and should do a number of things
to bolster full democracy and show that he is absolutely, unequivocally
committed to implementing the agreement. He can allow the foreign media to
come back in. He can lift censorship and restrictions on the local media. He
can end political harassment of civil society leaders. He can end political
harassment of MDC officials. He can swear in all of the MDC ministers,
including deputy minister of agriculture Roy Bennett. He can end the
emergency security laws that have been put in place. He can reaffirm
publicly that he will allow the next elections, due in approximately 18
months, to be monitored by international groups, including the Commonwealth,
EU [European Union], and organizations like the Carter Center, IFES
[International Foundation for Electoral Systems] and IRI [International
Republican Institute]. These are easy to do, and I've just mentioned a few.
President Mugabe has them in his power to do them.
In order to assist The Working Group to act on your behalf with specific issues related to full and fair compensation we ask you to fill in the attached questionnaire.
Compensation for the losses suffered by commercial farmers through the fast track land acquisition program is now a very live issue.
It is in every farmer’s interest that the questionnaire attached, be completed.
The future of commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe remains uncertain, with the absence of law and order on the few properties remaining, continuing to place a stranglehold on those whose objective is production. Politically we have those who are determined to a return to production, but equally another group, dominated by hardliners, determined to see all commercial farmers off their land, irrespective of the economic consequences.
Those of us tasked to try and ensure, where we can, the overall wellbeing of farmers on or off their properties have to plan for whatever eventually transpires. Should the position improve to the point where it is deemed essential that agriculture once more returns to meaningful production, possibly with the active participation of a percentage of commercial farmers, we need a clear idea as to the numbers who would consider returning to farm.
Obviously a number of issues would have to be addressed first before any such return could be considered.
The most important of which are:
1. Law and order.. to be upheld and fully enforced.
2. Property rights… to be entrenched with full security of tenure.
3. Availability of inputs and services.
4. Free marketing as per STERP.
5. Properly defined labour laws.
6. The deregulation of exchange control to remain in place as per STERP.
If conditions are met, we ask you to indicate by ticking the relevant box, against the question following, what your response would be.
1. Returning to active farming is no longer an option for me and I would choose to have full and fair compensation for all my loses.
2. I would consider returning to/staying on my property in a situation where restitution would be made to restore my property to its former status, pre eviction together with payment of disturbance and damages claims.
3. I would consider farming on a another property as long as the previous owner has been fully and fairly compensated and had voluntarily relinquished his title, if my own property was not made available to me, and that I had been fully and fairly compensated myself.
[It is possible to tick both 2 and 3]
4. As a former Manager / lessee, I would be ready to apply to return to farming in Zimbabwe, should the opportunity arise and given that my damages claims have been met.
5. I would be prepared to invest some of the proceeds from compensation, damages and disturbance, in business opportunities in Zimbabwe assuming that the investment climate was favorable.
FARM NAME/ NAMES PER TITLE DEED:……………………………………………..
NAME OF FARMING COMPANY:……………………………………………………………
1. Has your farm been registered with VALCON?
2. Has your claim for Damages and Disturbances losses been registered?
Yes No Where?...........................................................................................
Status: (Delete as applicable) Owner; Lessee; Tenant; Manager; Other.
Any alternative contact details:…………………………………………..
Which country do you now live in? …………………………………………..
Comment from The Star (SA), 1 July
Nationalism in Africa has always paraded itself as a movement of the people
fighting for their liberation. The reality is rather different. African
nationalism was a movement of the small, Westernised black elite that
emerged under colonialism. Its fight was always for inclusion in the
colonial system so that it, too, could benefit from the spoils of
colonialism. The colonial system was not designed to develop the productive
capacities of the colonies. The driving motive of colonisation was to
extract the continent's mineral and agricultural raw materials to be shipped
to the mother countries for processing into manufactured goods. With this as
their only aim, all the colonisers required from the colonised was a steady
supply of unskilled labour - all skilled labour was shipped in from the
metropole. There was, however, a demand for local intermediaries such as
court interpreters, teachers, medical orderlies and agricultural extension
workers, who provided a line of communication between the colonisers and the
colonised and transmitted some necessary skills, such as a knowledge of the
European languages needed to follow the instructions of the colonialists. It
was out of this group of educated intermediaries that the African
nationalist movements emerged. Independence did not bring about economic
transformation in Africa as it did in Asia; if anything, it entrenched the
economic inequalities inherited from colonialism. The new black elites
merely replaced the former white colonial elites, but the exploitation of
the black masses continued, as did the exploitation of Africa's resources -
the copper, gold, bauxite, iron ore, cobalt, coltan, oil, timber, cotton,
coffee, cocoa beans - drawn from the continent and exported.
It is this drive to retain control of the continent's resources that goes
some way towards explaining the fear among nationalist-ruled southern
African governments of new-age, people-created parties, such as Zimbabwe's
Movement for Democratic Change. They fear that these parties will destroy
the neo-colonial system off which they live. It also explains the support by
states in the Southern African Development Community for Robert Mugabe's
regime, despite the havoc his actions are causing in neighbouring countries.
Once seen as a progressive and dynamic movement that would deliver Africa
from bondage to modernity and prosperity, African nationalism has turned out
to be a massive disappointment. Half a century after its liberation from
colonialism, Africa has dropped so far down the development scale that
experts refer to Africans as mankind's Bottom Billion, who can only come out
of the black hole they have dug for themselves through intervention by the
rest of the world. There is no better illustration of the failure of African
nationalism than Zimbabwe under the leadership of Zanu PF and Mugabe. In the
space of 10 years, 1999-2009, Zimbabwe has shown how an African country can
travel from relative prosperity to the status of basket case.
So, what went wrong? What has gone wrong has been the massive mismanagement
by Africa's ruling political elites, with the help of Western powers, of the
economic surplus generated in Africa in the past 40 years. As heirs of the
colonial state, political elites exploited their strong position in relation
to the private sector - which, in Africa, comprises peasant and plantation
agriculture, domestic and foreign-owned manufacturing industries and
foreign-owned extractive industries - to: Bolster their standards of living
to levels comparable with those of the middle and upper classes of the West;
Undertake half-hearted, loss-making industrialisation projects that were not
supported by the necessary technical and managerial educational development;
and; Transfer vast amounts of economic surpluses generated by agriculture
and extractive industries, such as oil, diamonds, metals and timber, to
developed countries as capital flight, while simultaneously obtaining vast
loans from developed countries. Zimbabwe provides a textbook example of the
relationship between the falling standards of living in sub-Saharan Africa
and the growing power of political elites. In their struggle against the
white minority regime, Zimbabwe's African nationalists enlisted, in
particular, the support of the peasants and agricultural workers who
constitute the majority of the population. During the 1980s, in the first
decade of Zimbabwe's independence, Zanu PF made strenuous efforts to uplift
these constituencies. But it also set out to crush its former ally, PF Zapu,
which it succeeded in doing after a great deal of bloodletting. What
remained of PF Zapu was absorbed into Zanu PF in 1987. Once it had
consolidated its hold on power, the Zanu PF political elite proceeded to
enrich itself, to the great detriment of the national economy and of the
welfare of the population at large.
Such actions have ensured that most Africans in sub-Saharan Africa are poor
and getting poorer. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund,
sub-Saharan Africa's fairy godparents, churn out statistics each year that
tell the tale of this continuing drop in living standards. This growing
impoverishment sparks conflict over shrinking resources. Hence sub-Saharan
Africa's apparently never-ending cycle of violent conflict. In Can Africa
Claim the 21st Century?, The World Bank observes: "Despite gains in the
second half of the 1990s, sub-Saharan Africa enters the 21st century with
many of the world's poorest countries. Average income per capita is lower
than at the end of the 1960s. Incomes, assets and access to essential
services are unequally distributed. And the region contains a growing share
of the world's absolute poor, who have little power to influence the
allocation of resources." These observations have been corroborated by other
researchers. This was how the US National Bureau of Economic Research
summarised the living conditions of Africans: "Thirty-six per cent of the
region's population lives in economies that in 1995 had not regained the per
capita income levels first achieved before 1960. Another six per cent are
below levels first achieved by 1970, 41 percent below 1980 levels and 11
percent below 1990 levels. Only 35 million people reside in nations that had
higher incomes in 1995 than they had ever reached before."
This is an edited extract from Architects of Poverty: Why African Capitalism
Needs Changing by Moeletsi Mbeki (Picador Africa).
July 2, 2009
By James Makuwire
I AM bad with dates. I never keep a diary; save for meticulous notes about
my day's pending activities and appointments in the days ahead.
But it must have been 15 or so years ago that, for the first time that
Parliament, then completely under Zanu-PF control, decided they had had
enough of government bullying and threw down the gauntlet. The budget, the
back-benchers decided collectively, would not go through unless funding for
important things such as health, rural development and education was beefed
Most money then was going to defence and the President's Office. Useless jet
fighters were being purchased in China to see action in the hangars at
Thornhill Air Base.
President Mugabe was away then. Upon his return as was to become customary,
women who had nothing else to do at home, were dancing on the tarmac at the
airport, singing "VaMugabe vedu ndibaba" (Mugabe is our father) to welcome
him. He told them, to their ululation, that the budget would go through,
come what may. "Tichaona kuti ndiyani ari kutonga muno". (We will see who is
in charge of this country.)
Two days later, the budget sailed through unopposed!
That was Mugabe for you; finally installed as a dictator who could issue
instructions left right and centre while pseudo "madoda sibili" (real men)
trembled before him.
Much later when the west decided the monster they had natured was now
devouring their own children and had to be stopped with personal sanctions,
Mugabe casually told a minister in Cabinet who was foolish enough to ask if
the sanctions were really against the President or the country: "There is no
difference between Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe."
It was a disturbing statement but one which clearly shows how much Mugabe
sees himself as the embodiment of Zimbabwe. If he goes, Zimbabwe goes. So
Oppah Muchinguri should be right that women will have to defend this man to
their last panty on the streets of Harare in broad daylight, should anyone
want to remove him..even through a legitimate vote.
Rugare Gumbo's outburst the other day in the politburo (the small "p" is my
contribution to popular scorn) was understandable. Gumbo is a chip off the
old Zanu-PF block, the Dare die-hard. Those days, with the likes of Josiah
Tongogara sitting around the table to discuss ideology, party strategy and
guerrilla tactics, sloganeering in the name of one person was banned.
There was no Pamberi naMugabe (Forward with Mugabe); only the people, the
party, the soil, the war. And in Dare everyone was equal. And they told each
other the truth, pointed fingers at each other, shouted and even jailed each
other. Rugare Gumbo and Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri are some of
the survivors of the Zanu-PF jails in Cabo del Gado in northern Mozambique,
holes in the ground with a barbed lid that shut the outside world for days
So he has nothing to fear, or to lose.
Over the past few months, many of us must have watched with concern as
Morgan Tsvangirai's fault lines deepened. We saw him blundering through his
opposition of Mugabe, first making Whitehall his stop of choice in Europe,
his open courting of the white farmers to support his party, his total
ineptitude in the negotiations with Zanu-PF when he was out-manoeuvred time
and again, holing up in Botswana and almost declaring himself an exile,
flying back from a trip to Australia with Gideon Gono and Chihuri's children
and now, his defence of Mugabe.
During his first trip abroad as Prime Minister, Tsvangirai became the public
relations manager for Robert Mugabe, throwing unconditional faith in a man
who still is jailing MDC MPs and ministers, staff and general members and
supporters. A couple of days ago his party's cabinet members boycotted
cabinet for what appeared to be legitimate reasons. They sent a very strong
message to Mugabe, you continue playing games with us and we will be out of
Tsvangirayi returned from his trip to the West where he had done more to
campaign for President Mugabe, and declared that his MDC would not pull out
of the GNU, come what may. Maybe we have failed to read into Tsvangirai's
oft-repeated point that he has been getting along with Mugabe very well
lately. They now understand each other very well, perhaps to the extend that
the Great Machiavellian body language has deceived Tsvangirayi into
believing that he, not the Mujurus or Mnangagwas, is Mugabe's true
Interestingly, Dr Simba Makoni has chosen this particular time to stir
things up a bit. There is a clear (political) leadership vacuum developing,
and fast, and a maverick is needed to exploit the situation. Makoni may not
be the tonic needed here but, give him his due; he is reading the situation
The MDC has survived the splits that have ruined many an African opposition
party. There is no way it can survive Morgan Tsvangirai abandoning the MDC.
It's his party. He said as much in an interview on CNN's Voices of Africa
last week, but was quick to retract and correct himself. He, he said in an
unguarded answer, was the embodiment of the MDC, or something to the effect.
He is the people's leader. But this Moses is crossing the Red Sea without
his people. The Promised Land is for himself and the few ministers.
Even George Charamba can question the Prime Minister's decisions but we have
not heard Charles Ndhlovu (Webster Shamu), Charamba or Johannes Tomana being
disciplined for telling the courts that they do not recognise the leadership
Some analysts, and I'm glad I'm not one of them, believe that the Prime
Minister is biding his time. They say he wants Mugabe to stay because he
sure can wallop him at any election. Mnangagwa in particular, or any other
Zanu-PF leader would be difficult to beat. Or he is enjoying power so much
he does not give a damn any more.
Just biding his time.
Whatever the case, MDC activist and MDC members and supporters are now on
their own. Soon, his real challenger to the MDC throne, Tendai Biti will be
facing two charges, both trumped up, about externalization of funds and
another more serious, for which he could be sentenced to death or life in
Interesting; quite interesting, actually.
My tour guide is Gift, 18 years old, with fiercely red eyes that stared out from a gaunt sallow face. Gift is from Nyanga originally, he left school in Form one, and has never had a job. He “works” the streets, the systems, watches cars, cleans cars, buys and sells commodities - and he lives in a ditch.
I have watched Gift grow up from a skinny little kid into even skinnier adulthood. There is a home for street kids in Bulawayo run by a wonderfully caring church group, but after Gift’s initial stay with them, he ran away, preferring the freedom of the streets. We took a trip to his “Home” which is not far from his main haunt - a suburban shopping centre in what was once an affluent residential suburb. Not any more!
Gift’s home comprises a shallow depression behind a fallen log; dead palm fronds, artfully placed, protect his privacy from passers-by. His worldly possessions include a broken bucket, a tiny wire mesh grate, several ragged blankets and various tin cups and plates.
He bathed every day, he told me, in a bucket of cold water from a tap near a hotel where wealthy tourists and businessmen stay during their visits to Zimbabwe. You can smell alcohol on Gift, but in spite of his horrendous living conditions, he also smelled of cheap soap!
Alcohol is his lifeline, he said - alcohol and dagga (cannabis). With these substances he can cope with “being laughed at” he said me sadly. A twist of dagga is easily and readily available for just one rand. Skokiaan is his preferred drink, costing two rands for a “scud”. (Skokiaan most typically refers to a fast brewed ‘home-brew’. It sometimes contains meths.)
We spoke about the cold at nights - Bulawayo had a black frost this week destroying some farm crops and many urban gardens - but Gift says he actually prefers the cold! He explained that during winter the snakes go underground to sleep. Gift is dreadfully afraid of snakes. He burns plastic bags at night to keep his fire going - he tells me that plastic burns for quite a long time. There is never a shortage of plastic bags flying around Bulawayo in spite of the recent “Keep our City Clean” campaign. He also prefers to sleep alone: I gathered from his conversation that something sad in his youth made him a bit of a loner.
Gift is well spoken despite his lack of formal education and happily took me on a tour of some of the town’s darker side.
“There ” he said, “under the bridge, live some bad criminals”. I could see smoke trickling out: I cross that bridge every day and this was the first time I learned that anyone lived underneath it! He introduced me to his friend Colin who lives nearby in similar lodgings. Colin is disabled both mentally and physically, and just nods slowly, his tiny face moving slowly from side to side: like a captive creature he shifts his weight constantly from one foot to the other.
Axes for sale
We progressed to the Railway Station area where there were groups of men gathered together in the sparse sunlight, garnering what little warmth they could from the suns rays, to prepare for the cold night ahead. There was no one sleeping on the pavements yet (during the day they are moved off) but as night falls, dozens of Bulawayo’s homeless return to what is possibly the only home they have ever known.
Gift prefers his own quarters, he does not partake of the soup kitchen so valiantly run by that amazing man Ben Strydom. “People laugh at me” he says, “they say I am young and I should get a job”. Unemployment runs at 90% in Zimbabwe: where on earth would he get a job he asks?
I wondered about his preoccupation and fear of “being laughed at” …..?
As we tour the city I take cognisance of all the small ways in which the unemployed were eking out a living: there outside the post office is a man who mends shoes. People were sitting on the pavement waiting while he repaired their shoes. A new sole here, a new strap here, a bottle of glue, a strip of leather, a few nails and he has a business! It was ingenious people like him who bore the brunt of Mugabe’s terrible Operation Murambatsvina.
Scanias for hire
There were dozens of scanias (push carts) littering the city, many of the owners lay dozing in the warm sun because their scania rental business has dropped since the initial flurry of forex has been spent. In more profitable times, these scanias would collect your goods from the railway station, move house for you, carry your goods from the market or the shop, all for a small fee.
Almost every street corner has a tiny shop consisiting of a cardboard box on which neat rows of sweets, cigarettes, oranges or tomatoes are arranged.
Every corner and traffic light also features a “Juice Up” man or woman - cards to top-up one’s cell phones can be purchased from the ‘juice-up’ man. For a tiny country we have an inordinate amount of cell phone providers!
We then came across Gift’s friend Cephas who sells apples. Cephas is twelve years old, he goes to school, but his mother is ill and so his afternoons are spent touting his apples around from corner to corner. Cephas does not like to just sit and sell, he likes to actually market his goods.
He has a bottle of water with which he washes the apples and keeps them nice and glistening and they look deliciously appealing! The bruised sides are kept facing downwards. Two rand buys you a Granny Smith apple! Cephas tells me he sometimes earns seventy rand a day clear profit !
I took Gift back “Home” as dusk fell; he needed to cook before the sun went down. He promised that if I gave him some money he would not spend it on dagga or skokiaan, but would look for some warm accommodation.
According to the weather-man, the temperature would be reaching three degrees Celsius tonight.
CONSTITUTION WATCH 5
[30th June 2009]
Peoples Constitutional Convention 3rd – 4th July
The purpose of this Convention is to get civil society organisations together to define and adopt fundamental and key principles on both the process and content of the new Constitution and to decide what course of action will be taken if these yardsticks are not met. The Convention is not meant as an alternative to the All Stakeholders’ Constitutional Conference, to be held in mid-July 2009 by the Parliamentary Select Committee on the New Constitution, but rather a precursor to it.
There will be 2000 delegates. Attendance is by invitation, but if you feel your organisation has been left out, please contact the NANGO or Crisis Coalition who are facilitating the Conference.
· Friday 3rd July and Saturday 4th July
· Time – Registration 8 am Friday
There will be 14 working groups at the Convention:
1. The political environment and the Constitution
2. The National Economy and the Constitution
3. Gender, women and the Constitution
4. Freedom of expression, Media and the Constitution
5. Youth, children’s rights and the Constitution
6. Transitional Justice, National Healing and the Constitution
7. National Values and the Constitution
8. Social Welfare and the Constitution
9. Mobilisation/ popular participation, Civic Education and the Constitution
10. Land and the Constitution.
11. The Judiciary and the Constitution
12. The Disabled and the Constitution.
13. Elections and the Constitution
14. Security services and the Constitution.
These groups reflect the themes that various “clusters” of civil society organisations have already been working on. The working groups will then meet in plenary to arrive at the Convention Resolutions which will be taken back for ratification by the participating organisations and then presented to the Parliamentary Select Committee on the New Constitution.
It is also hoped that
the Convention will result in building understanding and strategic cooperation
between the broad spectrum of civil society organisations holding different
views, ranging from those who are fully committed to engagement in the
Parliamentary-driven process, to those who are engaging in it with caution and
with “bottom line” provisos already worked out, to those who will be working
outside it on educating the public on constitutional principles.
The overall aim is to achieve a new
people-driven and democratic constitution for
There will also be discussion on [if the new constitution coming out of the Parliamentary-driven process is satisfactory] the timing of when the new constitution will come into being and the holding of elections under such a new constitution.
[The recent controversy over the Kariba Draft Constitution – the strong ZANU-PF statements endorsing it and the MDC-T repudiation of it – has heightened fears that the Parliamentary-driven process will produce an unsatisfactory political compromise. This may well result in participants at the Convention taking time for debate and strategic planning for the potential consequences in the event of the new constitution proving to be unsatisfactory. A no vote in the referendum? What implications will this have for the inclusive government and for the hoped-for new elections?]
Reminder – First All-Stakeholders Conference Due Soon
This is scheduled for 10th – 12th July 2009
[The IPA time frame says it must be held before the 13th July, three months after the setting-up of the Select Committee.]
The selection of delegates to the Conference is being done by the Parliamentary Select Committee on the New Constitution on the basis of who registered at the Provincial Consultative Meetings last week. Presumably organisations and individuals selected as delegates will then be notified.
Report on Provincial Consultative Meetings
Thousands of Zimbabweans converged at the ten provincial centres on the 24th and 27th June to attend the Provincial Consultative Meetings to identify attendees/stakeholders for the First All Stakeholders Conference. There were long queues while people registered in hopes of being selected as delegates. Many of those attending were bussed in, and party political supporters seemed predominant. Civil society organisations were able to use their resources to ensure they had representatives registering them. What is not clear is how many members of the public who fell outside these groupings managed to attend. The meetings were all marked by long speeches by the members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the New Constitution explaining the process. Unfortunately in some meetings this gave room for only minimal participation from the floor. Most of the questions revolved round suspicions about the Kariba Draft, and whether politicians would tamper with what the people said they wanted when the draft was produced.
Not all meetings were uneventful. In some meetings rival party political slogans caused disturbances. In Mutare, the meeting was delayed – it was claimed that district administrators in Manicaland province barred members of the MDC from boarding buses that had been provided by Parliament to ferry people to the venue and as a result a number of MDC supporters were left stranded at different pick-up points. In Masvingo there was a rowdy dispute between Zanu PF supporters and MDC-T supporters on the subject of the Kariba Draft Constitution. War veterans, bussed from across the province, confronted the MDC-T MP, and supporters from both Zanu-PF and the MDC then started fighting and the organisers were forced to abandon the meeting.
Women’s Summit on the Constitution
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