Tibaijuka, the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan's special envoy
to Zimbabwe, said she was "upset" by what victims of the government's
so-called "clean up" operation were going through, The Standard can
Speaking to stranded settlers during a tour of Porta Farm
squatter camp, outside Harare, Tibaijuka said she had "made a quick
assessment" of the situation and was "really concerned". She was
particularly concerned about orphans and vulnerable children, the sick and
disabled, as well as child-headed families, left homeless by the
government's "clean-up" project.
"I am upset by what I have seen
here, but please remain calm. We are going to work together, just be
patient. The Secretary General is much concerned, that is why he sent me
"We are definitely going to do something about the issue, but we
cannot solve the problem at once," Tibaijuka told the settlers in the
presence of The Standard news crew.
The UN representative promised
the settlers her recommendations would leave them
Tibaijuka, however, said the UN's success in addressing the
problems hinged on government's support.
"The UN is not a government,
but it works with governments. As such we cannot give instructions to the
government on how they should address the issue. We only make
recommendations to the government, not dictating to them what they should
do," Tibaijuka said.
She, however, did not have the chance to witness the
operation "live". She arrived when it was already getting dark. The police
also ensured that she did not get to see the extent of its brutality,
because by the time she arrived, all the anti-riot police had
But, the settlers' told her through Wilson Phiri, who has a
heart problem: "There are a number of disabled and sick people who can not
look after themselves. We are willing to assist them but we have no time and
money, as we are also trying to beat the deadline to move our lot before the
police come to set everything on fire."
They said the UN was their
last hope after "14 years of horror" at the hands of the government, which
they accused of using them as "political condoms".
"What crime have we
committed to deserve such a penalty? Every time after an election we have to
suffer, but this is now unbearable. Please redeem us from the government.
The government has been making money out of us, going around the world
asking for donations in our name for the supposed housing scheme, but we
have never benefited," said one of the settlers.
Although Porta Farm
settlers were now used to evictions, this latest one has been the most
"horrible and inhumane," claiming three lives in the process, and leaving
half a dozen others at risk.
On Wednesday, a five-year-old boy was
crushed to death by a truck whilst assisting his grandmother to transmit
their belongings to the bus stop. Another child was crushed to death in the
rubble of a house in which she was.
A pregnant woman is also reported
to have fallen off a lorry that was ferrying their goods from the
That same day, a woman gave birth in the open following the
demolition of their house.
The Standard also established that the
body of Loice Mandigora, who died on Thursday, was still in the open. The
settlers could not bury her, as they were busy moving their
A two-month-old baby was left unattended after the mother
"disappeared" during the blitz.
"We found the baby and we looked for
the mother in vain. We suspect that she abandoned the baby or the police
took her," said Jane Peter, who is looking after the child.
promised to send a consignment of milk and other groceries for the
The settlers also revealed that Manyame MP, Patrick Zhuwawo,
under whose Constituency Porta Farm falls, said he was concerned, especially
by the deaths, but was not in a position to take any urgent action.
Government defies High Court order By Linda
THE government has defied a High Court order demanding that it
destroys sample houses built at White Cliff farm because they were
The order, issued by High Court Judge Justice Mary Gowora on
Wednesday, said the government had no right to allocate stands and build
sample houses at the farm because it was a private property. The
government was ordered to demolish the sample house within 48 hours of issue
of the order.
However, the government, known for defying court orders had
by yesterday not complied by demolishing the sample houses.
property belongs to Harare businessman Edward Nyanyiwa who has been the
owner since 1998 through his company Eddies Pfugari Properties (Pvt)
Nyanyiwa and his attorney are scheduled to meet Minister of Local
Government, Public Works and Urban Development, Ignatious Chombo, to discuss
a way forward.
Nyanyiwa told The Standard: "They are still there (at
the farm) but we are expecting to meet them on Tuesday."
lawyer, George Gapu of Scanlen and Holderness said they would take the
matter back to the courts if the government fails to comply with the
"If the government continues to build stands then it will be clear
contempt of court. We will just have to go back to the courts because White
Cliff belongs to Pfugari Pvt Ltd," Gapu said.
According to Gapu the
government engaged in the exercise without notifying his client. "My client
took the government to the courts because he was not consulted of government
proposed development. He only got to know about it when the press revealed
that 9 500 people had been given stands," Gapu said.
clean-up callous and unhumane' ZANU PF central committee member Pearson
Mbalekwa resigned from the beleaguered ruling party on Friday in protest
against the government's ongoing "clean-up" operation, which has left
millions of people homeless and without any means of
Mbalekwa, a former Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)
operative, said he "dropped" his resignation letter in Zanu PF national
chairman, John Nkomo's office on Friday morning. "I resigned on Friday, I
left the letter in the Zanu PF national chairman's office," said Mbalekwa,
whose resignation and boldness has stunned politicians, even in Zanu PF
However, Nkomo said he had not seen Mbalekwa's resignation letter
because he was not in the office on Friday.
"I can't say anything at
the moment because I have not seen his resignation letter. I don't know
whether he resigned," Nkomo said.
However, sources close to the ruling
party confirmed that Mbalekwa had tendered his resignation.
interview with The Standard on Friday Mbalekwa said his resignation was in
protest against the "inhumane and callous manner" in which Mugabe's
government conducted the so-called "clean-up" operation.
estimated that more that a million people were affected by the "clean up"
operation now dubbed Tsunami after the Indonesian disaster of last
"I am a man of principle and could not be seen to be part of the
whole exercise which has caused untold suffering to people whom we claim to
represent," Mbalekwa said in a telephone interview.
The former MP for
Zvishavane said apart from the ongoing barbaric demolitions, he was also
irked by socio-economic and political degeneration, which has been left
unattended for a too long.
More that 80 percent of Zimbabwe's 13 million
people live well below the poverty datum line. The ordinary worker can no
longer afford a decent life, unemployment tops 80 percent, and there are
serious shortages of food, fuel and transport.
"It's a culmination of
all these problems, which have impoverished ordinary people," Mbalekwa
The Zimbabwe Independent last Friday reported that Mbalekwa's shock
resignation "could signal further tremors" in the factious ruling party,
whose coherence hinges on iron-fisted Mugabe.
denied rumours going around that his resignation was part of a broader Zanu
PF strategy to destabilise a coalition of disgruntled politicians who might
soon join forces against both the ruling party and the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC).
Media reports have linked former information
minister, Jonathan Moyo, who was fired by President Robert Mugabe in
February, to a group of disgruntled politicians in the country, who may form
another political party.
Mbalekwa said: "I am not part of that Zanu PF
strategy you are talking about. I resigned on my own. Any attempt to
insinuate that I am part of a Zanu PF plan is utter rubbish."
spokesperson Paul Themba-Nyathi commended Mbalekwa for resigning from Zanu
PF and urged other ruling party members to follow suit.
Mbalekwa are very rare. I think within the party (Zanu PF) there are people
who still respond to the dictates of conscience and I suspect that he is one
of them," Themba-Nyathi said.
He said Mbalekwa was likely to be
victimised by Mugabe, known for being vindictive to anyone who crosses his
path, especially former party members.
Prices of basic commodities skyrocket By our own
THE prices of basic commodities have shot up by more than 50
percent in the past week, following a massive increase in fuel price and the
government-sponsored "clean-up" operations which saw the closure of flea and
vegetable markets around the country.
Investigations by The Standard
last week revealed that almost every shop in Harare has increased prices by
at least 50 percent during the past two weeks. Prices of housing
materials, clothing, and foodstuffs have skyrocketed beyond the reach of
ordinary Zimbabweans, most of who have been rendered destitute by the
government's "clean-up" operation.
Even the Chinese-owned shops that had
over the past months become the darling of all low-income earners were busy
revising their prices.
Tonderai Mukeredzi, spokesperson for the Consumer
Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ), said the fuel price increases were most likely to
worsen the situation.
"For the month of June, prices have increased by
about 30 percent and the most affected areas are in the food stuffs
categories. The situation is going to be worsened by the recent fuel price
increases," Mukeredzi said.
He said even before fuel price increase,
which rose by 300 percent last week, producers were already negotiating for
"The CCZ would like to challenge producers of goods
and services to be transparent and reasonable in their increases," he
However, the prices of many basic commodities shot up a week before
the announcement of the current fuel prices.
A 750 ml bottle of
cooking oil which was going for between $16 000 and $20 000 in April is
going for over $35 000.
A bar of soap, previously selling for less than
$10 000 by end of May is selling for more than $20 000.
A decent pair
of shoes ranges between $800 000 and $1.5 million.
last week said if the current price increases of basic commodities were not
addressed, many families were going to starve.
"Prices have gone up by
more than 50 percent over the last month alone and it seems nothing is going
to change. Right now we are just calling for heft salary increments in order
to beat all these price increases," said one worker in
Stanford Rusere, a resident of Mabvuku said he was shocked to get
into a supermarket last week and find that he could only buy a few groceries
from the $500 000 he had.
"I was really shocked. The money I had was
enough to buy me groceries for the whole of last month, but today I came out
with only a few groceries without all the basics," Rusere
President Robert Mugabe recently said the government was going to
introduce an independent National Incomes and Pricing Commission to
co-ordinate the harmonisation of incomes and pricing issues.
Efforts to woo back white commercial farmers flop flop By
GOVERNMENT efforts to get white commercial farmers back
onto the farms have hit a snag following revelations the farmers approached
were most worried about their future and security.
The farmers cited
the continued uncertainties around the land tenure system in the
agricultural sector despite the government's proposed 99-year leases on
acquired land. The country's agricultural sector has deteriorated sharply
over recent years due the disruptions in the commercial farming areas
because of farm invasions.
The chaotic land invasions resulted in a
catastrophic drop in output, with tobacco, once the main foreign currency
earner, down 70 percent.
The most affected farming areas, where
horticultural activities were extensive, raking in millions of dollars in
foreign currency, include Mashonaland West, East and Central
"Farming is a long-term investment and farmers need to be
secure but right now I don't think there is any farmer who would like to
come back given the current conditions," said one former Mashonaland West
commercial farmer, who declined to be named.
Central Bank Governor
Gideon Gono in his monetary policy statement two months ago hinted at the
need to have joint ventures in the horticultural sector following failure by
the black new farmers to be productive in that sector.
although some of the black farmers were doing well he was disappointed at
the performance of others, and suggested that the government allow some of
the white farmers to resume operations.
Gono said: "In order to ensure
maximum productivity levels, there is great scope for promoting and
supporting joint ventures between the new farmers with progressive-minded
former operators . . . as well as other new investors so as to hasten the
skills transfer cycle."
He said the new investors or former white farmers
would be given special dispensation and guarantees of uninterrupted
productive tenure of five to ten years, backed by government protection from
any disruptions on the farms.
However, the statement has stirred a
lot of panic in most invaded farms around the country with some new farmers
not sure about their future.
Resettled farmers who, were allocated farms
through the government's A2 model, have failed to produce any substantive
harvests since moving onto the farms at the height of the farm invasions in
Last week it was understood that white commercial farmers from
farms in Mashonaland West's Tengwe area were preparing for their come
However, when The Standard crew visited the province last week the
Chief Lands Officer for Mashonaland West, F Chikomba shot down the
suggestion, saying the land reform exercise "was irreversible".
is just a rumour and it started two months ago after Gono made his
statements on the situation on farms. Because of the rumours I have received
a number of calls from white farmers who want to come back," Chikomba
District Administrator for Karoi, Wellington Chisepo, said he was
not aware of any farmers coming back to his area.
Union official, Mike Clark, scoffed at suggestions that some of their
members were coming back to farm.
"That is fictitious and I don't think
given the current conditions there would be any farmer willing to come
back," he said.
The Administrative Court is currently sifting through
more than 5 000 land cases which it started hearing at the beginning of the
Tsvangirai in west Africa over Zim crisis By Kumbirai
AS the Group of Eight (G8) Scotland summit begins on Friday,
Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, intensified his
continental foray, going beyond the region to West Africa.
met the Nigerian President and current African Union chairman, Olusegun
Obasanjo, and Ghanaian leader John Kufuor to update them on the political
situation in Zimbabwe ahead of this week's G8 summit in Scotland, which will
deliberate on repudiating Africa's debt. Tsvangirai, the MDC leader who left
Harare on Wednesday met Obasanjo in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, before
holding talks with Kufuor in Accra. Party sources said Tsvangirai's Nigerian
visit was at the invitation of Obasanjo.
"Given the crisis in Zimbabwe
Obasanjo would want to hear Tsvangirai's perspective on the Zimbabwe
crisis," the sources said.
Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki are expected to
attend the meeting of the world's most industrialized nations in Scotland.
Obasanjo and the South African President have previously been in Zimbabwe to
try and break the political deadlock, which lies at the heart of the
political and economic crisis but to no avail. Relations between Harare and
Abuja have been strained following Nigeria's warm embrace of disgruntled
former Zimbabwean white commercial farmers.
Mbeki and Obasanjo, have
been viewed in some quarters as holding the key to increase pressure on
President Robert Mugabe's government while Senegal's Wade is viewed as a
strong reviewer of Mugabe.
G8 leaders have committed to repudiating
Africa's debt and at the same time expressing their concern at mounting
repression in Zimbabwe.
The West accuses African leaders for making muted
protests against human rights abuses in the country.
Tsvangirai is expected in South Africa for a meeting before Mbeki's
departure for Scotland.
Mbeki, Obasanjo, Wade, Algerian leader Abdelaziz
Bouteflika, pioneers of the New Economic Partnership for African Development
(NEPAD) have come under renewed pressure to confront the six-year old
William Bango, Tsvangirai's spokesperson confirmed the
West African trip saying: "We are looking for a solution to the crisis in
Zimbabwe and it only makes a lot of sense that Tsvangirai meets the AU
During the Gleneagles summit, the African heads of state will
hold bilateral talks with G8 leaders from Canada, Italy, Germany, Britain,
France, Japan, Russia and US. The G8 is a block of the world's most
industrialized nations, which meets annually to discuss international
financial and economic trends, global peace and security and developments in
third world countries for possible action by member states. This year's G8
summit has somewhat prioritized debt relief for Africa.
Gleneagles meeting will take place a mere two months before the UN General
Assembly meets at the highest level to review the progress made towards the
realisation of the Millennium Development Goals decided at the UN Millennium
Summit in 2000.
Authorities dodge questions as fuel crisis worsens By our
By our own staff
THE fuel supply situation has become so critical that
stakeholders, including usually forthcoming Petroleum Marketers' Association
of Zimbabwe (PMAZ, refuse to comment on the crisis.
Bukhwele, the chief executive officer of the PMAZ yesterday refused to say
what the fuel situation in the country is. He said he was attending a church
service and referred The Standard to PMAZ official, Godwin Musarira, who was
not readily available.
Noczim chief executive officer, Zvinechimwe Churu,
could not comment on the issue, requesting that questions be sent in
He, however, indicated that fuel would be availed to the public
Last week, the Petroleum Marketers' Association
announced that fuel prices had gone up by 300 percent in response to
increases in world oil prices. This has prompted transport operators to
increase prices by an equal percentage margin.
say increasing the price will not change, as the major constraint is the
shortage of foreign currency.
Eric Bloch, an economic commentator said:
"The major constraint to fuel importation is the shortage of foreign
currency and it is unlikely that the situation will improve in the
Repeated attempts to get a comment from Noczim and
the Ministry of Energy and Power Development were fruitless.
desperate bid to ease transport problems being experienced in Harare, the
Ministry of Transport and Communications has ordered rural buses to
transport urban commuters in exchange for heavily subsidised fuel, The
Standard can reveal.
Officials in the transport industry this week
told The Standard that in a desperate bid to portray the situation as
"normal", in the wake of the United Nations (UN) special envoy's visit to
the country, government had temporarily suspended the permits of rural bus
They said in exchange of fuel at a subsidised price of about
$1 600 a litre for diesel, government had negotiated with rural bus
operators to conduct their operations in the city in order to ease transport
problems for urban dwellers.
Government on Tuesday increased the pump
price of diesel from $3 800 a litre to $9 600, a three-fold increase that
economic analysts have warned could further weaken the country's economy.
Petrol now costs $10 000 a litre, up from $3 600 but the commodity remains
A number of bus services such as Kukura Kurerwa, Musasiwa, Tenda
and Munhenzva who were contacted for comment by The Standard yesterday
morning confirmed this new development.
Musasiwa bus service is now
plying the Glen View and Machipisa route, while Kukura Kurerwa is back on
the Chitungwiza route. Kukura Kurerwa had previously withdrawn their
services due to a misunderstanding with government over fares.
bus service is now plying the Mabvuku and Tafara routes, while Munhenzva
transport is on the Warren Park route.
Churches pulled down in 'clean-up' By Thomas
CHITUNGWIZA - TWO church buildings belonging to the Zimbabwe
Assemblies of God Africa (Zaoga) in Chitungwiza were last week demolished
because "they were built on illegal ground", The Standard has
Pastor Kweshe of the Zaoga Church in Seke said they were
forced to demolish the house of God and the members were now holding their
prayers in the open. He said: "Our churches were said to be on illegal ground
and we were ordered to demolish them. We actually saved the benches and the
asbestos roofing sheets which are now being kept at the elders' homes until
we build another church."
Kweshe said the churches were destroyed
despite the fact that they were given the approval to build by Chitungwiza
The demolitions of church buildings in Chitungwiza come
barely a fortnight after an Islamic Mosque in Hatcliffe was also razed to
the ground during the government's controversial "clean-up"
The operation has been condemned as a gross violation of human
rights as more than a million people have been thrown out of their homes
while thousands lost their jobs.
The exercise has also forced
hundreds of thousands of children to drop out of school, following the
displacement of their parents.
Several organisations, including church
bodies have called on the government to stop the "insensitive and
In a press statement the Christians Together
for Justice and Peace condemned the clean-up exercise, which they said
"smacks of a callous indifference to the plight of the poor".
Catholic Bishops also attacked "self-proclaimed Christians in the
government", saying: "They live a double life, one for Sunday services in
the church and another for public tasks be they political, economic social
or any other kind."
President Robert Mugabe, who has openly supported
the operation, says he is a devout Catholic.
The bishops said the
operation violated "innate human dignity given by the Creator" because of
the "ruthless manner" in which it was conducted.
HUNDREDS of state-of-the-art computers that were donated to
schools by President Robert Mugabe in the run-up to the March Parliamentary
elections, amid pomp and fun-fare, are still lying idle, The Standard has
Investigations have revealed that some schools in Chitungwiza and
Harare, which received the computers, were not using them, mainly because
the teachers do not know how to operate them. A teacher at Tafara High
School in Harare said despite having received computers three months ago the
students were not able to use them because there were no teachers for
"Yes, we received computers but we are not able to have
lessons because the school does not have the computer teachers," said the
Seke 5 High School in Chitungwiza also benefited from the
However, students are yet to use the
computers because of staff and classroom shortages.
Seke 5 High
School Deputy Headmaster, Fanuel Takaendesa, said the school was working
closely with the parents in a bid to provide computer lessons at the
"We are still furnishing the computer room and parents are
helping with the building of the block. We hope that we will be able to have
the lessons soon," Takaendesa said.
A senior teacher at Mabvuku High
School said computers at the school were not being used because of problems
"The computers should be activated before they are used.
You can only operate for 30 days before switching off," explained the
teacher, who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation.
they were encountering problems in getting computer teachers and as a
result, they were working with the Ministry of Education to try and resolve
"Computer teachers demand higher salaries and because of
that, it is very difficult to retain staff. They end up going to work in
industries where they are well paid," he said.
The computers donated
by Mugabe are the Windows XP models that cannot work without being
Computer experts said one would not be able to use the product
if the product activation procedures are not fully complied
"When you launch the product, instructions will describe how to
complete activation using the Internet or phone. You may launch and use this
product 50 times according to the End-User Licence Agreement even if you do
not activate the product. After the 50th launch, the product requires the
confirmation for continued use," said one expert.
have to call the South African Microsoft offices in order to activate their
Some of the computers were donated to rural schools even though
there are no telephones.
The Minister of Education Sport and Culture,
Aeneas Chigwedere, said he did know that the computers were lying
"You don't expect me to know everything that is happening in the
country," said Chigwedere adding he would check with the concerned
Opposition parties criticised the computer donations saying they
were just a campaign gimmick a few weeks before the general
They said the government should have concentrated on building
classrooms, providing reading material as well paying the teachers well in
order to boost their spirits.
ILO blasts Zimbabwe for meddling in ZCTU affairs By
THE International Labour Organisation's (ILO)
Credentials Committee has blasted the government for unnecessarily
interfering in the affairs of the country's leading labour movement, the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).
The criticism is contained
in a third report of the committee after the ILO's 93rd session held in
Geneva, Switzerland, from 31 May to 16 June this year. The committee said
the procedure used by the Zimbabwe government for nominating the workers'
representative did not fulfil the conditions of impartiality, transparency
and predictability as required under article 3, of the ILO
The condemnation came after the International Confederation
of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) had raised an objection over the nomination of
the workers' delegation from Zimbabwe.
The ICFTU said Edmund Ruzive,
ZCTU's third vice president had been unilaterally nominated by the
government as the workers' delegate in direct contradiction to the ZCTU's
"The committee notes that the actions taken by the
government are inconsistent with the principles of freedom of association
and amount to interference in the internal activities of a workers'
organisation," said the Committee.
The ICFTU was alarmed by the
government's insistence on obtaining minutes of a ZCTU meeting that took
place on 23 April 2005.
"The fact that the Government had not made
similar requests for the purpose of verifying the alternative proposals
leaves some doubts about whether its treatment is impartial with respect to
the other two nominations," said the Committee in a report made just after
The Committee said the level of detail that the director
for International Relations in the Labour Administration, Poem Mudyawabikwa,
had brought before the committee indicates government's manoeuvres to
manipulate the choice of the representative workers' organisation to the
Mudyawabikwa had provided detailed information on the process
that led to the two delegates.
Mudyawabikwa had also said the ZCTU
president, Lovemore Matombo, had not been nominated as a workers' delegate
as he was facing "serious allegations" regarding his role in the labour
Bishops meeting to blast Mugabe over clean-up By Ray
PRESSURE continues mounting on President Robert Mugabe from
several quarters to halt the forced evictions and demolition of settlements
deemed illegal by his government, with the Catholic church expressing "grave
concern" over the unfolding humanitarian crisis.
Head of the Catholic
Church, Pope Benedict VI is expected to take advantage of the ongoing
Catholic Bishops conference at the Vatican being attended by bishops from
Zimbabwe, to intervene. The Pope is likely to refer to continued human
rights abuses by President Mugabe's government. Mugabe says he is a devout
Catholic. Secretary General of the Bishop's Conference in Zimbabwe, Father
Frederick Chiromba said the Archbishop of Harare, Robert Christopher Ndlovu,
Most Reverend Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, President of the Catholic Bishops,
Michael Bhasera. Rt. Rev Alexio Muchabaiwa of Mutare, Rt. Rev Angel Floro of
Gokwe, Rt. Reverend Patrick Mutume of Mutare, Very Reverend Father Alphonse
Mapfumo of Gweru, Father Matthew Majonga of Chinhoyi and Father Albert
Serrano of Hwange were attending the Vatican meeting. The Catholic Bishops,
in a pastoral letter last week condemned the clean up operation
hope the situation in Zimbabwe does not overshadow all other issues at the
meeting," he said.
The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac
Murphy-O'Connor on Wednesday said President Mugabe's policies "were deeply
abhorrent" and called for a moratorium on forced evictions.
government of Zimbabwe appears to be conducting a sustained, systematic
campaign of terror against its own citizens. I share the frustration of all
people of goodwill at this violation of basic human dignity and of
international law." Murphy-O'Connor said.
The cleric backed a call by
the Bishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams for Zimbabwe's neighbours to do
more to stop the violence that has accompanied the evictions. Regional
powerhouse, South Africa has been criticised at home and abroad for taking a
soft line on Mugabe despite its economic clout.
South African Anglican
archbishop, Njongonkulu Ndugane, who has had cordial relations with
President Mugabe until now will lead a church and non-governmental
organisation delegation to Zimbabwe in the next 10 days to show solidarity
with people affected by the crackdown.
Ndugane succeeded Archbishop
Desmond Tutu, an outspoken critic of Mugabe's rule. He plans to meet South
African President Thabo Mbeki after the visit and report back on the
situation in Zimbabwe.
His delegation will include members of the South
Africa Council of Churches; the South African Bishop's Conference, Institute
of Democracy in South Africa and the South Africa's Institute for Justice
Meanwhile parliamentary groups from four political
parties in the German Bundestag have tabled a motion condemning the action
taken by President Mugabe against his own people. The motion likens the on
going destruction of informal settlements to " a new dimension of terrorism
against the country's population".
The group has called on the
African Union to take action and is lobbying its own government to ensure
that the situation in Zimbabwe is dealt with at the G8 summit in Gleneagles,
Scotland with a view "that sanctions against the Mugabe regime are
implemented rigorously and their scope widened."
It also calls on the AU
to act in accordance with the commitments they made in the NEPAD framework
during their forthcoming summit in Libya and to become advocates for
Zimbabwe's oppressed population.
Massive hike in medical costs fatal for PLWAs Aidswatch
with Bertha Shoko
GENERAL practitioners' consultation fees and hospital
fees have gone up with effect from this month, the Zimbabwe Medical
Association (ZIMA) and the National Association of Medical Aid Societies
(NAMAS) have announced.
The increases, announced on Wednesday, will see
hospital fees increasing by 50 percent and consultations fees for private
doctors going up by 30 percent. What this means is that at Parirenyatwa
Group of Hospitals for example, costs of admission for a day will be about
$350 000, up from $232 900, while a private suite at the same hospital has
gone up to $1 009 350 from $672 900.
A private suite at Avenues
Clinic will now cost about $2.9 million a day, up from roughly $1.6 million,
while the same private clinic will now be charging $1 million a day up from
about $600 000.
NAMAS also announced that pathology and radiology
investigations have increased by 80 percent.
In a statement ZIMA
president, Billy Rigava, said the increase has been necessitated by rising
inflation resulting in high maintenance costs, while chairperson of NAMAS,
Florence Kazhanje, attributed the increases to the high cost of importing
medicines and equipment and also inflationary pressures.
fees, however justified they might be, are certainly not good news for many
people, particularly for People Living With HIV and AIDS (PLWAs) who,
because of their weakened immune system, need to seek treatment or
opportunistic infections, regularly.
Add to these high hospital fees, is
the ever increasing price of drugs and medicines and the general cost of
The shortages of essential drugs and medicines in the public
sector where treatment is cheaper because of government subsidies, means
that many people are forced in desperation to buy them from private
pharmacies at much higher prices. But they are also some who cannot afford
According to NAMAS there is a lot of "profiteering" among
pharmacies and in the past two months alone drugs have gone up by between
150 and 200 percent.
"We are seriously concerned about the pharmacy
benefit. We do believe that there is lot of profiteering going on, on the
part of medicine suppliers," Kazhanje was quoted saying recently in local
In Zimbabwe, access to treatment has ceased to be a basic
human right and has almost become a luxury.
These are certainly
trying times for everyone in the country and in particular PLWAs.
high consultation fees and hospital fees are an extra headache that they do
not need, especially under these harsh economic times.
countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, where access to
treatment is affordable, PLWAs live longer and healthier lives than those in
developing countries, where access to AIDS treatment and Anti Retroviral
Therapy, is still a far cry.
Where an HIV negative person can afford to
ignore a cough or a cold because the hospital or doctor's consultations fees
are beyond their reach, PLWAs cannot as they risk developing pneumonia and
This is the dilemma most PLWAs find themselves
Many PLWAs succumb to illness because they cannot afford frequent
medical care, cannot afford to live the healthy lifestyles recommended for
them and have no peace of mind.
As an AIDS activist friend of mine
said the other day when discussing this subject, these are tough times to be
HIV positive. Something must be done for PLWAs.
The National Aids
Council (NAC) and various other Non Governmental Organisations involved in
AIDS work need to step up efforts to offer supplementary food for PLWAs in
various communities. With one headache away, that is that of sourcing food,
at least the PLWAs will be motivated enough and have the strength to work
for themselves to meet the high costs of medical care.
NAC has the
structures already in place to reach even those at grassroots level and are
already offering food packages to some communities but they need to scale up
provision of food, as recommended in the past.
doubtful the people being paraded as the beneficiaries of the government's
fast-track housing scheme are the people originally displaced by the
calamity that swept through the country's urban areas in recent
The worst affected people have been banished to the rural
areas or have sought refuge with relatives and the challenge for the special
envoy of United Nations Secretary-General will be to capture the movements
in this theatre of tragic internal dislocations. But there is an enormous
burden on the envoy's shoulder: for the internally displaced, the
expectations are that her work may bring some relief, after knocking sense
into the authorities to halt the ill-timed and ill-advised campaign. They
will expect that her work will result in some assistance to help them cope
with the difficult circumstances they find themselves in.
Above all, they
will expect that her mission will result in them affording a home of their
own, with guarantees that the same tragedy will not visit them
The special envoy's mission coincides with two other similar
undertakings - that of the African Union and a United State Congressional
delegation. The challenge for the UN envoy will be to see how closely the
UN's observation and assessment of the situation will tally with the reports
of the other two teams.
It is good that the Zimbabwean problem is
being approached from several different viewpoints. In terms of resource
mobilisation this could be a good thing. But in other respects the interest
in the problem is good in that no one team can afford to undertake a less
than rigorous exercise. Competition has its positives.
government, the missions could just be what the doctor ordered. They could
prove the start of Zimbabwe's re-engagement with the international
community. It is unlikely that the international community could come and be
witness to the crisis here, fold its arms and walk away. The international
community will prescribe measures to be taken and request its involvement in
order to help Zimbabwe out of the present crisis.
There are several
points through which the international community can intervene. The most
immediate would be in providing shelter and food to the more than a million
people who have been adversely affected by the so-called "clean up"
The second would be in terms of ensuring that the displaced
families are given a head start, either in terms of education for their
children, some permanent form of accommodation or start-up projects to
provide them with regular sources of income to enable them to look after
Epworth provides clear and useful lessons in how the same
government elected to deal with the problems of unplanned shacks and
Other affected families might opt for resettlement on some
of the acquired farms. This would appear to be supported by the government's
desire to encourage people to go back to the rural areas they originally
came from. Since the original rural areas are congested, the international
community would need to ponder how to resolve the dilemma.
could lie in moving them onto acquired farms, but in the process the
government's wishes at the 1998 land conference would have attracted an
audience and more significantly, support. Precedents of 1980's scenarios
when returning Zimbabweans were provided with inputs, which resulted in
increased agricultural production, could provide useful lessons.
government's anxiety over re-engaging the international community is seen by
how it has tried hard to suggest that the special envoy's view of the crisis
is the same as the government's and that the efforts being made by the
authorities meet the approval of the United Nations, and by extension the
rest of the world.
But there are other things that are difficult to gloss
over: There was no need to rush the so-called "clean up" exercise; it was
never planned, which is one reason why the courts were able to declare
illegal, the government's attempt to annex a private property for its
fast-track housing programme.
Even more importantly is the disregard or
contempt of court decisions by the government. Twice the courts ruled that
settlers at Porta Farm should not be moved, but that did not stop the
government from undertaking mass evictions, which resulted in several
totally unnecessary deaths.
The various missions will also be able to
recall that even when the courts declared that the model houses at White
Cliff Farm were illegal and should be demolished because they were on
private property, the State showed no respect for property rights and was in
contempt of the courts.
This is not what the government wanted, but the
visits are a welcome opportunity in providing a possible turning point in
rescuing Zimbabwe from the wilderness.
WITH the regime recently robbing entrepreneurial
Zimbabweans of their livelihoods in a despicable display of callousness, a
small act of solidarity would be to remove presidential portraits from our
factories, banks, shops and businesses.
If anyone would like to join
a new pressure group called People Against Presidential Portraits (PAPP)
please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The other thing
I'd like to suggest is that we use all of these queues as opportunities to
explore new and different ways to revolt and resist.
With the paranoid
regime so sensitive these days that a small gathering even of close
relatives at a funeral wake can be misconstrued for a political meeting,
fuel queues could be the cover we need to plan how we deal with our
And while the regime is so eager to use violence
on defenceless people we can show them there is strength in peaceful
'Operation Murambatsvina' cruel, inhuman and
PLEASE allow me to express my very strong displeasure with
the current "Operation Murambatsvina" and perhaps ask a few pertinent
questions of the relevant authorities through your paper.
extremely painful to see honest hardworking citizens being given a raw deal
by the authorities. Where is the sense and logic in confiscating cellphone
recharge cards from young and older people alike, who brave the cold to sell
mobile phone recharge cards on street corners to make a living? Where is the
humanity or empathy when elderly women have their vegetables taken away from
them yet they toil day in and day out braving the harsh elements to eke out
an honest exsistence? Usually these women leave their homes at the break of
dawn and only return late at night; very often travelling long distances
just to secure their wares for sale. Never mind the financial risk of ruin
they take by dealing in "perishables".
What about tuckshop owners who are
having their goods taken and structures destroyed? I am being very specific
about the three groups because these are people simply trying to make an
honest living for themselves and their families. Do the authorities not
appreciate this simple fact?
Where do all the confiscated goods go? Is
there any proper accounting for all the goods that are seized from the
vendors? I think not because I have heard disturbing stories of people
involved in these seizures suddenly accumulating some of these goods in
excess of normal requirements.
How exactly are the people whose
livelihoods have been destroyed expected to survive when after all the toil
and hard work, their means of survival is snatched from their hands? How
many of us would be willing to sit in the sun all day long, and brave the
cold winter chill at night in order to eke out a simple living?
are the authorities trying to achieve? Is it retribution against urban
dwellers for voting predominantly for the opposition? Is this the democracy
and one-man, one-vote concept that our aunts and uncles, brothers and
sisters and mothers and fathers sacrificed their lives for? And indeed, if
it is retribution, has anyone realized that significantly increased numbers
of urban dwellers voted for the ruling party?
So is this then a case
of these Zanu PF faithfuls getting caught in the "crossfire?" Daily we are
bombarded with talk of patriotism, nationalism and the need to rise above
partisan politics when it comes to policy implementation, but is this what
it all boils down to? Would not an astute politician find out exactly what
it is that the people need instead of sulking like a petulant child and
antagonizing the very people whose vote he/she covets so much? Is it any
surprise at all then that urban dwellers continue to vote for the
Vendors are a fact of life and the relevant authorities need
to realize and appreciate that. Period. Having taken over our own land (in a
far from perfect manner, but that is another matter entirely) and
subsequently having a lot of pressure exerted on us by the West and their
institutions, the reality of the situation is that more than 70% of
Zimbabweans are informally employed. Policies have been enunciated and we
have seen their effects.
One of those effects is having the majority of
employable people in the informal sector. To the authorities I say, please
see, understand and appreciate that. This is our reality.
becoming increasingly difficult for everyone and in particular these people
who are at the lower end of the social spectrum. Nobody is asking for a free
lunch; just an opportunity to help themselves.
Zimbabweans are among the
most resilient, accepting, innovative and hardworking people in the world.
We have certainly tolerated a lot and continue to do so. What is
increasingly clear is that ours is becoming an incredible way of life; like
a script of a tragic drama gone all horribly wrong. Common sense and logic
dictates that the least that the authorities can do is to provide an
enabling environment in which citizens can continue to try and earn an
And to the men and women of the uniformed forces, the
police in particular I would like to ask if they do not have any relatives
and friends who earn a living from vending? Are their current actions and
orders in accordance with the Police Charter? Are they in accordance with
the constitution of this country that they have sworn to serve and protect
at all times? What do their individual and collective consciences tell them
about their actions? Indeed, how do they feel when they confiscate goods
from their own mothers, brothers and sisters?
They cannot continue to
push people around like that, especially under the present circumstances.
Invariably something has got to give. As for the alleged criminal
activities, there needs to be a lot more discretion about identifying who is
"dealing" and in what, and what gets confiscated from whom. A response from
all the relevant authorities who were present at the press conference to
enunciate these "measures" is eagerly awaited.
been flying Air Zimbabwe for only 25 years, 13 of these years as a pioneer
Rainbow Club member. I have seen those managing directors come and go and
have witnessed the best and the worst on the airline from champagne popping
to passengers dying on the flight.
I am known by name, by face and by
voice, often asked if I work for the airline. I am also on the British
Airways and the South African Airways Frequent Flyer programmes and
previously Lufthansa too. Now my shared patronage of these airlines: In the
last seven years alone South African Airways has awarded me an air ticket
every year to an international destination of my choice. This is in
recognition of the business support translated from my accumulated
I regularly receive updates on the management changes, flying
partners, mileage news and invitations to their various promotions. Logging
onto their websites is a marvel of efficiency. They used to have a Limousine
service at JFK and Heathrow airport. What more can a girl ask
Now for our Air Zimbabwe. They put on their boxing gloves when
responding to queries. The near fist-fights and tears at Gatwick are regular
drama. Late arrivals/departures are the norm. No apologies, no truths. The
Rainbow Club Frequent Flyer programme is a scam. They update your mileage on
a "when-they-want-to" basis.
One Mahoso fellow had the audacity to
say that my travel agent should update my mileage and send it to him, with
the travel coupons. But who works for Air Zimbabwe, my agent or
When I put it down to laziness, he bemoaned the computer system
heavy workload inefficiencies etc. I advised him that if he could not handle
the challenges of his job, then it is his boss who needs to know that and
In my 25 years of travelling with Air Zimbabwe, I have never
received any mail from Air Zimbabwe, no phone calls, no information, no
invitations, not even an offer of a cheap ticket to nowhere and not even a
Would it have made bad business sense to have filled up the
famous Dubai-Harare trip with bona fide Frequent Flyers instead of a lone
passanger? Would a kombi operator introduce a new route to Murambinda
knowing he will return with a single passenger?
With blunders like
these, how can British Airways and SAA not laugh all the way to the
you who lie awake at night plotting wickedness. You rise at dawn to carry
out your schemes; because you can, you do. You want a certain piece of land
or someone else's house (even though it is all he/she has got). You take it
through fraudulent means or threats and violence." Micah 2:1-2.
June at around 10AM a low loader carrying a bulldozer drove to the gate of
our home industry accompanied by a paramilitary police unit in a Defender
vehicle. "We give you 30 minutes to leave this place," shouted policemen in
the Defender. They had guns at ready.
This particular home industry
was established in 1997 by the city council. It has had a variety of shops
and factories. It was bigger than Mbare's Siya So. It had modern
Like ants, we ran in different directions of the security
walling. We carried as much as we could from our shops and factories.
Unfortunately, some of the factories had equipment, which required cranes
for them to be removed. What can a person do in 30 minutes? Very
In no time, the bulldozer started to demolish the structures
except toilets. The task was enormous enough such that it took the bulldozer
two whole days. This is how we lost our "fields".
A week before that
all my 11 workers had lost their cottage homes. Like me, they all have
dependants. We could have gone to our rural homes if we had them. We are
trained and skilled factory workers, not peasant farmers.
We have tools
of our trades and not tools for farming. Can someone tell me what to do? I
am very very angry and I don't have a gun. I now have a lump in my throat,
which doesn't want to clear. Desperate is my second child. Totally
I appreciated your editorial of two weeks ago about
Zimbabwe needing more moral leaders. It reminded me of how energetically
Econet responded to the Indonesian tsunami.
Econet facilitated the
donation of millions of dollars to the Indonesian tsunami appeal through
their cellular network service. As many people have been saying, "Operation
Drive Out The Filth" is the equivalent of a tsunami in Zimbabwe. However,
here at home Econet's silence is deafening. This raises the question of how
willing and brave Zimbabweans are about publicly standing up and addressing
human rights abuses at home.
More eyebrows raised over Zimplats' empowerment
partner By our own staff
THE intriguing saga surrounding the awarding
of the Zimplats Holdings Limited's 15% stake to Nkululeko Rusununguko Mining
Company (NRMC) took a new twist last week amid revelations that one of the
directors of the empowerment outfit had resigned from the ministry of Mines
and Mining Development shortly before it was awarded the
Official sources told StandardBusiness that Surrender Ncube once
worked for the Minerals Ministry and advised the then Mines Minister Edward
Chindori Chininga on matters relating to the stake in the white metal
producer. "Ncube was an advisor to Chindori Chininga and we were shocked to
hear that Nkululeko were chosen as the empowerment group to get the 15%
shortly after Ncube had joined its board," a source said.
sources say new Mining Development Minister Amos Midzi had failed to "see"
the anomaly raising fears of a deficiency in corporate governance. Ncube,
according to the sources, resigned his post only to resurface later as
director of NRMC.
The same sources say Ncube handled the bid papers by
Needgate and could have influenced the decision by the Ministry to give NRMC
the nod - ahead of Needgate - for the Zimplats stake.
StandardBusiness phoned the Ministry, a lady who answered the call confirmed
that Ncube was no longer with under government employ because he resigned in
NRMC won the right to become Zimplats' empowerment partner last
year ahead of Needgate Investments and National Investment Trust
The empowerment body is struggling to raise the requisite US$31
million to support its bid and missed a 7 February deadline set by Zimplats
shareholders as the final date to conclude the deal.
In its bid to
raise the money, NRMC approached a number of investors notably Stanbic
Africa, Amalgamated Bank of South Africa (ABSA) and South Africa's
Industrial Development Group. Under the empowerment deal, Zimplats would
sell 13.4 million of its shares to the empowerment group.
bank has already raised concern on the composition of the NRMC board, which
it said, did not have the requisite experience in mining and "were
gate-crashing into the white metal producing business riding on political
ZNCC blasts lack of direction for economic
disintegration By our own Correspondent
KARIBA - Delegates attending
the just ended Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) annual congress
were unanimous in describing the country's sinking economy as at the "cross
roads" because of a lack of a clearly defined economic policy.
Zembe, the re-elected ZNCC president said the economy, which has been
battered by one crisis after another, was suffering from lack of a clearly
defined economic policy. "Right now the policy framework in the country
has not been consistent. The absence of a clearly defined economic policy is
creating problems in our economy," Zembe said.
He said distortions
were emerging in the economy because business did not know whether 'our
economy' was now a command economy or a market driven one.
the Minister of Industry and International Trade said that the government
was working towards the resuscitation of 'Vision 2020' because there was no
clear economic model in the country at the moment.
Another delegate David
Mutambarara of the Institute of Directors Zimbabwe said that there were no
people taking control of the economy.
He said business was not taking
control of the economy because they felt that they were not part of the
economic policy formulation
ZANU PF member and former MP Tony Gara of
Negondo Industries said people in the country should not sacrifice national
interests for personal ones.
"I think as a nation irrespective of the
political divide we should do what is in the best interest of the country
and follow our national inclinations later. It is na´ve to follow a
political path at the expense of national prosperity,"Gara
Rugare Gumbo, the Minister of Economic Development admitted
government was failing to implement its own economic policies.
are poor implementers of our own policies," said Gumbo in response to a
question from one of the delegates. "Guys we have realised that we have to
change strategy faced with these economic challenges," Gumbo said responding
ZNCC new vice president Joseph Kunyetuwho had said that the country was at
cross roads because of various issues.
national airline - Air Zimbabwe (AirZim) - could soon endanger passenger
safety after recently failing to meet safety checks deadline, on one of its
planes, it has emerged.
The airline has seven planes: two 767s, three
737s and two MA60s. The MA60s were bought this year from China as part of
"Look East" government policy. StandardBusiness was told last week that an
Airzim Boeng 767 plane is now grounded after it missed its safety check
deadline of 21 June. Official sources say the airline CEO Tendai Mahachi had
apparently misled the Ministry of Transport and Communications into
believing that the maintenance deadline was due at the end of the
As a result of the bungling, Mahachi was sent on SOS mission
searching for a plane to lease and replace the 757, said the sources. While
StandardBusiness could not verify Mahachi's destination, sources indicated
the embattled CEO could have gone to Kenya Airlines for
Aviation experts say maintenance checks are usually done after a
period of 18 months. During the maintenance period, manufacturers can
detectfaults with input coming from the airline. AirZim riskesits plane
confiscated for failing to adhere to safety standards.
Stung by the
revelations of a lapse in safety maintenance deadline, a meeting was
convened by the Transport and Communication Minister Christopher Mushohwe on
the way forward in meeting international safety standards.
Permanent Secretary Karikoga Kaseke attended the meeting as well as top
executives from AirZim and the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ)
and their respective board members.
Air Zim acting CEO Oscar Madombwe
referred all questions to the airline's spokesperson David Mwenga who said
"he was not in a position to discuss what had transpired at the meeting with
the airline's shareholder".
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has come to the aid of former International Monetary
Fund (IMF) workers, made redundant by the closure of the global lenders'
offices in the capital late last year, Washington officials said the central
bank absorbed almost all of the international finance institution's
employees except Rodney Mutemachani - a former research analyst - who joined
the United Nations' Poverty and Economic Management Unit
Washington ostracised Zimbabwe from its ranks by shutting down
its representative office in the capital at the end of October 2004. Prior
to the closure, local staff maintained the Harare office since October 2003,
when the fund's resident representative left Harare. "The local staff
that were in the resident rep office were all offered employment by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe," Bhatt Gita, an official in the IMF's External
Relations Department, said from Washington.
Since the closure of the
local post, relations between the IMF and Zimbabwe are being conducted via
contacts between local authorities and the IMF's headquarters staff as well
as regular IMF Executive Board discussions.
The IMF has not appointed a
resident representative in Harare since the departure of Gerry Johnson in
November 2003. Johnson had a rocky stint in the country that culminated in
the IMF taking action to suspend Harare from its membership. Zimbabwe faces
the chop from the 184-member organisation for failing to settle outstanding
arrears and servicing its debts.
Harare has failed to knock down its
long-term debt despite an undertaking to make nominal quarterly payments of
US$5 million. Prior to the pledge Harare was paying US$1,5
Economic analysts are worried that Zimbabwe, in the grip of a
severe economic crisis, has no sufficient hard currency reserves to erase
its debilitating debt that has been on the IMF's books since 2001. They also
fear that the central bank's action confirms that Zimbabwe still has to walk
miles before the resumption of key aid.
"We don't have foreign
currency to service our debts," says Eric Bloch, economic consultant at H.E
Bloch&Company, who is also an adviser to Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank
Added Bloch: "We have been making token payments to the IMF as
a gesture of good faith."
Gono, the Governor of Zimbabwe's central bank, remains one of the few people
still optimistic that the economy would turn-around in the face of rising
Zimbabwe's inflation, the highest in the world, is on a
relentless rise that was measured at 144,4% in May - the last recorded
month. The 15,3% points year-on-year upward spree, the third consecutive in
a month and the broadest advance in price hikes since a 24,1% point rise
took inflation to a record 622,8% in January 2004, was attributed to price
adjustments in groceries and non-food items. Analysts say although Gono
had projected a surge in inflation, he would be bowled over by the magnitude
of the rise in the second and third quarter. They are also concerned that
the inflationary spiral could again go out of hand as the fiscal and
monetary measures have not been able to tame the upswing, which began in
Although economists said the general price level was likely to
rise further because of the impact of drought, the central bank chief last
week vowed that resurgent inflation was still under check.
is attempting to push painful reforms, managed to slash inflation from a
then world high 622% to 123,7 in March, the lowest level since July 2002.
Gono is also credited of having transformed the financially broke Bank of
Credit and Commerce into a commercially viable entity, the Commercial Bank
of Zimbabwe (CBZ).
But critics say the current northward momentum will be
sustained into the third quarter and consequently inscribe a dreadful
economic epitaph for a man who put his reputation on the line by promising
Zimbabweans manna in the midst of a drought.
"The inflation situation
is going to be bleak as inflationary pressures have gained ground," Witness
Chinyama, Chief Economist at Kingdom Financial Holdings
Some economists project inflation to climb up to 200% by the
end of 2005. They point at the government's penchant to borrow heavily from
the local market. They also point out that the government has created new
ministries and intends to reintroduce the Senate, which will also gobble
billions of dollars that could be channeled elsewhere.
three months will be economically and significantly worse than they have
been and inflation will end the year between 180-200%," says Eric Bloch, an
adviser to Gono. The panic-spending spree has worsened, with the government
earmarking an unbudgeted $3 trillion to compensate for the chaos created by
Under the ambitious programme - unveiled as
the United Nations Secretary's Kofi Annan's special envoy Anna Tibaijuka
stepped on Zimbabwean soil to audit the impact of the bulldozing of
thousands of houses and factory shells - proper houses will be constructed
by the government throughout the country. But critics say President Mugabe's
administration has struggled to source energy requirements, food, machinery,
spares and medical drugs and would be desperately short of funds to roll out
the ambitious re-building programme.
Govt to blame for illegal dwellings Sundaytalk with Pius
FOR a long time those of my age group, who grew up in Mbare
decried the deterioration that our home township had descended to. From the
time of independence in 1980 we watched in anguish as our previously neat
and orderly township was transformed into an over-crowded and squalid ghetto
of unplanned brick outbuildings and wooden shacks.
the promise of a better life caused rapid migration to the cities. The
population of Mbare and other townships in Zimbabwe ballooned to about 10
times above what they were planned to cater for. Soon sewers started to
burst, discharging raw waste onto the streets, where bare-footed children
played and mountains of uncollected rubbish grew. Undesirable elements from
rural areas, with no roots in the township, and some from as far afield as
Nigeria, became part of the population. Crime soared.
of applications for accommodation, to the city fathers, ran into tens of
thousands. Unfortunately, the powers that be did not take the planning of
new townships and the building of houses as a priority. The ruling party
leadership was more interested in organising their party, consolidating
their political power and lining their pockets.
Able technocrats were
unceremoniously relieved of their jobs to make way for party faithfuls, some
of whom were semi-literate. Soon the administration itself ground to a halt
and anarchy reigned supreme. Social amenities and services became things of
Yes, many times I have thought of the past with nostalgia. This
is ironic in a way because the past that I think of so longingly was that of
the white racist regime, which we fought so hard to overthrow.
think of our family life in our two-roomed house in the New Lines in 1946.
Municipal inspectors used to come to see that the houses and surroundings
were clean and to supervise the public toilet cleaners. At night the police
came to see that we had no unreported "illegal visitors". Not all this was
pleasant, but there was order to it.
In his book, Old Bricks Lives,
Bill Saidi describes the joys and sorrows of living in Mbare during colonial
days, so vividly. I encourage all Mbare lovers to read it.
In 1948 we
were moved to the New Location as New Lines was now designated for
bachelors. In 1952 we were moved to the more spacious newly built National
Housing Board Location, where we had four rooms, a private toilet and
bathroom and electricity. The social services funded by beerhall proceeds
were adequate. There was the community centre dominated by the imposing
Stodart Hall, where our dead heroes lie in state before proceeding to
Heroes' Acre, a shopping mall, a swimming pool, recreation grounds and a
gym. All were very well planned by the white racist city council but we must
be fair and give the devil his due.
The city council painted all the
houses once a year. All school children were provided with a free lunch
which we called "stew". Retired teacher Timothy Chigoma supervised the
social services like a benevolent grandfather. He ran all manner of training
courses, gardening competitions, a boys' club, boy scouts, a Red Cross corps
and what have you. We lived like a homogenous community. During this time,
Mbare produced legendary soccer stars, athletes, musicians, artists,
politicians, business people and many leaders in all spheres of
Yes, Mbare had its dark side, too, but such is life. We had crooks
and gangsters, gambling dens, shebeens, skokiaan dens, prostitutes and
drunken mahobo parties. The British South Africa police force was efficient
but humane and professional. Criminals were detected and brought to book.
The army remained in the barracks and only came out on special days. The
Central Intelligence agency remained totally out of sight even during the
days of the liberation war.
Come independence, instead of improving
as we expected, life as we knew it started to go down the drain, not only in
Mbare but all over Zimbabwe. In a feeble attempt to bring about sanity and
order the government fired the Solomon Tawengwa, Zanu PF, Harare Council for
incompetence. They installed the Elijah Chanakira Commission but this did
not help. Things continued to deteriorate.
When the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) came into existence the fed up people threw out the
Zanu PF council and elected an MDC team led by Engineer Elias Mudzuri as
executive mayor of Harare. He set to work and things started to improve.
Zanu PF became jealous and the Minister of Local Government, Ignatious
Chombo, fired the Mudzuri council for no apparent reason except jealousy.
Did things improve? No, they got even worse.
Not only did things get
worse in Mbare. They got worse all over the country, especially after the
chaotic, unplanned and violent so-called land reform programme. The
government encouraged anarchy and people grabbed land from white commercial
farmers and built where they wanted. Even respected blacks like the
enterprising Eddies Pfugari lost their properties.
It was a time of total
impunity. Zanu PF officials made millions as they parcelled out land for
cash to so-called "landless people". There was no plan, order or sanity to
the whole exercise.
Now after 25 years of encouraging nay, instigating
lawlessness and anarchy, all of a sudden, wham! The government starts to
destroy that which it instigated and encouraged. "Operation Murambatsvina",
they call it. What madness! They are throwing out the baby with the
bathwater! The dirt they say they are cleaning out is not just refuse but
human beings created in the image of God as well. Thus poor people's homes
and sources of livelihood in the form of tuck shops and vegetable vending
stands are being destroyed to remove the "maggots" and stamp them into
oblivion. Over one and half million Zimbabweans are, therefore, today
shivering, starving and dying in the cold because they have been branded as
Of course, what the government is doing is not wrong. They have
suddenly become aware of laws which are being broken and they are destroying
illegal structures. Everything is legal, they say. The courts, too, have
vindicated them by upholding their actions as being legal.
legality? The question is not whether the destruction of people's homes
without any alternative is legal or not. The real question is, is it just,
fair and merciful. It may be legal for the government of Zimbabwe to
mercilessly torture its people but is that the justice and mercy that God
requires from governors and kings? Is that the freedom which Zimbabweans
Zanu PF yarasa gwara. They have lost direction because they
are surfeited by the wealth stolen from the poor who fought so hard to
liberate themselves from the colonial yoke.
They typify what Franz
Fanon, in his book, The Wretched of the Earth, said about post-colonial
regimes. He said: "The party is becoming a means of private advancement.
There exists inside the new regime, however, an inequality in the
acquisition of wealth and in monopolisation. Some have a double source of
income and demonstrate that they are specialised in opportunism. Privileges
multiply and corruption triumphs while morality declines. Today the vultures
are too numerous and too voracious in proportion to the lean spoils of the
national wealth. The party, a true instrument of power in the hands of the
bourgeoisie, reinforces the machine, and ensures that the people are hemmed
in and immobilised.
The party helps the government to hold the people
down. It becomes more and more clearly anti-democratic, an instrument of
coercion." Isn't this what is happening in Zimbabwe today?
patriotic Zimbabweans, who truly love and thank God for this country, will
say with me to Brother Fanon's words - Amen and Amen.
The real calamity in Zimbabwe is incompetence By Jupiter
WHILE "Operation Murambatsvina" may have had good intentions,
there is no escaping the fact that the whole operation was incompetently
planned, not withstanding the fact that incompetence has become the hallmark
of the way our government goes about most of its business.
problems that "Operation Murambatsvina" is trying to solve have been brewing
for a long time. Indeed, things like the mushrooming of illegal structures
and settlements all over Harare and other towns are is the the problem, but
only a symptom of the disease called incompetence that afflicts the
authorities. The very same authorities now throwing tantrums over "illegal
structures" encouraged the illegal activities in a bid to attract
votes. Another sign of the gross incompetence of the authorities is that
in trying to solve the problems that they created in the first place, they
have managed to create a worse problem. Out of nowhere we now have a refugee
situation in the country. Zimbabwe is the only country I know of in the
world where a serious refugee situation has been created by government
incompetence. In the Great Lakes region refugee situations are a result of
war and conflict, in other parts of the world refugee situations are created
by great natural calamities like earthquakes, tsunamis and floods. In
Zimbabwe our calamity has turned out to be the authorities.
not been providing extra housing for the past decade. Indeed they have
displayed a total lack of long-term vision. Even for the short-term they
seem to have no vision. Two days after the start of "Operation
Murambatsvina" some of us were predicting a refugee situation in Harare yet
the situation at Caledonia Farm seems to have caught the authorities by
surprise. Right now the authorities seem to be scrambling to take credit for
the work done by NGOs as evidenced by TV reports associating work done by
Christian Care and the Red Cross with the government. The same TV reports
use euphemistic terms like transit camp, newly allocated stands and so on to
describe Caledonia Farm in trying to mask the fact that it is a refugee camp
for people heartlessly thrown onto the streets by "Operation
And Caledonia Farm is only the tip of the iceberg.
Thousands of people are sleeping in the open in many suburbs of Harare.
People are sleeping besides their property among the rubble of their former
homes. Mbare is a particularly painful case with many people sleeping along
the banks of the Mukuvisi. The toll of "Operation Murambatsvina" in terms of
social strain is unquantifiable. Many children are no longer going to school
because they have no homes anymore. Some of them have been wrenched away
from their schools because their parents have had to relocate to far away
Another issue which no-one seems to care about, is that
operation Murambatsvina has managed to by-pass the judiciary, while
depriving people of their property, as well as denying people recourse to
the due process of the law. The police have become the prosecutors, the
judges and the executors all in one.
They decide what's illegal
without any proper reference to the laws they claim to be upholding. No
proper assessment of what's legal and what's illegal has ever been done. If
such an assessment had been done, then all people with illegal structures
would have received written notice and their properties would have been
ordered destroyed by a court competent enough to properly interpret the
As things stand, a recently graduated "Greenbomber" in a police
uniform is often the final authority in determining the fate of people's
property and other constitutional rights.
Disingenuous attempts have
also been made to draw parallels between "Operation Murambatsvina" and
"similar" operations supposedly taking place in South Africa and the United
Kingdom. I don't know anything about the South Africa operation but what was
reported in The Herald about the UK operation leaves it worlds apart from
Firstly the people involved in the UK have
illegally settled on private property. Many of the people affected in
operation Murambatsvina, have been paying rent and rates to various
authorities especially the Harare City Council. Why were the authorities
collecting money from illegally settled people?.
Secondly, the people
involved the UK operation had been given, not two hours, not two days, not
two weeks, not two months but two years written notice. They are even
enjoying the luxury of having gone beyond the two year deadline by a month
according to The Herald report. Most of the people involved in "Operation
Murambatsvina" have been given a little more than two minutes verbal
People are sleeping in the open completely exposed to the harsh
winter weather. The government is refusing to do anything to help such
people, maybe the UN can help knock some sense into their heads. While the
UN envoy's trip is a result of political pressure, I don't think "Operation
Murambatsvina" itself has much to do with politics.
The suffering it
is causing stems from the incompetence of the people who have been running
the cities, the incompetence of the people who planned the operation and
above all the incompetence of central government.