Massive humanitarian aid is needed as agriculture withers under Mugabe
COMMERCIAL farmers in Zimbabwe have been forbidden to farm on pain
of incarceration, states the latest directive of President Robert
The warning is tantamount to issuing a starvation directive
to the population since commercial agricultural production, and not
subsistence farming, feeds the people.
A Democratic Alliance
(DA) delegation to Zimbabwe led by Tony Leon learnt that this situation has
confirmed the worst fears of an impending catastrophe.
United Nations (UN) World Food Programme office in Harare stated that it
would be impossible to exaggerate the crisis. It is estimated that, in
Zimbabwe alone, between 5-million and 6-million people will suffer starvation
during the next six to nine months.
An estimated 1,8-million tons
of cereal, representing a 75% food gap, will have to be
This food gap the difference between minimum nutritional
requirements and what is available is the biggest in recent world history.
Two years ago in Ethiopia the gap was a mere 10% by comparison.
Dan Maluleke, DA spokesman on land affairs, marvelled at Mugabe's effrontery
in begging for food aid abroad while forbidding the production
It is generally believed drought is the cause of the
crisis, but this is simply not the case. Droughts are endemic to southern
Africa, have long since been allowed for by regional agricultural practices
and have never caused regional famine.
The present human tragedy
is man-made through the self-inflicted folly of the Zimbabwean regime that
has turned a regional breadbasket into a begging bowl.
office in Harare was opened in 1997 as a procurement centre for food
distribution elsewhere. As a result of the policy of Zanu (PF) this has now
been turned into the largest food aid centre in Africa, if not in
John Makumbe of Transparency International describes
the land policy as the "repeasantisation" of Zimbabwean society. It was
initiated in a bid to regain flagging popular support while simultaneously
removing one of the economic support bases of popular
The move displays a callous disregard or at best
complete ignorance of the disastrous consequences for food
The realities of this century are very different from the
past. Just since independence in 1980 the population of Zimbabwe has
doubled. Subsistence production can no longer feed the population. Urbanised
society needs commercial production for its nutritional needs.
The new settlers represented by well-off political insiders and socalled war
veterans simply do not possess the necessary skills to farm, as our visit
dramatically revealed. The fertile Mazoe Valley not far from Harare is a
snapshot of the larger picture in Zimbabwe.
In just two short years
this remarkable breadbasket has been turned into a begging bowl. Most of the
infrastructure such as dams, silos, orchards and horticultural units
developed since independence in 1980, and many farms acquired since then,
have been confiscated without compensation.
Farms have been
occupied by the likes of the governor of the province, the mayor of Bindura,
the wife of the chief of the army and the Zimbabwe ambassador to the
Even farmers' household goods are included in this theft. The
stolen implements, fertiliser, seed and fuel have been utilised to plant
some wheat. The yield from this will be neither sufficient nor sustainable.
We witnessed overflowing irrigation dams next to which oranges were
dropping off the trees and orchards were dying for want of
Of particular concern to us has been the targeting of
South Africanowned farming enterprises. We visited a project where an
irrigation dam was built in 1986 at a cost of R3m, enabling the
transformation of virgin bush into 2000ha of irrigated fields. We saw
irrigation fields overgrown with weeds and returning to bush.
Unlike the governments of Italy, Holland and Germany, SA's government has
done nothing to date to protect the interests of its nationals. The result is
that the management and staff of these farms have been chased off, dispersed
and added to the unemployed. The rural schools set up and maintained by
commercial farming enterprises have closed down, which must eventually result
in a lost generation like the South African experience of 1976.
The belief that the present land policy, described as "indigenisation", can
benefit the indigenous population is a fallacy. The policy requires replacing
4000 commercial farmers by untrained new settlers. Even if 100 settlers
replaced each commercial farmer, only 400000 people would be accommodated out
of 12-million people.
This will be a reduction in the total number
of people sustained by agriculture since it is estimated that 1,5-million
people formerly employed by commercial farmers will be
In addition to reduced agricultural output must be added
the reduction of industrial activity dependent on commercial agriculture. The
net result will be a meltdown of the economy in general and largescale
An immediate reversal of the present policy could
return the production of annual crops to previous levels quite soon. It is,
however, a different matter with regard to the production of orchards and
horticulture where a time lag of up to 10 years is involved. Likewise the
replacement of entrepreneurial and managerial skills, once lost, will require
The DA has been gathering the names of South
African citizens adversely affected by the land policies of Zimbabwe and is
in the process of providing these to SA's government. It is government's duty
to protect the interests of its citizens.
Botha is leader of the
DA in the Free State and the party's spokesman on
Jul 11 2002 12:00:00:000AM Andries Botha Business
Day 1st Edition
Spare a thought for those who bring
vegetables to your doorstep
7/11/02 7:59:20 AM (GMT
By Wellington Gadzikwa
WHILE many people have
been forced to resort to green vegetables due to the high cost of beef, have
you ever stopped to consider what goes on in the lives of those who bring the
"greens" to your doorstep?
Or are you at the forefront in launching
endless complaints and brickbats at vegetable vendors for
A rudimentary knowledge of pricing tells anyone that
$200 cannot buy enough meat for two people these days.
the prevailing economic hardships many people risk having their innards lined
green because of the persistent consumption of eating green vegetables, which
have become the only affordable alternative to meat.
vendors at Mbare Musika and those who sell at your doorstep, vending is not
just a job.
It's a way of life.
They work very odd
hours, brave the cold weather to go and collect the vegetables, and leave
their children unattended, yet society attaches little economic significance
to their work.
If you are one of those who hold such views it's
time you buried them for good.
Unbeknown to you, your boss or
some other business executives today might have been raised on money
generated from vending vegetables.
Bringing vegetables to your
doorstep or Mbare Musika is an extremely difficult process for those
Vegetable vendors are also affected by the harsh economic
conditions which are forcing people to resort to the produce they hawk on the
streets or other out of the way places.
James Muchemwa and Never
Chivhunga of Chihota in Mashonaland East sell vegetables in bulk to small
traders at Mbare Musika.
Things are not what they used to be - they
are unanimous on this point.
Transport costs have soared and
transporters now charge $12 to carry a bundle of vegetables.
addition they also pay $200 for their transport and $62 entrance fee into the
This is not all.
Vendors work late into the
night, braving the cold weather and in the morning they have to endure the
numerous comments from customers and risk losing some of their valuable
produce to thieves.
At present a bundle of vegetables now costs
between $70 and $75 - a price which is not inclusive of the amount of effort
needed to produce them.
If vendors were to charge a price that
would enable them recoup production and labour costs, the price of vegetables
would be much higher.
Charles Shonhiwa, also from Chihota said:
"With this price of $75, we are not making any profit because the price
should be $170 or more per bundle."
He said production costs had
risen for all their inputs, such as seeds, pesticides and fertiliser which he
said does not have a fixed price.
"The price of fertiliser
fluctuates between $2 000 to $2 500 and this negatively affects our profits,"
This harsh economic environment is affecting the lives of
vendors and those dependent on them and threatening the viability of the
informal sector which helps ease the country's unemployment
Amai Melody Kadyautumbe, a vegetable vendor from
Hatcliffe said vegetable vending has been her sole means of survival but now
life is really tough.
She spends $140 to travel to and from
Mbare Musika to buy vegetables for resale and in many instances she has to
sell her wares at a low price because of complaints from
Another problem is that vegetables are
The money she is getting now is not enough to pay rent,
school fees and food.
"My children are always being sent home
from school. The profits I am getting are not enough for me to buy
maize-meal, which is expensive on the black market."
Kadyautumbe said she would divide the $70 bundle she had bought between
herself and her daughter-in-law.
She would make three small bundles
to sell for $10 each.
Society seems to take the important role that
vendors play for granted.
It has to appreciate the enormous
difficulties vegetable vendors face in making sure that they bring this
affordable relish to our doorstep.
Jenifar Chiba who sells
vegetables by the roadside in Mbare said getting them is now a difficult and
It costs her $200 to buy a big bundle from which
she makes small bundles of three or five leafs for sale at $5
"I wake up at around 5am every morning in order to get the
vegetables and start selling from 8am up to 8pm, leaving our children with no
one to look after them."
Gamuchirai Dhliwayo, another vendor,
said in the past two weeks, vegetables have not been easy to obtain because
of the stiff competition from those who buy in bulk, popularly known as
makoronyera (unscrupulous middlemen).
She said the money she
makes has to cater for school fees and help in looking after other relatives
who have lost their breadwinners.
Although vending is not as
profitable as it used to be, she says she has to continue with the trade
since she has no other means with which to make ends meet.
Judith Mudimu, also from Mbare, said things were better last year and they
now record most of their major sales from the middle of the month up
to month-end when people do not have money to buy expensive
Dhliwayo became a vegetable vendor to augment her husband's
salary which is not enough to meet their basic needs, as well as to cushion
them against the effects of the tough economic environment.
she said on good days she can make a profit of $60 after ordering a big
bundle costing $150 "It's rare these days to realise such profits," she
Dliwayo said she only wished people would respect the prices
they set rather than haggle over them.
"Many people think we are
making a killing from selling vegetables, but that is not the case," she
Vendors endure the agony of engaging in running battles with
the municipal police, out to nab unlicenced vendors.
ever stop to wonder who will be looking after vegetable vendors' children
while the parents are engaged in this daily struggle
Their children also need parental care which is
often compromised by their absence from home while they eke out a living on
the streets, or the official vending stalls and other places within easy
reach of their customers.
These full-time vegetable vendors help
reduce unemployment by engaging maids to look after their children while they
are busy touting for customers to buy their produce.
Little recognition is given to them and the role they play in
reducing unemployment by the public.
Even so, vegetable vendors
are people who need to lead a good life, provide for their children's
education and put something away for their future, like everyone
Like all other workers they labour to meet the nutritional
needs of the hard-pressed Zimbabwean urban population.
The secret of survival in an African winter
7/11/02 7:41:37 AM (GMT +2)
you who know this part of the world will appreciate that at this time of the
year, the middle of our winter and just after frost, the winter veld consists
of nearly white grassland with a covering of trees still in leaf, but in
varying degrees of autumn colours.
Before I travelled abroad for
the first time, I was always struck by the opinion of visitors that Zimbabwe
was so colourful all-year round. I was in the lowveld recently and I must say
that the bush was looking magnificent: all the red and gold on the trees with
the golden grassland and red earth.
It always strikes me at this
time of the year that we have two plant species that come out in full colour
just when everything else is yellow, white and gold. Those are the aloes and
our bougainvillaea. The former is found in the most inhospitable places and
how they flower when things are so dry and barren I never know.
The bougainvillaea is another matter - an import that is planted all over our
towns and often grows into huge towers of spiky tendrils and leaves. At this
time of the year it comes out in full bloom and, to be frank, this year I
think the stuff has outdone itself. The city is ablaze with piles of
luminescent reds, purples, whites and pink. It's quite a sight.
In some ways this reflects the situation in Zimbabwe. We are in the middle of
winter - its dry and cold and everything is dead (or should be). It's a long
way to go to an uncertain wet season and sometimes we think it will never
come. All is dry and frosted. Nothing will grow.
Then suddenly you
find that the aloes in your backyard are in full flower.
to visitors who come to Zimbabwe for various reasons, they often comment that
this is such a resilient place. How do we keep going they ask? People from
the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund look at the numbers and
say to us: "You guys should be dead in the water, what keeps you
Well it's like the aloes and bougainvillaea - we have no
idea, but it happens and it's wonderful to watch.
Rhodesian war was at its height and I feared that the stubbornness of our own
politicians and the determination of the nationalist leaders would lead to a
scorched earth situation, I went to my chairman, Willie Margolis, and said to
him: "Surely there is something we can do to turn this situation
His advice disappointed me at the time. He said: "Eddie,
go back to your office and do your job to the best of your ability and in
that way you will help more than you know."
Disappointed, I did
just that and years later I realised what valuable advice that
In Zimbabwe there are thousands who are helping us keep the
country going in the middle of the present crisis, despite everything. I am
thinking about Dave Lasker and his company, Archer Clothing, who are one of
the premier manufacturers of clothing in Africa. Here they are in
Bulawayo, exporting 90 percent of their production to the most sophisticated
markets in the world, despite all the odds.
Lasker and his
family could be doing this anywhere, but they chose to do their thing here.
Recently, the Bulawayo Philharmonic Orchestra put on a concert - Mozart. The
music was just wonderful. Aloe flowers for us in the middle of this long
winter, no, rather a blaze of brilliant bougainvillaea.
of our workers have lost their jobs in the past three years.
other countries a 3 percent fall in employment would be a disaster.
Here it's met with certain stoicism. Some would say our people are too
patient, too accepting. They should be out there beating up their oppressors
and those responsible for all this suffering. How do they survive is the
A son in South Africa working a minibus route, a daughter
in a hospital in the United Kingdom. Each of them sending half their
earnings home to keep the family alive. Risking the crocodile-infested
Limpopo River to find work when there is none at home. Living in a tiny room
with no friends just to be able to save a bit of money and send it home.
These are millions of African aloe flowers in the dark of the African
A woman sitting in a street market from five in the morning
until late every evening. Buying her vegetables from the farmers at local
markets and then selling them to customers hurrying home. A single mother,
raising four children on her own. Determined to send them all to school and
to see them succeed.
A market woman selling her goods in South
Africa, sleeping rough and then returning to her home in Zimbabwe with a few
things for sale.
Bribing the Customs at the border, learning to
defend what is hers against thieves and the police. Using her natural
intelligence to work out exchange rates and prices that would baffle a
Breaking the law every day to survive and
looking after a sick brother and his children, all of whom will be her
responsibility when he dies.
A road worker underpaid and poorly
supervised who does his job on the roads to the best of his ability. The
unsung Director of National Roads in Zimbabwe who seems to do miracles with
his tiny budget and meagre resources. Whose staff are never seen idle and who
keeps the roads in a condition that would make the rest of Africa proud - and
he never gets any recognition for his work. Aloe flowers in the African
One day we are going to have to say thank you to all
those unsung heroes in our country who helped us keep going when the summer
rains seemed so far away. I well remember one such unsung hero, a simple
market woman who ran a stall at Mbare Msika (market). She raised four girls
on her own. All went to university and all became successful professionals.
Let me tell you, she is a real hero especially to her girls who eventually
clubbed together and bought her a house and allowed her to retire gracefully
when she could no longer work.
We are committed to standing
alongside these unsung heroes and ensuring that they can succeed beyond their
wildest dreams. Not through theft of other people's property or corruption,
but just by giving them an enabling environment that will allow them to do
what they know best.
Vendors will not be harassed and their goods
stolen by corrupt police.
Cross-border traders will be recognised
as major traders in their own right. Money changers will be respected for
their market skills and they will help us find and establish real values for
what we do and have. Africa is rich in these entrepreneurial skills, rich in
enterprise just where you least expect it. This is the secret of survival in
an African winter season.
President Mugabe, whose conduct during the recent
presidential election and State-backed land seizures attracted critical
international coverage took a back seat in most proceedings and was only
topical in the corridors of the summit to launch the African Union
A source in the South African Ministry of Foreign Affairs
said Mugabe and fellow Southern African Development Community (Sadc) leaders
attacking the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) did not have
the democratic credentials.
"These leaders are bent on
discrediting Nepad because they will be found wanting on the democratic
ideals enshrined in the proposed recovery programme."
openly challenged the Nepad conception of good governance in the Sadc
consultative meeting and was supported by presidents of Tanzania, Malawi,
Namibia, and Congo.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi put himself
firmly in the driving seat of the freshly launched AU by publicly asserting
that Africa was for the Africans and any white people who did not want to
serve the continent should pack their bags and leave.
the more than 40 000 people who had gathered in Durban's Absa Stadium, he
said: "We are now free wherever we are. Forgive white people. We are bigger
than them. They are free to go back to their lands if they do not like to
Gaddafi, who is largely viewed as the major
financier of the AU project, did not mince his words on issues of militant
positions when relating to the West.
"Now that the continent is
standing on its feet, we will transform it from a haven of booty hunters to a
continent of free people. Slaves have now become free and our struggles have
been our schools on which we will define our democracy good governance,
democracy and human rights," he said.
The assault on the West
reinforced the position that many Sadc heads of state had taken over the
weekend when they met privately to take a common position on Nepad,
spearheaded by South African President Thabo Mbeki.
Mbeki, who now
chairs the AU, said the launching of the Union constituted a special victory
celebration for the continent as a whole.
colonialism had sought to own and control Africa permanently, from Cape to
Cairo. African pride and courage ensured that Africans own and control Africa
permanently from Cape to Cairo . . . We must deepen our culture of collective
action," he said.
"Through our actions, let us proclaim to the
world that this is a continent of democracy, a continent of good governance,
where the people participate and the rule of law is upheld," Mbeki said.
Zimbabwe's deepening poverty seen worsening Aids
7/11/02 7:48:55 AM (GMT +2)
Chiwanza in Barcelona, Spain
TWO University of Zimbabwe academics
dealing with HIV/Aids yesterday said increasing poverty and unemployment in
Zimbabwe would worsen the epidemic as most poor people faced a higher risk of
HIV infection and death from Aids.
David Wilson is a professor
of psychology and Helen Jackson, a researcher and writer on the impact of
HIV/Aids on the African continent.
Jackson, the former director of
the Southern Africa HIV/Aids Information Dissemination Service, (SafAids),
said in an interview many displaced Zimbabweans, especially farm workers and
their families would lose their basic economic security and housing, and this
will increase their chances of contracting HIV infection, while those already
infected with HIV were likely to progress faster to full-blown
Wilson said it was a pity that the systematic use of rape and
violence as political tools had enormously contributed to the spread of
HIV/Aids in Zimbabwe. He said there were many vital lessons from the 14th
International Aids Conference which could not, unfortunately, be applied in
Zimbabwe because of the political crisis.
Jackson, who has been
actively involved in Aids work in Zimbabwe for the past 14 years, said: "One
of the side effects of the increasing poverty in Zimbabwe, the collapse of
the economy and the displacement of people is that the HIV/Aids epidemic will
She said the problem of Aids was unfolding in the
context of declining health services, critical drug shortages and a massive
brain drain making it more difficult to effectively support Aids patients.
Jackson has written a book entitled: Aids Africa-Continent in Crisis, which
takes a critical look at the devastating effects of Aids on the African
The book focuses on some of the hardest hit countries,
especially in Southern Africa, which is by far the worst affected region in
the world. It also explores the driving forces behind the epidemic, the
impact of HIV/Aids at different levels, and policies and programmes that make
Commenting on the book, Bummi Makinwa, the team
leader of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids, (UNAids), said "No
terrorist attack, no war, has ever threatened the lives of more than 40
million people worldwide. Aids does and this book documents the facts, the
stories and the data."
The 440-page book was published by
SafAids and will be officially launched during the ongoing 14th International
Aids Conference in Barcelona, Spain.
Dzirutwe Staff Reporter 7/11/02 9:32:18 AM (GMT +2)
Ministry of Agriculture has reduced sharply the money it is seeking to pay
compensation for seized commercial farms to only $1 billion in next year's
budget, down from more than $4 billion allocated in this year 's budget, it
was learnt this week.
According to figures seen by the Financial
Gazette this week, the agriculture ministry will this year seek just over $32
billion for its total budget, nearly two times the $16.9 billion allocated in
the current budget for the fiscal year ending in December.
Despite the increase in the overall budget allocation, the government will
only pay $1.3 billion as compensation for the commercial farms it is seizing
under its controversial reforms versus $4.2 billion allocated in the 2002
The figures confirm that the government, which has so far
taken nearly 90 percent of commercial farm land, will only pay compensation
for improvements made on the farms and not for the actual land.
The ministry's figures show that the government has paid $381 million in the
first quarter of this year as compensation for acquired
It was not possible this week to ascertain how
many farmers had been compensated so far.
The ministry has,
however, spent $4.86 billion of its $16.9 billion budget in the first quarter
It is also seeking $15 billion from Treasury to enable the
government to supply inputs to newly resettled farmers.
government last year announced that it had set up a $15 billion farm input
scheme but it later emerged that Treasury had only made available $6.6
As a result, hundreds of newly resettled farmers failed to
have inputs while many got them late.
The government has spent
$2.89 billion in the first quarter of this year in supplying the farm
The ministry is also seeking to increase its grants and
subsidies to the newly resettled farmers from $340 million last year to
Farm industry players who gathered in Harare this
week to debate the budget proposals of the agriculture ministry said the
funds being sought for the inputs were inadequate, adding that the ministry
should actually request up to $40 billion.
"We are worried that
the amount being sought for inputs is too little.
"This is because
we were looking at $150 billion for the whole (land reform) programme, which
would mean that we need $40 billion for farm inputs," an official of the
Zimbabwe Farmers' Union, which represents most of the newly resettled farmers
and peasants, said.
Made is on record as saying the government
needs $160 billion to effectively implement its agrarian reforms, but the
latest figures show a possible scaling down of the scheme.
Lovegot Tendengu, the executive director of the Farmers' Development Trust
(FDT) which trains small-scale tobacco farmers, said his agency was being
under-funded and urged the government to put more resources into
He said the FDT was now relying on donor funds
which were quickly drying up.
"We are grossly under-funded and
we are having to rely on donors and embassies for funding.
"Without the trained people, we cannot have the crops," he said.
Western aid donors and international lenders have cut off aid to Zimbabwe in
protest against its seizure of farms and failure to observe the rule of
They also say that the redistribution of the land is not
transparent or fair, charges the government rejects.
the Commercial Farmers' Union senior agronomist, said more financial
resources were needed to compensate farmers so the government could only
worry about production issues in the future.
He said the
agriculture ministry should also consider input support for most communal
farmers, hard hit by last season's drought.
But some retailers of
agricultural inputs say while the agriculture ministry is seeking $15 billion
for inputs, it is not yet clear whether the inputs will be adequately
available in the coming farming season.
An official at Farm and
City, one of Zimbabwe's largest retailers of such inputs, said the company
had not sold any seed and fertiliser between January and April this
He said since the introduction of price controls last
October, there had been a sudden decline in the supply of inputs to
"With the advent of price controls, we have not been
selling (because) there was a dry-up of inputs," the official said,
preferring not to be named.
"We are worried about the
availability of inputs like seed, crop chemicals and fertiliser.
"There were no sales throughout our branches (between January
News Editor 7/11/02 9:31:29 AM (GMT +2)
government is ratcheting up pressure on white farmers to stop farming in what
analysts this week said was the final onslaught on the country's food
security and its collapsing agro-based economy. With about four weeks
left before a government deadline on about 3 000 large-scale farmers to
vacate their land or face prosecution, the Harare authorities have upped the
ante against the farmers, charging 15 of them last week with defying an
earlier order to stop working their land.
"By destroying commercial
agriculture, we are making only one thing certain and that is poverty and
hunger will be with us," Harare-based consultant economist John Robertson
He added: "We are moving to a communal system of agriculture
abandoned even by the Russians. We can only damage our capacity to feed
ourselves through these actions."
Most analysts said the latest
crackdown on the farmers could spawn wider and deeper food shortages next
year. Half of Zimbabwe's 12 million people already face famine this year
because of a combination of drought and the government's seizure of
Under the controversial fast-track land reforms, which will
be completed by August this year, Harare has seized most land held
by large-scale commercial farmers ostensibly for redistribution to
President Robert Mugabe says the seizures are
necessary to correct inequities in land ownership created by Britain,
Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler, which saw about 45 000 white farmers
controlling nearly 70 percent of Zimbabwe's most fertile land.
But analyst this week said the government's action against the farmers was a
reckless move that would drive the last nails into the coffin of a farming
sector that was once the bread basket of southern Africa.
render Zimbabwe a perpetual recipient of foreign food aid, they
Zimbabwe is already begging for more than 500 000 tonnes of
the staple maize to feed six million people threatened with starvation, but
it has no foreign currency to import the food because of skewed economic
policies which have virtually killed the export sector.
International financial bodies such as the International Monetary Fund which
used to provide emergency balance of payments support have also cut off aid
in protest against Harare's policies, exacerbating a four-year-old economic
As well as the government's often violent land reforms,
farm operations in the agro-based economy have been disrupted by ruling ZANU
PF supporters who have occupied hundreds of farms in the name of land
hunger and with the government's open backing.
"In terms of food sufficiency, Zimbabwe's carrying capacity at the moment is
about 13 million people and this is largely because of our highly developed
commercial agriculture sector.
"If we completely destroy commercial
agriculture, we could reduce that carrying capacity to three million people.
What do you do with the rest of the population?"
farming disruptions, the largely white-dominated commercial farming sector
produced about 40 percent of Zimbabwe's total maize. Small-scale farmers,
most of them black, produced 60 percent of the staple food.
it is maize produced by commercial farmers that is exported to other
countries and also consumed by people in urban areas because most small
producers normally retain a large portion of their harvest for their own
The large-scale farmers also produced about 92 percent
of the wheat, also in short supply this year because of the upheavals on the
Economic experts say commercial agriculture accounts for
nearly a third of Zimbabwe's manufacturing sector.
Zimbabwe political science professor Masipula Sithole said Mugabe's crackdown
on the farmers just when Zimbabwe is already facing its worst food crisis was
the most dramatic sign yet of how his government was out of touch with
"The whole fast-track land reform, from start to finish,
defies logic," he told the Financial Gazette.
"With this latest
push against farmers, I do not know anymore that the government is in touch
with what is happening on the ground," he said.
Many farmers whose
land the government is targeting for seizure are leaving the country
following the latest orders that they cease all farming by mid-August,
raising fears of an even wider food crisis next year.
Commercial Farmers' Union, which represents the commercial farmers, says if
the government eventually takes all the land it has targeted, about 90
percent of its members will be left with no farms.
Many of the new
black farmers allocated land by the government have little or no commercial
farming skills while some of Zimbabwe's neighbours such as Mozambique have
been quick to woo the expertise of the displaced Zimbabwean
Agricultural authorities in Maputo last month said about
150 Zimbabwean farmers had successfully applied to farm in that
country's central Manica province.
Robertson said: "We are
returning the country to peasant agriculture again."
economist added: "What is going on in the country is self-hurting and clearly
BULAWAYO - Leonard
Mhlanga, ZANU PF's chairman for Bubi-Umguza in Matabeleland North, said
yesterday he had resigned from the ruling party to join the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
He is the first senior
official to quit ZANU PF since the staging of the disputed March presidential
vote won by ZANU PF leader Robert Mugabe.
Mhlanga's exit from ZANU
PF, two months before rural district council elections are held, dealt the
ruling party a severe blow in an MDC stronghold in which ZANU PF had claimed
it was winning back support lost in the 2000 parliamentary
"I have quit ZANU PF for life because it has nothing to
offer except confusion and ill-advised policies," Mhlanga told the Financial
Gazette hours after officially joining the MDC.
"I and many
Zimbabweans have endured a lot of ill-treatment from ZANU PF and I think its
time to call it quits and join a progressive party," he said.
Apart from being ZANU PF chairman for Bubi-Umguza in the past 10 years,
Mhlanga simultaneously held the post of security secretary for ZANU PF in
In 1995 he was elected the vice president of
the Association of Rural District Councils, a position he held for two
In the run-up to the March presidential ballot, ZANU PF's
self-styled war veterans claimed to have "fired" Mhlanga and seven other
Bubi-Umguza Rural District Council officials for allegedly sympathising with
the MDC and blocking the government's land reforms.
Asked why he
had decided to join the MDC now instead of doing so at its formation two
years ago, Mhlanga said: "People are leaving ZANU PF everyday. I am the
latest high profile person in the province to leave it.
time, I believed that ZANU PF had the capacity to right the wrongs in our
country but it has dawned on me that I was wrong all along. I have seen the
light. I speak as someone who should know because I have been with ZANU PF
since the (1987) Unity Accord."
Mhlanga predicted that villagers in
his area would follow suit and join the MDC.
"I am not there to
infiltrate the MDC but to help it get stronger. People now openly talk about
how they were hoodwinked into voting for ZANU PF in March. It will be clear
how much support the party has lost in the forthcoming district council
elections," he said.
Jacob Thabane, the MDC legislator for
Bubi-Umguza, confirmed the defection of Mhlanga.
"He joined the
MDC today and we are happy that he has seen the light. He is not the only one
in my constituency because ordinary villagers are doing it quietly," Thabane
said in a separate interview.
The MDC legislator said Mhlanga was
likely to stand on the MDC ticket in the council elections set for September
"People want him to stand as the candidate for Ward Two
elections in the constituency. ZANU PF is not taking people anywhere, even in
areas where it parcelled out land and launched its reign of
ZANU PF cadres in the province said Mhlanga's defection
was a non-event. "He is a bitter man. We are no longer in need of his
services," a senior ruling party official here said, preferring not to be
THE US government has
criticised Zimbabwe's detention last week of 15 farmers for allegedly failing
to obey orders to stop farming and the continuing drive by Harare to evict
farmers, saying this will reduce Zimbabwe's ability to provide food for its
"It is extraordinary that the government of Zimbabwe is
taking action to shut down operations on productive farms when, at the same
time, it has declared a national emergency to deal with widespread hunger and
possible famine," a US State Department spokesman said this
The 15 farmers were charged by the authorities last week
after they continued attending to their sugar crop in defiance of a June 24
government order requiring nearly 4 000 of Zimbabwe's biggest farmers to stop
farming or face prosecution.
The government issued the order,
under which the farmers must vacate their land by mid next month, using its
controversial Land Acquisition Act which bans financial compensation to
owners of farms that are being seized by the state.
Department said in a statement: "Even before this latest development, the
government's actions and policies had collapsed Zimbabwe's economy and caused
widespread suffering within Zimbabwe and the region.
destruction of Zimbabwe's agricultural sector will take years to fix, thereby
consigning Zimbabwe, once a prominent agricultural exporter, to the role of
food importer and aid recipient."
Zimbabwe is in the throes of its
worst economic crisis. It also faces mass starvation unless international
donors urgently provide more than 500 000 tonnes of food aid to feed more
than six million people - or half the population.
rains last season are blamed for causing food shortages in southern Africa,
food experts hold Harare's controversial fast-track land reforms and the
seizure of productive farms by its supporters largely responsible for its
The US, which has given US$27.5 million worth of food
aid to Zimbabwe since the humanitarian crisis emerged several months back,
said it would provide an additional 100 000 metric tonnes of food aid to
Zimbabwe and other drought-hit southern African states.
Harare - Britain said on
Wednesday it is spending £32m on humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe, facing
a famine that threatens millions of people.
The British High Commission
in Harare said its government had already provided £10m since September to
help address the food crisis and that another £22m was pledged last
While it described the aid as "apolitical," the high commission
nevertheless said that the famine in the southern African state was being
made worse by poor governance.
Britain, the fomer colonial power, has
been repeatedly accused by the government here of meddling in Zimbabwe's
internal affairs, by allegedly supporting the opposition to President Robert
The money is mainly being used to provide food through the UN's
World Food Programme (WFP) and several non-governmental organisations while a
small portion is being spent on health supplies through the World
"All humanitarian assistance from the British
government is apolitical, targeted on the basis of need alone," the
But it added: "While the British government recognises
the impact of drought in Zimbabwe, (International Development Secretary)
Clare Short has made it clear that, in our assessment, poor governance has
greately exacerbated the economic and social crisis."
In April Mugabe
declared a state of emergency to open the doors for international aid for
some 7.8 million people, including 5.4 million children.
African nations - Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia -
face serious hunger problems because of combinations of bad weather, poor
policy and conflict.
The latest UN humanitarian report on Zimbabwe,
published last week, said 5.5 million people in the population of 13 million
face famine. Zimbabwe needs to import a total of 1.8 million tonnes of food
to survive until the next harvest in 2003.
Zimbabwe's food shortages
have been blamed in part on a drought, and in part on Mugabe's tumultuous
land reforms, in which more than 90% of white-owned commercial farms have
been targetted for resettlement by blacks.
farming sector faces serious viability problems because of shortages of
stockfeeds, according to the chairman of the National Association of Dairy
Farmers, Stoff Hawgood.
Hawgood told the association's annual
general meeting in Nyanga at the weekend that the deepening shortage of
stockfeeds might force farmers to cut down on milk production or, in the
worst of cases, to downsize their herds.
He gave no figures to back
his assertion, but stated: "Unless addressed with urgency, this (the shortage
of stockfeeds) will result in further losses of production and potential
Dairy farmers use mostly silage and maize to feed their
animals but the country is experiencing a critical shortage of maize both for
animal and human consumption.
Maize production in Zimbabwe
slumped 60 percent last year because of poor rains and disruptions on farming
by government supporters who seized land from farmers.
all of the 500 000 tonnes of maize which the United Nations' World Food
Programme is mobilising from donors for Zimbabwe is earmarked for human
consumption, leaving livestock farmers with few
Hawgood said the acute shortage of
foreign currency in Zimbabwe was hindering efforts by farmers to import
At any rate, he noted, some of the stockfeeds had a
limited shelf life and could not be stocked in larger quantities for longer
"This problem can only be addressed by the importation of
raw materials, mainly for energy, in the form of maize and other
ingredients," Hawgood said.
Controls on the prices of milk
imposed by the government in October last year had only exacerbated problems
for dairy farmers, he noted.
"To further exacerbate an already dire
situation, milk is now under-priced on the supermarket shelves, creating an
above normal demand and thus compounding the shortage of milk."
Hawgood said milk producers were realising a return of $1.07 per every dollar
invested, which he said was just enough to break even.
He said the
dairy farming sector still had the potential to double production in the next
three years if there was an enabling environment and political
39-year-old OAU was to a large extent driven by what I could term a tinge of
Nkrumahism. "Seek ye first the political Kingdom and everything will be added
unto you", once remarked Kwame Nkrumah, the first independence leader of
Ghana. Thirty years later, Chinua Achebe, an eminent Nigerian
writer, observed: "We sought the 'political kingdom' and nothing has been
added unto us; a lot has been taken away." By then Nkrumah's statist and
authoritative political kingdom had produced disastrous economic consequences
for Ghana prompting a military regime to take over under the leadership of
Jerry Rawlings that immediately and authoritatively embraced IMF-World
Bank reforms to save the economy in the 1980s.
transformation of the OAU into the African Union modelled on the European
Union (EU) ushers in a new era. Essentially, African leaders committed
themselves to the dream of having an African parliament, an African central
bank, economic integration and an African court of justice, among other
things. However, foremost in the minds of the person on the street are
economic benefits that this entails. This raises the moot question: are there
bright prospects for African economic integration? A review of the necessary
conditions on a comparative basis with the mimicked EU model is imperative to
answer that question.
What underpinned European economic
integration was the sheer size of trade flows within the same region. In
contrast, trade among African countries is still insignificant. Trade blocs
such as the SADC, COMESA, ECOWAS, the Magreb Union and the East African
Community (recently resurrected) are yet to deliver meaningful benefits at a
regional level. Regional integration is still incomplete. Hence, expecting
continental wide integration could be akin to putting the cart before the
The degree of internal factor mobility is an essential
component for economic integration. For instance, labour skills move easily
and freely in the European Union. In Africa, by contrast, skills migrate
outside the continent instead. What is left is an increasing reservoir of
unskilled workers eking a living through use of porous borders and few
professionals with limited capacity to implement the ambitious continental
programme. In addition, private capital flees the continent to safer havens
in the West further denying the continent of investment necessary for any
meaningful economic integration.
Strong financial institutions
that underpinned European integration are absent in Africa. The credibility
of Bundesbank, the German central bank, and the stability of its currency,
the D-Mark, played a central role to the birth of the euro. A similar
parallel is yet to emerge in the African continent where international trade
transactions are mostly conducted in Western hard currencies and central
banks have no track record of pursuing price stability free from political
African economic integration is a worthy goal but the
necessary conditions need to be nurtured. Presently there is too much
fragmentation, even at regional level. However, a dream and a sustained
effort to realize it is the cornerstone of development. What is expected from
African leaders by their people is NOT again thirty years down the line to
ask in despair: what has been added to the political kingdom?
The pressing business for Africa now, and perhaps its salvation, lies in the
strengthening of the rule of law, property rights, human rights, civil
society and political liberalization to put an end to despotic, inefficient
and corrupt political economies. The Nepad project that is underpinned by
sound economic principles, governance and accountability is a good start.
Whilst the African Union dream is likely to be bogged down
by transformational problems (from an entrenched OAU liberation mindset),
the Nepad project is a novel idea. The danger is that it might be
made subservient to the African Union dream. The credibility of Nepad depends
on being a parallel project free from political posturing from
the heterogeneous members of the African Union.
Daniel Makina is
a lecturer of finance at the University of South Africa.
To be a
journalist in Zimbabwe is obviously to be involved in a very risky business,
especially so if you are not from the state media.
The spate of
arrests and beatings that have occurred, thanks to Jonathan Moyo's nefarious
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), are enough to
make the media fraternity in Iraq think it is independent and
protected. Despite all the dust that has been kicked up about the
AIPPA, the journalists' unions as well as the ordinary journalist are
behaving in a manner that falls slightly short of being labelled
"relaxed". The Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe (IJAZ)
as well as the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) have existed only in name
in the middle of the turmoil that is being unleashed by the government on
the all-important profession of journalism. There are no obvious
actions that seek solidarity with the violated journalist and there is no
effective lobbying to the effect of making the public and government aware
that the harassment of journalists has to stop. A question that emerges
is why the journalists' unions seem to have run out of steam so early on in
the race for freedom of expression. The first reason is perhaps the
most obvious. This is that because Zimbabwean journalists are polarised
along the lines of state-owned media versus the privately owned
media. ZUJ has been having problems trying to balance its membership
from both sides of the media industry. At a MISA Zimbabwe organised
demonstration against the AIPPA at the Parliament of Zimbabwe in February,
the absence of media personnel from the state-owned media was glaring and the
attendance by personnel from the private media was almost expected.
Journalists in the state media gave their reason for non-participation as the
proverbial "one cannot bite the hand that feeds them". Apparently it
was tantamount to seeking a sacking from the omnipotent Minister of
Information to have been seen any where close to that demonstration.
Moreover, the state media journalists have avoided any other pro-freedom of
expression activities for fear of victimisation. In such circumstances,
it is difficult to envision an effective ZUJ in the processes of acquiring
freedom of expression in Zimbabwe. The Independent Journalists'
Association of Zimbabwe has not fared much better either but this is for
other reasons, the most significant of which is the general inability of the
union to prove itself a better option against the recalcitrance of
ZUJ. IJAZ is a fairly quiet union that raises its head occasionally
through Press statements. This leaves most journalists with limited
options but to look to ZUJ for representation. Unlike ZUJ, IJAZ does
not have any significant national presence, a situation that lessens the
impact of the union on challenging government policies. ZUJ, on the
other hand, does not put its national presence to good use. Its
members in smaller towns are not sure what is in AIPPA as well as how it
affects them. Either way the journalists' unions have left their
membership high and dry and seem to be taking too long to deal with pertinent
issues of the day. As such, the Lenin like question must be asked,
"What is to be done?" To deal with the problem of polarisation, the
journalists, unions need to strengthen their individual membership
base. Leadership is an important component of any union but the
leadership of the unions has tended to be more symbolic than anything
else. Over the years, there has developed a subtle power sharing
agreement between the unions where the public media get the presidency of a
union while the independent media get the secretary general
position. This has not helped in alleviating the unnecessary
polarisation of people in the same profession and has severely compromised
the impact of individual membership that the organisations are founded
upon. The rivalry between the state-owned and the privately-owned media
has subsumed the ordinary member of the unions and thus rendered the
latter politically weak. This is not to dismiss the democratic
importance of such rivalry but the extent to which it has been carried is not
progressive. The leaders of IJAZ and ZUJ must come to terms with this
failure and bridge the divide between individual membership and that of media
companies, effectively reviving linkages with individual members across the
country and re-affirming the importance of having union representation at
this stage in the history of the journalists' profession in Zimbabwe can do
this. The unions must also engage in training programmes for their
members regardless of whether they come from the state or private
media. These training programmes must distinctly feature themes such
as freedom of expression, the importance of an objective media industry in
the country as well as media law reform. Once these programmes are
started, the profession will start having a semblance of unity and a sense of
purpose. It will also be able to create political space for itself
unlike at present where journalists are being subjected to the most draconian
laws without fighting back. Besides just working for the advancement
of freedom of expression and a less politically interfered with media, the
unions must also pursue strict unionist agendas of collective bargaining, job
actions and union caucuses. This will enable them to function with
fluidity and adequate recognition from the individual journalists.
Added to this, the ordinary union member will realise that their monthly or
yearly subscriptions to the unions are worth it. Another significant
area where the unions need to improve is in their ability to hold free and
regular elections in line with their constitutions.
should change on a reasonably regular basis in order to allow that there be
dynamism in the unions. Without that the unions are bound to become
sterile and repetitive of different strategies to protect their
interests. The unions must also keep their links with organisations
such as the Southern African Media Development Fund (Samdef), Media Institute
of Southern Africa (MISA), Southern African Journalists Association (Saja)
and a host of other international or regional organisations alive.
To have links with international media organisations should not be construed
as a competitive issue as is the case at present. The links are merely
strategic links that seek to protect and promote freedom of expression and
the independence of the media. Takura Zhangazha is a freelance writer
based in Harare.
African Union: is it a union of democrats or
Masipula Sithole 7/11/02 6:54:56 AM (GMT
WHEN I asked Albert for suggestions on this week's topic,
he uncharacteristically pleaded insanity for there was nothing exciting
during the weekend except the acknowledgement by His Excellency on Sunday
that we are increasingly isolated.
"Zimbabwe needs friends," he
said at the instance of a send-off for visiting Ethiopian Prime Minister
Remember the time we had many friends visiting our
President? Pictures lined up all over the place. We even had to replace the
old airport building with a larger one by the side for being old and ugly.
Now we have a beautiful and modern "international airport" by any standards,
but no visitors!
All because of these British imperialists and
their dogs running around telling other countries not to be our friends.
Pamberi nekushinga macomrades! Forward with perseverance
But for how long can we continue in this
"May be you can write about the Durban meeting,"
said Albert, sounding dejected.
"All the African dictators are
descending on Durban," he added, wanting to be unkind.
on the Durban meeting. Moreover, the President was there too. More
importantly, the ZBC "diplomatic correspondent" (you know who?) would be
bombarding us with reports from Durban as if the whole country was in
African leaders were in Durban to bid farewell to a
moribund organisa-tion and to welcome another. I don't mean "another
moribund" organisation for I have a lot of faith in the African Union (AU).
Those who wanted Zimbabwe to have been on the agenda were mistaken because
this was a swearing in ceremony.
Zimbabwe will be on the African
Union's agenda sooner than people realise. I saw it in the President's rather
sombre and reflective demeanour as he sat among familiar colleagues in the
I watched with nostalgia an organisation I had
known throughout my life pronounced dead and a new one replacing it.
Political and economic historians will assess the Organisa-tion of African
Unity (OAU) differently. This is as it should be.
Let us admit
it, the OAU started with a promise of deliverance - "deliverance" from the
evils of colonialism and usher in the "good life" for the African people. But
we know, don't we, that we ended up more miserable than under colonialism as
one decolonised country after another replaced colonial oppression with
indigenous oppression as the continent regressed into unchecked dictatorship
I understand why a foreigner would oppress,
exploit and even kill us. But I don't understand why, after colonialism, we
should oppress, exploit and kill our own people as we have done during the
past 39 years of the OAU.
Moreover, I for one question the
"decolonisation" success story being showered all over the OAU.
Decolonisation would have occurred with or without the OAU, as indeed
happened with most countries that got their independence in the
And for those that got their independence or majority rule
later - the former Portuguese colonies, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa -
it was more the result of bilateral relations that the liberation movements
had with a "patron" country than with the OAU per se that was crucial. Those
who were in the liberation movements at the time know what I am talking
Not to say the OAU did not help. Of course it did, but the
proportion is often, and in this case, exaggerated. Otherwise the OAU was
a disappointment that the AU must not be.
For instance, did you
know what happened to Dialo Telli, the first secretary-general of the OAU
from Guinea (Conakry)? He was suffocated to death by drawing him in a prison
cell at the hands of Sekou Toure, one of the founding fathers of the OAU,
because he dared challenge him for the presidency of Guinea.
a voice of censure from fellow OAU heads of state, presumably because of the
"non-interference" clause in the OAU Charter!
The spate of military
coups that were to take the lives of such luminary founding fathers of the
OAU like Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah and Ethiopia 's Emperor Haile Selassie, who
donated Addis Ababa to be the capital of the OAU, and many other lesser
mortals were met with a mixture of glee and joy by the OAU as the continent
bled to death in internal strife and conflict.
The OAU did not
censure mad men in office like Emperor Bokassa of the Central African
Republic and Uganda's Idi Amin Dada, who messed up that beautiful country
beyond normal repair. Amin even assumed the chairmanship of the OAU during
the height of his madness over the Indian community and the British
Not to say anything about corruption in high places
during OAU's 39 years. Mobutu Sese Seko is known for always boasting at OAU
summits that he was "only the sixth richest man in the world" and that most
of his wealth was in Europe. Mobutu was the envy of many African heads of
state who emulated and sought to outdo him in public corruption.
Countless other bizarre stories can be recounted in the OAU days
like political opponents being thrown into the Shire River to the delight
of hungry crocodiles in the late Kamuzu Banda's Malawi, et cetera. Were
the African leaders gathered in Durban not aware of these excesses in
their evaluation of the OAU? Decolo-nisation, chete chete!
new organi-sation that replaces the OAU should do better, much, much better.
And it is poised for that. This is why.
If anything, we have
learned from our past mistakes and we are conscious of it. The OAU was
largely an organisation of "united" autocrats; there were no democrats in
Julius Nyerere of Tanzania? May be. Sir Seretse Khama and
Ketumile Masire of Botswana? May be. Gabon and Mauritius? May be? Zimbabwe?
Either than regular elections, there is nothing else in them.
the AU a "union" of yet another set of incompetent "autocrats"?
all fairness, I detect a new political environment on the African continent.
Some at the Durban meeting were aware of this changed environment; others
suspected it, including Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
There was the New
Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) group and the "other" group at
the Durban meeting. Let us talk about the AU and NEPAD subsequently but next
week let's talk about three models of union formation - the United States of
America, the European Union and the AU.
Sithole is a lecturer of political science at the University of Zimbabwe and
director of the Harare-based Mass Public Opinion Institute.
ONCE again last week, the government sought to
deflate mounting public criticism of its reckless policies which have
singularly killed a prosperous country.
As usual, the
administration had to find scapegoats on which to heap blame for its own
stark misdeeds and failures.
This time it had to be Finance
Minister Simba Makoni and Reserve Bank governor Leornard Tsumba, caught short
because they are political lightweights and are unwilling to be dragged down
the road of ruinous policies which have marked this government's 22 years in
Their crime? They are being accused of not clamping down on
the parallel market, which the government blames for the foreign currency
crisis afflicting the country.
And yet all in Zimbabwe know - or
should know - that the shortage of hard cash is none other than the
government's own creation.
President Robert Mugabe's persistent
refusal to devalue the local dollar, overpriced by more than 100 percent
against the currencies of Zimbabwe's major trading partners, is a key cause
of the forex crisis.
No doubt, the drying up of balance of payments
support for Zimbabwe and the poor performance of the country's exports have
magnified the crisis.
But no one should doubt that Zimbabwe will
continue to be ravaged by forex shortages so long as Mugabe sticks to his
guns on the issue of devaluation.
A more realistic exchange rate
which factors in the inflation differentials between Zimbabwe and its key
trading partners is needed urgently. Obviously a devaluation would need to be
accompanied by other sensible measures to try to revive the
As things are now, the President's stance runs counter to
efforts that seek to promote exports, themselves stunted by runaway inflation
and the high cost of money caused by the government's free
Needless to say, the government's seizure of productive
private commercial farms and other contentious governance issues have
been responsible for the flight of international financial lenders and
investors, leaving Zimbabwe to its own devices.
parallel market is thriving in Zimbabwe largely because any shortages are
bound to create such a market anyway and, ironically, because some in high
places could be benefiting from deals that are made there.
harsh reality of the forex crisis, just as too many others breathing down on
what was once Africa's most promising economy, is that it merely dramatises
that things have gone badly wrong in Zimbabwe.
They cannot go on
this way for much longer. There is so much palpable human misery that, no
matter what the government's spin doctors say, something has simply to give
With nearly 80 percent of the population already living below
the poverty line, the nation is being tormented further by man-made famine in
a rich farming country.
It is being tormented further by the
fact that the few essential goods which are still available are now beyond
the reach of most, many of them unemployed.
It is being
tormented further by the fact that many in the land have been forced to flee
their homes as political violence and intimidation menacingly stalk
The only thing in abundance are mountains of paper
stacked in various government offices showing the result of this or that
government inquiry on this or that project, many of them only pipe dreams
In the midst of the searing pain, crisis-weary and patient
Zimbabweans are keeping their heads firmly down, too afraid of the long
threatened iron fist and too busy to worry about their basic freedoms while
they struggle for bare existence.
They are praying and hoping
that, one day, there will be deliverance, true to the biblical
They are, to all intents and purposes, placing their hopes
and fate in the hands of God.
As the African Union was born in
Durban this week amid hopes of better economic and political governance on a
continent sapped by civil strife and hunger, Zimbabwe stood out alone as the
chief spoiler, its soiled human rights and governance record in
leader Morgan Tsvangirai has urged African leaders gathered in Durban for the
launch of the African Union (AU) to make a fresh start and not allow
dictators among them to get away with murder.
The AU was launched
on Tuesday by 40 African heads of state.
Unable to attend the
ceremony, Tsvangirai instead delivered a video-taped message saying the
biggest challenge for the AU was the "illegitimate" government of President
The Movement for Democratic Change leader said he
told the leaders through the videotape: "The meeting of the AU heads of state
presents an opportunity for Africa to make a fresh start. Dictators must not
be allowed to get away with murder.
"The situation in Zimbabwe
will test the AU's moral integrity, credibility and commitment to democracy
and human rights."
Zimbabwe has become a pariah state following a
violent parliamentary election in 2000 and a heavily flawed presidential
election in March this year.
The international community has
refused to recognise the results of the presidential vote, accusing Mugabe of
stealing it and unleashing terror on members of the opposition. Mugabe
rejects the charges and says he won fairly.
Zimbabwe is the biggest test for the AU, which has embraced a new economic
blueprint known as NEPAD which seeks to entrench good governance.
THE High Court
yesterday dismissed an application by the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) for an order compelling the Registrar-General, Tobaiwa Mudede,
to give the party the electronic version of the voters' roll.
The full reasons for the dismissal of the application were not available
yesterday when Justice Susan Mavangira delivered a ruling made by Justice
Citing the Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC) Parliamentary Forum's norms and standards which seek free and
unimpeded access to the voters' roll, the MDC had sought an order to force
Mudede to give it the voters' roll in electronic form.
is challenging the result of the March presidential election controversially
won by President Robert Mugabe.
By the time the election was held,
the MDC did not have the voters' roll.
Since the announcement of
the poll results, there has been controversy and confusion over the total
number of votes cast, with the MDC saying the figures were not
MDC spokesman Learnmore Jongwe yesterday said his party
would take its case to the Supreme Court after hearing the full reasons for
the dismissal of its application.
"One can only assume that the
registrar-general's office and the Mugabe regime have much to hide by
refusing to hand over a copy of the electronic version of the voters' roll,"
"We have long argued that the voters' roll is not only in
shambles, but has been deliberately crafted so that the numbers of voters can
be inflated to increase ZANU PF's vote count."
international campaign calling for fresh presidential polls in Zimbabwe under
international supervision was launched this week.
Zimbabwe", the campaign is supported by a website located at www.zimbabwenews. org.
It seeks to attract a broad range of audiences, including the newly formed
African Union, the SADC, the Commonwealth, the United Nations and
According to a statement from concerned Zimbabweans
living in or outside the country, the campaign will also seek support among
leading global aid agencies, non-governmental organisations and human rights
"The campaign recognises that the present crisis in
Zimbabwe is related to a crisis of governance owing to the illegitimacy of
the Mugabe regime," the group said.
"This crisis manifests
itself in a number of ways. The country's economy is on the verge of
collapse, at least 70 percent of the country's population is unemployed as
industries close down and about 80 percent of Zimbabweans live below the
poverty datum line."
The campaign calls for an orderly land reform
programme that is managed by a non-partisan land commission.
says Zimbabwe is facing starvation because of a drought and Mugabe' s
misplaced policies in dealing with the land question.
turned a genuine national demand for equitable land redistribution into a
political dice, sponsoring violence and resulting in the hunger and
starvation that the nation faces today," the group said.
Bankers said the sector was rife with
rumours of the step after criticism in the state media that the finance
ministry and central bank had failed to curb the thriving black market, where
the Zimbabwe dollar trades at a fraction of its official value.
"The market deduction of this criticism is that we should expect a
new policy, but unfortunately I don't think that policy will address
the fundamental problems that we are facing (or) increase exports and
earnings and set a realistic exchange rate," one senior banker
"Instead of measures to reverse the current decline and
incentives to grow the economy, I think we are going to get more controls on
the little money we are still getting," he said.
In June, the
Zimbabwe dollar plunged by nearly 50 percent on the unofficial parallel
market to between 600 and 800 to the US dollar.
This compares with
an official exchange rate of 55 against the dollar, which has been in place
for two years.
Neither the government nor the central bank - which
has traditionally always refused to be drawn into market speculation - has
commented on the rumours.
Private banking officials, who all
refused to be named, said they expected the new policy to order the
liquidation of all private foreign currency accounts (FCAs), held by
corporates and individuals.
They also expected the government to
scrap a facility where some exporters can retain 30 percent of their foreign
exchange earnings to finance vital imports, and to centralise the management
of foreign currency at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Bank was looking at allocating any available foreign currency in the
following order - 40 percent for fuel and electricity imports; 20 percent for
essential imports such as maize and drugs; 20 percent for an export-revolving
fund and the remaining 20 percent for general allocation, they
The banking industry also expects President Robert Mugabe to
approve a crackdown on a black market that has mushroomed over the last two
years, after the exchange rate was fixed.
Zimbabwe is mired in
its worst recession since independence in 1980 and foreign currency reserves
have shrunk dramatically, with the country now living from hand to
The government has not serviced its foreign debt - now
estimated at $700 million - for about a year.
The crisis began
in February 2000, when pro-government militants, led by veterans of the 1970s
liberation war, began invading white-owned commercial farms.
Mugabe's government has said it wants to correct imbalances in land ownership
created by British colonialism, but the country is now facing a severe food
shortage caused by the disruptions to farming, coupled
Farmers say they support land redistribution but
are opposed to the methods employed by Mugabe, Zimbabwe's ruler since the
former Rhodesia gained independence from Britain in 1980. - Reute
BULAWAYO - ZANU PF's
war veterans in Matabeleland South have seized the Matobo Rural District
Council after expelling its three senior officials, including the chief
executive, for allegedly frustrating the government's land reforms, witnesses
Speaking from Maphisa Business Centre, the head
offices of the council which is about 100 kms south of here, the witnesses
said groups of war veterans were patrolling the area near the council's
office after "sacking" its officials on Friday.
ratepayers, complaining no senior council official was able to handle their
grievances, also phoned this newspaper yesterday to protest against the
The witnesses said the veterans had fired
council chief executive officer Ernest Ndlovu, assistant chief executive
officer Joseph Ngulu and Tapson Ncube, an executive officer in charge of
The veterans also sent home the acting district
administrator for Kezi, Mathew Nkomo, and an unnamed official working for the
state-run Agritex. The two were also accused of blocking the government's
land reforms because they were opposition followers.
Kezi is a
small centre not far away from Maphisa.
overwhelmingly voted for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
in the June 2000 parliamentary elections.
Lovemore Moyo, the MDC's
legislator for the area, yesterday criticised ZANU PF's reported actions,
saying the ruling party was intensifying its persecution of the province's
villagers and civil servants suspected to be backing the MDC.
said he had received numerous calls from angry constituents over the
disruption of the council's offices as well as the harassment of the district
administrator for Kezi.
"A lot of people are failing to do their
business at the council offices because of the absence of key personnel,"
Moyo told the Financial Gazette.
"It is up to the governor,
Stephen Nkomo, to deal with the rot because these ZANU PF war veterans are
taking the law into their own hands. We can't have uneducated people
dictating to chief executives and senior officials how to do their
None of the sacked officials could be reached for
comment yesterday. Governor Nkomo was said to be attending a meeting in
Gwanda, further away from Maphisa.
This is not the first time
that the veterans, many of them too young to have fought in the 1970s
independence war, have interfered with the running of local government
offices in Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South.
they chased away the chief executives of Lupane and Tsholotsho in
Matabeleland North. They also force-transferred a provincial administrator
from Gwanda in Matabeleland South to Harare. The three were accused of being