Mutsakani News Editor 7/4/02 11:19:40 AM (GMT +2)
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, at his wits' end as he confronts a
deepening economic and political crisis, has threatened to seize private
businesses he accuses of sabotaging the economy to incite Zimbabweans to
rebel against his government. But analysts this week said such a
move could spell his administration 's quickened downfall.
government is grappling with its most dangerous crisis since winning power in
1980, dramatised by severe food and foreign currency shortages, isolation by
the international community and swelling support for opposition-led mass
protests to force a re-run of a presidential election controversially won by
Mugabe two months ago.
Political scientist Masipula Sithole echoed
a widely held view this week when he said nationalising industries would be a
blind move that could ignite the demise of Mugabe's 22-year-old
"It is a demise that is increasingly looking
inevitable any how," said Sithole, a political science lecturer at the
University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and also head of the Institute of Mass Public
Opinion, a Harare-based political think-tank.
More than half of
Zimbabwe's population of 12 million faces starvation unless the international
community urgently provides more than 500 000 tonnes of the staple maize and
other basic foodstuffs to the southern African nation.
which became scarce two weeks ago prompting Mugabe's threats to take over the
salt-making firms, is only one in a long list of basic commodities such as
sugar, cooking oil, soap and even essential drugs and medicines which are now
rare in Zimbabwe.
Bread, seen as an alternative to maize-meal, is
also becoming scarce because of shortages of wheat, sugar and
UZ business studies professor Tony Hawkins said a Soviet
Union-style seizure of private firms in the era of the free-trade global
village would have dire consequences for an already collapsing economy and
could not be an option for the government.
But Hawkins was quick
to point out that Mugabe's threats should be taken seriously, if only because
of the seizure of private farms by the government and its supporters which
the 78-year-old President had often threatened before.
unthinkable, but what is happening in agriculture was also unthinkable.
Perhaps one should not get surprised if one of these days these latest
threats are followed through," the highly respected economist said.
Last week the government scaled new heights in its often chaotic land reforms
when it gave about 3 000 of the country's largest producing farmers a 45-day
ultimatum to stop farming and vacate their land or
Coupled with last year's poor rains, the
government's fast-track land reforms and the illegal farm seizures by its
supporters are largely blamed for Zimbabwe's worst food crisis.
Critics say Mugabe and his government - and not private businesses - should
be held directly responsible for the food shortages and economic ruin because
of their skewed land policies, bloated human rights record and
harsh crackdown on political opponents and the media, all which have combined
to scare away foreign investors and capital.
Most of the
remaining foreign investors abandoned Zimbabwe during the run-up to the
violent March presidential vote when pro-government militants invaded
companies, forcing employers to award salary hikes to workers and to re-hire
But Hawkins said if this time round Mugabe was
to follow through his threat and take over companies, such a step could be
the last straw to break the back of an economy that only a few years ago was
one of Africa's most promising.
"For example, the government is
unable to provide capital for its own companies and parastatals (partly
state-owned firms)," Hawkins noted.
"Where would it get the money
to run theses business, let alone the managerial expertise
State-funded firms such as the National Railways of
Zimbabwe (NRZ), the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) and the Grain
Marketing Board are regularly rocked by scandals and financial woes which
critics say can be traced to the ruling ZANU PF's politics of patronage of
appointing incompetent party followers to head these.DiDter
Hawkins said: "The government's threat to seize companies is pregnant with
disaster in that whatever the government has taken over has never worked
again. Look at Air Zimbabwe, NRZ and NOCZIM."
Sithole said any
escalation of the economic hardships already tormenting Zimbabweans could
only turn Mugabe's worst fears into reality -a socio-economic driven
Such hardships would make Zimbabweans much eager to
support mass protests against the government if the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) were to go ahead with its threatened mass
The MDC says it will call mass protests at any time now to
force a re-run of the March ballot, which the opposition party and the
international community say Mugabe stole from MDC leader Morgan
Although Mugabe insists that he won relatively free and
fair polls, the international community has responded by imposing travel bans
and other sanctions on the veteran leader and his inner circle, increasing
the siege on the troubled country.
AS chickens predictably come home to roost, an
infuriated President Robert Mugabe chooses not to see them and to learn the
hard lessons of the past which they bring.
threat to seize companies which he accuses of causing shortages of foodstuffs
not only fails to address the underlying causes of Zimbabwe's descent into
deeper economic turmoil but highlights the failure of
Instead of taking a hard look at the trigger of the
ever widening shortages, the President has decided to use the iron fist
symbolised by his numerous recent threats to try to resolve a policy issue
which emanates from none other than his own administration.
shortage of salt, only the latest to afflict crisis-weary Zimbabweans, has
been caused by the government's own price controls re-introduced with much
defiance last October.
We advised at the time and we do so again
that no business will thrive under price controls, more so in the highly
inflationary climate of Zimbabwe that fuels galloping costs of
If hoarding or any other economic crime is being
committed by any company, let it be punished fully under the
In the case of salt, it was none other than salt-maker
National Foods which told the government the amounts of stocks it held, which
it wanted to be re-priced before being distributed. There is no suggestion
therefore that the company was hoarding the salt.
week's state seizure of the limited salt that is available, has anyone in the
government for example mapped out what will be done afterwards when National
Foods is forced to close down because it can no longer find the hard currency
it requires to import the ingredients needed to manufacture the
At any rate, the takeover of National Foods or any other
company by the government will certainly not resolve the economic crisis but
only exacerbate it.
Just witness the financial and management
chaos which have marked the running down of virtually all state-owned firms,
which have proven to be a severe strain on the national fiscus, and you can
be certain that National Foods would go down the same route.
government must simply go back to the drawing board to do what it hates most:
to abolish the stifling price controls if commodities of any nature are to
continue to be on the Zimbabwe market.
For goods and services to be
available at affordable prices, this requires that the government acts with
resolution on restoring stability to Zimbabwe's blighted macro-economic
Crucially, as we have stated too often before, this
requires that the government brutally cuts down its runaway spending which
has triggered an unsustainably high budget deficit which is fuelling rampant
inflation and crippling interest rates.
No amount of threats by
Mugabe or anyone will ease Zimbabwe's economic crisis unless these very basic
measures are wholeheartedly taken on board by the government.
Indeed the issue of food shortages now stalking Zimbabwe is not different to
the salt saga.
The wholesale seizure of productive farms by the
government and its supporters in the name of land hunger is the chief cause
of the present famine, which tragically affects half the population. The
drought is only one of the factors.
As everyone now knows,
Mugabe and his government would brook no one who at the time called for a
halt to the fast-track land reforms, and the result is there for all to
The farm seizures have not only deprived Zimbabweans of food,
but are threatening the very survival of the country's single biggest export
of tobacco, which earns the foreign currency now desperately in short
The hard cash crisis threatens to shut down the entire
economy and yet, once again, the government defiantly marches ahead to evict
vastly experienced tobacco farmers from their land in the name of addressing
a colonial injustice.
No sensible person questions the need for
redistributing land to Zimbabwe's dispossessed black majority, but the
violent and chaotic nature of the reforms which have disrupted farming and
triggered the country's worst food crisis.
Is it too much to ask
Mugabe and the government to learn from the painful lessons of the land
reforms so that they do not repeat the same mistakes by taking over
productive private companies?
currencies fall dismally against major currencies, speculators are mentioned
in the culprit search.
Remember the first major fall of the
Zimbabwe dollar on Friday November 14 1997 ( The Black Friday)? Who was
Recently in neighbouring South Africa when the
rand lost 17 percent of its value in December 2001, the Myburgh Commission of
Inquiry was set up to investigate the causes. Once again currency speculators
were at the fore and at one time described as "profiteering opportunists
bereft of ethics."
On the other hand a talk about economic growth
is incomplete if the term investors has not yet been mentioned.
Investors are regarded as the key to business expansion that ultimately
translates to economic growth.
Only last week I advised a friend to
invest on the stock market and he gave me the remark "No that's gambling. You
know I don't like gambling." But then this is not true.
drawing examples from stock market activity let us make a distinction between
investors, speculators and gamblers.
An investor is one who puts
his money into a fund or stock because he understands the business the
company he is investing in is into and believes the company will be
For example one can invest in a counter Boleh Plc
(listed) with an optimistic view about its profit and also its dividend. Such
an investment decision is usually based on sound fundamental analysis of the
company in question and is usually held with a long term view - can be up to
A speculator takes unusually high risks in order to
make unusually high returns if he is successful.
investor a speculator cares less about the company dividends and profits. For
example one may commit huge amounts of money in a stock temporarily in
expectation the share price will go up in value then he sells the
A speculator cares nothing about the company underlying
stock, whatever he may know about it. It is just something to be bought and
sold. Now there is an element of chance in this. But wait!
totally false to equate trading in stocks with what is done at Monte Clair or
the Harare Exhibition Park.
The gambler at a casino is playing
against odds that are against him. When he pulls the lever of the slot
machine, the expected value of his winnings is less than the money he puts
in. The house takes its cut!
Therefore the gambler is someone who
plays with the odds against him for the joy of making money move and for the
irrational hope that he will get lucky. Gambling is just innocent
Although speculators are often portrayed as frenzied and
amoral market players who devour national economies like a parasite attacks a
healthy body, the truth is we are all speculators.
contribute to speculative madness. It all goes down to the basis of arriving
at our investment decision and the motive for making your investment
By the way, speculators are an essential component of an
efficient market system.
Owen Mutetwa holds a Bachelor of
Commerce Honours degree in Banking from the National University of Science
and Technology. He can be contacted on e-mail email@example.com
AIDS bodies in Zimbabwe this week accused government and ruling ZANU PF party
officials of hijacking relief funds collected from the billion-dollar annual
AIDS levy meant for HIV-positive people and their beneficiaries just when the
government has declared an emergency to fight the killer
Zimbabwe recently declared a state of emergency to pave
way for the importation and possible local manufacture of cheap
anti-retroviral drugs to deal with the runaway pandemic that is claiming the
lives of about 2 000 people every week.
and local AIDS activists this week however accused ZANU PF of politicising
the distribution of money from the levy through the government-aligned
District AIDS Action Committees (DA AC).
Dominica Banure, the
district representative of the Zimbabwe National Network of People Living
with HIV (ZNNP+) in Chirimhanzu, said many HIV-positive Zimbabweans were
suffering and dying without getting any aid from the state-imposed
She said this had been caused by the politicisation of
the distribution of the levy by DAACs, which were originally expected to
"The funds are benefiting ZANU PF members and not
those people who need them," Banure charged in an interview with the
"There was an AIDS workshop last year organised
by the DAAC for people living with AIDS. Although people were supposed to go
to the workshop at which they would be given some money, we were told that
only one person from our network would represent us and yet ZANU PF had three
members from each ward," she noted.
Banure said that at one
point, some senior ruling party officials told them that the AIDS money was
meant for the ruling ZANU PF's campaign leading to the March presidential
election because it had come from "mother ZANU".
workshop, each district was given $140 000 but mother ZANU said it was for
the campaign. We were only given dried fish and blankets and when we
complained about this, we were chided and accused of belonging to the
opposition," she said.
Banure said Zachary Maphosa, the ZANU PF
counsellor in Chirimhanzu, was fond of accusing anyone who criticised the
disbursement of the AIDS money as being a member of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC).
Jefter Mxotshwa, ZNNP+ acting
director, confirmed that he had received "nationwide" complaints concerning
the politicisation of money from the AIDS levy.
committees are supposed to be giving money for programmes to the public but
ZANU PF committee members are purportedly using the money for political
mileage although we cannot readily justify the extent of these allegations,"
He said his organisation had contacted the
government-appointed National AIDS Council (NAC) to alert it on his members'
concerns about the way ZANU PF had hijacked the disbursement of the AIDS
"We have already talked to NAC on the issue and they
are also finding it difficult to deal with it because there may be
individuals in district committees with their own personal agendas that are
divorced from the activities of NAC."
NAC's chief executive
officer Everisto Marowa, however, dismissed the charges of favouritism,
saying his council was apolitical and only dealt with those who needed the
kind of assistance it offered.
"For us, the fund is for those who
are deserving according to our requirements. The council has no label and all
is being done to ensure that this is observed," he said.
Responding to allegations that most of the intended HIV-positive people were
not getting the funds, Marowa said it was not feasible for everyone suffering
from the disease to get assistance.
"In many instances, individuals
may not get cash but may benefit from the programmes run by the district AIDS
action committees to which the funds are distributed," he said.
"For example in the programmes we run, orphans are sent to school and even if
the money is not received by the schools, the children are not sent away from
Although school fees for children whose parents have died
of AIDS or are incapacitated by the disease should be distributed through the
Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM), many schools complain that the fees
are never paid or are not paid in time.
One teacher who attended
the launch of Voices and Choices, a report compiled by the Women and AIDS
Support Network (WASN) on Monday, said the DAACs were causing problems for
many schools because some of their members were using their positions to
ensure that only relatives and members of their political party
She said schools "were suffering" because other members
of the DAACs used the AIDS money for their own personal needs.
Some AIDS orphans were also being left out of the BEAM programme because the
committees identified the most needy and would in certain instances choose
only children whose relatives were local political heavyweights.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the teacher said it was the
school administrators who had to foot the bill in the end because they could
not expel those who had not paid the fees because of the problems with the
Anatolia Chamuka, who is HIV-positive, said
because of the way the AIDS levy is being abused, "it is better if taxpayers
refuse to contribute" to it.
"We do not gain from it and even
those who have relatives who are sick cannot help look after them through
this money because of the way it is being administered," said a visibly angry
WASN director Barbara Dembedza said her agency was still
waiting for its share of the AIDS levy, although it had fulfilled all the
requirements demanded by NAC.
The NAC in April disbursed more
than $8 million to the Zimbabwe National Army and the Zimbabwe Republic
Police, $500 million to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and $95
million to the district AIDS action committees throughout the
The money was raised through taxes imposed by the
government when the levy was introduced amid heavy public opposition in
It is administered and channelled to end-user anti-AIDS
organisations by NAC.
Ngwawi Business News Editor 7/4/02 11:17:26 AM (GMT +2)
FEW options are open to Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Simba Makoni as the noose
tightens round his neck over his failure to rescue the country from its worst
economic crisis, analysts said this week. A two-year-old foreign
currency crisis, which started after the International Monetary Fund
suspended crucial economic aid to Zimbabwe in October 1999, threatens to
abruptly cut Makoni's short stint as the country' s fifth finance minister
since independence in 1980.
A storm is brewing over the alleged
failure by Makoni and central Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Leonard
Tsumba to steer the economy back on track and plug the free-fall in the value
of the Zimbabwe dollar.
Some ruling ZANU PF politicians are even
baying for the blood of the two men, who they accuse of adopting
inappropriate economic policies.
Analysts this week said Makoni, a
strong advocate of the free play of market forces, was caught between a rock
and a hard place, with tough choices to make between going along with the
populist thinking in the government on key economic matters or taking the
more plausible but unpopular path towards meaningful reform.
analysts said Mako-ni had two options - to resign or press on with economic
reforms that could save Zimbabwe's economy from total collapse.
Zimbabwe Economics Society (ZES) said one of the solutions to the foreign
currency crisis should be an introduction of restrictive monetary policy,
which would rein in inflation and deflate speculative pressures on the
But ZES president Lovemore Kadenge said such an
option would be unpopular at present because the government had benefited
from the expansionary monetary policy it has pursued for the past 17
The government has deliberately kept interest rates low
since January 2001 by flooding the money market with funds as part of efforts
to contain the cost of its domestic debt, estimated at about $300 billion -
more than Zimbabwe's total budget for this fiscal year ending in December
"Others in government would therefore not want a shift in
monetary policy because that would mean higher costs of borrowing at a time
the country is looking for money to buy maize and meet other
expenditures," Kadenge told the Financial Gazette.
cash-strapped Zimbabwean authorities require more than US$800 million ($44
billion) to import grain between now and May next year as well as for other
drought relief programmes.
Another possible option for Makoni would
be to drastically reduce the use of the government's overdraft facility at
the central bank, which has been blamed for fuelling money supply growth and
inflation, both of which are at record high levels of above 100
This is however largely seen as not a plausible option due
to the government's bloated recurrent expenditure.
noted that like other ministers before him, Makoni had failed to come up with
an effective industrialisation strategy for Zimbabwe to boost production and
improve foreign currency inflows.
"For a start, he should come up
with a package of incentives targeted at the key export sectors such as
tobacco, horticulture, tourism and manufacturing," said an economist with a
Harare commercial bank.
"Right now the country's biggest export
crop tobacco is under threat at a time there are serious foreign currency
problems, while another cash-cow, horticulture, has been allowed to die due
to the problems that beset agriculture two years ago," the economist
Zimbabwe's key agricultural sector has been in continuous
turmoil since February 2000 when President Robert Mugabe sanctioned the
occupation of white-owned commercial farms by his supporters to punish the
owners for ostensibly supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic
Nearly 4 000 farms - or 90 percent of all fertile land in
the country - have been taken over by the government in the past two years
for the resettlement of Mugabe's supporters and other landless
The emerging cracks over the alleged mismanagement of the
economy have also brought to the fore the lack of independence of the
"If the RBZ was truly independent, they would change the
current monetary policy which has promoted speculative behaviour among people
who have been borrowing money at low interest rates and using that to
buy foreign currency on the parallel market," Kadenge said.
Under Africa's new economic rescue package NEPAD, central bank governors of
the African Union will be fully independent of
University of Zimbabwe business lecturer Tony
Hawkins said Makoni and Tsumba should shoulder the blame for the economic
decay for failing to stick to their policies and ensure that they are
"They have failed to deliver on what the economy
wants," Hawkins said.
The analysts spoke as pressure mounted on
Makoni to act on bureaux de change and financial institutions accused of
fuelling the parallel hard cash market by trading at rates above the official
rate of 55 Zimbabwe dollars against one American greenback.
Cabinet Committee on Financial and Economic Affairs, chaired by Mugabe, last
week also threw out proposals by Makoni and Tsumba to devalue the Zimbabwe
war veterans have demanded an audience with President Robert Mugabe to
complain over the allocation of farms to the independence war fighters under
the government's land resettlement plan and their welfare.
meeting is scheduled for Saturday but the President's Office is yet to
confirm the appointment.
Andy Mhlanga, the secretary-general of the
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association, confirmed that a
delegation from his association was scheduled to meet Mugabe this week but
declined to reveal what they would discuss.
But sources said the
veterans would tell Mugabe they were unhappy with the allocation of land
given to them by the government.
Most were dismayed that fertile
farms being seized by the government from commercial farmers were being
parcelled out to senior ruling ZANU PF officials while the veterans were
being relegated to what one said was "barren tracts of land".
The veterans also want to complain about what they say is the failure of the
government to provide them with farm inputs so they can start
Top ZANU PF politicians, including Cabinet
ministers, have grabbed fertile farms formerly owned by white farmers in most
provinces country wide.
Mugabe promised to give the veterans 20
percent of all land that is acquired by the government under its
controversial fast-track reforms, which the President says must be completed
The veterans want to voice their concern in the manner
in which the State is evicting some of their members from farms they have
occupied with encouragement from the government. Most of these veterans had
already built homes on these farms.
They will also question the
conduct of Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, who has been leading
the evictions. Some veterans want Chombo sacked or at least removed from
overseeing the land resettlement programme.
The veterans are
also unhappy with the conduct of provincial governors who they say are
inexplicably de-listing farms or evicting veterans from farms which are later
taken over by ZANU PF officials.
They want their monthly pensions
paid by the government to be increased by 150 percent, from $7 890 to $20
000, the school fees allowance hiked from $20 000 per term per child to $35
000 and a special state-subsidised medical aid scheme set up for them and
In 1997 the veterans forced Mugabe to pay out
more than $4 billion in unbudgeted expenditure after staging a series of
violent protests against what they said was the government's neglect of their
Each veteran was subsequently paid a once-off gratuity of
$50 000 in a move which triggered Zimbabwe's present economic meltdown.
The mother of all disasters is human
7/3/02 8:44:12 AM (GMT +2)
AFTER those two horrific road disasters that cost 48 human lives, everyone
wants to know: Who is to blame? Who is responsible? What caused
Was it bad driving? Human error? Was it the bad
state of our narrow roads? Once you ask such questions you are right into
budgetary politics: What do we spend our money on? What are our priorities?
Who makes these decisions? I remember a bus driver telling me that he was
forced by his employer to drive extremely long hours, all day and most of the
night, for days on end so that he suffered from chronic fatigue while on the
road. Exactly four weeks later he died, together with 25 passengers, in a
head-on collision. I felt his employer was more to blame than that
Similarly, certain people sitting in faraway Harare offices
deciding on our budget, including on how much to spend on road construction
and repair, may have a greater responsibility for such fatal accidents than
the men who died driving the vehicles involved. Zimbabwe is facing famine
and starvation. Not for the first time.
Drought is a regular
occurrence. It does not hit us like lightning out of a blue sky. It is
foreseeable and predictable, at least in the sense that sooner or later there
will be a drought year again. Therefore, you have to be prepared for it. The
grain silos must keep an adequate reserve at all times.
State is duty-bound to ensure food security. No one else can do this. Like
healthcare, education, communication and transport, the basic food
requirements of the nation will not be provided for by the famous "market
forces" as if by magic. Making sure there are enough basic food supplies is
too big a job to leave to private firms.
Government must play a
role here and take control for the common good. Not government alone
though. Whoever has the technical, managerial and business expertise to
produce food must be encouraged by paying prices that make the risk of
But this class of people, instead of adding to
their number from the population as a whole, is now systematically being
destroyed. Does not genuine land reform need such expertise? Those
responsible blithely guaranteed food security at a time when the experts
warned them that there would be a severe shortfall.
resign now that they have been proven so disastrously wrong? It does
not seem to be part of our political culture to accept responsibility for
It has been said that the popular vote, democratic
government, human rights, good governance, accountability and transparency
are abstract concepts ordinary people are not interested in. All that is mere
theory only middle class intellectuals are interested in, they
Urban workers and rural peasants who have their feet on the
ground don 't want to hear about it. "You can't eat human rights," they are
supposed to be saying. "You don't feed children with something called
The present crisis teaches us that such talk is
dangerous and irresponsible. It is precisely bad governance that has got us
into the present fix from which we expect the rest of the world to rescue
Bad governance consists precisely in government no longer
listening to the people that put them into power, and out of arrogance no
longer answering their questions. Good governance consists in leaders
being answerable, which means the same as responding to, or being responsible
to, the true sovereign, ie the voting public.
Why are the grain
silos empty in a country that used to be known as the "bread basket of the
southern African region"? Is it merely due to a "natural disaster"? But then
why did the people in charge not have sufficient foresight to keep those
silos full? The citizens certainly have the right to ask such questions in a
free media which is vitally important precisely when we do not want to send
our children to bed hungry. You cannot eat democracy, true. But you cannot
eat without democracy, either. A natural disaster is called in English an
"act of God". That is a fine way of evading our own human
We blame God when it was our job to forestall, if
not the disaster, then at least its destructive effects.
ask: Why did God allow those young people from Masvingo to perish in a ball
of fire? They should also ask: What did we, and the leaders who claim popular
support and responsibility, do to prevent it?
We were given
intelligence and foresight for a purpose. There is a contradiction in our
society. People want to be free agents. But if you tell them, "Since it was
your free decision to do this, you must be held responsible," they turn round
and say: "No, I was under duress, I could not help it, it was not my fault."
You are enslaved to the ones you blame. You admit they still have control
How can you claim freedom, yet never accept
responsibility? Is it not time to grow up? Children do not have to have
answer for themselves in a court of justice. But as an adult you have to.
People want justice. Why do we have to suffer? The question will not go away.
Will someone answer?
Will someone respond, accept responsibility?
That is the reverse side of that precious coin called "freedom". Leaders who
claim to rule in the name of the people should be glad to be accountable to
them. Why would they be afraid of them? Why should they have to gag
There will be justice. There will be a judge and judgment.
That judge will not want to know what we think the sins of the British are
(he knows them anyway). He will want to know what we have to say for
ourselves - what "we did to the least of his brothers and
No more fooling and silly word games. The truth must come
out. Only if we answer in truth can we hope for a lenient judgment. There
will be justice. So we must insist on it and keep asking questions until
leaders answer for their actions or non-action.
But the mother of all disasters is human
Mbeki fears Mugabe, says SA opposition leader
7/3/02 1:13:49 PM (GMT +2)
Tony Leon, South Africa's opposition leader, says President
Thabo Mbeki was failing to act against President Mugabe because he is
overwhelmed by his reputation.
Leon, the leader of the
Democratic Alliance (DA), said in Harare yesterday: "Mbeki fears his
Zimbabwean counterpart and has not been able to take any meaningful steps in
denouncing lawlessness and human rights abuses by him.
plays the role of being the senior man and Mbeki the junior. I think Mbeki
fears Mugabe because he is the veteran leader in the region.
fought a long struggle in the trenches and has credentials which make Mbeki
feel very nervous about criticising him."
Leon attacked Mbeki's
policy of criticising human rights violations in the Middle East where South
Africa has no influence, while keeping quiet about abuses in
Accusing Jonathan Moyo, the Minister of State
for Information and Publicity, of "spreadingfalsehoods", Leon denied he was
in Zimbabwe to "light fires".
He blamed Zimbabwe's economic
meltdown on the unfavourable policies being pursued by Mugabe's
Leon denied South Africa was imposing unofficial
sanctions on Zimbabwe to put pressure on Mugabe's government to restore the
rule of law.
He said: "Mugabe is tightening the screws on himself.
The only thing tightening screws on Mugabe is his policies.
"People want to trade with and invest in Zimbabwe, but because of
the political situation, the devaluing dollar and what is happening on
the parallel market, they cannot do so." South Africa is Zimbabwe's
biggest trading partner.
Leon arrived on Sunday night to assess
the situation in the country. He was accompanied by Dan Malakele, the party's
vice-chairman and an MP, and DA MPs Nick Clelland-Stokes and Andries
They met farmers, farm workers and human rights
organisations before leaving yesterday.
Leon, commenting on the
intended mass action by the MDC, warned Zimbabwe could slide into a civil war
if tensions between Zanu PF and the opposition party were not
He said: "If constitutional means to change bad governance
do not work people look for unconstitutional means. The new South Africa came
about as a result of mass action."
But he refused to say whether
the MDC's intended mass action was worth pursuing. "I cannot comment on the
MDC's policies," Leon said.
"It's not even my business to comment
on Mugabe's policies, except that they are negatively affecting South Africa
and the region as a whole."
He said Zimbabwe's criticism of the New
Economic Partnership for African Development (Nepad), on the grounds that it
was a vehicle for the re-colonisation of Africa showed a lack of trust in
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki.
"That is a deeply
unhelpful remark and shows a complete lack of faith in what Mbeki is trying
to do. He has put both his regional and international reputation on the line
He said for Nepad to work, there was need for sound
economic policies and human rights to be observed throughout the continent.
Zimbabwe's negative policies were bound to affect Nepad's success, he
BULAWAYO - Several pump stations in
Bulawayo ran out of fuel yesterday after motorists, panicking because of
widespread speculation of an impending fuel shortage in the city, bought
large quantities of fuel.
At several pump stations visited by the
Financial Gazette, long queues of cars waited to be filled in as panic
gripped Zimbabwe's second city.
The long queues could be seen at
Amtec Motors along Robert Mugabe Way, at Bulawayo Service Station along Main
Street and at the Belmont Service Station near Belmont industrial
Some pump stations were already displaying "No Fuel" signs
after motorists had bought all their stocks of diesel and
The resort town of Victoria Falls was also reportedly
running out of fuel, according to pump owners there.
Muri-ritirwa, chief executive of the state fuel procurement company National
Oil Company of Zimbabwe, could not be immediately reached for
But motorists and pump station employees in Bulawayo were
adamant that the city would have a critical fuel shortage.
Others suggested there could be a price increase in fuel.
depot is dry. Petrol is finished but we have diesel and people are queueing
up for it.
"I think we have another fuel crisis just around the
corner," said one worker at a BP and Shell Marketing depot in the
Pump station owner Sam Ncube said: "I have been told by
officials from some distributors that this is temporary but I don't think so
because the queues are getting longer every day."
been having on and off fuel shortages since 1999 because of foreign currency
shortages caused by slumping exports and a cut-off of aid by international
financial bodies and the West angered by the government 's policies.
By Sydney Masamvu
Political Editor 7/4/02 11:06:08 AM (GMT +2)
A PLOT to
oust Finance Minister Simba Makoni and Reserve Bank governor Leonard Tsumba
from their positions thickened this week when cracks emerged in the ruling
ZANU PF over implementation of fiscal and monetary policies to prop up the
tottering economy. Official sources said a faction within ZANU PF was
feverishly campaigning for the dismissal of Makoni and Tsumba from their
The faction is accusing the two men of failing to come
up with credible measures to stem a crippling foreign currency crisis, which
has gripped Zimbabwe since November 1999 and threatens the entire economy
with total collapse.
Top business leaders with links with senior
ZANU PF politicians are also involved in the behind-the-scenes campaign,
which gathered momentum in the past week when President Robert Mugabe shot
down proposals from Makoni and Tsumba to ease the hard cash crisis through
the devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar.
The Cabinet Committee on
Financial and Economic Affairs, chaired by Mugabe, unceremoniously threw out
the Makoni-Tsumba proposals to devalue and introduce a dual exchange rate at
a meeting held in Harare last week.
Both Makoni and Tsumba had
suggested the introduction of an official exchange rate based on inflation
differentials between Zimbabwe and its trading partners and the commerial
rate which would be based on prevailing macro-economic
Philip Chiyangwa, ZANU PF's legislator for Chinhoyi
and head of Parliament's Committee on Empowerment, swung into action
immediately after news of Mugabe's veto on the Makoni-Tsumba
He blasted what he branded as non-performing officials
at the finance ministry and the central bank and urged that these be fired,
exposing the grand scheme set in motion to relieve Tsumba and Makoni of their
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, who has
become one of the most influential politicians because of his close ties with
Mugabe, is also against any devaluation, saying it would exacerbate
Zimbabwe's record high inflation of 122.5 percent.
Politburo, ZANU PF's supreme policy organ, similarly rejected the devaluation
proposals at the weekend.
"There is a behind-the-scenes campaign to
get Makoni and Tsumba replaced," a senior Cabinet minister told the Financial
Gazette this week.
"This is because of their failure to stem the
slide of the dollar, the foreign currency crisis and their overall
stewardship of the economy," the minister said, preferring not to be
"The bottom line is that there is no consensus between the
politicians and the beaurocrats in the party on how to deal with the foreign
currency issue and the economy," the minister added.
chief executive officer of the financial group Finhold, Elisha Mushayakarara,
a finance ministry permanent secretary for 18 years, is tipped to take over
the reins at the Ministry of Finance.
The sources said efforts by
Makoni and Tsumba to deal with the hard cash shortages and the thriving
parallel market had been undermined by senior politicians in ZANU PF who are
themselves allegedly involved in illegal foreign currency
Two provincial governors own a chain of bureaux de change
in Harare and Bulawayo while some ministers have employed staff to mobilise
foreign currency on the parallel market from tourists at major resort
The National Economic Conduct inspectorate
is already investigating the practice amid calls by the state media for the
shutting down of the bureaux de change.
Foreign currency for
government trips is also now being secured from the parallel market because
of biting shortages on the official market.
Makoni has made clear
that the Zimbabwe dollar is highly overvalued and that Zimbabwe should
normalise its tense ties with international financial bodies such as the
International Monetary Fund so as to give the local economy emergency
Mugabe has rejected this, saying
Zimbabwe must pursue a home-grown economic revival led by his controversial
Makoni has also publicly called for a return of
"sanity" to Zimbabwe's troubled commercial farming sector, where thousands of
ZANU PF militants, many armed, hold sway with Mugabe's open approval.
HARARE - An international media
rights group on Monday called on President Mugabe's government to stop
harassing the private media, saying it was threatening the future of
independent journalism in Zimbabwe.
In a statement, Article
19 said the government must drop charges against more than a dozen
journalists arrested in the last four months for reporting "falsehoods" or
The London-based organisation also called on the
government to repeal new laws requiring media houses and journalists to
register with a state-appointed media commission, stipulating heavy fines and
two-year jail terms for "unethical journalism".
existing repressive laws and continuing incidents of harassment of the
independent media, this has led to a climate in which it is becoming
increasingly difficult for independent journalists to operate in Zimbabwe,"
"Article 19 calls on the Zimbabwean authorities to drop
immediately all charges currently pending against journalists ...and to stop
using repressive legislative provisions to harass independent
The group said the government was using the laws
selectively against the private media, noting that no journalist from
Zimbabwe's state-owned press had been arrested.
government argues that its new laws are not designed to suppress press
freedom but to instil "ethical behaviour" in a sector it says is being used
by its Western enemies to wage a hate and propaganda campaign against
Eleven journalists have been arrested on charges of
"publishing falsehoods". They include Andrew Meldrum, the Zimbabwe
correspondent for Britain's Guardian newspaper, who went on trial last month,
accused of publishing a false story alleging that Mugabe's supporters
beheaded a woman while her two children watched.
says that story was part of a Western-backed campaign to damage Mugabe's
image since his re-election in March and to advance the interests of the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai has said he was robbed of victory by Mugabe. - Reuter
SEVERAL sections of the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act have been criticised as
unconstitutional, repressive and too highly unreasonable to be accepted in a
The observations are contained in an
audit of the Act, produced by Tawanda Hondora, a legal consultant, at the
request of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa)'s Zimbabwe
The report, released at the weekend in Kariba during a
two-day seminar to launch a Media Defence Fund, said Section 40 should be
Under the section, the Minister of State for Information
and Publicity in the President's Office, Professor Jonathan Moyo, is
empowered to appoint a Media and Information Commission.
Tafataona Mahoso, the head of the Division of Mass Communication at the
Harare Polytechnic was recently appointed its chairman.
said: "This section should be repealed and the commission should be appointed
without any ministerial and government interference."
suggested that appointments should be made by Parliament because the
commission is a representative of all political parties, or by a
select committee of the House.
It noted that the commission
should appoint its own chair and deputy chairpersons as well as establish its
own rules of procedures.
The report described as unconstitutional
the decision to give the commission judicial and disciplinary powers, saying
the courts to date have successfully protected individuals from media
Misa criticised the mandatory accreditation of
journalists under Section 79. The accreditation is undertaken by the
"Both in theory and practice, the commission is a
politically partisan body. It is unlikely, therefore, that the commission
will accredit journalists that are considered to be critical of the
"The mere possibility of interference is sufficient to
render the commission and its activities unconstitutional," the report
Hondora said that Section 80 which establishes offences
which will be deemed to be an abuse of journalistic privilege was wholly
unconstitutional. In terms of this section it is criminal to publish
"The criminalising of the failure to report accurately
places an unreasonable hindrance of freedom of expression as guaranteed by
the Constitution," Hondora said.
Over the past six months,
several journalists, mainly from the private media, have been arrested for
allegedly violating Section 80. The cases are still pending in the
War veterans threaten school head for accepting donation
from MDC MPs
7/3/02 1:18:05 PM (GMT +2)
Zerubabel Mudzingwa in Gweru
The headmaster of Mdubiwa Secondary
School in Lower Gweru has been threatened with unspecified action by war
veterans after he allegedly accepted a donation of $200 000 worth of building
material from MDC MPs.
A group of suspected war veterans
and Zanu PF supporters allegedly besieged the school last Saturday after they
got wind of the donation and threatened the headmaster.
donations were presented last month by Renson Gasela (MP Gweru Rural), and
Welshman Ncube (MP Bulawayo North).
"The group threatened some
unspecified action and later dispersed after failing to locate the
headmaster," said a source, who declined to be named for fear of
The donation followed an urgent appeal for cash by
the school development committee after health officials closed the school on
7 May citing inadequate sanitary facilities.
Gasela said in
Gweru yesterday: "The appeal was open to everyone, so as MP for the area, I
raised funds and with the help of Ncube donated 40 bags of cement and other
building material to Mdubiwa Secondary School."
Both Gasela and
Ncube are residents of Lower Gweru. The headmaster, who identified himself
only as P C Juru, confirmed yesterday his school had been closed, but
declined to comment about the donation from the MPs.
"We are still
in a very desperate situation because we need to raise $1 million to
construct new toilets, provide clean water and refurbish the classrooms," he
Juru declined to comment on the alleged visit to the school
by Zanu PF supporters, referring all questions to the regional office in
Isaac Tanyanyiwa, the regional director for education in the
Midlands, could not be reached for comment.
Gasela described the
threats as unfortunate. "Did the ruling party supporters want the school to
remain closed? Instead of threatening and victimising the headmaster, they
should instead complement our efforts," he said.
Parents at the
school have moulded about 70 000 bricks towards the construction of new
Officials from the Ministry of Health and Child
Welfare descended on Maboleni and Matshaya primary schools last month and
ordered them to close.
But the schools defied the order and
remained open. In a related development, Gweru businessman and former mayor
Patrick Kombayi, last week donated $50 000 to Mudavanhu School for Mentally
The school, administered by Zimcare Trust,
has been grossly underfunded over the last three years and relies on generous
donations for its upkeep.
THE opposition MDC's
executive has concurred with a decision taken by its MPs to virtually boycott
Parliament because they accuse it of rubber-stamping repressive government
legislation, it was learnt this week.
Party insiders said this week
the legislators, who met MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai last week, had decided
to attend a few sittings of Parliament a week and devote their energies on
fighting the government outside the House.
The party had also
decided to boycott all sessions and functions presided over by President
Robert Mugabe, who the MDC accuses of stealing the March presidential ballot.
The party is challenging Mugabe's win in the courts.
meeting in Harare approved a resolution which said Parliament was being used
to bless repressive laws being made by Mugabe's ZANU PF and said there was no
need for MDC legislators to continue participating in its
The insiders said the meeting especially noted that ZANU
PF had used its majority in the House to pass controversial laws such as the
Public Order Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act to stifle democracy.
It is understood that all MDC
legislators and members of the party's executive will meet shortly to
formally endorse last week's decisions.
The insiders said the
opposition party's MPs will now be attending Parliament once or twice a month
when the House is sitting only to re-affirm the MDC's position as the
Political analysts note that the MDC is
obviously aware that its MPs could lose their seats were they to miss 21
consecutive sittings of Parliament, hence the token attendance.
The MPs will devote their time galvanising MDC structures to prepare for
sustained mass action to force a re-run of the disputed
ZIMBABWE'S bakers are seeking permission from
the government to raise the controlled price of bread by at least 30 percent,
it was learnt yesterday, as it emerged that the country could run out of
available wheat stocks by September this year.
Bakers Association of Zimbabwe (NBAZ) yesterday said it had applied to the
Ministry of Industry and International Trade for an immediate upward review
of the price of bread by about 30 percent.
NBAZ chairman Armitage
Chikwavira said his association had also requested another meeting with
Industry Ministry permanent secretary Stuart Comberbach and his agriculture
counterpart Ngoni Masoka over pleas by the bakers to have an additional 50
000 tonnes of wheat imported urgently to avert serious bread
"We have submitted a paper to the government requesting
a 30 percent increase in the price of bread," Chikwavira told the Financial
The request, if granted, would raise the price of a
standard loaf of bread to about $78 from the present $60, which has been in
effect since April.
"We have also submitted a paper to the
government making a request for an urgent meeting on our proposal for the
importation of 50 000 tonnes of wheat," Chikwavira said.
comment was available from Industry and International Trade Minister Herbert
Murerwa or the ministry's acting permanent secretary Ethel Hlabangana.
Comberbach is out of Zimbabwe.
The bakers warned that Zimbabwe
could run out of wheat by September because supplies were dwindling
Harare baker Eddie Cross said available wheat stocks would
last two months after which the country would run dry unless additional wheat
was urgently imported before then.
Zimbabwe consumes 400 000
tonnes of wheat annually although only 150 000 tonnes of the commodity are
expected to be produced this winter season, down from about 360 000 tonnes in
Many commercial farmers could not plant the crop after being
ordered by the government to stop farming under its controversial Land
"Bakers have therefore decided to cut bread
production but maintain production of confectionary (such as buns)," Cross
He said bread production had been slashed by between 50 and
70 percent due to the shortage of wheat.
Another baker based in
Gweru, David Gweva, said if the state-owned GMB was not rationing the wheat,
the country would have required between 125 000 and 150 000 tonnes of the
commodity until the next harvest in October.
The country now
requires between 50 000 and 60 000 tonnes of wheat until the next harvest due
to the GMB's rationing, although the bakers are operating below
"We will therefore continue to experience periods when
there will be insufficient supplies of bread, especially during the weekends
when millers are closed," Gweva said.
The GMB last month reduced
its supplies to millers amid allegations flour producers were hoarding the
commodity to create an artificial shortage of bread to cause civil
Supplies to millers were slashed from 7 200 tonnes a week
to about 4 000 tonnes as President Robert Mugabe cracked down on alleged
economic "saboteurs" bent on trying to oust him from power.
Meanwhile, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) yesterday
blamed the government for fuelling shortages of basic goods through
half-baked economic policies.
In a statement, MDC spokesman
Learnmore Jongwe dismissed allegations of economic sabotage levelled against
his party and the private sector by the government, saying the current
shortages of cooking oil, sugar, salt, bread and cigarettes were a result of
Mugabe's disruptive land reforms.
"Against this background, the
regime and its bandwagon of spokespersons does not see anything wrong with
its policies and blames everyone except itself for the failure of its
policies," Jongwe said.
More than 3 900 white-owned commercial
farms have been compulsorily acquired by Mugabe since he embarked on the land
reforms in 2000.
Coalition on Conflict Management promoting
7/3/02 2:06:10 PM (GMT +2)
Simba Chabarika Deputy Features Editor
FARM workers constitute a
large percentage of the Zimbabwean labour force, but despite their
contribution to the economy, they remain one of the most marginalised groups
They do not have adequate educational
facilities for their children, or adequate pension plans and with the
fast-track land resettlement programme in progress, they are now faced with
the problem of displacement.
Some have been killed, assaulted and
harassed during the mayhem of farm invasions. Others chose to stand by their
former white employers when it came to eviction, lending weight to the
age-old adage: "Better the devil you know."
The June 2000
parliamentary and the March 2002 presidential elections have left many
victims of conflict in their wake. Lack of tolerance was glaringly apparent
as people with divergent views were brutalised during the election
Somebody once said: "The mark of a first class mind is
the ability to hold two contradictory opinions at the same
But this is a tall order. Who then can engender the spirit
of forbearance and promote peace among the people of one nation who are
divided along political or religious lines?
tucked away in the tranquil suburb of Milton Park, probably has the answer.
It is called the Coalition on Conflict Management and is tasked with an
almost impossible responsibility - managing conflict.
in Milton Park is in sharp contrast with its mandate. Outside its premises,
there is no sign of its presence and the work it is engaged in.
Moreover, the atmosphere in this residential property-turned-office, is so
sedate it is ironic to talk about conflict.
The Coalition on
Conflict Management is the umbrella body of non-governmental organisations
involved in different activities but whose work sometimes involves conflict
in the communities they operate in.
Stembile Mpofu is the
co-ordinator of the alliance. She says: "The Coalition on Conflict Management
is an initiative which originated in the context of the challenges that face
Zimbabwe today. It is composed of about 30 organisations and is a national
and collective process founded on the principle of
Mpofu says the body has taken up the challenge of
cultivating a culture of non-violence so that disagreements can be resolved
The group believes that eventually, this will
lead to an improved resolution of most conflict situations in the
Founded in April 2000 soon after the first farm invasions,
the coalition quickly realised that there would be no development if peace
did not prevail.
"Development without Peace is not Sustainable"
and "It has become apparent that there is an indisputable link between peace
and development," are some of the headlines in the association's
The amalgamation did not have a secretariat until one was
established last February.
Mpofu says many organisations are
faced with head-to-head situations and their challenge is to resolve them
during their normal development work in urban and rural areas.
"These social development issues are mostly found in informal settlements
created by the haphazard land reform programme. More often than not, the
staff of these organisations are not equipped with skills to deal with these
The coalition provides its member-organisations with
training in communication management, reconciliation, rehabilitation and
trauma counselling together with human rights training.
areas of training so far have been the youth, women and farm workers and
people living in informal settlements like Hatcliffe, Porta Farm and
Two workshops to empower farm workers lobbying for an
improved life have been held to date.
"We have managed to train
a small number of farm workers' leaders and with the secretariat now in
place, we are putting together project proposals so that we can get some
funding for the training of more farm workers and other target groups," Mpofu
"The purpose of these workshops is to enable farm workers to
acquire leadership techniques, communication, advocacy and lobbying
The training is specifically geared towards the meetings to
be held by farm workers and two parliamentary portfolios of Lands,
Agriculture and Rural Resettlement and Labour and Social
The skills learnt will enable farm workers to articulate
their grievances and present them to the relevant authorities.
The General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe and the
Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe are responsible for selecting
The remarkable calming down of the political
situation in the country must lead to the prevalence of a peaceful
environment, Mpofu says optimistically.
"This will give us
access to rural areas and commercial farms where our members couldn't go
because of the violence that dominated the pre-election period."
She urges journalists not to antagonise and aggravate already bad situations
by biased reporting.
"The media is very important in conflict
situations. It is very powerful and can influence attitudes in so many
different ways," says Mpofu.
One of the member-organisations of the
coalition - the Non-Violent Action and Strategies for Social Change (NOVASC),
shares the same premises with the secretariat.
NOVASC is an
organisation that seeks to promote dialogue, mediation and negotiation as
means of reaching constructive solutions to conflicts
It works to prevent violence and dehumanising,
intolerant and disrespectful behaviour during the processes of change, making
it one of the foremost organisations that deal directly with conflict
NOVASC carries out its mandate through training
activities and interventions in specific situations and its vision of social
change is spearheaded through a process led by organisations representing
people who are marginalised, such as the poor, excluded, mistreated and
It strengthens such organisations and inculcates the
specific skills it espouses into their strategies.
"It is clear
to us all that we are at present living in a rapidly changing society, in
which the old methods and ways of thinking are being challenged, questioned
and found wanting.
In many instances, violence has been the means
used to carry forward the demands for justice and change, or on the other
hand - to suppress change and keep existing structures in place," says
The organisation is also committed to promoting a culture
of "do no harm" and non-violence, preparing people to understand the nature
of conflicts and to have skills to transform them into constructive,
peaceful and just outcomes.
Among NOVASC's main objectives are
the creation of a national network of mediators drawn from relevant sectors
of the society and to share experiences, dilemmas of dealing with conflicts,
disputes, negotiations, deadlocks and the use of violence, so as to
contribute to a national process of dialogue towards tolerance and lasting
The task ahead seems insurmountable but he Coalition on
Conflict Management is determined to make a change in the healing process
through its various arms borne by the organisations it
Will Zimbabweans ever be able to live in peace with
each other by moving away from the violent, confrontational and intolerant
attitudes that have prevailed during the past couple of years?
The Coalition on Conflict Management has taken the lead and needs
all possible support to help restore sanity to society.
Zimra sets up hotline to curb corruption at
7/3/02 1:52:50 PM (GMT +2)
THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has set up an
anti-corruption hotline at the Beitbridge border post, for members of the
public to report cases of corruption amongst Customs
The State is believed to be losing billions of
dollars in revenue annually as a result of corrupt practices by customs
That resulted in Gershem Pasi, the Zimra
Commissioner-General instituting a rotating system for the authority's staff.
No Zimra staff members are going to be permanently based at any border post
as Zimra tries to prevent its staff from getting used to members of the
public frequenting specific border posts.
International Zimbabwe (TIZ), a local anti-corruption organisation said the
establishment of the hotline by the Zimra was long overdue.
is pertinent that corruption at Customs be curbed urgently, because the
country is being prejudiced of valuable resources that can be put to better
use," said Andrew Nongogo, TIZ executive director.
important in the context of the country's current economic problems, which
create tempting conditions for officials to engage in corrupt
"We strongly encourage Zimra to establish hotlines at
all Customs points to deal with potential or suspected cases of
The hotline numbers must be well publicised for all
members of the public to participate, and TIZ is prepared to support similar
initiatives in other government departments, to assist the public to fight
corruption in the public sector."
However, Nongogo said the
hotline was going to achieve a lot if there is money and protection for those
who would have reported cases of corruption by Customs
"The establishment of the above-mentioned hotline falls
in line with TIZ's advocacy for the establishment of a Whistleblower's Fund,
which will encourage members of the public to report cases of corruption as
they occur," said Nongogo.
Last year, Simbarashe Makoni, the
Minister of Finance and Economic Development in the 2002 Budget statement
said whistleblowers would be rewarded.
THE outgoing Canadian High Commissioner
James Wall, on Sunday said he was sad to leave the country at the end of his
term without having promoted trade, economic and commercial links with
Zimbabwe due to unfolding events here.
Speaking at a
reception to mark his country's national day, Wall said: "Although it was a
busy year, I must confess that I did not do some things I wished. As High
Commissioner I would have liked to have had ministers of my government
visiting Zimbabwe to foster trade and economic and
"I would have liked to see ever increasing
numbers of Canadian tourists visiting this beautiful country. That did not
The Zimbabwe government, as usual, did not respond
to Wall's speech as there were no ministers in attendance. The country's
national anthem was played instead.
Wall said Zimbabwe's economy
had shrunk by about 20 percent since he arrived in the country three years
ago and the "well-known events on commercial farms associated with the
elections in 2000 and 2002 have served to dampen the investment and tourism
that embassies normally try to foster".
He said instead of
nurturing these links, Canadian officials, including senior ministers and the
prime minister, had spent most of their time trying to understand and respond
to the situation in Zimbabwe.
"They have done so in the spirit that
has dominated our relations with Zimbabwe since independence and they have
done so on the basis of the spirit that has characterised our relations with
Zimbabwe since independence, while asserting the common values articulated in
the Harare Declaration that are supposed to knit the Commonwealth together,"
Zimbabwe has been torn by strife for the past two years
following the violent invasion of farms by so-called war veterans and Zanu PF
supporters as President Mugabe sought to consolidate his stranglehold on
The violent farm seizures and persecution of the opposition
and the independent media has led to the drastic reduction of tourists coming
to Zimbabwe and the number of foreign investors.
NON-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the Southern
African Development Community (Sadc) have lambasted the Zimbabwe government
for failing to adhere to basic good governance
The NGO council, meeting in South Africa over
the weekend, called for a constitutional review in Zimbabwe to ensure good
The council is the umbrella body of NGOs in southern
Africa. At the end of their two-day meeting in Johannesburg, the council
committed itself to engaging with "regimes" such as Robert Mugabe's
government that still ignore the will of the people.
in the spotlight this week after the G8 summit in Canada, the council was
critical of Zimbabwe, seen by many as providing the litmus test for the New
Plan for Africa's Development (Nepad).
The government has largely
been blamed for human rights violations, starting in the run-up to the June
2000 parliamentary election up to the March 2002 presidential election,
condemned by many international observers as neither free nor
Most of the developed world has refused to acknowledge as
legitimate Mugabe's controversial re-election in March.
council expressed concern over events in Swaziland, Malawi and Namibia,
criticised for their lack of freedom of expression and attempts by their
leaders to entrench their power by changing the constitution.
Malawi's Bakili Muluzi, once commended for taking Mugabe to task over his
iron-fisted rule in trying to maintain his stranglehold on power, is
now seeking to amend the constitution to allow him to run for a third term
The Sadc NGO council said most of the problems
plaguing the continent, among them poverty, famine, HIV/Aids and human rights
violations, were worsened by weak or corrupt leadership.
PTUZ calls for the trial of alleged killers of
7/3/02 1:15:52 PM (GMT +2)
THE Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) says it
is suing the people suspected to have raped and murdered teachers during the
past two years.
Raymond Majongwe, the PTUZ
secretary-general, on Tuesday told a Press conference in Harare that they
were consulting the families of the deceased teachers and other political
victims from the time of the June 2000 parliamentary election up to the
presidential poll in March this year.
Majongwe said: "At the moment
we have two cases of murdered teachers that we have brought before the
"The murderers and rapists are known Zanu PF
activists. As PTUZ, we are saying those who stand accused of the murders and
rape cases should be brought before the courts, tried and convicted."