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Zimbabwe in meltdown as currency halves

The Telegraph

By Sebastien Berger, Southern Africa Correspondent

Last Updated: 2:38am BST 22/06/2007

††††† Zimbabwe's beleaguered currency has lost half its value in three days,
black market dealers said last night, prompting predictions that the country
was plunging into an economic meltdown that its veteran leader Robert Mugabe
would not survive.

††††† According to the government in Harare, one US dollar is worth 250
Zimbabwean dollars. But the free market rate yesterday reached more than
Z$300,000 to one US dollar.

††††† "It's gone crazy," said one illegal trader. "People are holding out
for the highest bidder and mentioning as much as 400,000-1, which could be
tomorrow's price. It's changing by the hour. Rates have doubled since the
start of the week."

††††† While Mr Mugabe's demise has been predicted time and again over the
years, analysts believe that the financial crisis now threatens his hold
even on the loyalists who have kept him in power for so long.

††††† John Makumbe, a senior lecturer in political science at the University
of Zimbabwe, said: "It is the economy that is going to bring the regime
down.

††††† "I don't think it's very sustainable. Right now the transport sector
is grinding to a halt. A lot of people are now in abject poverty. With a
million dollars you will be lucky to buy two or three items."

††††† A six-mile minibus ride into the city centre could cost a tenth of
someone's monthly wages, he said.

††††† "I don't think Mugabe will last long if the situation is not arrested
by an injection of foreign currency or some alleviation of the cost of
living."

††††† Christopher Dell, the outgoing US ambassador to Zimbabwe, predicted
inflation could reach 1,500,000 per cent by the end of the year. He told the
Financial Gazette in Bulawayo: "The first phase of Zimbabwe's liberation
[from Mr Mugabe's rule] is coming to an end as the economy is collapsing
around us and the second phase to define the future of Zimbabwe past a few
old men is coming in the next few months."

††††† Splits are now emerging in Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and last week a
"coup plot" was proclaimed by the authorities, who charged six people with
treason. One of the defendants said the accusations were an attempt to cover
up internal divisions.

††††† But on top of its abysmal handling of the economy, which has been
shrinking for the last eight years, the Harare government itself bears
direct responsibility for the collapse of the currency.

††††† While accusing Britain and other countries of seeking to destroy
Zimbabwe's finances, the central bank has printed vast amounts of Zimbabwean
currency to buy illegal dollars in a desperate attempt to pay off the
foreign debts of state-owned fuel and electricity companies.

††††† More notes have been printed to pay salary increases for soldiers and
policemen, even as senior Zanu-PF officials were able to buy US dollars at
the official rate and resell them at vast profit.

††††† Last month the Central Statistical Office announced that inflation had
reached 3,713.9 per cent a year in April - a calculation of unusual
precision for an economy in chaos. According to NMBZ Holdings Ltd, a local
bank, the figure for May had risen to 4,530 per cent. Other estimates put it
as high as 9,000 per cent.

††††† The official Chronicle newspaper yesterday blamed Britain and the
United States.

††††† "The plan is to topple the government before the March 2008 general
elections, which the West knows the opposition could never win," it said.


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Petrol stations reject cash as currency becomes worthless

The Times
June 22, 2007

Jan Raath in Harare
Fuel supplies in Harare have all but dried up after service stations refused
to accept the country's wildly unstable currency in payment.

A handful of outlets in the Zimbabwean capital were serving drivers for
local currency at about Z$150,000 a litre, roughly five times the price of
fuel a month ago. Blackmarket currency trading, which has almost overtaken
the formal banking sector, began petering out as the exchange rate for the
US dollar began to double almost every day.

Last week international aid organisations operating in Zimbabwe gave warning
that the country's economy was heading for full-scale collapse, with the
currency becoming unusable and shops and services shutting down.

After decades of reckless economic mismanagement - including an official
policy of printing money as fast as it can be done - dictated by President
Mugabe, Zimbabwe has lurched into hyperinflation in the past few months.
Annual inflation in May was at 4,500 per cent, according to official
statistics, which are regarded as very conservative.

"This indicates we are on the slippery slope and it's coming to an end now,"
John Robertson, an economist, said. "It's an accumulation of things for
which the Government has no answer. It cannot 'discipline' the economy like
it does its people."

Fuel dealers said that they could no longer predict the value of the
Zimbabwe dollar for more than half a day.

"On Friday morning it was at Z$90,000 to US$1," said a petrol dealer, who
asked not to be named. "By lunchtime it was at Z$100,000 to US$1. At the end
of the day it was Z$120,000 to US$1.

"By the time I've banked the cash, it's lost its value and I've lost money.
I've got fuel, but not for Zimdollars. I'm going to have to close my doors."

The local prices of fuel, set to match the cost of importing petrol and
diesel, are approved each Friday by a government committee. "They can't
approve it fast enough," a service station owner said. "A lot of us are
scared of going to jail or being closed down if we charge above their
figure."

As the fuel situation tightened, the fleets of commuter minibuses that carry
Harare's workers, traders and school children from the poor townships pushed
up their fares by 50 per cent, after a 25 per cent increase last Thursday.
"We cannot afford this," Chipo Nyatsanzwa, a clerk, said. "I never thought
it would get so bad."

This month Harare Central Hospital, the biggest in the capital, came close
to shutting completely when nurses stayed away because they could not afford
the bus fare to work. Last week the country's security companies announced
that "most employees" in the industry had resigned because they could no
longer afford housing, transport or food.

A working-class family in a Harare township needs a minimum of Z$5.5 million
a month for survival, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe estimated two weeks
ago. That figure was then worth £85. Yesterday it had fallen to £36. The
figure of Z$5.5 million is far beyond the wages of ordinary employees.

The International Monetary Fund has said "prospects are for Zimbabwe's
inflation to continue accelerating and for economic crisis to deepen"
because of the policies of printing money, refusing to allow the currency to
float and controlling prices, as well as the lack of governance.

President Mugabe blames the increases on profiteering and "illegal
†sanctions" that he claims have been imposed on Zimbabwe by the West in its
alleged rush to bring about "illegal regime change" and have him replaced by
a British colonial government run by black "puppets".


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Opposition Says Mugabe Must Reform Now

The Guardian

Friday June 22, 2007 2:01 AM

By D'ARCY DORAN

Associated Press Writer

LONDON (AP) - Runaway inflation and the Zimbabwe currency's largest decline
in memory will increase pressure on President Robert Mugabe to allow free
and fair elections, the main opposition leader said Thursday.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of one of the main opposition factions, said
Mugabe needs to consider elections as a way out of Zimbabwe's economic
crisis.

``He's got an economy that's down on its knees, he knows he cannot sustain
it,'' Tsvangirai told The Associated Press in an interview. ``He knows he
has an army that is jittery. He knows all his popular pillars of support are
up against him.''

Tsvangirai spoke after making his first public appearance outside Zimbabwe
with rival Movement for Democratic Change faction leader Arthur Mutambara,
at a news conference in London.

Zimbabwe's opposition leaders are on a Western European tour aimed at
building international support and showing that the opposition is united
after months of infighting.

The long-ruling Mugabe has faced international criticism that he has ruined
a country once considered an African economic success story through an
often-violent campaign to seize thousands of white-owned farms for
redistribution to blacks.

Critics blame the program for causing acute shortages of food, hard
currency, gasoline, medicines and other essential imports. But Mugabe has
defended the program as a way of fixing imbalances in land ownership
inherited from British colonial rule.

Dealers said Thursday that the value of the Zimbabwean dollar suffered its
worst crash in memory. Black market exchange rates - fueled by the central
bank buying at the illegal rates to pay the mounting debts of crumbling
state fuel and power utilities - rose to upward of 300,000 Zimbabwe dollars
to one U.S. dollar in large offshore deals, one trader said on condition of
anonymity because his dealings are illegal.

The official exchange rate is 15,000-1. Zimbabwe has the world's highest
rate of inflation, estimated officially at around 4,500 percent.

In separate interviews, Tsvangirai and Mutambara both said the opposition
needed to mobilize behind one candidate in presidential elections scheduled
for March to ensure every opposition vote counted against Mugabe.

``Zimbabwe is burning, we can't bicker among ourselves,'' Mutambara said.

Problems with Zimbabwe's currency are forcing stores to close to put new
prices on what little they could afford to stock.

---

Associated Press Writer Angus Shaw contributed to this report from Harare,
Zimbabwe.


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China props up Mugabe with US$200m fertilizer deal

Zim Online

Friday 22 June 2007

By Wayne Mafaro

HARARE - China has provided a US$200 million facility for the supply of
fertilizer to Zimbabwe to help revive agriculture and end hunger stalking
more than a third of the country's 12 million people, according to Industry
and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu.

Mpofu told a Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) meeting in Harare on
Wednesday that the facility would be solely funded by Beijing with the
cash-strapped Harare not contributing a single cent.

But the Industry Minister did not disclose the finer details of the
fertilizer facility, when exactly the money would be made available or how
the Chinese hoped to recoup their money.

"The Chinese government has arranged a US$200 million fertilizer facility
for us. We are not paying from our own funds. It is a facility made
available to us and there is nothing wrong with that," said Mpofu.

Zimbabwe has grappled severe food shortages over the past seven years,
worsened by a deep economic recession seen in the world's highest inflation
of more than 4 500 percent, rising unemployment and poverty.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World
Food Programme (WFP) earlier this month said more than four million
Zimbabweans would face serious food shortages by early next year.

The UN agencies blamed the food shortages on crop failure which they
attributed to poor rainfall, government controls on prices of farm products
and a lack of availability of key inputs such as fertilizer.

Several business executives attending the CZI meeting however expressed
little hope the Chinese deal would ensure availability of fertilizer for
farmers saying deals with Beijing had yielded nothing in the past.

"We have heard this before with promises that the Chinese were coming to
finance electricity generation or mining but nothing came out of it," said
an executive with a leading Harare commercial bank who declined to be named.

Another executive with one of Zimbabwe's biggest food manufacturers
criticized the fertilizer facility saying it provided for the importation of
fertilizer from China at the expense of local manufacturers.

"It is of no benefit for the government to import fertilizer from China at
the expense of local companies. It is better to channel foreign currency
towards resuscitation of local companies. Let us make our own fertilizer,"
said the executive.

Mugabe has over the past seven years pursued a Look-East policy aimed at
strengthening relations with China and other Asian economies since falling
out with the West who accuse his government of abusing human rights,
stealing elections and failure to uphold the rule of law. - ZimOnline


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Magistrate pressured to convict fearless prosecutor

Zim Online

Friday 22 June 2007

By Prince Nyathi

HARARE - A senior Zimbabwe magistrate Herbert Mangate has asked to be taken
off a case involving a top public prosecutor because some unnamed government
officials were pressuring him to convict the prosecutor, Levison Chikafu, of
corruption, sources told ZimOnline.

Chikafu is accused of embezzling government funds, soliciting for bribes
from suspects in a case his lawyers say is meant to victimise and embarrass
him after he prosecuted Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and State
Security Minister Didymus Mutasa.

The lawyers also charge that Chikafu was being punished for his attempts to
have state agent Joseph Mwale arrested for allegedly murdering two
opposition activists seven years ago.

"He (Mangate) has communicated that he could no longer continue with the
case citing political interference from senior officials in government whose
names he did not give," said a source in the justice ministry, who spoke on
condition her name was not published.

Mangate was not immediately available for comment on the matter while Chief
Magistrate Herbert Mandeya said he was not aware of any request by Mangate
for recusal from the trial of Chikafu.

"I have not been told yet. If he (Mangate) cannot continue with the case I
think he is still to communicate with us," said Mandeya.

The State is alleging that Chikafu destroyed court records and enabled
undeserving suspects to get bail. It also alleges that Chikafu and a prison
officer, Wilson Sengu, solicited money from two murder suspects Terrence
Katsidzira and Richard Muparutsa with promises that he would facilitate bail
for them.

Chikafu rose to prominence last year after he charged Chinamasa for
attempting to defeat the course of justice by allegedly attempting to
pressure a key witness in a case against Mutasa to withdraw.

He took up the case after other prosecutors recused themselves, fearing to
prosecute Chinamasa who as head of the Ministry of Justice was their boss.
Chinamsa was however acquitted by the court.

Chikafu also dominated the news headlines when he courageously pushed the
police to arrest Mwale for allegedly petrol-bombing a vehicle carrying two
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party activists, Talent
Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya, in the run-up to the 2000 general election.

The MDC activists died as a result of the bombing, but Mwale, who is a
senior member of the state's spy Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and
remains employed by the secret agency, has never faced trial for allegedly
murdering the opposition activists amid reports top politicians have
shielded him from justice. - ZimOnline


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ZANU PF legislators did not apply for visas

Zim Online

Friday 22 June 2007

By Sebastian Nyamhangambiri in Berlin

BERLIN - A senior official of the African, Caribbean, Pacific-European Union
Joint Parliamentary Assembly (ACP-EU) has rejected charges that two ruling
ZANU PF legislators were denied visas to travel for a meeting in Germany.

Earlier this week, Austin Zvoma, Zimbabwe's clerk of parliament, said Harare
would not be represented at the ACP-EU meeting in Wiesbaden, after Germany
refused to issue visas to ZANU PF legislators Forbes Magadu and Godfrey
Chipare.

But in a statement to the media, Michael Gahler, the Joint Parliamentary
Assembly vice-president said Magadu and Chipare were never denied visas as
they had not submitted any applications at the Germany embassy in Harare.

Gahler insisted that had the two submitted their visa applications, their
applications would have been processed as long as they did not appear on a
list of banned Zimbabweans banned from visiting Europe under targeted
sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his senior party officials.

"I am surprised to learn of the hesitation of the Zimbabwean Parliament to
send a delegation to our ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Wiesbaden
next week.

"As the First Vice-Chairman of the European Parliament delegation in the
JPA, representing the EU side, I want to underline that we have an interest
in working with colleagues from Zimbabwe in Wiesbaden next week.

"I have been assured of the co-operation of German authorities in this
respect. They have not received formal visa applications to date - contrary
to media reports," said Gahler.

Magadu, Chipare and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) legislator Nelson
Chamisa were expected in Wiesbaden as part of the Zimbabwean delegation at
the ACP-EU meeting.

Magadu on Thursday insisted that they had been denied visas were by the
Germany embassy in Harare telling ZimOnline to contact Zvoma for comment on
the matter.

"Why should I not want to go to Germany? The applications were turned down.
Ask Zvoma (for more details on the matter)," said Magadu in a telephone
interview.

Contacted for comment, Zvoma said: "I think we are now kicking a dead
donkey. Zimbabwe has no delegation going (to Germany) full stop. What is the
problem?"

The German embassy in Harare, which has remained mum on the issue, could not
be reached for comment on the matter last night.

On Tuesday, EU press officer Richard Freedman said ACP-EU parliamentarians
would still discuss Zimbabwe's deteriorating political crisis next week
despite Harare indicating that it had pulled out of the dialogue.

Freedman said the summit would discuss the deteriorating political and
economic crisis in Zimbabwe even if Harare was not officially represented at
the meeting.

Relations between Harare and the EU have been strained since 2000 after
Mugabe began seizing white farms for redistribution to landless blacks and
began a clampdown on the opposition, rights groups and the press.

The EU and the United States imposed targeted sanctions on Mugabe and his
senior lieutenants after the Zimbabwean leader won the 2002 presidential
election that international observers said were rigged and were marred by
serious voter intimidation. - ZimOnline


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From the ruins of Rome to the ruins of Zimbabwe

Zim Online

Friday 22 June 2007

By Herbert Nyamakope

DUBLIN - There is nothing new under the sun. Oh no, you might say to me,
what is happening in Zimbabwe is unprecedented. Well you may be comforted to
learn that it has happened elsewhere before.

The tragedy of it all, though, is that those who do not learn from history
are condemned to repeat similar mistakes.

I am not going to discuss here the Yugoslavia hyperinflation of 1993-4. By
now most of us would have read something about it. Or even the Germany
inflation of 1923.

These two case studies, which at the moment are sitting at the top of the
league of hyperinflation cases, were not quite in the same situation as we
are in Zimbabwe.

There was war in Yugoslavia and Germany was paying reparations for the
damages of the First World War. Zimbabwe is in over two decades of peace
times. Neither is this an economic thesis on inflation.

This is an illustration of what I can best describe as human folly. Two
months ago I was in Rome on a holiday.

Being someone who has an interest in history as well as being a civil
engineer, I was so fascinated by the magnificence of the ruins of ancient
Rome that I promised myself that should the Lord permit I will visit again.

You can't avoid but marvel at the spectacle of this ancient architecture;
the temples, squares (piazzas), triumphant arches, the roads, the colloseum
and all manner of structures very well preserved today for tourists.

Truly at its height, this must have been one of the greatest wonders of the
ancient world. For a time I became so curious to find out who built these
things. What you see there speaks very loudly of the people who built them.

They must have been highly organised and educated. I turned to the World
Wide Web, thanks to modern technology. While deeply engrossed in this
research, I came across something that caught my eye and diverted my
attention altogether.

Afterwards I said surely there is nothing new under the sun.

Rome was ruled by emperors and it had a senate, laws, judges just like any
modern society.

By the way I am talking about the period 33BC to 476AD and by Rome I do not
mean the capital of Italy as we know it today, I mean the Roman empire which
stretched from North Africa, the middle east, across central Europe all the
way to Britain.

In 283AD, Diocletian became the new emperor.

There were problems in the empire at that time and he wanted to secure his
position. To achieve this he increased both the numbers and salaries of the
armed forces to keep them loyal to him.

Strangely as it happened, he also appointed two vice emperors, which was not
the case before.

Because of these increased salaries and numbers of the armed forces, the
government began to mint more coins to pay them (there were no notes or
bearer cheques those days).

However there wasn't enough gold or silver to support this vast increase in
coins. Copper coins or tin-plated copper coins were used instead. (Sounds
more like replacing our currency with bearer cheques).

The vast increase in copper coins in circulation led to inflation. Their
value fell further and even more coins had to be made. A vicious cycle then
was set in motion.

Prices rose and Diocletian blamed the merchants for the price increases and
called them greedy. In 301 AD he issued an edict declaring that prices were
to be fixed, (what we call price controls today).

Anyone who was found selling above the gazetted price would be punished by
death. Anyone found buying at that price would also be punished by a lighter
sentence (clever).

From here you can almost guess the rest of the story.

However you might not be able to guess the grand finale. Of course this led
to the creation of the black market. Goods were no longer available from the
markets but only on the underground market. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Not only that but merchants stopped selling their goods because they could
not sell at the loss making gazetted prices. What do you think was the
government's next accusation of the merchants? Hoarding, of course.

Penalties were pronounced for hoarding. To escape from all this, the
merchants simply closed shop. Diocletian wouldn't take that and another
edict was passed which said that every man had to pursue the occupation of
his father and failure to do so was punishable by death.

So if your father was a merchant, you had to continue practising as a
merchant yourself. This was the first instance of recorded hyperinflation.

Third century Rome seem to be repeating itself in 21st century Zimbabwe.

What I like though about Diocletian is something you wouldn't guess.

In 303AD he resigned. As if this was not enough, he forced his two deputies
to resign as well. (well, that was bold and is the missing link in our
society).

This perhaps was the first time I read that an emperor resigned. They would
either die on the throne or be assassinated or killed in battle.

The position of emperor was much more powerful than that of even the
president of the United States today. You were elevated to the position of a
god and to resign from there took a real man.

This was so impressive that in 308AD he was persuaded to resume office
again. He declined. To add icing to the cake, he actually sorted out the
succession issue before he resigned.

So there you are, what we are going through in Zimbabwe today, the Romans
went through it.

The similarities are stark, but the differences are stark also. Whereas
today we have economics textbooks, powerful computers, a department of
economic planning, a central bank and its governor, ministries of finance
and trade and commerce and precedents to learn from, the Romans had none.

Interesting isn't it, that from 300AD to now we seem to have only moved
slightly, backwards.

No wonder Rome today is such a marvel, they were solving economic problems
that we are failing to solve today.

* Herbert Nyamakope is a Zimbabwean writer based in Dublin, Ireland


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Award for Peta Thornycroft

The Telegraph

Last Updated: 2:38am BST 22/06/2007

††††† Peta Thornycroft, The Daily Telegraph's Zimbabwe correspondent, was
honoured for her reporting of the suffering caused by President Robert
Mugabe's regime yesterday when she received a Special James Cameron Award.

††††† The award, created in memory of the late foreign correspondent James
Cameron, was given in "recognition of her continued reporting of the story
of Zimbabwe from within the country despite serious risk to her personal
safety and continual harassment by the authorities".

††††† A Zimbabwean citizen, Ms Thornycroft, 62, has worked for the Telegraph
since 2001. She has covered some of the most traumatic events in her
country's post-independence history, notably the demise of the white farmers
dispossessed by Mr Mugabe's land grab, the 2002 election when he stole
victory with a campaign of violence, and the country's spiralling economic
crisis.

††††† "I'm deeply honoured by this award, but saddened by the fact that
Robert Mugabe's repression means fewer and fewer independent journalists are
able to work in Zimbabwe - and those that do, do so at their peril," she
said last night.


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With Elections Approaching, Harare Gives Village Headmen A Raise

VOA

††††† By Patience Rusere
††††† Washington
††††† 21 June 2007

The Zimbabwean government has increased allowances for village headmen from
Z$7,000 a month to Z$150,000 (US$0.50) retroactive to the start of 2007.

Critics like Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition Programs Manager Phillip Pasirayi
said this gave the appearance of vote-buying as the amounts exceed some
worker salaries.

The country is headed for local elections in January of next year with
presidential and parliamentary elections in March 2008. The ruling ZANU-PF
party of President Robert Mugabe has traditionally dominated rural
constituencies which are subject to the influence - and at times
intimidation - of traditional village leaders.


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Mediation doomed to fail, civic groups tell Mbeki

Zimbabwejournalists.com

21st Jun 2007 21:22 GMT

By Patrick Chikwande

ZIMBABWE civic society has warned South African President Thabo Mbeki that
his mediation efforts to solve the political and economic crisis affecting
Zimbabwe are likely to fail in the absence of full participation from all
concerned parties.

During a public discussion held at Crown Plaza hotel yesterday evening under
the theme 'Mbeki-Sadc talks' members of the civic society warned that the
Sadc initiated mediation was likely to hit a snag following the
non-involvement of civil society, the business community and church groups.

On a yellow paper titled 'The 2007 agenda of engaging the Zimbabwean
government', the civic society said the mediation process must involve the
full participation by civil society, political parties, church groups and
the business community.

The paper says there is an urgent need for a new democratic people driven
constitution that establishes an electoral and legal framework that ensures
free and fair elections.

All parties must agree to principles of governance and a new leadership
code, adding that there should be a defined process to achieve truth,
justice and reconciliation.

The civil society says the mediation must involve the consultation of its
members to ensure 'a broad ownership of the process'.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition coordinator Jacob Mafume urged political
parties and civic society members to reach a consensus on the way forward
concerning next year's parliamentary and presidential elections.

"We need to mobilize ourselves and make decisions on voting, if we are to
participate in next year's elections and if we are not going to participate
so that we have consensus," Mafume said.

Mafume said there would be nothing amiss in the opposition boycotting next
year's elections if the playing field is not level.

Government has been accused in the media of not taking the Sadc mediation
efforts seriously by sending junior officials and absconding meetings
thereby delaying and frustrating the mediating process.

Attempts by the Commonwealth group of nations to solve the political and
economic crisis following the 2002 disputed presidential elections failed
when the government pulled out of the group.

President Mbeki is expected to report back to Sadc leaders his mediation
efforts on June 30.

Meanwhile an eight week commemoration of Operation Murambatsvina is being
held under the theme 'We demand an apology' and is expected to end mid-July.

Patrick Chikwande is a pseudonym of Zimbabwean journalist


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Zimbabwe a major producer of refugees



22 June 2007

By Mfundo Mlilo

This week marks the celebration of the World refugee day, a day in which as
Zimbabweans we must take seriously in view of the current problems we are
facing. Over the last few years over 4 (four) million Zimbabweans have left
the country to neighbouring countries mainly South Africa and the United
Kingdom. Many of these are young men and women forced out of the country by
the current economic melt down. A major component of this group are
professionals who have left the country in search for greener pastures.

It is also important to note that some of these fellow Zimbabweans have been
pushed out of the country as a result of political elements bent on
perpetuating the illegal regime of Robert Mugabe. The Zimbabwean economy is
currently characterized by runaway hyper inflationary conditions with our
inflation now hitting world records of well over 8000% and month on month
figures above 100 % which is pushed by reckless and irresponsible money
printing.

Unemployment rates are well above 80% and the informal sector that had
become a means for sustainable livelihood for many of these people was
destroyed by government through operation Murambatsvina. The once famed
education system is on the verge or has collapsed owing to dire shortage of
professional staff and mass exodus of teachers and critical shortages of
foreign currency. Industries are operating at below 30% and some have either
closed or have had to undertake massive retrenchments.

There is no direct or indirect investment by foreign investment and a donor
flight many of which sustained public services. Foreign currency lines of
credit have been closed resulting in a shortage of foreign currency which
has a consequent effect of paralyzing all public institutions. Currently the
Zimbabwe Power Company is failing to provide adequate power supplies and
domestic and industrial consumption is reeling under crippling power cuts.
The mafia styled land grab process implemented by government and masked by
its propaganda as a land revolution has further compounded the situation.

The entire agric sector has collapsed leading to food shortages which have
claimed many lives in u rural communities. The land grab also severed our
links with the international community and discredited our confidence in
trade. Politically the democratic space continues to shrink as the police,
the army and the central intelligence have turned themselves into
institutions of violence and repression. They have turned themselves into
departments of Zanupf and exist to protect the legacy of Mugabe and his
cronies. This structural defect will require years of rehabilitation to
solve. POSA and AIPPA have given the police force unprecedented powers to
crack down on activists viewed MDC.

Many of these people have been tortured and some killed for demanding
democracy. The writer is no stranger to police and state brutality as he has
been arrested and detained for several times.
All these issues and many others have forced over 4 (four) million people to
flea from Zimbabwe in search for a better life. Many young man and women
have been mauled by human eating lions along the Limpopo river as they try
to cross into neighboring South Africa. Many have been eaten by crocodiles
as they cross the crocodile infested Limpopo river. Those who have been
lucky to successful cross into South Africa have been met with no jobs and
rampant abuse by officials at receiving countries.

Latest revelations in to the Botswana police revealed how Zimbabweans were
made to masturbate in from of soldiers. Zimbabweans have been met with very
disturbing situations. As we mark world refugee day we must take a moment to
remember many of our people who are suffering in neighboring countries as
they try to make a living. We URGE South African President Thabo Mbeki to
tighten the screws on Zanupf. We as Zimbabweans demand specific deliver
ables from the current negotiation going on. SADC must not watch as the
situation in Zimbabwe deteriorates. Or is it that they expect us to pick up
guns and wage a liberation struggle in Zimbabwe.

SADC and the U.N must act on Zimbabwe before it turns into another Dafur or
Iraq. We are peace loving people and we believe in constructive and peaceful
engagement but at the same time HOW LONG SHALL WE BE PEACEFUL TO A REGIME
THAT IS VIOLENT TO US. Mugabe must be aware that his time to change is now
or never. We are ready for a revolution in Zimbabwe and the sooner He
realizes the better for him and his cronies. Zimbabweans also demand unity
within the bickering factions of the MDC.

Many Zimbabweans pin their hopes on the MDC but the chances of success are
only possible when we are a united front. Political power should not blind
politicians from the work that lies ahead. Lastly Zimbabweans are urged to
continue soldiering on, the end is nigh................it is darkest before
dawn.

VIVA ZIMBABWE

Mfundo Mlilo, is a Civic Activist, a former student leader expelled from the
University of Zimbabwe. He works for the Combined Harare Residents
Association (CHRA ) a social movement in Harare. )
Nehanda Radio: Zimbabwe's first 24 hour internet radio news channel.

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