'Lying' media will be dealt with: Zimbabwe Zimbabwe
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo has warned that the country has enough
prison space for local journalists who peddle "lies" in the
Mr Moyo told journalists that the media was the next
enemy that needed to be dealt with after the Government had finished with its
anti-corruption campaign in the financial sector.
has said our main enemy is the financial sector but the other enemy is the
media who use the pen to lie about this country," he said.
reporters are terrorists and the position on how to deal with terrorists is
to subject them to the laws of Zimbabwe.
"If there are any reporters who
think they would effect a regime change here they would find themselves in
jail, we have enough prison room for them."
Reacting to a British Sky
television crew which flew into the country this week without prior
accreditation to cover - among other stories - the country's ongoing cricket
saga, Mr Moyo said the crew did not conform to an earlier arrangement with
"We had invited them (Sky TV) to do a co-production
with (state-television's) NewsNet and we had said we want to know who will
be part of their team and who will be on the NewsNet team but before we knew
it they were already in the country," Mr Moyo said.
"Those guys are
trash and we do not need them and Sky TV is no exception, whether it's CNN or
whatever, we have no illusion that they have changed."
High Court throws Mudzuri a lifeline By our own
THE High Court has ordered that dismissed Harare Executive Mayor
Elias Mudzuri should stay at the council mansion in Gunhill - at least for
another month - throwing into disarray plans by Local Government Minister
Ignatius Chombo to forcibly evict Mudzuri and his family from the
High Court Judge Elphas Chitakunye on Friday also ordered
Chombo to avail to the former dismissed Harare Executive Mayor the reports of
both the Jameson Kurasha and Johannes Tomana commissions, which formed the
basis of his dismissal by the government.
Yesterday a defiant
Mudzuri said he had ignored Chombo's directive to vacate the Harare City
Council mansion within seven days.
"I am still there. At times I might
not sleep there for security reasons, but I am still there," Mudzuri told The
The judge directed that Mudzuri, fired by President Robert
Mugabe in cahoots with Chombo recently, be allowed to stay in the council
mansion in the suburb of Gunhill for another month.
Beatrice Mtetwa of Kantor & Immerman, said Chombo was ordered to provide
the two reports and the transcripts of the hearing of the Tomana Commission
by May 7 to enable him to challenge his suspension and dismissal.
judge said it was unreasonable to expect Mudzuri to challenge his suspension
and dismissal without the two reports. He also said it was unreasonable to
give him seven days only to vacate the mayoral house,"
Mtetwa said she would use the reports and transcripts to
challenge Mudzuri's suspension and subsequent dismissal.
definitely challenge because there were a lot of irregularities in the
dismissal and the process itself. Justice Chinhengo ruled that the Kurasha
commission had no powers to investigate Mudzuri but it went on to do so,"
In his affidavit, Mudzuri said the failure by Chombo to
disband and reconstitute the Kurasha Commission, which Judge Chinhengo had
ruled out, grossly prejudiced him.
Mudzuri said the Kurasha Committee
made recommendations on the basis of a process that was void and of no legal
effect right from the start.
He also questioned the legality of the
Tomana Commission because it relied on allegations against him made by the
Mudzuri said because the two committees were not
appointed in terms of the law and they proceeded on terms of references that
do not accord with the provisions of the Act his dismissal was therefore
Mudzuri's dismissal letter written by Chombo stated that Mugabe
had directed that the former mayor vacates office with immediate
The dismissal letter also directs Mudzuri to immediately
surrender to acting Harare Mayor Sekesai Makwavarara all council property in
his possession as well as vacating the council mansion in Harare's Gunhill
within a week.
Makwavarara, a former Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
councillor, resigned from the opposition party to become an 'independent'
Mangwende recruits militia for council jobs By Our own
WITNESS Mangwende, the recently appointed Governor of Harare, has
started recruiting Zanu PF youth militia and supporters for employment in
Harare City Council's public works programme and other junior positions in
the council, sources told The Standard this week.
"The message came
from Mangwende last week that we needed to recruit about 60 people from each
constituency within the council. We are vetting the names through our
branches and cells," a Zanu PF official involved in the recruitment programme
told The Standard.
The official said the idea was to fill every
council post with Zanu PF supporters ahead of next year's parliamentary
This would help destroy the Movement for Democratic Change's
influence in Harare City Council affairs, he said.
The official said
the exercise was also expected to be carried out in Bulawayo, where Cain
Mathema was recently appointed Governor, and other cities and
According to the official, the council was supposed to recruit
about 60 people - mostly youths and women - from Harare's 16
The recruitment exercise comes hardly a week after
President Robert Mugabe dismissed Harare Executive Mayor, Elias Mudzuri, on
allegations of corruption and mismanagement.
Mangwende, who has been
in and out of Mugabe's Cabinet since 1980, could not be reached for a
The chairman of the Combined Harare Ratepayers' Association
(CHRA) Mike Davies deplored the partisan recruitment by Mangwende as well as
using ratepayers' money for political gain.
"Public works programmes
are supposed to benefit all ratepayers irrespective of political affiliation.
The selection of those working under the programme should be done by
councillors and members of Parliament (MPs)," said Davies.
He said CHRA
had written to Mangwende demanding his terms of reference but the Governor
referred all questions pertaining to his appointment to Chombo.
not sure under what mandate the governor is operating. He appears to have
assumed the duties of an executive mayor. This is why we have written to
him," said Davies, who added that Chombo, the architect of
Mudzuri's dismissal, had not responded to his queries.
spokesperson Paul Themba-Nyathi said Mangwende was desperately trying
to extend Zanu PF patronage by offering MDC supporters employment.
No major deals as curtain falls on ZITF By Savious
BULAWAYO - Visiting the 2004 Zimbabwe International Trade Fair
(ZITF) during one of the traders' days, The Standard news crew was greeted by
empty cattle pens, grinding mills, deserted exhibiting halls and a chain of
idle taxis parked outside - a clear indication that the show was a now a pale
shadow of its former self.
Complicating the woes of the low-key ZITF,
the exhibition show-ground was dominated by soldiers, Zimbabwe Prison Service
(ZPS) personnel, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), security guards, drum
majorettes and ice cream vendors.
Several struggling black
business people mainly from the Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector,
who were hoping to clinch sound business deals, returned to their respective
towns and cities empty-handed and a disappointed lot.
"Since I came
here from Harare on Tuesday up to now Friday, there are no meaningful
business deals to talk about," said Harare businessman, who asked to remain
Bulawayo-based economist Eric Bloch pointed out that no
genuine exhibitors would come for a fair held under such a distressed
"I made it clear before that no genuine foreign investor would
like to exhibit in a country that has such a bad image. Our economy is
distressed and its pointless to spend money on exhibition hence the poor
turnout by both local and international exhibitors," said
Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) chairman for Matabeleland region,
Mac Crawford, said the country's agricultural performance had declined
sharply resulting in many people losing their jobs.
vibrant agricultural industry has been destroyed and it is going to take some
years to rekindle this important sector of our economy," said
Meanwhile, there was chaos and confusion at the official
opening ceremony of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) on Friday
afternoon when hordes of Zanu PF Women's League members forced their way into
the VIP area, shutting out officially invited guests such as diplomats and
Frantic ZITF officials and security officers from the army,
police and Central Intelligence Organisation tried in vain to stop the group
of women who were dressed in the ruling party's regalia.
*Campaigning has moved into top gear quietly in Lupane where
the ruling party Zanu PF and the opposition MDC have squared up for a by-
election set for May 15 and 16. Our Bulawayo Bureau's Savious Parker Kwinika
spent two days in the rural constituency last week and below is his eye
IN a scene reminiscent of old gangster
movies, a convoy of about eight Nissan Patrol and Nissan Hardbody trucks
clearly marked Zanu PF, DDF and Lupane Rural District Council travelling at
high speed, suddenly screech to a halt in a cloud of dust at an open space in
Gomoza Village, Chief Jiba Jiba's communal area in Lupane on
The open space was the venue of a Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) rally, called to drum up support for its candidate, Njabuliso Mguni,
who is battling it out with Martin Khumalo of the ruling Zanu PF
As suddenly as they arrived, some of the vehicles - laden with war
veterans and Zanu PF youths - started moving fast in a circle right round the
open space entrapping hundreds of MDC supporters who were listening to a
fired up Mguni.
Mguni, a veteran educationist, was urging them to shun
the ruling party in the by-election set for May 15 and 16 and instead vote
for the MDC.
At the same time, other vehicles with menacing looking
occupants, were being revved, making such ear-shattering noise that it was
obvious this was a deliberate ploy to make it impossible for Mguni to
communicate with his audience. Apart from that, the vehicles also raised so
much dust that engulfed the gathering within seconds.
this frightful scenario, it didn't take long for the faint-hearted to take to
their heels escaping from what turned out to be the Gomoza circle of despair.
Among those caught up in the stampede were elderly men, women and
Only a few people, mainly MDC officials and ex-Zipra combatants
stood their ground and remained at the venue until the hullabaloo died down.
Out came the leaders of the war veterans and the militia who announced that
the meeting was illegal and everyone had to disperse.
rally and get away now," said a fierce looking war veteran threateningly, as
he and his mates pranced about like prize fighters. A lone policeman, who had
been assigned to the rally, simply watched the scene like a bemused
"I am alone here. I can't do anything about it," he said to
some fear stricken villagers who had appealed to him to intervene.
unannounced arrival of the intruders marked the end of the MDC
Although nobody was assaulted or injured during the melee that
lasted for about 15 minutes, the incident was certainly meant to send shivers
down the spines of hapless villagers who had hitherto been attending a
It also reminded them of the dangers associated with
attending MDC rallies. According to some villagers, this was surely a sign of
bad things to come and they were afraid to take chances.
of Gukurahundi are still fresh in our minds. You can never under-estimate
what these people (war veterans and Zanu PF militias) can do to ensure that
they secure a victory for Zanu PF in Lupane," said a village elder, shaking
The elder told me he had witnessed some of the worst atrocities
committed by the Fifth Brigade when it butchered over 20 000 civilians during
the early 1980s, during the so-called Gukurahundi campaign by the
As a result of these frightening experiences, several families -
especially those that are well known for their support for the MDC - are
having sleepless nights fearing possible attacks from militias who have
established several bases in this rural constituency.
When they go to
sleep these days, many say they gather huge stones around them for protection
in the event of a night raid.
The incident at Gomoza Village was one of
the many such occurrences now common in Lupane where the ruling party quickly
disrupts any rallies called for by the MDC. This has made it virtually
impossible for the opposition party to campaign effectively.
despite such tactics, - which have become the hallmark of Zanu PF's campaign
strategy in the run up to elections - the determination of the villagers to
support the opposition party is clearly evident. They do not seem deterred by
the fact that the MDC campaign is hamstrung by lack
Apart from religiously turning up at every meeting
called by Mguni and his campaign team, the villagers bring their own pots and
plates to rallies so that they can prepare food afterwards.
though news of the Gomoza raid filtered through to the other
villagers, surprisingly, thousands more turned up at yet another MDC rally at
Bubi Resettlement Scheme, about 170 kms north of Bulawayo the following
morning. Among them were nearly a hundred of youths armed with stones and
knobkerries meant to fight off any Zanu PF attacks.
One MDC youth
leader, obviously excited about the huge attendance, said the ruling party,
which failed to meet its promise in the 2000 general elections to pay youths
in the area, had now alienated many young people in Lupane.
"We have been
used, cheated and taken advantage of by Zanu PF and this time around we have
to turn against Zanu PF. As you can see today, this meeting has been attended
by both youths, elderly men and women who want to express their grievances
through the ballot box," said Xolani Nyathi, a 22-year-old and unemployed MDC
Four MDC parliamentarians, Esaph Mdlongwa (Bulawayo), Abednigo
Bhebhe (Nkayi), Ndlovu Mzila (Bulilima North) and Jacob Thabani (Bubi
Umguza) attended the meeting which ended without any incident.
there are still tales of many villagers who have been brutally attacked in
Lupane in violence linked to the by-election.
Two people in Gomoza are
battling for their lives after being assaulted by a group of war veterans and
Zanu PF supporters who accused them of funding MDC rallies in the
The two - Jacob Tshuma and his wife Sicingeni - who had
come from South Africa to see relatives, were being treated at St. Luke
Hospital early last week before they were moved out of the hospital by MDC
Lupane officials "for security reasons".
The attack occurred a few
days after the nomination court sat last month to confirm Mguni (MDC) and
Martin Khumalo of Zanu PF as the two official candidates for the
MDC district secretary for Lupane, Temba Dlomo, said the
injured had nothing whatsoever to do with his party or local politics except
that their relatives belonged to the MDC.
"We need peace and
tranquillity in Lupane but if the worse comes to the worst then the local
villagers will say enough is enough and perhaps retaliate," said
The Lupane seat was left vacant following the death of the MDC
MP David Mpala, who is believed to have died as a result of injuries
sustained from attacks by Zanu PF supporters and war veterans in the run-up
to the 2002 elections.
Planned mining rule scares new investors By Kumbirai
THE ruling Zanu PF government, accused of plundering economic
resources in the last 24 years, has set its targets on the mining sector
which could crumble if the "politically correct" 49% empowerment requirement
is not revised, analysts have said.
The government recently drafted a
white paper - through the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development - aimed at
accelerating the economic empowerment of the majority blacks through
acquiring equity in the profitable mining industry, dominated by foreign
President Robert Mugabe's government defends the
initiative to grab 49% shareholding of all major mines as a means to allow
for the involvement of black nationals in key mining ventues.
planned legislation - entitled "Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, 2004" -
states that in order for private companies to hold a mining title, 49% of the
shares must be ceded to "historically disadvantaged persons" within three
Bigger and ZSE listed foreign-owned mining houses such as Rio
Tinto and Falgold would need to cede 25% of their shareholding to black
The government has however abruptly stopped plans to
launch the draft paper through a national road show after complains from the
Standard Business understands that big mining houses are
now frantically trying to arrange a meeting with Mines Minister Midzi over
the leaked white paper.
They say the manner in which government
intends to acquire the 49% is in itself shroud in secrecy and could be just
another ploy to benefit government and Zanu PF supporters as happened with
the widely criticised land reform programme.
Local economists say
government's intended moves might also be hampered by the complex financial
arrangements needed to fund empowerment deals due to Zimbabwe's current
They point at banker Mthuli Ncube's failed attempt
to buy out Zimplats minorities in a multi-million Australian dollar bid in
2003. Ncube, who is now in self exile, abandoned the plans after he failed to
raise the hard currency needed offshore.
Other major companies that
could be affected by the empowerment arrangement include South Africa's
Impala Platinum Holdings (Implats) - the world's second biggest platinum
producer - which currently holds an 82% stake in Zimplats with the small
remainder in minority hands.
"Borrowing money to acquire a stake in
mining is high risk and the return on investment does not always cover the
cost of borrowing. Something easily gained is not always appreciated," said
Roy Pitchford, Zimplats' former CEO.
Chamber of Mines President Ian
Saunders said there were already ripple effects that were being felt because
of the intended Bill. Fresh mining projects had been terminated following the
circulation of the white paper.
"The form and content of the proposals -
in particular Section 28, which deals with indigenisation of the industry -
has caused considerable consternation among both current mine owners and
potential new investors, both locally and abroad," said Sanders.
has already been reported to the chamber that new projects have been put on
hold, primary and secondary listing partners have withdrawn from
future financing activities and existing mines may soon develop a wait and
see strategy before embarking on expansions," he added.
many foreign investors in mining were likely to be caught napping on the
issue of local shareholding as they have already indicated that they are not
keen to release a substantial stake to new black investors - as demanded by
government - who might not have invested a cent.
Zimplats recently had to
issue a statement to shareholders trying to clarify the chaos caused by the
draft mining Bill.
Newly appointed Zimplats' CEO Mike Houston however
told Standard Business: "We are looking at it as a draft document. Until we
know exactly what the contents will be, we will not
Government efforts to increase the involvement of a black elite
in mining sector have gathered momentum following the implementation of a
similar drive in South Africa and Nigeria.
Nigeria - the world's sixth
largest oil producer - is planning to increase oil production to four million
barrels per day by 2010 and its government has indicated that it wants more
black players in the oil industry.
South African President Thabo Mbeki's
government - which proposed the sale of half of its local mines to blacks in
2002 - is this month set to pass a mining legislation that demands 15% of
local mining operations to be held by blacks within five years and 26% after
In Zimbabwe though, efforts by influential blacks to gain a
controlling stake in the major mines have failed largely because of their
inability to raise foreign currency to buy equity.
During the last
five years, a number of local consortiums have been formed to venture into
the capital-intensive mining sector.
These have included the snapping up
of a strategic 30% stake in Independence Gold Mines (IndepGold) by Manyame
Consortium, a local investment syndicate that includes Mthuli Ncube, Zimre
Holdings' chief Albert Nduna and businessman John Mkushi.
Corporation, led by South African business magnate Mzi Khumalo, and Zimplats
have actually promoted black empowerment arrangement on their own but many of
the local businessmen invited into these deals have found the going to raise
funds tougher than anticipated.
For example, an indigenous consortium
called Needgate Investments and led by businessman Macdonald Chapfika is
struggling to raise Australian $46 million (about $150 billion) needed to pay
for shares offered by Zimplats.
Besides Metallon and Implats, other big
mining firms that have operations in Zimbabwe include the world's biggest
platinum company, Anglo American Platinum - which is planning to develop the
giant Unki project - and Ghana's Ashanti Goldfields, which was recently
acquired by AngloGold.
Ashanti owns Freda-Rebecca gold mine in Bindura
which produced 98 255 ounces of gold in 2002.
Analysts who spoke to
Standard Business said investor confidence in the mining industry was
dependent on several factors that include peace and political stability, good
management of economic fundamentals and an enabling fiscal regime.
many Zimbabwean blacks trying to enter the capital-intensive mining industry,
hurdles have been encountered over the government's poor credit rating, the
limited avenues for local funding and the lack of technological know
Although many miners said they were in agreement with the principle
of indigenisation, they were not happy with the government's intended quota
of 49% and the timing of the programme.
"Whilst empowerment is a
concept that is supported, the process and implementation should be discussed
in detail with all stakeholders to ensure empowerment succeeds and the mining
industry is not set back as it was in South Africa," said
Others feared the new legislation - if pushed through without
proper consultation - would affect Zimbabwe's production of key minerals such
as platinum, gold and other precious metals.
One of the projects that
might be affected is the planned Mimosa joint venture mine in which South
Africa's Implats and Australia's Aquarius Platinum each own half of the
They would, if the Bill is passed, be compelled to share some of
their stake with indigenous businessmen in deals that would result in them
shedding off 25% of their present equities in Mimosa.
however said the 49% empowerment requirement in mines might just be another
election ploy by the government as it tries every trick to win the 2005
Pitchford however blamed the insufficient debate between
government and stakeholders in mining over the draft paper.
should have taken place prior to any document being sent out to the industry
as a discussion paper," he said.
"Such documents always find their way to
the media and once made public, create the wrong perception in the minds of
both local and foreign investors," added Pitchford.
said the empowerment programme could work if a formula that pleases everyone
is worked out.
PAUL Chingoka, an icon in sports administration in the
country, has been kicked out as president of the Confederation of Africa
Tennis amid allegations of financial irregularities concerning the coffers of
the continental tennis-controlling body.
Chingoka relinquished the
powerful post at CAT's annual general meeting on April 18 in Cairo, Egypt,
and was immediately replaced by Tunisia's Tarak Cherif.
Chingoka dismissed reports that he was forced to resign, insisting he quit on
his own accord as he wanted to concentrate on his new role in local sports
where he is now the president of the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee.
left CAT because I felt I had to give my full attention to ZOC. The
other reason why I had to cut ties with CAT is there has always been pressure
from North African members of the organisation who have never been
supportive right from the day I was elected CAT president last year,"
Chingoka told StandardSport.
"What really made me quit was the
directive that the CAT offices be moved to Morocco, which is clearly against
the CAT constitution, which clearly states that the head office should be
located in the resident country of the president, which in this case should
have been Harare," said Chingoka.
He added: "In any case, if there were
any financial irregularities as is being alleged, I would have been removed
from the ITF board, where I am still a director."
Federation president Ricci Bitti and ITF executive director of development
Dave Miley attended the CAT AGM.
According to the latest ITF news
bulletin of April 26, Chingoka resigned his post, which the CAT executive
committee accepted, resulting in the elevation of first vice-president Cherif
to the top post.
The CAT AGM's agenda was discussed but according to the
ITF bulletin Issue 17, "some points, including financial reports were
deferred to a next CAT meeting in Barcelona during the ITF AGM in
The executive committee decided at the meeting to immediately move
the CAT offices to London on a provisional basis. Chingoka confirmed
yesterday the CAT offices, which had been moved from Dakar, Senegal, to
Harare, were closed on Wednesday last week.
Chingoka, then Tennis
Zimbabwe president, was elected CAT president in April 2003 in Johannesburg,
beating Senegalese business mogul Mamadou Diagna Ndiaye.
understands Chingoka's detractors were member states of the Western Zone or
Zone 2 (15), who accused the Zimbabwean of doing little since assuming
Particularly vocal was Issa Mboup, the president of Senegalese
Tennis Association, who is quoted in a Senegalese newspaper, The Soleil of
April 22, lambasting Chingoka for inaction during his yearlong
"It is necessary to underline quaucun na report/ratio studied
ultimately and, c'est even the day before lassemblée general quil was taken
along to resign. In fact, nothing navait made during its mandate," declared
Chingoka is being condemned for failing to provide
supporting documents for expenditure but an audit carried out by a local
firm, which the charismatic former administrator of the year showed
StandardSport, has since exonerated him.
Zanu PF chefs getting free prison labour By our own
SENIOR officials in Zanu PF, the Cabinet, the military and the
judiciary are using prisoners to work on their commercial farms for no pay,
The Standard has established.
The move has however been condemned by
the largest trade union in Zimbabwe, the ZCTU, as a "clear case of
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, whose ministry controls
prison operations, was recently reported to have said the government wanted
to introduce the use of prison labour on newly-resettled farms in a move
aimed at alleviating labour shortages on farms.
Chinamasa said the
programme would also help expose prisoners to normal life, which was
important for their "re-integration back into society", besides equipping
them with farming skills.
Some prison officers in Harare said although
any newly resettled commercial farmer could benefit from the scheme,
influential members in the governing party were conniving with prison
officials to have prisoners work on their farms for free.
from The Standard - pretending to be a newly resettled commercial farmer in
Beatrice - was last week told by a Zimbabwe Prisons Services official that it
was easy to obtain prisoners to work on his farm.
A prison officer who
answered the telephone and provided his name gave an insight on how to obtain
"What you have to do is to make an application to the
officer-in-charge requesting the services of prisoners. Since you said you
are farming in Beatrice, you have to apply to the prison closest to you and
in your case it will be either Chivhu or Harare Central Prison."
officer continued: "In your application, you have to indicate when you want
the prisoners, how many you want to work at your farm and the exact location
of your farm."
He said those who wanted to use prisoners on their farms
needed to provide transport to and from the farms.
security while the prisoners are working at the farms and we also provide
food. Asi kana muchida kuvauraira mbudzi zvirikwamuri." (But if you want to
slaughter a goat for the prisoners, it is up to you).
When asked if the
payments for the labour were made to the prisoners, he responded: "The
officer-in-charge will explain everything to you but the payments are made to
Probed further on how the prisoners received their
payments for working on farms, the officer said: "They are not paid
The deputy secretary general of the General Agriculture and
Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe, (GAPWUZ) Gift Muti, said their union
had conducted their own investigations on the issue of prisoners working
on commercial farms.
"Our investigations indicate that after working
on farms, the prisoners are not paid as the money goes to the State. This is
a very disturbing development because if the new farmers are going to get
cheap prison labour, it will affect the welfare of our members who are
working on farms," said Muti.
He said meetings between GAPWUZ and
prison authorities had established that prison authorities were charging $2
000 per prisoner per day.
Concerned prison authorities have also
complained that the regular raids on prison complexes for prison labour would
affect the agricultural performance of the Zimbabwe Prison Services whose
farms depend on prison labourers.
Last year, prisoners working on prison
farms produced 15 000 tonnes of tobacco which was sold for $20 million. Other
ZPS farming projects that are threatened by the loaning out of labour include
a joint venture maize seed production with Seed-Co at Chikurubi Farm and
Pednor Farm in Bindura.
In Mazowe and Kadoma farms, the ZPS has a 40
hectares devoted to the production of wheat.
The ZPS also has plans to
commission an abattoir in Manicaland where it is engaged in the production of
beef and pork.
Retired Brigadier Paradzai Zimondi, the commissioner of
the ZPS, was not available for comment.
Accommodation shortage haunts Harare residents By Nyasha
HARARE residents are facing serious accommodation shortages and
rentals because the few available properties have skyrocketed in the last
Renting a single room in the high-density areas of Harare
now costs between $35 000 to $50 000 while those in the low-density suburbs
are around $100 000 to $120 000, excluding electricity, rates and water
"Some of us are now in a dilemma because we cannot afford
either to buy a house or to rent one. The rents are totally unaffordable and
beyond the reach of many," said Jonathan Gweje of Harare's Kuwadzana
Many landlords, capitalising on the shortage of houses and flats
for rent, are imposing enormous rentals on their properties, a Standard
"Landlords are charging whatever they feel like because
they know people are desperate. Some are even charging rentals in forex
particularly for flats in the Avenues," said one tenant.
tenants complained that the house owners were increasing rentals willy nilly
without even consulting the Rent Board.
"Landlords are increasing rentals
anytime they feel like. They don't care whether they raised the rent the
previous month or even if you say you cannot afford it.
pay the increment means a short notice from the house owner to vacate the
house or flat," said a woman from Avondale, who
An official from the Rent Board told The Standard
that aggrieved tenants could seek a rent order from the board to stop the
house owner from increasing rent for a given period of time.
should come to our offices and report cases of overcharging although as a
board we are not there to impose specific rents or decide rates at which
landlords can increase rentals, but we try to ensure a fair deal for both the
tenant and the landlord.
"We also take into consideration the location of
the house and issues like insurance, building materials and facilities being
offered," said the official.
On the issue concerning rentals being
paid in foreign currency, the Rent Board official said this was illegal and
such landlords risked being prosecuted.
Some tenants said the shortage
of accommodation was the result of house owners opting to sell their
properties to companies which are turning them into offices, a move they said
Harare City Council Public Relations Manager Leslie Gwindi
said, however, that house owners were entitled to do whatever they wanted
with their properties, even turning them into offices.
"They own the
houses so they can do what they want with them," said Gwindi.
that the council was servicing a number of stands, which would help ease the
accommodation crisis in the capital.
Most tenants who spoke to The
Standard hoped the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National
Housing would allocate more affordable land for housing stands and promote
Accommodation shortages have also seen the
mushrooming of wood and plastic shacks at the back yards of many houses in
the high-density areas of Harare, exposing many to health hazards associated
with overcrowding and poor sanitation.
Also as a result of the housing
crisis, many desperate home seekers have fallen victim to conmen and
unscrupulous house owners. In a number of reported cases, a single house has
been sold to two or more people.
THE government is deliberately delaying to free the airwaves to
suit its political ambitions to win the 2005 general election at all
This came out of a meeting between Parliamentarians and
broadcasters in Harare recently.
Despite rushing through the
Broadcasting Services Act two years ago which was meant to allow new radio
and television stations, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport
and Communications heard that the new law in fact, impeded the establishment
of new broadcasting firms.
Among participants at daylong meeting were
representatives of Voice of the People Trust - who operate the only national
private radio from within Zimbabwe - the Media Monitoring Project and the
newly formed Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations.
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Communications
is investigating the delay by the government-appointed Broadcasting
Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) to invite and issue licenses to new players in
the commercial and community-broadcasting category.
Among the concerns
raised was that the Broadcasting Services Act continued to be source of
frustration for prospective broadcasters, independent producers and BAZ
The new law, it was pointed out, prohibits foreign funding of
new broadcasters and imposes harsh restrictions for potential
TOMORROW, Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in
commemorating World Press Freedom Day. This is a day set aside in recognition
of the sacrifices made by the media and private individuals to influence
governments that continue to deny their citizens the vital freedom of the
It is important to recall that the decision to celebrate the World
Press Freedom every year was made in December 1992 by the General Assembly of
the United Nations at the request of Unesco. The idea had been born 18
months earlier in 1991, in Windhoek, Namibia during a seminar on Promoting
an Independent and Pluralistic African Press organised jointly by the
United Nations and Unesco.
Since then, the day has been marked
with one focus: Reflecting on the state of the media in the world and gains
made towards full press freedom. Indeed, the day has over the years
increasingly gained significance as freedom of the press takes centre stage
in national and international politics.
But as we celebrate this
important day with the rest of our colleagues globally, in Zimbabwe there is
little, if anything at all to celebrate. Zimbabwean journalists may well be
moaning the death of press freedom in the country and we have Jonathan Moyo
to thank for the demise of small but a once vibrant media
Clearly, Jonathan Moyo is the worst thing to happen to
Zimbabwe's fledgling media industry. That is how the journalistic community
in this country will remember him. He has not only assassinated the broadcast
media in Zimbabwe but he has rendered all the newspapers in the Zimpapers
stable impotent and useless pieces of government information
With the closure of the only independent daily, The Daily News
and its sister paper The Daily News on Sunday, an independent alternative
voice to the daily dosage of State propaganda churned out by Zimpapers and
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, was lost to the reading public not only
in Zimbabwe but abroad as well. The few remaining independent weekly
newspapers are virtually under siege with daily threats if they do not toe
the line all the time.
It is, indeed, a strange irony that at a time
when much of the world is opening up and seeking to democratise and diversify
their media, Zimbabwe is hurtling in the opposite direction. Laws that are
inconsistent with an enlightened, open and democratic system of governance
have been promulgated.
The Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (Aippa) and the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) are symbols
of a primitive society that has turned its back on basic tenets of civilised
government. Not only do they severely limit democratic space but they make
the work of journalists difficult. Needless to say, the end victims are
obviously the people of Zimbabwe.
We have stated in and out of season
that any law has to be demonstrably and reasonably justified in a democratic
society because laws are founded on the premise of the just governance of
man. There is little if anything, to justify laws such as Aippa and Posa
whose primary import is to emasculate free interaction among Zimbabweans.
These laws only serve to suppress free speech and to stultify a vibrant and
Freedom of the press and of expression - to borrow a
famous expression is the mother of all freedoms. Once a government muzzles
the press, then all other freedoms are suppressed. Jonathan Moyo has
evangelised against freedom of the Press and such evangelism can only be
counter - productive in the long run. In fact, we know of no government in
the whole world which has benefited from such obnoxious laws.
the natural human urges is the will to survive and the will to express.
Experience has shown through history that governments which trample on Press
freedom pay a price in the end. It is folly to take people for granted.
People are not stupid. A constant barrage of propaganda may fool some of the
people some of the time, but it will not fool all of the people all of the
As a man of considerable intellect, Jonathan Moyo ought to know
It is monumental self deception for Moyo to imagine that he alone
knows what is best for the people of Zimbabwe.Witness how he sets the
parameters of what people should look at, read or listen to at the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation and Zimbabwe Newspapers.
But even he must
realise that global trends make this a gigantic exercise in futility. The
world of the Internet and Satellite communication makes State control of
information well nigh impossible. Indeed, the coverage and staying power of
independent journalists as well as a strong and vibrant civil society are
essential ingredients in the good fight against those that seek to
circumscribe the people's rights and freedoms.
It is difficult to
understand why the powers that be do not realise that far from enhancing the
image of government, what Jonathan Moyo has done has been more damaging to
A more sophisticated approach to the media could have served
the cause of government much, much better. The role of government information
officers is to explain government policy and practice, promote the positive
aspects of that policy and get those policies understood and supported by the
people on whose behalf or in whose name they exercise their stewardship.
Arrogance, confrontation, and a superiority complex will only achieve one
thing - alienation of the rulers from the ruled.
It is our conviction
that any government has no business in regulating the media. A simple
statement: People must be able to print what they want subject to the moral
norms and principles that govern that society should
Whatever activities the various media organisations and
countries hold tomorrow to mark the World Press Freedom Day, our parting shot
with political dinosaurs like Jonathan Moyo is that the days of dictators
are truly numbered. Life with dictators is never boring, some say, but
their days are nevertheless numbered.
Go to jail, do not pass go overthetop By Brian
IN what some spin-doctors have laughingly called a "crack down
on corruption" a deeply troubled finance minister from a troubled
central African basket case found himself in police custody.
troubled finance minister thought he was above such things. He thought he was
an inner member of the just ruling Zany Party. Now he knows he
Only inner members of the just ruling Zany Party are exempt
from inconveniences like time spent in cells.
Still, being an "outer
member" of the Zany Party may not protect him from lice, dirt and disease,
but it will protect him from a sound beating at the hands of the
democratically minded central African police force.
That's more than the
rest of the troubled population can expect. For those who sensibly prefer not
to associate with the Zany Party at all, lice, dirt and disease are the least
of worries. Far more troubling is the beating of feat and wiring of genitals
to the national grid. Two hundred and twenty volts does wonders when it comes
to concentrating the mind on how dreadful the troubled central African police
state has become in recent years.
Still, it does seem a bit unfair. Much
as OTT relishes the prospect of a finance minister scratching lice from his
armpit like a monkey, his crime is pretty measly when compared to the
untouchable inner Zanies.
While the deluded min of fin might have thought
he'd get away with a little R30 million mansion in a plush Cape Town suburb,
there are those above him who've robbed the exchequer of far, far more. But
of course, they're inner Zany andS untouchable.
SoS what the
overwhelming majority of troubled central Africans want to see is a few of
the untouchables languishing in cells and scratching lice from their armpits.
Especially at this time of year when the nights are getting colder and the
police have liberated all the blankets for their own use. (Firewood is
expensive these days.)
That won't happen, of course, or not until the
More Drink Coming Party resuscitates itself from its current coma. And even
then, nothing might happen because in true troubled central African fashion,
it's been decided that forgiveness should be the order of the day.
quick survey conducted by OTT showed that the More Drink Coming
Party's philosophy of forgiveness was deeply unpopular in the troubled
central African capital.
Everyone interviewed by OTT suggested that
corrupt Zany politicians should have their tongues (or worse) nailed to the
pavement in First Street.
"It would certainly stop the minister of
misinformation from talking nonsense," said one interviewee, only rather less
Another said democracy and human rights were one thing, but
there was no point in trying to demonstrate to the Zany Party how they
worked. Far better, he suggested, to take back from them all the money,
diamonds, food and fuel they'd stolen and then deport them to their beloved
undemocratic Congolese republic where they could learn what it is like to
live without laws, money, food or hospitals.
OTT thinks the Congo
would be too good for them. Far better to pack them off to Libya where the
Great Colonialist and King of the Sand People knows all about justice. He'd
strap a belt of explosives around their heads and give them a day to pay
their long outstanding fuel bill.
Not that they'd be able to, of course,
because all the money accrued from dodgy petrol has been spent on S mansions
in Cape Town.
ZANU PF's corruption trail soap opera goes on unabated and it
now appears to be on auto-cruise.
The towns, growth points and the
usual meeting points - the watering holes are abuzz with the big rumour of
the Zanu PF big wig who has been escorting chief executives of the party's
companies to airports to escape the corruption net.
trusted corrupt chief of the "angels" of the Pan-Africanist and revolutionary
party is still exporting the agents of corruption to the capitals and cities
of the most imperialist, racist white-supremacist countries, the known and
avowed enemies of Zimbabwe. The agents of Zanu PF corruption are escaping in
droves to the white Commonwealth. The directors of Zanu PF companies are now
in Britain and we understand that after all they are British
Not surprising, the most trusted servants of Zanu PF , after
all have never been patriots. No patriot can loot his or her motherland,
persecute the children of his nation, kill, rape and maim their sons and
daughters. These can be the acts of some self-imposed enemies of the
The chief executive of Tregers, another Zanu PF company were
quickly whisked out by the same Zanu PF big wig, first to South Africa. The
rumour is that the company bought him and his family air tickets, and they
are now safe in another Commonwealth country - Australia.
As if this
is not enough, Minister Kuruneri, a devout Catholic in Zanu PF is also a
citizen of one of the most detested imperialist countries, another white
Commonwealth member, that cold Canada.
Initially, I had this strange
feeling that such a person would be both a Zanu PF chief, strong defender of
his fatherland's "Sendekera mwana wevhu" slogans and yet still have the
passion of investing in Cape Town, a place where only "white South Africans;
those avowed enemies of Zimbabwe live.
Chris Kuruneri's arrest reveals
that this "mwana wevhu", a trusted Zanu PF emerging big wig is not only being
accused of externalising the country's foreign currency, a law he helped to
put in place, as a top government official. He is also, like that notorious
Ben Manashe, a Canadian citizen, a situation we believe should be a taboo in
the Zanu PF government.
Again like Ben Manashe he makes his money in the
Zanu PF ruled country but invests it elsewhere. We now know who the thieves
and crooks who masquerade as patriots during the day but are in fact secretly
citizens of the very countries they denounce. Anyway why should the
Zimbabweans get surprised? Where are the children of these "patriots" being
Certainly not in Zimbabwe's decaying educational
establishments, or in some black Commonwealth country or SADC State or in a
Border Gezi training college. No, the children of Zanu PF big wigs study in
white Commonwealth countries, namely Britain, Canada and
Only the abused and impoverished Zimbabweans are treated to
"sendekera jingles" which they are supposed to dance, twice an hour 24 hours
Back to Chris Kuruneri: will ZANU PF dig out the truth about where
the money being externalized by the accused came from? I strongly suspect
that this is yet another cover up. How can Kuruneri be tried when Zanu PF big
wigs are still assisting other top criminals to cross border posts, in order
not to incriminate the more equal than equal comrades. What is only
significant about Kuruneri's case is that it is symptomatic of the cancer
Zimbabweans have known for the past two decades.
There is hardly any
honest and clean individual in that group. Their anti-corruption spokesperson
in Parliament was non other than Philip Chiyangwa, a colleague of the
'Honourable' Minister of Finance.
While they continue tittering on
selective justice, the truth is that the few revelations that are being
exposed reveal that they are all thieves masquerading under high sounding
noises of Pan Africanism and the "mwana wevhu" façade.
Murerwa bounces back as Acting Finance Minister By
FORMER Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa has been
appointed acting Finance and Economic Minister, replacing the jailed Chris
Kuruneri, official sources have said.
Finance Ministry sources said
last week Murerwa, who was appointed Minister of Higher Education in
February, had been sent back by President Robert Mugabe into the Finance
Ministry on Monday.
The sources said Murerwa is going back in an
acting capacity, but could be appointed as the substantive Minister of
Finance and Economic Development soon.
"He has been in office since
Monday. He was only asked verbally, there's nothing written down at present.
We have however heard that he will be appointed substantive Minister soon," a
source in the Ministry told StandardBusiness last week.
There was no
comment from Murerwa. There was also no official word on his appointment from
the government but some analysts say was meant to move would scuttle the
current spate of lobbying that started when Kuruneri was arrested last
If Murerwa's return to the Ministry is made substantive, it would
be the third time inside four years that he is re-appointed to
In 2000, Simba Makoni replaced Murerwa as Minister, but returned
to the ministry after Makoni was sacked two years later.
Murerwa met International Monetary Fund boss Hoerst Koller in Washington,
hoping to win back aid for the country. This was despite senior government
officials, including Mugabe, saying they would sever all ties with the
Makoni had been brought in as one of a number of "technocrats", but
fell out with Mugabe after he pushed for the devaluation of the dollar and
campaigned for wider economic reforms.
Kuruneri was arrested in the
early hours of last Saturday on charges of externalising various amounts of
foreign currency to South Africa. He is also alleged to have externalised
US$1 million, 37 000 British pounds and 30 000 euros.
arise from payments he allegedly made to Venture Projects and Associates to
build a seaside mansion in South Africa. The court heard on Monday how
Kuruneri had also allegedly used foreign currency to buy a
Revelations that Kuruneri was found in possession of a
Canadian passport could however prove most damaging to the
State daily The Herald last week ran reports in which it quoted
unidentified lawyers calling for Kuruneri's ouster over his alleged Canadian
"Even if he (Kuruneri) is cleared of the externalisation
charges, with the Canadian passport issue, I don't think the Minister will be
back," sources said.
Before his arrest, though, Kuruneri had tried to
allay fears that the Ministry of Finance had become largely ineffective
having surrendered its roles to the new all powerful Reserve Bank team of
Governor Gideon Gono.
Analysts however say Murerwa's return to the
Ministry would be a "case of musical chairs" and unlikely to change anything
since Mugabe actually runs the key aspects of economic planning and
development and allows ministers just to rubber stamp orders from State
contractors have criticised the government's procurement board for awarding
key contracts to Chinese companies ahead of local firms.
Building Contractors' Association, which represents the country's black-owned
construction companies, said contracts should be awarded to "competent
people" but the tendering process needed
"Where people start asking questions is when
a company comes up with a higher bid but still wins the contract, or when the
bid is very low but there is no bid bond," ZBCA president George Utaumire
told StandardBusiness last week.
A bid bond binds a company to its
offer and the bidder is penalised if they adjust or withdraw their
Utaumire however responded with caution to industry concern that
local firms were being crowded out by the Chinese contractors, saying the
threat to local industry was not yet cause for alarm.
convinced there is a trick here. They indicate the least price on tender bids
but make up for the actual price and profit in the variations allowed in
contract agreements due to cost fluctuations," a contractor said.
recently, Chinese company China Giansu was awarded a tender for
the construction of Lupane Provincial Hospital.
Documents show that
the company underbid the lowest offer of $106 billion by $7,8 billion. China
Giansu last year also won a deal to build the Lupane Government Composite
office block. The company's winning bid was not covered by a bid
Another Chinese company, Hualong, has been awarded a contract to
supply relocatable scanners to ZIMRA at the Beitbridge Border
Hualong is also reportedly leading bids for the construction of the
Chinhoyi Magistrates' Court, after putting in a bid that was $3,6 billion
lower than the lowest bid of $21,1 billion.
Officials in the
construction industry last week said they suspect the companies could be part
of a single syndicate. There was no comment from the Procurement Board last
The government has also recently made tax concessions to cement
maker Sino Zimbabwe, a Zimbabwe-China joint venture, exempting the company
from non-residents' tax on fees.
Our Government discourages voluntarism Sundaytalk with
FOR more than a year I and many of my neighbours cursed the
responsible authority for not doing something about the potholes on our main
road, Tynwald Avenue.
They were getting deeper and deeper and, this
year, had become a real hazard for motorists. In 2002 the residents wrote to
the Mayor, Engineer Elias Mudzuri pleading with him to attend to the
The Mayor replied in 2003 explaining that council had
problems securing fuel. He promised that the potholes would be covered as
soon as fuel was available.
By 2004 the potholes were now small dams
in the road. Whenever a vehicle approached, pedestrians had to jump into the
grass on the verges of the road to avoid being splashed with muddy
One day I noticed a gang of men covering the potholes with rubble
and soil. Finally the authorities had responded to our pleas, I
Upon scrutiny, I noticed that these were personal employees of
one of our neighbours. He had taken it upon himself to repair the public
I just had to go to his house to thank him for his public
"Well," the neighbour, said. "We wrote to the council,
didn't we. And, what happened. Nothing. Someone had to do something. I just
decided that I must be that someone.''
We went on to discuss how the
councillor we elected in 2002 had not even bothered to visit our community to
find out about our needs and aspirations. Both of us couldn't even recall his
I didn't vote for the man because I knew him. I voted
for him because he came in the name of a political party which I believe is
on the side of God's truth. I just hope the MDC will not put him up as a
candidate again in the next election because he will surely lose.
then talked about how the broken sewerage pipe next to Tynwald Avenue which
has been discharging raw sewerage into a nearby stream for almost a year now.
The stench is terrible. You have to hold your nose or put a handkerchief to
it when passing the place.
The now polluted stream runs into the Marimba
River, near Kambuzuma, which in turn feeds Lake Chivero which supplies
drinking water to Harare. People also boat, swim and fish there. I hope this
contribution will move someone in the city council to do something about this
health hazard despite all the problems they are having with the Minister of
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Ignatious
The voluntary action by my neighbour made me to dwell on
voluntarism in Zimbabwe in general.
Voluntarism refers to actions or
services willingly performed by people without external persuasion or
compulsion and without reward. Some people do voluntary work because of
religious conviction and fervour. Others do it out of sheer human public
spiritedness and a deep desire to help others.
Such people either work
alone or organise themselves into voluntary organisations known as
non-governmental organisations (NGO).
The focus of NGOs is mainly on
welfare activities targeting the disabled, the orphaned, the old-aged, as
well as development projects in rural areas and relief interventions. They
also include culture, human rights and information in their work.
any democratic country to develop steadily there must be two systems
for handling public problems.
One is government which forces people to
pay taxes for its work. If one refuses to pay he or she is arrested and put
The other is voluntarism which appeals to the good in people and
persuades them to work or to pay for worthy humanitarian causes. Some of them
like the Boy Scouts, YCMA, YWCA, World Vision, Rotary, Christian Care and
many others have become international and are doing much good worldwide. Some
are right now feeding thousands of our own starving people.
conclusion is that our government has all but killed the spirit
of voluntarism. Voluntarism promotes self-help and self-development
through various projects. Our government promises to do everything for
people. Our vote-seeking politicians promise a utopia which they can never
deliver even if they wanted to. They just don't have the
Our government is broke because it tries to do things which
people should be doing for themselves. It, therefore, over- taxes people who
in turn resist. Most tax-payers spend a lot of time figuring out how they can
pay as little tax as possible. They don't believe that government is capable
of using their money wisely especially when given the amount of corruption
among government leaders today.
On the other hand a volunteer will go
without certain pleasures in order to save money to help "the poor starving
people in Gutu''. He or she will bequeath a whole fortune to a voluntary
organisation which is trusted to further the charities close to his or her
Instead of promoting and encouraging voluntarism, our government
has created a culture of dependency and begging.
It did this by
handing out prime land to people who either had no inclination, knowledge or
resources to farm successfully. I laugh each time a newly resettled farmer is
interviewed on television. They all end by saying, "Dai hurumende ikatipawo
chakati nechakati" (If only the government will give us this and
The problem with totalitarian governments like ours is that they
want to control everything. They are jealous of anyone or any organisation
which may seem to be gaining influence among the people. They feel threatened
because they are afraid of having their absolute power
Hence any public spirited individual who tries to organise
his neighbours to help themselves is held in suspicion. He or she is
discouraged by threats or even force if he or she does not work through the
ruling party's structures. And, woe betide you if you belong to the
opposition MDC. You are not even allowed to organise a football
The army and police will descend upon you in full force because
our totalitarian government is suspicious and afraid of NGOs, which it
cannot control; it keeps a hawk's eye on them. It, in fact, tried to
take-over the distribution of food sourced by the NGO's but they gallantly
That food would have been handed out in exchange for political
support. That is, the little that would have been left after the rest would
have been stolen by corrupt officials.
Earlier I said for a country to
steadily develop, government and voluntarism, also known as civic society,
need to join hands. In our case I have concluded that most issues of
development are better left to the citizenry. Governments role should as much
as possible, be that of providing for their physical safety.
''public servants'' whether elected or unelected, have proved to be corrupt
charlatans. The whole lot of them need to go.
The Foreign Secretary should show some
political guts and call off our cricket tour to Zimbabwe
Riddell Sunday May 2, 2004 The Observer
Cricket is for blokes.
Women, unless addicted to laundering grass-stained flannels, tend not to like
it much. My colleague, Clare Balding, has suggested that only men have time
to park themselves in front of the television for hours, computing runs and
maiden overs, but the culture of misogyny goes wider. Rachel Heyhoe Flint,
the only female cricketer of whom anyone has heard, has just become the first
woman in 217 years to be elected to the general committee of Marylebone
Cricket Club. Like coarse fishing, lap-dancing, plasma screens and urban
variants of the Humvee armoured personnel carrier, cricket is a male fantasy,
in which any female observer gets to loiter on damp sidelines or, more
usefully, to turn out salmon and cucumber sandwiches like a one-woman Pret A
Cricket's testosteronic nature has left it steeped in sentiment
and politics. Norman Tebbit's cricket test was supposed to set the boundaries
of national fealty, and John Major, in an echo of Baldwin, defined a
future Britain as 'the country of long shadows on county grounds'. Even the
Butley flower show match, Siegfried Sassoon's idyll of village green heroics,
has a Westminster edge. Sassoon's pro-Tory Aunt Evelyn, on her way to judge
the vegetables and sweet peas, says she 'can't understand what that
miserable Campbell-Bannerman is up to; but thank heavens the Radicals will
never get in again'.
And here we are, seven years into a Labour
government and in the throes of potentially the worst cricket crisis ever.
Suddenly, the sport is on the agenda of all men and women who care for human
rights. At the heart of the row is the Zimbabwe national team, ruled by
Robert Mugabe and full of young players hardly up to Butley flower show
standards, let alone fit to face the crack squads of the world. Unless the
Zimbabwe Cricket Union agrees to arbitration by Tuesday, the banished
captain, Heath Streak, and his 14 rebel colleagues who objected to political
interference will continue to stay away.
On Friday, a Sky TV crew was
reportedly thrown out of Zimbabwe, in the latest ban on British media. On a
recent visit, international lawyers urged that Mugabe be brought to trial for
state-sponsored torture, murder and rape. According to Stephen Irwin, head of
the Bar Council and a member of the delegation, many senior judges are being
granted farms under the land resettlement scheme. The justice system has
'been very severely compromised,' he says, which is legalese for
Land seizures have reduced 7.7 million people, or nearly
two-thirds of the population, to near-starvation, and opposition politicians
are having their houses burned, their cars stoned and their relatives
abducted or killed in advance of next year's parliamentary
England, meanwhile, is off to play cricket there. The
International Cricket Council (ICC) demands that the English Cricket Board
(ECB) meets its obligations. If not, then it could impose a £1.4m fine, plus
a year's ban, which would cost £50m in lost revenue and bankrupt the national
game. The ECB writhes, unable to find a way out of its folly in signing up to
this fiasco. Des Wilson, the former Liberal Democrat president trying to find
a 'moral' way out of the mess, resigns.
The players cannot be expected
to carry the weight of their administrators' failure and refuse, en bloc, to
go. That leaves Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, to confront the ancient
question of how much politics meddles in sport. Not nearly enough, some might
think. The swastikas waved at White Hart Lane during the Germany-England game
of 1935 and Hitler's conversion of the Olympics into a Nazi rally were hardly
high spots of national glory. Conversely, the cricketing boycott of South
Africa illuminated the evil of apartheid. Obviously, some politicians get it
wrong. In advising Olympians to stay away from Moscow in 1980, Margaret
Thatcher was using sportsmen and women as political stormtroops. But whereas
trade sanctions generally hit poor people worst, sporting ones can, at the
least, be a gesture of disgust on behalf of the oppressed.
is, at one level, a no-brainer, since no one, bar the ICC, wants the tour to
go ahead. The trouble is that Mr Straw has, up to now, explained his wish for
our cricketers to stay away in the manner of someone expressing a preference
for a pink wafer biscuit rather than a chocolate Hobnob. The English board
needs something stronger. Only a clear refusal will be count as the force
majeure needed to get it off the hook with the
Late last week, Mr Straw began to stir.
Conscious that the buck now stops with him, he let it be known that he cannot
forbid the tour because our law, unlike that of other cricketing nations,
does not allow it. He's right. The common law, with its blessing on free
movement, is different from civil versions and would have to be
controversially, and probably dangerously, amended. Nor, Mr Straw says, must
the taxpayer be liable for any bills incurred in a cancellation. That, in his
mistaken view, lets him off the hook.
In private, his reasoning might
go like this. Destabilising Mugabe would best be done by Thabo Mbeki, but
that will not happen while many in the ANC still admire Mugabe as a black
liberation leader. For the Government to weigh in might be pointless or
counterproductive. That is the icy diplomat's logic. If it is also Mr
Straw's, then it shames him. This government has pronounced on sport before.
It has also proved itself willing to act decisively, not to say recklessly,
in the face of brutal regimes. Surely those determined to attack Iraq, no
matter how devastating the price, could dignify the dead and dispossessed of
Zimbabwe with a cancelled cricket tour.
Stephen Irwin, just back from
Harare and speaking personally rather than on the Bar's behalf, told me that,
in his view, the meltdown in Zimbabwe is now so grave that the tour is
indefensible. 'The Government should do everything it can to prevent it going
ahead,' he said. Mr Straw should tell himself the moment has come for the
West to act. Sometimes the sporting wing of a democracy can shape the way in
which nations change, and sometimes it has no option but to try.
Mugabe dabbles in every stratum of his national cricket team, short
of applying blanco to the pads, the last bulwark is shattered. Sport
is politics, and politicians who deny their responsibilities will look
Mr Straw should talk up a parliamentary debate. He, or
Tony Blair, must declare that the Government deplores this tour and would be
disgusted if our players took part. He should say that, but, for the confines
of the law, he would issue an outright ban. Toughness is the best hope of
sparing the sport a ruinous financial penalty.
But if there is a bill,
Mr Straw will have to pay it. Taxpayers may not be delighted, but doing the
right thing in an age of aggression can seem a comparative bargain. At least
cricket wars come cheaper than the real thing.
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main labour body has called for a
series of anti-government protests to push for higher wages, tax
cuts, union rights and better management of the economy.
struggling with a severe economic crisis, which critics largely blame on
President Robert Mugabe's policies, with one of the highest inflation rates
in the world and widespread unemployment.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) president Lovemore Matombo said the opposition-allied labour
movement would organise street demonstrations to protest low wages for
workers hit by an inflation rate of more than 580 percent and a crumbling
public health system.
"We are going to organise more protests this year.
We will be calling you to demonstrations soon, in the coming weeks and days,"
he told a May Day rally in Harare on Saturday.
Matombo said the ZCTU
had an obligation to fight for worker rights, but said many Zimbabweans
appear to be cowed by Mugabe's government which routinely arrests union
leaders and deploys police to crash anti-government protests.
ZCTU, which backs the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, has
failed to lead any significant protests in the past year in the face of
massive deployments of security forces.
"I know you don't want to hear
this...but the truth is that many of you are overwhelmed by fear," Matombo
told the rally attended by 5,000 people.
Mugabe's critics say the
economy, once the breadbasket of the region, has been severely damaged by his
seizures of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless
Mugabe denies mismanaging the economy and says it is a victim of
sabotage by domestic and foreign opponents angry over his land reforms,
which he says are meant to empower Zimbabwe's poor black majority and to
correct colonial injustices.
On Saturday, Matombo accused Mugabe -- in
power since independence from Britain in 1980 -- of grossly mismanaging the
economy, "brutalising" his political opponents and of selectively applying
the law against his foes.