Now that Zimbabweans need a visa
to travel to the UK following hard on the heels of the EU travel sanctions on
Robert Mugabe and his disciples, who can then deny the reality that every
single day we keep Mugabe in power, we will pay for it dearly for the rest of
our miserable lives.
The move by the British government to impose a
visa requirement on citizens of its former colony is a vivid indication of
the encroaching siege the world intends to subject this country to because of
one man's grossly miscalculated policies.
It is now
crystal clear that the travel sanctions imposed on government officials by
the US, EU and Australia have now spread to Zimbabwean citizens because of
their painful docility that continues to keep Mugabe at the helm of a
The world has been putting more pressure on
Mugabe to soften his draconian policies than Zimbabweans themselves have
For Britain, enough is enough.
Zimbabweans must therefore be vigorously seen to play their part in bringing
about credible democracy and good governance to this once
I have always gone against the idea of people
just flocking out to the Diaspora as a remedy to solve their problems back
home. I will repeat that that solution is faulty - it will not work because
it is cowardice and cowards never win any war especially against a determined
autocrat such as Mugabe.
In the words of Cathy Buckle to
Zimbabweans leaving the country: "You are leaving because you have given in
to despair."(Daily News 5/10/02)
Now that the Britons have made
the dreaded visa requirement mandatory, more Zimbabweans are going to be
confined to the harsh environment of their suffocating state. Hopefully such
a plight will compel them to stand up to the old man when they cannot take it
Recently I bumped into a junior schoolmate who was
frustrated to the bone marrow as he had thrice been denied a visa by the
strict British embassy.
Twice he paid $72 000 and twice he
was denied that permit to escape bondage. The third time he forked out $80
000, which means he has blown $224 000 in record time but has still been shut
out of the land of exiles.
Foaming at the mouth he told me that
he would acquire a South African passport, get citizenship and leave for the
land of exiles by February next year - at the latest.
determination speaks loudly about how the outlandish policies by the men at
the top have pathetically affected the miserable citizens in
The British simply want the people of this
country to sort their things out and not always seek asylum from them or
other countries. They want to help this country to do away with
hyperinflation and the foreign currency crisis by shutting us out of their
country because the exiles out there are fuelling the forex black market back
For how long will a nation survive on the black market?
The truth is our citizens are trekking out because of Mugabe's policies,
which brought about a thriving black market.
Mugabe must not
continue to be of the illusion that the Zimbabwe dollar is as strong as he
officially wants it to be. The stubborn insistence that it is pegged at one
to 55 against the US dollar when in fact it is close to 2 000 gives a ratio
which speaks volumes about how much Zimbabweans have to cover up to maintain
an 'official' standard of living. (Never mind the recent reports that the US
dollar is falling against the Zim dollar - it 's only a temporarily illusion,
a fog at the end of a budget season.)
Sometimes, or maybe at
all times, the extent to which ZANU PF is evaded by ideas is really a
For instance, it is mind-boggling to note the
ridiculous retaliation by the government of unashamedly imposing travel
sanctions on British government officials.
How can a
government that has its own citizens run away from it, believe, even in its
wildest hallucinations, that foreigners - the British for that matter - will
ever want to step on Zimbabwean soil under the present
I am not sure how long it is going to take us to admit
that we have a crisis of monumental proportions; I am not sure how long our
docility will last; but I am certain that we are laying a sound foundation
for the eternal suffering of our children.
What I perceive
will lead us to freedom in the full sense of the word is speaking out
conscientiously, fearlessly and with a determination to make a change for the
better - that is freedom.
If the government refuses to listen
and rectify issues raised by the people such as devaluation, inflation, the
forex crisis and so on, then the people are obliged by the natural laws of
good and virtue to take courage and resort to vociferous
We have come to a point where we have had more than
enough and as is evidenced by the British visa issue the world is gradually
shutting us out completely. The message is clear: nowhere in the world are we
forever going to be accommodated as exiles.
Simply put, we
want to achieve democracy, good governance, free and fair elections, a stable
economy and the pursuit of happiness here in Zimbabwe, so to put it even
simpler, if it is to be it is up to us.
Mugabe might indeed be
seen as a great evil for he is subjecting us to unbearable injustices but as
Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate observed: "The greatest evil today
is indifference. To know and not to act is a way of consenting to these
I will shut this column by proposing that if we
really are for democratic change then let us take change in our stride lest
the outrageous changes in ZANU PF strategies engulf
ZIMBABWE'S economic meltdown
has been blamed by ruling ZANU PF politicians on the drought that has
devastated the country over the past year, and which they say has wreaked
havoc on our agro-driven economy.
They further allege that the
British and American governments have been interfering with Zimbabwe's
internal affairs by funding and supporting the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, in the process sabotaging the economy to force a regime
Well, it is indeed common knowledge that the
drought that has ravaged most of southern Africa has taken its toll on the
performance of the region' s economies, including that of
In our case, it is however important to note that our
economy has been in recession for the past three years.
not dispute that the drought has had a negative effect on Zimbabwe's economy,
but let me be quick to point out that our economy was already in dire straits
before the dry spell.
The reason for that underperformance is
clear to all - poor government policies.
Yes, the natural
drought has contributed to the country's problems, but the real crisis in
Zimbabwe is that of lack of good governance.
Indeed, when all
is said and done and we as a nation soberly assess our problems, we will come
to the conclusion that in Zimbabwe we have been hit by a drought of good
governance. That is where our problems lie.
drought has been allowed to go on unchecked for years, hence the seriousness
of the situation we find ourselves in as a country.
This is a
drought that we cannot expect God to alleviate if we pray for rain. This
drought of good governance requires us as Zimbabweans to take corrective
measures through whatever means are legal.
I stand to be
corrected, but I want to argue that if Zimbabwe was facing a natural drought
only, our economy would not have been battered to the extent it has
Just taking a cursory look at the daily bungling by the
government and the ad-hoc policies being implemented reflects a serious lack
of basic planning.
The examples are endless: the handling of
the doctors', teachers' and lecturers' strikes, foreign currency shortages
and the imposition of a price freeze only days after one Cabinet minister
admitted price controls had hit hardest on those they were supposed to
protect - the poor and defenceless.
The government has also not
distinguished itself in the manner it has prepared farmers resettled under
its agrarian reforms for the 2003 farming season. They have land but
inadequate inputs, weeks after the start of the rainy
All these are clear indications of a drought of good
I won't even go into the way the chaotic land
reform programme has worsened the plight of ordinary Zimbabweans by slashing
food production and contributing to the present shortages.
Lack of direct foreign investment, escalating joblessness, worsening poverty
and soaring inflation all indicate a leadership bereft of ideas to run a
The collapse of Zimbabwe's health, education and
transport systems, among other services, all mirror a country hard hit by a
drought of good governance.
So, when the story of the demise
of Zimbabwe is told or written in the future, we should not forget to record
the 2002 drought or the drought of good governance that has entrenched itself
in our country.
It is also important to note that this drought
of good governance has also manifested itself in legislation that has been
enacted by the present leadership to muzzle ordinary Zimbabweans by taking
away their right to express themselves freely.
like the draconian Public Order and Security Act, and the infamous Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act are
Which brings me to a point I have stressed
in the various social circles I frequent - that Zimbabweans are not asking
for anything out of this world.
They merely ask to be
governed properly and to be provided with an enabling environment that will
enable them to prosper.
To achieve this goal, Zimbabweans must
bring about a form of rain that will wash away this man-made drought of good
governance. The challenge cannot be any clearer.
For a long time workers have been
a source of both urban and village civilisation and an inspiration for the
youth, students and children.
Every worker enjoyed some celebrity
status in the family and the community. The worker posed a challenge to the
unemployed and fired them up with the desire to get a
Workers have been role models in the neighbourhood and
beyond. They have been fashion-guides and property owners. They, in the past,
played a very critical role. But gone are the days.
family and community heroes have died a painful death. Gone are the days of
meaningful working life in terms of rewards. Gone are the days of heavy
shopping for the immediate family and for the extended. Going to the village
was no big deal and it was celebrated at all times as those goodies from town
marked a favourable change of diet.
The illegitimate ZANU PF
regime has destroyed our true Zimbabwean tradition of caring. It has wrecked
our culture irreparably.
Zimbabweans have learnt to curse
visitors and the extended family due to the erratic food supplies and the
money that no longer buys much beyond a box of matches.
has planted hatred between parents and children. There is no more loving and
cuddling. The rural folks are cursing the dried up wells of goodies from
town. They do not expect the well of goodies to dry-up when their children
still go to work.
The children are now scared of the country
bus terminus, the way to the rural home. Going to the rural home is about
going to deliver either some agricultural implements or food for the rural
parents but now that money does not buy any more goodies, going to the rural
home has become an expensive luxury.
arises and the friendly spirits rise in favour of the grieving, hungry and
angry parents in the rural areas.
Working in Zimbabwe has
become the most unprofitable exercise. Loyal workers have assumed a new
identity. Misery, thinness, anger and hunger in Mugabe's
The lucky ones who could afford the restrictive air
fares have escaped this misery to Tony Blair's England. Zimbabwean workers
are no different from slaves as their earnings can only buy a little better
than a box of matches as of now.
But, surprisingly, they
have remained quiet. Yes, Mugabe's tools of oppression and repression may be
fully lubricated, but a point of life or death has emerged.
They are caught between a rock and hard surface in the scorching sun. But
Mugabe's big-belly thugs are still walking around masquerading as democrats,
looting more and rigging elections as evidenced in
Health centres have become holocausts.
Workers are dying in their numbers from poor health.
Mugabe's "Lord's Resistance Movement" has ruined hospitals and industry. The
workers have been exposed to abject poverty. Medical attention has, of late,
escalated by 700 percent despite the fact that the hospitals now provide
bedding only, just as lodges do, as dispensaries have
The Zimbabwean "Lord's Resistance Movement"
had shamelessly continued to siphon the equivalent of United States one
million dollars monthly over a period of three years, as part of Mugabe and
his cronies personalised investment in the Congo war of fortune in support of
an illegitimate regime at the expense of the citizenry till a few weeks
Several thousand United States dollars are currently being
invested in the hire of the Black American Wailers Crusade (BAWC) as part of
the Zimbabwean "Lord's Resistance Movement" public relations
international atrocities cover-up strategy.
have become prohibitive such that the rural areas excursions with food
supplies have inevitably become imaginary.
The Public Service
Medical Aid Society has cried foul. It has expressed concern to the "Lord's
Resistance Movement" that its constituents would not be able to cope with the
ever increasing subscriptions and suggested that the government introduces
price controls on medicines.
This is a role that, under normal
circumstances, the trade union movement should be
Mugabe's Lord's Resistance Movement" chief of
propaganda, Jonathan Moyo has shamelessly lied that the high exodus of
Zimbabwean economic refugees was plotted by the British and the Movement for
This is a blatant lie as supporters of
Mugabe's "Lord's Resistance Movement" have always been in the stampede. Hence
the existence of the various dubious societies which are part of the regime's
atrocities cover-up international public relations
The Zimbabwean situation has gone too desperate
that the "Lord's Resistance Movement" can no longer afford the cost of
continuously bribing its own people as is custom.
slavery, poverty, disease and misery have no boundaries. Zimbabwean workers
of all persuasions have abandoned what used to be top profile and well paying
jobs to join the economic survival stampede which is said to be bringing the
"Lord's Resistence Movement" an estimated 15 million pounds per month from
Tony Blair's England.
In this way they have managed to keep
families alive in Mugabe's Zimbabwe as well as supplying the now almost
official black market foreign currency which is heavily patronised by
Mugabe's "Lord's Resistance Movement" for the Libyan SADC and Eastern bloc
honey-moon trips since the inception of the Western travel
Jonathan Moyo is a shameless ZANU PF apologist committed
to undue "West-bashing" to give Mugabe some borrowed comfort and
He has claimed that Zimbabweans are subjected to slavery
conditions in the West yet the quality of life in Mugabe's Zimbabwe is
currently second to none, in terms of deplorability.
to support Moyo, I should call it "Zimbabweans in
It is a voluntary and most profitable
slavery as compared to risking being choked to death through hunger, poverty,
bad governance, torture, forced loyalty and high disregard for human
The worst slaves are the slaves at home, here in
Mugabe's Zimbabwe, who do not have the ruling "Lord's Resistance Movement"
The worst news that these innocent workers
and victims of bad governance would want to hear is "return to Zimbabwe" for
as long as the Zimbabwe "Lord's Resistance Movement" continues to rig the
elections in favour of the age-scorched Robert Mugabe.
Tony Blair's England, "Jonathan Moyo's Australian "Kangaroos", Canada and
Mbeki's South Africa had not involuntarily provided alternatives for starving
Zimbabweans, the Mugabe regime would have, by now, experienced genuine
stomach and head aches.
It is Mugabe's cheap pride that makes
him fail to applaud his "Messiah" Tony Blair and others. It is the West's
advocacy for good governance that has caused this rift.
a.. Reginald T Gola is an Organisation Development Consultant, Legislative
Consultant and Political Commentator. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
And now to the Notebook . . . Blank cheque for
11/28/2002 (GMT +2)
Sources tell Mukanya that
Jonathan Moyo's lawyer, Johannes Tomana, was given a roasting by the Supreme
Court bench last week.
Tomana was representing Moyo in the case in
which the Independent Journalists' Association of Zimbabwe wants the court to
nullify certain sections of the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA) because it says they are
The sources say Chief Justice Godfrey
Chidyausiku was in an uncompromising mood, quizzing Tomana on why Moyo wanted
to be given a blank checque under AIPPA to control and punish
In one instance, Chidyausiku also demanded to know
from Tomana why journalists were being told to complete registration forms
when the government and its Media Commission have not yet set the criteria
for how one qualifies to be a journalist.
The CJ is said to
have said something to this effect: what if after they have filled in the
forms, you turn around and prescribe that for one to be a journalist they
must be a billionaire?
Well, for a moment Mukanya was relieved
that the bench was finally out to reclaim the credibility that some believe
has been snatched from it.
Price freeze on
ZANU PF membership card?
Just a word to
Industry and International Trade Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi about his
blanket freeze on prices of goods in Zimbabwe.
He appears to
have forgotten to clamp down on the price of the one commodity without which
it is difficult for anyone in Zimbabwe, especially those in rural areas, to
access any essential food commodity. The ZANU PF membership
It is Mukanya's humble advice to the honourable minister
to ensure the price of the party card remains affordable as ZANU PF militias
have made it a point that no one can buy maize, bread and many other
essential commodities unless they can produce the
Reuters reports that criminal
gangs in South Africa's prisons have devised a new method of punishing
inmates who refuse to obey orders.
The gangs simply instruct
some their members infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, to rape the
disobedient inmates in a ritual known as "slow puncture", so-called because a
victim will die slowly over a period of time.
that by reporting this practice, Reuters may have put us all into serious
jeopardy because some people who love to wear dark glasses and who work for a
certain security department might just jump on this idea as a way of
So be warned, Lovemore Madhuku, Raymond
Majongwe and others. The next time they get hold of you, they may just decide
to slow-puncture you.
demonstrates that the government of Zimbabwe lives on a planet far removed
from the problems facing this country than plans to introduce a test next
year to determine the patriotism of civil servants.
Service Commission (PSC) announced last week that it would introduce measures
next January to assess the patriotism of all civil servants and those
intending to join the public service.
"People are just
working without commitment to government policies and those of the ruling
party," said PSC secretary Ray Ndhlukula.
"If we deliver
service, we bring success to Zimbabwe. We want to ensure that every citizen
is served by the government and that is why we want committed Zimbabweans in
the civil service."
Those found wanting, he said, would be sent
for training and those still unable to make the grade face
It's alarming that a regime facing enormous and
complex problems such as life-threatening food shortages and an economy in
its third year of recession can waste time on something as frivolous as
Public servants are fleeing in their thousands for
so-called greener pastures, leaving the country's health and education
sectors on the verge of collapse, and yet the government seems determined to
speed them on their way through such senseless measures.
admirable as Ndhlukula's goal of ensuring that every Zimbabwean is served by
the government is, it's clear that this is not the way to
Since the government seems to define a patriot
as one who supports the ruling ZANU PF, we are faced with yet another system
that has the potential to degenerate into a mere witch-hunt for civil
servants who have the audacity to hold divergent political
Millions of Zimbabweans could therefore be illegally
discriminated against through the loss of jobs, promotions and denial of
service because they support a party that is not ZANU PF.
Reports that youths being trained under the controversial national service
programme are to be given top priority at tertiary institutions raise fears
that those public servants deemed to be unpatriotic could swiftly be replaced
by these loyal ruling party cadres.
Given the alleged military
nature of this national service training, such a scenario raises the spectre
of the government's gradual militarisation and politicisation of all sectors
of the public service as it uses all means to cling to
The PSC has to go back to the drawing board on this
issue. The demotivation and inefficiency within the civil service that the
government seems to have misinterpreted as lack of patriotism has a simple
The government must simply stop wasting precious
national resources trying to implement policies that do not address the real
problems facing Zimbabwe.
Public servants are demotivated
because they are poorly paid and some of them work under extremely trying and
This and only this is responsible for
the mass exodus of nurses, doctors, teachers, pharmacists and other civil
servants, as well as for the devil-may-care attitude of many government
Only when these issues are addressed can
long-suffering Zimbabweans begin to enjoy first-class service from civil
servants and only then can the country see the success envisaged by
Zimbabweans are concerned with life and death issues
and it's time the government stopped insulting their intelligence by dreaming
up measures supposedly to help the public but which are really meant to
distract them from their suffering.
The government would be
better served dumping this proposed patriotism test in the trash bin, for
that is where it belongs, and rolling back its sleeves so it can come to
grips with the real crisis devastating this once prosperous country.
PRICES of basic commodities
have shot up by between 50 and 100 percent since the government imposed a
blanket freeze two weeks ago on prices of all goods, a sign, analysts say,
that the Soviet-style clampdown will adversely affect the consumers it is
supposed to protect.
A snap survey conducted this week by the
Financial Gazette in Harare's retail outlets showed that the cost of
commodities had continued to skyrocket after the state decreed that no
manufacturer or retailer was allowed to hike prices.
Basic foodstuffs and other household essentials such as laundry and bath
soaps, most of which are in short supply on the market, recorded the biggest
leaps in prices.
A 25-litre gallon of cooking oil, which only
last week was selling for less than $15 000, had shot up to between $25 000
and $34 000 this week, while the price of a standard bath soap tablet jumped
to more than $600 from $300 in the same period.
The cost of
domestic appliances such as stoves, refrigerators, television sets, video
recorders and radios, most of them imported, also went up by an average of
more than 50 percent in the past week.
such as sugar, cement, seed and fertilisers, which were already scarce on the
market before the price freeze, began slowly disappearing from shop shelves
after the price clampdown.
Shoppers interviewed in Harare told
this newspaper they had planned to take advantage of the price freeze to
stock up on groceries for the Christmas holidays but were shocked to see
prices continuing to skyrocket.
Margaret Karedza, a mother of
two from Harare's Southerton suburb said: "We wonder why the government even
bothers to introduce the price freeze when the next thing you find is prices
Industry and International Trade Minister Samuel
Mumbengegwi, who is in charge of price controls, could not be reached
yesterday for comment on the matter.
But analysts said the
price freeze was unworkable and that the government should address rising
costs of production if it wanted to halt spiralling of
Economist Witness Chinyama said: "The government should
address the production costs first before it introduces the controls, which
so far have not been successful."
He noted that the
government did not have the physical capacity to enforce the price
An economist with a Harare commercial bank said:
"Price controls have never worked anywhere in the world and it is clear they
will not work in Zimbabwe."
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa
admitted when he presented the 2003 national budget two weeks ago that
controls imposed last year on prices of basic foods had failed because they
targeted the final product without taking into account the entire production
The minister also admitted that the controls had
adversely affected consumers, who they were supposed to protect. However, the
government went on to announce the blanket price freeze on all commodities a
few days later.
By Abel Mutsakani
Deputy Editor-in-Chief 11/28/2002 (GMT +2)
A DEAL for the
government to swap organic maize for genetically modified (GM) grain to feed
close to seven million Zimbabweans facing starvation has virtually collapsed
because Harare has insufficient maize stocks, jeopardising future food aid,
the Financial Gazette established this week.
signed two months ago between the government and the United States of
America, was supposed to result in Zimbabwe swapping naturally grown maize
for genetically altered grain from the United States.
initial shipment of more than 17 000 tonnes of genetically modified maize
donated by the US, enough to feed about 1.6 million hungry people for a
month, was supposed to be exchanged for a similar quantity of
But the maize remains stockpiled at
warehouses in neighbouring South Africa's port city of Durban, two months
after the government agreed it should be brought into the
A spokesman for the World Food Programme (WFP) in
Harare, Luis Clemens, confirmed that the maize, initially provided under the
auspices of the USA's Agency for International Development (USAID) but later
handed over to WFP, was still outside Zimbabwe.
agreement was signed for 17 500 tonnes of USA-donated maize, which was to be
swapped for non-GM maize but that has not taken place yet," Clemens said
There was no comment from Labour, Public Service and
Social Welfare Minister July Moyo, who is in charge of food relief in
But under the swap deal sealed in September, the WFP
agreed to hand over the USA-donated maize to the government, which would mill
it and distribute it to the public as mealie-meal.
would, in exchange, give the WFP 17 500 tonnes of naturally produced maize
which the international food agency could distribute under its food relief
The deal, which sources in the donor community say
was intended to be a model for future food imports, was a compromise solution
after Harare had objected to GM maize being brought into
Harare, like other southern African governments
facing hunger, says it does not want GM maize to be distributed in Zimbabwe.
It fears farmers could plant it and endanger future agricultural exports,
especially to the European Union, which has strict laws against the import of
The sources said the compromise deal was as good
as dead because the government did not have the non-GM maize to exchange with
Drought and a controversial government programme to
take over white-owned commercial farms has slashed maize production by at
least 60 percent in the past year, making it difficult for the state to
procure naturally grown grain.
Zimbabwe also has no maize
reserves stored for emergency situations such as the one it is
Sources said the government's lack of maize stocks
could derail future food donations especially since the USA is the largest
single food donor.
The USA contributes about half of all
international emergency food aid requirements, but refuses to separate GM and
non-GM food arguing it is harmless because Americans eat it.
The USA announced this week that it had set aside US$104 million for food
purchase for Zimbabwe but did not indicate whether the food would be bought
from American producers or not.
"This thing will not work
anymore, not because the government does not want it to work, but because it
does not have enough non-GMO maize to exchange and it is important to note
that that also puts a big question on what will happen to future donations if
they are GMO," a senior official with an international aid organisation
Clemens however declined to comment on future GM food
But aid agency officials say the collapse of the
swap deal could hamper efforts to feed about 6.7 million Zimbabweans in need
of emergency food aid, whose numbers could swell next year if the El Nino
weather phenomenon hits southern Africa.
The El Nino is
associated with droughts in the region.
"Past data had shown
that this (El Nino conditions) could be accompanied by a drop in rainfall in
the south of the country and a reduction in crop yields by between 20 to 40
percent," USAID's Famine Early Warning Systems Network said in its latest
report on Zimbabwe.
The organisation has called on the
government and aid agencies to step up efforts to avert starvation as
Zimbabwe's food security situation worsens.
DANDE - World Vision
Zimbabwe has adopted 60 000 children around the country as part of its
efforts to stave off the starvation faced by three million women and children
because of severe food shortages, according to a spokeswoman for the
The organisation's corporate services manager,
Marjorie Mutemererwa, said the children World Vision had taken under its wing
were below the age of five and were being fed with corn-soya blend porridge
She said: "We have set aside US$17 000 ($935 000)
for the supplementary feeding scheme from October to March next year. We
purchase 21 tonnes of the porridge mixture on a monthly
Committees representing local communities have been
created in all the country's provinces to ensure that the food aid reaches
intended beneficiaries and also to enforce high standards of hygiene during
the feeding sessions, Mutemererwa added.
She was speaking at
Gonono village in Dande communal lands, 260 kilometres northwest of Harare,
where World Vision last week delivered another consignment of the emergency
food aid that villagers have come to rely on.
organisation is feeding more than 6 000 children in the village, where the
state-run Grain Marketing Board has scaled down maize distribution from once
a week to once a month.
Villagers who spoke to the Financial
Gazette at the World Vision food distribution site said the more than 400
families in Gonono had to survive on wild fruits between deliveries of
consignments of donor food.
"We burn the muchinyarota
tree and take the ashes and combine them with the usiga fruit to make
porridge for our children," 78-year old Catherine James, who has to fend for
three orphaned grandchildren, told the Financial Gazette.
The usiga fruit is ground into porridge so that children can digest
it easily, while most adults eat it uncooked.
villager, Siphiwe Charakupa, said: "We have to compete with elephants for the
usiga fruit, that is how desperate our life has become
Close to seven million Zimbabweans are in need of
emergency humanitarian aid because of food shortages caused by drought and
the government's controversial land reform programme, which has led to a
60 percent drop in food production in the past year.
the agrarian reforms, at least 90 percent of Zimbabwe's white-owned
commercial farms have been taken over to resettle landless blacks,
destabilising the agricultural sector, the engine of the
Aid agencies say three million of the
Zimbabweans needing emergency food aid are women and children, who face acute
About 600 000 children need supplementary feeding
between now and the next harvest in March next year but the government has no
foreign currency to import food, while international donor agencies have been
slow to respond to pleas for humanitarian assistance.
Sydney Masamvu Assistant Editor 11/28/2002 (GMT +2)
JUSTICE, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa coaxed
former Finance Minister Simba Makoni to resign from parliament, averting a
constitutional crisis and a confrontation between Makoni and President Robert
Mugabe, government officials said this week.
Speaker of Parliament
Emmerson Mnangagwa told the House on Tuesday that Makoni and ailing former
minister for health Timothy Stamps had resigned last week, paving the way for
the appointment of new ministers Amos Midzi and Witness Mangwende as
While Stamps had long ago agreed to
voluntarily relinquish his seat in Parliament, the government officials said
Makoni, dropped from Mugabe's "war Cabinet" along with Stamps in August, was
adamant that he would not resign.
They said Makoni's
intransigence had forced the government to delay announcing Stamps'
The sources said as late as last Thursday,
Chinamasa was still making frantic efforts to persuade the former Finance
Minister to give up his seat.
"There were a lot of efforts made
by Chinamasa to get Makoni to relinquish his seat, it was not an easy
process, no wonder why it took so long, up to the last day of the grace
period, to resolve the issue," a senior government official privy to the
negotiations told the Financial Gazette.
"If the stalemate
had extended up to Monday, we would have had a constitutional crisis," he
According to the constitution of Zimbabwe, only
parliamentarians can serve as Cabinet ministers, but ministers can be
appointed outside the House and given 90 days to formalise their
Midzi and Mangwende were appointed in a Cabinet
reshuffle in August and their grace period expired last Sunday, about three
days before the November 21 and 22 resignation of Makoni and
Government officials said if Makoni had not resigned at
the last minute, Mugabe would have been forced to intervene and order him to
do so, otherwise Midzi and Mangwende, appointed Ministers of Energy and
Transport respectively, would have had to resign from Cabinet last
But according to the constitution, Mugabe could not
fire Makoni from parliament because he was appointed for the entire term of
the House, which expires in 2005.
parliamentarians can lose their seats if they are expelled from their
Since he was drooped from the Cabinet, Makoni has been
attending parliamentary sessions, while Stamps had long ceased to
Authoritative sources say ZANU PF, through Chinamasa, was
forced to tell Makoni that he was brought in as a non-constituency
parliamentarian on the understanding that he was serving the government as a
minister, and that his status as MP would be revised if he was no longer in
Chinamasa was unavailable for comment yesterday
because he was attending a Politburo meeting.
told the Financial Gazette recently that he was not planning to relinquish
his seat in parliament, but he could not be reached yesterday to explain his
sudden u-turn as he was said to have gone out of the country on
The former Finance Minister, seen by some commentators
as a potential successor to Mugabe, was dropped from Cabinet after he
differed with ZANU PF hardliners about the resolution of Zimbabwe's economic
Makoni advocated depreciation of the overvalued
Zimbabwe dollar and the reestablishment of ties with the international
community, policies opposed by Mugabe
FOUR United Nations officials
attacked by war veterans last week had been mandated by the government to
conduct preliminary investigations for a survey to identify farm workers in
urgent need of humanitarian assistance, it was learnt this week.
The government has accused the four officials of stage-managing a scramble
for food by throwing foodstuffs out of a moving vehicle and then filming
displaced workers jostling for the food.
But a spokesman
for the United Nations' Development Programme (UNDP) told the Financial
Gazette yesterday that the four, who were detained and assaulted by war
veterans at a farm in Melfort, 40 kilometres east of Harare, were on a fact
finding mission before the start of a survey in January.
"The team was basically on a fact finding mission before a survey involving
the Zimbabwe government and the United States in January, to identify farm
workers in need of humanitarian aid," he said.
"We carried out
the fact finding mission because you don't organise a survey without knowing
what is on the ground to enable you to have scientific evidence to base the
UNDP resident representative in Zimbabwe Victor
Angelo said the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare had
approached the UNDP to assist the government in carrying out the
"There is a request from the Ministry of Public
Service, Labour and social Welfare, which was made some few weeks ago for the
United Nations to assist in conducting a national farm workers survey," he
told the Financial Gazette.
"The survey is intended to
identify the country's most vulnerable groups for assistance in commercial
He said the survey would still go ahead,
despite the assault on UN staff.
According to the Zimbabwe
Community Development Trust (ZCDT), which is assisting displaced farm
workers, more than 150 000 farm employees and their families were displaced
when their employers were evicted in August under the government's agrarian
ZCDT director Tim Neil yesterday said this number had
increased since August, although some farm workers had been employed by black
farmers resettled under the land reform programme.
farm workers who had received their exit packages were moving into urban
areas to find work, while others were in need of urgent humanitarian
The government has taken over at least 90 percent
of the country's 4 500 commercial farms under its land reform programme,
slashing food production by 60 percent in the last year.
agencies say the agrarian reforms have combined with drought to leave close
to 6.7 million Zimbabweans in need of emergency food aid.
Zimbabwe expels last Western reporter By Basildon
Peta, Southern Africa Correspondent 28 November 2002 President Robert
Mugabe expelled the last European reporter from Zimbabwe yesterday under
harsh media laws introduced in March.
Stephane Barbier, Harare bureau
chief of Agence France-Presse (AFP), has been given until Saturday to leave
the country after the government refused to renew his work permit. Mr
Barbier's senior correspondent, Griffin Shea, was recently ordered out of
Zimbabwe. Other European journalists, including The Daily Telegraph's David
Blair and the BBC's Joseph Winter, have already been forced to
Mr Barbier, 43, has worked in Zimbabwe since June 2001. He will
move to South Africa.
AFP is expected to maintain an office in Harare,
staffed by Zimbabweans.
Bertrand Eveno, AFP's chairman and chief
executive, condemned Mr Barbier's expulsion in a letter to the Information
Minister, Jonathan Moyo. He said AFP had maintained a regional office in
Zimbabwe for 22 years, acting always in good faith and strict compliance with
all laws and regulations of Zimbabwe.
Scores of Western journalists
have been refused entry to cover specific events in Zimbabwe under the
draconian media laws.
THERE is an outbreak of watery diarrhoea in some parts of
Harare. One case of the more acute typhoid fever has also been reported in
Dr Maureen Wellington, the acting director of the city
health department, yesterday confirmed there was an outbreak of typhoid
fever affecting a number of high-density suburbs in the capital.
She said in the period between 11 and 17 November the number of diarrhoea
cases jumped from 47 to 155. But the number was declining, indicating the
city health department was managing to contain the outbreak, Wellington said.
The cases decreased to 121 in the period from 18 to 23 November.
Wellington said: "While the disease is common this time of the year, we are
calling it an outbreak because of the high number of cases we have this time
Wellington said most of the reported cases were in
Harare's west and south-west suburbs of Budiriro, Mufakose, Glen View and
Glen Norah. The typhoid case was in Glen Norah.
the disease was not sparing any group. "Those affected are children and
adults both male and female, almost in the same proportion," said
She said her department was still to determine the
source of the infections.
"We are still carrying out
investigations," Wellington said. "It could be something that happened in
that particular week when the cases escalated and in the following one, but
we don't know why."
She said the cases declined because the city
health department followed up on all reported cases and gave health
education, particularly on hygiene, to the patients, their families and the
Urging Harare's residents and people
visiting the city to be hygienic to avoid contracting the infection,
Wellington said they should wash their hands after using the toilet and
especially before preparing or eating food. Watery diarrhoea and typhoid
fever are water-borne diseases. Symptoms of watery diarrhoea are stomach
pain, running bowels and very loose stools, while typhoid fever is an acute
infectious disease characterised by high fever, rose-coloured spots on the
chest or abdomen, abdominal pain, and occasional intestinal bleeding.
ZIMBABWE'S 2002 wheat output
is expected to drop at least 62 percent from last year to 212 000 tonnes,
forcing the country to import an additional 200 000 tonnes to meet demand
until the 2003 harvest in October, it was learnt this week.
Wheat output is expected to fall from the 2001 final harvest of 340 000
tonnes to 212 000, making this year's harvest the smallest since 1991, barely
surpassing output during the severe droughts of 1992 and
Monthly demand for wheat has in the meantime shot up
from 30 000 tonnes to more than 40 000 because of a sharp increase in the
consumption of bread, which most Zimbabweans are substituting for mealie
meal, the country' s staple food.
Mealie or maize meal is in
short supply because of a large maize deficit resulting from poor
"The wheat harvest, which has started coming into the
market will not be adequate to cover requirements until April 2003, due to
increased demand of bread as consumers substitute wheat and bread for maize,"
the United States Agency for International Development's Famine Early Warning
System Network (FEWS NET) said in its November report on
"From the official estimates, a total of 212 000
tonnes of wheat is expected," FEWS NET added. "The wheat harvest is 62
percent of the 2001 final harvest of 340 000 tonnes, which included 6 000
tonnes of wheat seed."
The organisation said Zimbabwe would
have to import at least 200 000 tonnes of wheat to ensure bread supplies
until the October 2003 harvest.
Zimbabwe already needs to
import 100 000 tonnes of wheat, of which the government says it has already
bought 22 000 from international suppliers. But as of September, only 2 500
tonnes of this was said to have entered the country.
government has pledged to import a further 17 000 tonnes to meet the initial
import requirement of 100 000 tonnes.
FEWS NET said: "An
additional 200 000 tonnes of wheat imports is required in addition to the
already committed 17 000 tonnes, to meet requirements after April 2003 and
before the harvest in October 2003."
The decline in wheat
output, partly blamed on drought and the occupation of commercial farms by
ruling ZANU PF supporters, is expected to leave millions of Zimbabweans
Close to seven million Zimbabweans are
already in need of emergency food aid and the figure is expected to rise if
the El Nino weather phenomenon, which causes drought in southern Africa,
affects the region next year.
Bread shortages have given
rise to winding queues at urban bakeries and supermarkets, which on Monday
this week said no longer had flour on their shelves and were not sure when
they would next receive deliveries.
Bakers' Association of
Zimbabwe head Armittage Chikwavira said flour shortages were so severe that
bakers were operating without stocks.
"We are no longer
stocking any flour, what we are doing is that when we receive the flour, it
goes straight into the mixing bowel," he told the Financial
"Tomorrow (Tuesday) there will be no bread because we
have not received flour from our supplier."
Eddie Cross also said the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) had refused to increase
wheat supplies to millers in an attempt to conserve its stocks and this had
worsened the situation.
Millers presently receive a weekly
quota of 6 000 tonnes of wheat.
"There is no increase in
allocations of wheat by the GMB," Cross said. "The increase in allocations to
8 000 tonnes a week has not happened, which has caused a very big shortage of
bread and flour. The GMB is worried about wheat running
GMB acting chief executive Joan Mtukwa could not be
reached for comment on Monday as she was said to be out of the office the
ZIMBABWE'S embattled white farmers have
unanimously re-elected former Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) president Colin
Cloete to head the organisation, a few weeks after he resigned amid divisions
in the union.
Sources in the CFU said Cloete, who resigned last
month, was reelected at a meeting held on Tuesday to choose a new leader and
will head the organisation until its next congress in
Mac Crawford, the chairman of the CFU's Matabeleland
branch, was also elected vice president in charge of provincial regions in
what union officials said was a move to incorporate representatives of
farmers in Matabeleland into the top leadership.
no comment from Cloete, who was said to be attending a council meeting
Cloete resigned in October following disagreement
among members over how the CFU should respond to the government's agrarian
reforms under which at least 90 percent of Zimbabwe's commercial farms were
taken over in what the government says is a plan to redress colonial
Facing eviction from their properties, commercial
farmers could not agree whether to continue engaging the government in
dialogue or to challenge the farm seizures in court.
was accused by some members of failing to adopt a tough stance against the
government while others are said to have sided with him and pleaded with him
to rescind his resignation.
A CFU official who attended the
Tuesday meeting said: "The CFU told him (Cloete) that 'we don't want you to
resign' and the election was unanimous. The union also felt that Matabeleland
should be incorporated into the leadership and elected Mac
David Hasluck, the CFU director, who also announced
his retirement last month, is leaving the union tomorrow after 22 years of
service. The union's deputy director, Jerry Grant, is expected to take over
According to statistics from the CFU, less than 1 000
of Zimbabwe's 4 500 commercial farmers are still farming, which will
contribute to a significant drop in output in the 2003 agricultural
THE Medicines Control
Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) is investigating the re-labelling and release
into the open market of antibiotics that expired in October 2000,
jeopardising public health, MCAZ director-general Mafios Dauramanzi said this
The antibiotics involved are known as Microdox and are used
to treat sexually transmitted infections and, if combined with Chloroquine,
can fight malaria.
According to MCAZ, a batch of
capsules of the drug was mis-labelled with an expiry date of September 2003,
when it in fact expired in October 2000.
which should have been labelled as Doxycycline Microdox, also had its name
misspelt as Doxycyline Microdox before it was released to the
The misspelling of the drug's name triggered the
suspicions of MCAZ officials, leading to the present investigation, which has
been undertaken in conjunction with the police.
monitors the safety of medicines used in Zimbabwe, has recalled the
antibiotics from the market.
The organisation, which will
analyse the antibiotics to determine their potential impact on users, issued
a notice on Monday informing the public that the drugs had
Dauramanzi said the manufacturers of Microdox,
Microlabs Ltd of India and its present distributor, Sky Pharmaceuticals, had
not released the batch in question to pharmaceutical outlets. The drug was
also not released by its past distributor, Graniteside Chemicals (Pvt)
This means the drugs could have been stolen from a
hospital or clinic and relabelled, he added.
have been stolen from a public (health) institution and whoever did that
repacked them and put them on the market but we do not expect anyone to
continue using them after we put the notice (on Monday)," he told the
"We are carrying out a full scale
investigation with the police. At the moment, I don't want to suppose
anything before the investigations are concluded."
the investigation would try to determine where the drugs originated and who
had relabelled them.
MDC to investigate army harassment of Binga
11/28/2002 (GMT +2)
BULAWAYO - The
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will send a team to
investigate allegations that members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) on a
de-mining exercise in Binga are assaulting villagers in the Matabeleland
North rural area, accusing them of supporting the opposition.
Officials at the MDC's regional office in Bulawayo said they had
been inundated with phone calls from villagers claiming they were assaulted
by members of the army on a de-mining exercise along the Zambezi
Defence spokesman Lameck Mutanda yesterday said he
could not immediately comment on the allegations and did not respond to
written questions he requested from the Financial Gazette.
But MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said Binga villagers had reported that
off-duty soldiers harassed and assaulted them frequently.
said: "We are dispatching a team to investigate what's going on. We have
received numerous reports of the activities of the army and one of
our Members of Parliament (Jealous Sansole) has been a
"This has to stop. We don't know why the army is doing
Sansole, who was allegedly assaulted together with six
other people, was not available for comment yesterday as he was said to be
seeking medical treatment for serious injuries sustained from the beating he
Police in Binga confirmed that the legislator made a
report at the area's Siachilaba police station, adding that investigations
Joel Gabuza, the MDC parliamentarian for Binga,
said members of the ZNA were causing havoc and that many villagers had left
the area in fear.
"Sansole was beaten and I am sure if they
find me, they will also beat me. People are living in fear," he
Nyathi said the MDC was worried by the activities of
soldiers in Binga, where villagers voted in large numbers for the MDC in the
2000 parliamentary elections, the March 2002 presidential poll and in
rural district council elections held two months ago.
Low interest regime has hurt insurance industry -
11/28/2002 (GMT +2)
By Chris Mhike Business
The low interest regime that has characterised the economy
in the past two years, has been retrogressive for insurance business, says
the Zimbabwe Reinsurance Company Limited (Zimre).
last year the Treasury Department maintained a firm stranglehold on interest
rates as part of a strategy to reduce the government's exposure to the cost
of borrowing domestically.
The 23-month-long low interest
rate regime of around 30 percent, and at all times in the period below 40
percent, assisted government in the first six months of this year to save $39
billion from interest payments.
Other players in the economy
were, however, in that period and beyond, hurt by the interest
The insurance industry was one of the worst
In its results for the half year ended 30 June 2002,
released this week, Zimre blamed high inflation levels and low interest rates
for depressed group income.
"The rising inflation rate had a
negative impact on the group's operating costs, particularly with the
reinsurance costs and claims, while the low interest rate regime depressed
the group's investment income."
Insurance companies thrive on
investing policy holder funds in property, money, or financial markets from
which investments profits will be reaped. The existence of a low interest
rate regime in the financial or money markets, therefore, entails low
investments returns, that is, low investment income.
Pensions funds employ collected funds almost invariably in the same fashion
as insurance companies. They have been similarly affected by the low interest
Epwell Chiweshe, the chief executive officer of Marsh
Insurance Brokers, last week said the pensions industry was under threat from
the low interest regime.
"Employees are demanding the
discounting of pension funds and immediate cash payments to put their savings
to more productive uses," Chiweshe said.
monetary policy of low interests was, however, further entrenched last week
through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)'s monetary policy statement,
released by Dr Leonard Tsumba, the RBZ governor.
Under the new
monetary policy, the interest rate regime was dualised. A low, controlled
interest rate regime would continue to apply on export and productive
sectors, while interest rates for non-essential or consumption borrowers
would be subject to market forces.
The practicality of this new
system has since been questioned by economists and academics. The likelihood
for a respite to the woes of the insurance industry from the new monetary
policy is, therefore, seen as slim.
The situation for insurance
companies, says Zimre, is aggravated by the general weak position of the
Zimbabwean economy, as reflected in numerous macro-economic
Zimre said: "The foreign currency crisis has
further worsened and that has been made even worse by the food crisis. On the
other hand, the stock market was depressed during the first quarter of the
During the period under review, the group posted a gross
premium income of $5,8 billion and an investment premium of $14
billion. Attributable income stood at $657,4 million.
company spokesperson said the results could have been better.
investment income is contained due to regulatory requirements and the need to
maintain adequate liquidity to meet claims payments, therefore the funds are
invested in the money market where returns are low."
Reinsurance, Short-term Insurance and Life Company operations contributed
significantly to the group's total revenue, which grew by 134 percentage
points from last year in the comparable period.
against the negative impact of low interest rates on the domestic scene,
Zimre has embarked on a regional expansion programme.
diversification could reduce country specific risk,"
Zimre also expressed satisfaction at the
shedding of shareholding stakes previously owned by
At the privatisation and listing of Zimre in 1999
the government scaled down its 49 percent stake to 8
Zimre announced earlier this year that the remaining 8
percent government-owned stake was available for acquisition by
In its outlook contained in the
subject results, Zimre said: "Disinvesture of the government from the company
is a positive move and will lead to increased shareholder value."
concerns from some quarters about the crossover of media personnel into
active politics may well be used as a pointer to how democracy and free
association are perceived in Zimbabwe and how they ought to
While it is true that it has the potential to raise ethical
issues, depending on how one looks at the matter, but largely depending on
the clout the individual concerned wields in that field (the media), it
remains something not as sinister or essentially an affront to all
teachings journalistic, as some people would have us believe. And in any
case, this is something not confined to Zimbabwe only.
But then ours is still many light years away from the slightest hint of being
a democracy. Thus the complaints about the career crossovers could point to
the maturity, or lack thereof, in the discourse on democracy, individual
freedoms, constitutional liberties and other ideals enshrined within the
concept of democracy.
Some individuals from the world's
established democracies have made that crossover with little fuss being
raised about political loyalties back in their day as
It then becomes an instance of much ado about nothing
when we hear complaints here about journalists exchanging their pens for the
Did not a renowned journalist fall victim to
the party's factional fighting after attempting to contest on a Zanu PF
ticket in the June 2000 parliamentary election?
concerns raised then on the same score that the latest furore has been
raised? Professor Jonathan Moyo was a regular newspaper columnist before he
decided to enter the political fray.
Dr Nathan Shamuyarira was
a highly respected journalist before he went into politics, as was the late
Justin Nyoka, who went on to become Permanent Secretary for Information after
independence. Priscilla Mushonga-Misihairabwi, the MP for Glen Norah, is a
journalist by training.
But the issue of William Bango and
Percy Makombe going to work for the MDC and Grace Mutandwa joining the
British High Commission becomes a non-issue because in a genuine democracy,
citizens ought to be able to decide where and how they want to earn their
bread, as long as it does not involve extra-legal means.
crossover by Zimbabwean scribes is, in this regard, something totally
different in comparison with Silvio Berlusconi in Italy, a media titan, who
became prime minister through the use of his media empire to reach out to
potential voters. And vote for him they did.
He is said to have
won the country's top job through spending 20 times more than his rivals, and
this obviously by having that unfair advantage of owning three national
television networks. Italian state TV does not, as a matter of policy,
broadcast political advertising. As a result, Berlusconi's opponents had to
approach his networks to advertise their election campaign! An opponent
complained that Italy "is the only country in the world where political
parties must pay their adversary in order to run an
But amid the outcries here, could these
then be justified considering the limited influence the
journalists-turned-politicians will have on how news is reported and access
to the voting public? After all, there are no media gurus here who could use
of the media to reach out to the public.
But if at least some
of the media owners who publish newspapers here were to take that bold step
and throw their hats into the political ring, then perhaps the government
media, from which those objections emerged, would have a case. But then the
gripes would be dismissed because the political arena is for all citizens of
any state that claims democracy as a form a government, so they would be
acting within their rights.
The owners are mentioned here in
reference to their clout to influence news content, unlike the employees,
whose brief is defined for them. However, they would still be nowhere near
those in the developed world, who besides newspapers, also own television
There have been a number of media personnel who
decided to go into full-time politics, basing their career shift not on their
unlimited access to the media and therefore to voters, as apparently reasoned
by some critics here, but other ideals that they felt they were legitimately
entitled to pursue, being part of a democracy.
Castro, a Phillipina broadcaster, turned to politics recently after many
years as a journalist, but it is only in Zimbabwe that one's motives for
making such a move are questioned.
But this could be because
the people involved in that change of occupation were previously working for
the private Press, which has been blazing the trail as watchdogs of
One should not even waste time
imagining how these journalists would be perceived, had they joined the ranks
of the ruling party. After all the ruling party is home to a number of pre-
and post-independence Zimbabwe journalists, but their positions within those
echelons has not raised any ruckus. From Webster Shamu editing the Zanu PF
paper, to Shamuyarira, to James Makamba, to Chenhamo Chimutengwende. The list
is so impressive one wonders if it is always a bright idea to make that
crossover, seeing what the former scribes have turned the country
Perhaps as an illustration, one of Africa's "favourite"
sons, Joseph Mobutu (later Mobutu Sese Seko) trained and worked as a
journalist before he gained power in the then Zaire, in the early
Did you know that Jerry Springer, the world-renowned
no-nonsense talk show host is a former mayor of Cincinnati? Talk about
changing lanes! There were reports last year of Cable News Network being
interested in recruiting former US president Bill Clinton as a talk show
host. Albert Gore his vice, defeated by George W Bush in the 2000
presidential election, was by July 2001 teaching journalism at some American
So, where do Zimbabwean critics draw the line as to
who should practise as a journalist, who should be a politician, and when
these two occupations should merge or have a symbiotic existence? How many
scribes from the public Press have been incorporated into the private papers
which have been accused of having designs on regime change here?