November 30, 2008
A brutal killing highlights the country's slide into lawlessness
Sophie Shaw in Harare
A HOUSEWIFE described as a "nice old lady" was beaten to death and her
husband left in critical condition after an "extremely violent" attack
highlighted Zimbabwe's decline into lawlessness.
Mary Austen, a 74-year-old Briton, was murdered on her farm near Kwekwe, in
the centre of the country, and her body discovered two days later. By then
her husband, Neville a 77-year-old Zimbabwean, could not move or speak.
Brutal as it was, Austen's death was a mere footnote in a country where
lawlessness, hunger, disease and economic collapse define daily life. Police
found furniture strewn all over the house after a struggle between the
Austens and their attackers. She died from numerous head injuries.
A neighbour, who knew her well, described the attack as "really brutal - she
was absolutely bludgeoned to death. She was a nice old lady who grew
vegetables and maize for domestic consumption on a small farm."
It has shocked the tiny band of white farmers who see the Austens as the
latest victims of Robert Mugabe's campaign to hand their farms to his
cronies. The news came as the regime faced a severe rebuke from a Southern
Africa Development Community (SADC) tribunal, a body with powers greater
than those of the local courts.
The tribunal ruled on Friday that the government had racially discriminated
against Michael Campbell, a white Zimbabwean farmer, denied him legal
redress and prevented him from defending his farm.
John Worsley-Worswick, of the Justice for Agriculture group, said that the
killing of Austen, which was sparked by a dispute with domestic staff, was a
sign of the hopelessness in rural areas.
"The extreme violence of the attack is something we wouldn't have seen a few
years ago. It's a reflection of the desperation of ordinary Zimbabweans who
can no longer secure food or basic medical attention," he said.
Zimbabwe, say the farmers, is becoming a "Wild West" state in which hunger
and ill-health are rife. In the current epidemic of cholera 9,000 cases have
been reported by the United Nations.
Law enforcement is breaking down as police attempt to seize their share of
the spoils. In Mutare police units seeking to control the diamond extraction
business have fought gun battles, which have left more than a dozen dead in
the past week.
Maize planting, which should have been completed by the middle of this month
has barely started. Large parts of the country will remain unplanted, as
small-scale farmers cannot afford seed or fertiliser. The Commercial Farmers'
Union expects the 2009 harvest to be the worst ever. Despite the exodus of
refugees Zimbabwe needs at least 1m tons of maize to feed itself. Next year's
harvest will be no more than 300,000 tons.
International aid agencies expect to cover this deficit by feeding 5m
Some farmers have been unwilling to give in without a struggle and, like
Campbell, are using the courts to fight back. Kim Birketoft, a Danish
farmer, bought his farm in Nyahondo after independence and so cannot be
considered a "colonialist" - the description Mugabe applies to all white
farmers. The government gave Birketoft a letter confirming it had no
interest in the land. His farm earned more than £650,000 a year, generating
valuable foreign exchange. He employed 200-300 people.
Birketoft invested £260,000 to produce roses, beef and tobacco. His
investment was protected by a bilateral treaty between Zimbabwe and Denmark.
Birketoft believes that senior government officials planned the assault on
his farm as a lever to remove the treaty protection that allows about 60
farmers, of German, Italian, Dutch and Danish nationality to continue
operating. Having shredded its bilateral obligations with these countries
Mugabe's cronies will be able to seize farms and other assets belonging to
European Union nationals that are protected by treaty agreements with EU
In June Birketoft was presented with an ultimatum: he was given 90 days to
leave as his farm had been offered to a retired army officer. He took legal
action and last week the Zimbabwe supreme court ruled against him, but
withheld its reasoning. The ruling was unusually swift and appears to have
been rushed out to preempt the SADC verdict. Supreme court judges are all
appointed by Mugabe.
Birketoft is likely to lose his livelihood and personal possessions. But his
farm workers and their dependants face unemployment and eviction from their
Research conducted by the Justice for Agriculture group showed that up to
half the 1m farm workers and their dependants, who have been evicted since
the beginning of violent land seizures in 2000, have since died.
Worsley-Worswick explained: "The Birketoft verdict was clearly politically
motivated and came without any explanation.
"The regime will use that judgment to argue that it is not bound by the SADC
tribunal's ruling, as land ownership is a national security issue . . . this
is about personal survival, keeping themselves out of prison, keeping their
ill-gotten gains at all costs."
Cholera's deadly toll is rising
Published:Nov 30, 2008
The cholera crisis is placing immeasurable strain on a nation already on its
knees, writes Rowan Philp.
We found her lying on the roadside, expecting death. Looking for cholera
victims in Budiriro, Zimbabwe's hardest-hit township in Harare, my guide had
proposed a simple solution: "Just talk to those you see lying on the
Within a minute, we found Spiwe Mangwende, lying in obvious pain on a thin
mattress in the shade of a bare avocado tree.
Last week, her 16-year-old brother, Promise Mashaire, lay on the same
mattress before he died of the same disease, which was first detected in
August in the town of Chitungwiza, 30km south of Harare.
The 26-year-old hairdresser was treated for three days at the township's
Unicef "cholera camp" last week, before being kicked out to make way for new
victims. The camp has about 100 beds, but an official there said 400 new
victims had arrived every day this past week.
Despite a refusal by the government to declare the cholera outbreak a
national emergency - or even to mobilise its health department - the World
Health Organisation reported that 9908 infections had been confirmed, along
with 412 deaths.
However, experts said many more were dying at home and were unrecorded.
Unicef, Médecins Sans Frontières and other NGOs are providing the entire
response to the crisis, which includes digging boreholes, providing
rehydration drips and establishing 36 cholera treatment centres such as the
major one in Budiriro.
On Thursday, about 150 people loitered around the Budiriro camp entrance,
hoping to learn whether their relatives had survived the night.
They watched as two bodies were wheeled out of triage and into the makeshift
mortuary, covered only in sheets. Like most of the other centres, Budiriro
had run out of body bags.
NGO workers have stopped insisting to out-patients that they boil water,
because few have any wood or fuel with which to boil anything. Instead, on
her discharge, Mangwende received two sachets of Aquatab water purification
tablets, a packet of oral rehydration salts and instructions to find and
drink as much water as possible - whether safe or not.
From Robert Mugabe's government, she has received nothing but the disease
On either side of Mangwende's mat, and up and down the verges of Willowvale
Road, the primary source of the epidemic is clear to see: little mounds of
earth, revealing newly dug back-yard water wells.
With piped water to the high-density township either stopped or untreated by
the municipality, hundreds of these water pits have appeared in the
township - and thousands throughout the country - in the past year as
Zimbabwe slid into collapse. The summer rains have quickly swept sewage into
the wells: from broken pipes, blocked long-drop toilets and open fields. The
flies have done the rest.
But Mangwende didn't contract cholera from a well.
She lives in the biggest house on the street - a four-bedroom place equipped
with a smart hi-fi, a big-screen TV and an expensive lounge suite.
The reek of sewage hits you in the entrance hall and gets stronger and
stronger until you get to the bath, where the taps have been left open
permanently for the rare day when a litre or two of water might trickle out.
It is filled with stored-up municipal water so infested with raw effluent,
and so completely untreated, that you can't see the bottom of the bathtub
through the green slime.
The municipality has piped cholera directly into Mangwende's kitchen.
"I am afraid but also angry," she said, wincing at the effort to speak. "I
never believed we would be living like this; also dying like this. I am
praying, but I also prayed for Promise. I don't know what will happen to
Mangwende is living the ultimate Zimbabwean nightmare. In May this year, she
was accosted by some of Mugabe's "green bomber" supporters, who scarred her
face with burning plastic on suspicion that she might be an MDC voter.
Months later, her diabetic father died because, she says, the city had run
out of most major medicines, including insulin.
Both the major hospitals in Harare have simply bolted their doors for that
reason and remain shut today.
And, last week, she had to wait two days to learn that her shy, cricket-mad
brother had died in the camp, as chaos joined forces with cholera in
Budiriro. Yet, incredibly, Mangwende is luckier than most in this epidemic.
Thanks to loans from "uncles", there is the occasional electricity supply to
the house and enough money to buy food for one meal a day: cabbage and a
little sadza - fine-ground mealie meal.
"Even one year ago, we were having three meals a day, with meat and tea,
even cornflakes," Mangwende said.
"Now it is a struggle for vegetables from the street vendors for one meal,
and maybe the (cholera) germs are on them. You don't know."
Desperation has set in for those without such sponsors.
Gloria Chivendza and her four children scour the sides of major roads for
kernels of pig-feed maize, which sometimes drop from trucks. She said she
did it "because we are very, very hungry".
Given a loaf of fresh bread in thanks for her interview, Chivendza sank to
her knees, her ululating choked off by a sob. She had not seen bread of any
kind in more than six months.
Like the dusty market squares we visited in Chivu and Masvingo, Budiriro's
open market was bare except for fruit coated with flies. And most of these
stands offered only wild fruit: the granadilla-like muzhanji, mostly
gathered by children in marathon searches in the bush.
"George" is a waiter who is surviving the crisis by asking patrons to slip
illicit US dollar bill tips under place mats to him - single dollars that
represent more than he could draw in three days' waiting at the bank.
"If you have sense, you don't shake hands in the (cholera) areas. Everyone
is using their knuckles to greet," he said.
This week, the longest food queue we saw in Harare was at the Nutresco Foods
factory, where about 2000 people queued in stifling heat to buy a
protein-substitute drink produced there. Each resident had already queued
for days for the right to stand there. One woman explained that the drink
was the last source of real nutrition for Harare's poor - "because fish is
the only meat you can find, and fish is said to contain the cholera".
The Mangwende family is also one of the few families on their street to have
soap for protection against the cholera pathogen - a couple of bars of South
African Elangeni soap, brought over from Musina by friends.
With soap unavailable or not affordable in shops, the green South African
bars have surged to the front line in the battle against the epidemic. NGOs
dish them out at camps and, this week, the brand name was a frequent word in
One official at the Budiriro clinic said: "The quantity of water is actually
more important than quality in tackling this epidemic, (but) there is no
water from the government, none! And there is no trust in the government
either, which means many infected people are reluctant to come to our
"This morning, one very ill man arrived after refusing to come for days. He
went on a drip but was dead in five minutes."
The official said NGOs were trucking 400000 litres of treated water into
Budiriro every day.
On Friday, hundreds queued for donated water at a huge green reservoir
erected in front of the Mic-Job bottle store in the township. But, even as
they walked away with their buckets of clean water, they had to walk through
sewage on the road.
There is neither a working flush toilet nor toilet paper at Mangwende's
house. Her surviving brother, Brighton, 17, said: "Life is terrible. We all
go out to the small bushes now for the toilet. We use newspaper." His
five-year-old niece is escorted to the bushes by older relatives each day.
But there was one final indignity in store for this Zimbabwean family this
week. Mangwende said: "All the people who wished to say sorry and pay
respects for my brother when he died, we had to send them away. At the
clinic, they told us we cannot gather together (to grieve) until the burial
The Budiriro official confirmed that the danger of contagion from the bodies
meant that grieving families were asked to cancel the traditional funeral
wake and were forbidden from the custom of washing the body.
Asked whether any others in her street had died this week, Mangwende gave
this astonishing reply: "I think it is 10... yes, with Promise it is 10 who
died this week."
Updated 3 hr(s) 19 min(s) ago
Former US President Jimmy Carter, when he was barred from stepping in
Zimbabwe by President Robert Mugabe, wittingly responded: "I think it's the
established policy of the Mugabe government that there's no crisis in
The statement, ironical as it is to those familiar with how short and
brutish life is in the southern African state, captured the hopelessness of
the Zimbabwean people. Their country is suffering from a near-irreversible
Within a few days, at least 366 people have died of a sweeping gale of
cholera, associated with the ruinous plummeting standards of living. The
killer wave has spread through nine of Zimbabwe's 10 provinces, even as
Mugabe begins the process of disengaging himself from the power-sharing deal
he signed in September with his Prime Minister-designate, and leader of the
Movement for Democratic Change Morgan Tsvangirai.
MDC won the first round, and in Mugabe's arithmetic, as no results were
declared, a re-run was mandatory. MDC could not take part as Mugabe doled
out violence and threats. He vowed he would not cede power to 'imperialists'.
MDC opted out, understandably, to prevent the flare-up of an all-out war. In
the end Mugabe ran against himself and won!
Sustained international and regional pressure, however, forced him into a
power-sharing deal, though in his usual bravado, he set about stalling the
process, principally by doling out posts that would reduce Tsvangirai to his
political flower girl.
The situation would, however, not be troubling to the African conscience,
having lived through many such ruinous, villainous and kleptocratic regimes,
were it not for the human catastrophe and misery in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe, who is presiding over a state failing by the day, and who would
rather blame every of Zimbabwe's woes on economic sanctions and isolation by
the West, can no longer play the racist trump card. But in his 28-year rule,
life expectancy in Zimbabwe has dropped by half; inflation stands at 231
million per cent and is still rising.
Carter was stopped from entering Zimbabwe to assess humanitarian situation
and drum up international support, alongside former UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan, and former South African and Mozambican First Lady and wife of
Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel.
Carter told journalists in South Africa: "The entire basic structure in
education, healthcare, feeding people, social services and sanitation has
broken down." He added: "These are all indications that the crisis in
Zimbabwe is much greater, much worse than we had ever imagined."
This year the farmers have not planted food crops because of absence of
seeds, and conservative estimates by the elders is that the closest harvest
for Zimbabwe, which Mugabe has blockaded against international humanitarian
aid groups, is 2010.
Yet, Mugabe, his hawks in the Zanu-PF and the so-called veterans' circle are
living in their own illusionary Disneyland.
Mugabe now wants to invoke the 'secret weapon', which gives him the leeway
to cancel any deal, if satisfied, "that the circumstances are such that the
continuance of the Inter-party Political Agreement is no longer possible for
The point must now be made to African Union and the international community
under the auspices of the UN that it is the time to remove Mugabe. The world
gave him all the chances he needed but he squandered them. Mugabe must be
MUGO 1983 - Mt Pleasant, Harare.
I AM actually shocked by what is happening at the Students Records
Department at the University of Zimbabwe.
Since we graduated on November last year, we have not been issued with
certificates or transcripts. The university does not have the appropriate
paper on which to print the scripts, but to my dismay, some staff in the
records department are printing the transcripts for some students upon
payment of between US$5 and US$10.
This boggles the mind.
I am appealing to the relevant authorities to carry out a thorough
investigation of the department. Such practices and such undesirable
elements should be rooted out of society.
Let's nip corruption in the bud. I am disappointed and aggrieved by such
practices at the mother university which is supposed to lead by example.
I kindly request the Vice-Chancellor to address this anomaly with urgency.
November 29, 2008
THABO Mbeki has presented the sequence of events, exposing the illogical
reasoning of the MDC, inconsistencies and contradictions and the continuous
shifts in positions. I don't think he is just wanting to force march the
MDC(T) into a government.
Remember the MDC and Zanu-PF signed this agreement in the presence of the
whole world. If the MDC now believes that they made a mistake and that a
unity government with Zanu-PF cannot work, they must come out clearly and
say so. They cannot in one breath say they are committed to the agreement
and then refuse to discuss the instrument that can put that agreement into
We do not want this forum to provide analysis only critical of Zanu-PF
without pointing out the lack of maturity and capacity of the leadership of
the MDC which has to a large extent also contributed to the mess that we
find ourselves in. I would like a more meaningful response from the MDC to
Thabo Mbeki's letter rather than the childish response of walking away from
a deal that they signed against the better judgement of many people.
A unity government means joint responsibility and accountability. From the
day they signed the GPA, the two MDC's and Zanu-PF become jointly and
severally accountable to what is happening to the people of Zimbabwe.
Remember, we have no elected government in place as the three parties agreed
to set aside the election process and proceed with negotiations whose
outcome was a signed agreement.
Of course, I agree that Simba Makoni, with at least 8 percent of the
presidential vote should have been part of the negotiating process, a
position that the MDC (T) should have insisted on, if they truly are for
democracy and wanted an inclusive government. Equally, even if we do not
like Prof Arthur Mutambara for whatever reasons, because his party got seats
in Parliament, it is also logical that he be part of the negotiation process
to from a government, even if he himself was not elected. But the spirit of
the negotiations has been more about power sharing than forming an inclusive
Hence, they have not even discussed for once the policies that will inform
this government but simply who will have what power. So what policies will
inform this government with regards to the economy, social and other sectors
is a discussion that I think is more mature and productive than the current
The truth is the MDC (T) has no Plan B to extricate us from this mess. So
let's cut out all the nonsense and political posturing. The "Chitongai
tione" approach is but an admission of failure and not acceptable, given
that for the past eight years the people of Zimbabwe have put their hopes
and faith in the MDC to bring about change.
It's time for Zimbabweans to talk tough to leaders of both political
parties. Their hands are full of the blood of 380 cholera victims and the
many who continue to starve in Zimbabwe. We need more serious leaders than
this. Most importantly, we now need leaders not politicians.
I am available.
Saturday, 29 November 2008 20:22
A Sadc tribunal has ruled that 78 farmers facing eviction can keep
their farms because the land reform undermined the rule of law.
The Namibia-based tribunal on Friday ruled in favour of the white
farmers who had gone to the regional court seeking an order barring the
government from acquiring their farms without compensation.
A five-member panel of judges drawn from five Sadc countries
adjudicating in the landmark case between the government and 79 white
farmers led by Chegutu-based William Michael Campbell also ruled that
farmers already evicted from their farms before the judgement should be
"We therefore hold that, in implementing Amendment 17, the Respondent
has discriminated against the applicants on the basis of race and thereby
violated its obligation under Article 6 (2) of the (Sadc) Treaty," said
Justice Luis Antonio Mondlane.
The Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Act 17, which became law in
2005, empowered the government to acquire farms without compensation.
"The applicants have been discriminated against on the grounds of
race," ruled the tribunal.
Campbell, who took the case to the regional court after he was
assaulted at his Chegutu farm by invaders led by a so-called war veteran,
Gilbert Moyo, said he hoped the government would respect the ruling.
The Zanu PF supporters wanted the farmers to withdraw their case from
"We are elated," he said. "It has all been worth it. I just want to
be able to live in peace and to continue farming in Zimbabwe. I did not hear
much of the judgement because I developed hearing problems after the
One of his ears was damaged during the attack.
His son-in-law, Ben Freeth, who was abducted and brutally assaulted
at a Zanu PF base in Pickstone welcomed the ruling saying it set a precedent
for the whole region.
"It's just so exciting to see justice being done," he said. "We just
really pray now that the Sadc states uphold the ruling of this tribunal.
Through this tribunal I think the rule of law can begin to be re-established
in Zimbabwe. We cannot have a country where the law becomes irrelevant to
the political decision of a morally corrupt hierarchy. "
The Tribunal ruled that government should ensure that no action is
taken, pursuant to Amendment 17, directly or indirectly to evict from or
interfere with the farmers.
The government was ordered to compensate three farmers who were
evicted from their properties.
"By unanimity, the Respondent is directed to pay fair compensation, on
or before June 30 2009, to the three applicants, namely, Christopher Mellish
Jarret, Tengwe Estates (Pvt) Ltd. and France Farm (Pvt) Ltd," Mondlane said.
Zimbabwe, the tribunal ruled, could not use domestic laws like
Amendment 17 to justify actions that were not in line with the terms of the
Sadc Treaty and conventional international law.
Josephat Tshuma of the Law Society of Zimbabwe said the judgement of
the tribunal was binding.
He said although Sadc had no mechanism to enforce it legally, the
ruling was still enforceable politically as failure to abide by it would
But an adamant Lands and Land Reform Minister, Didymus Mutasa on
Friday said the government would not recognise the Sadc ruling.
"We do not observe that," he said. "It has no legal basis. We are not
governed and directed by a tribunal. It has absolutely no jurisdiction, we
are not going to observe that," Mutasa said.
In the likely event that some farmers would soon start returning to
their farms in line with the ruling, Mutasa said: "They will be arrested and
sent to prison. The laws of this country won't be made by Sadc."
Saturday, 29 November 2008 20:18
A group of doctors has put the cholera death toll at 800 throughout
the country, amid reports that seven prisoners died at Chinhoyi Prison
following an outbreak.
The Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) said about one in every
10 people who contracted the highly contagious but curable disease did not
Last week the United Nations put the number of deaths at 366 while the
Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Edwin Muguti on Friday said 386
people had died.
The government, which have been accused of trying to downplay the
extent of the cholera outbreak, said about 8 700 cases of cholera had been
reported in the country.
But Dr Douglas Gwatidzo, the chairman of ZADHR, said calculations
based on government figures showed that the number of people killed by the
disease had surpassed 800.
"The problem with trying to cover up statistics and downplaying a
situation is that you end up making estimates that don't make sense,"
"If we are saying 8 700 cases have been reported countrywide, how can
we then say that 383 people have died of cholera when we are saying at the
same time, one in every 10 cholera cases has resulted in death?"
"Determining the exact number of people who have died of cholera could
be very difficult because of the information blackout that characterised the
early days of the epidemic.
"But with what we have the deaths cannot be anything less than 800 and
I believe we are fast approaching 1 000."
Sources say at least 300 people have died at Beatrice Infectious
Diseases Hospital alone since the outbreak began last month.
A group of Harare councillors, who visited the hospital early this
week reportedly also, confirmed these reports.
With government hospitals unable to handle cholera cases,
non-governmental organisations such as Medicines San Frontiers,
International Red Cross Society and the United Nations Children's Fund have
stepped in to assist.
Unicef together with other aid agencies are also reportedly feeding
poorly paid health workers so that they can keep working, to avert the
crisis that has spilled over into South Africa and Botswana.
Almost all the country's 10 provinces have reported cases of cholera
since the first recorded outbreak in Chitungwiza in August.
A group of local doctors under the Zimbabwe Medical Doctor's
Association (ZIMA) has also joined the fight against cholera.
Yesterday the doctors began working at five clinics around the country
including Mbare Polyclinic.
ZIMA secretary general, Tapuwa Bwakura said the Harare City Council
had directed them to Mbare Polyclinic where fresh cases of cholera had been
ZIMA also offers free services at Pelandaba in Bulawayo, Amaveni and
Mbizvo in Kwekwe, Runyararo clinic in Masvingo and Chipinge Hospital in
Meanwhile, two inmates were found dead in their prison cells in
Chinhoyi on Tuesday morning while five died at Chaedza Hall between Sunday
and Monday after they contracted cholera.
A source said 13 inmates suffering from the disease were at the hall,
which has become a temporary cholera treatment centre following the closure
of the provincial hospital.
One of the prison officials said some of the sick were put in one cell
to prevent the disease from spreading at the complex. The prison with a
carrying capacity of 150 has a total of 260 inmates, a situation officials
said had worsened the outbreak.
Mashonaland West provincial medical director Wenceslaus Nyamayaro
refused to comment on the outbreak saying it was a "security" matter.
Chinhoyi Prison officials also refused to comment.
Last week the government appealed for body bags from the United
Nations and medical supplies worth US$117 000 to deal with the outbreak.
Health and Child Welfare Minister, David Parirenyatwa confirmed asking
the UN body to co-ordinate efforts to curb cholera but refused to comment on
the ZADR figures. - Additional reporting by our Chinhoyi Correspondent.
Saturday, 29 November 2008 20:18
MDC-T and Zanu PF negotiating parties only agreed to a Constitutional
Amendment (No 19) Bill last week after both made concessions, it emerged
Sources told The Standard the parties could have reached yet another
deadlock, had they failed to concede ground.
The two parties went to SA determined to ensure the Amendment Bill
would guarantee them a stronger position in the inclusive government.
The Bill, expected to be gazetted shortly, could be passed by
Parliament early next year.
Sources said Zanu PF negotiators last week brought to the table their
own draft amendment containing a clause that would have allowed President
Robert Mugabe to dissolve the unity government without giving reasons.
The clause, which alarmed the MDC formations, could have strengthened
Mugabe's position in the inclusive agreement: giving him carte blanche to
dissolve Cabinet and thereby destroying the Global Political Agreement,
which has been fiercely resisted by some members of his inner circle.
On the other hand, the MDC-T team also had a surprise for Mugabe's
The formation wanted the Amendment Bill not to carry any provision,
which recognised Mugabe as head of government, sources said.
The MDC has in the past refused to sign the agreement with Zanu PF,
worried about Mugabe's excessive powers.
Sources said haggling over these proposed amendments threatened the
talks which were also clouded by acrimonious exchanges between the
facilitator Thabo Mbeki and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
The stalemate was only broken after parties agreed to turn to the
Kariba draft constitution which was agreed by the parties in September 2007.
The little known controversial draft has been heavily criticised by
civic organisations because they were not consulted when it was formulated.
Sources revealed the negotiating parties lifted Section 121 from the
Kariba draft and made it part of the Amendments Bill 19. The move is said to
have eased the concerns of the MDC-T formation, which argued that Mugabe's
powers in making key appointments that mattered were unchecked.
The section calls for the establishment of a powerful Committee on
Standing Rules and Orders (CSRO) which will be consulted by Mugabe whenever
he has to make key appointments to independent commissions.
A Transitional Provisions section included in the Bill makes it clear
that Mugabe can only appoint members of independent commissions with the
agreement or consent of the CSRO to be chaired by the Speaker of Parliament,
Lovemore Moyo, who is the chairperson of the MDC-T formation.
This arrangement, sources said, eroded Mugabe's powers to appoint
whomever he wanted without the input of partners to the inclusive
Critics say Mugabe has used this power to appoint officials who have
helped him "rig elections".
Among those to be appointed by Mugabe after consulting the CSRO are
members of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the Anti-Corruption
Commission, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Media Commission.
Under the Amendment Bill chiefs will now be required to be neutral and
not engage in partisan politics. In the past elections, the traditional
leaders have assumed the roles of Zanu PF commissars in their areas.
The Amendment Bill also broadens the manner in which people can obtain
Zimbabwean citizenship. This could be through birth, by descent or by
registration. The Citizens and Immigration Board would be established to
determine the granting and revoking of Zimbabwean citizenship. In the past
Zanu PF has been accused of denying citizenship to people suspected of being
Reached for a comment yesterday, Nelson Chamisa, the spokesperson of
the MDC-T formation, said they were satisfied the Amendment Bill captured
the essence of the power-sharing agreement. He however warned that the Bill
alone would not solve the problem unless outstanding issues were resolved.
Among these is the equity in the distribution of ministries and the role and
composition of the National Security Council. The MDC national council is
expected to discuss the Bill later this week and decide whether or not to
Zanu PF chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa's phone went unanswered.
Addressing about 5000 people at a rally in Bindura yesterday, MDC-T
Vice- President Thokozani Khuphe said the party's endorsement of the
Constitution Amendment Number 19 that will give force to the September 15
power-sharing agreement signalled the beginning of the formation of the new
But she insisted the MDC-T would not join the proposed inclusive
government until outstanding issues that include the equal sharing of
cabinet posts are addressed.
Khuphe said the outstanding issues included the equal sharing of posts
of governors, ambassadors, permanent secretaries and the composition of the
National Security Council.
"We will only form an inclusive government if all these issues are
agreed upon by all the parties involved," she said. "We will not jump into a
river full of crocodiles . we don't want a deal which would not guarantee
food, jobs and freedom of the people."
She accused Zanu PF of negotiating in bad faith, which she said was
evidenced by government's refusal to issue Tsvangirai a new passport and the
treason charges against the party's secretary general, Tendai Biti.
"As we speak we have more than 15 of our activists who were abducted
and are missing," Khuphe said. "This shows that they are not negotiating in
The Deputy Prime Minister-designate also blamed the unfolding
humanitarian crisis in the country on Zanu PF's failure.
"Cholera is a result of Zanu PF failure during the past 28 years,"
Saturday, 29 November 2008 20:05
HUMANITARIAN agencies say they will need a staggering US$550 million
for their programmes in Zimbabwe to alleviate massive starvation and death
due to curable diseases such as cholera.
The Zimbabwe Consolidated Appeal for 2009, unveiled in Harare on
Tuesday, was made by 35 relief agencies, which included United Nations
The appeal also coincided with a report by former US president, Jimmy
Carter, ex-UN secretary general Kofi Annan, and Graca Machel, the wife of
former South African president Nelson Mandela, painting a grim picture of
the situation in the country.
The trio, who are members of a forum known as Global Elders, were last
week prevented by government from conducting an assessment of the
humanitarian crisis. But they held interviews with non-governmental
organisations, businessmen and politicians from Zimbabwe in neighbouring
countries to assess the impact of the crisis.
In barring the world-renowned peace makers, the government said it had
urgent business to attend to that included preparations of the summer
cropping season and the talks to form a unity government between the MDC and
"Food is the most serious problem," the Elders said in their report.
"There is not enough to meet immediate needs and an acute shortage of seed
and fertiliser means that April's harvest will produce a fraction of what is
"Donor assistance for the planting season reached only 25% of the
poorest rural smallholders."
The 94-page report accompanying the consolidated appeal by the relief
agencies says the political impasse in the country that has dragged on for
more than eight months since the March harmonised elections had compromised
efforts to effectively mobilise support for food security programmes,
provision of clean water, health and education services.
Of the total figure of US$550 million, US$315 would go towards the
procurement of food, US$60 million for agriculture, US$30 million for
education, US$45 million for health and US$21 million for water, sanitation
"The main challenge now is to deal with the increasingly urgent
humanitarian needs of millions of Zimbabweans," reads the report's executive
Aid agencies estimate that more than five million Zimbabweans will be
dependent on food aid by the first quarter of next year.
The number is likely to grow as the year progress if the 2008/9
cropping season is not rescued.
"Action is urgently required to save household agricultural production
in 2009, and mitigate the impact of the failed season in 2008," the report
said. "The infrastructure for delivering basic social services is seriously
affected, resulting in unprecedented levels of disease incidence and
prevalence throughout the country."
World record hyper-inflation and a collapsing banking system posed
major challenges to humanitarian operations, with most agencies affected by
the lack of cash and inability to access foreign currency, the report said.
The World Food Programme (WFP), which feeds millions of starving
Zimbabweans recently warned that it was cutting back on rations to make the
available stocks last longer after it got a poor response to appeals for
"Without immediate increases in food availability, malnutrition rates
will inevitably increase sharply," the Elders, said in their report.
They noted that the crisis had also not spared the health and
education sectors, once the envy of many on the continent.
Four major hospitals, including the country's two major referral
hospitals Parirenyatwa and Harare hospitals, had shut down owing to
persistent strikes by doctors and nurses and the acute shortages of
The closure of the major hospitals also comes at time when the country
is battling an unprecedented cholera epidemic.
Zimbabwe also has one of the highest HIV/Aids rates in the world with
about 3 500 people dying every week.
The Elders recommended that to reverse the situation, the
power-sharing agreement between Zanu PF and the MDC should be implemented
and that donors should increase their support to meet urgent humanitarian
By Kholwani Nyathi
Saturday, 29 November 2008 19:52
Police are reportedly seizing maize from desperate residents at
roadblocks on roads leading to the city under the pretext that they want to
curb the spread of cholera, The Standard can report.
Angry travellers last week accused the police of using the cholera
outbreak to steal from people who were battling to save their families from
Most shops in the city stopped selling maize meal at the beginning of
this year as the southern parts of the country started experiencing an acute
shortage of grain.
The little grain brought into the city by the Grain Marketing Board
(GMB) finds its way onto the black market and hungry residents are resorting
to sourcing maize from their rural homes.
The affected residents said police told them their maize could be
contaminated with the bacterium Vibro cholerae, which causes the highly
An angry Noel Nkiwane said he lost a 20kg bag of maize to police at a
roadblock along Nkayi-Bulawayo road on his way to the city.
"This was theft in broad daylight by the police officers," he said.
"We were told that we were transporting cholera to Bulawayo."
Charles Moyo, another resident, said police officers manning a
roadblock outside Lupane offloaded bags of maize from a bus they were
travelling in, claiming to be following orders from their superiors.
"I lost a 20kg bag of maize to police officers at a roadblock when I
was coming from Lupane last week," Moyo said. "Inasmuch as the cholera
should be stopped, the police were just stealing maize from us using cholera
as an excuse."
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said he was not aware of the grain
"I do not know about that," he said. "I will check on that." He was
later not reachable for comment.
A person may get cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated
with the cholera bacterium. The government is battling to contain the
cholera that has spread to almost all the country's provinces.
Humanitarian organisations say as many as 500 people have died of
cholera since it was first reported in Chitungwiza in August.
Saturday, 29 November 2008 19:45
WHEN Tsitsi Moyo took the 350 km journey from rural Chivi in Masvingo
to seek specialist medical care in Harare she was confident that her worries
were finally over.
Because of her history of heart problems, Moyo was referred from
Masvingo General Hospital to Harare Hospital where specialists could monitor
her during her pregnancy and delivery.
On her arrival at Harare Hospital early October, Moyo registered to
deliver there without any problems.
But on Monday around 9pm Moyo had a harrowing experience when it was
time to deliver. She was turned away because the institution was closed as a
result of long-running job boycott by nurses and doctors.
In desperation, Moyo and her aunt went to Glen View Clinic but still
they did not get any joy.
Moyo was told that because of her previous heart problem her delivery
had to be handled by specialists.
At Parirenyatwa Hospital they found the doors closed. This time they
turned to the Mother of Peace Maternity Home, a private hospital as their
There, Moyo got the shock of her life: she was told that a deposit of
US$500 was required before she could be attended to.
Eventually Moyo found help at Chitungwiza Hospital at around 1am on
Tuesday but not without much drama.
"At first the two nurses who were on duty told me to go back home as
they were not making any admissions," said a distraught Moyo from her aunt's
Glen View home. "They were shouting at us to go back home.
"I just stood there with my aunt, at a loss. We did not know what to
do and where to go and I began to cry. After a long wait, one of the nurses
told me to go to the labour ward for an examination.
"The next minute she was screaming to the other nurse to come and help
her deliver the baby. In the chaos I had not realised the baby was so near
and I could have given birth while sitting on the benches."
Moyo, who gave birth to a baby boy, said she considered herself lucky.
However, she was badly affected by the trauma she went through.
"I saw two women giving birth on the floor on their own and I also
heard many women in the wards saying they had lost their babies," she said.
"Most of them blamed the poor service they had got at the hospital. I
sympathised with them. Giving birth is a very painful experience. After
going through it you must have something to show for it. I felt very lucky."
Many other pregnant women have not been so lucky. More painful
experiences await expectant mothers in the face of the collapsing health
Following the closure of the country's two biggest referral hospitals,
Harare and Parirenyatwa, women in need of elective or emergency Caesarian
sections are facing an increasing risk of dying while giving birth.
There are also women like Moyo with medical conditions that need
closer attention from specialists at larger hospitals with capacity to
attend to complications.
According to the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights
(ZADHR), an average of 3 000 women deliver babies at public hospitals in
Harare every month.
Of these, about 300 require life-saving Caesarian sections and the
closure of these hospitals has left thousands of expectant mothers facing a
serious dilemma as they cannot afford maternity fees at private
For example Belvedere Maternity and Baines Avenue Hospital are
charging up to US$800 for maternity care, an amount many ordinary people
But following the closure of the referral hospitals in Harare, many
women who find themselves in such circumstances are finding life very
Although city council clinics located in residential areas have not
closed down, they are only attending to women with normal deliveries.
The municipal clinics cannot deal with any pregnancy complications and
have to refer patients in need of Caesarian sections or who have developed
other complications to large referral hospitals.
To deliver at any municipal clinic most expectant mothers are required
to bring 20 litres of water and their own supplies such as drips, gloves and
sutures to stitch up in case of any tearing during birth.
The chairman of the ZADHR, Dr Douglas Gwatidzo, said the government
should urgently appeal for assistance to avoid the death of women giving
Gwatidzo warned many women would "needlessly die in child birth" as a
result of problems in the health sector.
By Bertha Shoko
Saturday, 29 November 2008 19:42
Soldiers have gone on a rampage throughout Manicaland assaulting
people and looting property from terrified villagers, business people and
travellers they accuse of amassing wealth through illegal diamond mining.
Survivors of the brutal onslaught narrated harrowing tales about the
military operation to reporters from The Standard that toured the area last
week. The reporters witnessed several incidents where soldiers
brutalised poverty-stricken villagers of Chimanimani, Buhera and
Authoritative sources say over 50 people have been shot deadand
thousands are nursing injuries after the army and police were deployed there
under an Operation code named Hakudzokwi (You won't return) last month.
The deployment was made after earlier efforts to rid diamond-rich
Chiadzwa of illegal miners failed to clear the area of hundreds of illegal
"It's not safe to move around in town these days," said a Mutare forex
dealer who only identified himself as Abel. "If they (soldiers) catch you,
they torture you, impound your car without asking questions and take you to
Chiadzwa to fill up the gullies."
A prominent Mutare businessman, who was severely beaten up a fortnight
ago and had more than 10 of his vehicles impounded is bitter. "I am trying
to negotiate with them because all the vehicles were properly acquired. But
this is definitely victimisation," he said without elaborating.
A foreign currency dealer who said he was abducted and taken to
Chiadzwa said the situation at the diamond fields was terrible.
He claimed that people were being forced to fill up gullies using
their bare hands and feet because the soldiers said they did not have enough
There is no food or toilets and there are fears that the captives
might contract cholera, which has claimed close to 500 lives in the country.
Officials at Mutare General Hospitals said of the 19 bodies that were
in the mortuary last week only a few had been claimed. However, more bodies
were being brought in to the mortuary. They said most of the people were
dying from torture wounds after being kept in Chiadzwa for several days
Relatives of suspected illegal miners said those who were shot or
tortured in Chiadzwa were treated at 3 Brigade Field Ambulance Company, an
army hospital in Mutare.
But the hospital has no food, drugs or equipment. The army's medical
personnel were asking patients to bring their own drugs.
Travellers found with large sums of foreign and local currency were
accused of being illegal diamond buyers and had their money confiscated.
There were eight roadblocks between Mutare and Birchenough Bridge, a
distance of 125 kilometres. The soldiers were openly asking for bribes from
On two occasions, The Standard news crew was forced to pay a bribe of
$2 million after soldiers, who did not know that they were dealing with
journalists, demanded the money.
The soldiers would order motorists to park their vehicles off the road
and openly demand payment.
On Monday morning, soldiers rampaged through shops and homes at
Birchenough Bridge beating up shop attendants and owners before looting
foreign currency and anything "valuable" they could lay their hands on.
"They forcibly opened my door and ordered me to give them diamonds and
foreign currency," said a shop attendant who cannot be named for security
reasons. "When I said I did not have the money they started beating me up
and cut my braids using a bayonet. They were accusing me of being a
gwejarine (a female illegal diamond miner)."
The shop attendant, who had bruises on her arms, said before they
moved on to the next shop the soldiers took with them CDs, a charger and a
Another shop attendant Vincent Chibhabha (28) said he was assaulted
after he failed to produce an ID, which he left at home. "It was horrible,"
A Birchenough Bridge-based businessman, Biggie Marisa, who runs a
chain of shops and a transport company, was assaulted in front of his
workers. They accused him of dealing in diamonds. He is now missing.
"He was badly beaten so we assumed that they took him to hospital in
Mutare but when his wife went there she failed to locate him," said one of
the workers. "I suspect they took him to Chiadzwa."
A 63-year-old man who was pulled out of a Chiadzwa-bound bus because
of his age said people were forced to get under the seats of the bus as
"Vaivachaya maningi vachiti pindai mutanera sezvamunoita kwaChiadzwa.
(They were being beaten and forced under seat like miners do when entering
tunnels)," he said. "Even (Ian) Smith's soldiers were not this cruel."
By midday on Monday, most of the shops were closed while vendors had
deserted their stalls.
Villagers slept in the fields on Monday night fearing the soldiers
might pounce again.
In Chipinge, soldiers forced the closure of a flea market, demanding
to know how residents managed to buy satellite dishes under the current
harsh economic environment.
Zimbabwe National Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Simon Tsatsi
said the army does not support such behaviour.
"That behaviour is definitely not acceptable but get a comment from
the police because they are in charge of the whole operation," Tsatsi said.
Last week, Wayne Bvudzijena said police would only issue a report
after the operation is over.
By Caiphas Chimhete
Saturday, 29 November 2008 19:42
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has warned that Zanu PF's continued
intransigence on power-sharing could result in civil unrest as the
population may lose confidence in a peaceful settlement of the country's
political and economic crises.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Standard, Odinga said he
feared Zimbabwe was following the route of Somalia, which has been running
without a government for 17 years following an outbreak of civil war.
"I fear that a continued deadlock for a much longer period will see
Zimbabwe slide downwards and become one of those failed states such as
Somalia," he said. "My fear is that as the population becomes more
despondent in the face of failed political solutions and increasing
hardships, the people may become restless and insecurity will increase.
"This may result in armed resistance as the current delays are a
recipe for disaster."
In comparing Zimbabwe to Somalia, Odinga said the Somalis had long
lost faith in politicians because of continued bickering.
He said as a result many were now taking the law into their own hands.
Odinga said he did not think the power-sharing talks that resumed in
South Africa last week between the two factions of the MDC and Zanu PF would
yield a positive outcome.
"I don't think an agreement will be reached because I don't see
(President Robert) Mugabe agreeing to a genuine power-sharing deal, which
would resolve the stalemate," he said. "If Mugabe wants the military, then
common sense should dictate that the police should go to (Morgan) Tsvangirai
who in any case won the first relatively free
and fair election in March."
Odinga is one of few African leaders alongside President Ian Khama of
Botswana and the late Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa who dared to publicly
criticise the veteran former guerrilla leader.
Other African leaders, especially in Southern Africa, are believed to
be afraid of Mugabe because of his liberation war credentials. Odinga said:
"My view of the ongoing talks is that the solution to the
problems facing Zimbabwe can be found if Mugabe agrees to genuinely
share power equally with Tsvangirai.
"After all, he has enjoyed absolute power for more than 28 years.
"His peers like (Julius) Nyerere, (Kenneth) Kaunda and even those who
came after him like (Nelson) Mandela, (Thabo) Mbeki and (Joaquim) Chissano
Odinga said he had spoken out on the situation in Zimbabwe because the
country's slide into chaos "annoyed" him.
"The Zimbabwean issue is particularly annoying to me which makes
people say I am overly critical of Zimbabwe. When I speak out about
Zimbabwe, I will be wearing my Pan-African hat.
"We should not allow some African dinosaurs in the mould of Mobutu,
Idi Amin and Kamuzu Banda to get away with murder by clinging to power
despite the fact that they would have lost elections."
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader who was the presumed
winner of Kenya's controversial presidential elections before President Mwai
Kibaki upstaged him last year said Zanu PF had shown that it was not sincere
about the negotiations by refusing to give Tsvangirai a passport.
Odinga scoffed at claims that the MDC, which has been allocated former
departments of old ministries as "new ministries", had received a better
deal than he did.
"It is certainly not true to say that Tsvangirai received a better
deal than ourselves because here we have genuine power-sharing where
ministries, diplomatic personnel and senior public officials were shared
under our February deal."
He said he was saddened by the growing trend in which incumbent
African leaders believed to have lost elections cling on to power so that
they can negotiate their continued stay in office.
"This trend which started in Kenya and moved to Zimbabwe is an affront
to African democracy," he said. "That is unacceptable, it should not happen
again. It affects our democratisation process. I urge the people of Zimbabwe
to remain steadfast and not to despair in the face of hardships as the
process of change demands sacrifice."
The son of one of Kenya's well-known politicians Oginga Odinga, he
believes African leaders have not done enough to nudge the political
opponents towards a solution to the Zimbabwean question.
"It is irresponsible for some of our African leaders not to talk
about problems in Zimbabwe. They are letting down the African people,
particularly on the Zimbabwean crisis."
Odinga said former South African president Thabo Mbeki had let
"Thabo Mbeki did not provide the necessary leadership and direction
and that is why the talks have degenerated to where they are now. I urge the
new South African leadership to stand firm and give direction to Sadc on
By Foster Dongozi
Saturday, 29 November 2008 19:29
THE MDC-T says President Robert Mugabe's decision to re-appoint
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono runs against the spirit of the
power-sharing agreement signed by Zimbabwe's political parties on September
Gono will tomorrow start his new five-year term that expires in 2013.
He will however not have an easy start to his new term. The Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) wants workers to flood banks on Wednesday
and demand their money.
The ZCTU, which has given Gono several ultimatums to lift the cash
withdrawal limits, says workers will demand to withdraw more than the
permitted $500 000 a day from their banks.
It's not just the workers who are disappointed by Gono's appointment:
ordinary people, businesspeople, economists and political parties have
roundly condemned it.
Elton Mangoma, the deputy MDC secretary for economic affairs said Gono's
re-appointed was against the spirit of the September 15 power-sharing
agreement between the MDC formations and Zanu PF.
The MDC has been given the Ministry of Finance, which will directly
supervise the RBZ chief under a unity government.
"We are disappointed because this is something that should have been
done together with the MDC in the spirit of the July Memorandum of
Understanding and the September inter-party agreement," he said. "Those two
documents are clear that Mugabe should not make any unilateral executive
appointments and what he has done shows his unwillingness to honour them."
Mangoma said Gono represented failure and by extending his term,
Mugabe had prolonged the suffering of Zimbabweans who were failing to
withdraw their cash.
Accepting his re-appointment on Wednesday, Gono pledged to stop the
central bank's widely condemned quasi-fiscal operations by returning it to
its core business.
But exiled Zimbabwean businessman, Mutumwa Mawere said he feared
Zimbabweans would endure another five years of "political manipulation" by
"During his term, he has successfully been able to divert attention
from the core source of the political and economic crisis by manufacturing
enemies of the state," Mawere said. "His tenure witnessed the centralisation
of executive power and the emergence of the RBZ as the super state."
Mawere said Gono was preoccupied with blaming others for the collapse
of the economy yet he was to blame for most of the damage.
Economists who accused the governor of posturing said promises by Gono
to turn over a new leaf were not new. "Those promises are an old song," said
an economist who requested anonymity.
"We should take them with caution if not completely dismiss them as
those of a man too happy to escape unemployment.
"He has made those promises in the past but failed to honour them. .
.We do not have any good reason why we should believe him now."
The economists said Gono had a bad track record, which was unlikely to
improve, given the unchanged political environment.
They said his first term was marred by haphazard policy implementation
"He is likely to continue with his old ways because there is no change
at the top in the first place," said economic analyst, John Robertson. "We
were expecting change much higher up following the March elections."
Robertson said it appeared Gono still did not understand the source of
the country's economic problems as he continues to claim Zimbabwe was under
an economic embargo.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Kumbirai Katsande
said Gono faced a tall order given that the economic situation continued to
"Our view is that during trying times, we have to call on
contributions from all key stakeholders and authorities to improve our
conditions," he said.
Saturday, 29 November 2008 19:26
CHIKOMO Mills and Venus East Shaft that comprise Arcturus Mine have
always been the lifeblood of Zimbabwe's once thriving gold sector.
The mine owned by Metallon Gold Zimbabwe and lying about 32 kilometres
from Harare had become a source of life for thousands of people in
Mashonaland East province.
But on a visit there two weeks ago, the place resembled a ghost town
and the gold mills had suddenly gone quiet. The small mining town used to be
a hive of activity for rural traders. Last week only a handful of vendors,
most of them selling wild fruit (mazhanje), remained in the town and they
were pessimistic that the mine will ever re-open.
Arcturus Mine is one the five gold mines owned by the Mzi Khumalo
owned Metallon which has closed after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe failed to
pay for gold deliveries.
"We fear that if the mine stops production, we will go under," said a
vendor. Even with music belting away from a nearby bar, the vendor is not
convinced that things will improve for the better.
"In the past, the bar used to record roaring business, but things have
changed for the worse especially in the past two weeks," he said.
The demise of Arcturus is just but a tip of the iceberg as far as the
state of affairs in Zimbabwe's troubled mining sector is concerned.
Dozens of gold mines have stopped production, while others are scaling
down operations citing the RBZ's failure to pay for gold deliveries.
Metallon, the country's leading gold producer reportedly closed down
Red Wing Mine, Shamva Gold Mine, How Mine, Arcturus Mine and Mazowe Mine
early this month owing to viability constraints.
There were fears that as many as 3 500 mine workers would be left
jobless. However, the company has issued a press statement denying reports
of the mine closures saying it neither had plans to close its mines nor
embark on a retrenchment programme.
"While it is true that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe owes the company
around US$20 million for gold proceeds, all of its five mines continue to
operate," the company said.
But the visit to Arcturus, one of Metallon's biggest mines told a
different story. Anxious workers said full-scale production at the mine
stopped some time ago and everyone now feared for their jobs.
"We are just doing maintenance work. . .repairing roads and there is
no extraction taking place," one worker said.
Another employee, who works for the mine's maintenance division said
although he was still going to work, the future was uncertain.
"The company has not said that it is closing down but from the look of
things, the future is uncertain," he said.
Tinago Ruzive, the president of the Associated Mine Workers' Union of
Zimbabwe (AMWUZ) warned that jobs of thousands of mine workers were on the
line as a result of the collapse of the mining industry.
"The industry is heading for collapse," Ruzive said. He said attempts
to get the government to intervene had drawn blanks and accused Mines and
Mining Development Minister, Amos Midzi of paying scant regard to warnings
about the impending disaster.
Last month officials from AMWUZ, Chamber of Mines and National
Employment Council for the Mining Industry briefed Midzi on the state of
affairs in the sector.
Midzi promised to forward the concerns to the relevant "authorities",
The Standard was told last week.
Ruzive said a number of gold mines were not operating due to the
non-payment of gold delivered to Fidelity Printers, a subsidiary of the RBZ.
Some companies were now paying idle workers monthly salaries more than
a week after the scheduled payday citing reduced production.
"We are saying if the company cannot operate, it should stop and give
workers retrenchment packages," he said.
Gold miners are struggling to survive, as they are owed money by the
central bank and some of it dating back to 2006. The RBZ through Fidelity
Printers and Refineries, buys the precious metal from 354 registered gold
But the payment structure has not helped miners as they struggle to
access money in Foreign Currency Accounts (FCAs) at a time the price of
precious metals is enjoying a boom.
The price of the precious metal has reportedly breached the US$700 per
ounce mark on the international market.
RBZ pays 75% of the total value of gold delivered in US dollars
directly to the producers' foreign currency accounts with the balance of 25%
is paid at the interbank rate or some other exchange rate as determined by
the central bank.
But for the past two years the central bank has not been paying the
miners in time for gold delivered as it battles to get foreign currency to
cater for the country's widening imports bill.
Gold production has declined over the years due to operational
constraints and poor incentives have made investment in the industry a
From a peak of 27 metric tonnes in 1999, gold production plummeted to
seven tonnes last year. This year gold production is projected to fall to
But the problem is not confined to gold miners alone.
Standardbusiness heard last week nickel miner, Trojan Mine, has sent
its staff on forced leave due to the slump in nickel prices on the world
Ruzive confirmed the development adding it had thrown into uncertainty
the future of thousands of its workers.
"Workers fear that if they were to be retrenched, they won't get much
since they would have exhausted their leave days," Ruzive said.
Midzi said the government was aware of the problems facing the
industry. He claimed that most of the problems emanated from the global
financial crisis that has affected the price of base metals.
"The issue of international prices is there for everybody to see and
you can't hide from the fact that it is a worldwide problem," he said.
Analysts say the fresh setbacks to hit the industry, which contributes
40% of the country's export earnings, could deliver the final blow to a
sector that has been on life support for a long time.
Power outages and foreign currency shortages have become the lethal
duets choking the industry.
By Ndamu Sandu
Saturday, 29 November 2008 19:13
THOSE who still remember James Makamba must have fond memories of his
sparkling performance on Joy TV, as he harangued diverse politicians with
tact, yet with diligence and courage.
His "victims" - some must have left the studio feeling emptied of all
dignity, self-esteem - respected him for that.
He always did his homework assiduously and was able to ask penetrating
questions which some of them were frightened they would not be to able
answer truthfully, without incriminating themselves.
Admittedly, he had launched his career in broadcasting as a disc
jockey way back in the dark old days when the only talk shows permitted by
the racist regimes were confined to farming, women's clubs, African music or
how well the government was looking after "its" African people.
Joy TV was launched at a time the government, probably mesmerised into
the mistaken belief that all citizens were glassy-eyed with glee at the
"wonderful" work it was doing for them, thought there would be no dissenting
Makamba was considered "a safe bet" in that regard. He was labelled a
true son of the soil, incapable, virtually, of seeing the woods for the
trees. He was thought to be in love with the party slogan.
On his programme, though, he immediately scored high marks with
discerning viewers. A number of his guests were staunchly in favour of
shooting from the hip. Their targets were, invariably the people in
authority who believed all citizens were so grateful to Zanu PF for
"bringing them independence" they dared not whisper any criticism of the
Makamba's courage hit a new high when he interviewed a number of
people who spoke their minds about the direction in which Zanu PF was
driving the country.
Soon, the bell was tolling for him. There were a few instances during
which Zanu PF sounded so cross with him it was as if he had turned into the
party's mortal enemy.
When he suddenly sneaked out of the country, not many people were
surprised. He had earned the stripes of an opponent of a regime steeped in
totalitarian politics at a time when Zimbabweans were campaigning for true
After Joy TV and other independent TV networks were blown off the
screens, we all knew we were in for a long, dark period of garbage dressed
up as genuine TV fare and news.
Today, watching state TV is now known to turn perfectly well-balanced,
tax-paying, law-abiding citizens into raving armchair revolutionaries,
pounding the walls of their houses as they berate the government with
Any government which believes that owning all the electronic media
guarantees it the unswerving loyalty of its citizens is whistling in the
wind. The colonialists tried it and discovered to their horror that it, in
fact, heightened the people's awareness of how many falsehoods were being
peddled as the truth.
Zanu PF knew this intimately but still tried the same trick on the
people - with the same result: only numbskulls believed them.
In South Africa, the ruling party seems intoxicated with its own old
propaganda on SABC.
A newspaper reported recently: "The ANC this week summoned SABC
executives to the party's headquarters at Luthuli House in Johannesburg to
haul them over the coals for what party bosses claim is political bias.
"The move has sparked strong criticism from several civil society
organisations, which have condemned party interference in what is meant to
be an apolitical public broadcaster.
"The meeting took place in Johannesburg on Monday amid claims by the
ANC top brass that the national broadcaster was favouring the Shikota party,
formed by Mosiuoa Lekota and Mbhazima Shilowa.
"But several organisations, including the Freedom of Expression
Institute, the Save the SABC Coalition, the Media Monitoring Project and the
Media Institute of South Africa, have condemned what they see as political
interference by the ANC, saying it harked back to the days when the SABC was
a propaganda tool of the National Party."
Many African governments, similarly inebriated with the new nectar of
power imbibed shortly after independence, have since sobered up. They have
allowed a genuine freeing of the airwaves. There are independent TV and
radio stations operating in many such countries. There have been no reports
of viewers and listeners turning into instant subversives, or suicide
Saturday, 29 November 2008 19:11
AFTER all the human effort, indeed, after all the summits and
champagne-negotiations, the demonstrations and obscene violence, could it
really be that regional leaders in Southern Africa have been jolted into a
change of tone by a little, albeit, lethal creature?
It seems that this little parasite, the bacteria called Vibrio
cholerae and the debilitating ailment that it causes has introduced the
"Cholera Effect" into the seemingly intractable Zimbabwe problem. As my
friend Teri put it recently, "we may have just gone one diarrhoea too far".
Surely, the region can no longer pretend not to smell the odour coming from
the land between Zambezi and the Limpopo.
The public health implications for the region mean that self-interest
will require regional leaders to engage more actively beyond the
dilly-dallying of recent times. When Zimbabweans screamed for help most
regional leaders reacted as if they were hallucinations from outer space.
They reacted like the polite son-in-law who upon finding himself alone with
his mother-in-law in a confined space senses an unusual and unpleasant
atmospheric change but nevertheless pretends nothing is amiss even though he
knows very well that only one person could have caused it. And that he
himself had not caused it but out of politeness, maintains a dignified
But the Rubicon has now been crossed. Now that Vibrio cholerae has
entered the scene, with its non-discriminatory effect, it has become
imperative to do something about the grave situation in Zimbabwe.
The little creature is, of course, a symptom of a greater problem; a
signification of the lacunae in the structure of governance in Zimbabwe;
that Zimbabwe does not actually have an operative government that is capable
and willing to provide social services to its people. Hospitals are closing,
drugs are hard to come by, the sanitary architecture has broken down,
schools are shutting down and food is scarce. There is no proper government
that is able to provide the basic services and resources to the ordinary
Now, a couple of weeks after SADC issued a porous communiqué on
November 9 2008, the language seems to be changing. In the last week, there
have been three key signals coming from South Africa that seem to indicate a
seismic transformation in approach. For Mugabe and a Zanu PF regime that has
been bleating about sanctions as the cause of all the problems in Zimbabwe,
the first would have come as a very unpleasant surprise from South Africa's
First, South Africa decided to withhold from Zimbabwe a financial
package of R300 million which it had promised in early November. That
announcement had been celebrated in Harare, the government interpreting it
as an indication of the seemingly perpetual entente cordiale between the two
governments which was prominent during the reign of President Thabo Mbeki.
That South Africa has now decided to withhold that support is tantamount to
imposing a mild form of sanctions against the Zimbabwe government. Friends
do not take away with one hand what they have offered with another.
What President Kgalema Mothlante has done is to offer a carrot with
one hand hoping perhaps for better behaviour on the part of the recipient
but taken away with another, itself an apparent stick with which to whip
into line an errant friend that continues to run amok leaving ordinary
people in the lurch. This has a great deal of significance, it being a
public admonishment of the regime, behaviour which President Robert Mugabe
has traditionally associated with the West, on whom he shifts all
responsibility for the country's ills.
The second was the loaded statement last weekend by President
Motlanthe to the effect that Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara must be sworn
in to enable them to start the business of forming an inclusive government.
Never mind the legal accuracy or otherwise of the statement, it carries
tremendous political weight in so far as the new administration in SA views
the Zimbabwe regime. It says, quite simply, that SA does not, as yet,
recognise Mugabe's legitimacy. It suggests that the hurried swearing in of
Mugabe after the Pyrrhic victory in the June 27 one-horse race of a
presidential run-off was a political non-event.
Also notable were the words of South Africa's Health Minister, who
said recently when responding to questions about the cholera crisis in
Zimbabwe that there was not yet a recognised government in that country.
This appears to be reflective of the thinking within the new South African
government, that Zimbabwe does not have a legitimate government capable of
speaking on behalf of the people.
If this interpretation is correct then, surely, it represents a
sea-change in South Africa's approach toward Zimbabwe from the days of the
Mbeki presidency. This must come as a devastating blow to Mugabe. He is very
keen for his legitimacy to be recognised and respected especially by those
he regards as regional allies and he would have been hurt very deeply by the
new pronouncements from Pretoria.
Third, is the more recent statement by Botswana's Foreign Minister
Phandu Skelemani who suggested in a BBC interview that regional countries
ought to "squeeze" the Zimbabwe government by closing their borders and
completely isolating it. This is an ominous sign from a senior diplomat in
the region, speaking as he does, for his government which for long has
challenged the legitimacy of the Zimbabwe government.
The weight of Skelemani's statements is more apparent when viewed
against the background that they were made around the same time that
Botswana's President Ian Khama had just attended key meetings in South
Africa. There is an implication here that President Khama must have got
sufficient confidence from South Africa to speak in such tough tongues.
Perhaps it's a view that South Africa shares?
It shows that privately Sadc is as exasperated as are Zimbabweans with
the 'see-saw politics' in Zimbabwe. It indicates that the region is
frustrated at the failure of the politics of persuasion, signified by quiet
diplomacy, which has so far failed to halt the unprecedented decline in
Zimbabwe, a decline that now threatens the region's health and safety.
The question now is whether and how Mugabe's regime will react to
these signals. There is every chance that with its fragile skin, the regime
will feel insulted and provoked, especially by the conduct of Botswana, a
neighbour that it traditionally regards as a military non-entity. Recently,
when President Khama called for new elections in Zimbabwe, Patrick Chinamasa
a senior Zanu PF official, called it "an act of extreme provocation".
Later Botswana was accused of providing training bases for MDC
militias, allegedly to destabilise Zimbabwe although no evidence has been
given to substantiate the allegations. Botswana has also offered to provide
political asylum to Morgan Tsvangirai should he need it. For a neighbouring
country to offer sanctuary to the face of Zimbabwe's struggle is a strong
statement of condemnation.
Mugabe is, quite plainly, in a tight spot. Sadc did not give him the
Carte Blanche to form a government of his own choice. It has to be an
Inclusive Government and it cannot be so without Morgan Tsvangirai and
Arthur Mutambara. There are also signs of change in regional leaders
approach. It has been gradual, disappointing at first, but there are signs
that the days of appeasement may be in the past. With Mbeki no longer a
commanding force in the region, Mugabe must feel that friends are few and so
far away now. Then again, you can never underestimate the reaction of a
nAlex Magaisa is based at, Kent Law School, the University of Kent and
can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, 29 November 2008 19:09
IF President Robert Mugabe values the interests of Zimbabweans first,
he should sack at least three of his ministers for allowing Zimbabwe to
become a threat to the region.
About 400 Zimbabweans have died of cholera over the past four weeks
while nearly 10 000 others were struck down by the disease. The reasons for
the health crisis are three fold - failure by the government to provide
clean water, lack of chemicals to treat water so that it is safe for human
consumption, and the collapse of health services.
The United Nations has described the situation in Zimbabwe as
"desperate" and the World Health Organisation has come to the rescue by
helping to do what any caring government should have done for its citizens -
procuring emergency drugs for the designated cholera clinics that have been
set up in Harare.
While the focus has been on Harare, the cholera crisis has defied
geographical boundaries and has now spread to other cities in the country
and to South Africa and Botswana.
The origins of the cholera pandemic can be traced to the actions of
the Minster of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development, who
decided dismiss mayors, whose only sin was proving that they were more
competent in running the affairs of their cities and towns than their Zanu
PF predecessors; and dismantling water utilities and handing them to the
hopelessly incompetent Zimbabwe National Water Authority.
The third callous act was the paralysis of indecision about what to do
after the first two experiments collapsed the capacity of local authorities
to provide efficient service to residents.
The other government ministries, whose negligence is causing loss of
lives, are Health and Child Welfare, and Water Resources and Infrastructural
But what raises the ire of families who have lost breadwinners and
relatives needlessly to cholera is the government's refusal to declare the
outbreak a national disaster so that international support can be mobilised
and the necessary assistance shipped to Zimbabwe and lives saved.
President Mugabe has a history of rewarding failures. Here is
something with which he might want to refresh his memory: In February 1999,
Solomon Tawengwa, who was Executive Mayor of Harare and his entire council
were fired after Harare suburbs went for weeks without water, despite his
constant assurances that he was correcting the crisis.
The Ministries of Health, Local Government and Water first denied the
existence of a cholera crisis and when the seriousness dawned on them, they
repeatedly made assurances that mirror those of the late Tawengwa. But the
nation has gone without water for periods that range from weeks to three
years and yet no one is made to walk the plank for this negligence that now
threatens the region.
Tawengwa was more courageous in shouldering responsibility for the
failure of his council. He said: "I have a mandate from the people of this
city to be mayor until 2000, but I am guided by a principle which says I
must put the interests of the city first. In this respect, I feel the
interests of the city outweigh the mandate I have from the people, and I
feel I should now be an ordinary resident of Harare."
President Mugabe and his three ministers might care to reflect on this
and do the right thing for this country. The University of Zimbabwe reopened
on the basis of promises, yet students and staff fetch water from boreholes.
Saturday, 29 November 2008 19:04
THIS story begins, like silly stories are wont to do, with that inane
phrase, "Once upon a time. . ." In this fine fable, time seems timeless or
wildly fluctuates backwards and forwards in a bewildering fashion.
You take its pick. After all, it's a free country if you suspend
reality and use your degrees in gullibility to good effect. If pesky
outsiders stop sticking their noses into our internal affairs, we'd all be
as fantastically rich and happy as a chef.
When this story finally gets its act together, two characters are seen
circling around a third. One circler is a rather dishevelled, slow-moving,
paranoid person called Past. The other, Future, is young, trendy,
bright-eyed, sprightly and enthusiastic fellow. The one in the middle,
Present, wears nothing else but a grimace. He's frozen still, and, not
surprisingly, he constantly fears that frostbite will attack his
extremities. You can sense that he's yearning to move forward into the
future, but he is too terrified to do so. The reason for his hesitancy is
that Past has warned him that he'll be in dead trouble if he shifts in any
direction other than backwards.
Future comes to an abrupt halt because he's suddenly struck by a
realisation, a most painful experience. The aggressive realisation tells him
that he won't achieve anything by going around in circles. Present isn't to
blame, he says. The person he should be confronting is Past as he's the one
who's fossilised everything. Taking heed, Future turns to Past, intending to
have it out with him. Past's bodyguards aren't at all keen on this brazen
idea and insists on giving him a full, rather brutal, body search before
allowing him to approach Past on his knees.
Future: Chef, it really was a feat of quite remarkable proportions. I
mean I was amazed when pirates managed to steal a huge oil tanker recently.
I was most impressed when the election was stolen. But stealing an entire
country's future is chutzpah on a totally unprecedented scale.
Past: You really don't have a clue, do you? Without the past, do you
really think there'd be a future? Because I delivered liberation
single-handed, I've indelibly shaped the future and earned the indisputable
right to control destiny forever. You should be eternally grateful that I've
prevented future catastrophes.
At that moment the Three Horsepersons of the Apocalypse gallop in at a
frantic pace. They are indeed a terrifying sight. Graca, Jimmy and Kofi have
come to spread pestilence throughout the land by introducing a lethal virus
known as "humanitarian aid". They gather round a cauldron and chant:
When shall we three meet again,
In thunder, lightening and in rain,
When the hurly burly's done,
When the regime change's won.
ut Past is on top of his game and in no time at all he drives them
away and saves the nation yet again.
Past: You see what I mean. Without me the nation would be doomed.
Future: Silly me! I was under the totally misguided impression that
there was already widespread suffering, and that pestilence had spread
throughout the land.
Past: This just shows how misguided you can be if you read imperialist
lies instead of finding out the truth by studying assiduously the Sunday
Tale. Failure was never an option, but success is rather overrated. The
anti-imperialist struggle demands great sacrifices, except that sacrifices
can hardly be expected of chefs. Suffering is part of the human condition
and my role has been to ensure that each gets their fair share.
Future: The Bard of Avon might say of you: "In you time's furrows I do
behold." Isn't it time to stop railing against imaginary enemies? Some would
say that you've had your day in the sun. Some would go so far as to say you
have had an excessive number of such days. Some blasphemers might even claim
that it's time for you to step aside and make way for a younger, shinier
Past has a pronounced tendency to get tense and then to throw a
tantrum - this condition is referred to as a "Past Tense". He starts lashing
out in all directions.
Past: I'm surrounded by plotters, traitors and regime change agents.
But they'll never succeed in their evil machinations.
Future: It's said that 'time waits for no man' and that you don't have
to worry about passing time because it will pass whatever you do. No one can
avoid life's ravages and time will eventually devour us all and make us into
A rather plump, jolly man waits at the pearly gates ready to greet the
newcomers. His name is Gideon.
Gideon: I'd like to extend a warm greeting to you all, although if you
want to be really warm you should proceed to the other place down below. You're
most fortunate souls. Here you can have whatever you desire - mercs, plasma
tvs, farms, tractors etc. There's only one thing you must do before you get
your rewards; you need to produce the right party card which will enable you
to join this party.
Urgent Plea For 'maguests'
Saturday, 29 November 2008 19:21
PLEASE allow me space in your widely read newspaper to lodge a
complaint to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority on behalf of the
long-suffering people of Unit M in Chitungwiza.
We get electricity only once a week either on Saturday or Sunday or
for only seven hours. I can't talk of the week days: we get power from 11pm
The fact that it's only this section of the large community of
Chitungwiza affected, prompted me to write. All the other sections of
Chitungwiza have uninterrupted power supplies for 24 hours a day, seven days
If there is a problem with our supply line; why can't it be rectified
once and for all? Strangely, the bills Zesa sent this month are shockingly
high. Why can't Zesa just forget about sending the bills just as they are
forgetting to switch us on?
We now call them maguests (magetsi/electricity) because we have them
once in a blue moon.
No Deal With Foxy Mugabe
Saturday, 29 November 2008 19:20
THE fictitious power-sharing deal between the MDC formations and Zanu
PF is a diabolical act that has attracted global attention. I do not
understand why Zimbabweans are banking on these "talks", which are taking us
After the recent meeting of the National Executive Council of the
MDC-T the state broadcaster ZBC reported that the MDC had agreed to partner
Zanu PF in an all-inclusive government provided Constitutional Amendment No.
19, which provides the legal framework for the Global Political Agreement,
is passed by both Houses.
A few days later, the national broadcaster accused MDC-T leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai, of inconsistency and shamelessly called him an agent of
western imperialism. This letter aims to alert the public of the Robert
Mugabe that we are dealing with.
Mugabe, in his bid to cling onto power can resort to unbecoming
language in order to shame his opponents. Remember who coined "Chematama",
an "over-ambitious bullfrog" the "totemless people" and called Simba Makoni
a "political prostitute" and the same person who swore that Tsvangirai would
never rule this country as long as he lived, etc? Why is he now anxious that
the same "Chematama" he derided should partner him in ruling a sovereign
Let Tsvangirai deal with Mugabe. Remember, victory is certain. It can
only be delayed.
Houghton Park, Harare
Spare Us Puerile Views
Saturday, 29 November 2008 19:18
A couple of years ago, one of the editors of a very famous weekly
newspaper wrote in his columns that opinions from Zimbabweans offering
prescriptions of what needs to be done in order to resolve the county's
political crisis were largely academic hence irrelevant.
I do not agree with him on this score; however it does seem that our
colleagues in the Diaspora tend to overdo it a little as they suddenly
appear to be endowed with this infinite wisdom that they seem to have
acquired beyond the shores of the country of their birth.
I am sorry to say most of their rantings and writings are really top
drawer drivel; repetitions and contradictions are the order of the day in
most of their contributions. This reminds me of one character called the
Gutter Poet in one of the French duo Sergeanne Golon's novels who used to
"And knowing of every bodily ill
The very source
He prescribed a pill
For man and horse."
This was meant to describe one of the doctors in the book. What an apt
description for some of your columnists.
Some of the writers are happy to lecture us on how docile and
simplistic we are as Zimbabweans. But having said this they don't proffer
solutions besides issuing tirades at us.
Because they don't undertake sufficient research before they rush to
put pen to paper, they don't tell us where the Zimbabwean man and woman
stand in comparison to his Angolan, Guinean, Ethiopian, Sudanese, North
Korean, Cuban counterparts and so on.
We need a break from these so-called analysts with their new-found
fame from your pages. What we need is a fresh perspective, well-researched
articles that inform, enlighten and stimulate as regards what these talks
are all about, what we need to do if they fail within the realm of reason
and not some radical puerile rantings. What do we need to do to begin
trusting and respecting each other as individuals again and what is
happening to our shared values as a people and so on.
Frankly speaking, these so-called independent analysts on both side of
the political divide prostitute personal opinion for analysis. We don't need
this because the matter at hand is a serious one. At least that Manheru guy
does not hide behind some smokescreen; he let's it be known that he is Zanu
PF through and through and sullies forth soiling himself at every available
turn. This is, of course, no big deal. I assume he is aware no one takes him
Right now most of your readership is completely in the mountains as
regards what exactly is happening to the country at the moment. The
information we are getting is so muddled we can't tell which is which, here
I believe you are failing us.
Finally please try and strike a balance on your pages between local
and "foreign" analysts. You will be surprised at how balanced a view you
will be able to get at the end of the day.
ZWLA Stance On Makanaka Saga Was Questionable
Saturday, 29 November 2008 19:15
I observe with great concern, the statements from the Zimbabwe Women
Lawyers' Association (ZWLA), especially over the matter of Makanaka.
As a board, it is evident that they were established to represent the
interests of women in this country, but it is painful for me to hear news of
someone of such a young age being lured into marriage. What is saddening is
that ZWLA is trying to suppress laws that are already in existence.
If ZWLA wants to be open and ostensibly fair and transparent, it
should give us the specific members of society who have been affected by
this matter, they have sought to comment on.
Most of your readers will agree that by and large it was only women
particularly in Harare who were affected. When dealing with issues of this
nature, we should refrain from projecting our own personal feelings, either
as individuals or groups.
When the law was enacted, my view is that it was not intended to cause
harm, but to control and protect everyone - men included. When laws are made
up, they are discussed and agreed upon having due regard to protecting
everyone in a given particular country. Therefore, I do not believe
commenting on Makanaka's case in the manner ZWLA did was the appropriate
I do not support Makanaka, her mother or husband. Let us help
Makanaka. In this day and age, children need to be protected.