Zim landowners to be given 'paltry' sum April 11 2005 at
Harare - President Robert Mugabe's government is to
compensate hundreds of white farmers whose land was seized under Zimbabwe's
land reform programme, a state-run newspaper said on Monday.
"Government has completed fixing compensation for 822 farms compulsorily
acquired under the land reform programme," The Herald said.
government has said it will pay money for buildings, dams and "any
improvements" on the farms but not for the land itself.
daily quoted Land Reform and Resettlement Minister John Nkomo as inviting
"former owners or representatives to contact the ministry as a matter of
urgency in connection with their compensation."
landowners have refused to accept the money Thousands of white
commercial farmers have had their land confiscated since early 2000 when
Mugabe's government launched land reforms ostensibly to correct land
ownership imbalances created under British colonial rule which ended in
Some landowners have refused to accept the money that was
being offered by the government as compensation saying it was
The Herald said compensation was now being
offered "after the government engaged evaluators to assess the value of
developments on the acquired farms".
Of the 4 500 commercial
farms that were the backbone of Zimbabwe's strong agricultural sector in
2000, only 600 remain in the hands of whites while about 200 000 black
farmers have been given land, according to government figures.
The new black farmers often lack skills and rely on government
Before the land seizures, about 70 percent of the
most fertile land in Zimbabwe was owned by white farmers who were mainly
descendants of British settlers.
Once the breadbasket of
southern Africa, Zimbabwe's agriculture production has plummeted, from
providing 50 percent of all export earnings in 2000 to 11 percent at the end
of 2003, according to an independent study. - Sapa-AFP
Be careful, Zim farmers warned 11/04/2005 21:47 -
Harare - Organisations representing 5 000 farmers forced off
their land by President Robert Mugabe's "fast track" redistribution to black
Zimbabweans were on Monday urged to be cautious with his government's latest
"It is chaos and a scam," said John
Worsley-Worswick of the militant lobby group Justice for Agriculture, who
takes a more confrontational approach than the old established Commercial
Farmers Union (CFU).
"We will be encouraging farmers to go and see what
is on offer, but coming from an informed position as to what compensation is
required," he said.
Worsley-Worswick said past offers had been five to
10% of professional valuators' estimates of farmers' total losses following
their violent eviction by militants from Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF
All but 200 of those affected had refused the proffered payouts
and kept their title deeds, he said.
Mugabe vowed to give whites only
the value of "improvements" such as buildings and dams, saying former
colonial power Britain must pay them for the land itself.
froze £47m in aid to land reform in 1993 when it was revealed farms bought
for peasant resettlement were being given to ruling party
Worsley-Worswick said the aim of the latest compensation offers
was to induce farmers to surrender title deeds, so members of the elite who
had occupied their land could gain security.
A notice published in
the official Government Gazette on Friday invited 822 evicted whites to
contact officials "as a matter of urgency, in connection with their
Verbal offers only
Hendrik Olivier, executive
director of the Commercial Farmers Union, on Monday said those who had
responded were still only being given verbal offers.
In the past,
offers had been based on assessments done in half an hour by unqualified
Olivier gave as an example a 2 000ha cattle ranch for which the
state offered 10 - 13 million Zimbabwe dollars (US$1 600 - US$2 100 at the
official rate of exchange, US$600 - US$750 at the more realistic black
He said that in addition to losing valuable
infrastructure such as homesteads, fencing, barns and irrigation, farmers
had forfeited production and earnings.
Mobs stormed onto many
properties forcing families to flee without even their personal possessions,
and 14 farmers were murdered.
None of the perpetrators has ever been
brought to justice.
Worsley-Worswick and Olivier urged their members not
to ignore the state offers.
Those who were destitute and felt forced
to accept should advise lawyers they had "acted under duress" to safeguard
future rights of appeal, said Worsley-Worswick.
Olivier said evicted
landowners also feared unfavourable payment terms.
touching 600% in recent years, they were promised 25% of the cash
immediately, 25% in two years' time, and the balance after four years when
its value would have been heavily eroded.
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
CHIMANIMANI, Zimbabwe -- Enforcers who beat and tortured opponents of
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe in past elections said in a series of
clandestine interviews that hunger, lack of jobs and broken promises have
persuaded them to switch sides. Thugs hired to intimidate critics of
the Mugabe government "never got the money or jobs" they were promised, only
beer, one said. The defections could prove critical if the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) decides to mount protests over recent
parliamentary elections, in which the party accused the government of
widespread fraud. One youth, who asked to be identified only as
Sikhumbuzo, said his disillusionment with the ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) began in 2002 when Mr. Mugabe won a
new term as president. "ZANU used to get us to stay outside polling
stations to frighten away the opposition. If the MDC came, we would chase
them away," Sikhumbuzo said. "But we never got the money or jobs that they
promised us; all we got was beer." He and others quoted in this
report were interviewed before the March 31 election in which Mr. Mugabe's
party secured a two-thirds majority in Zimbabwe's parliament. The government
banned election observers from Europe and the United States, and the
opposition charged fraud. Sikhumbuzo said he recently was accused of
being an opposition supporter and, as a result, was told he no longer would
be able to purchase corn in his village. That incident severed his
last links with the ruling party and prompted him to begin campaigning for
the MDC. One member of the notorious pro-Mugabe youth militia known as
the Green Bombers recalled an earlier campaign: "They used to give us
pills before we went to beat people, but never food. We beat up one old man,
he must have been in his 60s, for criticizing the lack of development in the
area. He kept apologizing, but none of us stopped. If you were not
enthusiastic enough, you would be the next victim." The Green Bomber, who
begged to remain anonymous, was so terrified of retribution that he insisted
the interview take place in a moving car before dawn. He said that
many thousands of young Zimbabweans who had been forced into militia
training camps have fled the country. Other Green Bombers, he said,
remained outwardly loyal to the government but planned to cast their votes
for the MDC. "They promised us jobs if we went through border [camps],
but we never got anything," the Green Bomber said, hiding his distinctive
olive vest under a sweater as he and a reporter passed a police vehicle. "I
registered to vote last year, and I am going to vote MDC." The lack
of violence in the campaign leading up to the recent election surprised
those who remember the widespread use of torture, rape, killings and other
forms of intimidation during the 2000 and 2002 elections. Brian Kagoro,
head of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, said the relative peace may have
been due to the MDC's late decision to enter the race. "Until six
weeks ago, there was no opposition contesting the election so there was no
one for ZANU-PF to beat up. They were occupied with internal struggles
instead," Mr. Kagoro said. The biggest split in ZANU-PF since
independence in 1980 preceded the election. Information Minister Jonathon
Moyo was dismissed and six of the party's 10 provincial chairmen were
suspended after conducting an unsuccessful campaign to stop appointment of a
new vice president, Joyce Mujuru. Lazarus Shave, a former secret
policeman, admitted that in past elections he committed arson, tortured
grandmothers and led invasions of white-owned properties by landless
blacks. In the latest election, he said, ZANU-PF tried to reassert
control over its own ranks by using tactics reserved for the opposition in
past contests -- beatings, rigged primaries and denial of food. Mr.
Shave said he was beaten by five men last month because he supported one
candidate for parliament in a ZANU-PF primary that the government did not
want to win. "Now I want to work for the MDC, and I will not beat anyone
anymore," he said. .The Washington Times is withholding the identity
of this correspondent to protect the reporter from government
Food shortages fuel Zimbabwe's row over prices
April 11, 2005
Harare: Zimbabwe's government and businesses have
clashed over the prices of basic commodities, now blamed for widespread
shortages. Prices shot up by as much as 100% after the March 31 elections,
but the government told businesses to reverse the hikes.
businesses have defied the order and essential foods have disappeared from
shops, but some have re-emerged on the black market.
were delayed to avoid harsh criticism of the government before the
elections, but now the government is saying you cannot increase prices
without consulting us... that's not what we agreed," a spokesman for the
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries said.
said the shortages were not artificial, but production was falling because
of uneconomic pricing and shortages of foreign exchange.
"(This) leads to panic and... hoarding," said the Chamber of Commerce. -
Munakiri Last updated: 04/11/2005 12:46:42 THE elections have come and
gone. However, in a society where people's voices cannot be heard through
the pen or any form of activism (people power), it's difficult to measure
the reactions of people to the just ended elections.
Since the time
we started on this democratisation experiment we have never gotten it right.
It's very sad that Zimbabweans have been casting their vote for the last 25
years but nothing new has come out of this process. Some like to argue that
the democratisation experiment is a process and not an event but 25 years in
my opinion is a long enough time to learn how to affix an X on a piece of
paper. It is my submission that the democratisation experiment is not a
panacea to our woes which have haunted us most in the last 15
The current regime has failed Zimbabweans because of the
"liberation struggle" theory that has been advanced to justify their
continued misruling of the country. The school of thought of the "liberation
struggle" politics argues that Zimbabwe was born out of massive bloodshed by
those who made that ultimate sacrifice to realize this independence. It is
my submission that our late brothers and sisters whose "bones have been
interred with the good" that they did are the real heroes because of the
ultimate price that they paid.
It's worrisome that the current regime
continues to monopolise and privatise the "liberation struggle" theory as if
only Robert Mugabe and his lieutenants went to the battleground. I am
worried because everyone is being made to believe that we shall be saved by
the "liberation struggle" theory and that it is only the liberation heroes
who have the right to rule Zimbabwe until they are a "century old". Remember
what the army generals said prior to the 2002 Presidential elections.
Remember what Mugabe has been saying throughout this campaign; that allowing
the opposition to rule Zimbabwe would warrant going back to the trenches.
The messages are very clear; instil as much liberation war fear as possible.
And some Zimbabweans are buying this.
Here are my reasons why l think
the "liberation struggle" theory will not take Zimbabwe to its rightful
place in the annals of history. The current regime has very little to show
for the liberation struggle theories to the rest of the world or
Zimbabweans. This is because instead of advancing the ideals of economic
development and economic empowerment of the black masses, there is
competition among the big chefs to loot the country dry. A cursory look at
scandals like the NOCZIM, DDF, War Veterans Compensation Fund, land grab and
many others show beyond reasonable doubt that the "liberation struggle"
theory is propaganda for big chefs to enrich themselves and not to empower
the masses of our black people. There has been unprecedented looting of
resources to the extent that one wonders if the "liberation theory" is
propounded by leaders who practice what they preach or is it "do as l say
not as l do".
In addition, the "liberation struggle" theory is out of
step with the current global realities. In an era where the world is
gravitating towards a global village, Mugabe curses every world leader for
political expediency. Zimbabwe has become a pariah state because the current
leadership believes that the rules of engagement are not in its favor.
Again, the current leadership believes that they can do without the rest of
the world. It is this arrogance that has robbed our country of the global
benefits of economic development and international cooperation in fields
like medicine and the sciences.
The rest of the world is moving
forward making discoveries in science, healthcare and taking giant steps in
economic development. My major fear is that it might take Zimbabwe a couple
of decades to catch up with the rest of the world. Other countries have made
a lot of strides in health care, social reforms to cure diseases and fight
poverty. These are all global benefits that Zimbabwe has been deprived of
for the last decade because she is "eating sovereignty". It is the height of
insanity to persecute NGOs for distributing food and medicines to starving
masses in rural areas because of political expediency. It is amazing that
"liberation struggle" politics has taken precedence over life and death
issues in our country. It is this thinking that has caused untold suffering
to rural masses because everything positive in Zimbabwe is sacrificed at the
altar of political expediency.
The liberation struggle theory does not
give in to common sense. Zimbabwe is a country with the best human resources
all over Africa. It is worrisome if such a dynamic and prosperous country is
held to ransom by a leadership that is insensitive to the needs of the
people. Why do the liberation struggle theorists believe in "monopolising
and privatising" political power? The current thinking is guided by mischief
and selfishness and a serious disregard for human welfare and wellbeing. It
is a very retrogressive thinking that is not consistent with the 21st global
realities. In a country where everything is beholden to the "liberation
struggle" theory, it is indeed worrying that we have to be held to ransom
for the political survival of the old guard.
One scholar once said
"Zimbabwe is loaned to us by future generations". It's high time we consider
what we shall bequeath to our sons and daughters who don't know much about
the liberation struggle. Shall we tell them that they have no jobs because
of the liberation struggle; shall we tell them that they are hungry because
of liberation struggle? Food for thought!
Zimbabwe's Mugabe rules out inclusion of opposition
President Robert Mugabe said on Sunday
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) legislators will not be
included in the new cabinet he is expected to announce this
He said neither British Prime Minister Tony Blair nor US
president George W Bush would push him to accommodate the MDC legislators in
"Let them (MDC legislators) stay away if they
want," said President Mugabe. "No one will be surprised. Blair or Bush
cannot force us to accommodate them contrary to our policies. We are not
going to accommodate them or make them ministers."
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), which has been
ruling since the country won independence in 1980 from Britain, claimed a
major victory in last Thursday's vote, winning a two-thirds majority in the
Opposition leaders have rejected the outcome over
alleged voting irregularities and are calling for a new poll.
The MDC points to conflicting figures of the actual number of voters
provided by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission as evidence of massive
Previously, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai called on
members of parliament elected on the party's ticket to boycott the swearing
in ceremony in protest against alleged rigging in the election.
Meanwhile, Mugabe said the party would soon make amendments to the country's
constitution to create a Senate or Upper House, which was expected to
"accommodate most losers in the recent parliamentary election," should also
be quickly established.
Mugabe unfazed by possible opposition boycott of
Posted to the Web: Monday, April 11,
HARARE - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
said his ruling party would be undeterred if the main opposition party
boycotted a new parliament to be sworn in this week and "run the country in
the normal way.
"Mugabe said ZANU-PF would not be worried by
whatever action the (opposition) MDC resolves to take following indications
that it will boycott parliament in protest over alleged rigging in the
recent parliamentary elections," the state-run Sunday Mail said
A new parliament will be sworn in on Tuesday
following elections on March 31 in which Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party took 78 seats against 41 won by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
says the polls, which were keenly monitored as a test of Zimbabwe's pledge
to hold a free vote after two flawed ballots earlier, unfairly handed
victory to Mugabe's party.
"We don't know what the MDC will
do," The Sunday Mail quoted Mugabe as saying during a dinner at the
residence of Zimbabwe's ambassador in Rome, where the ageing leader had gone
to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II. "Some of them
have said they will boycott. We don't care about what they will do. We will
proceed to run the country the normal way," Mugabe was quoted as
The opposition party last week said investigations in
four provinces revealed "serious and unaccountable gaps between the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission's official pronouncements on the number of votes cast
and final totals accorded to each candidate."
indicates massive electoral fraud by the ruling party," said MDC spokesman
Paul Themba Nyathi. But the poll body's chief George Chiweshe
dismissed the claims as mere "politicking".
scores of youths took to the streets of Harare urging Zimbabweans to reject
the results, prompting a police alert. They said the elections,
endorsed by observer missions from the African Union and the Southern
African Development Community (SADC), as "reflecting the will of the
people," were actually "a fraud."
At least 18 opposition
youths and a newly-elected MP were arrested following the protests and
charged with breaching Zimbabwe's tough security laws.
The MDC has denied links to the protests, saying "the youths could be
concerned Zimbabweans sympathising with the MDC or ZANU-PF thugs wearing MDC
T-shirts to tarnish the image of our party."
rule in South Africa has come a step closer. The New National Party,
shrivelled heir to the party of Verwoerd and Botha, has disbanded and urged
its followers to join the ANC.
On paper, this may not seem especially
important: at the last election, the NNP secured less than two per cent of
But autocratic governments rely on a degree of cowardice in
their ideological opponents. Rather than taking a principled stand for
political pluralism, NNP activists have decided to clamber on board the
gravy train, following their leader, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, who joined the
ANC government as minister for tourism last year.
In consequence, the
enclave of the Western Cape will come under ANC control.
opposition parties to worry about, even the best and wisest politicians
begin to exhibit dictatorial tendencies. Looking on office as an
entitlement, they become tempted to treat the entire state as private
This has happened across post-colonial Africa; and, in each
instance, well-intentioned people maintained until the last minute that
their own country was different, that there was some special circumstance
that would cause it to escape the fate of the rest of the
Similar arguments are being made today in South Africa. They
may even be true. It is, after all, more advanced than its neighbours. It
has an uncensored press, an independent judiciary, an autonomous reserve
bank, a global economy and, not least, a free electoral
Yet, even 10 years ago, most of these things could be said of
Zimbabwe (where a merger of the ruling party with the main opposition was,
significantly, the prelude to tyranny).
South Africa's determined
support for the blood-soaked regime across the Limpopo raises the awkward
question: does the ANC approve of what Robert Mugabe has done to his
opponents? And, if so, would it like to do similar things
Dictatorships emerge, in large measure, because their peoples
allow them to. It is easier to accommodate yourself to the system than to
challenge it; and you can always justify yourself with cant about
"influencing government from within".
The NNP, in its small way, has
set back the cause of democracy in South Africa. In this, at least, it has
been true to its roots.
[ This report does not necessarily
reflect the views of the United Nations]
JOHANNESBURG, 11 Apr 2005
(IRIN) - Prices of basic commodities have increased sharply since Zimbabwe's
31 March legislative elections, causing panic buying and fears of a return
to widespread shortages.
Economist Dennis Nikisi told IRIN on Monday that
the country's foreign currency shortages were to blame for the current
situation, because "84 percent of inputs in the productive sector are
sourced through foreign currency".
Prices of basic goods were capped
prior to the legislative elections, with industry agreeing not to increase
prices as "that might create discontent, especially among the urban
electorate", Nikisi explained.
However, prices of basic commodities began
to increase immediately after the 31 March poll, while the availability of
In its latest situation report the World Food Programme
(WFP) noted that "steep price increases in all basic commodities, and a
severe shortage of fuel and maize meal products [have been] reported", and
that "the price of some commodities has increased by over 100 percent, while
the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) [the state monopoly buyer] is reported to be
holding urgent consultations over the shortage of maize
When available, the price of maize per kilogram ranges from
the equivalent of US 27-38 cents, which is "well above the casual daily wage
equivalent of $0.25".
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe director Ms R
Siyachitema told IRIN: "We know that prices have gone up on a certain number
of commodities and the result ... is that people start panicking. What we
are saying is that they should not panic ... there are discussions being
held at the moment between the Ministry of Industry and International Trade,
The discussions were aimed at addressing rising
"Manufacturers are saying, 'if we hold prices at
pre-31 March levels we are not going to survive' ... so there's no cooking
oil, sugar, salt and commonly needed drugs on the shelves. Unless something
fundamental is done, we are back to where we were again around 2000. The
major concern is about foreign currency ... if between 90 to 95 percent of
all bids for foreign currency [at Reserve Bank auctions] are being rejected,
then what does the productive sector do?" asked Nikisi.
In order to
maintain tighter control over foreign currency, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
has adopted a foreign currency auction system. It involves the bi-weekly
auctioning of foreign currency to the foreign exchange market through the
"The explanation from some quarters is that some companies
are playing politics, but mealie [maize] meal and fuel are controlled by
state institutions - how then can you say that they are playing party
politics?" Nikisi remarked. "The situation is bad. To me, the problem is
Zimbabwe's inflation rate fell to just under 130
percent in February from a peak of 620 percent in January 2004.
[ This report does not necessarily
reflect the views of the United Nations]
HARARE, 11 Apr 2005 (IRIN) -
Zimbabweans are bracing themselves for yet another year of food shortages as
adverse weather conditions take a heavy toll on crops.
has warned that the impact of drought conditions is expected to be worse
than last year, although the extent of the damage will only become clear
when the harvest period ends on 30 April.
Public Service and Social
Welfare Minister Paul Mangwana recently told the official Herald newspaper
his ministry had sent teams to assess the country's food requirements as a
result of the prolonged dry spells that were affecting most parts of the
"At the moment we cannot give exact figures because our teams
are still gathering information, so that we know how many people will need
food assistance. The number of people needing food assistance will obviously
be higher than last year, because most parts of the country were affected by
crop failure," Mangwana told The Herald.
He added that the
authorities would approach "friendly countries" and the United Nations for
assistance after the country's food needs had been verified, highlighting
that about 400,000 households had been coping with insufficient food
supplies since September 2004.
According to the UN Regional Inter-Agency
Coordination Support Office, Zimbabwe's southern provinces of Matabeleland,
Masvingo and Manicaland experienced the driest spells during February and
The US-funded Famine Early Warning System Network reported that
although rain had recently fallen across the country, the showers were too
late to revive the crops, which were at a critical stage of
John Robertson, an economic consultant, was recently quoted
by the privately owned Zimbabwe Independent as saying that more than US $225
million was needed to import about 1.4 million mt of maize and 300,000 mt of
wheat to cover the estimated food deficit.
population has borne the brunt of recurrent maize shortages, with some
communities last year relying on wild fruits and informal trade networks and
remittances from those working abroad to pull through.
Mugabe, president of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union, which
represents more than 4,000 newly resettled farmers, said Zimbabweans should
prepare themselves for difficult times ahead yet again.
situation is beyond salvation - the erratic rains that characterised this
planting season spared no crop and harvests will be very bad. The lower half
of the country is particularly affected, considering the reports we are
receiving from our members," Mugabe told IRIN.
"In some areas I have
visited, farmers actually failed to plant anything because they
miscalculated rainfall patterns. In other instances, farmers waited until
December to plant because they did not want to take the risk of early
planting, fearing that the first rains in October would be followed by a dry
period that could stress their crops," he explained to IRIN.
Mugabe pointed out that in areas where rainfall had been normal, such as the
Chiweshe, Dotito and Guruve communal areas in Mashonaland Central province,
farmers were enjoying good harvests.
When IRIN visited the province last
week, farmers expressed confidence that they would have enough to feed
themselves until the next harvest period.
Mapondera of Chiweshe said he hoped to produce at least five mt of maize
from his fields. "We are blessed because this area always receives good
rains, even when the country suffers very bad years. In addition, the soil
is good for maize and tobacco, and we do not have to apply much fertiliser,"
he told IRIN.
Although Mapondera's harvest prospects are favourable, he
remains cautious about selling part of his produce to the Grain Marketing
Board, the monopoly buying agency.
"Experience has taught me that
whenever there is drought in most parts of the country, it is not wise to
sell because you might suddenly find yourself in need of the very grain you
would have sold, so I will store away what I have got to make sure that my
family does not starve," he said.
On the other hand, newly resettled
farmers in the perennially dry Masvingo province were struggling.
Malnourished cattle could be seen grazing on the wilting maize crop and
villagers told IRIN it was difficult to find water for their animals because
the rivers were dry.
In the Zaka and Bikita districts some farmers had
given up hope. "We hope the government will be able to supply us with food
because we virtually got nothing from our fields. There is no grass for the
cattle, donkeys and goats," said Samson Hlasera, headman of a village in
"What makes the situation even more worrisome for us is that we had
obtained loans for maize seed and fertiliser from the government. Now that
we have not managed to harvest anything, how are we going to repay the
loans, assuming the government insists that it wants its money?" he
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) this week said it
expected to feed 1.1 million beneficiaries during April through three
programmes: school feeding, supplementary feeding for malnourished children
and support for HIV/AIDS-affected households. However, the UN food agency
warned that food supplies were running low, with significant shortages
expected in May.
ZANU PF chairman to take over as Speaker Tue 12 April
HARARE - Ruling ZANU PF party chairman John Nkomo will be
nominated Speaker of Parliament today as President Robert Mugabe reshapes
his party and government ripped apart by bitter division over who should
Impeccable sources told ZimOnline yesterday that
Nkomo, from the minority Ndebele tribe and an ally of powerful former army
general Solomon Mujuru, emerged the preferred choice after a series of
consultative meetings of ZANU PF top brass since last week.
head of Parliament, Nkomo becomes the third most powerful figure in the
government and also joins Mujuru's wife Joyce as a leading candidate to take
over the top job when and if Mugabe retires. Both belong to the same
Mujuru-led faction opposed to the faction of former parliamentary speaker
Emmerson Mnangagwa, for long seen as Mugabe's chosen
Mugabe and his first Vice President Joseph
Msika are expected to step down in 2008. Joyce is currently second
vice-president of ZANU PF and the government.
reorganisation exercise meant to end squabbling over who should succeed him,
Mugabe yesterday named four new provincial governors dropping long-serving
Masvingo provincial governor Josiah Hungwe who worked with Mnangagwa and
dismissed state propaganda chief, Jonathan Moyo, in a failed bid to block
the elevation of Joyce to the vice-presidency.
Hungwe was replaced
by loyal civil servant, Willard Chiwewe. Newly-elected Member of Parliament
for Mudzi East, Ray Kaukonde, was appointed governor of Mashonaland East
while Thoko Mathuthu and Tinaye Chigudu were appointed governors of
Matabeleland North and Manicaland provinces respectively.
four new governors are all allied to the Mujuru faction.
governors also allied to Mujuru's camp, Ephraim Masawi (Mashonaland
Central), Nelson Samkange (Mashonaland West), Cain Mathema (Bulawayo),
Angelina Masuku (Matabeleland South) and Cephas Msipa (Midlands) were all
Former Mashonaland East governor David Karimanzira was
appointed governor of Harare metropolitan province while retired soldier and
former Manicaland governor, Mike Nyambuya, and former Matabeleland North
governor Obert Mpofu are tipped to get Cabinet posts.
PF provincial chairmen remain suspended after attending a meeting last year
organised by Moyo in his Tsholotsho rural home to plot to scuttle the
appointment of Joyce to the vice-presidency and instead push for Mnangagwa's
elevation to the post, seen as a key stepping stone to the highest
Moyo was fired from the government for calling the meeting
while Mnangagwa was demoted from the influential party secretary for
administration post to become secretary for justice.
contested last month's parliamentary election on an independent ticket and
won in Tsholotsho, while Mnangagwa was beaten by the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party's Blessing Chebundo.
was not possible to immediately establish whether Mugabe would totally
discard Mnangagwa or would probably throw him a lifeline by appointing him a
non-constituency Member of Parliament and give him a lesser Cabinet post. -
Church leaders in bid to revive talks Tue 12 April
2005 HARARE - Zimbabwean church leaders say they will attempt to revive
dialogue between the ruling ZANU PF party and the main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) in the aftermath of a disputed parliamentary
election last month.
Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) bishop
Sebastian Bakare, who led a failed attempt to bring the two parties to the
negotiating table two years ago, told ZimOnline that religious leaders were
only waiting for tempers to cool down between the two political foes before
re-engaging them on resuming talks.
"We are keen to see the
revival of talks between the two parties and we hope to make them talk to
each other. We have agreed to give them time to settle after the elections,"
Bakare, who together with Catholic bishop, Patrick
Mutume and Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe head, Trevor Manhanga, in 2003
separately met President Robert Mugabe and other ZANU PF leaders and Morgan
Tsvangirai and top officials of his MDC party in a bid to rekindle dialogue
between the two sides which collapsed in 2002.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai had said they were committed to dialogue, the
church-led search for a negotiated solution to Zimbabwe's crisis soon hit a
brick wall mainly because ZANU PF appeared unprepared for such a compromise
But political analysts say with ZANU PF firmly in control
after controversially securing a two-thirds majority in Parliament, it may
be more than prepared for dialogue with the opposition if only as a ploy to
placate the international community which is refusing to recognise its
Mugabe hinted soon after ZANU PF's victory in the March 31
ballot that the party was prepared to re-engage the MDC in
Bakare, who said his colleagues and himself have
maintained contact with the two parties after the collapse of their
initiative at restarting dialogue two years ago, said: "We were concerned
about violence and we met the parties separately (to discuss political
violence) but we now want them to come together for talks." -
Police say notebook, camera implicate British duo Tue 12
April 2005 NORTON - A Zimbabwean police officer yesterday said that two
British journalists who were arrested last month were illegally covering
elections in Zimbabwe after finding a notebook and camera among their
The investigating officer, Inspector Denford Dhliwayo
told the court that while he could not read the journalist's shorthand, he
was convinced the two were covering the election.
"I could not
get a transcriber to transcribe what appeared to have been shorthand but
there are portions that I read and came to the conclusion that the two were
covering the elections," said Dhliwayo.
The two Britons, Toby
Harnden and Julian Simmonds have denied the charge.
arrested last month in Norton town, 40 km west of Harare, for allegedly
covering the March 31 election without permission from the government's
Media and Information Commission.
Under Zimbabwe's tough media
laws, it is an offence for journalists to operate without accreditation from
the commission. The two face jail terms of up to a maximum of two years if
convicted of flouting the law.
Zimbabwe is accused of waging a
bruising war against the media critical of government policies. Most foreign
journalists have also been hounded out the country in a bid to control
public information. - ZimOnline
Mugabe victory haunts Zimbabwe cricket Mon 11 April
2005 HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's victory in disputed parliamentary
elections a fortnight ago is back to haunt Zimbabwe cricket, with
politicians in New Zealand urging their national team to boycott a tour of
the southern African country on moral grounds.
Prime Minister Helen Clark has joined a chorus calling for the boycott,
arguing: "Zimbabwe has just had elections that no reasonable person would
agree were free or fair."
Clark joined the minor Green party, which
at the weekend said it had written to all players named for the August tour
to Zimbabwe urging them to consider their positions. New Zealand Cricket
chief executive Martin Snedden last week said any players who refused to
tour on moral grounds would not be punished.
The Black Caps are
scheduled to play two Tests and take part in a one-day international
triangular series involving the hosts Zimbabwe and India.
Black Caps are role models with considerable power to task a strong stand
against the brutality of the Zimbabwean regime," Rod Donald, joint leader of
the Green party, told reporters in New Zealand.
said cricket meant a lot to Zimbabwean culture, "and not being able to
welcome international cricketing sides would be a blow to the regime's
claims to legitimacy. Ideally, the government and New Zealand Cricket would
get together and decide to call off the tour. However, the players now have
the power to force the hands of the authorities."
The boycott calls
come hardly five months after England threatened to pull out of a tour to
Zimbabwe to protest what they said were human rights abuses by Mugabe's
England, which boycotted a World Cup fixture with
Zimbabwe in 2003, later relented on the boycott threat but several top
English cricketers pulled out of the tour and those who made the trip were
advised not to shake hands with Mugabe.
New Zealand has,
alongside many Western countries, condemned Mugabe's victory in
parliamentary polls held on March 31, accusing him of manipulating the
system to ensure a majority win. Mugabe's ZANU PF won 78 of the contested
seats against the opposition Movement for democratic Change's 41, while one
seat went to an independent candidate.
"The Mugabe government is a
brutal, illegitimate dictatorship that has just rigged what it claimed were
free and fair elections. It has no respect for human rights, and intimidates
and brutalises its enemies," Donald said.
The boycott calls have
unsettled Zimbabwe Cricket administrators, who spent the past year in a
wrangle with rebel white players that threatened the future of the game in
"Honestly it would be unfair for New Zealand to
boycott. It's the last thing we would want to hear after all the upheavals
last year," a Zimbabwe Cricket executive who did not want to be named said
yesterday. "Politics should not be mixed with sport." - ZimOnline
President Robert Mugabe, coming out of a bruising fight at the polls with
the opposition MDC, has said he plans to scrap holding separate presidential
and parliamentary elections in a country he has ruled for more than 25
In an interview with the South African Broadcasting
Corporation (SABC) yesterday after his party had won a two thirds majority
in the parliamentary elections, Mugabe said he did not believe it was a
better system to have a presidential election on its own and a
parliamentary election on its own.
The opposition MDC has
slammed the elections as being fraudulent.
"If the president is
not good even after one term, they can vote against him or her," he
He also said he was planning to introduce more members of
parliament and a two-tier system for the parliament of Zimbabwe, bringing
back the House of Senate which was abolished in 1987 when the executive
presidency was introduced.
"At the moment it's 150 (members
of parliament) but I think we can bring it up to about 200 and also have a
two-tier system, a lower house and an upper house..." he told
Mugabe reiterated that he would incorporate into the
current constitution, some sections of the draft constitution which were
rejected by Zimbabweans in a constitutional referendum in
He attributed his party's victory in the just ended
elections, to its age and revolutionary nature as well as to the commitment
of its members. "We are a much older, much more revolutionary
We have definite principles which we follow and that
guide us. We have a membership that is permanent and committed to us,"
Mugabe said. He said the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was
based purely on opposition.
"You can't just be negative,"
he said. The party was still finding "it's own ground, if it
will find it at all", he added.
Asked about his plans for
national reconciliation, Mugabe encouraged debate between his party and the
"Should they (the MDC) have any ideas they believe in
sincerely...that will help us to move forward constructively and
economically improve the lot of our people, fine, they will be very welcome
to bring those ideas to us," he said.
Turning to the
country's economic situation, Mugabe said that as a result of the drought,
Zimbabwe would need to import maize once again.
"We have the
money to do so," he said.
Asked how he planned to turn his
country's sagging economy around, Mugabe said that foreign currency must be
made available to the mining sector.
The "corruption and
dirt" in the financial sector - some of it dating back to colonial days -
would have to be looked at "very sternly and very
He hoped to have inflation back to double
digits by the end of 2005. Asked how he planned to improve his relations
with the European Union, and those countries which had imposed embargoes
against Zimbabwe, Mugabe told the SABC that he had not offended
"We are more sinned against than sinning... We have
been put into the dark by Mr Blair, for his own reasons. It's a very unfair
act, indeed, to us," he said.
Mbeki of South Africa has again expressed an opinion which persuades many of
his critics not to wonder why his initial views on the origins of HIV/Aids
were so controversial and so downright inaccurate in the
Mbeki said on Saturday he was surprised that people are
relatively unmoved when there are killings in the DRC, Rwanda or Burundi,
but go berserk every time President Robert Mugabe does something in
But Mbeki ignores the fact that Zimbabwe was never in
similar situations as the other countries. The DRC, independent since 1960,
was ruled by a dictator for 31 years, until a guerilla movement drove him
out with his tail between his legs.
Rwanda and Burundi were
plunged into ethnic violence shortly after their independence from the
Belgians who, incidentally, were also the colonisers of the
Zimbabwe had its birth pangs as well. The Gukurahundi
massacres are the darkest patch in our history, when 20 000 people,
including women and children were killed. But after that, what troubled the
people mostly was one man's determination to hang on to power, regardless of
the overwhelming disapproval of his rule. Coercion and force have been used
by Zanu PF to retain its iron grip on power. Mbeki's party has never had to
His critics are quite often reminded that Mbeki's
outlook on politics and even on life itself is not easily understood, not
even by his own people.
For an inordinately long period, he
maintained a position on the origins of HIV/Aids which must have resulted in
many needless deaths in his own country. To this day, nobody can state
categorically the logic with which Mbeki justified this extraordinary
Even on Zimbabwe, not many of his own sympathisers
can explain convincingly why he believes Mugabe is right and the rest of the
On Sunday, Mugabe hailed the rural people for
voting for Zanu PF. He made his usual abusive remarks against both the MDC
and the urban people of Zimbabwe who rejected him, as they did in 2000 and
Why many Zimbabweans refuse to accept the 31 March
elections as free and fair is anchored in the pathetic state of life in this
country. How could even the rural folk vote for a party which has brought
them nothing but misery for 25 years?
Why would they vote
overwhelmingly for a party which has reduced a country formerly hailed as
the breadbasket of the region to a nation of beggars?
only explanation is that Zanu PF rigged the election. Chiefs and headmen
were used to coerce their people to vote for the party. In the urban areas,
not one single voter would have been forced to do Zanu PF's bidding. They
all know why it would be political suicide do so. They know why Zanu PF is
not good for Zimbabwe.
Mbeki ought to know, but when you are
reminded of his amazing position on the HIV/Aids origins, then you pause. It
may not be soon before he appreciates the origins of our ordeal
evidence of electoral fraud compiled by the Movement for Democratic Change (
MDC) should compel the international observers from Sadc and South Africa to
reconsider their submissions which are at great variance with what has been
unearthed by the opposition.
So far, the MDC has identified
gross irregularities in at least 76 constituencies which were won by the
ruling Zanu PF.
In all the constituencies, there are glaring
discrepancies in the number of people who voted and the totals of results
announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.-ZEC.
ZEC is led by Justice George Chiweshe, a former Zanla combatant who also
served as the legal director of the Zimbabwe National Army after
To say that his judgment on what transpired
in the elections is questionable would be an understatement. Evidence at
hand suggests that the results were predetermined as they differed a lot
from what actually transpired.
That the ZEC stopped before
completing the announcement on national television of the results suggests
that they had realised that there were discrepancies which could not be
In some cases, 5000 or more votes could not be
accounted for, casting a very dark cloud on the entire electoral process and
raising questions about the legitimacy of the results.
Those who support the MDC and have dismissed the election as a " stolen vote
" say so with a high degree of justification while those who rejoice in the
victory of Zanu PF are cushioned by as much guilt as Judas Iscariot must
have felt after he received the 30 pieces of gold for selling out
As for Judas, he realised his guilt and decided to throw
his ill gotten money away.
But not so for our Zimbabwean
counterparts who are basking in the glow of electoral fraud and do so with
unashamed rollicking jubilation.
The MDC must be commended for
taking a decisive approach to the whole issue. They have given the ZEC up to
24 hours to explain the glaring anomalies in the results.
If this brings no joy, then the opposition will take up the matter with the
recently established Electoral Court which is chaired by Justice Tendai
Uchena, another pro-Zanu PF member of the judiciary who has benefitted from
the land redistribution programme.
We agree with the MDC
spokesman, Paul Themba Nyathi's view that it is regrettable that the Sadc
and South African observers have not taken the MDC concerns
In the final analysis, the new cabinet to be sworn
in by President Mugabe soon will rule the former British colony just as the
colonialists did - without the mandate of the majority.
It happened well under the radar, but
if you looked hard enough in January you would've found news that
Zimbabweans living in South Africa were about to get a choice of two locally
distributed newspapers. In February the first of these was launched by Wilf
Mbanga, founder of Zimbabwe's famously silenced Daily News. The Zimbabwean,
as Mbanga's new tabloid weekly is known, is now published in the United
Kingdom with a Southern African edition produced in Johannesburg (the
initial print run was 120,000 copies). Prior to launch, Mbanga issued a
press statement that made his intentions clear: the paper would give voice
to the "fears and frustrations" of exiled Zimbabweans. "A news blackout is
dangerous for any society," Mbanga said. "The forthcoming general election
scheduled for March adds urgency. We will ensure that our coverage is
accurate, fair and balanced. We will be accountable to our readers. We will
endeavour to give all viewpoints, and everyone - including the government of
Zimbabwe - will have the right of reply. In short, we will do everything the
government newspapers in Zimbabwe are not allowed to do."
was a significant comment, given that the other paper about to go after
Zimbabweans in South Africa is The Herald, Zimbabwe's top-selling government
daily. On a trip to Johannesburg to secure printing and distribution
contracts with a "major South African group", The Herald editor Pikirayi
Deketeke was equally adamant about his own intentions. "This is not a
propaganda mission, it's a business mission," he said. Deketeke estimates
that there are 3-million Zimbabweans living in South Africa. The number is
way above the estimate of The Zimbabwean, which argues that there are more
than 2-million Zimbabweans "living outside Zimbabwe in Southern Africa".
Irrespective of whether the difference can be ascribed to the difficulty of
accounting for "illegals", Deketeke is confident that he can reach a local
circulation of 30,000 (one percent of his guess). The business model, he
says, will be driven by copy sales. The newspaper won't be taking South
African advertising in the short-term. Unlike The Zimbabwean, which will
carry editorial specifically designed for the Zimbabwean diaspora, The
Herald will be a full reprint of the edition produced in Harare. But still
Deketeke denies that the goal is to push the Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF line
in South Africa.
"It is not my job to change perceptions. It is
not the role of The Herald to change the South African reader's views of
Zimbabwe. We are coming here as we believe there is a big market of
Zimbabweans, as well as a big market of South African readers, who want a
different view on what is happening in Zimbabwe." As for what constitutes
this "different view", Deketeke makes no apologies. "I have been a
journalist for 19 years in Zimbabwe. To a large extent I agree with Mugabe's
views on certain positions. I am exercising my editorial right to express
this agreement." Of course it could be said, with government paying the
bills, it's the editor's job to agree. "That's a misconception," says
Deketeke. "Government- or state-owned newspapers in Africa differ from
country to country. South Africa isn't familiar with this form of ownership.
From a technical perspective, we are not government-owned. Government only
owns 51% of Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) Ltd., through a trust, and they
appoint the trustees. The South African company Old Mutual owns 20%, which
they bought in 1980, although they have never taken an active interest. The
company is publicly listed. We have never been given a grant or a subsidy
from government. We actually pay a dividend to government. Last financial
year we paid a dividend of Zim$1,2-billion."
Then what about the
fairly popular view that former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was the
de facto editor-in-chief of the titles in the Zimbabwe Newspapers stable?
"Anybody who has been a journalist would never believe that such an
energetic minister would have the time to do that. From a technical
perspective, it's impossible. What occurred is that he was quoted in the
government-owned media and not in the private media. Things were happening
in Zimbabwe that required daily comment from government. Everybody,
including South African media, Reuters, the BBC and so on, wanted Moyo's
view on events. He wasn't talking to them. The only place you could get
government's comment was in The Herald." So presumably The Herald now
becomes the only newspaper in South Africa where you can get the official
Zimbabwean government line? In other words, a local mouthpiece for Mugabe?
"Look, Mugabe hasn't blocked the selling of the Sunday Times and Mail &
Guardian in Zimbabwe. People could say that those titles are propaganda
vehicles for South African interest groups. By the way, the politicians
actually do hold those views, but that's the politicians. I'm a newsman, and
I think there's an opportunity. "Competition is healthy and it's not as if
The Herald will be given away in South Africa for free. If Mugabe did
directly fund the newspaper and wanted to use it as a mouthpiece, he would
give it away. We are selling this thing."
point is that "this thing" isn't being given away in Zimbabwe either. Every
weekday between 75,000 and 90,000 Zimbabweans part with Zim$3,500 - the
price of a loaf of bread - to buy one. Whether 30,000 Zimbabweans living in
South Africa will do the same remains to be seen. The alternative is to wait
for the weekend and choose The Zimbabwean, but Mbanga has his own obstacles
to overcome. "Obtaining independent news from Zimbabwe will be a challenge,
as foreign correspondents are banned from entering the country," he admits.
Still, it's clear his own inside source won't be The Herald. "The various
on-line resources, together with some radio stations, have done an excellent
job in keeping the story alive since the silencing of the Daily News. We
will be maximizing synergies with them."
'Politricks' cause of decay of cities BY JOHN
MAKUMBE During the electoral campaign Mr Mugabe said some interesting and
daft things that need to be responded to by those of us who now know
the politricks of that old tyrant. While addressing Zanu (PF) supporters
at Masotsha Secondary School in Magwegwe North constituency, Mugabe said
that central government was going to take over the provision of services such
as roads and sewage in Zimbabwe's urban areas. He alleged that the MDC
was failing to run those urban areas in which it won council elections. We
all know how desperate Mugabe and his party are to reclaim the urban areas
where the electorate has rejected them overwhelmingly since 2000. We are
aware that in Harare, Ignatius Chombo worked very hard to remove
Mayor Mudzuri from office simply because he was a member of the MDC. We
remember that within a few weeks of assuming office, Mudzuri started to
re-surface some of the roads in Harare, much to the chagrin of Zanu (PF). The
sacking of Mudzuri was quickly followed by the takeover of the leadership of
the Harare council by the political prostitute, Makwavarara, who has not
managed to improve anything in that city.
This recent threat by the
autocratic regime to take over the provision of services in urban areas is
part and parcel of the same effort of centralizing all power in Mugabe's
hands against the wishes of the voters, and indeed, the people of Zimbabwe as
a whole. It is obvious that Mugabe and Zanu (PF) are stung by the MDC's
over-whelming support in urban areas. The appointment of ineffectual city
governors for Harare and Bulawayo was a futile attempt at confiscating power
from the hands of democratically elected MDC mayors and
Mugabe fails to realise that as citizens of these cities, we
are fully aware that the central government owes virtually all local
authorities in Zimbabwe millions, if not billions of dollars in unpaid dues.
The Ministry of Local Government has also been very reluctant to permit urban
councils to borrow money from commercial finance houses. How then can the
city councils facilitate the development of their areas? Mugabe claimed that
Bulawayo had been allocated $150 billion a month before his visit to
Magwegwe. Either the old man has totally expired or time does not have the
same sense and meaning to him anymore.
No council can receive and
start spending such money within a month. There are strict procedures of
going to tender and awarding contracts to the right contractors that have to
be followed. This cannot be done in one month, except, of course by a Zanu
(PF) outfit, which does not bother with such transparency and accountability
procedures. No, a Zanu (PF) council would have allocated and spent that money
in less than a week, but without repairing any roads or sewage works at all.
Perhaps that is what Mugabe was complaining about to the residents of
Fortunately the people of Bulawayo know very well that it
is Zanu (PF) that killed the City of Kings by grabbing all kinds of
industries from that city to Bambazonke, (aka Harare). The contrast between
the two cities is frightening, to say the least. Skyscrapers are still going
up in every corner of Harare, while in Bulawayo the whole place is
Further, it is the Mugabe regime that forced every decent
company providing jobs, goods and services in Bulawayo to close down as a
result of the biting economic crisis. Some companies even relocated to
Botswana and South Africa to escape the collapsing Gono-Mugabe economy. It is
therefore ridiculous for the sick old man to blame the MDC for the problems
local authorities are facing today.
Sekuru Chimhosva went further to
inform the Zanu (PF) supporters that Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank Governor,
had visited companies in Bulawayo, Mutare and Kadoma to determine how these
companies could be assisted. The tired old man should be told that Gono is
not the Minister of Finance. He is also not the Minister of Trade and
Industry. He has no business running around the country like a rabid
politician when the local currency is in the intensive care unit. Is Mugabe
no longer able to trust his own ministers to do the jobs he appointed them to
do? Madanetsetswa mavende emhandara (It is a laughable matter).
THERE was a marked
improvement in fuel supplies in Harare yesterday with several filling
stations having the commodity and queues having virtually
Surveys conducted by The Herald showed that a number of
filling stations in and out of town had both petrol and diesel while a few
had diesel only. Only a few were out of stock.
Some of the filling
stations selling petrol yesterday afternoon included Wedzera Petroleum,
Matlock, Mobil Samora Machel Avenue, BP along Fourth Street, Mobil Sam
Nujoma Street and Country Petroleum.
Motorists who spoke to The Herald,
however, said the situation was still far from normal as they should be able
to get fuel at all filling stations.
"Yes, I am happy that the queue is
only of five cars today but the thing is I do not live anywhere near here
and drove all the way from Marimba Park into town just to get
"Petrol should be available at all the filling stations for the
situation to be ideal," said Mr Artwell Mariva who was queuing at Wedzera
along Chiremba Road in Chadcombe.
Others said there was need to
regulate the prices since different filling stations were now charging
"We would like to know what the actual price of petrol
and diesel is because at some filling stations, petrol is selling for $3 600
while at others it has since gone beyond $4 000," said Ms Catherine
Commuters also continued to sing the blues as fares were increased
due to the fuel shortages and subsequent increase in fuel prices by some
filling station operators.
Citing an increase in the price of fuel,
commuter omnibus operators have since increased fares to between $3 000 and
$5 000 up from $1 500 to $2 000.
This has become common practice with
commuter omnibus operators that whenever there are fuel shortages or price
adjustments, no matter how temporary, they unilaterally increase fares
citing viability problems.
The National Oil Company of Zimbabwe chief
executive, Mr Zvinechimwe Churu, said he expected fuel supplies to be back
to normal by today following his company's intervention.
said, had made available bulk fuel supplies to oil companies.
industry sources have refused to shed any light on what exactly had led to
limited fuel supplies especially to Harare.
Myopic view of the
Zimbabwean elections marginalised the reality April 11,
By Susan Booysen
With the flurry of soothing yet
evasive election observation reports from Zimbabwe, observation practice
last week came full circle. From 2000 to 2005, the observer reports had
moved from potentially contributing to electoral management, to becoming
indistinguishable from the practice they were intended to
Each season of elections in Zimbabwe, from June 2000 and
March 2002, to March 2005, has brought new benchmarks for the adaptation of
observation reports and statements to prevailing politics. The "politics of
election observation" was in full play, at each turn increasingly helping to
legitimate instances of the illegitimate.
Voices from South and
Southern Africa dominated the recent salvo of election observation reports.
The South African Parliamentary Mission, the South African Government
Mission, and the South African-dominated SADC Mission, used phrases that
affirmed what was, in reality, severely flawed electoral practice. These
were the lines that were appropriated by the re-elected government, even if,
between the lines, the missions quietly confessed that all was not in
Election observation in abnormal times in Zimbabwe meant
that the dictum of no intervention in the sovereign, national sphere could
be invoked. This was used, first, to exclude the most professional of
election observers. The Zimbabwean ruling party also used nationalism and
the discourses of anti-colonialism and anti-racism to discredit voices that
challenged its adaptation of multiparty democratic elections.
The 2005 observation practice was no longer intended to help build sound
elections. Rather, the goals were to get a rubberstamping of slightly (but
also somewhat deviously) amended electoral practice, under the cover of the
SADC electoral principles and guidelines, from a cherry-picked selection of
Regional stalwarts of professional election
observation were absent. The Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA)
called off its mission because an invitation was not forthcoming. The SADC
Parliamentary Forum, after having observed 13 elections in ten countries,
was snubbed. It was told that its invitation was restricted to its being
part of a general SADC mission. In the past, these two missions had
divergent verdicts - the one offering systematic observer assessments (which
included criticisms); the other delivering fraternal
The Zimbabwean state/Zanu-PF newspaper, The Herald,
noted that there were 45 foreign observer missions, including 23 from
"friendly countries". The Zimbabwe Independent noted that there were 500
international observers. Few were spotted at election events.
Much of the recipe for Zimbabwe's designer-made observer missions was, in
the words of Zanu-PF's Patrick Chinamasa, to invite only those who would
"not have pre-conceived ideas as to the outcome of the election". Fair
enough in principle. In practice, however, this translated into "those who
had no pre-designed reluctance to investigate and then tell what they
In the past, in many localities across Southern
Africa, lessons have been learnt from well-intended observer reports. Yet,
the 2005 Zimbabwe statements were precluded from offering, to use "observer
speak", any "recommendations for improvement of the practice and management
In order to be seen to be observing elections,
yet be guaranteed to arrive at affirming observation reports, fraternal
missions follow a well-documented route. The 2005 Zimbabwe election was no
exception. First, missions ensure that they cover the minimum period,
probably two weeks. Whereas the SADC guidelines support the two-week period,
they never prescribe that observations should be virtually limited to two
Second, missions are of a limited size, guaranteeing
that even if they "cover all provinces" (as missions love to note in their
statements) this is limited to "hit-and-run", dipstick approaches. Cost and
limited availability of longer-term observers often dictate this economy of
approach. Yet, missions need to be frank in their acknowledgement of limited
coverage, including the extremely short amount of time often spent on each
visit to any electoral site.
Third, missions limit themselves
in terms of the type of evidence that they accept. Longer-term research and
monitoring reports - in Zimbabwe by local civil society and professional
groupings such as the Media & Monitoring Project, the Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights, and the Zimbabwe Election Support Network - are discarded or
diminished in favour of the election day observations.
Extensive reports and information about problems with demarcation and the
voters' roll, for example, were displaced with discourses of the polling day
being "peaceful", "commendable" and "reflecting the will of the
The three-pronged approach systematically marginalises
recognition of the reality that Zanu-PF, over five years, had systematically
closed the space for party political and civil society opposition to
function, shrinking the legal space, and eliminating media space. A civil
society researcher noted that the only place that was still
available to the opposition in Zimbabwe was the line on the ballot
It has been acknowledged that there was a brief Prague
Spring during the roughly four weeks of the campaign period. After the
annihilation of the opposition through provoking fear among all the
non-Zanu-PF population (and this grouping is vastly different from the image
of the opposition as white-farmer, white-liberal, which the governing party
tries to create), it would be safe from February to March to allow for a
"free" campaign period. The observers would be there to bear witness to
"tolerance", "freedom to have rallies", and space to broadcast opposition
The 2005 missions were keen to find evidence
that Zimbabwe was adhering to the SADC guidelines and principles. Zimbabwe
Election 2005 presented evidence of conformity with five of the ten
guidelines. The South African Parliamentary Mission offered a general
endorsement, proclaiming the existence of free and fair elections that
"conformed to the guidelines".
The South African Parliamentary
mission statement was sprinkled with words like "credible" and "legitimate".
The SADC mission leader, according to Zimbabwe media reports, dismissed as
insignificant the use of food politics, political coercion by
traditional leaders, and the state of the voters' roll.
statement of the South African Government mission followed, using the well-
tested phrases: "reflecting the will of the people" and an ambiguous "voting
proceeded without any notable irregularities reported". It trod carefully,
after its pre-election faux pas of virtually giving the elections the green
In Harare's Chipanga sculpture garden, there is a stone
carving of three human figures depicting the "hear no evil, see no evil,
speak no evil" dictum. They bear quiet testimony to officially sanctioned
election observation in Zimbabwe, circa 2005.
Booysen is Contributing Editor to The Star. She is also Professor of
Political Studies at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, and has
researched and published on the "politics of electoral
Mugabe's overwhelming win spells economic disaster and
When President Robert Mugabe said
he would win back the urban constituencies from the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) in the March 31 general election, he was
Equally wrong was the MDC and its leader Morgan
Tsvangirai in confidently saying they had made inroads into the ruling
Zanu-PF's rural strongholds.
Zanu-PF, which won 78 seats,
maintained its hold in the rural areas. The opposition won 41, mainly urban,
seats. This was almost the same story in the 2000 general election. The 2005
election was a poll no party really won if we are to move away from the
rhetoric of frenzied celebrations and posturing by Mugabe about having
clinched a two-thirds majority in parliament.
dust has settled, the election result is a harbinger of tougher things to
come. For Mugabe's landslide win is just that - a landslide in which there
is no guarantee of food on the table for a hungry populace, or jobs, foreign
investment, balance of payments support, affordable health care or
The election result is a further complication of the
political logjam that has been the hallmark of Zimbabwe politics in the past
The economic meltdown is a product of Mugabe's
failure to come up with an acceptable internal settlement that brings on
board the opposition and civic groups. Dialogue has in the past failed
because of Mugabe's insistence that any talks should be on his own
At a press conference at State House last Saturday,
Mugabe tried to be magnanimous. He appeared to dangle an olive branch before
But this is not the first time that such
magnanimity has failed to stir the national conscience into believing that
the country's leader since independence in 1980 is now amenable to dialogue
with the opposition. At his inauguration as president in 2002, Mugabe spoke
in the same vein, but it was a ruse, and it didn't wash.
The political tension in Zimbabwe will be sharpened by the refusal of the
MDC to accept the results of a poll it says was rigged. There are likely to
be court challenges to the results, which will only increase Mugabe's anger
at the opposition. It would, therefore, be a surprise if the two parties
agreed to work together on anything at the moment, when they cannot agree on
the election outcome.
There is another problem in the offing:
simmering discontent within the ranks of the opposition over the leadership
of Tsvangirai. The various interest groups - unions, students, academics,
"old money" business - which created the opposition party in 1999 do not
seem to agree on an alternative leader. They have also in the past failed to
agree on how to engage Zanu-PF in dialogue. Neither was there homogeneity
among them on whether to participate in last week's election or not. A
younger faction of the MDC is now pushing for a more robust
This fragmentation threatens any prospects of
successful dialogue between Zanu-PF and the opposition.
With it, President Thabo Mbeki's diplomacy, geared to achieving a government
of national unity, is in jeopardy. The SA election observer team in Harare
"endorsed" the poll results, as did the African Union mission, and the
Southern African Development Community team representing the SADC's organ on
politics, defence & security, currently chaired by Mbeki. The SADC's
parliamentary team was barred.
This endorsement of Mugabe by
his African brothers will only puff his ego and strengthen his dead man's
grip on power. Meanwhile, the political and economic climate will continue
to deteriorate. (See our Business story.)
atmosphere in Zimbabwe has been poisoned by Mugabe's obduracy and
demagoguery. He is the chief obstacle to achieving national healing and
recovery. At international conferences, auditoriums have reverberated to
applause for the octogenarian leader's bluster against British prime
minister Tony Blair and the West in general.
government, in power for the past 25 years, has remained encrusted in
liberation war dogma which has blinded Mugabe to the realities of changing
world politics. His election campaign was steeped in this retrogressive
rhetoric, which said that voting for the MDC meant a return to British rule.
That's the level of crude and petty politicking Zanu-PF has degenerated to.
Expecting it to raise its approach and face the myriad problems at hand
would be akin to expecting Blair to leave 10 Downing Street and take up
abode at State House in Harare.
On the eve of the election,
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, an undisguised Zanu-PF
implant, was quoted in the state media as saying the country was on the path
to good times. He forecast foreign currency inflows of US$3bn, a further
retreat in inflation and a revival of the export sector. Gono has been on
about that path to Nirvana since he took over at the central bank in October
2003, but few believe they are on the path to the promised heaven. In its
current state of affairs Zimbabwe is also a country crying out for balance
of payments support to plug the large foreign currency
But the international community, especially those with
deep pockets, will not be riding to rescue Zimbabwe as long as Mugabe elects
to remain the international bad boy.
Armed with his
two-thirds majority Mugabe now has the power to amend the constitution as he
planned to in 2000. He was thwarted in a referendum, but went ahead and
seized white-owned farms anyway. Zanu-PF can now extend the term of Mugabe's
presidency. But to what end?
.. Kahiya is acting
editor of the Zimbabwe Independent
Agreement to protect trade and investment may be
South Africa's tacit political support for
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is certainly not in the best interests of
the SA business community.
Though SA remains Zimbabwe's biggest
trade and investment partner, that country's economic meltdown has had an
adverse impact on the considerable investment of SA
But too much has been invested over the years and
these companies are willing to stick it out in the hope that Zimbabwe's
economic crisis passes and reconstruction begins soon.
businessmen who spoke to the FM say Zimbabwe's economy has reached rock
bottom. "No-one is going to invest, but we are certainly not pulling out,"
says one executive.
SA companies are significant employers in
Zimbabwe. A survey by research firm Africa Inc suggests that among the
largest 40 JSE companies, 27 have operations there and employ about 20 000
people. A spokesman for the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange estimates that over half
of all the shares listed in Harare are controlled by SA
Zimbabwe's economy has fallen for the past five
years . Growth last year fell by an estimated 5% after a 13% decline in
2003. Inflation is running at around 350% and the Zimbabwe dollar has been
in free-fall. Foreign direct investment was US$4,5m last year. It's one of
the world's riskiest places in which to do business.
Research in 2003 suggested that the chaos in Zimbabwe had cost the Southern
African region about $2,5bn, shaving 1,3% off SA's GDP. Some SA businesses,
such as Nampak and Absa, have responded to the crisis by staying but writing
down their investments .
SA exports to Zimbabwe are still
fairly sizeable at R6,2bn last year, but down from R7,3bn in
Calvin Manduna, a researcher at the Trade Law Centre for
Southern Africa, says trade and investment figures are unlikely to change in
the short term as investors "wait and see" whether the business and
political environment will improve. He says new investments and expansion
are unlikely, except in the platinum sector. The once thriving tourism
industry, too, will remain largely stagnant, given that most of its tourists
come from Europe, where the country's image has been tarnished, Manduna
Though SA firms are likely to sit it out for a while,
they remain vulnerable in Zimbabwe as long as there is no binding protection
over their assets.
The long-awaited protection of trade and
investment agreement between SA and Zimbabwe has yet to be signed. Without
the agreement, local companies find it hard to get credit guarantees and
insurance for their assets in Zimbabwe. A department of trade & industry
official says the agreement was " held back" largely by Zimbabwe's
A representative at SA's embassy in
Zimbabwe says the terms of the agreement have been concluded and once the
new Zimbabwean cabinet is formed, the endorsement of the document should not
take too long. The agreement, he says, will go a long way to instill
confidence among SA investors in Zimbabwe. He believes investment
opportunities in Zimbabwe will increase now that the election is over
SA platinum companies - Impala Platinum, Aquarius and
AngloPlat - have been the largest investors of late in Zimbabwe and the
mining industry in general has been getting more government support than
Corporate taxes for mining have been reduced to
15% and the ore body, believed to be the second-largest in the world, is
tantalising for a brave investor. On the downside, Zimbabwe's deflated
currency, high inflation and costs do squeeze margins.
Implats owns 85% of the company and, through a joint venture with Aquarius,
owns a stake in the Mimosa mine. Implats' total investment in Zimbabwe is
R1,7bn. In the six months ending December 2004, Zimplats contributed R52m to
Impala Platinum's bottom line and Mimosa brought in R51m.
Zimplats director Les Paton says the investment is lucrative despite the
hurdles. He says Zimplats is considering expansion but it needs clarity on
issues such as the exchange rate and "indigenisation" - similar to SA's
economic empowerment policy. The indigenisation target is for 20%
The other big player in the sector, AngloPlat, is
involved in the $92m Unki platinum project, where primary infrastructure is
being put in place.
AngloPlat has moved fast in identifying a
partner to meet Zimbabwe's indigenous requirement. Negotiations over a 20%
stake are under way. The project employs 15 full-time staff and 150
contractors, but numbers will pick up once mining starts. Altogether the
Anglo American group is SA's largest investor, with about 5 500 permanent
and 1 500 temporary workers, many of them on large agricultural
On the financial services side, Absa, Standard Bank
and Old Mutual, among others, are still operating in
The head of Absa's Africa division, Dana Botha, says
it does not make sense to pull out of Zimbabwe. "We have written off the
investment in our books. It's not a liability. If things change we have the
infrastructure and we will capitalise on it."
Absa's commercial retail banking arm was doing well until Zimbabwe's
economic and political woes plunged the country into a liquidity crisis. The
demand for US dollars far exceeds availability, he says.
packaging firm Nampak, which acquired several assets from Crown Cork in the
1980s, is also staying put , despite volumes, sales and profits
Eskom continues to supply Zimbabwe with
electricity despite its outstanding debt of more than R30m in January. Yet
plans by Eskom to buy Hwange power station were scuppered when a Chinese
power utility came forward. Chinese investors have increasingly made their
presence felt in Zimbabwe despite the perceived