Thursday, Apr. 12, 2007 By ALEX PERRY / BULAWAYO, ZIMBABWE
A bad jail wastes a body quickly. When I entered Cell 6 at Gwanda police
station, I was fit. After five days in a concrete and iron-bar tank, with no
food and only a few sips of water, my skin was flaking and my clothes were
slipping off. A prison blanket had given me lice. The water I had palmed
from a rusty tap in the shower had given me diarrhea. Under a 24-hour strip
light, I hadn't slept more than a few minutes at a time. And I stank. So
many men had passed through Cell 6 that they had left their smell on the
walls, and while I was making my own stink, the walls were also passing
theirs onto me.
It took 22 hours to get arrested in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. On March 28, I
flew into Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, with the intention of reporting
on the ruinous policies that have turned Zimbabwe into one of the poorest
and most repressive countries in the world. Foreign journalists are
routinely refused permission to travel to Zimbabwe, so I entered the country
as a tourist and drove south from Bulawayo to the goldfields of the Great
Dyke. I was following tens of thousands of Zimbabweans who, as the economy
collapsed, headed to the gold-mining region of Matabeleland, hoping the red
hills might give up something to live on. My goal was to get a firsthand
look at the misery facing ordinary people in Zimbabwe today. But I had
little notion of just how close I would get.
TO MAINTAIN MY PRETENSE AS A TOURIST, I would have been safer staying north,
near the game parks and Victoria Falls. But Matabeleland is a microcosm of
Zimbabwe's implosion. Thousands in the region are dying of malnutrition.
Hundreds of thousands survive by trapping wild animals or bare-handed
mining. When I arrived in the gold-rush town of West Nicholson, I met with a
local miner in his bungalow. Several times during our 10-minute chat, he
would step out for a few moments. It soon became clear why. When I emerged
from his house, two plainclothes officers were waiting to detain me.
In the 1980s, Zimbabwe was the second largest economy in southern Africa.
Millions of tourists visited each year to see hippos, lions and the awesome
drama of Victoria Falls. And Zimbabwe--a nation of 11 million to 13 million
people (nobody knows the precise number, partly because so many have fled)
gave black Africans the best education and health care on the continent. But
over the past two decades, Mugabe's single-minded protection of his power
has devastated the economy and turned the country into a police state.
Unemployment is at 80%, living standards are back to their 1953 levels, and
the World Health Organization says life expectancy is 34 for women and 37
for men--the lowest in the world. Inflation hit 1,792.9% in February and is
predicted to reach 3,700% by year's end. (A currency free fall of that
magnitude means, for instance, that in nominal terms, a single brick today
costs more than a three-bedroom house with a swimming pool did in 1990.)
Arriving in the country is like touching down the day after a cataclysm--a
place where the clocks have stopped. There are roads but few cars, and
roadside railings are torn up at the stumps. The shops feature bare shelves
and price boards for imaginary products that are changed three times a day.
Telephones don't work, the power is out, and blackened factory stacks spew
no smoke. People loll in the streets with nothing to do and nowhere to go,
even if there were a way to get there. "What do people eat?" I asked a
lawyer I met. "Good question," he replied.
The one thing Zimbabwe is in no danger of running out of is pictures of
"Comrade" Robert Gabriel Mugabe. He looks down from framed photographs in
every store, gas station and government office, a small man in gold glasses.
When I landed in Zimbabwe, he was front-page news in every newspaper,
railing against the West, which could "go hang" for plotting "monkey
business" against his country, and members of the opposition, who "will get
bashed." A few weeks earlier, I caught a television interview on his 83rd
birthday. "Some people say I am a dictator," he said at his 25-bedroom villa
in the capital, Harare, complete with Italian-marble bathrooms and roof
tiles from Shanghai. "My own people say I am handsome."
MY 10-MINUTE CONVERSATION WITH THE miner in West Nicholson turned out to be
my last interview. The plainclothes officers brought me to the West
Nicholson police station, where I spent the night. The next day I was driven
north to the provincial police headquarters at Gwanda. My escorts accused me
of planning to write "negative" stories about Zimbabwe--as if arresting me
would dispose me to more positive stories--and carried with them a report
from West Nicholson's police chief describing me as a "dedicated journalist
on a clandestine mission."
At Gwanda, I was interrogated by a series of detectives and was denied a
lawyer and a phone call. Officers crowded in to see me. They were excited.
One said he wanted to "manhandle" me. Two others grinned and bounced before
me, trying to make me flinch. The detective in charge of my case introduced
himself as "Moyo" and disclosed that he approved of a beating if the crime
warranted it. I was driven to the prosecutors' office and charged with
breaching sections 79 and 80, Chapter 10: 27, of the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act, "working as a journalist without
accreditation." The maximum sentence was two years.
"Do you think I can just come to your country, start asking questions and
write anything I want?" demanded an officer. Nobody knew I was here, I
replied. Nobody knew what was happening to me. I didn't know what was
happening to me. Could I call someone? Moyo ignored me. His officers
expressed outrage at my nerve.
The only feature in my cell aside from walls and bars was an iron shackling
ring in the floor. Prisoners at Gwanda are paraded every morning before the
station's officers and, one by one, interrogated and slapped, humiliated.
Some of my fellow prisoners had been arrested for trapping porcupines in the
forest, selling gasoline, stealing--petty offenses committed in desperate
efforts to feed their families. A piece of graffiti on the wall read, P.
MOYO WAS HERE FOR STANDING.
The prisoners weren't the only ones living in fear. Junior officers barely
opened their mouths. Ranking officers like Moyo would not grant me
permission to visit the toilet or brush my teeth without approval from their
superiors. "I am just a worker," I heard the police-station chief say.
"There are people above me." The jailers' anxiety about their bosses made
them even more determined to demand respect from their prisoners. Moyo
considered my demand for a lawyer insulting. "I am educated," he said. "And
you do not cooperate." The walls of his office made clear that the regime
saw the opposition less as a threat than an affront. The top crime on a list
hanging above Moyo's desk was "insulting or undermining the authority of the
In truth, Zimbabwe's opposition remains weak. The main opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change (M.D.C.), peaked in 2002, when leader Morgan
Tsvangirai polled 42% to Mugabe's 56% in presidential elections. Since then
the anti-Mugabe movement has foundered because of infighting and
intimidation. Mugabe has unleashed a campaign of beatings, mass arrests and
shootings of his political opponents. On March 11, state police attacked a
joint M.D.C.-Christian march. Tsvangirai was taken into custody and beaten
savagely. Since 2000, Mugabe has also encouraged mobs to invade farms owned
by the country's remaining white residents, who number in the tens of
thousands and mainly back the opposition. The M.D.C.'s principal base is in
the urban slums, so Mugabe destroyed many of them, forcing millions of
shanty dwellers into the streets or exile. The opposition called a general
strike on April 2, but it's hard for a strike to have much impact when many
of its potential supporters are outside the country.
Mugabe has also targeted some longstanding foreign adversaries. The West,
particularly Britain and the U.S., is plotting to recolonize Zimbabwe, he
says. That paranoia courses through every level of the country's security
apparatus. A large map in Inspector Moyo's office highlighted in red "areas
of political activity"--which turned out to be every town or large village.
A directive on the wall reminded him his job was to "investigate all cases
of a political nature, suppress all civil commotion and gather political
intelligence." There was even a detailed procedure in case the station ever
came under attack. Fear and vigilance combined in an obsession with
paperwork. Every remark I made was typed in triplicate. I was fingerprinted
Moyo seemed to realize he was working for the bad guys. "The country is
ruined," he said one day. Shame fueled his need for respect. He was haunted
by the prospect of someday being called to account for the abuses he has
overseen. "You cannot say anything against me," he would say. Mugabe's
greatest trick is to make sure people fear him more than they hate him, and
hate themselves most of all.
For all of Zimbabwe's privations, Mugabe's hold on power seems unlikely to
slip anytime soon. On my first day in jail, a heads-of-government Southern
African Development Community summit met in Tanzania. In its ranks were
other veterans of the fight against colonialism, like South African
President Thabo Mbeki, many of whose supporters sympathize with Mugabe's
demonization of the West as racist. Despite worldwide calls for censure, the
conference refused to condemn Mugabe's leadership and affirmed Zimbabwe's
right to noninterference. Mbeki was asked to act as mediator between the
government and the opposition, but Mbeki told the Financial Times, "Whether
we succeed or not is up to the Zimbabwean leadership. None of us in the
region has any power to force the Zimbabweans to agree." The next day
Zimbabwe's ruling party, the Zanu-PF, endorsed Mugabe as its candidate for
the 2008 presidential election.
I STUDIED THE MAPS ON MOYO'S WALLS FOR escape routes into South Africa or
Botswana. What encouraged me was that I would hardly be the first to flee
Zimbabwe. There are no reliable estimates of how much of the original
population has left. Some estimates range from 2 million to 4 million; South
Africans reckon they host 1 million to 2 million refugees. Shantytowns with
names like Little Harare and Zimtown have sprung up outside cities across
Africa. The stories their inhabitants tell--of risking crocodiles in the
Limpopo River and lions in South Africa's Kruger National Park in their bid
to escape--speak of desperation. They also illuminate why any recovery in
Zimbabwe will be a long time coming. "It's a brain drain," says Archbishop
Pius Ncube, a prominent government critic based in Bulawayo. "All the
intelligent people--the doctors, the lawyers, the teachers--have left."
Through the bars of my cell, wardens would quietly ask if I could help them
find jobs in London.
I began to see my captors as victims as much as persecutors. Many had not
been paid. A drive to Bulawayo, ostensibly to search my hotel room, became a
shopping trip as five officers crammed the car and spent the day hunting
roadside stalls for cheap tomatoes, queuing at gas stations and ATMs,
seeking out a country butcher with a reputation for value. "I cannot lie to
you. The situation is very bad," said Moyo. "You can see for yourself."
On my fifth day in detention, I was taken to court. En route, Moyo took me
to a café for my first meal since my arrest. I was amazed to see an English
breakfast on offer: sausages, eggs, toast, coffee. I hungrily ordered and
sat down--only to see Moyo sit at an adjacent table. I beckoned to him, but,
head down, he demurred. A man asked to share my table and introduced himself
as a manager for the Christian relief organization World Vision. I asked him
about this year's harvest. "There's zero," he said. "No crop. Millions of
hungry people, and just our maize sacks to feed them."
Court took 10 minutes. I pleaded guilty and was fined 100 Zimbabwean
dollars--at present values, half a U.S. cent. Outside, two men in suits and
sunglasses, possibly secret-service agents, watched as I left court. Though
the local authorities had let me go, there was no guarantee I would avoid
being interrogated again by Mugabe's secret police. I jumped in my rental
car and, calculating that the authorities would expect me to head south to
South Africa or west to Botswana, drove 373 miles north to Zambia. An hour
after nightfall, the road became muddy. It seemed to be raining. A rumbling
filled the air. I looked left, and there, silver in the moonlight, framed
between two cliffs, was Victoria Falls. I was out.
My last night in jail was a Sunday. I was falling asleep on the floor when I
felt a low harmony echoing up through the concrete of the cell next door.
There was bass, tenor and rhythm. For two hours, prisoners filled the jail
with music. These were songs of suffering and acceptance, of beauty and soul
HARARE, Apr 12 (IPS) - Chippy Ncube, aged 6, jubilantly hurried home as soon
as she received her school report. She could not hide her excitement at
being the top student in her grade one class when schools closed for the
holidays recently in Zimbabwe.
Such an achievement can only be attained with great effort in a country
where the education system is under severe strain. Chippy deserved it. Her
parents can no longer afford to pay bus fare for her. She has not only had
to contend with walking to school but also to carry a chair along with her
books to school.
The governing body at her school, Blackstone Primary School located in the
capital Harare's Avenues area, sent letters to parents requesting them to
buy chairs for their children. The school can no longer afford basic
infrastructure due to the extreme costs caused by hyperinflation of over
Chippy's experience represents the state of primary education in Zimbabwe.
Several of Zimbabwe's cash-strapped public schools have requested pupils to
bring furniture from home. The education system is struggling under the
weight of the country's seven-year-long political crisis.
Zimbabwe's school system was one of the best on the African continent after
the country gained independence in 1980. Previously the government provided
furniture and other necessities.
Government provision has faltered and the authorities have imposed a ceiling
on fees to prevent schools from raising money to cover the cost of chairs
Blackstone Primary School, a ''whites-only'' school before independence, is
regarded as one of the top primary schools in the country. At first, it was
one of the many schools which benefited from the strides the government made
after independence in building new schools, libraries and providing learning
But Blackstone Primary School has lost its glitter after years of
under-funding. Like all government schools, it lacks everything from
textbooks to toilet paper. Infrastructure at schools is in a state of total
The Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe, one of two teachers'
representative bodies in the country, said the fact that authorities
required parents to provide chairs was testimony to the state of decay in
most public schools. ''It shows the extent of the chaos in the education
sector,'' stated a representative.
Teachers have also been adversely affected. High levels of stress due to low
wages are driving scores of them from the profession. Those that remain are
spending their time selling sweets and other goods to supplement their
meagre salaries instead of concentrating on their core business of teaching.
Zimbabwean teachers on average earn between 400,000 and 800,000 Zimbabwean
dollars (between 1,600 and 3,200 US dollars). According to the government's
Central Statistics Office, an average family of five people requires about
900,000 Zimbabwean dollars per month (or 3,600 US dollars) for basic goods
Farai Mpofu, a parent, believes it will be a ''miracle'' if Zimbabwe
attained universal primary education by 2015, as per the United Nations'
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
''Education in Zimbabwe is in a bad state. The standards have deteriorated
alarmingly compared to 10 years ago. Because of the harsh economic
environment, teachers are now selling sweets and knitting jerseys,'' said
''The education sector is losing highly qualified teachers to neighbouring
countries. Kids at public schools are left with teachers who have no
interest at all in the job because of low salaries,'' according to Mpofu/
Alice Muchine, a primary school teacher, described the state of primary
education as ''near zero''. ''It is all zero here. We have no resources. We
want textbooks to help the children during reading time. We have no charts
of instruction, or chalk, or syllabuses. We have nothing.
''Most of the parents can no longer pay fees for the kids. The BEAM scheme
only pays for the fees and not for books for the kids,'' said Muchine. BEAM
or Basic Education Assistance Module is need-based financial aid awarded by
the government to orphans. It is limited to school fees and caters for 10
pupils per school.
Tariro Shindi, a student, shares the same view. ''There are a few textbooks
which are shared by four students at any given time. Students are sitting on
the floor. Teachers sometimes abscond and if students do the same, no
questions are asked. Everything is disorganised.''
Last year, the UN launched a national education plan for girls to help
Zimbabwe with achieving the education MDG. The plan also aims to address
emerging HIV/AIDS related and cultural challenges, such as forced early
marriage, abuse and economic exploitation which harm particularly girls.
The UN has also actively supported the ministry of education and other
partners in the launch of a back to school campaign in September 2006. The
campaign sought to re-enrol children who had dropped out of school during
the government's widely condemned Operation Murambatsvina (''Drive Out
Before Operation Murambatsvina, United Nations Children's Fund statistics
indicated that national primary school enrolment rates improved from 92 to
96 percent between 2000 and 2004. Nearly four out of five orphans and
vulnerable children were attending primary school.
Even the most recent data from a UNICEF-led assessment of the impact of
Operation Murambatsvina on children's schooling status across Zimbabwe
showed that 90 percent of children affected by the operation are going to
school despite being forced to relocate.
''Zimbabweans are making many sacrifices so that their children can continue
going to school,'' said UNICEF's representative in Zimbabwe, Dr Festo
According to the US state department, the country continues to boast the
highest literacy rate in sub-Saharan Africa. (END/2007)
By Carole Gombakomba
12 April 2007
About 25 families were evicted from their homes in Harare's Masasa section
this week, according to sources who said the householders were locked out of
their homes on Tuesday in a move allegedly connected to a crackdown on
Since the lockout the families have been camping outside their homes in the
so-called Zimbabwe Leaf Tobacco complex, popularly known as Mukandabhutsu.
The Zimbabwe Leaf Tobacco Company is a subsidiary of Universal Corporation,
which is a major international player in leaf tobacco and also runs theme
Sources said Deputy Agriculture Minister Sylvester Nguni recently purchased
the housing development, in which some 1,500 families live, mainly
opposition members. Nguni could not be reached to confirm his acquisition
and the evictions.
One of those evicted was Columbus Lewizh, who told reporter Carole
Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he believes the evictions are
politically motivated because the ruling party has little support in the
Harare East district.
Harare East Parliamentarian Tendai Biti, who is secretary general of the
Tsvangirai faction of the Movement for Democratic Change, said MDC lawyers
will file papers in magistrate's court Friday to challenge the evictions,
which he says are political.
Friday 13 April 2007
By Brian Ncube
BULAWAYO - Mystery shrouds the fate of five Zimbabwe army deserters
after they were whisked away by military police last Friday from a
government jail where they were being held and have never been seen again
The five soldiers, all members of the army's mounted unit, were
arrested on February 16 in South Africa's Mussina town near the border with
Zimbabwe. They were part of a larger group of 45 army border guards who
deserted and crossed over to South Africa to look for better-paying jobs.
The deserters have since their capture been held at the notorious
Chikurubi maximum prison on Harare's eastern border. Sources said prison
authorities would at times release the deserters to army interrogators who
would take them away for several hours but would always return them to the
jail - but that was until last Friday.
"They were taken away in an army truck last Friday at about six o'clock
in the evening. The bosses said the soldiers would be returned the next
Sunday as had happened the last time they were taken away in March and
returned two days later,' said an officer in the police's special
paramilitary Support Unit that guarded the deserters.
The police officer, who spoke on condition he was not named, added:
"But since that Friday we never saw the deserters again because they were
returned to Chikurubi and last Tuesday our police commanders told us to
return to our bases because we were no longer needed at the jail."
Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi refused to take questions on the
matter telling ZimOnline to publish whatever it wanted about the matter. "I
do not know anything about that, leave me alone and write whatever you
want," a bad tempered Sekeramayi said before switching off his phone.
However, our sources said the deserters were taken to the army's
Shamva battle camp about 20km east of Harare where they were severely
tortured by a combined team of military intelligence officers and agents of
the state's spy Central Intelligence Organisation.
"The instruction was that the deserters should be forced to reveal
where exactly in South Africa they were going and to say the name of the
South African company or person responsible for recruiting Zimbabwean
soldiers to join that country's private security industry," said one source,
a major in the army.
According to the major, the military and CIO interrogators did not get
much out of the deserters who he said insisted they were not working with
any specific recruitment agency in South Africa but had gone to that country
just to try their luck looking for jobs even outside the security industry.
The major said the deserters had since been moved from Shamva but he
was unsure whether they had been taken to a military or prison hospital
elsewhere in the country for treatment for what he said were serious
injuries from torture when they were being interrogated. - ZimOnline
Thu 12 Apr 2007, 12:49 GMT
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition leader on Thursday said he
would negotiate with President Robert Mugabe's ruling party to try to end a
crisis he says has seen 600 political activists abducted and tortured this
In a press conference in Harare, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader
Morgan Tsvangirai said he was confident the crisis that erupted after the
government's violent crackdown on the opposition last month could be sorted
out in direct talks.
"This crisis is going to be resolved through negotiation, and (the ruling)
ZANU-PF and MDC will sit down and negotiate," said Tsvangirai, who was among
dozens of anti-Mugabe activists who were arrested at an aborted March 11
prayer rally in Harare.
Reports that the MDC leader and his colleagues had been savagely beaten
prompted sharp international protests.
The MDC repeatedly has said that security agents and police were harassing,
beating and even murdering its members.
On Thursday Tsvangirai accused state security agents of abducting and
torturing 600 activists in the past three months.
He said 150 MDC activists and leaders had suffered life-threatening injuries
since February 16.
"This programme, which is directed, sanctioned and supervised by Robert
Mugabe himself, is being carried out by mixed hit squads, comprising the
police, CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) and militias," Tsvangirai
"Indeed ... over 600 people have been abducted and tortured," Tsvangirai
Government officials were not immediately available for comment.
Mugabe's government has said the MDC has launched a violent campaign,
including petrol bombing police stations and attacking ruling party
officials, to topple the 83-year-old ruler. Tsvangirai rejected those
charges on Thursday.
The burly former trade unionist added that the MDC was committed to a
Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) initiative to have South
African President Thabo Mbeki mediate between the party and Mugabe's
Although similar initiatives have failed in the past, Tsvangirai said he was
optimistic Mbeki would have more success this time because of the backing
from SADC, which held a special summit last month to discuss the Zimbabwe
SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salamao arrived in the country on Wednesday
to asses Zimbabwe's economic problems after the regional bloc said it could
assist Mugabe's government.
Tsvangirai, however, said Zimbabwe's economic crisis, highlighted by the
world's highest inflation rate, soaring poverty and chronic shortages of
food, fuel and foreign currency, could add further pressure on Mugabe to
Critics say Mugabe's policies, particularly his seizure of thousands of
white farms for redistribution to landless blacks, are to blame for the
Implementation of the land redistribution programme has coincided with a
sharp drop in agricultural production, forcing Zimbabwe to rely on imports
of the staple maize to feed its people.
Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, says the economy
is being sabotaged by Western powers opposed to his land policy.
By Violet Gonda
12 April 2007
Two church leaders from the Christian Alliance were questioned by police on
Thursday in connection with a prayer meeting that is scheduled for Bulawayo
on Saturday. This will be the second time in just over a month that the
group, under the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, will attempt to hold a prayer
meeting. Useni Sibanda, the National Coordinator of the Alliance said: "As I
speak to you right now, two of our leaders have been called in by police for
questioning and that is Pastor Ray Motsi and Pastor Patson Nheta because the
Christian Alliance is the one that is coordinating the meeting."
He said the police also threatened the priest in charge of St Patrick's
Catholic Church, the venue of the meeting, and ordered him to call off the
meeting. But the group said the prayer meeting would go ahead despite the
harassment by the police. This Catholic Church is in the diocese of the
outspoken cleric Archbishop Pius Ncube, who is expected to lead the sermon.
Speakers will also include opposition leaders: Morgan Tsvangirai & Arthur
Mutambara, National Constitutional Assembly Chairperson, Dr Lovemore
Madhuku; Zimbabwe National Students Union President Promise Mkwananzi; the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and several Bishops from South Africa who
are coming in solidarity.
The regime has been using its muscle, through draconian security laws like
the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), to clampdown on pro-democracy
groups. When asked if the Church had notified the police Pastor Sibanda
responded by saying: "There is no law in Zimbabwe which requires us to do
that because literally this is a religious meeting convened by bonafied
religious organisations. There is no need for us to ask for police
permission to do that."
Last month armed riot police blocked a similar meeting in Harare and
severely assaulted political and civic leaders. The Save Zimbabwe Campaign
is a coalition of pro-democracy groups - including political parties,
students, civic society and Churches.
Pastor Sibanda said this time they had decided to hold the prayer meeting in
a Church to avoid a repeat of what happened on March 11th. "Last time we had
hired a public venue but this time we are inside a church premise. At least
we expect them to have the decency to respect the church."
He said they want people to come and pray for an end to the crisis and the
suffering of the people in Zimbabwe. The Church is increasingly speaking out
against the injustices in Zimbabwe. Just last week, the Catholic Bishops'
Conference wrote a highly critical message on the crisis in Zimbabwe, in a
pastoral letter for Easter. The bishops concluded in their statement that
the crisis in Zimbabwe is a crisis of governance and a crisis of leadership,
plus a spiritual and moral crisis. The Christian Alliance says it fully
supports the pastoral letter.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
South African Government (Pretoria)
April 12, 2007
Posted to the web April 12, 2007
Transcript of interview of President Thabo Mbeki by the Financial Times (FT)
1 April 2007
FT: There was an important regional summit in Dar es Salaam and you have
been given a mandate to mediate on a solution to this crisis. How are you
intending to find a solution and how is your role different from four years
ago when you were given a similar role?
President Mbeki: Well, the first thing I would like to say is that the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit said there are three
major areas of concern to the region about Zimbabwe. One of them is the
political situation; second is the economic situation; and the third is
Zimbabwe's international relations. It said that the region had to address
all three matters.
The Summit decided that with regard to the political issues, the critical
intervention that it needs to make is to encourage the ruling party and the
opposition to enter into the necessary dialogue to find a solution to those
And secondly, with regard to the economic ones, it directed the Secretariat
of SADC to make a proper assessment of the economic challenges that Zimbabwe
faces, so that as the region we could then say what it is that we think
needs to be done with regard to the economy.
And thirdly, with regard to the matter of international relations, the
feeling of the region was that sanctions against Zimbabwe are not helping to
solve the problem and that it would be better that the rest of the world
acted in support of what the region would try to contribute to find a
solution, in the first instance to the political problems and secondly the
So, that is basically the framework. In that context they asked us to
continue to engage the Zimbabweans, the opposition and the ruling party, to
encourage them to engage in what was described as a dialogue to find these
Unfortunately the Summit met a day ahead of the meeting of the Central
Committee of Zanu PF. That matter was noted, because everybody knew that one
of the things that the Central Committee would address, would be: whether
there should be a reconciliation of the timing of the parliamentary and
presidential elections; and that if they confirmed that position then the
next question would be when those elections would be, whether the
reconciliation is in 2008, which is the year selected for the presidential
elections, or in 2010, which is the year for the parliamentary elections.
So, that was something of a limitation. I am sure that if the Summit knew
this decision that was then taken on Friday, that both elections are next
year, perhaps the kind of political intervention visualised by the region
would have been more specific. Because, obviously, those elections are very
important. They are very critical to the challenge of arriving at a solution
to the political challenges.
But as I say, unfortunately we met a day before that Central Committee
meeting. So the charge we have is to facilitate this dialogue to find a
solution to the problems. We have never had any mandate from anybody to
intervene in this matter. It was entirely a matter of our being a neighbour
and not being able to stand aside when all these problems manifest
themselves in Zimbabwe. This is actually the first time that we have been
mandated by anybody to do anything like this. So this time we are acting for
the region and, as I say, we have engaged Zimbabwe over the years because
that could not be avoided.
Let me say first of all that we had already been in contact, as you would
expect, with both the opposition and Zanu PF. Last week Friday, the
secretaries general of the two factions of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) had a long discussion with our people about their own view as
to what needs to happen in Zimbabwe, in particular with regard to the
resolution of the political conflicts. At the end of that discussion they
said they would go back to Harare and then give us a document which would
reflect the official, combined view of both factions of the MDC, which would
then open the way for us to interact with Zanu PF, because that is what they
wanted us to do. This was before the Dar-es-Salaam Summit. They are in the
process of finalising that document and when it is finalised we will
interact with Zanu PF, depending on what the MDC says, that this is what
That meeting was before this decision about elections in 2008. But they had
an expectation that this would be the decision and therefore that the
principal challenge that would face all Zimbabweans, all these political
groups, would be: what should be done between now and those elections to
create a climate in which you do, indeed, have free and fair elections whose
outcome would not be contested by anybody, because they would have been
truly free and fair. This would be a major challenge, because normally the
Zimbabweans hold their elections, whether parliamentary or presidential, in
the month of March and if they stick to that, we have 11 months before these
combined elections take place.
This climate that we are talking about, which we believe is correct, would
have to be created during that period. Quite what that would mean, we will
await the finalisation of this document. But I am quite certain from
previous interactions with the MDC that they will raise questions about
certain provisions in the Constitution about certain legislation like
legislation affecting the media, legislation affecting the holding of public
meetings. I would imagine that they would raise those sorts of things. And
those are some of the things that need to be addressed as part of the
package of measures that would be necessary to create that climate.
We will get that document during this week, finalised, and we will
immediately engage Zanu PF to say, it is necessary to respond to all of
these things. We may come to a stage later, I do not know, but we very well
may come to a stage later when they will have to sit together to agree on
whatever needs to be agreed. As I say, this would focus principally, given
that there will be those elections in 2008, on what do they do to create a
climate conducive to the holding of free and fair elections. So that is what
we have got to encourage them to do.
FT: Mr. President, at what point does Mr Mugabe and his actions begin to
actually cause damage to you as the principal leader of the region?
President Mbeki: No, you see, the region would not have said, there are
political problems in Zimbabwe, let us do something about that.
I mean, the region believes they have political problems and, indeed, even
in the course of the meeting people said, quite openly, they were very
disturbed to see these pictures of people beaten up, as this is a
manifestation of the problem. So, let us do something about it. That is why
the region says, let us deal with these political challenges. The region
believes, in that context, that the only way to deal with these problems,
the only way that is actually going to produce results, is if we encourage
the Zimbabwean political leadership to engage one another. That is the
belief of the region and I think the region is correct. And so that is what
we must do now. Whether this succeeds or not is up to the Zimbabwean
leadership. It is they who have got to agree about the future of Zimbabwe.
To the extent that they do not agree and therefore the conflict continues
and maybe violence escalates, which the region is very much against, that
may be damaging, but what can you do about it except to say that we do not
We have intervened officially, formally, as a region, because we do not like
it, and we think that this is the route to go. But none of us in the region
has got any power to force the Zimbabweans to agree. We will persuade them,
insist, whatever, but in the end, like all of these situations? you know the
situation the Northern Ireland; an enormous effort has gone into that
process for a very long time, but it is recently that we have got?
FT: That is very interesting that you should raise that matter, because the
difference was that in Northern Ireland, I mean it has been very, very
difficult. But there has been someone babysitting the process for more than
10 years. But there has not really anyone been babysitting the Zimbabweans.
President Mbeki: Maybe I should not have mentioned that, because to draw
parallels is going to get us into a lot of trouble. The British government
has certain constitutional responsibilities toward Northern Ireland, which
none of us have toward Zimbabwe. There are certain powers that the British
government would have towards Northern Ireland, which none of us in the
region has. So you would have a particular kind of leverage in that
situation in Northern Ireland, which we would not have here. To that extent,
you cannot transpose the two situations.
I should have cited our own situation here. Nobody could do anything about
the situation in South Africa, unless South Africans decided to resolve the
matter. That would be the situation in Zimbabwe. But it is quite clear from
what took place in Dar-es-Salaam at that SADC Summit, that the region is
really quite keen that this matter should be resolved. Such is the level of
interdependence in the region, that inevitably negative developments in one
country will affect the whole region, as would positive developments. So, I
think the best we could do is to hope that everything works.
FT: I do sometimes sense though that Mr Mugabe is a bit of a trial for you?
President Mbeki: The situation in Zimbabwe is a very unhappy one. It is
really very unhappy. We have been engaged with the Zimbabweans for a very
long time. Historically, the first liberation movement to emerge in Zimbabwe
was the African National Congress. It is directly out of here and a lot of
that leadership came out of the South African National Congress. Robert
Mugabe was a student at the University of Fort Hare here, in his youth, and
was involved in the Youth League of the African National Congress.
We have got a long history with Zimbabwe. Part of what inspired the thinking
here with regard to our own situation was the position they took in 1980. A
lot of opinion in South Africa at the time, certainly reflected in the media
then, was that you were going to get a very negative approach to the white
minority in Zimbabwe at independence. A very strong view. And the first
thing that they said was: we want national reconciliation; yes, we have had
a war, we have had the Selous Scouts, and the Grey Scouts; all this war but
we want national reconciliation; we confirm General Walls as the continuing
Commander of the Zimbabwean Defence Force; we confirm Ken Flower as the
chief of intelligence. They were all Smith's people. I am saying that it had
an impact here when our turn came; it encouraged the adoption of a similar
We have got these relations with Zimbabwe, and so when things go wrong in
Zimbabwe, naturally, even from that point of view, we will feel that. I am
not talking now about refugees coming here and so on, just the sense of
marching in step.
FT: But that history is so interesting as you describe it and you know the
man very well, you know the history. Do you believe that President Mugabe
will ever peacefully renounce power?
President Mbeki: I think so, yes. President Mugabe and the leadership of
Zanu PF believe that they are running a democratic country, a democratic
system. That is why you have an elected opposition and have by-elections and
that is why it is possible for the MDC in local government elections to win
Harare and Bulawayo and the municipal governments in both of these big
cities are MDC. You know that, and that it is in the interest of Zimbabwe to
maintain a democratic system, which means that people must on a regular,
prescribed basis, subject themselves to elections. And, indeed, even in
Dar-es-Salaam this is one of the points that President Mugabe said, that
since independence in 1980, we have without fail held elections as
scheduled. This is what they would say. And therefore, a notion that there
could be an attempt to hold on to power outside of the allowed political
processes, I don't think they would do that. You might question whether
indeed, these elections are generally free and fair and all of that.
So the position that we all took as a region is that therefore let us get
the Zimbabweans talking to make sure that they do indeed create those
circumstances so that you do have elections that are genuinely free and
fair. The matter of holding regular elections as scheduled is not in
dispute. So, with regard to giving up power, they will say, sure, we shall
lose elections, as we lost elections in municipal elections: the mayor of
Harare is not Zanu PF; the Mayor of Bulawayo is not Zanu PF. They are all
MDC people. Members of parliament in the bulk of Matabeleland are not Zanu
PF, they are MDC, because our candidates were defeated. That is what they
will say. They would contest a view that the Zanu PF continues in power
through other than democratic means.
By Dr Alex T. Magaisa
Last updated: 04/12/2007 22:46:37
THOSE who have a rough understanding of the underworld in which the Mafia
operate may realise that there is something vaguely similar about the
internal politics of the ruling Zanu PF party in Zimbabwe.
Recent events provide a glimpse of the Zanu PF way of life, which
intriguingly, has an uncanny resemblance with the Mafia, a feature that
casts the challenges faced in a very different light.
It is said that the Mafia is not necessarily an organisation, but a way of
life, encompassing a set of values and codes of practice, which members are
expected to uphold and follow.
Likewise, Zanu PF is more than an organisation - it incorporates a way of
life, with its own set of values and codes of practice and it is within this
context that the behaviour of its members can best be understood. One must
be awake to the fact that it is unlike dealing with any ordinary political
organisation but confronting a way of life, a phenomenon that calls for
different approaches than have hitherto been applied.
I must admit to having a, perhaps, unusual weakness for Mafia movies, from
which I derive my admittedly, limited understanding of the underworld. I
like to think I'm not alone in this obsession. They say the original name of
the Mafia is "Cosa Nostra", which literally means "Our Thing". Looking at
Zanu PF via the image of the Mafia, could help us to understand not just the
behaviour of its members, but also the tactics they often adopt, the shady
succession process and why certain methods that seem abhorrent to others,
are considered part of the natural order.
There is something about the unique bond in Zanu PF that continues to baffle
outsiders. Zanu PF revolves around Mugabe, as the principal figure, a
position akin to a "Godfather" in the Mafia; its otherwise loose branches
are inexplicably held by an intriguing code of brotherhood; a set of
unwritten rules which entail that even when they see wrong, they are
inhibited from taking a public stance against it.
As in the Mafia, the one thing that brings together otherwise disparate
members in Zanu PF is the unbridled pursuit of wealth by any means.
Everything else, including political differences, pale into insignificance
when the issue of money is at stake.
They say in the Mafia, that one becomes a "made man", when accepted by the
elders as a ranking member of "the family", a term given almost reverent
meaning in this environment. It appears that the family is a basic unit of
the Mafia - things are done for, within and in the name of the family. "The
family", in this case, transcends the ordinary biological family unit. Being
a made man confers many privileges, not least the protection of the family
but also responsibilities to account to the elders in the hierarchy.
But the doors to becoming a made man are not open to everyone. It is said
that traditionally, one had to be 100% Italian. Thus, in the movie,
GoodFellas, it is said that Henry Hill and Joe Conway, expertly played by
Ray Liotta and Robert De Niro, respectively, despite serving the family with
distinction, could never become made men because they were Irish, even
though Hill was half-Italian. They remained outsiders, unable to meet the
specifications to become full members of the Family.
"The party" is to Zanu PF members, what "the family" is to the Mafia.
Referred to almost in religious terms, the party or "musangano", in Shona,
is almost omnipotent. In Mafioso parlance, Zanu PF is a family, complete
with its own set of made men and a system of "making men" - the members of
the Central Committee, the Politburo, the Cabinet, the Presidium - the made
men and women of the Zanu PF Family. You have to meet certain specifications
to become a made man in Zanu PF - witness how they insist on one's
liberation war record. You cannot become a made man, if you cannot show your
credentials or connections to the liberation struggle.
When one becomes a made man in the Mafia, he is expected to take the oath of
Ormeta - the law of silence, which requires one to observe secrecy and
forbids assistance to the law enforcement authorities. It is said that the
punishment for breaking the oath is death. The ceremony at which one is
inducted as a made man is elaborate and in some cases colourful. I do not
know if they take oaths in the Zanu PF Family, but whatever it is that
indices silence and blind allegiance must be very powerful.
Once a made man, one becomes eligible to rise through the ranks of the
family, as a soldier, a Capo (Captain), Consigliere (Underboss) and the Boss
or the Don of the Mafia family. The really special one takes up the
high-ranking position of Capo di tutti Capi (the Boss of Bosses). Democracy
does not sit comfortably in this territory - things are often decided from
the top-down, with the Capo di tutti Capi having wide-ranging and
overbearing influence over members of the family. They are respected,
revered and feared as the ultimate wise guys.
It is clear that Mugabe is the Capo di tutti Capi of the Zanu PF Family, -
he is the Boss of all Bosses. People often talk of factions in Zanu PF -
they are no more than families or sub-families of the same Mafia system.
Just as there are rival Mafia families, there are also competing families in
Zanu PF. Retired General Solomon Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa are no more
than Dons of their respective sub-families of the broader Zanu PF Family in
which Mugabe is the Capo di tutti Capi.
One of the privileges of being a made man is having certain territorial
control and the protection of the family. It is said that a made man is
almost untouchable, even by law. The family protects him. He commands
respect and obedience and instils fear in those around him. The activities
through which wealth is created range from the downright violent and forms
to the more subtle, white-collar type. Similarly, in the Zanu PF Family, the
made men and women have their own territories in which they operate. Some
are in tourism, energy, mining, manufacturing, finance, etc - the made men
in Zanu PF guard these territories jealously and exploit them with ruthless
In the Mafia there is a system of paying tribute to the elders of the
family. The elders have the benefit of wisdom born of experience and ensure
that the business runs smoothly, managing the competition from rival
families. So, for every amount received from a heist or transaction, a
certain percentage goes to the elders. The corruption and kick-backs that
characterise the award of lucrative tenders, land, mining and hunting
licences, etc depict a similar system of paying tribute to the elders in the
Zanu PF Family.
Violence is a part of the natural order - a natural consequence of failing
to tow the line of the family and is regarded as a legitimate method of
"There is a stone in my shoe", is a memorable line in The Godfather trilogy,
a typical remark referring to someone causing trouble for a member of the
family. Of course, the process of removing that stone is often violent and
ruthless. Likewise, Zanu PF does not hesitate to deploy violence in order to
remove the proverbial stones in its shoes. Like the Mafia, the Zanu PF
family has a set of enforcers, the foot soldiers who execute orders with
religious zeal and meritorious efficiency. Like the Mafia, Zanu PF has no
hesitation to deploy even parts of the state apparatus for this purpose of
enforcement. Like the Mafia, the Zanu PF has a set of enforcers, the
foot-soldiers who get angry on behalf of their bosses and execute orders
with cold-blooded efficiency. Like the Mafia, Zanu PF has no hesitation to
deploy even parts of the state apparatus for this purpose of enforcement.
The recent abductions, assaults, torture regarded by many as hideous, are no
more than natural and ordinary methods of protecting the position of the
made men and women of the Zanu PF Family. The victims are regarded as no
more than irritating stones in their shoes.
One can also get an insight from the Mafia system, into Zanu PF's attitude
to the issue of succession. Apparently, it is regarded a cardinal offence in
the Mafia, to threaten, attack or kill a made man without the top hierarchy's
authorisation, regardless of the legitimacy of the grievance. To threaten
the boss is even worse. Indeed, in the movie GoodFellas, the psychotic,
temperamental and morbid Tommy (a memorable character masterfully played by
Joe Pesci), is killed just when he thought he was about to become a made man
in the Luchessi Family. His offence was that he had previously killed Billy
Batts, himself a made man belonging to the rival Gambino Family.
In the Zanu PF Family, they tend to not look kindly at anyone who dares to
challenge the bosses, particularly Mugabe, the Capo di tutti Capi. The
victims of the 2004 Tsholotsho Declaration know this only too well. Just
recently, Mugabe is reported to have verbally chastised those of whom he
suspected to be plotting for his removal as the Capo of the Zanu PF family.
The reaction is just as one might see in the Mafia family, where democracy
sits very uneasily.
At the end of the day, the Capo di tutti Capi, Mugabe knows everything and
his power over the family lies in this wealth of knowledge and his control
of the enforcers. It is said that he has a file on every made man and woman
in the Zanu PF Family and whomsoever attempts to break the code of the
party, the equivalent of Ormeta in the Mafia, is immediately brought to book
and dispatched with brutal efficiency. From time to time, some of these made
men, like Chris Kuruneri, James Makamba, Charles Nherera, William Nhara,
etc, are used as examples of what the Zanu PF Family can do if one steps out
of line. These examples are meant to ensure that the rest stay in line, lest
they face the same fate.
It is these precedents, which come periodically for measured effect, that
remind the Simba Makonis, the Joice Mujurus and the Emerson Mnangagwas that
the Capo di tutti Capi remains firmly in control of the family and the
penalty that one pays for transgressing. The allegiance is as much out of
respect, as it is out of fear instilled by the spectre of the harsh
consequences that can be visited upon those regarded as betrayers.
In dealing with Zanu PF, as in dealing with the Mafia, it is necessary to
appreciate that one is not dealing with a mere organisation. Rather, one is
dealing with a way of life; the Zanu PF way of life; a circumstance that
makes the task a lot harder and also calls for entirely different approaches
to the challenges posed. But that is the subject for another day.
Dr Magaisa can be contacted at email@example.com
12 April 2007
PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki is to hold talks today with his outgoing French
counterpart Jacques Chirac in Paris, his office said.
"President Mbeki has been invited by President Chirac for consultations and
to bid farewell ahead of the presidential elections in France on April 22,"
according to a statement from the presidency.
Topics expected to be discussed include the political crisis in Zimbabwe and
the situation in the former French colony of Ivory Coast where ex-rebel
leader Guillaume Soro recently became prime minister as part of a peace deal
with President Laurent Gbagbo.
Iran's nuclear programme is also set to be discussed, according to the
statement. SA is currently a non permanent member of the United Nations
Security Council which has already imposed two sets of sanctions against
Tehran since December over its defiance of calls to suspend uranium
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs -
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Date: 12 Apr 2007
HARARE, 12 April 2007 (IRIN) - Life is still an uphill struggle for hundreds
of thousands of Zimbabweans forced to live in the open after the
government-led Operation Murambatsvina (Drive out Trash) demolished their
homes almost two years ago.
The operation, which demolished informal homes and markets, was aimed at
clearing slums and flushing out criminals, according to the government, but
instead left more than 700,000 people homeless or without a livelihood in
the winter of 2005.
Uprooted families were told to return to their homes in rural villages, but
the descendants of immigrants who had nowhere to go were forced into tiny,
government-sanctioned living spaces on the outskirts of urban centres, with
no source of employment.
Some resisted, choosing to relocate to townships near city centres in the
hope of earning a livelihood by vending. But spiralling inflation - now more
than 1,700 percent - the recent spate of violence and increased police
patrols on the streets have made it difficult to trade.
Gaudenzia Phiri, 38, and her family of three lived in Kambuzuma township in
the capital, Harare, until May 2005 when the bulldozers crushed their
dreams. They moved to another informal settlement in Dzivaresekwa township,
west of Harare. Now a widow, Phiri supports her two children by selling
vegetables and fruit on the streets of Harare.
She has to be constantly vigilant; municipal policemen roam the streets and
confiscate the wares of illegal vendors. Sometimes she and her colleagues
have to hide themselves and their wares almost every hour. "This is the kind
of life that we live but we cannot be stopped because we have families to
look after," she said, emerging from her hiding place.
"Dashing into alleys with edible perishable goods obviously compromises the
health standards, but that is the only way we can survive." Shortly
afterwards, two women and four men approached the illegal vendors, pretended
to buy some of their products and then arrested them.
Some of her more agile colleagues managed to get away, but Phiri was not so
lucky. Their goods confiscated, the arrested vendors were loaded into a
truck and taken to the police station to pay a Zim$25,000 fine (US$1.00 at
the parallel market exchange rate, where US$1 buys Zim$25,000).
Harare municipality spokesman Percy Toriro told IRIN that the police would
continue to uphold high standards of cleanliness. "We want to ensure that we
have a very clean environment that everybody can be proud of. That means
people should only conduct business from designated points."
Dispossessed informal traders complained that they had to wait in queues for
days at local authority offices to get a licence.
About 430km southwest of Harare, Godknows Mabusa, another vendor, has spent
most of the past two years playing cat-and-mouse with the municipal police
in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo. "I survive by outrunning the municipal
officers because I have no vending license ... Survival was much easier for
me before the clean-up operation, but it will never be the same again."
Another Bulawayo resident, Mluleki Dumani, managed to acquire a vending
licence to sell vegetables in the city centre, but was unable to support his
family on his meagre takings in the face of the worsening economic crisis.
He makes about US$40 a month, but the monthly rent for a single room is
about US$80. Dumani said he was fortunate to have found accommodation with
his parents. "Many other victims of the clean-up have not been so lucky."
Life has not been easy for those who chose to return to their villages
either: failed crops and constant rejection by traditional leaders has
doubled the pain.
"I was brought here protesting, wailing and kicking out in a bid to convince
the police officers that I have no one to come to, but they forced me," said
Lydia Mothibi, 37, a former tuck-shop operator who moved to a rural
settlement outside Bulawayo with her five children.
"When we got here, we were dumped at the chief's homestead and stayed there
for three days. Later we were told that we could build temporary shelters on
this small plot, but to continue looking for permanent settlements. We are
yet to find that. We struggled to find a plot to till, but our crops were a
complete write-off, so we have nothing to eat. We remain a hungry and
Her predicament is shared by many others in the settlement. Many children
have been unable to attend school since the group was dumped there almost
two years ago and have been confined to their homes. The families survive on
the meagre yield of their plots, sometimes a watermelon or a few ears of
In some of the settlements of its urban renewal housing project in Harare,
the government had started building and allocating permanent houses to
people displaced by Operation Murambatsvina. A year ago, many of the hastily
constructed houses lacked ablution facilities and access to services like
water and electricity. Since then, a lack of funds has stalled the project.
It's certainly not the United States, London, or even China or India. Hong
Kong pales in comparison, and Brazil is but an afterthought. Mexico? Where's
that? All of these places are doing well enough, but they aren't top dog. The Ludwig von Mises Institute, however,
has the answer we're all seeking. Zimbabwe?? With inflation at nearly 1800%, unemployment at 80%, and GDP
having been slashed in half over the years, a thriving Zim stock market
seems, well, impossible. But the 12,000% year-over-year increase is well over
the rate of inflation, so people are obviously getting rich and keeping their
money safe . The Institute explains that the Austrian Business Cycle Theory has
something to do with it. The everyday people of Zimbabwe don't see any benefit to this, though. Their
masters may not see it for much longer either. Stock prices on the index are
obviously inflated and unsustainable. It's only a matter of time before it comes
crashing down, taking down many in its spiral.
The ZSE is growing some three times faster
than consumer prices. This relative outperformance versus general prices is a
result of stocks being a chief entry point for the flood of newly created money.
Keep Zimbabwean dollars in your pocket, and they've already lost a chunk of
their value by the next day. Putting money in the bank, where rates are pithy,
is not much better. Investing in government bonds is the equivalent of financial
suicide. Converting wealth into foreign currency is difficult; hard currency is
scarce, and strict rules limit exchangeability. As for capital improvements,
there is little incentive on the part of companies to invest in their
already-losing enterprises since economic prospects look so bleak. Very few
havens exist for people to hide their wealth from the evils created by Mugabe's
policies. Like compressed air looking for an exit, money is pouring into shares
of ZSE-listed firms like banker Old Mutual, hotel group
Meikles Africa, and mobile phone firm Econet Wireless. It is the only place to
go. Thus the 12,000% year over year increase in the Zimbabwe
Industrials.Though the government print more and more money and
distributes it into the system via financial institutions such as banks, they
are opting to put it into stocks rather than hold onto it. One day can cause its
value to collapse, but the stock market is driven by demand. Therefore, all of
the rich people, government officials, and banks are putting their money into
stocks so that it doesn't lose value. Demand is high, so the price is too.
It's certainly not the United States, London, or even China or India. Hong Kong pales in comparison, and Brazil is but an afterthought. Mexico? Where's that? All of these places are doing well enough, but they aren't top dog. The Ludwig von Mises Institute, however, has the answer we're all seeking.
With inflation at nearly 1800%, unemployment at 80%, and GDP having been slashed in half over the years, a thriving Zim stock market seems, well, impossible. But the 12,000% year-over-year increase is well over the rate of inflation, so people are obviously getting rich and keeping their money safe . The Institute explains that the Austrian Business Cycle Theory has something to do with it.
The everyday people of Zimbabwe don't see any benefit to this, though. Their masters may not see it for much longer either. Stock prices on the index are obviously inflated and unsustainable. It's only a matter of time before it comes crashing down, taking down many in its spiral.
Thu 12 Apr 2007, 7:42 GMT
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's mining sector faces a debacle as a skewed
exchange rate and heavy borrowing hit an industry that has become the top
foreign currency earner, the mining chamber said on Thursday.
Mining is the only sector that still has foreign investors after the
collapse of the main agriculture sector -- which coincided with a deep
recession -- and now generates half of all export revenue.
Zimbabwe miners, except gold producers, surrender a third of their foreign
earnings to the central bank at a rate of Z$250 to the greenback, far less
than the Z$16,000 fetched on a thriving black market.
The Chamber of Mines said miners faced heavy local costs with domestic
suppliers charging for their services using black market rates and with
increased wage demands from workers.
"The official exchange rate ... continues to cause viability challenges,"
the chamber said in a statement.
"The shortage of foreign currency for suppliers of goods and services to the
mineral sector is impacting on the determination of prices. It is no secret
that in the absence of foreign currency on the official market, the parallel
market is the only other source," the chamber said.
Inflation in Zimbabwe has spiralled past 1,700 percent -- the highest in the
world -- and caused shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency while
unemployment has rocketed higher.
The chamber said gold producers, accounting for 52 percent of total mineral
production and a third of gross domestic product, were affected by delays in
payment by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).
It said that as of the beginning of April most producers had not been paid
for gold delivered in January.
Gold miners surrender their gold to sole purchaser and refiner Fidelity, a
wholly owned RBZ firm, and are paid mostly in Zimbabwe dollars. Under the
arrangement, they get only 40 percent in hard currency.
Chamber of Mines data on Thursday showed gold output falling 17 percent to
1,587 kg in the first two months of this year compared with the same period
"Most producers are heavily borrowed, have exhausted their lines of credit
and have limited input in stock," the chamber said. "It will not be
surprising if the gold sector were to collapse under the existing heavy
debts and non availability of inputs."
President Robert Mugabe's government has forecast a 4.9 percent growth in
the mining sector this year after a 14.4 decline in 2006, but the chamber
said this was unlikely without expansion in a sector worried by proposed new
The Mines Ministry last year said cabinet had approved changes to the mining
law "to indigenise 51 percent in some instances of all foreign owned
The proposals were later withdrawn for further consultations but Mugabe has
insisted that locals should take control of the country's rich mineral
Those who gave any credibility to
President Mugabe's announcement some months ago that he was ending the seizure
of white-owned farms in Zimbabwe, had their hopes dashed on Monday when police
moved in on a farm in rural Matabeleland. Three truck-loads of officers rolled up to the Portve Farm, in
Inyathi district, and told the white owner, David Jourbert, to get off the
property. The keys to his house and other buildings were seized, as were several
hunting rifles; his employees were told that from now on they were state
labourers. The raid, the first in Matabeleland this year, was led by
Senior Assistant Commissioner Chivangire. A source reports there were scuffles
between police and farmworkers before Jourbert left the property. The farmer, whose family has owned Portve Farm for
generations, immediately filed an application in the High Court for the return
of his property. The application names Police Commissioner Augustine and Home
Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi, as well as Chivangire himself. Observers say the
court action has no chance of success; the government has made it clear it will
not entertain cases of this nature. Seven years ago, when Mugabe began his land-grabs, Zimbabwe
had more than 4,000 white-owned farms. Today there are less than 100. Most of
the seized farms went to senior police and army figures and senior government
members. In November the government began a campaign to offer farms
back to their previous white owners - on state-owned leases. Few took up the
offer and without their expertise Zimbabwe, once the bread-basket of southern
Africa, continues to grapple with severe food shortages.
Those who gave any credibility to President Mugabe's announcement some months ago that he was ending the seizure of white-owned farms in Zimbabwe, had their hopes dashed on Monday when police moved in on a farm in rural Matabeleland.
Three truck-loads of officers rolled up to the Portve Farm, in Inyathi district, and told the white owner, David Jourbert, to get off the property. The keys to his house and other buildings were seized, as were several hunting rifles; his employees were told that from now on they were state labourers.
The raid, the first in Matabeleland this year, was led by Senior Assistant Commissioner Chivangire. A source reports there were scuffles between police and farmworkers before Jourbert left the property.
The farmer, whose family has owned Portve Farm for generations,
immediately filed an application in the High Court for the return of his property. The application names Police Commissioner Augustine and Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi, as well as Chivangire himself. Observers say the court action has no chance of success; the government has made it clear it will not entertain cases of this nature.
Seven years ago, when Mugabe began his land-grabs, Zimbabwe had more than 4,000 white-owned farms. Today there are less than 100. Most of the seized farms went to senior police and army figures and senior government members.
In November the government began a campaign to offer farms back to their previous white owners - on state-owned leases. Few took up the offer and without their expertise Zimbabwe, once the bread-basket of southern Africa, continues to grapple with severe food shortages.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
12 April, 2007
There are reports that Thomaz Salomao, the Executive Secretary of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC), was expected in Harare late
on Wednesday. His mission according is apparently to assess Zimbabwe's
economic situation, then propose changes that would help with recovery. But
top economist John Robertson knew nothing of Salomao's visit by Thursday
afternoon, except for the media reports. He said the visit would be
meaningless without political changes to support it. Zimbabweans who are
struggling so hard on a daily basis need some sign that change is on the
Robertson explained that the best economic policies in the world could not
function under the suffocating block of political policies that are
currently in place in Zimbabwe. He said: "Confidence was one of the first
casualties of the government's policy decisions going back quite a few
years, but reinforced with the most recent policy changes and leading to
constitutional changes which were really an attack on property rights." He
added that when the government gave itself the legal right to take anybody's
property using the constitution, it totally destroyed all investor
The reports said Salomao would meet government officials as well as
opposition officials from the Movement for Democratic Change. Asked whether
the SADC official could make a good assessment in a matter of days after
speaking to a few officials, Robertson said it was possible if he were to
speak to the right people. He added: "But if he is being shepherded around
by the ruling party who will make sure he speaks only to people who they
already know agree with party policies, then it's absolute certainty that he
will leave without having picked up any facts at all."
Robertson also believes Salomao needs to meet with the private sector and
speak to people who already have large commitments in the country to see how
they are coping under present conditions. But as of the end of the day
Thursday there was no confirmation of Salomao's presence in Harare.
Zimbabweans continue to wait for Mbeki and the other SADC leaders to show
some sign that change is coming.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tichaona Sibanda
12 April 2007
President Thabo Mbeki is under pressure from South Africa's 2010 World Cup
organising committee to find a lasting solution to the Zimbabwe crisis, or
risk seeing his country lose the right to host the biggest football
Already a number of European countries have raised their concerns at sending
their teams to a country whose neighbour is involved in gross human rights
abuses. Amid the spiralling brutality, violence, rapes and destruction of
property belonging to the opposition, there are reports that the Southern
African Development Community are also pushing Mbeki to force Robert Mugabe
to stop his 'dirty war' on innocent Zimbabweans. Sources on Thursday said
Mbeki is expected to travel soon to Harare for talks with Mugabe and
opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.
Reports from Johannesburg said there have been a flurry of discussions over
the phone between other SADC leaders and Mbeki, urging him to act fast on
Zimbabwe to ensure the whole region benefits from South Africa's hosting of
the 2010 World Cup. This follows a statement Thursday by the chief executive
of the 2010 organising committee that South Africa is seeking a change in
World Cup rules to allow visiting teams to be based in neighbouring
countries during the finals in three years' time.
Danny Jordaan, the head of the organising committee, said other African
countries in the SADC region should be involved as much as possible in the
continent's first World Cup. Under existing rules the 31 visiting teams can
set up training camps outside the host country before the finals. But they
have to move to South Africa at least seven days before their opening match
and remain there during the tournament.
Dingilizwe Ntuli, a Zimbabwean journalist based in Johannesburg, said
organisers in South Africa have asked Fifa to consider allowing teams to
stay at bases in neighbouring countries and travel to South Africa on the
day before their matches and return to their bases soon after.
Most capital cities in the SADC bloc are within a 90-minute plane journey of
the match venues in South Africa. And Ntuli believes Zimbabwe could gain
more than any other country in the region. This grand plan however is
guaranteed to go up in flames if the current political situation in Zimbabwe
is not curtailed. There are fears if Mugabe rigs the elections, as he has
done before, the crisis in the country could escalate into open war between
Mugabe and hard done Zimbabweans.
'I won't be surprised to see Mbeki pressuring Mugabe to mend his ways or
going further by dropping his quiet diplomacy for a more robust and
aggressive style of mediation. This tournament is too big to be disrupted by
events in Zimbabwe and I am sure behind the scenes every effort is being
made to resolve the crisis,' Ntuli said.
With over half a million visitors expected during the tournament South
African organisers have been trying to find out if other SADC nations can
help out with accommodation. But the sticking point in all discussions has
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
TANONOKA JOSEPH WHANDE*
Plato had only one teacher, Socrates. And, in turn, Plato became Aristotle's
teacher. Today, history and current affairs are incomplete without mention
of this trio. Because they talked; they expressed. And, as Aristotle said,
'what is expressed is impressed.' That is impact. Impact that outlives
Whoever originated the saying, "Silence is golden", played a very cruel and
sick joke on Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki believed the hogwash and, trying to stand
out among presidential imbeciles, and especially trying to camouflage his
cowardice, labeled his political inadequacy 'silent (or quiet) diplomacy'.
Talk, Mbeki. Talk, my friend! It is dangerous to ignore the existence of the
irrational. Zimbabwe is full of people with freedom to gain and nothing to
lose. Silence, Mbeki, is usually linked with consent. And it's far from
Mbeki was fired from mediating in the Cote d'voire crisis because of his
'partiality'; that is my 'quiet diplomacy' too. The truth is that they fired
him because Mbeki is just no good in such things. Mbeki has the regrettable
tendency of being mesmerized by the bad guys in any negotiations. We in
Zimbabwe could have told the Ivorians, had they asked us. After firing
Mbeki, the Ivorians found common ground and only last Tuesday, the leader of
the contras, Guillaume Soro, was sworn in as Prime Minister of the Ivory
Coast under a president he once bitterly fought against. Due to pressure
from outside Africa, Mbeki tried to mediate in Zimbabwe and failed dismally.
The people he tried to bring together ended up thousands of kilometres
further apart than they were before he came on the scene. Later, there were
reports that he actually zeroed in on the opposition party, encouraged and
bankrolled a group of dissident supporters to form a splinter faction, a
development that continues to benefit Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe to
this day. But, surprisingly, even Mugabe, the man Mbeki so embarrassingly
seeks to protect, does not think much of Mbeki and clearly does not have
much faith in him. Mugabe has always considered Mbeki a lightweight,
otherwise he would have conceded a little to give Mbeki's horrid quiet
diplomacy some credibility.
Hopefully, Botswana is not too caught up in self-praise and diamonds to
remember they are in Africa. Botswana is in danger of destroying its
tomorrow under a ridiculous avalanche of foreign praise. Botswana ought to
be careful. They are our brethren and, in spite of the praise and elevations
from abroad, we still herd our cattle together, right here in Africa, foot
and mouth and all. SADC, particularly Botswana and South Africa, cannot
afford to remain silent when deaths and mayhem occur in Zimbabwe.
"We must speak out against the situation in Zimbabwe the same way we spoke
against apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s when we were a small nation
criticising a big power," Botswana's Specially Elected MP, Botsalo Ntuane,
told a local daily. "I can't reconcile this contradiction. What is the worst
that can come out of speaking out and saying enough is enough? I am pleading
with the government to say 'enough is enough' because this has not brought
any dividends for us."
Ntuane added that 'rising crime, loitering and government expenditure in
daily repatriation are the bitter fruits that Botswana has reaped from the
What has transpired in my home country in the last three weeks is evidence
enough that Zimbabwe has become one huge political orphanage full of people
running away from themselves.
How does Botswana feel to be in the front line of a lawless state that
brutalizes its citizens and even attempts to murder its own elected members
of parliament? Is it democracy for Botswana to keep quiet when such things
happen? Is Botswana obligated to say or do anything about what is happening
across its border?
"This belief that speaking against a sister African government amounts to
interference in the nation's sovereignty is illogical," Ntuane said.
The world, it appears, is mesmerized by the brutality and evil exuded by
Mugabe to such an extent that it is immobilized.
Unlike Zimbabwe, South Africa was liberated, not by war, but by
international pressure, outsiders speaking and pressurizing. "Isn't it a
shame," said one observer on the BBC, "that Mbeki behaves the way he has,
whether it is about AIDS or Zimbabwe? It is a shame that those who benefited
from other people's speaking up for their rights when they were oppressed
have now become enablers and apologists for today's oppressors. Shame on
Mbeki and his government for their behavior. It should not be about Mr.
Mugabe, it is about the people."
Botswana, like the rest of SADC, is obligated to talk and to do something
about what is happening in Zimbabwe because, by so doing, it would be
protecting its democracy, its economy and its citizens.
'Artificial' measures are always being introduced to protect the Pula and
the Rand from the economic chaos in Zimbabwe. With its inflation at 5.3
percent and that of Botswana at 7.2 percent, how do South Africa and
Botswana reconcile their economic relations and trade in the region with a
neighbour whose inflation rate is over 1700 percent? Regional cooperation
on cross-border matters of mutual interest are hampered or scampered by
Zimbabwe because of its worsening crisis, economic, political or otherwise.
"Now more than ever," says Joe Seremane, Chairperson and spokesperson of
South Africa's Democratic Alliance, "Thabo Mbeki needs to break his curious
silence on the deteriorating political and economic situation in Zimbabwe or
face further ridicule in this regard".
To us Zimbabweans, it is especially painful that our leadership risked our
lives and a lot more, including bombings and assassinations, with some of
apartheid South Africa's culprits still serving jail terms in Zimbabwe
today. With the support of the international community and the so-called
'Frontline States', Zimbabwe spoke out and applied the pressure on the
apartheid government. Were it not for that, would South Africa be free
today? Would Mbeki, an 'accidental' vice-president (by compromise), be
President today? "Those who cannot remember the past," said Spanish-American
philosopher, George Santaya, "are doomed to repeat it."
"Why," wonders Bubakar Sillah of Banjul, in The Gambia, "is the
international community reluctant and delays in intervening in situations
like Zimbabwe where weak, oppressed and helpless people are trying to effect
change on their own? Look at Darfur, Guinea, etc."
Meanwhile, Zimbabweans cannot just sit there and die from political violence
and hunger. They cease to respect international borders and leave just so as
to survive. Their illegal presence in both Botswana and South Africa
immediately becomes a problem to them and to the host countries.
"The problem is not Mugabe, rather it is the ineffective organisations like
the African Union that do nothing when the sons of Africa are suffering,"
said Arafat Ibrahim of Kampala, Uganda, on 'Have Your Say'. "We need a
collective response. The manner in which Mugabe treats the citizens while
nothing is done...paves the way for other leaders, like Museveni of Uganda,
to follow the ranks of dictators with economic and political turmoil being
the order of the day."
Evil motivates people more often than good. African leaders must lead and
stop supporting each other in unfruitful camaraderie when things go wrong. I
hope remarks by Zambia's Levy Mwanawasa about Zimbabwe being like the
legendary Titanic will be heeded by fellow leaders. African leaders should
just take the initiative from the impotent Thabo Mbeki. Africa has too many
problems to give the likes of Mbeki a playground littered with skulls of
African men, women and children.
"I don't know why everyone is up in arms about Zimbabwe," Walter Meyer of
Sydney, Australia, wrote to the BBC. "As a Malawi-born white African and
having left Africa 15 years ago, I say, why bother, man? Let them (Africans)
carry on and self destruct. The rest of Africa have this apathy and silent
support for Mugabe and regard him as a hero. Standing ovations at African
summit talks, etc. ... Let them carry on. What's new in Africa?"
Pressure is important. It liberated South Africa. And Botswana, of all
countries, knows that pressure forms diamonds. Well, Botswana, what d'ya
*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Zimbabwean journalist.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
11 April, 2007
There are numerous reasons why presidential and parliamentary elections
should not be held in 2008. This is according to David Chimhini, the
director of the Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (ZIMCET). The group has
representatives all around the country organised into what they call "peace
committees" which are in touch with ordinary Zimbabweans. They have
developed peace building initiatives and offer educational training on a
Chimhini explained that the most obvious reason to delay elections is that
the government appointed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) does not have
the capacity to run elections at this time. He said: "With the ongoing
economic meltdown in the country it is safe to assume that the money is not
there." Chimhini also pointed to the fact that the state has not been able
to print identification cards and passports for some time due to a lack of
funds to buy special ink and paper. He said people without these documents
would therefore be denied their right to vote.
Nearly one million people were displaced during the government's demolition
exercise Operation Murambatsvina in 2005. These people were dumped in areas
far from their homes and have moved around to different locations since
then. Chimhini said this means they would have to re-register to vote and a
new voters' roll would need to be compiled. All this takes time.
Chimhini is deeply concerned with the violence that is being perpeptrated
against opposition officials and supporters. He said much more violence can
be expected towards the elections because the ruling party wants to make a
statement about the level of support they still command. A lot of peace
building work will have to be done in order for the voters to feel safe
again, and 2008 is simply too soon.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
IT SEEMS THAT President Thabo Mbeki gets all his news from the SABC.
It's not as if Mbeki has ever talked tough about Zimbabwe, but this quote
from an SABC3 evening news report sets a new standard for the softly-softly
"Critics accuse President Robert Mugabe of mismanaging the economy" is the
helpful context the SABC offers to viewers following the SADC's
don't-call-it-a-crisis meeting on Zim.
The SABC's economics desk has never been particularly strong, but I thought
they could have done a bit more with this. To be balanced they should have
asked what the supporters of hyperinflation think about Mugabe.
Mismanagement also sounds fairly benign. As if total economic collapse is
the sort of thing you can fix at a weekend bosberaad.
Not good enough for SABC
The news out of Dar es Salaam also wasn't considered important enough for an
earlier SABC news bulletin, despite the outcome of the special summit having
been on a loop on the BBC and CNN for most of the evening.
When at 10 the SABC thought to pick up on it, the segment came in third. The
Limpopo town of Makhado reverting back to its old name was thought to have a
bigger effect on the country than the benefaction of Bob.
A few days later, SABC radio interviewed Zambia's first president Kenneth
Kaunda about Mugabe's SADC endorsement. He should have some real insight
into the mind of Mugabe, since he shares the birth year of 1924 with him.
Without interruptions from the interviewer, Kaunda lauded the decision and
spoke at length about British politician Harold Macmillan's "Wind of change"
speech of 1960.
The interviewer never got the chance to ask Kaunda the relevance of all
It was time for the SABC news.
A "long history"
Mbeki must have listened to that illuminating insert because he also largely
ignored the current situation in Zim and delved into the past in an
interview with the London Financial Times last week.
"Robert Mugabe was a student at Fort Hare in his youth... We have a long
history with Zimbabwe," Mbeki explained. Kaunda was one of Bob's varsity
buddies in the Forties, as was Mbeki's father Govan.
We get this little titbit about Mugabe's alma mater but nary a word about
Zimbabwean refugees overwhelming towns like Makhado, 100km from Beit Bridge.
The desperation of the un-SABC media for any hint of a change in Mbeki's
strategy was evident from the glowing terms in which the FT interview was
Maybe I shouldn't be too pessimistic. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, another Fort
Harean, did eventually change her ways, though it took a liver transplant.
Mugabe, however, appears fitter than ever...
He cannot make us love him
The news this week that 14 SADCC states had refused to condemn Mugabe's
brutality against his own people was not unexpected, but it was very
Those of us in exile must use our time productively. We can learn something
from the experience. The one advantage we have of living in a country with a
(relatively) free press is that we can see how the rest of the world covers
Possibly because there has never been a completely free press in Zimbabwe,
it is sometimes difficult for us to understand the power of the media in a
democratic society. We need to do whatever it takes to keep Zimbabwe in the
news; whether it's the activism demonstrated by the Zim Vigil or the Free
Zim youths or something less active, we can all keep the issue alive.
Personally, I write letters to newspapers, MPs, radio and TV editors and
anyone else I can think of to air the Zim question. I also keep newspaper
cuttings, records of Zimbabwe's human rights abuses carried in newspapers
all over the world. There are names of victims and perpetrators and
sometimes even the precise locations where the abuses occurred. One day my
overflowing cuttings box may provide just a part of the evidence to bring
the wrong doers to justice.
Last week the media here was full of pictures of two once bitter enemies Ian
Paisley and Gerry Adams sitting peaceably together at a news conference.
Paisley, of course, is the man who said he would never, never, never sit
down with the IRA - remember Ian Smith said that Africans would never never
never rule Zimbabwe! Mugabe says he'll never, never, never sit down with
But miracles do happen, look at Northern Ireland! Perhaps there's hope that
even Robert Mugabe will one day have to accept the inevitable. Sure, he
seems all-powerful at the moment. He can beat the hell out of his opponents
and tell the world they deserved it because they are 'terrorists', he can
fiddle around with the economy and blame the collapse on sanctions, he can
rig the elections, he can con other African leaders into supporting him
because of his 'liberation credentials' but there's one thing not even
Robert Mugabe can do.
He cannot make the people love him again. And he is a man who likes to be
liked. He may deny there is crisis in Zimbabwe but the fact that the SADCC
conference took place at all is evidence that Mugabe's powers of persuasion
are fading. His once loyal African brothers have admitted, if only to
themselves, that there is a crisis in Zimbabwe.
'I have 83 years of struggle, experience and resilience. I cannot be pushed
over,' he boasts. To me that sounds like delusions of grandeur; perhaps
Morgan Tsvangirai is right when he says; the man needs a psychiatrist!
Ndini shamwari yenyu.
By Lance Guma
12 April 2007
The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) plans to set up a bureau
in Zimbabwe ahead of scheduled elections in 2008. SABC Managing Director
Snuki Zikalala met Zimbabwean Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu on
Wednesday and reportedly discussed the setting up of the office. Analysts
interviewed by Newsreel say the development is a potential double-edged
sword. Rev Nicholas Mkaronda, the Director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition chapter in South Africa, said while it is good to have different
media getting information out, 'our concern is that we have a government
deciding who can open a station and who cannot.' He also said the SABC has
over the years made clear its loyalty to the ANC government position on
Zikalala meanwhile said the SABC wants to enhance its coverage of events in
Zimbabwe. 'We felt that it is important to have a presence here so that we
cover the true Zimbabwean story,' Zikalala said. 'It is a very important
story. It's a story that is unfolding and there are a lot of good stories in
Zimbabwe that need coverage.' Supa Mandiwanzira the Chief Executive Officer
of Mighty Movies, the company that currently represents the SABC in
Zimbabwe, accompanied Zikalala during the meetings. The SABC chief said they
also want to position themselves fully to cover the elections in 2008 and
that they should be in the country if the likes of Al Jazeera were already
He also said they want to bring in more journalists to cover next year's
elections and that they had already discussed the accreditation of the
journalists with Minister Ndlovu during the meeting. 'We brought 54 South
African journalists to cover the last elections and we are likely to bring
the same number to cover next year's elections," he said. Rev Mkaronda
however said previous elections in Zimbabwe have exposed the SABC as failing
in their duty. He says unlike other media outlets the SABC had access to
government ministers but failed to expose what was happening on the ground
or question them. 'One finds it unethical for the SABC to be allowed to
operate when the Daily news was bombed,' he remarked.
Zikalala has been the subject of several protests in South Africa over
accusations he is a 'government stooge' and 'propagandist.' The Freedom of
Expression Institute (FXI) and the Social Movement Indaba in South Africa
led pickets last month calling for his dismissal. They have also called for
the implementation of recommendations by the Sisulu commission of inquiry
into the blacklisting of political commentators by the SABC. The inquiry
found that Zikalala made misleading statements when denying the existence of
a blacklist that banned certain analysts that included publisher Trevor
Ncube and Elinor Sisulu from the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition. Zikalala is
also accused of censoring any stories that paint the ruling ANC party in a
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Friday 13 April 2007
By Patricia Mpofu
HARARE - Southern African Development Community (SADC) executive secretary
Tomaz Salomao on Thursday pledged the regional bloc's support in helping
push Western nations to lift sanctions against Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe and top officials of his government.
The United States, European Union, Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia
five years ago imposed targeted visa and financial sanctions against Mugabe
and his lieutenants as punishment for allegedly stealing elections,
violating human rights and failure to uphold the rule of law.
Mugabe - who critics hold solely responsible for ruining Zimbabwe's once
brilliant economy - says the sanctions have hit hardest the economy in
general and ordinary Zimbabweans more than they have affected the targeted
individuals members of his government.
Speaking to journalists after a closed door meeting with Mugabe in Harare,
Salamao said Zimbabweans should work harder to revive the country's
collapsing economy while SADC would help push for lifting of sanctions.
"Zimbabwe should work hard for the improvement of the economy while SADC
looks at how it can help to have sanctions lifted," said Salamao.
Salamao, who earlier met Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and
Mugabe's chief secretary Misheck Sibanda, arrived in Zimbabwe on Wednesday
as part of an ambitious regional plan to rescue the tottering Zimbabwean
He however did not meet the business community or the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change party.
An emergency SADC summit in Tanzania on 29 March mandated Salomao to
"undertake a study on the economic situation in Zimbabwe and propose
measures on how SADC can assist Zimbabwe recover economically."
Zimbabwe is considered one of the weakest links in a region that has set the
target of establishing a free trade area by 2008.
The SADC free trade area is premised on the creation of a strong regional
economy characterised by single-digit inflation, stable currencies and high
Zimbabwe has the world's highest inflation rate, pegged at about 1 730
percent in February.
Unemployment has reached an unprecedented 80 percent since the country's
economic crisis started in 1999 while shortages of foreign currency have
stunted growth of the manufacturing sector. - ZimOnline
Friday 13 April 2007
By Edith Kaseke
HARARE - The mining industry in Zimbabwe could collapse under the weight of
heavy debts and an unsustainable exchange rate, ironically at a time when
world metal prices are booming, which would be another blow to the foreign
currency starved country, the Chamber of Mines said.
The mining sector is the biggest foreign currency earner in a country
battling its worst ever economic crisis and its collapse could bring more
misery to the majority who are squeezed by the world's highest inflation
rate of nearly 2 000 percent, unemployment above 80 percent and shortages of
hard cash and food.
With the agriculture sector in turmoil, mainly as a result of President
Robert Mugabe's government's seizures of farms from whites, mining had
become the largest employer and earned more than half of the country's
The Chamber of Mines said an official rate of $250 which miners are paid for
a third of their earnings was unviable as this could not meet their Zimbabwe
dollar costs, noting that for example suppliers of goods and services were
pricing at black market rates.
The United Stated dollar is trading around $17 000 at the black market.
Miners are forced to liquidate nearly 33 percent of their forex receipts at
the central bank at the official rate.
"The official exchange rate of US$1:Z$250 continues to cause viability
challenges," the chamber said on Thursday.
"The shortage of foreign currency for suppliers of goods and services to the
mineral sector is impacting on the determination of prices. It is no secret
that in the absence of foreign currency on the official market, the parallel
market is the only other source," it added.
According to the Chamber of Mines, gold producers were hit by payment delays
by the central bank, adding that at the beginning of this month, most
producers had not been paid for gold delivered in January.
Gold producers account for 52 percent of total mineral production and a
third of gross domestic product.
The producers who are required to sell their gold to Fidelity, a subsidiary
of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), are paid 60 percent of their earnings
in local currency at $200 000 per gram, a price which is less than the one
offered at the black market.
RBZ governor Gideon Gono has previously said Zimbabwe lost at least US$40
million a year to gold smuggling, a development industry officials said was
a result of poor official yellow metal prices.
"The combined effects of delayed payment and misaligned exchange rate have
combined to create a viability crunch that is threatening the very existence
of the gold industry in Zimbabwe," the chamber noted.
"Most producers are heavily borrowed, have exhausted their lines of credit
and have limited input in stock. It will not be surprising if the gold
sector were to collapse under the existing heavy debts and non availability
The industry was also failing to retain skilled manpower, as many
Zimbabweans continued to flee from the turmoil at home to neighbouring
countries or as far as Australia, Canada and Russia where mines pay better
salaries, the chamber said.
The government has projected a five percent growth in the mining sector this
year after declining by over 14 percent last year but industry officials say
this is impossible given the viability problems and lack of growth as
investors fret over planned amendments to mining laws.
Mugabe's government has indicated it plans to seize 51 percent of
foreign-owned mines, which has sent shockwaves in the industry and kept
potential investors at bay.
"The delay in finalising the Mines and Minerals Act is affecting investment
in the minerals sector. Without the amended Act, investors will wait in the
wings until a final position is reached," according to the chamber. -
Friday 13 April 2007
By Nqobizitha Khumalo
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo says it plans to move
millions of cubic metres of water by rail from the Zambezi River, some 450km
away, in a rather bizarre attempt to address severe water shortages in the
In a vivid illustration of how far things have collapsed in crisis-hit
Zimbabwe, Bulawayo town clerk, Moffat Ndlovu, told ZimOnline yesterday that
the city had no choice but to cart water from the Zambezi using rail
"The train will pull 30 wagons of water on a regular basis and this
suggestion might seem strange but that is how fuel is brought into the
country and this will help us to bring thousands of litres of water into the
city," said Ndlovu.
Bulawayo lies in the drought prone Matabeleland province in western
The city, that needs an average 100 000 cubic metres of water a day, has
battled severe water shortages over the past years forcing council to ration
water, with both households and industries going for several hours on end
An ambitious project to draw water from the Zambezi River to Bulawayo has
remained on the drawing board for years with President Robert Mugabe's
government only referring to the project during election times to win votes.
The government says it has failed to build the pipeline because of a severe
economic crisis that has seen inflation zooming to nearly 2 000 percent, the
highest in the world and pushing costs way beyond budget.
Last month, council said the water situation had reached critical levels
saying it had less than six months' water supply in its dams. - ZimOnline
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
April 12, 2007
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on Zimbabwe? And Morgan Tsvangarai said
that 600 political activists have been abducted and tortured, and he also
said that he was prepared to deal with President Mugabe as part of President
Mbeki's sort of mediation plan.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, on the first, we aren't able to verify the numbers. He
mentioned 600. But certainly we know that well over the hundred documented
cases likely exist in terms of political activists that had been arrested,
maltreated, beaten. And certainly any number at all is unacceptable.
Zimbabwe should be a place where people are able to freely express their
views whether they're in opposition to the ruling government or not. This is
a country in which political reconciliation is badly needed as a result of
the actions taken by the Mugabe government, which have been decidedly
It is a country that is on -- either on the brink or gone past the point of
economic ruin. Its social fabric is badly tested and it is a problem in the
region for the development -- greater development of the region. Zimbabwe is
a country that has natural assets. It could be a place that not only could
feed its own people but export food to the rest of the region.
So it's a sad case and we have encouraged leaders in the region, including
President Mbeki, to take a more active role in trying to help the Zimbabwean
people resolve their political differences. Unless you're able to resolve
those political differences, you're going to continue to have the kind of
political instability within the system that you see right now.
QUESTION: Is there any movement within the Bush Administration as to how you
might put pressure on Mugabe to be more open to his critics and opposition?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we have already tried to apply quite a bit of pressure.
We have a limited number of levers that we can use. We have already imposed
things like travel restrictions and that sort of thing in an effort to try
to get Mugabe off the dime on any sort of political -- meaningful internal
political dialogue addressing the real economic and humanitarian issues that
exist there previously. We have made efforts to provide direct humanitarian
assistance for the Zimbabwean people.
So we've tried a lot of different ways to help the situation. We are going
to continue to do that. But it really does at this point come down more on
those in the region and those who might have more influence with Zimbabwe
and its leadership to make every effort they can to get them to change their
QUESTION: So in other words, you haven't come up with any sort of new
solutions except putting pressure on the neighbors?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't think that we have any particular actions that are
going to -- or suggestions that are going to resolve the situation,
certainly not just actions by the United States but continuing efforts to
convince President Mugabe to change the pathway that he's on.
QUESTION: There's really nothing you guys can think of beyond public
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, as I pointed out to Sue, we have already put in place a
number of different actions and they have not changed the qualitative
situation in any significant way. You still have an economy that's broken.
You still have a political system that is dominated by one person and one
party in which you can't freely express yourself; if you do, then you're
beaten and arrested.
So it's a sad situation. It really is. We continue to be very concerned
about it and doing what we can, but admittedly our -- the levers that we
have are limited.
QUESTION: One other -- just to follow up on Sue's initial question. When you
say that you can't verify that 600 number, do you have any reason to doubt
it or are you trying to cast doubt on it or are you --
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not trying to undercut it. Just as a simple matter of
fact, I can't tell you that the number is 600. We have seen -- our people on
the ground have -- would they be able to verify, you know, on the order of
100, 150 documented cases, but in verifying that they say there are likely
more cases. So I'm not trying to cast any doubt on the number. I just can't
verify it for you.
The Monitor (Kampala)
April 12, 2007
Posted to the web April 12, 2007
The much anticipated Southern Africa Development Coordination Committee
(SADCC) summit in Tanzania to discuss Zimbabwe produced largely expected but
The summit only served to embolden President Robert Mugabe who left the
summit in an upbeat mood. Back home on the following day, he was nominated
as presidential candidate for his ZANU PF party in the increasingly
uncertain 2008 poll.
This, despite speculations of a revolt in his party and rumours of a
possible military coup, amidst the sensational resignation of his Vice
For sitting presidents meeting in the presence of Mugabe, it would have been
wishful to expect them not to empathise, even sympathise, with the elder
statesman, whom many see as a veteran pan-Africanist and relentless
anti-imperialist crusader. For a country like South Africa, arguably the
most important in the block, Mugabe is an icon of the new democracy's
While Zambia's Levi Mwanawasa had earlier been reported to have made remarks
that were quite disapproving of Mugabe's democratic conduct, he was not
expected to sustain his position. Mwanawasa himself has not treated the
opposition well either.
Southern Africa has had a unique relationship with the "white man" which
makes it less receptive to suggestions from the northern hemisphere.
Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa suffered the horrendous last experiences
of white domination in the last century and their memory of white
exploitation needs no refreshing.
So, when Mugabe stood up to redistribute land to the indigenous Zimbabweans,
however crudely, much of Southern African "understood". Tanzania, though
fairly farther off, in Eastern Africa, was a frontline state against
apartheid and other anti-imperialist struggles.
Besides Southern Africa's reluctance to condemn Mugabe and their unexpected
appeal to the so-called Western 'friends' to go slow on Zimbabwe, there is a
reality that ought to be addressed. Most African leaders, not least Mugabe,
are afraid of leaving power, not more for the sake of it as for the
uncertainty of the consequences.
Kenneth Kaunda's and Frederick Chiluba's woes after leaving power have been
well documented. So is the fate of Liberia's Charles Taylor. The tirades of
Ghana's current regime against Jerry Rawlings and accusations of corruption
against his family, that made him stay away from the 50 year celebrations of
Ghana's independence are known.
Many African leaders have come to power after years of armed conflict that
alienated the vanquished. The armed struggles that bring some African
leaders to power involve actions that often constitute crimes against
humanity, for which they can be prosecuted. Some commit crimes during their
Olara Otunnu, former UN Special Representative for Children in Conflict
Areas has repeatedly called on the International Criminal Court, ICC, to
indict Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni for war crimes and crimes against
humanity he allegedly committed during 1980-85 when he fought a bloody war
that led to the end of President Apolo Milton Obote's (RIP) rule, and for
atrocities committed by his army in the hopefully soon ending 19-year civil
war in Northern Uganda while fighting the equally atrocious Lord's
Resistance Army. Such calls make the overstayed Ugandan leader too scared of
life after power.
Mugabe, and other African leaders afraid of leaving power, could use some
help. Not from the same frightened lot of serving presidents, but from past
leaders who are now leading normal, private, productive lives, especially
those that voluntarily left power.
Between June 5-8, 2005, 15 former African former heads of state and
government from across Africa gathered in Bamako, Mali, to discuss the
individual and collaborative contributions that former leaders can make to
address the urgent challenges.
In their declaration at the end of the meeting, now known as the "Bamako
Declaration of the African Statesman Initiative" the former leaders
committed themselves, in part, to continue using their good offices to
foster dialogue and the peaceful resolution of the continent's conflicts and
to promote human security and democratic models of government that offer
citizens the opportunity to choose their leaders freely and participate
fully in the political life of their countries.
Retired African statesmen might be more useful in persuading Mugabe to step
The Mugabes and Musevenis of Africa and others like them need assurances -
that it is possible to leave power peacefully and continue to be useful.
Only past leaders can play this role.
By Jonga Kandemiiri and Patience Rusere
12 April 2007
Detained members of the Zimbabwean opposition being held at Harare Central
Police Station were taken Thursday without knowledge of their lawyers to a
magistrate court in Chitungwiza, a town south of the capital, legal sources
and family members said.
Other opposition members arrested in a raid on the headquarters of the
Movement for Democratic Change on March 28 were due back in court on Friday
after a high court judge told police to look into claims they are MDC office
workers, not activists.
Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi sent four ministerial
certificates to the high court opposing the granting of bail to the MDC
members and workers, who authorities have charged with being behind a series
of firebombings last month.
MDC lawyer Alec Muchadehama told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7
for Zimbabwe that the minister was trying to intimidate judges with the
Opposition officials said continuing abductions of officers and members are
disrupting their work and paralyzing the Movement for Democratic Change.
They said security organizations including the police and the Central
Intelligence Organization have instilled fear in grass roots activists who
form the MDC base of support.
National Director Ernest Mudzengu of the National Constitutional Assembly,
one of the country's most effective opposition civic organizations, gave
reporter Patience Rusere his assessment of the impact on the opposition of
the hundreds of abductions.
By Taurai Shava and Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
12 April 2007
Zimbabwe is shortly to roll out a 24-hour shortwave radio station called
News 24/7 in the aim of countering what it says is a barrage of foreign
propaganda - among others from VOA which provides 90 minutes of news to
Zimbabwe five nights a week.
News 24/7 will inaugurate programming on Wednesday, April 18 - Independence
Day in Zimbabwe - broadcasting from Gweru, capital of Midlands Province.
Reports said the around-the-clock news operation is being funded by Iran at
a cost of Z$8.9 billion - about US$35.6 million at the official exchange
rate though more like US$6 million at the prevailing parallel market rate of
Z$15,000 per greenback.
Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu declined to comment on the new
station until after it is launched next Wednesday. Deputy Information
Minister Bright Matonga confirmed to parliament earlier this year that the
government is jamming foreign broadcasts from VOA's Studio 7 and
London-based SW Radio Africa.
Zimbabwe has not authorized any private broadcasters to operate.
Gweru residents told correspondent Taurai Shava of VOA's Studio 7 for
Zimbabwe that they consider the shortwave project to be a waste of money
given that the state broadcasting monopoly already operates a number of
Media analysts said Harare's launch of the station would further tighten its
grip on an already constricted media environment, and that its statement
that it wants to tell "the true Zimbabwe story," means that it wants to
spread its own propaganda wider.
News 24/7 will operate under state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings
and will be headed by former senior ZBC broadcaster Happison Muchechetere.
For perspective on the new media venture, reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
turned to experts Andrew Moyse, coordinator of the Media Monitoring Project
of Zimbabwe, and Rashweat Mukundu, director of the Media Institute of
Southern Africa in Zimbabwe.
Mukundu said the new station expands Harare's near-monopoly in broadcasting.