Mugabe buys six jets to 'defend airspace' April 13 2005
By Michael Hartnack
Harare - President
Robert Mugabe's government has acquired six fighter jets "to deal with any
challenges", state radio reported on Wednesday.
It did not disclose
the supplier or the price tag, but the report first named them as the "K-8"
and then the "K-fighter".
The aircraft appeared to be the K-8
advanced jet trainer, a Chinese copy of the British Aerospace BAE "Hawk",
said Michael Quintana, former editor of Africa Defence Journal.
The Hawk was supplied to Zimbabwe by then Conservative prime minister
Margaret Thatcher soon after independence in 1980. But Tony Blair's Labour
slapped an embargo on spare parts in 2000 to protest at human rights
Quintana said Egypt bought K-8 trainers from China a
price tag of $20-million each.
"If the country had to save up
for these, no wonder we are experiencing shortages of petrol (gasoline),"
Quintana told The Associated Press.
The radio broadcast quoted
air force acting director of operations, Group Captain Builtin Chingoto, as
saying the new fighters were meant to keep up with fast changing
"They will go a long way to improve the operations of
our air force in order to defend the country's air space and territorial
integrity," he said.
"They will enable the force to deal with any
Mugabe described Britain as an "enemy country" on the
weekend and said he was continuing to wage what he called a "chimurenga" or
civil war against the remaining whites for control of natural resources,
Claiming a two-thirds majority in March 31
parliamentary elections, he said "the nation had mobilised through the
ballot box to repulse imperialism".
Seventy percent of
Zimbabweans live in absolute poverty, with five million of its 11.6 million
people dependent last year on international food aid. Hospitals lack
medicines and food, while schools lack desks, books and writing
Official figures showed Zimbabwe's inflation rate fell
to 123.7 in March, down 3.5 percent in February, the government-controlled
daily The Herald said in a report on Wednesday.
The K-8 flies
under the speed of sound (950km/h) and has limited combat ability. It has
already been supplied to the Namibian and Zambian air forces, Quintana
He said that while engaged in the Congo civil war, Zimbabwean
forces acquired three MIG-23 interceptor fighter-bombers from Muammar
Gaddafi's Libyan government. They have been seen at recent ceremonial fly
pasts here. - Sapa-AP
Lovemore Madhuku is a political
commentator and head of the National Constitutional Assembly, a coalition of
civil society groups agitating for constitutional reform in Zimbabwe. He
suggested that the opposition boycott the elections and not legitimise
government repression. He did not cast his vote. Two weeks ago, he was
detained briefly for making "unsubstantiated allegations" against the
As an outspoken critic of participation in the election,
what is your assessment of how the elections actually turned out?: The
results were predictable. There was no way that the Movement for Democratic
Change [MDC] could suddenly expect a miracle when it had no access to voters
for four years. The MDC was only able to move to rural areas four weeks
before the elections. Its leadership was naive to think that if you arrive
at a new place, speak to people and they cheer, you could then think they
would vote for you. Voters are engaged over a longer period of time. The
conditions that the MDC had presented as a sine qua non of participation in
elections did not change so I don't know why it still participated in the
You have insisted that there is no point in participating
in elections unless there are constitutional reforms. What are these
reforms?: We want the elections to be conducted by an independent electoral
commission. We also want the scrapping of the clause that guarantees the
president 30 seats before the elections. We also need an independent body
that regulates the media. We also oppose laws that give police powers to
What difference would that make to the outcome of
elections?: They would create a free environment for all political players.
All parties will be able to campaign wherever they want in the country. We
need mechanisms that would announce in a dramatic way that things have
changed in this country. They would create confidence that you can still
vote against the ruling party and be patriotic. Are you aware that there are
many voters who believe that to vote for the MDC is to be
Realistically, do you think Zanu PF will accede to these
demands?: We have not tried hard enough before to push for change. If there
was united popular mass pressure, Zanu PF would shift. If we had at least 10
000 people on the streets of Harare and thousands in other towns across the
country, it would have to listen. Let's see how it reacts to mass power. Is
it ready to kill people because they want constitutional change? We are not
calling for [President Robert] Mugabe to resign and be replaced by MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai. We must acknowledge the value of the liberation
struggle and his contribution, but we must say we want to broaden the
freedom they brought.
How would these people-driven constitutional
reforms happen in practice?: We want the creation of a framework where
people can freely express their views. Government must formulate a process
whereby a committee can be appointed to look at all proposal documents,
including the constitution that was rejected in 2000. Civil society, the
opposition and the government can all sit down to produce a draft document.
Then we either constitute a constitutional assembly or a conference, to
debate the proposals of what makes a good constitution, and agree by
consensus. Once that has happened, the president can take the constitution
to a referendum.
Is there a role for the international community,
which has ostracised the Zimbabwean government, in all of this?: It should
try to persuade Mugabe that as head of government he must accept the wishes
of the Zimbabweans. It must support those who are fighting for democracy
here. It must understand the nature of the crisis here. That means
understanding that we are not fighting to kick out Mugabe and replace him
with Tsvangirai, but to get the president freely elected by the
In particular, what role do you see for President Thabo
Mbeki, whose quiet diplomacy has failed to produce results so far?: South
Africa's influence is quite critical. Mbeki must push Mugabe to ensure that
when the next elections are held, there is no controversy about the
elections. He must insist that the next two to three years are used usefully
so that when the next elections are held, the constitution will be
The MDC took a hammering in the elections even though it
complains about irregularities. Will people still look to the party to
deliver them from Mugabe?: It depends on what it does. It must realise that
its loss was owing to a flawed system and it must mobilise Zimbabweans to
change that system. But, if it is still obsessed by minute details such as
results being tabulated late or figures that it does not like, people will
lose interest in the MDC. Tsvangirai must do less talking and start focusing
on the bigger picture. This thing of trying to create the impression that
Zanu PF has totally no support is wrong and must end. Even if free and fair
elections were held soon, Zanu PF would still be a formidable party.
Wed April 13, 2005 6:02 PM GMT+02:00 By
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's opposition said on
Wednesday it may resort to "democratic resistance" against President Robert
Mugabe over its allegations of vote rigging in a parliamentary election last
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Tuesday filed
the first of a series of planned court cases it hopes will prove the March
31 vote was stolen by Mugabe's ZANU-PF.
But on Wednesday the
MDC, which has said it has lost faith in Zimbabwe's judiciary, said it was
considering other forms of protest action.
"The legal action that
will be taken will not be the primary form of democratic resistance against
electoral fraud," MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube told a news
conference in Harare.
"We are going to devise a programme of
political action; it is being worked out," Ncube said without
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was more cautious in his
comments when he rejected the results of the poll which gave ZANU-PF the
two-thirds parliamentary majority it needs to change the constitution and
cement its hold on power.
Tsvangirai, who is facing treasonable
charges of orchestrating mass protests after Mugabe's controversial
re-election in 2002, said it was up to the people of Zimbabwe to decide if
they will take to the streets this time.
MEMBERS TO DECIDE
Ncube said the MDC was consulting its members on the form of
the action to take.
"When the specific action has been decided
upon as to its form, as to its content as to its time, the public will be
advised appropriately," he said.
The MDC won just 41 of 120
elected seats -- 16 down on its 2000 performance. ZANU-PF swept 78 seats and
one went to an independent candidate.
But a further 30 seats in
the 150-member house reserved for presidential appointees and traditional
chiefs ensured ZANU-PF got a two-thirds majority.
charges of electoral fraud are backed by major Western governments but
dismissed by most African observer missions who gave the poll high
Ncube said the MDC was going to court to challenge the
results for 13 constituencies "as a case study" on how the poll was rigged,
but that political action remained the party's primary focus.
He alleged that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) was not in charge of
the March 31 poll, saying the army and intelligence agencies in fact
controlled the process.
ZEC chairman George Chiweshe has denied the
charge and said the commission was fully in charge.
56-page report on the election, the MDC repeated demands for a new
constitution and for the government to disband its youth militia, to stop
using food as a political weapon as widely alleged and to repeal tough media
and security laws that have hobbled the opposition.
The MDC said it
had proof of fraud in 30 constituencies in four of the country's 10
provinces for which the electoral commission had provided all figures for
He said the ZEC had failed to account for the
discrepancies of figures in some constituencies announced by the commission
and said its investigations had shown that only 3.5 million voters were
registered instead of the 5.7 million announced by
Mugabe and his ZANU-PF have rejected accusations of rigging
this vote or the last parliamentary polls five years ago and a presidential
ballot in 2002.
Ndaba Mabhena Last updated: 04/14/2005 00:28:07 IN THE last four years
Zanu PF, in their desperate quest for survival, created some socio political
space they littered with mantras like 'independence', 'land to the
majority'a and 'sovereignty'.
This space was created by Zanu PF primarily
so that they could have one up on MDC, based on the notion that they are a
revolutionary party and the only factor that delivered Zimbabwe from
colonial rule in 1980.
Zanu PF coined all manner of slogans, which they
shouted themselves hoarse throughout the four years. These slogans
culminated in the anti-Blair rhetoric which was concluded by 'Zimbabwe will
never be a colony again'. In their minds, they were calling upon Zimbabweans
to recall their 'nationhood' and once again reward the party by voting to
keep it in power.
Zimbabweans know that Zanu PF has never been a national
party. It's a party that right at the time of formation sought to stand for
the interests of those that administer it, their friends and relatives.
Today that value is unchanged.
Zanu PF is a party that is founded on
splitting Zimbabwe into two tribal groupings, i.e Shona and Ndebele, whereby
Shonas must provide national leadership. Zanu PF, usually refered to as 'The
Party', has always had in their leadership deck Shonas taking up key
leadership positions with a lacing of Ndebele apologists making up the
leadership elite numbers. The party had to enlist the services of Ndebele
apologists to paint a picture of a government of national unity following
the inconsequential 'Unity Accord' signed in December 1987. The Ndebele
apologists were to behave like gagged guests at this party -- 'make no key
decisions and above all don't raise questions about the development of the
other half of the country'.
In fact the mythical Zezuru factor in Zanu PF
has dominated proceedings since independence in 1980. Mythical in that there
is nothing called Zezuru but a group of minority migrants either from Malawi
or Zambia. However, the myth has only served a few individuals that have
sold themselves as Zezuru.
Sadly when the MDC was formed sometime in
1999, it too was fashioned in Zanu PF style. It was a coalition of Ndebele
and Shona, this time Shonas of mainly Karanga origin.
Maybe this was
a recognition of two factors about the Zimbabwean political leadership
situation. Firstly, that when any tribal grouping seeks to challenge for
power they can not do so effectively without roping in a second or third
tribal grouping. Secondly, it may have been an expression by both Ndebele
and Karanga tribal groupings of them being fed-up with Zezuru dominance in
Zanu PF. The Ndebele should have thought as a group they have not tasted the
fruits of the 'Unity Accord' save for a few Ndebele apologists in Zanu PF
ranks. On the other hand Karangas could have been tired of being labeled
Shonas only for the purposes of maintaining the national tribal balance in
Zanu PF, yet benefiting nothing from the whole arrangement.
that synopsis, it is evident the MDC represents Zimbabwean people that have
been, over the years, disenfranchised by Zanu PF governance.
Zanu PF has
set the pace, by default, in nation building. Just to consoliadate this fact
Zanu PF has gone about with its nation building using tribal politics and by
the creation, post 2000, of the socio political space that they sought to
Zimbabweans cannot afford not to respond to this challenge. If
we don't challenge, we would have let a chance for genuine nation building
In response, all Zimbabweans need to embark on self
leadership while we search our souls on what kind and manner of national
leadership will deliver to freedom a united Zimbabwean nation. As individual
Zimbabweans, we must acknowledge that it is Zanu PF sponsored tribalism that
is responsible for the mess that the country finds itself in. With that
recognition we should then proceed and fashion our future.
different tribal groupings, we should further acknowledge that our separate
futures are intertwined. One can never dream of one tribal group taking over
the national leadership. Zapu Federal Party and Zanu Ndonga are compelling
examples, the same as Inkatha Freedom Party in South Africa.
forward, tribalism has no future in formations that are going to deliver
Zimbabwean to freedom. Any tribalist formation can rest assured that it will
fail. Therefore, as we sit down and think about the future of our country,
our children and ourselves, let's not give tribalism another chance. Should
we do so we will inevitably delay our freedom. Tribalism is and will never
Should anyone close to President Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa read these thoughts, let him know that trying to impose a Xhosa
'mornachy' on South Africa is unsustainable. It may work now but will be
undone in the future to the detriment of Xhosas. Zimbabwe further provides
another key example. In future political formations, it will be unlikely
that a Zezuru person will be handed the mettle to lead.
As we speak
Zanu PF are running short of pure Zezurus to impose on their leadership
Fear of nominating someone from another tribe to lead us, if
they have all the required characteristics of the desired leader, is
tantamount to being afraid of ourselves. We may experience fear in being led
by someone who is not from our tribe for fear of past perceived favours that
we are supposed to have enjoyed. But we have to manage that fear for the
sake of a fearless future. Ndaba Mabhena is a regular guest columnist on
New Zimbabwe.com and writes from Harare
Govt to go ahead with key constitutional amendments
[ This report does
not necessarily reflect the views of the United
JOHANNESBURG, 13 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF
party plans to use its two-thirds parliamentary majority to change the
constitution and create a second chamber and the office of prime
National political commissar Elliot Manyika told IRIN the party
also intended to "tighten legislation relating to land and economic reform,
with a view to giving statutory bodies more control over these crucial
sectors and core national assets".
President Robert Mugabe indicated
soon after the 31 March elections that he wanted to revisit aspects of the
draft constitution of 2000. Among its recommendations was the creation of a
senate made up of traditional leaders, retired politicians and other eminent
Zimbabweans, as well as a new post of prime minister.
lobbying by government, the draft constitution was rejected in a referendum
in 2000, in a vote seen at the time as a sign of support for the new
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Manyika said the House
of Senate was necessary for strengthening constitutional democracy and
widening the process of parliamentary decision-making, based on national
However, Daniel Molokela, a Zimbabwean analyst and human
rights lawyer based in South Africa, said the proposed consitutional
amendments were meant to entrench ZANU-PF's rule through the appointment of
loyalists to crucial legislative bodies.
"The House of Senate should
be composed of experienced politicians who are also experts in various
disciplines: its purpose is to moderate and give a professional finish to
legislation proposed by the lower house. In the case of Zimbabwe that is
highly unlikely to happen, as most of the appointees would be political
failures with none of the required expertise," alleged Molokela.
political analyst at the University of Zimbabwe, John Makumbe, told IRIN
that none of the proposed amendments would ease the economic and political
crisis in the country. He said amending an already flawed constitution was a
pointless exercise, and called for an entirely new constitution drafted with
The National Constitutional Assembly, an NGO that
has been campaigning for constitutional reform, criticised the current
constitution, saying it gave the president too much power and allowed the
ruling party to manipulate the election process.
Zimbabwe Judge Orders 2 UK Journalists Freed On Bail
Zimbabwe (AP)--A judge ordered two U.K. journalists freed on bail Wednesday,
two weeks after they were detained near a polling station during Zimbabwe's
Toby Harnden, 35, and Julian Simmonds, 45, of the
Sunday Telegraph, had pleaded not guilty to charges of violating Zimbabwe's
draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act by working as
journalists without government accreditation during the March 31
The media laws, passed in 2002, have been used to control the
media by shutting down the country's only independent daily newspaper, the
Daily News, jail independent Zimbabwean journalists and expel or bar foreign
The two U.K. journalists also pleaded innocent to
violating immigration laws. Judge Never Diza said he would give a ruling on
the case Thursday afternoon. The charges carry a maximum penalty of two
President Robert Mugabe's governing party swept the
March 31 elections, though the opposition and international governments
criticized the vote as flawed, noting unfair reporting laws and widespread
The government granted accreditation to some foreign
media during the ballot, but not all.
The U.K. journalists were
arrested near a polling station in Norton, 30 miles west of the capital,
Harare. They have been held longer than any other journalists in Zimbabwe
since the country gained independence in 1980.
They were granted release
on Zimbabwean $1 million ($1=ZWD6,092.90).
Defense lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa
asked that the charges be dismissed, saying prosecutor Albert Masamha had
failed to prove the two had been working as journalists or had overstayed
visas given to them when they entered the country on March 20.
prosecutor argued the visas were for tourism purposes and were good for only
Zimbabwe boycott rejected By Michael Wines The New York
Times Thursday, April 14, 2005
main opposition party, defeated in a March 31 parliamentary election that it
insists was rigged, said that it had decided not to boycott Parliament in
protest of the election results. . Paul Themba Nyathi, the spokesman for
the opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change, said at a news
conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday that the 41 legislators elected under
the party's banner had a responsibility to the voters who had elected them
that overrode any objection to the overall outcome of the
balloting. . At the same time, party officials said that they had filed
the first in a series of legal challenges to individual legislative races in
which they believed the case for fraud was compelling. The party says that
wide variances between the official tally of votes and the totals reported
in specific elections are evidence of what it has called massive
fraud. . Western observers have generally agreed with that
conclusion. . Observers from African nations and a few of Zimbabwe's
allies, hand-picked by President Robert Mugabe, have called the vote free
and fair. . The 41 seats won by the opposition was well below the 57 seats
the party won in its first parliamentary election in 2000. The ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, called ZANU-PF, took 78 of
the 120 seats being contested, and an independent candidate won
one. . Brian Raftopoulos of the University of Zimbabwe's Institute of
Development Studies said Tuesday that the opposition had little choice but
to stay in Parliament. "It would have been very divisive within the MDC had
they stayed out," Raftopoulos said.
Opposition report says it would have won the election if it hadn't
By Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg (Africa Reports:
Zimbabwe Elections No 29, 12-Apr-05)
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement
for Democratic Change, MDC, has released a 56-page report outlining how it
says President Robert Mugabe rigged recent parliamentary elections in favour
of his own ZANU PF party.
The document, released on April 11 under the
title "Stolen: How the elections were rigged", claims that without such
manipulation, the MDC would have won the vote.
"The MDC did not lose
the election on March 31," the party's legal affairs spokesman David Coltart
told reporters in Johannesburg. "The people of Zimbabwe lost the right to
elect a government of their choice."
Coltart said the election, in which
ZANU PF secured 78 of 120 directly elected seats against the MDC's 41, was
rigged in multiple ways.
"The results do not reflect the will of the
Zimbabwean people," he said. "They reflect the will of the ruling party to
have a two-thirds majority by whatever means necessary."
the entire electoral process and the election itself fundamentally violated
the Southern African Development Community [SADC] principles," he added, in
reference to a set of election guidelines set out by the fourteen heads of
state of the SADC, the most powerful regional grouping, in the run-up to the
The SADC leaders were acting in response to international criticism
of Africa's reluctance to insist that Mugabe conduct the election
The report claims that in six of Zimbabwe's ten provinces nearly
134,000 people, most of them young people who mostly favour the MDC and
comprising ten per cent of the electorate, were turned away from polling
The MDC also alleges that there was widespread stuffing of
ballot boxes between the closing of voting in polling stations and the
announcement of results, after the Mugabe-controlled Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission sampled votes and realized there was strong support for the
The document, which claims it was already obvious on the
ground that Zimbabweans were ready for a new Zimbabwe and a new beginning,
says the situation has now been "made worse by the brazen theft of the
"If our demands [to reverse election results in twenty or
more constituencies] are not met immediately, we will continue our struggle,"
the MDC's information secretary Paul Themba-Nyathi replied, when asked if
the party was considering Ukrainian Orange Revolution-style street protests
in an attempt to end Mugabe's quarter century rule. "We will avail ourselves
of all options available under Zimbabwe's constitution, as restrictive as
they may be."
"The people are with us," he added. "We are going to
mobilise on the ground, we are going to mobilise in the region."
MDC spokesman told IWPR that the report was distributed in Johannesburg as
well as Harare because issuing it in the Zimbabwean capital alone would have
been a non-starter.
"It's unlikely the release would have attracted more
than three journalists," he said, "the one remaining independent foreign
newspaper correspondent and two local pro-Mugabe newspapers who are entirely
hostile to us."
Fred Bridgland is IWPR's Zimbabwe project editor based
from Zimbabwe's main opposition party took up their seats in Parliament on
Tuesday despite their refusal to accept the outcome of elections that they
say were rigged by President Robert Mugabe's party.
of 41 deputies from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were among 150
lawmakers who were sworn in, one by one, during a two-and-a-half hour
ceremony at Parliament.
The MPs elected national Zanu-PF
chairperson John Nkomo as their speaker, who, in an address to the new
assembly held out an olive branch to the MDC.
belong to different political parties, there is need for us to be guided by
national interests," said Nkomo.
"The challenge of the sixth
Parliament is to ensure that it addresses national issues from a national
perpective with the objective of finding solutions to our problems as
Zimbabweans," he said.
MDC Vice-President Gibson Sibanda, who
is also the opposition leader in Parliament, congratulated Nkomo on his
election as speaking and described him as "a man of high integrity" who is
"firm and fair".
"It is my sincere hope that with his
credentials and experience, we are going to achieve a lot for the people of
this country... to improve the lives of many Zimbabweans who are suffering
today," said Sibanda.
There had been speculation that the MDC
would boycott Parliament following its claims of ballot-stuffing on
elections day and intimidation leading up to the polls that handed victory
to Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front
But the MDC deputies, along with sacked former
information minister Jonathan Moyo, the only independent lawmaker, walked
into Parliament well ahead of the scheduled starting
Moyo received loud applause from the opposition
contingent when he stood up to take the oath of office.
The MDC, which has mounted the stiffest challenge to Mugabe's 25-year grip
on power, has condemned the elections as "a massive fraud", citing
discrepancies between the number of votes cast and the results announced by
the national poll body.
The party announced on Tuesday that
it will this week file a complaint before the new Electoral Court to nullify
the results in 10 constituencies.
The MDC lost 10 seats
in the March 31 elections, down from the 51 it held before the
In the 2000 elections, held just one year after the
MDC was formed, the opposition party won 57 seats.
Zimbabwe's parliamentary system, the president appoints 30 members to
Parliament, among them 10 traditional leaders.
The 20 other
appointees include Cabinet ministers and government officials who failed to
win their seats in the elections.
Among those appointed was
former Parliament speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was tipped to succeed
Mugabe until a falling out last year. - Sapa-AFP
HARARE -- Rehabilitating irrigation schemes and major dams in Zimbabwe's
arid Matabeleland South province could help ease its perennial food
shortages, experts have said.
Over the past 10 years the
cattle farming province has had its fair share of misfortune. The government
has proclaimed the region a disaster area every year since 1998 as a result
of droughts, flooding and pestilence - including outbreaks of foot-and-mouth
which led to the death of over a million head of
Edward Mkhosi, a former provincial land-use
planner with the Agricultural Rural Development Authority in Matabeleland
South, told IRIN that if all the derelict irrigation schemes were revived,
and existing water resources put to maximum productive use, the province
could feed itself.
He said the province has more than 16
large irrigation schemes and many smaller ones, which had all been neglected
but could be revived with government support and handed over to
"Matabeleland South can be a successful
model of mixed farming - it is cattle ranching territory and can also do
very well as a crop-farming area through irrigation ... This would guarantee
local communities' food security, if technical guidance is provided to
farmers. What is lacking is a coherent plan," Mkhosi
Following a devastating drought in 1991/92 the
government was able to build six major dams in the province, with the
assistance of donor funding between 1995 and 1998, to ensure water and food
However, Mkhosi noted that some of the bigger
dams, such as the Mtshabezi and the Zhovhe, near the town of Beitbridge on
the border with South Africa, were not being used at
"In Gwanda and Beitbridge, many irrigation schemes
were destroyed by floodwaters during the Cyclone Eline floods of 2000. No
repairs have been done and some water engines that were swept away by
flooding have not been replaced. Smaller schemes and nutrition (vegetable)
gardens have also been neglected due to a lack of government support," he
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural
Resettlement, Joseph Made, told IRIN that although government had run short
of money for its cattle restocking programme and the rehabilitation of dams
and irrigation schemes, there were new national strategies to ensure food
"Rehabilitating dams, irrigation schemes and
reviving the cattle herd remains a government priority in Matabeleland
South. The developments will be done in line with a national plan for the
revitalisation of local food security initiatives, in the form of
community-owned irrigation schemes and water resources. The cattle
restocking exercise will get funding very soon," Made
"As the country's prime cattle producer,
Matabeleland South will get the biggest share of that allocation,"the
Made explained that the cattle
restocking exercise had been hampered by a lack of funds and persistent
outbreaks of foot-and-mouth and tick-borne diseases. Since last year the
country has been unable to provide regular dipping services to communal
cattle farmers because of a shortage of dipping
Renson Gasela, the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change shadow minister for agriculture, noted that "cattle play a
leading role in the local economy of the province".
"Besides rearing for sale, subsistence farmers use cattle for draught power
during the farming season. So the death of livestock in such large numbers
over the past four years has left the people even more vulnerable to famine,
even when there are good rains, because they have no draught
power (for ploughing)," said Gasela.- IRIN
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's
government has committed many blunders in the last 25 years, some of them
monumental. All governments are allowed a certain quota of blunders - it's
an unwritten covenant with the electorate.
One of this
government's greatest blunders was to take the people for granted a few
years into independence. People were believed to be so ecstatic about
independence, they were not expected to say boo! to the government. But by
2000, the people had had it.
Still, one blunder which must have
provoked the wrath of one of the few genuine national heroes lying at the
Heroes Acre was Zanu PF's decision to put up Victoria Fikile Chitepo as
their parliamentary candidate in Harare's Glen Norah
Wherever his spirit is today, Herbert Chitepo,
the former chairman of the party, must have cursed in uncharacteristic
indelicate language at the indignity to which this same party subjected his
widow in the election. She lost by nearly 15 000 of the 19 709 votes
Now in her 70s, the South African-born national hero's
widow was pitted against one of the most charismatic, youngest and most
fiery politicians in the land, Priscilla Misiharabwi-Mushonga of the MDC.
It's hardly likely that Mrs Chitepo herself volunteered to be humiliated.
The most logical explanation could be this: Zanu PF knew they could not win
a single seat in Harare. They knew they could not even rig a victory in
Harare, except Harare South .
So, they relied on the
Chitepo magic. But Herbert Chitepo died in 1975, 30 years ago. There are
still burning questions on the identity of his assassins in Lusaka: were
they agents of the Smith regime or of his rivals for power in
His role in the liberation struggle is well-documented.
But there have been attempts for a long time since independence to highlight
the heroic exploits of only one man, Robert Gabriel Mugabe. At times, even
Joshua Nkomo's part has been relegated to that of a bit
Not many young people can remember what pivotal role
Chitepo played in galvanising the people against colonialism, how he gave up
what could have been a glitzy, billionaire lifestyle as a high-profile and
highly-paid advocate, to join the struggle.
unfortunately, may be remembered only as a former Cabinet Minister in
Mugabe's government.That cabinet, as far as many young people can remember,
has brought Zimbabwe to its present state, a state which her husband might
not have imagined possible as he set about initiating the war of liberation
Not surprisingly, Victoria Chitepo lost to
Priscilla, as Zanu PF must have known she would. Her future, nevertheless,
seemed assured: she must be destined for the Senate, which Mugabe has
This nearly bankrupt government can't afford the
expense of an upper chamber of parliament. That money would be better spent
on food for the hungry millions. But Mugabe has to look after many
There are only a few seats for the Non-Constituency
Members of Parliament and Mrs Chitepo was not among those announced by
Mugabe on Monday. But she must have asked herself:why me? The answer is
almost elementary in its simplicity: a desperate party will do desperate
Zanu PF is in as desperate a fix as any other party
which has run out of new ideas and will throw everything, including
political weapons of mass destruction - rigging - to win an
Zanu PF is not the party it was before independence.
Corruption and greed in high places have sapped it of all credibility. Time
has taken its toll on its resilience, its integrity and its regard for
During the struggle most ordinary people were
regarded as party members by virtue of being the targets of the oppressor.
After independence, most of them slowly realised party membership could be
dangerous to their health, mental and physical. It was a form of
imprisonment. They had to obey the party or be cast out, which could mean
ostracism or physical violence.
By 2000, people knew Zanu PF
was as dangerous to them as people as it was to the country. Mugabe
concocted the Tony Blair bogey for the 2005 election to lure the rural
people and for urban voters not sophisticated enough to actually believe an
Ian Smith could return to rule the country, with the help of the
A cleaning woman working for the Harare City Council
said she was happy Zanu PF had won. "We don't want the whites (mabhunhu) to
return." She was reminded that the council itself was previously controlled
by the opposition MDC, until Ignatius Chombo worked out a devilish plot to
destroy that control. She grunted enigmatically.
Mugabe's ploy had convinced the rural people to vote for Zanu PF, why was it
necessary to coerce to chiefs and headmen to terrorise their people to line
up behind them at the polling stations - and vote as they
Chief Fortune Charumbira, celebrating his election as
chairman of the House of Chiefs, denied there had been any voting
hanky-panky or that the chiefs had taken any part in it. But he would,
wouldn't he? Just as Mugabe himself would insist that the electoral playing
field was as level as it is anywhere else in the world, in Africa, in the
Sadc region, even in Asia and Latin America.
If his critics
insist that he is stretching the truth a little too far, or is being
economical with it, he would challenge them to prove it. In court? Which is
where we would all turn away in disgust. Which courts?
deal with crime. In the estimation of many neutral observers of the human
condition, politics and crime are one and the same thing. To steal an
election must be considered a "high crime", but in Zimbabwe this sort of
theft has been so refined it is not even a misdemeanor. Herbert Chitepo,
considered one of the ablest advocates in what was then Southern Rhodesia,
must be turning in his grave - not only over the humiliation of his widow -
but also over how the law, the real law of the land, has been humiliated as
Senior Reporter issue date :2005-Apr-14
SACKED senior assistant
commissioner Ngonidzashe Gambiza has dragged the Commissioner of Police,
Augustine Chihuri, the Minister of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi and two other
senior police officers to the High Court seeking re-instatement. The
other top cops cited in court papers are Deputy Commissioner Godwin Matanga
and Senior Assistant Commissioner Mary Masango Gambiza, the ex-head of the
Police Internal Investigations Unit, claimed in legal papers that he was
unfairly dismissed. He argued that the verdict to fire him from his job was
based on allegations that he had submitted a damning report to President
Robert Mugabe claiming rampant corruption in the Criminal Investigations
Department (CID)'s Vehicle Theft Squad commanded by Assistant Commissioner
Steven Mutamba. In papers filed in the High Court last year (Case No
8856/04), Gambiza denied the allegations levelled against him and instead
claimed that his axing from the force was as a result of " malice." "I
contend that the dismissal or discharge is illegal and has no basis in fact,
but originate from conflict between the section I headed and the CID,
especially the CID Vehicle Theft Squad (VTS) where serious corruption was
unearthed," Gambiza said in his affidavit. "The respondents failed to
respond appropriately. Instead they moved against me for unearthing very
damaging criminal conduct in the VTS. Annexure F shows a sample of members of
the force arrested for corruption by the internal investigations
section." The annexure has 40 members, but does not chronicle their
crimes. Gambiza argued that the police board headed by Masango, which
presided over his case, was improperly constituted as some members were his
juniors and claimed that from the onset, the board had been mandated to fire
him.He cited an example of the police Chaplain-General, Chief Superintendent
Marowa, whom he claimed at one stage, approached him and advised him to
retire before being fired for him to receive his full benefits. Gambiza
said he flatly refused to do so. Gambiza claimed that his clashes with CID
officers started when the VTS failed to make headway into the theft of a
police vehicle, two months earlier, which was in the custody of an officer
identified only as Sithole. After instituting investigations, Gambiza
asserted, the police discovered that a known criminal was driving the
vehicle, and on further probing, "obtained very damaging details about the
conduct of some police officers at the CID VTS." Gambiza explained that
his unit had enlisted the services of a former car thief Godfrey
Chirimanyemba and they had managed to recover that vehicle and another
belonging to the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). Gambiza further
alleged that after his dismissal last year, he was forced out of his office
by violent "gun-totting Police Support Unit details." However, in his
opposing affidavit, Chihuri denied having sacked Gambiza arguing the
dismissal was in terms of the Police Act. The police commissioner said
Gambiza had also lied that he participated in the liberation struggle, which
earned him a police (bravery) medal and subsequent promotion he would not
have got. "Furthermore, the applicant's terms of reference did not entitle
him to undertake criminal investigations. In his case, he ended up usurping
the functions of the CID particularly VTS. "He also communicated with and
improperly influenced the Director of Public Prosecutions to decline to
prosecute ex-Detective Inspector Masombo for obstructing the course of
justice," reads part of Chihuri's affidavit. According to a memorandum
confirming Gambiza's discharge from the force and signed by Chihuri, the
former top cop allegedly engaged criminals and CIO operatives not cleared by
the Director General to investigate the VTS. The memo further stated that
Gambiza deliberately disobeyed orders from his seniors that members of his
unit such as Masombo be transferred. Instead of appearing before Masango's
disciplinary board in police uniform as required by the Police Act, but came
dressed in civilian clothes. The Civil Division of the Attorney General's
Office is representing the respondents, while Charles Warara of Warara and
Partners is representing Gambiza.
HEALTH conditions at
public health institutions continue to deteriorate with eyesore
infrastructure and perennial drugs shortages, despite claims by a senior
world health official that Zimbabwe's health system is "still the best in
Africa." At most government hospitals, there is an urgent need for suitable
equipment and medical supplies before the whole delivery system
collapses. This unhealthy situation is exacerbated by the shrinking levels of
professional staff - from nurses and doctors to specialists - for greener
pastures. Equipment at most government hospitals are obsolete and
rundown. And when the dilapidated machinery is sent for repairs it usually
take ages to return or be replaced because of lack of funding. Recently,
the Zimbabwe Hospital Services Trust Steering Committee (ZHST) toured
Chitungwiza Central Hospital together with captains of industry in an effort
to revamp the already tottering health system. During the tour, it also
emerged that the mortuary was failing to accommodate bodies daily. The
mortuary, with a capacity of about 30 bodies, was overcrowded. Bodies,
including those of children, were piled on the floor. "Our mortuary is
full to capacity, as you can see. So we have to pile the bodies on the
floor," said the Medical Superintendent Courage Nyatsvimbo. Chitungwiza
Hospital was recently uplifted to a Central referral centre, and serves the
community of Chitungwiza, Seke and surrounding areas with a population of
about one million. At least 6 000 patients are attended to in casualty ward
daily. Chitungwiza Central Hospital is just one typical example of other
major public health institutions in Zimbabwe operating under strenuous
conditions. The mortuary at Masvingo General Hospital has a capacity of 17
corpses, but sometimes accommodated up to 30 bodies. At Marondera General
Hospital, rodents were reportedly devouring bodies awaiting collection from
the mortuary. In Murehwa, relatives are given a maximum of 24hours to collect
their dear departed, and risk having the body dumped outside to create space
for others. The district hospital mortuary can only accommodate three
bodies. Because of shortage of professional medical personnel, most health
centres in rural areas are manned by nurse aids that have restrictions on
some types of medication thereby referring patients to bigger hospitals
mainly in urban areas. According to the United Nations Children's Fund
(Unicef), the health delivery system in Zimbabwe has been greatly affected
by the HIV and Aids pandemic, declining economic performance, political
polarization, unfavourable environmental conditions (i.e. drought), policy
constraints and limited donor funding. Unicef's recent statistics show
that since 1980, the under five-mortality rate has risen by 50 percent,
meaning one in every five children is now an orphan resulting from HIV and
Aids. The UN body said a child dies from Aids every 15 minutes against a
background of over 100 babies becoming HIV-positive daily. Unicef also
predicted that by end this year, about 160 000 children would have lost one
or both parents. According to the ZHST, whose sole purpose is to revamp the
deteriorating conditions of public health institutions, many health systems
are facing new challenges in different parts of the world largely due to
increased pressure on them blamed on globalisation and the consequent mass
movement of people. The committee, chaired by Lovemore Kadenge, pointed out
that: "The effect of sanctions and the withdrawal of health support agencies
are making themselves felt particularly on the most vulnerable sector of the
From Shame Makoshori in
Kadoma issue date :2005-Apr-14
A NEW crop of cattle ranchers allocated
plots under the fast track land reforms are threatening the survival of
farmlands in Matabeleland South due to poor land use practices, a senior
government official said on Tuesday. Natural Resources Board (NRB) director,
Mutsa Chasi, told journalists attending an agrarian reform reporting
workshop that the cattle farmers were disturbing ecosystems and causing
environmental degradation. They are not adhering to maximum livestock
carrying capacity of the plots, in a bid to maximise production. "There
is a prescribed number of livestock that can be reared at a given ranch
depending on the size of that land, but unfortunately the new farmers are
not taking this into consideration," Chasi said. "In Beitbridge, for
instance, the land use pattern that we implemented requires that ranchers
use grazing pastures nearer to their homes in the first half of the year,
and as the season progresses, move onto distant pastures." She added: "
To show the extent of the overstocking, the rain season is not yet over but
there are already signs showing that they are going to deplete the whole
environment." Chasi said, such poor land use practices destroy vegetation and
the repercussions are land degradation and declining agricultural produce as
less food would be available. Vast tracts of land are eroded in Zimbabwe
every year through such impractices with researchers saying at least five
tonnes of fertile soils are deposited into Lake Kariba annually. Chasi
said while conservative efforts to stop the anomaly had been made through
deploying staff from the Agricultural Research and Extension (Arex), the
department of livestock production and veterinary services, no legal
instruments were in place to control overstocking. The African Institute for
Agrarian Studies (AIAS) says at least 57 percent of Zimbabweans lived in
ecological regions 4 and 5 incorporating Matabeleland South before the start
of the agrarian reforms. Due to the arid nature of the belt, which
receives less than 600 millilitres of rainfall per annum, the entire region
depends on livestock ranching. However, perennial droughts stretching over a
decade and sporadic outbreaks of diseases such as foot and mouth and anthrax
have severely hit livestock production, a situation that has led to a
depleted national herd and low volumes of beef exports. The participants
fired a broadside at the government for concentrating on policies and
framework with little practical efforts to control poor land use practices
like overstocking and gold panning. The journalists called on the government
to immediately take corrective measures to halt land degradation.
From Our Correspondent in Bulawayo issue date
AS BULAWAYO City Council's water supply dams dwindle, the
local authority has embarked on a vigorous water conservation
campaign. The city's director of engineering services Peter Sibanda said his
department would come up with core messages and water saving tips to be used
during the campaigns. Sibanda said at the beginning of March this year
the city's dams were 4,32 percent full with about 161 million cubic metres
of water. This translates to 19 months supply at the city's current
consumption rate of 145-000 daily. "Under these circumstances we urge
residents to voluntarily reduce water consumption so that we may sail
through to the next rain season. Should this fail (reduction in water
consumption) then more stringent measures will be employed," warned
Sibanda. The director said the year 2004/2005 had a poor rain season with
Mzingwane dam, one of the city's major supplies declared empty midway in the
rain season. Sibanda said although the other supplier, Lowe Ncema dam was
74,98 percent full, water could not be extracted because of the nature of
the dam. Constraints have been encountered at the city's other dams, Insiza
and Inyankuni. He said Insiza dam had no boosters and low water levels
affected the amount of inflow into the water works.
Prices of basics soar in Zim 13/04/2005 10:31 -
Harare - Prices of basic commodities have increased sharply
since Zimbabwe's March 31 legislative elections, causing panic buying and
fears of a return to widespread shortages.
Economist Dennis Nikisi
told the African news service IRIN News this week that the country's foreign
currency shortages were to blame for the current situation, because "84% of
inputs in the productive sector are sourced through foreign
Prices of basic goods were capped prior to the legislative
elections, with industry agreeing not to increase prices as "that might
create discontent, especially among the urban electorate", Nikisi
However, prices of basic commodities began to increase
immediately after the March 31 poll, while the availability of goods
In its latest situation report the World Food Programme (WFP)
noted that "steep price increases in all basic commodities, and a severe
shortage of fuel and maize meal products [have been] reported".
report also noted that "the price of some commodities has increased by over
100%, while the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) [the state monopoly buyer] is
reported to be holding urgent consultations over the shortage of maize
When available, the price of maize per kilogram ranges
from the equivalent of US$0.27-$0.38, which is "well above the casual daily
wage equivalent of $0.25".
In order to maintain tighter control over
foreign currency, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has adopted a foreign
currency auction system.
It involves the bi-weekly auctioning of foreign
currency to the foreign exchange market through the Reserve
Zimbabwe's inflation rate fell to just under 130% in February from
a peak of 620% in January 2004. - IRIN News