Zimbabwe Moves to Import Large Quantities of Food By
Peta Thornycroft Harare 15 April
Zimbabwe's food crisis is worsening and the government has
formed a task force to handle the crisis. Sources say the government will
appeal for food donations from the international community.
Marketing Board, Zimbabwe's only legal grain trader, has around 88,000 tons
of stored maize, according to statistics submitted to the government and has
ordered 150,000 tons from South Africa, according to grain suppliers
Also contributing to shortages are planting delays. According to
the Zimbabwe Farmers Union, which represents more than 100,000 small-scale
farmers, unavailability of seed maize, late availability of fertilizer and
lack of power for plowing contributing to a diminished crop.
result, Zimbabwe's maize deficit is expected to be about 1 million tons, and
about 700,000 tons will have to be imported before the next harvest in a
Though the government has not confirmed it because they say
they are still estimating the size of this year's crop, analysts say it will
likely authorize an international appeal for food aid in June.
year President Robert Mugabe suggested that Zimbabwe was on the road to
self-sufficency. He told the international community that Zimbabweans had
grown 2.4 million tons of maize and the population would choke if donors
continued to provide food.
Since the collapse of commercial
agriculture in 2001, which impacted heavily on peasant farmers, western
countries, through the World Food Program and US/AID provided food for up to
5.5 million people, or nearly half the population until late last year.
Drought and poor seed distribution may force Zimbabwe to import
more South African food, traders say, but many doubt whether President
Robert Mugabe's government has the money. Aid workers say this year's
drought would have cut the staple maize crop anyway, while Mugabe's critics
say chaotic seizures of white-owned farms over the past five years have left
the nation's once-thriving farm sector in ruins.
"Even in the
commercial areas it would have been bad," said one aid worker. "But those
guys would have had irrigation. There could be real suffering this year."
Some wonder if Zimbabwe's food needs might be funded by China or Iran both
wooed as part of Mugabe's "Look East" policy aimed at developing new friends
for a government widely reviled in the West. "We don't know where they will
get the money from," said another aid worker. "(Iranian President Mohammad)
Khatami was in Zimbabwe recently, so we wonder if it's someone like
With state-supplied seeds and fertilisers arriving late or not at
all, some aid workers say Zimbabwe's overall maize crop could be as little
as 300 000 to 700 000 tonnes well short of the 1.8 million tonnes they say
the country needs, and estimates of a one million-tonne 2004 crop. South
Africa on the other hand is expecting its best harvest in over a decade
after good rain, but much of the rest of the region also faces shortages
after late-season droughts destroyed much of the crop in Zambia, Malawi and
Mozambique, leaving South Africa the only regional source for
Some traders say the rest of southern Africa may need as much as
1.5 million tonnes of South African maize to stave off starvation in a
region where the HIV/Aids pandemic has left many weakened and unable to
farm. Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and the kingdoms of Swaziland and Lesotho
can either buy the food themselves or ask for food aid, but no one knows how
Zimbabwe will meet its shortfall. - Reuters
Harare - A judge acquitted two British journalists Friday
of overstaying their visas and ordered them deported following their arrest
while covering Zimbabwe's disputed March 31 parliamentary elections. On
Thursday, Sunday Telegraph reporters Toby Harnden and Julian Simmonds were
acquitted of the more serious charge of working as journalists without
accreditation, an offense that carries a two-year prison term.
entered Zimbabwe on March 20 from Zambia and were given seven-day tourist
visas. In his ruling Friday, Magistrate Never Diza said it was unclear
whether Mr. Harnden and Mr. Simmonds were told when their visas expired, as
no date was marked in their passports.
"The accused will get the benefit
of the doubt," he said.
Mr. Harnden said they were looking forward to
returning to Britain and seeing their families and "getting on with their
"We feel very pleased that justice was done in the court today,"
he said in a telephone interview. "We have been declared 'prohibited
persons' and we are going to get on the first possible flight out of the
President Robert Mugabe's government had held Mr. Harnden, 35,
and Mr. Simmonds, 45, in jail until Wednesday under a special order
prohibiting their release on bail. They were held first in police cells,
then at a Harare prison.
Zimbabwe's Media Commission accredited more
than 200 foreign-based journalists to cover the elections but said it
refused 50 others because they or their news organizations were said to be
hostile to Mr. Mugabe's government.
A Swedish journalist who took
time out from covering the election to investigate the effects of Mr.
Mugabe's seizure of 5,000 white-owned farms lost his accreditation and was
Mugabe Reshuffles Cabinet After Disputed Election Fri Apr 15,
2005 04:10 PM ET
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on
Friday reshuffled his cabinet in the wake of last month's disputed
parliamentary election, putting a couple new faces into key posts but
retaining most of the old guard. Mugabe appointed former ambassador to
Britain Simbarashe Mumbengegwi as foreign minister, while the key post of
information minister went to Tichaona Jokonya, a former ambassador to the
United Nations and most recently chief executive of Zimbabwe's state tourism
Acting Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa, who has helped slow the
country's economic slide since taking up the job last year, was allowed to
keep his portfolio.
Former Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa,
once seen as Mugabe's preferred successor but sidelined in a ruling party
power struggle late last year, was given a relatively low-profile job as
minister for rural housing and social amenities.
Mugabe, 81, in power
since independence from Britain in 1980, has been battling a severe
political and economic crisis over the last five years which many critics
blame on his policies. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party swept 78 seats of the 120
seats contested in the March 31 elections while the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) won just 41 seats -- 16 down on its 2000
One seat went to an independent candidate, former
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo.
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.
The MDC has charged ZANU-PF
with widespread electoral fraud, allegations that are backed by major
Western governments but dismissed by most African observer missions who gave
the poll high marks.
Only a Few Can Afford Life-prolonging AIDS Drugs Eunice
HARARE, Apr 15 (IPS) - Emily Muronda, 55, spent seven months
in hospital in 2003. She had been down with AIDS-related complications,
which saw her in and out of the hospital, that year. Muronda's ailments
included tuberculosis, severe vaginal thrush and pneumonia.
doctor's advice, Muronda, a widow, had her CD4 counted to measure the
strength of her immune system. As her doctor had expected, her count was a
mere 52. Because her count was less than 200 she was immediately put on
life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs).
''To many people,
including my own relatives, I am a moving ghost. I look at myself in the
mirror every morning and I do not believe my eyes. I am here today because
of ARVs,'' she said, delightfully.
Muronda is among thousands of
Zimbabweans who can afford private medical insurance. For a minimal charge,
a person living with HIV can access ARVs through schemes organised by his or
CIMAS insurance, one of the pioneer medical aid schemes, to
make ARVs locally accessible, charges less than a dollar for its members
seeking to access ARVs. The drugs cost between 24 dollars and 57 dollars for
generics and the price is higher for branded versions.
a seasonal worker at a tobacco firm in Zimbabwe's capital Harare, has
developed AIDS. His family continues to watch his health deteriorate with
each day that passes. ''The best we can do is pray that the pain eases. We
have been to hospital and they discharged him without any medicine,'' said
his wife Molly, who is also living with HIV. ''We heard that some people are
being given AIDS drugs. But when we asked at Harare Central Hospital we were
told they are no longer signing on new people.''
Dumba's story reflects
the plight of the majority of Zimbabweans whose government has publicly
admitted that the country's health delivery system has collapsed. The
government has appealed to the private sector to assist people living with
Half of the 12,000 Zimbabweans on ARVs are doing so through the
private sector, while the rest are on the public scheme introduced three
Due to the continued deterioration of Zimbabwe's economy, most
people have had to sign off medical insurance. Medical insurance charges
range from just below 16 dollars for a basic cover to almost 161 dollars for
the top of the range cover per person per month.
The majority of
workers, especially those absorbed by the informal sector, cannot afford
''The government is most grateful to the private
sector initiative of making ARVs accessible to our people,'' Dr. Owen
Mugurungi, head of the AIDS and TB programme at the ministry of health and
child welfare, told IPS.
Under the public initiative, Mugurungi said a
person is put on ARVs if his or her CD4 count is less than 200 or is showing
clinical signs, such as meningitis, of having developed AIDS.
private laboratory charges almost 161 dollars to have a CD4 count check,
making it inaccessible to the majority of the people who need the
''This alone is very prohibitive and we call on the government
to do something about it if at all they are serious about rolling out ARVs
to all that need them,'' said Jonathan Musiiwa, a counselor with The Centre,
a hospice for people living with HIV and AIDS.
Despite the low
statistics of Zimbabweans on ARVs, Mugurungi is encouraged by the progress
the government has made in making the drugs available to the ordinary
''We moved from a figure of 2,000 last year to the present
12,000 on ARVs although half of this figure are people on the private sector
scheme,'' he said. ''Our problems gave us an opportunity to be more focused
and support national issues. Not many countries, even those receiving
foreign grants, can achieve what we have achieved with very little
Zimbabwe, considered by Britain and the United States as a
''rogue'' state, has not received any donor support, including from the
Global Fund Initiative. The Fund told IPS at the World AIDS Conference in
the Thai capital Bangkok last July that the political context in which
Zimbabwe finds itself made the country ineligible to receive the funds, a
position which outraged human rights campaigners in and outside Zimbabwe.
Ironically, the theme for the Bangkok conference was 'Access for
Mugurungi said all Zimbabwe's urban hospitals were now in a
position to dispense ARVs and that work was in progress to bring the more
than 50 district hospitals to the same level.
The massive brain drain
of nurses and doctors, said Mugurungi, had also had an impact on the ARV
''ARVs are no ordinary drugs. They need to be dispensed by
trained personnel and currently this is where our focus is. We will not have
any nurse dish out these drugs,'' he said.
Mugurungi is delighted by
Zimbabwe's progress. ''I am proud to say we have one of the most sustainable
ARV rollout programmes in the region, simply because we are financing the
initiative with local funds. We do not have the problem of planning beyond
the grant like most countries.''
Except South Africa, most of the
countries in the 13-member Southern African Development Community (SADC)
such as Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Lesotho supplement their
national budgets with donor funding to purchase ARVs.
support to the ARV public sector roll out plan comes from the national
budget and the National AIDS Trust Fund, set up with resources from a
statutory five percent levy on the workers' tax.
a consultant on HIV and AIDS with Oxfam-America, an international charity,
called for improved health delivery service to levels where it can absorb
the stress imposed by HIV and AIDS. ''Otherwise we may as well not talk
about ARVs roll out,'' she said.
She said the 3 x 5 WHO target, three
million people on ARVs in Africa by 2005, would remain a dream if the health
aspects of the HIV and AIDS epidemic were not given attention. ''The piece
meal approach will not work. This is why we have been defeated by HIV and
AIDS. Most of the time we are not looking at the total picture,'' she said,
referring the difficulties of attaining the UN World Health Organisation's
(WHO's) 3x5 target.
Marian Gotha, HIV/AIDS programme officer at
Oxfam-America, said: ''There is a lot of talk of ARVs in the media and I am
afraid this debate has not filtered to the ordinary people in the
''There is also need to intensify training to all levels of
health workers because we do not want a situation where people come from the
cities with ARVs and the health authorities at the rural health point do not
know how to administer them. The other challenge is to strengthen food
security. We cannot pump ARVs into empty stomachs,'' she told IPS in an
Faith Phiri, a vendor at a flea market in Harare, told IPS:
''What we know is that there is no cure for AIDS and that is why hospitals
send people with AIDS to die at home. If there is medicine that can help
people with HIV, I am sure then it goes to the rich people
Ignorance about ARVs is widespread in Zimbabwe, even among the
elite. ''I don't know about a government initiative to make ARVs accessible.
I know that medical aid societies have programmes on ARVs but again I don't
know how someone can sign on. I think it is the responsibility of employers
to ensure that their workers have access to such information. People are
dying like flies in the banking sector,'' Ralph Muduku, a bank teller in
Harare, told IPS. (END/2005)
A royal mess By Tom de Castella Published: April 15
2005 18:25 | Last updated: April 15 2005 18:25
At what point do
journalists working in the shadow of a repressive regime give up? There will
be a few people asking themselves that question in today's Zimbabwe. Another
rigged victory for Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party - this time by a landslide
that gives him the power to change the constitution and select his successor
as president - is disastrous for most Zimbabweans. For objective journalism
it is a catastrophe.
If things were not depressing enough, last week
came the state media's triumphalist coverage of Mugabe's appearance at the
Pope's funeral - and that handshake. Just at a time when the independent
press had the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on the ropes over the
discrepancy between turnout and party results, Prince Charles changed the
news agenda with an absent-minded squeeze of tyrannical flesh.
future is bleak, then. But that has been the case for some time -over the
past 18 months more than 70 journalists have been arrested and four
newspapers forced to close. Many foreign correspondents have been deported,
and at the time of going to press, two Sunday Telegraph journalists were on
trial for entering Zimbabwe without accreditation and overstaying their
visas. They could be jailed for two years.
Welshman Ncube, a
constitutional lawyer and secretary-general of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), says Mugabe has been clever with the media. Just as
he has allowed parts of the judiciary to remain independent, preserving a
semblance of legitimacy, he has tolerated a degree of dissent from the
press. "You can have your weeklies - the Independent and the Standard -
because they are not seen as influencing the mass of the people," Ncube
says. "But an independent media in the sense of mass circulation daily
papers? Forget it, it's not possible as long as this dictatorship's in
Mugabe's media manipulation reached its apogee in the hands of
former information minister Professor Jonathan Moyo. "Prof" is hated by
journalists for his ruthless remoulding of the media, and mocked for his
comical tirades on state television. In January he was sacked after he
angered Mugabe by secretly plotting against Zanu-PF's old guard. But the
structures and laws he put in place live on: above all, the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which requires newspapers
to be licensed and every journalist to be accredited. It also bans the
publication of "falsehoods", which includes news that is "prejudicial
against the state". It was AIPPA that finished off the Daily News, a
newspaper that had become a morning fixture for young, urban
In most countries the idea that one newspaper can determine
a nation's fate would be melodramatic and unwelcome. But in Zimbabwe this
idea was plausible and hopeful. The Daily News launched in March 1999 and
was soon selling more than 100,000 copies a day, far more than any other
paper, and two or three times that of the state's flagship, The Herald. Five
years later it was shut down by the government. Since then, most of the 167
journalists have left the country or turned freelance. Only a skeleton
online service survives. The Daily News arrived in the same year the MDC was
set up and the fortunes of the two have been closely linked. Without a daily
paper willing to give it space, the MDC will always struggle to get its
message across. It did succeed in mobilising people during the election
campaign but in between polls it struggles to remain visible and fight off
Zanu-PF's crude misinformation machine.
Propaganda is everywhere in
the state media and can sound bizarre to foreigners, such as the Sunday
News' headline "Zanu PF tsunami buries MDC". An analysis piece in December's
Herald shows the nature of political coverage: "The MDC used the resentment
against the escalating prices and shortages of basic commodities as its
launch pad. It was thus couched in violence and went on to base its whole
campaign on the transient politics of the stomach, the strategy being
economic sabotage to ensure the continuation of protest votes."
chilling phrase - "the transient politics of the stomach" - in a country
where thousands are starving because of Mugabe's fast-track land
resettlement programme, says it all. Meanwhile, television schedules are
interspersed with scenes of happy peasants hoeing fields in time to
traditional music with lyrics written by government ministers.
this war on truth, the journalists of the independent press must man the
trenches. Vincent Kahiya, editor of the weekly Independent, was arrested
twice last year, the first time for a story about Mugabe's holiday to
Malaysia. He and his colleagues were jailed for two nights in a cell with 30
others, a blocked toilet, no blankets and no room to sleep. In January,
after a year of uncertainty and numerous court visits, they were taken off
remand as the state had failed to produce a case. Kahiya says arrest,
imprisonment and legal harassment, rather than prosecution, are the
government's tools. "All independent journalists have had to become
paralegals," he says. Many others say this results in
There is hope. Last month a court ordered the
government's media commission to license the Daily News to start publishing
again. Whether the commission honours this, and whether the paper can repeat
its past heroics with a staff of fewer than 30 journalists, remains to be
seen. The miracle is that despite everything Mugabe's regime has done,
Zimbabwe's independent journalists show no signs of giving up.
sends out warnings over Marburg HARARE, April 15 (AFP) - Zimbabwe is urging
public hospitals and border officials to take "appropriate measures"
following the outbreak of the deadly Ebola-like Marburg virus that has
claimed more than 200 lives in Angola, an official said Friday.
have alerted our institutions in all the provinces that they should take
appropriate measures so that we avoid having the virus in the country,"
Health Ministry spokesman Bright Mpofu told AFP.
"We have advised
officials to tighten the screening process at all entry points so that
suspected cases are quarantined and we are now in the process of alerting
the public through various media."
Mpofu appealed to all Zimbabweans be
vigilant in the face of the threat posed by the deadly virus.
not the responsibility of the government alone to protect our citizens," he
said. "It is everyone's responsibility."
Zimbabwe has not recorded any
case of the deadly virus.
The Marburg virus, whose exact origin is
unknown and for which there is no cure, spreads through contact with bodily
fluids such as blood, excrement, vomit, saliva, sweat and tears, but can be
contained with relatively simple hygenic precautions, according to
The oubreak in Angola has overtaken an earlier outbreak in the
Democratic Republic of Congo as the largest ever recorded of the virus,
first detected in 1967 when German laboratory workers in Marburg, were
infected by monkeys from Uganda.
Dictators always ensure that what follows their
rule will be worse. After Mugabe dies, South Africa will have anarchy and
warlordism on its border, writes Lindsey Hilsum
The elections in
Zimbabwe were like a bad film sequel. The plot was predictable and the
characters repeated what they'd said in part one, so we shuffled out of the
cinema before the end. Violence makes good TV, unlike arithmetic, and the
Zimbabwean government knew that the media would lose interest if the
argument came down to number-crunching when the poll was over - which is why
it is worth re-examining the concluding scene. By the time Robert Mugabe was
playing his bit part in the Pope's funeral, the final polling figures for
the 120 contested parliamentary seats had been announced. The opposition MDC
won just 41 - a loss of 16 - while Mugabe's Zanu PF party had 78, up from
its previous 63. Add on the 30 MPs that the president appoints, and Zanu PF
has an unassailable two-thirds majority.
So how did the party do it?
Before the election, the opposition complained that the voters' register was
inflated with as many as two million "ghost voters". The "ghosts", it seems,
voted in the period between the point at which the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission announced the number of votes cast in a particular constituency,
and the moment the same commission declared the result. For example, in
Manyame constituency, just outside Harare, the commission first announced
that 14,812 people had voted. The MDC candidate won 8,312 votes, which
should have made her the winner. But at the end of the day, the number of
votes cast suddenly rocketed to 24,303. A majority of the 9,491 extra votes
went to the Zanu PF candidate (who happened to be President Mugabe's
nephew). So he won, after all. A similar pattern was repeated in 29 other
constituencies. The electoral commission chairman, George Chiweshe (a
retired colonel), denied any rigging, saying that the initial totals given
for votes cast were merely "updates from people on the ground which had not
been verified". After the discrepancy was noted, it took him a week to come
up with this explanation.
On election day, I watched as voters
patiently queued at polling stations in the farming lands of Marondera East.
The following day, it was announced that the defence minister, Sydney
Sekeramayi, who won the seat by only 38 votes in the 2000 elections, had
increased his majority to 9,126. Again, the number of voters shot up from
the 25,193 initially announced, to 29,935. A South African election monitor
told us that he had been ejected from a local polling station, and had to
fight his way back in. None the less, the South African government endorsed
the election, and observers from neighbouring African countries declared it
"peaceful, credible, well managed and transparent". Sources close to the
South African government say Mugabe agreed to limit violence on the
understanding that the election would be deemed sufficiently free and fair.
The EU and the US, both relying on resident diplomats, said it was rigged -
but so what? Sanctions and travel bans have angered Mugabe, but they haven't
made him change his policies.
What will happen now? Nothing. The
opposition's 39 legal challenges to the 2000 parliamentary results languish
in court; none has been resolved. This time the opposition leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, said it would not go "the legal route", but he has not indicated
any alternative, leaving the impression that he is weak and paralysed. The
country is not on the verge of an uprising: most Zimbabweans I met felt
powerless. "We have become a bantustan," wrote a friend in a despairing
e-mail. "South Africa panders to our leaders, and we provide them with cheap
labour." The reaction of President Thabo Mbeki provides an uneasy contrast
to President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria. When Togo's leader, Gnassingbe
Eyadema, died at the age of 69 in February, Obasanjo acted swiftly to
condemn an army-backed takeover by Eyadema's son. Sanctions were imposed,
arms twisted, and within three weeks he had stood down to make way for
Eventually Mugabe, who is 81, will also die. His chosen
successor appears to be Joyce Mujuru, a Zanu PF functionary whose main
distinction is being married to a guerrilla leader from the struggle against
white rule in the 1970s. It seems unlikely that she could retain the loyalty
of the ruling party, let alone reunite the country. Dictators always ensure
that what follows their rule is worse: "Apres moi le deluge." Mbeki says -
with some justification - that it is ridiculous for the outside world to
care so much about Zimbabwe and not about the Democratic Republic of Congo,
where more than two million have died in a decade of civil war. But after
Mugabe, dissent among the Zimbabwean armed forces could turn to anarchy, and
factional rivalry to warlordism. Today, it's an argument over numbers, but
tomorrow Mbeki may have a much bigger problem on his border.
When you're up against a
total onslaught, you need fighter jets
By John Scott
why do you need fighter jets?" I asked Solly Malinga, who is usually willing
to give me the inside story on events in Zimbabwe, because I always report
him faithfully. That country has just taken delivery of six K-8 fighter-jet
training aircraft from China, each costing about $20 million, with another
six to come. President Mugabe says they will prepare pilots for war. "You
heard what our president said," said Solly. "We have enemies on all sides.
If they try anything, we'll bomb them to smithereens." "Such as whom?" "The
British imperialists for a start. Now that we have beaten them in the
election, they may want to invade Zimbabwe, re-colonise us and give the
whites back their land. The RAF should know that we will be waiting for
them, once we have trained our pilots. They mustn't think we'll welcome them
with open arms, just because our president shook Prince Charles's hand.
We're ready for Bush, too. We won't be a walk-over like
"It's highly unlikely that the Brits will want whip up the
winds of change again, Solly. They were so relieved to get rid of Zimbabwe
in the first place that Maggie Thatcher gave you some Hawk fighters, in case
you needed to defend yourself against somebody. As for Bush, you're quite
safe. You haven't got any oil he might be interested in, not even in some of
your service stations." "Then there are the remaining 20 000 whites who
still haven't learnt their lesson and think they can go on living in
Zimbabwe," said Solly. "We have to wage what our president calls the
Chimurenga or freedom war against them." "Not with fighter aircraft,
surely?" "If you want to see people get off the land in double-quick time,
just do a couple of strafing runs," said Solly. "It will finally get rid of
"Still, it seems a lot of money to spend on arms
when millions of your people are starving." "At least they will die
grateful, because they are free," said Solly. "Which reminds me, that's
another thing we need the jets for, to stop refugees returning. We don't
want people back who left simply because they were hungry. Cosatu will also
think twice before trying to cross the border again, to see what's
happening. They'll be dive-bombed, that's what will be happening." "I didn't
realise your fighter jets would be so busy," I said. "That's not the end of
it," said Solly. "Morgan Tsvangirai, Archbishop Pius Ncube and their mob are
talking of a mass people's uprising against the government. Well, we've got
news for them, in the shape of six shiny little babies warming up their
engines on the runway." "Surely not," I said. "When you're up against a
total onslaught, you must be prepared to take extreme measures," said Solly.
"PW Botha taught us that."
advertisementA quarter of a century after independence, the Chimurenga -- or
freedom struggle -- is still part of Zimbabwean life.
President Robert Mugabe continues to make use of this heroic period in the
young country's history to lend legitimacy to his rule.
pictures of those days are ever-present on the state-run television
broadcaster. Zimbabwe celebrates 25 years of independence on April 18 -- and
on that date Mugabe marks 25 years as the most powerful man in the
Then Mugabe was a hero of the freedom struggle, a
founding father on whom the hopes of the world for reconciliation between
black and white rested.
The old regime dominated by Ian
Smith for decades handed power back to Britain formally for a brief period.
The subsequent lowering of the Union Jack in Harare was intended to
symbolise the end of the colonial era.
Zimbabwe was a model,
achieving the highest economic growth rate and the highest level of
education in Africa under Mugabe in his early years.
quarter of a century later, the country is a mere shadow of its former self
-- "an outpost of tyranny" as United States Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice has called it.
Zimbabwe has been run into the ground,
last year suffering an inflation rate of 600% and an unemployment rate that
estimates put at 80%.
The change in the country's affairs
came with the new millennium. In 2000 a credible opposition began to contest
The president used the tried and tested
methods to fight it off.
The white farmers were targeted to
distract attention from a costly military adventure in the Democratic
Republic of Congo and faltering land reform.
driven about 4 000 white landowners from their land, handing their
productive farms to people within his own circle and party
The consequences have been catastrophic. The
nation, justifiably proud of the educational standards it had achieved, was
forced to watch as its most competent people abandoned the country in
Where once Zimbabwe exported food to neighbouring
countries, the shortages of essentials are now an everyday
The days when Zimbabwe's constitution was seen as a
model for the continent are gone. Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has found ways to
make any utterances against the regime extremely
The corrupt and violent government keeps itself in
power through terror and intimidation. Since its victory in the April
elections, which were overshadowed by allegations of fraud, Zanu-PF is in
With its majority now above two-thirds, the
party can change the Constitution at will.
disillusioned and lethargic majority of the population has long since tired
of Mugabe's rhetoric about a new Chimurenga.
poorer than they were at independence. Average life expectancy has crashed
by 20 years down to 33, but the president continues strong at
Many are hoping that nature will take its course. Others
point to an alleged power struggle within the party that could open the way
for a credible opposition.
Even if this happens,
Zimbabweans will have to be patient. South African economists believe 10
years will be needed to restore the crisis-ridden country to some kind of
normality. - Sapa-DPA
INDEPENDENCE Day, next
Monday, ought to be celebrated with little of the extravagance or
extravaganza of ten or even 15 years ago. There is an incurable tendency
among politicians in Zanu PF to pretend that everything is going smoothly
while the reality is that the country is a veritable rut.
example is the performance of the economy, if it is still valid to measure
this by the strength of a country's currency against the major currencies of
the world. As of this week, you could buy Z$15 000 with one US dollar. If Dr
Gideon Gono insists that this indicates how successfully his turnaround
programme is performing, then we should all feel sorry for the
In fact, evidence is slowly mounting that even
President Robert Mugabe may be labouring under the misapprehension that the
people in general are as ecstatic with his rule as the alleged Zanu PF
victory of the 31 March election seems to have indicated.
He must have heard the joke about the death of the Pope, God and himself,
not to mention the joke about him canvassing to succeed John Paul II by
donating computers to the Vatican. A president who is loved and respected by
his people does not easily become the butt of such dirty jokes.
He must know that more people in Zimbabwe believe the 31 March election was
rigged than believe it was totally free and fair.
believe they are not getting as much from independence as they expected 25
years ago. There are fewer jobs, fewer chances of educational advancement,
fewer chances of obtaining first-class health delivery service, fewer
chances of obtaining housing at an affordable price and even fewer chances
of buying food at an affordable price.
That the people voted
for Zanu PF on the basis that they wanted to "fix" Tony Blair is turning to
be so much fiction. Even President Thabo Mbeki has now said his government
is "investigating" reports that the elections were indeed
Most of this is going to be an embarrassment to Mugabe,
who is saddled with so many sycophants that there is no guarantee anybody is
telling him the truth. Yet even he, experienced politician that he is, ought
to be aware that it would be incredible for his party to win so
overwhelmingly strictly on the basis of its shoddy performance in the last
Independence celebrations cannot be lavish, for
this would be another act of self-delusion.
WASHINGTON -- With
parliamentary elections over in Zimbabwe, a senior International Monetary
Fund (IMF) official said yesterday it was time for the government to pay
ttention to repairing its economy.
President Robert Mugabe's
ruling Zanu PF party scored a massive victory at the March 31 poll, which
has been disputed by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Zimbabwe is about US$306 million in arrears to the IMF, which has stopped
lending to the government and is considering expelling it from its ranks at
a time when the country is struggling with its worst economic crisis since
independence in 1980.
"The authorities know they need to
implement one comprehensive programme that revives economic activity in
Zimbabwe. With the election over, now is the time to move in that
direction," Siddharth Tiwari, a deputy director in the IMF's Africa
department, said at a news conference before the start of the IMF and World
Bank spring meetings in Washington.
Donors and investors have
largely deserted the country due to the country's reform policy in which
white-owned farms were seized for distribution to the poor, concerns about
human rights abuses, a lack of rule of law and uncertainty about property
Gross domestic product tumbled between 2000 and 2003 as
agricultural, mining and manufacturing output fell, inflation soared to
around 600 percent and the country faced chronic shortages of food, fuel and
In February the IMF gave Zimbabwe six months to
increase its debt repayments and introduce policies to begin its economic
healing. The board acknowledged some steps the government had taken to turn
the economy around, but said it was not enough. Introducing structural
policies and improving the investment climate were key to revive the
economy, Tiwari said.
"From the commitments we have, they have
the desire to move in that direction," he added. Tiwari said donors would
likely not return to Zimbabwe until the government addressed its economic
"There are a lot of multilateral institutions and
bilateral countries willing to help, but (Zimbabwe) needs to move first," he
added. - Reuters
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has denied press reports that he had
found Zimbabwe's recent elections to be free and fair and said his
government will investigate new reports which detail serious
Mbeki told parliament on Thursday that his
government would study the reports from both Zimbabwe's main opposition
party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the independent Zimbabwe
Electoral Support Network. They would then address whatever issues are
He welcomed the MDC move to challenge the poll results
in the Electoral Court and said the South African government's final verdict
would depend on the outcome of the case.
Mbeki said he had
never suggested that there had been no violations of the Southern African
Development Community guidelines, but had said he knew of no actions that
were "planned" that would render the elections not free or
Answering a question from Democratic Alliance leader Tony
Leon during presidential question time, Mbeki indicated that in spite of a
declaration from cabinet on Wednesday that the election was a credible
expression of Zimbabweans' will, there was still space to find that the
election was not free or fair
Mbeki also said South
Africa's policy towards its beleaguered neighbour would remain unchanged.
"We have insisted for some time that the solution lies in the hands of
Zimbabweans and we will persist with that position," he
Observers said his replies revealed that Mbeki had
communicated closely with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai before and after the
1: SA - ZW - A LOST CASE?, received 13.4.2005
by Martin Fick
RE: EDDIE CROSS'S LETTER, (OLF 357)
Go for it! You are right,
no-one cares. The fact is people all think they do. Saying it straight helps
bring people to the crossroads and acknowledge their position.
the facts one cannot take a position on an issue at all, and actually
everyone can continue feeling cozy and self righteous when you don't know and
are not confronted with the facts. This is about facts. It is about being
aware of what is really happening.
Smell the roses indeed. Thats why a
message like this one by Eddie Cross needs to be heard, especially by South
Africans who maintain that it "Cannot happen here."
Zim was a
maginificent country, and whether people smell roses or cowdung, it's still a
sad situation. We have all lost something precious as a result.
"If you are kind, people will accuse you of selfish motives - be
kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win both false friends and
real enemies - succeed anyway. What you spend years building, someone
may destroy overnight - build anyway. The good you do today, most people
will forget - do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may
not be enough - Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between
you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."
I agee entirely with Gerry's sentiments and
share with you all a quote attributed to Brian Raftopoulos which appeared in
the Independent's Opinion, which is worth taking note of:
has to be learnt that politics is not out there for other people to engage
in; that if people retreat into their personal and family lives, and ignore
their loss of rights and liberties for long enough, then the realities of
such repressive encroachments will follow them into their particular
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