Sent: Friday, April 16, 2004 12:04 AM Subject: ZIMBABWE: EC aid to help
prevent "looming crisis"
ZIMBABWE: EC aid to help prevent ''looming
JOHANNESBURG, 15 April (IRIN) - Aid efforts in Zimbabwe this
week received a financial boost from the European Commission (EC) to the tune
of ?15 million (US $17.8 million).
The EC funds are expected to
support emergency food aid, bolster agricultural recovery and improve
delivery of social services. The money will also go towards providing
assistance to internally displaced people and strengthen humanitarian
"Over the past few years we have witnessed a
spectacular decline of living conditions for millions of Zimbabweans. By
working through professional and independent partners, ECHO [the EC's
humanitarian aid office] has been able to ensure that EU humanitarian aid
reaches vulnerable people in need. I urge the Zimbabwean authorities to
continue to allow unfettered access for humanitarian organisations, so that
the further development of this looming crisis can be prevented," Poul
Nielson, EC commissioner for development and humanitarian said in a statement
The country's weakening economy was seen as one of the key
reasons for the near-total collapse of water, sanitation and other services
in Zimbabwe. Inflation stood at over 500 percent at the beginning of the
year, while over 60 percent of the labour force was out of work. An estimated
five million Zimbabweans are dependent on food aid.
The EC highlighted
the soaring levels of HIV infections, noting that during 2003 an average of
2,600 adults and 690 children per week died of AIDS-related illnesses.
"Forgotten" diseases like cholera and dysentery had also started showing
Assistance would focus on key sectors most affected
by declining economic conditions, namely food security and health, water and
sanitation, the EC said. The funds would also support food distribution to
children in schools, and supplementary and therapeutic feeding for people
suffering from malnutrition.
Local farmers will be given seeds, tools
and fertilisers to enable them to continue producing food, while assistance
will be provided to help repair small crop irrigation systems, with
vaccinations and other veterinary care for livestock, the EC
Water and sanitation systems in rural communities are to be
rehabilitated, and new water points constructed.
The aid is also
expected to assist ex-commercial farm workers. According to the EC, farm
acquisitions under the government's land reform programme deprived about 15
percent of the population, who were previously employed on commercial farms,
of a regular income.
"These former farm workers have no access to
communal land, and many have left their region in search of work. These
internally displaced people will be specifically targeted through food aid
and access to health services, water and sanitation sectors," said the
An estimated 1 million children, 500,000 farming households (about
2.5 million people), and 150,000 orphans are expected to benefit from the
Stockbroking firms under threat Dumisani
Muleya STOCKBROKING firms are complaining about "exorbitant" stamp duty and
bank charges levied on the deals they conduct on the stock market.
firms, which buy and sell shares on behalf of clients, say the charges have
remained high while business was plunging due to the equities
market's bearish performance.
A veteran stockbroker yesterday
warned that if the situation remains unchecked a number of companies could
"The situation is really bad because government is
deducting stamp duty which is effectively 4% while banks are effectively
charging us 1%," the stockbroker said.
"The problem is that stamp
duty has to be paid the following day after the transaction and this forces
us to borrow money for a couple of days to pay that. In the process we have
to pay huge sums in interest accrued on the principal
Another stockbroker said government was "killing the goose that
lays the golden egg" through "extortionate taxes".
"The stamp duty
is really disproportionate compared with the amount of business we do these
days," the broker said. "Charges have to take into account the turnover and
amount of business. Right now we have business going down while charges
remain constant and the result is dramatically diminishing returns for
A source said one stockbroker on Wednesday bought 800 000
Meikles shares for a client at $2 000 each in a $1,6 billion deal. The buyer
paid $1,6 billion and the seller $1,5 billion.
The stamp duty paid
in total was $64 million, while the brokerage fee was $16 million. The broker
had to borrow the $64 million which had to be paid to government yesterday
and the interest over six days would be $3,8 million. The total charges,
which include stamp duty, bank charges, and interest repayments, would wipe
out the brokerage fees, the broker said.
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange chief
executive Emmanuel Munyuki said broking firms were being hurt by the charges
levied on them.
"It's true their operations are being affected but we
are working with the Ministry of Finance to resolve the issue," Munyuki said.
"It has taken too long but we hope it will be addressed soon."
Govt wildlife record slammed Munyaradzi
Wasosa GOVERNMENT has been criticised for its laissez faire environmental
policy which has resulted in widespread poaching and deforestation
on newly-resettled farms, the Zimbabwe Independent established this
The Zimbabwe Conservation and Development Foundation (ZCDF), a
newly-formed non-governmental organisation, said widespread poaching and
deforestation on newly-acquired farms threatened the
In an interview with the Independent, ZCDF founder
member Dr John Fulton said government's wildlife policy was not conserving
flora or fauna.
The wildlife-based land reform programme is a government
document that seeks to declare all conservancies and ranches state land
administered by the Department of National Parks.
"We are deeply
concerned with the way the environment has been handled in the past few
years," Fulton said. "As a new organisation, our first step is to send
environmental recovery proposals to the government with like-minded NGOs and
He said the policy document was not treated with the
respect it deserved, yet it offered "an opportunity to negotiate with the
government over the future of conservancies and other wildlife-producing
The ZCDF said policy laxity during the land reform had led to
an erosion of the gains of the Communal Areas Management Programme for
Indigenous Resources (Campfire) in which rural communities benefited from
The foundation said it was willing to engage
the government in formulating serious environmental management
The ZCDF said rampant deforestation and poaching by newly
resettled people threatened the existence of conservancies and other
"While hunting is traditional, poaching has destroyed wildlife,
and government must show its willingness in effectively eradicating
poaching," the NGO said.
It said rural communities would be hard
"The foundation is very concerned about the resulting pressure
on the environment that has impacted on the rural communities who largely
depend on wildlife and natural resources," it said.
Fresh moves against Mudzuri Augustine
Mukaro GOVERNMENT is making frantic efforts to force suspended Harare
executive mayor Elias Mudzuri to resign his post so that fresh polls can be
held at the same time as the general election in March next year, the
Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.
Highly placed sources in
government said Local Government deputy minister Fortune Charumbira had been
tasked to convince Mudzuri that resigning would be the best way
"Cabinet has already resolved that Mudzuri must be fired and
he could be served with the dismissal letter anytime," sources
"The only stumbling blocks are the court cases that are still
pending. If he resigns the cases before the courts will automatically fall
away and government would have found the best way to sideline him without
justifying its actions in court."
The sources said Charumbira made
the overtures two weeks ago when he invited Mudzuri to his office. Mudzuri
was reportedly spotted entering Charumbira's office and leaving 30 minutes
Attempts to lure Mudzuri to quit come at a time when three
Harare councillors have resigned from the opposition MDC. The MDC alleges
the councillors were paid millions of dollars by Zanu PF as bribes for them
to resign from the opposition.
Contacted for comment Mudzuri said
he could not discuss his meeting with Charumbira.
"The meeting was
a private one so I can't give you details," Mudzuri said.
set the record straight, I am not considering resigning until the people who
elected me ask me to do so. Above all I am prepared for a public hearing
anytime as long as government avails the necessary documents for my
Mudzuri conceded that council service delivery has reached
record low levels but blamed Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo for
interference in the running of the city.
"Chombo is stopping
councillors from holding meetings at which they should make decisions on how
service delivery could be improved," he said.
Medical aid society owes Zimpapers $20
million Staff Writer ROYAL Medical Aid Society (RMAS) is having difficulty
servicing its six-month old $20 million debt with the state-controlled
Zimpapers, it emerged this week.
Zimpapers is planning to engage the
services of debt collectors in a bid to recover the money, the Zimbabwe
Independent has been informed.
Sources close to Zimpapers said efforts to
negotiate with the medical aid society were not working.
stems in part from the RMAS's soccer adverts for the Zimbabwe Warriors'
participation in the Africa cup of nations tournament held in Tunisia in
January and for the 2003 footballer of the year competition. The Sunday Mail
carried the adverts from early October to December last year.
said Zimpapers was considering hiring debt collectors to recover their
Documents in the Independent's possession show that RMAS owes
Zimpapers $20 587 582. The medical aid society's last payment to the
newspaper group was $1 834 148 in mid-October last year.
Zimpapers source said the group stopped carrying adverts for the medical aid
society in December when it failed to pay.
"We stopped advertising
for RMAS in December when they defaulted on their payments, some of which
have been outstanding since October last year," the source
RMAS chief executive Innocent Gumbura refused to discuss the
debt with the Independent.
"Are you sure you can ask me that?" he
retorted. "I am sorry I cannot talk to you about what you are
The Independent spoke to the newspaper group's finance
manager, Munyaradzi Ndoro, who confirmed the RMAS debt, but refused to give
"We could have given you the information, but we signed a
contract of confidentiality with them (RMAS), so our hands are tied," he
grateful to have Beatrice Mtetwa's views on the erosion of Zimbabwe's legal
system which we published last week. Beatrice is a prominent local attorney
who last year won the Human Rights Lawyer of the Year award presented by the
Law Society of England and Wales together with other legal groups.
was also last year the victim of a police assault about which she has filed a
complaint. She had been seeking their assistance at the time over a vehicle
In her article last week Beatrice drew attention
to changes in court procedures and the concerns people have over obtaining a
fair trial in the totalitarian state that has been so assiduously established
in Zimbabwe since the government's electoral setbacks in 2000. She pointed
out that threats against the judiciary in the state media were likely to have
- indeed are designed to have - a chilling effect on judicial practice.
Judges and magistrates may be reluctant to find against the state if they
were likely to be abused in the government press, she
Somebody who has been following threats made against the
judiciary in this country is Dato Param Cumaraswamy, until recently United
Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and the Judiciary.
Giving the opening address at the Second World Bar Conference of the Forum
for Barristers and Advocates held in Cape Town this week, he referred to
human rights abuses currently marring Zimbabwe's international
"Today the continued deterioration of the rule of law and human
rights protection in Zimbabwe are matters of grave concern," he said. "Not
just the well-being of its own citizens, but the developments there must be
seen as a threat to the rule of law for all Africa."
said when the executive organ of a state refused to comply or defied orders
of the judicial organ there was no hope for the rule of law.
are some 20 000 legal practitioners across the globe affiliated to the forum.
In addition to threats against judges, Cumaraswamy and his colleagues have
been concerned with assaults on lawyers representing clients. The case of
Gabriel Shumba who recently gave evidence to a US Congressional sub-committee
on his treatment at the hands of Zimbabwean law enforcement agents has
received widespread attention. So has the experience of Gugulethu Moyo at the
Glen View police station.
Also likely to be subjected to professional
scrutiny is the case of three MDC activists accused of kidnapping and
murdering war veterans leader Cain Nkala. High Court judge Justice Sandra
Mungwira ruled that state evidence against the three, including
warned-and-cautioned statements and video tape indications, was inadmissible.
The men said their confessions had been obtained by torture and other forms
of duress. The police said the three had confessed to the murder without any
undue influence. But Justice Mungwira found the police evidence and accounts
of their handling of the suspects "fraught with conflict and
She said the state witnesses conducted themselves
in "a shameless fashion and displayed utter contempt for the due
administration of justice". The police investigations diary, she said, could
only be described as "an appalling work of fiction".
of Nkala's remains in November 2001 led to an unprecedented campaign of
calumny and vilification against the MDC in the state media as the ruling
party tried to portray it as a violent terrorist organisation.
Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe has described the episode as one of the
most shameful in Zimbabwe's media history.
"Every vestige of ethical
journalistic practice was cast aside," MMPZ said, "as the ruling party
encouraged the state media to incite a frenzy of anger and hatred against the
This resulted in Zanu PF supporters attacking MDC members and
destroying property in Bulawayo and Kadoma. It came just four months ahead of
the presidential poll.
Speaking at Nkala's funeral, President
Mugabe was reported as saying: "Cde Nkala's brutal murder was a bloody
outcome of an orchestrated, much wider and carefully planned terrorist plot
by internal and external enemies with plenty of funding from some commercial
farmers and organisations.These sponsor forces of destruction in the
Mugabe then named MDC personalities branding them Selous
The question that now remains is who killed Nkala? Why does that
remain, together with the bombing of the Daily News offices, one of the
great unsolved crimes of recent times?
Quite clearly in the Nkala
case there was a concerted effort to find MDC activists guilty well before
investigations had been completed. What remains to be seen is how the police
investigations diary came to contain what the judge called "works of
fiction". Presumably Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, who was this week
telling his Botswana counterparts that their laws violate human rights, has
launched an investigation into all the circumstances surrounding police
handling of the Nkala case including their treatment of those
We can't have a situation in which we lecture neighbouring
countries on human rights abuses while ignoring those on our own doorstep.
The Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation and
local structures of Interpol should be documenting all reports of
Meanwhile, we need lawyers like Beatrice Mtetwa and members of
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to keep the country alert to threats to
the judicial process so the state doesn't proceed with impunity to erode
those few liberties we have left, of which the courts remain the
South Africans went to the polls this week 10 years after the demise
of apartheid, the contrast between political cultures on either side of
the Limpopo could not be more stark.
Zimbabwe "celebrates" its
Independence on Sunday amidst record contractions of the economy, growing
unemployment, and deepening levels of poverty. It has one of the fastest
shrinking economies in the world and, according to the Minister of Finance,
the highest rate of inflation.
The International Monetary Fund at the
conclusion of their recent visit said real GDP had declined by 30% and
inflation had doubled in each of the last three years to reach 600% at the
end of 2003.
This, the team said, had dire social consequences.
Unemployment is rising, poverty has doubled since 1995, school enrollment
declined to 65% in 2003, and HIV/Aids has gone largely unchecked.
health and education were the two areas where government could boast
of significant achievements since 1980, the IMF's findings that Zimbabwe
has regressed in recent years are timely.
The facts speak for
themselves. Zimbabweans are today worse off than they were in the mid-1970s
at the height of the liberation war. And the cause of their plight is a
regime which forbids dissent and punishes critics.
While South Africans
were exercising their right to vote - and being encouraged by their leaders
to do so - our leaders have been assiduously whittling down rights and
discouraging people from casting their votes for any party other than their
own. South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission has been ensuring voters
have access to polling stations across the country. SABC has been slammed by
a wide cross-section of stakeholders for allowing President Mbeki to use the
state broadcaster to fire the opening salvo of his election campaign two
months ago. However, throughout the campaign Mbeki has been careful to
underline his party's achievements instead of attacking the opposition. And
SABC has opened its airwaves to a variety of candidates.
have been inci-dents of violence in KwaZulu/Natal, this has been largely a
peaceful and orderly election.
Here, by contrast, in the last
presidential poll the number of polling stations was reduced in areas of
opposition support such as Harare. The Electoral Supervisory Commission is
answerable to President Mugabe. ZBC is nothing more than a crude propaganda
instrument of the ruling party. And the country's leaders use the most
inciteful and abusive language when decampaigning the opposition including
the suggestion that it has no right to function because of colonial links
conveniently invented by its accusers.
It is a profoundly anti-democratic
message backed up by brute force in many instances. As a result Zimbabwe is a
deeply fractured country where the democratic majority are thwarted in
expressing their views and where powerful politicians communicate a message
of intolerance and menace.
Whatever criticisms we may have had of
President Mbeki in recent years, his sense of a South African national
identity and shared rights are in marked contrast to the narrow exclusivist
nationalism practised this side of the Limpopo. Furthermore South Africa's
courts have provided examples of judicial activism in upholding rights and
defending democracy at a time when Zimbabwean jurists exhibiting even the
smallest sign of independence are subject to threats.
in 1980 Zimbabwe's government, equipped with a democratic mandate, addressed
colonial anomalies with vigour and enjoyed wide respect on the international
stage. Today the country is isolated and friendless. With the exception of a
handful of countries which are diminishing in number every year, Zimbabwe's
rulers have sacrificed the goodwill they once enjoyed by imposing a brutal
tyranny upon their people and impoverishing them in the process.
claim that land reforms have incited Western hostility is only true in so far
as those "reforms" have been racist, violent, lawless and catastrophic to
A country that was for over 20 years
self-sufficient in food is today a beggar state dependent upon the generosity
of those it resentfully insults every day.
Zimbabwe is on the 24th
anniversary of its Independence more dependent on others than it has ever
been. It is a lesson in the consequences of misgovernance. Misrule and
national decline go hand in hand. That much will be evident to everybody on
Sunday. What use is sovereignty if it doesn't fill stomachs or meet basic
AS Zimbabwe completes its 24th year of Independence, and targets
towards the attainment of its first quarter-century, Zimbabweans will once
again be recipients of a state of the nation address, as occurs annually in
close proximity to Independence Day.
That address will undoubtedly
acknowledge that the economy is in a distressed state, and will ascribe that
condition to malevolent acts of Zimbabwe's enemies in general, and of Tony
Blair, George Bush, John Howard and Zimbabwe's minority white population (in
an alleged unity of purpose to destroy Zimbabwe, led by former commercial
farmers and exploitationist industrialists) in particular.
Zimbabweans will also be assured that transformation to a state of Utopia is
imminent, thanks to the deep-seated concern of the Zimbabwean government for
the wellbeing of Zimbabwe's people. That transformation will be a direct
result of the government's brilliantly executed programme of land
acquisition, redistribution and resettlement, and its constructive measures
to restore the economy as a whole to a state of good health.
It may be
apposite, therefore, that by way of contrast there be a review of the real
state of the nation, distinct from the imaginary one. That state is an
extremely sorry one. It is one where the economy is on a continuing decline,
albeit that the pace of that decline has been marginally reduced by some
constructive new monetary policies initiated by the governor of the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe, Dr Gideon Gono. As vigorously as he has sought to address
the appalling circumstances of the economy, he could not - and cannot -
reverse them. Although he is able to format monetary policies, he has limited
ability to effect fiscal policy reviews, for they be in the hand of the
President, the Cabinet and, in particular, the Ministry of Finance and
Economic Development. And he has no authority to achieve
required modification of politically-driven policies. As it is the impacts
of government's policies and its fiscal acts of omission and commission
that are the key contributants to the economic malaise, the governor's
policies can only have a minimal positive economic impact although he would
dearly wish to engineer an economic transformation.
Some of the
specifics that evidence that the economy is in a state of almost total
collapse, resulting in the state of the nation being one which is destitute
and derelict, include:
The foundation of the economy has always been
agriculture. No other economic sector has yielded as great a contribution to
Gross Domestic Product (GDP), generated as much foreign exchange, or employed
as many, as has the agricultural sector. But that is something of the past.
Today the tobacco crop is one-quarter of that of four years ago. Commercially
produced maize is now approximately one-sixth of national need, whereas
previously Zimbabwe was not only self-sufficient, but it was also able to
supply much of the needs of neighbouring countries. Similarly, Zimbabwe no
longer produces the quantities of wheat that it requires, and output of most
other agricultural commodities has also fallen very
Government will, of course, attribute these disastrous
circumstances to allegedly adverse climatic conditions, to the unwillingness
of displaced white farmers to exacerbate their overwhelming losses by gifting
their irrigation equipment, tractors and other movables to those settled on
the lands formerly occupied by them, and the inexplicable reluctance
of suppliers of inputs to supply at sub-economic prices and with
extended credit. However, all but the naïve and those that revel in
self-delusion know otherwise. They know that government fabricated and
disseminated a belief that the white commercial farmers had "stolen" the
land, notwithstanding that most of Zimbabwe's lands had been unoccupied
and unutilised prior to those commercial farmers rendering them
Having falsified and distorted history, government then
dissembled that it would ensure that all, irrespective of race, as desirous
of farming the land, would be entitled to one farm, subject to size
limitation, but instead it deprived the majority of the white commercial
farmers of all the lands they had worked productively, to the benefit of the
nation, for many years. The government redistributed the land to its chosen
few, promised them the wherewithal and inputs necessary but recurrently
breached its promises, and did not even give those settled upon the land any
lawful title to that land. Thus, those settled neither had collateral to
support borrowings of working capital, nor the assurance of continuing
occupancy. That assurance was a prerequisite to motivation and endeavour and,
without finance, inputs and motivation, most of the lands became
The mining industry has also been a victim of government
and of the economic environment. Production costs have soared upwards, as the
national hyperinflation and increased costs of imports rose steadily.
However, revenues did not rise commensurately, reducing most mining
operations to ongoing losses. Gold producers were exceptionally hard hit. For
some incomprehensible reason the major producers are paid one-third of the
price, per kilogramme of gold, as are small-scale producers, despite the
former's costs of production being markedly higher than those of the latter.
Many mines have had to discontinue operations, whilst others have been forced
to scale back production considerably.
From the late 1980s to the late
1990s, the tourism industry was one that enjoyed spectacular growth. Rising
from a few hundred thousand to over two million, tourists poured into
Zimbabwe to revel in the splendour of the Victoria Falls, the awe of the
Matopos Hills, the majesty of Zimbabwe's diverse wild life in Hwange National
Park, Gonarezhou, Matusadona and other fantastic wild life reserves, the
excitement of Lake Kariba, the beauty of Nyanga, Vumba and Chimanimani, and
the mysteries of Great Zimbabwe and of Khami, and much more. Although
government repeatedly blames others for destroying Zimbabwe's image and, as a
result, for the decline in tourism over the last seven years to the low
levels of 24 years ago, the reality is that it has been government itself
that has cast a deep shadow over the Zimbabwean image. It is government that
fomented a disregard for law and order, and then failed to restore a state of
law and order essential for tourists, foreign investors, and others to
perceive Zimbabwe as a secure destination.
The manufacturing sector's
distress is as great as that of the other economic sectors. Local market
demand is as deflated as a burst balloon, for hyperinflation has eroded
consumer purchasing power, and mass unemployment has vastly reduced the
population's disposable income. At the same time, the ability of industry to
export has fallen sharply, for the inflation which has ravaged Zimbabwe in
recent years radically escalated production costs. Nevertheless, exports
would have remained viable if the government had allowed the Zimbabwean
dollar to depreciate to its real (minimal!) value.
But that it was not
prepared to do. In a vain attempt to contain inflation, and in an equally
vain attempt to preserve national pride and not admit, even if only by
implication, to economic failure, government obdurately resisted all
pressures and economic needs for the nation's currency to devalue to
realistic levels. In the process, it destroyed export market competitiveness,
collapsed many export-orientated industries, intensified unemployment, and
worsened the scarcity of foreign exchange. That scarcity fuelled the parallel
and black markets, causing massive exchange rate movements which, in turn,
stimulated intense growth in the very rate of inflation that government had
sought to reduce.
Thus, the present state of the nation is one of an
extremely frail economy on the threshold of total demise. It is one where
over 75% of the employable population is unemployed, and there are now very
considerably more Zimbabweans employed abroad than are employed in Zimbabwe.
The nation is one that has witnessed an immense brain drain, with many
thousands of skilled Zimbabweans seeking more lucrative employment in other
countries than available to them at home.
ON Sunday Zimbabwe turns 24. But there will be no fireworks this
year. Independence Day, April 18, has lost the lustre it used to enjoy as
narrow partisan interests now hold sway.
The government, in its quest
for self-preservation and to ratchet up old revolutionary passion, has in the
past two weeks used its media to subject the nation to a jack-hammer assault
of propaganda which in some instances has proclaimed hateful messages against
minorities and the opposition. As a result Zimbabwe remains polarised along
party and social lines - even on a day where everyone should remember the
sacrifices made for nationhood.
Political scientist and chairman of
Crisis in Zimbabwe Brian Kagoro said there could be reason to celebrate this
"I think that we can celebrate," he said, "that finally before our
24th birthday Mugabe has admitted that his own people have been looting
the country," - a reference to announcements by government that it would
probe Zanu PF companies.
Kagoro said the admission by Zimbabwe's "high
priest of politics" was crucial as it marked the beginning of the dismantling
of a system that had thrived on heaping blame for its shortcomings on the
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) last year
proclaimed there was nothing to celebrate when the nation was wallowing in
poverty. The party said the original goals of liberation struggle - social
equality, justice and the equitable utilisation of resources - had been
negated by misgovernance and corruption.
In a statement this week MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai said the situation on the ground had continued to
degenerate. "Unfortunately the 24 years merely registered a period of
sustained regression," said Tsvangirai.
"We have nothing to show for it,
except overwhelming poverty, economic decay, a systematic loss of our basic
freedoms and a national crisis whose dimensions are mutating and fast
becoming more pervasive in every facet of our political, economic and social
Millions returned home from exile (at Independence). Today the
ordinary citizen is confused and shocked to live in a country where, once
again, the forces of democracy are under siege. They are desperate to get
out," he said.
Mass Public Opinion Institute chairman and social
scientist Professor Gordon Chavunduka said there was nothing to
"There is nothing to celebrate because Independence has not
brought happiness to our people," said Chavunduka. "There is still
oppression, there are too many economic problems and the people are not
"The people can only be happy if the country holds free and fair
elections as soon as possible," he said.
The Independence celebrations
have become personal property of Zanu PF hence they have done little to
bridge the political divide by advocating national unity and national
The celebrations have become uninspiring events where a
torrent of official humbug and unfulfilled promises have done little to stir
a restive population whose expectations are way beyond party slogans,
speeches and food.
Political analysts have pointed out that the Zanu
PF government has failed to transform itself from a guerilla movement into a
modern political party. They say the party has remained entombed in the
revolutionary mantra that it alone brought freedom and therefore it should be
the custodian and dispenser of all freedoms and rights. Anyone demanding
extra rights outside the prescribed ones is considered a
counter-revolutionary and an enemy of the state.
Critics have said
Independence Day only reveals the gap between the blessings the ruling elite
enjoys and the deprivation of the commoners.
"The rich inheritance of
justice, liberty, prosperity, and Independence bequeathed by your fathers is
shared by you, not by me," wrote a former American slave Frederick Douglass
in 1852 of the white establishment.
"The sunlight that brought light and
healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is
yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into
the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in
joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony," he
Douglass' lament mi-ght sound familiar to Zimbabweans today. The
nation, prostrate in its fetters wrought by the Zanu PF government's
political intolerance and gross human rights violations, are being cajoled to
fete their poverty.
President Mugabe has used the Independence Day
celebrations in the past to cast blame on his adversaries. Mugabe's main
address to the nation on such occasions has criticised foreigners and the
opposition for alleged sabotage. At the National Sports Stadium last year -
as former minister and political heavyweight Eddison Zvobgo put it - Mugabe
blamed "other people for each and every ill that befell" the
Mugabe criticised the opposition for the political turbulence in
the country. He blamed the outside world, especially former colonial
power Britain, for interference thundering: "Mr Blair, hands off please." He
spoke highly of the controversial land reform, which he described as a
In the past Mugabe would use such occasions to espouse the
country's achievements in provision of social services like health and
education, agricultural expansion and industrial advancement.
script this year could be brightened up by his new-found status as a
corruption buster. He will tell the nation that the economy is on the
mend courtesy of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's economic blueprint. He
will once again parade himself as the emancipator of the black populace
by singing the mantras of his "successful land reform programme".
Ironically, Mugabe has appointed a whole ministry led by John Nkomo to
"correct" the successful land reform!
But with inflation - described
by Finance minister Chris Kuruneri as the highest in the world - at 602,5%,
a decline in exports by over 15% in the last 12 months, and a corresponding
drop in the GDP, this year's celebrations, like last year's, should ring
hollow. In the rural areas civil servants and poor villagers were asked to
pay for the celebrations which they are forced to attend or face the wrath of
Zanu PF hoodlums.
The villagers will be forced to celebrate better
harvests which government will attribute to the land reform exercise. But
production of major cash crops which bring in foreign currency has continued
to drop. Chief among them is tobacco whose production has nose-dived from 236
million kg at the peak of production in the 1999/2000 season to 65 million kg
expected to be delivered to the floors this year.
Estimates say more
than three-quarters of the population live below the poverty datum line while
about 70 % of the adult population is unemployed. HIV and Aids have continued
to wreak havoc on a country with a collapsing if not non-existent social
The presidential address should this year assume a more
jingoistic tone as the country prepares for another blood-and-thunder general
election next year. Mugabe's mollifying words spoken last year during a
flirtation with the idea of talks between the two parties will probably be
abandoned for more militant phrases.
The attack on the MDC from the
Zanu PF leadership has already started and should reach its peak after the
festivities when Zanu PF is expected to officially launch its campaign. But
Tsvangirai has promised to stand up to the bullying.
"We cannot allow
this regime to impose its false supremacy over the people," he said. "Only
action and political pressure shall bring the desired results and lead us to
resuscitate our failed state and all its institutions."
Barter trade helps parastatals cope Ngoni
Chanakira THE cash-strapped trio comprising the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
Authority (Zesa), National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and Wankie Colliery
Company Ltd (Wankie) are now engaging in barter deals among themselves to
avoid paying cash for goods and services.
Insiders this week said the
companies had decided to engage in the "unofficial" barter to bypass the
serious cash crunch bedevilling them.
The trio is understood to be
crediting each other for services rendered and goods sold instead of asking
for cash upfront.
Zesa, Wankie and NRZ owe each other billions and
their services are intertwined.
Zesa supplies electricity, Wankie
produces coal that is needed for electricity generation, while the NRZ
transports the coal.
However, because of the serious cash crisis the
trio have failed to pay for services offered sometimes resulting in
mudslinging among them.
"Zesa switched us off on the Harare/Mutare
railway line," said an NRZ source. "Instead of fighting with them we just
decided to stop delivering their coal, seriously disrupting operations. It
was a case of tit-for-tat."
Zesa is reliably understood to have lost
at least $300 million when the NRZ stopped delivering their
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono in his
monetary policy statement told parastatals to stand on their own feet and not
depend on government handouts.
He said penalties would soon be
introduced to parastatals that continued to beg from government via the
"Why should we be penalised while Zesa are treated as
good boys," the NRZ source said. "We decided that enough is
Wankie, which made a $9 billion loss last year, has
confirmed that coal sales at 854 605 tonnes were 29% below the previous year
resulting in numerous shortages countrywide and on the export market.
Customers faced transportation problems because the NRZ could not offer
"Transportation of coal should be relatively eased following
the different arrangements which some major customers entered into with the
National Railways of Zimbabwe to refurbish wagons and hire locomotives from
South Africa," Wankie chairman Munacho Mutezo said.
would continue to be the alternative mode of transport."
Wankie has now
asked the RBZ for approval to bill in foreign currency customers who export
Zim dollar recovery uncertain - Finhold Godfrey
Marawanyika PROSPECTS of the Zimbabwe dollar stabilising against major
international and regional currencies are still uncertain as the country's
foreign currency sources are still limited, Zimbabwe Financial Holdings Ltd
(Finhold) has said. In its monthly economic bulletin for April the bank said
the Zimbabwe dollar had lost against most key currencies on the foreign
currency auction, particularly the Japanese yen, South African rand and
"In the short-term, prospects of a stable Zimbabwe dollar
are uncertain, as the country's foreign sources are still limited, if not
declining," Finhold said.
"Firstly, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
has failed to materialise due to high inflation differentials and continued
negative investor sentiment. Secondly, inflows from international donors have
remained depressed on the back of increasing demand for
According to Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
figures contained in the last Treasury quarterly report for last year,
Zimbabwe's current and capital accounts have been on the decline since
The last time both accounts recorded growth were in
In 2000, the current account recorded negative growth of US$138
million before shooting up to US$635 million.
The report also
reveals that in 2000, the capital account recorded a US$289 million deficit
and in 2001 it recorded a US$389 million deficit.
Finhold said the
uncertainty was also being caused by the inflation differentials with trading
partners while a rising import bill on the back of poor side fundamentals had
continued to weigh against the local currency.
Although the central bank
has introduced the auction system for foreign currency, bids have
persistently surpassed the fixed supply from the RBZ which has seen the
number of rejected bids increasing.
"Owing to excess demand for
foreign currency, the Zimbabwe dollar has continued to depreciate since
February leading to higher operating costs which may consequently lead to
higher domestic prices," Finhold said.
"In addition, the country capacity
to generate foreign currency is still depressed, while corrective measures
with respect to fiscal restraint still need to be
During April Finhold said the money market was in
persistent deficit during the month under review following successful
financial bill tender issues by the RBZ. Shortages, which stood at $171,6 on
March 1, worsened to $215 billion on March 15, before improving to close at
negative $123,8 on March 30.
Leave members alone, AAG told Ngoni
Chanakira REAL Estate Industry of Zimbabwe (REIZ) president Abraham Sadomba
says the Bulawayo-based Affirmative Action Group (AAG) should concentrate
more on politicising Members of Parliament and government officials than
terrorising his members.
In an interview with businessdigest this week
Sadomba said the AAG was going around Zimbabwe pretending to be
Last week the Bulawayo-based AAG told tenants to stop
paying rent to estate agents saying they were "excessive and increasing
"Who are these people and where do they get their power
from?" asked Sadomba. "They should concentrate on putting pressure on the
government and Members of Parliament instead of disrupting commerce and
industry which is being run professionally."
Sadomba said the AAG
had tried to intimidate his members without sufficient knowledge of how the
rent increases were arrived at.
"Commerce and industry are very
sophisticated and these AAG guys are just political," he said. "Actually they
have no right stopping tenants from paying their rent to a legal organisation
that is sanctioned by an Act of Parliament. They are breaking the
Sadomba said the AAG should not bring politics into
"Where are they getting their mandate from to deal with our
members the way they are doing?" he asked. "Next time they will go around the
country asking for identification papers."
Sadomba said the REIZ
represents members countrywide and before any increases are done tenants
signed and agreed to the percentages.
He said these were now done on
a quarterly basis because of the country's hyperinflationary
Sadomba said in cases where there were disagreements,
individuals could seek arbitration.
Bulawayo-based residents have
been up in arms over what they allege are unplanned rent increases by
unscrupulous estate agents.
They engaged the AAG which took up the
matter and summoned the REIZ president.
The AAG encouraged members
to disregard the increased rentals and report any landlords insisting on
payments "to them".
Sadomba said the Bulawayo misunderstanding was
still unresolved because the AAG did not understand his association's
He said there was no need for the AAG to turn the matter
political because it was strictly a business issue.
"We are a
business grouping and our increases make business sense," Sadomba said. "We
wonder whose mandate the AAG had when it stopped our members from paying
An AAG official yesterday said the issue was "very
sensitive at the moment".
Meanwhile properties for letting,
especially garden flats, are becoming extremely hard to find because there is
an acute accommodation shortage in Harare, a leading estate agent said this
A spokesman for Southgate & Bancroft Company (Pvt) Ltd said
the rentals business was currently "very brisk".
"Business is very
brisk right now," he said. "Whatever property we get for rent just goes.
Actually right now we don't have anything for rent and I think this is mainly
because there is a shortage of accommodation in Harare."
He said even
office space was hard to find in the capital city.
"There is no stock
at the moment," he said. "Garden flats are also being snapped up quickly
because individuals sometimes turn these into offices such that they live and
work from one place."
He however said on the sales side business was
rather slow and individuals were finding it difficult to secure land whose
prices had recently shot through the roof.
There is speculation on
the property market resulting from foreign currency transactions being
conducted on the parallel market where the British pound is nearing the $10
000 mark against the Zimbabwe dollar among dealers.
however holding on to their properties anticipating that prices will
skyrocket when the financial services sector returns to normalcy after having
been given a whipping by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in their new monetary
Zimbabweans, especially those living in the United
Kingdom and United States have caused the jump in property prices as they
keep sending pounds and dollars to snap up land and equipment in the
SUNDAY Mail editor William Chikoto asked Police Commissioner
Augustine Chihuri some pertinent questions in his interview last Sunday. He
was asked if he was not just pandering to Zanu PF's electoral
Chihuri was at pains to stress the ZRP does not arrest people on
the orders of ministers. They are guided by the constitution.
police have been empowered by the constitution," he assured us. "They don't
need the minister or the police commissioner or any other higher authority to
say arrest or don't arrest."
He didn't explain why then we have seen a
minister on the front page of the Herald telling the police to arrest people.
And when those arrested ask why they are being held they are told it is on
the orders of "a higher authority".
What about those who have fled the
country, Chihuri was asked? Did he have the capacity to return
There was no need for anybody to be running away, Chihuri
"If you are Zimbabwean, come home and talk to Zimbabweans, they
will punish you accordingly. They will not slaughter you."
was posing problems. It was establishing itself as "a safe haven for our
criminals". This was all political of course.
"The British government has
no right whatsoever to keep criminals who should be here to answer charges,"
Chihuri complained. They were laying down impossible conditions and coming up
with lame excuses, he said. His officers currently in the UK had made it
clear to the British that they were unhappy with that.
nothing political about them being criminals," the police commissioner
argued. "We are talking about economic saboteurs."
Are we? Have the
individuals in question been charged and tried in court? You would have
thought so from Chihuri's remarks.
"The issue of the NMB directors was
correctly handled," Chihuri told us. "People must not steal from the nation's
coffers and expect to be handled with kid gloves. The law in this country is
very clear. It says any criminal should be arrested, taken before the courts
where he is prosecuted and sentence passed by the courts."
first it has to be established whether the "criminal" is in fact
a "criminal". How professional is it to declare people "criminals"
and "saboteurs" when they have not been convicted of those
One reason individuals have fled the country could be because
they have no confidence in the criminal justice system. That includes
detention without trial which, curiously, Chihuri was not asked
He was asked though about whether the case of the NMB directors
did not suggest that the best brains were leaving the country.
don't respect the brains of any thief," Chihuri replied, once
again prejudging his suspects. People in Zimbabwe have no medicine. Last
year there were fuel shortages and cash shortages. "Some people think they
have the brains to create such a scenario and when they are caught they
The NMB directors, it would seem, are responsible for more
than they can imagine!
"To make matters worse, they (those with
brains) say the president is mismanaging the economy yet they are the ones
who are creating that type of thing."
So, the current crisis has
nothing to do with the president's economic policies. It's all the fault of
his critics. We must at least be grateful for that piece of brainy detective
work, even if it does look more like a party-political statement!
just in case you thought these slippery bankers were about to outwit their
pursuers, Chihuri put the public's mind to rest: "There are no too big brains
which we can fail to handle," he assured us.
We can all breathe easier
now! Meanwhile, we are delighted to see that Britain's open-door policy
permits the long arm of President Mugabe's law enforcement agents to catch up
with individuals who are accused of creating havoc in Zimbabwe by causing
cash and fuel shortages!
The Sunday Mirror's Tendai Chari has been
advertising the sort of brainy thinking that is now required for lecturing in
Media Studies at UZ.
"A close scrutiny of the Zimbabwean media would
reveal that media agendas are donated by Western media," he claims. "Concepts
that are little understood - democracy, human rights, and good governance are
good examples - sayings and words that have little cultural relevance
are regurgitated with reckless abandon."
As a result local journalism
becomes a caricature of Western journalism, he says.
"If the Western
media say the Zengeza by-election wasn't free and fair, the local media have
an obligation to echo the refrain."
Perhaps he could advise us which
local media he is referring to. The private press in Zimbabwe reported
largely the conclusions of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network and other
independent observers based right here in Zimbabwe. Those conclusions
included evidence of widespread intimidation and vote-buying.
suggests, in views identical to those of the state, that people shouldn't be
too concerned with concepts such as democracy, human rights and good
governance. They are Western values and therefore have no
Now isn't that convenient? If Zimbabweans are not
to be bothered by these pesky concepts Zanu PF can continue with its
electoral rigging and intimidation unmolested. Which means it can cling on to
power well past its shelf-life when it is manifestly short on popular
Chari repeats the tired old argument that the American media
would never call Bush daft or a crook. "They would rally behind him through
thick or thin."
Chari has evidently not been reading the US press
recently. We published in this paper a few months ago what American writers
were saying about Bush. And it was far from polite. Now it is a great deal
worse. But we suspect Chari doesn't want to know what the US press is saying
about Bush because it would interfere with his line of argument. Just as he
continues to doubt that Ari Ben-Menashe stage-managed his video
Muckraker is only too aware of the toll taken on civil society
by the depredations of government. But it is only in recent weeks that we
have realised just how weakened and confused the civic sector has
First the Herald carried a statement from Crisis in Zimbabwe,
among others, congratulating the state for its arrest of the 70 "mercenaries"
at Harare airport last month. It made no reference to the role of ZDI but it
did at least criticise prejudgement of the men in the media (that bit omitted
by the Herald).
Then Bishops Sebastian Bakare, Patrick Mutume and
Trevor Manhanga released an Easter message saying they were "encouraged" by
President Mugabe's efforts to tackle corruption and "applauded" the measures
taken by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono.
There was no mention of
the president's abridgement of the right of individuals to a court hearing
and a fair trial, or the need for an independent body to investigate
wrong-doing. And certainly no mention of the ruling party's role in creating
the conditions for corruption to thrive. In fact it was typical of the
morally neutral statements churches have become associated with in recent
Finally, last weekend we saw a group of women journalists falling
over themselves to disown a reported suggestion by one of their members
that Information minister Jonathan Moyo take a paternity test.
Federation of African Media Women Zimbabwe's regional coordinator,
Qonda Moyo, who spoke to our reporter in Bulawayo, said she had no idea she
would be quoted. It was an "informal discussion" she claimed.
enough. But FAMWZ then weighed in to "register its concern and
distance itself" from their official's remarks. Her views did not in any
way represent the views of the organisation, Acting National Director
Sinikiwe Msipa stated.
Anyway the whole matter was sub-judice she
What's going on here? It looks very much like somebody was
leaned on. But whatever the case, we are sorry an organisation claiming to
embrace women in the media has so completely lost its voice and, indeed,
would appear not to have a view on the victimisation of one apparently
inconvenient woman who didn't have the advantage of media access!
could somebody tell them what sub-judice means. They appear to think having
somebody arrested means you can't talk about it. These women should get a
The Herald sometimes runs short of opinion pieces. This should be
expected of a daily paper that chews copy. But it does not excuse running
misleading pieces such as the one by Nangai Zvasangana on Monday.
article was titled "Zimbabweans have benefited from president's policies".
These policies include political reconciliation and expansion of the health
and education service sectors, we are told.
Then comes a shocker: "The
president preaches unity and has managed to achieve peace and stability
despite machinations by reactionary forces fronted by Matsanga, Zanu Mwenje,
Super Zapu and MDC masquerading as champions of freedom, democracy, human
rights, transparency and the rule of law."
There is no doubt the
writer is anxious to see his name in print, hence the attempt to portray a
flawless human being in the form of Mugabe and the choice of the Herald as
the medium. What worries Muckraker is an editor who allows to be published in
his paper nonsense like Matsanga, Zanu Mwenje, Super Zapu and the MDC being
used by so-called reactionary forces.
When did the writer last hear of
these organisations? Even Zanu PF, desperate as it is for anything that can
smear the MDC, has never had to resurrect Zanu Mwenje and
Lest we are accused of intolerance Zvasangana can choose
whatever medium and subject he wants. But we are worried about aspiring
bootlickers creating phantoms and editors treating these as fact.
there be any takers for First Lady Grace Mugabe's challenge? The First Lady
told a gathering in Chitungwiza last week that people in positions
of leadership should help remove the stigma about HIV/Aids infection by
"It is high time we started at the top," the Herald
quoted Grace as saying last week, "whether we are encouraging voluntary
counselling and testing or behavioural change. Maybe it is high time the
ministers themselves went for testing and come out in the open about their
status. I am worried that when we talk about HIV/Aids, voluntary testing and
counselling, we seem to be saying only the poor are
Attending the occasion were Health minister David
Parirenyatwa, Mining Development minister Amos Midzi and Harare governor
Witness Mangwende. Somebody should take the lead so we have less talk and
Muckraker wouldn't want to be in Information minister
Jonathan Moyo's shoes for all that his position is worth. First he made a
strange metamorphosis that left his erstwhile colleagues stunned when he
turned round to become President Mugabe's spokesperson from one of his most
acerbic critics. Since then he has been an uncompromising critic of the
privately-owned press. He in fact led the crusade against the Daily News
until it was closed down under some crudely crafted law that survives on our
statutes courtesy of Zanu PF's majority in parliament and a supportive
Since he crossed the moat and was allowed to taste life in the
castle, Moyo now tells those outside that they don't need a voice.
an article in the Herald last Thursday titled "Press freedom baggage
of unipolarism", the minister is said to have told diplomats in Harare
that Zimbabwe did not agree to ideologies of press freedom as a critical
human right at par with freedom of expression.
Resorting to casuistry
to defend his personal self-interest in speaking for everybody, Moyo claimed
freedom of expression was different from press freedom because everyone was
born with the right to freedom of expression. Which is patently true were it
not for the cynicism it implies - that everybody who wants to speak must use
Zanu PF channels such as papers in the Zimpapers stable and ZBC so he can
screen them first. Which referendum by the way revealed Zimbabwe did not
believe in "ideologies of press freedom"?
Moyo claimed the press was
created by institutions who wanted to use it to achieve their own objectives.
He didn't say why this was inherently wrong. Why is the Daily News any
different from RTG or Zimbank as business enterprises?
Here is Moyo's
not-so-clever answer: "We believe that information is a strategic issue which
is critical in maintaining a country's sovereignty and you cannot claim to be
sovereign if you do not own the means to
Therein lies the rub. Moyo should talk about
his quest for monopoly over all information channels instead of misleading
people about sovereignty. And how are those out in the rural areas expected
to be heard while Moyo hogs the limelight in the newspapers and
Moyo said the Media and Information Commission, the
Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe and the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act were born out of this need to control the flow of
information. But surely if Zimbabweans did not want a free press it would die
a natural death. It doesn 't need Moyo to play messiah to save us from a
monster called the free press.
However, it does seem that we are
getting more and more patriotic. That is if the mention of "sovereignty" is a
measure of patriotism. So it was that Reason Wafawanaka, deputy director of
national youth training, and Claude Maredza, author and commentator, talked
about nothing else but sovereignty when they appeared on Tazzen Mandizvidza's
Media Watch programme on Monday.
The main topic for discussion, according
to Mandizvidza, was Independence and "what the role of the media should
He was disheartened, he said, that some sections of the media did
not appreciate that many lives were lost to bring the freedom that people
take for granted. Mandizvidza was disheartened that some sections of the
media were influenced by Western culture not to show respect for elders. He
was again disheartened that some sections of the media were being used
by foreign interests against their own country.
In the end all media
that were critical of government policies were accused of being
foreign-funded and representing their master's voice. And why
does Mandizvidza think we should respect elders who mismanage our
national resources? Is that what this so-called culture says? Is there not a
proverb in Shona that says an elder must be well-behaved if he expects
respect from juniors?
All that Wafawanaka and Maredza said was that
our sovereignty came first. That our sovereignty was under threat from
Western interests. Maredza revealed that he had discovered that the United
States was the great Satan.
"But Americans are united when it comes to
the 14th of July, the 14th of July. I mean the fourth, that's their
Muckraker was "disheartened" that he was left no wiser
for watching the programme!
In placid Malawi, shades of Mugabe's Zim By Peter
Banda IT has a reputation for being as calm as the lake that bears its name,
but as Malawi heads into its third multiparty presidential and
parliamentary elections in May, serial attacks allegedly perpetrated by
ruling party youth militias against opposition leaders and journalists cast
doubts over the stability of the sliver-shaped central African
The Malawi Human Rights Commission has warned that rising
incidents of pre-election violence by the Young Democrats, the militant youth
wing of the ruling United Democratic Front, is polarising the country along
ethnic and regional lines. Political analysts, furthermore, worry that voters
are losing faith in the democratic process. The upcoming vote marks the
second consecutive poll to be marred by ruling- party
"Anywhere in the world, elections are not declared free and
fair when violence reigns supreme," said Rodgers Newa, chairman of the Human
Rights Consultative Committee in Malawi.
Scheduled for May 18, the
elections should present Malawians with an open choice. Having failed in his
bid to change the constitution to seek a third term, President Bakili Muluzi
must retire. Divisions among the opposition notwithstanding, few expect much
of a contest.
In late February, Mary Clara Makungwa, vice president
of the opposition National Democratic Alliance, was beaten by a band of
youths in Makungwa in central Malawi. Her vehicle was set ablaze. Another
politician, Kizito Ngwembe, a member of parliament for the opposition Malawi
Congress Party, was assaulted by youths while addressing a rally in the
district of Kasungu.
Party officials, youth leaders and the police
deny claims either of their involvement or complicity in acts of political
But human rights advocates say the violence reflects one of
the most troubling and unresolved elements of party politics in Africa: the
use of youth squads to perpetuate power and prevent the free contestation
Since the early 1990s, when multiparty politics
began to spread across Africa, militant ruling party youth wings have been a
political fixture, violently disrupting elections in Kenya and Zimbabwe and
intimidating political opponents in Ivory Coast and Burundi. But Nixon
Khembo, a political scientist at the University of Malawi, describes the
trend as a gross abuse of youth volunteerism by political parties, reaching
back to the earliest years of independence. Botswana had its Boy Brigades,
Zambia its National Youth Service.
Even where regimes have
changed, practices haven't. Dr Kamuzu Hastings Banda, Malawi's erstwhile
despot, employed the Malawi Young Pioneers to intimidate budding opposition
movements. Five years after Muluzi took power in Malawi's first multiparty
elections, the UDF was doing the same. Violence by the Young Democrats during
the 1999 elections was well chronicled and has been a mainstay ever
During a parliamentary by-ele-ction in Blantrye in 2001, for
example, UDF supporters attempted to disrupt a campaign rally that was to be
addressed by Gwanda Chakuamba, leader of the opposition Malawi Congress
Party. In the ensuing chaos, the machete wielding youths accidentally knifed
one of their own, Duncan Kanjuchi, killing him on the spot.
UDF claimed Kanjuchi was a member of the ruling party and that opposition
supporters had beaten him to death. Chakuamba countered that Kanjuchi was
mistakenly killed by Young Democrats. The police arrested six MCP supporters,
all of whom were ultimately acquitted.
As the May elections near,
such incidents have increased. Rafiq Hajat, director of the Institute for
Policy Interaction in Malawi, says the violence perpetrated by the UDF Young
Democrats demonstrates the fragility of newly democratised countries. "It is
a continuation perhaps of the ignorance that is prevalent regarding the role
of the youth wings of political parties," he said. "The Young Democrats are
certainly a threat to the democratisation process, of which elections are a
In a report entitled Taking Root: Violence and
Intimidation in Malawi, the Voice of Micah, a political think tank based in
Balaka, argued that the Young Democrats operated with the blessings of the
"There have been reports that in certain cases cars
supplied by the UDF cadres have been used in the execution of the acts of
violence by the Young Democrats," the report states. "Therefore it can not be
doubted that these people act with full knowledge and mandate of party
It adds: "It appears the UDF is gradually pulling one leaf
after the other from the tactics of the Zanu PF of Robert Mugabe. While
Mugabe boasts of the political exploits of the war veterans, which have
reigned havoc for some time now, bringing to its knees one of the strongest
economies in this part of Africa, the UDF with its Young Democrats is
bringing to its knees one of the most stable and peace loving
The violence is accompanied by a second phenomenon: the
appearance of police complicity.
Following her attack in February,
opposition leader Mary Makungwa took the matter to the police. Upon filing a
complaint she was jailed for 48 hours without explanation. Deputy Police
spokesman Kelvin Maigwa disputes Makungwa's claim of unlawful detention. "The
police are allowed by law to summon any citizen to question him or her on any
issue when they are carrying out investigations," he
Ngwembe, the opposition member of parliament, alleges that he
was beaten by UDF youth a second time as he tried to report the initial
assault to the police. Eyewitnesses corroborate the claim.
police officer, speaking on condition of strict anonymity, said any officer
who dares to interfere in the operations of the UDF Young Democrats could
easily lose his/her job. "First of all they transfer you to a police post in
a remote area and once you make a mistake, you immediately lose your job," he
said, speaking near the Kasungu police station, where he is
Another officer, also speaking anonymously, said when alleged
victims of the Young Democrats report the incidents to police, top UDF
members and some members of the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) pressurise
the police officers to destroy files of such cases.
is that at every police station there is a member of NIB, and these
intelligence officers in a sense work as loyal servants of the ruling party,
so every police officer who opposes their informal instructions is treated as
a supporter of the opposition," he said.
"If this continues," Hajat
warns, "we might face massive upheavals, because when the public lose faith
in officers of the law, then they start disregarding the law itself." He
cited an incident in February when police fired shots during an opposition
rally at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre, wounding two people.
spokesman Ken Lipenga said the party officially does not sanction the use of
violence but admits the Young Democrats have at one time or the other been
involved in violent acts. "It is common knowledge that some UDF politicians
have used the boys to perpetrate violence," he said in a surprisingly frank
admission. "Just recently some of our own boys were used to disrupt our own
party primary elections. Politicians who use violence are failures or believe
that they will fail in the elections."
UDF National Director of Youth
Henry Moyo vehemently rebuffs such claims: "The UDF Young Democrats are
disciplined. Their main duty is to mobilise fellow youths in development
Although Malawi has a peaceful reputation compared to
other Southern Africa nations, its people suffered in silence from
intimidation, threats, abductions and killings for three decades under the
autocratic rule of Hastings Kamuzu Banda and his Malawi Congress Party. Under
the late dictator, the red-shirted Malawi Young Pioneers, a youth
paramilitary group, were infamous for political violence.
established the Young Pioneers in 1963, the year the country
gained independence. Modelled after Kwame Nkrumah's Young Pioneers in Ghana
and the National Service Brigade in Israel, they were originally conceived as
a means for mobilising the youth in national development
In the early years of their existence, the Young Pioneers
were mainly concerned with rural development work and political
indoctrination. The Pioneers were indoctrinated to believe in Kamuzuism,
Banda's political philosophy of unity, obedience, loyalty and
"I organised the Young Pioneers so that the youth would
make useful citizens of the country," Banda told a rally in Lilongwe in 1975.
"I did not want our youth to roam the streets of Zomba, Blantyre, and
Lilongwe, loafing with their hands in their pockets."
But with the
passage of time, the role of the Young Pioneers evolved. "The MYPs added a
security role to their range of responsibilities, and gradually became
competitors in this regard vis-à-vis the formal security organs of state in
the form of the police and the army," said Kings Phiri, a professor at the
University of Malawi. "Their training for this role involved
physical exercises and drill, the use of small arms, and the gathering and
analysis of intelligence reports."
By the early 1970s, Banda was
using the Young Pioneers to kill, expel and deport members of Jehovah's
Witnesses, who were refusing to buy Malawi Congress Party membership cards
because of their religious beliefs.
Sources within the Malawi Army say
Banda also used the Young Pioneers to torture his opponents, and also
dispatched them to support the Mozambican rebel group Renamo in the
The end came in December 1993, when members of the Young
Pioneers got into a brawl with Malawi Army soldiers at the Moyale Barracks in
the northern city of Mzuzu. In the fracas, the overzealous Young Pioneers
shot dead two Malawi army soldiers. In retaliation, gangs of off-duty
soldiers went on the rampage.
According to a senior army officer
speaking on condition of anonymity, the army determined to completely disarm
and dismantle the Young Pioneers. Soldiers traversed the country, demolishing
Young Pioneer bases and establishments. That purge also heralded the defeat
of the Malawi Congress Party, which lost elections to the UDF in
That poll, the country's first democratic elections, was
peaceful. But party political violence began to rear its head once again as
the country moved toward its second multiparty poll five years
Political commentators now say there is no marked difference
between Banda's Young Pioneers and the UDF's Young Democrats. Some of the
latter were once members of the former. But unlike Banda's Young Pioneers,
which was established by an act of parliament, the Young Democrats are not
part of the government machinery.
Even so, the Malawi constitution
is very silent on the establishment of militias and no legislation exists to
either regulate such groups or make them illegal.
around Muluzi's bid to change the constitution early last year to seek a
third term. According to Vera Chirwa, a human rights lawyer, the Young
Democrats were responsible for several atrocities. At one point, she said,
they assaulted Anglican Bishop James Tengatenga for speaking against Muluzi's
bid. On another occasion, they attacked the president of the civil society
Movement for Genuine Democracy just 200 metres outside Parliament for his
vocal opposition against the proposed Third Term Bill.
Chirwa, who runs
the Malawi Centre for Advice, Research, Education and Rehabilitation, charges
that it is a mockery of human rights for Muluzi to be involved in mediating
peace talks in Zimbabwe when he is failing to control the Young
"It is very difficult for African leaders to take tough
action against Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe because they are in the same
boat of wishing to stay in power for a long time," she said. "Just imagine,
over 20 MPs were assaulted by the Young Democrats as the UDF campaigned for
Muluzi's third-term bid. How can the same Muluzi tell Mugabe to step down
from power? How can he tell Mugabe to advise the Green Bombers to refrain
from violence when the UDF Young Democrats are doing the
Chirwa, who along with her husband was once imprisoned for
opposing Banda, argues that current instruments set by the African Union,
Southern African Development Community and Nepad do not adequately address
the problem of political abuses: "African leaders who rig elections are
hailed by their comrades and some autocratic leaders are elected chairpersons
of these regional and continental bodies." - eAfrica.
A posse of guns for hire By Steven Gruzd/Michael
van Winden THE foiled coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea in March provided an
urgent reminder of the destabilising consequences when two of Africa's
most troubling unsolved problems intersect: poor governance and the platoons
of former soldiers and guerilla fighters left scattered and idling across
the continent's former battlefields. The one creates a job market for
the opportunistic other.
"I used to command these guys," said Johann
Smith, a former South African Defence Force commander, referring to the 80
suspected mercenaries now awaiting trial in Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe,
where many were arrested allegedly en route to topple the government of
President Obiang Nguema.
"There are 2 500 to 3 000 of them in South
Africa. This will definitely happen again, given their current economic
realities. One former soldier lamented that he had missed the Equatorial
Guinea 'recruitment drive' by 30 minutes."
Just how many
ex-combatants are at loose ends in Africa is probably impossible to know.
Certainly tens of thousands, given the number of conflicts raging or waning
across the continent.
At the height of the recent war in the
Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, some 21 formal and rebel armies
were entangled in just that one splintered conflict. Few jobs awaited those
soldiers when the peace accords were signed. Few know how to do anything
But with conflicts drawing to a close in several African
countries, a new recruitment base for mercenaries is emerging. The World Bank
has allocated US$500 million for disarmament, demobilisation and
reintegration programmes in Africa's Great Lakes region.
of dollars had been spent on demobilising armies, but several studies have
nonetheless shown that making contented civilians out of unskilled former
soldiers in plodding economies is frustrating work.
Mozambique and South Africa, all stable after prolonged conflicts,
successfully built new national armies out of former warring
But their societies fester with former cadres who lack the
skills to build meaningful lives beyond the bush and barracks. A 2001 report
by the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa, indicated
that 37% of ex-combatants - from both sides of the apartheid divide -
Some turn to crime, many analysts suspect. Others
find new ways to practise the old profession.
security forces surrounded an unmarked aircraft at Harare airport in March
and arrested its passengers for allegedly plotting mercenary activities, many
observers quickly concluded that they were remnants of southern Africa's
erstwhile racist security forces up to their old tricks again. They were
right - up to a point.
As the facts unfolded, it turned out that most
of those detained were black former soldiers in the apartheid South African
Defence Force. Many served in the 32 Battalion, an infamous former South
African unit known for its shadowy brutality in the latter years of
Pretoria's wars of regional destabilisation. Although many of them were
Namibia, Angolan and Congolese, they were given South African citizenship
after being demobilised.
The Equatorial Guinea affair highlights
weaknesses in national and continental legal provisions for curbing mercenary
activity in Africa. The African Union, for example, has not reviewed the
Convention for the Elimination of Mercenarism in Africa - a document produced
by its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, in 1977.
nature of conflict changes dramatically and rapidly in the post-Cold War
global arena, private military activity is on the rise. The challenge, argued
Michael Grunberg of Sandline International, a Bahamas-based security company,
is to create a legal framework that enables private armies to function
constructively while preventing mercenary activity. - eAfrica.
Car theft increases countrywide Ngoni
Chanakira ZIMBABWE had a national record of 1 051 reported cases of car theft
by the end of December with Harare topping the list at 633, according to
ZRP spokesperson inspector Andrew Phiri.
The country's second largest
city of Bulawayo followed Harare with 226 cases.
statistics for otherprovinces were as follows - Mani-caland 25, Mashonaland
22, Masho-naland East 32, Mashonaland West 43, Masvingo 14, Matabeleland
North 2, Matabeleland South 20 and Midlands 27.
The high level of car
thefts has resulted in the Insurance Council of Zimbabwe (ICZ) hosting a
stakeholder's conference in Nyanga on May 10 /11.
Cars have also been
stolen from neighbouring countries such as Zambia and South Africa and later
resold in Zimbabwe.
Luxury vehicles including BMWs, Mercedes Benz and
4X4s are the most popular as they are faster to sell as they command a cash
A spokesperson for the ICZ said the conference was aimed at
averting crime owing to the huge costs that were being incurred by the
The theme of the conference will be "Alliance
"The lack of coordinated effort from key stakeholders
in insurance related industry has prompted ICZ to instigate the conference to
open dialogue among interested parties," she said. "Although the main thrust
of the conference will be on traditional crimes affecting the insurance
industry such as motor vehicle and property theft, other forms of crime will
also be looked at."
She said during the conference, stakeholders
would discuss means of curbing crime as well as practical, sustainable and
lasting solutions to the problems of crime.
The ICZ solicited the
support of government, the private sector and the public sector organisations
that are affected by the increased rate of crime.
the Ministries of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Finance and
Economic Development, car insurance companies, anti-hijack unit, the ZRP,
Interpol, security companies, car protection companies, motor vehicle
manufacturers, the media and members of lobby groups that fight against crime
are expected to attend the conference.
Among other suggested factors
leading to the increase in the rate of crime, ICZ cited the current economic
conditions prevailing in the country as the major contributor to the high
levels of crime in Zimbabwe.
"Possible ways of addressing the major
constraints currently hampering the sustainable effectiveness of the law
enforcement agencies locally and abroad will also be probed," she
"The campaign aims to increase awareness regarding the most
common crimes and the role that members of the public can play to assist the
law enforcement agencies in curbing crime."
She said to this end,
ICZ had engaged media support to ensure effective dissemination of relevant
information to members of the public aimed at generating increased awareness
on matters concerning crime.
Cabs to retrench Staff Writer THE Central
Africa Building Society (Cabs), the country's largest building society, is
retrenching and offering staff packages to leave.
institution this week said the exercise was voluntary and was meant to reduce
staff levels, which had become "excessive".
Cabs managing director
Derek Stephenson said the exercise had already begun at the "highest level"
with four members of the general management team accepting
"The packages are generous and similar to those offered by
Old Mutual last year," he said. "The exercise is expected to be completed by
the end of May 2004."
Stephenson said the retrenchment exercise
should be viewed as part of the company's initiative to "improve future
prospects by prudent financial management, rather than as a reaction to the
current banking crises".
The banking sector has been retrenching
after Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) began cracking the whip within the
financial services sector with its new monetary policy
Standard Chartered Bank of Zimbabwe, Barclays Bank of
Zimbabwe and Kingdom Bank Ltd have also retrenched workers and given them
"This exercise in fact started in November 2001
when we implemented a staff freeze," Stephenson said. "Smaller margins in the
future mean that we need to reduce our cost base and restructure the
He said the voluntary retrenchment
exercise was "proactive and will help ensure continued growth in the
Cabs recently said the introduction of statutory reserves
that "earn O%" while lodged with the RBZ would result in loss of revenue for
Cabs said however mortgage loans are still available to
Moza expands 14% as Zim shrinks 13% Munyaradzi
Wasosa THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has criticised the government
for failing to formulate economic policies that are agreeable to
the International Monetary Fund to secure much-needed financial assistance
from the Bretton Woods institution.
Commenting on the IMF statement at
the end of Article IV consultations with Zimbabwe, MDC secretary for economic
affairs, Tendai Biti, said: "The underlying issue highlighted by the IMF is
that of a skewed economic and political system of governance," he
"As long as the government does not revise its policies, we can
forget about ever getting assistance."
The IMF released a negative
report on March 31 after holding consultations with the government,
opposition political parties, representatives of civil society and the
business community, among others.
In its report, the IMF said
Zimbabwe had experienced a sharp economic and political decline since 1999.
Biti told the Zimbabwe Independent that his party concurred with the
"Ours is the fastest shrinking economy in the world. This year
alone, the economy is projected to shrink by about 13,2% while Mozambique's
economy is expected to grow by 14%," he said.
The IMF has declared
it will not resume balance of payments support to Zimbabwe because of
unworkable policies and an unstable political environment.
country owes the Bretton Woods institution at least US$290 million, a debt
that government had not been servicing over the past two years.
MDC said the government must introduce a debt cartel that will see
an improvement in debt repayment.
"The government must set up a
sector of the economy that is capable of generating foreign currency strictly
for servicing international debt," Biti said. "This can only happen if we
have a government that operates transparently, which is not the case in
According to the IMF, the country's gross domestic product
has declined by a bout 30%, and is expected to decline further. Inflation is
currently hovering around 600%, and the country continues to record negative
'Zim must learn from SA' - MDC Dumisani
Muleya THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has intensified
calls for electoral law reform following South Africa's third democratic
election since the fall of apartheid in 1994.
Wel-shman Ncube said his party wanted fundamental changes to the electoral
system to ensure free and fair elections.
He said Zimbabwe should
learn from South Africa how to conduct elections in a democratic and
civilised way. South Africans went to the polls on Wednesday in an election
pronounced by parties themselves and electoral authorities as free and
"What is happening in South Africa is what we are simply
calling for, that is free and fair elections run by an independent authority
which is managed by impartial officers," he said.
Zimbabwe to adhere to the Sadc (Southern African Development Community) norms
and standards for elections. Zimbabwe is the only country in the region which
runs polls on the basis of profoundly flawed and undemocratic
The MDC has now repackaged and consolidated its original 15
demands on electoral reform into five broad items that still capture the gist
of their basic concerns.
Ncube said his party wanted a conducive
political climate and restoration of confidence in the electoral system;
assurance of the secret ballot as well as voting and counting of votes in one
day; restoration of the rule of law and impartial conduct by state security
agents during campaigns; and the restoration of political and civil
He said Zimbabwe should adopt elements of the South
African electoral system to ensure elections did not produce illegitimate and
dictatorial regimes that subverted the people's will in
"I'm quite sure we won't hear any parties in South Africa
complaining about blatant electoral fra-ud or vote-rigging like here in
Zimbabwe," he said.
"Their system is tight and works well. Whatever
problems such as political violence in provinces like KwaZulu/Natal there was
no state involvement. In fact, the ruling party (African National Congress)
endlessly preached the message of the need for a peaceful
Ncube said the situation in Zimbabwe was different because
government wreaks havoc during every election.
"Here we have
aruling party and gov-ernment that con-sistently unleash vio-lence on a
massive scale and commit electoral fraud during every election," he
"Now instead ofamending the Ele-ctoral Act to improve the
organisation and running of elections the government has made changes which
will make the situation worse."
Ncube said the recent modification
of the electoral law was designed to ensure a predetermined outcome for Zanu
PF in next year's general election.
"The registrar-general (of
ele-ctions) now has power to unilaterally remove names of registered voters
from the roll and Zanu PF functionaries in electoral agencies have been given
more power to control the electoral process," he said.
negates all the reforms we are calling for and, indeed, the Sadc norms and
standards for elections."
Hippo Pools Camp re-opens Augustine
Mukaro HIPPO Pools Wilderness Camp has re-opened its doors to tourists
and holidaymakers after five months of forced closure by invading Zanu
The camp was first invaded on October 16 last year forcing
booked clients to vacate the resort in the middle of the
Camp owner Ian Jarvis this week confirmed the
"We have been operating for the past three weeks without
any problems," Jarvis said. "There have been some assurances that our
operations will not be disturbed again."
He said the Wilderness
Trust held meetings with Environment and Tourism minister Francis Nhema and
National Parks officials in which a proposal to form a partnership to develop
the area with the authority was mooted.
"We have since submitted the
proposal on how the safari area could be restocked as well as develop
projects for the community. We are currently waiting for government
response," he said.
Jarvis said the area had the potential to become
one of the country's biggest tourist destinations if the National Parks
controlled rampant gold panning and poaching in the safari
The camp is situated in the Umfurudzi Safari area in
Mashonaland Central, which falls under government's Parks and Wildlife
Jarvis said most of the equipment that was looted had not
been returned and he was having problems in restocking.
keys which I was forced to hand over during the invasion have not been
returned and we are in the process of buying new keys for the
Jarvis said the invasion has disrupted Wilderness
Africa Trust projects being supported by the camp. The trust was involved in
the translocation of game species from invaded farms.
Safari area is a 74 000-hectare game park 150 kilometres north of Harare in
the Mazowe-Shamva area.
Minor parties fail to register Lupane
candidates Loughty Dube BATTLE lines have been drawn between the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the ruling Zanu PF in the
Lupane constituency after other political parties failed to field candidates
at the close of nominations this week in a by-election that could see another
The MDC's Njabuliso Mguni and Zanu PF's Martin
Khumalo were the only registered candidates at the close of the nomination
court in Lupane on Wednesday. Other political parties that include NAGG, Zapu
and Liberty Party failed to field candidates.
Zanu PF and the MDC
will square up for the second time this year following the bitterly fought
Zengeza by-election which Zanu PF won.
Zanu PF is seeking to snatch
its first seat in Matabeleland North from the MDC after it lost everything to
the opposition in the 2000 parliamentary election. It is likely to use the
same means as in Zengeza, observers said.
Bulawayo district registrar
Shadreck Zvimba presided over the nomination court that sat at the Lupane
magistrates court. There were no reported incidents of violence on the day of
the nominations and the registration of candidates.
seat fell vacant following the death of MDC MP David Mpala from wounds he
sustained when ruling party mobs abducted and assaulted him
The constituency polls are scheduled for the weekend of
Meanwhile, an MDC activist was allegedly abducted and heavily
assaulted by war veterans at Lupane business centre last Wednesday resulting
in clashes between the supporters of the opposition and the war
MDC district information and publicity secretary, David
Nyathi, says Gerald Khumalo is now in hiding in Bulawayo after Lupane police
came to their offices seeking to arrest him for fleeing with handcuffs
belonging to the police. He had been handcuffed by the war
Nyathi said Zanu PF militia had been deployed in Lupane and
were camped at Siziphile Primary School, at the DDF rest camp in St Paul's,
at Kusile Guest House, and at Mabhikwa Secondary School.
ZITF attracts only two new exhibitors Loughty
Dube THE Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), which kicks off in two
weeks time, has managed to attract only two new exhibitors despite claims by
the government that the country's relations with the international
community have improved.
This year's trade fair will see only 11
countries taking part in the waning national showcase. Nine countries took
part at ZITF last year.
Preparations for this year's trade fair,
whose theme is "Promoting inter-regional trade", kicked off without the
company's chairman, Mthuli Ncube, who is allegedly on the run from law
enforcement agents on allegations of externalising foreign
At a press briefing this week, Industry and International
Trade minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi dismissed claims that the international
community was snubbing Zimbabwe.
"The increase in the number of
countries taking part indicates that the countries are showing confidence in
Zimbabwe," said Mumbengegwi.
"They come because they see mutual
indications of trade opportunities."
Commenting on Ncube's absence,
Mumbengegwi said this would not affect the running of the
"The ZITF chairman is not here but things are moving on. It's
not true that his absence is compromising the ZITF," he
Quizzed on the absence of major European countries at the show
Mumbengegwi said people only thought of the international community in the
sphere of European states.
"There are over 100 countries in the
world and there are people who tend to think that when you talk about the
international community you are talking about Europe but that is not it. We
have other countries and we are happy with the international response to the
ZITF," he said.
Asked about the absence of the majority of countries
from the Far East that government has been targeting as economic trading
partners, Mumbengegwi cited the presence of China as representing the Far
A total of 401 local exhibitors will take part at the 2004
Trade Fair representing an increase of only two exhibitors from last year's
figure of 399.
Other countries taking part at ZITF are Botswana,
Malawi, Kenya, Italy, Nigeria, Mozambique and Austria.