New cabinet 'full of deadwood' By Valentine Maponga and
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's new cabinet came under fire
yesterday with people interviewed saying he had maintained his formula of
"recycling" the same old pool of people.
Soon after the appointments
on Friday night, Mugabe described the team as a "Development Cabinet" to
foster the economic turnaround programme. But analysts said the appointment
of hardliners to key portfolios suggested there would be no re-engagement
with the international community which Zimbabwe urgently needs. The new
cabinet, which sees the creation of four more ministries, was a "non-event"
that would further worsen the country's plight, commentators said
"There's so much deadwood there, you could build an ark with
it," said one yesterday.
Mugabe added six newcomers: Simbarashe
Mumbengegwi (Foreign Affairs); Michael Nyambuya (Energy and Power
Development); Tichaona Jokonya (Information and Publicity); Munacho Mutezo
(Water Resources and Infrastructural Development); Obert Mpofu (Industry and
International Trade); and Chen Chimutengwende (Public and Interactive
Affairs). There are 12 new deputy ministers appointed
Mumbengegwi, former ambassador to London, where he echoed the
regime's mantras about land and sanctions, is ill-suited to conduct a policy
of re-engagement, analysts pointed out, while Jokonya, formerly ambassador
to Mengistu Haile Mariam's regime in Ethiopia before moving to the United
Nations, will be unlikely to revise Jonathan Moyo's repressive media
Eric Bloch, an economic consultant, said it was disappointing
that Mugabe had increased the number of ministries to 30; a development he
said was designed to accommodate obsolete politicians.
line-up, it shows that Mugabe was not looking for the best person for the
job but to make sure some old friends find something to do. This cabinet is
much bigger than that of the United States," Bloch said.
splitting the Ministry of Finance to create that of Economic Development
would only cause confusion between the two ministries.
Dr Herbert Murerwa
is now the Minister of Finance, while Rugare Gumbo heads the Ministry of
"There are contradictory positions. You cannot
expect to have positive development when you have a huge cabinet," he
University of Zimbabwe lecturer Eldred Masunungure said the new
cabinet promotes continuity rather than development.
Mugabe, he said,
had forgiven some of the organisers of the Tsholotsho meeting by retaining
Patrick Chinamasa as Minister of Justice, and appointing Emmerson Mnangagwa
as head of the new Ministry of Rural, Housing and Social Amenities - albeit
"Very few people expected Mnangagwa and Chinamasa to be in
that cabinet, but Mugabe is trying to keep them under a close eye. I don't
anticipate any major policy shifts from these guys," he
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) director Arnold Tsunga
said there was need to create a conducive business environment to ensure
He said unless government upheld principles of
democracy, national development would be difficult to foster.
Ministry of Rural Housing and Social Amenities, headed by Mnangagwa, would
certainly "clash" with Ignatius Chombo's Ministry of Local Government, Urban
Works and Urban Development since rural district councils fall under
The Movement for Democratic Change's Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga described the line up as a "white-haired cabinet" with
nothing new to offer.
Mugabe's announcement of cabinet ministers and
their deputies over the past two days has effectively dismantled the
so-called Tsholotsho Gang, which he accuses of plotting leadership changes
in the Zanu PF presidium before its December congress.
announcement of deputy
Continued on page 2
saw the 81-year-old president appoint his nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, as deputy
Minister of Science and Technology Development.
Zhuwao is the son of
Mugabe's sister, Sabina, the member of parliament for Zvimba South who sits
in the House with her other son, Leo Mugabe, the MP for Makonde.
Mugabe announced the list of provincial governors, the biggest
was former Masvingo governor, Josaya Hungwe, who attended the Tsholotsho
indaba. Stan Mudenge lost the influential Ministry of Foreign Affairs to
diplomat Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.
Mudenge was re-assigned to the Ministry
of Higher and Tertiary Education.
Mudenge's disciple, Shuvai Mahofa, was
also dumped by Mugabe as the senior leadership of Masvingo stands accused of
having sided with the Tsholotsho gang.
Mugabe, who has always dealt
ruthlessly with dissent in Zanu PF ranks since the liberation struggle, also
divided the Tsholotsho crew by re-appointing some of the participants to
The surprise inclusion was Chinamasa, who was
tipped to topple Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo under the Tsholotsho
Other participants at the Tsholotsho meeting who were retained
are Andrew Langa, who is the new deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism,
and Abednigo Ncube, who has been moved from Foreign Affairs to the Ministry
of Labour and Social Welfare, where he will fall under the leadership of
The only full cabinet ministers from Matabeleland are
Kembo Mohadi, who retained the Home Affairs Portfolio, Obert Mpofu, who
comes in at Industry and International Trade and Sithembiso Nyoni who was
re-appointed Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises
When The Standard asked Mugabe to explain Nyoni's
appointment and why there were only three female cabinet ministers, he said:
"Well, we tried but then we had to get people who come from the people. That
is why we had to get somebody who did not win (Nyoni)."
solution to the dilemma for Zanu PF is if Nyoni stands as a candidate in
Mudzi East, where a by-election must be held to replace Ray Kaukonde, who is
now the Governor of Mashonaland East.
Alternatively, Zanu PF could amend
the constitution to accommodate Nyoni.
DA remanded for missing ballot papers From Savious
Kwinika in ZAKA
ZAKA acting District Administrator (DA), John Dzinoruma
Mubako and an election officer who were arrested, last week in a poll
violation appeared before Zaka magistrate, Godfrey Gwaka, on Monday, facing
charges of contravening a section of the Electoral Act. The two were
remanded out of custody to Tuesday on $100 000 bail each.
was an assistant constituency election officer for Zaka West while Norah
Thokozani Chisi was the presiding officer for Jichidza council polling
station in Zaka West during the 31 March parliamentary elections.
two are being accused of contravening Sections 87 and 69 of the Electoral
Act, which stipulate that after polls the election material is required to
be returned to the constituency election officer.
Section 87 says: "Any
electoral officer or other person who wilfully fails to perform any of the
duties which by this Act he or she is required to perform, shall be guilty
of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level ten."
for level 10 is $2 million.
The two were arrested a day after the
parliamentary polls and detained after they failed to transmit the election
material, comprising ballot books, election ink, presiding officer's stamp
and other election material.
Thadeus Muchangani, for the prosecution,
said it is the State's case that on Friday 1 April 2005, the two accused
persons failed to transmit the election material to the constituency office
at the DA's office in Zaka.
Some of the election material, allegedly lost
by the two was never recovered, while others were found at the acting DA's
The ballot books that were found at the DA's residence had the
following serial numbers: 060601-to-06020; 060201-to-060300; and ballot
books 060001-to-060076 and a secret mark.
The court heard that Norah
Chisi of "one political party, which contested the elections" allegedly lost
some ballot papers and is facing similar charges to Mubako, who was found
with the ballot books at his residence.
A J Mutonono represented the two
Last week The Standard incorrectly identified Nyashadzashe
Zindove, as the DA for Zaka. In fact, Zindove was posted to another district
just before the 31 March Parliamentary elections. The Standard regrets the
embarrassment the report caused to Zindove and his family and offers its
'SA bankrolled Zanu PF election campaign' By Loughty
BULAWAYO - In what could expose the double standards of President
Thabo Mbeki's government in handling the Zimbabwean crisis, the opposition
Freedom Front Plus on Thursday alleged in parliament that South Africa
donated about R1 million towards Zanu PF's election campaign.
Front Plus MP, Pieter Groenewald, asked Mbeki in Parliament if he was aware
that about R1 million was allegedly handed over by the secretariat of the
armed forces to the Zimbabwe military attaché to South Africa to support the
ruling party in the 31 March parliamentary elections. Under the Political
Parties (Finance) Act, it is an offence for a political party to receive
foreign funding in any form. In February, the government gave Zanu PF $3.3
billion, while $3.1 billion was made available to the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) for the elections.
Groenewald alleged that
the money was donated at a function that was held in Pretoria in March and
was deposited in the personal account of the attaché, who was not named in
Groenewald, however, told parliament that Defence Minister,
Mosiuoa Lekota, was not present during the handover ceremony.
from South Africa said a stunned Mbeki in reply said: "The South African
government had never financed an election campaign in any
According to News 24.com, an online publication, Mbeki asked
Groenewald to furnish him with more details of the incident before
investigations were instituted.
The South African press said Defence
spokesperson, Sam Mkhwananzi, refused to comment on Thursday.
not comment as we do not have enough information. The department will
investigate the matter," Mkhwananzi was quoted as saying.
for comment yesterday Zanu PF secretary for finance, David Karimanzira, said
he was in a meeting before switching off his mobile phone.
PF national chairman, John Nkomo, denied that his party received any funds
from the South African government.
"I do not know anything about that,
absolutely nothing about the matter you are talking about," said Nkomo
before switching off his mobile phone.
MDC secretary general, Welshman
Ncube, said the opposition party was far from being shocked by the latest
"The South African government is an ally and supporter of
Zanu PF and they provide the party with material, moral and financial
"In actual fact, they helped Zanu PF rig the elections and they
turn around to the world and say the elections in Zimbabwe were free and
fair," Ncube said.
The South African Observer Mission declared the
disputed 31 March elections, won by Zanu PF, as free and fair.
past Zanu PF has accused the MDC of being funded by Western countries,
especially Britain and the United States.
The opposition party has
dismissed the allegations as baseless.
MDC supporters barred from buying maize meal By Godfrey
MASVINGO - Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
supporters in rural areas of Masvingo province are allegedly being denied
access to maize meal because they are suspected of having voted for the
opposition party in the just ended parliamentary polls, The Standard was
Also affected were local election observers who were attached to
the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) during the March 31
parliamentary elections. Villagers interviewed by The Standard alleged
that Zanu PF officials ordered headmen and councillors to strike off the
names of suspected opposition supporters and local observers from lists that
are submitted to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB). The lists enable people to
buy maize meal from the GMB.
The worst affected areas are Gutu South,
Mwenezi and Bikita East constituencies, which were won by Zanu PF in the
just ended parliamentary polls.
Eshmael Mazuru of Mataruse village,
in Gutu South, said he was finding it extremely difficult to fend for his
family. "We are being made to suffer because we support the opposition MDC.
Our families have virtually nothing to eat. We can't buy maize meal in the
shops because the shelves are empty, so we can't do anything. We are
dependent on help from sensitive relatives who support Zanu PF," said
Elizabeth Dube, who said she was an election observer with Zesn
in the just ended elections, said she was chased away from a GMB maize
selling point in Bikita East by a councillor, she identified by
She said the councillor accused her of being an opposition
sympathiser. It was not immediately possible to reach the councillor for
"I was chased away from a GMB selling point by the councillor
who said I was an opposition sympathiser because I observed the elections
"If this continues many MDC supporters here will starve to
death because we did not have a good harvest this season due to erratic
rains", she said.
MDC provincial chairman Shacky Matake said chiefs,
headmen and councillors were denying opposition supporters in Masvingo rural
access to buy food. "We have been receiving numerous reports from our
supporters in different areas in the province, who are denied the right to
buy maize meal because they voted for us and this is being done through
abusing the role of traditional chiefs,'' said Matake.
He added: "To
us it's a clear indication that the ruling party, which stole the recent
election, has been victimising our supporters in the rural areas using such
things as food. Now they want to fix them so that they desert our party in
order to boost Zanu PF's dwindling support base."
Zesn national director,
Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, said the organisation will investigate the matter.
Most villagers in rural Masvingo, which received poor rains this season,
face starvation because of widespread crop failure.
Comic jibes dominate swearing-in ceremony By Valentine
THE swearing in ceremony of the 151 Members of Parliament on
Tuesday could have passed for a comedy as the MPs verbally abused each other
throughout the proceedings.
During this performance, the starring
role was reserved for outspoken MDC MP for St Mary's Job Sikhala who seemed
to have a brief profile of almost every legislator. Sikhala, with the
help of fellow MP Murisi Zwizwai (Harare Central) was on form, making sure
that nobody took the oath of office without being subjected to embarrassing
tit-bits about their private life.
Equally lethal with his tongue, was
minister without portfolio, Elliot Manyika, whose comments left the House in
stitches despite repeated feeble calls by the Clerk of Parliament, Austin
Zvoma, exhorting the House to order.
However, all senior Zanu PF MPs
and former ministers seemed to enjoy the "reunion" with their opposition
counterparts and enabled the play to flow.
Manyika started by barking:
"Where are the others?"evidently referring to former MDC MPs who failed to
make it back into Parliament.
However, it was a different story for most
incumbent MPs who were rather confused and looked out of sorts.
Zanu PF MP for Kariba, Shumbayaonda Chandengenda, Tuesday is a day he would
like to forget.
"Utenge mazino nepay yako yekutanga," (You should buy
yourself a set of dentures with your first Parliamentary salary) Zwizwai
shouted to Chandengenda who was sitting next to Mashonaland Central
governor, Ephraim Masawi.
Chandengenda in retaliation raised a
clenched fist at the burly Zwizwai.
The MDC legislators also poked fun at
some Zanu PF MPs as they loudly speculated on who would be left out of the
The current Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Herbert
Murerwa, was told he would become the Minister of Foreign Affairs as he had
recently accompanied President Mugabe to The Vatican City for the burial of
Pope John Paul 11.
"Manyika, you are not going to be in the coming
cabinet. You will not even be a Minister without Portfolio. Sekeramayi
(Sydney) you are going to be the minister of the CIO (security)," Sikhala
Manyika was not amused but was shouted down as he tried to call
the house to order.
"Who are you? In what capacity are you saying
that? Gara pasi (Sit down)," shouted the opposition MPs.
heckling was to follow for Manyika.
"You are not going into Cabinet
because you had an illicit affair with the wife of Border Gezi," shouted
Then it was the turn of former information minister Jonathan
Moyo. He stood up to deafening applause from the opposition MPs who called
him "Robert Mugabe's conqueror".
"Shumba yaMugabe, shumba yaMugabe!
Made (Joseph) Professor Moyo urikumuona here uyo (Made do you see Professor
Moyo)? Come and greet your friend!" shouted Sikhala and other MDC
Moyo moved around shaking hands with the MPs who sat on the
front benches. He then sat quietly between the MDC leader of the House,
Gibson Sibanda, and Welshman Ncube. Former speaker of Parliament, Emmerson
Mnangagwa, sat quietly, like a visitor referred to in parliamentary language
as a "stranger."
Saviour Kasukuwere the MP for Mt Darwin South could
be heard making inaudible interjections in retaliation for abuse hurled at
his Zanu PF colleagues. Sabina Mugabe, who made history by having her two
sons in Parliament, in where she also sits, was not spared
"Gogo vana tinavo muno saka musatya (Granny don't worry because
your children will protect you) When you retire, you should bring your
daughter in-law into Parliament," came some of the many barbs directed at
the Mugabe family.
They were referring to Leo Mugabe and Patrick
Zhuwawo both Zanu PF MPs for Makonde and Manyame constituencies
"Zhuwawo is from Mozambique but he is an MP in Zimbabwe,"
shouted one of the MPs.
loss making national airline, Air Zimbabwe, will be split into three major
strategic business units (SBUs) in a new structure intended to arrest its
The restructuring will be completed by the end of this
month and a new structure will be unveiled, official sources said last
week. The turnaround strategy is being instituted to reposition and transform
Air Zimbabwe into a commercially viable entity. A Parliamentary committee
last year called for the amendment of the Air Zimbabwe Act to enable the
airline to privatise.
The national carrier will be split into three
SBUs for cargo, passenger and a handling division. Karikoga Kaseke, the
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications whose
ministry has been tasked with reviewing and monitoring the performance of
the national airline, confirmed the changes last week.
restructuring exercise will be completed by the end of this month and we
will announce the results of the exercise," Kaseke told Standard
Mike Mahachi, who was recently appointed Air Zimbabwe's
Managing Director, could not be reached for comment.
In his 2005
national budget, acting Finance and Economic Development Minister Herbert
Murerwa urged the national airline to charge economic fares on all its
routes to ensure its viability, which is critical for its operations and the
promotion of tourism.
Apart from establishing the three separate business
entities, authorities are also closely monitoring Air Zimbabwe's board and
the competency of its management. The government, the sources said, is still
hunting for a strategic partner for the airline.
Over the past years
the under-performing national carrier has been beset by a plethora of
problems that include difficulties in procuring foreign currency to meet its
foreign currency denominated commitments.
In 2004, the International Air
Transport Association (IATA) suspended Air Zimbabwe from its membership over
a debt of US$1,9 million for tickets booked with other airlines. The airline
blamed the national shortage of hard currency for its failure to service the
least six of the 50 buses recently acquired by the Zimbabwe United Passenger
Company (Zupco) from China have already broken down, hardly a week in
operation because they are not suitable for Zimbabwe's road network, The
Standard has been told.
Sources within the parastatal said the buses'
ground clearance was low, making it difficult for the vehicles to pass over
speed humps and potholes found on various urban routes. "Six buses have
already sustained damaged sumps while passing over speed humps," said the
The US$2,3 million worth of buses are part of the 400 vehicles to
be supplied by a Chinese company, First Automobile Works (FAW), under an
arrangement made in December last year.
The sources said there is
also "communication breakdown" between the Chinese technical staff seconded
to Zupco by FAW to train personnel in the maintenance of the
"There is only one interpreter who, apart from not being a
technical person, cannot speak proper English, making it difficult for him
to pass on technical information between the Chinese and the Zupco technical
staff," said the source.
Marko Kandengwa, Zupco chief executive
officer could not immediately confirm whether the buses had already broken
down, insisting he needed to check with his technical staff first.
would have to check with my guys on that issue because I was not in office
today," said Kandegwa, adding that 15 of the 50 buses had already been
deployed on a test run and were operating within the city.
acknowledged that the ground clearance of the buses was low but added that
Zupco had resorted to deploying the new buses on routes where there are
fewer speed humps.
"These buses are meant for the urban areas only, but
the next batch will be capable of servicing the rural areas," Kandengwa
Kandengwa also confirmed that a Chinese technical team was working
with the Zupco technical staff in servicing the new fleet.
revealed plans for setting up a workshop in the country, with the help of
the Chinese, so that servicing the buses will be supported.
however, denied that there were communication problems: "There are no
communication problems between the Chinese and Zupco technical staff. Some
of the Chinese can speak English and the manuals used by the technical staff
and the drivers have also been translated into English."
The Standard it was not the first time Zupco had faced technical problems
with a new fleet of buses.
"Some of the 29-seater buses that were bought
from Gift Investments were returned because of technical problems," said
Efforts to obtain comment from Feng Yan, president of FAW,
yesterday were unsuccessful.
Zupco is set to receive $300 billion
from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) under the $10 trillion Parastatals
and Local Authorities Reorientation Programme .
The funds would be
used to acquire critical spare parts, rehabilitation of strategic equipment,
workshops and buses.
MDC officials appear in court By our
NYANGA - Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
losing candidate for Nyanga, Douglas Mwonzora and 15 party activists last
week appeared before a Nyanga magistrate court facing charges of public
They were remanded to 26 April after posting $200 000 in bail
each. Mwonzora and the 15, who were not asked to plead, are being represented
by Mutare-based lawyer Chris Ndlovu.
The State represented by
prosecutor Ray Wejer says on 10 April Mwonzora and the 15 activists had an
altercation with Jeari Mandikonza, a war veteran and some Zanu PF supporters
Mandikonza then reported the matter to the police who made a
follow-up and arrested the 16 at Mangondoza Hotel.
a Mr Tsikwa, ordered Mwonzora to report once a week at Masvingo central
police station .
Mwonzora, who is based in Masvingo, was ordered not to
interfere with State witnesses.
The 15 MDC activists are Kuda
Sarutani, Kumbirai Mwonzora, Givus Musavanga, Duncan Musavanga, William
Mwedzi, Sample Nyakakwetu, Tawanda Magombo, Blessing Mutsami, Rogers Gora,
Phillip Teya, Robert Nyagura, Kudzai Maponga, Munyaradzi Mwonzora, Fungai
Kwangwari Mwonzora and one Mabaya.
They were ordered to report once a
week at Nyanga Police Station
Harare, a 'health time bomb': experts By Caiphas
MOST of Harare's high-density suburbs are sitting on a health
time bomb because of overcrowding, health experts have warned. They are
convinced the overcrowding has strained excessively the old and crumbling
ablution facilities installed during the colonial era.
as scabies, Tuberculosis (TB), diarrhoea, measles and dysentery, some of
which were last reported before independence, have resurfaced due to
overcrowding and the general shortage of drugs. The magnitude of the problem
is alarming, they said. The threat of disease is further compounded by the
critical water shortage currently being experienced in the capital
The problem is most profound in the high-density areas of Mbare,
Highfield, Kambuzuma, Epworth, Tafara, Mufakose and Dzivarasekwa, where
Harare's poorest inhabitants reside.
It is estimated that Harare has
more than 2,5 million people and nearly half a million are in desperate need
Presently, an average of 15 people stay at every house,
built on stands measuring 200m, in Harare's high-density suburbs. Such
houses were built to accommodate a maximum of six people only.
executive director of Community Working Group on Health (CWGH), Itai Rusike,
said overcrowding in Harare's high-density suburbs has reached crisis
levels, creating potentially "explosive disease epidemic situations".
said diseases such as scabies, which were last reported during the colonial
era, were beginning to emerge 25 years after independence, and that this was
an indication of the collapse of the health sector.
"It is a time bomb, a
huge problem indeed. Late last year, we had an outbreak of scabies in
Kambuzuma, a disease which we last heard about during Smith's regime" said
He said after 25 years of independence, communicable diseases
such as scabies, Tuberculosis (TB), diarrhoea, measles and dysentery were
rampant in areas such as Mbare, Epworth, Mufakose and Dzivarasekwa, where
people live in crowded single rooms.
Director of the Harare-based
Institute of Water and Sanitation Development (IWSD), Engineer Ngoni Mudege,
said houses designed to accommodate a family of six were taking up to 15
people, a condition which he said was a rececipe for the spread of
Mudege said due to overcrowding sanitation systems
were failing to cope, resulting in waste piling up in the pipes.
sewer is designed to service a specific number of people and this is one the
case now. In books, we have the best town planning system in the region but
we fail in the application of our by-laws," Mudege said.
He said the
situation in most high-density areas had gotten out of hand, especially in
flats such as Nenyere and Matapi in Mbare.
IWSD says toilets in Mbare are
overcrowded and most of them do not flush and up to 1 300 people share one
communal toilet with only six squatting holes. In addition to poor latrines
the urban poor also face solid waste and drainage problems.
are crowded you lose ventilation, which leads to the spread of opportunistic
infections such as TB. At the moment, the potential of a Cholera outbreak is
very high because of overcrowding," Mudege said.
Harare City Council said
inadequate housing was one of the biggest social problems facing the city,
which has suffered heavily from political interference from central
In its 2003 annual report, which is the latest, the
department said the shortage of accommodation in Harare had led to the
mushrooming of shacks, which are a health hazard to the
"Proliferation of backyard shanties for human habitation
constructed of various assorted materials resulting in overcrowding
conditions under unhygienic conditions and the straining of municipal
services remain the city's perennial social problem," said Harare City
Health Director, Dr Lovemore Mbengeranwa, in a forward to the
The report said conditions at Dzivarasekwa and Hatcliffe squatter
settlements had deteriorated to "deplorable levels" creating potentially
explosive disease epidemic situations.
remained the major communicable disease notified, accounting for 5 536 cases
(51.6 percent) out of the 10 729 cases investigated," says the
Similar problems are also prevalent at Porta Farm, some 30
kilometres west of Harare, where squatters from the capital were dumped in
preparation of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in
Harare City Council spokesperson, Leslie Gwindi, said the council
was working with the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National
Housing, in trying to solve the housing crisis in the city.
the implementers of government policy and we are working with central
government to Provide accommodation to solve the problem," said
But Rusike blamed the government for failing to provide
decent accommodation to people. The government, which is aware of the
impending catastrophe, has not taken any action to avert a crisis, he
Observers disown 'free, fair' poll claim By Foster
NO credible observer mission declared the recent Parliamentary
elections won "overwhelmingly" by the ruling Zanu PF as free and fair
despite unsubstantiated claims by some sections of the media.
head of the African Union Observer Team, Kwado Afari-Gyan did not mince his
words when The Standard asked him for his mission's views on the elections.
"We cannot talk of a free and fair election because that would, among other
things, involve a perfect voters' roll, a perfect campaigning environment
and perfect electoral playing field." Afari-Gyan also spoke about the
Movement for Democratic Change's concerns.
"The MDC has alleged that
there are serious discrepancies in the official results released by the ZEC
for several constituencies. It is hoped that both the ZEC and the ESC will
promptly look into the allegations with a view to assuring the Zimbabwean
people of the authenticity of the results of the elections."
team raised serious concerns about the manner in which the elections were
"Almost everywhere that members of our team visited, several
prospective voters could not find their names on the roll and were thus
turned away from the polls. At most polling stations, several voters
required assistance to vote. The manner in which the assistance was given
requires to be reviewed to safeguard the secrecy of the vote," he
The MDC accused Zanu PF of intimidating people into requesting
assistance when voting so that biased officials voted on their behalf
invariably for the ruling party.
Like many of the other observer
missions, the AU chose to emphasize the peaceful nature of the
"In relation to the elections, it is the view of the team
that, at the point of the ballot, the elections were held in a peaceful and
orderly manner and the polling arrangements made it possible for the voters
to freely choose their preferred candidates by casting a secret
"In the days preceding election day, the team observed that the
general electoral environment was peaceful, political rallies were well
attended and violence-free and political parties, access to the media had
The Southern African Development Community Election Observer
Mission team was led by South African government minister, Phumzile Mlambo-
Although South African government officials are regarded as
sympathetic to Zanu PF, Mlambo-Ngcuka steered away from declaring the
elections free and fair.
"SADC Mission congratulates the people of
Zimbabwe for holding peaceful, transparent, credible, and well managed
elections, which reflect the will of the people," Mlambo-Ngcuka
However, the SADC Mission also raised reservations about some
aspects of the election, especially the unequal access to the state media,
the need to publish and update the voters' roll and the need to educate
police officers and presiding officers on the role and rights of
The South African government mission led by Labour minister,
Membathisi Mdladlana also came to a conclusion which was similarly to that
It said the elections were a reflection of the will of the
people of Zimbabwe.
The South African Observer team lost credibility
when Mdladlana declared after meeting President Mugabe that the elections
would be free and fair before voting had even started.
by journalists to say if the elections had been free and fair, Mdladlana
became hostile. "What is wrong with you? Do you have a problem?" he berated
one journalist who was grilling him.
MDC secretary-general, Welshman
Ncube, said many observers who were in the country had short-changed the
people of Zimbabwe with their uninformed reports.
"Most of them were
in Zimbabwe on holiday and they were living it up at The Sheraton and
Meikles hotels and we told them to their faces that they were here on
holiday and that it was in the rural areas where the rigging and
intimidation was taking place."
The militant Zimbabwe National
Students' Union said: "We, the students of Zimbabwe seriously warn President
Thabo Mbeki and his ANC that Zimbabweans are no less human than South
Africans. A South African life is not more precious than a Zimbabwean
The statement says the elections were flawed because they were
administered by partisan bodies.
"The 2005 March election was
fundamentally flawed in that the soldiers, police, war veterans, youth
militia and the apartheid laws - POSA and AIPPA - that were used to
brutalise the Zimbabwean people still exist.
"The Registrar General's
Office, the elections directorate, the electoral supervisory commission and
the delimitation commission that are all appointed by Mugabe remain active
in administering elections, which makes the outcome of the elections
Mbeki, replying to questions in the national assembly on
Thursday said his government would accept the final outcome of various
probes into Zimbabwe's recent elections, even if they were declared not free
The SA Foreign Affairs department had received a report from
the MDC on the various elements of the elections they were challenging in
the Electoral Court, he said.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network
had also sent a report in which they detailed issues of concern while the
Zimbabwe Council of Churches said it was preparing its own detailed report,
which had not yet been received.
"We believe our task is to study these
reports and see what they say... and then we'll act on the basis of what
"Also, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), to the best of
my knowledge has also not issued its final report, which will also deal with
some of the contentious issues raised."
Shangaani initiation ceremonies put off as hunger
bites By Savious Kwinika
BULAWAYO - Ravaging hunger in Chiredzi and
Beitbridge has scuttled plans for this year's annual traditional Shangaan
initiation ceremony, The Standard has learnt.
The Shangaani ethnic
group, who converge every year in Sengwe communal lands in Chiredzi for the
event, said they cancelled their traditional circumcision ceremony because
of severe hunger that has affected the area. Participants to the annual rite
come from as far as north-eastern South African areas of Giyani, Malamulele
and Tzaneen, and western Mozambique's Chilothlele, Chicualacuala and Sango
Chief Mundau Tshovani told The Standard that due to hunger
the annual initiation ceremony had been cancelled.
ceremony has been called off indefinitely due to hunger. Our boys and girls,
who are ready to assume adulthood duties, will be unfortunate this time.
Maybe they will be forced to wait for yet another year before undergoing
this crucial exercise," Chief Tshovani said.
In Shangani, initiation for
boys is called hoko and tikhombeni for girls, while in Venda they call it
Chief Tshovani appealed to the government to urgently consider
distributing food relief to the area in order to avert deaths from
Initiation ceremonies in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South
Africa are "rites of passage" designed to prepare both boys and girls for
their future roles as fathers and mothers.
University of Cape Town
lecturer, Khomanani Chauke, said the initiation ceremonies stress the
importance of appropriate social and sexual behaviour in adult
"An initiation ceremony is an opportunity both girls and boys would
never want to miss. It is a God-given rite in which true Shangaan-speaking
people and Venda would never want to miss. Whether these youths are at the
university or studying abroad, they are compelled to come back home and
perhaps go to the bush for two to three months for the exercise," Chauke
Bulawayo council reeling under severe viability
problems By our own staff
BULAWAYO City Council is facing severe
viability problems due a staggering $116.3 billion unsettled debt, which the
local authority is owed by the government and corporate companies, The
Standard has been told. Apart from that the local authority's 2005 budget
has not been approved by the government, five months after it was submitted
to the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National
This is despite that Bulawayo residents and the corporate
world had approved the budget of $775 billion. The delay in approving the
budget was widely viewed as political and designed to discredit the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC)-run council.
Opposition MDC controls most
major urban centres in the country.
To worsen the situation, the Bulawayo
Council has not received the $150 billion that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) Governor, Gideon Gono had early this year promised to inject into the
financially beleaguered council.
The funds are part of the $10 trillion
to be disbursed, some of it to local authorities, under Parastatals and
Local Authorities Re-Orientation Programme (PLARP).
expected to receive $150 billion while Harare was promised $200 billion.
Smaller towns and cities were promised an average of between $25 billion to
$75 billion each.
Bulawayo executive mayor, Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, told a
press conference recently that the $150 billion that RBZ promised to the
council was only "given in the press".
"We are yet to see those
funds. We only read about the funds in the press and we believe that was
politicking," Ndabeni-Ncube said.
In an interview with The Standard
Bulawayo Town Clerk, Moffat Ndlovu, said the council was still using 2004
rates because this year's budget had not been approved, making it extremely
difficult to operate, especially under the current inflationary
"We are operating on a 2004 frozen budget and things are
just too tough for the Bulawayo City Council. Now that the elections are
over maybe our budget will be approved but otherwise the input costs keep
"Electricity bills from the water pumping stations have
doubled, chemicals for water treatment, which are imported from South Africa
have sharply gone up, damaged roads are yet to be repaired and currently we
are failing to acquire new refuse collection trucks," Moffat Ndlovu
TOMORROW Zimbabwe marks 25 years of Independence. It would
be difficult to say Zimbabweans are celebrating this event. The country is
experiencing an unprecedented political and economic
Unemployment sits at 80% and is rising. Companies have closed
down and more will follow as the government's toxic economic policies poison
the business environment. Agriculture has suffered widespread collapse
following an arbitrary land redistribution programme. And living standards
have fallen to levels last seen in the early 1970s. South Africa's
President Thabo Mbeki complained recently that the tragedy playing out in
the Democratic Republic of the Congo was attracting less attention than
Zimbabwe where the situation was far less serious in terms of dislocation
He fails to understand that for a large part of its
post-Independence history, Zimbabwe - unlike the Congo - was a success
story. The government addressed colonial anomalies by building schools and
clinics, encouraged minorities to pull together for the good of the country,
and pursued policies that were productive and rewarding for all.
the world's attention has refocused on Zimbabwe, it is because there is
genuine shock at the way such a self-sufficient economy has been reduced to
a basket case over a period of five years by vindictive and short-sighted
policies. A whole nation has been pauperised by the retributive whim of a
ruler who still hasn't got over his electoral setback in 2000.
is it exactly that we should be celebrating? A sovereignty that has rendered
the country more dependent upon the charity of donors than it was in 1980?
The replacement of agricultural self-sufficiency with food imports that have
seen funds diverted from vital infrastructure projects? An isolation that is
set to increase because our rulers refuse to adhere to democratic norms
despite signing up to them?
President Robert Mugabe should not for one
minute think he has got away with cosmetic changes to the country's
electoral system. Or that a Senate packed with deadbeat losers and
handpicked cronies can masquerade as constitutional reform.
We are in
this mess because Zanu PF has betrayed the hopes of 1980. A promising
non-racial democracy, albeit with blemishes, has been replaced by a
baton-wielding police state.
Now it senses power slipping from its
arthritic fingers, the regime has imposed swingeing penalties to punish its
critics. The Public Order and Security Act (Posa) and the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) are not, as Mugabe's
spokespersons would have us believe, similar to security and media
legislation in other countries claiming to be democratic. They are clumsy
instruments to prevent democracy from succeeding in Zimbabwe.
it then that Zanu PF has to hide? The list is endless: The plundering of a
fund to assist victims of the liberation war by well-connected officials
claiming 80% disabilities (who are still very much active); the abuse of a
middle-income housing scheme by those least in need of housing assistance;
the diversion of District Development Fund borehole drilling and irrigation
equipment to the farms and suburban properties of powerful individuals who
similarly benefited from tractor loans.
Not content with this record of
delinquency, Zanu PF has engaged in an opaque land reform programme that no
donor will support because it sabotages agricultural productivity and has
increased rather than alleviated rural poverty. The President appears unable
or unwilling to evict those of his supporters who have seized more than one
Then there remain the glaring rule-of-law failures that would
disgrace even the most egregious dictatorship. The failure of the police to
apprehend those who abducted and tortured two journalists in 1999; their
failure to bring to justice those responsible for the torture of lawyer
Gabriel Shumba, Tonderayi Machiridza, who died after six days in detention,
and others held in custody; and perhaps the most emblematic case of all:
their persistent failure to prosecute Joseph Mwale who remains at liberty in
Chimanimani despite his implication in the death of two MDC election
officials in 2000.
That is the record Zanu PF will be telling us all to
celebrate tomorrow. An independent Zimbabwe in which a post-liberation
aristocracy plunders the nation's wealth, deters investment, punishes
detractors, abuses the law, and suborns the agents of
Zimbabweans know that a party that has deprived them of
their liberties and incomes is not qualified to instruct them on how to
celebrate their Independence. Most people will use 18 April to quietly
reflect on what might have been - and what one day could still be, once the
marauders in our midst have been removed.
Zim turns to South African bank for golden leaf
finance By Emmanuel Mungoshi
AGAINST the backdrop of what is probably
turning out to be the world's fastest collapsing economy, Zimbabwe has
crossed the border into South Africa to seek assistance to finance the
operations of its tobacco growers.
This follows the reluctance by a
significant number of local banks to issue loans to the new farmers citing
the prevailing insecure macro-economic environment, which is largely a
result of the government's controversial policies that have caused an
economic downturn. Late last month, the Tobacco Development Corporation (TDC)
through the aid of the local central bank signed an agreement with South
Africa's biggest retail lender - ABSA - for a US$25 million to finance
tobacco production inputs for the 2005/6 season.
The loans, which
have been guaranteed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, would be channelled
towards buying inputs for the both A1 and A2 tobacco
Agriculture, which is the mainstay of the Zimbabwean economy
accounting for more than 60% of the country's exports, is virtually in ruins
after President Robert Mugabe ordered the seizure of thousands of farms from
white farmers since 2 000 to resettle landless peasants.
million kgs, tobacco - Zimbabwe's former biggest cash crop - will be another
small crop this year although the sector appears set for a small
Before veterans of the liberation struggle and supporters
of the ruling Zanu PF party began to confiscate thousands of white-owned
farms in 2000, tobacco accounted for up to 40% of Zimbabwe foreign currency
Currently, differences over selling prices between growers and
merchants, which surfaced at the beginning of the selling season, also
threaten to prolong the country's hard currency squeeze.
downturn has hit the banking sector hard, in part because most banks were
heavily exposed to the commercial agriculture sector, and the loss of
revenue from white farmers has also compounded the situation.
In 1999, a
year before the farm seizures began, about 4 500 largely white commercial
farmers, borrowed about $60 billion annually to finance tobacco growing.
Local financial institutions say they are reluctant to finance resettled
tobacco growers - commonly referred to as A1 and A2 farmers - because they
lack collateral. Some of the few banks that dared to help the new farmers
say they have now withdrawn funding because of persistent
However, economic consultant Erich Bloch says courting
offshore credit lines does not in any way reflect the local banks' lack of
confidence in the industrial sector.
"In a normal situation local
banks should be able to provide such facilities. However when the country
has a negative balance of payment there are two choices either to go to the
foreign currency auction floors or to facilitate off shore credit lines,"
Mines reeling under rising costs and low prices By our
MANY mines in the Gweru and Masvingo mining districts
are closing down at an alarming rate due to the harsh economic environment,
crippling cash flow problems and high salary and wage bills, Standard
Business has learnt.
Some of the problems causing the closure of the
small mines include unsustainable electricity and fuel bills and high cost
of inputs against a background of low mineral prices on the international
market. The two mining districts that stretch from Gokwe up to Mutare and
down to Beitbridge have lost some of the biggest producers of gold,
diamonds, copper and chrome.
The most recent victim is Kwekwe-based
Globe and Phoenix Mine that shut down because of a crippling $3,25 billion
ZESA bill and gold thefts by an organized syndicate of illegal gold
The mine - originally owned by Homestake Mining and Technical
Services, who bought it from Independence Gold Mining (Pvt) Ltd in 2000 but
now managed by BioMetallugical Zimbabwe limited (BioMet) - has failed to pay
workers for months before throwing the towel into the ring and folding
Emmanuel Nhamo, the mine's General Manager, said they have
since laid off 630 workers.
"Although we have laid off all our labour
force we are going to retain about 400 workers on a database so that as soon
as new projects at Chaka Heapleach, Chaka Underground and Monte Christo
Underground are commissioned, these employees would be taken back," said
Nhamo. He said they had closed down Globe and Phoenix because of a number of
"We closed because of low gold support price, shortage of
various consumables like diesel and cyanide, shortage of foreign currency
and indeed some poor management decisions and Homestake's drive to create
employment for as many people as possible, resulting in the current
position," Nhamo said.
Tiger Reef, also owned by the Homestake, has
also closed operations due to the same reasons.
Railway Block chrome
mine - owned by Zimasco in Shurugwi - was closed last month by the owners as
chrome deposits are said to have depleted forcing them to look for a small
operator to mop up the little deposits left.
The owners also said they
closed Railway Block to concentrate on the upper levels of the mine and
their other mines in the province.
Venice Mine, the Kadoma-based gold
producer owned by Falcon Gold Zimbabwe and their other property, Dalyn Mine
at Chakari, closed down in 2002, due to poor underground and dump gold
deposits as well as rising costs such as mounting electricity, salaries and
The group also decried poor gold prices on the international
market and the general difficult macro-economic climate in
The two Falcon mines also incurred too many losses, and
operated on high and unsustainable salary and wage bills, which according to
the Venice Mine Closure Metallurgical Report, rose from $45 000 per month
per worker in December 2001 to $125 000 per worker in February 2002, with no
proportional increase in gold production.
The mine also suffered low
plant gold recovery from the dumps of about 25% and incurred high input
costs including mining costs of explosives, drilling, steels and chemicals.
It also suffered from racial tensions that led to worker polarization, which
was in turn blamed for low staff morale.
The group faced difficulties
extracting and processing refractory gold, which is said to require high
technology and financial injections to make the necessary technological
According to the metallurgical report, 2002 report, "total
recoveries on the free milling ores could be increased to more than 80%
using the Knelson Concentrator and subsequent cynidation of the residues.
For refractory dump material at the lower levels of the Venice Mine Dumps it
has been proposed to add oxygen into the pulp to enhance gold
Athens mine in Mvuma closed down due to unstable ground
making it difficult and unprofitable to mine. The original owners sold the
mine to an indigenous operator who has been reworking the dumps and mining
at low levels before closing.
The coalmine at Sengwa is said to be
operating below capacity due to high transport costs and the high impurities
content of the coal, making it necessary mainly for heating and little
Two mines Cobra and Lazeno in Chiredzi are known to have
very high potential but have failed to attract investors to mine copper,
molybdenum and sheltie due to the harsh environmental conditions in the
area. Another mine in the area, Mutandahwi, started off mining shelite and
closed only to reopen mining gold.
Copper Queen Mine in Gokwe North
closed shop two years ago due to the high energy bill as the mine failed to
get connected on the ZESA grid and use electricity than diesel in processing
Smaller mines like Beehive in Kwekwe near Indarama, and Bob's
Mine on the Gokwe Road in Kwekwe also closed down due to high operational
costs, refractory gold deposits requiring increased capital injection and
high input costs.
Other mines like chrome mine Buchwa Mine in
Mberengwa, asbestos mine Vanguard also in Mberengwa, Empress Mine and Eiffel
Flats Mines in Kadoma closed down due to exhaustion of the ore.
are also a host of smaller mines that have also closed for different reasons
laying thousands of workers disturbing their economic status in the process.
Some of the mines that closed like Venice had gold processing equipment that
could be leased or hired out to smaller mines and sustain a few workers. The
mill at Venice was closed well after the closure of the mine handling gold
from small operators.
Some of the mines like Globe and Phoenix and Tiger
Reef, both in Kwekwe, could not have stopped production had the authorities
managed to stop the rampant illegal gold mining, say experts.
Food shortages present hard choices Sundayopinion with
TO eat or not to eat, that is the question Zimbabweans, both
rural and urban, have to grapple with each day these days. And to help them
not forget, the national television broadcaster has a cookery programme on
Mondays during prime time viewing showcasing mouth-watering culinary
delights when the starving majority is sure to be glued to their
It had been predicted that food shortages would be the
downfall of Zanu PF at last month's parliamentary polls, but the party which
brought Zimbabwe independence now wields more clout than in did in the
previous parliament as it emerged from the once again disputed poll with
more seats that reportedly now give it a majority in the House. A few
days after the poll observers flew out after endorsing the election results
despite allegations the ruling party was using food as a political weapon,
clubs reportedly starting raining on the heads of the very people who had
been denied that food as ruling party supporters punished hungry opposition
party supporters. It can only be guessed whether the assailants themselves
were hungry or not.
There have been reports about food being used as a
weapon with MDC supporters being smoked out and excluded from accessing
cheaper maize from the Grain Market Board (GMB). A report last week offers
sobering thoughts about war veterans taking over at the GMB in Manicaland.
"We know all the MDC supporters here so don't bother standing in the queue
because we will flush you out. Some of you are buying Zanu PF cards to get
food but you voted for the MDC. There will be no grain for you," a so-called
war veteran is quoted as having told villagers gathered at the GMB depot to
An old man who had just come to town from his rural home
during the week said he was still trying to understand how his rural
neighbours had voted for Zanu PF when the poor villagers had been without
food for so long they cannot remember the last time they saw relief
Compounded by the absence of rain, the old man said food had become
the major talking point as villagers try to imagine how they are going to
feed not just themselves but also their livestock. So what happens then? "We
will have to buy food this time, and we have already started anyway," he
said. What about those folks who do not have the money? "I don't know," the
old man said. But the President has already said no one will foist food on
Zimbabweans, and amid such pronouncements, the fate of rural populations who
will bear the brunt of the shortages more than their urban cousins is only
too grim. And the government will be the first to deny hunger is claiming
In the urban centres, where the people know hardship when they
see it, long faces have become a permanent part of shopping as people walk
down the aisles of supermarkets. One has to see it to believe it. At a
supermarket in Bulawayo's central business district, a man in a business
suit grabbed a packet of chicken gizzards, appraised it, and moved a few
steps along the fridges. He kept staring at the packet he held, but one
could see his eye was on the drumsticks and the full chicken in the
supermarket fridge. Shaking his head - oblivious of other shoppers around
him - he finally threw the gizzards back in the fridge and walkedaway. Just
making that decision of what to buy for his supper seemed enough to drive
him nuts. He is not alone.
The rest of the people appear to know what
they want as they approach the fridges, but after instinctively checking the
bar-coded prices, they quickly put back the meat they would have bought were
the circumstances different. Instead, they settle for chicken entrails,
which a few years ago were buried or given to dogs after people slaughtered
At a township butchery, some old women queue for cow fat,
the kind favoured at weekend barbecues as those folks who have sought to
defy the odds here enjoy their lager. This fat seemingly gives the poor old
ladies a whiff of the meat they cannot afford, thus giving them a deserved
break from the incessant intake of greens that by now must have coloured
A priest complained that it is increasingly becoming
difficult for him to work knowing he is preaching to hungry people. "You can
preach the Gospel of salvation to an extent," he said. "It is not enough
telling people about a better afterlife when it is obvious they are
starving. When you see these hungry faces each day, you do not know what to
say to them anymore."
The hard times are having an effect on what in
other circumstances would be called downstream industries. Even the clergy
have become affected by the hardships, and not through their own avowed
religious asceticism, but rather through the people they minister
University students a few years ago known for their intrepid activism
even in the face of ever-looming threats of abduction and severe torture by
State security agents have interestingly accepted the hunger literally lying
down. For "breakfast" and "lunch" a freezit and a bun will suffice. Maputi
are also there to add to the new enforced diet. These have become dietary
pattern for students.
It has been said a good diet also nourishes the
brain and one has to wonder what kind of brains these students have,
considering the food they are eating. Imagine a mass protest as students
demonstrate because they got poor results and are blaming it on the
government. They accuse the regime of being responsible for the useless food
that shrunk their brains, and is therefore responsible for their examination
failure! To eat or not to eat has also become an academic problem.
Netsai Kembo in Mutare issue date :2005-Apr-18
RAMPANT smuggling of
beef from Mutare into Mozambique has resurfaced following the recent
"firming" of the Meticais on the black market against the Zimbabwean dollar,
it has been learnt. The practice, which had been prevalent over the years
and was blamed for escalating beef prices in Manicaland, had reportedly
stopped after the local currency gained against major
currencies following the central bank's new monetary policy introduced
some two years ago. Defiant black marketers cited "lack of profit" for
abandoning the illegal but lucrative trade, which has since reached alarming
proportions. Cases of smuggling beef into the former Portuguese colony
shot up particularly a fortnight ago when prices of basic commodities went
up amid fears of wholesale shortages in the face of sanctions and imminent
drought this year. Police in Mutare could neither deny nor confirm reports
that beef was being smuggled into Mozambique. Instead, they warned would-be
culprits that the law would descend heavily on them. "We can't rule out
the practice. but we would like to warn the culprits against prosecution. As
the police, we would do everything possible to bring to book all those
who indulge in such illegal practices," actingManicaland spokesman Assistant
Inspector Brian Makomeke. The Daily Mirror's investigations found that
Mozambican and Zimbabwean traders had formed smuggling rings through which
they acquired cattle for slaughter on the outskirts of Mutare and smuggle
the carcasses over the border. To evade the police, the beef smugglers
allegedly work in cahoots with unscrupulous rural butchers who purchase and
transport the meat to their business premises for sale. According to
reliable sources, the beef syndicates butcher an average of nine beasts
every three days. Offals, trotters and heads were for local consumption
while the rest of the carcasses were for "export". Beef is on high demand in
the Mozambican towns of Chimoio, Manica, Beira and Maputo due to the
scarcity of cattle in that country. A butcher in Zimunya, about 15km south
east of here, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed having big
orders for beef from clients who needed it for commercial purposes. "We
are having huge orders of beef which we are struggling to meet. Business is
brisk and we slaughter an average of 9 beef cattle after every three days,"
the butcher said. He said he did not mind where his clients took the beef to,
as it was not his business to meddle into the "private affairs." A
kilogramme of beef reportedly costs between $100 000 and $120 000 in
WOBBLING agro-processor, Hippo Valley
Estates Limited (Hippo), has been hit by a massive drop in cane and sugar
output sparked by an ownership confusion involving two of its sugar cane
estates, which are still under illegal occupation. Mkwasine Estate and
Hippo mill group, two of the company's largest subsidiaries, have been
listed and de-listed for compulsory acquisition by the government since
2001. Hippo chairman, Godfrey Gomwe, said the public listed corporation's
total cane production inclusive of seed cane for 2004 yielded only 1 070 149
tonnes against the previous year's output of 1 253 874 tonnes. Mkwasine
alone recorded a 30 percent loss of potential output, while the Hippo mill
group of out-growers suffered a 10 percent shrinkage, a contraction in
average yield per hectare of almost 20 percent in comparison with the
previous year's average product. Gomwe contended that production disruptions,
which teethed after the invasion of about 2 063 hectares of Mkwasine estate
cane land by "illegal" settlers, forced the company to prematurely harvest
supple cane, further aggravating the devastating effects of adverse weather
conditions, which had already subdued the performance of the crop. Said
Gomwe: "Hippo Valley North, consisting of 70 percent of the company's sugar
cane land was first listed for compulsory acquisition in September 2000 and
de-listed in October 2000. Mkwasine Estate was also listed in August 2000 and
de-listed in September 2001. On 22 March 2002 both properties were again
re-listed and applications for their de-listing were lodged on April 11
2002. Both properties were listed for a third time on August 6 and August 15
2003, respectively. Appropriate objections were lodged on September 3 2003
with the relevant authorities." He added: "These developments at Mkwasine
Estate have greatly disrupted farming operations on 2 063 hectares currently
occupied illegally. "This illegal occupation will result in a substantial
loss of sugar production and associated benefits to the company and the
economy as a whole. Over the last six months the estate only managed to
actively maintain 2 817 out of a possible 4 880 hectares." The company's
cane and sugar output in the outlook period is likely to remain depressed by
the legal overhang sparked by the dragging ownership tug-of-war over
Mkwasine Estate, he further deplored. Hippo is still operating at
sub-optimality level, with estate cane land measuring 2 063 hectares still
under settler control. The company decided to contest the designation of
Mkwasine Estate for compulsory acquisition in 2001 and filed successive
court applications to the High Court and the Administrative Court seeking to
set aside the Sections 8, 7 and 5 orders issued by government thrice to
annex the estate despite two court objections to the take-over
bid. Efforts to contact Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Joseph
Made for comment failed to bear fruit as his mobile phone was out of reach
until the time of going to press. But, the final judgment in the case,
which is expected to bring reprieve not only to the beleaguered company, but
also to the agricultural export sector left to bear the brunt of the
haphazard land reform programme, is still pending.
Zimbabwe has invited five heads of state and two prime
ministers from the Southern African region for its 25th anniversary of
independence celebrations, according to an official document seen by
Presidents Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of
Congo, Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia and Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania are expected
to attend the silver jubilee celebrations on Monday.
Newly-inaugurated Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia and Festus Mogae of
Botswana are also expected to arrive in the country this weekend for the
fete. Zimbabwe on Monday celebrates its 25th anniversary from
colonial British rule.
Prime ministers Luisa
Diogo of Mozambique and Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos of Angola will
represent their countries.
Surviving former presidents of
what were then known as the Frontline States, have also been invited and
will receive awards for their contribution towards the liberation struggle
Kenneth Kaunda, the founding president of
Zambia, Sam Nujoma of Namibia and Fredrick Chiluba had been the former
But the Zambian government has blocked
Chiluba, who is standing trial on corruption charges, from attending
Zimbabwe's national day celebrations.
Algeria is also
invited and will be represented by the president of its
The celebrations which started on Thursday have been
going on in various parts of the country.
On Friday night
more than 50 athletes were awarded with medals for outstanding contribution
to sports over the last 25 years.
Saturday will see all night
music and cultural galas taking place in various cities and towns across the
southern African country.
On Sunday President Robert Mugabe
and his wife host a children's party at a city sports stadium before
attending a ceremony at a city five-star hotel to honour African and
national liberation icons.
The main celebrations on Monday
will include an address by Mugabe, the release of 25 pigeons and a football
match between Zimbabwe and Tanzanian national teams. - Sapa-AFP
Mugabe's grip is tighter than ever April 17 2005 at
By Peta Thornycroft
There were always silly
rumours that a ghost writer such as Christopher Soames, the last British
governor, had written Robert Mugabe's speech of reconciliation after he won
the first general election in 1980.
That speech that he made 25
years ago today - on the eve of independence - always stuns young
Zimbabweans when they see the black-and-white footage for the first
"If yesterday you hated me, today you cannot avoid the love
that binds you to me and me to you. Is it not folly, therefore, that in
these circumstances anybody should seek to revive the wounds and grievances
of the past?" Mugabe said.
Among those who questioned
his authorship were vanquished whites mourning their dead and scared after
decades of demonising propaganda from the Rhodesian Front.
Others who questioned the speech were the left wing of Zanu-PF, many of whom
had been detained by Mugabe in Mozambique during the war, and of course the
towering Joshua Nkomo, who led the original liberation movement,
But Mugabe wrote the speech himself, according to a
former Rhodesian senior civil servant who stayed on in his office after
independence. And it needed little editing.
If many questioned
it then, almost everyone now finds it hard to believe, so far does Zimbabwe
seem from those emotions today.
They were directed mainly at
whites, who controlled much of the economy at independence. But Mugabe
quickly made them politically irrelevant. Many whites slunk off. Those who
stayed largely disappeared from the political scene.
months after independence, Mugabe still had a positive message for whites,
though rather less so that in that April 17 speech.
He told a group
of white farmers in a hall in Chinhoyi, 100km north of Harare: "You will
need shock absorbers, as you will hear many things about yourselves, but
just keep going."
They heard the message in a province that
provided 70 percent of agricultural foreign currency earnings. Agricultural
expansion, which spread into an increasingly sophisticated and growing
peasant sector who quickly became the largest maize producers, seemed set to
provide food security for ever and ever, even in drought years. Thus there
was enough foreign currency for short-term imports of grain in
This sector drove the economy so fast, it was almost
breathtaking, and Mugabe invested the proceeds in health and
According to the United Nations, Zimbabwe achieved 85
percent literacy within 15 years of independence, and healthcare was up
Even now, when the country is mired in staggering
domestic and foreign debt and a collapsing infrastructure, there is still
zeal and dedication among many public health workers struggling to alleviate
the suffering of those affected by HIV and Aids.
surprisingly committed, hamstrung by lack of resources, of course, but their
data collection, for example, is really good," said a foreign doctor
seconded to the department of health. "Despite everything, many African
countries could learn something from the Zimbabweans."
By 1990, a
decade after independence, infant death rates had been reduced by more than
16 percent, maternal deaths were more than halved and immunisation and
nutrition levels had soared. After free and compulsory primary education
became law, the number of primary schools nearly doubled - from 2 401 to 4
324 - between the last year of minority white rule in 1979 and
Zimbabwe more than doubled its number of trained teachers
between 1980 and 1995. Secondary schools sprang up everywhere.
But if things looked good at the start, it was because Mugabe's essentially
autocratic, undemocratic nature had not fully revealed itself.
Mugabe's political plans were always to establish a one-party state under
the comfortable cloak of his allies in the Eastern bloc.
leader Nkomo stood in his way. Zapu won 20 of the 120 elected seats in the
liberation election of 1980.
Shortly after independence, fighting
broke out between Mugabe's former combatants and those loyal to Nkomo's Zapu
in post-wartime assembly points.
Former Rhodesian soldiers, mostly
black, restored an uneasy peace, but the wound ran too deep to
Former Zapu combatants struggled for places in the Zimbabwe
National Army and many of those who did get recruited, and who were
manifestly better trained than those loyal to Mugabe, found themselves
relegated to junior positions.
They left in droves. Top Zapu
leaders were arrested and tried for treason, acquitted and detained under
emergency regulations for a further four years.
force, known as the "dissidents", began killing a few white farmers and some
Zanu-PF members in Matabeleland province. Many of Mugabe's opponents
suspected that this was a "dirty trick" by Mugabe himself to give him
ammunition to crush Zapu, which he in any case did.
Nkomo in the following provocative terms: "Zapu is irretrievably bent on its
criminal path... time has now come to show this evil party our teeth. We can
bite, and we shall certainly bite."
He told his supporters to "weed
them out of your gardens".
He sent in the North Korean-trained
Fifth Brigade, and for five years, parts of the Midlands and the two
Matabeleland provinces were consumed by violence in remote
Journalists who reported on it were routinely
Food in those dry and hungry areas was used as a weapon,
development was withheld and the state- controlled media was used to
persuade the dominant Shona tribe that Zapu, and Ndebele speakers in
general, were the enemy.
Many Shonas outside Matabeleland
didn't know or didn't believe what was going on in the south of the country,
and peace, development and growth continued in the provinces closest to
But Zapu had been quietly vanquished, and Nkomo, who had
fled Zimbabwe three years after independence, returned. He and his party
retreated into a junior partnership with Zanu-PF. Zapu died when Nkomo
reluctantly signed a unity accord with Mugabe in 1987.
massacres in Matabeleland left unknown thousands dead and many injured.
Thousands fled from the rural areas.
In 1997 Mugabe made a huge,
unbudgeted pension payout to restless, unemployed war veterans at a time
when the economy was struggling, which sank the value of the Zimbabwe dollar
Foreign currency became scarcer and the International
Monetary Fund's structural adjustment programme in the early 1990s, which
facilitated cheaper imports and (however well intentioned) led to factory
closures and massive job losses, ripped the social infrastructure further
So when a growing, well-educated urban society began
questioning the loss of civil liberties, and the trade union movement grew
in protest against the economic hardships of structural adjustment, it was
inevitable that a new opposition would emerge.
parties came and went, and only one, the Zimbabwe Unity Movement, led by
former Zanu-PF heavyweight Edgar Tekere, made any impression. But it was
demonised and made a foolish alliance with conservative whites, fought an
election in 1990, won two seats, and disappeared before the next
A new party, the Movement for Democratic Change, (MDC) then
emerged, cutting across the lines of tribe, clan, class and
When the MDC mobilised the population to reject Mugabe's
proposed new constitution in a referendum in February 2000, Mugabe was
caught by surprise.
His old international allies in the Soviet
bloc had become multiparty democracies, the world had changed, and so
dealing with the MDC in the same way as he had crushed Zapu was not an
So Mugabe played his last card - the card that some believe
he had always kept at the bottom of the deck for an emergency like this -
the white farmers whom he had always berated verbally when he needed a
scapegoat, but whom he had basically left intact.
Some say that
the farmers "brought it upon themselves" by providing financial and
logistical support for the MDC.
This broke the unwritten contract
with Mugabe that he would leave them be if they did not interfere in
In any case, now he needed their land and he unleashed
his war veterans and unemployed youths onto well-developed farms, evicting
white farmers and their workers.
Commercial agriculture shrank
and the peasant farmers who grew the maize were collateral damage as tractor
mechanics left, foreign currency for fertiliser dwindled and reliable seed
was no longer available.
But that was okay for Mugabe because his
objective was political, not economic. In the chaotic aftermath of the farm
invasions, Mugabe's war veterans and the security forces, recipients of some
of the farms, also turned on the MDC and its supporters.
Despite this assault, the MDC came very close to beating Zanu-PF in their
first electoral encounter in June 2000, winning 57 of the 120 contestable
That was its high point, and Mugabe then
systematically beefed up the infrastructure of repressive laws, undermined
the courts and further entrenched the state propaganda
Three months before Morgan Tsvangirai lost the violent
presidential election against Mugabe by 15 percent in March 2002, trumped-up
treason charges were thrown at him, which unnerved the MDC and ruptured its
finances for the next 30 months until his acquittal last
Tsvangirai's allegations of a perverted voters' roll and
ballot-stuffing have still to be heard by the courts. All but one African
group said the election was credible and legitimate.
largely because Mugabe cleverly turned the British government's protests
against the breakdown of the rule of law into an anti-colonial
So, despite the MDC's gains, Zimbabwe remains almost as
much in Mugabe's thrall as it was in 1980. Over 25 years he has fully merged
Zanu-PF with the state. To separate Mugabe and his Zanu-PF from the state is
impossible. They are now as one.
Kumbirai Kangai, a former
agriculture minister, told the huge civil service in 1995 that none of them
should claim: "I work for the government and not for the party.
"If you hear any civil servant saying that, please let me know so that I may
approach the minister he works for, so that he is removed."
civil liberties largely extinct, collapsed education and health sectors, a
constitution so massively amended and often ignored, and a justice system
mired in political patronage, Zimbabwe's future is as breathtakingly
perilous now as it was bright when Mugabe made that speech 25 years ago. -
.. This article was originally published
on page 9 of Sunday Independent on April 17, 2005
Cabinet post for Mugabe nephew April 17, 2005 From:
ZIMBABWE'S President Robert Mugabe has appointed his
nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, a newcomer to politics, to the post of deputy
minister of Science and Technology, media reports said.
won last month's elections in the hotly disputed Manyame constituency, 40
kilometres west of the capital, is son to Mugabe's sister Sabina, who was
also elected in the rural constituency of Zvimba south. Zimbabwe's opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is challenging Zhuwao's victory in
Manyame, pointing to a 10,000-vote discrepancy between the number of votes
cast and the final tally announced by the electoral
Zhuwao, who holds a degree in computer engineering, made
his first foray into politics in the March 31 parliamentary elections as did
his older brother Leo Mugabe who also won victory.
ZANU-PF party won enough seats to secure a two-thirds majority in parliament
that will enable the veteran leader to change the constitution
Harare - President Robert Mugabe, accused of letting the
education system collapse over recent years, on Sunday pledged to make
education affordable to all on the eve of Zimbabwe's 25th anniversary of
"We know some of you have not been able to pursue your
education ... because school fees have continued to rise and they are too
high, so high that they are not affordable to your parents," Mugabe told
thousands of children at a party held as part of the silver jubilee
He pledged to expand a school fees fund established for
parents who can prove that they are unable to pay fees for their
"We know that this is helping many of you, but we would want to
see more children assisted.
"That's something our government will
look into because we want to ensure that education, which is your right, is
affordable," Mugabe said.
The fund was set up mainly to help children
affected by the Aids pandemic. <>One in five Zimbabwean children - one
million in all - are now Aids orphans, according to the UN children's agency
"We pledge ourselves to ensuring that each and every one of our
children goes to school, has a school near him, has a school to go to," said
His education for all policy in the 1980s gave the southern
African country one of the highest levels of education on the
Recent years have however seen the gains from education lost
due to inadequate funding, lack of resources and a mass exodus of trained
Zim gets tough on laundering 17/04/2005 20:01 -
Harare - Zimbabwe's stricken economy, once a
haven for illicit currency transactions, is looking to tighten the noose on
endemic money laundering.
Zimbabwe has enacted a tough law that compels
lawyers to act as whistleblowers on their clients by recording, disclosing
and reporting information about clients suspected of money laundering in
trust accounts they hold on behalf of their clients.
The Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe says money laundering has become rampant in the country due to
absence of regulations and corruption within the financial
Lawyers in the country say the Bank Use Promotion and
Suppression of Money Laundering Act compromises them in upholding legal
ethics and confidentiality between lawyers and their clients.
is, lax laws and poor foreign currency inflows have seen the country become
a major gateway for money laundering in the region.
According to a 2002
study by the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF), a Zimbabwean
think-tank, money laundering cost the country US$1bn over a six-year
The same forum predicted that the country was losing at least
US$1m every month to this criminal behaviour, raising alarm about the
country's anti-money laundering laws.
Southern Africa haven for
Money laundering has been prevalent in various forms in
Southern Africa, notably in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, South
Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, for some time.
However, the assault on
Zimbabwe started with the currency collapse in 1997, which gave way to trade
on the parallel market.
"The inclination of retail businesses in many
countries to conduct transactions in cash facilitates the local laundering
"It is convenient for criminals to purchase commodities without
fear that the source of the cash will be detected," noted Charles Goredema
of the South Africa-based Institute of Security Studies in a report on money
laundering in the region.
Large amounts of cash, some of which are
derived from drug trafficking, regularly change hands in the commercial
districts of Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Until the Zimbabwean government
banned bureaux de change in November 2002, illegal forex trade was
convenient and difficult to trace.
It meant that anyone within the region
could move money into Zimbabwe and out without complications. The situation
compelled the US to watch Zimbabwe in case it was used to money to fund
Asset management route
companies sprouted in 2002 and, with no law binding their operations, they
dealt in forex currency.
They soon became targets of regional and
international criminals who moved funds into the country under the guise of
They also enabled many Zimbabweans to externalise foreign
According to the NECF, at least US$1bn was externalised by
Zimbabweans between 2002 and 2003. Their speculative actions also drove
trade on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange to new heights.
In 2001, three
commercial banks were fined by the Reserve Bank for dealing outside the
controlled exchange rates but the bottom fell when Gideon Gono took over as
governor of the central bank.
His tough stance led to the closure of one
of the largest asset management companies, ENG Capital, which left many
companies exposed to the tune of Z$115bn.
The fall-out has led to the
closure of three other commercial banks, Trust Bank, Barbican Bank and Royal
Bank, which were later amalgamated into the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group to
avoid a total collapse of the sector and to safeguard investors
Criminals flee country
Several others are still under
curatorship and could be forced into the ZABG should they fail to recover.
Many of the owners of the banks fled the country to lead a life of comfort
overseas from their externalised funds.
In the period between 2002 and
2004, real estate companies preferred clients to pay in foreign currency,
with the funds deposited in offshore accounts.
"Only one country in the
sub-region, South Africa, featured among the likely destinations of funds
thus externalised. Others were the United States, the United Kingdom and
"It appeared that in the destination countries, the foreign
currency payments were made through the banking system," said
"It is not always practical or prudent to completely outflank
the banking system in an outgoing laundering scheme. Some funds are
inevitably transferred through intermediaries in the financial
"A proportion of financial services intermediaries may
facilitate transfer of illicit funds unwittingly, but some will do so
knowingly, even as principal beneficiaries," he said.
While lawyers in Zimbabwe fight against the new law, the
government feel that they have been part of a conspiracy to launder money on
behalf of their clients.
In one case, the late Roger Boka, a local
businessman who pioneered the first indigenous merchant bank in the country,
opened and operated several personal accounts at foreign banks in Botswana,
South Africa, the UK, the US, Germany, Luxembourg and France.
transactions were either carried out personally and sometimes through his
lawyer, amounting to at least US$21m.
The lawyer, a senior partner in a
law firm in Harare, was a director on the board of the bank and a signatory
to the bank's account at the Zimbabwe Banking Corporation.
acted as corporate secretaries for the bank and as legal advisors to both
the bank and the Boka Group of Companies. The main business specialities of
the group were tobacco and gold marketing.
The lawyer disappeared from
Zimbabwe shortly after the death of Boka, by which time he had already been
charged with violating the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Companies
It was later discovered that the lawyer also operated a foreign bank
account in England. None of the foreign funds appear to have been
Police trained to spot laundering
To help fight money
laundering, the Zimbabwe Republic Police is now offering training in basic
accounting for its of- ficers.
The RBZ also plans to set up a Financial
Intelligence Unit to monitor financial dealings of all financial
institutions. It will monitor suspicious transaction and coordinate
anti-money laundering efforts in the country.
Under the proposed
guidelines, financial institutions would be required to appoint a money
laundering reporting officer whose duty would be to identify customers who
could be involved in money laundering.
The banks would be prohibited from
allowing the opening of accounts via the internet or through the postal
In addition, banks whose customers want to engage in
correspondent banking would be required to locate the respondent bank and
the bank's regulations, which should include anti-money laundering
The purpose of the account and the identity of the third party
using the services would also be required in correspondent banking.
Zimbabwe 'pauperised' - paper 17/04/2005 21:13 -
Harare - As President Robert Mugabe
marked the start of Zimbabwe's anniversary celebrations, the opposition
warned that the country was worse off today than when it gained independence
25 years ago.
Mugabe - who has led Zimbabwe consistently, first as prime
minister and now as president - attended a lunch for children on Sunday at
Harare's sports centre, and honoured popular sports heroes and establishment
On Monday, he was expected to give a lengthy speech extolling
Zimbabwe's achievements before a list of guests including the presidents of
Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of
But as red carpets were rolled out in preparation for the African
presidents' arrival, Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai called
on his supporters to resist Mugabe's rule, saying: "The people are even more
embattled than before April 18, 1980."
Mugabe was expected to deliver
a speech on Monday that hails Zimbabwe's progress since Britain's Prince
Charles witnessed the lowering of the Union Jack and the raising of
Zimbabwe's black, red, green and gold striped flag.
however, that independence celebrations underlined the country's economic
and social poverty, and called for Zimbabwe's 15 million people, including
3.6 million now living abroad, to struggle against Mugabe's
"The 25 years merely registered a period of sustained economic
"We have nothing to show for it except overwhelming poverty, a
systematic loss of our basic freedoms and a national crisis ... the forces
of democracy are under siege," the leader of the Movement for Democratic
Criminal clique "Only sustained democratic resistance and
political pressure shall bring in the desired results," he said.
the history of democratic struggles, it is clear that perseverance pays in
Tsvangirai criticised Zimbabwe's flawed elections, saying they
had left the country at the mercy of "a determined tyrannical class ... a
vampire and criminal clique". Mugabe and his party claimed victory in 78 of
120 elected seats in the parliamentary vote weeks ago, after which Mugabe
nominated 30 more legislators, giving his party a two-thirds majority needed
to amend the constitution at will. An editorial in the state-run newspaper
The Sunday Mail, which was seen as a preview to Mugabe's address on Monday,
listed the election as one of the country's main achievements and evidence
of the "maturing of democracy".
The Sunday Mail also lauded
Zimbabwe's redistribution of 5 000 white-owned farms, widely seen
internationally as having contributed to the country's declining agriculture
and escalating poverty.
Most of the more profitable farms went to
Mugabe's supporters, military officers and party
The newspaper said, however, that the
redistribution of white-owned commercial farms - accounting for 17% of
Zimbabwe's farmland - was "a dream come true for the
'Pauperised' Discontent with Mugabe's rule has been mounting in
recent years, as the president cracks down on dissent and media freedom. The
independently owned Sunday Standard asked: "What is there to celebrate?"
noting 80% unemployment, loss of food self-sufficiency and runaway
"A whole nation has been pauperised," it said. An
ecumenical group, Christians Together for Justice and Peace, issued a
statement supporting the warning of Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube,
who feared rigged elections would lead to a possible "mass uprising" against
"In our view he was right ... We discern a deep sense of
anger and resentment among the people (which) may sooner or later lead to
Robert Mugabe couldn't be more different to the man who offered
great hope when he came to power 25 years ago
There were always
silly rumours that a ghost writer, such as the last British governor
Christopher Soames, had written Robert Mugabe's speech of reconciliation
after he won the first general election in 1980. That speech that he made 25
years ago today (April 17) - on the eve of independence - always stuns young
Zimbabweans when they see the black and white footage for the first time.
"If yesterday you hated me, today you cannot avoid the love that binds you
to me and me to you. Is it not folly, therefore, that in these circumstances
anybody should seek to revive the wounds and grievances of the past?" Mugabe
said. Among those who questioned his authorship were vanquished whites,
mourning their dead and scared after decades of demonising propaganda by the
Rhodesian Front-controlled media. Others who questioned the speech, were the
left wing of Zanu PF, many of whom had been detained by Mugabe in Mozambique
during the war, and of course, the towering Joshua Nkomo, who led the
original liberation movement, Zapu.
But Mugabe wrote the speech
himself, according to a former Rhodesian senior civil servant who stayed on
in his office after independence. And it needed little editing. If many
questioned it then, almost everyone now finds it hard to believe, so far
does Zimbabwe seem from those emotions today. They were directed mainly at
whites who controlled much of the economy at independence. But Mugabe
quickly made them politically irrelevant. Many of the racists and the
heartsore slunk off to South Africa. Those who stayed, largely disappeared
from the political scene. A few months after independence, Mugabe still had
a positive message for whites, though rather less so that in that April 17
speech. He told a group of white farmers in a hall in Chinhoyi, 100
kilometres north of Harare: "You will need shock absorbers, as you will hear
many things about yourselves, but just keep going." They heard the message
in a province which provided 70% of agricultural foreign currency earnings.
Agricultural expansion, which spread into an increasingly sophisticated and
growing peasant sector who quickly became the largest maize producers,
seemed set to provide food security for ever and ever, even in drought years
when there was enough foreign currency for short term imports of grain in
This sector drove the economy so fast it was almost
breathtaking and Mugabe invested the proceeds in health and education.
According to the United Nations, Zimbabwe achieved 85% literacy within 15
years of independence, and health care was up there too. Even now, when the
country is mired in staggering domestic and foreign debt and a collapsing
infrastructure, there is still zeal and dedication among many public health
workers struggling to alleviate the suffering of those affected by HIV/Aids.
"They are surprisingly committed, hamstrung by lack of resources, of course,
but their data collection, for example, is really good," said a foreign
doctor, seconded to the department of health. "Despite everything, many
African countries could learn something from the Zimbabweans." By 1990, a
decade after independence, infant death rates had been reduced by more than
16%, maternal deaths were more than halved, and immunisation and nutrition
levels had soared. After free and compulsory primary education became law,
the number of primary schools nearly doubled - from 2401 to 4324 - between
the last year of minority white rule in 1979 and 1985. Zimbabwe more than
doubled its number of trained teachers between 1980 and 1995. Secondary
schools sprung up everywhere.
But if things looked good at the
start, it was because Mugabe's essentially autocratic, undemocratic nature
had not fully revealed itself. Mugabe's political plans were always to
establish a one-party state under the comfortable cloak of his allies in the
eastern bloc. Zapu leader, Joshua Nkomo, stood in his way. Zapu won 20 of
120 elected seats in the liberation election of 1980. Shortly after
independence, fighting broke out between Mugabe's former combatants and
those loyal to Joshua Nkomo's Zapu in post wartime assembly points. Former
Rhodesian soldiers, mostly black, restored an uneasy peace but the wound ran
too deep to heal. Former Zapu combatants struggled for places in the
Zimbabwe National Army and many of those who did get recruited and who were
manifestly better trained than those loyal to Mugabe, found themselves stuck
in junior positions. They left in droves. Top Zapu leaders were arrested and
tried for treason, acquitted and detained under emergency regulations for a
further four years. A mysterious force, known as the "dissidents" began
killing a few white farmers and some Zanu PF members in Matabeleland
province. Many of Mugabe's opponents suspected that this was a "dirty trick"
by Mugabe himself to give him ammunition to crush Zapu, which he in any case
Mugabe accused Nkomo in the following provocative terms: "Zapu
is irretrievably bent on its criminal path ... time has now come to show
this evil party our teeth. We can bite, and we shall certainly bite." He
told his supporters to "weed them out of your gardens." He sent in the North
Korean trained Fifth Brigade, and for five years parts of the Midlands and
the two Matabeleland provinces were consumed by violence in remote villages
and journalists who reported it were routinely deported. Food in those dry
and hungry areas was used as a weapon, development was withheld, and the
state controlled media was used, much as the Rhodesians had used it, to
persuade the dominant Shona tribe that Zapu and Ndebele speakers in general
were the enemy. Many Shonas outside of Matabeleland didn't know, or didn't
believe, what was going on in the south of the country, and peace,
development and growth continued in the provinces closest to Harare. But
Zapu had been quietly vanquished, and Nkomo, who had fled Zimbabwe three
years after independence, returned, and he and his party retreated into a
junior partnership with Zanu PF. Zapu died when Nkomo reluctantly signed a
unity accord with Mugabe in 1987. The massacres in Matabeleland left unknown
thousands dead, many injured and thousands fled from the rural
The economy, now struggling with outdated capital equipment
from years of sanctions against Rhodesia began to falter, and then in 1997,
Mugabe made a huge unbudgeted, pension pay-out to restless, unemployed war
veterans which sank the value of the Zimbabwe dollar overnight. Foreign
currency became scarcer and the International Monetary Fund's structural
adjustment programme in the early 1990s, which facilitated cheaper imports,
and led to factory closures and massive job losses, ripped the social
infrastructure further apart. So, when a growing, well educated urban
society began questioning the loss of civil liberties and the trade union
movement grew in protest against the economic hardships of structural
adjustment, it was inevitable that a new opposition would emerge. Several
small parties came and went, and only one, the Zimbabwe Unity Movement, lead
by former Zanu PF heavyweight Edgar Tekere, made any impression. But it was
demonised and made a foolish alliance with conservative whites, fought an
election in 1990, won two seats, and disappeared before the next
The new party, the Movement for Democratic Change, (MDC) as in
the early days of Zapu when it was still a liberation movement, would emerge
cutting across the lines of tribe, clan, class and province. When the MDC
mobilised the population to reject Mugabe's proposed new constitution in a
referendum in February 2000, Mugabe was caught by surprise. His old
international allies in the Soviet bloc had become multiparty democracies,
the world had changed, so dealing with the MDC in the same way as he had
crushed Zapu was not an option. So, Mugabe played his last card - the card
which some believe he had always kept at the bottom of the deck for an
emergency like this - the white farmers whom he had always berated verbally
when he needed a scapegoat, but whom he had basically left intact. Some say
that the farmers "brought it upon themselves" by providing financial and
logistical support for the MDC. In any case, now he needed their land and he
unleashed his war veterans and unemployed youths onto well developed farms,
evicting white farmers and their workers. Commercial agriculture shrank and
the peasant farmers who grew the maize were collateral damage as tractor
mechanics left, foreign currency for fertiliser dwindled, reliable seed was
no longer available. But that was okay for Mugabe because his objective was
political not economic. With civil liberties largely extinct, collapsed
education and health sectors, a constitution so massively amended and often
ignored, a justice system mired in political patronage, Zimbabwe's future is
as breathtakingly perilous as it was bright when Mugabe made that speech 25
APPLAUSE will erupt from thousands
of supporters when President Robert Mugabe steps up to the podium in
Harare's National Sports Stadium tomorrow at Zimbabwe's independence
The occasion also signals Mugabe's 25 years in power,
placing him firmly within the pantheon of the living "great dictators", who
have seen off generations of political leaders in democracies.
Zimbabwean ruler has some way to go to catch the current leader in the
dictatorial longevity stakes. Fidel Castro is in his 47th year as President
of Cuba. Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, the "brother leader" of Libya has
notched up 36 years of rule.
Castro, who came to power in 1959, is
the world's longest ruling head of government, and would be outranked only
by Queen Elizabeth II, who was crowned in 1953, if presiding but not ruling
heads of state were also included.
But Mugabe has ambitions to go for
the record. After the recent highly-controversial elections, in which the
ruling Zanu-PF gained a two thirds majority, the 81-year old Mugabe
announced that he would stay in power until he was 100.
and Gaddafi, Mugabe looks unassailable. All three seem impervious to
economic disasters that would have resulted in more democratic leaders being
sent packing years ago.
In 25 years his once-prosperous country has been
transformed from a model with the highest economic growth rate and the
highest level of education in Africa into a country that has been run into
the ground, with inflation at 600%, unemployment at 80% and not enough food
to feed its own people.
In Cuba, too, the majority live in desperate
social and economic conditions, compounded by the collapse of the Soviet
Union, which was Cuba's indulgent sponsor and a long-lasting US
Even in oil-rich Libya things are only just beginning to improve
after decades of deprivation resulting from US-led international trade
Last month's elections in Zimbabwe were overshadowed by
allegations of widespread ballot rigging and intimidation. The resulting
two-thirds majority for Zanu-PF gives the party the freedom to change the
constitution at will, so that Mugabe may not have to face re-election again
in 2008 as the constitution currently dictates.
Elections are also
taking place in Cuba today. Explaining the Cuban system in a live internet
forum last week parliamentary speaker, Ricardo Alarcon, a member of the
Communist Party's ruling Central Committee, denied that the fact that Castro
had never been directly elected by the people meant that Cuba was a
Under Cuba's system, the president must be elected to the
National Assembly, and is then chosen by the MPs, he explained. Yet the
tight state control, heavy police presence and neighbourhood-watch groups
that report on "anti-revolutionary" conduct make the notion that Cuba is
democratic is farcical.
Gaddafi exercises total control through a
small group of trusted advisers, who include relatives from his home base in
the Surt region, between Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. His weapons are
powerful revolutionary committees, a much-feared security apparatus and
direct appeals to the masses.
Gaddafi improved his chances of
political longevity when he bowed to America's will and renounced weapons of
William J Burns, US Assistant Secretary of State,
describes Gaddafi's decision as "a model for other states to
Not so Castro, who has defied numerous attempts to kill him,
some of them farcical, such as the CIA's attempt to sell him exploding
cigars. But Castro has been lucky in that the US got its invasion attempt in
early. The consequence of the failure of the bungled CIA-backed Bay of Pigs
invasion in 1961 was that even an invasion-prone president such as George W
Bush was unlikely to repeat the attempt.
Amnesty says cell-bound
prisoners are not getting sufficient food or medicines
Beaumont, foreign affairs editor Sunday April 17, 2005 The
Belinda du Toit is close to tears when she describes the letter
she received from her mercenary husband Nick a few days ago, sent from
inside Equatorial Guinea's notorious Black Beach prison, where he is held
for his role in a coup plot. 'He says he is so thin that he looks like a
grain of rice. He says it is only the thought of his family that is keeping
She pauses for a moment, collecting her emotions. 'When my
home phone rings these days I expect someone from my government to call to
tell me that my husband has died.'
It is not only Belinda du Toit who
is alarmed by what is happening inside Black Beach prison in
According to Amnesty International, conditions inside the prison
have deteriorated so seriously in the past six weeks that at least 70
prisoners are at imminent risk of starvation.
And those at risk
include 11 foreign nationals - including Nick du Toit - sentenced in what
Amnesty has described as an 'unfair' trial last November following the
failed 'coup plot' in which Britons Simon Mann and Sir Mark Thatcher were
Du Toit was one of a group of 15 foreign nationals arrested
on 9 March, 2004, in Malabo and accused of being mercenaries and plotting a
coup against the President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema
The majority of these detainees are South African nationals.
Their alleged activities and arrests have been linked to the arrest of 64
other suspected mercenaries in Zimbabwe on 7 March, 2004.
include dozens o of Equatorial Guinean political detainees arrested in 2004
who are being held without charge or trial.
According to Amnesty
International, provision of food by the authorities has been reduced from a
cup of rice daily in December 2004 to one or two bread rolls a day, and
since the end of February 2005 provision of any prison food has been
sporadic, with prisoners reportedly going for up to six days at a time
without any food.
Prisoners and detainees are now dependent on food
handed to prison guards by families. This means that the 11 foreign
nationals and dozens of Equatorial Guinean political detainees arrested on
the mainland are particularly at risk of starvation because they do not have
families in Malabo to support them.
Many of those detained at Black
Beach prison are already extremely weak because of the torture or
ill-treatment they have suffered and because of chronic illnesses for which
they have not received adequate medical treatment.
imprisoned are kept inside their cells 24 hours a day and the foreign
nationals are also kept with their hands and legs cuffed at all times. The
authorities have blocked almost all contact with families, lawyers and
consular officials. And so Belinda du Toit and her family - like all the
families - must rely on the occasional letter for news forwarded by consular
authorities. It was the letter last week that really frightened
'We have known about the food problems for some time. It is very
little ...', Belinda du Toit breaks down. 'I just don't know what to say. I
can't believe that there are still places that operate this way. They are
locked up 24 hours a day, and even then the whole prison was locked up at
one stage without access to water to drink or bathe.'
Even when the
men have access to water, says Mrs du Toit, it is not clean.
get water where they can find it. We have been worried about the water
situation since there was an outbreak of cholera a few months ago, ' she
Concern for du Toit and the others inside Black Beach prison has
been rising since the death of a German national, Gerhard Eugen Nershz, who
was arrested in connection with the 2004 'coup' plot. He died on 17 March
after what authorities described as 'cerebral malaria with
He was taken to hospital from the prison some hours
before his death and people who saw him reported that he appeared to have
severe injuries caused by torture on his hands and feet.
detainee, 'Bones' Boonzaaier, who was already ill before he was arrested,
was denied any medical treatment at least until a South African delegation
met the detainees on 18 March.
Although Amnesty International is a strong
opponent of mercenary groups, it has taken up the case of du Toit and his
colleagues as it believes that they have the same rights as any other
individual not to be subjected to torture, to enjoy a fair trial and not to
be abused in prison.
Amnesty International UK campaigns director Stephen
Bowen said: 'Such near starvation, lack of medical attention and appalling
prison conditions are nothing short of a slow, lingering death sentence for
'The authorities must provide food and medicine
immediately and grant access to international monitors.
immediate action is taken,' Bowen added, 'many of those detained at Black
Beach prison will die.'
President Mugabe to add two years to term By
Christopher Thompson in Harare 17 April 2005
President Mugabe is
trying to add two more years to his time in office, according to official
sources. Senior members of Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party are contemplating
extending the President's term by introducing a constitutional amendment to
hold presidential and parliamentary elections together in 2010.
elections on 31 March handed Mugabe 78 seats - enough to change the
constitution. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has denounced
the elections and launched a legal challenge over alleged
Officials are quietly considering the issue, which would
form part of Zanu-PF's legislative agenda in the new parliament. Given Mr
Mugabe's majority, the initiative would be easy to push through, meaning the
presidential poll currently scheduled for 2008 would be moved to
Mr Mugabe has made no secret of his wish to make constitutional
changes in the wake of his controversial win and in particular his desire to
run the two main elections concurrently. He has also publicly called for a
reintroduction of a senate, which critics argue would be used as a dumping
ground for the president's cronies. The idea was rejected in a referendum in
The Zanu-PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, said
that pursuing the legislative agenda would be facilitated by extending Mr
Mugabe's term: "The easiest way of doing it would be to delay the
presidential election to 2010. If we hold the parliamentary election early
in 2008, that would be costly." Though Zimbabwe's political calendar has
long been acknowledged as overcrowded,critics say the real reason Mr Mugabe
wants to merge elections is to consolidate executive power.