By ANGUS SHAW
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Zimbabweans mark 26 years of independence Tuesday with
little to celebrate amid deepening economic hardships, personal tragedies
and a rapidly widening gap between the rich elite and the poor majority.
President Robert Mugabe's ruling party said Monday it was "disturbed" that
young Zimbabweans showed no pride in their nation's independence from
colonial-era white rule after a bitter seven-year bush war that killed at
least 40,000 fighters.
Lavish celebrations, including an address by Mugabe, are planned throughout
One of those who will not be attending any is Linda, 22, an unemployed
office clerk. A member of the "Freedom Generation" born after 1980, she
benefited from free education and health care as a child, achieving modest
Now, though, Linda - who would not give her last name for fear of
reprisals - hangs out in a seedy Harare bar, looking for customers.
She said she is aware of the dangers of prostitution in a nation where at
least 3,000 people die of HIV/AIDS-related illnesses each week, but some men
pay more for unprotected sex. A rival in the bar claimed Linda coughed from
tuberculosis, a likely HIV-related infection.
"What can I do?" Linda protested in a now-common Zimbabwe refrain. "I have
"Too many questions. Don't get me into trouble," she implored in a voice
breaking with desperation and typical of the fear felt by many Zimbabweans
because of Mugabe's clampdown on civil liberties.
Across town, Mercedes-Benz limousines were parked outside a posh restaurant
and bar. Half a dozen patrons, drinking doubles, spent 90 minutes consuming
a bottle of the finest 12-year-old Scotch at a cost of about $280. That is
at least four times the monthly salary of the bartender and other average
The vast, growing disparity between the poor and a rich elite of about 5
percent of the population is blamed largely on corruption, black market
profiteering, favoritism in official contracts and land deals, and the
peddling of political influence.
Unemployment exceeds 70 percent and inflation is the highest in the world at
913 percent on basic goods. Scarcities and black marketeering have sharply
eroded the spending power of Zimbabwe's currency in the past decade.
Since mobile phones went into service in 1996 as fixed phone services
crashed, the price of the cheapest range of phones with a line connection
has increased 5,000-fold. The price of a single car battery this year could
have bought 14 brand new cars 10 years ago.
Disruptions in the agriculture-based economy after the often-violent
seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial farms since 2000 have led to
acute shortages of food, gasoline, and medicines. U.N. agencies estimate
that about 4 million people are in need of food.
An estimated 3.5 million Zimbabweans, many of them skilled professionals,
live outside the country.
The weak Zimbabwe dollar, plummeting in the worst economic crisis since
independence, has hit health, education and other public services.
Absenteeism from schools has soared in the wake of frequent fee increases.
Harare's main Parirenyatwa hospital emergency room was unable Friday to
provide surgical stitching for a woman who split her chin open in a fall.
Road accident victims waited hours for painkillers and treatment.
"We are working in very trying circumstances. We don't have enough staff or
resources," said a senior nurse who asked not to be identified for fear of
Health ministry officials acknowledge the shortcomings and have increased
treatment and hospitalization charges for a health service that, like
education, was mainly free in the first booming years of independence.
Last week, the government allowed private doctors to double their
consultation fees to about $60 a visit.
In an unusual insight in the state media, cartoonist Innocent Mpofu depicted
a doctor asking his sickly patient: "Where does it hurt?"
The patient gasped: "In my pocket."
Tue 18 April 2006
GABORONE - Zimbabwe owes the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) more than US$1 million in outstanding membership contributions to the
regional economic bloc, ZimOnline learnt this week.
Faced with a crippling shortage of hard currency, Harare has defaulted
on its membership contributions to the tune of US$1.17 million.
According to sources at SADC's Gaborone headquarters, Zimbabwe is one
of two member states that are in arrears to the regional body. The other is
the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has accumulated arrears of
just over US$1 million.
"The Zimbabweans have not paid anything towards their membership
contributions since April 2005 and, together with the DRC, owe the regional
organisation more that US$2.1 million," said a senior official, who cannot
be named because he is not authorised to disclose such details to the Press.
Malawi, which was also in arrears, has managed to clear its account.
Both Zimbabwe Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa were not available for comment on the
matter on Monday.
SADC is an intergovernmental organisation whose objective is to
establish an integrated southern Africa along the lines of the European
Union. The ultimate aim is to create a customs union and common currency.
The member contributions are used to run the organisation's
secretariat. The secretariat is charged with implementing SADC's programmes
Zimbabwe has also defaulted on its commitments to other multilateral
organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank
and African Development Bank.
It owes the IMF about US$119 million in arrears to the Poverty
Reduction and Growth Facility-Exogenous Shocks Facility Trust (PRGF-ESFT)
although the southern African country managed to pay another US$193 million
to the IMF to avoid expulsion from the Bretton Woods institution.
Arrears on the PRGF-ESFT cannot lead to expulsion, although other
action can be taken. - ZimOnline
Tue 18 April 2006
HARARE - As Zimbabwe today celebrates its 18 April independence from
Britain 26 years ago, 64-year old James Mutape, in his shack along Harare's
Mukuvisi river, must be wondering how the wheel has - so to speak - come
Looking much older than his years, Mutape told a ZimOnline team that
visited the Mukuvisi last week to check on hundreds of families squatting
there after the government demolished their homes last year, that this year
will be the first time he will commemorate the coming of freedom in 1980 as
"I have been a squatter before," said Mutape. "But that was during the
liberation war when we had to flee to Mutare city after Ian Smith
(Zimbabwe's former white ruler)'s soldiers burnt down our village as
punishment for supporting freedom fighters.
"I never imagined a black government could destroy my home and leave
me a squatter again!"
From Mutape's shack - made out of broken pieces of asbestos, metal and
black plastic sheeting - one has an "ample view" of the human excreta,
broken bottles, empty beer cans and other rubbish strewn all over and
straying right into the dirty waters of the Mukuvisi.
There are no toilets or clean water here and Mutape says his wife and
their two daughters have all to sleep in the single shack that serves as
their kitchen and living room as well.
But Mutape and his fellow squatters along the Mukuvisi are not the
only ones grieving in Zimbabwe as the glorious dream of independence has
become a terrible nightmare after six years of a severe political and
Take for example the case of Joseph Chamunorwa. He was a relatively
successful small-scale farmer in Chikomba district, in the heart of
President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party's stronghold of Mashonaland
Things fell apart for Chamunorwa in August 2000 after mobs of ZANU PF
militants burnt down his homestead after they had discovered that he had
joined the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party formed in 1999.
"I fled to Harare in 2000 to start a new life," said Chamunorwa, who
spoke to ZimOnline outside the Hopely holding camp, set up by the government
just outside Harare to house families displaced by its controversial
He added: "Things were hard at first but I was making progress, I
operated a flea market and the money I earned was enough to pay for
accommodation in a backyard cottage in Mbare suburb .. then Operation
Murambatsvina (clean-up exercise) came and here I am now, a refugee in my
Condemned by the United Nations (UN) and Western governments as a
violation of human rights, the clean-up exercise left at least 700 000
people homeless and close to 2.4 million others were also indirectly
affected by the home demolition campaign.
But the home demolition campaign that Harare says was necessary to
smash crime and restore the beauty of the country's cities is only one in a
series of questionable decisions and policies by Mugabe's government that
Zimbabweans say have made life so unbearable that there see "no point in
"We can hardly remember the gains of independence," said Harare human
rights lawyer Archibald Gijima.
He added: "Virtually all the gains of independence have been or are in
the process of being reversed by a vainglorious regime possessed with a
longing to stay in power at whatever cost, even if it means killing and
starving its own people. Truthfully and simply, independence celebrations
are a non-event."
Once a regional breadbasket, Zimbabwe now survives on food handouts
from international donors after Mugabe's controversial seizure of land from
whites for redistribution to landless blacks destabilised the agricultural
sector, knocking down food production by about 60 percent.
Fuel, electricity, essential medical drugs and just about every basic
survival commodity is in critical short supply in the country, while
inflation is heading for the 1 000 barrier after surging beyond 900 percent
An estimated three million people or a quarter of the 12 million
Zimbabweans have fled the mounting economic hardships and political violence
to settle in most cases as menial labourers in neighbouring countries and
Gabriel Shumba, an exiled human rights lawyer who runs the Zimbabwe
Exiles Forum in South Africa, says studies by his organisation show that
more people have fled independent Zimbabwe than they did during colonial
rule and the liberation war.
He said: "More Zimbabweans are deserting their country now than before
independence. That is a shameful reality. It is difficult to fathom that
this is happening in a liberated Zimbabwe that is supposed to be free and
Outspoken Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube concurred with Shumba,
adding that the church community had in recent years assumed the same role
of sheltering victims of political violence that it used to perform during
the 1970s liberation war.
"Churches are doing exactly the same things they were doing during
colonialism; housing and caring for victims of political violence and
intolerance perpetrated by a sitting government . so where is the
independence?" said Ncube.
Or, if one may put words into Ncube's mouth, the question should
rather be: what has gone wrong with independence? - ZimOnline
Tue 18 April 2006
BULAWAYO - A splinter group of former freedom fighters, the Zimbabwe
Liberators Peace Initiative (ZLPI), on Monday said Zimbabweans have no
reason to celebrate the country's independence today after President Robert
Mugabe ruined the country.
In a statement to the press, ZLPI chairman Max Mnkandla, accused
Mugabe of abandoning the ideals of the liberation struggle and ruining the
"Zimbabweans are celebrating their independence amidst unprecedented
suffering, there is widespread unemployment while the majority of people
sleep on empty stomachs day in and day out, we urge everyone who fought for
this country to revisit the ideals of the liberation struggle so that we can
chart a way forward.
"As we celebrate independence the majority of Zimbabweans are
prisoners in their own country while those that dare to express themselves
are brutalised by the Mugabe regime. We celebrate independence on the
background of a serious assault of Zimbabweans' liberty," said Mnkandla.
ZLPI is a splinter group of the Zimbabwe National War Veterans
Association (ZNWVA) which is loyal to Mugabe. The ZLPI has been critical of
Mugabe's government which it accuses of abandoning the ideals of the
Mugabe has used war veterans loyal to the ZNWVA to crush the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party which posed the
greatest threat to his 26-year old stranglehold on power.
The war veterans said they were prepared to throw their weight behind
efforts by Zimbabweans to free themselves from "tyranny."
"There is no independence to celebrate today and we are in solidarity
with the people of Zimbabwe and we will support any means that they
undertake to free themselves from this tyranny," Mnkandla said.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai last month threatened to lead anti-Mugabe
demonstrations to protest the worsening economic crisis in the country. But
Mugabe has threatened to crush the Tsvangirai-led protests. - ZimOnline
Tue 18 April 2006
HARARE - Senior ruling ZANU PF officials forced the Zimbabwe Football
Association (Zifa) to elbow out Motor Action from the Independence Trophy
competition in favour of popular Harare giants Dynamos, ZimOnline has
Motor Action, who are the holders of the trophy and who finished
fourth in the Premiership last year were supposed to play CAPS United in
the semi-final on Sunday but Zifa snubbed them claiming that clubs are now
"being invited" to participate in the tournament.
A senior Dynamos official revealed to ZimOnline yesterday that they
had been assured by ZANU PF officials that they would participate in the
tournament "come rain or thunder."
Dynamos have in the past few months been invaded by ruling party
officials and their secretary-general Keith Guzah is alleged to have strong
ZANU PF links.
A number of cabinet ministers including Ignatious Chombo, Nicholas
Goche, Webster Shamu and deputy minister, Bright Matonga have openly showed
their allegiance and support to Dynamos at public functions.
Said the Dynamos official: "Some ministers ordered us to participate
in the Independence Cup against CAPS because they would be assured of a
huge crowd. Zifa then imposed us on the tournament but we believe it is
unfair for football.
"If the truth be told, Motor Action did well last season and they
deserved to play in our place but it was not to be. We know ZANU PF is
using our club but this does not mean that other clubs have to be oppressed.
"In any case, it is not good for our development to be picked up from
nowhere and compete in a competition we don't deserve to be in. Our players
will relax and think they are the chosen ones," said the top Dynamos
Dynamos subsequently lost to CAPS in the semi-final. In the past, the
norm was to take the clubs which would have finished in the top four from
the previous season.
Motor Action muted the idea of taking up the matter with the courts
but decided against the idea because ZANU PF is ruthless with people who
openly challenge them.
Perhaps Motor Action boss Erick Rosen did not want a repeat of an
incident three years ago when war veterans invaded Callies Sports Club
(home of Motor Action) claiming that he was racist.
Motor Action also planned a demonstration at Rufaro Stadium on Sunday
but it flopped because of a heavy presence of security details at the
stadium to thwart any threats to the game. - ZimOnline
By Ashenafi Abedje
17 April 2006
Tomorrow marks the 26th anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence from Britain.
President Robert Mugabe's government is said to be planning huge
celebrations throughout the country. This come as millions of Zimbabweans
struggle to survive in an economy that has shrunk nearly 40% over the past
eight years. Mr. Mugabe blames foreign and domestic opponents: he says they
have sabotaged his country's economy because they object to his land
reforms. The Zimbabwean leader says his land redistribution program has been
necessary to redress ownership imbalances caused by colonialism.
John Macumbe is an associate professor of political science at the
University of Zimbabwe. In an interview with English to Africa reporter
Ashenafi Abedje, Macumbe describes the mood among Zimbabweans on the eve of
their independence anniversary. "Unfortunately it is very gloomy, because
the majority of Zimbabweans cannot afford most of the basic necessities of
life and doesn't seem to be any prospect for productive change in the near
future." He says the economic difficulties are "essentially making people
look at this independence as a non-event."
The Mugabe government encourages Zimbabweans to put aside their hardships
and celebrate their independence anniversary with a sense of pride. Macumbe
says that idea is a minority viewpoint among Zimbabweans. "In fact," he
says, "there are a number of articles in the local media comparing us today
with the period before independence, and saying we were probably better off
before 1980 than we are today. That is a serious indictment of the current
Macumbe says perhaps the one thing most Zimbabweans agree has been achieved
in 26 years of independence is "the Zimbabwean passport." He says this
allows people to travel outside and look for greener pastures, to buy food
and bring it back home." "Apart from this," he says, " I cannot think of
Mail and Guardian
Godfrey Marawanyika | Harare, Zimbabwe
17 April 2006 07:37
Zimbabwe celebrates 26 years of independence from Britain on
Tuesday with a shadow of seven years' economic woes hanging over its freedom
Zimbabwe gained independence from colonial master Britain on
April 18 1980 after a protracted liberation war against white Rhodesian
settlers, with President Robert Mugabe then winning plaudids for his
conciliatory attitude to minority whites.
But over the last six years the country of around 13-million
people has landed itself in the throes of political and economical upheaval,
seeing a 7,1% shrinkage in its economy last year, according to the
International Monetary Fund (IMF).
"There is nothing to celebrate on Tuesday," said Prosper
Chitambira, chief economist of the influential Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
"Economically things are bad. The standards of living and real
wages have slumped to 1975 levels. Even politically there is nothing to
celebrate, our democratic space is now limited," he told Agence
Zimbabwe's relations with the West became strained after
Mugabe's government launched controversial land reforms in 2000, seizing
farms from white commercial farmers for redistribution to landless blacks.
Ties worsened when the United States and the European Union
imposed targeted sanctions on Mugabe and members of his inner circle
following the country's 2002 presidential election dismissed by the
opposition as a fraud.
The country is now operating a budget deficit largely financed
by the printing of money. Inflation has also jumped to an all-time high of
913,5% and there are no price reprieves in sight.
"If there is one thing that no responsible Zimbabwean can deny
today, it is that our country is in the throes of a devastating economic
meltdown," wrote Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe's former information czar in a
Moyo, who was last year shunned by his former mentor Mugabe when
he decided to contest elections as an independent candidate, said the
economy was the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriatic Front's
(Zanu-PF) main enemy.
Moyo said Mugabe "and his cronies have no solution to the
opposition outside [the] brutality of a knee-jerk law and order response of
ruling by terror".
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industry (CZI) said in a report
last month that the hyper-inflation forced most companies to operate at
half-capacity because of a lack of raw materials, forex shortages and an
unfavourable exchange rate.
"On Tuesday the President Mugabe will address the nation ... the
party is in good spirits at the moment, we are pleased with rainfall and
this year we are looking forward to a good harvest.
The challenge facing us is that of corruption," said Nathan
Shamuyarira, ruling party spokesperson.
Shamuyarira rubbished claims that Mugabe's government were to
blame for economic woes.
"No. The government can't be blamed for that [the economic
crisis]. The advent of the financial crisis was caused by the adoption of
the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme introduced by the IMF and the
World Bank in the early 1990s," Shamuyarira said.
"We have continued to hold fort when the Zimbabwean dollar has
continued to plummet. Our Reserve Bank should not believe they will be
accepted by the IMF, we should develop other routes which is looking East,"
Last month the IMF said it would keep in place sanctions on
Zimbabwe because of money still owed the bank, and urged Harare to urgently
implement reforms to stabilise its economy. - Sapa-AFP
April 17 2006 at 11:22AM
Harare - Authorities in Zimbabwe have forecast food shortages in parts
of central Mashonaland East province, blaming the reduced harvests on a long
dry spell, while a local official has warned of a "dire need" for food,
reports said on Monday.
The shortages will hit areas where desperately-needed maize crops have
wilted, according to the state-controlled Herald newspaper.
"What is heart rending is that most of the wilted crop had reached the
tasselling stage and any rains that may fall now will not be able to salvage
the crops," said the ruling Zanu-PF deputy for the area, Aeneas Chigwedere.
Takawira Kufakwevanhu, the area's district administrator said
residents were "in dire need" of food aid.
"There is definitely going to be need for food assistance in the
affected areas. Although other parts of the district received
average-to-good rainfall, shortage of fertiliser experienced by the farmers
is going to result in low yields," said Kufakwevanhu.
The officials were speaking at events commemorating World Aids Day
Aid agencies estimate that at least three million Zimbabweans will
need food aid soon. Since the launch of a controversial land redistribution
programme five years ago, this once-prosperous country has suffered a
succession of disappointing harvests.
The government says the poor yields are due to drought but critics say
the new farmers also lack expertise, funding and commitment. - Sapa-dpa
The Herald (Harare)
April 17, 2006
Posted to the web April 17, 2006
A HIGH-PROFILE Zimbabwean delegation that arrived here at the weekend will
launch the Tourism Recovery Plan during the Zimbabwe Week that starts today
after holding crucial meetings with their Indonesian counterparts.
If launched, the plan would revive Zimbabwe's tourism sector that has been
experiencing challenges over the last few years because of bad publicity.
The delegation, that is being led by the Minister of Environment and
Tourism, Cde Francis Nhema, aims to tap into the vast Indonesian tourism
market whose population is 230 million people. Zimbabwe's Ambassador to
Indonesia Ms Alice Mageza welcomed the delegation that include Parks and
Wildlife Management director general Dr Morris Mtsambiwa, Rainbow Tourism
Group chief executive Ms Chipo Mutasa and several journalists.
In her welcome speech, Ms Mageza said the Zimbabwean delegation's visit
would enhance strategic partnerships and consolidate the gains of
South-South Co-operation and show that Zimbabwe is a safe destination in
sub-Saharan Africa despite the decline in tourist arrivals that was a result
of the "dearth of information" on the country.
She said since the opening of the embassy last year she has initiated
tourism exhi bitions that have helped in changing perceptions about Zimbabwe
among Indonesians. "Our mandate is to put Zimbabwe on the Indonesian and
Singaporean maps so that we increase our visitors' numbers. "We thought of
inviting tourism stakeholders from home so that they could explain the
situation much better.
Our focus is to revive the economy through tourism, which is a unifying
factor amongst Asean-Africa. "We have invited Indonesia tourism stakeholders
for a Zimbabwe Tourism Week where we will also celebrate our independence
together," said the ambassador. Cde Nhema said Indonesia could help boost
visitors' numbers to Zimbabwe because there was a marginal increase in the
number of tourists visiting the country from other markets.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Mr Karikoga Kaseke, who has
spearheaded the marketing campaign to regional and international markets,
said they would take more marketing campaigns to other major and emerging
tourism markets in Europe, Russi a, South Africa and Asia. "Tourism is all
about marketing and we believe by so doing we will increase our arrivals if
we can tap into Indonesia," said Mr Kaseke.
The visit by Zimbabwe's tourism stakeholders, including journalists, follows
a visit late last year by Indonesian media representatives to Zimbabwe who
have helped to build a positive image of the country. In several reports
published yesterday in the Indonesian media, namely Kompas, Jakarta Post,
Metro Television and Koran Tempo, Zimbabwe was singled out as "a small,
beautiful and peaceful southern African paradise" where there was no civil
war or deadly diseases such as ebola and hunger. It is expected that the
Zimbabwe Week to be launched today will open to a full house.
The Herald (Harare)
April 17, 2006
Posted to the web April 17, 2006
THE Grain Marketing Board (GMB) must honour its part of the bargain and make
prompt payments to farmers for them to procure inputs for the next season
early, Mr Edward Raradza, the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union (ZFU) vice president
responsible for crops, has said.
Mr Raradza echoed concerns among many farmers and farmer organisations that
the recent increase of the maize producer price from $2,2 million to the
current $31,3 million per tonne could be eroded by inflation if GMB delayed
payments. "We understand that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has already made
the money available so there should be no delays in paying the farmers so
that they start land preparations and securing inputs for the next season.
"Farmers need to buy the inputs when the prices are still somewhat
affordable since the high inflationary environment can change at any moment
and push the inputs out of the reach of farmers, resulting in poor yields,"
he added. In a related matter, Agribank's acting provincial manager for
Harare Mr Charles Mudyiwa said farmers should take advantage of the huge
payments they were getting after selling their crops to pay off debts
accrued during production. "Farmers are getting huge payments in an economic
environment punctuated by soa ring inflation and a small chunk of their
produce can bring in a lot of money that can be used to settle the debt
secured at the start of the season when inflation was reasonably low," he
Farmers interviewed expressed satisfaction with the new producer price but
maintained that if the issues of perennial shortages of transport and late
payments were not addressed, then the increase would fail to cushion them
from the prevailing harsh economic environment. "If we fail to get transport
to deliver the grain to GMB like we did last season, then we will not be
able to buy inputs for the next season or even prepare the land. "GMB does
not look serious at all.
They fail to pay or even to give us inputs on time every year. "When they
do, they expect a whole village to share a bag of either fertilizer or seed
yet they expect the same ill-equipped farmers to deliver grain at the end of
the season," a farmer in the Mwami area of Hurungwe District, Mashonaland
West, said recently . Many farmers believe that side marketing of maize was
actually being promoted by the GMB since it was failing collect grain on
time or offer competitive prices.
The Minister of Agriculture, Dr Joseph Made, has, however, promised that
grain collection units managed by GMB would be put in place to ensure smooth
collection and prompt payment. Dr Made also indicated that the new producer
price of maize that included a 25 percent return after overhead costs was
arrived at after consultations on how much it took a farmer to produce a
hectare of maize. The majority of farmers and farmer organisations had
expected the new producer price to rise from $2,2 million to $15 million so
the $31,3 million announced was double what they expected.
"It is a good incentive but the Ministry of Agriculture should always
announce the producer price at the start of the season so that we commit the
deserving hectares for each crop," said another farmer from Bindura. Most
communal farmers produce a bout 10 to 20 tonnes of maize annually and this
season such farmers would pocket amounts in the region of $310 million to
$620 million, which should enable them to operate effectively next season.
Payments for large quantities of grain will be made in the form of cheques
while smaller quantities would be on a cash basis. This season, Zimbabwe
expects to harvest 2 million tonnes of grain against a national requirement
of about 3,6 million tonnes.
April 17, 2006, 18:45
The Young Communist League (YCL) has called on government to impose economic
sanctions against Zimbabwe. The SACP's Youth wing says President Thabo
Mbeki's approach to dealing with the situation in that country has not borne
any fruit. The league's defiance campaign will highlight South Africa's
problems and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
The campaign will begin with a march on the Gauteng premier's office
tomorrow and it will end at Zimbabwe's High Commission. Zimbabwe will
celebrate 26 years of independence tomorrow.
"If you reconsider trade relations between South Africa and Zimbabwe, we
effectively are saying that there needs to be sanctions" says Buti Manamela,
the YCL national secretary.
By: Frans van der Merwe
A socio-economic tsunami is developing in neighbouring Zimbabwe and is
hitting South Africa with increasing force.
South Africa's controversial official policy of "quiet diplomacy" towards
Zimbabwe is contributing towards the escalation of conditions which
adversely affect trade and encourage thousands of refugees and criminals to
flood the country. If this process continues unchecked, it will leave social
and economical devastation in its wake.
These views were expressed last week in Musina near the border between South
Africa and Zimbabwe, where the local business fraternity is anxiously
watching the deteriorating situation on the other side of the Limpopo River.
Businessmen in the prospering Musina are beginning to feel the pinch of
inflation which is sky-rocketing out of control in the neighbouring state.
"Musina thrives on Zimbabwean trade. The situation in that country is
deteriorating to such an extend that people are dying of hunger and
experience problems to get hold of even basic products like salt, soap and
rice," said prominent businessman Jason Rana, in an interview.
"With the highest inflation rate in the world, running into 900% and more
and continuously increasing, businesses are closing down and trade across
the border is becoming increasingly difficult and complicated. There is no
fixed rate of exchange. The unstable character of the Zimbabwean dollar
makes it almost impossible to budget and the people cannot afford to buy
anything. This situation is affecting trade in Musina adversely. Traders
base their estimates on black market rates three months ahead. That
largest single money note, the 50 000 dollar note, is worth R1.50," said Mr
According to some Zimbabwean traders they are also harassed by unscrupulous
South African taxi drivers, operating between Beit Bridge and Musina.
"When we cross the border in our own vehicles to buy supplies in Musina, we
are stopped on our return journey and forced by these people to pay "fines"
to them, based on the items that we are transporting." The Zimbabweans say
they get no assistance from the local police.