Ben-Menashe backs out Dumisani Muleya/Vincent
TREASON charges against opposition Movement for Democratic Change
leader Morgan Tsvangirai and two of his senior officials face collapse as the
key witness in the alleged assassination plot against President Robert
Mugabe, shadowy publicist Ari Ben-Menashe, yesterday distanced himself from
the case saying "it's now none of our business". Ben-Menashe had been due to
appear as the state's star witness.
Tsvangirai, together with MDC
secretary-general Welshman Ncube and secretary for agriculture Renson Gasela
are due to appear in court on April 30 to answer the charges, which are
punishable by death or life imprisonment. The three opposition party
heavyweights were involved in the talks with Ben-Menashe's public relations
firm, Dickens & Madson (Canada) Inc, in a bid to secure the services of
the company. The charges arise from meetings held in London and Montreal
where the firm is based. However, Ben-Menashe - a former Mossad spy
involved in a number of episodes ranging from the Iran/Contra affair to the
Zambian US$6 million maize scam last year - yesterday said he was no longer
involved in the case and did not want to talk about it
further. "We no longer have anything to do with the MDC and Morgan
Tsvangirai's case," he said in a telephone interview from Canada yesterday.
"We have nothing to do with that anymore. We are now involved in doing some
lobbying work for Zimbabwe abroad."
Ben-Menashe, who was in the
country last week on an undisclosed mission, insisted the alleged Mugabe
assassination drama was no longer Dickens & Madson's
business. "What happened in the past happened. We are not involved in
legal issues. We are not working on anything to do with that case," he
said. The controversial lobbyist visited the country in February to
give evidence to the police. If he remains resolved not to give evidence in
person it will be a major blow to the state's case already facing problems of
extra-territo rial jurisdiction. There has been speculation that
Ben-Menashe would not turn up to give evidence because he wouldn't want his
controversial record laid bare. The Independent heard this week that
the docket for the treason case had not yet gone to the Attorney General's
office. "I can confirm that the docket is not yet with the AG's
office," said Director of Prosecutions Joseph Mishawka. Other
sources at the AG's office this week said it was imperative that the state
produces other credible witnesses to bolster its case. "He is a
sitting duck to any defence lawyer in the witness box," the
Asked whether he was in the country last week and if he
was coming to testify in the case, Ben-Menashe again said he had nothing to
do with the matter. "I think it doesn't really matter whether I
was there. I really can't comment on my travels," he said. "I want to
emphasise we are not working on the Tsvangirai case."
04/19 01:51 Zimbabwe Auction Executes Hyena Futures, Putsi
Calls (Update1) By A. Craig Copetas Harare, Zimbabwe, April 19
(Bloomberg) -- There are some real killings to be made on the Zambezi Valley
Hunt Exchange. Baboon options are opening at $9 per baboon, traders expect a
stampede on bull elephant derivatives and phone orders from New York and
London are overwhelming Zimbabwe's wireless circuits.
It's open season
again for bids to participate in the high- risk business of big-game hunting
As wildebeest grow fat for the annual Zimbabwe hunting season,
over 300 great white hunters in jungle fatigues and crocodile-hide boots trek
in from the bush every April and deploy beneath the onion-domed ceiling in
the grand ballroom of the Meikles Hotel. Puffing meerschaum pipes and
drinking beer served on sterling silver trays, the hunters unload their
big-bore rifles and power up the calculators for the business of buying and
selling 104 government contracts to hunt some 4,000 big-game animals in the
Zambezi Valley wilderness.
``These are very strange investments
because there's no hedge against a cape buffalo,'' warns Anthony Williams,
owner of African Hunter, a glossy magazine and tip sheet on how to survive
the Zambezi exchange without being gored. ``The buffalo is born mean and
nasty,'' he explains a few moments before the opening bell. ``You get one
kill-shot. If you miss, your investment will stomp you bad. You don't die
quickly, you don't die easily.''
It's not a market for the faint of
heart. Williams says investors here best be familiar with how to leverage a
.404- caliber H&H single-shot against a rampaging 3,000-kilogram (6,600-
pound) hippopotamus. As hybrid markets go, there's clearly none more volatile
than the Zambezi exchange, where a 14-day option to kill a hippo this year
sold for $3,700 and traders say U.S. investors pushed warthog futures to $690
from last year's high of $327.
Tracking the Pork
But while a pork
belly contract on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is a bet on which way hog
prices will move over 90 days, a pork option here is a gamble on killing the
pig over a 10- or 14- day period, all the while tracking the investment
through the Zambezi Valley, most often with a 6.5-caliber Mauser. If the
contract holder either wounds or fails to bag the trophy boar, market
regulations stipulate the option cannot be extended and the warthog gets to
go home with his bacon.
Investment counselors here advise shareholders
practice with at least 500 rounds of ammunition a week before executing a
contract in the rugged 500-kilometer-long spine that runs from the Chizaria
Hills in the east to the Mavuradohna Mountains in the west. ``Zambezi Valley
hunting futures are the most dangerous derivatives on earth,'' reckons
exchange manager Ian Ferreira. ``To play this market you must either be very
brave or bloody stupid.''
Who's to doubt
him? Questioning Ferreira's credentials in these parts can cause more of a
stink than calling Ernest Hemingway a sissy. Dressed for floor action in a
tie and safari vest, Ferreira is an expert on business along the Tropic of
Capricorn and can trace his family's mercantile roots in Zimbabwe to 1496,
when a relative sailed up the Zambezi River looking for gold with the
Portuguese adventurer Vasco da Gama.
An auctioneer by trade and a
big-game hunter by inclination, Ferreira has run the one-day exchange for 27
of his 61 years. The market, he explains, is the descendant of the shadowy
Zimbabwe tusker exchange, where foreign businessmen once gathered to haggle
over ivory prices with local white hunters and native tribal leaders. In the
mid-1960s the government banned the trade and created a regulated market to
curtail the commercial slaughter of elephants and other endangered
While traders encircle Ferreria with bids on tuskless elephants,
towers of cash tumble out of bags and into the four bank-note counting
machines whirring on clerk Penny Carritt's desk. The exchange treasurer
bundles the bills in toilet paper and drops the take in an iron box for
delivery to the bank.
Call That Putsi
``This is Mickey Mouse
money for foreign investors,'' Carritt says, wrapping cream-colored
single-ply bog roll around a stack of 100,000
Trading is momentarily suspended by what Ferreira
suggests is the most hazardous of market threats: the putsi call, which is
more of a shriek. It comes shortly after a trader notices that a tiny native
insect known as the putsi has laid its eggs under his skin. As the bug's
trademark blue welt erupts on the man's leg, Ferreira locks down the exchange
and hollers for blacksmith and bush doctor Corn Smit to come in from the
lobby with his Bowie knife.
``Too deep to cut out,'' Smit says,
sheathing his blade and grabbing an empty beer bottle off the floor. ``Putsis
are toxic and I don't want the poison seeping into your blood.''
don't care,'' the trader moans. ``It hurts. Just dig the damn
Beer Bottle Medicine
Instead, Smit flips open a
lighter, heats the mouth of the beer bottle, and presses it hard into the
wound. He then pours a pitcher of ice water on the warm glass to create a
vacuum. The putsi pops out and Ferreira reopens the market with a $7,000
option for a 14-day lioness hunt.
Standing beneath the head of stuffed
blue gnu in the foyer of his home, Ferreira says the exchange is immune to
risks that include droughts and bush fires, floods and malaria, armed
poachers, tsetse fly infestations, venomous black mamba snakes, annoyed
environmentalists, food shortages and four separate currency exchange rates.
Not to mention the government of strongman President Robert
The Big Four
Mugabe's continued refusal to accept a new
national constitution and hold free and fair elections after 22 years in
power has plunged the country into violence and scared thousands of
photo-safari tourists into taking their cameras and foreign currency to
The U.S. and Great Britain recently declared the Mugabe regime a
fraudulent government and imposed travel sanctions against him and his
cronies. Human rights groups here say 50,000 people over the past month have
fled their homes in fear of revenge attacks against those who in the last
election supported his opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai.
But Ferreira says
big game hunters don't care about the perils of politics. ``Hunters on this
level are naturally tough people,'' he explains. ``They come here for the Big
Four: leopards, lions, elephants and buffalo. Those are the blue-chip trophy
Still, big-game hunter Bill Bedford says he walks into the
exchange each year certain the political climate will cause the market to
crash. ``It never turns out that way,'' the owner of Ingne Safaris explains.
``The Zambezi Valley is a globally recognized brand name and the last place
left to buy old-fashioned hunts.'' Kenya banned hunting in 1977 and South
Africa offers mostly stocked antelope hunts, leaving Tanzania, Zambia and
Zimbabwe the only countries where sport hunters can go after the Big
Thrill of the Brand
Ferreira reckons the thrill of tracking
the Big Four across the legendary Zambezi Valley makes the exchange
impervious to forces that would tumble markets elsewhere. This year 240
investors spent a total of $3 million for the right to hunt trophy game from
antelopes to zebras, a 131 percent increase over last year's close of $1.3
million at official exchange rates. Ferreira says the numbers aren't an
inflated indicator of market strength.
``The official 55-to-1 exchange
rate between Zimbabwean and U.S. dollars is the same now as it was last
year,'' Ferreira explains. ``You can buy options with black market Zimbabwean
dollars bought at 400-to-1, but the government will not let you take the
trophy out of the country without proof of having exchanged the money at the
Dollar is King
Ray Townsend, the managing
director of Chapungu Safaris, who this year spent a record-setting $36,363 on
a 14-day option to shoot a male lion, suggests there are ways around the
currency regulations. He plops his feet atop a scruffy canvas duffle bag
packed with millions of Zimbabwean dollars and declines to spill the
``I'm not telling anyone how we make money,'' he says to the
laughter of other traders. Patting his ample stomach, which he fondly
describes as ``Mount Kilimanjaro,'' the 45-year-old big game hunter grins and
pours himself another beer.
``My client who bought the lion is a
35-year-old Austrian timber magnate and money isn't a problem for him,''
Townsend says. ``I've taken out 60 businessman-hunters every year for the
past 14 years and very few are interested in African politics. They're
prepared to mortgage the wife and sell the house for the opportunity to hunt
in Zimbabwe. This is a mystique-driven market where the U.S. dollar is
That's a problem for Leon Oelsehig, a
South African hunter who represents clients with only rand in their pockets.
``American dollars now control the Zambezi Valley,'' he gripes. ``I've been
priced out by rich American duck hunters. They want to taste the fear of
walking into a herd of angry elephants.''
your life in danger from time to time breeds a saneness in dealing with day
to day trivialities,'' muses local hunter Don Heath. ``It gives you the
enthusiasm to tackle normal days, when the most dangerous thing encountered
is a taxi weaving through traffic on the way to work.''
days are mostly wealthy executives who view a big-game safari alongside
renowned African hunters like Charls Grobbelaar in the same light as playing
18 holes on the Old Course at St. Andrews with Tiger Woods.
Lining up a shot in the Zambezi Valley isn't cheap. ``People
looking for any of the Big Four are hard-pressed to spend anything less than
$7,000 for a maximum four-day hunt,'' says Grobbelaar, owner of CG Safari
Services and chairman of the Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides
Association. ``Big game hunting in Africa is a sport for American
Depending on the price of the initial contracts, which can run
from $7,500 for a basic 10-day-hunt (one buffalo, 10 antelopes and four
baboons) to over $100,000 for a 14-day safari with options to target the Big
Four, local hunters separately charge upward of $700 a day to equip and
escort clients into the bush. For the novice, Grobbelaar offers a three-day
special $3,250 sable antelope hunt.
``We don't let our clients go
after the animals on their own,'' he says. ``The rule pisses off a lot of
American businessmen used to getting their own way, but if we didn't enforce
it, we'd have a lot of dead executives out there.'' As for whom those
businessmen might be, Grobbelaar isn't talking.
Bjorn Edlund, communications director ABB Ltd., Europe's biggest electrical
engineering company, says the silence is no surprise. ``Big game hunting in
Africa is a taboo subject outside the boardroom,'' says Edlund, who hunts
wild boar in France, bull moose in Sweden and has no plans to purchase a
$9,000 Zambezi Valley leopard option.
``It just doesn't look good for a
corporate executive to publicly admit he hunts elephants,'' Edlund explains.
``They're supposed to shoot golf with clients.''
That didn't stop a vibrant secondary market for a $45,454 bull
elephant from taking place this year beneath the kudu antelope horns
downstairs in the hotel's Explorers Club Bar. Market-tipster Williams says
it's not unusual for a buyer to resell an option for a 30%
Still, a balanced portfolio in pachyderms and crocodiles by no
means guarantees a return on investment.
``A client two years ago
bought a $15,000 lion option and we never bagged it,'' Townsend recalls as a
cell phone rings and interrupts his story. Moscow is on the line. ``They
wanted to confirm another July option for a tusker,'' he says after booking
``Some dealers buy on spec, but not me,'' Townsend
continues. ``I buy what clients tell me to buy. Americans want the biggest
and the best, the Europeans prefer going after older animals,'' he says,
smacking Grobbelaar on the knee. ``Though a few years ago there was that
Spanish businessman who had the whole elephant stuffed for display in his
Grobbelaar swears the story is true
and says he sees nothing odd about stuffing a 6,000-kilogram elephant for the
living room. ``Some of these guys just take home elephant feet and make table
legs out of them,'' he says.
Back on the trading floor, hyena shares
suddenly plunge from their 2001 high of $290.90 to $18.18 a share. The hyena
market is collapsing and Ferreira says the 94 percent drop is no laughing
matter. Though American hunters never have been keen on the carnivorous
scavenger, Ferreira is perplexed because local investors have historically
favored long positions in hyenas as a hedge against burglars.
criminals believe tribal witch doctors can transfer their spirits into
hyenas, so people often hang a hyena head in their home to scare
away thieves,'' Ferreira explains. ``The drop either reflects that homes
are saturated with hyenas or that criminals no longer are afraid of
the years we have alerted readers of this column to the dangers of Nigerian
scam artists offering large sums of money to anybody foolish enough to
disclose their bank account details. They invariably claim they have access
to the accounts of individuals killed in air crashes or other "ghastly
accidents" and would like to share the proceeds with anybody prepared to
provide a safe haven for the funds.
Needless to say, once they have your
bank details, your money quickly disappears. We have heard in recent months
from a number of Johannesburg-based operators who appear linked to associates
in Nigeria. But now there is a new twist. This week a letter arrived from
somebody calling himself Dudu Moyo, son of Dr Morgan Moyo "who was recently
murdered in a land dispute in Zimbabwe".
Moyo claims his father was a
wealthy MDC supporter and that he (Dudu) is now a refugee in South Africa
with US$29 million to dispose of as a result of a land investment his father
made which turned out to be a gold mine!
"I am actually saddled with the
responsibility of seeking an honest individual with vast experience in
business to help me safeguard and invest this money," Moyo says.
gives his address as firstname.lastname@example.org.You have been
warned! The government's news agency Ziana used to have a "not-so-bad"
reputation when it was run by editor-in-chief Henry Muradzikwa. Although
independent newspapers declined to subscribe to its services, they
occasionally found its copy resourceful and reliable.
That is no
longer the case. Following the Department of Information's scorched-earth
policy among its media agencies, Ziana has been reduced to the same abysmal
level as the rest.
This was illustrated by a piece appearing on Monday on
the significance of Independence Day. It looked as if it was written by
somebody straight out of school - or worse still, the Polytech. As the
country celebrates the 22nd anniversary of its freedom, it said, "many people
are reflecting on how far they have gone in shaking off the shackles of
The evidence of colonial recidivism? The writer had
discovered a place where tea was served from silver teapots bearing the
initials of King George VI. This led to the rapid conclusion that "blacks are
generally not welcome in such institutions".
There was more shocking
evidence. Chiefs, judges and school children were still dressed in "colonial
uniforms". These were reminders to people, we were told, of "the time when
(these) institutions used to discriminate against them".
quoted President Mugabe extensively on the subject of "imperialists" and
produced as its prime evidence of lingering tokens of colonial rule
the inscription on the statue of David Livingstone at the Victoria Falls
which Aeneas Chigwedere led us to believe had been duly
Livingstone did not "discover" the Falls, we were reminded by
the Ziana writer. But then we were incorrectly told that the Tonga used to
call the Falls Mosi-oa-Tunya.
They didn't. That was the Kalanga name -
in use for only 15 years by the Mfecane invaders by the time of Livingstone's
But there has been change, the article conceded. The government
had changed the name of the country from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. And the
country no longer celebrates Rhodes and Founders Day. In addition to these
breathtaking changes "strides have been made to reform the judiciary system",
the article said - although it didn't explain what form these "strides" took.
"Several" black business people had done well and the names of schools had
been changed, it added.
The millions facing starvation will no doubt
draw some comfort from these achievements.
Muckraker's headline of the
week was "I did not rig election says Mudede". It was an account of his press
conference in which he sought to deny a number of stories in the "private
press" alleging he was not very good with numbers. The press conference
confirmed that impression as he rather inadvisedly attempted to prove he was
good with numbers. The muddle only got worse. The private press was trying to
"justify certain agendas", Mudede alleged.
He is right. The main
agenda is that without an independent electoral commission Zimbabwe will be
condemned to the incompetent and partisan electoral management of Mugabe's
cronies who procure electoral victories for him contrary to the expressed
wishes of the country. Perhaps Mudede can get that right.
happened to Jonathan Moyo's media commission? We were told once the election
was over and the Access to Information Bill had been gazetted into law we
could look forward to all the associated mechanisms being put
Then, when the new Act was subjected to its first test in
the Peta Thornycroft case it proved wanting. The state claimed she was in
breach of its licensing provisions. But the Attorney-General's Office
declined to prosecute on the grounds that the relevant clauses were
inapplicable. In other words it wouldn't stand up in court - just like
charges they are trying to bring against Geoff Nyarota and Dumisani Muleya
for "abuse of journalistic privilege".
This is an inauspicious start.
The Act has a tarnished pedigree. It represents the attempt by one individual
minister and his master to get even with the independent press for exposing
Zanu PF's trail of corruption and abuse of power. In its original form it was
denounced by parliamentary legal committee chair Eddison Zvobgo as an
unprecedented attempt to curb liberties enshrined in the
The projected media commission will seek to impose Zanu
PF's spurious "African values" as a way of silencing inconvenient voices.
They will also raise issues of "professionalism" while allowing a
notoriously unprofessional public media to get away with every breach
Evidence of double standards were available recently.
Covering President Mugabe's address to the Zanu PF central committee in which
he commented on the inter-party talks, the Herald quoted the president at
length in a front-page report. Then it slipped this in: "The MDC is sponsored
by Britain, the United States, several members of the European Union, and
white Commonwealth countries who are widely believed to be influencing
the opposition party's position on the talks."
No attribution. Not
even an "analysts say". Just a gratuitous opinion in what was supposed to be
a news story.
But nothing can compare with Munyaradzi Huni's fawning
declaration of loyalty to the ruling party in the Sunday Mail this week.
Waxing lyrical on Zanu PF's "victory" over the MDC in the presidential poll,
he pronounced the theme for the Independence Day celebrations which marked
the country's 22nd birthday yesterday.
"The birthday card should read:
'Happy Birthday resilient and exemplary Zimbabwe. More fire to the Third
Chimurenga! You are Africa's shining light. Wish you many more
This North Korean-style exhortation from somebody claiming to be
a journalist made it abundantly clear that Independence Day was the
property of Zanu PF.
"There is no reason we should be shy to stand up
proudly and beat our chests saying: 'We are the conquerors'," Huni
"We are the conquerors" was printed in capital letters in case
anybody mistook the message. The heading "Celebrating sweet victory
over imperialism" didn't appear to explain widespread starvation,
economic collapse, persisting violence and lawlessness.
But, as is
invariably the case with Zanu PF apologists, there was somebody to blame, in
this case the Commonwealth.
"As was expected," Huni claimed, "Gen
Abubakar had to please his masters and his group was the only one that
produced a report which said the elections were not free and
Really? The only one?
The person appointed to examine the
alleged lack of professionalism in the media, "Professor" Tafataona Mahoso,
had this to say last weekend: "In the current struggle for Zimbabwe's
economic liberation, otherwise known as the Third Chimurenga, the only real
surprise is that so many Africans are surprised by the nakedness and
viciousness of the attacks on Zimbabwe and President Mugabe from so many
white leaders and media..."
In other words, the person whose report
recommends the defence of African values by the media is an undisguised
apologist for a regime, which systematically murders its political
In a revealing commentary on the resentment currently felt in
official circles, Mahoso calls the Commonwealth "the Anglo-Apartheid
Commonwealth". This is the best he can do. Beyond that, it is back to the
quotes from sources published years ago. Only it is not the usual soporific
selection from the 1960s and 70s. This time Mahoso exceeds himself by quoting
letters written in the sixteenth century. And just to update things, there is
one from 1751.
Mahoso is not just locked in an ideological timewarp.
He is the timewarp!
The sense in which the regime which Mahoso so
clumsily speaks for has become completely unhinged is perfectly conveyed by
an official statement last Sunday replying to the UN Human Rights
Commissioner's special rapporteur on freedom of expression, Abid
Hussain had politely sought to draw to Foreign Affairs minister
Stan Mudenge's attention the case of Sikhumbuzo Dube, a poet who is facing
a one-year prison sentence and $20 000 fine under POSA for reciting a
poem titled "Cry the Beloved Country" which allegedly ridiculed
Hussain asked Mudenge to ensure compliance with Article 19 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights which guarantees freedom of
Instead of simply responding that Zimbabwe would act in
accordance with the law, some Zanu PF official drafted a rabid reply which
was calculated to discredit Zimbabwe and its government. It said Hussain was
"one of the few into (which) the British hate campaign has so deeply
penetrated. While the mere fact that an official of the UN system has been
won over is worrisome, it is more worrying that you would have the liberty to
use the name of the United Nations and its stationery to spread British
hate-diplomacy upon a freedom-loving, democratically elect-ed, and sovereign
government, thro- ugh the neat- (sic) picking of non-essential events in
Zimbabwe, only to prove faithful to the Queen."
The letter accuses
Hussain of "loving" Dube and declaring him a hero.
"We wish to be wrong,
but your letter persuades us to conclude that your heroes are in the
underworld, in the social fringes of crooks, malcontents, deviants and
subverts (sic)," the official response says. "RG Mugabe is Zimbabwe's
It recommends that Tony Blair give Dube a knighthood. It is signed
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Zimbabwe".
the UN gives this response the widest possible circulation. Nothing more
convincingly exposes the paranoid dementia and puerile discourse, not to
mention literary standards, of Zimbabwe's rulers.
Another item caught our
attention in the Sunday Mail this week. It is headed "Reliving painful
memories of colonial horrors" and describes the protected-village keeps which
the colonial authorities used to isolate villagers from freedom
Jestina Kaseke is quoted as saying: "No one was allowed to walk
about at night. If you were spotted and you were lucky to get away with a
lenient punishment you would be detained in a cell...In the worst-case
scenario, you would be beaten or tortured for days or
Goodness, how times have changed!
At a time when we are
all being lectured on the importance of getting our facts right, it is
necessary to correct a report appearing in the Herald last Thursday.
Reporting on the appointment of Bornwell Chakaodza as editor of the Standard,
the Herald thought it would sow a little mischief by claiming that Chakaodza
had once called the Standard's publisher Trevor Ncube "an obese lunatic" and
a "fat bum".
In fact it was Muckraker who was on the receiving end of
those particular remarks by Chakaodza, not Ncube. Can we try and get our
We were interested to hear ZUJ president Matthew Takaona's
comments on ZBC in response to the news that a ZTV cameraman had been
assaulted by the army.
"Police should alert the public to areas where
assaults are taking place," he was reported as saying. Indeed they should.
But at least they are following up the case of Alum Mpofu, who was reportedly
caught with his pants down outside a Harare night-spot FM.
spokesman was quoted as saying they would soon "get to the bottom"
They are probably looking in the wrong place. The only
information we have on the other party is that he was an Angolan. Which
raises another question: Was this a breach of the 75% local-content
Very good, Mr Nyandoro, Sir, but please widen
4/19/02 12:36:55 PM (GMT +2)
It is dismaying to
note how Zanu PF and its many parasitic appendages, especially the public
media which the ruling party has turned into its own mouthpieces and
defenders of its innumerable transgressions, seem convinced that the dictum
“do as I say and not as I do” should be the accepted modus vivendi between
the rulers and the ruled in Zimbabwe.
They want us to accept double
standards or, to put it bluntly, hypocrisy, in their day-to-day dealings with
the rest of the population, as a normal way of life. We cannot.
last week we asked why The Herald wanted to incite the whole world
into viewing plans by the new Harare City Council to spend a paltry $5
million celebrating the MDC’s victory in council elections as a moral outrage
when they didn’t see anything wrong with Zanu PF spending more than $440
million feting its senior members from all over the country at Victoria Falls
Our sincere apologies, The Mole omitted to point out
that the $5 million the new MDC council planned to spend was largely coming
from the business community. On the other hand, the nearly half a billion
dollars spent at Victoria Falls was largely taxpayers’ money. They never
learn, do they?
Hardly two days after our humble protest, The Sunday News
carried another story about the MDC and money. To The Sunday News’ credit,
however, unlike the one in The Herald about the $5 million, its story was
neither sensationalised nor meant to cause ill feelings.
reported that the police in Bulawayo had launched investigations “to
establish the source of thousands of dollars paid to a group of MDC youths
who unleashed violence in Sizinda suburb last week”.
The report went on:
“This comes in the wake of revelations that some of the youths were found in
possession of new bank notes with consecutive serial numbers. Ten youths were
arrested over the violence, targeted at Zanu PF you ths camped at a local
community hall . . .” (Don’t put it past Zanu PF to have stage-managed the
whole incident, through the CIO of course, just to discredit the MDC. But we
shall not go into that.)
The acting Officer Commanding Bulawayo Central
and Suburban District, Superintendent Abisaia Nyandoro, who reportedly said
the MDC youths were paid amounts ranging from $300 to $900 “to violently
evict Zanu PF youths who were at Sizinda Hall on development programmes”,
also said the police were “aware of the dirty tactics employed by the MDC and
would react in a firm and professional manner”. Once they had established the
source of the funds, “the culprit would be charged for inciting
Very good, Mr Nyandoro, Sir. A show of so much zeal, diligence
and conscientiousness in the execution of your duties is precisely what
Zimbabwe needs at this point in time as it writhes in its death throes,
engulfed in rampant lawlessness and mindless violence. You are a breeze of
fresh air in the stinking ZRP. But, we implore you not to be
Please do us a favour and launch thorough and professional
investigations to establish who organised and funded the transportation of,
hotel accommodation for, food and the payment of per diems for the busloads
of Harare youths who descended on Bulawayo and unleashed an orgy of terror
in that city last September saying they were campaigning for Zanu PF’s
mayoral candidate. And those other youths again bussed into Bulawayo in
February to violently foil an MDC rally at White City Stadium.
investigate also who is funding the upkeep of the hordes of youths camped at
community halls throughout Bulawayo’s high density suburbs and
at Ntabazinduna, Nyamandlovu, Inyathi, Nkayi, Lupane and elsewhere
in Matabeleland and who seem to have nothing else to do apart from engaging
in debauchery and causing havoc in the communities where they are
But don’t tell us those youths are gathered in those camps for
“development programmes” unless, of course, your definition of “development”
includes gang-raping young girls, housebreaking and theft, robbery, malicious
injury to property and looting defenceless businessmen’s shops all in the
name of Zanu PF.
And please also investigate and establish who was
behind farm invasions and paid weekly stipends to the invaders who killed
innocent farmers, including Gogo Gloria Olds who was brutally butchered only
months after her son had met the same fate.
Please, Mr Nyandoro,
investigate and establish who was behind Zanu PF youths ’ illegal roadblocks
and who is behind the ongoing illegal conditional selling of scarce essential
commodities to holders of Zanu PF membership cards only.
Nyandoro, investigate all these and many more outrageous criminal acts being
committed daily by youths and war veterans in the name of Zanu PF and bring
the culprits to book. Only when you have done that will we take seriously
your claim to being “professional”.
Whoever coined the ex pression
"ignorance is bliss" was sure right. It certainly is so most of the time,
though probably not always.
There was clearly much bliss at The Herald on
Monday after the paper had laid its hands on a copy of St George's College
headmaster's end-of-term letter to all parents with children at the school in
which he eloquently articulated what every sane Zimbabwean thinks about the
recent presidential election. Even the anger we all still feel could be
detected in that letter.
Always eager to please a government that appears
set in a relentless conspiracy to sacrifice the country and everything in it
(except itself and members of its huge extended family) on the altar of
political expediency, The Herald, no doubt aiming to get the government to
descend on the poor man with a sledge hammer, splashed the contents of the
damning letter across the front page as its lead story the following day,
Completely lost on the paper was the fact that it was giving the
headmaster a much wider audience than he had even hoped to have even in his
wildest dreams and also giving free international publicity to sentiments we
all have been so anxious to get the world to know about.
And they are
sentiments that are not likely to do much good for the government in its
desperate attempts to convince the world that President Mugabe was popularly
Here is part of what the headmaster, Mr B T Tierman, who
candidly declared the 9 to 11 March election as "morally invalid and a source
of embarrassment", wrote in his no-holds-barred letter: "Until we have a
presidential election that clearly satisfies the absolute criteria of
'justice being done and being seen to be done', every citizen has the right
to consider the recent election as morally invalid.
"No one but an
ignorant and naive caveman could claim to be able to tell his children within
the confines of his own home that he believed that the recent electoral
process was free and fair.
"The only thing we know about the recent
election is that the +/-45 percent who voted against the President did so
despite the deep intimidation, despite the public media, despite the
artificial difficulties that were engineered in various localities, despite
the electoral commission and despite the manipulation of the voters' roll
"This overwhelming fact will sit very uneasily with the
powers-that-be. It will explain the post-election vengeance and violence that
is being wrought by the 'winners' . . . The 'victory' has not brought peace,
it has not won over hearts and minds and it has not won friends."
good product needs no advertising.
The Mole can only say: Well put, Mr
Tierman. You have articulated what millions of anguished and angry
Zimbabweans are itching to tell both the government and the international
And to The Herald we say: Thank you for spreading the people's
message far and wide. You seem to be finally living up to your name. Keep
Daily News Experts predict winter maize project will
4/19/02 12:18:07 PM (GMT +2) Staff Reporter
government’s decision to grow maize in winter in Chiredzi, in a last-minute
rush to avert starvation, is not feasible and is very expensive, experts said
The $10 million project would see maize being planted on a 5
000-hectare fallow tract of land provided under controversial circumstances
to the government by Hippo Valley, Triangle and Mkwasine Estates. The project
has already kicked off with maize being planted on a 200-hectare
Experts said the high input costs involved in the project and
the temperatures in the area made it impossible for the project to
Mike Clarke, the Commercial Farmers’ Union regional chairman,
said farmers in Masvingo had on several occasions unsuccessfully tried to
produce the crop in the area in winter.
Clark said: “The whole project
is not feasible because of the high input costs and low temperatures. The
crop is going to be destroyed by frost. The project is extremely expensive
and its implementation was due to the government’s desperation to make amends
after it failed to take heed of our calls that there was going to be a
serious food shortage.”
Melody Kwanai, a crop specialist in Masvingo
yesterday said growing maize in winter is very risky since the crop might be
destroyed by frost.
She said to produce the crop even in the lowveld
where temperatures might be favourably low, depends on the management system.
“Frost is the biggest enemy.
Although there are incidents where frost
is not found in the area, nature might take its course. It is highly risky
and sometimes not profitable.”
THE price of fuel is set to go up
next month despite denials by the government. The increase will trigger off a
new wave of price rises in a host of products as well as in transport
The last fuel price increases in June 2001 saw a massive 70
percent rise in the cost of fuel.
A senior official at the National
Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim), the country’s sole fuel procurement agency,
said prices would go up early next month.
Officials in the oil
industry yesterday dismissed as a mere political statement, the recent
assurances by the Minister of Mines and Energy, Edward Chindori-Chininga,
that there would be no fuel price rise in the near future.
minister’s statement comes in the wake of reports that some motorists were
now hoarding petrol and diesel in anticipation of an increase.
most service stations confirmed to The Daily News yesterday that a number of
motorists were stockpiling large quantities of fuel because of the widespread
rumours of another price jump.
The senior Noczim official said: “The
minister is just playing politics. We know as a matter of fact that fuel
prices will go up in the next two to three weeks. In fact, prices were
supposed to have gone up at the beginning of April, but this was stopped for
Speculation has been rife over the past few days that
the government was planning to increase the price of fuel by between 15 and
Petrol is now pegged at $74,47 a litre, while diesel costs
$66,39 a litre.
Increases in the price of fuel will trigger a fresh wave
of price rises across the board, worsening the plight of the majority of the
people, for whom transport cost constitutes a major part of their expenses. A
worker on average spends at least $1 400 a month on transport
Chindori-Chininga said another increase was not planned because of
the turnaround at Noczim, which he said had seen the parastatal “shedding off
a $12 billion debt”.
Libya is providing 70 percent of Zimbabwe’s fuel
requirements amounting to US$30 million (Z$1,65 billion) monthly following
the signing of a US$360 million (Z$19,8 billion) facility between the two
countries last year.
HARARE, April 19 — Zimbabwe human rights groups said on
Friday three people had been killed in political violence in the past two
weeks, bringing the death toll this year to 54. The groups said the
violence had persisted since President Robert Mugabe's controversial
re-election in last month's presidential poll that is widely seen as deeply
A police spokesman dismissed the report as a ''lie,''
saying political violence had been on a sharp decline since the March 9-11
poll. ''The continuing violence claimed a further three lives in
the fortnight under review, bringing the total number of politically
related murders this year to 54,'' the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said
in its latest report. The forum said the death toll so far this
year had surpassed the number of politically related killings last year, but
gave no figures for 2001. ''Political violence will continue to
claim lives for as long as there is no concerted effort by the government and
the police to put an end to it. More so for as long as state agents are
perpetrators themselves,'' the association of 11 local human rights groups
added. It cited among its sources, reports from individual
member organisations, newspaper stories and statements from the
mainly-white Commercial Farmers Union whose members' farms Mugabe has been
forcibly acquiring for landless blacks. Ten white farmers have been
killed in the violence that has accompanied the invasion of farms by
pro-government militants since 2000. ''LIES'' Police
spokesman Inspector Tarwireyi Tirivavi said the number of deaths given in the
rights groups report was false. ''They are lying. They are including
in that figure people killed in non-political violence. The number of
politically related deaths has gone down a lot since the elections,''
Tirivavi told Reuters, without giving figures. The European Union
said this week it was concerned about what it called continuing political
violence and human rights abuses against opposition supporters after Mugabe's
re-election. The EU slapped sanctions on Mugabe and his close
associates earlier this year and, along with Zimbabwe's opposition, the
Commonwealth and the United States, denounced the veteran African leader's
claim of victory as fraudulent. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party
insists the March 9-11 election was free and fair. But opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has filed a
petition challenging Mugabe's victory, saying he has ''shocking evidence'' of
electoral fraud. On May 13 the two parties will resume talks widely
seen as unlikely to bridge the gap created by the opposition's demand for an
election re-run, which Mugabe, 78 and in power since 1980, has ruled
out. The MDC says more than 120 of its supporters have been killed
in state-sponsored unrest in the last two years.
Geneva - The United Nations' top human rights forum on
Friday threw out a European Union call for Zimbabwe to allow a UN probe into
human rights violations committed in the country after African nations
blocked a planned resolution.
The UN Human Rights Commission voted by
26 votes to 24 not to take action on a draft resolution presented by European
Union countries, which had urged Harare to invite UN rights experts to visit
Three countries abstained.
The draft had also
expressed concern at "violations of human rights by the government of
But it faced strong opposition from a united bloc of 14
African countries in the 53-member Commission led by Nigeria, which managed
to rally support from Asian and Middle Eastern countries, according to
Introducing the "no-action motion", Nigeria rejected the EU's
move as "politically motivated", and said it had failed to take into account
the root causes of Zimbabwe's human rights problems.
"There can be no
debate on human rights without first focusing on the issue of land,"
Nigeria's delegate told the commission.
"The resolution presented by the
EU today, which is set totally out of context is counterproductive and
produces a serious danger of subverting progress being made in several
African initiatives," he added.
Current African members of the Commission
include Algeria, Burundi, Cameroon, South Africa, Kenya, Libya, Nigeria,
Senegal, Swaziland and Zambia
China, Cuba, and Syria also supported the
African countries in the no-action motion, which effectively also stifled any
debate on the issue in the commission.
UN officials had said they
believed it was the first time Zimbabwe could face action by the Commission
since the southern African state achieved democracy in 1980 and President
Robert Mugabe came to power.
But it was ultimately toppled by the
Nigerian-led African group, which human rights groups had described as
remarkably united during this year's annual meeting of the
"It's scandalous that there was no action. On top of that it
was not a strong resolution," Loubna Freih of Human Rights Watch said. -
According to Pana, South
Africa has placed a ban on the import of Zimbabwean beef. The announcement
was made by Zimbabwean authorities. A recent out break of foot and mouth
disease has prompted the ban by the South African government. The effected
area has been brought under control and it is thought that the ban should
only last for the next three or four weeks. The Zimbabwean authorities have
quarantined the effected area for at least a year now and some officials
questioned the South African decision. South African authorities responded by
saying that the move was merely a precautionary measure.
UN dismisses call to investigate Zimbabwe (Filed:
19/04/2002) THE United Nations Human Rights Commission has rejected
calls by the EU to investigate alleged human rights abuses in
The Commission voted by 26 votes to 24 with 3 abstentions to
dismiss a draft resolution presented by European Union countries urging
Harare to invite UN rights experts to visit the country.
of the opposition came from a group of 14 African countries headed by
Nigeria, who claimed that the EU proposal did not address the underlying
causes of human rights issues in the country and was a politcally-motivated
The Nigerian delegate said: "There can be no debate on human
rights without first focusing on the issue of land. The resolution presented
by the EU today, which is set totally out of context is counterproductive and
produces a serious danger of subverting progress being made in several
Mugabe's airline must pay $28m or lose
its planes By Jan Raath in Harare and Daniel McGrory
MUGABE faces losing his treasured state airline for failing to pay debts of
over $26 million (£18 million) to an American bank. The Zimbabwean President
has often been accused of using the state-owned fleet as his own private
airline to fly him, his new young wife Grace and their cronies on overseas
Increasingly strapped for cash, the Government has now received a
final demand from the US government-owned Export-Import Bank of the United
States (Exim) to settle the bill for two Boeing 767 aircraft or the planes
will be seized.
Air Zimbabwe has not paid the instalments on its
leasing deal with Exim since December 2000 and, with fines for late payment,
now owes the US Government nearly $28 million.
EU “smart” sanctions
already block Mr Mugabe from many of his favourite destinations. His
opponents have long derided him for the amount of time he spends abroad with
his wife, reputed to be a profligate shopper. Losing the pride of Air
Zimbabwe’s fleet would seriously cramp his style and damage his prestige
among his neighbours.
One Western diplomat in Harare said: “He would hate
to be marooned in Zimbabwe or be like Yassir Arafat and have to ask his few
allies to lend him a plane if he wants to go anywhere.”
He is Africa’s
most-travelled President. According to an investigation by the Zimbabwe
Independent business weekly he spent £180 million in a decade during the
1990s on fuel and crews for commandeering planes for his and his cronies’
Long-suffering Air Zimbabwe passengers and the airline’s beleaguered
staff are used to the presidential entourage descending on Harare airport
without warning to demand the use of one of its small fleet — it has five
planes in all.
In December last year, 40 passengers were thrown off a
London-bound flight to make room for President Mugabe and his party, who then
diverted the plane to Spain so he could have treatment at an eye clinic. More
than 100 passengers were left stranded at Gatwick when he ordered the pilots
to come and collect him.
Later that week another 40 passengers were
left in London when he demanded another Air Zimbabwe flight to divert and
pick up more of his party, who had stayed on for a holiday.
Mr Mugage instructed the regular London-bound flight to stop in Geneva so
that it could collect a package for him.
Grace Mugabe would frequently
demand a plane to go to London and Paris on shopping trips. On the return
flight she would have seats removed from the Boeing to stack her
A visa ban means that Mr Mugabe can no longer visit London,
although he was already boycotting Britain after suffering the indignity of
Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner, attempting to make a citizen’s
arrest as the couple left Harrods in 1999.
Air Zimbabwe still flies to
London and if the bank does not get its money by April 30 then it could ask
friendly governments such as Britain’s to seize the aircraft if they land in
Exim, funded by the US Treasury but an independent agency of the
federal Government, will not say what its tactics will be to reclaim the
Alice McNutt Miller, its managing director, has, however,
written to Air Zimbabwe and the country’s Finance Minister, demanding that
they settle their debt by the end of this month. She says that it
includes $26,150,545.79 on the lease and a $1,675,430.07 interest charge for
The letter says: “This is to formally advise the Lessee
that if Ex-Im Bank does not receive the entire past-due rent, together with
interest thereon, amounting to the sum of US$27,825,975.86, by April 30 2002,
Ex-Im Bank will instruct the Lessor to take all necessary and appropriate
Zimbabwe does not have the foreign currency to pay that bill,
with its economy crippled by farm takeovers and lack of overseas
Exim has formally asked Air Zimbabwe to stop using the planes
until the dispute is settled. A senior bank spokesman confirmed the letter
had been sent to Air Zimbabwe in Harare.
Air Zimbabwe executives would
not say yesterday how they intend to resolve this embarrassing episode. David
Mwenga, their spokesman in Harare, would say only: “We are talking to Exim
Senior airline sources say that negotiations have been going on
for several months now and the Government is exploring various options to
hang on to their only two 767s. Mr Mugabe could turn to his old friend,
Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi, to bail him out by paying the bill.
Zimbabwe would not say yesterday whether it is considering dropping
its flights to London at the end of the month for fear the planes could
It could be that the ailing airline will now travel only
to “friendly” countries which would give an undertaking not to seize the jets
on behalf of the bank.
Without the two long-haul 767-200ERs, the
airline would be left with only the three Boeing 737s it uses on regional
The airline, with 1,400 employees, has an enviable safety record
but since independence has not made a profit.
The top management tend
to be political appointees. Mr Mugabe often takes planes out of commercial
service on domestic flights for his own use. When he stages rallies in
Victoria Falls or other cities he commandeers aircraft to ferry Zanu (PF)
officials and supporters.
The visa ban means Mr Mugabe has to choose
holiday destinations such as Malaysia, though he can still fly to North Korea
and Libya, two countries with whom his regime enjoys cordial
Friday April 19, 2002
10:40 PM ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) - Alone among African leaders in
condemning Zimbabwe's elections, Senegal's outspoken president urged Friday
that Zimbabwe's people nevertheless be spared international sanctions and
``Presidents are in passing, but the people are permanent,''
President Abdoulaye Wade told The Associated Press from Senegal's capital,
Wade evoked the long-term good of development aid for the people
of Zimbabwe and elsewhere.
``Airports, road, schools, universities -
this has nothing to do with a political regime,'' he said.
European Union is thinking about toughening sanctions on Zimbabwe
after President Robert Mugabe won re-election last month through
what international monitors said was vote-rigging and orchestrated
The EU already has frozen development aid to
The United States, calling the vote ``fatally flawed,'' froze
defense contracts and U.S. bank accounts of Zimbabwe leaders.
76-year-old leader elected in 2000 after more than two decades in opposition,
emerged as the only African leader to condemn the vote.
Last summer, he
stood nearly as alone among African leaders in dismissing the idea of
European reparation for past African enslavement - asking if his own family,
former slave-holders like many in Africa, should also pay.
he said Friday, ``For me, my problem is: Did the people of Zimbabwe express
their free choice of election? My answer is 'no.'''
His remarks came as
Wade emerged from a week in which he spearheaded African leaders' successful
mediation of Madagascar's violent three-month election impasse.
three days of room-to-room shuttling by himself and four other presidents in
a Dakar hotel, Madagascar's two rival presidents agreed to a temporary
``Something very important on that is the
consideration Africans have for elder persons,'' he said of his own role in
``There are very few people who speak frankly, and generally
we succeed,'' he said.
The peace-making came on the sidelines of an
African leaders' summit in which heads of state laid strategy for a promised
massive infusion of Western aid.
Wade broke from one key provision of
African leaders' proposal for encouraging good government among themselves -
a demand of the wealthy Group of Eight nations promising the aid.
proposal, endorsed by influential Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, calls
for a ``peer review'' in which African leaders themselves keep leaders like
Zimbabwe's president in line.
``Maybe if there is a problem, they call
the head of state ... and maybe scold him,'' he said.
``I am not very
optimistic for the good functioning of the system,'' he said. ``In general,
we have little capacity to put pressure on
Daily News Curtailing monetary growth answer to inflation says
4/19/02 11:49:55 AM (GMT +2) Business
CONCERTED action aimed at curtailing monetary growth and
increasing the output of goods and services in the economy is vital if a
sustainable reduction in inflation to levels that promote investment and
growth is to be achieved, warns the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
In its latest Weekly Economic Highlights, dated 5 April
2002, the RBZ said since 1990 high levels of money supply growth had been
experienced against the backdrop of economic decline. Real Gross Domestic
Product (GDP) has been shrinking, with economic growth falling from a peak of
10 percent in 1996 to a decline of about 7,3 percent in
Inflation, which stood at 15,5 percent in 1990, had soared to 116,3
percent by February 2002. The RBZ said: The resultant supply bottlenecks,
against a backdrop of high monetary growth, have also fuelled inflation Ð a
result of Ôtoo much money chasing too few goods’.
stabilisation, therefore, requires reduction in money supply to levels
consistent with real economic activity. In this regard, limiting fiscal
deficits to levels that can be freely absorbed by the non-bank sector becomes
crucial. In addition, private sector credit should be channelled towards
activities that create real wealth.
The RBZ said that growth in broad
money supply (M3) increased from 17,6 percent in 1990 to 99,5 percent by
January 2002. This growth in money supply was reflected in increases of both
narrow money and quasi money, with narrow money rising from 30,3 percent to
122,7 percent and quasi money rising from 7,6 percent to 77,9
The RBZ said: The increase in money supply has been caused by
expansion in domestic credit, largely driven by public sector borrowing from
the banking system, to meet recurrent expenditures. The result has been high
inflation in the major trading partner countries, including those in the
Since 1990, rising domestic prices have propelled notes and coins
in circulation from $0,8 billion to $24,6 billion by the end of 2001.
During the same period demand deposits also rose from $1,6 billion to
$113,1 billion, reflecting increasing volumes of cheque transactions. Quasi
money, savings deposits and time deposits all registered significant
increases during he period under review.
Daily News Bindura court orders Zanu PF members out of
4/19/02 12:06:06 PM (GMT +2) Chief Reporter
Bindura Magistrates’ Court has ordered Zanu PF supporters who have
been occupying six houses belonging to MDC supporters in Bindura town,
including that of Trymore Midzi, the slain MDC vice-chairman, to move out of
In its judgement last Friday, the court ordered
members of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Bindura to
accompany the messenger of court to carry out the evictions and facilitate
the return of the house owners.
Shepherd Mushonga, who represented the
victims, yesterday said the court made it clear that if the Zanu PF
supporters refused to leave the houses they have been using as torture camps
since last December they should be arrested and charged with contempt of
Mushonga said: “The court ruled that the Zanu PF supporters should
leave the houses by last Wednesday. I am still to confirm with the CID and
the messenger of court whether that has been done.
“This kind of
lawlessness should not be allowed to continue. My clients have the right to
repossess their properties,” he said.
One of the property owners, who
refused to be named said that he was still to go to Bindura to find out
whether the Zanu PF supporters had left his house in Chiwaridzo
The victim said he was forced to leave his house and flee to
Harare after Zanu PF supporters and war veterans accused him of organising
the MDC in Mashonaland Central province.
“I do not even know what
remains of my property. I left virtually everything when I was forced to
leave. If I managed to repossess my house, I intend to seek legal redress for
any property loss or damages,” the victim said.
Meanwhile, seven Zanu PF
supporters facing charges of murdering Midzi last December will appear in
court next week.
They were remanded in custody by the court last
Washington Mandundu and his colleagues were arrested by the police
last December after they tortured Midzi to death at a Zanu PF base in
Chiwaridzo suburb for organising MDC activities in the town.
been in custody for the past five months.
They were denied bail because
they are facing serious allegations.
In January the court dismissed an
application to remove Mandundu, one of the alleged murderers, from remand
after Dennis Tswarayi, the officer-in-charge of the CID in Bindura said
Mandundu had no case to answer.
However, some people in the town alleged
that Mandundu is a close relative of a top government and Zanu PF official in
In dismissing the application, the court said the request did
not conform with the procedures and there was no evidence to exonerate
Mandundu from the murder of Midzi.