Rangarirai Mberi News Editor
LANDING a consignment of arms stranded on a Chinese ship might end up
costing more than what the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) actually paid for
the arms themselves, military sources and experts have said.
A Chinese ship, the An Yue Jiang, has been drifting in international waters
off South Africa for over a week, bearing 77-tonnes of arms imported by
Zimbabwe from China.
The ship fled Durban last week after a court there issued an order barring
it from offloading its cargo, and after a German bank also won an order
allowing it to seize part of the cargo as part payment for US$40 million it
is reportedly owed by Zimbabwe.
The Financial Gazette has seen copies of signed contracts between
representatives of the ZDF and China’s Poly Technologies.
Correspondence between the Zimbabwean government and the Chinese firm show
that Poly Technologies was awarded the contract to supply three million
rounds of AK-47 ammunition, 1 500 rocket-propelled grenades and 3 000 mortar
rounds and mortar tubes. The documents show part of the consignment is
valued at US$1.27 million.
Contrary to widespread media suggestions that the arms were ordered after
elections, the documents show that the contract was actually issued in
September last year.
The agreement is confirmed in a September 7 letter written by P. Muchakazi,
for the Ministry of Defence, to Zi Dongfang, a representative of the Chinese
Southern Africa’s other maritime nations, Mozambique, Namibia and Angola,
have declined to allow the ship to berth at their ports, under pressure from
western governments and activists who fear the arms could be used against
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the arms shipment was
“perfectly normal trade in military goods between China and Zimbabwe”, but
because it was impossible for Zimbabwe to receive the goods, the cargo could
be shipped back to China.
But should Zimbabwe insist on transporting the arms into the country, it
would have to incur huge costs that would make the deal commercially
The ZDF had already paid clearance fees to South African authorities, which
cannot be recovered now even though the arms will no longer go through South
Zimbabwe also faces substantial freight costs arising from the fact that the
ship has been carrying its cargo for longer than anticipated under the terms
of the original agreement.
And even if the ship eventually found somewhere to dock, bringing the arms
into Zimbabwe would be almost impossible. If, for instance, the ship berthed
in Luanda, bringing the 77-tonne cargo to Zimbabwe would only have to be by
air, as there is no rail link from Angola. An airlift would require at least
two flights on the Russian-made cargo plane, an Illyushin II-76, which has a
payload of 44 tonnes.
The Air Force of Zimbabwe has an Illyushin, but the cost could be
Military officials have also discussed the possibility of hiring a private
operator, Avient Aviation, a British cargo charter airline that has
previously flown into Zimbabwe. However, this is unlikely, a source said.
People familiar with the China deal dispute charges that the arms are to be
used for repression.
“(Ammunition) stocks go down. You need to continuously replenish them. Once
you have expended certain stocks, for instance in practice, you need to take
a fresh inventory of your ‘first line’ and ‘second line’ stock,” a source
said this week.
The source explained that “first line” arms are the basic weapons that would
be required to go to war, while the “second line” ones are reserves.
Ammunition is run down in practice exercises conducted by the defence
“This was a normal business transaction with nothing to do with elections.”
The China shipment should have been delivered months ago, but “there was a
lot of bureaucracy to get over”, other sources said.
Such a shipment would need transit permits from the arms control boards of
the countries through which it would be transported. However, such boards do
not sit regularly, resulting in delays in the issuance of permits.
In South Africa, such permits are issued by the National Conventional Arms
Control Committee (NCACC), allowing the weapons to be shipped through South
But it was possible the ship could have set sail before all requisite
paperwork was in place, said the sources.
The An Yue Jiang raised anchor and fled Durban last week after a court
suspended the cargo’s conveyance permit allowing the weapons transit through
South African territory.
Provincial and Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi, President Thabo
Mbeki’s top mediator in Zimbabwe, chairs the NCACC.
Defence Secretary January Masilela has defended the decision, saying that in
the absence of an international arms embargo on Zimbabwe, South Africa was
acting within the law.
Poly Technologies is an arms trader owned by a commercial subsidiary of the
People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the Chinese defence force. The ship carrying
the arms is operated by COSCO, the China Ocean Shipping Co, also a PLA
The Zimbabwe deal is not the first controversy to hit Poly Technologies. The
company has a 1996 indictment in the United States after it tried to ship 2
000 AK-47s into the United States.
Western critics have also targeted the company for allegedly selling arms to
so-called “rogue states”. It has been criticised for allegedly selling
cruise missiles to Iran, and for reportedly trading weapons for heroin in
Zimbabwe has also had previous dealings with arms supplier Norinco (China
North Industries Group Corporation), also state owned.
Clemence Manyukwe and Njabulo Ncube Staff Reporter
CHURCHES have issued their strongest criticism yet of the political violence
sweeping the country, calling for international intervention to prevent
Zimbabwe from sliding into anarchy.
Church leaders spoke as soldiers imposed an unofficial curfew in urban areas
and a post-election crackdown continued in the countryside.
A joint statement from Zimbabwe’s main church groups deplored what it called
“organised violence” and demanded the immediate release of presidential
election results held four weeks ago to ease rising tensions.
The delays in the release of the results came after the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) gave in to pressure from ZANU-PF by accepting partial
recounts in 23 constituencies, which might overturn the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) victory in the House of Assembly.
Since then, political temperatures have heated up amid reports of violence,
torture and intimidation in some parts of the country.
Feeling insecure about the sudden turn of events, MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai has shifted his base to Botswana where he is aggressively pushing
regional and international leaders to take stern action against President
Robert Mugabe’s government, which has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in
A strongly worded statement issued by the churches this week is likely to
pile pressure on ZEC, whose autonomy is now under serious test.
The Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference
and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe said their members had reported
the setting up of bases by war veterans and ZANU-PF youths from where acts
of violence are being committed.
In a statement, the church leaders urged the Southern African Development
Community (SADC), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) to
intervene to avoid what they called “genocide”.
“People are being abducted, tortured and humiliated by being asked to repeat
slogans of the political party they are alleged not to support, ordered to
attend mass meetings where they are told they voted for the wrong candidate
and (that they) should never repeat it in the run-off election for
president, and in some cases people are being murdered,” the church leaders
The churches said the delay in the release of the results had created
“uncertainty, anxiety and frustration”. They want the ZEC to “release the
true results of the presidential poll without further delay”.
Leaders have appealed to SADC, the AU and the UN “to work towards arresting
the deteriorating political and security situation in Zimbabwe”.
And they issued a stark warning: “We warn the world that if nothing is done
to help the people of Zimbabwe from their predicament, we shall soon be
Responding to the church’s call for international intervention, Deputy
Information Minister Bright Matonga told The Financial Gazette there was no
crisis in the country to warrant any multilateral action.
Despite government denials, reports of violence are increasing.
Speaking on the delay in the release of full election results, Zuma told
Reuters: “It’s not acceptable. It’s not helping the Zimbabwean people who
have gone out to elect the kind of party and presidential candidate they
want, exercising their constitutional right.”
Zuma added: “I imagine that the leaders in Africa should really move in to
unlock this logjam.
“Concretely, this means African countries should identify some people to go
in there, probably talk to both parties, call them and ask them what the
problem is, as well as the electoral commission”.
Yesterday, he was quoted by the BBC as saying the results delay was not
President Robert Mugabe’s fault, but ZEC’s.
Both ZANU-PF and MDC said yesterday they would welcome the proposed new ANC
“If the ANC makes an initiative, we will talk to them as a liberation
movement,” said Bright Matonga, deputy information minister. “The ANC,
including President Mbeki, are our brothers and sisters in the liberation
movement. We have no problem in talking to the ANC.”
Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the Morgan Tsvangirai camp of the MDC, said
his party was open to any effort to convince President Mugabe and ZANU-PF to
“Any effort is welcome. If the ANC now suggests a parallel process, it might
mean that they are not happy with the way President Mbeki is mediating in
the Zimbabwean crisis,” said Chamisa. “We do appreciate the seriousness the
members of the ANC are putting into the crisis, which is now beyond SADC
Last week, Tsvangirai caused a stir when he said “Mbeki should be relieved
of his duties” as mediator. But SADC this week endorsed Mbeki’s mediation
effort in the face of mounting criticism of his role from Western
governments, the opposition and from his own party.
Meanwhile, Tsvangirai yesterday took his diplomatic offensive to Mozambique,
where he was to meet President Armando Guebuza.
Tsvangirai has insisted that he won the presidential election, and his
on-going campaign is designed to convince African leaders to recognise him
as the legitimate leader of Zimbabwe, and to persuade President Mugabe to
step aside and allow the MDC to form a new government.
Tsvangirai has also demanded that President Mugabe remove ZANU-PF militia
and state security agents he says are beating up opposition supporters, and
allow humanitarian agencies to provide medicine, food, clothing and shelter
to hundreds of people his party says have been displaced as a result of the
Party officials say Tsvangirai has taken up temporary residence in
neighbouring Botswana, because of security concerns.
Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
THE two main protagonists in Zimbabwe’s political stalemate say they would
welcome the proposed parallel mediation effort led by South Africa’s ruling
African National Congress (ANC).
ANC president Jacob Zuma has called the situation in Zimbabwe “unacceptable”,
and his party has said it would seek direct contact with both ZANU-PF and
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to help end the crisis.
On Tuesday, Zuma, in an interview with Reuters, proposed even broader
intervention, involving more African leaders.
But he later told the BBC that the Thabo Mbeki mediation effort should be
In an interview on Tuesday, Zimbabwe Union of Journalists president Mathew
Takaona said a group of soldiers had ordered him and a relative out of their
vehicle near a shopping centre in Chitungwiza shortly after 8pm on Thursday
Takaona and his relative sustained injuries and were treated at a clinic.
“They ordered us to lie down and assaulted us using sjamboks. They also used
a log to assault my cousin,” said Takaona.
In Kuwadzana 5, residents reported beatings of bar patrons. Nightclubs were
forced to close early.
A family in the suburb said to support the MDC was assaulted in their home.
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena however, insisted that no such reports
had yet been made to the police.
“So far I have not come across that. People can write letters of
condemnation, but it does not help. People should be advised to report all
cases to the police,” he said.
On Monday, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told journalists that reports
of violence were exaggerated.
The MDC had a tendency to claim any person who has died as its member, he
charged. However, a report by the Zimbabwe Doctors For Human Rights says
between election day, March 29, and April 14, members of the organisation
had attended to 157 cases of injury resulting from organised violence and
“The provinces where the injuries were sustained include Manicaland,
Mashonaland East and West, and Masvingo. Of the 30 hospitalised patients, 15
are from Mudzi,” the doctors said.
“One third of the patients are women, including a 15 year old girl who was
abducted together with her mother from her home, made to lie on her front
and beaten on her buttocks. Her mother, who is pregnant, was similarly
beaten. Both mother and daughter required hospital admission.”
The doctors said the most common injury observed was extensive soft tissue
injury on the buttocks.
“Some of the individuals sustained injuries that can lead to severe
permanent disability,” the report says.
Meanwhile, reacting to Chinamasa’s challenge for evidence of the violence,
civic groups have handed SADC’s organ on politics, defence and security what
they say is documentary proof of state-sponsored violence.
A delegation of the National Association Of Non-Governmental Organisations
(NANGO) on Tuesday met diplomats from Angola, head of the organ, and Tomaz
Salomao, SADC executive secretary.
Civil society groups themselves are facing worsening intimidation, the
A director with the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN), the largest
local observer group to the elections, was briefly detained at the Harare
International Airport last week.
The outcome of a ZESN parallel voting process had shown Tsvangirai beating
President Mugabe, but not winning enough to avoid a runoff.
Fambai Ngirande, spokesman for NANGO, confirmed the meetings. “Medical,
photographic and legal evidence were produced during the meeting, which
point that the country has a mounting security crisis, which now requires
urgent SADC intervention going beyond the mandate of the Mbeki initiative
and the SADC observer mission,” he said.
Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
LOCAL companies are taking their hunt for skills into South Africa, the
region’s economic powerhouse, which is wooing the country’s fleeing
professional and skilled workers, The Financial Gazette can reveal.
The move follows permission granted to foreign currency-earning companies to
pay salaries and allowances in foreign currency in a bid to retain critical
skills, sources said this week.
The majority of the firms granted the permission to pay salaries in foreign
currency are in the mining sector.
This week Anglo Platinum launched its offshore recruitment for technical
staff for its platinum operation at Unki Mine.
It placed advertisements in mainstream South African newspapers, believed to
have a wide readership among Zimbabweans.
“We…. are encouraging Zimbabwean citizens to join us,” Anglo Platinum said
in a job advertisement in one of South Africa’s leading Sunday newspapers.
Anglo Platinum said it was looking for people to fill vacancies at its
operation in Shurugwi, scheduled to start platinum mining this year.
Among the skills the mining giant was looking for were mine technical
services professionals, managers for concentrators, mine overseers,
engineering managers and other technical staff.
Air Zimbabwe also recently went to South Africa in search of pilots and
captains. The airline has also been granted the authority to remunerate part
of its workforce in foreign currency.
Investigations indicate that South Africa has experienced a flood of local
companies trying to lure Zimbabwean engineers, electricians, civil engineers
and other artisans back into the country, with United States dollar
Zimbabwe has lost skills in the construction, mining and teaching
professions, mainly to South Africa, currently enjoying a healthy economic
growth rate that has even put pressure on demand for domestic power
Massive construction projects ahead of the 2010 soccer World Cup have also
lured Zimbabweans into South Africa, which won the bid to host the
Human resources experts this week told The Financial Gazette that the level
of skilled manpower shortages in Zimbabwe has reached alarming levels and
the low number of technical students in the country’s universities and
colleges has compounded the situation.
A recent private study carried out by a local human resources consultancy
firm revealed that the total number of technical students currently enrolled
in tertiary institutions did not meet the manpower requirements of the
country’s leading mining companies.
An estimated 3,1 million Zimbabweans are believed to be working in other
countries with 37 percent of them in the United Kingdom, 35 percent in
Botswana, five percent in South Africa while 3,4 percent are estimated to be
residing in Canada.
A recent report by the Zimbabwe Council for Nurses said more than 3 500
nurses and 969 doctors had fled from government health institutions as at
September 2007 after the health professionals intensified their hunt for
better opportunities in the region and abroad.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
ELECTORAL petitions filed by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 60
constituencies, reveal campaigns marred by violence, threats of war and the
use of food as a political weapon.
In one petition brought by the MDC’s Kizito Mbiriza, who lost in Gokwe
Nembudziya to government minister Flora Buka, it is alleged the land reform
minister told farmers in the area to feign illiteracy so that they would be
assisted to vote.
They were allegedly warned that failure to comply would result in their land
Buka is also alleged to have ignored a warning by the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission to stop using food aid as a campaign tool.
On voting day, Headman Nembudziya is said to have moved up and down polling
queues telling villagers that anyone who voted for the MDC would also have
their land taken away.
There was more pronounced violence in Zvimba North, where local government
minister Ignatius Chombo won against MDC candidate Earnest Mudimu.
Passmore Machingauta of Perth farm had his homestead torched. The matter was
reported to the police (RRB 024486), but no arrests were made, said Mudimu
in his report.
The court has also heard that: “On March 29 2008, Philemon Manengwa of
Landfall Farm compound was stabbed several times with a knife and is
recovering at Banket Hospital. He was attacked by ZANU-PF youths.”
The MDC candidate had been barred from certain areas by youths claiming that
“these are ZANU-PF areas”.
At ARDA Assisi Farm in the constituency, a group of youths forced Manengwa’s
campaign team to leave. After they left, residents of the compound were
beaten up, accused of being sell-outs. Reports were also made to Raffingora
However, no arrests were made, after Chombo allegedly ordered the
complainants to withdraw the charges.
Mudimu also reports: “On March 5, Tongesai Chako of Muriel Mine was
assaulted by ruling party youths and his truck was looted for wearing an MDC
“On The same day, Herbert Masango and Owen Chigwayo were assaulted for
campaigning for the opposition. The cases were reported to Mutorashanga
Police Station CR No 22/03/08 00/03/08, but no arrests were made.”
In Chegutu East, a supporter of eventual winner Webster Shamu is accused of
using a rifle to intimidate voters.
The MDC’s losing candidate Gift Konjana said in his petition: “On 25 March
2008, I witnessed Stanley Goredema moving around menacingly with an AK47
rifle and threatening that should the opposition win in that constituency,
war was going to return immediately.
“On 21 March, the same person had pointed the same rifle at an MDC council
candidate for Ward 19, Paulson Mutatabikwa. A report was made to the police
(but) the police did not respond.”
ZANU-PF candidates cited in the various electoral petitions are yet to
respond to the allegations.
Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
THE United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon is to discuss the alleged
violence against opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) with
leaders of the African Union and the African Commission on Human and Peoples
Rights (ACHPR), as the world struggles to resolve Zimbabwe’s political
Ban, who met opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday in the Ghanaian
capital Accra, assured the MDC he would hold meetings with AU president
Jakaya Kikwete and African Commission chairman Alpha Oumar Konare as soon as
he returned to New York.
“This afternoon (Monday), upon the request of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC
leader of Zimbabwe, I met him for about half-an-hour. He complained about
the current political situation after the Presidential elections, where the
results have not been released, even after three weeks.
“He briefed me on the current political, social and humanitarian situation.
“He told me that the military had been deployed around the country
terrorising people, and therefore many people had been running away from
their homes and hiding somewhere, which had in turn created a very serious
humanitarian situation,” said Ban.
“He said that this situation is not acceptable and since the situation is
now beyond the capacity of SADC, the Southern African Development Community,
he asked that the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in close
coordination with the African Union, should intervene and provide the
necessary humanitarian assistance and also prevent this violence that is
taking place, so that they can restore peace and stability in their
country,” he said.
Ban expressed concern at the post-electoral situation where the results of
the Presidential elections have not been officially announced a month after
“I also expressed my deep concern about this continuing situation, where
violence and polarisation have now been prevalent, and I asked him to resort
to peaceful means to resolve this issue, through dialogue. I told him that
since the African Union has mandated the situation to SADC, and upon
reflecting on his request, I told him that I will be discussing the issue
with leaders of the African Union.
“Upon my return to New York, I’m going to discuss this matter so that the
international community will be able to facilitate, so that this situation
could be resolved through peaceful means.
“Again, at this time, I would like to urge the authorities of the Zimbabwean
government to release officially the results of the Presidential elections
and resolve this political deadlock through peaceful means, so that the
people of Zimbabwe should not be made to pay for their choice, which they
have exercised in the polling stations.”
Asked whether he would make any contact with African leaders, he said: “I’m
going to discuss this matter with the President of the African Union,
President Kikwete, and the African Commission Chairman, (Alpha Oumar
Rangarirai Mberi News Editor
THERE was a lot strange about last Friday, and it was best illustrated by
the sight of Headman Chigwedere handing Shooting Stars the Independence Cup.
An ecstatic moment for Shooting Stars, but a sad reflection of the
intransigence of President Robert Mugabe and ZANU–PF.
Hours before the nation's newest headman handed Stars the "Uhuru Trophy",
President Mugabe had delivered what should have been one of his most
important Independence Day speeches in recent years.
The nation had eagerly anticipated the speech, hoping it would give some
direction to a country that has drifted rudderless for weeks.
It must be said that very few knew exactly what it was they wanted to hear
President Mugabe say.
But it must have been something to reassure them their country was not
sliding into the anarchic, tin–pot dictatorship the harshest critics believe
ZANU–PF has reduced the country to since March 29.
In short, there were millions of desperate Zimbabweans out there aching for
From the businessperson who has had a lifeblood order cancelled, "until
things clear up", to the ordinary Zimbabwean wondering how long this can
surely continue, they all tuned in on Friday to a speech that had long lost
much of its former weight.
But after berating musicians and athletes who use drugs, proposing
castration as punishment for perverts, and weighing in on the great debate
on female fashion, President Mugabe capped his speech with this clincher:
"Things will never change in this country."
To illustrate he was serious about this, he gave long–term instructions to
Munacho Mutezo, for instance, was to repair the water and sewerage systems
across the country, even after his defeat at the polls, at least before the
"We know you have grievances against us," President Mugabe said, addressing
his Highfields audience directly. "But we too have grievances against you."
What were these? Firstly, that city folks bend over for imperialists because
of the minor inconvenience of being short of bread and sugar. And, the
second grievance, that these same city folk allow their children to expose
In a nutshell, President Mugabe spent over an hour doing what he could have
done in a second – pull the finger at everyone listening to him.
So what's to be done? What is to break this stalemate between a President
and his fellow countrymen? Nothing, especially if one side swears "things
will never change in this country".
What does this mean, exactly?
Apart, of course, from the fact that Chigwedere is allowed to continue his
government duties, saved from a life of presiding over village courts,
handing down punishment to goat thieves, husband –beaters and the local
hooligan who won't stop fouling the village well.
Does this "things will never change" mean that inflation, currently measured
at 165 000 percent officially, will continue to rise, perhaps the only
change being how larger the leaps become from here on end? Or that the
Zimbabwe dollar continues to plummet, ever the butt of jokes worldwide?
Does it mean that the country's infrastructure continues to crumble, such
that the people of Highfield and other urban areas continue to wade through
sewage each time they leave their homes?
Or that, in a supposedly modern city such as Harare, water is collected from
shallow wells and petrol stations sell firewood? Or that Zesa is merely
backup for generators, when it really must be the reverse?
And this present business of dumping the nation at the mercy of all sorts of
self–righteous twats and commentators from all corners of the earth.
Will even countries that really would be the world's armpits continue to
look down upon once proud Zimbabweans with both pity and derision, lecturing
them at every turn?
Will ZANU–PF, by its actions, continue to so easily open Zimbabwe's defences
to foreign intrusion? Reducing this once influential world player to a mere
pawn on a chessboard for the cleverer, stronger players?
Clearly, there are people in government who enjoy all this ongoing
diplomatic back–and–forth. It keeps them occupied, since they abandoned
their real duties years go.
If, really, "things will never change in this country", how long can the
current state of affairs continue before even its authors admit it is
getting a bit ridiculous?
When will the line back to normalcy be crossed?
When can things become normal again? Remember normal? Books in schools,
water from taps, grain in fields, drugs in clinics, power at a switch, cash
in banks, common sense in government?
Even if ZANU–PF was to regain its parliamentary majority after this recount
and President Mugabe himself was returned to power in a second round vote,
even then, some change – in whatever form–would have to be instituted.
Unless, of course, President Mugabe has no interest in solving his
"grievances" with his own people, for which he must indeed continue to try
and make sure things never change.
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
BULAWAYO — The Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), which opened in
Bulawayo on Tuesday, is providing a stark contrast between the Zimbabwe we
have today and the one that we ought to have.
A tour of the fair shows that stands are packed with goods that are not
available in shops, giving the impression that production at most factories
has not stopped, making one wonder where the goods are going.
Up to last week, there had been wide speculation that the country’s premier
trade show would be a flop because of the current political impasse. There
were even suggestions that the fair should be postponed but the organisers
insisted it would go on because they had already invested too much into the
They seem to have been vindicated as there has been a fairly good turnout
considering the current political and economic environment.
There are more than 500 exhibitors, including seven foreign countries.
Only three foreign countries cancelled their bookings.
It is not yet clear how many local companies failed to pitch up but one
exhibitor who has been handling bookings for 14 companies, said three firms
from Harare failed to turn up owing to the fuel crisis.
ZITF normally makes fuel arrangements for exhibitors with the National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe but exhibitors said yesterday they had not been
ZITF general manager Daniel Chigaru could not be reached for comment on what
had become of the facility.
Zimbabwe has been under siege for the past decade but things seem to have
worsened over the past 18 months as demands for a change of government
mounted in the face of continued economic decline and ever increasing
Things came to a head after the March 29 harmonised elections when the
ruling ZANU-PF party, which enjoyed a two-thirds majority in parliament
following the 2005 elections, only won 97 out of the 210 House of Assembly
The Morgan Tsvangirai faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
won 99 seats, up from 41 in 2005.
ZANU-PF, however, fared better in the senate elections where it won 30 seats
against the MDC Tsvangirai’s 24.
But the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which is responsible for conducting
elections in the country, failed to release results of the crucial
presidential elections though there was wide speculation that Tsvangirai had
beaten President Robert Mugabe. The issue was, however, the margin by which
he had won.
The MDC claimed it had won an outright victory but ZANU-PF pressed for a
recount of votes in 23 constituencies before the release of the presidential
election results, sparking fears that they wanted to rig. The party has also
been talking about a re-run of the presidential poll, implying that
President Mugabe is not likely to score more than 50 percent even after the
The delay in the release of the results is playing havoc in the market with
the Zimbabwean dollar plunging from $5 million to the South African rand
just before the elections to $10 million this week. It was trading at $40
million to the greenback and is now down to $85 million.
The price of petrol on the parallel market has also shot to $130 million per
litre. The few goods that are still available in shops are now beyond the
reach of most people with inflation now officially put at 165 000 percent.
Observers say the March 29 election results were a vote for change because
Zimbabweans, including rural voters who have been the backbone of ZANU-PF,
Voters were convinced that only a change of leadership could extricate them
from their present woes.
ZANU-PF seems, however, to have dug in its heels and is seeking to reverse
the outcome through a recount and a re-run of the presidential elections
even though the initial results have never been announced.
A war veteran said the ruling party was in a fix because the defeat of
President Mugabe meant the death of ZANU-PF as a party.
“These are all delaying tactics to enable the party to reorganise because if
ZANU-PF is defeated it is dead,” the war veteran said.
But while the ruling party toys around with ways to survive, the average
Zimbabwean continues to suffer. This is not likely to endear him or her to
the ruling party.
WHEN news of the prospects of an emergency Southern African Development
Community (SADC) Heads of State and Government Summit meeting in Lusaka
Zambia started filtering through, there was joy and jubilation among
progressive optimistic forces who felt the Zimbabwean question would be
dealt a bodily punch and solved once and for all by a team of elected
statesmen who represent the future of Africa.
In contrast I withdrew into my shell and cried myself to sleep. SADC like
the African Union (AU) has no record of dealing with problems in the region
and Africa respectively.
They simply do not have the capacity to do so. In my humble view, which
turned out to be correct, the summit meeting in Lusaka was only but a
ritual, a farce, a face saving exercise for SADC in a world that is getting
increasingly uncomfortable with the awkward and politically untenable
situation in Zimbabwe.
Knowing very well that they lacked both the capacity and will, SADC leaders
went ahead to make noise and convene a meeting in Zambia. They came, they
wined, dined and returned to their respective countries.
The outcome of their meeting is a zero out of zero. Zimbabwe is in a worse
off position after some of those leaders made politically unpalatable
innuendos. (President) Mugabe relishes this scenario as it enables him to
buy time. Like Kenya, the Zimbabwe case will soon be forgotten and left to
Zimbabwe to find an internal settlement. This is the sort of matrix that
(President) Mugabe is trying to create.
When crunch time comes, which it soon will, (President) Mugabe will not mind
littering the streets of Harare with a few lifeless bodies in the name of
upholding the rule of law and maintaining peace and tranquility.
This I am certain is how the immediate future will unfold unless those given
the mandate to rule by the people have some other strategy up their sleeve.
It is high time that SADC leaders wake up and smell the coffee, discard this
camaraderie nonsense and start responding to the dynamics of today’s
politics with honor and honesty.
The contempt with which (President) Mugabe treats SADC was visible in the
way he snubbed an invite and instead dispatched his cronies, Simbarashe
Mumbengegwi, a man who has never won a popular vote ever since he was born,
Patrick Chinamasa who was rejected by his own kith in Manicaland and
Emmerson Mnangagwa who ran for dear life from male nurse Blessing Chebundo
who had made it a habit to drub him in all elections since 2000.
To borrow from the late Simon Muzenda kana gudo (even a baboon) would have
been equal to this Lusaka no-job.
The Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) as a regional
block of African States fares far better. They have Ecomog, which has proved
quite useful in handling explosive situations.
Apart from lauding Zimbabweans for the peaceful manner in which elections
were held, what else of substance came out of Lusaka?
Did the Heads of State and Government have to overwhelm an already
over-burdened tax payer in one of the world’s most afflicted and poverty
stricken regions by funding that good-for-nothing gathering whose purpose as
it turned out was to tell the world that elections in Zimbabwean were
peaceful? Who does not know that by now?
As soon as (President) Mugabe’s emissaries condescendingly read the riot act
at the meeting, the Heads of State and Government shamelessly withdrew to
their bases. How shameless and wrong. Imagine if all those billions of
dollars spent on this misadventure had been put towards the purchase of
anti-retroviral drugs in a region with the highest HIV prevalence rates in
the whole world.
The impact would have been far-reaching and refreshing. The problem in
Africa is that our leaders are accountable only to themselves and their
immediate families otherwise how would Khama for example account for his
trip to Lusaka if taxpayers in Botswana demanded to know.
What will Guebuza report back to parliament in Maputo? That (President)
Mugabe refused to attend due to some pressing business in Harare and that in
a statement read on his behalf, he (President Mugabe) warned SADC to guard
against being agents of imperialism?
Then there is this gentleman called Thabo Mbeki. He needs a pair of
spectacles and hearing aids as a mater of urgency lest he becomes a danger
even to himself. How else can we explain his utterances that there is no
crisis in Zimbabwe?
An entire nation of 15 million people is crying out for help and mercy so
loud are their screams that even those long dead and buried can hear. The
rate of exchange is at US$ 1 to Z$ 90 million. A standard loaf of bread, a
staple necessity for the masses costs a whooping Z$ 40 million if available.
Not a single filling station has petrol or diesel. Inflation is upwards of
150 000 percent, a world record for a country not at war. Results of an
election held four weeks ago have not been announced.
There is no parliament and a dissolved cabinet is squeezing itself into
office through the back door even after most of them overwhelmingly lost the
elections. The country is on auto cruise. This is what is called a crisis in
capital letters. Period.
Is it not amazing how (President) Mugabe outwits his colleagues? He seems to
have a way to talk them into submission and cow them like schoolboys.
He rides roughshod over them and they do not seem to mind. Remember
Mwanawasa’s regrets in a subsequent face-to-face encounter with the great
leader after he had earlier referred to Zimbabwe as a sinking titanic.
None at SADC, do they lack memory or is it guts to remind President Mugabe
that he remains the only leader on the African continent in recent years to
have twice intervened militarily in the internal affairs of other states in
nonchalant disregard of those countries sovereignty and total disregard of
their ability to employ home grown methods to solve their internal disputes.
Mozambique and the DRC. How so hypocritical? In both cases Zimbabwe as an
economy emerged poorer and totally lost the diplomatic affection of future
leaders of those same states who accused some sections of the Zimbabwe
military of plundering their wealth. Diamonds in the DRC is a case in point.
Those praying for Zimbabwe must not only pray for peace but must also pray
for our political leaders to have shame, humility and common sense. They
must also remind leaders that they were made in exactly the same image of
the Lord as the afflicted and down trodden.
James Maridadi is a freelance journalist and political analyst
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe appears increasingly unlikely to allow the election
he appears to have lost to end his 28-year tenure.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officials on Sunday announced a new delay
in the recounting of votes from 23 of the 210 constituencies in an election
held four weeks ago.
Opposition leaders believe the results are being rigged to deny them
victory, but the growing campaign of violent intimidation against opposition
supporters makes it unlikely that the opposition will take matters to the
streets. So the search for a resolution to the crisis has increasingly
shifted the spotlight to the landlocked country’s neighbours, and the extent
to which they might pressure President Mugabe to respect the electorate’s
Opposition presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai has fled the country,
while 10 opposition activists have been killed and hundreds more injured in
post-election violence — and refugees continue to stream across the border
into South Africa. Despite growing calls from around the region and the
world for the immediate release of the election results, President Mugabe
Last Friday he celebrated the 28th anniversary of the country’s independence
by aiming his wrath against Britain, the former colonial power, whose
bidding he accuses the opposition of doing.
“Down with thieves who want to steal our country,” he thundered, in his
first speech since the elections, calling on Zimbabweans to be vigilant “in
the face of vicious British machinations and the machinations of our other
detractors, who are the allies of Britain”.
While Britain bluntly accuses President Mugabe of “stealing” the election,
reactions from African leaders have been more restrained. On Sunday the
African Union joined the chorus of calls for the immediate release of poll
results. Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan also weighed in,
calling on African leaders to find a solution to the situation, which he
called “a serious crisis with impact beyond Zimbabwe”.
But leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) kept
noticeably quiet on Zimbabwe at a summit on poverty and development in
Mauritius —except to ask South African President Thabo Mbeki to continue to
lead mediation efforts on their behalf.
South Africa is the neighbour with the most leverage over Zimbabwe because
of economic ties, but Mbeki has stuck fast to his policy of “quiet
diplomacy”, refusing to apply visible pressure on President Mugabe.
Still, Mbeki’s political marginalisation within his own party, which made
him a lame duck when it chose his arch-rival Jacob Zuma as ANC president
last December, has emboldened critics of his Zimbabwe policy.
Trade union members in the South African port of Durban refused to offload a
Chinese ship carrying armaments for the Zimbabwean government. The vessel,
having also been denied entry to Mozambique and Tanzania, had to leave the
port and may be recalled to China, according to news agencies.
And Zambia’s President Levy Mwanawasa took the unprecedented step of urging
surrounding countries not to allow the cargo of weapons to reach Zimbabwe
for fear of escalating the crisis.
Analysts believe that only Zimbabwe’s neighbours, particularly South Africa,
have the leverage to force President Mugabe to resolve the crisis. But
Zimbabwe’s neighbours are divided over how to respond, and all are wary of
an anarchic breakdown that brings thousands more refugees streaming across
Although President Mugabe has long traded on his credentials as an
anti-imperialist liberation hero, younger leaders in the region are
exasperated by his behaviour.
Last Friday, Botswana’s foreign minister, Phandu Skelemani, broke ranks with
his SADC peers to publicly criticise Mbeki’s handling of the crisis and
admit that leaders are more concerned about the situation than is reflected
in their public statements.
Referring to the extraordinary SADC summit called the previous weekend to
discuss Zimbabwe, he said: “Everyone agreed that things are not normal,
except Mbeki... But now he understands that the rest of SADC feels this is a
matter of urgency and we are risking lives and limbs being lost. He got that
Still, President Mugabe can count on a more ssympathetic hearing from such
liberation-era stalwarts as Angola’s President Eduardo Dos Santos.
Although President Mugabe may be vulnerable to pressure from his neighbours,
analysts doubt that member states of the SADC will agree on any decisive
action that could force him to go. Mbeki and other leaders have previously
given President Mugabe political cover by endorsing the results of previous
elections that have looked questionable to international observers.
“The one thing (President) Mugabe has been able to do is rely on the support
of the region,” said Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, national director of the South
African Institute for International Affairs.
“So, the question is, at what point do (President) Mugabe and the
(Zimbabwean) security forces think that the tide has changed?”
South Africa holds the ultimate leverage over Zimbabwe, because, as the
country’s electricity supplier, it could simply turn out the lights. But
shutting down Zimbabwe would be considerably more painful for President
Mugabe’s long-suffering people than for the aging Zimbabwean himself, and
the resulting refugee crisis would put a destabilising strain on both South
Africa and other neighbours.
Yet Chris Maroleng, a Zimbabwe expert at the Institute for Security Studies
in Pretoria, expects that regional leaders will toughen their stance in
“Following the recount (of votes in Zimbabwe), we will probably see some
kind of cohesive strategy to deal with Zimbabwe,” he said.
“As the situation worsens in Zimbabwe, (regional leaders) will increasingly
see (President) Mugabe as a liability,” he added.
That, and the precarious state of Zimbabwe’s finances, may yet change the
country’s political calculus.
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
ZIMBABWE is headed for another poor winter wheat farming season as
post-election farm violence and labour unrest is delaying preparations,
farmer groups said this week.
Farmers said the electoral stalemate has overshadowed preparations for the
new season, while renewed farm evictions and violence have laid the ground
for disaster in the upcoming winter farming season.
The militant agriculture group, Justice for Agriculture (JAG), said the next
winter farming season would be yet another “absolute disaster” due to a
plethora of problems in the aftermath of the March 29 elections.
“It is going to be an absolute disaster from a commercial point of view.
There are no preparations taking place on the farms as a result of violence
taking place. No one is planning to do anything at the moment,” JAG chief
executive officer, John Werswick said.
“To make matters worse, we hear that at some farms owned by new farmers,
workers are on strike disputing the paltry wages of $30 million a month,”
Farmers also face serious problems in accessing required inputs such as
fuel, seed and implements.
Farmers fear that a run-off in the presidential election would worsen the
input shortage, as resources, such as fuel, would be channelled towards
political campaigning at the expense of production.
Despite this pessimism on the part of JAG, the largely black Zimbabwe
Farmers’ Union (ZFU) remains optimistic.
“Farmers are already at an advanced stage of preparations. The only problem
we have at the moment is that of fertiliser.
“We haven’t received anything although we have been assured that it will be
made available in time for the farming season,” said ZFU vice-president
Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
THE country is facing another potentially devastating food crisis amid
indications that agricultural input shortages, as well as excessive rains,
which ravaged the country this year, had significantly reduced yields.
The situation has the potential to plunge the country further down the
economic abyss, as government would be forced to buy scarce foreign currency
from the parallel market to mobilise resources for imports to meet
The shortages could also plunge close to three million people into
starvation should donors fail to intensify their relief programmes in the
The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) has already indicated that it
could scale down supplies into the country, although a senior official with
the Programme’s Johannesburg office said this week the agency hoped that
harvests would start trickling into the market this month and ameliorate the
current food deficit.
An assessment made by The Financial Gazette indicates that the country’s
food situation remains precarious although the government has said it would
continue to import food to avert a major famine after heavy rains and,
later, high temperatures, destroyed crops in a season that was also dealt a
heavy blow by poor preparations.
Zimbabwe requires about 1,8 million tonnes of maize to meet its national
Sweden last month described the “food situation” in Zimbabwe as
“The humanitarian situation is still very serious and there are few signs of
an improvement in the near future,” said Swedish ambassador to Zimbabwe Sten
With Zimbabwe’s economic crisis deepening following disputed polls, there
are no signs that the government would be able to raise the foreign currency
to import enough food, fuel, medicine and other key requirements.
South Africa’s Business Report this week quoted WFP regional manager for
east and southern Africa Marcus Prior saying early indications were that
this year’s harvest might be lower than expected due to insufficient inputs,
in particular fertiliser, and floods.
However, Prior said it was too early to give an accurate assessment of the
harvest, and far too early to say whether WFP would have to scale up its
operations later in the year.
During a countrywide tour of farming communities by The Financial Gazette’s
news crews, it was clear that food aid was critical to avert another crisis
after the bulk of the current crop failed.
In Mashonaland West, Zvimba communal lands was in a dire situation, with
villagers saying they were haunted by the prospects of another famine at a
time when their meager earnings were fast depreciating due to galloping
inflation, now at 165 000 percent.
They blamed shoddy preparations for the poor crop yields.
Too much rain during the first half of the season, and a severe dry spell
towards the end of the season, were the major drivers of the crop failures,
the villagers told The Financial Gazette.
In Manicaland province, our news crew witnessed vast areas of
under-cultivated land and crop failures on land that had been planted due to
lack of fertiliser and other inputs.
Here, villagers had already started resorting to gold panning to eke out a
In Mhondoro in Mashonaland West, villagers told The Financial Gazette they
were facing starvation.
Erratic rain patterns had militated against their labour on the fields, they
The Financial Gazette’s Political Editor Njabulo Ncube, who assessed the
food situation in Masvingo, said along the Harare-Masvingo road, the farms
were derelict, with little sign of activity last month.
“With the country approaching the winter, one would expect farmers to be
preparing for the winter wheat but there is no activity,” said Ncube.
A Financial Gazette crew that visited Chipinge, also came back with a grim
report of the situation.
Chipinge is an arid region where communities had traditionally depended on
Last month, maize fields were dominated by tall grass instead of food crops.
The villagers had turned to sorghum, which grows well under dry conditions,
but quealea birds had destroyed the crop.
The WFP official told Business Report that about 300 000 Zimbabweans would
be supported this month, compared to about 2,4 million who received WFP
support in the last few months. From next month, through the programme’s
relief and recovery operation, WFP expected to raise this figure again to
825 000 people each year for the next two years, but the operation would
“seasonally expand its assistance” to cover as many as one million highly
vulnerable people “if they are affected by crop failure”, said Prior.
Business Report said the programme had reported that despite political
tension in Zimbabwe, supply routes had not been disrupted.
Food was procured from Zambia, Malawi, South Africa and Mozambique for the
WFP operation in Zimbabwe “and moved into the country by road”. He said:
“There have not been any problems moving food into Zimbabwe,” the report
The WFP had no reports of any of its distributions being disrupted over the
past few weeks. Richard Lee, of the WFP information office in Johannesburg,
said in a statement that the UN agency had completed food distributions last
month, earlier than usual, to avoid any overlap with the final run-up to the
presidential and parliamentary poll on March 29.
The current crisis emerged even after government and the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe declared the last farming season “the mother of all agricultural
season” under which they had hoped to embarrass critics of the controversial
land reform programme under which experienced white farmers were replaced by
black farmers with a predominantly peasant farming background.
The Reserve Bank had tried to bolster the farmers’ capacity through the farm
mechanisation programme under which farm equipment was disbursed to the new
Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S foreign owned commercial banks have indicated that they are ready
to embrace the controversial empowerment programme under President Robert
Mugabe’s government, a departure from an initial warning this could cause
disaster in the sector.
Stanbic Bank, owned by South Africa’s Standard Bank Group, and British-owned
Standard Chartered Bank, had warned the planned economic empowerment
programme under which they are expected to give up control to locals would
have dire consequences on the beleaguered economy.
But in statements to shareholders accompanying their financial results, the
two banks expressed support for the programme, saying they were ready to
comply with the empowerment legislation.
Parliament passed the controversial Economic Empowerment and Indigenisation
Bill last year but it received presidential assent late February as the
ruling ZANU-PF party pressed ahead with its electoral campaign under the
economic empowerment theme.
In its financial results for the year ending December 31 2007, Standard
Chartered Bank, the biggest of the three, did not specifically refer to the
Empowerment Act but said it would comply with Zimbabwe’s laws.
“The bank remains committed to ensuring compliance with all regulatory
requirements and statutes as given and amended from time to time,” said
Standard Chartered Bank chairman Honour Mkushi in the statement.
Stanbic said it was “committed to advancing the principles and practice of
sustainable development and to adherence to the law of the country”.
British-owned Barclays Bank (Zimbabwe), the only foreign owned commercial
bank that had not publicly commented on the law, has maintained its
expansion programme, unperturbed by the legislation.
“Like any other business we continue to review our strategies,” Barclay Bank
managing director George Guvamatanga said during a presentation of the 2007
annual results in February.
“We will consolidate what we achieved in 2007 and ensure that we preserve
value. To date we have opened two branches and will continue to look at this
strategy. We have increased attention in the SMEs (small to medium scale
enterprises) sector. We are also looking at options to enhance non-funded
income streams,” Guvamatanga said.
A bank spokesperson had earlier told The Financial Gazette: “Barclays is
assessing the potential implications of the Zimbabwean Indigenisation and
Empowerment Act. It is still early days and implementation details and
timescales remain unclear. Once further information is available Barclays
will assess the situation further.”
Barclays Bank is part of the global Barclays Group, which holds a 68 percent
stake in the local operation listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. At least
32 percent of the shareholding is already localised.
Indegenisation Minister Paul Mangwana last year said Zimbabwe was prepared
to let the banks “go” if they were not prepared to comply with regulations
requiring them to relinquish 51 percent of their stakes to locals.
This was after Standard Chartered Bank and Stanbic told a parliamentary
committee during a public hearing that if foreign-owned banks were
localised, they would lose critical international synergies needed for their
AIR Zimbabwe last week more than trebled airfares as it battles to stay
afloat and mitigate a debilitating crisis that could ground operations.
An airline spokesperson said the increases were due to escalating
“We have increased our fares with immediate effect, with an average increase
of 350 percent,” the spokesperson told The Financial Gazette.
A Harare/Bulawayo return air ticket now costs $5 689 500 000, up from $1 281
The Harare/Johannesburg return air ticket went up to $14 138 200 000 from $2
844 000 000, while a return ticket for the Harare/Beijing route, which was
$19 364 900 000, now costs $81 735 000 000.
Air Zimbabwe is battling a staff flight and operational constraints caused
mainly by uneconomic fares imposed by the government on the state-owned
Recently, the national flag carrier introduced a foreign-currency
denominated fuel levy under which customers are compelled to pay additional
foreign currency on their departure tickets to cushion the ailing
A passenger flying to China is paying US$110 for the fuel levy on top of the
departure tax of US$12, while a traveller to the United Kingdom pays US$111
for the fuel levy in addition to the US$179 departure tax for business
Those flying to the UK in the economy class have to part with US$110 on top
of the US$100 departure fee.
A person flying to South Africa is paying a fuel levy of US$90 in addition
to the US$41 for both the economy and business classes.
Gold output at Falcon Gold Zimbabwe (Falgold) plummeted to 419 kilograms
during the year to December 31, 2007, from 511 kilograms achieved the
previous year, the company reported.
The 419 kilograms had been produced from 908 000 tonnes treated, a yield of
0.46 grams per ton.
“The lower gold production is a result of a combination of factors, which
include the disruption of operations due to ZESA power outages,
unavailability of essential stores and the lower grade of ore mined,” said
board chairman Greg Hunter in a statement accompanying financial results.
He said a planned exploration and development program to expand mining
operations had been limited after most of the capital earmarked for the
projects was diverted towards sustaining operations.
This had been caused by the non–payment of US dollars earned from gold
lodged with Fidelity Refineries, a wholly owned Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
company that is the sole buyer of gold in Zimbabwe.
However, a dedicated exploration and new business department had been
established to evaluate and retain growth opportunities in the group, Hunter
“This new business function will also evaluate the non-gold assets that the
group holds. Work has been conducted during 2007 in the Dalny and Camperdown
areas in particular,” said Hunter.
He said operations had come under severe assault from economic conditions
prevailing in the country that had been exacerbated by hyperinflation, which
closed the reporting period at 66 213.3 percent.
“The shortage of foreign currency to import critical spares and mining
consumables, incessant ZESA power cuts and a support price that lagged and
did not reflect the value of the commodity we produce made it very difficult
to sustain mining operations on a continuous basis,” he said.
He indicated that Falgold had been able to sustain productions due to an
offshore loan from parent company, Central African Gold Plc, which at the
end of the reporting period had injected a total of US$1.3 million.
Central African Gold acquired an 85 percent stake in Falgold in March 2007.
A JUNIOR medical doctor recently said at a hospital ward at Parirenyatwa
Group of Hospitals that he was packing his bags to leave for South Africa.
The economy was crumbling and there was no hope things would improve under
President Robert Mugabe’s government, he said. “Things are tough and I don’t
see any improvement here,” said the young doctor who is in his late 20s.
His exasperation underscored deep fears for an accelerated economic meltdown
after the March 29 harmonised elections, in which President Robert Mugabe
stood against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his former finance
minister Simba Makoni for the country’s top job.
It is widely expected that a run–off between President Mugabe and Tsvangirai
could be ordered by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) after none of
the two secured a 50.1 percent majority votes to be declared the winner,
although Tsvangirai last week declared himself a winner and said there was
no need for a re–run.
The crisis over the presidential vote, which has taken an inordinately long
time to be announced, has heightened fears among professionals of an
accelerating economic decline that will continue to erode incomes and
condemn them into poverty.
News agency reports suggested that there was a surge in the volume of people
crossing into South Africa through the Beitbridge border.
A number of Zimbabweans feared the Zimbabwe situation could “snowball into
anarchy and at that time it might be difficult to run away, the borders
might be closed,” AFP quoted a teacher fleeing into South Africa saying.
Analysts say the exodus of both professionals and non–professional workers
is likely to increase this year, with the majority of Zimbabweans heading
for South Africa.
These are likely to join millions of others who have fled the country due to
an economic decline that has resulted in company closures and massive job
“Many people had been waiting for the elections, but there’s a lot of
uncertainty now,” said Witness Chinyama, an economist with a local banking
“There’s going to be an increase in brain drain due to the harsh economic
conditions,” said Chinyama.
He said the new tax levels were going to force even unwilling professionals
to join the exodus.
The government, early this month increased tax on income from a maximum of
45 percent to 60 percent.
“This is a thorny issue; it took workers by surprise,” said Chinyama,
adding: “Professionals will look for countries that will tax them less.”
He said the new tax levels were put in place by the government because it
was trying to find non–inflationary ways of financing its budget. However,
workers are unlikely to be happy taking 40 percent of their incomes home,
with the rest going into government coffers.
Besides, there were other taxes on individual incomes, and these were likely
to further reduce net incomes.
Zimbabwean workers pay an HIV/Aids levy of three percent and contribute an
additional three percent to a compulsory pension scheme run by the National
Social Security Authority.
Most also contribute towards voluntary pension schemes as well as towards
Considering that the majority of the country’s workers take care of extended
families, made jobless by the economic malaise, the situation for most is
likely to be dire.
Economists estimate unemployment to be at about 80 percent.
South African media reports last week quoted the Johannesburg–based Centre
for Development and Enterprise saying Zimbabwe’s brain drain would
intensify, indicating that the flight of skills from the country from both
the private and public sectors to South Africa, Botswana, UK and Australia
was already unprecedented.
Ravaging inflation has significantly eroded disposable incomes, resulting in
falling standards of living among the country’s estimated 13 million people.
Inflation currently tops 165 000 percent year on year.
Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S political crisis has triggered a flurry of travel warnings from
the country’s key markets, a development likely to negatively affect the
tourism industry’s growth this year.
The United Kingdom’s Foreign Office cautioned its citizens against traveling
to Zimbabwe unless for pressing commitments “due to the continuing tension
surrounding the election and the deployment of uniformed forces and war
veterans across the country”.
“The current situation is unpredictable, volatile and could deteriorate
quickly, without warning,” the office said.
The US also issued a travel warning against Zimbabwe, saying the country’s
political environment was now volatile.
International pressure groups, including Human Rights Watch, claimed at the
weekend that supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu–PF party
had set up torture camps “to systematically target, beat, and torture
people” suspected of voting for the Movement for Democratic Change in last
However, no incidents of torture against foreign tourists have been
reported, but several international journalists have been arrested during
the past two weeks, only to be released after being found innocent by the
courts of law.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) figures indicate that although tourist
arrivals from the United Kingdom remained subdued, the numbers had increased
by one percent in 2007 to 22 295, signaling a rebound for the sector
desperately trying to court the high spenders from the European market.
The ZTA, desperate to dispel reports of increasing lack of safety in the
country, is hosting a tourism conference at the Zimbabwe International Trade
Fair (ZITF), which kicked off in Bulawayo on Tuesday.
The conference, dubbed A’Sambeni, would be running concurrently with the
International buyers from some western countries jetted into the country on
“A total of 42 tourism exhibitors including Limpopo Tourist Board and
Tourism Investment Centre will be participating at this year’s A’Sambeni
compared to 38 exhibitors in 2007,” said ZTA public relations manager Anna
Moyo in a statement.
A’Sambeni has become a key player in the ZTA’s Perception Management
Programme started last year. But with the political tensions rising due to
poll results standoff, analysts say it would be difficult to convince the
west to withdraw the travel warnings.
Matters Legal with Vote Muza
A few months ago, I decried the prevalence of political debauchery and the
absence of a sense of trepidation, factors that have over the years been
perpetuated by our government with dire consequences on the well being of a
majority of citizens.
Then, I had hoped that the recent March 29 elections would usher in a new
era, no matter which political party won. An opportunity was beckoning then
to allow Zimbabweans of all political formations to cross the Rubicon, to
rally together as a collective unit and join hands in reasserting Zimbabwe's
dominance as an economic force not only of the region but of the entire
Alas! One month down the line, an election fiasco of epic proportions has
unfolded, with it emerging a scandalous campaign of violence, anarchy and
mischievous propaganda that has rendered the partial achievements of the
recent SADC negotiation process a worthless exercise.
Whereas a good number of citizens had been optimistic about these elections,
believing that the spirit of co–operation, exhibited during the SADC
negotiation would continue to prevail, their hope has been shattered as
fear, alarm, despondency and utter hopelessness have become common place.
In the process, all prospects for a positive future look uncertain as the
effects of the political impasse will certainly reinforce further economic
ruin, social decadence and other ills.
The question lingering in many people's minds is why the electoral process
has since the year 2000 failed to provide positive political and other
Why has some of our political leadership failed to rise to the occasion by
demonstrating political maturity and tolerance in the national interest and
for the sake of prosperity by promoting national unity and political
In interrogating the subject of elections and in our quest to find answers,
one needs to further examine the psyches of some members of the Zanu–PF's
leadership in order to unpack their desires, fears and other interests that
have become central to their personal and political well–being.
Before that, let us briefly look at the whole concept of elections,
electoral laws and their true purpose. My understanding, which I believe is
shared by many right thinking individuals out there is that elections serve
the primary purpose of ensuring that there is change of leadership.
This happens everywhere, be it at the social level in churches, clubs,
societies, or even at the political level. The rationale for this change of
leadership being that those who are led are by and large entitled to
exercise the right to elect people who they believe can articulate their
concerns competently, civilly and with dedication.
This is one simple tenet of modern democracy. In the same analysis, one also
need to add that those who lead have power thrust on them by the majority
who elect them; thus they lead on behalf of the people–winners and losers
without regard to political affiliation. In other words, real power lies in
the people, and we entrust leaders with this power because, by the dictates
of logic and the natural order of things, we cannot all rule ourselves.
It therefore becomes worrisome, and an affront to true principles of
constitutionalism when those who lose free and fair elections swear in the
names of their departed that they will never relinquish power in favour of
those elected by popular will.
If this happens, as is presently being witnessed through the conduct of
Zanu–PF, that has begun to use controversial means to retain power, then
people begin to witness a clear case of constitutional subversion. At the
risk of offending other people out there, I will not hesitate to call the
present shenanigans of some Zanu–PF functionaries treasonous, and tantamount
to a smart coup.
At this critical hour of our history, the country is desperately in need of
leadership as opposed to power seeking individuals. For indeed, the two
concepts of "leadership" and "power" though at times complementary may under
our circumstances be seen to be clearly distinguishable.
Leadership is about respecting the constitution, the laws and promoting the
wishes of the people. A true leader will heed the people's voices, such that
when people say they want to be governed by A, A will be given to people to
govern them. True leadership does not govern through coercion. It does not
promote hatred, among the governed and is there to ensure peace, and an
enabling environment for people to pursue their endeavors to the best of
To the contrary those in hungry pursuit of power will do anything to remain
in power. Power as opposed to leadership is about dominance, repression,
oppression, exploitation and pilferage. It has nothing to do with the values
of constitutionalism or the rule of law. Thus those that seek power will at
times torture, kill, or commit genocide in the quest to cling on to
dominance. Thus the stage at which our country is delicately hanging calls
for whoever is lawfully elected to be a leader, rather than a power seeking
How about this piece of advice to any future peace broker between the two
main political belligerents as a means of unlocking the political log gem? A
reference to history might assist. Rewind back to the year 1979 when the
settler, Rhodesian Front was in power fighting a bitter war with the two
liberation movements, Zanla and Zipra. The positions of the two sides were
so far apart. There was deep mistrust, fear of the other, suspicion and
These factors made the direct transfer of power an extreme impossibility.
Thus to assure both sides that their interests would be safeguarded in the
interim, a transitional authority under Lord Carrington was established. For
a period of four months, it governed, ensured that elections were held and
passed on power to the winning political party that was then Zanu–PF.
Presently, the psyche of a small clique of radical Zanu–PF leaders is one of
fear, suspicion, and hatred and for this reason they would rather cling on
to power at whatever cost. They would rather abandon true leadership
principles and tenets of the rule of law to perpetuate a legacy of failure
and an aggressive pursuit of power that betrays the guiding principles that
sustained the liberation struggle.
Obviously this is what has led to the present deadlock. It is this deadlock
that has led Zimbabweans to endure a vicious circle, of agony and more agony
in the past eight years. We as a nation face the grim prospect of
perpetuating this vicious circle if no political tolerance and maturity is
In my view, the ultimate panacea for the present impasse is for both parties
to act responsibly by meeting and agreeing on safe modalities of power
transfer. I believe some in Zanu–PF want to be convinced that their future
will be safe and thus may want to extract guarantees.
Whoever will be the winner will, in the letter and spirit of promoting and
ensuring national reconciliation and reconstruction have to agree to the
setting up of an inclusive government where losers will have a role to play.
Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent
THE decision of the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC) to go
over the ineffectual Thabo Mbeki’s head to embark on a parallel mediation
initiative in Zimbabwe, finally exposes the South African president for the
imposter he is .
South African newspapers reported at the weekend details of a plan by the
South African ruling party to intervene directly in the Zimbabwean crisis
following Mbeki’s roundly condemned utterances in the face of the almost
month-long electoral stalemate in which the outcome of the voting that took
place in Zimbabwe on March 29 has been withheld from the electorate.
Mbeki stirred a global hornet’s nest when he declared following the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) emergency summit in Lusaka, that there
was no crisis in Zimbabwe.
His subsequent attempts to claim that he had been misquoted only served to
dent his credibility further because the withholding of election results
from voters for any reason whatsoever constitutes a crisis. The situation
was exacerbated by Mbeki’s clumsy and amateurish attempts to sweep the
Zimbabwean problem under the carpet during a meeting of the United Nations
Security Council in New York, which he chaired.
The world press reported on how Mbeki had been isolated when other leaders
insisted that the Zimbabwean situation constituted a crisis and should be
put on the agenda. Although a banner headline, “Hands of Zim, UN told”
appeared on the front page of the state broadsheet, The Herald, at this
time, UN general secretary Ban Ki-Moon insisted that there was a crisis in
Zimbabwe, which the world could no longer ignore.
However, the most damaging sentiments to Mbeki’s reputation and credibility
are those that have been expressed in his own country by various
stakeholders.. Writing in the Sunday Times issue of April 20, the paper’s
Editor, Mondli Makhanya, lamented the lack of political will on Mbeki’s part
with regard to his handling of the Zimbabwean issue.
Makhanya said if the South African government had the political will to
resolve the crisis, it would have diagnosed it correctly eight years ago.
“The diagnosis would have shown that the problem lay with a dirty ZANU-PF
hierarchy bent on plundering the country. It would have shown the remedy lay
elsewhere — in the nergy that resides in business, trade unions and other
civil society formations.”
The Sunday Times Editor added that if there had been political will and
principled leadership on Mbeki’s part, South Africa would not have “looked
away as journalists, cleargy, judges, doctors and activists were hounded, We
would not have stymied Commonwealth leaders, including Olusegun Obasanjo,
who were appalled by the oppression of Zimbabweans.”
A contributor to the Sunday Times, Mpumelelo Mkhabela, deplored in the same
issue, Mbeki’s “tacit support for his Zimbabwean counterpart” which he said
has cost South Africa dearly.
He asserted that what at first seemed to be Mbeki’s sophistication in
handling the Zimbabwean problem had “turned out to be nothing but sophistry”.
He said: “If anything, Mbeki has given (President) Mugabe what he lacked:
credibility in the face of defeat. And thus what appeared to be Mbeki’s
sophistication in handling the Zimbabwean situation turned out to be nothing
but pure sophistry.”
Mkhabela wrote that as a result of his dithering and equivocation, “Mbeki
now seems to stand alone against the whole world on (President) Mugabe and
in this manner he is destroying the little legacy he had left After
Apart from being side-stepped by the ANC, Mbeki’s own cabinet is reported to
have contradicted him in his absence by declaring the electoral impasse in
Zimbabwe is a crisis and calling on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to
announce the results of the presidential election.
These developments unfold against the backdrop of a raging debate among
ordinary Zimbabweans about Mbeki’s motives for his perceived collusion with
their government over the last eight years of “quiet diplomacy” at the
expense of the suffering populace.
One popular joke, made in exasperation that the head of state of Africa’s
powerhouse would behave in such an amateurish and dishonourable manner, is
to ask whether the South African President has been offered a farm in
This is an allusion to ZANU-PF’s vast political patronage system under which
farms seized from whites have been allocated to undeserving recipients as a
way to buy their loyalty and support.
Another theory bandied about is that Mbeki has been deliberately prolonging
the political stalemate in Zimbabwe because of the economic benefits
accruing to South Africa.
Mbeki’s perverse conduct has been criticised in the past both at home and
In 2004 Mbeki clashed with retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu after the
respected cleric had questioned his failure to adopt a more robust stance on
Zimbabwe. The South African president accused the Archbishop of speaking out
of turn and resorting to empty rhetoric.
Four years later, Mbeki is no nearer to a resolution of the Zimbabwean
problem but still pointing accusing fingers at anyone who questions his
In 2004, Mbeki’s younger brother, Moeletsi, slammed the South African
government for failing to come out clearly in support of justice and
democratic governance in Zimbabwe. The older Mbeki turned a deaf ear to all
He was even less prepared to listen as long as expressions of outrage and
discontent came from quarters such as the MDC in Zimbabwe, the Democratic
Alliance and the Congress of South African Trade Unions in South Africa,
churches and civil society.
Most of these stakeholders were dismissed as not having the right liberation
struggle credentials. Now, however, Mbeki’s duplicitous conduct and failure
to deliver is being questioned by his colleagues in the ANC and his Cabinet.
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In the build-up to the March 29 elections, there was much police ado about
the fact that there would be zero tolerance to political violence.
Speaking at a belated Christmas party in Matabeleland South in January,
Deputy Commissioner Levy Sibanda was quoted as saying the police would
ensure that the elections were held in a peaceful atmosphere. “It is the ZRP’s
obligation as an institution constitutionally mandated to maintain law and
order in the country. To ensure the elections are held in a tranquil and
peaceful environment.” These sentiments were echoed by other police
officials, including Sibanda’s boss, Police Commissioner General Augustine
Chihuri warned in a statement quoted in a state daily on February 1 that
police were geared for the elections and had put in place adequate measures
to keep things under control. But oddly, now that post-election violence is
being reported in many parts of the country, police are no longer saying why
it cannot be quelled. A clue perhaps lies in Chihuri’s utterances on
February 22 when he was quoted in the state press saying police would not
hesitate to use “full force, including firearms during and after” the
Chihuri who significantly spoke of the use of firearms before and after the
elections, said “The use of force by the police the world over has always
attracted criticism and is deliberately exaggerated most of the times for a
purpose. This is a sticky point so designed to undermine and discredit the
entire electoral process.” He stressed that police were empowered to use
“full force” and would not hesitate to do so. He made it clear law
enforcement agents would not treat perpetrators of violence with kid gloves.
In view of the controversy surrounding the Chinese ship laden with 17 tonnes
of fire arms that arrived in Durban last week and has been refused entry by
a number of African countries, some uncharitable thoughts have crossed my
mind about Chihuri’s repeated references to the use of full force, including
firearms, during and after the elections. Is the arrival of the Chinese
vessel at this tense time a coincidence? Chihuri made his dire warnings
about the police force’s determination to use full force after he and other
service chiefs had declared publicly that they would not salute the leader
of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai in the event
that he won the presidential election.
Now with the presidential poll results still being withheld a full three
weeks after voting took place, the nation can only guess who the winner of
those polls was, based on the subsequent strange developments witnessed
after March 29. These include post-election violence that has reared its
ugly head reportedly in constituencies that voted overwhelmingly for MDC
candidates. The victims of the violence say they are being terrorized by
state agents and militias who accuse them of having voted the wrong way. The
type of injuries sustained by the victims is indeed consistent with the use
of “full force” such as Chihuri warned about.
Police and government officials are, however, disputing accounts coming from
the horse’s mouth, that is the people subjected to the beatings and
insisting the violence is being perpetrated by the Morgan Tsvangirai faction
of the MDC. Another coincidence? Hardly likely. Any remotely reasonable
person would have to ask whether it would make any sense for the opposition
party to go back to the constituencies in which its parliamentary and
senatorial candidates prevailed to unleash violence against its supporters.
And yet if police claims are to be believed, this is what is supposed to be
The problem is that rather than view violence as an act of barbarism that
should not be associated with any state in the 21st century, the police and
officialdom seem to regard it as a priced component upon which their
political survival hinges. As a result they are prepared to go to any length
to befuddle the nation with ridiculous propaganda whose main purpose is to
score points by casting the MDC as the perpetrators. This would seem to be
why they stick to the same mantras even when there is concrete evidence of
who is perpetrating the violence.
Elsewhere in this issue of The Financial Gazette, for example, reports are
published about attacks perpetrated by the police against a group of
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation employees. In another report, the
President of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, Matthew Takaona recounts his
ordeal when he and his cousin were beaten up by the police in Chitungwiza.
What do the police have to say about these incidents? Why are innocent
Zimbabweans being randomly attacked?
Another report carried in this issue pertains to pre-election violence and
intimidation that occurred in Gokwe, Zvimba North and Chegutu where ZANU-PF
candidates won. The incidents of violence and intimidation are detailed in
court petitions filed by aggrieved opposition candidates. In view of these
cases which give all the pertinent details, it is difficult to accept the
police claim that no incidents have been reported to them.
At a press conference on Monday, out-going Justice and Parliamentary Affairs
Minister Patrick Chinamasa challenged anyone with information about acts of
state violence to furnish the police with such details. “It is unfortunate
that these reports of violence are only surfacing on the internet with no
formal reports being made. We respond to information supplied to us by the
public and we have nothing to hide.”
Chinamasa said he had personally investigated the 10 deaths reported by the
MDC. “I have personally investigated these cases. Of those four, three have
no basis whatsoever while the fourth is still under investigation.” Even
supposing this were true, why is the minister unconcerned about the rest of
the cases ? And how exhaustive were his investigations considering that they
were conducted by someone who lost his seat in the parliamentary elections
and therefore has a vested interest in discrediting the opposition? It is
also odd that someone in this position should usurp the functions of the
police to pose as an investigating officer.
It is easy for Chinamasa to trivialize attacks against innocent Zimbabweans
by saying reports of violence have been “exaggerated” but readers will
recall that numbers were of no import when the full wrath of the law was
brought to bear on former Chimanimani legislator Roy Bennett following a
fracas in parliament in which Chinamasa was manhandled. If it was
intolerable for one minister to suffer “violence”, in this manner, it should
follow that not a single Zimbabwean should sustain as much as a scratch at
the hands of state agents for exercising his or her democratic right to vote
as he or she wishes.
The story about the 10 deaths reported by the MDC appeared in the April 20
issue of The Standard, identifying some of the victims by name. Chinamasa
was however cold-hearted enough to say the MDC had “this macabre tendency to
claim dead bodies”. For his own information, the victims were flesh and
blood Zimbabweans who were as entitled to life as he is.On page 3 of the
same issue of The Standard was a horrific picture of a victim beaten until
he or she was black and blue. Chinamasa’s heart -of- stone response? “For
your own information some of those pictures being carried by the media date
back to 2000. At present we are not aware of any such violence.”
This, at last is an admission that state violence was unleashed in 2000
although readers will recall that this was as rigorously denied at the time
as the on-going incidents are being attributed to the MDC. Does this mean
that an admission that the on-going atrocities are the handiwork of the
state will also be made some years from now?
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THIRD world nationalists everywhere make a simple mistake — they
underestimate imperialists. Imperialists follow well-known rules of
engagement. Like jackals, they follow the quarry until the tired animal
falls on its hind legs.
For Zimbabweans, there is no other result acceptable other than that Mukuru
Mukuru has largely taken a confrontational approach to imperialism. That is
the worst thing anybody can do. Here is the reason why.
When Jomo Kenyatta left a colonial prison after seven years, and the Kenya
African National Union was triumphant everywhere, his first major speech was
at Nakuru, the heart of the White Highlands and the home of 2 000
unrepentant white supremacist farmers.
He could have told them to go to hell, but he knew that Britain, a super
power, was behind this motley crew. He chose reconciliation and peace. That
allowed Kenya 40 years of unprecedented progress.
Nelson Mandela, after 27 years in prison, visited the wife of P. W. Botha,
the racist former president of South Africa.
Botha’s wife lived in a white town, which did not allow blacks even as
maids, for fear of contamination. She was surprised to find that Mandela had
love within his heart for her kind of people.
The issue here is that Mandela could have told Mrs Pee Wee (as she was
known) to go to hell, and all the whites who felt like her to follow the
same path. The four million whites were supported by the United States and
Britain. The cost would be worse than the disease of racism.
Mukuru ignored these lessons of history. But there was a more poignant
lesson directly taught by Samora Machel of Mozambique. Mukuru was told
plainly not to chase white people away. It has nothing to do with whether
they have a long racist past or not.
Cecil Rhodes’ condemnation sheet is so long that even the devil has refused
him a place in hell. The issue is that the imperialists control the world,
as we know it. To ignore that reality, as the Zulus say, is to throw dirty
water (a bad word) against the wind.
The idea of calling opponents names has always been a bad idea. Kenneth
Kaunda called Frederick Chiluba a man of no consequence, and he was right.
Kamuzu Banda called everybody, “my boys” and perhaps he was right.
But Mukuru has exceeded the rules of fair play. He called Morgan Tsvangirai
a tea boy. Simba Makoni was called a frog, that wants to be as big as a cow.
The British leader, Tony Blair, was called a bad name, and his successor
Gordon Brown, was called a little dot in the world.
Mukuru is definitely wrong about the British and the Americans. No matter
what we may feel about them, the US controls the World Bank and the European
Union controls the International Monetary Fund.
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the US, Boniface Chidyausiku, complained bitterly
that Zimbabwe has not received balance of payments support from these two
Please give us a break. Does anybody expect Robert Zolleck, a George Bush
appointee at the Word Bank to read Zimbabwe’s application with any sympathy?
We may not like Anglo-American policy in Iraq, but we should be at peace
with the US, for our own sake. It is about the world in which we live.
Brown is not a little dot on the world map. He presides over the number
three economy in the world. Courting his enmity is unwise.
I agree with Mukuru, and with Ambassador Chidyausiku that Zimbabwe has
suffered severely from Anglo-American sanctions. The death of the Zimbabwean
dollar and the consequent destruction of life insurance policies is a
chapter in tragedy never witnessed before in Zimbabwe.
The destruction of the tourist trade is horrendous. There are thousands of
people who had sunk their life savings into building chalets, who now watch
owls singing songs under their eyes.
The unemployment rate of 80 percent and the horrific treatment of Makwere
Kwere (our people) in Botswana and South Africa and Britain is a story that
is yet to be told. No government has ever survived on inflation rate of 300
Zimbabwe followed these policies despite historical evidence that they cause
nothing but ruin to the country that practises them.
At the time of writing, reports from Zimbabwe say seven electoral officers
who counted wrongly have been incarcerated. More than 800 villages have been
burnt down for voting wrongly. Twenty people are in hospital with broken
legs for encouraging voters to vote wrongly. Ten people are dead and perhaps
800 families have been internally displaced for voting wrongly.
Such news lays down the groundwork for foreign intervention. Intervention
can come through proxies. It is unwise to provoke intervention. Saddam
Hussein of Iraq thought that he was safe, and so did Manuel Noriega of
Noriega was picked up by 20 000 US marines and is serving his 25-year
sentence in Florida.
The economic hardships alone are enough to require a change in direction.
When three million people leave their country, there is something wrong with
the leadership. If Mukuru cannot come to terms with the tea boy, that
decision will be made for him.
Now, to make matters worse, Mukuru is refusing to concede defeat to the tea
boy. The next chapter of this saga is that the imperialists will find a way
of removing the Zimbabwean government under the guise of liberating the
people. This has happened in Nicaragua, in Panama and in Iraq. In all three
cases, the people there are worse off now than they were before imperialist
There is no way out of this one.
Ken Mufuka is a professor at Lander University (USA). He can be reached at:
Rangarirai Mberi News Editor
OVER the past three weeks, Southern Africa had appeared to close ranks,
refusing to publicly denounce President Robert Mugabe and allowing his
government to claim unreserved regional support. But it has taken a rusty
Chinese ship to blow that claim right out the water.
The An Yue Jiang arrived in Durban last Tuesday, bearing 77 tonnes of arms
destined for Zimbabwe.
A dramatic week later, it was clear regional solidarity was not as assured
as Zimbabwe must have imagined, and that President Robert Mugabe’s
government is increasingly isolated.
None of Zimbabwe’s claimed allies have so far allowed the ship to dock at
News of the ship’s arrival in Durban immediately rattled the activist cage.
Dockworkers were lobbied into refusing to unload the ship.
The ship then reportedly first headed for Mozambique’s supposedly friendlier
waters. But officials there refused it clearance to dock.
Soon, the ship was heading up the west coast and towards Angola. It had been
suggested the ship would have it easier there. After all, it was said, just
a week earlier, President Eduardo dos Santos had been among the regional
leaders at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in
Lusaka to oppose strong action against his old comrade President Mugabe.
But on Tuesday, it became clear that not even Luanda was willing to take on
the ship, and the physical and political baggage it carried.
“This ship has not sought a request to enter Angolan territorial waters and
it’s not authorised to enter Angolan ports,” Filomeno Mendonca, director of
the Institute of Angolan Ports, told private Luanda Radio LAC.
Jendayi Frazer, the United States assistant secretary of state for Africa,
said she had exerted pressure on America’s regional allies to refuse the
ship permission. The US has strong ties with Angola and has oil interests
Other reports then suggested Namibia was in fact the ship’s destination. But
Namibian foreign ministry spokesman Isaak Hamata said: “We have not received
any official request to dock, refuel or off-load the Chinese ship, but if it
does come, we would consider it on its merits.”
He said the merits would depend on the content of any request from the
Even China herself began to sound uneasy. Chinese Foreign Ministry
spokeswoman Jiang Yu, while insisting the arms shipment was “perfectly
normal trade in military goods between China and Zimbabwe”, conceded the
company involved was now considering shipping the cargo back to China.
China’s hands are already full with controversy over Tibet and the Olympics.
Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa’s ruling ANC, who has latched on to
the Zimbabwe controversy to rebrand himself in the eyes of a sceptical West,
has also been unequivocal. He was quoted on Tuesday as calling on all SADC
countries to bar the ship.
But the hardest knocks were coming out of Lusaka, whose relations with
Zimbabwe have frozen over.
Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa, the SADC chairman, dropped all diplomatic
niceties to publicly urge “all African countries” not to receive the ship.
Reacting to news that the ship had been turned away in South Africa and
Mozambique, Mwanawasa said: “I hope this will be the case with all the
countries because we don’t want a situation, which will escalate the
situation in Zimbabwe more than what it is.”
Mwanawasa even had some words for China. He said China could play a more
useful role in the Zimbabwean crisis than supplying arms.
But while he escalated his war with Zimbabwe, Mwanawasa claimed to have been
“embarrassed” by remarks by an official of his party, the Movement for
Multiparty Democracy’s Lusaka chairman Geoffrey Chumbwe, calling for the use
of force to remove President Mugabe from office.
“I hope our Zimbabwean colleagues will appreciate that a man like him would
have no authority whatsoever to speak on behalf of the party. He is so
junior in the party hierarchy that I was personally embarrassed when I heard
of this,” Mwanawasa said.
It is not clear whether Harare will be comforted by Mwanawasa’s
But what is now known is the true state of Zimbabwe’s regional alliances.
The ship has tested these friendships within SADC. Without the shelter of
the anonymity of SADC communiqués, none of these friendships has stood the
Neighbours might claim publicly to be her friends, but none of them is
willing to risk their own credibility by taking on Zimbabwe’s burdens.
WHEN news of a Chinese vessel carrying armaments
destined for Zimbabwe filtered through from South Africa last week, there
was guarded optimism that these reports were nothing but a ruse de guerre
meant to ratchet up pressure on President Robert Mugabe’s government.
It had been thought that Harare’s information tsars
would move in quickly to deny ownership of the controversial cargo, and as
has become the norm, jump to its famous ploy of blaming it on “the
machinations of the imperialists”.
Our worst fears were confirmed on Monday when
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa came to the defence of government’s
“It is our sovereign right to buy arms from anyone
to defend ourselves. And you defend yourself from enemies and not
civilians…I don’t understand this hullabaloo abut a lone ship,” Chinamasa,
who of late has assumed the role of ZANU-PF’s chief propagandist, was quoted
Granted, it is in Zimbabwe’s interest to arm its
defence forces to the teeth in case its territorial integrity might come
To this end, the efficiency and preparedness of
institutions such as the police and the army becomes vital, provided the
cost is something the country can afford.
However, ZANU-PF’s definition of an enemy has been
adulterated by the party’s insatiable appetite to hold on to power at any
cost, even if it means circumventing the people’s will.
An enemy, as far as the ZANU-PF government is
concerned, is anyone who does not share the party’s beliefs and value
Holding different views is considered treasonous and
critics have been labelled sell-outs and stooges of the imperialists, whose
bidding in Zimbabwe, according to government, is done by the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
It is not a secret that, in ZANU-PF’s view, the MDC
and its supporters are enemies of the State, which explains the war of
attrition silently being waged against defenceless activists since the March
It is in this context that Chinamasa’s irony-laden
response must be considered.
Before anyone can swallow the Justice Minister’s
argument hook, line and sinker, Chinamasa must explain to the restive
population the timing of this shipment and whether it is just a coincidence
that government is taking delivery of the cargo at a time when tensions are
rising due to its inexplicable delays in announcing the results of the
Presidential election held about four weeks ago.
The drama surrounding An Yue Jiang, the Chinese
vessel, has lifted the veil of camaraderie the powers-that-be have
previously used to claim popular support in the region in the face of
mounting opposition internally and internationally.
By denying the ship permission to dock at their
harbours, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Namibia and Angola are sending
a loud message that all is not well in Zimbabwe.
None of Zimbabwe’s neighbours would want to invite
trouble to their doorsteps by giving a helping hand to what might eventually
lead to the commission of the worst sort of human rights violations and an
influx of refugees at a time when the continent is still grappling with a
volatile situation in Kenya.
Latest reports indicate that Poly Technologies, the
Chinese arms manufacturer, might recall the ship, buckling to pressure.
Government has no moral justification for forking
out an estimated R10 million on three millions rounds of AK-47, 1500 rocket
propelled grenades and more that 3000 mortar rounds and mortar tubes when
its people are starving due to poor harvests.
Chinamasa and his colleagues could have presented a
solid moral argument had they ransacked the fiscus to avert hunger by
importing staple grains and allocating the little foreign currency available
to agricultural input manufacturers ahead of the 2008/09 farming season.
While the Defence Ministry has been conspicuous by
its silence on the issue, one wonders how the cargo was financed given that
the Ministry was only allocated a $374 trillion cheque in the current budget
and might have exhausted the vote in one swoop if the R10 million is
converted at parallel market rates.
It is however, not a secret that military spending
has not been commensurate with the size of the country’s tottering economy.
Instead of increasing funding towards critical
sectors such as education, health and agriculture, scarce resources have
been diverted to the military despite the fact that there is relative
stability in the region now and that prospects of an aggression against
Zimbabwe have greatly diminished.
Does it ever bother the powers-that-be therefore
that the country continues to spend money on military hardware when there
are no essential drugs in hospitals and clinics? The country’s education
system is on its deathbed due to shortages of textbooks and other teaching
materials and the same applies for agriculture, which cannot import vaccines
The arms fiasco has also exposed the extent to which
government has destroyed industries because ordinarily the armaments could
have been sourced from the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI), which is now
surviving on non-core operations after years of under capitalisation.
Instead of capacitating struggling local companies,
government imports the basic arms to preserve jobs in Shenzhen, China,
allowing the scourge of retrenchments and company closures spawned by its
disastrous policies to continue locally. And as a result, ZDI, which has
suffered a dual status of being both a private company and a state
enterprise, is slowly dying.
On Monday, Southern African Development Community
(SADC) chairperson and Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa took the
unprecedented step of urging regional states to bar the Chinese ship from
entering their waters fearing the shipment could deepen Zimbabwe’s election
As if to confirm Mwanawasa’s fears, the MDC claims
10 of its members have been murdered and scores others injured since the
In addition, at least 3000 people have been
displaced, allegations denied by ZANU-PF, which has accused the MDC as being
the authors of the violence.
The stance taken by SADC and the civic movement in
the region shows that patience is running wafer thin against Harare and that
the region would like to avoid a repeat of the Kenyan scenario where more
than 1200 people were killed while over 350 000 others were displaced since
the disputed elections.
Tutu was right about Mbeki
EDITOR — During last year’s African National Congress (ANC) congress in
Polokwane, South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu made a controversial
statement that neither Thabo Mbeki nor Jacob Zuma was fit to be president of
South Africa. He was spot on.
When Mandela’s handpicked successor took office one of the first things that
he did was to expel Chief Gatsha Buthelezi from cabinet. Mbeki said at the
time: ‘Where were some of these people during the liberation struggle who
now want to participate in our politics?’ or words to that effect.
It has been the ANC’s policy to support only parties that were in the
so-called liberation wars during white colonial rule. Even Winnie
Madikizela-Mandela had a few choice words about the MDC a few months ago.
I pity the MDC because Mbeki continually tricks them. He tricked the MDC
into participating in sham elections, from which there could only be one
winner – ZANU-PF.
He (Mbeki) is the one who instigated the holding of these elections to try
and get legitimacy for this government from the international community
hoping that it was going to be a walkover, but instead this has backfired in
Now he comes around fawning and simpering in the most nauseating manner that
there is no crisis in Zimbabwe and that the delay in announcing election
results was normal because it was in accordance with Zimbabwe’s election
The man doesn’t even know the time of day let alone what’s happening in
Zimbabwe. Mbeki has always spoken with a forked tongue; he is an upstart and
one wonders why he is feted so much by the West? Mbeki is anti-MDC, full
He will do whatever it takes to make sure ZANU-PF stays in power. There is
no such thing as ‘quiet diplomacy’. This time he acted quickly because
ZANU-PF had lost.
This is typical of an African leader who has helped further under-develop
the continent in his short time in office. Mind you, Zuma is no better.
It was too much to expect any good to come out of the marathon SADC
‘emergency’ meeting in Lusaka because 95 percent of those deliberating were
themselves not properly elected in their respective countries.
There were people like Bingu wa Mutarika of Malawi, who owns vast tracts of
land in Zimbabwe. Such a leader could never be neutral.
Why it took 13 hours to come up with such daft resolutions is a mystery.
With all evidence pointing to an MDC win despite the lop-sided election, the
summit suggested that the opposition should just accept amended fictitious
tabulations from their rivals? It beggars belief.
Why was the election held in the first place when one side is prepared to
conceal the results? Surely, they could have saved themselves a lot of
bother by just stating that this was a one-party state: no elections, full
Mbeki has an abiding vendetta against parties that didn’t participate in the
so-called armed struggle, not least the MDC.
He unwittingly joined the so-called struggle because of his father, it was
not his own initiative. In any case what did he do other than study first
world economics while the others were in the bush?
The ANC is anti-MDC; they regard FRELIMO, ZANU-PF, SWAPO, MPLA (Angola) as
comrades in arms from their days in the bush and no other organisation would
do for them in these states besides those mentioned.
The MDC should be aware of this because they have very few African friends.
SADC is one toothless, two-faced organisation that has in the past-declared
disputed polls in Zimbabwe free and fair because ZANU-PF had ‘won’.
Time for Zimbabweans to stand together
EDITOR — I have been watching with interest as the Zimbabwe drama unfolds.
It seems to me there are a lot of characters, clowns included.
How can anyone dream of military invasion of Zimbabwe? The problem is that
people misjudge moods. British people will never support any military
intervention in any country as long as Iraq is still as it is.
People also make the mistake of thinking that when a political party wins,
everyone supports it, therefore they can say or do what they want. Do they
know that there is the silent majority? What’s the population of Zimbabwe
and how many people voted? What do those who didn’t vote think?
It’s high time Zimbabwean politicians start behaving responsibly and know
that the country is ours and no one can solve our problems for us. We want a
responsible ruling party and a responsible opposition.
Let’s have the best interests of our country at heart. Who benefits when we
beat each other? Who benefits when we circulate pictures of mutilated bodies
from other countries and claim they are from Zimbabwe? Who benefits when you
lie that your life is in danger and you claim asylum when you have never
been politically active? Who benefits when you compile a documentary with
stage-managed scenes and claim that’s what your country is about? My
countrymen don’t sell your souls for bread.
Zim situation: A biblical perspective
EDITOR — Well, it has been the most unheard of thing that has happened in
Zimbabwe and I know it all comes to one thing whether you believe it or not;
its all in the hands of God now.
Tell me what has not been done to solve the current situation in Zimbabwe.
Accusations are flying from all over and stories about hate and deceit are
the common thing.
Even America and Britain can just say they don’t know what to do next. Now
SADC says Zimbabwe is not in a crisis. I am not a good political analyst but
I am a religious fanatic.
So I tell you one thing, let us brace ourselves for something mighty and
powerful is about to happen.
For the scripture says “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear
heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things, which God
hath prepared for them that love him” Corithians 2v9.
All has been done but the word from above has not been communicated to the
men and women of Zimbabwe.
Mufuka must show tolerance
EDITOR — There was really no need for Ken Mufuka to offer Joseph Miller his
flimsy excuse for leaving Zimbabwe in 1983.
I do however, share Miller’s strong belief that Ken Mufuka is one of those
Zimbabweans in the diaspora who seems comfortable courting certain
politically connected “brothers” in ZANU-PF who have unashamedly destroyed
Is this not typical of someone who is so afraid of retribution and for
self-interests would much rather “run with the hare and hunt with the
Why be so racist Mr Mufuka, it is so callous of you to compromise your
academic standing by drawing these distinctions based on colour.
In the USA, which is your preferred country of domicile, it is taboo to be
obsessed with the skin colour of fellow humans.
Even back home, Zimbabweans, I am sure, take great offence when people such
as Mudede and Mahoso, the latter who you referred to as my “learned
brother,” exhibit racist tendencies.
What about Ian Smith or FW De Klerk the “white brothers” both of whom were
detested for their racism but at least they showed some compassion?
When they saw the writing on the wall they succumbed. Can we say the same of
the brothers back home?