seige as food, fuel, electricty shortages bite ZIMBABWE'S social and
economic sectors are on the brink of collapse as crippling fuel shortages
have resurfaced while a combination of power blackouts and water shortages
have gripped cities around the country threatening to grind industry and
commerce to a halt.
Apart from that, Zimbabwe has run out of food with
reports that the country has only 60 000 tonnes of maize left, enough to
feed the nation for only two weeks. Industrialists and commentators said
that Zimbabwe's industry and commerce would soon collapse if the current
problems bedevilling the country are not urgently addressed.
the transport industry is reeling from the fuel crisis. Last week, most
commuter buses were grounded, leaving workers stranded especially in the
country's major towns of Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and
Obert Mpofu, the Minister of Industry and International Trade,
insisted that by Tuesday this week the fuel situation would have
"All stakeholders are working towards arresting the fuel
problem," Mpofu said.
Mpofu's statement appears to fit in with
information The Standard has, which suggests that payment for fuel will be
made tomorrow (Monday).
The Standard understands that one of the causes
of the current crisis is the delay in paying fuel suppliers. The Standard
was informed yesterday that as much as US$2.5million due to suppliers since
February has not been released and this has adversely impacted on the
creditworthiness of Zimbabwean fuel importers.
The reason for the
delay in paying external fuel suppliers was a demand by the authorities to
four or five indigenous fuel importers who reportedly failed to account for
the money they were given to import fuel.
As a result of the delay in
releasing the funds since February, a consortium supplying the southern half
of the country has not been able to bring in fuel because the external
suppliers, among them Sasol, are reluctant "to put good money after bad
In smaller towns such as Kadoma and Kwekwe, Marondera and
Zvishavane, the situation is equally bad and has given rise to a thriving
In Gweru and Harare, five litres of petrol are going for
$150 000 and $60 000 respectively on the parallel market, against an average
pump price of $3 600.
Unscrupulous public transporters were cashing
in on the crisis charging as much as $5 000 for the Harare to Chitungwiza
route, twice the gazetted fare.
Long queues of desperate motorists,
wasting productive time in search of fuel, have become the order of the day
at many service stations in the country.
On the power supply front,
the countrywide blackout resulted in loss of business for most
Most food outlets in Harare were on Wednesday and Thursday
reduced to soft drinks retailers after the power cuts prevented them from
preparing fresh food.
In supermarkets, perishables such as meat and
milk products were thrown away after they went bad - resulting in huge
losses for businesses.
"Our losses run into millions of dollars," said a
manager at a supermarket in Harare's Central Business District
The scarcities of fuel and electricity blackouts are also likely
to impact negatively on the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in
Bulawayo and the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), which
kick-off this week.
Eric Bloch, an economic analyst, warned that
power and fuel shortages were set to worsen the country's social and
economic decline and called on the government to increase the fuel pump
price to make it more viable for procurement companies.
by government on distributors to keep fuel prices down could further worsen
the fuel crisis. The current price is prohibitive to producers," he
Economist, John Robertson, attributed the fuel crisis to lack of
incentives to encourage fuel procurement companies to import fuel. He
suggested the fuel price be increased to $7 000 a litre.
said: "The scarcity of foreign currency mainly due to the loss of tobacco
earnings, loss of beef earnings and many other industries and sectors is
also contributing to the fuel crisis. Export industries are not closing but
shrinking because the economic environment is not favourable."
get a comment from the Petroleum Marketers' Association of Zimbabwe were
The president of the Employers' Confederation of Zimbabwe
(EMCOZ), Mike Bimha, said the power supply irregularities, water cuts and
fuel shortages impact negatively on the overall performance, resulting in
low production levels.
For a worker to give optimum performance and
increase productivity in the workplace, he said, one needs to have peace of
"Imagine waking up to go to work and there is no water for you to
bath, no electricity to warm your water up and cook food then there is no
transport to ferry you to work? How many problems can befall a
Collin Gwiyo, deputy secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress
of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said the problems were a result of bad governance and
called for dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
Zesa general manager (corporate affairs),
Obert Nyatanga, said that electricity interruptions are going to continue
until the end of the winter season due to increased demand.
with the encroaching winter peak period, demand for electricity will
outstrip supply and the region has run out of excess power to export to
deficit markets like Zimbabwe during peak periods," Nyatanga
Zesa said it was unable to access the 100mw power import from SNEL
of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) due to a transmission failure
The parastatal said two of its generators at Kariba and
Hwange Power Stations are not working due to a critical shortage of spare
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ), a body created to protect
the interests of the consumers, refused to comment immediately, saying it
needed to consult broadly.
Harare tap water now on sale as crisis deepens By
SEVERAL Harare suburbs were without water for the whole
of last week as the capital's water crisis continues
However, out of this crisis some enterprising Harare residents
with boreholes and wells on their properties are selling water to desperate
residents, The Standard has established. Long queues of people with empty
containers have become a common sight in Hatfield, Msasa Park, Waterfalls,
Greendale and Mabvuku suburbs at properties where there are either boreholes
In Waterfalls, a two-litre bucket of water ranges between $2
000 and $5 000, depending on the individual.
People who spoke to The
Standard said a litre of water was selling for between $1 000 and $2 500 in
areas such as Hatfield and Msasa Park, where residents have been getting
erratic supplies of water for the past month.
Shylet Makuvaza of
Waterfalls said life has become extremely difficult without safe running
water and feared for the outbreak of diseases.
"Can you imagine going for
more than 14 days without water and you would want to cook, do some washing
and bathing? I think it's high time the authorities did something about this
problem. We are left with no choice but to buy water," Makuvaza
Another Waterfalls resident, Gregory Banda, said Harare had been
reduced to a "growth point" due mismanagement.
"We have been without
water for the better part of this month. We are just like people living in
the rural areas now," Banda said.
As the water crisis worsens, some of
the wells and boreholes are beginning to dry up because of receding water
Janet Museve of Hatfield said the water from her well was
"We are suffering. The water we used to get from the
wells is now coming out very dirty. We don't even know where we are going to
get the water.
"One of the heartless people from the council openly told
me that we should not be complaining since we had only been without water
for one week as compared to the people of Mabvuku, who had been without
water for more than two months," Museve said.
Mike Davies, the
president of the Combined Harare Residents' Association (CHRA), said they
had received numerous calls from people complaining about the water
"The Commission is failing to preserve the little water that
is available because it can not repair burst pipes where water gushes out
everyday. We have received complaints from residents but there is nothing we
can do," Davies said.
Leslie Gwindi, the spokesperson for the
Commission running the affairs of the Harare City Council, could not be
reached for a comment.
The water crisis plaguing the city for over the
past five years deteriorated in May last year but has worsened during the
past three months. Last month, it was reported that the council had run out
of water treatment chemicals.
'No respite in Zim rights abuses' By Caiphas
CASES of gross human abuses in Zimbabwe have always increased
each time President Robert Mugabe's continued grip on power is under threat,
according to analysts.
They said Zimbabwe's human rights record,
characterised by the intimidation, kidnapping, assaults and brutal murder of
people who hold alternative views, has never been satisfactory since
independence. University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred
Masunungure, said human rights violations have taken different dimensions,
ranging from enacting repressive legislations to physical attacks on
perceived enemies of the State.
Masunungure said notable cases of
abuses include the Gukurahundi massacres in the Midlands and Matabeleland
provinces, electoral violence in all parliamentary and presidential
elections held after 1990 and the denial of food aid to suspected opposition
About 20 000 people were killed during the disturbances when
the North Korean trained 5 Brigade was deployed to
"Zimbabwe's human rights record has never been satisfactory
from the start. It has actually worsened since the 2 000 parliamentary
elections because of the threat that was posed by the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change," Masunungure said.
Zimbabwe Lawyers' for Human
Rights (ZLHR) director, Arnold Tsunga, said Zimbabwe's human rights record
had been "terrible" for the past 25 years.
"We got too excited about our
independence to the point that we began to overlook critical signs that
showed totalitarian rule," Tsunga said.
"As a result, there was no
sustainable way of looking at the human rights component of the system," he
In the last five years the government has introduced a wide range
of obnoxious legislation, which undermines the basic freedoms of expression,
association and assembly, rights guaranteed to all under the African Charter
on Human and People's Rights.
The laws include the Public Order and
Security Act (2002), (formerly Law and Order Maintenance Act (LOMA), the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (2002) and the
Broadcasting Services Act.
"These legislations are infamous for violating
rights," said Masunungure.
Freedom of expression, association and
assembly are vital to the existence of a democratic society and
indispensable for the formation of public opinion.
Hundreds of civil
society and opposition MDC activists have been arrested under Posa, which
criminalises peaceful gatherings. The police, apparently under political
instructions, fail to arrest or investigate those who commit human rights
The killers of MDC activist Talent Mabika and Tichaona
Chiminya, who were brutally murdered in 2000, are moving around the country
freely despite repeated calls for their arrest by the courts.
2001 the government has established youth "militia" groups. Allegations of
torture and assault, including rape committed by "militias" as groups or
individuals have been widely reported.
AIPPA has been used to arrest and
detain scores of journalists from the independent media, and to shut down
the country's independent newspapers, which provided alternative views to
State propaganda churned out by the State media.
Among the victims of
AIPPA are The Daily News, The Daily News on Sunday, The Business Tribune,
The Weekend Tribune and more recently The Weekly Times.
invasions, which were spearheaded by war veterans and Zanu PF supporters,
also added a dark spot in the country's human rights record. Several farmers
lost their land to farm invaders and occupiers without any form of
compensation, violating their property rights.
While the independence of
the judiciary is vital to enforcing the law and ensuring accountability, in
Zimbabwe that independence has seriously been compromised.
government has, on several occasions, ignored court orders while judges and
lawyers have been subjected to harassment and assault by state security
agents. Cases in point include that of human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa
and former Daily News attorney, Gugulethu Moyo, as well as lawyer Gabriel
Judges such as former chief justice, Anthony Gubbay, and
Michael Majuru, who was president of the Administrative Court, resigned or
retired due to political pressure from the ruling party.
of Zimbabwe political scientist, Greg Linington, said Zimbabwe's human
rights record was deplorable. He said the bench had been "restructured" to
serve the ruling party, which in itself was a violation of human
"It is actually disturbing and things are worsening because the
government continues to ignore court orders while lawyers are denied the
right to access to their clients," said Linington.
Soldiers and Zanu
PF loyalists evicted incarcerated former Chimanimani MP, Roy Bennett, from
his farm despite several court orders barring them from doing so.
growing concern to human rights groups, such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights
Association (Zimrights) and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace,
is the deteriorating framework for the realisation and enhancement of social
and economic rights.
Since 2002 millions of Zimbabweans have faced
serious food shortages. But the suffering of hungry Zimbabweans appears to
have been exploited for political gain.
paints grim picture on maize crop situation
RESULTS of a nationwide survey to determine the crop situation in
the country will be completed at the end of the month, the Department of
Agriculture Research and Extension Services (Arex) has said. The maize crop
appears the worst affected.
Arex director Dr Shadreck Mlambo told The
Standard that although a preliminary survey had been conducted, the full
picture would only be known at the end of April. Three weeks ago Arex
undertook a preliminary assessment of the crop situation in all provinces in
Arex sent assessors to all the provinces last month to
assess the crop situation, following a long spell of erratic
The country experienced erratic rainfall this season and the
result has been that most crops are already a write-off. This has dampened
prospects for a good harvest.
The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Unions
(ZCFU) said although the country received some rains during the last few
weeks, a marginal recovery of crops would be realised as damage had already
been done to the crops.
ZCFU president, Davison Mugabe, said the rains
would only benefit the late-planted crops, which are still at the grain
"There is marginal recovery as most crops will not recover
because they were extensively damaged and the rains have come a bit too
late. Only very late crops will recover," he said.
the rains will also benefit preparations for winter cropping and tobacco
Mugabe was unable to say how much maize would be harvested
this season, but said tobacco and Soya beans would command better harvests
than the maize crop.
"Tobacco harvest will be fine as the crop was
not affected by the dry spell and those who planted early Soya beans will
get a decent harvest. Maize is the worst affected," Mugabe said.
worst affected areas include most parts of Matabeleland and Manicaland,
Marondera, Hwange and Masvingo, where crops have already wilted, threatening
the country with hunger.
According to a rainfall bulletin by the
Meteorological Services Department, most of the southern and eastern
districts had received below 80 percent of normal rainfall last month.
last Tuesday arrested 16 actors of the upcoming first local action movie,
Nothing to Wait For, at a shooting site in Mabelreign, charging them for
violating sections of the draconian Posa and The Censorship
According to eyewitnesses, two policemen charged at the cast who
were shooting at Mabelreign Calvary Church, to arrest them for unlawful
possession of guns that turned out to be toy guns used in one of the
scenes. "We were surprised that a routine shot that was being done could
generate such a furore. The police were aggressive as if they had come with
preconceived motives," said an eyewitness who resides in
The director of Nothing to Wait For, Ryan Nush, confirmed
that they were detained for a day at Mabelreign Police station.
slept in the cells on Tuesday but everything is under control now. I cannot
say anymore than I have already said," said Nush.
However, an actor who
requested anonymity and was also among the detainees said: "The police on
discovering that we did nothing wrong blamed us for being sell-outs who were
doing a movie that was bent on soiling the country's image and that of the
police. When we were arrested we were shooting a scene depicting appalling
A police official at Mabelreign Police station who
spoke on condition of anonymity said the actors did not at the time of
arrest do enough to wad off police suspicion.
"We have since released
them after they explained their position."
He said they were detained
despite the fact that no docket was opened.
"The Posa charges did not
stick because we had police clearance to shoot there. So they said we were
arrested for shooting a pornography tape under section 16 of the Censorship
Act. Of course these were trumped up charges just to intimidate
"The cells were filthy and the 16 of us had to squeeze together to
get sleeping space," the actor said.
The actors were released on
Wednesday morning only to be taken to Harare Central police station were
their script was confiscated. They allegedly endured six hours of grilling
by Law and Order officers.
"Our three directors were taken into different
rooms were they were asked to explain who was funding our project. The
police felt that Britain and America were using our movie for propaganda
purposes. The logic behind that assertion boggles my mind," said the
According to the source the actors were only released when the
script was found to be "clean" and, after a stern warning for the directors
not to speak about the incident to the media, they were told to go ahead
with their project.
An increasingly paranoid Zimbabwe government has
of late kept a close eye on art productions that it views as a strong weapon
that can be used by suspected detractors like Britain to cause despondency
in the country.
The Censorship Board banned a theatre play by Rooftops
productions, Super Patriots and Morons, for containing what it perceived to
be politically incorrect messages bent on demonising President Robert
Mugabe. Another local movie under production, Throw the Dice, was reportedly
asked to change some of its scenes by the Censorship Board.
for comment police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena
refused to comment.
Public debt surges past $6 trillion By our own
THE size of the public domestic debt has leapt to about Z$6
trillion since March 2004 due to repeated open market operations (OMO)
undertaken to accomplish the two-pronged task of subduing stubborn inflation
and raising funds to finance the government's Budget deficits threatening to
shoot through the ceiling.
The debt surge is a culmination of
countless Treasury Bill (TB) tenders, which effectively transferred Z$2,205
trillion to insurance companies, discount houses, pension fund managers and
other money market actors in the past twelve months to March 2005. This
marks a growth rate, in TB-held public debt, of about 170 % since 2001 when
94 percent of total government domestic debt - amounting to a staggering
Z$154 billion in nominal terms - was incurred through the same short-term
In 2004 alone, the government made over 40 TB allotments
contrived to run down its Budget deficit and mop up from the market excess
liquidity that monetary authorities believe to be the pill pepping up
Wozani Moyo, a socio-economic analyst, this week took a swipe
at President Robert Mugabe arguing that his decision to extend the size of
his Cabinet to a staggering 31 ministries - an increase of eight - flouted
demands by both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the RBZ for fiscal
According to her, the new and now over-elaborate Cabinet, not
only duplicates roles, but also threatens to siphon resources that could
have been expended on capital investments, further stifling rapidly zeroing
It also sounds a death knell to RBZ Governor
Gideon Gono's efforts to slay the inflation dragon ominously snarling at the
economy and pumping in additional pressure into the ballooning government
domestic debt, which in effect is debited against every Zimbabwean, she
In the current year, the government has channeled about 82% of
total annual fiscal expenditures amounting to Z$27,5 trillion towards
consumption, with capital expenditure receiving a paltry Z$5 trillion
allocation, all of which the government said it hoped to borrow from local
credit markets through more treasury bill and bond sales.
further deplored that this skewed resource allocation and enduring deficit
trend entrenching a consumerist tradition of living from hand to mouth,
would "crowd out" business firms also vying for scarce credit from local
Investment credit has fallen in step with the RBZ policy
decision to clamp down on free credit creation and onward lending by
financial institutions, claiming that credit creation is one of the local
catalysts of inflation.
Said Moyo: "Although RBZ advances to government
fell for a greater part of 2004 at Gono's insistence, that should not be
mistaken with fiscal prudence. A cut in the consumption component of the
overall government budget deficit is what will soothe domestic debt
pressures, and not half-hearted cuts in sectors, which contribute a
negligible percentage to the overall deficit.
"If the truth be told the
problem of domestic debt will never be solved unless the State bureaucracy
is down-sized. Contrary to his claims that his Cabinet is a 'development
Cabinet,' President Robert Mugabe has actually made a counter-developmental
move of increasing the number of ministries. Right-thinking people expected
him to reduce his cabinet, merging some ministries to eradicate role
duplication, and scrapping off irrelevant ones like the Ministry of State
for Policy Implementation, yet each Ministry is a policy implementing body,"
"Instead, he has added other funny ones like the Ministry of
Rural Housing and Social Amenities, and the Ministry of State for Public and
Interactive Affairs. Fiscal imprudence is an epidermal macro-economic
disease continuously causing unnecessary macroeconomic instabilities in this
country. Yet, we tout so much about wanting to promote economic development
and fighting inflation. Yet, unchecked State extravagancy is in itself
inflationary," she added. The domestic debt alarm - first sounded by former
Finance Minister, Simba Makoni, in his 2001 National Budget statement when
he deplored that the spiralling domestic debt had effectively become a
"heavy albatross round the neck of the country," - a year later triggered a
desperate fluster to urgently restructure domestic debt.
endeavour fired blanks owing to stiff resistance from the consortium of
government domestic creditors emanating from discouraging interest rates,
and not more than 40% of the total government domestic debt held in short
maturity treasury bills could be stretched to medium-to-long-term maturities
of two-years or more.
The low interest rate policy then seemed an
attractive monetary policy option, because it in the short run gave the
government the leeway to borrow cheaply and finance its profitless military
expeditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but with devastating
inflationary effects in the long run.
Moyo also warned that the
pressures of domestic debt servicing have returned again to haunt the
government, this time due to the obsessive desire to see inflation coming
down at all costs, currently instigating aggressive OMOs.
She said the
OMO thrust, though seemingly noble in intent, has paradoxically shored up a
mounting burden of interest payments on the borrowing the government has
brought forward. These interest payments have risen from Z$284 billion in
December 2003 to $2,9 trillion in March 2005 and unless interest rates came
down further - a feat quite unlikely, given the fresh buoyancy in inflation
- the size of government debt would inexorably continue to
Already interests on government debt are channelling some huge
percentage of the total government spending into the hands of local
Project to stem rising Mukuvisi polllution By Rutendo
THE Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) last week
commissioned Z$500m for the Intergrated Water Resources Management of the
Mukuvisi River and its catchment project.
Implemented by Environment
Africa, the project aims at stemming the rising levels of pollution in the
Mukuvisi River, one of Harare's main water supply sources. The venture
aims at bringing together stakeholders such as communities living and
working along the river, industries, urban farmers and schools to work
towards lasting pollution reduction solutions to improve the lives of the
According to the implementers, the project will also see the
creation of environmentally friendly waste management programmes in Mabvuku
and Tafara for the restoration of the Mukuvisi River and its
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony and official launch of
the project, The Canadian ambassador to Zimbabwe, John Schram, said: "This
project brings about the responsibilities people and communities have
towards the environment. Water is one of the basic needs in our lives and it
affects everybody. We are therefore glad to be part of the efforts to the
solution of water shortages in Harare."
Schram added that they felt
honoured to be part of the initiative and was proud to work with Environment
Africa for the betterment of everyone's life.
The Mukuvisi River is under
threat from industrial waste pollution, siltation caused by stream bank
cultivation and illegal dumping of waste in the river.
Hodzonge of Environment Africa, who is also the project manager, said: "It's
our hope that what we are trying to achieve on this river will result in a
clear improvement in the physical state of the river environs, as well as
better water quality, and restoring a healthier habitat for the river's
Josylny Kututwa, an environment scientist, said that there
was excessive pollution of the river: "Many studies have shown that Mukuvisi
River is excessively polluted, leading to the deterioration of water quality
in Lake Chivero and subsequently Harare's potable water."
Africa, a private organisation, works with all sectors of society throughout
Zimbabwe to protect and manage natural resources and to promote sustainable
development. According to the organisation, Mukuvisi contributes about 30
percent of Harare's raw water getting into Lake Chivero.
been unable to supply its residents with water for several months with
several areas experiencing erratic supplies.
The cost of cleaning
Harare's water is a major contributory factor to the city's perennial water
shortages with about eight different chemicals needed.
The funds made
available will be used for the development of Environmental Management
Action plans along the river which joins the Manyame River before feeding
into Lake Chivero.
BULAWAYO - THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has
said it will not participate in national events unless Zanu PF departs from
its current stance of treating important national events as party
In a wide-ranging interview bordering on the MDC's alleged
boycott of the country's 25th Silver Jubilee celebrations, the opposition
spokesperson Paul Themba-Nyathi, said the opposition would never attend
events where its MPs will be embarrassed and humiliated by Zanu PF
officials. "The problem is that Zanu PF has personalised all national events
and made them Zanu PF events and unless that changes we will never attend
the national functions," Themba-Nyathi said.
He, however, added that
the party does not bar individuals from attending national functions. "We
are on record as saying our people are free to attend 'national functions'
as long as their security is guaranteed and they are not subjected to
humiliation," Themba-Nyathi said.
The MDC spokesperson lashed out at some
sections of the press, which alleged that MDC's absence from national events
was a sign that the opposition party was not patriotic.
attended some national functions in the past and we have been made to sit on
the ground and in terraces and we were subjected to much humiliation by
ruling Zanu PF officials. We are saying what is the use then of attending
Zanu PF rallies that come under the guise of national events," Themba-Nyathi
The MDC failed to attend a number of national functions that
include Independence Day celebrations, Heroes' Day celebrations, Unity Day,
Defence Forces' Day celebrations. The opposition also missed the official
opening of Parliament by President Mugabe in 2002.
where all the seven MPs are from the opposition and the executive mayor is
from the opposition, the programme for the Silver Jubilee celebrations did
not include even a single elected opposition official but had Zanu PF
functionaries as directors of ceremony and guests of honour," Themba-Nyathi
He added: "If the Silver Jubilee event was a national event then
Zanu PF should also watch from the field and let the event become national."
Zimbabwe invited several heads of State to the Silver Jubilee
Local councils feel the pinch as donors flee By our own
SERVICE delivery and the general standards of living of people in
urban areas started to degenerate in 2000 when major donors withdrew
financial support to most councils, local authorities said this
They said the withdrawal of international donors citing gross human
rights abuses and bad governance, exposed most local authorities. The
majority of them cannot generate enough revenue to keep themselves
afloat. Harare has reportedly since lost its "Sunshine City" status after
years of unreliable refuse collection service, persistent water cuts and
blocked sewers that go for weeks unattended to.
The cities also face
an enormous housing backlog that has seen the rise of unplanned housing
co-operatives mushrooming in most open spaces, particularly in
The president of the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe
(UCAZ), Fanie Phiri, said the withdrawal of financial support by donors had
a negative impact on service delivery.
"Councils in the past used to
receive funds from the USAID (United States Agency for International
Development) and the World Bank for developmental projects and things were
fine but just after 2000 the international donors withdrew their services.
There was a stagnation in housing development and roads conditions started
to deteriorate," Phiri said.
He was hopeful that the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) funds reportedly distributed to councils would help
resuscitate the fortunes of all local authorities.
"We are hoping
that if the RBZ funds are made available councils would be able to deliver
and improve their service delivery systems," he said.
attributed the poor performance by council to political interference. He
said although the powers of Mayors were clearly spelt out in the Urban
Councils Act, some council officials were still facing problems in carrying
out their duties.
"We have received a number of complaints from councils
of interference but we have never proved any case since most of the concerns
are never taken to court," he said.
Misheck Shoko, the executive
mayor for Chitungwiza also complained of political interference.
city fathers, we are supposed to be above politics since we serve everyone
whether Zanu PF or MDC but over the past years some of our projects have
been turned down by government on political grounds. For (Elias) Mudzuri's
case one can never know whether it was a political or an administrative
case," Shoko said.
Mudzuri, the former mayor for Harare, was fired from
council by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National
Housing, Ignatious Chombo, last year over allegations of mismanagement of
funds and corruption.
The president of the Combined Harare Residents'
Association (CHRA), Mike Davies, said there was need to depoliticise the
operations of the local authorities in the country.
have been politicised and there is need to employ competent technical staff
based on merit not political appointees. Residents are not getting value for
their money," he said.
Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary for Finance said
over the past years councils had not been performing well due to political
"Since 2000 the government has not given any MDC controlled
council any borrowing powers, this is a clear picture of how politics has
affected the normal running of the local authorities," Biti
Steven Sithole of Rugare said living in Harare was no longer
different from living in the rural areas.
"The problems we are facing
are too numerous to mention. We go for weeks, even months, without garbage
being collected, exposing people to diseases. If you fall sick, there are no
drugs in the council clinics," Sithole said.
Angry villagers demand apology from Katsande By Valentine
RELATIVES of 24-year-old Clive Bota from Domboshava, who was
allegedly killed by a guard employed by Industry and International Trade
permanent secretary, Retired Colonel Christian Katsande, say they are irked
by what appears to be "callousness" by the government official.
who was shot dead while collecting firewood at the permanent secretary's
farm on Saturday last week, was finally buried after almost week-long
impasse. Relatives of the slain youth say Katsande showed disrespect and
callousness by failing to apologise to them over the tragedy.
was allegedly shot by Shigirirai Chingoka, who is now in police
The relatives of Bota refused to bury him until the
permanent secretary had apologised. They dumped his body at Katsande's
Borrowdale Stud farm.
When The Standard news crew visited the Bota
homestead, Zimbiru village, in Domboshava, the police, chief Chinamhora of
Goromonzi and relatives of deceased were locked up in a long meeting but
failed to reach a consensus.
Hundreds of mourners sang loudly in protest
on Wednesday afternoon demanding that Katsande come and apologise to the
deceased's family, failing which Katsande should vacate the farm, which he
was allocated at the height of the chaotic land invasions.
not going to accept this. He should just leave. He has failed to fit in our
community," shouted George Kazembe, a villager.
Liberty Kadzviti, a
friend, said they were collecting firewood when the guard fired a shot that
hit Bota in the chest.
In retaliation, the villagers raided Katsande's
green maize crop, which they proceeded to roast. They also broke into his
fowl run, killed and began roasting his chickens. Riot Police were called to
disperse the angry crowd from the farm, after more than two hours of
"Go and ask the officer in charge at Borrowdale Police Station I
cannot tell you anything," a police officer at the farm shouted at The
Standard news crew.
When contacted for a comment, Katsande professed
ignorance of the incident.
THERE is an outcry among sections of Zanu PF and the general
public after the late Zanla commander, General Josiah Tongogara and the late
former chairman, Herbert Chitepo were left out of the list of eminent
nationalists who were honoured posthumously on the eve of Independence
They also believe the awards ceremony did not recognise the
contributions made to the liberation struggle by another assassinated Zapu
stalwart, Jason Ziyapapa Moyo. So deep are the sentiments that the move
is said to be widening the cracks in Zanu PF that have been festering since
the expulsion of the six ruling party chairpersons, who were suspended in
December before the party's congress.
The country's two former vice
presidents, Joshua Nkomo and Simon Muzenda were posthumously awarded The
Order of the Great Zimbabwe (Gold), while the late Dr Samuel Parirenyatwa,
the former vice president of Zapu and Leopold Takawira, the former vice
president of Zanu were awarded The Order of The Great Zimbabwe
The late Dr Bernard Chidzero, the former Finance Minister, was
conferred The Order of the Star of Zimbabwe.
Tongogara and Chitepo died in suspicious circumstances involving vehicles,
resulting in allegations that they could have been assassinated by their
colleagues in the liberation movement.
Chitepo died in a car bomb
explosion in Lusaka, Zambia in 1975, while Tongogara died in a car accident
in 1979 on his way back to Zimbabwe from Mozambique, where he had
successfully launched raids into the then Rhodesia from the eastern
Tongogara's secretary, Oppah Muchinguri survived the accident that
killed her boss.
But nationalist and Zanu PF national chairman, John
Nkomo defended the move.
"People should not provoke unnecessary
situations and create unnecessary problems. The President clearly stated
that the list of people who were honoured was not final. There will be
others who will be honoured. It's not just liberators or war veterans who
will be honoured but those who contributed to Zimbabwe before and after
War Veterans national chairman, Jabulani Sibanda, said the
decision to honour some of the liberators was noble but fraught with
"The weakness with our society is that some of the things
that are done appear to have been debated overnight and implemented the
following morning. The question that arises is who debated, under what
circumstances and using what criteria. The other weakness is that those in
positions of power value those who have or had similar qualities as
themselves, be it in education or the liberation struggle."
the sidelining of senior liberators, who died before independence implied
that those who died during the struggle were not valued.
"Only those who
made it into 1980 seem to have been recognised. Tongogara who died just
before independence in a car accident, according to what is publicised,
should certainly have been on that list."
Sibanda said a committee should
have been put in place to draw up the honours' list.
"Right now the
Solomon Mujuru-led Committee has been tasked to re-organise the war
veterans. Our feeling is that they want to disorganise an already organised
association. Instead, they should channel their energies towards
establishing the number of brave Zimbabweans who perished during the
struggle for independence.
"They should track down those who were
killed on suspicion that they supported freedom fighters; they should look
at those who died in jails or in detention; those who died in refugee camps;
those who died on their way to neighbouring countries and those who died
He said their families could then be presented with some
form of medal in honour of those who perished .
and former Gweru Mayor, Patrick Kombayi, said the cold shoulder treatment
given to the memories of Tongogara and Chitepo was not
"Remember, there is a clique in Zanu PF that is very
aware that the people who should be leading this country had they not been
assassinated are Tongogara and Chitepo.
"Some of the top Zanu PF
leaders regarded Tongo and Chitepo as stumbling blocks in their way to
higher positions during the liberation struggle," Kombayi alleged.
said what happened during the awards ceremony was a clear indication that
the wartime divisions in the liberation movements were still in
"I was not surprised at all that Tongogara and Chitepo were
side-lined from the awards because those Zanu PF leaders hate the true
heroes even in death. But the good thing is that the people of Zimbabwe know
who their true heroes are."
Kombayi said it was not surprising that
the widows of the two heroes, Angeline Tongogara and Victoria Chitepo were
living life-styles not compatible with that of widows of true
"The children of Tongogara have been receiving assistance from
some concerned Roman Catholic priests while the government still continues
to employ Tsitsi Muzenda, the daughter of Simon Muzenda," said Kombayi, a
relative of the Tongogara family.
He said the possible reason why
Leopold Takawira was honoured was that he had been instrumental in ensuring
the meteoric rise of the then young Robert Mugabe through the party
"Takawira ndiye akati ingakamfana aka kane njere. (Takawira was
the one who said this young man (Mugabe) is very intelligent.) "From that
time, Mugabe rose quickly because of the patronage of Takawira," Kombayi
Former Zanu PF secretary general, Edgar Tekere said he was
disappointed by the omission of Chitepo and Tongogara from the honours
"A lot of concerned people in Zanu PF have also been asking me for
an explanation but I would rather not comment," Tekere said.
believe the snubbing of Tongogara and Chitepo could revive the controversy
which followed their deaths during the liberation struggle.
PF women, who were promised heaven on earth before the Parliamentary
elections in March, must be feeling cheated after the ruling party used
promises of new measures towards "gender equality" in order to hoodwink them
into voting it back into power.
What some of the disillusioned women
describe as "skulduggery," started just before the ruling party's December
Congress when Zanu PF used women's empowerment as an excuse to sideline
Emmerson Mnangagwa from the position of vice president in favour of
President Mugabe's preferred candidate, Joice Mujuru. From then on, the
ruling party went on a crusade, telling women that it wanted to implement a
30 percent quota on all the senior positions and that would include aspiring
The ruling party soon came unstuck as it became clear that meeting
the 30 percent quota would present a spot of bother as many loyalists were
anxious to be accommodated on the gravy train.
Mugabe's relatives and
some male politicians could not be sacrificed on the rather inconvenient
alter of women's emancipation, it emerged.
In Zvimba South, Mashonaland
West province, 'Mai Sabina Mugabe' President Mugabe's sister was not
challenged in the primary elections.
In the same province, in Manyame
constituency, Mugabe's nephew, Patrick Zhuwao's opponent, Bybit Tsomondo
'withdrew from the primaries and "threw her support" behind
She did not explain why she withdrew from the race although her
husband was arrested at around the same time.
The President's other
nephew, Leo Mugabe wrested Makonde constituency, which had earlier on been
earmarked for a female candidate.
Although Professor Jonathan Moyo had
put a lot of resources in campaigning for the Tsholotsho constituency, when
he fell out of favour with the party leadership, Tsholotsho was suddenly
declared a women's constituency although nobody had shown an interest in
In Rushinga constituency, Zanu PF ditched incumbent Member of
Parliament Lazarus Dokora after he was alleged to have attended the
constroversil Tsholotsho meeting which is accused of producing the so-called
As a form of punishment, the constituency was
offered to female candidates.
From the 30 female Zanu PF candidates who
contested in the elections, 13 made it into Parliament but Mugabe's recently
announced Cabinet is appears not to embrace the women's empowerment agenda
that his party preached before elections.
Out of the 31 Cabinet
ministers he appointed, only four are Cabinet ministers.
mainly known loyalists, Oppah Muchinguri, Sithembiso Nyoni, Flora Buka and
Olivia Muchena. Of the four, only Muchena heads an empowering ministry; that
of Science and Technology Development.
Muchinguri heads the women's
affairs ministry, while Nyoni is in charge at the Ministry of Small and
Medium Enterprises whose major constituency are cross border traders and
Buka is a Minister of State for Special Affairs Responsible for
Land and Resettlement Programme although the government says the
resettlement programme has been completed.
Out of the 20 deputy
ministers appointed by Mugabe, only one is a woman, Abigail Damasane, was
predictably accommodated at the women's affairs ministry. Damasane has over
the years risen to prominence in the ruling party for treating Zanu PF
delegates to raunchy dances during high profile meetings.
Standard asked Mugabe if his cabinet reflected the desired female quota, he
implied the majority of female candidates who made it into Parliament were
not cabinet material, resulting in his appointing Nyoni to ensure gender
"Well, we tried but then we had to get people who come from the
people. That is why we had to appoint somebody who did not win (Nyoni),"
The director of Women in Politics Support Unit (Wipsu),
Tsitsi Matekaire, said her organisation was not happy with the fewer number
of female cabinet ministers.
Wipsu is an organisation that seeks to
empower female politicians with leadership skills.
"We are not happy
that there are very few female Cabinet ministers in the line-up that was
announced recently despite earlier promises. Female Cabinet ministers right
now are those who were retained like Buka, Nyoni and Muchena. While one
deputy minister, Shuvai Mahofa was dropped and was replaced by
"At the same time, none of the powerful ministries like finance
are being run by women," said Matekaire.
Former legislator, Evelyn
Masaiti, said the claim by Zanu PF that it wanted to empower women was not
"That was just an election gimmick. The poor representation of
women in cabinet is an indication that Zanu PF does not have the interests
of women at heart. The fact that women were given ministries that are not
vital to the economy means that women are regarded as minors who cannot make
wise decisions," Masaiti said.
Zvishavane sends urgent SOS as services collapse By
ZVISHAVANE - Service delivery in the mining town of
Zvishavane in the Midlands province has virtually collapsed and frequent
water cuts, burst pipes as well as raw sewerage flowing in open untarred
roads have become a common occurrence, The Standard has observed.
has also become normal to see dozens of housewives carrying containers in
search of safe water for drinking, cooking and washing when the taps run
dry. The local authority attributed the problem to the ageing pipes,
installed during the colonial era as well as increasing population
The problems of water and sewerage disposal have put about 20 000
residents of the small mining town at risk of communicable
Children, who usually play in the sewerage-swamped streets, are
the most vulnerable.
Zvishavane Town Council vice chairman, Simon
Dick, conceded that the mining town was experiencing serious
"Yes, we have been experiencing sewer bursts and water cuts
problems for a long time and the problem is that the structures in place
cannot accommodate the increasing population in the town," Dick
He said Mandava township, which was built to accommodate 4 000
residents, was now catering for between 15 000 to 20 000 people.
said the water reticulation system, which was put in place in 1979, was too
old. Some of the pipes were put in place in 1945, he said.
Dick said the
council was scouting for funds to revamp the crumpling system and purchase
pipes of larger diameter.
Presently, the Zvishavane Town Council is in
negotiations with Mimosa Mining Company seeking funds to enable it to
replace the ageing pipes.
"We are closely working with Mimosa Mining
Company which has promised to connect the town's sewer pipes to the mine's
sewer reticulation which they are constructing.
"We hope Mimosa's
project will go along way in addressing sewer problems in the town," Dick
said. There was no immediate confirmation of the talks from
The town recently received a $1.5 billion grant for sewer and
water reticulation from the Ministry of Local Government and National
Housing under the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP).
Governor Cephas Msipa said the funds were not enough to address the problems
in the mining town.
Harare residents desperate ...as uncollected refuse
threatens to bury city By Rutendo Mawere
DECOMPOSING refuse continues
to pile up in most suburbs of Harare, because refuse has not been collected
for more than a month now, exposing residents to serious health
A snap survey by The Standard last week established that rubbish
had not been collected for the past five weeks in most areas and residents
were dumping rubbish in water drains and any open areas. Others have
resorted to burning the refuse at home, resulting in the emission of
Choking stench and swarms of flies greeted The Standard
news crew when it visited areas such as Mbare, Kambuzuma, Glen View,
Kuwadzana and Sunningdale. Other areas also affected include Glen Norah,
Tafara, Mabvuku, Southerton and Highfield.
A similar scenario was
found in some of the low-density suburbs.
Residents complained that the
council continued to charge for refuse collection when it was not providing
such a service.
Geshem Moyo of Kuwadzana said: "We are angry with the
council for failing us and robbing us of our hard-earned cash. Paying for
services which are not rendered is daylight robbery."
resident, Sibukeni Mpofu, of Mbare said the city council was taking the
ratepayers for granted.
"We are exposed to dangerous diseases by
irresponsible authorities who, despite not rendering the service as
required, continue to bill us. The uncollected rubbish is attracting not
only flies but also rodents and emit odours which are making our lives
miserable," complained Moyo.
Mike Davies, chairperson of Combined Harare
Residents' Association (CHRA) said the problems being experienced were a
result of poor local governance.
"Harare needs elected councillors who
are appointed by the people and are responsible to retain normalcy in the
city," Davies said.
He said service delivery had worsened since the
commission, headed by Sekesai Makwavarara, took over the running of the
Davies said tenders for refuse collection were offered to
companies incapable of the job because they were politically inclined to the
ruling Zanu PF party.
"The privatisation of contractors led to tender
offerings based on political affiliation and saw the tender of refuse
collection being awarded to incompetent people," he said.
contracted to collect refuse by the Harare City Council include Broadway
Services, Encore Consolidated Waste and Cleansing and Environment
" The problems Harare is facing are worsened by the fact
that the commission is not responsible to the public but accountable to
Ignatious Chombo and to the ruling party Zanu PF," said Davies adding that
the problem affecting Harare can only be solved if residents demand
accountability from the city authority.
Chombo is the Minister of
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing. He fired democratically
elected former mayor of Harare, Elias Mudzuri, over allegations of
Harare City Council spokesperson, Leslie Gwindi, last week
confirmed that refuse has not been collected for "sometime" in some parts of
"The delay in refuse collection is due to the fact that some
private contractors we had engaged pulled out while others are unable to
deliver the service due to technical problems with their fleet," said
The council spokesperson said refuse collection was supposed to
be carried out once or twice a week.
Zim to clamp down on price violators ††††††††† April 24 2005 at
††††† Harare - Zimbabwe will this week introduce tougher
penalties for those flouting state imposed price controls on basic
commodities, launched in a bid to snuff out a flourishing black market, a
newspaper reported on Sunday.
††††† "The government will this week
announce new approved prices of basic commodities and will introduce stiffer
penalties for manufacturers and traders who charge above the legislated
prices," the state-run Sunday Mail said.
††††† "We want to instill
discipline in pricing," the newspaper quoted retired colonel Christian
Katsande, the permanent secretary in the trade ministry, as
††††† "In recent weeks we have had many people ticketed for
flouting price measures but this has not deterred these people from
continuing the practice," he said, referring to price ceilings instituted
three years ago.
††††† Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downturn in
the last five years characterised by runaway inflation and perennial
shortages of basic commodities.
††††† The situation has been blamed
partly on controversial land reforms that have compromised food production
and the country's isolation from its traditional trading partners in Europe
following the 2002 presidential elections which western observers charged
††††† The government introduced price controls to fight a
flourishing black market for staples such as cornmeal, cooking oil and bread
three years ago and had instituted a fine of ZIM$1-million (about R1 000)
††††† Economist Daniel Ndlela however said stiffer
punishments would not work.
††††† "These are short-term, stop-gap
measures by the government which seems to have no other solution," Ndlela
††††† "The price controls will only work as a disservice to the
manufacturers who will stop producing or cut down on supplies and the
shortages will persist. Our biggest problem is inflation and unless the
government finds a solution to that, we will always have these other
problems," he said.
††††††††† HARARE, April 24 (Xinhuanet) -- The Air Zimbabwe has
started to restructure the loss-making parastatal as part of its turnaround
program, a local newspaper the Sunday Mail reported.
axe will soon be falling on some under-performing employees while an audit
of the airlines operations has already started.
††††††††† The audit,
which is being carried out with the assistance of the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe, seeks to assess the needs of the parastatal as well as gearing it
for a strategic partnership with some European and Asian
††††††††† The national carrier is reported to have already
struck a partnership deal with South African Airways (SAA).
SAA chief executive Khaya Ngula was recently in Zimbabwe to hold talks with
the Air Zimbabwe management.
††††††††† The report said the restructuring
exercise, which will see the national airline unbundling into strategic
business units, "has progressed smoothly and is now moving to a stage where
we should have the right people in the right jobs."
††††††††† A human
resources audit has been going on since the beginning of the year and
management has identified the areas which need attention and these are going
to be addressed as a matter of urgency, said the report.
such exercises some employees will have to be relieved of their duties and
additional skilled staff recruited.
††††††††† The national airline has
been dogged by allegations of incompetence and a high wage bill.
MDC lambasts Mbeki's 'deception' Mon 25 April 2005 †
HARARE - In a decision that stunned both critics and supporters alike,
Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party last
week cut communication with South African President Thabo Mbeki, his
government and ruling African National Congress (ANC) party. The MDC said it
took the decision because Mbeki was siding with President Robert Mugabe and
was generally dishonest in his handling of the Zimbabwe crisis.
No doubt many will sympathise with the MDC given Mbeki's clearly pro-Mugabe
approach. But many will also question the wisdom of burning bridges with the
man designated by President George W Bush and other key world leaders as the
point-man on Zimbabwe.
††††† ZimOnline yesterday spoke to MDC secretary
general Welshman Ncube to find out how the party hopes to benefit from
switching off on Mbeki and about other related issues.
††††† QUESTION: The MDC has cut communication with South
African President Thabo Mbeki, his ruling ANC party and government, first
what are the reasons for this drastic action and secondly how will this move
help your party's diplomatic efforts to get the region and the international
community at large to help press for change in
††††† ANSWER: Yes we have cut ties with Mbeki
and the ANC, who have not been honest brokers in solving the Zimbabwe
crisis. However, we have also taken a position that ultimately the struggle
for the re-democratisation of Zimbabwe is essentially in Zimbabwe and (does
not entirely depend) on our diplomatic efforts.
††††† It depends on
how we mobilise the people. We believe the diplomatic efforts should
complement internal efforts. We are not enemies of Mbeki or ANC, but their
intention has been against the people of Zimbabwe and has only helped delay
the re-democratisation of Zimbabwe.
††††† Q: Can you be more specific on
what Mbeki did that warrants the MDC to react in this manner?
A: Their mediation was based on deception because anyone who claims that
conditions for free and fair elections prevailed in Zimbabwe before the
(March 31) election is being deceptive.
††††† When newspapers are
closed and obnoxious laws such as AIPPA and POSA exist and a militia, which
killed more than 500 people in (previous elections in) 2000 and 20002 is
still there, and food aid is used in exchange for votes, to then say the
election was free and fair is being dishonest.
††††† We have lost
confidence in the South Africans acting as mediators when they are backing a
particular horse in the competition. They are active supporters who engaged
in massive deception in support of ZANU PF. They wanted to string us along
for the purposes of entrenching ZANU PF consolidation.
††††† In the
last three years, they told us that elections should not be held until
conditions improved in Zimbabwe only to fold their hands as Mugabe
willy-nilly ran the show. But we still believe the struggle is in Zimbabwe
and not outside. The choice is for individual SADC countries to support the
Zimbabwean people's cause. But SA will come to terms with reality that
supporting a dictator is not in their best interests nor is it in the
interest of Zimbabwe and SADC.
††††† Q: So what next? You have cut ties
with Mbeki, recognised by many as the only leader in the region with enough
clout to pressure Mugabe to change, so can you tell us how the MDC will from
now onwards mobilize pressure on Mugabe to abandon dictatorship and open up
political space? What is the way or strategy going forward?
There is a realisation that you cannot put one million Zimbabwean people
onto the streets to demonstrate. That will be adventurous and dangerous. For
instance after the riot in Harare soon after the election, police arrested
and tortured office bearers in almost every province on the basis of a
rumour that the MDC wanted to wage some kind of resistance.
††††† We need
to regard this as a long struggle to subject Mugabe to accept that his rule
is not sustainable. We will not forewarn how we will do it. We reserve the
right to choose the manner and timing of the resistance.
††††† Q: What do
you say to suggestions that your party emerged from the election weaker than
††††† A: The MDC is organisationally and structurally stronger
than ZANU PF in strength and capacity. We have district executive
committees, ward committees and branches in every village in the rural areas
and in every street in towns. ZANU PF does not have nationwide structures
and that is why they abuse village heads, kraal heads and chiefs to make up
for their shortcomings in support base.
††††† We have become stronger
in the last five years of relentless pressure, beatings, arrests and
torture. Our president, MPs, provincial and district officials have been
arrested at some point in the last five years. We have been banned from
having meetings, we have been asked to seek police clearance which has been
denied at times. But not withstanding all this, the MDC has survived and
performed well in elections.
††††† We achieved 41, seats 80 percent and
76 percent in Bulawayo and Harare respectively, in the last parliamentary
election when we could only meet our supporters face to face on rallies with
mass circulating newspapers such as the Daily News closed. We held our own
despite the relentless propaganda. This cannot be achieved by a wish-wash
party. Arm-chair critics had given us only 10 seats in their election
forecasts. We prevented him (Mugabe) from getting an elected two-thirds
††††† Q: With the benefit of hindsight, would you say
participating in the poll was a good idea?
††††† A: We now know how
ZANU PF cheats in elections because we participated. So on that basis I
think it was a good idea. I think getting out of the ring is strategically
bankrupt because Mugabe does not mind about mandate. He governs by coercion.
It is an illusion to think that if you stand out of the ring Mugabe will
feel any contrition.
††††† Q: But why did the MDC decide to go to
Parliament if the election was as grossly flawed as you allege?
A: Our struggle is about creating and occupying democratic space.
Q: ZANU PF now has enough parliamentary majority to unilaterally rewrite
Zimbabwe's constitution in fact, the ruling party has already indicated a
number of key constitutional amendments it will bring to Parliament - what
is the MDC's position on the question of constitutional reform?
A: ZANU PF has no mandate to change the constitution since they failed to
achieve an elected two-thirds majority. Changing the constitution
unilaterally will only exacerbate political division in the
††††† Q: And what is your assessment of the prospects for
economic recovery under the current circumstances?
††††† A: The
illusion of ZANU PF and South Africa is that they both think ZANU PF can
solve (economic) problems when they lack legitimacy. Mugabe cannot (revive
the economy). It will take a massive economic recovery programme which we
cannot do without huge international support. We need to resolve the
political crisis if we are to turn around the economy. - ZimOnline
Plot to oust trade unionists crumbles Mon 25 April
2005 † BULAWAYO - The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) general
council at the weekend rejected a motion raised by some affiliate members to
suspend its president, secretary general and two other top
††††† The move effectively scuttles a plot believed to have been
secretly masterminded by the state spy Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO) in a bid to remove the ZCTU top leadership and replace it with one
that is sympathetic to President Robert Mugabe and his
††††† ZCTU second vice-president Elias Mlotshwa told
ZimOnline that four council members proposed during a meeting here last
Saturday that union president, Lovemore Matombo, first vice-president Lucia
Matibenga, secretary-general Wellington Chibhebhe and senior official,
Thabitha Khumalo, be suspended because they were devoting more time to
politics than to the welfare of workers.
††††† But the council
overwhelmingly voted against the motion, Mlotshwa said. "The ZCTU general
council overwhelmingly voted against the decision to suspend the four
leaders. Political interference is taking some centre stage but failed
††††† "There are some few individuals, about four of them who
wanted Chibhebhe, Matombo, Matibenga and Khumalo suspended from their
respective posts but the general council outrightly rejected that," said
††††† The ZCTU, which gave birth to the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party in 1999, is among the most
powerful critics of the government.
††††† The union has on several
occasions in the past called mass work stoppages across the country to
protest against worsening economic hardships it blames on Mugabe and his
††††† ZimOnline earlier this year broke the story
that the dreaded CIO was working on ways to break the MDC/ZCTU link by
engineering a leadership change at the union that would see a new leadership
team friendly to the government taking over.
††††† Matombo and his
team have also reported receiving threatening calls from unknown people whom
they said they believe could be linked to the CIO.
††††† Meanwhile, the
police arrested and fined two youths who were part of a rowdy group that
gate-crashed into the ZCTU general council meeting, assaulted the labour
leaders and looted some snacks after the motion to suspend the union's top
††††† The youths believed to have been bussed in from
Harare were allegedly led by Langton Mugeji, a leader of one of the ZCTU
affiliate unions, who has been campaigning for the ouster of Matombo and his
team. None of the union leaders was seriously injured and the meeting
proceeded after the brief disruption. - ZimOnline
Business expresses fears of Marburg outbreak at trade
fair Mon 25 April 2005 † BULAWAYO - Business leaders in Bulawayo have
expressed fears of a Marburg disease outbreak in the city due to Angolan
nationals taking part at this week's Zimbabwe International Trade Fair
††††† The business leaders yesterday urged the government to
ensure the Angolan nationals are free from the deadly Marburg fever disease
currently ravaging their country.
††††† The lethal and incurable
Marburg hemorrhagic fever has so far claimed 239 lives in
††††† "Obviously we are worried about the disease, bearing in
mind that it is a deadly epidemic that has no cure. As a preventive measure,
the government should have left out Angola for this year's fair. I shudder
to think how it would be like if there was an outbreak here," said a
businessman who preferred anonymity.
††††† Another businessman said:
"The government should carry out serious screening by testing those who are
coming to exhibit, or else we will be plunged into turmoil if there is an
††††† But Industry and Trade Minister, Obert Mpofu, yesterday
dispelled the concerns saying the health department was in full control of
the situation ahead of the fair which begins tomorrow.
health ministry is in full charge and there is no need for alarm
whatsoever," Mpofu told ZimOnline.
††††† Zimbabwe's health delivery
system is in shambles after years of neglect due to shortages of foreign
currency and general misgovernance. There are fears that the country may
fail to cope in the event of a serious disease outbreak.
year's exhibition is being held under the theme: "Promoting Economic
Stability and Growth through Trade Development," and will feature about 600
mainly local exhibitors.
††††† Most international exhibitors have shunned
the fair in the past five years citing Zimbabwe's economic and political
instability. The country is in a five-year economic recession blamed on
President Robert Mugabe's policies.
††††† Zimbabwe, regarded as a
pariah state by the west due to its human rights record, is rated among the
worst investor destinations in the world together with Afghanistan and
war-torn Iraq. - ZimOnline
Zimbabwe Olympic Committee suspends president Mon 25 April
2005 † HARARE - Zimbabwe Olympic Committee (ZOC) yesterday suspended its
embattled president Paul Chingoka, at a stormy meeting in Harare
††††† Chingoka was largely expected to be expelled from ZOC
after the Sports Commission suspended him from all tennis activity pending
investigations into alleged financial mismanagement while he was president
of Tennis Zimbabwe (TZ).
††††† But yesterday, the 31 member
associations unanimously endorsed him for a four-year term but after a
lengthy debate, he was asked step aside for a few weeks while investigations
into the alleged theft of funds are being conducted.
administrator, Admire Masenda and Judo official Brian Warren have been
tasked to act in the absence of Chingoka. But if he is found guilty of the
charges, Chingoka will be expelled for good.
††††† "What is clear is that
Chingoka is still popular with the member associations. But some felt that
he had to be suspended pending the outcome of investigations into
allegations of financial embezzlement levelled against him," said a
††††† "It's now up to the Sports Commission to speed up their
investigations so that Chingoka can resume his duties as president of ZOC,"
said the source.
††††† Chingoka was at the helm of tennis for 13
years until his election as ZOC president last year. - ZimOnline
Shumba Last updated: 04/25/2005 02:09:08 READING through the minds of many
writers as spoken through their articles published here, there is no doubt
that for those not starving in Zimbabwe their heads are aching somewhere
away from home about the situation at home.
Another of the many worries
is that the high hopes of making it in the United Kingdom, South Africa,
Botswana, America to mention but a few hosts of famine migrants has had
dissapointing dividends. Those dreams of a house, a business and early
retirement have been thwarted by the huge expenses demanded by the cost of
maintaining oneself in these countries. That situaton leaves the Zimbabweans
home and away chronically desperate.
What now...Robert Mugabe has refused
to give Zimbabweans room to unite and work out a national plan for
development. He has retreated back into denial and hostility, creating once
again conditions for Zimbabwe's continued isolation from international
investment and multi- lateral economic partnerships.
His answer is to
entrust the country's economic money earner, land, with ministers and their
cousins that have no enthusiam nor the knowledge of transforming idle land
into a money earning industry. Not just that, but Mugabe's cabinet shows
very little interest in reviving the economy with its ridiculous duplicity
of ministerial roles. What, for example, is the need for a ministry of
finance and another of economic development in one govrenment? Could it have
been impossible for one of these to have been a specialist department in
another, if we really had to have it?
This trend of ministries created to
create jobs for Zanu PF loyalists has been one of ongoing presidential
excesses and abuses of power and priviledge. It has been used to reward
partisan loyalties to the president with taxpayers' resources which should
have been more sensibly allocated to needy areas of our economy. It is such
corrupt conduct among many other abuses as the NOCZIM scandal, VIP housing
scandal, DRC diamonds scandal, one man one farm principle violations, misuse
of taxpayers money, corruption and nepotism in the award of gorvenment
tenders, theft of state assets and derelection of duty that unite many of us
behind any vehicle of change. It is only a senile mind and one of shallow
depth that would believe that because we want a fair and just country in
which public officials and politicians are answerable for the way they
handle public business, we are agents of another gorvernment and not our
conscience. Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, whatever his vision for,
Africa, is not the reason why we have unnecessary ministerial positions
forming our cabinet nor did he impose rigging elections and unfair electoral
practice upon us. He may well be surprised why governments like Zimbabwe's
still treat their citizens in so much the same brutal way they were treated
by his colonial ancestors.
Mugabe's reign of terror has exposed his false
commitment to our welfare. This is not to surprise us because even in the
war of liberation there were some trained liberation fighters that forgot
what the war was about and turned their back on it to use the ammution they
had and people's desire for freedom as a stepping stone to loot from
businesspeople, rape young women and girls, plot and kill to settle long
term family rivalries, vandalism such as burning buses and closing schools
and hospitals purely to one's own enrichment or satisfaction. Whilst Mugabe
and his handpicked few have managed to educate their children at private and
foreign schools many have had to choose between their children who to give
preferential treatment to educate. His noisy ministers, like him, will deny
this and anything true but we have never raised these points to merely
quarrel or annoy but to serve as eye openers to a few people in power whose
eyes are fast dissapearing in fat whilst the rest of us painfully emaciate
to mere skeletons.
Well the strategy I have always had is to now look
ahead to the elections of 2008. We need to start now to gear for that
election by becoming vigilant campaigners and to call for the
restructuring of those aspects of our electoral system that skew the playing
field unevenly in favour of Zanu PF. What is important now is to review the
strengths and weakness of the leadership of the participating main
opposition and to make it more appealing, more patriotic, more home grown
and to give it a revolutionary cut that cherishes the sacrifice through
which our independence and freedom to demand fair elections came. It is time
to give to the people, the electorate, a more vigorous explained programme
by which positive change will come.
It is time to fight in the courts bad
laws that sabotage the prospect of an election that is credible and
acceptable to all, whatever the grief about our land redistribution agenda
in Zimbabwe may be. It is time to put in place a deliverable package to pull
Zimbabwe out its quigmire and to campaign on this daily. We must now get
into Zanu PF's rural strongholds and explain what alternatives we can offer
to 25 years of rhetoric. We must never again threaten to boycott elections
unless we have resolved that we will not reverse the political gears in
which we travel.
Infighting must come to an end. The organs of the MDC
must now begin to show to the electorate a readiness to use power
responsibly once assumed. Ideas of what they intend to do with our land, our
roads, our schools, our hospitals, our game parks, tertiary fees, our
cities, our youth, rural areas, our pensioners (the elderly), the
handicapped, our tax regime, our work force, and our media must be neatly
spread to the rural youth and elders that make 2008's voting
Campaigning is the only tool by which democracy will come to
our country. If we show the young electorate what they can be without Zanu
PF hypocrisy, then the election is won. I will be there when that happens.
It will be difficult for Zanu PF to indoctrinate a mind that will not settle
for less . Courage Shumba is a Human Rights activist and former Vice
President of the Student Union at the University of Zimbabwe. He is
currently a Masters Student and the London School of Business
Apr 24 (IPS) - Blamed, along with the opposition party, for a lot that has
gone wrong in Zimbabwe, many among the white minority have packed their bags
Those remaining are learning to live like expatriates. Their
heads almost permanently down, they are careful to stay out of trouble: but
not writer John Eppel.
He was cautious in the early years of
independence not to go beyond a mockery of fellow whites. Now, however, even
the current rulers are fair game.
''Seeing the bad behaviour of black
Zimbabweans in power, my conclusion is that the conflict arising is
primarily class; race is only secondary,'' he says.
At 58, Eppel has
been around a long time, as he is quick to point out. But he says his
recognition is fairly recent; ironically, and in large part, the result of a
weariness with Zimbabwe's dominant nationalist theme.
As part of
post-colonial studies, 'marginal writers', who include whites, women and
radicals, are beginning to receive much attention.
nationalist authors, who had hogged the limelight since independence from
Britain in 1980, are running out of ideas like many of neighbouring South
Africa's apartheid-era writers.
And if that is true of Zimbabwe's major
voices, that would be understandable. If anything, the last three general
elections, including last month's, may point to a revolution gone
Intimidation, violence as well as allegations of electoral fraud
by the incumbent government, a former liberation movement, has made a
mockery of the struggle. Its main goal was extending the vote, and
opportunity, to the black majority.
Yet half the population is in
need of food aid following a five-year-old racially-charged land-reform
programme. ''All of us as whites have suffered the backlash of that
hatred,'' Eppel says.
The economy continues to crumble. Over 70 percent
are out of employment, while a quarter of Zimbabwe's 13 million people have
Looking back, Eppel says his happiest time was the bygone days
soon after independence. As a teacher in a private school, he observed the
racially-divided student body merging, slowly.
But this only lasted
until 2000 when the turmoil surrounding the farms began ''and the whites
became enemies again'' while each racial group started ''withdrawing into
Racial tension, which Eppel describes as colonialism that
has yet to purge out of Zimbabwe, has also proved a defining thing in his
battle to get published.
Local publishers, he says, found him
''politically-incorrect'' because he is white. But another reason, he
admits, was his style. ''Satire isn't popular and poetry even less popular
and those are my two genres,'' he says.
It took the writer 14 years to
get his first novel out in pre-independent South Africa. The book, ''The
Great North Road'', went on to win South Africa's Mnet Prize in 1992. His
first book of poetry, ''Spoils of War'', published after 12 years of trying,
had received South Africa's Ingrid Jonker award a year earlier.
date Eppel has published 10 books. One of them, ''The Giraffe Man'', was
recently translated into French. Yet despite such hard-won successes, he
enjoys no warm relationship with fellow writers in Zimbabwe. ''There's never
been any sense of come in with us, you're our contemporary,'' he
He feels marginalised, and is hurt by being made to feel less of a
Zimbabwean. But Eppel's writing reflects none of this
Vibrant and hilarious, his fiction tackles the present
socio-economic situation in the southern African state, albeit with
tongue-in-cheek liveliness. Most surprising, however, is his harshness
towards white characters.
''I have this double vision somehow,'' he
says. ''There's a part of me that needs to deal with that I was part of a
white oppressing race. The other part is I love this country, I feel rooted
in this country and that part I express in my poetry more.''
describes his first book, which is also semi-biographical, as his most
vicious attack on the white community where he grew up in Colleen Bawn, a
cement plant in southern Zimbabwe.
In another, ''The Holy
Innocents'', Eppel creates an assemblage of beer drinking, loud-mouthed
white characters. Most of them dress badly, drive company cars although they
do not actually do much work.
They are the quintessential 'Rhodies' -
white Zimbabweans who carry the colonial Rhodesian attitude. Ironically,
Eppel says it is mainly the liberal-minded whites, like the Jews, who have
been the first to emigrate, leaving the ''dyed in the wool racists who
couldn't go anywhere else because they didn't have the
But he says his focus has now changed. It is the
''emerging bad behaviour of black Zimbabweans who're in power'' that he is
mainly concerned with.
Now ''I attack anybody who's behaving badlyŗI
don't consider race anymore. I consider being Zimbabwean, being human. And
if you're cruel, greedy, hypocritical, self-righteous, I'll nail you if I
can. It's the revenge of the weak, the guy who uses his pen rather than his
Presently head of the English department at a boys-only private
school, Eppel says the satire does worry the white community, who respond
with a characteristic silence. Even then, many still buy his books,
especially his poetry which those who are emigrating find
Born in Lybdenburg, South Africa, Eppel moved to Zimbabwe at
the age of four. The cement plant and its social club, near West Nicholson
in southern Zimbabwe, is the setting for his short story ''The Caruso of
Also in his 2004 short story collection, going by the
same name, is an assortment of fables of various themes.
In a piece
titled ''The Very High Ranking Soldier's Wife'', Eppel is at his most
cynical, describing the story's main character as being fussy about hats.
Her role model in this regard is the First Lady, who is described as wearing
hats than be converted into yachts should that need arise. (Zimbabwe's First
Lady is a reputed flamboyant dresser).
But Eppel says he is often
misunderstood. Many black critics, he argues, have dismissed him as a racist
as in his novels he often uses rude words in the local language. He also
admits readers often find his language obscene and issues too shocking, to
the extent that he might have limited his readership.
with satire is that you get conflated with your characters,'' he says.
''Because you have characters who use words like kaffir (a derogatory term
for blacks) or nanny, they think you are like that. But what you're trying
to do is purge yourself through this art-form of that kind of
Eppel will be launching another collection at the
forthcoming Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA). Titled ''Songs
My Country Taught Me'', this is a collection of 80 poems dating back 40
years from the time he was 18.
The title, he fears might ''rub up''
some people the wrong way. ''They will say, 'how dare a white say that it's
his country'. That's very hurtful because this is the only country I've
Whites used to make up one percent of Zimbabwe's population at
independence. Now their number has dwindled to about 30,000 or less, thanks
to migration mainly to Britain and Australia.
Apart from South
Africa, the dwindling members of the white communities in the 13-nation
Southern African Community Development (SADC) keep away from politics for
fear of infuriating black rulers. South Africa's whites make up about 10
percent of the country's population. They are mainly descendants of Dutch,
French and English settlers who arrived in the late 17th century.
Namibia, a handful of fearless whites like Gwen Lister, editor of the
'Namibian' newspaper, continue to highlight the plight of the poor and
minority. Whites account for about six percent of the country's
A sizeable population of whites also reside in Mozambique,
Angola, Zambia, Swaziland and Lesotho. (END/2005)
Time stands still for the men condemned to Mugabe's
prisons By Toby Harnden (Filed: 24/04/2005)
Two Sunday Telegraph
journalists were freed last week after 10 days in a filthy Zimbabwean jail.
But as Toby Harnden writes, the 103 men who shared his cell could wait years
for a trial
There are no clocks in Harare remand prison. Ask a prisoner
the time and he glances through the barred window and hazards a guess from
the angle of the sun. The sky turning cobalt blue to herald the approaching
dawn is one point of reference. Another is the clunk of the jail gate
signalling the change of the prison guard shift at 6am.
later, what sounds like a spiritual starts up from cell B2. "Baba vedu uri
kudenga... Zita renyu ngarikudzwe novutswene." It is the Lord's Prayer sung
in Shona, Zimbabwe's main language. In B2, about two dozen of the 105
prisoners jump up and start praying. Another day has begun.
For many of
the 2,500 prisoners in the remand jail, where I was held with my colleague
Julian Simmonds for 10 days earlier this month, time stands still.
Zimbabwe's justice system is corrupt and crumbling and inmates can wait for
up to five years before a case comes to trial.
Many are unable to
find even paltry amounts to meet bail or to pay fines. On the prison bus one
day, a youth called Lazarus, who has been convicted of stealing barbed wire,
opts to serve three months in prison because he can't pay 40,000 Zimbabwean
dollars - about £3.50.
"We are crying," says Moses, who is accused of
murder and who, with his friend Henry, has been appointed by the prisoners
to look after the two strange white men in their midst. "We have nothing,
not even hope. The best we can do is survive."
Like many inmates,
Moses is accused of a terrible crime but has been forced to wait years to
hear the case against him. Just 21, he has been on remand for nearly two
years. His mother, who like her son was suspected of axing to death the
white couple they worked for, recently died in the neighbouring women's
jail; she was 45.
Moses's angelic face is covered with bumps and the
whites of his eyes are flecked with brown stains. Sores cluster around his
knees and ankles where, he says, he was beaten by police and leg irons broke
Disease is rife in the prison, which is so overcrowded that
prisoners are stacked against each other on the concrete floor as they
sleep. At night the cell looks like a deck full of galley slaves shifting
with the waves.
Yet a surprising order prevails. A small group of inmates
organises life for the rest in a strange, self-imposed discipline. Each
morning, the blankets are piled neatly so the cell can be swept. Every
inmate is allocated a sleeping space - new arrivals arranged head to toe in
the centre, while those in for longer are given a little more room near the
The day crawls by, tedium interrupted by roll call, queuing for
food down the stairways to the courtyard, and reading. There are Bibles and
tracts by L Ron Hubbard. For a few cigarettes we rent two books - The Best
of Betjeman and Anton Chekov's Plays and Stories. Below Betjeman's poem The
Exile are scrawled an inmate's questions to his girlfriend. "Do you still
love me? Are you ashamed of me? Do you believe I stole the car? Will you
wait 10 years?"
Some have newspapers, though the prison censor cuts out
any articles judged unfit for inmates to read, including any criticism of
President Robert Mugabe. Some opt for boxing. "Dance, boxer, dance" screams
a man nicknamed Gudu (Shona for "baboon"), who is built like Mike Tyson.
"Let's go, boxer. Jab, jab, jab - killer punch". His partner aims his blows
at flip-flops on Gudu's fists.
After lock-down following 6pm roll
call, a group from Matabeleland dances to songs in the minority language,
Ndebele. Several card schools play with decks made artfully from cigarette
Another favourite is chess. Earlier, in our police cell in
Norton, a rural area south of Harare, Julian and I had constructed a crude
set, drawing the grid on a sheet of paper, tearing out squares for
The prison sets are altogether more elaborate. Magnificent pieces
have been painstakingly fashioned from sadza - the maize substance that is
Zimbabwe's staple diet - and lavatory paper.
Telegraph is humiliated by the Zimbabwean inmates. In my first game, my
mentor Henry destroys me in three dozen moves while other inmates nod in
approval, their Shona peppered with references to "the Kasparov
The next game is even more humiliating. A man accused of rape with
"Crazy Sexy" tattoed on his forearm defeats me effortlessly in what is
billed "Europe versus Africa". I forfeit a cigarette. At 9pm, the cell
becomes quiet. It is story time. A big-time fraudster called Isaac paces up
and down relating a tale in Shona. We assume it is a traditional Zimbabwean
yarn until we hear English phrases such as "black-tinted windows" and "agent
of the FBI".
Isaac's tale is a rendition of the thriller, The Bourne
Identity. His repertoire also includes Predator and The Matrix:
After midnight, a few people smoke cannabis surreptitiously in
the far corner of the cell. Some obtain cocaine from crooked
Our arrival offers business opportunities. Brian, one of the few
political prisoners, accused of being an opposition activist, tries to
barter a dead pigeon for a cigarette.
Others believe that they can
curry favour with the guards by extracting information from us. We are
quizzed about our case and whether we were working as journalists, the
"crime" of which we are accused.
We are warned by Moses and Henry that
Mugabe's feared Central Intelligence Office has spies in the jail. Questions
from John, an army sergeant, are a little too pointed. Most suspicious of
all is Shepherd, who seems to know we work for "The Sunday Telegraph" and is
always trying to glean more.
Charles, a cheerful Ndebele and another
opposition activist, tells us to be careful. A political prisoner died in
the adjoining cell, he said, after he was poisoned. Such is the desperation
of some prisoners, we could be murdered for a few packets of
Much to Julian's chagrin, Charles turns out to be a chronic
masturbator. I go to sleep each night with Charles' breath on my shoulder.
On his other side, Julian has to contend with an elbow nudging him
rhythmically in the ribs.
Many inmates ask us to pay for legal advice
or arrange UK visas. Barnabus, who revels in having tried to kill his wife,
wants to go to Britain. "I shot her in the head joyously in front of the
children," he said. He is confident of bribing the prosecutor to drop the
case against him.
Darling, a young gang member, is facing six counts of
armed robbery. His cocaine-fuelled crime sprees netted so many televisions
and VCRs that he stole three bull terriers and installed them as guard dogs.
One of his mistakes, he said, was to rob the Zimbabwean vice-president's
house - holding his wife at gunpoint.
There are a few celebrity
prisoners. One is Christopher Kuruneri, Zimbabwe's finance minister, who has
been held without trial for a year on charges of foreign currency
He has a few extra privileges, such as daily visits to the
dispensary and an electric razor. He is managing in jail, he explains,
because he has to, just like anyone else.
Moses nods. "Here we are
all the same," he says. "We have nothing and we are nothing. Pray for us