Government steps up recruitment of youth militia Fri 29
April 2005 BULAWAYO - The government is stepping up the recruitment of
youths from the opposition stronghold of Matabeleland region for its
controversial national youth militia programme.
officer at the Ministry of Youth in Matabeleland, Tarisai Chimutengwende,
told ZimOnline yesterday that recruitment was in full swing at the
ministry's youth training camps at Guyu in Matabeleland South and Kamativi
in Matabeleland North province.
The two camps have an intake of 1
500 youths each.
"The programme is going ahead . . . we are
actually aiming to produce more graduates than we have managed before,"
Churches and human rights groups have accused
the youth militia of hunting down, torturing, raping and murdering
opposition Movement for Democratic Change party supporters.
Some of the youths seconded to the government's Grain Marketing Board, which
oversees distribution of state food aid, have been accused of barring MDC
supporters from receiving food relief as punishment for backing the
opposition party. The government denies the charges saying its national
youth service programme is meant to inculcate patriotism and discipline in
Chimutengwende said the government was
specifically targeting Matabeleland because fewer youths from the opposition
supporting region were coming up to join the programme. He said only 10 000
youths from Matabeleland had been trained since the programme began five
years ago compared to the 25 000 youths that the government had hoped to
have trained from the region by now.
All in all, more than 70
000 have been trained from across the country, Chimutengwende
Some of the youths who have escaped from the more than 10
training camps spread across the country have told of how they are taught
torture methods and encouraged to commit human rights abuses against MDC
supporters and all perceived government opponents. Female recruits have also
spoke of how their instructors, most of them retired army officers, rape
them at the camps. - ZimOnline
South African power chief in veiled attack on Mugabe Fri 29
April 2005 BULAWAYO - A top South African business executive, Reu Khoza, in
a thinly veiled attack on President Robert Mugabe's style of governance,
yesterday took a swipe at African leaders whom he accused of stalling
development on the continent.
Addressing business executives
and some government ministers at the ongoing Zimbabwe International Trade
Fair (ZITF) 2005, Khoza, who is chairman of South Africa's Eskom power
utility, said Africa needed sound leadership if it was to
The fair, which is Zimbabwe's industrial marketing window,
has been snubbed by Western countries and firms protesting Mugabe's poor
governance and human rights record.
Khoza said: "Africa needs a
leadership that is politically and personally as gracious, honourable and
magnanimous in defeat as in success. We need the leadership that acts as
much as for today as it does for the future as well as the leadership that
generates trust, goodwill and confidence.
"Africa needs a
leadership that lives by the tenets of consultation, persuasion,
accommodation, and cohabitation."
Critics accuse Mugabe, who has
been at the helm for the past 25 years, of wreaking what was once one of
Africa's economic success stories.
Five years ago, Mugabe
sanctioned the violent seizure of large swathes of commercial farms from
whites for redistribution to landless blacks, plunging the once vibrant
agriculture sector into turmoil. Since then the country has virtually
survived on food handouts from the international community.
Mugabe has been the butt of sharp criticism from other prominent South
Africans despite the country's "quiet diplomacy" policy towards Zimbabwe.
Last year, revered Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu attacked Mugabe's style
of governance describing the 81-year old Zimbabwean leader as "a caricature
of an African leader." - ZimOnline
surrounding perennial delays in removing garbage in Harare took another turn
yesterday with a city official denying ever making statements that refuse
was lying uncollected because council had not renewed contracts awarded to
some private players. Newsnet quoted city spokesperson, Leslie Gwindi on
Monday attributing the non-collection of accumulating rubbish in the
capital's streets and residential areas to a combination of factors
including non-renewal of tenders and lack of technical capacity by tender
winners to fully service the capital. Companies contracted to collect
garbage on behalf of the municipality are Encore Consolidated, Cleansing and
Environment Services and Broadway Services. Contacted for comment
yesterday Gwindi made a surprise U-turn and denied ever saying tenders were
yet to be renewed. He said: "I never said that (new contracts were yet to be
issued). I have told you before that the private contractors are failing to
perform due to a number of technical problems they are facing. Council has
had to re-introduce its small fleet to supplement what they
have." Besides failing to provide short-changed rate payers with efficient
service which has been complicated further by irregular water supplies, the
Harare City Council also does not collect refuse on time with some areas
going for two months with rubbish uncollected. Some parts of the
capital's central business district (CBD) have become an eyesore, an
embarrassment to a city, which not very long ago prided itself as the
'Sunshine City' - one of the cleanest cities in the world.
A CHINESE firm,
CNR, that has been contracted by the government of Zimbabwe to assemble
fourteen rail locomotives and several wagons for the National Railways of
Zimbabwe (NRZ) has demanded a prompt down-payment before artisans can start
working on the project, The Business Mirror heard on Wednesday. "CNR has
asked us to pay a deposit before they start work on the project, we are
working on that and we will soon make the payment. They have completed the
designs and we have said we are going to honour our side of the bargain,"
Transport and Communications Minister Chris Mushohwe said. He was, however,
not at liberty to disclose the amount of money involved but the figures are
understood to run into millions of United States dollars. Last year, Mushohwe
sealed several bilateral deals with Chinese companies for the assembling of
the NRZ engines, aircraft for Air Zimbabwe and telecommunications components
for the fixed telephone operator Tel*One. While there had been so much hype
that the NRZ engines would be delivered by April 2005, work on the project
is gathering dust on the drawing board as CNR has just only completed the
designs and are now awaiting the payment from Zimbabwe. Last week, China
delivered two MA60 aircraft valued to the tune of US$22 million. The bulk
of the money have however not been catered for in the 2005 National Budget
and government is likely to divert funds allocated to other sectors to make
the payments as authorities are under pressure from the public to halt
biting transport problems that have been rocking the country.The government
is also facing challenges in the provision of food to the nation as crop
production has been severely affected by low rainfall in the just ended
agricultural season. Already, there are reports that at least $5
trillion has already been diverted from infrastructural development for the
procurement of food, slowing down work on other development projects. The
minister said government had the capacity to settle the amounts and see
through the turnaround of the strategic parastatal, whose operations had
been badly affected by the volatile economic problems. A $500 billion
tranche has already been extended to the NRZ by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
as part of the logistical concern's share of the Productive Sector Facility
(PSF). Other measures include the taking over of debt from some state
companies by government to take the burden off their shoulders. "I am
pleased by the turnaround at the NRZ so far since last year. For example the
number of accidents have gone down and we will continue helping the company
in order to see it return to profitability," Mushohwe added.
POWER cuts, which hit Zimbabwe last
week, are set to continue as Zesa Holdings, on Wednesday, failed to beat a
self-imposed deadline to normalise the situation. The country is
experiencing power supply interruptions, blamed on the breakdown of three
generators - at Hwange and two others at Kariba power stations - as well as
transmission failure to access supplies from Snell, the Democratic Republic
of the Congo (DRC) power utility. Last week, Zesa made a commitment to fully
restore power supplies by Wednesday this week. Zesa public relations
manager, Obert Nyatanga said the power utility had managed to repair one
generator and secured the much-needed DRC imports. But the two generators at
Kariba Power Station remained down, creating a deficit of 250 megawatts, he
added. "One generator was repaired on Tuesday and I am told that power from
the DRC was restored last night (Wednesday). We expect the other two
generators to be functional by the end of the weekend," said Nyatanga. He
said Zesa was still awaiting spares for the two generators, but pressed
where they would source the inputs, he quipped: "elsewhere outside the
country". Nyatanga called for efficient and reasonable use of
electricity. He also urged consumers to exercise "demand side
management." Recently, Zesa told The Daily Mirror it needed at least US$7
million monthly (about Z$5 billion) for the next three months to overcome
the spares problem. Zesa's major setback was the shortage of foreign
currency to import spares, Nyatanga said.
SOUTH Africa's exports to Zimbabwe have tumbled from R7.3
billion in 2003 to R6.2 billion in 2004.
Analysts say the fall in
imports from the country's largest trading partner mirrors Zimbabwe's
weakening industrial base as local manufacturers buy less due to capacity
Industry, now headed by former Matabeleland North governor
Obert Mpofu after a recent Cabinet reshuffle, has been hit by an economic
recession that has been dramatised by crippling shortages of fuel and
foreign currency, high inflation and biting interest rates.
in imports from South Africa is an indication of weak economic capacity.
Zimbabwean manufacturers are heavily reliant on raw materials from South
Africa and this is an indication of a flat productive sector," said a local
economist, commenting on statistics quoted by the Trade Law Centre for
Fourty-six percent of South African firms are said
to have reported a drop in exports to Zimbabwe.
"Demand for South
African finished products has also been limited by the foreign currency
shortages. But, overall, this is a barometer (showing) that the Zimbabwean
economy is not performing," added the economist.
Economic growth in
Zimbabwe has fallen by 30 percent during the past five years although
inflation, which peaked at an all-time high of 623 percent, is now running
at slightly above 120 percent. Unconfirmed reports say economic instability
in the country has cost the region over US$2.5 billion.
analysts predict there will not be many new investments and expansion
projects in Zimbabwe in the short term, except in the fledging platinum
Some observers say confidence among South African investors is
being dented by Harare's delay in endorsing a long-stalled trade and
investment agreement between the two countries. The terms of the agreement
have been concluded and are only awaiting endorsement by President Robert
"The infringement of property rights and disregard of
the rule of law in Zimbabwe may have made South African manufacturers to be
extremely sensitive about their investments in this country," said the
But despite the jitters, 27 Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed
firms have operations in Zimbabwe, and market watchers estimate that South
African firms control over half of the shares listed on the Zimbabwe Stock
South African firms such as Impala Platinum, Anglo Platinum,
Aquarius, Pretoria Portland Cement, ABSA, Standard Bank and Old Mutual are
some of the largest investors in Zimbabwe.
Implats' total investment
in Zimbabwe is around R1.7 billion, while Angloplat has said it expects to
start production at its US$92 million Unki Platinum Mine
Zimbabwe Platinum Mines, of which Implats is the majority
shareholder, contributed R52 million to Implats' bottom line last year while
another platinum miner, Mimosa Investments, jointly owned by Aquarius and
Implats, remitted R51 million.
Implats has been dithering on its
planned phased expansion programme, citing uncertainties surrounding
South African sugar and aluminium giant Tongaat-Hullet,
which owns 100 percent of Lowveld-based Triangle Sugar Limited, is on record
as saying it had put on hold all its capital expansion programmes and would
only be implementing them "once things settle down politically and
economically". Triangle Sugar contributed R51 million to total group
earnings in 2004.
NEWS of a massive tobacco harvest
in Brazil has raised fresh worries about the future of Zimbabwe's tobacco
industry, still struggling to return to the top of world production after
five straight years of decline.
And it is not only Brazil's 757 million
kilograms of tobacco that have worried the local tobacco industry. An even
greater worry is that Brazil and other producers have now begun to muscle in
on Zimbabwe's remaining trump card on tobacco's world markets -
Zimbabwe's tobacco which is traditionally geared for the
unmanufactured international leaf market has over the years had a reputation
for quality and is in demand for blending purposes.
Brazil has seen
the fastest growth in output among the world's flavour type flue-cured
tobacco producers, through a strategy of lifting its grower numbers and
expand the planted area.
The number of growers in South Brazil, the area
which solely produces that country's crop, rose from 170 830 in the 2002-03
season to 190 270 in the 2003-04 crop, representing an increase of 11.4
percent. The planted area also kept pace with the number of growers, rising
from 353 810 hectares in the 2002-03 season to 411 290 in 2003-04. Yields
per hectare went from 1 697 kilos in 2003 to 2 069 kilos last
According to leading US tobacco market researchers and economists,
Brown and Snell, strong world demand allied with the frequent reductions in
the US and Zimbabwe - which are Brazil's main competitors - account for
Brazil's 10 to 12 percent increase in the planted area.
own statistics compare unfa-vourably with Brazil's huge growth
Production has progressively come down since the 2000 peak
of 267 million kg, sliding to 202 million kg in 2001, 165 million kg in
2002, 80 million kg in 2003 and a paltry 68 million kg last year. Some 85
million of what was once the golden leaf kg are expected this
And while Zimba-bwe has been losing its share of the world market,
Brazil has been picking up more.
"Zimbabwe's flue-cured production
has continued to erode, down from 267 million kg in 2000, with Brazil
picking up much of Zimbabwe's lost production," Brown and Snell said in a
"Increases in the United States likely would come as
merchants shifted some production from Brazil to the United States and moved
future decreases in Zimbabwe production to the United
Brazil, experts say, will remain the dominant producer and
exporter of flavour-type flue-cured tobacco, at least in the foreseeable
Executives of Zimbabwe's tobacco industry concede that Zimbabwe
is unlikely to catch up with the kind of quantity that Brazil's is putting
out on the market, but are holding out for an even tougher battle on the
According to Rodney Ambrose, the chief executive officer
of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association, the local industry should concentrate
less on quantity, and instead look to lead the world market in terms of
"Our strength has always been in flavour-style tobacco. Our
production levels are not that bad, but it's in the quality that we need to
continue to improve," Ambrose said.
"If we can concentrate our
efforts on improving quality, then everything else will follow; we can get
better prices for our crop and better foreign currency earnings for the
However, even if Zimbabwe was able to retain its reputation as
the leading producer of the best quality crop in the world - a reputation
increasingly coming under threat - buyers say a key task for Zimbabwe will
be to overcome emerging concerns worldwide that the country may struggle to
maintain a reliable supply to the global market.
"There is no
doubting Zimbabwean tobacco. The local leaf is a league ahead of the crop
from other countries that produce this (flue-cured) type of tobacco. But the
question is, will we still get tobacco from Zimbabwe in the next five years?
Buyers need to know that for sure," a buyer told The Financial Gazette at
the Tobacco Sales Floors last week.
Because of the big Brazil crop, and
an even larger crop from China, world prices have been depressed at the
start of this marketing year. However, Zimbabwe's situation has been made
worse by the poorer quality crop delivered to the auction floors, the buyers
Because of the constant threat of disruptions to production and
supply blamed on government's alleged mishandling of land reforms, buyers
are likely to look elsewhere for a reliable supply of good quality
The Brazilian integrated tobacco growing system is probably unique
in the world, whereby every grower signs a one-season contract with the
buying company, which then supplies all the inputs, paid on crop delivery,
provides technical assistance, and purchases the entire crop, regardless of
quantity and quality.
It is a controversial plan, but one which has
[ This report does not
necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Apr 2005 (IRIN) - Human rights groups have called for the "immediate reform"
of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) after Zimbabwe's
re-election to the 53-member commission on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe was among
15 countries chosen to sit on the commission for the next three years,
prompting immediate protests from the United States and other developed
Western governments and rights groups have branded the move as
"inappropriate", pointing to legislation that severely curtails civil
liberties in the southern African country.
"We remain deeply
concerned that the government of Zimbabwe maintains repressive controls on
political assembly and the media, harasses civil society groups, and
continues to encourage a climate where the opposition fears for its safety,"
William Brencick, deputy US representative to the Economic and Social
Council, said in statement.
Although members of the Human Rights
Commission are elected by the UN Economic and Social Council, seats are
allotted to regional groupings, which put forward most of the candidates
Human rights campaigners in Zimbabwe said the
decision was a serious blow to efforts aimed at getting President Robert
Mugabe's government to own up to rights abuses.
"We are disappointed
that this august body has allowed Zimbabwe to rejoin its ranks. This is
definitely a slap in the face for human rights groups, who have been
monitoring and documenting serious rights abuses perpetrated by the
Zimbabwean government. We will, however, continue our work in the face of
this adversity," chairman of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Albert
Musarurwa, told IRIN.
He criticised the human rights commission for
allowing countries with poor human rights records to use their membership to
protect one another from condemnation.
"The commission must be
immediately reformed if it is going to hold onto the little credibility it
has. It is quite obvious that Zimbabwe's re-election to the body is a direct
result of bloc voting by African governments," Musarurwa
South African-based political analyst Chris Maroleng noted:
"The fact that Zimbabwe was re-elected is hardly surprising, especially
since the African regional grouping on the commission is the largest. There
still is a rift between what the West expects of Zimbabwe and how African
governments view the current situation in the country."
Secretary-General Kofi Annan has proposed disbanding the Geneva-based
commission and replacing it with a smaller Human Rights Council, and that
members of the council be elected directly by a two-thirds vote in the
191-member General Assembly.
The fate of the commission will be
decided when the General Assembly meets in New York in September to discuss
reform of the organisation.
Musarurwa said: "As its stands the commission
cannot function when countries which are well-known for rights abuses such
as China, Sudan and Zimbabwe, are in charge of judging themselves."
Zimbabwe to import tons of grain - report April 28 2005
Harare - Zimbabwe's government will import 1,2-million
tons of maize in the coming months to make up for a shortfall in national
output as the country faces food shortages, state media said on
Aid agencies say around four million people, a third of
the population, will need food aid this year after a poor harvest due to
drought and a collapse in commercial farming after a land reform programme
that gave white-owned farms to landless blacks.
say the government would require more than $250-million to import the maize
at a time when it faces shortages of foreign exchange.
Food was a
key campaign issue in the run-up to March 31 parliamentary polls. President
Robert Mugabe publicly admitted for the first time during campaigning that
Zimbabwe faced food shortages - but vowed that no-one would
"We have put in place a package where we are going to
have over 1,2 million tons coming into the country over the next few
months," Samuel Muvuti, chief executive of state-run Grain Marketing Board
(GMB), told the official Herald newspaper.
Officials at the
GMB, which has a monopoly to import, buy and sell grain, were not
immediately available for comment. The Herald did not say where Zimbabwe
intended to acquire the maize or how it would pay for it.
Wednesday the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said Zimbabwe
had virtually run out of maize and urged Mugabe's government to appeal for
Renson Gasela, MDC shadow agriculture minister, said
the party estimated maize output from the just ended crop season at about
500 000 tons against domestic requirements of 1,8-million tons.
Muvuti denied MDC charges that the country had run out of food, saying grain
imports had already started being delivered to areas ravaged by
The opposition says the government has no foreign
currency for food imports and that it will be hard to lure back aid agencies
after Mugabe stopped donors from distributing food last year, arguing that
the country could feed itself.
The United Nations World Food
Programme this week said at least 80 000 tons of maize would be needed in
six southern African countries including Zimbabwe between April and June
after drought reduced output, but that only 27 000 tons was
Mugabe has repeatedly denied critics' charges that his
land seizure policy has destroyed commercial agriculture, resulting in food
Mapfumo's music helped fight white rule in Zimbabwe in the 1970s. Now, GUY
DIXON writes, he's a marked man for protesting the iron rule of Robert
By GUY DIXON
Thursday, April 28, 2005 Updated at 8:23 AM
From Thursday's Globe and Mail
The man sometimes
described as Zimbabwe's Bob Marley answered the telephone cautiously. A
singer whose protest music pushed for independence against the white
minority government of what was then Rhodesia, he has since been forced into
exile by the authoritarian rule of President Robert Mugabe. "Thomas Mapfumo?"
I asked after getting past a call-blocking device.
"Who's this?" Mapfumo
responded with a low rasp from his home in Eugene, Ore., where he now
The interview had been prearranged, but he was careful. Fame isn't
his only reason to be cautious, even though Mapfumo comes as close to
legendary status as anyone in southern African music, specifically
chimurenga music. It's a music he largely created, the deceptively light,
polyrhythmic pulse of political struggle, and based on the cyclical patterns
played on the traditional, metal-pronged mbira.
Mapfumo, who is in
his late 50s, is also undoubtedly cautious because of Mugabe, who swept last
month's elections despite widespread accusations by the West that his ruling
ZANU-PF party once again stole the vote.
Whenever he returns to Zimbabwe,
Mapfumo is threatened by government thugs. When he's away, the
Mugabe-aligned press attacks him. Yet, Zimbabwe's economic devastation under
the government's tight fist has only strengthened the protest message in
Mapfumo's new album Rise Up, currently available in North America only as a
digital download at calabashmusic.com.
"When you are fighting against
oppression, there is no difference. It is the same thing we were fighting
against in colonial days. And now this man is in power; he is black like me,
and he is still doing the same. The message doesn't change at all," Mapfumo
"The first song on the CD is Kunarira Mukati," which Mapfumo said
means "silent suffering." "A lot of people have hate inside, but they are
afraid to stand up and say something. So we are saying to them, you
shouldn't just keep quiet. You have to say something. This has been going on
for more than 20 years now. How long are we going to
Mapfumo's music is banned from Zimbabwean radio, although some
of his old material is more or less sanctioned. A disc of his liberation
songs from the 1970s with his group at the time, the Hallelujah Chicken Run
Band, was recently reissued, harking to an era Mugabe continually
It was a time when guerrilla fighters were listening to
Mapfumo shift his music away from heavily Western-influenced rock and
incorporate traditional instruments and lyrics in the language of his Shona
people. It became an act of protest against the Rhodesian government, just
as the roots movements in reggae and rock around the world were similarly
laced with politics.
Mugabe would like to pretend that Mapfumo existed
only in that era. "I'm in the history books. Schoolchildren learn about me.
They talk about me, what I did during the liberation struggle, the part my
music played," Mapfumo said. "They tell the people that kind of history. And
yet they don't want to play my music on the radio."
It seems no
surprise, then, that Mapfumo has had problems getting his latest album
pressed and sold in his country. To Western listeners, it may be hard to
appreciate how the lilting harmonies, the plink-plonk of mbiras and skipping
beats can cause such opposition. The reason is in Mapfumo's moral messages.
Zimbabwe's Gamma Records has had mechanical problems getting the CD
manufactured, or so Mapfumo was told when he contacted the company. Only a
few thousand copies have been pressed, a tiny fraction of what the singer
believes he could sell if the administration wasn't trying to sabotage his
album anyway it can, Mapfumo said.
Since moving away, he has
continued to return to Zimbabwe to perform. He is allowed in the country,
yet he is invariably harassed.
"The last time I was there, I was in the
countryside. I went to see my folk there in the rural area. I went into the
shops to by some meat -- from the butchery. And there was a group of youth.
When they saw my car, they were coming for me. My brother saw that we needed
to drive away."
The group followed them and eventually stopped Mapfumo's
car. "When they approached us, they said they wanted to see our membership
cards, political cards for the ZANU-PF party. I said they have no right to
ask me about that. They were just trying to make problems. And then I pulled
out my pistol and they ran away."
Meanwhile, the press attacks
The Herald, a Zimbabwean newspaper, has claimed that Mapfumo
exaggerates his popularity. "Mapfumo . . . now spends much of his time
spreading falsehoods about alleged threats on his life while his music
career is on the slide," a Herald article last December said. This was
around the time when the singer had hoped to visit, but cancelled his trip
after being told it was too dangerous for him during the runup to the
Citing a list of allegations, the article also repeated claims
that Mapfumo's cars had been connected to an auto-theft ring.
singer scoffed at this in a grandfatherly way, his heavily accented words
occasionally rising above his normal baritone. "I don't want to talk to that
paper, because they want to bring me down. Everything they say about me is
suspect. That paper is for the ZANU-PF."
In trying to understand
Mapfumo's story from so far away, so utterly removed from Zimbabwe and his
experiences, I mentioned a quote attributed to Nigeria's late musical-great
performer Fela Kuti that "in my society, there's no music for enjoyment.
There's only a struggle for people to exist." I asked Mapfumo if all music
in Zimbabwe under the Mugabe government is inevitably political.
I don't think so," he answered to my surprise. "It depends on who they are,
what their music is all about. My music is different than the rest of music
Oliver Mutukudzi, another leading Zimbabwe musician,
appears to be striving for apolitical ground, although this only seems to
draw him deeper into controversy, particularly after performing at a ZANU-PF
function shortly before the election.
"It had nothing to do with
politics," Mutukudzi is quoted as saying in a Zimbabwe Standard article. "I
have relatives everywhere, in the [opposition] MDC and even in ZANU-PF."
Still, one of the singer's hits was also used in a government election ad.
His manager described both moves as "business suicide" for
"I'm sure he's trying to be good so that these people won't
come after him. But that's not the way. If you're a freedom fighter, you
have to stand with the poor people, stand with those who are suffering,"
Then there are other musicians who are berated for
blatantly pandering to Mugabe, such as the singer Tambaoga, who had a
sensationalist hit using a play on words likening Tony Blair to a toilet.
Blair has been a regular target of Mugabe's rhetoric.
"are not popular with the people," Mapfumo added. "They are just being used
for propaganda purposes." Yet for a sensationalist song like Tambaoga's to
become a hit in a country so musically rich suggests an artificial vacuum, a
hole caused by the absence of stronger cultural forces such as
The situation, he said, is only getting worse, although he
insists his music still has an impact on Zimbabweans.
"They go for my
music. They are buying my music. And this is why they are trying to sabotage
THE increasingly desperate Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) has turned to Mauritius President and Southern
African Development Community (SADC) chairman, Paul Berenger, to help broker
the political impasse in Zimbabwe.
This development comes after
revelations that the MDC, the biggest opposition party in the history of
independent Zimbabwe, has resolved to sever diplomatic contact with
President Thabo Mbeki's government.
Party sources at Harvest House said
South Africa, particularly President Mbeki, had irked the MDC leadership
over Pretoria's endorsement of the just-ended disputed polls in which the
opposition won 41 seats against the ruling ZANU PF's 78.
accused South African observer missions to the just-ended election of being
partisan and pre-judgemental, causing a damaging rift between the South
Africans and Zimbabwe's main opposition.
MDC secretary-general Welshman
Ncube confirmed the opposition party had problems with the "behaviour and
actions" of the South Africans.
"We are not happy with certain issues
emanating from South Africa but the person running with that story is Paul
Themba Nyathi, the party spokesman," said Ncube in a brief telephone
Nyathi, who of late is sounding increasingly paranoid and
hostile to the media following his thumping in Gwanda in the March
parliamentary poll, was not cooperative, berating this newspaper for
allegedly demonising the MDC every week.
"What makes you think the
MDC wants to talk to The Financial Gazette when you write bad things about
us. If you want us to treat you like The Herald we will do so. Give me two
reasons why you think the MDC should talk to you," said Nyathi, before
switching off his mobile phone.
In South Africa, the ANC sounded
diplomatic with its spokesman Smut Ngonyama, saying: "The MDC is still
relevant and a key player. It (MDC) is still a very important player in
The MDC insiders said the party's national
executive felt Mbeki was not an honest broker and did not take the MDC
seriously. "Berenger is the man, he chairs SADC, he knows our concerns he
does not need ZANU PF as much as Mbeki does," said a senior MDC official
Berenger, in whose country the SADC and all
regional leadMugabe endorsed principles and guidelines governing the staging
of democratic elections, has met the MDC leadership several times in the
"Mbeki risks tarnishing his international image as an honesty
broker. It will also put to trouble the NEPAD programme because he has
failed to solve a problem at his backyard," said Brian Kagoro, chairman of
The SADC region bases its economic prosperity on the
success of the NEPAD project and blames Zimbabwe's nagging political
problems for stalling the kick-off of the programme being spearheaded by
AFTER a disputed parliamentary poll
last month, all eyes are once again on Zimbabwe, this time focusing on
constitutional reforms that opposition groups say are imperative.
the voices calling for a replacement of the country's supreme law, a
compromise ceasefire document with former colonial master Britain crafted at
Lancaster in 1979 to end a bloody liberation war, are rising.
clamour for a constitution comes at a time a confident President Robert
Mugabe, whose party romped to victory in spite of a deep well of
disenchantment over a harsh economic meltdown, has hinted his ruling ZANU PF
could use its two-thirds majority in Parliament to push through a number of
Leading the call for a new constitution
are Zimbabwe's civic groups - particularly the Lovemore Madhuku-led National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) - and the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), which is still licking its wounds following its
defeat in the March parliamentary election.
The NCA has long demanded
what it calls a people-driven democratic constitution. It even advised its
ally, the MDC, against participating in the recent election unless there was
a new constitution to replace the Lancaster document - amended by ZANU PF in
the 1980s to give the ruling party 30 free seats when it established an
The MDC went on to participate "with a heavy heart"
because of the uneven electoral field, conceding a number of seats it won in
2000, soon after its formation, and handing ZANU PF the two-thirds majority
it needs to change the constitution at will.
The party has since
described the election as a "fraud", and is challenging some of the results
in the courts.
Some analysts, however, say the MDC felt extremely
confident that it would win the parliamentary poll by exploiting the general
disillusionment of Zimbabweans as the economy collapsed into a recessionary
In fact, they point out, the issue of a new constitution seemed to
have been put on the back burner as the MDC sensed a
The analysts say it is only probably with the
benefit of hindsight that the MDC is once again at one with the NCA on the
issue of a new constitution.
A government-sponsored project to come up
with a new constitution under a commission headed by Chief Justice Godfrey
Chidyausiku was overwhelmingly rejected by Zimbabweans at a referendum five
years ago on the grounds that it gave the executive too much
However, after the MDC controversially lost this year's
parliamentary polls to President Mugabe's ZANU PF, which garnered 78 seats
against the opposition's 41, the call for a new constitution, involving all
stakeholders in the country, has resurfaced.
The MDC, which alleges
ZANU PF stole the March 31 ballot by staffing the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission with partisan officers and tampering with the figures, says the
present constitution, which guarantees President Mugabe 30 free
non-constituency seats before a single vote is cast, is skewed in favour of
ZANU PF and urgently needs revamping or complete redrafting.
attributing his party's loss to rigging and other alleged electoral
malpractices, MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said the current
constitution needed redrafting so that any future elections in Zimbabwe
would pass the Southern African Development Community Mauritius Protocol
litmus test of democratic polls.
"We demand that it is important and
imperative that we revisit the unfinished business of a new constitution,"
"Rather than being unilateral, the process of drafting a new
constitution should be an open, inclusive review project.
"It is our
view that there is an urgent need to have a people-driven constitutional
review. It should entrench citizens' basic and fundamental rights. We also
demand that the constitution should guarantee an independent electoral
commission," he added.
Madhuku has openly chided the MDC for contesting
the just-ended elections under the present constitution.
leader last week said his group, which for the past five years has had
several run-ins with the government, was willing to work with all
stakeholders, including the ruling party, to come up with a people-driven
He said his organisation would resist attempts by ZANU
PF to unilaterally rewrite the country's supreme law.
which do not involve the people will be resisted by all forms available,
including peaceful demonstrations. We are appealing to the government to
give us the right that belongs to us - to be involved in the constitutional
reforms," said Madhuku.
President Mugabe hinted recently that ZANU PF
planned to amend the constitution to pave way for the creation of a
bicameral Parliament. Apart from the proposed creation of a senate, an
institution abolished in 1987, President Mugabe said it was the wish of ZANU
PF to increase the number of legislators in the august House from the
present 150 to 200.
But civic groups and the MDC fear President Mugabe
may use amendments to the constitution to entrench his rule, especially in
the wake of recent speculation that the 81-year-old leader may want to
extend his term up to 2010.
President Mugabe's present term
officially ends in 2008, but he is on record as saying he preferred
presidential and parliamentary polls to be held
Zimbabwe's next parliamentary election is scheduled for
THE MDC national executive meets next week to
decide on a date for the party's long-awaited congress amid mounting
pressure to effect leadership change in the beleaguered opposition
The congress, which had initially been scheduled for last
February, is the party's highest decision-making organ with powers to make
constitutional and leadership changes.
Following the opposition's
recent drubbing by Zanu-PF in the March 2005 general elections, Western
countries that have been bankrolling the MDC are said to be pushing for the
ouster of party leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai whom they accuse of running out
of ideas to dislodge the ruling party.
In an interview yesterday, MDC
spokesperson Mr Paul Themba Nyathi confirmed that the party's national
executive had agreed to meet next week and deliberate on a date.
are going to hold our congress but first we are going to meet on May 7 as
the national executive of the party and discuss and agree on a date on which
to hold the congress," he said.
Asked about reports that the congress had
in the past been shelved because Mr Tsvangirai was afraid of losing his post
as president, Mr Nyathi said the party had decided to defer the congress
because of pressing issues pertaining to the parliamentary
"It's true that the MDC was supposed to hold its congress
earlier, but it is not correct that we failed because Mr Tsvangirai is
afraid of losing his position as president of the party.
lies because holding of congress does not have anything to do with Mr
Tsvangirai but congress is held according to the party's constitution," he
Inside sources yesterday said Mr Tsvangirai, who leads a faction of
trade unionists in the party, faces a stiff challenge from secretary-general
Professor Welshman Ncube, who leads a group of intellectuals, mainly from
the University of Zimbabwe.
"The reason why Mr Tsvangirai is
reluctant to have the congress done is the clear sign that Professor Ncube
has an upper hand, especially that he has his former student Job Sikhala on
"It is going to be a real war between the 'uneducated'
unionists led by Mr Tsvangirai and the clique of university graduates led by
Prof Ncube," said a source.
However, Mr Tsvangirai's spokesperson Mr
William Bango dismissed the claims that the MDC leader was against the
congress saying even the western world could not, in any way, decide for the
"Mr Tsvangirai cannot stop a process. So there is no way he can be
said to be against a congress whose date has not yet been set.
party president, he is the custodian of the constitution of the MDC, which
states that there be a renewal of leadership after every five
"Where does the western world come in, he (Tsvangirai) is elected
by Zimbabweans, he has to subject his party to a process of renewal which is
three-phased, structure, constitution and leadership," Mr Bango
Stung by its embarrassing defeat in the parliamentary elections,
the MDC embarked on a which-hunt that could see some of the party's top
leaders losing their posts during the party's congress.
also expected at the congress as non-performers could be dumped or relegated
to other less influential posts in the party.
The MDC won 41 seats while
Zanu-PF scooped 78 seats with an independent candidate winning one seat in
the elections. The MDC leadership, especially Mr Tsvangirai, is under
pressure from its demoralised European supporters after the recent
Sources within the party said there would be fireworks at the
congress "where the unshakable would be shaken".
The party's national
chairman, Mr Isaac Matongo is one of those senior people in the party likely
to emerge from the congress scathed after he was subjected to a barrage of
criticism for bungling the Zengeza constituency by-election in 2003 where he
allegedly imposed a candidate.
The party's candidate in Zengeza
constituency, Mr James Makore lost a by-election in 2003 to Cde Christopher
Chigumba of Zanu-PF amid allegations that Mr Matongo imposed Mr Makore, a
fellow trade unionist.
There is also likely to be a reshuffle of party
structures and the obvious reshuffle would be that of the party's Manicaland
provincial chairman, Mr Timothy Mubawu who won the Mabvuku constituency in
the just-ended poll.
Even Mr Nyathi himself is also likely to lose his
post as the party spokesperson for allegedly failing to handle party
information and articulating party policies in the media.
Zimbabwe.com columnist Chido Makunike wrote about overcoming what he called
the "Messiah Syndrome". Ex-banker, Takura Mudekunye writes in support, but
shifts the argument to the financial
sector -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- By
Takura Mudekunye Last updated: 04/29/2005 02:53:10 WHEN Gideon Gono was
appointed RBZ Governor, hopes were raised that we had at last got a hands on
solution to our economic problems. Coming directly from the banking sector,
expectation was that someone with practical experience of the problems
facing the banking sector and the economy at large would make a
comparatively positive contribution to the economy than the PhD theorists so
fond of providing "analysis" to the press at every opportunity.
President literally gave Gono a blank cheque to do what he felt appropriate
to right the economy and in no time at all, the Reserve Bank Governor had
literally become the Ministers of Finance, Industry, Trade and Energy,
Environment and Tourism rolled into one. As in Animal Farm where "Comrade
Napoleon is always right" Gono with the able assistance of the state
controlled media was projected as the man with all the answers. Regretably,
even the privately owned media tripped over themselves in efforts to idolise
However as Zimbabweans, we would do well to keep in mind
the following words from the great American president Abraham Lincoln: "Most
men can overcome adversity so if you truly wish to test a man's character,
give him power." It soon become clear to those of us familiar with the
goings on behind the scenes in the Banking Sector during the turmoil that
beneath the facade of congenial facial features and media friendly image lay
a ruthless, ambitious, self centred and vindictive individual driven by a
quest to become the unquestioned economic tsar of the country. There have
been cases of all the bank CEO's being summoned to the Central Bank by Gono
only to be kept waiting for up to five hours at the end of which they have
been given copies of various policy announcements which could easily have
been sent to their offices by fax or through messengers. No apologies,
nothing! Where else in the world have you seen the Internal Desk of the
Intelligence Services as well as the CID fraud squad operating from and
being given instructions from the office of a Central Bank Governor? Only in
This strange set of bed fellows has set the stage through which
warrants were issued for the arrests of several bank executives while others
were forced to step down from companies which they ran due to
"mismanagement". While it is a fact that more than ten financial insitutions
have suffered upheavals of varying degress, it is interesting that despite
all the talk of illegal dealings and criminal behaviour in these
organisations only the executives of ENG and Century have criminal charges
hanging over them. And in an economic environment where companies across all
sectors have collapsed, it is highly debatable whether those financial
institutions that did collapse did so because of mismanagement or because of
the hostile economic situations and unworkable economic policies applied by
the current Government.
The net result however is that control over
these financial insitutions as well as those unaffected by the turmoil has
effectively passed from the shareholders and management of those banks and
institutions into the hands of the Reserve Bank and effectively Gono
himself. In addition, the over regulation of the foreign currency market and
the introduction of the Productive Sector Facility which is run from the
Central Bank has led to Gono spreading his tentacles even to companies
outside the banking sector. And we have not had anyone even from the
usuallly vigilant independent media question whether it is right and is in
the national interest for one man to have so much of the country's economic
activity in the palm of his hand and subject to his personal
Ultimately as the so called economic turnaround begins to unravel
and more questions are asked, it is clear that only strong and transparent
governance systems that are subjected to checks and balances will deliver
economic prosperity. Just as concentration of power continues to be abused
in the political sphere with disastrous results, having the kind of economic
power that Gono currently yields in the hands of one man leaves the system
open to manipulation and abuse that can only ensure continued economic
stagnation. PASI NE MESSIAH SYNDROME MU ECONOMY!! Takura Mudekunye is a
updated: 04/29/2005 03:09:01 CHRIS Gande, a former Daily News reporter now
working for the Voice of America's Studio Seven has published a thrilling
novel based on the land reform programme entitled Section Eight (of the Land
The book, which was printed last month by an
American-based publisher, Authorhouse, is now out on sale in some bookshops
in the United States, the United Kingdom and on the
Although novelists have already exploited President Mugabe's
chaotic land reform programme to artistically interpret the intricacies of
the current socio-political situation, this is the first time that a novel
based on the event of the period 2000 to 2002, also known as the Third
Chimurenga, has been written in a fictious way.
The plot of the book
evolves around a love affair of the daughter of a white commercial farmer,
Jane Bowman, who falls in love with the son of a Cabinet Minister, Themba
Moyo. The story captures a wide spectrum of the Zimbabwean political
situation; the rammifications of the land reform programme; racism; and
contemporary Zimbabwean lifestyle.
The story is written in a very
captivating way that proves Gande to be a master of the game of fiction
writing as he cleverly weaves the plot with enticing imagery and credible
Although not much has been said about commercial farmers
after the land grabs, Gande's novel chronicles their now desperate situation
after losing their farms.
The role played by the farm "invaders" or
protesters, does not escape Gande's attention as he captures their role in
this moving 77-page novel. Gande, who was The Daily News Bulawayo bureau
chief, is now based in the US capital, Washington where he is working for
Studio Seven, a Voice of America radio station that reports on
He has written for a number of news media organisations
including Reuters and South Africa's Sunday Times in his 15 years as a
Gande, who is currently in South Africa promoting the novel,
told New Zimbabwe.com that the novel has been received well in several
Southern African countries including Zambia, Botswana, South Africa and
Zimbabwe although some book sellers were hesitant to sell it in
"The novel has become an instant hit. I am very encouraged by
the response from people. The interest is really tremendous," he
He said the story is based on real life situations that he
witnessed while working for The Daily News.
The International Press
Institute (IPI) has announced its decision to honour SW Radio Africa with its
2005 Free Media Pioneer Award. Gerry Jackson, founder and station manager of
SW Radio Africa, will receive the prize at an award ceremony on 24 May,
during the forthcoming IPI World Congress in Nairobi, Kenya (21-24 May). In
Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe's autocratic regime controls both
radio and television, and the only independent daily newspaper, the Daily
News, has been shut down, the shortwave radio station SW Radio Africa remains
a rare independent voice.
Launched in December 2001, SW Radio Africa
broadcasts not from Zimbabwe, but from a studio in northwest London and is
run by a group of exiled reporters and DJs. The station's founder, Gerry
Jackson, a veteran of 25 years broadcasting experience in Africa, was fired
from the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) music station, Radio 3, for
"insubordination"; after airing live telephone calls from people on the scene
during food riots in Harare in 1997. In 2000, Jackson fought and won a
legal battle in the Zimbabwean Supreme Court to set up the country's first
independent radio station, Capital FM. After only six days, it was raided by
armed police officers, who confiscated broadcasting equipment, and used a
presidential decree to shut down the station. Jackson went into hiding and -
with presidential elections set for March 2002 - decided to broadcast from
outside Zimbabwe, setting up a new radio station in London, where half a
million Zimbabwean exiles live.
Featuring a successful mix of music, news
and interviews, SW Radio Africa's main aim is to give a "voice to the
voiceless" by fostering a dialogue with its Zimbabwean audience, who call in
- often at great risk - to air their opinions and give first-hand accounts of
the deteriorating situation in the country. In the run-up to the March 2005
parliamentary elections, the government of Zimbabwe mounted a concerted
campaign to prevent SW Radio Africa from being heard in the country, jamming
their signals on several frequencies. The government campaign against the
station continued unabated after the elections, which were widely condemned
as fraudulent, with continued deliberate jamming of its broadcasts and plans
to launch a new 24-hour shortwave radio station to counter SW Radio Africa's
The annual Free Media Pioneer Award was
established by IPI, the global network of editors, media executives and
leading journalists, in 1996 to honour individuals or organisations that have
fought against great odds to ensure freer and more independent media in their
country or region. The Award is co-sponsored by the US-based Freedom Forum, a
non-partisan, international foundation dedicated to free press and free
Previous winners of the Free Media Pioneer Award are CASCFEN -
Central Asia and Southern Caucasian Freedom of Expression Network (2004); the
Media Council of Tanzania (2003); the independent daily newspaper Danas,
Serbia (2002); the independent on-line newspaper Malaysiakini.com (2001);
IPYS - Press and Society Institute, Peru (2000); EFJA - Ethiopian Free
Press Journalists' Association (1999); Radio B-92, Yugoslavia (1998); AJI
- Alliance of Independent Journalists, Indonesia (1997); and NTV,
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Subject: information is
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