Tue 4 April 2006
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has directed Zimbabwe Defence Forces
(ZDF) chief Constantine Chiwenga to supervise revenue collection following
numerous reports of rampart corruption at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority
(ZIMRA) in which ZIMRA boss Gershom Pasi was also implicated, ZimOnline has
Authoritative sources said Chiwenga began overseeing ZIMRA operations
on March 4, a day after Mugabe summoned Pasi for a meeting at his
Munhumutapa offices at which the 82-year old President is said to have
accused the country's chief tax collector of corruption and threatened to
have him jailed if he did not mend his ways.
"Mugabe accused Pasi of failing to stem out corruption at ZIMRA
because he too was corrupt and the economy was losing a lot of revenue
because of an inept revenue collection body," said a senior government
official, who spoke on condition he was not named.
The government official said Pasi was accompanied to his March 3
meeting with Mugabe by another senior ZIMRA official, Willie Shumba.
"The President told Pasi that the army was going to watch over ZIMRA
and supervise anti-smuggling operations. He was also warned that this was
his last chance and that if he did not refrain from corrupt activities he
would go to jail," added the official.
After Mugabe chastised Pasi over corruption, he told the ZIMRA chief
to phone Chiwenga and Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri to arrange a
meeting with the two security men, our sources said.
Pasi met Chiwenga and Chihuri the following day after his encounter
with Mugabe at Munhumutapa.
An army official privy to details of the meeting said: "Chiwenga told
Pasi that the army was now supervising ZIMRA operations and warned him to
comply with all directives from ZDF officers. Pasi was also told that he
would now require approval from Chiwenga on any major decision or operation.
"Chihuri weighed in, reminding Pasi to co-operate for his own good
because the police and intelligence officers were holding enough evidence
which the state could easily use to secure a conviction of corruption
against the ZIMRA chief."
ZimOnline was unable to immediately get comment on the matter from
Chiwenga, Chihuri or Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba, while Pasi refused
to discus the matter although insisting he was clean.
Pasi would only say: "I am not going to talk to you. I am clean and
everyone, including the President knows that."
ZimOnline last November reported that Pasi was being investigated by
the police over allegations that he used his powerful position to import
goods from South Africa for his businesses and family worth over 4.5 million
rands without paying duty.
Pasi, in charge of customs and excise collection, was also being
probed over allegations that he and Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa
illegally converted to personal use tax money collected in hard cash from
foreign motorists entering Zimbabwe mainly from South Africa through
Beitbridge border post.
It was after the police unearthed incriminating evidence against Pasi
that Mugabe reportedly decided to move and place overall control of revenue
collection and anti-smuggling operations in the hands of Chiwenga, while
warning the ZIMRA man to desist from corruption or face arrest.
According to our sources, Mugabe particularly quizzed Pasi during
their meeting how he was able to afford a lavish lifestyle that even
"Cabinet ministers could only dream off".
The President is said to have also taken Pasi to task over the way he
was handling ZIMRA funds especially his decision earlier this year to splash
Z$2 trillion on luxury vehicles and allowances for himself and his senior
But Mugabe's decision to place ZIMRA under Chiwenga widens the army's
control of key national institutions.
Among state institutions now under the control of serving or former
officers of the ZDF is national food utility, the Grain Marketing Board,
whose chief executive officer Samuel Muvuti was recruited from the army,
while the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that runs elections in the country
is headed by former High Court Judge and army officer George Chiweshe.
Former military intelligence officer and a lawyer Sobuza Gula-Ndebele
is the Attorney General, a key post in the administration of justice in the
country. - ZimOnline
Tue 4 April 2006
BULAWAYO - Lecturers at Zimbabwe's University of Science and
Technology (NUST) began an indefinite strike over pay at the weekend,
highlighting chaos engulfing state universities many of which have failed to
run lessons in past weeks after a student boycott over a new fee hike.
The situation at NUST had appeared to be slowly getting back to normal
after officials in the Ministry of Higher Education last week urged
authorities at state institutions of higher learning to allow students to
attend lessons while negotiations over fee increases were taking place.
But the chairman of NUST Educators Association that represents
teachers at the state university, Bernard Jekeya, told ZimOnline that they
would not resume teaching until their salaries were increased in line with a
High Court ruling two years ago that compelled university authorities to
hike lecturers' salaries.
"Lecturers are not in class as we speak and will not go back until the
NUST council has resolved the issue of salaries," Jekenya said.
NUST authorities had not increased lecturers' salaries as ordered by
the High Court in 2004 arguing that the university did not have money to pay
the new salaries. The authorities also appealed to the Supreme Court against
the ruling which effectively meant it could not be implemented until after
the appeal was decided.
Jekenya said his association now wanted the university council to act
to expedite resolution of the salaries dispute so lessons could begin.
The lecturers' representative said senior teachers at NUST were
earning about Z$40 million per month, a figure he said was too low for such
highly qualified academic staff.
The lecturers' strike comes barely a week after students at NUST and
other state tertiary schools rioted over increases in their tuition fees by
more than 100 percent.
Strikes by state university lecturers and their students for more
salaries and stipends or for better working and learning conditions are
routine in Zimbabwe, in its sixth year of a bitter economic meltdown that
has left the government with little money to run public institutions.
On the other hand, thousands of university lecturers and school
teachers have fled Zimbabwe over the past six years in many cases to take up
menial but better paying jobs in London and other major capitals.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe says at least 5 000
teachers left Zimbabwe last year alone mostly to go to South Africa,
Botswana and the United Kingdom. - ZimOnline
Speaking in the European Parliament today, Geoffrey Van Orden MEP
expressed concern at the apparent readiness of the European Commission to
release ?1 million in aid to Zimbabwe for so-called parliamentary reform
activity, even if it is administered through the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP), bearing in mind that UNDP has stated that it will work,
"as an impartial and trusted partner with the Zimbabwean Government"!
Geoffrey Van Orden commented:
"The only parliamentary reforms that would be meaningful in Zimbabwe
are free and fair elections and an end to tyranny and political repression.
"Before the European Commission releases any money to Zimbabwe, it
should provide reassurances that this will be of direct benefit to the
suffering people of that country and not used in any way to give comfort to
the Mugabe tyranny.
"With half the rural population surviving on international food aid
and rampant political oppression, it is time the international community
brought the appalling situation in Zimbabwe to the top of its agenda".
AI Index: AFR 32/003/2006 (Public)
News Service No: 083
3 April 2006
Embargo Date: 3 April 2006 08:00 GMT
African Housing ministers meeting in Kenya: Time to show commitment to
addressing housing crisis in Africa
Amnesty International, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, the Kenya
National Commission on Human Rights and Hakijamii Trust are calling on
African housing ministers currently meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, to show
commitment to addressing the housing crisis in Africa.
A coalition spokesperson said at a media conference in Nairobi today,
"Africa is at a crossroads on the housing issue. Sub-Saharan Africa has the
fastest rate of urbanisation in the world and governments cannot solve the
problem with brutal forced evictions that violate human rights, as we have
seen in Zimbabwe, Angola and recently in Kenya."
The African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development (AMCHUD)
meets today and tomorrow in Nairobi to discuss strategies for realising the
Millennium Development Goals relating to slums. However, civil society and
experts have been excluded from the meeting, calling into question the
commitment of African ministers to work with other stakeholders to ensure
everyone can enjoy their internationally recognized right to adequate
"The ministerial meeting in Nairobi provides a good opportunity for African
states to pronounce themselves opposed to forced evictions, to develop human
rights based strategies such as policies and laws to prevent forced
evictions, instigate slum upgrading and provide serviced land for the poor
and access to basic services, and to learn best practices from each other.
But The ministers need to work with other stakeholders to achieve this,"
said a coalition spokesperson.
The coalition pointed to some good examples from Africa. For example, Kenya
is adopting guidelines to prevent and remedy forced evictions, Botswana has
developed certificates of occupancy to ensure secure tenure for residents of
informal settlements, and South Africa has developed legislation that
provides for a rights-based approach to evictions and has enabled victims to
challenge forced evictions in the courts.
The coalition also said that across Africa, hundreds of thousands of people
each year are forcibly evicted -- in many cases being left homeless, losing
their possessions without compensation and/or being forcibly displaced far
from sources of employment, livelihood or education -- in violation of
regional and international human rights standards, including the African
Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. All 54 member states of the African
Union are party to the African Charter while many African governments are
states parties to the Covenant.
In the last two years, violent forced evictions have displaced thousands in
Angola and left hundreds of thousands destitute in Nigeria. In Zimbabwe,
700,000 persons were evicted in 2005 -- plunging the country deeper into
humanitarian crisis -- and in Sudan, mass forced evictions, including of
IDPs in and around Khartoum, are of continuing concern. In Kenya, residents
continue to be violently evicted from forest areas and informal settlements
without adequate resettlement.
For interviews with coalition members please contact:
Amnesty International -- Michelle Kagari, Kenya/Uganda, +256 (0) 77 2722928
Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions -- Malcolm Langford, Kenya, +254
(0)725 988 717
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights -- Godana Doyo, Kenya, +254 0721
For further information, please see A Joint Appeal to African Ministers on
Urban Housing, 3 April 2006, AI Index 32/002/2006
Globe and Mail, Canada
Runaway inflation in Zimbabwe makes AIDS drugs too costly for many
From Monday's Globe and Mail
HARARE - Moleen Mudimu knows three things about anti-retrovirals. She knows
that the drugs would keep her alive, that they are for sale in the pharmacy
less than one kilometre from her house, and that, thanks to Zimbabwe's
economic implosion, she can no longer afford to buy them, just as she has
grown sick to the point of dying.
All over Africa there are people with AIDS who cannot get access to the
drugs that would keep them alive, because of cost or logistics. But there is
a particularly vicious quality to what is happening in Zimbabwe today, where
well-educated, gainfully employed people -- people well-versed in the
workings of ARVs thanks to the government's own awareness campaigns --
cannot afford to start or to stay on the drugs because rampant inflation
(running at least 700 per cent per month) and a crucial foreign-exchange
shortage have, over the past few months, pushed prices entirely out of
That means some people such as Ms. Mudimu cannot begin the treatment they
need now, and others who were buying the locally made drugs cannot afford to
stay on them, which is not only a death sentence for the individuals, but
raises the spectre of a spread of a drug-resistant strain of HIV across the
Ms. Mudimu's husband is a security guard who earns $4-million Zimbabwe
dollars a month (or $25 Canadian on the unofficial exchange rate); she
earned another $1-million as a trader until she got too sick to work last
fall. But the price of ARVs at their local pharmacy in a lower-middle-class
neighbourhood of Harare is now $4-million for a monthly course and rising
daily. Their choice is to buy the drugs, or to pay the rent and buy food and
clothes and pay for school for their two sons. "I need the tablets," said
Ms. Mudimu, who has grown so thin the flesh hollows between the bones in her
arms. "But I can't have them."
Two blocks from the Mudimus is the home of an HIV-positive corporal in the
Zimbabwe armed forces and his family. A year ago, he was enrolled in the
military's AIDS treatment plan, and his wife started the drugs in May. But
in August, when they went to collect their prescriptions, the army doctors
told them they had nothing to give them: they said their drug supplier,
Varichem Pharmaceuticals Ltd., had no foreign currency with which to buy raw
materials and so had suspended production. (Varichem acknowledges purchasing
woes, but denies a shutdown.) Either way, the army was out of drugs. The
corporal and his wife turned to a private pharmacy to maintain their supply
of life-saving medication, and that got them through the next four months.
But now they need $7-million a month to buy the pills, and his salary is
"We don't have any more saved, and we have nothing to sell," the man said.
(Afraid of repercussions for speaking with a foreign journalist, he did not
wish to be quoted by name.)
So what happens? "I guess now we die," his wife said, with a small bitter
They have taken in an orphaned 14-year-old niece with AIDS and the child is
in dire need of treatment -- stunted, and covered in fungal infections. But
there is no money for drugs for her, or for the CD4 count, a basic measure
of the immune system, which she would need to get a prescription. That test
cost $21-million last week, up 80 per cent from the cost in January. Many
labs say that in any case, they can no longer buy the imported chemicals
needed to run the tests.
"People are just fighting to get hold of the drugs," said the head of one
the few international aid agencies still operating in Zimbabwe. "And there's
not enough. You can't get figures or stats, but we know first-hand that
people are off their meds because they can't afford them."
An estimated 21 per cent of Zimbabwe's 12.5 million people are infected with
HIV, that's down from 24 per cent a few years back, which the government of
President Robert Mugabe is claiming as a huge achievement, although much of
that decline is likely due to the death of infected people: 3,000 people a
week die of AIDS here.
The country's once robust economy has collapsed, after a highly politicized
land-reform campaign begun by Mr. Mugabe in 1998, which decimated the
commercial farming sector. Lacking exports, the government has no foreign
exchange and the value of the Zimbabwe dollar drops so fast that foreign
banks won't accept it. Now there is a national blood shortage, so people
with HIV are routinely denied transfusions, on the grounds that this would
"waste" limited blood supplies. Health-care staff are paid erratically or
not at all -- with wages long since outstripped by inflation -- and in
protest are often on "go-slow" so public clinics don't operate.
International agencies say large quantities of drugs are skimmed off the
public supply by hungry staff and sold on the black market.
Christopher Chitemerere, marketing manager for Varichem, said the company
was meeting all the demand of both its public sector and private buyers,
despite the challenges presented by the foreign exchange shortage. But off
the record, staff at UNAIDS and Unicef say that the two UN agencies have had
to provide infusions of cash to keep the company stocked in drug ingredients
since last October in order to maintain supply to the government's public
Similar cash bail-outs from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria
have reportedly been needed to keep drugs going to the missionary hospitals.
But the free government clinics have closed their massive waiting lists and
stopped enrolling patients.
While some 320,000 Zimbabweans are so sick they need the drugs today, only
20,000 people are getting them.
An estimated 15,000 people are receiving the drugs for free at present from
the government (the government says more, but donors say the figures are
inflated) but it is not clear how long they will continue to be supplied.
"If people stop taking them en masse, because supplies run out or they can't
afford them, you're going to have resistant strains of HIV all over the
country," a senior official with an aid agency here said. "But no one is
talking about that."
Last May, Mr. Mugabe launched Operation Murambatsvina, or "drive out the
filth," which demolished low-income housing all over the city, a thinly
veiled effort to push the urban poor, seen as opposition supporters, into
destitution in the countryside. That interrupted the treatment of hundreds
of people, few of whom have found their way back into care.
The 15,000 people receiving drugs through the public sector program in
Zimbabwe are only a third as many people as in the country's much poorer
neighbours. Sanctions against the Mugabe regime mean that Zimbabwe receives
only an estimated $8 (U.S.) per person with HIV compared to $184 (U.S.) in
Zambia next door; foreign technical assistance is equally scarce.
"There are still a lot of good people in this health system, who are doing
the best they can," the foreign treatment expert said. "But they're fighting
a disintegrating system. And in Zimbabwe, it could really be different."
Africa correspondent Stephanie Nolen slipped into Zimbabwe recently,
travelling through the country for a week to document the devastating legacy
of President Robert Mugabe's 26-year rule. Forced to travel as a tourist
because the government is refusing entry to most journalists, Ms. Nolen's
series of articles paint a picture of a once-thriving country that has all
but collapsed. Out of fear of retribution, many people asked that only first
names or pseudonyms be used.
By Lance Guma
03 April 2006
Based on a random sampling of 26 colleges around Zimbabwe there are
indications that up to 40 percent of students have dropped out because of
the new tuition fees introduced by government. Washington Katema president
of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) made the announcement on
Monday. The student body has been on a tour of 26 out of 36 colleges so far
and Katema says 84 000 out of a total 210 000 students have been forced to
leave college because they can't raise the Z$30 to Z$70 million in tuition
fees that are now required. Although the tour is yet to visit 10 more
colleges ZINASU fear the trend is not likely to change.
Katema says the government is defying a High Court ruling that set
aside the fee increases. A High Court judge ruled that the authorities could
not raise fees above the support rate for students but Washington Mbizo,
permanent secretary in the Higher Education Ministry, recently told the
state media the students had to pay up. To demonstrate government resolve
the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) recently erected a
barbed wire fence around the campus and introduced new ID cards to keep
track of students who had not paid up. The National students body says
education in the country is in the intensive care unit. They never thought
they would see the day barbed wire fences are erected around colleges to
keep out students. 'This only happened in apartheid South Africa,' Katema
The Bulawayo Polytechnic has similarly barred students from paying any
exam fees if they have not paid tuition fees. The move will result in
thousands of students countrywide failing to write their exams for the year.
As if that was not enough even the students who have paid tuition fees
at NUST are getting no lectures at all after teaching staff went on strike
over poor salaries.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
03/04/2006 11:36 - (SA)
Harare - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has defended his party's decision
not to grant hero status to a prominent nationalist fighter turned
government critic who died last week, a newspaper reported on Monday.
James Robert Dambaza Chikerema, a nephew of the president who played a key
role in Zimbabwe's struggle for independence over more than two decades, was
not given national hero status because he was "not consistent to the end,"
the Herald newspaper quoted Mugabe as saying.
Many of those who fought in Zimbabwe's bush war have been buried with full
honours at the National Heroes Acre, an exclusive burial site in Harare.
Their funerals are televised live on the state's sole TV channel and
However, critics say the graveyard has become a preserve of those loyal to
Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF).
Chikerema, who died last week in the US, was instead buried on Sunday at his
rural home in Zvimba, central Zimbabwe. Mugabe attended the funeral.
"Comrade Mugabe said the ruling party's policy was that a person should have
participated in the struggle and continued to be consistent to the end even
after independence but Comrade Chikerema did not do so after independence,"
said the Herald.
Chikerema retired from active politics at independence in 1980, but
frequently criticised Mugabe and his policies. - Sapa-dpa
The Herald (Harare)
April 3, 2006
Posted to the web April 3, 2006
THERE was an increase in poaching activities between 1996 and 2000 with the
Parks and Wildlife Management Authority having experienced high incidence of
the scourge, the House of Assembly heard last week.
This resulted in the loss of 209 elephants, 138 buffaloes and 108 impalas.
Chairperson of the portfolio committee on Public Accounts, Ms Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga, who is also MP for Glen Norah (MDC), told the House
last week that an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor-General had shown an
increase in poaching. She was presenting a report of the committee on the
value for money audit on the protection and conservation of wildlife.
The lawmaker said the audit conducted between 1996 and 2000 in Masvingo,
Matabeleland North and Midlands provinces revealed increased poaching
activities. "In evidence before your committee, the permanent secretary in
the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (Ms Margaret Sangarwe), confirmed
that the poaching incidents were indeed very high." Ms Sangarwe was also
said to have informed the committee that efforts were being made for joint
operations to be conducted with the army to curb the rampant poaching of
The audit, Ms Misihairabw i-Mushonga said, attributed the rampant poaching
to low scout-density ratio which stood at one scout per every 112,23 square
kilometres instead of one scout for every 20 square kilometres. In some
cases, general hands were being employed as scouts and there was suspicion
that some of them were involved in the poaching as organised poaching
syndicates, she said.
The authority also failed to achieve its intended objectives of reducing
poaching by year 2000 due to other factors that included lack of training
for scouts coupled with inadequate communication and other necessary
equipment. Ms Misihairabwi-Mushonga said the audit also revealed that of the
777 animals that were translocated between a 1998 and 2000, about 255 of
them died due to negligence and poor communication between the capturing and
the receiving stations.
She said the Comptroller and Auditor General informed the committee that the
authority's operations in conserving wildlife were fraught with insufficient
rese arch conducted into wildlife dynamics as evidenced by the unsustainable
utilisation of wildlife. "This was glaring in the authority's failure to
carry out research before allocating and utilising quotas. The authority was
allocating quotas to private landowners, rural district councils and other
authorities without conducting the necessary research into wildlife
population dynamics," Ms Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.
The committee recommended that a monitoring system be put in place for
conservancies and rural district councils on utilisation of quotas during
hunts in order to ensure sustainable utilisation of wildlife. The parks
authority was urged to urgently come up with strategies that would ensure
the country gets maximum benefit from the transfrontier project. Ms
Misihairabwi-Mushonga said there was need for educational campaigns against
poaching as some of the activities were due to ignorance. The committee also
recommended that the authority speed up the appointment of substantive
officers in top management to improve decision making while the
investigation branch should be strategically positioned to maximise
intelligence gathering on poaching activities. Contributing to debate on the
report, Mbare MP Mr Gift Chimanikire (MDC) said natural resources should be
guarded jealously as these were a heritage.
By Ian Nhuka in Bulawayo
MARTIN Mutengwa, a Zimbabwean farmer, was hopeful of a bountiful
harvest when the current agricultural season started with heavy rains last
But all the hope for a good harvest have evaporated. Mutengwa, 46, who
was allocated a 300-hectare farm in the Gutu area of Masvingo province under
President Robert Mugabe's land redistribution exercise in 2001, is so
critically short of labour that he now fears, he might not realise a decent
harvest despite the otherwise plentiful rains.
"I failed to weed about 10 hectares of my maize field because there is
no labour around here," he said, showing this reporter part of the field
where the yellowish maize crop has been choked by weeds, about a metre tall.
"Other farmers complain when we meet at field days that labour is
short. Our national leaders in ZFU (Zimbabwe Farmers' Union) say it is a
national problem but I do not know why we have this problem when white
farmers did not," he mused.
Mutengwa has already slashed his projected yield by about 80 metric
His nightmare, he says is set to continue up to harvest time, which
starts in the next few weeks.
Many more farmers countrywide who were allocated land which Mugabe has
been confiscating from white commercial farmers since 2000, are short of
manpower, prompting agriculture experts to warn of a further decline in
production this summer season, running from October to March.
Mugabe launched the land seizure campaign in 2000 saying it was meant
to correct colonial era ownership imbalances where about 4 500 whites owned
the bulk of prime land in this southern African country of 13 million
About 100 whites remain on their land while those who were displaced
have settled in countries such as Zambia and Nigeria.
The majority of the more than 500 000 former farm labourers who used
to work for the commercial farmers are reluctant to work for the new land
owners. They say they lack resources to pay them decent wages.
Natalie Ncube, 35, formerly of The Grange, 15km west of Bulawayo is
one such reluctant worker.
A farm worker for about 15 years, she quit after her former employer
lost his farm in 2002. She now does small jobs at gold mines in the area
where wages are higher than on the farms.
"I cannot work for Z$500 000 (US$5) per month. It cannot even buy a
bag of maize (corn) meal. It is an insult for one to get so little when
prices of goods rise every day. There is not much production going on on
the farms anyway. I cannot spend the whole month toiling on the farm for
Z$500 000, when prices are increasing daily."
Zimbabwe is facing a six-year economic recession which analysts blame
on President Mugabe's chaotic land reforms, which they say have reduced food
production by more than 30 percent since 2000.
Inflation is at 782 percent while unemployment is around 70 percent
while fuel, food and foreign currency shortages are common.
Kastigu Juwakinyu, 45, used to work at a farm in Bubi area, just
outside Bulawayo in western Zimbabwe but has taken to illegal gold mining in
"If I work hard in one day I can get a gram of gold and sell it for
about Z$1,000, 000 (about US$10). So why would I work for a low wage?"
asked the Mozambican-born father of four.
Consumer watchdog, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, says a family of
six needs about Z$28 million (about US$280 at the official exchange rate)
monthly to lead a decent life.
John Robertson, a Harare-based economic consultant warns that the
shortage of labour is likely to adversely affect production. He said the
new landowners, numbering about 200,000 use labour intensive methods whereas
the displaced white producers used machinery.
"The new farmers have to rely on manual labour because they do not
have money to buy equipment or herbicides. Banks will not give them loans
because they do not have security or any credit rating," said
"The effect will be felt definitely because in farming, if for
example, you do not weed your field, weeds would choke your crops. If that
happens your crop quality and quantity is bound to suffer," he added.
Robertson warned the manpower crisis is set to worsen during
harvesting time starting next month.
Davison Mugabe, president of the mainly black Zimbabwe Commercial
Farmers' Union (ZCFU) agreed that members of his union are facing a
"People are there but for unknown reasons they are unwilling to work.
We cannot force them to work but some of them are living on houses on
the farms, yet they are reluctant to work on those properties."
Most farm workers in Zimbabwe are of Mozambican or Malawian decent who
trekked to their neighbour during in the 1960s, so they do not have other
homes apart from their farm lodgings.
The ZCFU leader agreed with Robertson that despite the wet spell, the
unavailability of manpower for weeding, planting and harvesting would knock
down the yield this year.
A recent report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
said Zimbabwe is likely to produce 900,000 metric tonnes of maize, or around
two-thirds of its annual national requirements, of about 1,4 million metric
An agriculture labour union blames the lack of labour on low wages.
Gertrude Hambira of the General Agricultural Plantation Workers Union
Of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ) said most farmers pay wages as low as US$6 for a
26-working month instead of US$20.
"Quite a large number of the new farmers are failing to pay government
sanctioned wages, and this is driving away farm workers. It has to be
remembered that farm workers buy from the same shops as other citizens," she
recently told the United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks.
Acknowledging the crisis, Agriculture minister, Joseph Made, said the
best way to go was to mechanise farm operations. However, the government
and new farmers do not have resources for such a scheme.
"Emphasis must be put on mechanisation so that we need fewer workers.
But we know that we need massive resources to do that. Full
mechanisation takes a long time so it is normal that any new farmer would
face such a problem," he said.
Production of tobacco, the biggest foreign currency earner, has been
hit hard, Made said.
Some of the tobacco producers delayed picking the key export crop as a
Tobacco, called the golden leaf in Zimbabwe, used to be the largest
foreign currency earner before the land redistribution programme as it
accounted for about 20 percent of aggregate inflows per year.
An agricultural economist, Thomas Nherera, said in the past during
peak production periods, commercial farmers used to recruit seasonal labour
from rural areas around their properties but that is now impossible because
of fuel shortages.
Zimbabwe is facing a severe shortage of fuel because it lacks foreign
currency to pay foreign suppliers. As a result the formal market is dry of
the commodity. However enterprising cross border traders import in from
neighbouring Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa and sell it on
illegal market where its prices are 10 times more than the official price.
Nherera, also a prominent farmer, said the new farmers faced a weeding
nightmare since they cannot afford to buy herbicides for weed control.
"Because of the limited supply of fuel; farmers cannot use
diesel-powered cultivators and other implements," he added.
By Tichaona Sibanda
03 April 2006
MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai has began his nationwide tour to
drum-up support for his party's planned peaceful mass protests aimed at
forcing Robert Mugabe to a dialogue.
The MDC leader kicked off his nationwide campaign with a rally in
Mkoba, Gweru on Saturday, followed by one in Masvingo on Sunday.
Tsvangirai told thousands of party supporters at the two rallies that
mass anti-government protests will go ahead despite threats from Mugabe that
he will never allow protests to happen in Zimbabwe.
Addressing mourners at the burial of his chief bodyguard at the Heroes
Acre in Harare on Saturday, Mugabe reminded Tsvangirai that his ruling party
were battle-hardened and would not be removed from power by threats.
Tsvangirai was unfazed by the chilling threats from Mugabe telling
supporters in Masvingo Sunday that he was willing to pay the ultimate price
by leading the mass protests.
Mugabe said that the MDC should concentrate on using the ballot to
remove his party from power, a remark that forced Tsvangirai to tell MDC
supporters in Mkoba that the regime can never be ousted through the ballot
because Zanu PF always rig elections.
MDC Mayor of Gweru Fedel Zvidzayi said Tsvangirai's message to the
people in the city was that the writing was now on the wall for the ruling
He said apart from fighting growing dissent from the MDC Zanu (PF) was
also fighting another bitter war with the country's economy, which it is
losing dismally. Tsvangirai explained the current state of affairs in the
country where people are dying of hunger, where all public hospitals are
failing to deliver. He also looked at the deteriorating case of students and
the general outlook of the economy which is in the 'intensive care unit.'
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
April 03, 2006 14:49 PM
From R. Ravichandran
HARARE, April 3 (Bernama) -- The Malaysian private sector is encouraged to
invest in Zimbabwe as the country is still a safe destination for business.
Speaking to a group of Malaysian journalists here, Malaysia's ambassador to
Zimbabwe, Cheah Choong Kit, said the potential areas were agriculture,
mining, tourism and infrastructure development.
Cheah said despite the economic difficulties being faced by the southern
African nation of about 11.3 million people, the Malaysian business
community should make efforts to have a presence in Zimbabwe so that when
things improved, they will be in a positition to capitalise on trade and
"Hope before it is too late... come here and study for yourself," he said.
According to Cheah, the Zimbabwe government is taking various steps to
improve the economic conditions and investment climate.
"Things are improving and will improve. In fact, I would encourage
Malaysians to come and see the potential in different areas," he said.
He added that by visiting Zimbabwe, the private sector and the Malaysian
business community would know about the situation in Zimbabwe, which is
still a safe destination for tourists and investments.
Cheah noted that Malaysia was going to embark on the importation of halal
meat from Zimbabwe as it has quality beef.
He said Malaysia could also be promoted as a centre of excellence in
education to Zimbabweans, encouraging them to study in Malaysia.
Currently, Malaysia's main exports to Zimbabwe are electronic and electrical
products, while imports are mainly agricultural products and tobacco.
Zimbabwe's major exports are agriculture (tobacco, sugar, horticulture, beef
and coffee), minerals (asbestos, nickel, platinum, gold and black granite)
and manufactured products (ferro-alloys, cotton lint, iron and steel and
Major imports are fuel, electricity, chemicals, machinery, base metals and
products, transportation equipment, plastic, rubber and electrical products.
Its major export partners are Germany, the United Kingdom, South Africa,
Japan, China and the United States while major import partners are South
Africa, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, the UK, the US, and
April 3, 2006
By ANDnetwork .com
The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) is in talks with
investors to raise about $2 trillion for the refurbishment of airports.
CAAZ chief executive officer, Mr David Chawota, said in an interview
with Business Chronicle that CAAZ was in negotiations with foreign and local
investors to seal joint ventures to upgrade airports in line with
"There are some investors willing to conclude joint ventures with CAAZ
though details of the negotiations are still premature we expect to conclude
them soon," said Mr Chawota.
He said that the joint venture talks were subject to considerations
from the Ministry of Transport and Communications which is responsible for
"The joint venture negotiations will only become a reality once they
are approved by our parent ministry," said Mr Chawota.
He declined to provide the amount of funds required in the
refurbishment exercise, but sources close to CAAZ operations said that the
organisation requires about $2 trillion.
The CAAZ has in the past three years failed to complete the
refurbishment of airports due to foreign currency shortages.
This has resulted in the refurbishment exercise running behind
schedule due to inflation which eroded production costs.
The Minister of Transport and Communications, Cde Chris Mushohwe,has
mandated the CAAZ management to implement reforms envisaged at running the
corporation on commercial basis.
In terms of the CAAZ recapitalisation policy done by the Ministry,the
parastatal was expected to implement revenue generating systems, reduce
dependency on borrowings from the treasury and introducing corporate
The recapitalisation process for CAAZ was being done to improve the
operations of airports in a order to reattract some international airlines
that were no longer plying their routes to Zimbabwe citing a volatile
economic climate and high costs of landing.
"The reforms are also aimed at increasing foreign tourist arrivals in
Zimbabwe from traditional and new markets," said Mr Chawota.
Statistics carried out by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority( ZTA) showed
that the country's tourism sector had suffered a 49 percent drop in eranings
to US$98 million in 2005 from US$198 million the previous year.
Mr Chawota said that some investors were evaluating the CAAZ
recapitalisation policy before agreeing to terms of the joint venture
"Some of the investors are still assessing our turnaround strategies
before finalising deals with CAAZ," he said.
Mr Chawota said that the CAAZ was working on measures to complete the
refurbishment of airports before end of the year.
"CAAZ is expecting to finalise the refurbishment of airports anytime
this year, the organisation has secured funding from the treasury to
accelerate the process," he said.
Airports whose refurbishments were not yet completed by CAAZ include
the Victoria Falls airport, Buffallo Range airport and the Joshua Mqabuko
The CAAZ has also been courting Asian investors on joint ventures
through the guidelines of the Government's Look East Policy.
Source : Zimbabwe Chronicle
April 03 2006 at 10:16AM
By Jennifer Stern
There's an old saying that change is the only constant - and a visit
to Vic Falls is certainly proof thereof. The first time I visited, in 1991,
it was a bustling, thriving over-traded tourist destination.
The camp site was full of little backpacker tents and overland trucks,
and the town was a party venue of note. But if you wanted a bit of peace and
quiet, you could hop across the border to the sleepy little backwater of
I've been back more times than I can remember since then, dividing my
attentions equally between the two sides of the river. And, yes, the only
constant is change.
Over the past few years, particularly, the Zambian side of the river
has grown in leaps and bounds, largely as a result of Zimbabwe's political
As news of farm invasions, fuel queues and Robert Mugabe's "clean-up"
operations dominate the foreign media, most tourists tend to steer clear of
Zimbabwe, and Livingstone has become a destination of note.
Well, that's good news and bad news. If you're the type of person
who'd have chosen Livingstone in the 1990s, you'd probably prefer Vic Falls
Yes, it's a lot quieter, and that buzzing vibe of constant activity
has calmed down somewhat, but Vic Falls is tough and seems to be surviving
the hard times Zim is going through. I spent a short while there recently,
and was pleased to see that there is still so much going on.
We'd driven in from Hwange, so we did our first stop en route.
Shearwater Elephant Company and Shearwater Lion Adventures are situated on
the Nakavango Game Reserve, about 15km from town on the airport-Hwange road.
We were a bit pushed for time, so we just had a short interaction with
the elephants, but I'd done the full riding experience a few years back, and
I have happy memories of heading out into the bush.
After petting the elephants for a while, we headed off to the Lion
Adventure, close by. This is new since I'd last been to Vic Falls.
We all lined up and waited while three young lions came bounding up to
us, tails swishing around energetically. We kept well back from them as they
ambled off through the bush under the beady eyes of their trainers, who kept
them on track with voice commands and the odd reward.
We watched them climb trees, bound through the grass and tumble over
each other, and then - after the trainers had got them quietly lying down -
had a chance to pet them.
Young they might be, but these are still lions and they can do some
serious harm, so we treated them with respect. I was pleased to hear that
these animals are all rescued orphans that are hand-reared, and then trained
for a career in the tourist and movie industries, and that they're not
destined for canned hunting programmes.
We followed these intimate wildlife experiences with a game drive and
a delicious fireside dinner, and then made a beeline for our comfy hotel in
Next morning, bright and early, we headed off to see what else is new
in Vic Falls. I was keen to do the ultralight float plane, but it was being
serviced, so I couldn't. Bad timing.
I did get a good view of the falls from a helicopter, though, which is
always a pleasure - even though we didn't see any angels. Other new products
include a gorge swing, which I had absolutely no desire to do, and the
The gorge swing is really scary. You do a 77m freefall and then swing
out over the river. Eeeeek! Not for me. In fact, I was even too scared to do
the bridge tour, which half of our group went on. It involves walking up,
over and under the bridge, which was a hundred years old last year. I'm sure
it's perfectly safe, but I and heights just don't go together.
I love the white-water rafting and would certainly have chosen that if
we'd had time, but we were flying out that afternoon, so I opted for the jet
boat - another new product since I'd last been there.
En route we had a quick look at the gorge swing launch platform, which
had me practically throwing up at the mere thought, and dropped off those of
our group who were doing the bridge tour. We then had a quick safety
briefing, donned lifejackets and helmets, and set off on a long, steep walk
down to the river.
Seeing I was a tad nervous, the guide took my hand and gently helped
me past the scary bits. "It's a good thing you didn't decide to do the
bridge tour," my host, Brett, said. "You wouldn't have enjoyed it."
I agreed, particularly later, when we waved at our friends on the
bridge from the boat. They looked very exposed.
The boat, however, was great fun. (OK - we're all different. I'm
terrified of heights, but quite happy in water.) It sounds hectic, but it's
actually quite gentle. With 2x240hp engines, it has sufficient power to take
even the Zambezi rapids in its stride - upstream.
That's what it's all about, really. You get to go upstream right to
the base of the falls for a view that is certainly unsurpassed - and
possibly unequalled - in the world. And, yes, you do play in the rapids a
bit, too. And you get very wet.
We were there in high water, so by the time we were at the edge of the
Boiling Pot - the huge pool directly below the falls - one of our group
mentioned it would have been a good idea to bring shampoo.
It was a really rushed trip, but we managed to fit in some fun
activities, and even an obligatory stop at the craft market, before we
ducked off to the airport.
If you go ...
a.. Flame of Africa, who are the sole agents for Flame Lily Holidays,
0861-312-312, email@example.com, www.flamelily.co.za, offers a range of
packages starting at R2 400 per person sharing, which includes return
flights from Joburg and two nights accommodation on a B&B basis.
a.. Shearwater Adventures offers a range of activities, including
bridge tours, bungy-jumping, elephant riding, walking with lions, helicopter
flights, ultralight float plane flights, gorge swing, foefie slide, flying
fox and gentle canoeing game-viewing trips on the flat water above the
falls. Cost of activities range from US$30 for the sunset cruise to US$170
for the helicopter and ultralight game- and falls-viewing flights. The
rafting costs US$110 for full day and US$95 for half-day. The elephant and
lion adventures are US$100 each. But, for US$205, you can do any three
Shearwater adventures and, for US$290, any five, which offers a real saving.
.. Jennifer Stern was a guest of Flame of Africa and Shearwater
This article was originally published on page 20 of The Star on April
From The Globe & Mail (Canada), 3 April
Glendale - In the end the miracle baby needed one more miracle, and it
didn't come in time. A year ago, Globe readers met Tambudsai Chigwida and
her son Ishanesu. Then three months old, the boy weighed just 3.3 pounds.
Ms. Chigwida has AIDS, and she delivered her son almost three months early,
a common occurrence for HIV-positive African women. She gave birth at home
but somehow toted her tiny son (then just two pounds) to Howard Hospital, a
bare-bones mission clinic run by the Salvation Army 30 kilometres away.
There, staff defied even their own determinedly optimistic expectations and
kept the baby alive. They described him variously as a fighter, a baby
specially blessed by God and, often, a little miracle. Ms. Chigwida herself
then weighed less than 66 pounds; she was wasted, coughing, dull-eyed and
sallow-skinned. A few days after she arrived at the hospital, her tests
confirmed she was HIV-positive and she began anti-retroviral treatment while
she kept close watch on the incubator that kept Ishanesu warm. A year later,
Ms. Chigwida is almost unrecognizable: the ARV drugs have worked their
magic. She weighs 88 pounds, her skin has lustre, and she is quick to laugh.
But there were no drugs for Ishanesu. It seems almost certain that Ms.
Chigwida passed the human immunodeficiency virus to her baby at birth,
although the only test that would have confirmed this in a child less than
18 months of age costs several hundred dollars and is beyond the reach of
the mission hospital. Similarly, pediatric formulations of ARVs are not
available in Zimbabwe, as in most of the rest of Africa. So when Ms.
Chigwida finally took her child home from hospital, a bit less than a year
ago, it was only to bring him back again, month after month. He had
tuberculosis, he had oral thrush, he had diarrhea, he had skin infections,
he had fevers. And on Feb. 19, he died in the noisy children's ward at
Howard, joining the half of all babies with HIV who don't make it to the age
of 2. He never passed eight pounds - a normal Canadian baby's typical birth
weight - in his year of life. It would have been possible to treat Ishanesu
for HIV based on his symptoms alone, without testing him - but the AIDS
clinic at Howard had nothing with which to treat him. "We can't get [ARV]
tablets for children," one Howard Hospital doctor said, asking not to be
identified by name because any conversation with the foreign media can be
viewed askance by the Zimbabwe government these days.
The standard first-line regimen for ARV treatment in southern Africa costs
about $260 a year for each adult patient and $1,600 in a pediatric
formulation, according to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. In
Zimbabwe, AIDS causes nearly half of all deaths of children under 5. About
500,000 children die each year. But because it is easy to prevent the
transmission of HIV from mother to children, almost no children in developed
countries are infected at birth or by breastfeeding the way Ishanesu was
inadvertently infected. Consequently, there is no paying market for
pediatric drugs, and pharmaceutical companies have had little incentive to
invest in developing them, or any pressure to lower prices. Only in the past
two years - more than 20 years into the AIDS pandemic - have the major
players in AIDS prevention and treatment begun to turn their attention to
pediatric drugs. The William Jefferson Clinton Foundation has convinced some
pharmaceutical firms to lower prices for poor countries, while last week the
U.S. government and Unicef announced a new initiative to work with industry
to push down costs and find more drugs and tests specifically for children.
"He never walked, he never crawled, he never sat," Ms. Chigwida said of her
son. "He was always in the children's ward." One senses a certain sad relief
in her, after a year of struggling to care for this child who couldn't get
well. She has three other children at home - all of them healthy, she
reports with pleasure - and fields she must farm. She has no trouble doing
the work now - her CD4 count, a measure of the immune system, has climbed
from below 100 when she began ARVs to 700, the count of a healthy person
without HIV. The rains were good this year, she said happily, so she expects
a good harvest and to gain even more weight. Her neighbours marvel at the
change in her, she said. Her sister, who began to get sick at the same time
she did, didn't get to the clinic and never got tested for HIV or on to the
drugs. "I was worse," Ms. Chigwida said, "but she died." The latest miracle
in her life is the ARVs. "I'll never miss one!" she said.