The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

South Africa's Mbeki defends Zimbabwe's controversial land reform

Monsters and Critics

Apr 6, 2007, 16:39 GMT

Johannesburg - South African President Thabo Mbeki on Friday defended the
controversial land reform policies of neighbouring Zimbabwe as necessary
measures to correct the effects of colonialism, reports said.

The government of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe in following the 2001
reform removed thousands of white farmers from farmland in his country in an
often chaotic fashion. The action is considered one of the triggers of the
collapse of the economy of the once prosperous country.

Mbeki, who has been appointed the point man of the regional Southern African
Development Community (SADC) on Zimbabwe, said further that it was urgent
that new black African farmers in Zimbabwe be provided with agricultural

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Iran to fund Zimbabwe radio station


FRIDAY, APRIL 06, 2007

Zimbabwe is to set up a new radio station to counter what it
perceives as propaganda from outside countries against Robert Mugabe, the
country's president.

Zimbabwe's information minister made the announcement after
talks on Friday with Rasoul Momeni, Iran's ambassador to Harare, in a deal
to refurbish public broadcasting studios in Bulawayo.

Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told the Ziana state news agency: "We are
under siege and being bombarded by the Western media broadcasting to our

"There will be a revolutionary development in the media. We
should be able to tell our own story."

The short-wave station, the fifth to be run by the state, will
go on air before April 18 when the country commemorates its 27th
independence anniversary, according to the agency and the country's Daily
Herald newspaper.

Iran has already funded the upgrading of studios in the capital,
the new station will cost $39.6m.

In the face of growing criticism of his human-rights record,
Mugabe has in recent years increasingly turned to other countries, including
Iran, for help.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe: When a Fairy Tale Becomes a Gory Nightmare

African Path

April 06, 2007 02:35 PM

The year was 1979 and on Radio Cameroon (there was no TV then)

was a permanent if not dominant fixture on the international news. The
racist Ian Smith regime had been replaced by the black government of Bishop
Abel Muzorewa - a suspect government which for all intents and purposes was
merely an extension of the racist Smith regime. Zimbabwean nationalists in
exile led by Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe fiercely challenged the farce.
And the rest of the world agreed. In the end, Muzorewa was dragged kicking
and screaming to London for talks at Lancaster House under the auspices of
Lord Carrington.

One didn't need to be a grown up back then to understand what was at
stake; white supremacist rule (hiding behind Muzorewa's black face) vs.
black majority rule represented by Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe. How we
envied Zimbabwe when the Lancaster talks ended with an agreement for new
internationally supervised elections! This was a time when Cameroon was
solidly under the control of a dictator called Ahmadou Ahidjo; an era of
rule by terror which a generation of Cameroonians cannot begin to relate to
and even occasionally romanticize - the result of a quarter of a century of
misrule by Ahidjo's successor Paul  Biya..

And how we again turned green with envy when Zimbabwe became
independent on April 18, 1980 after free and fair elections that saw Mugabe
besting his old comrade in arms Joshua Nkomo! Racist Rhodesia was finally
dead and black-led Zimbabwe born. Even the great Bob Marley, that immortal
icon of our generation, showed up for the party to sing his famous tribute
to the new nation:

Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny,

And in this judgement there is no partiality.

So arm in arms, with arms, we'll fight this little struggle,

'Cause that's the only way we can overcome our little trouble.

Natty Dread it in-a (Zimbabwe);

Set it up in (Zimbabwe);

Mash it up-a in-a Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe);

Africans a-liberate (Zimbabwe), yeah.

But that euphoria did not last long and the honeymoon was soon over.
In 1982 the affable Joshua Nkomo was accused for attempting to overthrow
Mugabe's regime. Mugabe then unleashed a six-year reign of terror in Nkomo's
native Matabeleland where, according to some estimates, the North-Korean
trained Fifth Brigade allegedly killed about 40,000 people - nearly twice
the number who died during the war of liberation. Mugabe called the campaign
"Operation Gukuruhundi", meaning "the wind that sweeps away the chaff".
Zimbabwe had lost its luster. And suddenly, Paul Biya's Cameroon felt a
million times safer . and freer!!!

No more internal power struggle;

We come together to overcome the little trouble.

Soon we'll find out who is the real revolutionary,

'Cause I don't want my people to be contrary.

By the time Mugabe got his way and imposed one-party rule in the late
eighties, Zimbabwe was faithfully following that disheartening political
blueprint which newly-independent African states used in the 1960s;
excessively high hopes at the birth of the nation followed by a short
honeymoon; then the imposition of one-man-one-party rule and the jailing of
political opponents; the pauperization of the masses and the illicit
enrichment of a select few; the institution of a culture of fear and brutal
repression; economic stagnation and the collapse of the middle class;  the
descent into the abyss and the loss of innocence.

To divide and rule could only tear us apart;

In everyman chest, mm - there beats a heart.

So soon we'll find out who is the real revolutionaries;

And I don't want my people to be tricked by mercenaries

But the worse was yet to come with the bungled land distribution
campaign and Mugabe's maniacal obsession with hanging to power whatever the
cost. Whatever one's take on the historical legitimacy (or lack thereof) of
the land distribution campaign, it is now evident that this was a
fly-by-night operation whose implementation was driven primarily by cynical
political and populist motives. This was not a carefully planned program
aimed at rectifying the errors of the past and at jump-starting the
Zimbabwean economy. The end result is there for all to see. As Zimbabwean
Bishops lament in a recent pastoral letter:

"Following a radical land reform programme seven years ago, many
people are today going to bed hungry and wake up to a day without work.
Hundreds of companies were forced to close. Over 80 per cent of the people
of Zimbabwe are without employment. Scores risk their lives week after week
in search of work in neighbouring countries. Inflation has soared to over
1,600 per cent, and continues to rise, daily. It is the highest in the world
and has made the life of ordinary Zimbabweans unbearable."

The downhill slide would continue with the mass eviction of "illegal
dwellers" across the country in the infamous "operation Murambatsvina" (get
rid of the filth) of 2005. The operation, which had strong political and
partisan undertones, only worsened the socio-economic situation in the
country. According a United Nations fact finding mission:

"It estimated that some 700,000 people in cities across the country
have lost either their homes, their source of livelihood or both.
Indirectly, a further 2.4 million people have been affected in varying
degrees. Hundreds of thousands of women, men and children were made
homeless, without access to food, water and sanitation, or health care.
Education for thousands of school age children has been disrupted. Many of
the sick, including those with HIV and AIDS, no longer have access to care.
The vast majority of those directly and indirectly affected are the poor and
disadvantaged segments of the population. They are, today, deeper in
poverty, deprivation and destitution, and have been rendered more

In recent months, Mugabe has upped the ante on political repression
and recklessness as he uses every bloody trick in the book hang on to power
in perpetuity; the hounding, jailing, torture and even murder of anyone who
is rightly or wrongly considered an enemy of the regime is now a national

Today, Zimbabwe is a shadow of its old self, a fairytale transformed
into a gory nightmare right before our eyes. That rainbow nation where black
and white were supposed to live happily ever after, where political
opponents were supposed to carry on with the business of nation building
without fear or repression, is now a distant and even laughable dream.
Zimbabwe has gone full circle, right back to the worst days of good old
Rhodesia as the Bishops point out in their letter:

"None of the unjust and oppressive security laws of the Rhodesian
State have been repealed; in fact, they have been reinforced by even more
repressive legislation. in particular. It almost appears as though someone
sat down with the Declaration of Human Rights and deliberately scrubbed out
each in turn. [S]oon after Independence, the power and wealth of the tiny
white Rhodesian elite was appropriated by an equally exclusive black elite,
some of whom have governed the country for the past 27 years through
political patronage. Black Zimbabweans today fight for the same basic rights
they fought for during the liberation struggle. It is the same conflict
between those who possess power and wealth in abundance, and those who do
not; between those who are determined to maintain their privileges of power
and wealth at any cost, even at the cost of bloodshed, and those who demand
their democratic rights and a share in the fruits of independence...."

Zimbabwe, says one news dispatch,

".is reaching the end game, witnessing the last, desperate throes of a
regime that has destroyed one of Africa's few successful economies, plunged
millions of people into grinding poverty and led to the deaths of tens of
thousands from malnutrition and lack of medical care."

This view is shared by the Bishops who warn that:

"The confrontation in our Country has now reached a flashpoint. As the
suffering population becomes more insistent, generating more and more
pressure through boycotts, strikes, demonstrations and uprisings, the State
responds with ever harsher oppression through arrests, detentions, banning
orders, beatings and torture. In our judgement, the situation is extremely

The Bishops add that what Zimbabwe desperately needs is "a new
people-driven Constitution that will guide a democratic leadership chosen in
free and fair elections that will offer a chance for economic recovery under
genuinely new policies."

For that to happen, African countries, particularly those in the
Southern African region led by South Africa, must bring pressure to bear on
Mugabe. Unfortunately they have been reluctant to openly take on Mugabe,
preferring a failed behind-the-scenes diplomacy that has only emboldened

As we look at the situation unfolding in Zimbabwe we cannot help but
be very sad at the lost opportunities, the broken promises and the shattered
dreams. When and how will it end? Will Zimbabweans finally get the right to
decide their own destiny as Bob Marley urged back in 1979? Will Thabo Mbeki
and other African leaders stop pussyfooting and finally live up to their
historic responsibility to the Zimbabwean people by calling Mugabe to order?
How much longer will this horror movie last?

How much more of this punishment can the people of Zimbabwe endure?



   Added: April 06, 2007 03:10 PM


  Well written Dibussi. As the bishops said,

  "The Bishops add that what Zimbabwe desperately needs is
"a new people-driven Constitution that will guide a democratic leadership
chosen in free and fair elections that will offer a chance for economic
recovery under genuinely new policies."

  Africa has been betrayed by its leaders many an times and
Mugabe is just the in guy right now. Until we get constitutions with checks
and balances that ensure the common citizens rights are protected and the
power of a president diminished, we will always have to rely on a leader's
personal integrity. Out of the continent you get both Nelson Mandela and
Robert Mugabe and that is just too high a price to pay with each leader
coming into power.

  By:  Joshua

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwean trade unionists in hiding

Amnesty International

Two Zimbabwean trade unionists have gone into hiding after receiving
threatening phone calls. The callers identified themselves as members of the
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

The ZRP and CIO officers are reported to have accused Edward Dzeka and Joyce
Muwoni, who are officers of the General Agriculture and Plantations Workers
Union (GAPWUZ) in the farming town of Chegutu, of organising workers to take
part in the job "stay away" demonstration in the town and on the surrounding

Members of the ZRP and CIO also called at the GAPWUZ offices on 4 April and
enquired about the whereabouts of the two unionists. They later visited the
home of Edward Dzeka, who is also the district chairperson of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), in Chegutu.

Some of the ZRP and CIO officers making the alleged threats are known to the
trade unionists. They are believed to be targeting leaders of trade unions
following the 3 to 4 April national job "stay away" demonstration organised
by the ZCTU.

Edward Dzeka was previously arrested with 10 other trade unionists on 13
September 2006 for organising peaceful protests under the ZCTU. The 11 trade
unionists were reported to have been tortured by members of the ZRP at
Chegutu police station. They are currently on bail after being charged under
the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).

Amnesty International understands that Edward Dzeka and Joyce Muwoni are
being threatened for exercising their rights to freedom of association and
assembly by organising a peaceful demonstration as part of GAPWUZ and the
ZCTU. Amnesty International is deeply concerned about their safety and calls
on the police and CIO to guarantee their safety.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Cameraman battered to death

The Times
April 7, 2007

Jan Raath in Harare
Police are investigating the murder of a Zimbabwean freelance cameraman -
abducted last week - after the discovery of his battered body.

Edward Chikomba, aged in his mid-sixties, was snatched from his home in
Harare last Thursday by seven gunmen. His body was found on a farm 80km (50
miles) away.

Human rights organisations have accused the government of deploying secret
police "hit squads" to kidnap members of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) with the aim of intimidating them.

Mr Chikomba, who was married with four children, was said to be a "passive"
MDC supporter although his family said that they could not be certain why he
was seized.

He worked part-time for state television and a company supplying footage to
foreign television stations.

However, in the onslaught of police violence since March 11 when MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai and 30 others, mostly senior party officials, were
savagely beaten for attempting to participate in a prayer rally, random
assault has become a fixed pattern.

Yesterday, a Harare resident who asked not to be named described how he had
seen a group of riot police on Saturday on foot patrol in central Harare
pick out four youths together in the busy forecourt of a service station.
"They motioned the kids to come to them, they ordered them to lie on the
ground and then beat them with their sticks. Then they told them to roll
over, and beat them again, and then told them to go away. They had done
nothing," he said. "It's just out of control." President Mugbe has endorsed
the right of police to "bash" opposition supporters.

On Sunday last week, Gift Phiri, 30, senior political reporter for The
Zimbabwean, a weekly paper printed in London and distributed in Zimbabwe and
among members of the three-million strong Zimbabwean diaspora mostly in
South Africa and Britain, was followed by plainclothes police into a Harare
supermarket and accosted at the till as he paid for his groceries.

In bed yesterday in a Harare hospital with severe bruising all over his body
and possible fractures to his hand and his ulna, he said they interrogated
him in the office in Harare central police station of the chief
superintendent of the law and order section, about reports published in The
Zimbabwean, including a regular column naming notorious police officers, and
called "the roll of shame." They demanded he tell him his sources of
information, and when he refused, they said, "You are wasting our time."
They forced him to lie on the ground and beat him with metre-long rubber
sticks and a baseball bat, mostly on the buttocks and the back of his

"Then they made me stand up and do the ZANU(PF) salute and chant "pamberi ne
Mugabe" [forward with Mugabe]. Then they turned on the radio that was
playing music and made me dance, and they beat me as I danced. It went on
for an hour, on and off, they took turns. They were drunk. I could smell
alcohol on their breath.

"The pain was excruciating. It was so much, I have never found pain like
that before. I was screaming. My skin is till burning all over," he said.

Wracked with pain, he could not sleep that night, with five others in a tiny
cell whose floor was awash with urine and faeces, with a leaking sewer pipe
in the roof.

The next day they beat him again, on his already severely bruised body, for
about 20 minutes. "They accused me of insulting Mugabe, they said I wanted
to overthrow him but that he would be there for a thousand years. They said,
'We are going to crush you journalists, you are trying to cause alarm and
despondency and inciting people to rise up against the government'." He was
released on Thursday, after a high court order instructing police to bring
him before a magistrate, who granted him bail.

His wife, Tevedzerai, was "devastated," he said. "She has been crying all
the time. When she came to see me in the cells, I could see she was crying.
When she saw my wounds, she cried. Now she says she is having nightmares."
Mr Phiri is not the first journalist to have suffered police assault in the
last month. On March 11, two freelance photographers were picked up and
beaten along with Mr Tsvangirai in a township police station, and had their
cameras smashed. Both hold officially-issued media accreditation cards.

Another journalist, Luke Tamborinyoka, is among about 20 MDC supporters
still in custody on allegations of involvement in a series of bombing
attacks, and was also assaulted.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Journalist For The Zimbabwean Newspaper Relates Ordeal In Custody


By Carole Gombakomba
06 April 2007

Released by Zimbabwean authorities late this week, reporter Gift Phiri of
the London-based emigré newspaper The Zimbabwean said Friday that he is
being treated for a broken arm and soft tissue injuries sustained when he
was beaten in custody.

Police arrested Phiri on the weekend of March 31-April 1 and charged him
with writing falsehoods and practicing journalism without official

Now receiving treatment at a Harare clinic, Phiri said he was assaulted by
the chief superintendent of the Law and Order Section and four other
officers for refusing to reveal the sources for articles he published in The
Zimbabwean. Though edited in Britain, the newspaper circulates in Zimbabwe
and South Africa.

A Harare magistrate released Phiri on Thursday on Z$200,000 bail. He must
report to the police three times a week as a state prosecutor said he might
flee the country.

Phiri told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
despite the beatings and official pressure he refused to give up his
journalistic rights.

Police have threatened to issue a warrant if he does not report as ordered,
but Phiri said he can barely walk because of his injuries. Phiri's wife went
to Harare Central Police Station to submit medical evidence that he is being
treated for injuries.

Phiri's lawyer, Rangu Nyamurundira of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights,
could not be reached. But legal analyst Jacob Mufume said the magistrate in
the case should have made provision in bail conditions for him to receive
treatment because his condition was obvious to all those in the courtroom.
Mafume said Phiri should be exempted from the obligation to report thrice
weekly until he recovers.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Harare Crackdown On Opposition Sends 600 To Hospitals - Doctors


By Blessing Zulu
06 April 2007

Doctors caring for the victims of the Zimbabwe government's ongoing
crackdown on officials and members of the political and civic opposition say
they have treated some 600 activists in the Harare, the capital, and eastern
Mutare alone since mid-March.

Opposition sources said authorities have targeted both factions of the
Movement for Democratic Change - though in particular the faction led by
party founder Morgan Tsvangirai - members of the National Constitutional
Assembly, a prominent civic group, and the Combined Harare Residents

Hospital data indicate that in Harare alone, 500 activists have been treated
after being abducted by suspected government agents, tortured, then dumped
by roadsides. The hospital sources estimated that there have been about 100
cases in Mutare.

Sources also told VOA that agents of the feared Central Intelligence
Organization are now operating under police uniform cover while abducting

Even in police detention, activists are being beaten and tortured,
opposition sources said. Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri justified the
continuing crackdown with the charge that opposition forces were engaging in
"acts of domestic terrorism."

Journalist Edward Chikomba was abducted on Saturday, April 7, and found dead
one day later on Sunday, April 8. The Independent newspaper of London
reported the he had been murdered for smuggling a video out of the country
that showed how badly Tsvangirai had been beaten while in police custody
from March 11 to March 13.

Abducted activists are being dumped mainly in remote areas of Mashonaland
Central and Mashonaland West - both provinces dominated by the ruling
ZANU-PF party.

But abductions are being reported in other towns and in rural areas. In
Masvingo two MDC youth activists, Gilson Magazini and Trymore Manyuchi, were
abducted Thursday by men in police uniforms and have not been seen since.

Lawyer Tongai Matutu, a member of parliament for the MDC Tsvangirai faction
told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Masvingo
police told him they have no record of arresting or detaining the two

Meanwhile. police continued to hold 10 of 11 MDC officials and members
granted bail on Thursday by the Harare magistrate and high courts. The
activists have denied charges that they organized a recent spate of
firebombings of police posts.

Attorney Alec Muchadehama, representing the activists, said that by the time
lawyers had obtained release orders, the court clerk to whom they had to be
submitted had left before schedule and so his clients were taken back into
custody by police.

Police continued to defy a high court order instructing them to return
computers and documents seized in a March 28 raid on the headquarters of the
Tsvangirai faction.

Authorities said the raid was staged to search for evidence related to the
firebombing attacks last month. But opposition officials said the police
left a trail of destruction behind them, knocking down doors and destroying
furniture and computers.

The 10 faction members being held by Harare police were arrested that day.

Faction spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the government's intention in seizing
or destroying MDC equipment was to paralyze the political opposition.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Opposition licks wounds as Mugabe holds on

Financial Times

Published: April 6 2007 19:19 | Last updated: April 6 2007 19:19

Only a week ago, Zimbabwe's opposition activists and many analysts were
talking excitedly about a "tipping point", and predicting that Robert Mugabe's
regime was near its end.

The economy was continuing its relentless collapse, the opposition was more
united than in years, and the ruling Zanu-PF party was mutinous.

Even regional leaders were denouncing their former hero. Surely, his critics
said, after 27 years in power the old autocrat was finally on his way out.

In the light of a spate of good news for President Mugabe - his endorsement
as his party's candidate in next March's election, the fizzling out of a
two-day strike in the face of brutal government intimidation, and the region's
decision to continue "quiet diplomacy" - that prognosis now seems distinctly

Rather, it appears that the 83-year-old has for the time being shored up his
position in the wake of the international outrage that followed the beating
up of opposition leaders last month.

"Zimbabwe is facing a tipping point," said Immanuel Hlabangana, of the
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a grouping of non-government organisations.
"But how long this will take is a different matter. It seems more likely
that this crisis will last a couple of years."

In South Africa, the unofficial regional leader, news-papers are talking up
a new mediation effort to be led by President Thabo Mbeki on behalf of the
Southern African Development Community.

South Africa is certainly more engaged in the search for a settlement than
ever before. Government ministers have in recent days met senior officials
from both the ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC). But Mr Mbeki himself is noticeably cautious.

"It is they [Zimbabwean politicians] who will agree about the future of
Zimbabwe," the South African leader told the Financial Times this week.

"None of us in the region has any power to force the Zimbabweans to agree.
We can persuade them to try, assist, persuade, whatever, but in the end [it
is up to them]."

Zanu-PF has already cut the ground from under his feet by agreeing plans to
amend the constitution in a way that will make it more difficult for the
opposition to win an election.

At its central committee meeting, a day after the mediation mission was
unveiled, the ruling party agreed to increase the number of members of
parliament from 150 to 210, with the bulk of the new constituencies being in
rural areas - Zanu-PF's stronghold.

Direct elections to the upper house - the senate - will be abolished and
replaced by proportional representation based on the number of votes each
party receives in the parliamentary elections. The constitution will also be
changed so that should an elected president die or retire, his successor
will be chosen by parliament and not by direct elections, as is the case in
the existing constitution.

All of these amendments are anathema to the MDC, which is demanding a
completely new constitution. The MDC has already said it will not contest
elections next year under the existing constitution - let alone one with
amendments that will make its task even more difficult.

In an even more blatant threat to the elections, the regime has stepped up
its persecution of opposition supporters. In recent weeks, human rights
groups have reported a wave of abductions of activists.

"Time and time again there are random beatings and a suppression of anyone
found walking the streets [of Harare] accused of being an opposition
 member," said Tiseke Kasambala, a Human Rights Watch researcher who has
just compiled a report on the country.

With the opposition and the unions licking their wounds after the battering
they have taken over the past month, possibly the only pressure working in
Mr Mbeki's favour is the accelerating pace of economic decline.

Next week, the official inflation figure is expected to push above 2,000 per
cent for the first time, while the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has just
published new figures showing that domestic debt rose almost Z$1 trillion
(10 per cent of estimated GDP) in only four weeks. At the end of last month,
domestic debt was Z$1.2 trillion (more than US$4bn at the official exchange
rate), or close to 75 per cent of GDP.

The UN's World Food Programme estimates that the country will need to import
at least 900,000 tonnes of grain in 2007. But officials admit that Zimbabwe
does not have the foreign currency to pay for it.

"The tipping point will not come from the MDC but from the economy," said
Sydney Masamvu, the author of a recent International Crisis Group report on
Zimbabwe. "I think the opposition will be the bridesmaid to the process and
will be the beneficiary of the collapse."

However, analysts do not expect that to happen soon. In the meantime, said
Mr Masamvu, Mr Mugabe might "string along and then scuttle" the mediation
process. "He has done it before and will do it now."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

When will it end?

Comment from The Daily Telegraph (UK), 5 April

Harare - Waiting upstairs in the Harare High Court for a case to force the
police to bring detainees who we all knew had been brutally assaulted in
custody, Ian Makone told me of his experience in police cells five months
earlier. Middle-aged, Ian Makone is a special advisor to Morgan Tsvangirai,
the opposition leader savaged by plain clothes assailants in the Machipisa
Police Station in Highfield township on March 11. Mr Makone had been
terribly assaulted last September at the beginning of an anti-poverty march
on the western edge of Harare. "It was burning, burning, you can't believe
how I was burning, burning," as he remembered. His face contorted. Mr Makone
and other unionists were beaten, one by one by five young men, until they
ran out of breath, usually after about 15 - 20 minutes. "I can't even
describe it," and he winced and turned away and we waited for the judge to
return to court to give a ruling on whether Mr Tsvangirai and others would
be produced.

A minute or so later, in the same corridor, one of the opposition's most
energetic members of parliament, Priscilla Mishairbwe-Mushonga , a robust
young woman, was chatting to me about the strain of rushing around police
stations in the previous days and nights to try and establish where the
scores of detainees were being held, helping lawyers, trying to collect
names, drop food and drink at police stations which was never handed over.
Suddenly she looked at me and said, "I am going to faint." I thought it was
an expression of her exhaustion and frustration. It wasn't. She slid down
most gracefully to the concrete floor unconscious. There was a doctor in the
courtroom, also waiting for the judgement, who dashed out and attended to
her and within about five minutes she came to but was very weak and was
helped out of the old, colonial-style court complex by her brother and
friends and went to hospital.

A few days later the reason for her faint was revealed: seriously high blood
pressure and a warning from her doctor to take life quietly. But she can't.
And nor can any of the activists being mutilated across Harare's
high-density suburbs. Every day, every night, hitmen in smart, unmarked
vehicles arrive and drag people out their houses, or beat them senseless,
because they don't support the ruling Zanu PF. Mr Makone was detained 11
days after this encounter at the High Court and was brought limping into the
Magistrate's Court four days after he had been picked up from his home. He
and eight others collapsed outside the court room from injuries inflicted in
custody at Harare Central Police Station. The magistrate had to let him and
the others be taken to a private clinic by ambulance before they could be
charged with terrorism. Hours later, state agents arrived at the hospital
and took Mr Makone and the others out their beds and off to the filthy,
inhuman remand prison. His words about "burning, burning" haunt me. When
will it end?

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Illness and death are all-consuming in Zimbabwe

Los Angeles Times

The once prosperous nation's health has collapsed under Mugabe.
By Robyn Dixon , Times Staff Writer
April 6, 2007

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe -- For Zimbabwe's legions of the sick, the most common
treatment is nothing more than hope and prayer. Life here is dominated by
the downward spiral into illness and death.

To save the sick, families already struggling with the world's highest
inflation rate scramble to sell what little they have left.

Children with broken limbs must wait until their parents scrape up the money
for a cast. Hospitals have nothing, so doctors send families to buy drugs
and even surgical gloves. HIV patients seeking antiretroviral drugs are told
to come back months later. Accident victims are lucky to get a tetanus shot.

And when the sick and injured die, as many inevitably do, their bodies are
stacked high in the morgues until relatives can afford to take them home in
the backs of pickup trucks, on ox-drawn wagons or in pushcarts. The funeral
alone can cost nearly half a year's salary, sending the living further into
a spiral of poverty, illness and death.

Nothing more clearly illustrates the collapse of what once was one of
Africa's most prosperous countries than the failure of its collective
health. In 1990, Zimbabwean life expectancy was 60 years. Now the average
woman is dead at 34. Hospital workers have been striking for raises to
offset an annual inflation rate of 1,730%. Doctors have to walk or cycle to
work, and they can't afford to send family members to their own hospitals.

The political opposition and many Western nations accuse President Robert
Mugabe's government of rampant corruption and economic mismanagement. Since
2000, it has seized the land of most of the country's white commercial
farmers, who had been the backbone of the economy. Much of the land has gone
to Mugabe's political supporters.

The government blames Britain, the former colonial power, and other Western
governments for cutting off its access to international loans.

"Things are so bad," said one man, Sikhumbuzo Dube, "that it's more
expensive to die than to live these days." The body of Dube's nephew, a
39-year-old communal farmer, lay in the morgue for three weeks until the
family could come up with the money to rent a truck.

A young Bulawayo doctor named Nqobile Ncube said many of those who end up in
hospitals have little chance.

"You do your ward rounds and you see a patient," Ncube said. "He's in the
same condition as the day before. Why? He's not been given the drugs. He is
trying to find relatives to buy the drugs for him.

"You go to the next patient. He's dead. It's written on his card, 'Fluids
not available; relatives to buy.' It's just 'relatives to buy, relatives to
buy, relatives to buy.' "

Ncube has watched a teenage boy die in a diabetic coma. He has sent the
parents of children with broken limbs to buy plaster. They return days or
weeks later.

He has seen patients die of strokes because there was no medicine to treat
their hypertension. He's seen surgery days canceled for want of surgical

"You can't resuscitate patients. There's no oxygen. There are no IV fluids,"
he said, anger rising in his voice. "The only time when you are guaranteed
of having everything there is for death certificates."Doctors write them out
on the back of used bits of paper.

Families are left to cope with the grief of a death that could have been
avoided, then must find more money for the funeral.

Dewa Moyo, 60, a gardener, went to the morgue at Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo
late last month to collect the body of his baby girl, Maureen, who had been
ill since birth.

"The bodies were just piled up on top of each other like sacks," he said.
"The relatives were just lifting up the bodies to look at the names. You
couldn't see the face. The faces were rotted away."

Dube's nephew, Moffart Khumalo, lay in that morgue until his family could
raise money to travel the 130 miles from their rural home. They wrapped his
body in a blue blanket and put it in the back of a rented pickup, crammed in
with about eight relatives.

His mother, Senzeni Dube, sat in the front seat, occasionally wiping away

Eva Ndlovu, 27, died March 18 in a rough mud hut on the outskirts of
Bulawayo. A piece of plastic she had picked up at a cement factory became
her burial shroud, along with the filthy blankets she had huddled under as
she died.

Her husband, Phinias, tore the door off the hut to support her body. Her
family wheeled it on a borrowed handcart to the cemetery, three miles away.
Three mourners dug the grave. No death certificate was issued.

Eva had been ill for two years with AIDS, but family members said the
hospital always sent her home.

An estimated 18% of Zimbabwe's adults are infected with HIV, the virus that
causes AIDS.

Ncube, the doctor, said those who tried to register in Bulawayo as HIV/AIDS
patients in March were told to come back in June. They are unlikely to see a
doctor before October or November, he said.

The Ndlovu family is among thousands affected by one of Mugabe's widely
criticized policies. They were removed by police from the Bulawayo suburb of
Killarney in mid-2005 in a massive government effort to demolish shacks, put
informal traders out of business and push the poorest urban dwellers into
the countryside.

According to a United Nations report, Operation Murambatsvina, which
translates as "clean out the filth," left 700,000 people homeless.

The family never got back on its feet. The cheapest coffin would have cost
Phinias Ndlovu about $15 at the time of his wife's death, too much for a
family that lives on cornmeal handed out by a church.

For the Chinofura family, which also suffered in the crackdown, anger with
the government is growing hand in hand with despair.

They remember the 1980s and '90s as good times when they could buy clothes,
shoes, food, even a radio. But the last time they ate bread and a decent
breakfast was in 2004.

Alexander Chinofura, 53, and his wife, Rosie, sat in their tiny concrete
house on the outskirts of the capital, Harare, one recent Sunday morning.
Their youngest son, Ellington, 6, peered in at the door, hoping for
breakfast, his nose and eyes runny. But there would be nothing till

Each day, her husband walks 2 1/2 hours to work in a factory. He earns the
equivalent of four or five U.S. dollars a month, and inflation is eroding
that sum by the day. Her oldest son earns the same amount in another small
factory, and once a week she collects firewood to sell. The moment anyone in
the family gets money, they buy food before prices go up.

The family rented shacks to several families until 2005, when the government
tore the shacks down.

"So many people around here support the opposition because of the
difficulties we have been having," said Rosie Chinofura, 45. But people
express their opinions only to trusted family and friends, she added.

Last year, her husband's brother, Christopher, developed tuberculosis. The
family sold old clothes, radios, shoes and other possessions to pay for his

"I just wanted to get out of that hospital and come home to my family,"
recalled Christopher Chinofura, 45. "Every day people were dying in there."

A few days after Christmas, his mother, Jessica Kasuru, 78, had a minor
stroke. The family was so short of food that Christopher took her to his
sister's family in a rural area, where charities were distributing food.

In January, she had another stroke, so he laid her gently on an ox cart and
drove 10 hours to the nearest hospital. But he did not have the admission
fee, and there was nothing left to sell.

So he propped her back on the cart and took her home, where the family fed
her thin gruel until she died March 21. The cost of the funeral and
transporting the body nearly totaled the family's income for five months.
They borrowed most of the money.

With her son's wages garnisheed to repay the debt, Rosie sat on the ground
outside her front door, wondering how to live on even less. The only idea
that came to mind was to borrow again.

Zimbabwe's crisis will go on and on, she said. "I have no hope."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe's rural dwellers brace for food shortages

Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Date: 06 Apr 2007

by Susan Njanji

BIKITA, Zimbabwe, April 6, 2007 (AFP) - Winnie Mupunga normally produces
40,000 kilogrammes (40 tonnes) of the staple corn cereal on her smallholding
in southwestern Zimbabwe but this year she does not expect to harvest even

"This is all I have to show for the past year," she said pointing to acres
of emaciated metre-long brown maize stalks bearing tiny cobs or nothing at

"We'll just have to rely on handouts this year."

Zimbabwe, formerly the region's breadbasket, has been hit by a drought in
several of its 10 provinces which has served to compound the hardship of a
nation already reeling under the effects of a 1,730 percent inflation rate.

Bikita district, 400 kilometres (250 miles) southwest of the capital in
Masvingo province is one of the areas worst affected by the drought.

A few kilometres from the Mupunga homestead reside Ngwarai and Mabel
Zevezanayi, a couple in their late fifties who are responsible for the
upkeep of nine dependents, among them five grandchildren aged under 12

But all they have left is 20 kilogrammes of sorghum donated by an
international relief agency operating in the area.

"We have no produce to talk about this year," said Mabel.

There is no news of when next they are lined up for handouts.

And the largest foreign food relief agency operating in the country, the
UN's World Food Programme (WFP), announced this week that it was scaling
down aid to Zimbabwe starting April.

WFP fed some 1.5 million most vulnerable people over the past three months,
the most critical time of the year dubbed the pre-harvest "lean season" when
poor families routinely struggle to find enough to eat.

"With the annual harvest due in April, WFP is scaling down its aid
operations in Zimbabwe from this month, reducing the number of beneficiaries
to 256,000 in April," said the agency in a statement.

Meantime, the Zevezanayi family, with no other source of income, resorts to
brewing traditional beer with part of the donated grains so it can make a
bit of money for other essentials.

"We are brewing this beer to sell. Maybe we can get some cash to pay for the
milling of the little grain we have left," said Mabel of the sorghum she is
so sure will not last her family even a week.

To save the meagre grains, the family skips meals.

"We don't even remember what breakfast tastes like. It's only the children
who have anything before they go off to school -- a few peanuts and some tea
without any sugar," she added as she spooned some sorghum porridge into the
hungry mouth of her four-month-old grandson.

"I can hardly sleep when I try to think of where I will get food for my

In the previous two drought years, she had chickens which she could either
sell or slaughter for her family to eat but the poultry has now all gone.

Down the road at Masarira primary school, about 30 children receive a daily
ration of beans and starch-based cereals during their mid-morning break. For
some it is the only meal they will have in the day, said headteacher
Zvinavashe Takabvirakare.

"When we have no food stocks, we experience numerous cases of pupils
fainting in class" as a result of hunger, he said.

"Unless there is food aid, I think this time it's going to be very difficult
for the children.

"The drought has been persistent for about four years and now, coupled with
the harsh economic conditions, it's worse."

When the food shortages are severe, on average 10 percent of the 470 pupils
drop out, but in the kindergarten section, not even half bother to walk
several kilometres back and forth on an empty stomach.

Authorities and aid agencies are yet to study the full impact of the drought
but the opposition has warned that the country will fall 1.3 million tonnes
short of its food needs this year.

The government has admitted food will run out in parts of the country, but
said the shortages will not be critical.

"The situation is really not very serious to say there will be a crisis,"
Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said Tuesday.

The cash-strapped government has already started importing grain to avert

Finance Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi last month spoke of plans to import
about 400,000 tonnes of maize to make up for a possible food shortfall.

Bikita district chief Johnston Mupamhadzi said: "It's going to be bad, this
is the worst drought" in recent years.

"We really need assistance because the district has not produced enough for
the past four years," he said.

Zimbabwe is already saddled with economic crisis characterised by a
four-digit rate of inflation, unemployment of around 80 percent and chronic
shortages of basic foodstuffs like cooking oil, sugar and foreign currency.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Repression Increases In Zimbabwe


The following is an editorial which reflects the views of the US Government

03 April 2007

Tensions have risen in Zimbabwe since the government of President Robert
Mugabe stepped up a crackdown on critics in March. The political opposition
has been a particular target with dozens of opposition leaders and others
detained and beaten. Demonstrations had been increasing over the country's
economic collapse and the government's failed policies. According to human
rights groups, government security forces are now targeting members of the
general public as well as opposition and civic leaders and have been
authorized to use live ammunition.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is recovering from injuries sustained
when he was detained. He spoke out against Mr. Mugabe:

"Mugabe's crackdown on our people leaves a trail of broken limbs, rape
victims, torture victims, and dead bodies. Such is the reality of Zimbabwe
today. The unprovoked and the continuing attacks on all Zimbabweans
advocating for peaceful change must stop forthwith."

Zimbabwe's government has also threatened members of the international media
and foreign diplomats. Zimbabwe's Information and Publicity Ministry singled
out Jan Raath of The Times of London newspaper and Peta Thornycroft of
Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper and the Voice of America.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a press-freedom monitoring group,
called the threat against the two correspondents "totally unacceptable." "We
call on authorities to allow all journalists to report the news without fear
of reprisal," said Committee to Protect Journalists Executive Director Joel

The government's campaign to intimidate diplomats took a turn for the worse
on April 3, when The Herald newspaper, a government mouthpiece, publicly
threatened the life of a British diplomat for drawing attention to police
abuse of detainees.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the situation in
Zimbabwe is "tragic":

"It is unfortunately the Zimbabwean people that are bearing the brunt of the
misguided policies of the regime of Robert Mugabe. Whether that's in the
decrease in political and human rights or whether it's taking this country
down the pathway to economic ruin, it's a sad case."

The United States, said Mr. McCormack, is doing what it can to try to
influence Zimbabwe's government, and is encouraging other countries in the
region to do the same.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

President goes from strength to strength, for time being

The Age, Australia

Ed O'Loughlin
April 7, 2007

IF LACK of opposition is the same thing as power, Zimbabwe's President
Robert Mugabe has never been more powerful than he is this week.
Despite rumblings about an imminent internal putsch, last week his party
unanimously backed him as its candidate for elections next year, which if
recent precedent is any guide, will be comfortably rigged.

Restive senior members of his Zimbabwean African National Union were cowed
into silence when they turned up at a key central committee meeting to find
it thronged with secret police and Mugabe loyalists, bussed in to chant
praise songs while eyeballing the delegates.

Not only that, but the day before, his fellow southern African leaders had
given him their full public backing, papering over earlier expressions of
doubt from Zambia and Botswana.

On his return, a beaming Mr Mugabe told state radio that he had briefed his
fellow leaders on last month's orchestrated beating by police of opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai and 40 senior supporters of his Movement for
Democratic Change.

Mr Tsvangirai had "asked for it", Mr Mugabe said, and would be bashed again
if the MDC did not abandon what he claimed was a campaign of violence and
terrorism. His fellow leaders, Mr Mugabe said, had been understanding.

Officials of the South African Foreign Ministry subsequently denied this
claim, though not on the record.

Many analysts had hoped that last month's savage assault on the opposition
would finally force regional leaders to abandon years of quiet diplomacy.
Instead, the African leaders called on the West to end personal sanctions
against Mr Mugabe and a hundred of his senior henchmen.

The meeting thereby lent credence to propaganda that it is these largely
token sanctions that are responsible for the 1700 per cent hyperinflation
laying waste to the country.

At least 3 million Zimbabweans are estimated to have fled abroad in search
of work, local administration has collapsed. Life expectancy has plunged
from 60 in 1990 to 37 today. Even subsistence agriculture is now threatened
by the worst drought in 60 years. Yet many observers now believe Mr Mugabe
could survive indefinitely, provided he retains the backing of his police
and army.

His regime even enjoys the de facto support of the UN and the West, which
can be counted on to provide food aid.

"The economy can collapse right down until there's nobody left and that
wouldn't necessarily stop Mugabe," one regional observer said.

"Look at the Congo. There was absolutely nothing left by the time Mobutu was
driven from power."

Most regional elites have their own reasons for supporting, or at least not
opposing, Mr Mugabe.

The governments in the Congo, Namibia and Angola are close allies. The
rulers of Tanzania and Mozambique owe Mr Mugabe historical debts.

In South Africa, Thabo Mbeki's increasingly right-wing African National
Congress fears Zimbabwe's trade union-based opposition, which is backed by
South Africa's own unhappy unions.

But Zimbabwe's economic collapse is still a grievous threat to Mr Mugabe's
stated desire to rule until he is 100.

There are reports of rampant desertion among formerly loyal police and
soldiers, whose salaries have been eroded to almost nothing.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe to tighten foreign ownership of businesses, report says

Monsters and Critics

Apr 6, 2007, 8:43 GMT

Johannesburg/Harare - The Zimbabwean government is considering new laws to
restrict foreigners from owning wholesale or retail businesses in the
country, reports said Friday.

The authorities also want to restrict foreign ownership of commercial and
industrial land, New Ziana news agency reported.

'We are going to propose a law restricting ownership of land for both
commercial and industrial properties by foreigners in Zimbabwe,' said
Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Paul Mangwana.

The authorities are already working on laws that will mean blacks must be
given a 51 per cent share in all sectors of the economy, including mining -
a proposal that has sent shivers down the spines of international investors.

A controversial land reform programme, launched in 2000, has stripped
thousands of white farmers of their farms, mostly without compensation.

Mangwana said consideration would be given to reserving certain areas for
black people to operate in as high-density suburbs, adding it might also be
necessary to restrict certain businesses such as wholesale and retail to
black people, New Ziana reported.

'We are going to take measure to ensure that we do not end up being tenants
in our country because of the weakness of our currency,' Mangwana was quoted
as saying.

Recent reports said some commercial properties in central Harare have been
bought up by wealthy Nigerians.

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

A Dictator on the Brink

The New Republic

by the Editors
Post date 04.06.07 | Issue date 04.02.07

obert Mugabe is a monster. The world ought to have realized this back in the
1970s, when he began preaching the wisdom of the Maoist revolution, or at
least in the 1980s, after he ascended to Zimbabwe's presidency and
slaughtered the minority Ndebele tribe by the thousands. But there can be no
doubt, at this late date, that Mugabe has become one of the world's most
grotesque dictators.

Yet there is some hope on the horizon. In 27 years of iron-fisted rule,
Mugabe has never appeared weaker than over the last two months. His attempt
to extend his term by yet another two years was met with discord within his
own political party, zanu-pf. Five weeks ago, a protest threatened to engulf
Harare's poor townships. And, on March 11, police stormed a public prayer
meeting, arresting and torturing dozens of opposition activists (including
the movement's main leader, Morgan Tsvangirai) and murdering one protester.

Statistics tell the rest about Mugabe's perilous state. Inflation is the
highest in the world, at nearly 2,000 percent. Life expectancy is one of the
world's lowest, in the mid-thirties. Mugabe's violent displacement of
hundreds of thousands into the countryside and his politically orchestrated
famines make the accusation of genocide hardly a hysterical claim.

While preaching the platitudes of black nationalism, Mugabe's regime
resembles apartheid-era South Africa. A tiny clique rules over all.
Large-scale demonstrations are banned. His police beat demonstrators with
sjamboks, the short whips that became an international symbol of oppression
during the Sharpeville and Soweto massacres. Mugabe's dreaded Central
Intelligence Organization rivals the old South African secret police in its
criminal brutality. And, in an incident straight out of the apartheid
playbook, Mugabe's thugs reportedly stole the body of the man killed in the
March 11 protest to bury him secretly. This preemptive grave-robbing was
intended to avoid the complication of a mass political funeral that would
draw further international attention.

The West, to its credit, has long supported the political and civic
organizations pressing for democratic change in Zimbabwe. But we are not
doing nearly enough. Despite its brutality, the regime is hardly isolated,
which is why we should be sharply pressuring Mugabe's African allies--South
Africa in particular--to renounce him. And U.S. sanctions targeting the
dictator's apparatus could be tightened considerably. Mugabe's brutal rule
is finally approaching a tipping point. It's now our job to give the
hooligan of Harare one last shove.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

SADC leaders don't like Mugabe, but they hate West more

New Zimbabwe

By Brilliant Pongo
Last updated: 04/06/2007 21:46:28
IT CAME as no surprise to some of us that the SADC Extra-Ordinary Summit in
Tanzania last week reaffirmed its solidarity with the government and people
of Zimbabwe.

A blow to the West and a double blow for the MDC, this coming days after
Morgan Tsvangirai got battered and arrested by Mugabe's police.

After splashing photos of the badly beaten opposition leader to the world
media and getting messages of support from the Western powers, and
condemnation unleashed at the Mugabe regime by the same Western powers, many
thought the African leaders or at least the SADC leaders would give Mugabe a
dressing down of some sort in chorus with the condemnation from the West.

But, alas this was not to be and perhaps those that expected the SADC
leaders to come down hard on Mugabe misunderstand these African leaders.

The regional and arguably most if not all of the African leaders may or may
not be in support of the tactics used by Mugabe to hold on to power but are
not in a position to criticise Mugabe because they also practice some of the
dirty tactics used by Mugabe in their own countries.

Most importantly, we may be failing to understand the ideological positions
that inform the SADC leaders' position. Pan-Africanists (at least those who
hold more influence in this regional body) will never side with the
imperialist West over their own "brother". They see no reason to support the
West in its drive for regime change maybe because they are insecure and do
not know what the future holds, what with the rise of neo-colonialism. Today
it may be Zimbabwe, and tomorrow it could be you. Western-driven regime
change is like a poisonous serpent and should never be allowed into any part
of Africa.

The whole idea of regime change in Zimbabwe in the eyes of the SADC leaders
is a Western-driven idea, and the MDC is championing the Western cause
rather than that of the Zimbabwean masses, this is evidenced by the lack of
interest by the people in Zimbabwe to participate in the anti-government
protests such as the so-called final push and stay-aways. Despite the
numerous calls by the opposition to take to the streets in protest against
the government, the larger part of Zimbabwe has ignored the calls of the
opposition even the calls for mass stay-aways have not been a success.

The MDC has dismally failed to take advantage of the economic meltdown in
Zimbabwe to rally support to push Mugabe out of office simply because they
continue to align themselves too much with the West. They have thus far
successfully managed to win the hearts and minds of those in the West but
are yet to rally and garner the support of the ordinary Zimbabwean who
matter most in this struggle to end Mugabe's rule, or is it misrule?

The SADC leaders are not blind to the tactics of the West and if truth be
told, Zimbabwe's crisis is not the worst of situations in Africa and there
are reasons plenty why Zimbabwe has dominated the Western media. I am sure
if we are honest in our assessment of the crisis in Zimbabwe, it is clear
that the situation is conducive for change but what lacks is strong
leadership to lead the people to a revolution.

In the past six or seven years that the MDC has been in existence, one
cannot help but see how they have been unable to present themselves as a
government-in-waiting. They have failed to demonstrate that they have what
it takes to turn the country's failing economy round. They have not advanced
us any meaningful economic recovery policies. While it is true that people
are not happy with the current government, it is equally true that the MDC
is not an alternative otherwise Mugabe and Zanu PF would have been long

At the moment, we have two factions of the MDC and it is unclear to a lot of
people which of these two is the official opposition party. Both factions
seem to be united in their call for Mugabe to go, which is starting to sound
like a scratched record.

This however, may be somehow welcome to some who are trying to gain refugee
status in Western capitals, or those overcome by emotions and hate so much
that they would be glad to see an immediate end to the brutal Mugabe
government and would welcome any sort of change without considering the
capabilities of the alternative. Such people have all fled the country and
are making all sorts of noises from different parts of the world, and the
unfortunate part is those on the ground in Zimbabwe see the MDC in a
different light and seem to have considered long and hard the alternative
and chosen to suffer on with the brutal regime.

The regional leaders are not convinced that the MDC is the way to rescue
Zimbabwe from the road to ruin on which Mugabe has taken the once prosperous
country. Zimbabwe now holds a place in the Guinness Book of Records, for the
world's highest inflation and fastest-shrinking economy and this according
to the Western media is a direct result of Mugabe's corrupt regime, nothing
to do with the sanctions Thabo Mbeki wants lifted.

Surely, we all can see that all is not well in Zimbabwe but to assume that
the people will rally behind a party with not much else to offer save it for
chanting the slogan 'Mugabe must go' and not laying out what then happens
when he goes is insulting to some of us.

History is replete with the sad experiences of African countries that have
undergone a revolution to remove long-time leaders, dictatorships and
one-party states.

And we have learnt, where change came, it was often so fast that before much
good could be done, a new elite had entrenched themselves solidly in power
as those they had replaced. It is time for every Zimbabwean to ask, if you
have not already asked, what grantees do we have that the MDC is not going
to be another Zanu PF. Tsvangirai has already shown his disregard for the
MDC constitution when it does not suite him and that is a very early tell
tell sign for what is to come should he ever make it to State House.

So for the SADC leaders, the best person(s) to fix the problems in Zimbabwe
is Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF and perhaps the best way to understand this
is through the analogy I borrowed from author Geoff Hill.

Liken Zimbabwe to a car that needs attention. Zimbabwe is a car, with rough
gears and no handbrake. The Zanu PF government which in this case is the
owner of the car, drives this car every day and knows which gears stick,
when to pump the clutch and that you have to put a brick under the wheel if
you park on a slope.

Then someone else buys the vehicle in this case say MDC (gets into power),
knowing that it's far from new but not aware of the exact problems. And, in
a day, the new owner has wrecked the car.

This is what happens when donor countries and their experts come in to fix a
country. The people running the system know how to keep it going, but a lot
of damage can be done once you start putting things right.

You can just about keep power stations going if you know where the faults
are. But once they collapse completely, then, like a car that's been written
off, you have to start again from scratch.

Now, with the power station, you have to take the whole plant out of service
and rebuild it. So, whereas there used to be cuts, there is no power at all
and people say that the old regime was better and Western donors throw up
their hands, amazed that anyone could think that.

It's no good relying too much on the West. Lessons from history will point
out that it has never worked well, one only has to look at Iraq in our day
to see what sort of chaos the so-called Western democracies have brought to
that country.

This is just food for thought to the opposition forces in Zimbabwe. They
need to think things through, it is not enough to just say 'Mugabe must go'.
They must convince their immediate neighbours that they have solutions to
the Zimbabwean crisis and that they are in a position to resolve it and
outline the sort of help you will need from SADC in resolving the crisis.

It is not enough to just say the African leaders must or should do more,
outline what exactly it is that you would have them do and perhaps then they
would consider taking you more seriously.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Dictator's £250,000 getaway

The Sun, UK

April 06, 2007

TYRANT Robert Mugabe has gone on a £250,000 Grand Prix junket - as his
country starves.

The dictator, 83, ordered an Air Zimbabwe jet to fly him and 20 cronies to

His entourage are staying at the five-star Nikko Hotel in Kuala Lumpur for
five days before Sunday's race.

A guest said: "It was like a mini-riot with his bodyguards brandishing guns
and ordering people out the way. A member of staff said he comes to the race
here every year."

In Zimbabwe, millions plead for food at shops hit by 1,700 per cent

Mugabe, dubbed the "Hitler of Africa", is building a £6million retirement

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe's 6 000-mile dash to save marriage

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 04/07/2007 01:56:12
ZIMBABWE'S President Robert Mugabe has made a desperate 6 000-mile dash to
save his marriage, New can reveal.

Mugabe left Harare this week and was seen at the Nikko Hotel in Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia, on what officials said was a "private visit".

The Sun newspaper in London reports that Mugabe is on a "£250,000 Grand Prix
junket" to watch Formula One with his family this weekend.

But sources have told New that Mugabe made the trip in a bid to
"save his marriage" after his furious wife booked herself on a Far East
holiday three weeks ago.

The 83-year-old leader's wife, Grace, left Zimbabwe with their three
children - Bona, Robert Jnr and Chatunga -- just days after the couple
returned from Ghana's independence celebrations where she was publicly
humiliated by relatives of Mugabe's late ex-wife, Sally.

Grace was furious when on a visit to Mugabe's former inlaws, she was forced
to stay in the car while Mugabe was allowed to enter the house and hold
talks with Sally's relatives, including her mother Mavis Hayfron.

Mugabe later laid a wreath at the tomb of his son Nhamodzenyika who died in
1966 at the age of three from cerebral malaria.

Sally died in 1992 from a kidney ailment, two years after Mugabe married
Grace -- his former secretary who is almost 40 years his junior and with
whom he already had two children -- in a tribal ceremony.

Mugabe justified the marriage under a traditional African law which allows
him to take a junior wife. Mugabe finally married Grace in a Roman Catholic
wedding Mass in August 1996.

Sources say the events in Ghana so infuriated Mugabe's wife that she "asked
for time out" before going on a holiday in the Far East.

Mugabe's marriage to Grace has been rumoured to be an unhappy one. Just two
years ago, Mugabe personally led intelligence officials on a sweep of
businessman James Makamba's Johannesburg home after hearing claims that he
was secretly seeing his wife.

Makamba now lives in exile, travelling regularly between South Africa and

Before Makamba came on the scene, there was talk that Mugabe's wife had also
enjoyed secret trysts with another businessman, Peter Pamire. Pamire died in
a bizarre car crash in what his family believes was murder.

Mugabe, who went back on his promise to retire when his current term ends in
2008, has moved from state accomodation and now lives at his £5 million
mansion in the plush Borrowdale surburb with his family.

A source revealed: "The President's marriage is on the rocks. A lot of
strain has been building up and Grace couldn't take it anymore, deciding to
go as far away as she could to get away from it all."

Mugabe's wife is also said to be opposed to Mugabe's plan to stand for
re-election in presidential elections next year.

"She thinks that there are people who are milking Mugabe's continued stay in
office, people like [Nicholas] Goche (State Security Minister) whom she
hates with a passion for giving Mugabe intelligence that she was was
two-timing him with Makamba," a source revealed.

Vice President Joseph Msika is Acting President in Mugabe's absence. It is
not clear when Mugabe will finally return from the Far East.

He was seen with a large entourage at the Nikko hotel in Kuala Lumpur on
Thursday afternoon, but there was no confirmed sighting of his wife, or his

A guest said: "It was like a mini-riot with his bodyguards brandishing guns
and ordering people out the way. A member of staff said he comes to the race
here every year."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Alarmed Zimbabwe look to prevent player exodus

Steven Price in Harare

April 6, 2007

There is growing confusion over the exact terms of the contracts signed by
Zimbabwe's World Cup squad shortly before they headed off to the Caribbean,
and also concern over the pressure put on the players by the board.

What is certain is that the players were summoned to meet Ozias Bvute,
Zimbabwe Cricket's managing director, a week or so before they were due to
set off and given an ultimatum - sign the contract on offer or be removed
from the squad. It is understood that they were not allowed to take advice
and were told they had to make the decision there and then.

Cricinfo has learned that one player told his team-mates that there were
certain things contained in the contracts that needed clarification. He was
summoned back into Bvute's office and warned that it was a
take-it-or-leave -it offer. Another said that when he told Bvute he wanted
to consult with friends, Bvute picked up the phone and called Kenyon Ziehl,
the head of selection, and told him he wanted the player replaced in the
squad. Unsurprisingly, the player backed down and signed.

The players are being paid about US$2000 per appearance and a series of
bonuses base don wickets taken and fifties scored. So, someone like Chamu
Chibhabha, who played in all three games but failed to make a fifty, would
earn US$6000. Anthony Ireland, who retired from international cricket as
soon as the side returned home, would earn US$2000 for his single appearance
and about US$500 for the one wicket he took. The maximum payment is believed
to be around US$8000.

And there was another catch. The board did not want players taking the money
and then heading to England to take up lucrative club contracts. More
importantly, there was, and remains, a deep concern that with the World Cup
over and the country in virtual political and economic meltdown, more
players would quit Zimbabwe altogether and join the ranks of those making a
living overseas.

With this in mind, the contract they were "persuaded" to sign tied them to
Zimbabwe for at least six months, compelling them to play in all domestic
competitions as well as international matches. Furthermore, the board were
sensible enough to realise that there was no leverage in paying players in
the virtually worthless local currency, and so they were promised US

The last handcuff came with the news that the players would not be paid
immediately for the World Cup - they would have to wait until June. The
thought process was obvious. If they wanted paying, they would need to
remain in Zimbabwe until such a time it would be too late for them to take
up offers to play abroad.

There was also the small matter of the board's finances being in such a
state that the money might not have been there anyway. ZC had to borrow
around US$1 million earlier this year, pending receipt of monies from the
World Cup, to help them over an ongoing cash crisis.

The contractual handcuffs looked less than secure when Ireland quit earlier
this week, lured to Gloucestershire on a two-year contract with far less
baggage attached to it. The board will be nervously waiting to see if more

As a final twist, it seems that the board has forbidden the players from
meeting together as it is feared that much meetings could serve to fuel
discontent. Increasing desperate times clearly call for increasingly
desperate measures.

© Cricinfo

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Fuel Prices Tumble

The Herald (Harare)

April 6, 2007
Posted to the web April 6, 2007


FUEL prices that had shot up to about $25 000 a litre have tumbled to at
least $15 000 per litre and this has been attributed to the plunge in the
foreign currency exchange rate on the black market.

A survey by The Herald in the city centre yesterday showed that most service
stations were selling a litre of both petrol and diesel at between $15 000
and $19 600.

Filling station operators ascribed the price drop to the tumbling of the
United States dollar on the black market from $30 000 per unit a week ago to
about $15 000.

An attendant at a service station in the city said the price had been
reduced following the fall of the US dollar and the South African rand
against the local currency.

"We peg our prices in line with the prevailing exchange rate of the US
dollar on the black market since we get forex on the black market," he said.

In Bulawayo, our bureau reports that service stations had reduced the price
of fuel from $19 000 to $14 000 with effect from Wednesday, a move that was
likely to temporarily benefit residents.

In separate interviews, service station operators attributed the drop to the
plunge in foreign exchange rates on the thriving but illegal black market.

The cost of fuel at most garages in the city has been rising constantly in
the past few weeks, resulting in transport operators increasing fares.

Most garages were on Wednesday selling the commodity for amounts ranging
between $14 000 and $18 000 a litre.

An attendant at a filling station in the city, Mr Maxwell Ngwenya, said they
had cut prices after the rand and the Botswana pula took a plunge over the

"We import our fuel from Botswana and what determines the value of the
commodity is the exchange rate.

"The value of pula dropped tremendously in the black market, thus
determining the drop in fuel prices.

"However, people should not be fooled by the slump because it is just
temporary. These things happen, especially during the holidays. After the
holidays, it will shoot up again determining the new prices," he said.

However, commuter omnibus operators have not correspondingly reduced their
fare of $5 000 a trip.

The drop in the price of fuel follows hard on the heels of a warning by the
Government that it would descend on fuel dealers who were getting foreign
currency at the official rate but pegging the prices using the black market

The Government is in the process of compiling a list of service stations
abusing the fuel facility with a view to dealing sternly with the

The official price of fuel is $325 per litre.

However, despite the drop in the cost of fuel, prices of basic commodities
remained unchanged.

Consumers were expecting a corresponding fall in the cost of basics as the
business sector is on record as saying the prices were pegged in line the
foreign currency exchange rate on the black market.

The sector has defended the dollarisation of the economy, giving the reason
that the Zimbabwe dollar, which is officially pegged at $250 to the
greenback, is not readily available on the formal market.

Government has warned business against increasing prices willy-nilly, saying
it would not hesitate to take sterner action against them.

Back to the Top
Back to Index