|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
opposition says it is taking a risk by seeking talks
with the government on defusing the country's crisis because tough critics
might consider it had sold out to President Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe is
grappling with a political crisis and melt down of what was once one of
Africa's most prosperous economies, a decay many blame on Mugabe's policies.
Talks between his ruling Zanu-PF party and Morgan Tsvangirai's
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are widely viewed as crucial
to reviving the country's fortunes. "We as a party have taken risky measures
as a way of creating a conducive environment for dialogue," Tsvangirai said
in a statement a day before Heroes' Day commemorating those who fought and
died in the independence war Mugabe led in the 1970s.
Tsvangirai did not specify what the risks were, but MDC
officials told Reuters that offering to sit down with Zanu-PF may estrange
harder-line opponents of Mugabe's government and give rise to charges of
selling out. Church leaders are trying to revive stalled talks between the
two but there has been no evidence of direct contacts. "We have chosen the
path of dialogue in the hope that this will bring about a speedy and
peaceful resolution of the country's problems and stop all the suffering,"
The former British colony which Mugabe has ruled since
independence in 1980 is plagued by chronic shortages of food, fuel and now
even banknotes, amid inflation at a record 365% a year and record
unemployment at over 70%. Last week, the MDC said in its agenda for the
talks it would stop questioning Mugabe's legitimacy -- although it has not
dropped a court challenge to his 2002 re-election. The MDC and several
Western nations accuse Mugabe of rigging last year's poll. The MDC wants new
electoral laws, a repeal of tough security and media laws and the disbanding
of pro-government militias.
"It now remains to Zanu-PF to reciprocate our gesture of
goodwill and take concrete measures in order to find a permanent solution to
the country's crisis," Tsvangirai said. Mugabe says the MDC is a Western
stooge and the economy has been sabotaged by his opponents in retaliation
for his seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless
blacks. - Reuters
By Henry Makiwa
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, who initiated a tractor scheme to benefit
tobacco growers early this year, has helped himself to one of the biggest
tractors available under the scheme, The Standard has established.
It has also emerged that top officials in the ruling Zanu PF party and
government might have hijacked the tractor scheme, initially meant to
benefit mostly the newly resettled small-scale tobacco growers.
Mugabe launched the ambitious Tobacco Growers Trust (TGT)
mechanisation programme in April in an effort to empower the newly resettled
and small-scale tobacco growers, and those already growing the crop, by
providing cheaper tractors to produce next year's crop.
Most of the first batch of the imported tractors that have arrived
into the country since April have been allocated in questionable
circumstances to TGT employees, Cabinet ministers, judges, service chiefs
and workers in President Mugabe's office.
Investigations by The Standard show that among the beneficiaries of
the cheap but powerful tractors from India, France and Brazil - besides
Mugabe - have been Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, Judge President
Paddington Garwe, Zimbabwe Defence Forces chief Vitalis Zvinavashe, Science
and Technology Minister Olivia Muchena, Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa and
Deputy Minister Shuvai Mahofa, among others.
According to documents in possession of The Standard, the list of
beneficiaries of the TGT mechanisation scheme reads like the "who's who" in
Zanu PF and includes government officials like the Registrar General Tobaiwa
Mudede, Airforce Commander Perence Shiri, Made's permanent secretary Ngoni
Masoka, top Zanu PF legislators Eddison Zvobgo, Kenneth Manyonda and Nobbie
Dzinzi, former Finance minister, Simba Makoni and University of Zimbabwe
lecturer and Hondo YeMinda apologist, Sheunesu Mupepereki.
Though The Standard's investigations could not establish whether all
those who received the tractors were indeed tobacco growers, disgruntled new
farmers last week alleged that the allocations were fraught with underhand
and sometimes corrupt tendencies.
It was, however, established that some of the beneficiaries, including
President Mugabe, do not grow the golden leaf which accounts for a
substantial part of Zimbabwe's foreign currency earnings, although this was
given as a prerequisite for one to qualify for the scheme.
Thomas Nherera, TGT vice-chairman, who together with his boss Wilfanos
Mashingaidze, were responsible for the allocation of some of the tractors,
dismissed the allegations of looting as "trivial".
"All this cheap talk happens wherever there is business. Yes, we gave
the President (Mugabe) a tractor, in the full glare of the public on April
4. We gave him even though he does not grow tobacco because he is our
President," Nherera said.
"But Made runs a tobacco farm in Headlands while Garwe and Chidyausiku
are tobacco growers of note. In fact, everyone who has received the tractors
has a tobacco growers' identity number," said Nherera.
He said of the 741 tractors that were expected to be imported, only
224 have arrived due to the country's shortage of foreign currency.
Said Nherera: "The simple thing is that the demand for these tractors
far outweighs the need. So any allegations levelled against us are baseless,
unless if it is a petty argument that we should not give tractors to high
profile government and ruling party officials even though they are tobacco
Nherera, according to documents in our possession, awarded himself a
100-horsepower SAME Silver 100.6 tractor, one of the most powerful machines
available under the scheme.
Other tractor models available under the mechanisation programme are
the French-built Renaults and the Indian-made Mahindras
Pindie Nyandoro, managing director of Stanbic Bank who also benefited
from the scheme, admitted to The Standard that she was awarded a tractor
even though she does not grow tobacco. Nyandoro said she had acquired the
tractor on behalf of her nephews fuelling suspicion that other "big wigs" in
commerce and industry might have used their influence to attain the cheap
Beneficiaries of the tractors pay a government-subsidised sum of
between $1 and $2 million instead of the more than $30 million they would
cost if purchased at the going market price from their local assemblers.
Under the mechanisation programme, TGT was allowed to retain 20% of
tobacco export earnings to buy chemicals, fertilisers and tractors for
growers and new farmers of the crop.
Many of the new tobacco farmers, resettled on commercial farms but
without the implements, had registered their names for the tractors and were
surprised to find out that they had already been snapped by the "chefs".
"The whole scheme stinks of massive corruption. First of all, the
identity of people who have benefited has been kept a top secret and yet the
programme, as was said by President Mugabe when he launched it, was supposed
to be transparent," said a new farmer, who refused to be named.
Defiant Lobels sues govt
By Kumbirai Mfunda
LOBELS Bread, which was fined $5 million alongside three other bakers
last month for flouting a government decree to sell bread at $250 a loaf,
has vowed not to pay the fine and instead wants to take the government to
Baking industry sources told Standard Business that the three other
bakers had also resolved to defy the government order arguing that the
dictated price is not tenable.
The bakers last month more than doubled the price of bread, which in
fact was selling at $550- instead of the stipulated $250-to $1 000 in
violation of a government price freeze decreed in November last year.
The gazetted wholesale price of bread is $225, while its retail price
is fixed at a ridiculous $250.
Bakers argued that the dramatic bread price hike was precipitated by a
rise of more than 1 000 % in the state-run Grain Marketing Board's selling
price of wheat. The board increased the wheat price more than 12 times, from
$30 000 to $366 584 a tonne. This forced millers to increase the price of
flour eight-fold, from $102 000 to $870 000 a tonne. Bakers responded by
quadrupling the unofficial price of bread.
Sources at Lobels, the country's largest bread manufacturer, said they
were under immense pressure from shareholders who have invested funds for a
return but due to the price command, the baking business had ceased to be
The bread manufacturing concern first lodged its case last month with
the magistrate's courts that later on referred the matter to the Supreme
Court. The Supreme Court has set August 29 as the date of the hearing.
Sources at Lobels' Simon Mazorodze Road head office said the prominent
bakers have already engaged a lawyer to handle their landmark case.
"We are not paying those tickets. We can't sell bread at below cost.
We will be prejudicing our shareholders," said an official.
"We have two laws that are at loggerheads here Š that of directorship
and that of price controls. Both laws are legal and binding but we have to
choose the one that is compatible to our shareholders," the source added.
Executives of the other affected bakers said they would take a cue
from the position taken by the Bakers' Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ).
In July BAZ chairman, Armittage Chikwavira, said the increases would
affect the viability of bakeries, most of whom are currently teetering on
the brink of collapse.
When contacted for comment on Friday, Chikwavira professed ignorance
at the legal proceedings being instituted against government by Lobels.
"I am not aware of that. We are talking to government over the issue
of pricing," said Chikwavira.
Travellers' cheques fail to solve cash crisis
By Caiphas Chimhete
SEVERAL banks in Harare had, by late afternoon yesterday, not received
their allocation of the local travellers' cheques from the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) by the close of business yesterday, two days after they were
supposed to be in circulation, as the cash squeeze continued, The Standard
Only three banks - Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe Limited, Standard
Chartered Bank and Royal Bank - were issuing the RBZ travellers cheques by
closure of financial business yesterday.
The three commercial banks were issuing travellers' cheques of $100
000 only, an amount that many Zimbabweans said they did not have in their
"We started with a higher denomination so that we do not clog our
system. If we had started with a $20 000 cheque, the situation was likely to
go out of control as more people were going to queue," said a front desk
official with Barclays Bank's head office in Harare.
The government last week announced the introduction of local
travellers' cheques in denominations of $100 000, $50 000, $20 000, $5 000
and $1 000 that would be accepted locally as payment for goods and services
in an effort to eliminate the cash shortages.
However, there were no customers at most of the bank counters where
the cheques were available because people did not have the huge amounts of
$100 000 in their bank accounts, defeating the whole idea of introducing
cheques in place of cash.
An official with Zimbank said they had received the travellers'
cheques but had not started issuing them because they were still working on
Other commercial banks such as Kingdom, Stanbic and Century had not
received the travellers' cheques from the RBZ by the time they closed
With the travellers' cheques, an account holder can use them to buy
goods and services from supermarkets and other retail outlets in Zimbabwe.
However, the failure by the RBZ to release enough travellers' cheques
of lower denominations meant that those who wanted to travel during this
Heroes' and Defence Forces' Day holidays, were unable to do so due to the
Long and winding queues were evident in almost all the banking halls
in Harare yesterday as people tried to withdraw money for use during the
holidays. Most banks continued to limit withdrawals to only $10 000 and many
automated teller machines (ATMs) were not working because they did not have
As the bank notes shortage persists, the government has engaged a
German firm, Geisecke and Devrient (G&D), to print the $1 000 note that is
expected to be available in the country next month.
MDC happy with overtures to African leaders
By our own Staff
OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)'s secretary for
external affairs, Sekai Holland, says the party's delegation to the recent
African Union summit in Maputo sold its objectives to the many important
players in the Zimbabwean conflict.
"Our presence at the summit was very important as we managed to talk
not only to AU itself but also to a number of interested parties such as the
Commonwealth, the European Union delegations and other civil society groups
that had held a pre-summit conference in Maputo," said Holland, who led the
She said Mozambique was playing a very important and leading role in
the fight for democracy in the region as it tried to showcase the role an
opposition party can and should play in a democracy.
"Opposition parties do not usually participate in most meetings but
for Mozambique it was a different thing altogether as Alfonso Dhlakama
leader of Renamo, was actually there participating throughout the summit,"
On the visit, she said: "We were main-streaming the MDC as a political
party to the African political environment by explaining to them what is
happening on the ground here in Zimbabwe."
"The MDC is for dialogue and we are entering into these talks
genuinely and sincerely in the interest of our country as two equal parties.
We will not be swallowed," said Holland.
SADC ministers agree on regional defence pact
By our own Staff
SOUTHERN African ministers who met in Maputo last week have agreed to
a regional defence pact that will include supporting each other from
internal or external threats.
Defence Minister, Sydney Sekeramayi, who attended the Maputo meeting
with the Minister of Foreign Affairs', Stan Mudenge, said the SADC mutual
defence pact was agreed to by all countries that attended the fourth session
of the Ministerial Committee of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and
Zimbabwe has faced unprecedented criticism over human rights' abuses
from the West and President Robert Mugabe has hinted that he feared the
United States could attack his government.
"We agreed that SADC should have a joint defence pact, which will mean
any attack on any member state would require all members' assistance," said
The defence pact would be signed by all SADC heads of State and
government at their summit to be held in Tanzania next month.
The meeting also agreed to resuscitate the SADC peace keeping training
centre in Harare, which was closed after Denmark withdrew funding to protest
against chaotic Mugabe's land reforms and the deteriorating political
climate in the country.
Sekeramayi said the centre would now be funded by a budget from the
SADC secretariat. He said the ministers had spurned a US$20 million offer by
the US because the money was supposed to benefit all other regional
countries except Zimbabwe.
Service station workers in dire straits
By Valentine Maponga
"THIS is the end of my life. I could not believe that my life would
end up like this, jobless. I don't know where to get another job," wailed
Prosper Gundani, one of the workers recently laid off by BP Shell Zimbabwe
in a move to cut down expenditure.
After working as a petrol attendant for the past 15 years, Gundani
could see his dreams of a prosperous future evaporating away. His working
career had abruptly come to an end and, with his low education level,
prospects of finding another job in a country where the unemployment rate is
more than 70%, are very bleak.
Gundani's experience is not unique to him alone.
Thousands of workers in the fuel industry have lost their jobs and
thousands more risk being thrown into the streets as cash strapped fuel
companies seek to shed excess labour in the wake of a serious and worsening
Most of the workers who spoke to The Standard expressed hopelessness
and despair seeing little prospect of recovery in the industry where service
stations, their only source of livelihood, have gone for months without fuel
Such is the case of Anderson Chitsike, an employee with Dixon's
Service Station along Nelson Mandela in Harare.
"Our salaries have not yet been reviewed and given the economic
situation we are living in, it is now very difficult for us to commute to
and from work everyday," said Chitsike forlornly.
"Given the situation on the ground, we are also not in a position to
persist in demanding pay increments as we know very well that we are not
making any profits," he said.
Themba Dismas sha-red the same sentiments saying the fuel crisis was
fast killing the once vibrant industry.
"The government is actually encouraging the black market by allowing
private companies to import their own fuel. And as you know, the black
market is killing virtually every industry in this country," said Dismas.
BP Shell Zimbabwe has off-loaded more than 50% of its work force as a
means to try and cope with the collapsing business, say sources.
Because of the persistent fuel shortages, most employers in the
industry are not able to pay their workers full salaries, let alone give
them increments despite the obvious need to do so in the face of a galloping
inflation rate and rocketing prices of basic commodities.
"We have not had a single delivery in the past three months and this
has affected our monthly income as a company. This has affected our workers
heavily, as we cannot review their salaries after more than three months
without conducting any business. Everything is at a standstill right now; we
are now surviving on selling lubricants," said Barrie Dixon, the owner of
Dixons' service station.
Another service station owner who refused to be named, said the
situation was very bad and foresees many service stations closing down
permanently by the end of this year.
"If the situation remains like this, I do not see many service
stations surviving. The only solution to the problem is to remove price
controls. That way the situation might improve as suppliers will be
encouraged to deal with us," he said.
Some service stations around Harare are already selling petrol at $1
500 a litre and in order to avoid being caught, they have introduced
Hunger claims five in Matabeleland
By our own Staff
FIVE people have died from food poisoning associated with hunger in
Matabeleland and a middle-aged Tsholotsho man starved to death last month as
famine stalks the country's southern provinces, police have confirmed.
The Matabeleland provinces have recorded five deaths since last month
which have been directly linked to the severe hunger and starvation that has
gripped parts of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is suffering from acute food shortages for the third year
running following a devastating drought exacerbated by the government's
haphazard land reforms that have destroyed commercial agriculture.
Although President Robert Mugabe has boasted that no Zimbabwean would
die of hunger because his government had mounted a massive food relief
exercise, police spokesman, Sergeant Trust Ndlovu, confirmed that four of
the five deaths were of children forced to feed on wild fruits and other
substitutes because of the food shortage.
They are Propitous Mguni (4) and her sister Prospect Mguni (7), who
died after eating wild fruits in the Switsha area of Gwanda South.
In Gwanda North, Kwazinkosi Hlatshwayo (4) and Misheck Ndlovu (9),
died after eating a stew of boiled melon juice and maize. Sgt Ndlovu said
the police were treating both cases as suspected food poisoning.
Police in Matabeleland North said Reborn Ngwenya (50), of Jimila
communal lands in Tsholotsho, died of hunger on July 16 at his home, about
40 km north of Tsholotsho growth point.
Tsholotsho MP, Mtoliki Sibanda confirmed the death saying he had
visited the deceased's home and verified the cause of the death, which
Sibanda said was "clearly due to hunger".
"This man left five orphans behind and I am appealing to aid
organisations and well wishers to donate food. The eldest child, a girl is
only 19 and unemployed. The family was removed from the food aid list in May
when organisations started scaling down supplies," said Sibanda.
The deaths come as more and more hunger-stricken and desperate
families resort to wild fruits, leaves, flowers and berries for survival.
The food security situation, especially in parts of the Matabeleland
and Midlands provinces, continues to deteriorate because some donor agencies
have withdrawn or scaled down services.
Two more people from the Garanyemba communal lands of Gwanda South are
also reported to have died last month after eating a poisoned cassava fruit.
The two were members of a family of nine that had eaten the fruit.
Food donor agencies in the country scaled down supplies in May after
being misled by a government farming review report that claimed that
communal farmers had produced a bumper harvest following the March-April
"Cyclone Japhet" rains.
Nigerian attorney blasts selfish African leaders
By Henry Makiwa
VISITING Nigerian Chief Magistrate and women's rights activist, Oby
Nwankwo, has lashed out at African governments for neglecting the education
of their people and concentrating on issues of political survival.
Nwankwo, who was in Harare to attend the Zimbabwe International Book
Fair, said African governments generally neglected the interests of their
citizens once voted into power.
"The trend is the same wherever you go across Africa; all the leaders
want after getting voted into power is to sustain their own comfort," said
"The governments are not offering a conducive environment for the
development of the book industry. They become insensitive and negate the
plight of their people," she said.
"I strongly believe that the low literacy rates that are prevalent in
Africa are as a result of the policies of political leaders. The widespread
culture of despising studying and reading is fueled by governments bent on
clinging to power while abusing an illiterate populace," said Nwanko.
The widely respected women's rights' activist is the widow of renowned
Nigerian author and publisher, Chief Victor Nwankwo, who was assassinated
last year by unknown assailants after ruffling feathers with his
Nwankwo, who leads an organisation called the Free Legal Services
Centre for widowed and divorced women, urged the Zimbabwean civil society to
press on for the cause of the emancipation of women.
She also emphasised the "great need" for women to disentangle
themselves from male dominance.
"We hear news of a civil strife in Zimbabwe and we can easily relate
to the scenario because we have been through it too. Nigeria was faced with
the same predicament during the years of military rule but activists such as
myself stood their ground to fight the regime's clampdown on our rights,"
"Sometimes you have to be dog-headed and 'damn the consequences' to
claim your freedoms," she added.
Nwankwo said she was not happy with the state of affairs in Nigeria
where the society still remained "very much patriarchal" with women being
sidelined from developmental processes.
Nwankwo was one of the first few women attorneys in Nigeria when she
was invited to the bar in 1980.
She says becoming a barrister, a status considered to be immensely
influential among women in the Third World, stirred her into agitating
against the segregation and discrimination of fellow Nigerian women.
"Growing up in the Anambra State in eastern Nigeria, I saw a lot of
atrocities and injustices being perpetrated against women during the
1967-1970 Biafra War," she said.
"I carried the visions throughout my childhood and as an adult
resolved to give back to impoverished women by conferring free legal
services especially in matters of domestic disputes and inheritance."
Besides her law practice, Nwankwo is also author of 17 works on women
rights' issues under her late husband's publishing company, Four Dimension
Why hawks in Zanu PF fear talks
newsfocus By Henry Makiwa
THE potential resumption of inter-party talks between Zanu PF party
and Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Party
(MDC), have apparently stung some ruling party officials who face an
uncertain future in the event that the two parties agree to bury the hatchet
and work towards a common goal.
Recent utterances by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
minister, Patrick Chinamasa and the acres of space and air time in the State
media for him to dismiss the mediation process points to much more than
meets the eye.
After Zimbabwe's top church leaders met President Robert Mugabe and
MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, last month as part of their efforts to press
the country's rival parties to resolve the political and economic crisis,
Chinamasa - a non-constituency legislator - came out with guns blazing
branding the clergymen as "agents of the opposition".
Chinamasa's statements, first made public on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation television's talk show, Face the Nation, were clearly meant to
throw spanners into the delicate "talks about talks" and scuttle any
mediation efforts, typical of one who stands to lose "his place in the sun"
in the event the talks are successful, say analysts.
The widespread coverage of Chinamasa's remarks in the State owned
media, controlled with a hawk's eye by junior information minister Jonathan
Moyo, also points to a wider conspiracy within the governing party to stifle
Moyo, another legislator directly appointed by Mugabe, was once a
staunch critic of the Zanu PF regime before the late 1990s when he suddenly
made a remarkable volte-face. His surprising conversion to become an
unyielding Mugabe supporter is seen as suspect with some analysts saying he
chose the governing party only when his fortunes outside Zimbabwe were
Moyo has been linked with alleged embezzlement charges at the Ford
Foundation in Kenya where he worked for some time and at the South
Africa-based Wits University. If he is chucked out of the ruling elite in
Zimbabwe, some say, he fears this would leave him in the open for the
aggrieved organisations to seek his prosecution.
It is only natural, the analysts say, that Moyo and Chinamasa and a
few other "hawks" within Zanu PF would want the talks to fail so that the
status quo is maintained and their positions remain relatively secure.
Said Andrew Nongogo of Transparency International: "Certain elements
within the ruling party feel threatened by the talks and are definitely
"But the bottom line is that for this country to move, either
backwards or forward, we need to break this political deadlock and extricate
ourselves from the impasse. That is why all sane people are encouraging the
Nongogo added: "The talks just have to take place ... Zanu PF cannot
solve the economic crisis on their own because it has lost international
support, while on the other hand the MDC have failed to kick Zanu PF out of
power through their mass actions."
Fledgling talks between the MDC and Zanu PF were scuppered last year
when Tsvangirai filed a petition in the Harare High Court challenging
Mugabe's victory in the 2002 presidential poll, widely condemned as flawed.
The opposition wanted the issue of Mugabe's legitimacy discussed in
the talks, forcing Zanu-PF negotiators to break off their participation.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, South African leader Thabo Mbeki
and Bakili Muluzi of Malawi also vainly held separate talks in May this year
with Mugabe and Tsvangirai to try to resuscitate inter-party dialogue.
Mugabe, however, has ruled out any talks unless the MDC recognises his
legitimacy as president. Tsvangirai, on the other hand, has in the past
insisted that the courts should rule on the matter.
Political analyst Enerst Mudzengi, said: "Despite the apparent acts of
violence, rape, intimidation, harassment and various forms of torture that
have ravaged the nation, some within Zanu PF feel comfortable because they
are safe that way.
"But such is the behaviour of politicians and political parties
because their business is to conquer and amass power. It is important
therefore for all right-minded Zimbabweans of influence to propagate the
resumption of talks that will bring back democracy and ensure the economic
development of our country in a wholesome and sustainable manner."
But University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Heneri Dzinotyiweyi, dismissed
notions that Chinamasa and Moyo were against the talks solely because they
wanted to ensure their political survival.
"The problem with us Zimbabweans is that we tend to read too much in
whatever we hear in a critical voice and attach conspiracies to it," said
Dzinotyiwei, who heads the Zimbabwe Intergrated Party.
"That the likes of Chinamasa are harbouring ambitions of political
survival are peripheral issues and should not be used to diverge from the
real matters of importance. Though such elements could indeed exist, why
don't we focus on attaining a common goal that will save our country from
the current quagmire?" asked Dzinotyiweyi.
Silly to think everybody can farm
a retired farmer I would like to share a piece from "Out of the
Earth" with other farmers, particularly members of the Commercial Farmers
Union and delegates and guests to the CFU Congress. It was set in America
about fifty years ago.
"One of the silliest and most superficial and cynical assertions ever
made in the history of this country was the now happily dated assertion that
'anybody can farm'.
"Never, certainly, has there been a saying so completely devoid of
truth in this country or elsewhere throughout the world. A good farmer has
to know more about more things than any man in any profession now practiced.
The belief that 'anybody could farm' has cost us billions of dollars in
"One of the greatest satisfactions of the farmer's life is his
ruggedness and his independence. When that is lost and he takes orders from
the bureaucrat, ('war vet?') the very core of his pride and satisfaction has
rotted away and we shall arrive at an agriculture as poor as that of the
collective farms of Soviet Russia where the farmer is no better than a slave
who lives at a slave's level of food and shelter, and where the State
perpetually threatens the farmer with imprisonment, exile or worse
"There are no short cuts, economic or medical or scientific, where the
laws of the universe are involved. One works with nature, whether in terms
of soil or of human character, or one is destroyed. That, I think, is a law
which it would be well for all of us - economists, politicians, farmers,
Marxists, businessmen and all others - to keep perpetually in mind. It would
be well for man to contemplate daily the principal fact of his brief
existence - the fact of his colossal physical insignificance."
If at all possible, could all "economists, politicians, farmers,
Marxists, business men and all others," please give a little thought to this
The little bit about "work with nature in terms of human character, or
one is destroyed" is possibly the most exciting component, right now.
For whom the toll bell rings
Zimbabwean drivers will soon have to pay to travel
parts of the country if the government introduces tollgates as envisaged.
Toll gates, the world over, are a means for governments to raise
money to service roads, build new ones and repair bridges. Drivers who use
the roads, which are normally highways and freeways, have to pay to pass
through the gates.
The beauty of toll
gates is that they are really the fastest and most efficient way
to raise money and if run professionally, they will help lift the burden on
overburdened taxpayers, especially here in Zimbabwe.
An irate source has however questioned the sincerity of our
government in launching the tollgates.
According to a report in the daily horror, Secretary for
Transport and Communications, Colonel Christian Katsande, says a survey is
already under way along the Harare-Bulawayo Road to "get views from
motorists on their expectations on the toll-gates".
What we know for certain is that the survey is not a referendum
to determine the acceptability of the project. No, that decision has already
So what is the survey supposed to find out from motorists?
Given our experience with this government, where even funds
meant for people suffering from deadly diseases like Aids, or donations to
victims of disasters are routinely siphoned and stolen, this looks like just
another conduit through which public funds will be purloined.
But perhaps Zimbabweans can draw comfort from the fact that if
the proposed tollgates become yet another stillborn idea, it won't be the
Other grandiose projects, not least among them the much-talked
about Chitungwiza commuter railway line, remain a pipe dream years after
they were mooted.
Marriage - Israeli style
The Israeli parliament has rushed through arguably one of the
most racist laws in modern history.
According to Ali Halimeh (remember him?), Israel's Knesset
recently passed a new law that prevents Palestinians who marry Israelis from
living in that country or obtaining Israeli citizenship.
There was a harrowing case on DsTV the other day that amply
demonstrates the absurdity of this new piece of Israeli legislation.
It featured a recently married couple, a young Israeli Arab man
and his Palestinian wife.
The couple, who met while studying in the US, can now neither
live in Israel nor Palestine together because of the law and circumstances
beyond their control.
They were refused permission to live in Israel under the new law
and he cannot abandon his job and home in Israel for a new life in the poor
State of Palestine - that Middle East enclave that is still one of the most
dangerous places to live in the world.
So the newly married Palestinian woman has to commute from her
home to the border with Israel for the daylong visit every time she feels
the urge to meet her husband!
Halimeh says the new law also applies to the children of mixed
marriages. From the age of 12, children from such marriage will too be
denied citizenship and the right to live in Israel.
Halimeh, incidentally, was at one time the longest serving dean
of diplomatic corps in Harare.
The ebullient diplomat - very popular with the local media - is
now in Ireland where he heads the State of Palestine's larger mission that
looks after its interests in a number of European countries.
Bob is my friend
The noose has been relaxed a bit on the neck of Nicholas van
Hoogstraten, the British property tycoon and a self-confessed admirer of
Uncle Bob Mugabe.
Van Hoogstraten, who has admitted bankrolling the governing Zanu
PF party over the years to safeguard his business and farming interests in
Zimbabwe, had his conviction of manslaughter of a business rival quashed by
a British court recently.
He had been jailed 10 years last year for manslaughter after he
was convicted of paying two hitmen to harass Mohammed Raja, a business rival
who was suing him.
The two men, in a typical case of taking instructions too far,
decided to do away with the meddling Raja once and for all and shot him at
The appeal court at Old Bailey ruled that the 10-year sentence
on Van Hoogenstraten was "unsafe" and called for a new trial.
The eccentric billionaire, reputed to be worth a whooping 500
million pounds sterling (you can add as many zeroes as you like to reach the
Zimkwacha equivalent), is notorious in UK for attacking trespassers on his
properties, known in that country as jaywalkers.
Memos are flying
Woodpecker has been reliably told that real editors might soon
become an endangered species at one of the media establishments that
recently introduced a struggling weekly newspaper.
Woodpecker's sources say the few remaining editors at the media
house are being regularly bombarded with memos "from higher up" to pull up
their socks or "go and sell tomatoes in Manica Road", as one journalism
lecturer of yesteryear used to say.
An extremely reliable source told Woodpecker - over a drink, of
course - that the guns are already out for one senior staffer who was
recruited ostensibly to assume the top office of one of the publications but
who has since fallen out of favour.
An editor, himself shown the door for "insubordination", says
messengers fall over each other in the newspaper's corridors delivering one
memo after another to almost all the senior staffers, except of course, a
trio that are supposed to be "the untouchables".
One editor was written a memo for being half an hour late for
work, while another was removed from office, his official car impounded and
is still fighting to keep his cellphone.
Are Zimbabweans unfit for liberty?
Sundaytalk with Pius Wakatama
POOR Patrick Chinamasa. He is the minister of justice but does not
want to see justice done in Zimbabwe. Or is it that the poor man does not
know what justice is all about? His criticism of the church's initiative to
bring Zanu PF and MDC to the negotiating table proves that he does not want
peace and prosperity to prevail in our suffering country.
For a long time the church has been castigated for silently watching
as evil triumphed and the people suffered. The church acknowledged its error
and its leaders are now trying to bring about the much wanted dialogue, as
honest brokers, between our feuding political parties.
The majority of people I have talked to seem to think that if there is
dialogue between the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition MDC all our problems
would be solved. Unfortunately, I am not of that view.
I feel that the blame for the crisis we are in lies squarely with
President Robert Mugabe and his party, Zanu PF. It is also they who have the
power to unilaterally change their evil ways and bring justice and peace to
our country. They don't need the MDC to do this.
Last week I explained my position at great length in this column so I
will not belabour the point.
Despite my scepticism about the efficacy of dialogue between the
political parties, I feel that if anyone is qualified to interfere and help
bring peace and prosperity to Zimbabwe, it is the country's church leaders.
Chinamasa does not think so. He scathingly attacked the highest leaders of
God's church in Zimbabwe and accused them of being partisan.
In other words, he is saying that they have a hidden agenda and can
not be trusted to be honest brokers. In yet other words, he is accusing them
What Chinamasa construes to be partisanship is the fact that the
churches have in the recent past publicly denounced and condemned
politically motivated violence against innocent law abiding citizens. By
calling this partisanship, the minister is in fact admitting that his party
and his government are responsible for that violence.
Zimbabweans, most of whom profess to be Christians must treat
Chinamasa's diatribe against our church leaders with the contempt it
deserves. Why does he not want dedicated and selfless servants of God to be
involved in trying to bring about justice and peace to our bleeding country.
One would think that as a minister of justice he should have been the
first person to welcome the initiative by church leaders. Instead, he is
dead against it. Is it then not logical to conclude that it is he and others
of his ilk who have brought our beloved country to the sorry state that it
is in today.
What is surprising is that President Mugabe and Nathan Shamuyarira,
Zanu PF secretary for Information and Publicity as well as party chairman,
John Nkomo, have all welcomed the church's initiative. Does this mean he
proposes to pass a vote of no confidence in these leaders since he is
questioning their wisdom by his public comments.
You and I have a good idea why Chinamasa and his fellow Mafikizolos
don't want the status quo to change. First, they are benefiting from their
positions of power at the expense of the people of Zimbabwe despite not
being elected by them. Secondly, they have perpetrated such sins upon
Zimbabweans that they are afraid that if things change and real justice
reigns, that same justice will come after them with a vengeance which they
will not be able to escape.
How did our country get into the mess that it is in today? The answer
is simple. Our problems stem from the fact that we have in political
leadership, power hungry people of inferior quality whose only purpose in
getting into politics is self aggrandisement. Service to the people is not
on their agenda, let alone their vocabularies. The way of peace they know
not and their only method of communication is through violence. Imagine
someone like Joseph Chinotimba,"the self-appointed "commander of the farm
invasions" standing as a genuine candidate for parliament. The people of
Highfield have to be commended for denying him their vote. We have more than
enough of his kind in parliament as it is.
In the Bible, the prophet Micah has some damning words for these
selfish and violent leaders. He says:" Woe unto them who scheme iniquity,
who work evil on their beds! When morning comes they do it, for it is in the
power of their hands. They covet fields and then seize them, and houses take
them away. They rob a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.
Therefore, thus saith the Lord, 'Behold, I am planning against this family a
calamity from which you cannot remove your necks,' and you will not walk
haughtily for it will be an evil time'."Micah 2:1 - 3.
Zimbabweans are known (or should I say were known) the world over for
their intelligence, hard work, resourcefulness, good sense and humaneness
(hunhu/ubuntu) which is the cornerstone of their culture. Despite this,
Zimbabwe is today led by people who have transformed it into a violent
pariah which survives on begging even from lesser endowed countries. Her
children are daily suffering from the indignity of being chased away, like
vermin, from countries near and far where they are flocking in their
thousands to escape the hunger and political violence at home.
What happened? Where did we go wrong? We went wrong when we failed to
realise that people get the government they deserve.
After independence and even before, the many qualified and honest good
men and women were enjoying relative prosperity and a modicum of peace. They
were so satisfied with their good living that they trustingly left the
running of the country to "those who had fought in the war."
For them it was more important to make money and better themselves
materially rather than get involved in politics which they deemed to be
"dirty". Even when the vile head of violence and corruption began to show
its ugly face, the cream of our society avoided being involved in any manner
of protest. I remember very well when one of my friends, a professional,
visited me after he had read one of my early articles in The Daily News,
accusing the government of sponsoring violence and tolerating corruption. He
said: "Shamwari siyana nezvekushora hurumende izvi. Iwe neni
takazvisevenzera, Ngatidye mari yedu murunyararo. Unofira yanhingi." (My
friend, stop your criticism of the government. You and I worked hard for
what we have. Let us enjoy that in peace otherwise you will die for others)
This was the typical attitude of the 'good and honest' men and women
in our society. They were, and still are, materialists and not idealists,
self-centred and not sacrificial, cowardly and not courageous. Because they
were not willing to pay the price of responsible leadership they and all of
us are now paying plenty in the destruction of our cherished freedoms.
The renowned political economist, John Stuart Mill once observed, "A
people may prefer a free government: but from indolence , or carelessness,
or cowardice, or want of public spirit, they are unequal to the exertions
necessary for preserving it: if they will not fight for it when directly
attacked; if they can be deluded by the artifices used to cheat them out of
it; if by momentary discouragement or temporary panic, of a fit of
enthusiasm for an individual, they can be induced to lay their liberties at
the feet of even a great man, or trust him with powers which enable him to
subvert their institutions - in those cases they are more or less unfit for
Surely, as Zimbabweans, we are not unfit for liberty - or are we?
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Govt makes price control U-turn
By Kumbirai Mafunda
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's government has made a U-turn over price
controls barely two months after saying the practice would be abandoned.
Government in May announced that it was dumping price controls on
commodity prices following a vigorous lobby from industry and commerce and
the disappearance of most foodstuffs from supermarket shelves.
This was after two years of price regulations aimed at stemming
shortages and curtailing profiteering through the fixing of retail costs of
most basic household goods,especially foodstuffs.
In November, the government fortified its price regime by proclaiming
a six-month price freeze. Mugabe has now called for the strengthening of
price monitoring mechanisms.
However, the price controls imposed two years ago have proved
unsustainable. The widespread shortages of virtually all basic goods and the
emergence of a thriving side and parallel market, bear testimony to the
fact. In addition, price controls resulted in the production of lower
quality goods, or smaller volumes, at exorbitant prices.
Hardly three months after the annulment of price controls, the
government has begun to crack its whip on companies that are adjusting
prices owing to escalating costs.
First to have the riot act read to them were bakers who had
unilaterally hiked the price of bread from $550 to $1 000 a loaf following a
more than 1 000% increase in the GMB's selling price of wheat. GMB raised
the price of wheat from $30 100 to $366 584 a tonne.
Bakers argued the price increases were necessary if they were to
remain viable but government immediately responded by outlawing the hike and
ordering them to charge the gazetted price of $225 for every loaf.
Fertiliser manufacturers, who in the last few weeks increased the
price of the chemicals by 300% citing a sharp increase in the price of
phosphates and nitrates-essential inputs in the manufacturing process-have
also been the target of government's harangue.
A bag of compound D that cost $7 500 in June now costs between $25 000
and $35 000, prompting Mugabe's socialist driven government to immediately
call for a price freeze.
"We are still talking with government but nothing has come through
yet. The cost of inputs, which includes labour and imported chemicals, has
gone up," said TA Holdings' spokesperson, Busisa Moyo.
Economic commentators said the government's clampdown on what it
regarded as the "errant" and unnecessary rising of prices, was a futile
exercise given Zimbabwe's runaway inflation and the shortages of spares,
inputs and hard currency.
Danny Meyer, Surgimed chief executive officer and a past president of
the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), said the government's
heavy-handed approach would only prolong the prevailing agony.
"There is no focus at the moment on finding solutions. They are only
trying to attack symptoms. That is not sustainable because inflation is like
cancer, it eats away the economy just like the body. Government has to
attend to fundamental problems causing the hyperinflationary environment,"
Eddie Cross, an MDC economic adviser, said the government's regime of
price controls was a result of its mismanagement of the economy.
"They are trying to hold back the consequences of mismanaging the
economy and trying to force firms to absorb the cost of their mismanagement.
They will lose this war unless they address economic fundamentals like
inflation," said Cross.
IMF slams GMB monopoly
By our own Staff
THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) has hit out at the government
for the continued monopoly of the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) on the
commercial importation of grain.
The IMF said Zimbabwe should do away with the parochial marketing of
grain products and allow for other players to move in and improve supply.
The government in 2001 gave the GMB sole importation, marketing and
distribution rights on all cereal commodities in Zimbabwe. The move was
meant to cut away middlemen blamed for the rising cost of foodstuffs and for
exporting grain at a time when Zimbabwe was experiencing severe food
The ban has however failed to improve the availability of scarce basic
foods such as maize, wheat and rice.
"Directors stressed that structural policies, focused on increasing
agricultural production and raising productivity throughout the economy,
will be critical to help lay the foundation for a resumption of economic
growth," said the IMF. "Priorities include the elimination of price controls
which, together with less regulation and government intervention in the
economy, will improve economic efficiency and facilitate a reflow of
activity back to the formal markets.
"Efforts to raise productivity in the agricultural sector, in
collaboration with the World Bank and the UNDP, and which should include the
elimination of the Grain Marketing Board monopoly, will be critical to
improving the domestic food supply, increasing exports and reducing
poverty," the IMF added.
The IMF's call was welcomed by the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) which says the government has blocked several attempts it has
made in the past to import food for critically affected areas of Zimbabwe.
MDC shadow minister of agriculture and former GMB boss, Renson Gasela,
called the GMB monopoly an "expensive" venture.
"We want to put pressure to remove that monopoly because it is
expensive, even for the taxpayer," said Gasela.
"Why don't they decontrol wheat and maize and let millers buy directly
from farmers? The cost will be less to consumers," he added.
Farmers are now reluctant to sell their maize and wheat crop to the
GMB because the parastatal, which is reported to owe $301bn, is unable to
pay them on time.
Last week, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) also
complained about the GMBmonopoly saying food insecurity in Zimbabwe was
worsening because of its failure to import sufficient grain.
At its 60th annual congress held in Harare on Wednesday, the
Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) said the 2003/4 maize crop would be affected
by a shortage of suitable seed because production was curbed due to farming
"An increase in maize is not likely while the crop is controlled and
there is a shortage of inputs like fuel, fertiliser and most importantly,
seed. Lack of seed will be a major limiting factor on maize production this
coming season," said Gordon Craig, chairman of the Zimbabwe Grain Producers'
Time to restore hope in agriculture
IN the wake of what is happening in the country right now, it is the
feeling of most Zimbabweans that order and normality be urgently restored
not just in agriculture, but in the entire political and economic system. It
is time that fellow Zimbabweans, black or white, be regarded not as
opponents but as partners in the rebuilding of the country.
The chaotic situation on the farms and elsewhere in the country must
not be allowed to continue. Zimbabweans have had enough. We have to get our
house in order.
The country cannot develop or return to some kind of normalcy in a
situation of confrontation and civil strife.
August 2002 was supposed to the official cut-off point for the fast
track resettlement programme. And yet a year down the road, we still see
more lists in newspapers of farm properties being designated and others
being redesignated for compulsory acquisition by the government.
It is difficult, if not impossible, for any farmer to put a crop in
the ground in an atmosphere not only fraught with uncertainty, but also
surrounded by an unpredictable and menacing government that can no longer be
trusted to adhere to its own laws, regulations and policies. Such is the
tragic circumstances under which farmers must try and sustain this vital
We will be the first to admit that without the revolution that took
place, it would have been virtually impossible to restructure and reorganise
agriculture in this country in the image of all Zimbabweans regardless of
race, tribe or creed. But now that this has largely been achieved, it is
time to move on and restore order into the chaotic situation.
Perhaps to be fair, one could say there was no other way other than
President Mugabe's drastic method of redressing past imbalances, albeit for
the wrong motives.
But he did what he did and that is now the reality that we have to
live with whether we like it or not. Whether or not it can be reversed is
now an academic argument. What needs to be done now is to ensure that the
policy of 'one man one farm' is strictly adhered to so that order returns to
the farms and the remaining white Zimbabwean farmers are left in peace to
farm like any other farmer.
It is important that the farms that were taken by greedy individuals
who now own multiple farms be repossessed and made available not only for
resettlement but to white commercial farmers who have the experience and the
skills. After all, these are a tried and tested breed of Zimbabwean farmers
with an excellent track record garnered over many years. Why reinvent the
wheel when skills and innovation is right in our midst?
We strongly believe that the fusion of the old and new farmers will
generate incandescent energy which will be to the benefit of all
Zimbabweans. Is it not a shame on our part that a once buoyant agriculture
sector can be so destroyed to the extent that we are now importing goods and
services from Zambia and Mozambique - countries which used to import almost
everything from us?
Indeed, many of the new farmers throughout the country may now have
realised that farming is not the easy route to instant wealth as the
politicians may have led them to believe. Farm work is back-breaking and
arduous, certainly not a field for the idle and indolent.
Farmers work long, ungodly hours and must be passionate and
knowledgeable about what they do. In addition, vast resources are needed to
sustain a successful farming operation. There is no doubt many of the new
farmers now know that not everyone can be a farmer.
It is precisely why vast tracts of farm land are lying fallow because
the new farmers to whom they were allocated have neither the means nor the
capacity to farm. It is nonsense to say 'land is the economy', when the
logical imperative should be the effective and efficient use of this finite
resource. Zimbabwe agriculturally-based economy has been damaged beyond
repair by these mindless Zanu PF populist slogans.
Not that we expected any better, but it was nonsensical for Joseph
Made, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement to say that
the Commercial Farmers' Union has become irrelevant to Zimbabwe's
How does an organisation to which all credit must go for the country's
success as a food producer of note suddenly become irrelevant solely for
political expediency? CFU, we must state, has, as every Zimbabwean
organisation, a vested interest in the success of this country.
Any democratic system is where the majority rules and in which
minority rights are protected.
There are intrinsic differences of opinion in our Zimbabwean society
and this is as it should be. If you hold a different opinion from
government, it does not make one irrelevant. It just means that we must
continue to live with our differences and continue to be useful and relevant
to the development of the country.
Zimbabweans are in the throes of an unprecedented crisis and what is
more important than anything else is to close ranks and get involved in all
forms of dialogue which must lead to new understanding on the need to
rebuild the country. All the people of this country - farmers, workers,
employers, ordinary Zimbabweans - are yearning to reorganise their lives
after more than three years of endless harassment and despair. And the last
thing they need is a government that constantly puts spanners in the works
rather than tackling the root causes of their problems.
No doubt there has been much pain and property losses in the process
of the reorganisation of agriculture, commerce and industry during the past
three years. But that pain cannot continue forever. Instability and
uncertainty in the farming sector will continue to adversely affect industry
and commerce which rely on agriculture for raw materials and markets.
Instability in agriculture has affected virtually every Zimbabwean.
It is suicidal for Zimbabwe to continue on this destructive path.
It is in this regard that we add our voice, as representatives of the
Zimbabwean general public, to the chorus of those who are urging the
government even at this late hour to abandon its destructive policies, not
only in the agricultural sector, but in the entire economy.
Well, now we all know
overthetop By Brian Latham
Readers of the troubled central African nation's Horrid newspaper were
this week relieved to learn that white farmers are to blame for the economic
crisis that has brought carnage and calamity to their country.
For three long years troubled central Africans believed their
government was responsible for the havoc that sees millions starving and
hundreds of thousands unemployed.
Not so, says an eminent Cabinet minister. Actually racism destroyed
Of course, the Minister did not explain how food supplies had
diminished to dangerous levels after the same racist farmers had been
evicted, killed, tortured and threatened off their farms.
Nor did he explain how roles had been reversed, with the troubled
central African nation now importing food from the very neighbours that
previously benefited from its exports.
Instead, the Minister said these racist white men had grown flowers
instead of food and banked the money in foreign countries.
Leaving aside for the moment that it was their money, the Minister
needs to be reminded that farmers grew food and flowers and the country did
rather well as a result. No one starved, though millions now do. There was
no shortage of basic necessities - let alone cash - but now almost
everything is in short supply.
Still, the muddled Minister managed to mewl about the mischief farmers
are making, presumably by asking for compensation and other such troublesome
matters like taking him to court.
For their part, troubled central Africans know only that everything
started to go wrong when the Zany party decided to move racist white men off
their farms. And not being stupid, the troubled central Africans know that
not all the evicted farmers were racist, but that the Zany party seemed
unable to make a distinction - mainly because doing so would have been
All the Zany party really wanted was to stop the people working for
crazy white racists from voting for the More Drink Coming party. The rest -
the sudden arrival of 300 000 jobless former farm workers, the collapse of
the economy, the millions of hungry people - was incidental to that one
But they can't say that, can they? Instead the troubled central
African basket case (but former breadbasket) is subjected to endless Zany
(and zany) logic defending tyranny and blaming racist farmers, racist Brits,
racist Yanks and racist Euros for the fact that there's no money in the bank
and no food in the pantry. They blame sanctions when there are none - and
that's a point that can't be hammered home enough. The only sanctions that
exist are targeted specifically against members of the Zany party, not the
troubled people or the troubled country.
But back to those farmers. They've never been very good at doing
themselves favours, and they still aren't. And now they find themselves
unable to win. On one hand they find themselves castigated and spat upon for
trying to deal with the Zany party - and on the other hand the Zany party
denigrates them for; well, trying to deal with the Zany party.
What they should have done from the start is fight, but it's too late
to start again. The damage is done and it'll take the troubled central
African banana republic (while it still has bananas) a decade to put the
farms right. And it certainly won't be done by the Zany party.
Until that happens, the troubled central African country will just
have to continue going cap in hand to those racist Western nations for more
food - while its ministry of misinformation dreams up ever more wonderful
excuses for the failure of its alleged land reform programme.
The real axis of evil
By Mark Palmer
Originally published August 10, 2003
AS AMERICAN Marines move gingerly into Monrovia, basic questions are raised
about the level of America's interest and commitment in Liberia.
In January 2002, when President Bush defined the "axis of evil" as the
dictatorships of Iraq, Iran and North Korea, he did not even mention Charles
Taylor of Liberia. But this one-time warlord and escapee from an American
prison is part of the real axis of evil -- the larger group of 44 dictators
in an arc that runs unbroken west from North Korea and China through the
Middle East and south to sub-Saharan Africa, according to Freedom in the
World 2003, a Freedom House survey.
Focusing just on today's chaos in a single country obscures this larger
reality and the fundamental U.S. interests at stake. For collectively, these
44 men (no women) are overwhelmingly the largest threat to American and
global security and prosperity, and they do work together. Until they are
all ousted, we will know no permanent peace.
In Africa, Moammar Gadhafi, the Libyan dictator, has supported nearly every
tyrant on the continent. His government trained and befriended Mr. Taylor
and his partner in crime, Foday Sankoh, leader of the notorious
Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone. Mr. Sankoh, infamous for his
policy of mutilations, died July 29 in custody after being indicted for
crimes against humanity.
By financing slaughter in West Africa, Colonel Gadhafi opened lucrative
weapons-trafficking routes and gained profits from the diamonds mined by Mr.
Taylor's and Mr. Sankoh's child soldiers in Sierra Leone.
According to The Washington Post, Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist
network has also tapped into Sierra Leone's blood-diamond wealth through
Colonel Gadhafi and the West African branch of the dictators' club. Helped
by such allies, Mr. Taylor and Africa's other dictators regularly send their
thuggish armies across international borders with impunity, fueling
genocidal conflicts that slaughtered well over a million people in 1994
alone, including in Rwanda.
Non-African dictators also have a hand in prolonging the continent's
While Robert G. Mugabe drives white farmers off their land and turns it over
to his family and cronies in Zimbabwe, effectively emptying southern
Africa's breadbasket, China's dictator, Jiang Zemin, provides agricultural
equipment for use on illegally seized farms.
Mr. Mugabe refers to China as "the No. 1 friend" of Zimbabwe. Kim Il Sung's
North Korean regime provided training and equipment for Mr. Mugabe's
massacres in Matabeleland province in the 1980s, where he resorted to ethnic
terror in a bid to consolidate his power. And today, his son, Kim Jong Il,
is perhaps the largest source of trainers for African dictators' security
But what's to be done? Surely the United States can't be expected to send in
military forces across all of Africa.
In sub-Saharan Africa, there are 29 free or partly free nations and just 11
countries that are run by dictators, according to Freedom House's ratings.
Compared to the hundreds of years of horrors, the past decade is an
extraordinary period of progress.
But the remaining 11 dictators still commit atrocities of such appalling
savagery and scale that democrats everywhere must substantially increase the
effort to finish the job in Africa.
We must create within the community of democracies an Africa Caucus so that
the group of 29 free and partly free countries, with the assistance of
non-African democracies, can help with still-fragile transitions (and
incipient backsliding) among their members and also realize their collective
strength by insisting that the last 11 dictators leave power.
We need to create special tribunals, such as the International Criminal
Tribunal for Rwanda, which is trying cases stemming from the genocide in
that country, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which indicted Mr.
Sankoh and 11 others for crimes against humanity.
Nations with particular histories in Africa need to revise their priorities
and play a more aggressive role in ousting the 11 least wanted. French
policy is in particular need of a radical shake-up, but Britain, Portugal,
Belgium, Germany, Spain, the United States and others also have special
histories and responsibilities. A minimal application of force may be needed
in some cases and can work. Liberia is such a case today.
Perhaps most fundamental is for non-African nations and Africans themselves
to begin to believe, as any other people, that Africans have as much right
to democracy and the reasons and capacity for it. There is a terribly
enervating condescension among many non-Africans with a view that we must
treat Africa as a sort of child, a patient, a charity case.
The result is toleration of dictators, a focus not on the cause but on the
effect -- not on getting the right governance but on debt forgiveness,
refugee relief or conflict prevention.
Africa's longest-serving autocrat, Daniel T. arap Moi, was ousted from power
in Kenya last year. Mr. Taylor must be out soon. Let's keep up the momentum
of at least one every year. With just 10 to go, Africa would be a
dictator-free zone within a decade.
Mark Palmer, the U.S. ambassador to Hungary
from 1986 to 1990, is vice
chairman of the board of Freedom House and author of Breaking the Real Axis
of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators By 2025, to be published by
Rowman and Littlefield.
Copyright © 2003, The Baltimore Sun
Sunday Times (SA)
Tearful white farmers gather at the end of the road
© The Telegraph, London
Zimbabwe's commercial farmers held their 60th annual congress Wednesday, but
it was a day of heartache and tears for the dwindling band, some of whom now
depend on charity to survive.
As another appeal went out for international donors to replenish emergency
food stocks, President Robert Mugabe renewed expired notices of acquisition
on 152 farms, including five prime ranches in the Matabeleland province
belonging to SA's Oppenheimer mining dynasty.
"Zimbabwe continues on its downward path to economic ruin
with no relief in
sight," Doug Taylor-Freeme, the vice-president of the farmers' union, told
the meeting, adding that agricultural production had fallen more than 50% in
the past year.
One farmer, Bruce Stobart,
40, who survived the three-year campaign against
the mainly white commercial farmers only to succumb a month ago, said: "I
went into every deal available to stay on my farm, but when a mob arrived at
my house and ate my son's pet rabbits, we had to go, and now there is
nothing I can do."
to stay on his farm in Mazowe, he gave two-thirds of his land to
Mugabe's supporters. Last summer he ploughed for them, planted their crops
and gave them technical help.
But it wasn't enough. Stobart, his wife and
three children fled after
supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party surged towards the family home. They
are now living in rented accommodation in Harare, planning to emigrate to
New Zealand next January.
has about 60ha of wheat and barley still growing on his land, which
will be ready for harvest in November.
"The woman who has taken my farm, Mrs
Omega Hungwe, said I can reap my
crops, providing I give her a quarter of what I get paid. Then she says I
must never go back home again," he said.
"I suppose I will go to court over this, for what it is worth,
but I know it
is the end of the line."
Until three years ago,
agricultural produce accounted for 40% of Zimbabwe's
exports. Tobacco production is down more than 60%, and Zimbabwe will grow
less than 10% of its normal wheat production this year.
"It is catastrophic," said Alan
Stockil, a farmer in charge of a national
evaluation committee. "Zimbabwe will continue to slide until agriculture
recovers. That is why we are gathering data for compensation for farmers.
Many are too heartbroken to do so, but we are pushing them."
Out of 4 000 productive white
commercial farmers three years ago, fewer than
400 remain . About 300 000 black workers and their families working and
living on former white commercial farms are in abject poverty, according to
the union's president, Colin Cloete. They were left out of the land reform
programme and are jobless, homeless and hungry.
Sapa reports the Zimbabwean government
attacked the farmers' criticism of
the land reform , saying the farmers are now irrelevant.