The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News

      Stayaway over cash looms

        THE executive of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) will
meet next week to endorse a proposed stayaway and marches to Parliament and
the central bank following the expiry yesterday of a 14-day ultimatum to the
government to resolve severe cash shortages, it was learnt yesterday.

      Sources within the country’s labour umbrella body said the
organisation wanted to call for workers to stay away from work and to
undertake marches to protest a cash crisis that has plagued the country for
several months.

      One source told the Daily News: “The executive resolved to call for
stayaways and marches which will have some people wielding placards outside
Parliament, the RBZ (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe) and (Finance Minister
Herbert) Murerwa’s offices.

      “Those who do not want to demonstrate will have to remain at home,”
the source added.

      But ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo would not commit himself on what
action the labour body would take, only saying it had three options.

      “We have set the 23rd (of August) as the tentative date for the
executive to meet,” said Matombo. “We might push the date because of some
logistical problems, but whenever it is going to be, it will be just a
matter of endorsing the action we want to take. We have the action on our

      “We will not announce what kind of action we will take, but we have
three options on hand. Of course, we cannot rule out the traditional way
(stayaways). We do not want to say much as that would arm our enemy.”

      On when the workers’ action was likely to start, he said: “After the
meeting, the longest we will take is five days. The situation is very
desperate for the workers. We have to act fast so that the government is
seen to be doing something to address our plight. We will not stop our
action until the situation improves. We want cash so that these queues will
become a thing of the past.”

      The cash shortages have forced banks to ration money to clients, with
some financial institutions giving as little as $5 000 a day. This has, in
turn, forced most workers to visit their banks on a daily basis to secure
money to meet their expenses.

      The central bank last week introduced local currency travellers’
cheques (TCs) to alleviate the impact of the cash shortages, blamed on
soaring inflation and the government’s failure to raise foreign currency to
import the special ink and paper needed to print bank notes.

      According to measures announced by Murerwa, the government will also
phase out the current $500 by October, in an attempt to force people to
inject cash into the system.

      The $500 will be replaced by a different coloured note, and a $1 000
note, made necessary by escalating prices, will also be introduced.

      But Matombo said these measures, especially the TCs, had not addressed
the cash shortages. Several retailers are said to have refused to accept

      Matombo told the Daily News: “The government has done nothing to
address this issue – if anything at all, the crisis is getting worse. The
(local currency) TCs will not help at all. Where will merchants get cash
when someone wants change after using a TC as a form of payment for services
or goods?

      “Workers are now spending more time in banks or looking for cash than
at their workplaces or with their families. We feel we should not be exposed
to such horrible pain. Something has to be done as a matter of urgency. It
seems the government is not treating this as an urgent matter.”

      Murerwa and his deputy Christopher Kuruneri could not be reached for
comment yesterday.

      By Columbus Mavhunga

      Staff Reporter

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News

      Magistrate seeks transfer after threats from war vets

        A MWENEZI district magistrate, Mogregor Kufa, is seeking relocation
from the area because he says he has received threats to his life in
connection with rulings he made in several farm eviction cases, the Daily
News has learnt.

      Kufa wrote to chief magistrate Samuel Kudya last month, requesting to
be transferred from Mwenezi to Harare, but his request was turned down.

      The Daily News yesterday established that after writing to the
Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs asking for a swop or a
transfer from Mwenezi, Kufa received a letter from Kudya advising him that
he could only be transferred to Masvingo Provincial Court.

      Kudya also advised Kufa that he would have to meet his own relocation
expenses if he was moved from Mwenezi.

      But in a letter to Kudya, Kufa argued: “I am aware that the transfer
was solely initiated by myself, but the risks and dangers about to be
orchestrated result from my duties as a judicial officer.

      “It would be grossly unfair and unjust for me to meet the said costs.
Regrettably, if I am made to meet the costs, it would be an unfortunate and
erroneous precedent.”

      The magistrate also said that in Masvingo province, his life would
remain in danger because of suspected war veterans who are unhappy with
rulings he made in cases involving white farmers evicted from their land.

      Masvingo provincial magistrate Enias Magate has endorsed Kufa’s
transfer request, saying his fear is “based on solid ground”.

      War veterans are among those who have been allocated land seized by
the government from white farmers.

      Kufa has passed several judgments against the government in cases
where white farmers have been issued with eviction notices by the Ministry
of Lands and Agriculture.

      In his judgments, Kufa ordered affected farmers to remain on their
properties pending a ruling by the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of
Section 8 of the Land Acquisition Act, under which the eviction notices are

      Sources said for the past five months, suspected war veterans had
repeatedly phoned and sent letters to Kufa, threatening to kill him for his
judgments and for jailing three war veterans who beat up opposition party
supporters in the run-up to the presidential election last year.

      The sources said the war veterans were even believed to have written
to President Robert Mugabe, denouncing Kufa as a traitor and asking for his
transfer from Mwenezi.

      “They accused him of betraying his fellow magistrates elsewhere who
were giving ultimatums to farmers to leave their properties,” one source

      Kufa is also being investigated for allegedly passing lenient
sentences on at least five separate cases.

      The Justice Ministry set up a three-member committee to look into the
allegations levelled against the magistrate.

      Kufa is being charged with five counts of misconduct for allegedly
passing light sentences without giving reasons for such rulings.

      It is alleged that on 22 January last year at the Mwenezi court, Trust
Moyo, Manual Moyo and Buy Makechemu appeared before Kufa facing eight counts
of stocktheft involving cattle worth $184 000.

      The three accused were sentenced to three months in jail, which were
wholly suspended for five years without adequate justification, it is

      Staff Reporter

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News

      Water shortage affects hospitals in Masvingo

        MASVINGO – Neshuro and Chivi district hospitals have been forced to
transfer patients to health institutions nearby in the last few weeks
because of serious water shortages, it was learnt this week.

      Health officials in the province said Neshuro hospital was the
hardest-hit and had down-sized its operations as a result.

      The officials said the engine that was used to supply water to the
health centre was washed away by heavy rains last year, and the hospital was
depending on water ferried in bowsers.

      However, the shortage of fuel has affected the temporary measures
being used to bring water to the hospital.

      One official said: “Some patients from Neshuro are now being
transferred to Matibi Mission Hospital as the water problem continues to be
severely felt. We are not sure when normal supplies will be restored.”

      At Chivi District Hospital, the situation is reported to have
improved, but water shortages continue to haunt the state-of-the-art rural
health centre.

      Health officials said problems at Chivi hospital began early this
month when workers from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority downed tools
to press for salary increments.

      Since then, the officials said, water supplies had been erratic,
affecting the smooth running of the hospital.

      A health official at Chivi yesterday said: “The situation has slightly
improved, but the problem is not yet over. At times, especially during night
time, the hospital runs dry, but I am sure something is being done to solve
the problem.”

      Masvingo provincial medical director Tapuwa Magure yesterday confirmed
the crisis at the two hospitals.

      “I am aware of the problems that the two hospitals are facing,
especially at Neshuro. We have had to transfer patients because the hospital
has no water, but we are working on modalities to get funds and solve the
problem,” he said.

      He would not divulge the number of patients and staff affected by the
crisis at the two hospitals.

      Own Correspondent
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News

      Chissano jets into Harare for talks with Mugabe

        MOZAMBICAN President Joaquim Chissano yesterday flew into Zimbabwe
to hold talks with President Robert Mugabe on the change of government in
Liberia, with diplomatic sources saying the two were also likely to discuss
issues relating to Zimbabwe’s political problems.

      Chissano, who is the chairman of the African Union, was met at Harare
International Airport by Mugabe and the two immediately left for closed door
talks at the Harare Sheraton Hotel.

      Details of the meeting could not be immediately established by late
last night, although sources said Chissano would update Mugabe on the events
in Liberia, whose leader Charles Taylor resigned and went into exile in
Nigeria this week amid pressure from the United States.

      Chissano and South African President Thabo Mbeki oversaw Taylor’s

      Chissano refused to speak to the Press on his arrival yesterday, but
the sources said apart from the Liberian crisis, the Mozambican leader would
also seek an update on initiatives by Zimbabwean church leaders to revive
inter-party dialogue between Zimbabwe’s main political parties.

      “The primary reason for his visit is to brief his counterpart on
issues relating to the stepping down of Taylor in Liberia. But Chissano will
also take the opportunity to get an update on the how far the political
players in Zimbabwe have gone in terms of resumption of dialogue.

      “Chissano is as concerned about the Zimbabwean problems as all the
other African leaders,” one source said.

      Staff Reporter
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News

      Talks, what talks?

        TATENDA Shava, an opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
supporter, contorts his face in disdain when asked what he thinks about
efforts to broker talks between his party and the ruling ZANU PF.

      “I am very disappointed. How can our party be seen to be supping with
the devil? The economy has all but collapsed because of ZANU PF’s misrule,”
he says from a long cash queue at an automated teller machine.

      Moments later, security guards brandishing batons tell Shava and other
desperate cash hunters that money has run out.

      In another part of town, Farai (not his real name), a 20-year-old
graduate of Zimbabwe’s controversial national youth service programme,
launches into a tirade when asked about the proposed talks.

      “The ruling party is a nationalistic organisation and there is no way
we can talk to Tony Blair’s puppets,” he says, using the denigrating term
President Robert Mugabe and other ruling party officials frequently apply to
MDC leaders and supporters.

      He adds: “The MDC represents the interests of the white people who are
not happy that our people have been empowered through the land reform
exercise. We may be experiencing food shortages, but things will soon
improve. All these shortages are being caused by the MDC and their white
masters in the United States and Britain.

      “Do you know that it is possible for some MDC scientists to interfere
with the weather and ensure that there is no rain? This will make our
enemies believe that the land reform was a failure.”

      Shava and Farai spoke as local church leaders shuttled between
Zimbabwe’s main political parties in an attempt to convince them to resume
talks that stalled last year when the opposition filed a court application
challenging Mugabe’s 2002 re-election.

      Representatives of churches have met separately with Mugabe and MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the past few weeks and say both have expressed
interest in the church initiative.

      In addition, party officials indicate that there has been informal,
low-level contact between officials of the two parties.

      But while analysts say there is a thawing of relations between ZANU PF
and the MDC, their supporters seem sceptical and unconvinced of the need for

      The Daily News interviewed eight Zimbabweans – four supporting the MDC
and four ZANU PF activists – who all said they agreed that there was need to
end the political impasse that has contributed to the crisis.

      But all eight said they were suspicious of the politicians’ motives.

      For instance, as far as Farai and some ZANU PF supporters are
concerned, there is no need for the ruling party to enter into any
negotiations with the MDC.

      The governing party, they say, won the 2000 parliamentary and the 2002
presidential elections “in a free and fair atmosphere”.

      “If ZANU PF won the two elections, why should we accommodate losers
from the MDC?” Farai asks.

      Opposition party supporters, on the other hand, remain convinced that
ZANU PF “stole” the two elections from the MDC and fear the resumption of
talks could mean the death of the party.

      Shava expressed the sentiments of other MDC supporters interviewed by
the Daily News: “I am very sceptical of the motives behind these so-called
talks. As MDC members, we would like to know what these talks are supposed
to achieve and what has forced the parties to the negotiating table.

      “Is it because ZANU PF has realised that it has failed to lead this
country, or is it because the MDC is chickening out because it cannot stand
the heat?”

      He warned, as other commentators and MDC party supporters have done,
that Zimbabwe’s main opposition party ran the risk of being swallowed by
ZANU PF, as happened with PF-ZAPU when it entered into the 1987 Unity Accord
that created a virtual one-party state.

      “The MDC should remember that PF-ZAPU, a formidable opposition party,
was absorbed by ZANU PF in 1987 and should ensure that a similar fate does
not befall them. Unity with the ruling party would be a betrayal of MDC
members who have been killed, raped and tortured for daring to support the
opposition,” Shava said. Political analysts attributed much of the suspicion
to lack of information on the objectives of the proposed talks. University
of Zimbabwe lecturer Heneri Dzinotyiwei pointed out: “The MDC leadership
would have to give a clear indication of what it wants to achieve from the
talks to avoid any suspicions on the part of their supporters. “The ZANU PF
supporters would not see much benefit or gain from the talks because their
party is in power and they might feel that any outcome would be to their
disadvantage. The other cause for such an attitude would be failure to
separate partisan goals from national ones.” The analysts also noted that
MDC supporters who had been injured or lost family members to political
violence in the past three years might also see dialogue with the ruling
party as a betrayal. ZANU PF supporters are blamed for most of the violence
that has affected Zimbabwe since 2000. The analysts said ruling party
activists might also fear abandonment by their party and prosecution for
involvement in the violence if ZANU PF cosied up to the MDC. They added that
attitudes drummed into their supporters by the two parties might also be
contributing to resistance to dialogue. For instance, while MDC supporters
interviewed by this reporter insisted that “the only acceptable compromise
would be for the two political parties to agree that the electoral laws are
amended, culminating in internationally supervised elections”, ruling party
activists were uneasy about internationally supervised polls. They have been
taught that the international community favours the MDC and, therefore, fear
that any international involvement in future polls would be detrimental to
their interests. One ZANU PF supporter said: “Except for our African
brothers, the rest of the international community would only rig elections
in favour of their surrogate MDC. In my opinion, there is no need for fresh
elections because we won in free and fair elections. If there are to be
fresh elections, then they should be monitored by our African brothers who
are not biased in favour of the MDC.” MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube
was quick to try and allay opposition party followers’ fears, saying: “I don
’t know where people get the notion that dialogue could be about unity talks
between the MDC and ZANU PF. “Unity between the two parties cannot and will
never be on the agenda of the talks. The purpose of dialogue as far as the
MDC is concerned is for the return to a democratic dispensation, where
people would be free from torture, arbitrary arrest and see the return of
basic freedoms of assembly and association. The other item on the agenda is
the issue of how the country can be returned to legitimacy.” Contacted for
comment yesterday, ZANU PF deputy secretary for the commissariat Sikhanyiso
Ndlovu would only say: “Negotiations are done behind closed doors – you
cannot negotiate in public. In fact, I cannot comment on talks about talks.”

      By Foster Dongozi Features Writer
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News

      Industry to pay for pollution

        ZIMBABWE’S environmental watchdog, Environment Africa, is taking the
“polluter pays” principle a step further and has drafted a River Charter
under which local company executives would commit themselves to taking
responsibility for the prevention of pollution.

      Environment Africa financial director Robin Wild said his organisation
had been consulting various stakeholders about the draft Charter since June.

      “We hope to also involve all schools, residents and users of the river
in a Charter which will be signed, promising to clean up the river, to stop
pollution and to restore it as a beautiful icon of the city,” he said.

      “We are, therefore, asking the industries to voluntarily adopt and
commit themselves to this Charter, to take responsibility for a cleaner
river system by establishing standards of accountability, methods of
collaboration and a system of self-monitoring,” Wild added.

      Companies would initially voluntarily commit themselves to abiding by
the provisions of the Charter, but Environment Africa will eventually lobby
for it to be made into law.

      The draft Charter stipulates that industrial executives would be held
accountable and responsible for the actions of their organisations, which
would be required to reduce water consumption by a measurable target within
a specified time frame.

      Industries would be expected to pledge to recover and recycle water
used in their production processes and wherever it is technically possible
and cost-effective, to discharge industrial effluent according to the
standards set by the government.

      “We hope many industry executives will join in efforts to plan,
develop and manage water resources and to reduce the amount of water they
use, recycle water and ensure that they do not pollute our water courses,”
Wild said.

      He said in Harare, Environment Africa’s vision was to restore the
Mukuvisi River and its tributaries to their former natural beauty and health
by cleaning them up, encouraging biodiversity and reducing pollution.

      Companies that would have committed themselves to abiding by the
provisions of the River Charter and which fail to do so would face

      Imposing penalties against companies responsible for pollution is an
integral part of the “polluter pays” principle advocated in Zimbabwe’s
Environmental Management Act, which was gazetted last year.

      The legislation stipulates that organisations that cause pollution or
environmental degradation should meet the cost of remedying such pollution
or degradation.

      Under the Act, the polluter should be liable for the health effects of
pollution, as well as the cost of preventing, controlling or minimising
further pollution and environmental damage.

      Focus in the past has been on industrial firms, accused of
contributing to atmospheric pollution and the pollution of water sources in
urban areas.

      But Environment and Tourism Ministry permanent secretary, Margaret
Sangarwe has indicated that the government plans to extend the polluter pays
principle to Zimbabwe’s food industry, saying, “As we widen our ‘polluter
pays’ principle, the ministry is looking at companies whose packaging is
littered on the streets and levy(ing) them. This is a measure to check on
who is responsible.”

      If the proposal is implemented, food outlets, whose paper and hard
plastic packaging materials have become an eyesore on urban streets, would
be forced to pay penalties if their customers litter the streets.

      This is supposed to encourage the outlets to look for alternative
packaging that would not easily be disposed of on the streets.

      But the proprietors of local food outlets interviewed by the Daily
News expressed reservations on the extension of the polluter pays principle
to the food industry, saying they should not be held responsible for the
actions of their customers.

      Sylvia Manhanga, who runs a fast-food outlet in the Harare city
centre, said: “It would be unfair for the government to levy us because we
are not the ones who pollute the environment. In as much as we appreciate
that our clients throw litter in the streets, we cannot pay for their

      She said the government should rather make individuals pay spot fines
when they are caught littering, something the Environment Ministry has
already indicated is in its plans.

      But while environmentalists say individual polluters should be made to
account for their actions, they insist that industry and commerce should be
roped in if Zimbabwe’s anti-pollution strategies are to succeed. In this
regard, the government has gazetted fines of up to $15 million and jail
sentences for polluters. “The government will ensure that the laid down
regulations are enforced and that stiffer penalties are imposed for
non-compliance by the perpetrators,” Sangarwe said. Environment Africa’s
Muthuso Dhlamini added: “Industrialists boast that they pollute and pay the
fine instead of obeying the law, so we hope with the new concept, they will
be deterred as they will have to pay much greater fines or even risk being
imprisoned. “Now it won’t be easy to degrade the environment and get away
with it as was done before onerous fines and jail sentences were set.”
Environmentalists say failure to rein in pollution will have serious
consequences for Zimbabwe, where water and air pollution is rising because
of industrial activity and surging urban populations. In Harare, companies
are accused of depositing raw effluent in water sources, while peri-urban
agriculture has also contributed towards pollution. Harare City Council
reports indicate that atmospheric pollution levels in the capital city are
far above World Health Organisation standards, increasing the risk of
respiratory problems, lung infections and heart conditions.
Environmentalists say littering is also dangerous to public health and can
cause blockages and flooding of drain systems, which cost city councils a
large amount of money to rectify. Litter is also said to store carbon,
contributing to the greenhouse effect, a concentration of gases in the
atmosphere that are reflected back to the earth and are believed to be
responsible for global warming, which is said to be causing adverse changes
to the world’s climate. By Angela Makamure Staff Reporter
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News

      Will to work for common good has disappeared

        DURING the early years of our Independence, we may have had a common
vision for Zimbabwe and political objectives embracing all its citizens in
our socialism. The slogans were Education for All, Health for All, Housing
for All.

      But divisions and exclusion of parts of the population from
nation-building were pre-programmed even then, insofar as the socialist
ruling party needed a class enemy and justified its permanent hold on power
by declaring it a matter of historical necessity.

      Whatever had been positive in our socialist policies, notably the
expansion of education and health services, could not be sustained: if you
subsidise social services, you first have to create the economic wealth with
which to do the subsidising.

      That did not happen.

      Also, many people used to benefit from free health care who were well
able to pay.

      Living beyond our means and spending more than we produced, we were
finally asked to get real and bake the cake first before eating fat slices
of it.

      Socialism and the concern for the welfare of all were debunked.
Instead, we had a new and dangerous drug prescribed called ESAP (Economic
Structural Adjustment Programme).

      Promoting private enterprise and personal responsibility, it went to
the other extreme of recommending sheer self-interest as the engine of all
economic progress and development.

      It did not work either.

      And its champions had to admit eventually that ruining the health of
the workforce and depriving future workers, and especially future mothers,
of education is a lousy way of trying to achieve greater productivity.

      It has done no good to the economy, and will not work in politics
either. The political equivalent of neo-liberalism goes something like this:
let different groups and parties compete with each other, and the end result
will be a political equilibrium and stability.

      There is some truth in this insofar as a multi-party system does not
allow any one party to be totally dominant, and thus prevents corruption and
abuse of power. In fighting each other through the vote, they neutralise
each other, or so the theory goes.

      But what if one party manages to crush its opponent and live out in
reality its insane dream of absolute power?

      Self-interest has a place in any social interaction, in economics,
internal politics and international relations. But it must never be allowed
to be the only motivating force and thus run wild.

      It must be counterbalanced by the will to take into account the
interests of all and cater for the common good.

      The will to work for the common good, which may have been there
initially, has completely disappeared from our political scene. It shows
most outrageously in what is called the politicisation of food distribution.

      Church organisations wishing to import badly needed food for starving
villagers and hungry urban destitute were denied import permits.

      No one must be seen to come to the aid of starving people except the
party. Saving lives is no concern of current political leaders. Only the
propaganda value of doing so is.

      If you are known to be an opposition supporter, or just suspected to
be, you are left to starve to death.

      National leaders do not feel responsible for the nation as a whole.
They merely bribe, and buy the support of, their own voters.

      A healthy community says: We will survive by sticking together, or we
will not survive at all. But this solidarity is fast disappearing under the
impact of the divisive self-absorption and obsession with staying in power
at whatever cost of the ruling elite. Now the unwritten law seems to be
everyone for himself! A woman with a heart condition comes from seeing her
doctor. Her prescription costs tens of thousands of dollars which she has
not got, being an unemployed widow with five children. She begs and pleads
with family members, neighbours, her church pastor, anyone. What can they
do? They shrug their shoulders: “Sorry, we have troubles of our own. We wish
you good luck.” Another one needs hundreds of thousands of dollars for a
life-saving cancer operation. If you don’t have children in London or
nephews in Australia, you are done for. Even traditional family solidarity
is sorely tried. The leaders are looking for people tough and ruthless
enough to keep the population in their iron grip and force it into a
semblance of unity by sheer terror and intimidation. But this fosters only
resentment, which one day will explode into orgies of revenge. Even now,
countless people, tortured, humiliated and nursing old wounds, harbour deep
bitterness. Countless people refuse to accept the killing of loved ones
while the killers walk free. This is the stuff civil wars are made of.
Violence breeds violence. Divide and rule keeps rulers in power for a time,
but eventually consumes them in the fire of civil strife. Government needs
to accept full responsibility for all citizens regardless of their political
affiliation. Government must respect the life of everyone in the country and
its law enforcement agents must protect all without asking political
questions. The Church cannot say this often enough. A government that no
longer strives for the common good, but is partial to a dwindling minority,
loses its legitimacy. Leaders merely looting the state in favour of their
supporters fail the nation. What we need are people capable of universal
solidarity who feel for their suffering brothers and sisters. We ourselves
need to be able to feel the pain of the hungry unprovided for, of the sick
uncared for, of those beaten merely for saying out loud what we all know to
be true. We even need to feel for tormentors who destroy, not only the
humanity of their victims, but their own as well. Excluding no one and
reaching out to everyone is the first step on the long road to peace.

      By Father Oskar Wermter SJ

      Father Oskar Wermter is a Catholic priest and social commentator
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News

      No alternative to dialogue

        AN UNREPENTANT President Robert Mugabe on Monday used Heroes’ Day,
as he has often done in the past, to inflict more despair and anguish on
crisis-weary Zimbabweans.

      When he could have used the occasion to rally the nation behind the
search for a negotiated end to Zimbabwe’s bitter crisis, Mugabe
single-handedly tried to scuttle prospects for an end to the country’s
political impasse when he demanded that the opposition “repent” before there
can be co-operation with his government.

      Repent to who, we ask?

      Poverty is worse in Zimbabwe today than at any other time in the
modern history of this country, thanks to the ruinous land and economic
policies of Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party in the last 23 years.

      Shops are empty of food because hired political thugs drove productive
farmers off the land, while the government stood watching, if not actually
cheering on the madness.

      Inflation has hit an all-time high of 364.5 percent because the
government refuses to live within its means and reduce the budget deficit,
the chief cause of Zimbabwe’s high inflation.

      Unemployment is around 70 percent as industry and commerce, just like
everything else in once prosperous Zimbabwe, hurtles towards total collapse.

      HIV/AIDS-related illnesses are killing at least 2 000 Zimbabweans each
week because the government would rather spend money on self-serving
projects such as its national youth training programme and not on
resuscitating the collapsing public health sector or providing
anti-retroviral drugs.

      At least another 30 Zimbabweans have died in the last three years
because of mindless political violence and lawlessness, which Mugabe and his
government should have and could have prevented.

      That in the face of all this, Mugabe – who as President of Zimbabwe
bears the most responsibility for the way things have fallen apart in this
country – can turn around and demand that others should repent and beg for
forgiveness is arrogant hypocrisy of the worst kind.

      The kind of arrogant hypocrisy the world has come to expect from the
likes of Liberia’s embattled Charles Taylor.

      After 14 years at the centre of two bloody wars that claimed more than
200 000 lives and brought Liberia to its knees, Taylor still had the cheek
to portray himself this week as a “sacrificial lamb” giving up power and
going into exile in Nigeria for the sake of his beloved Liberians.

      But then Taylor was always an uncouth warlord prepared to do anything
for the love of political power and diamonds.

      This is not the kind of behaviour that Zimbabweans want or expect from
Robert Mugabe, a former freedom fighter and an elder president on the

      Zimbabweans expect Mugabe to negotiate, not only with the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), but with the devil himself if that is
the only way to break the country’s political impasse and allow Zimbabwe a
chance to make a fresh beginning.

      Indeed, only three weeks ago, Mugabe himself appeared to accept
dialogue as the only viable route forward, promising local church leaders
that he was committed to resumption of talks between ZANU PF and the MDC.

      Or are we to believe those that say Mugabe agreed to the church
leaders’ efforts to revive dialogue only as a callous and selfish move to
buy himself political space?

      After Monday’s performance, only Mugabe can reassure Zimbabweans that
his word can be trusted by taking firm and visible steps to create an
environment conducive for talks with the MDC to resume.

      We can only watch and wait!
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News

      Zimbabwe economy feeding off itself

        A FRIEND in Zimbabwe, normally astute in his economic observation,
had me wondering recently when he asserted that business in the country was
actually booming.

      He said the South African press had created unnecessary gloom and doom
about the economic situation across the Limpopo, and challenged me to update
myself on the situation.

      I took him up on it. During a trip to Harare last week I saw what he
was on about. There was indeed a sense of greater normalcy about the city’s
everyday life than I had expected.

      The streets were full of people, cars and buses, imported goods were
flying off the shelves, basic foodstuffs appeared to be available, the stock
exchange was on an extended bull run, new houses were going up in upmarket
suburbs and four major companies reported results well ahead of inflation.

      But, of course, you just need to scratch below the surface to see a
rather different picture. This is an economy feeding off itself, that will
soon cave in on a hollowed-out centre.

      While cars clog the streets, the regular petrol stations are deserted,
with the whole fuel industry having “gone private” and migrated to backyard
caches, roadside tankers and smalls adverts in newspapers, with prices
determined by the desperation of the buyer.

      On the pavements outside banks the throngs are actually lengthy queues
of people, often patrolled by riot police, waiting for the paltry sums of
precious cash they are allowed to withdraw from their accounts.

      The shops might be full, but they are rapidly turning ordinary
Zimbabweans into paupers with prices few can really afford.

      The 400 percent inflation rate is fuelling the stock market, the
spending spree in the retail and housing sectors, and the quick fortunes
being made by local entrepreneurs exploiting shortages.

      Of course, these include many senior government officials and top
ruling-party politicians who have used their positions to enter the
money-trading business on the side, capitalise on the foreign exchange
shortage and become instant millionaires.

      In the past fortnight alone, the value of one US dollar on the black
market has nearly doubled to more than $6 000.

      Local currency, too, has become tradeable with banks offering up to 30
percent commissions on the value of cash sold back to them.

      In the weird world of the Zimbabwe economy, an IPO is known among
cynics not as an initial public offering but as an “individual profit

      The banknote shortage is about more than a lack of foreign currency to
print money. It is the culmination of a series of interlocking distortions
propping up the economy. It has been a rude wake-up call for many
Zimbabweans, a reminder of this rather Alice in Wonderland-like environment
in which they function.

      The boom boast is unsustainable. Outside of the profiteers, desperate
poverty is consuming the people.

      The government is without a plan. Domestic debt spirals as it borrows
madly to prop up a malfunctioning land programme and keep restive public
servants at bay.

      While the basis of most of the new capitalists’ wealth will disappear
with the hoped-for return to normality, an intriguing and compelling irony
is emerging from the chaos.

      The very ruling party stalwarts that are currently skinning the masses
could actually be turning into one of the major forces for change.

      ZANU PF heavyweights who used their often dubious gains to buy
companies that are now doing nicely, including a number listed on the
soaring stock exchange, are actually starting to hanker for a return to
international acceptance and long-term sustainability as any sensible
businessman would.

      The government’s diminishing capacity to dispense patronage and
largesse has the sometime faithful looking beyond the current mess to a new
order in which their acquisitions and wealth will really mean something.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News

      Government to slash debt to GDP

        THE government plans to whittle down the ratio of debt to gross
domestic product (GDP) from 52 percent to 25 percent in the next 12 years,
according to a report by the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social

      The report, dubbed the Millennium Growth Report, was produced last
week and says the government is planning to reduce the debt to GDP ratio by
half in the next decade, although it will still be the highest in southern

      According to statistics in the report, the government says it has
reduced Zimbabwe’s debt to GDP ratio from 114 percent in 2000 to 52 percent
at the end of last year. GDP is the total goods and services produced by a
country in a year and a high debt to GDP ratio is a sign of an unhealthy

      Zimbabwe’s total domestic debt was $340 billion at the end of last
year, while total external debt amounted to U$4 billion, with arrears of
around US$1.3 billion. Domestic debt, however, leapt to $542 billion at the
end of June this year, while foreign arrears have climbed to US$1.6 billion.

      According to the report, Zimbabwe’s GDP was minus 13.2 percent last
year, which the government plans to improve to positive growth of 6.6
percent by 2015.

      Analysts said the government could only make progress in reducing the
country’s debt to GDP ratio if it committed itself to living within its
means and channelling a significant proportion of resources to debt

      But they said this was unlikely in the near future because of
declining revenues and the withdrawal of foreign aid and investment, which
have forced the government to finance its huge budget deficit by borrowing
on the domestic market.

      The analysts also pointed out that Treasury could not direct resources
to debt servicing because of the government’s many commitments, which
include fuel and food imports and a ballooning wage bill.

      Meanwhile, the Millennium Growth Report also indicates that the
government plans to increase the country’s trade to GDP ratio to 80 percent
from 52 percent by 2015.

      The government statistics show that the total trade to GDP ratio fell
from 63 percent in 1995 to 52 percent last year.

      This is a result of the decline in exports, which dropped to US$1.4
billion last year from US$2.4 billion the previous year. The decline is
largely blamed on the fall in commercial agricultural output following the
government’s controversial land reform programme.

      Meanwhile, the government also plans to reduce the percentage of the
country’s total population living under the total consumption poverty line
(TCPL) from 80 percent at the end of 2002 to 40 percent in 12 years.

      TCPL separates the number of people able to afford three square meals
a day from those who cannot in a country.

      The country’s deteriorating economic environment has impoverished many
Zimbabweans, with workers’ wages lagging behind official inflation of 364.5
percent, while rural populations have been the hardest hit, surviving mostly
on humanitarian aid.

      In the same report, the government forecasts that by the year 2015,
there will be 70 personal computers per every thousand persons in Zimbabwe,
up from 13 in 2000 and only three in 1995.

      Business Reporter

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News

      Hypocrites, heroes, harlots and hobos

        THE world needs heroes because in many ways it has no use for
hypocrites, harlots and hobos – political or otherwise.

      Which, by the way, does not suggest that the world as a whole is
dead-set against the existence of and even the adulation of hypocrites,
harlots and hobos.

      All three categories have scored successes of sorts in one or two
fields of human endeavour.

      What is even more disgusting is that, although secretly despised as
hypocrites, harlots and hobos, such people have won accolades fit for heroes
and heroines. Some of them have gone on to become such respectable members
of society, their past has been buried so deep that only after their deaths
has it been dug up to remind the world of who they really were.

      I will not cite examples: the laws of libel in this country are so
manifestly unfair on The Seekers of Truth, they virtually let The Doers of
Evil get away with murder.

      I realise it is pompous to speak of The Seekers of the Truth. But when
you swear on a Bible to “tell the truth and nothing but the truth”, aren’t
you being a bit pompous too? You know you will lie and hope the prosecutor
or the defence lawyer will not find out.

      When discovered to be telling a fib, do you say: “I am sorry. I lied
through my teeth.” Or do you say: “So what? A little white lie never hurt

      Anyway, to return to the heroes, hypocrites, harlots and hobos: the
cynics like to believe that we are all, at the end of the day, sinners.

      Journalists are supposed to be that way too, completely without
emotion, hard-boiled as hell, able to look at the face of a murderer before
the hangman’s noose tightens around his neck and say: “So, do you now accept
that crime does not pay?”

      Someone told me, apropos of nothing in particular, that there were
heroes, hypocrites, harlots and hobos buried at the Heroes’ Acre.

      The occasion has become a little fuzzy in my memory. It could have
been when I too sat solemnly on that once-hallowed ground, at the burial of
someone I admired. I have attended the burials of Willie Musarurwa, George
Nyandoro, George Silundika, Edward Ndlovu and a few others. I couldn’t
attend Joshua Nkomo’s because I would have had to walk there.

      But I have always admired countries which don’t set as much great
store as we do for our heroes. The concept was born around the same time as
the dream of a one-party state. We all know why the original statues of the
soldiers looked like North Koreans.

      We have a One-Party Heroes’ Acre. This has to be the ultimate in
ideological conceit. How one political party, as capable of venality and
lapses of good judgment as any other from here to Zambowanga city, can
assign to itself this enormous task is the peak of political pompousness.

      The Zambian champions of the one-party state, Kenneth Kaunda’s United
National Independence Party (UNIP), would have erected a Heroes’ Acre of
their own. I am not sure why they didn’t because I suspect ZANU PF learnt
some of its one-party lessons from UNIP, before graduating summa cum laude
after their tutelage by Frelimo (the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique)
under Samora Machel, a man who realised, perhaps too late in his life, that
the one-party state was its own executioner.

      Joachim Chissano, who succeeded Machel, knows why the multi-party
system, though full of pitfalls, is ultimately more sensible than the
straitjacket of the one-party system.

      In Zambia, there is no debate on what to do with Frederick Chiluba
should he die an early death. He is a two-time elected president, a hero of
the country’s labour movement and the little David who felled the great
political Goliath that was Kenneth Kaunda.

      For all that, they would lionise him, but for his arrest on corruption
charges, for his interrogation by the police in a police station, for the
probability of his imprisonment as a crook, they would not bury him at their
Heroes’ Acre, if they had one.

      Hastings Kamuzu Banda was called in by a desperate people in

      He fought the good fight, buried the Federation and then rode in
majesty to the one-party presidency of his country. If they too had a Heroes
Acre’, they would not have buried him there after his death.

      For what he did, they would not have called him a hero.

      The way he has performed in his two terms of office, Bakili Muluzi is
unlikely to qualify for Malawi’s non-existent Heroes’ Acre either. His
shameless campaign to amend the constitution so he could serve a third term
cast him as a real political villain, if not a hobo, a tramp. Now, he seems
to be preparing to create a comfortable retirement for himself by selecting
who should take over from him.But they never learn, do they – political
hypocrites like Muluzi and Chiluba? What Levy Mwanawasa did to Chiluba,
Bingu waMutarika is quite likely to do to Muluzi: hound him until the police
arrest him for corruption. Botswana remains a sea of calm in this ocean of
storms that is southern Africa. Sir Ketumile Masire has enjoyed life as an
ex-president the way Julius Nyerere did after he excused himself for
burdening his country with Ujamaa. Festus Mogae, his successor, may have
opinions about his predecessor, but he has not set the police on him. Thabo
Mbeki, for his arrogance over HIV/AIDS, could risk being toppled from the
pedestal of a hero unless he confesses his great blunder, especially after
the Durban conference on the pandemic came out with a stinging rebuke to him
by freeing the drugs to people living with AIDS. As if everything else,
nobody lives their life to ensure they will be remembered as heroes after
they have passed on. I have always wondered how Joseph Chinotimba and
Herbert Chitepo would relate to each other when they meet in the dark bowels
under the Heroes Acre. I am assuming Chinotimba will be in time to be buried
at Heroes Acre before someone decides that the criterion for heroism is no
longer to be decided by the Zanu PF politburo. “So, what did you do during
the struggle, comrade?” “I helped with The Third Chimurenga.” “What was
that?” “I was No.2 to Chenjerai Hunzvi, sir. Hunzvi has been here with you
for some time now. Haven’t you met him?” “No. When did he come? Oh, I
remember now. He didn’t make it, in the end. You might not make it either.”
“How is that again, sir? The Politburo makes this decisions. They are
irrevocable, sir.” “Yeah... but this is the other Politburo, the real heroes
’ Politburo. We have the power to turn down your Politburo. Heh! heh! heh!
heh!” Poor Chinos.

      By Bill Saidi

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News

      Zimbabwe greater than both ZANU PF, MDC combined

        Now that both the MDC and ZANU PF have realised that coming to a
table to talk is the only way out of Zimbabwe’s political and economic
malaise, it must be aptly pointed out that President Robert Mugabe’s future
and fate should not be on the agenda for the future road map.

      What Zimbabweans decide to do post-Mugabe should focus on rebuilding
the economy and the restoration of the rule of law.

      Both parties must realise that their differences must be subordinate
to the nation’s future.

      Untold suffering is the order of the day in present-day Zimbabwe. We
have literally been reduced to beggars and condemned to unending shortages.

      No amount of words is enough to describe the amount of suffering that
Mugabe and ZANU PF have brought to Zimbabwe. I don’t intend to recount the
sufferings here.

      Nonetheless, what is more important now is how to bring the country
out of this mess caused by Mugabe and his clowns masquerading as

      Now is the time to dig deeper and come up with a relevant and
foolproof constitution by the people, from the people, for the people of

      Never again in history should Zimbabweans live in awe of one man. Let
the suffering that we have endured this far be a lasting lesson to the
present generation and the one to come, that no one institution has a right
to hold the country to ransom merely because they fought the liberation war.

      Regardless of political opinion and alignment, Zimbabweans should now
forge ahead resolutely and come up with a blue print for the nation’s

      We must guard jealously against repetition of events during the Mugabe
era. In the same vein, whatever we strategise to do now must leave a lasting
legacy for future generations to come. The last two decades have been
dominated by ZANU PF’s stubbornness to common sense due to the liberation
war factor.

      I suggest that the exploits of the liberation war should be confined
to archives and libraries. Generations to come will refer to these archives
in order to appreciate the many lives that were lost in order for us to gain
independence from the white minority.

      Zimbabweans are known for their hard work and diligence. Let us
exercise our right as citizens to rebuild our nation and learn from Mugabe’s

      If we have not learnt anything from this, then we will never learn
anything at all.

      We are capable, able and have the means to restore Zimbabwe to its
former global regional position as the “breadbasket of Africa”. We can only
achieve this by forgetting the past and charting a new road plan for a
future Zimbabwe based on the hard lessons learnt up to now.

      Our nation’s future is more important than any one individual dead or
alive. The country’s future must now hinge on our irrevocable right to
determine our children’s future.

      We, therefore, urge those at the negotiating frontiers to carry our
hopes beyond our present sufferings. These men and women will go down in
history as citizens who put their personal issues aside in order to steer
Zimbabwe’s recovery into higher economic echelons.

      While Mugabe and ZANU PF have generated enough chaos to patronise
history books for generations to come, the MDC has generated enough
resistance to bring about lasting hope and change.

      Let’s remember, fellow Zimbabweans, that Zimbabwe is greater than both
the MDC and ZANU PF combined.

      Ndabezinhle Robert Ndlovu

      New York

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Zimbabwe receives timely aid

      The United Nations World Food Programme has received $28m from the
European Commission to spend on food for Zimbabwe.

      The WFP says the money could not have come at a more critical time.

      It will stop emergency food supplies running out at the end of the
month by speeding up the delivery of about 60,000 tonnes of maize, they say.

      A recent World Food Programme assessment found that over three million
Zimbabweans are urgently in need of food aid and this figure is likely to
jump to 5.5 million in six months.

      Other regional countries affected by drought last year appear to be
faring better than Zimbabwe this year.

      Aid agencies blame President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reform
programme for exacerbating the food crisis.


      The reform has seen most of Zimbabwe's 4,500 white commercial farmers
evicted from their land, but farm productivity has also declined rapidly.

      His programme to redistribute white farms to landless black
Zimbabweans began in 2000 but has been hit by violence, lengthy legal
battles and criticism that ruling party members were acquiring many of the
prime farms.

      Mr Mugabe was reported to have ordered senior ruling party officials
to conform to his "one man, one farm" policy.

      The deadline for this to happen expires on Thursday.

      Zimbabwe is mired in a deep economic crisis, with annual inflation
running at 365%, according to official figures.

      His critics accuse him of ruining the economy, which used to be among
the most successful in Africa.

      The government blames the economic problems on a plot by western
countries opposed to its land reform policy.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

            Time for Mugabe to quit Zimbabwe

            Michael Ancram has called on African leaders to follow up the
departure of Charles Taylor from war-torn Liberia by pressing for the
removal of tyrant Robert Mugabe from crisis-wracked Zimbabwe.

            Just hours after the former Liberian president quit Monrovia and
settled into a life of exile in Nigeria, the Shadow Foreign Secretary
proposed a similar way out for the brutal dictator in Harare.

            He told "The end of Charles Taylor is first
and foremost a welcome relief for the people of Liberia - but it also sets
African leaders a challenge. For too long they have turned a blind eye to
violence and persecution. Letting brutal dictators off the hook has caused
untold damage to the New Partnership for Africa's Development, scared off
potential investors, and exacerbated poverty, disease and corruption."

            Mr Ancram cited the crisis in Zimbabwe as "an extreme example"
with its impact felt well beyond the country's borders.

            "It has often been rumoured that Robert Mugabe is to be offered
the ‘Taylor route' out of power. We cannot know if this is now more likely,
but two things are clear," he said. "First, if African leaders want to make
progress for their people they have no option but to work with the
international community to ensure that dictators like Mugabe are removed.

            "And second, there must be no question of Mugabe or Taylor being
replaced by yet another tyrant who will abuse his people."
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Business Day

Mbeki should get rid of torturer


PERHAPS the saddest but also the most revealing moment of the current
Liberian crisis came with Kofi Annan's desperate attempt to persuade
President George Bush that he should send in a US intervention force. This
came only days after Annan had told the United Nations (UN) Security Council
that he wanted to see foreign troops out of Iraq at the first possible

The irony must surely have struck both men: on the one hand Annan telling
Bush to take his troops out of one part of the third world and the next
moment pleading with him to send them into another part of the third world.
Even sadder was the attempt to argue that the US "ought" to send its troops
into Liberia because it had a "historic obligation", having helped set up
the country to allow freed slaves to settle back there.

What is happening here is this. Africa is disintegrating into endless civil
wars and collapsing states, producing a state of anarchy roughly similar to
that which the early European explorers found when they "discovered" Africa.

In retrospect the colonial period is coming to seem an interval of peace and
order between the anarchy before and the anarchy afterwards. Just think: in
1950 you could have walked from Cape Town to Cairo without much risk. Today
the same trek would take you through three or four civil wars and endless
territory now again subject to banditry. If you escaped all that in most
places you'd still have to face worse corruption, more disease and worse
public services than you'd have had to deal with in 1950.

As much of Africa reverts to precolonial chaos African countries are quietly
shelving the old rhetoric of anticolonialism and are asking to have the old
colonial order back. The integrity of Sierra Leone has been preserved thanks
to British troops and the locals want them to stay. Côte d'Ivoire is held
together by French troops and the locals want them to stay too. There is
nothing the people of the Congo or the Sudan would like better than western
intervention to stop the eternal civil wars there.

Moreover, Africa looks to the developed world to solve its AIDS problem: no
one believes Africa can do this on its own. Now the demand is for the US to
rediscover a semi-mythical colonial link with Liberia to justify sending
troops in there and the US is still criticised for not having intervened in
Rwanda to stop the genocide there. Note that Liberians are far less happy to
have a Nigerian-led Ecomog force in their midst: such was the behaviour of
the Nigerians last time that Ecomog is now popularly translated as Every Car
or Movable Object Gone.

Two points arise. First, no African state really trusts other Africans to
intervene and would infinitely prefer the old colonial power even the US to
do so: even if President Thabo Mbeki can get an African Union intervention
force set up, most Africans won't want it. Second, this process renders the
African Union laughable. The real question is not whether Africa will unite
of course it won't, any more than Asia or Latin America will but whether
more states will collapse and further civil wars erupt.

Thus Mbeki, instead of spending time on Charles Taylor, would do better to
get rid of the torturer and murderer next door: for state collapse and civil
war are now not far away in Zimbabwe.

Moreover, with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe openly threatening to use
British and US citizens as hostages, the prospect of western military
intervention there now inevitably exists. Should this occur, the Mugabe
regime would not last an afternoon, but Mbeki would not escape the fall-out
from these fresh Zimbabwe ruins.

Johnson, former Oxford academic and former director of the Helen Suzman
Foundation, is a freelance writer.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

From The Times (UK), 13 August

After Liberia, Africans ponder face-saving exile for Mugabe

By Richard Beeston

The peaceful removal of Charles Taylor’s regime in Liberia has spurred hopes
that such intervention can be used to resolve other flashpoints in Africa,
in particular the continuing crisis in Zimbabwe. Only hours after the former
Liberian President settled into life in exile in Nigeria, leaders across the
continent were following events and drawing parallels with other countries.
The clear link with Zimbabwe was provided by President Chissano of
Mozambique, the current head of the African Union. No sooner was he home
from his "successful" mission to Liberia than he announced that he was
leaving for Harare for his latest attempt at "conflict resolution".
According to officials and commentators in Africa and beyond, the
face-saving formula devised to ease out the Taylor regime, under the
supervision of African leaders and US warships, could be adapted. "There is
a new mood in Africa. There is hope that we are turning away from conflict
and entering a new era," a senior South African official said.

Peace efforts are under way in Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, the Democratic
Republic of Congo and Sudan. There has also been a peaceful transfer of
power in Kenya following elections widely praised for being free and fair.
Elsewhere change has been slower. In the West African nation of Togo,
President Gnassingbe Eyadema, the continent’s longest-serving leader, has
clung to power for 36 years. Zimbabwe stands out as the most pressing
unresolved problem. President Mugabe and his Zanu PF party have used
intimidatory violence to cling to power. The country’s political crisis and
economic collapse has impoverished millions and led to an exodus of refugees
into neighbouring states. All this has been divisive for relations between
Africa and the West and within the Commonwealth. "Zimbabwe is now on the
front burner," said a source close to President Mbeki of South Africa, who
played a key role in the departure of Mr Taylor from Liberia and is regarded
as the central figure in any solution in Zimbabwe. "Mugabe is pushing 80 and
will sooner rather than later seek to hand over power. Liberia demonstrated
that it is possible to do this peacefully and without humiliation."

Alex Vines, head of the African programme at the Royal Institute of
International Affairs, said that several aspects of the Liberian example
could be adapted for use in Zimbabwe. In particular, the creation of a
transitional government would help to overcome the political stalemate in
Harare, he said. He also envisaged a possible role for African leaders, who
provided a face- saving cover for Mr Taylor’s resignation and departure, and
could provide dignity to any ceremony that would ease Mr Mugabe out of
office. Michael Ancram, Shadow Foreign Secretary, said that Africa had long
"turned a blind eye to violence and persecution" and that the events in
Liberia had set the continent’s leaders a challenge. "First, if African
leaders want to make progress for their people they have no option but to
work with the international community to ensure that dictators like Mugabe
are removed. And second, there must be no question of Mugabe or Taylor being
replaced by yet another tyrant who will abuse his people."

Exile is a common fate for deposed African leaders. In addition to Mr
Taylor, at least seven former African rulers are in exile, including
Mengistu Haile Mariam, of Ethiopia, who is in Harare as a guest of Mr
Mugabe. But there are doubts whether the Zimbabwean leader, a former
guerrilla commander, would ever contemplate voluntarily stepping down. In
remarks this week to veterans of his country’s civil war, he renewed his
attack on the Opposition, and he has resisted all attempts at compromise.
Lord Renwick of Clifton, who served as British Ambassador to Pretoria and to
Washington, doubted that the Zimbabwean leader would leave power unless he
felt directly threatened, as Mr Taylor had by rebels and US forces closing
in on the Liberian capital. "Who is going to make him stand aside?" Lord
Renwick said. "It is no good sweet-talking Mugabe."
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Comment from ZWNEWS, 13 August


By Michael Hartnack

As the annual Commercial Farmers' Union congress took place last week,
Zimbabwe's Minister of Agriculture Joseph Made boycotted the event, and said
he hoped it was the end of the union which had become "irrelevant" following
the "successful" resettlement of 300 000 families on 5 000 former
white-owned farms - once 17 percent of Zimbabwe. He predicted the principal
spokesmen for agriculture would in future be the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union,
formed by small-scale peasant cultivators. "There are a few remnants of
former white commercial farmers, about 200 of them, and the tendency is to
lecture 11 million Zimbabweans about the destruction of the economy," Made
told the state-controlled Herald. He added that the former farmers had
destroyed the economy by resisting land reform, exporting crops and
depositing the profits in foreign banks, "growing flowers instead of food
crops, and they even slaughtered dairy cows, and now they are burning
pastures. This group has played mischief all the time because they think
they are a special race." And then there’s reality. Impartial estimates
suggest way less than half of the claimed 300 000 peasant farmers have been
able to take up and work plots allocated them over the past three years.
Many farms have been diverted from the war veterans who first seized them to
the elite, but remain derelict. There have been violent confrontations
between new recipients and the original invaders. Zanu PF Information
supremo Nathan Shamuyarira said that Robert Mugabe had ordered black
Zimbabweans who owned more than one farm to surrender the rest for peasant
resettlement by July 13. Nothing has happened and it has become clear this
is just another hoax by the ruling Zanu PF party - like the "Marxist
Leninist Leadership Code" Mugabe promulgated in the 1980s. Party leaders
were prohibited from owning private business interests, more than one
dwelling house, or more than 80 hectares of land. When Herbert Ushewokunze -
supposedly the party's chief socialist ideologue - died in 1995, he
bequeathed twenty properties, including ten farms, to his ten sons (all
called Herbert).

At the CFU congress, incoming president Doug Taylor-Freeme said it was Made
who should be called to account for the wrecking of agriculture. Billions of
dollars worth of infrastructure had been looted or vandalised, and
foot-and-mouth disease was rife. "We have massive food imports and yet there
is infrastructure sitting idle such as irrigation, tobacco facilities,
greenhouses. Crops are being abandoned or stolen, pedigree herds
slaughtered, and farmers being evicted while silos are sitting empty." The
CFU says only 400 white farmers remain unaffected by the turmoil of the past
four years. They include – to the resentment of Zimbabwe-born farmers –
Italian nationals whose government has told Mugabe that their eviction would
breach a bilateral investment protection agreement. Another 800 farmers are
managing to sustain production on a remnant of their property. Other farmers
have reached "private arrangements" with influential persons who have
claimed land. Some such agreements have already been dishonoured after the
farmers assisted with planting of crops. "Zimbabwe continues on a downward
path to ruin, with no relief in sight," Taylor-Freeme told the CFU congress.
Tobacco production was down 60 percent, wheat 90 percent, while 300 000 farm
workers and their families were left destitute and homeless. "A reversal of
the calamitous macro-economic situation just described can only happen if
current destructive policies are abandoned in favour of rational ones, and
international assistance is both sought, and quickly forthcoming," he said.

The Justice for Agriculture group last week urged farmers not to abandon
hope and quit Zimbabwe. "We need every single one of you to rebuild when
rebuilding becomes possible through the re-establishment of the rule of law
and a legitimate responsible government," said a statement. It added that
those forced to leave should ensure lawyers and accountants were briefed to
defend their rights "so the farm cannot be acquired by default." It will,
however, be difficult to attract back those who find their feet in less
stressful environments, after suffering naked violence and plunder in the
land of their birth. Tanzania recently tried to lure back farmers forced to
quit by Julius Nyerere's nationalisation campaign in the 1960s. One would-be
returnee reported he was not deterred so much by the annihilation of
infrastructure - dams, roads, fences, houses - but by the absence of any
form of community. The neighbours who once supported each other were
scattered to the four winds. Tanzania is more likely to attract
multinational companies which will restore modern-style production with the
aid of expatriate managers on contract, and underwritten by international
aid and guarantees.

The tale of the ten Herberts reflects the traditional Zanu PF cocktail of
megalomania and greed which is likely to prove toxic to commercial use of
the soil. The elite will have difficulty turning their booty from "fast
track land reform" into cash cows, even with the lavish subsidies now
promised them by a bankrupt state. Made cannot change economics: competitive
advantage on world export markets rests with large-scale, efficient,
uncorrupt, modern methods. Commercial agriculture is therefore certain to
make a comeback - sooner or later - whether white Zimbabweans are involved
or not. There is as little hope for the subsistence cultivator, who lacks
expertise, capital, and title deeds, as there is for the "telephone farmer"
who has a desk in a government ministry in Harare and maintains rural
holdings as dumping grounds for superannuated wives. The traditional
family-owned commercial farm may be doomed to disappear in Zimbabwe because
the business is perceived to be just too risky. Although radical reformers
will not mourn the passing of the concomitants - the exclusive country club,
the polo field and rugby pitch - it will also mean the end of clinics run by
farmers' wives, schools, and care for retired workers. It will mean
commercial agriculture run by technocrats who do not speak the local
languages, understand the culture, or have a stake in the land. If that
happens, Mugabe will have achieved his dream of reducing those operating
commercial agriculture to the status of landless, rootless share-croppers,
although in a way he did not foresee. Commercial farming will still be
Back to the Top
Back to Index

ZIMBABWE: Skills lost in "internal" brain drain


Informal sector shoe repairer

HARARE, 13 Aug 2003 (IRIN) - Chamunorwa Chirova is a new type of Zimbabwean entrepreneur - he makes his money by illegally selling fuel on the thriving black market.

It was not a job he anticipated when he graduated eight years ago with an engineering degree from the University of Zimbabwe. Until two years ago he was working at a beverage firm, struggling along in the depressed formal economy, when the economic crisis and rising cost of living made him reassess his future.

"The salaries were so small, and we were working shifts as a result of reduced production. This meant our salaries were sometimes cut," explained 35-year-old Chamunorwa. In the meantime, government price controls on basic commodities had created a booming black market. He decided to resign and take his chances there.

Now he supports his two children by selling fuel illegally on the street to desperate motorists, on behalf of dealers who have licences from the authorities to import the scarce commodity, while keeping an alert eye on the police. They are trying to stamp out the black market as it diverts fuel from the official outlets, where it is more than three times cheaper than the street price of Zim $1,500 (US $1.80) a litre, but seldom available.

The fuel shortage resulting from the government's crippling lack of foreign exchange has kept Chamunorwa in business. Despite the risks, he has been able to buy an old pickup truck with his earnings. "It's better than nothing, and I almost earn five times what my colleagues I left at that firm do," he said.

Tabeth Zuze, 25, made a similar decision to try her hand in the parallel market. She graduated from teachers' training college in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo only last year, but did not relish the idea of working in the rural areas, living in a one-roomed house with no transport, no clean water - and worse - no teaching aids, including even chalk.

She now owns two flea market stalls in Harare's city centre, selling plasticware and china imported from South Africa. "I earn enough to pay rent and buy food. I can [turn over] up to Zim $200,000 [US $244] a month," she said. Teachers in Zimbabwe earn an average of Zim $150,000 (US $183).

A recent report by the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre has shown that nearly 500,000 Zimbabwean professionals have left the country since 1990 in search of better opportunities overseas (See IRIN report: But an internal movement of skilled Zimbabweans is also under way, robbing the country of much-needed capacity, and shrinking the government's tax revenue base.

Both Chirova and Zuze represent the phenomenon of the "internal brain drain" - trained professionals who have remained in the country but chosen not to utilise their skills in formal careers.

The impact is felt throughout the professions. One lawyer told IRIN that his firm lost two junior lawyers this year alone. "The guys are now cross-border traders, selling sugar, cooking oil and clothes to Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia. They say they earn at least US $5,000 every month," he explained. The average salary for a junior lawyer is Zim $450,000 (US $549).

Social worker Michael Phiri said Zimbabwe's formal sector is increasingly understaffed as professionals seek opportunities elsewhere. In many rural communities where he has worked, clinics were manned by orderlies because nurses drifted to urban areas to look for alternative jobs, or joined the legion of Zimbabwean health care workers employed abroad, typically in Britain or South Africa.

"Education is no longer a guarantee of employment, nor a good salary, as the economy is now more and more informal," Phiri said.

Chivora and Zuze deliberately opted out of formal employment. But for most Zimbabweans, the country's shrinking economy has left them with little other choice.

Zimbabwe's unemployment rate is estimated at 75 percent and is expected to reach 90 percent by the end of 2003. According to George Making, a human resources consultant, 400 companies closed in 2002 alone, leaving at least 350,000 people jobless.

Estimates put the number of formal jobs lost at over 800,000 since 2000, employment agent Tapiwa Chikudo told IRIN. The losses were mainly in the agriculture, construction and manufacturing industries. In addition, over 250,000 school leavers join the job market every year.

One independent researcher believes Zimbabwe's decline has been so severe that the economy would need to grow by an unprecedented 25 percent over five years to achieve a reasonable recovery.

"For Zimbabwe to recover to levels where it can generate sufficient jobs and wealth to ensure the repayment of loans on one hand, whilst allowing a significant improvement in the conditions of life for a poverty stricken and AIDS-ravaged population, the economy must sustain a minimum of a 25 percent economic growth rate over a space of not less than five years," said the researcher with the NGO, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

ZIMBABWE: Aid pipeline saved but "situation still alarming" - WFP


Beneficiaries depend on WFP rations

JOHANNESBURG, 13 Aug 2003 (IRIN) - A US $28 million cash injection has rescued the World Food Programme's (WFP) aid pipeline in Zimbabwe.

The WPF said in a statement that the donation from the European Commission (EC) "could not have come at a more critical time".

"Without [the donation], food aid supplies for Zimbabwe would have run out by the end of this month. This contribution will enable us to fast-track a regional purchase of about 60,000 mt of maize," WFP Zimbabwe Country Director, Kevin Farrell, was quoted as saying.

Last year the EC and European Union member states donated about 40 percent of all contributions raised for Zimbabwe. "Thanks to the generous and timely response by donors such as the European Commission, WFP was able to avert widespread starvation last season," Farrel said.

However, he warned that "the food security situation in Zimbabwe remains alarming, and without continued international support, a significant proportion of the population will remain at serious risk".

A recent joint assessment by WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organisation found that about 3.3 million Zimbabweans are currently in urgent need of food aid. By January 2004, that number is expected to jump to 5.5 million.

"People are increasingly showing up at rural food distributions, begging to receive food aid, but due to scarce resources, WFP is forced to restrict its rations to the most vulnerable, many of whom live in households affected by HIV/AIDS," WFP said.

As further evidence of the desperate situation in Zimbabwe, at some distribution sites "beneficiaries have been seen opening and eating uncooked rations on the spot", the organisation said.

In August WFP plans to feed 1.4 million people in rural areas and is looking to expand its programme in urban areas, "where food shortages have become acute".

Back to the Top
Back to Index

ZIMBABWE: Women raise their voices

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union

A farmworker and her child allegedly assaulted by militia

JOHANNESBURG, 13 Aug 2003 (IRIN) - As momentum gathers for renewed talks between Zimbabwe's rival political parties, civil rights groups have highlighted the impact of the ongoing political and economic crisis on the daily lives of women in the country.

Crisis in Zimbabwe (CZ), a consortium of NGOs, has called for the greater participation of women in the proposed talks, arguing that any negotiated settlement between the government and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would lack legitimacy if women were excluded from the process.

"Today women in Zimbabwe find themselves at the confluence of the political, economic and HIV/AIDS crisis. It is imperative that any future dialogue between the government and the MDC includes women as key players," CZ spokeswoman Everjoice Win told IRIN.

In a recent paper, "Crisis in Zimbabwe: A Women's Perspective", the advocacy group noted that the current economic crisis had left scores of women without work, while the high cost of living had "very specific gender dimensions".

"To illustrate just how affected women are by the crisis, all one has to do is consider that a packet of 8 sanitary pads now costs, on average, Zim $5,000 (about US $6). Most domestic workers only earn Zim $5,000" Win said.

The price of a packet of 3 male condoms - more commonly used by women to prevent pregnancy and HIV infection - costs Zim $2,000 (about US $2). "Women are having to compromise their own health, just so that they can feed their families," Win noted.

CZ also drew attention to the effects of government legislation on the ability of women's groups to organise themselves. For example, the introduction of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) had reversed many of the gains women had made in the first years after independence.

"Women's organisation that have outreach activities in communities are finding it difficult to reach the women, thereby denying women space to participate in their own development programmes," the NGO said.

There were also concerns over increased sexual violence. The organisation said the rape of women by ruling party militia was well documented.

"Poor black women have borne the brunt of this violence; in the townships, on commercial farms, and in the rural areas. Documentation by the NGO Human Rights Forum shows that scores of women have been raped, gang raped, beaten up, taken into forced concubinage by state trained and sponsored 'Green Bombers', and young women in particular now face the prospect of HIV/AIDS infection," the paper alleged.

Win said talks between the MDC and ZANU-PF should focus on revisiting the constitution. "It is imperative that a comprehensive constitutional review takes place, and in that process women want to represent themselves. We want to see a constitution that gurantees our right as Zimbabweans."

Back to the Top
Back to Index